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Forgiveness of sins in the Gospels

My intention was to write a fairly straightforward piece on the connection between forgiveness of sins and the death of Jesus for my Lexicon of theological terms in narrative-historical perspective, but it’s become too unwieldy to fit into one article. In Forgiveness and the wiped out document nailed to the cross I put forward a simple overview of the argument, with crude diagrams, and a reading of Colossians 2:13-15, where Paul links the forgiveness of sins to the cross by way of the metaphor of an erased document. But I think, now, that I will also deal with forgiveness in the Gospels, Acts, Paul and Hebrews in separate posts. I’ll then put a final summary piece in the Lexicon for good measure.

To repeat, the basic contentions are: first, that in the core narrative of the New Testament Jesus’ death is viewed as a death for Israel rather than universally as a death for all people; and secondly, that forgiveness of sins is tied not to Jesus’ death as an atoning event but simply to repentance and belief in what the God of Israel was doing to transform the status of his people in relation to the nations.

Forgiveness of sins in the Gospels

John the Baptist is the prophet who will give “knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins” (Lk. 1:77); he offers a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” in view of an impending judgment on the nation (Mk. 1:4; Lk. 3:3). In John there is no mention of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, but John the Baptist identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

In some sayings of Jesus forgiveness is made conditional upon the forgiveness of others (Matt. 6:14; 18:34-35; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 6:37; 11:3). The sins of a paralyzed man are forgiven on account of the faith of those who brought him to Jesus, who, as the Son of Man, has been given authority on earth to forgive sins (Matt. 9:2; Mk. 2:5; Lk. 5:20; cf. Jam. 5:15). Jesus’ teaches in parables as a sign of the spiritual blindness of the Jews, who will not turn and be forgiven (Mk. 4:11-12; cf. Is. 6:10). A “woman of the city, who was a sinner”, is forgiven because she loved much (Lk. 7:37, 47).

Only in the Last Supper do we find a connection between the forgiveness of sins and Jesus’ death: “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The connection with the Passover celebration, the combined reference to the blood of the covenant (cf. Ex. 24:8; Zech. 9:11) and to Jeremiah’s “new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31), and the likely allusion to Isaiah 53:12 make it clear that this is a death for the forgiveness of Israel’s sins. The Gentiles are not in view here. Significantly, perhaps, the connection with the forgiveness of sins, which is found only in Matthew, is also missing from Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Finally, the risen Jesus tells his disciples that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Lk. 24:47), which anticipates the development of the theme in Acts. In John Jesus gives the disciples the authority to forgive sins (Jn. 20:23). There is no reference to his death here.

If we may venture to summarize…

  • As the Son of Man or Servant of the Lord who will suffer because of the sins of Israel, Jesus has been given authority to forgive the sins of those who repent and believe in what God is doing.
  • This forgiveness is consolidated in a “new covenant” with Israel, which is sealed not by the blood of oxen but by Jesus’ death. Zechariah 9:11 is helpful here: because God is bound to his people by a covenant sealed with blood, he will save his people, he will set the prisoners free. Because Jesus was faithful and obedient to the point of death, God will forgive those who believe in his name, who identify themselves with him. To quote David Brandos again ( Paul on the Cross: Reconstructing the Apostle’s Story of Redemption ), though he is speaking of Paul’s understanding of the cross:

…Jesus’ death is salvific not because it satisfies some necessary condition for human salvation in the way that most doctrines of the atonement have traditionally maintained nor because it effects some change in the situation of human beings or the world in general; rather, it is salvific because God responded to Jesus’ faithfulness unto death in seeking the redemption of others by raising him so that all the divine promises of salvation might now be fulfilled through him. Through Jesus’ death, a new covenant-community (the church) has been established, in which people from all nations may now find salvation and forgiveness of sins as they live under his lordship, led by the Holy Spirit.

  • The authority to forgive sins is then passed on by Jesus to his followers. Because Jesus’ death established a new covenant for God’s people, a new deal with God, which would ensure the survival of the family of Abraham at a time of eschatological crisis, they have been authorized to pronounce forgiveness on God’s behalf to all, Jews and Gentiles alike, who repent of their sins and believe in the narrative of Israel’s redemption.

