Category Archives: N.T. Wright

Putting Humans to Right

God is going to put the whole world to rights… But the advance plan for that is to put human beings to rights in advance. The gospel isn’t just Phew! I’m okay now so I’m going to heaven!It’s I’m actually being put right, in order that I can be a part of that ongoing purpose… –N.T. Wright

Not to Escape

The point is not to escape from earth  and find oneself at last in heaven, but to let the present ‘heavenly’ life change the present earthly reality.

{N.T Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 355}

New Creation Imagery in First Corinthians

Paul’s series of analogies in 15:37-41 is quite brilliant. He is re-playing the creation account for the skeptical Corinthians. For Paul, this is creational language; the heavenly and earthly bodies, animals, fruit-bearing seed, etc. The apostle is making the case that the Resurrection is the re-creation of humanity through “the life-giving activity of the final Adam…this is indeed deliberate and careful theology of new Genesis, of creation renewed.”

{N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 341}

Being Human is Good

N.T. Wright presses this point in his outstanding The Resurrection of the Son of God. Paul contrasts the biblical view of the Resurrection with that of the ancients:

The problem he faces is not the same as the one Plato and Cicero dealt with in their exposition of “astral immortality.” They were eager to escape the prison-house of the body; but for Paul the problem was not the body itself, but sin and death which had taken up residence in it, producing corruption, dishonor and weakness. Being human is good; being an embodied human is good; what is bad is being a rebellious human, a decaying human, a human dishonored through bodily sin and bodily death (346).

N.T. Wright and Worship

What are the implications of a ruling Lord for a worshiping community? In this interview, N.T. Wright engages these questions with a robust Lordship theology. Wright observes:

I mean worship is quite different when you’re worshiping the one who is already the king of the world rather than worshiping one who is kind of your private lord who you hope will one day be king of the world as it were.

The Significance of the Resurrection

N.T. Wright in his magnum opus The Resurrection of the Son of God discusses the different ways in which history is defined (12-14). Among the five senses of history, Wright argues that among scholars whatever-it-was-that-happened (referring to the resurrection) was “extremely significant,” though at the same time they argue that “we cannot know what ‘it’ is.”

The quest of historical research is to examine and report on an event, which is universally claimed as significant, but universally claimed–among unbelieving scholars–to not be clearly defined.

Paul, in I Corinthians 15, does not waste time with the debate over the significance and definition, but rather that it is, and what it means.

The Rescuing

Again Wright summarizes Paul’s argument in I Corinthians 15:

The whole argument establishes, with rock-solid theology and considerable rhetorical power, the point that the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah is the starting-point and means whereby the creator, in completing the work of rescuing and renewing the original creation, will raise all the Messiah’s people to new bodily life.

New Order to the World

Wright in his usual poetic brilliance encapsulates resurrection theology:

It is because humankind was created with the purpose of bringing the creator’s order to the world that now, because Jesus is the truly human one, he is invested with the task of bringing the creator’s rescuing new order to the world (The Resurrection of the Son of God, 334).

Future Bodily Resurrection

According to St. Paul, without the resurrection, everything is futile (mataia). But the opposite is also true. If you deny that there is a future bodily resurrection, then you cannot claim that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, and your faith is also futile. Messiah’s resurrection implies the corporate bodily resurrection. N.T. Wright summarizes succinctly:

To deny the future resurrection would entail the denial of the Messiah’s resurrection, which in turn would undermine Christian faith (The Resurrection of the Son of God, 331).

The point of the Resurrection…

“The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”
― N.T. WrightSurprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church