Into the Heart of Romans with N.T. Wright
November 16, 2023
It is such a treat to have N.T. “Tom” Wright on the podcast with me this week. Tom has held a variety of both academic and chaplaincy posts at Oxford, Cambridge, and McGill University, Montreal. He is currently Research Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary’s College in the University of St Andrews and Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. In this episode we discuss the most recent of his over seventy books: “Into the Heart of Romans: A Deep Dive into Paul’s Greatest Letter."
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Andy Miller III: Okay, the time is here. I am so honored to welcome into the Podcast and T. Writer, Tom Wright, who is a former Bishop of Durham. He is also Professor Emeritus at St. Andrews. He's now at Wycliffe Hall, at Oxford.
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Andy Miller III: Tom, welcome to the Podcast thank you very much. It's very good to be with you.
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Andy Miller III: It's really a privilege to have you here, and I'm so thankful and excited about this new book. I'm going to put it on. The screen. Coming out from Zondervin.
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Andy Miller III: called into the heart of Romans a deep dive into Paul's greatest letter. Now it's interesting. You've you've done several. I've known several works through the years. You have a new interpreter's commentary kind of an exhaustive look at Romans. You also have your small popular level, New Testament for everyone. What led you to this place of wanting to write this book now?
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Tom: Well, obviously Romans has been at the backbone of my academic and personal life. Really, for the last 50 years I did my doctorate on Romans in the seventies? I've written several articles about different aspects of Romans. It's woven into my big book on Paul Paul, and the faithfulness of God. And, as you say, 20 years ago I wrote that big commentary for the new interpreters Bible and the little one for the Everyone series. But that was 20 years ago, and a lot has changed in 20 years.
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Tom: It's reminding me of. When I wrote my book simply, Jesus and my wife said, What are you writing this book about? And I said, It's about Jesus, she said. Haven't you written a book about Jesus before I said, well, actually, too yes, or and she said, So has Jesus changed? And I said, Well, no, but maybe I have I don't. I don't think I've well, I have changed my view of some aspects of of Romans and Romans 8 particularly, and that comes out in the book. But I think what's happened is my view of how the whole Biblical story works
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from start to finish, has has grown and expanded and taken on aspects which I really wasn't paying any attention to 20 or 30 years ago, and I mean the the obvious example here which comes out in in this book is the whole theme of the temple
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Tom: that the the founding of the tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon's Temple. These are signs of God's claim on the whole creation. They're forward looking signposts. And then in the New Testament the Temple theme devolves onto Jesus himself, and then by the Spirit onto his followers. And so you can see when Paul talks about. If the spirit dwells within you, then the God who raised Jesus from the dead will
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dwell, will raise you from the dead. That idea of indwelling is a temple theme, which then follows through into the idea of glorification. When the divine glory comes to dwell in the temple, and as far as Paul is concerned.
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Tom: part of the meaning of that, not the whole thing. Part of the meaning of that is the the the Christian, and the Church as the new temple, the place where the living God comes as well. Now these were not themes that I was working on 20 years ago, but they've become enormously important to me not to knock everything else off their perch, as it were, but to fill them out, and to show that I mean, this is an incredibly rich and dense text.
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Tom: and and so it's been very exciting. The the the book is basically only about Romans 8. Somebody said, You're gonna do the same with the whole of Romans. And I said, Well, you figure this book is whatever it is. It's 200 plus pages, just over 200 pages. So okay, the 16 chapters in Romans. So am I really gonna write a book 3,200 pages long?
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Tom: Probably not. I I've written on books before. II don't want to do that again.
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Andy Miller III: Well, it's such a it's such a treat. I've heard you say this before, and talking about these big themes through a as in various ways that you've communicated through the years. And I think I remember one time where he said, if you really want to focus, there's 2 chapters. I could give you Romans 8 in first Corinthians, 15 like to really hit these. Now, maybe we could get one on first Corinthians 15, too. Who knows? Well, yes, I mean, that is obviously a major major chapter. And I've written a lot about that because it's the big
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Tom: Resurrection chapter. So it gets the full treatment in my book, The Resurrection of the Son of God. And I'm not sure at the moment that I have anything to add to what I said there, but you never know. I mean one of the joys of doing what I'm doing now. I'm so on the staff at Whitley Fall, Oxford, which is an Anglican seminary. But I'm not actually teaching any full courses, and I'm not examining anybody. But II hang out. I go to them
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Tom: morning prayer services. Day by day I meet with graduate students to discuss their projects, and once a year I do a series of Bible expositions, and this book grew out of the one that I did for them 2 years ago, where I decided, II done quite a lot of of big picture things where, like I did one this last year, where I covered the whole of acts in 8 8 lectures, which was very, very exciting.
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Tom: I like doing that. But I decided for this one. I would go millimeter by millimeter, word by word, almost syllable by syllable in some cases to to encourage the students to dig down into the text, particularly particularly, of course, the Greek text, and because there's all sorts of treasure there when you really dig down and take time to go into it in detail.
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Andy Miller III: I love how you do that through this passage, and it reminds me we use. I'm sure it's something like the process is something you're familiar with the inductive Bible study method here that was developed by Robert Traina, and then further by David Bauer and so we we take that perspective, and I often say, I don't know if I got this from one of them. But you have the bird's eye view, and then you have the worms-eye view a very technical way that I described that there, of course.
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Andy Miller III: but when we have this, this is a great example, this book of looking in at the very minute details of these words, and you provide a trans literated text throughout it. It's really helpful to. And I think for pastors, it's a great example of what we can do to get into a text, and how we exceeded ourselves. Yeah. And and I think certainly, when I was first learning about the Bible.
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when I was quite young in my teens, and so on. I tended to look at Romans in terms of the few key verses. All have sinned and come so short of the glory of God. There is therefore now no condemnation, etc. Etc. I said the beginning of the book.
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you kind of bounce from one to the other, leaping over the difficult bits in between. And sadly, many preachers still do that because there are difficult bits. And it's much easier to go. Well, he's basically saying this. And then he's basically saying that. But of course, again and again, when you really dig down, when you examine the bits in between the big, in between the big famous verses.
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Andy Miller III: then there's all sorts of things going on which will give you a different nuance for those famous verses. So so that that's why I lay out these these rules for reading Paul about look at the beginning and end of the paragraph, look at the little joining words, the the buts, or the fours, or the because is, or the therefores, they will tell you the link between each verse and the next one, or each part first and the next one.
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Tom: and then stand back and see. Where is this going? Within the larger context of the Jewish and Greco Roman worlds of the time, and only when you've done those things, I think. Are you ready to say now, maybe this is where it's going in our world?
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Andy Miller III: Yes, that is great, those 3, 2. And I love how you bring that back chapter after chapter in this book. It you really kind of educating us in this process. Okay, you kinda remind us, let's go back. This God. Certainly one of the things he's done through you is, I help people like me understand the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, I just fully admit, like II read you for a couple of years.
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Andy Miller III: and I don't think I still got it because I was still caught into this understanding of heaven as a disembodied state, and II trusted that that was a good state, but it took so long to to lock in with me, and now I see the kind of the idea of the
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Andy Miller III: what might call the intermediate state. The second second friend is 5 8 to be absent values present with the Lord, as you call. We want to not just focus on life after death, but life after life after death. I'm curious for you, and and really pointing to the resurrection of all things, the renewal creation. And that's been such an inspiring thing in in my own life. And you're one of the ones who helped me get that picture. I'm curious for you. Oh, yeah, you're welcome.