Comments

in the core narrative of the New Testament Jesus’ death is viewed as a death for Israel rather than universally as a death for all people

This conclusion is based on numerous misreadings of the NT, to which I have drawn attention before, though I’m happy to do so again.

The significance of Jesus’s actions in the gospels is interpreted more expicitly in the letters, in the light of which Jesus’s death is universal, and not just for Israel. The key Pauline text of 1 Cor 15, citing a tradition probably received from the apostles as living witnesses of Jesus in his lifetime, says “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”. The church at Corinth, having become a mainly Gentile community, provides the definitive inclusive context for reading “our”.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, and 1 John 2:2 say the same, especially the latter, where Jesus’s death is “the atoning sacrifice / propitiation / hilasmos for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”. The use of hilasmos here is significant for reading hilasterion in Romans 3:25, or vice-versa.

The correct reading of Romans 3, especially vs.21-31, confirms the universality of Jesus’s death; the section makes no sense without it, and no sense of the following chapter.

1 Peter and Galatians also speak of the inclusive nature of Jesus’s death, as understood in the context of the mainly Gentile communities to which they were addressed, given their explicit references to their former pagan way of life. All this I have developed in response to previous posts.

forgiveness of sins is tied not to Jesus’ death as an atoning event but simply to repentance and belief in what the God of Israel was doing to transform the status of his people in relation to the nations

This is blatantly wrong. It is not how Jesus’s death was understood in the letters, and not even how it is understood in the gospels. You say: “Only in the Last Supper do we find a connection between the forgiveness of sins and Jesus’ death: “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).” But the last supper is not only the major theological interpretation of his death by Jesus to his disciples, it completely overshadows the whole narrative. It is to this point that Jesus was taking the narrative, and it controls the significance of all four gospels. It is about the death of Jesus on the cross that all four devote their greatest attention, and for which the last supper provides the interpretation.

Jesus’s death was about forgiveness of sins, which was integral to the new covenant. Not only that - Jesus was providing the climax to the original Exodus story, the defining story of Israel, in himself. This was the conclusion which would usher in the worldwide consequences which Isaiah described. The Exodus story is completed with forgiveness of sins for the world. It is on Isaiah’s canvas that the gospels themselves are also clearly painted. Beyond the gospels, Isaiah’s worldwide predictions are fulfilled through the church, the Mount Zion of Hebrews 12:22, which is the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the firstborn, to which the gentiles have come, as described in Isaiah 2, and Isaiah 60 - figuratively bearing Israel’s own sons with them.

So we don’t go to Jesus for forgiveness of sins, but to his followers? He is our high priest, serving in “the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” - Hebrews 8:2. It is nonsense to say that this applies to Israel alone, since Hebrews itself says that Jesus did not enter a manmade sanctuary, as he would then “have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world” - 9:26. The writer has the whole world and its entire history since creation in view, not simply Israel.

I think I’ll still be seeking Jesus out for forgiveness of sins and recommending him to others, as 1 John 6-9 enjoins us, rather than, for instance, yourself Andrew. Unless I’ve committed any sins against you, that is. Which on reflection I may well have done. Let me know.

But the last supper is not only the major theological interpretation of his death by Jesus to his disciples, it completely overshadows the whole narrative.

Yes, agreed, I never said otherwise. But the symbolism of the event at every level points to this as a redemptive death for Israel. A number of points were made to that effect in the post, but you appear to have ignored them. The family of Abraham is saved from destruction by the faithful obedience of Jesus, as God’s servant, unto death on a cross.

Jesus’s death was about forgiveness of sins, which was integral to the new covenant. Not only that - Jesus was providing the climax to the original Exodus story, the defining story of Israel, in himself. This was the conclusion which would usher in the worldwide consequences which Isaiah described.

All this is true, but it misses the point. My argument is precisely that the redemption of Israel is seen to have universal implications, including the incorporation of Gentiles into the redeemed people of God.

