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Transform Your View on Pauline Theology

The Apostle Paul found the gospel message so compelling that he became a rootless wanderer and endured hardships and deprivation to spread this good news throughout the Roman Empire.

What was the “gift of righteousness” that Paul was so eager to share? In David deSilva’s forthcoming book, Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel, he examines Paul’s gospel message presented in his letters. In this excerpt from the book, deSilva argues that the justified life is a transformed life:

As Paul reflects on God’s saving intervention in his own life, on the results of his having trusted in Jesus, and on his quest to be justified before God through the way opened up by Jesus, he writes:

I died to the Torah through the Torah in order that I might live to God. I was crucified together with Christ; it’s no longer me living, but Christ living in me. The life I’m living now in the flesh, I live in faith toward the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. (Gal 2:19–20)

Paul speaks of a dramatic and real change in his life. As he looks upon his life, he sees that the person he was is no longer driving or shaping his being or his practice. Instead Jesus Christ himself has taken on flesh in a new way in Paul, making Paul into a new person—a Christ-directed person, an extension of Christ’s own willing, being, and doing. This, I would propose, is Paul’s description of the justified life. Indeed, the verses preceding these, namely Gal 2:15–18, provide one of Paul’s densest discussions of justification through trusting Jesus as opposed to shaping one’s life after Torah-prescribed practices. This description of the justified life is a description of a transformed life. The person brought in line with God’s righteousness is the person whose flesh Christ himself has taken on.

What people are saying about Transformation

We sent advance reader copies to a few reviewers, and here’s what they’re saying:

Sadly, too much of what passes for Christian theology puts the gospel in a straightjacket and imagines salvation as little more than cosmic paperwork. deSilva’s approach in Transformation, exegetically cogent and carefully argued, bursts with power and possibility appropriate to the life-changing purpose of the work of God in Jesus Christ. The Snapshots series is off to a great start!”

—Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, George Fox Evangelical Seminary

In Transformation, David deSilva opens up for us the life-changing gospel of Jesus that Paul preached but that many have reduced to a kind of easy believism with little substance. Readers will benefit from David’s careful reading of Paul’s letters, his in-depth knowledge of Paul’s culture, and his understanding of Paul’s interpreters (and misinterpreters). The result is an insightful reintroduction to the apostle and his message of transformation for individuals, communities, and the entire creation.”

—Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary & University

Christian interaction with the world has long been hobbled by a stunted picture of what it means to be a Christian. We fail at what we are called to do, because we have far too narrow a picture of what we are called to be. David deSilva seeks to broaden our picture of the good news through a close reading of the Apostle Paul’s writings. But do not misunderstand, deSilva’s no revisionist. He is not rejecting traditional approaches to Paul, he is refocusing our attention on the big picture: The Christian life is about transformation. And I can think of no more timely and important message than that. A must read for any Christian who desires to take seriously the call to be salt and light in the world.”

—Jim Beilby, professor of theology, Bethel University

A snapshot

The Snapshots series, edited by renowned scholar Michael Bird, engages significant issues in contemporary biblical scholarship, making them accessible to busy students of the Word and applicable in the life of the church.

Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel is the first book in the Snapshots series, and we’re preparing to ship this volume in a matter of weeks.

Don’t miss out on this excellent perspective on Paul, order yours now while it’s still on Pre-Pub!

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Written by
Jake Mailhot

Jake Mailhot is the product manager for Lexham Press. He also writes about baseball and lives in Bellingham, WA.

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Written by Jake Mailhot