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Andy Miller III: I I'm curious. Did. Were
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Andy Miller III: did you ever come to a place of of having that realization yourself. Were you in a place where you kind of had a Platonic view of the of the universe? Sure. Sure I grew up with that, because half the hymns in the hymnbook end with a Platonic last verse, you know, till in the ocean of Thy love, we lose ourselves in heaven above. I must have sung that lots of times. I was a choir boy in the local parish church.
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Tom: and lots of other hymns, which may have many good things in them, but when they get to the last verse you can tell that the writer is really thinking. All of this is simply preparation, for when we go upstairs and and when our souls arrive in in God's house, or whatever you're going to call it, and people use the idea of the New Jerusalem as the Jerusalem above, as though that's where we're going.
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Tom: completely forgetting that in revelation, as you know, the New Jerusalem is what comes down from heaven to earth, not not the other way around, and where, when I'm explaining it to people. Now, I say, look at the strapline in Revelation 21, 3. It's not. The dwelling of humans is with God. It's the dwelling of God is with humans. And that's it's the whole Biblical story is God making a world which he wants to come and share with
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Tom: with us, and and live amongst us in in the renewed creation. So for me. I think
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Tom: the the Major, I've been tracking this because I'm supposed to be writing an academic autobiography sooner or later. It's about. Well, yeah, it's a it's number 2 or 3 on the on the list at the moment of, because I was quite, quite ill last year I had long covid, and lots of things got put back. So I'm kind of looking at piles of paper on the desk and around. But sooner or later, and it's one of the things which interests me as a kind of
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Tom: looking in the mirror. Well, yeah, there is a time when I definitely was very much a Platonist evangelical, like most English Evangelicals, are thinking that the main aim is to get people's souls into heaven. How do they do that? Well, they must trust Jesus, and then follow Him, etc. Etc. And how you nuance. That is, of course, the debates about justification and sanctification, and so on. But that was the aim.
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Tom: And and then I think it was when I was first teaching historical Jesus issues in the 19 eighties, when I was in Mcgill and realised that for a Jew of the first century the idea of the kingdom of God was not at all about going to heaven. People in the first century Jewish world as when I first read, the Jewish writer, Josephus, from cover to cover
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Tom: it suddenly dawned on me. Josephus is talking about Jerusalem in the forties and fifties and sixties and Galilee, and there's lots of controversies and lots of things going on.
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Tom: But they're not sitting round in those days discussing how to go to heaven when you die. They're sitting around discussing urgently.
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Tom: when is God going to come and do the great thing on earth as in heaven that he's promised he would. For which one of the slogans is the kingdom of God. What will it look like when he does? And who among us is showing already that we are part of God's team, for when he does that those are the issues that are exercising. So then, when I'm reading the Gospels and trying to lecture on them in the in the late 19 eighties in Montreal.
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Tom: Jesus doesn't come along and say, you can forget all that stuff about. That's all far, too, this worldly. I've come to tell you about a Platonic heaven, you know there's many, many Christians who who think that that oh, well, the Old Testament is this worldly. But then Jesus comes to teach us about heaven, and that's because they misread Matthew's gospel, which says, the kingdom of heaven, where the other gospels say kingdom of God. And Matthew does not mean the kingdom has a place called Heaven, where you go when you die. But most of us.
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Tom: you know, is a good young Christian. Reading the New Testament. You start with Matthew, and you've got all the heaven stuff coming at you from the litigation and prayers in hymns, in the tradition. So you assume that's what it means. Without then thinking, hang on! How does that sit with the Old Testament. So for me, the continuity between the great Jewish vision of the Old Testament and what Jesus cause Jesus isn't saying no to the kingdom of God on earth as in heaven.
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Heaven. He is saying yes to that, but then he's redefining it. Hence the parables. It's coming like seed growing secretly. It's coming like a father who had 2 sons, you know, but but it's the kingdom on earth as in heaven that's coming.
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Tom: And so for me. That was the beginning. Then, I think, in the in the nineties I started to to get really interested in. Well, hang on! What is the resurrection all about it isn't just, you know, a pat on the back, because Jesus did the job of going to die for our sins.
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Tom: And it isn't that well, he got raised so that he could then go to heaven, and then we'll go there and join him. That that doesn't make any sense of the narrative at all, and somewhere in the mid nineties I had to do a lecture. at Spurgeon's College, in South London. Curiously, my brother has subsequently been teaching.
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Tom: and the the lecture had a name. The lecture I can't already was, but it had to be about something to do with eschatology and and God's ultimate future, and I decided to do it on new heavens and new earth, as a way of working out what I thought I thought about all that.
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Tom: and that was the beginning of the journey, which ended up with surprise by hope, which you will know. So I mean, it's it's it's a long story. But on the way all sorts of things have come out of that, particularly the affirmation of the of the arts role of the Christian artist or musician
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Andy Miller III: to anticipate in the present the sense of new creation. And I've had a lot of artists and musicians come and thank me for articulating this vision of the new creation and showing where they and their work belong within that, anyway, I could go on about that. Oh, I love it, and I think I see that energy coming through in this book as well. Not that it wasn't present, I mean in the other works that you've done, but certainly people can see these consistent
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Andy Miller III: themes, particularly last 10 or 15 years in your writings, and I love it. I love it, but I love seeing also applied very specifically and exigetically in this, in this recent book. And one of the things that you do is you you make sure to set the context. And you, you see some of these themes coming through. And I just I love it like that, just in the general thought that we're not saved
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Andy Miller III: from the world. But we're really in light of what you just said saved for the world. And and that's a big part of what's happening in Romans as a whole. So give us a little bit of that picture before we get specifically in to Romans 8. Like what is what is the kind of book as a whole context.
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Tom: Part of the deal. Here is the Biblical view of what humans are made for. And I realized when I was writing my little book, but not so little on the cross. The day the revolution began, that so much Christian thought
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Tom: has moralized our anthropology. In other words, it has read the story of the creation and fall of humans as though the main thing that God was doing was putting Adam and Eve in the garden and giving them a moral examination, which they then fail.
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Tom: And and the moral examination is whether you're fit to go to heaven or not. And you know, of course, Genesis one and 2 doesn't say anything at all about. Are they fit to go to heaven? It's they have a calling to reflect God's love and wise stewardship into creation. And that's the whole point about the image, and I've said it often enough. You probably heard me say it that the image is not.
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Tom: Maybe there is something in us which corresponds to something similar in God. That's that's not what the image is about at all. The image is the idea of the angled mirror, and it comes from the fact that creation is a temple. It's a heaven and earth space. And in the ancient world a temple is a heaven and earth building
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Tom: with an image at its heart, so that the God's presence can be reflected into the world, and so that the worship of the devotees can be reflected back to God. So obviously the Jerusalem Temple doesn't have an image, because only a living, breathing human being would do so. Kings and priests get to go into the temple, but
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Tom: you know how that one goes. So when I talk about the angled mirror, I'm thinking in terms of God's love being reflected out into the world through wise, obedient, humble human beings, not arrogant, domineering human beings please, but because it's God's overflowing love. They must reflect that overflowing love, but at the same time they are there to reflect
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Tom: the the praises and the laments of the present creation back to God. And it's interesting in in Romans 8. You've got all of that. You've got the sense of glorification which is about stewardship, which is about Psalm 8. What are humans that you're mindful of them? You've made them little lower than the angles with glory and honour. II had a a student when I was at Saint Andrews.
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called Hayley Goranson, who then got married. She is now Hayley Gorinson, Jacob, and her book conformed to the image of the sun really did some ground breaking work on this about 6 or 8 years ago, and I've I've been able gratefully, and I acknowledge it in the book as you'll have seen. I've been able to stand on her shoulders and say, how did the rest of us miss that before?
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Tom: But the glorification. There is the vocation of human beings to reflect God's love and care into the world, but because the world is still a mess that also means reflecting the lament as well as the praises of the world back to God. And there's a lot of lament at the heart of Romans age.
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Tom: And so I see this in terms of the vocation, to be the royal priesthood. And so the centerpiece of Romans of Romans, 8 verses 12 to 30 is not about salvation. Salvation is the outer parameters, as it were, of the chapter, but the centerpiece is about vocation. We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh, but to God to be the God reflectors in the world
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conformed to the image of the sun. And then, when you stand back and see that in the context of Romans as a whole it makes so much sense. The failure of humans at the beginning of Romans is not just that they break moral laws, they do. But the point is the failure of worship, and hence the failure of stewardship and of doing justice in the world, and that by the end that is put right in the great vision of the church which you have in
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Romans 15. So that that's that, too, along with the temple theme. The image theme has become enormously important to me over the last 20 years or so.
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Andy Miller III: I love, and II hadn't thought about before. I think it's true. That student of yours. This influence influence of assurance that that's that's a key idea. What comes through and assurance of ultimate salvation, of being this refracted mirror into in the world that's really helpful. And and II can't help but think like as we get into this like even just the very first word
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Andy Miller III: of Romans 8. Is this kind of pivoting word, this connective trying to push us back to something else. It I know you could have a whole nother or 200 pages just on Roman 7, and there's plenty of debate there, of course. But I mean, tell us about expand that connective for us between 7 and 8. Yeah, II mean the notoriously
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Tom: starting the the chapter with the word. Therefore, in English, it's actually the second word word in Greek cause. That's how the word ara works. It comes second in a sentence, ud and Aranyun Katakrima. There is therefore now no condemnation. But what sense does that make? Because chapter 7 has just ended by saying, Wretched man that I am, who will this this body of death. And then he says, thanks to me, to God through Jesus. And then he says, so I have.
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I've myself served the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh the law of sin you might have thought so. There we are. It's a mess, and we're a mess. But if
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Tom: the way that therefore works is that he puts it up front. And then you have the because because because and I use silly illustrations in the book like saying, here's my car. Unfortunately the tires are all slashed to ribbons. Unfortunately, the batteries flat. Unfortunately, the windscreens broken. Therefore I have no trouble getting to my destination. Because here is this the guy with the new tires. Here's the person who's going to
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charge up the battery, and here comes the person who's going to give me a new windscreen. So the because, to begin with, looks ridiculous. But then it's sorry that therefore looks ridiculous. But then, when you say because because, but and the because basically is the work of
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Tom: the Messiah, and the Spirit has done what the Torah could not do. And then, when I stand back from Roman. 7. This is something again which I should have seen years ago. And which I'm now factoring in. And this is the first time. I've actually written that out that towards the end of Roman 7 Paul talks about that we we have become captive, and he uses a Greek word, Eichmann, that the law has has made me a prisoner of war.
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Tom: But, one of the things I do as a as a as a habit is that I read the Old Testament in either Hebrew or Greek, and I'll alternate between the 2. But if you read the Old Testament in Greek, the Septuagint, which was the Bible of the early Church, the word Eichmanlo, Titzo, and its cognates regularly refer to exile, and when I saw that, of course you will know that exile has been a major important theme in my thinking and writing about Biblical theology.
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Tom: But then, of course, Roman 7 is telling the whole Deuteronomic story of Israel. It's telling from when the Torah arrived and Torah promises life, but actually
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Tom: it effectively gives death, because the people to whom Torah is given are themselves fallen children of fallen Adam. And here's the tension of the whole Old Testament reflected dramatically in Rome. 7.
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Andy Miller III: That God, knowing perfectly well that the human race is in a mess, calls a member of the human race, IE. Abraham, to start the rescue project, knowing that he and his people are themselves going to need rescuing. And so the Pentateuch runs from the stories of Adam and Abraham through to the end of Deuteronomy, where you get precisely the warning that if you don't obey Torah, you're going to exile.
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and only when you've gone into exile, then at a future stage, Deuteronomy 30, will God rescue you and renew your heart, and so on, and bring you back and do the new thing that he has promised. But then, Deuteronomy 32. The great song of Moses, one of Paul's favourite passages in the whole Old Testament.
00:33:55.760 --> 00:34:13.150
That has the dire warnings again, and it's as though Paul has collapsed the whole of that pentateuchal narrative into Roman 7. No wonder it's so dense because he's also alluding to the Aristotelian tradition of of the person with weak will, etc. And it's a very, very clever piece of writing.
00:34:13.150 --> 00:34:39.850
Tom: But then, on that basis, Romans 8 is then able to take off and say, we are now the Deuteronomy 30 people, which is why he quotes Deuteronomy 30 and chapter 10, which is the equivalent passage, etc. Etc. So it's it's a brilliant piece of of sketching the story of Israel as Paul's own story, because he never wants to say them. They that that will be a way of distancing himself
00:34:39.850 --> 00:34:49.989
from the whole Jewish tradition, and Paul does not want to do that. So he says, aye, this, ay, that, and because he he's he's felt the tension of it, the theological
00:34:50.120 --> 00:34:56.310
Tom: attention of it in himself. So that that is the launching pad for Chapter 8
00:34:56.310 --> 00:35:21.299
Tom: being the renewal of the covenant, as in Deuteronomy, 30, which is picked up in Ezekiel and Jeremiah precisely the post-exilic promises of the ways in which God is going to renew Israel, rebuild the temple, and ultimately renew the whole creation. So the creation renewal. Passage in Romans ii. Goes very closely with passages like Isaiah, 55. Where the covenant has been renewed through the death of the
00:35:21.300 --> 00:35:32.349
Tom: Isaiah, 53, and 54, so that now creation is renewed, Isaiah 55. Paul is absolutely tracking with that whole. Whole Old Testament sequence.
00:35:32.430 --> 00:35:57.159
Andy Miller III: So then, here you take that I to be the people of Israel. Some some might even say, have, said Adam. They come with all kinds of things to describe this. But as the people of Israel. And I think it's interesting, this research that you bring up lately about the idea of captives reminds me, too, of Scott. Haven't work on Second Corinthians, and the the thought of being we are, you know, often mistranslated that we are, Cap, we are taken as captives.
