I asked Esau McCaulley, who is also speaking at the conference, to say a bit about his presentation (this is also posted on the Northeastern Seminary website).
His talk is entitled: “The Gospel and the Kingdom: Preaching the Law, Faith, and the Messiah Jesus in Galatians 3:10–14.”
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (NRSV)
Esau McCaulley’s Explanation
These verses have often been read as a treatise on how an individual can obtain salvation, given that fact that all people sin and that the Law requires absolute perfection.
In my talk at the Rochester preaching conference, I will argue that we can understand Paul’s argument better by a careful reading of Galatians 3:10–14 and by paying attention to the story of Israel that drove Paul’s understanding of the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.
I have four primary goals for this talk:
1. Homiletical Fruit
First, I hope to demonstrate that a close reading of Pauline texts can provide fresh avenues for preaching. Exegesis bears homiletical fruit!
2. Focus on the Community of Faith
Second, I will suggest that Galatians 3:10–14 is not primarily about how a wicked individual can stand before a just God. Instead, Paul focuses on God’s vision for the climax of Israel’s story, namely, the post-exilic creation of the people of God – Jew and Gentile – through faith in the Messiah Jesus, apart from Torah.
Thus, at the heart of Paul’s gospel stands a vision for a multi-ethnic kingdom under the reign of the crucified king. The people of this kingdom are identified by faith, and their lives show a foretaste of the kingdom through Spirit-empowered mutual love.
3. Paul’s Use of Old Testament Scripture
Third, I intend to analyze how Paul uses scripture to substantiate his claim. I will show that examining the contexts of Paul’s Old Testament citations (Deuteronomy 27:26; Habakkuk 2:4; Leviticus 18:5; and Deuteronomy 21:23) provides a richer understanding of his argument.
4. The Connection between Conversion and Justice
Finally, I hope to reveal how this faithful interpretation of Paul’s message allows our preaching to make organic connections between conversion, deep involvement in a community of believers, racial reconciliation, and the church’s public witness against injustice.
I look forward to our mutual engagement around these issues at the conference.
Thanks for sharing this, Esau. I’m looking forward to the conversation.
You can access Esau McCaulley’s blog here.
My follow-up on Esau McCaulley’s presentation is posted here.