N.T. Wright on Forgiveness of Sins

‘From the point of view of a first-century Jew, ‘forgiveness of sins’ could never simply be a private blessing, though to be sure it was that as well, as Qumran amply testifies. Overarching the situation of the individual was the state of the nation as a whole; and, as long as Israel remained under the rule of the pagans, as long as Torah was not observed perfectly, as long as the Temple was not properly restored, so Israel longed for ‘forgiveness of sins’ as the great, unrepeatable eschatological and national blessing promised by her god. In light of this, the meaning which Mark and Luke both give to John’s baptism ought to be clear. It was ‘for the forgiveness of sins’, in other words, to bring about the redemption for which Israel was longing.’ (N.T. Wright, ‘Jesus and the Victory of God’, p. 271)

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