00:35:57.160 --> 00:36:07.269
Tom: the ones who really led in triumphal procession kind of leading to this bigger picture as well. Yes, yes, Scott was a colleague of mine in Saint Andrews, and a dear friend, and
00:36:07.270 --> 00:36:31.839
Tom: and happily his wife's a good friend of my wife as well, and Scott and I have had this discussion many times, like we've had certain other discussions many times, and I think I probably agree with him. But I would have to go back and think. Now wait a minute. What was how? How did the argument run last time we had it? But but I mean F for me, of course Adam is there in Roman 7 as well, because Adam is there all through Romans 1, 1, 2, 8,
00:36:31.950 --> 00:36:46.119
Tom: and but because the whole thing is about the human project, God's project for his image bearing humans going wrong because Adam messes up. But then, as we know in Genesis, the promises
00:36:46.120 --> 00:37:11.030
Tom: to Abraham recapitulate the commands to Adam be fruitful and multiply, comes out, as I will make you fruitful and multiply you exceedingly, and that's one of the key insights, I think, for the whole, the whole of the Jewish tradition. Actually, as some some of the rabbis pick that up very clearly. And and it's it's absolutely crucial for Paul in Romans, Romans 4. He's shown how what God has done in Jesus means that the
00:37:11.030 --> 00:37:34.429
Tom: this is to Abraham, and how fulfilled the world. That means he can stand back and say so, Adam Messiah! There we are. We have the complete picture, and then Romans 6 through 8 is filling in the the story which is sketched in the briefest of terms in Romans 5, 12 to 21. That means Paul's such a brilliant writer. Quite extraordinary intellectual feat, the way he's pulled it all together.
00:37:34.430 --> 00:37:58.270
Andy Miller III: Oh, I love it, and I just love that that regular theme that you keep bringing on the way, that this is an example of the new covenant and the way that pushes through. And in interesting the first 4 verses you mentioned to the focus on the cross, and a lot of people, because you've said things dramatically about justification, and that doesn't always sit well with people. You do make it very clear here
00:37:58.270 --> 00:38:11.939
Andy Miller III: that this is one of the clearest passages speaking to a penal view of the substitution. Well, it's funny, because after my book on the day the revolution began came out.
00:38:11.940 --> 00:38:35.789
Tom: Some people said, there it is. Anti writers denied penal substitution, which is precisely what I don't do in that book. What I do is to show that the phrase penal substitution can be taken a number of different ways, depending on what larger narrative you're putting it in. If you put it into a narrative which says that the whole point of the Bible is to get people's souls into heaven.
00:38:35.790 --> 00:39:00.599
and that humans mess up because there's a moral law which they've broken. Then you will end up having a view of penal substitution, which, as as I say in that other book, God so hated the world that he killed his son, which is not what John 3, 16 says. Now, some people have objected that that's a caricature, but others have come back to my defense and said, No, that is what a lot of young people in our churches
00:39:00.640 --> 00:39:29.520
Tom: think that they've heard when they've heard a sermon on the Cross, they think, oh, God! Is this fearsome bully who's got a big stick? And he was determined to kill somebody. Fortunately somebody got in the way it happened to be his own innocent son. So somehow that makes it all right. And then a lot of people think, hang on th this. This makes no sense at all. And and if you say Oh, well, it's because God loved us some sadly. Some young people think, oh dear, I know this story.
00:39:29.520 --> 00:39:53.700
Tom: the man with the big stick who says he loves you, and yet he comes and beats you sadly. Many young people have suffered from such horrible parenting, or or guardianship, or whatever it is. So I'm I'm sort of saying that's the wrong way to do it. What we have here in Romans 8, one to 4 is definitely penal. There is no condemnation because God condemned sin in the flesh of Christ.
00:39:53.700 --> 00:40:18.240
Tom: That is definitely penal, and it's definitely substitutionary Jesus. Death means that we do not suffer that same death. That's if that isn't substitutionary. I don't know what is, but it's very interesting that the context of that is not that old moral equation of moralising our anthropology, so that the main thing is that we've broken the moral law. So God has to punish somebody, etc. Etc.
00:40:18.340 --> 00:40:46.479
Tom: The the point is the failure of vocation, and then Israel's failure of vocation. But God, using that, this is the genius of Roman. 7. As the way of drawing sin, which is personified here as almost as though it means Satan, or the devil, or the power of evil, or something drawing sin onto one place the people of Israel, and then drawing it from the people of Israel on to the Messiah himself.
00:40:46.480 --> 00:40:48.359
so that with the death of Jesus.
00:40:48.360 --> 00:41:01.389
Tom: Sin itself is condemned, and you know people can say, well, it doesn't look as though sin is condemned because I still sin, and people around me still sin. But the New Testament message is very clear that God has
00:41:01.390 --> 00:41:22.259
Tom: in the cross disarmed the principalities and powers. Colossians, too, God has overcome. He's won the victory. The whole of the Book of Revelation is about that the lion, the Lamb of the Lion of Judah, the Lamb has conquered by his blood, and has won the victory, and we now have to live out of that victory, as it were. But the point is, he condemned
00:41:22.260 --> 00:41:41.680
Tom: sin in the flesh of Jesus. That's the most nuanced that Paul ever says it. He doesn't say, Oh, God punish Jesus, and he he can. Of course it's the same event. It's still a horrible, bloody, brutal lynching of an innocent young Jewish kingdom of God, person. But
00:41:41.680 --> 00:41:58.489
Tom: the theological analysis is all the difference in the world instead of God just beating up on Jesus because he wants to beat up on somebody. This is God's plan. God's Israel-shaped plan for dealing with the dark power of evil itself.
00:41:58.550 --> 00:42:08.230
Tom: That that's that's a hard thing to get your mind round, especially if you've been brought up. And I was speaking on Good Friday in a church in London a few years ago.
00:42:08.400 --> 00:42:31.449
Tom: and they'd asked me to come. And do I think, Maundy? Thursday a Good Friday, and then Easter morning. I'd very glad to do that, but I took quite some time to walk them through. How the Old Testament narrative works to get to this point, and several members of the congregation. It's a good evangelical church in London. Several members of the congregations that was very interesting, because we don't normally hear all that Old Testament background. And I was thinking
00:42:31.720 --> 00:42:55.520
Tom: without that, you're bound to produce a caricature. And I really worry that many Christians today are saying in effect, Oh, the Old Testament is too difficult, and it's sort of remote from us, etc. Let's just stick with the New Testament. But of course to ourselves from it. Well, exactly so. The New Testament itself tells you on every page. You will only understand this if you understand the Old Testament as the great story which has has got us here.
00:42:55.640 --> 00:43:01.940
Andy Miller III: Yes, and you make the clarification, too, that what we're thinking about thinking of here in this passage of what happens
00:43:02.010 --> 00:43:15.849
Andy Miller III: with sin. It's not just sins, but sin. And you capitalize sin throughout the your exegesis of this. Yeah, yeah, th, that's right. And I'm following. There are many scholars who've written about this, that in Romans.
00:43:15.850 --> 00:43:42.239
Tom: perhaps in Romans 6 as well, but certainly in Romans 7 and 8, it is as though Paul is retelling the story of the snake in the garden, and he doesn't want to dignify it by calling it the Satan, but he is just calling it sin, and seeing it as as a quasi personal power, which I think is actually true to how the New Testament as a whole sees the dark force that lies behind evil. It's basically destructive, its anti creation.
00:43:42.280 --> 00:43:43.909
Tom: its anti covenant.
00:43:44.110 --> 00:43:54.380
Tom: But it's but it's very sneaky and very powerful, and it creeps in and it still grabs us, etc. But God has defeated it in and through Jesus, and that meant.
00:43:54.620 --> 00:43:56.880
Tom: That's the sigh of relief.
00:43:57.180 --> 00:44:22.159
Andy Miller III: Amen. Oh, I love it. II want. I'm interested, too. When it just jumping ahead a little bit, which is kinda hard because I'm I'm tempted to come back. But when you get to 12 to 17, you talk about this key verse that of often understood in 15 and 16, and thinking about the way the grammar works at passage you give 2 options, and this is on page 104 of your book. But you say, like one of the options.
