The kingdom in First Corinthians: reevaluating an underestimated Pauline theme
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Despite the fact that scholars regularly overlook the theme of the kingdom in Paul’s letters, the thesis of this work is that the kingdom is a foundational component of God’s saving work in Christ in 1 Corinthians. This thesis can be demonstrated by observing three primarily lines of evidence: (1) the relationship of the kingdom to the effects of Christ’s death, resurrection, and saving reign, (2) the consistency of Paul’s kingdom references with respect to his inaugurated eschatological schema, and (3) the connection between the kingdom and Paul’s ethical teaching, or what might also be referred to as the transforming work of the Spirit. Chapter 1 provides a history of research concerning the different approaches to Paul’s theology of the kingdom in modern scholarship. Relatively few scholars have addressed the topic in a comprehensive way, and where the kingdom has been addressed, it has commonly been suggested that Paul has replaced it with another theme. Chapters 2 through 4 examine Paul’s references to the kingdom in the following texts: 1 Corinthians 4:8, 20; 6:2-3, 9-11; 15:20-28, 50. In addition to examining Paul’s use of words in the βασιλ– word group, these chapters also focus on Paul’s use of kingdom-related concepts, such as the reign of Christ, the reign of believers, and the future judgment of the saints. A number of connections are also drawn between the kingdom and related eschatological themes. Chapter 5 compares Paul’s kingdom theology in 1 Corinthians with the rest of his epistles. It is argued that there is a consistency to the apostle’s theology of the kingdom, even as different contexts require different aspects of the kingdom to be emphasized. The conclusion in chapter 6 provides a summary of the findings in the previous chapters, including a recap of how the thesis has been demonstrated. Also included are some limitations and implications of this work, along with suggestions for further study on this topic.