[F]or Paul the most decisive event of the End had already taken place in Jesus Christ....Throughout his letters the references and allusions to his sense of mission habitually take orientation from this consciousness. For him the End had already arrived, eschatological expectation had given way to eschatological experience, and the long-expected ingathering of the nations was now being fulfilled. He conceived of his Gentile mission as eschatological in nature principally not by virtue of some connection with a yet future event but by virtue of its evident connections with a past one.
That Paul did see a link between the Gentile mission and the Parousia is evident from Romans 11, but the exact nature of the relationship is left unemphasized and obscure in Paul's treatment, and no other Pauline texts clearly take up this particular theme. - W. Paul Bowers, "Mission," Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (InterVarsity, 1993), 617-618.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Paul, Mission and the End of the World Part II
When I checked the article on "mission" in the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters this morning, I was happy to see that Paul Bowers agrees with me: