Posted by: duncandrews | October 31, 2012

A summary of what I’ve been thinking about all year…

I’ve just finished a 15000 word research project that I’ve been working on this year. It’s been a great ride – particularly entering into the world of discourse-analysis and linguistics, and thinking a lot about the significance and role of imperatives (commands, requests, etc) in communication in general and in Paul’s letters in particular. Here’s my conclusion:

This study has attempted to evaluate the exegetical significance of the discourse-initial imperatives of Colossians, Romans, and 1 Timothy. At each point they have been found both to be structurally and thematically significant, and to have a priority over the remaining imperatives. In this light, the call to reckon gospel realities as true (Romans) and to continue walking in them (Colossians), signal the passive/receptive setting of Pauline ethics. The call to right teaching in 1 Timothy reflects the active expression of these passive realities, as the claims of Jesus’ lordship are placed under threat by the counter-claims of false teaching. The tension between passive and active, necessary because of the eschatological situation in Christ, testifies that our moral effort, real and necessary, nevertheless only takes place in the fundamental gospel reality that in Christ God has first acted for, in, and on us.



  1. Can you put this in words of one and two syllables? Smile

  2. Hmmm not sure I can, Mum – but if you want a summary of the end-point, the last line might do nicely: in Christ God has first acted for, in, and on us. Not a particularly novel insight, but absolutely astonishing and revolutionary!

  3. I should add – I think that for Paul, a person’s ongoing and primary response to this–ie, the shape of the Christian life–is not moral effort but recognising and trusting this reality to be true. We are fundamentally called to believe that what God says is true about us–that we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ (Rom 6:11), that we have received Jesus as Lord (Col 2:6)–REALLY IS true about us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: