We are nearly there. Five more readings and that’ll be the Essential 100 read. Phew.
The last time I posted about it, it was the Sermon on the Mount. Since then I have read about the miracles, Easter, Pentecost and Paul’s Missionary journeys.
So that was the end of the kind of narrative, in narrative form, with the early church firing ahead into Judea, Samaria and to the “ends of the earth”.
I found the next bunch of passages kind of tricky because they were so different in nature to the preceding ones – and so utterly familiar. Every line rang some sort of a bell and my mind was racing ahead of my eyes in one version or another; there were so many famous verses and passages.
This was kind of odd after so much narrative to move into so much more intimate theology and direct instruction. The letters have a personal voice and had a more finite (in the first instance) audience and the suggestion of a cultural context that today’s readership are necessarily only partially aware.
And there is so much in these passages! Too much to take in through the speedy overview that is the E100.
One theme that seems to be kind of “new” is death. The Old Testament stories don’t really take to do with death – well, I mean, there is plenty of death in the Old Testament – but (I may well be wrong) there doesn’t seem to be much consideration of it or concern about it. There is a sense that death is not the end and there is some kind of “for ever” – but the mechanics and the details are not really thrashed out. The people are concerned with life before death and how to live it. The people in the stories are living under God – either in a manner that pleases him, or in a manner that pleases them. And the promises for the future are about (again, I may be wrong) promises for future generation on the earth.
But, in these New Testament passages there is a lot about death – as the early church teased out the implications of the resurrection.
There is, as a result, a lot of fleshing out of how to live in response to this hope. Suddenly this life is not what it is about – and because of that the believer’s conduct in this life, perhaps surprisingly, becomes infinitely more important.
The believer is living in a spiritual state, in a spiritual battle – superimposed on earthly life.
In one breath it is a battle; in the next it is a saturation in love.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1 vs 3-9
The text here is so dense with great concepts: mercy, hope, faith, salvation, love, joy. A lot to take in on a quick skim.
So, I am interested here that the “end result” of faith, as stated here, is “the salvation of your souls”. Now the “Land” was supposed to the be the inheritance through the covenant with Abraham – although the original covenant contained other ideas:
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12 vs 2 and 3
My brain is having to stretch quite far to join these up. I mean, I get it – because of the death and resurrection of Jesus ” all peoples in earth will be blessed” – but the scope of the thing is … large.
So, Revelation next week will likely push my mind further still.