My friend Richard Wright has picked up the thread of our discussion on Mangy Dog and added quite a bit, particularly a long quote from Achtemeier. He (Richard) summarizes things for me quite nicely in the paragraph:
A theme that seems to be emerging from both Achtemeier and Wright is what one might call realized eschatology. Paul the Apostle begins with the past (what God has done for Israel -> what God has done in Christ Jesus) and looks toward the future (resurrection and consummation/glorification) and applies them to the present. The tension in Paul’s message (as nearly everyone recognizes) is between the now and the not yet. Between the past and future victory of God and the sin/suffering/death we experience in the present. And Paul does recognize these!
I see this in this week’s Epistle, Romans 8:26-39. Reading it this morning, something stood out to me.
Rom. 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice that Paul says, “will hardship, etc.” separate us from the Love of Christ and then he quotes Psalm 44:22 saying that “we are being killed all day long!” Without the quote of Ps. 44 verse 35 sounds completely triumphalist. “We are unbeatable!” By inserting Ps. 44 he brings us crashing down to ground: this is a world full of hardship, even to the point of torture and death. And yet we can still say, “nothing will separate us…”