This study explores the conversion theologies of Luke and Paul. For Luke and Paul, conversion played an important role in the early Christian experience. Morlan offers a fresh look into how they interpreted this phenomenon. Morlan traverses representative texts in the Lukan and Pauline corpus equipped with three theological questions. What is the change involved in this conversion? Why is conversion necessary? Who is responsible for conversion?
Morlan presents theological and exegetical analysis of Luke 15, Acts 2 and 17:16–34, Romans 2 and Romans 9–11 to answer these questions, and, in turn, builds theological profiles for both Luke and Paul. These profiles provide fresh insight into the theological relationship between Luke and Paul, showing significant similarities as well as sharp contrasts between them. Similarities surface between Luke and Paul concerning the centrality of Christology in their conversion theologies. While showing a complex relationship between human and divine agency in conversion, both Luke and Paul understand successful conversion to be impossible without the intervention of an agency outside of the pre-convert.
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“Paul hoped his readers would despair because they could not repent” (Page 143)
“Paul means real repentance, real seeking God and real doing good—it is just that no one can do them.” (Page 152)
“sin for Paul was not just the act of sinning, but was itself a living entity” (Page 157)
“Paul is arguing for God’s righteousness in bringing wrath to all humanity—no one will have an excuse (1:20; 2:1)—which means that he is not in Rom. 2 trying to show how humanity can escape this judgment.” (Page 159)
“Conversion was necessary but humans were in total need of God to act on their behalf to reconcile them to himself. The” (Pages 190–191)
David S. Morlan (PhD, Durham University) is a pastor at Fellowship Denver Church.