But your next statement is much harder to justify: “The Exodus story is completed with forgiveness of sins for the world.” That is not in the Exodus story. It is not in Isaiah—certainly not in any way connected to an atoning death. In Isaiah 2, for example, the nations propose to go to the house of the God of Jacob so that “he may teach us his ways”. Even more relevant for Acts and Paul, Isaiah says that people will cast away their idols in order to escape the terror of the Lord when he rises to terrify the earth. This is very different to the story that you are trying to tell.

I see no reason in what you have said to change my view that in the Gospels Jesus dies for the sins of Israel and that after the resurrection repentance and the forgiveness of sins are proclaimed to the nations in his name—that is, in effect, we repent and are forgiven because we acknowledge that God has made Jesus Lord.

So we don’t go to Jesus for forgiveness of sins, but to his followers?

No, we go to God for forgiveness. His followers have been given the authority to pronounce forgiveness on God’s behalf. Who in the New Testament goes to Jesus for forgiveness?

It seems difficult to make your case from Hebrews, which was addressed to Jewish believers and never mentions Gentiles. But I’ll get on to that later. This post was about the Gospels.

I’m posting on this article, because I want to look at your recent Hebrews post, and there is some preliminary ground to cover here which relates to what you are claiming about the meaning of Hebrews. It all comes back to your central contention, that Jesus died for the sins of Israel and not for the sins of Gentiles.

I’ve re-read the post on forgiveness of sins in the gospels, which you say I have misunderstood. It still seems to me be saying what I said earlier. For instance, you say at the outset:

forgiveness of sins is tied not to Jesus’ death as an atoning event but simply to repentance and belief in what the God of Israel was doing to transform the status of his people in relation to the nations.

You support this by saying that only in Matthew is “forgiveness of sins” mentioned at the last supper, and in 1 Corinthians 15 not at all. This suggests to me that you are saying “forgiveness of sins”, as the interpretation of the meaning of Jesus’s death, was not a major part of its significance, and that it had little connection with the “forgiveness of sins” theme in the gospels generally. If this is not what you are saying, could you please clarify what you are saying?

To summarise what I see to be the connection between “forgiveness of sins” in the gospels generally and in the atoning death of Jesus on the cross as explained by him: the death draws together all the other references to “forgiveness of sins”, since the narrative which was being played out in the earthly ministry of Jesus is drawn to a climax and given its thematic context as the fulfilment of the Exodus story in the last supper and death of Jesus at the celebration of Passover.

At this point, you say:

All this is true, but it misses the point. My argument is precisely that the redemption of Israel is seen to have universal implications, including the incorporation of Gentiles into the redeemed people of God.

Actually, I don’t think you were arguing that “the redemption of Israel is seen to have universal implications” in your post, but I was, and unlike you, arguing that it is directly significant for Gentiles. This was the narrative which underlay the Exodus story: remember, that story was contained within the story about Abraham, which was itself contained in the story of creation and fall - Genesis 1-11, and to which (the creation story) there were numerous echoes and allusions in the Abraham story.

The Exodus story is part of a much larger story, which you consistently overlook, which finds its fulfilment in Jesus, who released its significance directly, in himself, to the world.

Further, the wider story is reinforced by Isaiah, whose portrayal of a “Second Exodus” is reflected in the gospels, and who does indeed paint the larger story which Jesus signifies. The Gentiles did come, and continue to come, to the mountain of the Lord and its temple as the church, as described in Isaiah 2, explicitly interpreted so in Hebrews 12:22-24. The theme is picked up again in Isaiah 60.

Isaiah 49, which Paul uses as his mandate for mission to the Gentiles (v.6), says:

“It is too small a thing form you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to teh ends of the earth” - Isaiah 49:6

You are trying to make this say something incredible, which is that when the Gentiles hear of what God did exclusively for Israel, they will believe in Israel’s God also. This has never been a message preached to Gentiles anywhere in the world in the entire history of the church, and it certainly is not in the NT in Acts and Letters, which you try to argue does indeed say this.

