Toward this eschatological goal, then, Paul labors, working hard so that those committed to his spiritual care may be found fit to enter God's eternal kingdom at Christ's return. The church's salvation does not result from divine activity alone. Servants who effectively steward offices and gifts given by God are agents of God's salvation on earth. In this sense, Paul's participatory Christology yields a participatory missiology: believers labor with God to produce salvation. Conversion cannot take place without the energy of God; neither can it take place without the proclamation, admonishment and teaching of suffering servants like Christ, Paul and Epaphras. With all [God's] energy suggests cooperation between Paul and God for the work of Gentile conversion and instruction.
The order of salvation, then, is covenantal; it is not a spectator sport but a dynamic relationship between God and people from beginning to ending. God works with servants of the church, struggling with them and powerfully working in them to bring forgiveness from sin and the promised life.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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