Archives For imperative

This is the 20th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

As we noted from the writ­ings of Thomas Schreiner in our pre­vi­ous install­ment, Paul doesn’t give us com­mands, or imper­a­tives, in the form of laws, but rather as based in the indica­tive — that is, in our posi­tion in Christ. Paul exhorts us to be who we now are.

In addi­tion to those pre­vi­ous exam­ples, we can also look to Paul’s let­ters to the Eph­esians and Colos­sians for imper­a­tives grounded in the indicative.

Eph­esians 4:1–3: [1] I there­fore, a pris­oner for the Lord, urge you to walk,” (imper­a­tive), “in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called, [2] with all humil­ity and gen­tle­ness, with patience, bear­ing with one another in love, [3] eager to main­tain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (indica­tive).

Con­tinue Reading…

This is the 19th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

We cer­tainly are given imper­a­tives — com­mands — in the New Tes­ta­ment. Indeed, many imper­a­tives are included in Paul’s epistles.

But it is vitally impor­tant to under­stand that Paul’s imper­a­tives are not in the form of laws, but are imper­a­tives that are depen­dent upon the indica­tive of the gospel.

Pro­fes­sor and the­olo­gian Thomas Schreiner explains:

Paul’s exhor­ta­tions do not fall prey to legal­ism, for they are rooted in his gospel and the promises of God. Another way of say­ing this is that the imper­a­tive (God’s com­mand) is rooted in the indica­tive (what God has done for believ­ers in Christ). Believ­ers are saved, redeemed, rec­on­ciled, and jus­ti­fied even now, and yet we have seen that each of these bless­ings is fun­da­men­tally esc­a­ha­to­log­i­cal. Believ­ers are already redeemed, and yet they await final redemp­tion. Jus­ti­fi­ca­tion belongs to believ­ers by faith, and yet they await the hope of right­eous­ness on the last day (Gal. 5:5). Believ­ers would not need any eth­i­cal exhor­ta­tions if they were already per­fected. But in the inter­val between the “already” and the “not yet,” eth­i­cal exhor­ta­tion is needed. If the pri­or­ity of the indica­tive is lost, then the grace of the Pauline gospel is under­mined. The imper­a­tive must always flow from the indica­tive. On the other hand, the indica­tive must must not swal­low up the imper­a­tive so that the lat­ter dis­ap­pears. The imper­a­tives do not com­pro­mise Paul’s gospel. They should not be con­strued as law opposed to gospel. The imper­a­tives are part and par­cel of the gospel as long as they are woven into the story line of the Pauline gospel and flow from the indica­tive of what God has accom­plished for us in Christ.[1]

Con­tinue Reading…