Archive for October, 2007

I am pleased to find out that I am in good company in critiquing the “two kingdoms” view (see previous blog entry, below).

Check out John Frame’s “In Defense of Christian Activism“.


Read Full Post »

Luther explained this tension by making the helpful distinction between our “person” and our “office”. It was part of his teaching about the”two kingdoms” which has, however, been justly criticised. He derived it from the text “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. He saw in these words the existence of both a divine and spiritual realm, “the kingdom of Christ”, and a secular or temporal realm, “the kingdom of the world (or emperor)” .
Luther’s clear-cut distinction between two “realms” was certainly overdrawn. […] He went as far as to tell the Christian that in the secular kingdom “you do not have to ask Christ about your duty”, for it can be learnt from the emperor. But Scripture does not allow us to set the two kingdoms over against each other in such total contrast, as if the church were Christ’s sphere, ruled by love, and the state the emperor’s ruled by justice. For Jesus Christ has universal authority, and no sphere may be excluded from his rule”.

John Stott. The Message of the SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counterculture (IVP 1978) pp. 112-113


Studying Mark 12:13-17 at “THE GYM“, it was really amazing to find out that “two realms” understanding of this passage could not be more mistaken. Rather, I’d suggest, this passage’s message is actually quite subversive. It is subversive if one takes into account what “rendering to God the things that are God’s” implies in light of the context, which is all about Jesus’ authority as the Christ (cf. 11:27-33; 12:35-37) and the coming Judgement (cf. 11:12-26; 12:9-11; 38-40).

The previous passage is a parable, the parable of the wicked tenants (12:1-12). Here, the tenants “take over” the Vineyard, that is, Israel (cf. Psalm 80:8,9 or Isaiah 5, amoungst others) and refuse to deliver the Vineyard over to the owner’s Son, who is the heir (Mk. 12:7). The result is judgement and the “handing over” the Vineyard to others (v. 9).

The parable aptly describes the problem: the spiritual leaders of Israel have not recognized the Son, they have not recognized that Israel belongs to Jesus as His inheritance as the Messiah-King. They have not rendered unto God (the Vineyard planter/owner) His due, his recognition. To render to God what is His, is to recognise Jesus as the Messiah, sent as God’s representative, affirm that he is to inherit the Kingdom.

To give God what is God’s is to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the true King of Israel, to recognize that the Kingdom belongs to Him as His inheritance (12:6,7), not Herod or Pilate. Taking into account the Messianic expectation that Israel’s King would reign over the entire world (cf. 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 2; Isaiah 14:1-27; 42:1-4; 49:6-7; Daniel 7:13-14; etc.), I’m not sure Caesar would be particularily thrilled to hear these words.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

More Dumbrell, from the introduction of his Romans Commentary. (See previous post) The emphasis are mine, although the footnotes belong to the original text.

“Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14, 15). Immediately, this had in mind in terms of prophetic expectation Israel’s restoration to be the spiritual force in the world, to witness to and exhibit their national transformation as an example of God’s total purposes of transforming creation by Kingdom of God rule. Ezekiel 36: 25-27 indicates the means whereby this would happen, 37: 1-14 the tremendous renewal resulting, and Ezek. 37: 15-28 the consequent future for the one people of God. Through a renewed Israel this gospel was to be addressed to the world.

Since the Gospel is the common property of both Testaments (Rom. 1:2), it is not primarily a message about personal forgiveness of sins and spiritual transformation. It is primarily a message to the world about God’s Lordship and its intentions. The work of applying the basic question ‘who rules the world’ to the individual by the Spirit should result in personal recognition of God’s claims and thus transformation¹.

Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ ministry led to the formation at Pentecost of an alternative Israel trough whose witness this march to total world transformation would continue. So the essence of the Gospel always concerned the final full demonstration of the rule of God in the advent of the New Creation. What redemption through the work of the cross meant was the advent of a New Creation now inaugurated and to bee seen through the transformation of individuals (2 Cor. 5:17 ) and their inclusion into the witnessing community. Transformed through inclusion in Christ we are bidden to look forward (Rom. 1:16) and communally witness to, what the process of transformation will finally lead to – the fullness of our final salvation, under Kingdom of God rule, the New Creation. This advent will bring both humanity and its world to the completion of God’s purposes enunciated in Gen. 1-2².”


¹Cf. also N.T. Wright, Romans, The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, 427. An over-individualization in the presentation of the Gospel will lose sight of the primary message of the Bible which is the presentation of the people of God in its submission to divine leadership as the alternative world society.
²See pages 1-22 in my second edition of The Faith of Israel, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.

Read Full Post »

I am currently reading William Dumbrell’s Romans commentary. In his introduction he writes in part, about the role of “covenant” as a key concept in New Testament theology. Here are some thoughts of his, that really caught my eye (emphasis mine).

“Covenant theology in discussion of New Testament theology has not been given the high profile it deserves, bearing in mind the thoroughly Jewish character of the early church, for whom a covenant connection and perspective would have been axiomatic […] As with the OT, however, the importance of the covenant concept in the NT is not to be determined by the frequency of its mention.

Jesus Himself by His death had instituted the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 bearing upon the last days, and had identified the Lord’s Supper as a continual memorial of that death. Why a New Covenant? Sinai had brought Israel into being , the total work of Jesus would bring into being a New and true Israel. Its is clear, however, that a renwel is in mind, not only from the semantic possibilities of Hebrew hadrash “new”, (Jer. 31:31), which the LXX by its kaine diatheke exploits, but also to the connection with the Sinai Covenant to which Jer. 31:32 points. Thus Jesus’ New Covenant must be understood as the continuation of the Sinai purposes for the world through Israel, but with a different Israel, and not as a replacement for that arrangement. Paul never hints that God has abandoned His covenant with Israel. It is only the question of the identification of Israel that is a Pauline concern. By the death of Christ, however, the covenant arrangements with national Israel was being terminated but the arrangement with Israel would continue through a New Israel to be brought into being through and in evidence on the day of Pentecost. This fact is sufficient in of itself to warrant and to expect that the New Covenant, which came into operation with the death of Jesus, would be a vital NT doctrine. The inauguration of the New Covenant leading to the New Creation becomes, indeed, the major blessing to stem from the death of Jesus”.

Dumbrell, William J. Romans: A New Covenant Commentary (Wipf & Stock, 2005) pp.3, 4

Read Full Post »

Fr. Peter continues to blog on this subject here and here. See Part 1 here.

Read Full Post »

Some interesting thoughts from Kyle, here. I believe that the sabbath “principle” carries over into the New Covenant, enriched by its association to Christ’s Resurrection and the inauguration of God’s New Creation.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »