A Story Which Seems to be in Search of an Ending

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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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Free devotional every week during Lent written by N.T. Wright http://ntwrightonline.org/lent Click To Tweet
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N.T. Wright
N.T. Wright is a prolific author for both academic and popular readers. He is author of Simply Jesus, Surprised by Hope, The Day the Revolution Began, Jesus and the Victory of God, and Paul and the Faithfulness of God. He is also the author of the For Everyone Series of New Testament Commentaries. He currently serves as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Previously Wright served as Bishop of Durham, Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, and Dean of Lichfield Cathedral. For twenty years he served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Cambridge, McGill, and Oxford Universities. He writes often for newspapers in England, including the Times, the Independent, and the Guardian. He has been interviewed numerous times by radio and television broadcasters on both sides of the Atlantic, including ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS, FOX, and NPR.