Part I - Chapter 2: The self-understanding of the communities reflected in Paul’s paraklêsis
Having looked at what the prescripts to the epistles tell us about the self-understanding of the early christian communities, we must ask how this affected their behaviour.
We must now enquire whether this self-understanding of the christian communities had ethical implications. Did it actually impinge on the moral awareness of Christians to the extent that Paul could take it for granted in the exhortations he addressed to them, and did he in fact take it for granted as the theological context of the moral demands he urged upon them?p.15
This is answered by looking at Paul’s paraklêsis (consolation, exhortation, entreaty or encouragement) sections are now considered, looking particularly at 1 Thess 4:1-12 and some passages in 1 Corinthians.
This chapter concludes with the following statement (repeated here for clarity in following the argument).
Our examination of several representative passages has shown that the theological context of Paul’s paraklêsis is the self-understanding of the christian communities precisely as God’s holy People, true Israel. We must now proceed further in our enquiry into the context of the christian imperative, for so far we have indicated only those Old Testament motifs in the light of which Paul could see the Church’s continuity with Israel. Hence one might reasonably ask whether the Church’s relationship to Israel is simply one of continuity, and, if so, how this relationship is supposed to differ from that which, say, the Qumran community understood to exist between itself and Israel. In other words, is the Covenant by which Christians have become God’s People no more than a ‘réédition’ (Boismard) of the Sinai Covenant, and does the Church, like the Qumran community, regard itself as the true Israel in the sense that it constitutes the group within Israel in which the Sinai Covenant is to find, at last ,its perfect realisation? This question is of capital importance for our subject, since it concerns not only the context, but the very nature and content, of the christian imperative.p.32
Updated 2009-10-18 (build:61) by Andrew Fountain