In the last post on “The begotten Son and the subordinate woman” I argued that the Father-Son language in the New Testament belongs, pretty much exclusively, to the “central apocalyptic narrative of Jesus’ vocation, obedience, suffering, death, resurrection, exaltation and rule as YHWH’s appointed king over the nations”.
This means, in the first place, that the Father-Son-Spirit of Trinitarian orthodoxy is not the same as the Father-Son-Spirit of the New Testament. But I also suggested that we should be careful not to muddle up the Father-Son story “with a Wisdom theology that makes Jesus the one through whom all things were made”. Picking up on this point, Billy North asked about the interpretation of Colossians 1:16-17 (I think) in the context of this statement: “For by him all things were created… all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This is not a complete answer to that question, but it goes some way towards it.
I had earlier suggested that we have in the New Testament a “story” about Jesus that goes something like this:
- Jesus is the Word or Wisdom of God through whom all things were made.
- The Father sends the Son into the world.
- Jesus is the Son (or servant) who is obedient to the Father to the point of suffering and death.
- Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and given authority as “Lord” to judge and rule over the nations throughout the coming ages.
- When the last enemy is destroyed and all things have been subjected to God, this authority to judge and rule will be given back to God and the Son will himself be subjected to God.
But in terms both of the New Testament argument and of biblical-Jewish traditions this is not one story but two, only very loosely connected by line 2—a story about creation and a story about kingdom. I’ll begin with the story about kingdom.
The prophetic-political narrative
Lines 3 to 5 tell the story of Jesus, who is born to save his people from their sins, who learns obedience to God, his Father, who suffers, is killed by the enemies of Israel’s God, is raised from the dead, is exalted to the right hand of God as the “begotten Son”, who is given the authority of God to judge and rule over the nations until the last enemy of creation—death—has been destroyed, at which point the authority to rule will be given back to God and the Son will be again subjected to him, so that “God may be all in all”. In my view, it is the story, originating in the Psalms and Deutero-Isaiah, of how the God of Israel annexes the Roman empire for his own glory. [pullquote]It is a story about kingdom, about the rule of YHWH, and it is, by a long way, the dominant account of Jesus’ relationship to the Father in the New Testament.[/pullquote]
The Wisdom-creational narrative
Line 1, however, tells a very different story, drawing on very different traditions and a different conceptuality. In this story Jesus is the agent or instrument of creation who also reveals the invisible creator. Whereas all things are from God as creator (cf. Rom. 11:36), Jesus is the one “through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6), by whom “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities” (Col. 1:16), “through whom also God made the ages” (Heb. 1:2, my translation); he “upholds all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).
But he is also the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15) and the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3).
John says that all things were made through the Word of God, and this Word “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1-3, 14).
These statements quite clearly draw on a Jewish Wisdom theology. Wisdom was with God at creation, in the beginning, created or begotten before all things, actively and enthusiastically participating in the process:
The Lord created me as the beginning of his ways, for the sake of his works. Before the present age he founded me, in the beginning (en archē). Before he made the earth and before he made the depths, before he brought forth the springs of the waters, before the mountains were established and before all the hills, he begets me. …I was beside him, fitting together; it is I who was the one in whom he took delight. And each day I was glad in his presence at every moment, when he rejoiced after he had completed the world and rejoiced among the sons of men. (Prov. 8:22–25, 30-31 LXX)
God of the fathers and Lord of mercy, who made all things by your word and by your wisdom formed human beings…. With you is wisdom, which knows your works and was present when you made the world and understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is right according to your commandments. (Wis. 9:1-2, 9)
All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it exists forever. … Before all things wisdom has been created, and understanding of prudence is from eternity. … The Lord, he created her, and he saw and enumerated her and poured her out upon all his works, among all flesh according to his giving, and he furnished her abundantly to those who love him. [Loving the Lord is esteemed wisdom,] [but to whomever he appears, he apportions her as a vision of himself.] (Sir. 1:1, 4, 9–10)
Just as Jesus is the “image” and “radiance” of God, so Wisdom is a “reflection of eternal light and a spotless mirror of the activity of God and an image of his goodness” (Wis. 7:26).
The creator of all set down Wisdom’s tent and commanded her, “Encamp (kataskēnōson) in Jacob, and in Israel let your inheritance be” (Sir. 24:8), and “furnished her abundantly to those who love him” (1:10). But the Word of God, who “pitched his tent (eskēnōsen) among us”, was rejected by his own people (Jn. 1:11, 14).
So we have a second, marginal narrative in which Jesus is the Wisdom of God, present at creation, an agent of creation, the image of the invisible creator God, who comes to pitch his tent as Word/Wisdom (in this context there is no great difference) in the midst of Israel.
But how do they intersect?
I’ve argued before that the two narratives should not be confused: kingdom and new creation are not the same thing. But they sit very close together. It is the “one Lord” (prophetic-political narrative) through whom “are all things” (Wisdom-creational narrative) in 1 Corinthians 8:6. In the “hymn” of Colossians 1:15-20 Jesus the “beloved Son” (prophetic-political) is both “firstborn of all creation” (Wisdom-creational) and “firstborn from the dead” (prophetic-political). In Hebrews 1:2-3 the Son whom God “appointed the heir of all things” (prophetic-political) is the one through whom God made the ages (Wisdom-creational)—and then “he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (prophetic-political). John’s Gospel in its entirety is a strange fusion of the two narratives.
William Blake’s The Ancient of Days (above) combines the creation motif—God as cosmic architect—with the powerful kingdom narrative of Daniel 7, though Blake himself would not have understood it in such terms.
But it is not clear—at least not clear to me—how or why this development came about. The prophetic-political narrative takes Jesus forward into an indefinite future—at least to the end of the world as we know it. But what pushed the story backwards to before the creation of the world? [pullquote]How did Jesus the Son of God—God’s servant, Israel’s king—become Jesus the Wisdom and Word of God?[/pullquote] As best I can frame it, this seems to be the central puzzle of New Testament christology.
I’m not going to attempt to solve the puzzle here. It may even be unsolvable. Perhaps it’s enough to suppose that the sending of God’s Wisdom into Israel, in the world, inevitably triggers the kingdom narrative. There may also be a clue in this passage, where the Wisdom by which God created all things is said to sit on the throne of God:
God of the fathers and Lord of mercy, who made all things by your word and by your wisdom formed human beings to rule over the creatures that were made by you and to manage the world in holiness and righteousness and to pronounce judgment in uprightness of soul, give me wisdom that sits by you on your throne, and do not reject me from amongst your children. (Wis. 9:1–4)
Some tentative conclusions about Trinitarian language
There is another, more radical solution that I might get round to discussing at some point, but for now I will propose the following tentative conclusions.
1. Father-Son-Spirit is the kingdom or prophetic-political narrative, running from the election or sending of Jesus as God’s Son or servant through to the final subordination of Jesus to God, when all enemies have been defeated, so that God—and simply God—may be all in all.
2. God-Wisdom-Spirit is the creational narrative—and probably also the new creational narrative.
The two narratives interact in complex ways, though in its simplest form John writes: “the Word became flesh… and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn. 1:14). But the “Trinitarian” distinction in biblical terms is between creation and kingdom, between cosmology and politics, not between an immanent and an economic divine existence. The immanent-economic distinction is not biblical.
At church a couple weeks ago the preacher asked the question: Would you like to move from viewing God as your Creator and Judge to seeing him as your Father and Savior?
I think these two views of God correlate with your two narratives. His Creator/Judge = your Father/Wisdom. His Father/Savior = your Father/Son.
In your two narratives, the only one in the Trinity who changes is the second person. I like how the preacher changes both first and second persons. It seems like in the Bible the shift is not just from Jesus as Wisdom to Jesus as Son, but also from God as Creator to God as Father.
