The Thistle

What Counts and Corinthian Chronology – Buswell Library Select Items

Reformed Theological Review is a conservative Australian journal that is well worth perusing. Issues typically have three articles followed by reviews and then short notices about recent books.

In the August 2012 issue (vol. 71, no. 2) John A. Davies writes “What Does Count?” It deals with the 3 places (1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6, and 6:15) that Paul says “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything.” In each of these places Paul’s “expression of what counts is formulated differently: in 1 Corinthians 7:19 it is ‘obeying the commandments of God,’ in Galatians 5:6 it is ‘faith energized by love,’ while in Galatians 6:15 it is ‘a new creation.’” After considering what doesn’t and does count, Davies concludes:

This, then, is what counts with God. In the narrative of circumcision and the covenant that gives it meaning, Paul sees that what counts is participation in the bringing into effect of God’s agenda foreshadowed to Abraham, secured by Christ and applied by the Spirit—a new world characterized by love, faith and a heart-transformed obedience towards God.

Paul Barnett writes “Chronology for Paul and the Corinthians,” noting that Paul engaged with the church in Corinth more than any other “Pauline congregation.” In 2011 Barnett came out with The Corinthian Question which he references in this regard along with Rainer Riesner’s Paul’s Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology, translated from German by Doug Stott (Eerdmans, 1998), which surveys opinion about overall Pauline chronology. Nineteen pages and 33 footnotes later, Barnett concludes:

Based on Acts references to the expulsion of Jews from Italy and the arrival of Gallio we reasonably argue that Paul began his eighteen (plus) months visit to Corinth in AD 50. Combining chronological references in Acts and Second Corinthians (considered as a single letter) we conclude that Paul wrote First Corinthians in early 55, travelled to Macedonia later in that year and arrived in Corinth for the winter of 56 prior to travelling to Jerusalem.