Review: In the Apostle of the Last Days – The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul C. Marvin Pate makes a convincing and exhausting argument for the apostle's inaugurated eschatology, meaning that Jesus has heralded the dawn of the age to come, but that age has not fully come yet.
From there, Pate systematically works his way through each of the apostle’s letters and demonstrates this inaugurated eschatology. He goes further, though and dives into the backgrounds of these letters and demonstrates how Paul’s eschatology is in direct conflict with the eschatologies of the various peoples he addresses. From the various eschatological views in Judaism to the emperor worship predominant in the Roman world, Pate shows how Paul’s Christ-centric eschatology opposed, threw down and ultimately defeated all other eschatological views.
The book contains quite a bit of technical data. The biblical data and support for Pate’s presentation is also very extensive, and sometimes exhausting to work through. But in the midst of all this information, Pate’s attention remains with the Apostle Paul’s focus. These epistles aren’t just about some events that will happen years from now. No, instead, Paul’s gospel is that the age to come has arrived in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Believers can have new life now, which will be fully realized and consummated when Jesus Christ returns.
In fact, even amidst the mountains of technical data, and extraordinarily helpful charts, Pate has some rather encouraging and even poetic lines of inspiration. For example, in his conclusion on the book of Romans, Pate writes, “Though Paul would meet his death in Rome at the hands of Nero in the 60s, before it was over Paul would have the last word because the mighty Roman Empire would bow in defeat before the cross of Christ in 313, when Constantine converted to Christianity.”
Pates concluding section is also very helpful as he takes an abbreviated look at Paul’s theology in a systematic overview.
Certainly, this title will be a difficult tome for many to work through. But to those willing to put the effort into this book, it will illuminate the Pauline epistles.
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Rating: 4.5/5 (I Really Liked It)