So I'd say the two narratives are:
Viewing it this way gives a clue as to what the correlation is between the narratives; it is the one in the Trinity which didn't change: the Spirit.
The Spirit appears both in the New Testament and in the first verses of Genesis. So the Spirit of creating the universe and the Spirit of creating a kingdom are the same thing. The Holy Spirit is the correlation between the two narratives.
Thanks, Steven. You’re right about the name of God in the second narrative. That was a mistake, really. I’ve changed it to God-Wisdom-Spirit. “Creator” is right, but not really a biblical name for God. I disagree about excluding “judge” from the prophetic-political narrative: God judges Israel, God judges (by his Son) the pagan world. But the creator God will judge all humanity at the end, as a matter of final justice. There is judgment in both narratives.
Id like to throw this out there. Put John as the last book of the bible after Revelation. Use Revelation as setting up John. John begins as Genesis begins. And it wraps everything up, pulls back the veil, Is written in a "providential this can only happen because Im allowing it to happen" voice from Jesus. And ends with the best ending ever…All the books could not contain all that jesus said and did. Bam! End of story. Epic. Thats good story telling.
But if thats not enough I would suggest a closer look at John/Rev. Its just about line for line verse for verse identical to each other and I don t see anyone really ever mentioning that. John clearly was making a point in making the books mirror each other almost word for word concept for concept.
But if thats not enough I would suggest a closer look at John/Rev. Its just about line for line verse for verse identical to each other and I don t see anyone really ever mentioning that.
Line for line, verse for verse seems a bit of an overstatement. But it’s an interesting suggestion.
Let me know if this counts as on overstatement? And then lets have some fun.
John 1:1 John writes concerning "the Word of God"
Rev 1:2 John witnesses to "the Word of God"
John 1:5 Jesus is "the Light (that) shines in darkness"
Rev 1:16 The face of Jesus "shines like the sun"
John 1:14 "We beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father"
Rev 1:5-6 "Jesus Christ…the firstborn from the dead…to Him be glory"
John 1:23 John the Baptist introduces the earthly Jesus: "I am the voice of one crying, 'In the wilderness'"
Rev 1:10 John the Apostle "heard … a loud voice, as of a trumpet," and sees the heavenly Jesus.1
John 1:42 Jesus gives Peter a new name: "Cephas, which is translated, 'a stone'"
Rev 2:17 "To him who overcomes…I (Jesus) will give a white stone, and on the stone2 a new name" 3
John 2:17 Jesus purges the temple: "Zeal for Your house will consume Me"
Rev 3:19 Jesus purifies His church: "Be zealous therefore, and repent" 4
John 2:24-25 "Jesus…knew all men…for He Himself knew what was in man"
Rev 2:23 "all the churches shall know that I (Jesus) am He who searches the minds and hearts"
John 3:1,10 "now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus…a teacher in Israel"
Rev 2:15 "the teaching of the Nicolaitans" (2:6) 5
John 3:20 "he who does evil hates the light…lest his deeds be reproved"
Rev 3:19 "as many as I love I reprove" 6
John 3:29 "the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice"
Rev 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door…if anyone hears My voice…I will come in to him and dine with him" 7
John 4:23 "the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth"
Rev 4:9-10 "Whenever the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne…the twenty-four elders fall down…and worship Him"
John 4:44 "For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country"
Rev 4:11; 5:12-13 "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive…honor…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive…honor…Blessing and honor…to the Lamb forever and ever" 8
John 5:18 "He (Jesus)…was breaking the Sabbath" (the seventh day)
Rev 5:5 "the Lion of the tribe of Judah…has prevailed to open the scroll and to break its seven seals" 9
John 5:22-23 "the Father has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father"
Rev 5:13 "And every creature…I heard saying: 'Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb"
John 5:35 John the Baptist "was a burning…lamp"
Rev 4:5 "seven lamps of fire burning…the seven spirits of God" 10
John 6:7-9 "Two hundred denarii worth of bread…five barley loaves"
Rev 6:6 "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius" 11
John 6:15 "when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew to the mountain by Himself"
Rev 6:15 "the kings…the great men…rich men… commanders…mighty men…hid themselves in the mountains" 12
John 6:18, 27 "And the sea was stirred…a great wind was blowing…for this one has God the Father sealed"
Rev 7: 1-3 "so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea…until we have sealed the servants of God" 13
John 6:35 "He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst"
Rev 7:16 "they shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore" 14
John 7:38 "rivers of living water will flow from him"
Rev 7:17 He "will lead them to springs of the water of life"
John 8:21-22 "you will seek Me, and where I go you cannot come (i.e., you will not find Me); You will die in your sins…(they) said, 'Will He kill Himself?'"
