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Why is Ascension Day so important?

What would you identify as the climax and completion of Jesus’ life and ministry? Surprisingly, this is not a trivial question. One of the key differences between John and the synoptic gospels is that, where the synoptics portray the crucifixion as a necessary but incomplete act on the way to the resurrection, John portrays it as the climax and completion of Jesus’ ministry in itself. In place of Jesus’ cry of despair (Matthew 27.46, Mark 15.34), John records a cry of triumph ‘It is finished!’ (John 19.30). The promise of ‘living water’ springing from the belly or side of the one who believed (John 7.38), best understood in reference to the Temple prophecy in Ezekiel 47, is fulfilled in the blood and water from Jesus’ side at his death (John 19.34). No wonder the true testimony of this leads to faith (John 19.35).

But most of the NT would point to the resurrection as the completion. Paul’s theological linking of Jesus’ death and resurrection to our movement into and out of the water of baptism (Romans 6.3–4) suggests that crucifixion and resurrection belong together, and this is evident all through the proclamation of what God has done. This Jesus, whom you crucified, God raised from the dead, Peter tells the Pentecost crowd in Acts 2, and we are witnesses of this. Paul, in Luke’s parallel depiction of his ministry, also talks of ‘Jesus and the resurrection (anastasis)’ (Acts 17.18), so much so that his hearers think that Anastasis is the female consort goddess to the male god Jesus. Paul’s summary of the gospel for the Corinthians is that ‘Christ died for our sins…was buried…and was raised on the third day’ (1 Cor 15.3–4).

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What does Rev 4–5 tell us about the Trinity?

I am writing a commentary on the Book of Revelation, and also doing work on the contribution of Revelation to our understanding of the Trinity. I post hereby summary comments on Revelation 4 and 5, since these are the most important contributions in Revelation to our understanding of the relation between Jesus and the Father, […]

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Tyndale NT Study Group July 2017

We have a fantastic line-up of papers for the NT Study Group this year—come and join us to engage in some world-class scholarship! The Tyndale New Testament Study Group is part of the Tyndale Fellowship for biblical and theological research, based at Tyndale House in Cambridge, and including evangelical scholars from all over the world. This year’s NT Study […]

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Have we got the schedule for Easter wrong?

Have you ever sat and read through the gospel accounts of Passion Week, and tried to work out chronologically what is happening? And have you done that with the four gospels? (It is easiest to do that latter using a synopsis, either in print or using this one online.) If you do, you might notice several […]

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What is the evidence for the resurrection?

When considering the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, we need to separate two issues. First, what are the historical facts that require an explanation? And, second, what is the best, most plausible, explanation for those facts? What are the facts to consider in relation to the resurrection? First, Jesus died on the cross, a victim of […]

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Did Jesus die to ‘satisfy God’s wrath’?

Four years ago I commented on the well-known hymn (which you might have sung yesterday), ‘In Christ Alone’ by Stuart Townend. This had been prompted by the decision in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to drop the  hymn because the song’s authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God. The original lyrics say that “on […]

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Palm Sunday according to Matthew

It is always a relief when we celebrate Palm Sunday from Matthew or Mark’s account. Luke 19.36 in his account talks only the garments, and does not mention palm branches, so in those years we have to call it Garment Sunday (which doesn’t have the same ring about it). In fact it is only John, […]

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How do we give and receive love? (John 13)

The new edition of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God has just been published, and this is the third part of my contribution reflection on John 11–13. Acceptable service (John 13:1–17) Why do we find it so difficult to be served by others? Because it draws unwelcome attention to us? Or because we don’t feel we deserve the attention? […]

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