Apocalyptic in Galatians

I’m preparing for a discussion of apocalyptic in Galatians this week and came across this from Bruce Longenecker’s book, The Triumph of Abraham’s God.  So well put:

[T]he driving force behind Paul’s theological presentations is the invasion of God into the world in order to subjugate forces that run contrary to God’s will and to set relationships aright.  Behind any concerns for ethics, ecclesiology, pneumatology, Christology, and the like, lies a theology that focuses on God as the cosmic overlord of creation.  Theology of this sort is fundamentally ‘theodocy’—that is, a defence of God’s reputation as the one in control of this world, despite any appearances to the contrary.  Pauline theodicy describes how God’s sovereignty remains intact despite threats from opposing forces.  It focuses on the divine reclamation and rectification of the cosmos, something inaugurated in Christ, driven on by the Spirit and completed eventually when God becomes ‘all in all’ (1 Cor. 15.28).  At heart, then, Paul’s gospel is not simply about soul-saving, involving ethical or doctrinal teaching.  Such features are contained within a larger theological programme, one that concerns the warfare between God and the forces that are stacked up in hostility to God’s beneficent reign over the world.  This warfare is carried out not just in the future when hostility to God is completely eradicated, but at every stage in the drama of reconciling the world in Christ to God (p. 8).

3 thoughts on “Apocalyptic in Galatians

  1. Andrew

    If true, it almost makes it seem like the eschaton started at the cross (rather than at some point in the future); the point a which Satan’s power began to wane [Luke 10:18]; that or when the beast’s dominion was taken away [Dan 7:23] after its time (1), times (2), and half a time (0.5) [Dan 7:25], forty-two months (or 3.5 times) [Rev 13:5-6] had ended.

    The description “focuses on the divine reclamation and rectification of the cosmos, something inaugurated in Christ, driven on by the Spirit and completed eventually when God becomes ‘all in all’ (1 Cor. 15.28)” sounds _VERY_ reminiscent of:

    And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.” (where this Kingdom is the ‘Kingdom of God’) …

    … don’t ya think?

    1. timgombis

      Galatians is very unique in that it focuses eschatology on the cross rather than on Christ’s resurrection, a future resurrection, or anything future, for that matter. That doesn’t mean that all of Paul’s theology has to orient to his presentation in Galatians, but it’s just notable that this is how he construes things here.

  2. Andrew T.


    … its true Paul also treats baptism as a type of death [Rom 6:4], and also baptismal faith a type of ressurrection [Col 2:12].

    Could it be, much of his theology focus’ on baptism as ‘The resurrection’, and we miss it – our minds jumping to bodily ressurrection instead of spiritual ( as though bodily ressurrection is the only kind, and most important with respect to the kingdom)?

    If so, the idea the eschaton started at the cross might saturate Paul’s thinking, and not be so foreign, so as only to be found in Galatians. We might just be missing it because our presuppositions are getting in the way.

    If so, being in the eschaton right now, means we’re witnessing the stone cut without human hands being grown into a mountain without end, putting to rest the kingdoms of the world – without bodily ressurrection having yet come.

    Except that we’re missing it because the milestone we’re hoping to notice is physical ressurrection, rather than spiritual … when it’s spiritual ressurection that remakes us in the image of Christ (the mountain that is made in the image of the stone).

    If so, if we are in the midst of the eschaton, that should profoundly shape our views on evangelism and urgency.

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