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I think that if we wish to use the phrase today, we need deliberately to shift the focus away from Christ as apocalyptic paradigm to Christ as ideal of new humanity in a new creation. That seems to me a reasonable inference, but I don’t think it’s a course that the New Testament takes—right up to the end, Jesus is the lamb who was slain. The apocalyptic narrative remains in control.

I suggest that in Romans 8:16-17 Paul actually distinguishes between the whole group of believers as “heirs of God” and a sub-group of believers who are “heirs of Christ” because they share in his sufferings. These are no generic human sufferings. They are the afflictions that come specifically because of loyalty to the mission of proclaiming the coming reign of God in the period before the parousia. Why not respect that distinction?

The problem if we generalise Paul’s argument is that we both obscure the narrative and diminish the extreme character of the hostility and violence that the early church sporadically faced.

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