Rev 9:6 "men will seek death, and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them" 15
John 9:25, 27 "Though I was blind, now I see…I told you (the Pharisees)…and you did not hear"
Rev 9:20 The wicked are like their idols "which can neither see nor hear" 16
John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"
Rev 10:4, 8, 9 "I heard a voice from heaven…Then the voice which I heard…spoke…and said, 'Go…' So I went…" 17
John 11:14-15 "Lazarus is dead, and I rejoice for your sakes that I was not there that you might believe… So when Jesus came, he (Lazarus) had been in the tomb four days"
Rev 11:9-10 "(they) will see their dead bodies (the two witnesses) for three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them"
John 11:43-44 "with a loud voice He cried out, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot"
Rev 11:11-12"Now…the breath of God entered them (the witnesses), and they stood on their feet…and they heard a loud voice from heaven saying… 'Come up here!'" 18
John 11:48 "if all men believe in Him…they will take away our (the religious leaders') place"
Rev 12:8 "and no place was found for them (those who follow the Dragon) in heaven" 19
John 12:13, 15, 19 "The next day a great multitude…cried out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' The King of Israel!… 'Behold, your King is coming'…The Pharisees therefore said… 'Look, the world has gone after Him!'"
Rev 12:10 "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, 'Now…the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come.'" "And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become those of our Lord and His Christ" (11:15) 20
John 12:25 "He who loves his life will lose it"
Rev 12:11 "they did not love their lives to death"
John 12:28-31 "then a voice came from heaven…the people who heard…said it thundered. Others said an angel spoke… 'Now the ruler of this world (Satan) will be cast out.'"
Rev 12:9-10 "and Satan, who deceives the whole world…was cast to the earth, and his angels…and I heard a loud voice in heaven… 'Now has come salvation.'" "there were…thunderings" (11:19) 21
John 12:32 Jesus says: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself"
Rev 12:5 "She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne" 22
John 13:29 Judas, who controlled the purse, should "buy those things that we need" Judas challenges: "Why was this fragrant oil not sold…?" (12:5)
Rev 13:17 The beast controls all who "buy and sell" 23
John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life"
Rev 15:3, 7 "just and true are Your ways…God who lives forever"
John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments"
Rev 14:12 "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments"
John 15:1-6 "I am the Vine, you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown out as a branch and is dried up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire"
Rev 14: 15, 18-19 "the harvest of the earth was dried up…and another angel who had authority over fire… called… 'gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.' And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine…and threw it into the winepress" 24
John 16:8 "He will judge of sin, righteousness, and judgment"
Rev 16:7 "true and righteous are Your judgments"
John 16:33 "I (Jesus) have overcome the world"
Rev 17:14 "the Lamb will overcome them"
John 17:12 Judas is "the son of perdition"
Rev 17:8, 11 "(the beast) will go to perdition" 25
John 17:24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me…from the foundation of the world"
Rev 17:8 "And those whose name had not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world"
John 18:11 "the cup which My Father has given"
Rev 18:6 the harlot Babylon has a "cup of abominations" (17:4)
John 18:38 "Pilate said to Him, 'What is truth?'"
