Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

lepr-150x150 thumb  JESUS CLEANSES TEN LEPERS (Luke 17:11).

At the outset, it was the total career of Jesus that was interpreted of the saving act of God. Very soon, the death of Christ was interpreted as the focal point of God's saving act, the so-called divine passive, "who gave himself for me" (Galat 2:20). Christ's death was interpreted in earliest tradition as a sacrifice like that of the Day of Atonement or the Passover lamb. Subsequent references to blood in connection with the death of Christ echo both of these traditions, and also the cup word in the Supper tradition. St. Paul reflects particularly on the saving benefit of the cross in response to the judaizing (Galatians; Romans; Phil) and gnosticizing (Corinthians) controversies.

St. Paul uses many images to describe the saving effects of Christ's death:

- Justification originates in the law courts where it means aquital. It denotes neither making people ethically righteous not merely treating them as righteous, but bringing them into a right relationship with God. This sets the believer in the road to obedience.

- Reconciliation comes from international or personal relations. It presupposes that human beings were in a state of enmity with God and affirms that God in Christ has overcome that enmity and brought  the believers into a right relationship with God.

- Redemption is a metaphor from the manumission of slaves. It also occurs in Hebrew Bible as a metaphor for salvation in connection with the Exodus and with the powers of evil, including sin, death, and the devil.

- Expiation is a sacrificial  term, not developed by Paul but occurring in the hymn whose imagery is derived from the day of atonement. It  denotes that the death of Christ covers or wipe away sin.

The letter to the Hebrews is also a contingent application of the central affirmation of the saving death of Christ. It was written to revive the flagging enthusiasms of 2-nd or 3-rd generation Christians and asserts the once-and-for-all quality of Christ's saving death. There is no further sacrifice for sin and no return after apostasy. To make this point, Paul develops a Christology of Christ as eternal high priest, and His sacrifice as the fulfillment of the Levitical ceremonies of the Day of Atonement with an occasional glance at the daily sacrifice (Kenneth Bailey).

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