The day of the Lord is not just a future event.
Many people regard the day of the Lord as a future reality with little relevance for the earthly life of believers. But the apostle Paul understood the theological concept differently. For him the day of the Lord was a matter of present experience that influenced every aspect of his theology.
In The Righteous and Merciful Judge, authors Matthew Aernie and Donald Hartley issue a corrective to scholarship that misconstrues the day of the Lord as only a distant event. Through engagement with scholarship and careful exegesis of relevant texts, they argue that the concept of the day of the Lord was so significant for Paul that every aspect of his theology was in some way affected by it. Aernie and Hartley show us that Paul’s understanding of the day of the Lord relates to all of Paul’s theology precisely because it was shaped by his encounter with Jesus, the Lord himself.
The day of the Lord is coming, but it already shapes our lives and theology. The Righteous and Merciful Judge demonstrates that the day of the Lord is transformative and influential for believers today, just as it was for Paul.
“Rather, it is conceivable that the ‘day of the Lord’ phrase used by the later Old Testament authors was ostensibly derived from their knowledge of the numerous theophanies or ‘parousias’ of Yahweh depicted throughout the Torah. In other words, later authors may have viewed the many advents of Yahweh described in the Torah as a ‘day’ when he would come and intervene to either bless or curse his people. The imagery of these ‘comings’ of God found throughout the Torah is the likely catalyst that led later Old Testament authors to utilize the day of the Lord as an epithet that formalized the concept of God coming to judge or bless.” (Pages 26–27)
“In most instances the phrase has been replaced by a variety of different idiomatic expressions that are conceptually parallel to yôm yhwh, such as הַיּוֹם (hayyôm), ‘the day,’ בַּיָּמִים (bayyāmîm), ‘in those days,’ בַּיּוֹם (bayyôm), and so on.” (Page 39)
“The argument here is not that the day of the Lord should be considered the ‘center’ of Paul’s theology but rather that the day of the Lord is a fundamental component influencing all of Pauline theology.” (Page 206)
“Therein lies the irony. Humanity suppresses who God actually is by nature through its idolatry, and God responds by permitting and punishing humanity to be what it actually is by nature in practice.” (Page 133)
“He argues that the day of Yahweh was primarily understood to be a day of battle when Yahweh would come and destroy his enemies and bless his people.” (Page 7)
Studies in Scripture and Biblical Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key topics and issues in biblical studies and biblical theology from an evangelical perspective.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
The Righteous and Merciful Judge is a careful overview of the Day of the Lord theme in Scripture ending with a detailed focus on Paul’s letters. Judgment is not a popular theme today, but it runs through the whole of Scripture. This close look shows how important a part of theology the idea of accountability to the Creator God is. One can read this work with much profit to round out the understanding of how God holds us accountable to him in his world.
—Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
Aernie and Hartley have filled in a lacuna in Pauline scholarship with this work on the Day of the Lord. They consider carefully the OT background and Second Temple Jewish background and then set forth Paul's own understanding of the Day of the Lord. An important contribution which should be taken into account by those engaging in Pauline theology.
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Aernie and Hartley have tackled a complicated and very important topic. Their study of Paul’s theology through the lens of the Day of the Lord is fresh, exciting, and insightful. Highly recommended.
—Craig A. Evans, John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University
Matthew D. Aernie (PhD, University of Wales) is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies for the College of Adult and Graduate Studies at Colorado Christian University.
Donald E. Hartley (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Adjunct Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies at Regent University.