A Whole New World

Paul sees himself standing at the cutting edge of the revolution. The death of Jesus has opened up a whole new world, and he is part of the team leading the way into unexplored territory. He is not only to announce, but also to embody the faithfulness of the creator God to his covenant and his world. He is thinking of Isaiah’s vision of Israel’s “servant” vocation and quoting from one of his favorite chapters, Isaiah 49: “I listened to you when the time was right; I came to your aid on the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2, quoting Isa. 49:8). The remainder of that verse in Isaiah goes on, “I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people.” Paul is not summarizing the “works contract” (Jesus takes our sin, and we take his “righteousness”). He is doing what Revelation is doing: celebrating the fact that Jesus’s reconciling death sets people free to take up their true vocation. The Messiah’s death gives to him, and by extension to all who follow Jesus, the vocation to be part of the ongoing divine plan, the covenant purpose for the whole world.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 82.

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