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? David deSilva argues that it was far richer than the “get out of hell free” pass that some Christians have unintentionally reduced it to today.
In Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel, deSilva guides readers in expanding their definition of the gospel message as presented in Paul’s letters. He succinctly demonstrates that the gift of righteousness that Paul speaks of in Romans is nothing less than the means to transform and renew all of creation—including ourselves. Join deSilva as he explores Paul’s message of change and renewal, and prepare to be transformed in your own thinking in the process.
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 mis-interpreters). The result is an insightful re-introduction 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
“In this moment, Paul reveals that his mission is not essentially about ‘winning souls’ or ‘getting people off the hook at the Last Judgment.’ It is primarily about working with people to surrender themselves to this work of God, this deep and fundamental transformation whereby their lives cease to be what they were and begin to be an extension of Christ’s own willing, being, and doing.” (Page 12)
“The giving is free and uncoerced, but the receiving creates a relationship of obligation.” (Page 40)
“The existence of justification and sanctification as distinct categories threatens to rend asunder what Paul joins together in his vision of a single, great process of God’s intervention in the lives of human beings.” (Page 9)
“Paul is setting conditions on entering into the ‘life’ of the resurrection: it is necessary to allow God’s Spirit to become the driving force in one’s life and to cease to live for oneself. Continuing to feed the passions and drives of self-centered, self-directed living (what Paul speaks of as ‘the flesh’) shipwrecks God’s work of transformation and deliverance.” (Page 20)
“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.” (Page 11)
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.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Dr. David A. deSilva, PhD, is the Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio, where he’s taught since 1995.
He’s written over 20 books in the areas of New Testament and Second Temple Judaism, including Unholy Allegiances: Heeding Revelation's Warning (Hendrickson, 2013), The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude (Oxford, 2012),Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation (WJKP, 2009), An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation (IVP, 2004), Introducing the Apocrypha (Baker Academic, 2002), and Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews” (Eerdmans, 2000). He’s also interested in spiritual formation, having written Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation through the Book of Common Prayer (IVP, 2008) and Praying with John Wesley (Discipleship Resources, 2001).
He’s ordained in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, and serves as director of music and organist at Christ United Methodist Church in Ashland. He and his wife, Donna Jean, have three sons.