The following excerpt is from this week’s Lenten Devotional. Sign up to get one every Wednesday.
But now, quite apart from the law (though the law and the prophets bore witness to it), God’s covenant justice has been displayed. God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith. For there is no distinction: all sinned, and fell short of God’s glory—and by God’s grace they are freely declared to be in the right, to be members of the covenant, through the redemption which is found in the Messiah, Jesus.
Romans 3:21-24 KNT
Paul says the Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the Bible. That’s 1 Corinthians 15:3. Then we find Romans 3:21, introducing one of the most famous, brief, and dense statements about the cross. The apostle Paul says that God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law and the prophets, though with the law and the prophets bearing witness to it.
So, what did the Law and the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures say? What were they witnessing to? And how did people in Paul’s day tell the story to which then the death of Jesus might turn out to be the astonishing fulfillment or climax?
We need to study the implicit narrative that many people in Paul’s world were telling. They had a story in their heads as we can see not only from the storyteller of the time, Josephus, the great historian, but also from many other books both from the Dead Sea Scrolls, from books like the Wisdom of Solomon, and on through to later Jewish books like 4 Ezra which was written after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.We need to study the implicit narrative that many people in Paul's world were telling. Click To Tweet
They all have in their minds the great story, the story we find in what Christians call the Old Testament, Israel’s Scriptures. This book is very strange because it tells a story which seems to be in search of an ending.
The great Jewish philosopher at the middle of the 20th century Ludwig Wittgenstein said that the Old Testament is like at torso without a head and that the Gospels seem to be offering as a head for that torso. That’s a very interesting and actually a very Jewish perception.
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