We’ll come next to Hebrews, which I’ve already pointed out does contain references to the universality of Christ’s atoning death beyond the history of Israel in 9:26, and in fact does in another verse you quote, oddly, to say the opposite, in Hebrews 12:24, where Jesus’s blood is said to speak a better word than the blood of Abel. The framework is a universal story, not Israel’s alone.

If this is not what you are saying, could you please clarify what you are saying?

My point is that in the Gospels and Acts it is only in Matthew’s account of the supper that a direct connection is established between the forgiveness of sins and the death of Jesus. Elsewhere forgiveness is made contingent upon repentance and upon belief in the story of what God was doing to transform the status of his people in the ancient world through the events of Jesus’ obedient suffering and his vindication.

The significance of the statement “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28) is that through Jesus’ death a new covenant has been sealed. The “blood of the covenant” is not itself a sacrifice for sins; it is not an atoning death: it is the means by which the covenant is ratified. On the basis of this new covenant the disciples proclaim the forgiveness of sins to Israel.

…the death draws together all the other references to “forgiveness of sins”, since the narrative which was being played out in the earthly ministry of Jesus is drawn to a climax and given its thematic context as the fulfilment of the Exodus story in the last supper and death of Jesus at the celebration of Passover.

That is what you would like to read, but it is not actually stated. And remember: i) the Exodus happened to Israel and only to Israel, it provides no basis for the extension of the atoning effect of Jesus’ death to the nations; ii) the Passover does not, in any case, celebrate an atonement for sins, it celebrates the liberation of a people from slavery; and iii) the language of the supper explicitly evokes not the Exodus but the sealing of the covenant (Ex. 24:8; Zech. 9:11).

Actually, I don’t think you were arguing that “the redemption of Israel is seen to have universal implications” in your post…

On the contrary, I concluded: “they have been authorized to pronounce forgiveness on God’s behalf to all, Jews and Gentiles alike, who repent of their sins and believe in the narrative of Israel’s redemption.” The redemption of Israel has universal implications.

This was the narrative which underlay the Exodus story: remember, that story was contained within the story about Abraham, which was itself contained in the story of creation and fall - Genesis 1-11, and to which (the creation story) there were numerous echoes and allusions in the Abraham story.

The Exodus story is part of a much larger story, which you consistently overlook….

To repeat the point made above, the Exodus happened to Israel and to Israel only. No Gentiles were included. Yes, it was instrumental in the fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham about the nations, but that again reinforces the basic pattern: through the redemption of Israel the nations are to be blessed. But nothing in the whole of the Old Testament suggests that the nations are somehow included in the Exodus.

Further, the wider story is reinforced by Isaiah, whose portrayal of a “Second Exodus” is reflected in the gospels, and who does indeed paint the larger story which Jesus signifies. The Gentiles did come, and continue to come, to the mountain of the Lord and its temple as the church, as described in Isaiah 2, explicitly interpreted so in Hebrews 12:22-24.

Isaiah portrays the return from exile as a second Exodus. Perhaps. But he does not at any point say that Gentiles were included in that Exodus. The Gentiles who came were not redeemed from bondage under a foreign power. They saw what God was doing for his people and wanted to join in. That participation amounted to a “salvation” from futile idolatry, but it is not directly a consequence of YHWH’s redemption of his people. The servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 suffers only for the sins of his people.

Incidentally, the reference to the “blood of Abel” in Hebrews 12:24 has nothing to do with the salvation of Gentiles. The point is this: if the blood of Abel cried out to God for his murder to be avenged (Gen. 4:10-12), how much more will the blood of Jesus provide assurance that God will vindicate and “avenge” the suffering Jewish Christian communities addressed in the Letter.

You are trying to make this say something incredible, which is that when the Gentiles hear of what God did exclusively for Israel, they will believe in Israel’s God also.

I didn’t say “exclusively”. God saved his people, and the nations saw that salvation and responded in various ways. Whether that was an intended outcome on God’s part is another matter. I would happily argue that God redeemed his people not for their own benefit only but in order that salvation might be brought to the ends of the earth.

Consider Isaiah 52:9-10: the Lord has redeemed Jerusalem; in this act he has “bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations”; therefore, all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God.

Also Romans 15:8-9: Christ became a servant to Israel so that the Gentiles might glorify the God of Israel for his mercy towards his people, followed by a whole load of Old Testament quotations to that effect. For the detailed argument, see The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom , 12-13.

Andrew, your view is utterly incompatible with a penal substitution view of the atonement, right?

My view is that penal substitution makes good sense in relation to Israel but for Gentiles only in the very general sense that the wages of sin is death.

Amongst the many things I’d like to challenge you on here, Andrew, I’ll select just one:

the Passover does not, in any case, celebrate an atonement for sins, it celebrates the liberation of a people from slavery

Surprisingly, you are quite wrong. By the time of second temple Judaism, the Passover did contain, at least potentially, an act of atonement for sins. This is surprising, perhaps, since it is not mentioned in the original stipulations in Exodus, Leviticus or Deuteronomy.

In Ezekiel 45, the celebration of the Passover was to be combined with sacrifices of atonement for sin, made by the prince on behalf of himself and all the people - 45:22-23, by sacrificing seven bulls and seven rams.

But perhaps this is not surprising, as an atoning significance can be seen in the original Passover account itself. The blood of the Lamb daubed on the doorpost was itself explicable only in atoning, or substitutionary terms. The lamb’s life instead of the firstborn of Israel.

The significance was evidently understood by John the Baptist, and by Jesus himself, described by John as the Passover lamb - “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” - John 1:29.

Passover was evidently a time when an association with atonement for sin was understood, and not something novel or surprising.

This is just one of many things which you have not taken into account. The other is the wider story (creation - fall - Abraham) within which the Exodus story is contained. You have severed one part of the story from the other.

Peter, I don’t see how this helps your argument.

Jesus does not interpret his death with reference to the Passover but with reference to the sealing of the covenant.

There’s no reason to think that Passover observance at the time was interpreted through the eschatological filter of Ezekiel 45. It’s possible, but I don’t know that it can be demonstrated.

Ezekiel’s high priest does not sacrifice a lamb. The sacrifice for sin is in conjunction with the Passover celebration; it is not an integral part of it.

The killing of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 is not interpreted as a sacrifice for sin. The only person who sins in the story of the Exodus is Pharoah. There is not the slightest hint that Israel’s sins need to be atoned for before they can leave Egypt.

Even if there were a marginal connection with the theme of atonement, the Passover itself does not celebrate the atonement of Israel’s sins; it celebrates the protection of the people and the flight from Egypt (cf. Exod. 12:27). At some point, Peter, you have to take note of what is said in the text and what is not said.

My argument, in any case, is not that Jesus’ death is not an atonement for sin. My argument is that it is an atonement for Israel’s sin.

What makes you so sure that John’s “lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world” was a Passover lamb? John doesn’t make that connection. The Passover lamb has no explicit connection with atonement for sin, as I have just said. There are plenty of instances in Leviticus, however, where the sacrifice of a lamb is stipulated as an offering for sin or guilt (eg. Lev. 4:32). And it’s also likely that John has Isaiah 53:7-8 in mind:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Is 53:7–8)

So there’s no basis for interpreting the Passover celebration in the light of John 1:29. Unless, of course, the Holy Spirit has told you otherwise.

Third post from me in a row. Does this trigger the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule?

There’s so much I want to take you up on, Andrew, where I think you’ve simply got it wrong. The heart of it remains in your view that Jesus died for Israel but not the gentiles.

But you go beyond this. You say:

Who in the New Testament goes to Jesus for forgiveness?

I have re-read this sentence, and simply can’t believe you have said it.

Forgiveness of sins through Jesus is at the heart of the last supper, recapitulating and bringing to a climax as it does the atoning dimension of the Passover story itself (see previous post).

From Mark 2:5-10/Matthew 9:4-8 onwards, and throughout the gospels, forgiving sins is precisely what Jesus was doing.

