The peripheral figure of Joses/Barnabas from Cyprus has a considerable amount of coherent evidence confirming the stories involving him: Luke reports that he was a Levite from Cyprus (Acts 4:36); he vouches for Paul’s sincerity as if knowing him, which is explained by Cyprus being annexed to Cilicia, in which Tarsus, a centre of education, was the main city. They might have both studied there, explaining Paul’s Greek education and since there was unlikely to be a major school in Cyprus.…
(a) Many of us tend to view our own conversion to Christ in contrast to Paul’s: ‘Of course,’ we say, ‘I never had a Damascus Road experience.’ What aspects of Paul’s experience as recorded here are unusual, and what aspects would be true of any genuine conversion to Christ?
(b) In the light of what you know about Paul generally from the New Testament, what would you say he was converted from, and converted to? And what would you say about yourself in this regard?…
Douglas Moo observes that in most English versions, the word ‘hell’ is not found in Paul’s writings. That is because he never used either of the two words usually translated ‘hell’ – gehenna and hades.
So what language does the apostle use concerning the fate of the wicked? They are, in order of frequency:-
- “Death,” “die” (usually apothn’skō, thanatos; Rom. 1:32; 5:12, 14, 15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 24; 8:2, 6, 13; 1 Cor.
A friend who, knowing that I’m still trying to get my head round ‘the New Perspective on Paul’ and is also doing the same, recently asked me how the ‘New Perspective’ had changed my own perspective on the Christian life.
I answered by saying that I’m neither ready to dismiss the NPP out of hand, nor adopt any particular version of it. So it hasn’t changed the basic shape of my Christian faith. But it has asked questions about various aspects of ‘traditional’ evangelical thinking and practices, and sent me back to the Bible ‘to see if these things are so’.…
‘During the eighteen months he was in Corinth (Acts 18:11) Paul evidently converted a man named Erastus, who provides an interesting cross-cultural link in the Corinthian church. One of the most imposing structures in Corinth was the fourteen-thousand-seat theater, located northwest of the forum and renovated about five years before Paul arrived. About this time (c. 50, during the reign of Claudius) a large stone plaza was also laid at the northeast corner of the theater area.…
Fitzmyer has identified six characteristic aspects of Paul’s gospel:-
it is an apocalyptic revelation, the unveiling of good news previously unknown in the same way it has now been manifested. The whole argument of Galatians is in essence an unpacking of the confessional statement with which Paul opened the book: Christ “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age” (Gal 1:4). The revelation “through” Paul is an integral part of the rescue mission of Christ himself.
‘The lack of reference to the historical Jesus [in Paul’s writings] has often been exaggerated.
- [he] shows himself aware of the birth of Jesus and his descent from both Abraham and David; (Rom 1:3; Gal 3:16; 4:4)
- he knows of the betrayal of Jesus on the night on which he also instituted a fellowship meal; (1 Cor 11:23-25)
- the crucifixion is frequently mentioned, a death in which the Jewish leaders were implicated; (1 Thess 2:15)
- he speaks of the burial of Jesus and of the eyewitnesses to his resurrection.
A foundational assumption of those who adopt some version of the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ is that Second-Temple Judaism was a not a religion of works-righteousness, but of grace. ‘Works’ were not seen as the way of meriting salvation, as has often been thought, but rather were the ‘boundary-markers’ of God’s people; the things that marked them out as belonging to him.
I have long viewed this with some suspicion. There seem to be too many instances in the Gospels when people did seek to justify themselves before God. …