Bird’s Eye View of Paul (10)

We’re continuing Bird watching via A Bird’s Eye View of Paul: the man, his mission and his message by Michael Bird by looking at ‘stories behind the story’ – the background themes of Paul’s thought.

Better get a move on in this series .. the last one we’ll briefly look at is the church (ekklēsia).

The apostle spent his whole ministry engaged with communities of believers variously called the people of God, the body of Christ, beloved, elect and saints.

Here is Bird’s helpful definition of what the church is for Paul:

“The ekkēsia then, is the people of God, called to be the new Israel and the renewed humanity (e.g. Col. 3:1-17). The church was to be charismatic (Spirit endowed), multi-ethnic (Jew and Gentile), Christocentric (Lord’s Supper, baptism and imitation of Christ), unified (baptised into one body), part of society (mission), but not a reflection of it (holiness).

This raises the question of course of how much this theological ideal works out in reality.The tension between what ‘ought to be’ and ‘what is’ in many ways shaped Paul’s ministry and of course continues to be as relevant as ever today.

I wonder which characteristics you see working well in your experience of church and which ones are weak or even missing?

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