00:44:22.160 --> 00:44:28.239
is we have received the spirit of sonship, in whom we call Aba Father
00:44:28.250 --> 00:44:36.219
Andy Miller III: period. The spirit bears witness with our spirit, or the second option. We have received the spirit of sonship period.
00:44:36.460 --> 00:44:57.650
Tom: when we call Aba comma father comma. The Spirit is bearing witness with our spirit. Now there, there's a different emphasis here that I think is really important. I'd love for you to unfold that for us. Yeah, II mean, II think in a sense, Paul wants to say both. And I think I say that in in this, in this passage, in the book
00:44:58.090 --> 00:45:21.189
Tom: yes, in my translation, I've tried to get the best of both worlds. By rendering it you receive the spirit of sonship, in whom we call out Abba, Father, and when that happens, it is the spirit itself giving, supporting weak witness as so often Paul has scrunched different meanings together. He wants to say, as Readbot has said here he wants to say both
00:45:21.230 --> 00:45:43.549
Tom: that the cry of Aber Father is the sure sign that we have received the spirit of sonship when we are aware that God is our Father, and that is loving us as a father, that we can talk to Him as father, that that can only happen if the Spirit has done that in our hearts, because people without the spirit think of the word God, and they think of either a faceless bureaucrat, or a dangerous tyrant, or
00:45:43.690 --> 00:46:11.680
Tom: absentee landlord, or whatever not usually as a generous, loving father! But then Paul also wants to say that this is the sign. And and this is a really interesting thing, and Paul doesn't develop this in the way that we might like him to that the spirit is at work with our spirit. Paul. Yes, talks about the human spirit, and actually much of the Christian tradition has ignored that and has gone with the word soul
00:46:11.680 --> 00:46:18.300
Tom: which we get from Plato. Obviously the word soul. Suke does occur in the, but not with the Platonic meaning.
00:46:18.300 --> 00:46:47.339
Tom: So Christians have thought that the soul is the key thing. But for Paul it's our spirit which is bonded with the Holy Spirit. Paul discusses this a bit in one Corinthians as well, and I think this is really important because of the immediately preceding argument as well whether it's the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, who functions as the bridge between our present life and the ultimate resurrection life, so that if somebody says
00:46:47.340 --> 00:47:15.730
Tom: so, who am I going to be between my bodily death and my bodily resurrection? The best answer that I can give from Paul is actually that if the spirit has induced you in this life, the spirit, then, after your physical death, isn't going to say well, that was an interesting experiment which we now just let drop the spirit. As the third member of the Trinity is holding on to our spirit, looking after us. So you might say that
00:47:15.730 --> 00:47:30.240
Tom: every aspect of our lives in which the Spirit has been at work and has been shaping us. That is what's going to be remaining of us, as it were, in the interim between death and resurrection. So that then, when the Spirit raises us from the dead.
00:47:30.240 --> 00:47:43.990
Tom: it's all that the spirit has already done in us, which will become the person that that we will become. So. I think that that that's that's really where Paul is going with this because he's preparing us in these verses 15 following, isn't it?
00:47:43.990 --> 00:48:07.970
Tom: For what he's then going to say in in 18 and following? I appreciate it's complicated. If any of your viewers or listeners are anxious about this. Just take it, take it steadily, take it word by word, line by line, and I think you'll see it'll work out. Yeah, it's so much it's so much better if we do that as opposed to just say, Well, that's hard, you know. I don't know. Don't know quite what to do there, but I appreciate the way you walk us through this
00:48:08.040 --> 00:48:29.299
Andy Miller III: in this book, and you just going back a little bit there when you're talking about like the spirit being with us in that I'll just say intermediate state in this middle place a life after death. Then there's this reality that this in in sometimes when I say this and II people think I'm crazy, cause they've not heard out like, I'll say, like, Look, we're you saying, if you sing the Gloria pottery saying
00:48:29.300 --> 00:48:56.699
Andy Miller III: world without end, we say in the Apostles, Greet it from thence he'll come to judge the quick and the dead. These type. We believe in the resurrection of the body, that this, whatever this force, is, this entity that makes us up. That's one with the spirit comes back to the body. Now, when I say that people say you're just making this up. This sounds more like a movie, Andy. I don't know what you're saying, but I think I think that it's so much better. It's so much better than than the alternative view.
00:48:56.700 --> 00:49:22.539
Tom: Of course. Yes, and I mean first century Jews who believed in the resurrection of the body. That's the Pharisees, not the Sadducees. They had to develop ways of talking about the intermediate state, and you see it in Acts 23. When Paul says this whole business is about resurrection, and they say, well, maybe a spirit or an angel spoke to him, and it's as though they have. These are not precise terms for them. These are loose ways of saying
00:49:22.540 --> 00:49:37.699
that in between death and resurrection people are still around in God's space, so maybe they're around as a spirit or as an angel, but then they will be raised later on, and other examples of that as well.
00:49:37.960 --> 00:50:06.890
Tom: In other words, if you believe in resurrection, you have to have some theory of who you are, or where you are, or what you are, in between the one and the other. So, as you say, life after death rather than life after life after death, and I think we don't give enough attention to that. And I think specifically we haven't. I haven't read any theologians trying to work out what it means to say that after our death it isn't so much that we still have the spirit, but that the Spirit still has us.
00:50:06.890 --> 00:50:28.420
Tom: and that in the mystery of the Trinity. Paul says in in Colossians, your life is hidden with the Messiah in God, and I think that's perhaps as close as you can get. You have died. Your life is hidden with the Messiah in God, and when the Messiah, who is our life, appears, then you will appear with him in glory.
00:50:28.420 --> 00:50:50.560
Tom: And so at the moment somebody who has died and and he's talking realised eschatology. There. He's saying, you've died already in baptism. So we are already, in a sense, in a different kind of intermediate state. And and, as you say, people get puzzled and think this is a bit too much like a movie. The answer is, we've been so used to the old movie for so long. Hello! About the dying and going to heaven
00:50:50.560 --> 00:51:11.879
Tom: that that getting that out of our heads and getting the Biblical story in instead is is hard work. It really is. Well, it's interesting to me, too. How often movies portray an idea of a resurrection like, yeah, like, this is something that comes out like, I think there's something within the natural theology that is pointing us to this, that authors want to see something
00:51:11.880 --> 00:51:36.450
Andy Miller III: happen in the body, as we kind of see, like with this, this next, the next section that we're we just left when we think about 18 on about the liberation of all creation. I think that that's something is put inside of us that we're all longing for that, and I love the the way that you say it so often. Just a kind of point of Easter is that like what happens? What we celebrate is that God's gonna do this
00:51:36.520 --> 00:52:01.259
Tom: for all of creation? Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. And this is an insight, of course, which the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Greek, Orthodox, Russian, Orthodox, Egyptian, Coptic, orthodox, etc. They have always emphasized that, and I was once talking to a Greek Orthodox Archbishop in who was visiting the Lambeth Conference in 2,008, and I was eager to to ask him some questions about his theology.
00:52:01.340 --> 00:52:20.720
Tom: and I kept trying to press him on the meaning of the cross, the crucifixion, because the orthodox haven't tended to emphasize that. And eventually he said, the point of the cross is, it's the prelude to the resurrection. Everything had to come back to that. And and I agree. Of course, the cross is the prelude to the resurrection. But we didn't get any further with that conversation.
