Friday, May 14, 2010

Perseverance and Apostasy in 1 Cor 10

We may notice in this context that Paul’s language moves from ’all’ (10.1-4) and ’some’ (10.5-10) to third person singulars in 10.12. . . [I]t is precisely the individual who is in danger of falling away. Israel as an elect people (’all’) were not destroyed, only ’some’. As such, Paul affirms the election and final perseverance of the people of God as a collective whole similar to the wilderness and prophetic traditions that maintain that God preserves a remnant of God’s people (e.g., Num. 14.23-24, 29-32; Deut. 4.25-31; Isa. 1.9). If Paul’s theology on this issue is consistent throughout his letters, then it is plausible to suggest that individual Christians could take comfort in final perseverance only as they remain identified as members of God’s elect community. If such is the case, then there is really no contradiction between final perseverance and genuine apostasy. The tension is between individuals and the collective community. Regarding final perseverance, Paul may not believe that everything that is true of the whole community (or body of Christ) is necessarily true of every genuine member of that community-genuine members could fall away. 
B.J. Oropeza 
Paul's Message To the Corinthians in a State of Eschatological Liminality" 
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2000; 22; 69-86

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