“Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). This is a recurring exhortation in the letters of the apostle Paul. No other New Testament writer gives such a sustained emphasis on thanksgiving—and yet, major modern studies of Paul fail to wrestle with it.
David Pao aims to rehabilitate this theme by showing how, for Paul, thanksgiving is grounded in the covenantal traditions of salvation history. He states that to offer thanks to God is to live a life of worship and to anticipate the future acts of God, all in submission to the lordship of Christ. He makes a claim that ingratitude to God is idolatry. He shows a link between theology, including eschatology, and ethics. Here he provides clear insights into the passion of an apostle who never fails to insist on the significance of both the gospel message and the response this message demands.
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Very few treatments of this theme in Paul comprehensively reflect on the theology of thanksgiving and how such theology is deeply embedded in Paul’s thought, and in the gospel itself. Pao supplies the lack, and does so in a way that is both informed and edifying. His study is not only the stuff of biblical theology and grist for many sermons but will prove to be the occasion for self-examination, repentance and a new resolve to be thankful.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
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