Archive for July, 2016

The Impulse toward the Disadvantaged in the Gospel Preached by Paul

The journal Scriptura, based at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, recently published my article by the above title. Here’s the link: http://scriptura.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/1177/1117

Or read the intro below…

Christians have long recognized a strong concern for the vulnerable in certain parts of the New Testament, such as the teachings of Jesus (e.g., Luke 4:16-30) and the letter of James (e.g., James 2:1-6). Yet, what about the writings of the apostle Paul? This apostle’s letters have been vital in originating what Christians believe. Since the Reformation almost five hundred years ago, Protestants have relied particularly on Paul for the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, by means of his death on the cross. Yet Paul’s letters, with their emphasis on the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection, are sometimes thought to overlook social concerns, and even to disregard the poor. In this essay, I will argue that Paul had an impulse toward the disadvantaged and that he experienced this impulse arising from the same gospel he preached for people’s salvation. Paul’s convictions about the gospel of Jesus’ death on the cross shaped his concern for justice and for the disadvantaged.

I will concentrate on 1 Corinthians, a letter which, along with 2 Corinthians, provides the most in-depth portrayal of Paul’s interaction with a particular congregation. 1 Corinthians also affords the opportunity to see how the apostle handles congregational issues which have a clear socio-economic component. After a brief bird’s-eye view of the situation in Corinth and its fledgling congregation of believers, we will examine two major sections, 1 Cor. 1:10-4:21 and 8:1-11:1. 3 As two of the largest segments of 1 Corinthians, they offer substantial material for a clarifying analysis. However critically important Christ crucified is for the gospel Paul preached for believers’ salvation, we will discover that in these broad sections of 1 Corinthians, Paul focuses on the gospel of Christ crucified in order to re-align relationships among believers. The gospel becomes Paul’s resource for working toward relations which are just and unified, especially for the sake of the church’s less advantaged members. Our analysis will trace the gospel’s role in Paul’s tendency towards elevating the disadvantaged.