The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles


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Ws So creation then may not be rejected as evil.

(1-1) Introduction

We will take up this theme later after treating of the human condition. The Human Person: Greatness and Wretchedness. These chapters set the tone for reading the entire Bible. Everyone is invited to recognise therein the essential traits of the human situation and the basis for the whole of salvation history. Created in the image of God: affirmed before the call of Abraham and the election of Israel, this characteristic applies to all men and women of all times and places Gn 64 and confers on them their highest dignity. The expression may have originated in the royal ideology of the nations surrounding Israel, especially in Egypt, where the Pharaoh was regarded as the living image of god, entrusted with the maintenance and renewal of the cosmos.

But the Bible has made this metaphor into a fundamental category for defining every human person. Insofar as they are images of God and the Creator's stewards, human beings become recipients of his word and are called to be obedient to him Gn Human beings exist as man and woman whose task is at the service of life. In this way, the likeness to God, the relationship of man and woman, and ruling over the world are intimately connected.

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The close relationship between being created in God's image and having authority over the earth has many consequences. First of all, the universality of these characteristics excludes all superiority of one group or individual over another. All human beings are in the image of God and all are charged with furthering the Creator's work of ordering.

Secondly, arrangements are made with a view to the harmonious co-existence of all living things in their search for the necessary means of subsistence: God provides for both humans and beasts Gn As well as the rhythm of day and night, lunar months and solar years Gn , God establishes a weekly rhythm with rest on the seventh day, the basis of the sabbath Gn When they keep the sabbath observance Ex , the masters of the earth render homage to their Creator.

Human wretchedness finds its exemplary biblical expression in the story of the first sin and punishment in the garden of Eden. This prohibition implies that serving God and keeping his commandments are correlatives of the power to subdue the earth Gn , The man fulfils God's intentions first of all by naming the animals and then in accepting the woman as God's gift In the temptation scene, in contrast, the human couple ceases to act in accordance with God's demands.

The result is that they try to avoid a confrontation with God. But their attempt to hide themselves shows the folly of sin, because it leaves them in the very place where the voice of God can be heard The man and the woman perceive that they are naked , which means that they have forfeited trust in each other and in the harmony of creation. By his sentence, God redefines the conditions of human living but not the relationship between him and the couple On the other hand, the man is relieved of his particular task in the garden, but not of work , In other words, God continues to give human beings a task.

The Other "Gaps" of the Bible

The relationship between man and wife deteriorates. When this prohibition is violated, access to the tree of life is henceforth blocked Created in God's image and charged with cultivating the soil, the human couple have the great honour of being called to complete the creative action of God in taking care of his creatures Wi By refusing to heed the voice of God and preferring that of creatures human freedom is brought into play; to suffer pain and death is the consequence of a choice made by the persons themselves.

The Old Testament reveals how this plan was realised through the ages, with alternating moments of wretchedness and greatness. Yet God was never resigned to leaving his people in wretchedness. He always reinstates them in the path of true greatness, for the benefit of the whole of humanity.

To these fundamental traits, it may be added that the Old Testament is not unaware of either the deceptive aspects of human existence cf. Qo , the problem of innocent suffering cf. But in every case, especially the last, far from being an obstacle to human greatness, the experience of wretchedness, paradoxically, served to enhance greatness.

The anthropology of the New Testament is based on that of the Old. It bears witness to the grandeur of the human person created in God's image Gn and to his wretchedness, brought on by the undeniable reality of sin, which makes him into a caricature of his true self. Greatness of the human person. In the Gospels the greatness of the human being stands out in the solicitude shown to him by God, more than that of the birds of heaven or the flowers of the fields Mt ; it is also highlighted by the ideal proposed to him: to become merciful as God is merciful Lk , perfect as God is perfect Mt , It is hunger for the word of God that draws the crowds first to John the Baptist Mt and par.

As the image of God, the human person is attracted towards God. Even the pagans are capable of great faith.

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The Heart of Paul's Theology: Paul and his Theology (high definition video)

It was the apostle Paul who deepened anthropological reflection. One can scarcely imagine a greater dignity. The theme of the creation of the human person in God's image is treated by Paul in a multifaceted way. It is by contemplating the glory of the Lord that this resemblance is bestowed 2 Co ; The greatness of the human person will then reach its culmination.

The wretchedness of the human being. The wretched state of humanity appears in various ways in the New Testament.

