Saved to Rule

New Testament scholar Dr. Haley Goranson Jacob’s Conformed to the Image of his Son: Reconsidering Paul’s Theology of Glory (IVP 2018) is one of the best books in biblical scholarship I have ever come across. I read it earlier this year and it has had a profound impact on my own theology. I have covered or referenced her work multiple times this year, which you can read here including a helpful summary of her book which you can find here. She concludes her book with a powerful statement on how we ought to think of salvation. Dr. Jacob writes,

I return my reader to one of the key questions of this book: What is
the goal of salvation? For too long, scholars and laymen alike have myopically viewed justification and salvation as ends in themselves, whether for the benefit of the individual or of the incorporative body of Christ. The goal of salvation is believers’ conformity to the Son of God—their participation in his rule over creation as God’s eschatological family and as renewed humanity—but only and always with the purpose of extending God’s hand of mercy, love, and care to his wider creation. This was humanity’s job in the beginning; it will be believers’ responsibility and honor in the future; it is God’s purpose in calling his people in the present.

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Royal Union

In my first foray into the theme of participation or union with Christ in the New Testament (NT), I covered Richard Hays’ helpful outline of four types of real participation in Paul’s writings. They are participation in Christ’s family, participation in Christ’s church, participation in Christ’s rule and participation in Christ’s story (familial, ecclesial, political and narratival participation respectively). Since then I have come across the brilliant work of Haley Goranson Jacob in her 2018 book Conformed to the Image of his Son, where I learnt a lot from how she tackled the theme of union with Christ in Paul. The insight her work inspired was that all the types of union Hays and Jacob had outlined, as well as others I had identified, could thematically be synthesised into a coherent theology of union with Christ. In other words, the different types of union are really different sides of the same thing which I call “royal union”.

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Scripture Controlled Theology

Earlier this year, I covered the brilliant work of Dr. Haley Goranson Jacob on the meaning of glory from her 2018 book Conformed to the Image of his Son: Reconsidering Paul’s Theology of Glory. On pages 225 to 226 she refers to some very insightful comments by Dr. Dane Ortlund on how we interpret what glory means in Romans 8:30.

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Working with God

According to New Testament scholar Dr Haley Goranson Jacob, the popular inspirational verse Romans 8:28 which says, “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose”, should be significantly retranslated. She makes the case in her wonderful book Conformed to the Image of his Son: Reconsidering Paul’s Theology of Glory in Romans (IVP 2018) that it is rather “God works all things for good with those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”. So instead of a subjective reading that it is a personal assurance that God will make things work out for me, she explains “the good that is done is not for the believer but is done by God and the believer on behalf of “all things.”” (p. 249) Continue reading “Working with God”

Reigning with Christ

In the past, I have talked a fair bit about how being “in Christ” is not only the centre of Paul’s theology but possibly the entire New Testament’s theology. In Haley Goranson Jacob’s excellent 2018 book Conformed to the Image of His Son: Reconsidering Paul’s Theology of Glory in Romans, she also explores the theme of union or participation with Christ from the largely unexplored perspective of what she describes as “vocational participation.”

The vocation Dr Jacob is referring to is the original task God gave humanity in Genesis 1:26-28 and reflected on in Psalm 8:5-8, which is to rule on his behalf over his creation as his representatives. She explains, along with many other scholars, that is what it means to be made in the image of God. In the New Testament, the original call to bear God’s image is finally fulfilled in Jesus, the new Adam (Romans 5:12-20, 1 Corinthians 15:42-49, Hebrews 2:5-9.) She therefore concludes that being conformed to the image of his firstborn Son means believers, as members of God’s royal family, participating in the resurrected and exalted Messiah’s rule over creation, both in the present and in the world to come (pp. 263-264.) As Jacob draws out, this is what means for believers to be glorified in Romans 8:18 & 30. Through meticulous study of the word, she convincingly demonstrates “glory” does not primarily mean some kind of divine light but an exalted status of honour and authority. Since Jesus is King, we share in our big brother’s glorious rule.  Continue reading “Reigning with Christ”