No Real Crisis

Thanks to Scot McKnight for bringing balance and clarity to the "Jesus vs. Paul" stand-off [December]. Those who choose sides should remember the history: It was Jesus who stunned Saul on the Damascus road, calling him into service. And it was Paul who went to the third heaven to be briefed by Jesus himself for ministry. In light of that history, it's unlikely that there would be a disconnect between their teachings.

Paul acknowledges that we have been placed into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13) and that the kingdom is about righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17). Jesus introduces and defines the kingdom to a people waiting for the restoration of David's throne, while Paul fleshes out the theology of what it means to become rightly related to the King. Sounds like a brilliant strategy to me.

An omission in McKnight's otherwise helpful article is the Book of Acts, where Luke presents a beautiful re-signification of kingdom language after Jesus' resurrection. The word kingdom appears in Acts eight times as a summary term for preaching Christ. By the end of Acts, we find Paul "preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered." No real difference.

Paul's flexible use of kingdom language ("kingdom of God," "kingdom of Christ," "his kingdom") and the smattering of references in James, Hebrews, Peter, and Revelation provide a model for all post-resurrection preachers. To try and drive a wedge between Jesus and Paul is terminological turpitude.

Believing in the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit precludes seeing any division between the writers of the Bible. Paul states that he received his teaching from the Lord (1 Cor. 2:13; 14:37; 1 Thess. ...

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