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Frank Matera: God’s Saving Grace

Ch 7 Waiting for the Final Appearance of God’s Saving Grace

Pauline theology begins and ends with God.

God’s saving grace is directly corroborated in Paul’s eschatology as the concept of “the already and the not yet” pervades the apostle’s thinking. The future triumphant victory in Christ includes our present existence as well. Matera divides the chapter into five theological themes. First, the wait for Christ’s imminent parousia in the Thessalonian correspondence reveals God’s salvific work. Second, the wait for the resurrection of the dead is investigated in the Corinthian letters. The pivotal teaching of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus, is essential to the apostle’s theology. Third, the wait for the final victory in Christ continues the motif of “the already and the not yet” (Romans 5, 8) as Matera ties Paul’s eschatology with Israel’s eventual return and acceptance of Jesus the Messiah. Fourth, Colossians and Ephesians demonstrate Paul’s realized eschatology. Matera remarks, “the emphasis from the future to the present” (204), sums up the realized eschatology of God’s salvation and grace. Fifth, the wait for Christ’s final appearance consummates his two appearances, when he originally came to earth for salvation and then to complete his salvation over the entire cosmos. Climactically, Christ’s parousia in the Pauline corpus grounds his salvation, resurrection, and redemption of all creation (Rom. 8:22).

Ch 8 The God Revealed Through the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ

God is revealed by the message of the cross in weakness and suffering.

Matera succinctly begins his concluding chapter that “Pauline theology begins and ends with God” (215). Paul’s Jewish heritage provided a firm foundation for his Christian faith and his Damascus Road experience cemented his theology. Indeed, “Paul’s theology is, at the same time, Christology” (216). Matera synthesizes the revelation of God’s grace in Christ with several essential thoughts. First, Paul boldly calls God, the Father, who in relationship with Jesus the Son supports the gospel message. Second, God is revealed by the message of the cross in weakness and suffering (1 Cor. 1:18-31). Third, God justifies and remains faithful, performing his plan in our lives. Fourth, the righteousness of God demonstrates his integrity, which justifies his wrath. Matera acutely mentions, “the righteousness of God and the wrath of God are like two sides of a coin” (234). Fifth, God is no respecter of persons in his incomprehensible wisdom based in the experience of the Spirit. Sixth, God shares his name in Christ who has become our salvation. Seventh, Matera sums up Paul’s theology with christological and pneumatological precision.

This reviewer appreciated Matera’s emphasis that Paul’s christophany (Acts 9) remained the basis for his understanding of grace. Matera’s clear and readable arguments, uncovering the deeper meaning of Paul’s Damascus road christophany. I would strongly recommend Matera’s comprehensive study for lay people, clergy, and scholars. A parish library would possess a readable entryway into the major theological themes of the Paul’s theology. In addition, each chapter concludes with a “coherence and meaning” piece suggesting further readings and summarizing his findings. Certainly, an erudite reading reveals meticulous and creative scholarship on the saving grace of God.

Reviewed by Cletus L. Hull, III



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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2016

About the Author: Cletus L. Hull, III, M.Div. (Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry), D.Min. (Fuller Theological Seminary), Ph.D. (Regent University), has served as a pastor with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for 32 years and psychiatric chaplain for 30 years. He teaches courses in New Testament at Biblical Life Institute in Freeport, Pennsylvania. He has researched the growing Disciples of Christ churches in Puerto Rico and has an interest in the significance of the Stone-Campbell churches in American Christianity. His article, "My Church is a Mental Hospital" appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Healing Line. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Cross and the Power of the Spirit in the Corinthian Church: Grounding Pneumatic Experiences and Renewal Studies in the Cross of Christ (Pickwick, 2018). Twitter: @cletus_hull, Facebook,

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