The sinful woman who washed Jesus’s feet loved much because she was forgiven much. From whom did she receive forgiveness? Whose feet was she washing? Why didn’t Jesus say: ‘Worship God! Don’t wash my feet!’ if forgiveness wasn’t coming from him?

Just to take one example from the letters. In Ephesians 1:7 - “In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

The NT is Christocentric from start to finish. Why should faith today be any different? What kind of faith, and on whose authority is it that says this is no longer the case? Everything that God wanted to do on earth, He did through Christ - and that holds true just as much today as it did then. In the same way as then, in my opinion, if not yours.

First, let me quote the whole paragraph and not just the question that you took out of context:

No, we go to God for forgiveness. His followers have been given the authority to pronounce forgiveness on God’s behalf. Who in the New Testament goes to Jesus for forgiveness?

This was in response to your flippant misrepresentation of my argument: “So we don’t go to Jesus for forgiveness of sins, but to his followers?”

In the New Testament it is God who forgive sins. Jesus never says, “I forgive your sins.” He says, “Your sins are forgiven.” The divine passive. The Son of Man has been given authority on earth to forgive sins but he does so on behalf of God. The disciples are similarly authorized to forgive sins (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Jn. 20:23).

Moreover, as I said, no one in the New Testament that I can think of goes to Jesus for forgiveness. The paralytic is not brought to Jesus to be forgiven but to be healed. The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet did not come to be forgiven. She came to express her love for Jesus.

On the one occasion where we might have expected Jesus directly to forgive people, what he says is, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

You make the point that “Forgiveness of sins through Jesus is at the heart of the last supper”. I don’t dispute that for one minute. The cup represents the blood by which a new covenant is sealed for the forgiveness of sins. To oversimplify, Jesus is instrumental in forgiveness being made available. Peter tells the Jews to repent and be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38), but they are forgiven by God. John writes: we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, but it is God who is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 Jn. 1:7-9).

I can’t think of any place in the New Testament where people are told to go to Jesus for forgiveness.

Peter, it is not necessary to see the atonement in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, is it? The atonement is not mentioned by Paul and the context does not require it. There is no reason that Paul could not be referring to exactly the kind of “death for the forgiveness of the sins of Israel extended to the nations” that Andrew is talking about. Likewise for 1 John 2:2, when he says that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, who does he mean by our? Could he not be referring to Israel? He follows on with extending that sacrifice to the nations just like Andrew is saying. And again in Romans 3:25, Paul has just been talking about the unfaithfulness of Israel (and of the Gentiles) and then about God’s mercy and justice in passing over former sins. What is it about this passage that would preclude a view like Andrew’s? When Paul says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, doesn’t the context imply that he is there referring to Jews and Gentiles and not necessarily to individuals? It seems that Paul could be making the very point that God, in his justice, has finally stepped in to rescue his people, Israel, as previously promised and in defense of his own good name, and that he also is at this time extending mercy to the Gentiles, also as fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed.

I just don’t see how you can confidently assert that Andrew is misreading the NT here. In fact, Andrew’s view makes sense of a lot of things that would otherwise seem confusing, like the view among some scholars that Paul’s view of the gospel was significantly different from that of Jesus.

…like the view among some scholars that Paul’s view of the gospel was significantly different from that of Jesus.

To be honest, Brad, I think that the gap between Jesus and Paul on this score has been exaggerated. But I would argue that Paul is closer to Jesus than we think (the “new” perspective), rather than that Jesus is closer to Paul than we think (the old Reformed perspective).

But thanks for coming to my defence, anyway! I’ll get on to Paul next week.

That was the point I was trying to make, Andrew. Looking at things “your way” takes away any perceived differences between Jesus and Paul. They both would be on the same page as it were. I am not fully informed about all the nuances of the NP (there are so many “flavors” of it), but your view does not seem to me to be all that far from NP. It seems that Peter’s objections to your view would also apply to almost all advocates of NP. As far as I am concerned the “old Reformed perspective” is demonstrably flawed. For me it’s a non-starter. We may not have all the answers yet, but that doesn’t mean we should continue to hold to something that is obviously (at least to me) wrong.

Sorry, Brad, I didn’t read you carefully enough.