00:52:20.720 --> 00:52:31.880
but it is something that Western theology has screened right out. And I think it's because of the turn to Plato. And really, ever since. I don't know Augustine or before Augustine.
00:52:31.880 --> 00:52:50.429
Tom: this, this sense of a soul needing to get to heaven, and then, of course, particularly in the high Middle Ages with Thomas Aquinas and the Beatific Vision. And really there are ways for Aquinas where you can hold together the Beatific Vision with the ultimate resurrection. But that's difficult, and Aquinas scholars will tell you it's difficult.
00:52:50.430 --> 00:53:11.320
Tom: And and Dante, who followed Aquinas and wrote his great poem, The The The Divine comedy. Dante found it difficult as well, because the Beatific Vision seems to be the be all and end all. And then, oh, by the way, there is also the resurrection, and that'll be even better. But but it's kind of not integrated. So so then the renewal of all creation
00:53:11.320 --> 00:53:39.950
Tom: and and until very recently many scholars, reading Romans, 18 through 30, would say, when Paul says all creation, he presumably just means human beings, because he can't possibly have this cross stuff of grass and trees and flowers and cows and and whales, and whatever, happily we've now swung right away from that, I think, and most theologians, and exodus, I think, would now say no. When Paul says criticis creation, he means creation.
00:53:39.950 --> 00:53:52.869
Tom: and that this is the fulfilment of what he says in Romans 4. That God's promise to Abraham was that he would inherit the world, and somebody asked me about this after the lecture that I gave in London last night.
00:53:53.010 --> 00:54:05.230
Tom: the whole point. And this is in relation to the present situation in the Middle East that christians have have not realized that in Psalm 2. Already
00:54:05.230 --> 00:54:34.420
Tom: the single land promised to Abraham is enlarged to include the whole world. God says to Abraham, I'll give you this land. God says to the Messiah in Psalm 2. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance. The uttermost parts of the world for your possession. The New Testament picks up exactly that which is why you have a Gentile mission, which is why you have the renewal of all creation. This is the fulfilment, so that, as I've said often enough
00:54:34.770 --> 00:54:52.419
Tom: read my lips. The whole world is now God's Holy Land. And you know, if we'd realized that 3 or 400 years ago all sorts of nonsense that is currently going on would not be going on. No doubt there would be other forms of nonsense, but not the one we currently have.
00:54:52.650 --> 00:55:02.360
Andy Miller III: Do you think there is thinking of like the conflict? And we're recording this on November tenth, the conflict in the Middle East. There, with that in mind, and thinking.
00:55:02.450 --> 00:55:29.999
Tom: with the realms of eschatology, that there is a sense that Israel still has some significance geographically, whereas or is that do we just need to keep on pointing back? It's the whole of creation, Paul says in Second Corinthians, all the promises of God find their Yes in the Messiah Jesus any attempt to say, but there are 3 or 4 other promises which aren't yet fulfilled in Jesus, and so God is reserving them for some future thing.
00:55:30.000 --> 00:55:43.170
This is basically a nineteenth century mistake of exodgesis. It came in through the Plymouth Brethren movement, through the dispensationalism, and obviously the different kinds of dispensationalism, but an attempt to find an eschatology
00:55:43.530 --> 00:56:07.669
Tom: which would get round the rather embarrassing problem that when Jesus came most of his fellow countrymen didn't believe now the Gospels addressed that problem. But the way the Dispensationists did it was to say, Well, Ok, that meant that some of the key promises about the land, and so on, were put on hold, and there waiting for a future date. And guess what that future date was. 1947, when the United Nations voted
00:56:07.670 --> 00:56:14.319
to say that the Jewish people could go and establish a homeland once again. Now
00:56:14.330 --> 00:56:39.259
Tom: let me make it very clear that I have every total sympathy for the need of the Jewish people, particularly after centuries of pogroms and persecutions, and and being kicked out of whole countries, and so on, and then particularly reaching its climax in the Nazi holocaust. Of course I have every sympathy with saying they have to have a place where they are secure. They have to have a place where they can
00:56:39.260 --> 00:57:08.080
long where they can be themselves, but this has then been pushed in a quite different direction, particularly by what has called itself Christian Zionism, which I see as a basically a contradiction in terms, because for a Christian Jesus is Lord of the whole world, the whole world is now God's Holy Land. And the way the New Testament works is not to say, Oh, well, there's this little bit which is still special, and and that that's kind of reserved for
00:57:08.080 --> 00:57:32.430
Tom: the Jews at some future date. But no, the Church is not simply Jews over there waiting for something else. And then Gentile Christians over there. That's a very common mistake which many people make at the moment, thinking to be making sure that they're, as it were, making room for the Jewish people faced with the rising tide of anti Semitism. We've got it in the Uk at the moment, as you say, we're recording on
00:57:32.450 --> 00:57:57.769
November tenth, this coming weekend in London. There's going to be a huge march of pro Palestinian sympathisers, and there's a great political debate whether that should even be allowed, because it may well be they may well, some of them be bent on making trouble, and the Jewish community in my country are really frightened at the moment. I have every sympathy for them. If if I was in the job I was doing once before.
00:57:57.770 --> 00:58:18.130
Tom: I would want to link arms with the local rabbi, and walk down the street and say, Not in our name. Thank you very much. So make it very clear. It's it's it's not about casual support for one side or the other. At the same time the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, etc. Seems to me
00:58:18.270 --> 00:58:47.429
Tom: one of the definitions of a war crime. And so we there's all sorts of stuff going on. And this is why, back to Romans 8. The plea for lament is so important, and and the the call to the Church to be the people of lament at the place where the world is in pain, so that the Holy Spirit may be lamenting right there, and so that the Father and the Spirit will be sharing that
00:58:47.430 --> 00:59:01.530
Tom: cruciform lament at the heart of the world's pain. And that, says Paul, is how God is bringing the new world to birth. So our prayer our lament is, is not just.
00:59:01.530 --> 00:59:25.350
Andy Miller III: We're looking on from a distance, and saying, Oh, dear! It's all rather horrible! But we are actually being used in God's purposes to be the vessels and vehicles of the prayer through which he will do the good new things that he wants to do so huge. My goodness! Oh, I love it! Thank you so much for taking time to go into the contemporary situation as well, and I think we hear it like we hear you loud and clear, that you that
00:59:25.350 --> 00:59:48.820
Andy Miller III: of the way you want to recognize Israel, and kind of like in our contemporary situation, but not to allow that to come back and influence the way we exegete these passages, and then the role of lament, I think, even for this time in light of what's happening globally, and the the pains that we feel in this world, you know a lot of times.
00:59:48.820 --> 01:00:13.529
Andy Miller III: first 26 is taken taken to be, and I and I've applied it this way for sure, like God's helping me pray at this moment, but you bring it up, and and I love for you to say a little bit more about how lament comes with this, like the spirit, helps us when we intercede on our behalf, when we don't know what to pray, growing too deep for words. Yeah, which is an extraordinary passage. Paul is saying, that
01:00:13.530 --> 01:00:21.239
Tom: third person of the Trinity can't find the words to say how bad it is, you know which I see that as
01:00:21.310 --> 01:00:40.389
Tom: the pneumatological equivalent of the cry of dereliction from the cross. When Jesus shouts, My God! My God! Why did you abandon me? It's as though the spirit at the heart of the Church, at the heart of the pain of the world. The spirit is saying, this is absolutely terrible, and and the word groaning.
