Friday, February 6, 2015

Fridays with Fee: Part II

I would think myself to be the least likely person to have ever written a commentary.
So opens Gordon Fee's article, "Reflections on Commentary Writing" (Theology Today; 46.4; 1990; 387-392; here 387). This ironic self-reflection may be the key to Fee's standing as a biblical commentator, one that is marked by the best of those who take on the task of commentary writing, namely, humility before the text, careful attention to detail and the ability to exposit the texts continuing relevance.

This brings me to the second installment of "Fridays with Fee." Although I did not cover as much ground in the past week as I would have liked, I have nevertheless found a few Fee gems in reading through his The First Epistle to the Corinthians (rev. ed.).

Without further ado:

1 Cor 2:14: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

People are revealed for who they are by their response to the cross; to see it as foolishness means to stand over against God and God's ways--and to stand under divine judgment as without God's Spirit and therefore apart from 'what God has freely given us' (125). 

1 Cor 2:6-16:

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 

16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Paul's concern needs to be resurrected throughout the church. The gift of the Spirit does not lead to special status among believers; rather, it leads to special status vis-à-vis the world. But it should do so always in terms of the centrality of the message of our crucified/risen Savior. The Spirit should identify God's people in such a way that their values and worldview are radically different from the wisdom of this age. They do know what God is about in Christ; they do live out the life of the future in the present age that is passing away; they are marked by the cross forever. As such they are the people of the Spirit, who stand in bold contrast to those who are merely human and do not understand the scandal of the cross. Being 'S/spiritual' does not lead to elitism; it leads to a deeper understanding of God's profound mystery--redemption through a crucified Messiah (129).

1 Cor 3:3:  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 

The Corinthians have the Spirit, but are behaving precisely like people who do not, like 'mere human beings.' Being human, of course, in itself is not a bad thing, any more than being sarkinoi is (v.1). What is intolerable is to have received the Spirit , which makes one more than merely human, and to continue to live as though one were nothing more. Receiving the Spirit begins one's life in the age to come, wherein life is to be lived according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh ('sinful nature'). The verb translated 'acting' (lit. 'walking') is used regularly in Paul for 'the walk of life,' that is, one's way of living (cf. 7:17). For him the basic imperative of the Christian life is 'Walk [live] by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature' (Gal. 5:16). He simply has no patience for belief that does not issue in proper behavior; and this not 'perfectionism,' is is rather a matter of growing up (136).

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