Rev 19:11 "and He…was called 'Faithful and True'" 26
John 19:2 "they clothed Him in a purple robe"
Rev 18:16 the harlot Babylon "was clothed in purple" 27
John 19:5 "Jesus therefore came out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe…Behold, the Man!"
Rev 19:11 "behold…He who was called Faithful and True…and on His head were many diadems, and His robe was dipped in blood" 28
John 19:13 Pilate "sat upon the judgment seat" to "judge" (18:31)
Rev 20:11-13 "I saw a great white throne, and He who sat upon it…judged every man" 29
John 19:17-18 "Golgotha, where they crucified Him (Jesus), one on either side and Jesus in the midst"
Rev 22:2 "in the midst of the street, on either side of the river was the tree of life"
John 19:19 "Pilate wrote a title…it was written, 'JESUS OF NAZARETH. THE KING OF THE JEWS.'"
Rev 19:16 "On His outer garment…a name was written, 'KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS'" 30
John 19:23 "when they crucified Jesus, they took His outer garments"
Rev 19:16 "On his outer garment…a name was written, 'KING OF KINGS'"
John 19:28, 30, 40, 42 "Jesus, knowing that all things were now finished…said, 'It is finished!'…and they took the body of Jesus and bound it…and placed it in a tomb."
Rev 20:2, 3, 5 "He laid hold of the dragon…and bound him, and shut him in the abyss…that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished…and the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished" 31
John 20:15 "Jesus said… 'Woman, why are you weeping?'"
Rev 21:4 "and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes" 32
John 20:17 "Jesus said to her, 'Do not hold to me yet, for I have not yet ascended to My Father…to My God and your God.'"
Rev 21: 2 "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…" 33
John 20:27 "Be not unbelieving but believing"
Rev 21:8 "But the fearful and unbelieving"
John 21:15"Feed my lambs"
Rev 19:9 "the wedding supper of the Lamb" 34
John 21:24 "this is the disciple who…wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true"
Rev 21:5 "And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true" 35
John 21:25 "And there are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."
Rev 22:18-19 "if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part…from the things which are written in this book."
I’d like to throw this out there. Put John as the last book of the bible after Revelation. Use Revelation as setting up John. John begins as Genesis begins.
Reminds me of the end of ”The Matrix Revolutions”.
For one thing, there are different narratives because the NT was a patchwork of writings put together by people with different belief systems. The synoptic authors, for example, would not have had the same Christology as Paul or the authors of John (which itself likely was the work of multiple writers/editors). So it is easy to pick out different ideas that are supported by texts, because the texts support a variety of narratives. Rather than try to squash them together, let them speak for themselves (and I think you generally are good at this Andrew).
I also think you need to clarify what you mean by Jesus being sent. From where? If he literally was with God at creation, which then means you have to either say he was another deity or create something not in any text, namely the Trinity. Much more likely the language was poetic in the Hebrew sense and reflects the idea that God's plan that included Jesus was present during creation.
I would rather move away from the idea that different authors have different perspectives, though it is obviously true, and suggest instead that the narrative enforces different perspectives. Having said that, I think that there is a very easy and natural narrative continuity between the Synoptic Gospels, Acts and Paul, running through even into Revelation.
The “sent into the world” part of the story certainly needs closer attention. I agree about the poetic-prophetic character of the language, but there is the thought in the Wisdom literature that Wisdom comes to find a place in the world or in Israel, and it may be that this notion coincided with the sending of a prophet motif, giving rise to something a bit more like the traditional view. But I would make the point again, it is not the “Son” who is there from eternity but “Wisdom”. I think.
I agree, however, I'm still not clear what is meant by being "sent" by the Father.
"For one thing, there are different narratives because the NT was a patchwork of writings put together by people with different belief systems". If this is the case, then there wouldn't be any problem with people with "Trinitarian" belief systems adding to the patch work that you claim the NT is. If you think people shouldn't put their Trinitarian views into the "patchwork" I would ask based on what text or book? And how would one know if some of the patches were from Trinitarian thoughts? If the NT is a patchwork, then the OT must be as well. Your patchwork theory would leave no room for any absolute standard to criticize any view one takes.
I'm not sure I understand the question. People can believe whatever they want. They can add or subtract anything. I'm not making claims about what is. My point is that the Trinity isn't part of the belief system of any of the authors of the Bible. What that means to you or me is up to us to decide.
Hi Andrew. Just a question. I have been following your blog for a while and am very interested in the wisdom tradition narrative that you have recently started to use to interpret parts of John and Colossions etc. To my mind, your focus on the wisdom tradition is a recent focus for you. Where and when did you pick this up and is there a post that explains this tradition? What should I read to get up to speed on this? Thanks. Ryan.
It’s not really a new idea for me, and it’s certainly a well established scholarly view. Some of the older posts on Trinity and Jesus make reference to the argument that Paul and John in particular use Jewish Wisdom ideas to construct a creational significance for Jesus. I think it’s potentially a very rich seam to mine. I would consider going back to Matthew Fox’s stuff (The Cosmic Christ and Original Blessing). He fails to understand the relationship between the Wisdom and apocalyptic narratives, but he would have some good things to say, I suspect, about the positive, regenerative, creational significance of Jesus.
Andrew, you ask and say:
“How did Jesus the Son of God—God’s servant, Israel’s king—become Jesus the Wisdom and Word of God? As best I can frame it, this seems to be the central puzzle of New Testament christology.”
I’m thinking you are going to work this out soon, but wonder if you haven’t pretty much already answered your own challenge six years ago in the linked discussion of the “two” narratives. http://www.postost.net/2008/04/new-creation-spirit-blessing…
You say in your discussion of the Kingdom theme that:
“the main point to grasp is that the ‘kingdom’ language defines not the missional practice of the church but the action of God to safeguard the integrity and autonomy of his new creation people.”
This just hints at the connection since the creative “action” of God ensures the existence of “his new creation people.” It is no obvious intellectual trouble to assume an inherent connection between “creation” and “new creation,” since agent and actor are inevitably related.
To review some of the themes you discuss there:
Regarding New creation
The creational promise is repeated to Abraham and his descendants: they will be blessed, God will make them fruitful and multiply them, and they will fill the land.
The final hope of the church is not to go to heaven (that may be an interim hope but I rather think not) but to be part of creation remade
Regarding Life in the Spirit
This experience of the Spirit of life cannot be reduced to a narrow set of ‘charismatic’ distinctives: the whole of creational life in the microcosm must somehow be an outworking, expression, embodiment of the pressing reality of the creator God.
The new creation in Christ has learnt how not to be bullied and victimized by the powers of the macrocosm — it has learnt to love, to forgive, to seek reconciliation, not to fear death — and so can afford to be generous. Insofar as the life in the Spirit of the microcosm has a positive impact on the old creation, the church mediates the original blessing to the nations and cultures of the world. But the same life in the Spirit must sharply set the new creation apart from the old
Regarding The kingdom of God
The whole notion of ‘kingdom’ has to do with the problems that arise when the new creation people is placed in the midst of hostile nations
But the main point to grasp is that the ‘kingdom’ language defines not the missional practice of the church but the action of God to safeguard the integrity and autonomy of his new creation people
So I would argue — and I hope I’m not just splitting hairs — that ‘mission’, if we must call it that, arises out of the existence of the people of God in the midst of the nations and cultures of the earth as ‘new creation’,
When the integrity or even the existence of the microcosm is contested, whether from within or from without, the conviction comes to the fore that the creator God will always act sovereignly, as king, to judge or redeem or liberate his people.
So, I have to ask:
Is it in any way surprising or problematic, or even puzzling that the theme of New Creation would also incorporate the theme of Creation? Really? Creation, creation promises, new creation people—looks like all one narrative from where most of us sit, perhaps because it was gob-smack obvious to the Apostles?? Just sayin’