Reading Ephesians and Colossians after Supersessionism: Christ’s Mission through Israel to the Nations
by Lionel J. Windsor
Eugene: Wipf & Stock (Cascade Books), 2017.
Series: New Testament after Supersessionism
The apostolic mission from Israel to “the nations” forms the explicit framework for Ephesians and Colossians. Yet the concrete dynamics of this mission seldom play any significant role in modern interpretation. Scholars frequently approach these letters as if the Jew-gentile dynamics inherent in the early Christ-preaching mission are either irrelevant, or are negated by the letters themselves. This book seeks to redress this deficiency. Windsor approaches Ephesians and Colossians with an evangelical post-supersessionist perspective. By highlighting, rather than downplaying, Israel’s special place in salvation history, Windsor demonstrates that Jew-gentile dynamics and missionary concerns are highly significant for understanding the overall argument of these two letters. The resulting readings offer a deeper appreciation of the biblical, Israel-centered contours in which the theological and ethical concerns of the letters are expressed. Along the way, Windsor demonstrates how certain texts in Ephesians and Colossians, which are often read as evidence of a supersessionist perspective, are capable of more fruitful and satisfactory post-supersessionist interpretations. He demonstrates that in these letters, Christ does not negate Jewish distinctiveness. Rather, Christ’s mission proceeds through Israel to the nations, creating mutual blessing in the Messiah.
Endorsements & Reviews
What is immediately striking in Windsor’s work is that we find a fresh reading of Ephesians and Colossians, one which challenges supersessionist interpretations. Still, the work doesn’t have a sharp polemical edge but evidences a patient and deep reading of texts in both Ephesians and Colossians. Even those who move in different directions and dispute some of Windor’s conclusions will find him to be a challenging conversation partner. Windsor’s provocative and yet irenic reading of Ephesians and Colossians is an important resource for all further work in these letters.
—Tom Schreiner, Associate Dean of Scripture and Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fulfillment does not mean replacement without remainder. Such is Windsor’s argument as he examines the need to read the Pauline epistles in the light of the dynamic of the Old Testament: the gospel concerns Israel’s mission to the nations. This is a timely challenge to New Testament readers to allow Paul to speak from this perspective, and to recognize that our unity in the gospel does not mean we eliminate all distinctions, especially those between Jew and gentile.
—Graeme Goldsworthy, Former Lecturer in Biblical Theology at Moore College, Sydney