01:00:40.390 --> 01:01:04.530
Tom: picks up the image from Exodus. Chapter 2 of the children of Israel in Egypt groaning under slavery, and and God hears so in this passage, too, God hears he knows what is the mind of the spirit, and Paul has is there echoing Psalm 44, which he echoes more explicitly later in the chapter, for for your sake we are being killed all day long, etc.
01:01:04.530 --> 01:01:29.000
Andy Miller III: And psalm 44 is one of those great laments which says, Lord if we had been misbehaving. If we've been getting stuff wrong, then we could understand the mess we're in. But we haven't. We have not gone false on you. We've not played false to the covenant. So what are you doing about it? Come on, it's a mess. Rise up and help us. And so and it's it's it's God. As the Searcher of the hearts is the key there that links with Psalm 44,
01:01:29.000 --> 01:01:36.529
Tom: and so Paul's vision of God, the heart searcher, the Spirit, the One who is groaning within us
01:01:36.540 --> 01:01:59.559
Tom: at the heart of the pain of the world, so that through God's own incarnated prayer the world may be healed, and that that's why, as as you say, it's easy to detach verses 26, and 27, and think that for some reason, at the climax of one of his greatest chapters, Paul has just dropped in 2 little verses on oh, by the way, prayer is a bit difficult, but the spirit helps us.
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Tom: I mean, of course, that's true, but it's organically part of the whole argument of the whole chapter. Indeed, it's the climax of the whole chapter.
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Tom: So the the the the pneumatological, incarnational
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Tom: theme which is caught and is calling us to be the royal priesthood. And here the priesthood, laying before the love of God. the pain of the world in which we live.
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Andy Miller III: Hmm!
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Andy Miller III: And then that ties, for I love the way what you do with romans 8, 28, even though you met at the very beginning of that chapter. Like it would be. You know I liked how I read this verse 60 years ago. Yeah, Co, go ahead, for I know all things work together. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Well, th, this is the thing that it's averse. Everybody knows all things work together for good for those who love God, which can easily collapse into a sort of
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Tom: stoic view of Providence that you know the the. It'll all work out somehow, and just just relax God's in control or something.
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Tom: But that's not what he's saying at all. And and here again I do want to mention Hayley, Jacob, and also my dear friends, Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keysmat, whose book Romans disarmed, has a reading which really helped me with this, but when faced with what those 2 authors were saying, I went back and reread the Greek text. I'm thinking.
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Tom: how did I manage to avoid what the Greek text actually says, because the the Greek word suneergi means to work with a synergy. Yes, exactly synergy. And of course.
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Tom: theologians have been so worried about synergism. Yes, as though it means that we are helping God in the process of our own salvation. This is not about salvation, it's about vocation. It's about the way in which God is calling humans to be His partners. In the, in the the work that He's doing in the world right now, you find exactly the same at the beginning of Second Corinthians, 6. Working together with him. Therefore.
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Tom: we beseech you not to accept the grace of God in vain, and it's the regular word that Paul uses for his Co. Workers, his fellow workers, his son Urgoi. So the answer is that God, again, that God is the subject of the sentence, not all things that God is at work
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Tom: for good with those who love him, and the phrase, those who love him comes up at the front of the verse in the Greek. It's hard to do that in English, because those who love him is referring back to the scenario. He's just painted in verses 26 and 27.
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Cross. Reference back to chapter 5, verse 5, where the love of God is poured into our hearts through the Spirit who dwells in us. So now he's described the work of the Spirit within us in terms of this, groaning in prayer, and the Father hearing and knowing that those are the people who are loving God in precisely that process of laying before the loving Father the pain of the world. And Paul is saying that God is working all things for good
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Tom: through that process. This is this is then a matter of the vocation the Christ shaped vocation, verse 29, which results in the Israel shaped vocation, verse 30, because those he justified them. He also glorified, picks up exactly the Greek words in Isaiah 45, when in the Lord all the all the offspring of Israel
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Tom: shall be justified and shall be glorified. It's the same words, Dichaothex, the Sonti. And it's as though Paul is saying, this is how, through that prayer, and through being shaped in and with the Messiah, who is Israel in person, as it were. You are now
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Andy Miller III: bearing and sharing the vocation of Israel to be the servant people for the sake of the world, and then that runs straight into the last paragraph versus 31 to 390, yeah, that is so great. The idea of not just salvation, but vocation emphasis. Here our common friend, my former teacher, Ben Withrington. He highlights in, in his comment his urban's commentary, how in that verse, and I saw you, you highlight. You note it as well that the
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Andy Miller III: it doesn't say to say those called according to his purpose that his isn't actually there. Yeah. So he kind of takes that in, and he takes a reading from, mentions Chris, Austin, and a few others who talk about. But but the purpose. Think about how that idea of purpose might even fit in with the idea of vocation. Still, now it is his purpose. I'm not saying it's not his, but it is interesting that that word's not there. Yeah, yeah.
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Tom: that's right. W, one of the one of the delights and frustrations of of of doing this book, and indeed one or 2 others that I've been doing around the same time. Somebody said to me, the great thing about being retired is, you don't have to worry about footnotes anymore. Now III have written one or 2 books in retirement which have got a lot of footnotes, my commentary on Galatians being an an example.
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Tom: but II deliberately set out not to write another book full of footnotes. I've done plenty of those, so I thought, there's one or 2 which were kind of necessary notes.
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but certainly Ben Witherington's work has been well. Ben and I are old friends, so he's been really helpful to me, and I hope I've been some small help to him, but so yes, there's all sorts of ways. One could go into the patristic exegesis, and so on, and and yes, noting, called, according to God's purpose, to the purpose.
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Tom: to purpose. And the purpose, then, is the whole purpose why humans were made the whole purpose. Why Israel was called the whole purpose. Why, the servant was called in Isaiah 45. And that's all
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Tom: coming at us through Jesus by the Spirit turning into our vocation as spirit led Christians.
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Andy Miller III: I wanna get to verse 29 just a second, but I can't help. But highlight, you know. I know you're old friends with him. But yeah, I'm sure people have said this before. When he says in his commentary, when right is wrong, and he goes after you for a few pages, so I don't know what you could say with Witherington in the same way that could get him. But II don't think I've ever tried to make a crit of Ben, and I think he and I have had many discussions over the years. And of course, Ben is a particular kind of Methodist. I'm a particular kind of Anglican.
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Tom: so we're kind of cousins, you know, Methodist churches, you know. John Wesley said. I live and die a member of the Church of England, and I advise all of you to do the same. And and sadly, not all his followers took that seriously. But yes, that's right. So so II don't think the I don't think the disagreements are massive, and I suspect that we're both in our different ways working towards what might turn out to be convergence.
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Tom: And it's one of the great things I found again and again is as you turn a corner in your reading of Scripture and see a whole vista of something which you hadn't factored in before. You realize this actually puts you on the same page as somebody whose work you hadn't quite understood before, and that that's that's always really encouraging when that happens.
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Andy Miller III: So so this idea of predestination that comes in 29. It's it's it's interesting. You, you say that it's not necessarily we're not thinking of this just as salvation. But maybe, is it again, that vocation theme that comes through. It's the same same in Ephesians 1, 3 through 14. Th that we! We're chosen, that we might live and work to His praise and glory.