The Times of the Gentiles

It is clear that earth is no paradise! The Gospels repeatedly give a long list of maladies and infirmities that beset people. Death strikes and gives rise to sorrow. But it is especially moral misery that is the focus of attention.

A Commentary on Revelation

Humanity finds itself in a situation of sin that puts it in extreme danger. The preaching of John the Baptist reverberates with force in the desert. The passion of Jesus was then an extreme manifestation of the moral wretchedness of humanity. Nothing was missing: betrayal, denial, abandonment, unjust trial and condemnation, insults and ill-treatment, cruel sufferings accompanied by mockery.

It is in Paul's Letter to the Romans that we find the most sombre description of the moral decay of humanity Rm , and the most penetrating analysis of the condition of the sinner Rm Their refusal to give glory to God and to thank him leads to complete blindness and to the worst perversions Paul wants to show that moral decay is universal and that the Jew is not exempt, in spite of the privilege of knowing the Law It is more in the nature of a theological intuition of what humans become without the grace of God: evil is in the heart of each one cf.

Ps If sin were not universal, there would be some who would have had no need of redemption. The power of sin avails of the Law itself to manifest its destructiveness all the more, by inciting transgression Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thus is manifested the urgent need of redemption.

On a different note, but still quite forcefully, the Book of Revelation itself witnesses to the ravages of evil produced in the human world. Evil releases terrible calamities. But it will not have the last word. Babylon falls The salvation that comes from God is opposed to the proliferation of evil. From the beginning of its history, with the Exodus from Egypt , Israel had experienced the lordas Liberator and Saviour: to this the Bible witnesses, describing how Israel was rescued from Egyptian power at the time of the crossing of the sea Ex The miraculous crossing of the sea becomes one of the principal themes for praising God.

In the land of Canaan, continuing the experience of liberation from Egypt, Israel was once again the recipient of the liberating and salvific intervention of God. Oppressed by enemy peoples because of its infidelity towards God, Israel called to him for help. In the anguished situation of the Exile — after the loss of the Land — Second Isaiah , a prophet whose name is unknown, announced to the exiles an unheard-of message: the Lord was about to repeat his original liberating intervention — that of the Exodus from Egypt — and even to surpass it.

The Responsibility and Mission of the Church

After the return of the exiles, seen as imminent by Second Isaiah and soon to become a reality — but not in a very spectacular manner — the hope of eschatological liberation began to dawn: the spiritual successors of the exilic prophet announced the fulfilment, yet to come, of the redemption of Israel as a divine intervention at the end of time.

In many of the Psalms, salvation takes on an individual aspect.


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Caught in the grip of sickness or hostile intrigues, an Israelite can invoke the Lord to be preserved from death or oppression. He has confidence in the saving intervention of God Ps In some texts, salvation after death makes its appearance. God then can not only subdue the power of death to prevent the faithful from being separated from him, he can lead them beyond death to a participation in his glory. The Book of Daniel and the Deuterocanonical Writings take up the theme of salvation and develop it further.

In the Old Testament, to bring about liberation and salvation, God makes use of human instruments, who, as we have seen, were sometimes called saviours, as God himself more often was.


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The very name of Jesus evokes the salvation given by God. It can be said that in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and in the uncontested Pauline Letters, the New Testament is very sparing in its use of the title Saviour. The title, then, could become ambiguous. Furthermore, the notion of salvation, in the Greek world, had a strong individual and physical connotation, while the New Testament, in continuity with the Old, had a collective amplitude and was open to the spiritual. With the passage of time, the danger of ambiguity lessened.

In Jesus' public life, his power to save was manifested not only in the spiritual plane, as in Lk , but also — and frequently — in the bodily realm as well. He has brought salvation of a different kind. The perspective is eschatological. God is the Liberator and Saviour, above all, of an insignificant people — situated along with others between two great empires — because he has chosen this people for himself, setting them apart for a special relationship with him and for a mission in the world.

The idea of election is fundamental for an understanding of the Old Testament and indeed for the whole Bible. The choice which the Lord made of Israel is manifest in the divine intervention to free it from Egypt and in the gift of the land. At the same time, the importance of Israel's response to the divine initiative is underlined as well as the necessity of appropriate conduct.

The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles
The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles The Coming Increase of Christ in His House: Identifying the Fullness of the Gentiles

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