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N.T. Wright on the Dangers of Neglecting the History of the New Testament

“The early Christian communities were what we would call ‘political communities,’ that is to say, they formed total communities of a kind of egalitarian, mutually supportive, outward-facing, worship-directed character that were perceived as socially subversive in their world.” 

“We have been sort of conned into thinking that Christianity is a religion in the modern sense of religion, which is what people do with their solitude and their spirituality, whereas in the first century, a religion was something that embraced everything.”

“It’s perfectly possible for the Holy Spirit to speak to the most naive reader…but for teachers in the church, it’s absolutely vital that we constantly go back to refresh our sense of what was actually going on.”

“It’s highly likely that the first person ever to expound Paul’s letter to the Romans was a Christian businesswoman from the eastern port of Corinth.”

“Right from the start, Jesus and Paul seem not only very comfortable with women as preachers, as teachers, but actually positively to commend that and to set that up.”

“I think it’s quite wrong to take one particular reading of 1 Timothy 2 and allow that to override what is coming through in those other great passages, which seem to me very, very clear.”

“There were lots of independent women in Paul’s world, and that was something Paul worked with.”

“In the ancient world, there was no such thing as private life…this actually colors everything to do with what it meant to be an early Christian.”

“We need to think our way back into the realities of first century life, and when we do that, it should make us ask ourselves, ‘What are the similar cultural pressures that we face?’”

“The trouble is, again and again in the church, people have treated both Romans and Galatians as if they’re simply systematic treatises about how to get saved and then they’ve been puzzled that in the one, it looks as if Paul is being very opposed to the Jewish law and in the other one, it looks as if he’s very in favor of the Jewish law. And the answer is, get hold of the actual context and then you’ll see what’s going on.” 

“Studying the real world of the first century is one of the best ways of getting to the point of addressing the message of the New Testament to the real world of today.”

Mentioned in the Show by N.T. Wright

1 Corinthians 11
Galatians
John 20
Psalm 2
Romans 16
1 Timothy 2

Alexander Cruden
Ask N.T. Wright Anything [podcast]
The Apostle Paul
The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences, Richard Bauckham
History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology, N.T. Wright
Martin Luther
Mary Magdalene
The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians, N.T. Wright
N.T. Wright Online [online courses]
Phoebe

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Jason serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at PastorServe, a ministry committed to strengthening the Church by serving pastors through personal coaching and church consulting. He also hosts FrontStage BackStage, a podcast and YouTube show, that helps pastors embrace healthy, well-balanced leadership as they develop a sustainable rhythm for life and ministry. Prior to joining the PastorServe team, Jason served as Vice President of Ministry Mobilization at Outreach, Inc., and as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement. Additionally, Jason served for nearly two decades in pastoral leadership, primarily as a lead pastor, in several contexts, including church plant re-launch, multisite church, multiethnic urban church, and an established suburban church. His experience as a lead pastor has provided numerous opportunities to coach and mentor pastors across the country. Jason and his beautiful wife, Monica, are the proud parents of six children and live on Anastasia Island, Florida. @jasondaye