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We are chosen that we should be the people through whom God reveals His glory in the world. Ephesians, one doesn't actually say you are predestined in the Calvinist sense, and and the same with Romans 8 29, and and 30, and preparing the way, of course, for some similar predestinarian language in chapter 9, which is about the vocation of Israel, Paul is retelling. The story of Israel was called for a particular purpose. The purpose had to do with getting the Adam purpose back on track.
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But Paul has been talking about the Adam purpose throughout Romans one to 8. There's all the echoes of Adam in Romans. One. Echoes of Adam in Romans 3. Adam very explicitly, in Romans 5 and 5 to 8, makes a complete circle. Adam, Adam. So it's all about what God always intended humans to be doing in and for His world. God is the power sharing God.
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Tom: God didn't make a world with humans, just as creatures to be set in examination, so that they might then go to heaven. Humans are part of the deal of how God wanted His world to work and the Christological focus of verse 29 makes this clear. The reason why God made the world with humans as His image bearers in that way was because the Triune God always intended to come in the second person to become human himself. Creation is made
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Tom: in order to be a vehicle for God's appropriate self-revelation. And then the creation of humans in God's image
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Tom: is also the vessel for the appropriate self realization, if you like, of the third Person of the Trinity, and the older I get, the more I see the Trinitarian groundwork, as it were, of Genesis one and 2, and the way that that is then retrieved. Precisely in this sense of purpose we are called to be genuine humans. I constantly these days I am cross, referencing. Revelation. Chapter 5, where we're not told
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Tom: that we're saved by the work of the lion, who is also the lamb, so that we can go and sit on a cloud and play harps forever and ever. We're saved by the the lion, who is also the Lamb.
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Tom: so that we can be the royal priesthood, so that we can be the ones who share God's rule or reign in his new creation. And that begins right now with that vocation to lament, and
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Tom: all the other things that go with that, to speak the truth, to power, and to to call the world to account. As in John 16, so I could go on about this a long time. Actually, that's what I was lecturing about in London last night, which was quite fun. It's beautiful. Well, if ever there was a fire hose of information on one chapter. It's this book. I'm holding it up again into the heart of Romans. A deep dive, a truly deep dive
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Andy Miller III: into Paul's greatest letter, Tom. Thank you so much for the way you've come on here and shared this with us. It's exciting to hear this. You know. You have been a gift to the Church, and the way that you have facilitated the resources that have come from you and and poured over them. I just think of all the ways that people's preaching has been impacted, not just preaching in the way that we even read the Bible.
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Tom: II just really thank you for the clear way you've allowed Guide to use your vocation. Thank you very much. I mean, you know II hear the words you say, but I simply sit here at the desk doing the next thing and the next thing, and trying to feed my family and stay out of trouble. You know this this is, I look at the shelf with lots of books on, with my name on. And I think that's funny. How did that happen? II just doing the next task and the next task.
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Tom: But it's it's been fun, you know. I'm now in my mid seventies, God willing, if I live for another fortnight or so I shall turn 75, and the the the last 50 plus years I've simply had as my main goal to try to understand the Bible better, and to make it clear to people, and
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Tom: not all the people that I thought would like it when I did. That did, in fact, like it. Quite a lot of people that I never imagined would like it have liked it so God moves in mysterious ways, and I am just happy to do to do what I have been trying to do.
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Andy Miller III: It's it's beautiful. It's really been a blessing to me. It's such a honor for me to talk to you because you've had a deep influence on my life. And I know, as I was talking to our faculty here, people almost didn't believe me, that I was actually gonna be having a interview with you. So thankful for. And let me I'll often end the podcast by asking the same question in the title, my podcast is more to the story, and people can find. I can't say just like this, but you can find
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Andy Miller III: interviews somewhat like this. If you go to my podcast and a Youtube channel, Andy Miller the third, you can find that. But it's called more the story, because I wanna go deeper in behind people's content. Whether also, theologically for me, I want to emphasize that there's more than just getting our sins forgiven. There's an opportunity we have to participate in this vocation, experience God sanctifying grace.
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Andy Miller III: But at the same time I love to get more to the story of Tom Wright. I've I've probably I'm gonna fanboy out here. I've probably listened to a couple 100 h of recordings of you through the years. So I think I've heard a lot. But is there more to the story of Tom Wright than is usually told? Well, the the obvious thing to say, and it's the true thing to say. I'm supposed to be writing an academic autobiography. As I said.
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I have sometimes Semi seriously suggested that as a running head at the top of each page should be something to the effect.
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Tom: While I was working on this, my dear wife, Maggie was looking after the 4 children, as they were all at different schools, and as one of them broke his leg. And as this happened, and that happened, and
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Tom: Maggie is the usually unsung heroine of so much that I've done, she has followed me from job to Job. We've moved house 18 times in 52 years of marriage, which is more than any one ought to do. It's just. We're quite good at moving house now, but it doesn't make it any nicer as a thing to do.
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She is, bless her! As we speak now. She is up in Scotland with our oldest son, who's helping with the project where we're building a house looking out over the Atlantic Ocean a beautiful view, and she is thinking about the tiles and the curtains and that sort of thing. And this is typical of hers, she, you know. Here's here's me. I'm sitting at the desk doing what I do, and she's out there making stuff happen for with and for the family.
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you know. I can't thank her enough. I mean it's impossible to thank her. She's been. She'd been just a hero. And
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Tom: now, obviously, II love her, and I tell you what I got a photograph of her. Show us? Yes, yeah, here she is with with with. This was in a friends, a friend's apartment, and and had this enormous tiger on the wall, and somebody was with us, said, Here, Maggie, stand in front of that tiger, because you you are the tiger in this family. It's it's a great picture of her. Oh, that's beautiful! Thank you for that tribute. I think a lot
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Andy Miller III: a lot of us are probably really glad to hear about Maggie. And all the way that she's enabled you to be answering. Now also you.
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Tom: II learned too, but ahead of the podcast you're a trombone player. Well, right II was. II played the trombone through my teens and twenties. Ii was very fortunate, because
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when II went to my senior school when I was 13, and the the the boys who it was a boys school, and the boys who'd been playing trombone in the school orchestra had all just left the previous year, and there were 3 of us who were singing in the choir, and the music director came and said to the 3 of us, you can all read music or all singing tune, and within a few weeks you could be playing trombone. If you agree.
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Tom: you can have free use of the instrument and free lessons for the first year. What you think. And we all said, Yeah, sounds sounds fun, that's great. So we were stuck in the back row of the of the school orchestra within within weeks of being given trombone lessons. And so II
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Tom: you know II learned a lot about classical music by sitting in the back row. The trombone doesn't have a huge amount to do. If you do, it's it's very noticeable, but for quite a lot of the time you're counting 30 or 40 bars. Rest come in, but that gives you the chance to figure out how the orchestra works, and what sort of things the composers do with the woodwind, or the timpani, or the second violins, or whatever, and that stayed with me all my life.
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Tom: and, as you know, if you read my stuff, there's a lot of music woven in, because music is the language I kind of naturally think in. And so I've but then I also played for fun in jazz bands and that sort of thing which is some of the most fun stuff you can do is to be playing jazz, or or indeed a military band. We had a military band at school, and marching to and fro, playing that one past stuff.
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Andy Miller III: you know. It's trivial at one level. But, my goodness, it's fun when you, when you're with friends and and out there making music. It's just great. It's beautiful. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Podcast. It means a lot to me. I hope, I get to meet you sometime in person. Shake your hand. Thank you so much for your time today. Thank you very much. It's really good to talk. Thank you.