Saturday, August 16, 2008

N.T. Wright on Col. 2.15

NTW is at his best when he writes on Col. 2.15:

"The 'rulers and authorities' of Rome and of Israel - as Caird points out, the best government and the highest religion of the world of that time had ever known - conspired to place Jesus on the cross. These powers, angry at his challenge to their sovereignty, stripped him naked, held him up to public contempt, and celebrated a triumph over him. In one of his most dramatic statements of the paradox of the cross, and one moreover which shows in what physical detail Paul could envisage the horrible death Jesus had died, he declares that, on the contrary, on the cross God was stripping them naked, was holding them to public contempt, and leading them in his own triumphal procession - in Christ, the crucified Messiah. When the 'powers' had done their worst, crucifying the lord of glory incognito on the charge of blasphemy and rebellion, they have overreached themselves. He, neither blasphemer nor rebel, was in fact their rightful sovereign. They thereby exposed themselves for what they were - usurpers of the authority which was properly his. The cross therefore becomes the source of hope for all who had been held captive under their rule, enslaved in fear and mutual suspicion. Christ breaks the last hold that the 'powers' had over his people, by dying on their behalf. He now welcomes them into a new family in which the ways of the old world - its behaviour, its distinctions of race and class and sex, its blind obedience to the 'forces' of politics and economics, prejudice and superstition - have become quite simply out of date, a ragged and defeated rabble." (Colossian, pp. 116-17).

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