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Thursday, April 11, 2013

New-Creation Theology In John's Gospel

It is only natural to study Christology and find yourself buried in John's Gospel most of the time. I am taking three NT courses right now at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary that are all intersecting and overlapping one another on the topic of Christology. I planned this while registering my classes and it has worked out wonderfully. In my NT Theology course with Schreiner, I have gone over Christology in the all the gospels and letters. In Systematic Theology II course with Wellum, I have begun Christology in regards to divine action and providence. My third course is self explanatory, Doctrine of the Person of Christ with Wellum (it is an extensive look into the person of Jesus).

One thing that I have found interesting is the "new-creation theology" in the gospels, specifically John's Gospel. In John, there are many referents to Jesus inaugurating the new-creation (new age) in his coming to fulfill all of God's promises. One of my favorite NT scholars, Andreas Kostenberger, highlights this in The Deity of Christ (Theology In Community) edited by Christopher W. Morgan:
In John's Gospel, the resurrection of Jesus is part of the larger theme of a new creation. At the outset, Jesus is presented as the agent of God's original creation (1:1-3). In keeping with John's creation and new-creation theology, he presents the first week of Jesus' ministry as patterned after the seven days of the original creation (1:19-2:11, including the reference to Jesus' attendance of the wedding at Cana "on the third day" [2:1], which strikes possible overtones anticipating Jesus' resurrection; see 2:19). Possible new-creation language is also found in Jesus' reference to a "new birth" in his conversation with Nicodemus (3:3, 5), and later in the Sabbath controversy (5:17-18). The former passages invoke the prophetic expectation of an end-time renewal and decisive inner transformation in the last days (see, e.g., Isa. 44:3-5; Jer. 31:33-34; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:25-27; 37), while the latter passage makes the point that, while resting on the seventh day of creation, God [i.e. Jesus] continued to be at work as he chose to act in his sovereignty and providence. Aligning Jesus with the Creator presents his ministry from the very outset against a universal backdrop. Just as creation extended to the entire universe, so also the life given by Jesus is universal in scope, extending not only to the Jews but also to Gentiles. In John's passion narrative, the Gospel's new-creation theology thickens. Possible instances of the new-creation motif include the following: 
1. The setting of the passion narrative in a garden, invoking the memory of Eden (18:1, 26; 19:41) 
2. Pilate's identification of Jesus as "the man" (19:5), which may present Jesus as the new Adam 
3. The possible portrayal of Jesus' resurrection as the beginning of a new creation (1:3; 20:1) 
4. The identification of Jesus as "the gardener" by Mary (20:15), reflecting misunderstanding and possible also irony 
5. Jesus' bodily resurrection and resurrection appearances to his followers in keeping with repeated earlier predictions in the narrative (2:20-21; 10:17-19; 20) 
6. Jesus' breathing on his disciples and his giving of the Spirit in the final commissioning scene (20:22), invoking the creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7 (Ezek. 37:9)
I love these insights! I have a lot to think about when it comes to "new-creation theology" promised in the OT and realized in the NT. There are so many OT and NT connections that I am seeing for the first time. Jesus inaugurated the new-creation by doing might deeds that no one has ever seen before. Jesus fulfilled all of the new-creation promises of God in the OT and made them a realized. Today, the gospel message is being preached in the already-not-yet bring about transformation of sinners into new-creation (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). Nevertheless, on the day when Christ returns, the new-creation will be consummated and all things will be made new and restored back to their Edenic state of paradise. Eden to Eden, garden to garden, temple to temple, but with Jesus as the center of new-creation (see Revelation 21-22). Amen!

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