The Spirit and the Nations: Revisited

In the context of Pentecost as an anti-Babel I found Paul's speech to the Athenians interesting.

Acts 17:22-31
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god.What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for In him we live and move and have our being;as even some of your own poets have said, For we are indeed his offspring. 29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

In this speech, Paul gets behind (so to speak) the typical Jewish story of the idolatry and apostasy of the nations over and against the call of Abraham out of the nations and YHWH's relationship to Israel as His chosen people.

There is a similar attempt to get behind the Jewish story in his letter to Corinth:

I Corinthians 15:20 - 28
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

These are certainly instances of Paul being "all things to all people that by all means he might save some." And yet, in the end, to do so is also to be faithful to the essence of Israel's story, for they were chosen in Abraham to be a blessing to all nations.

To preach the crucified and risen Jesus Christ not only as the Jewish Messiah but as the New Adam, desire of the nations, is to fulfill the vocation of Israel.

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