A Summary of Chapter 1 of Paul: In Fresh Perspective by N.T. Wright

Chapter 1 sets the stage for the rest of the book. The main point is that Paul lived within at least four different worlds and that to understand Paul we must understand the worlds he lived in. These four worlds are: (1) Second Temple Judaism, (2) first-century Hellenism, (3) the Roman Empire, and (4) the ekklesia, the called out ones. Wright summarizes the overlapping of these worlds as follows (p. 6):

For Paul, to be ‘in the Messiah’, to belong to the Messiah’s body, meant embracing an identity rooted in Judaism, lived out in the Hellenistic world, and placing a counter-claim against Caesar’s aspiration to world domination, while being both more and less than a simple combination of elements from within those three. Paul would have insisted that there was something unique about this fourth world, and he would have traced that uniqueness back to the person of Jesus himself and to his incorporative role as Messiah.


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