Richard Beck recently posted some insights about grace he has gleaned from Paul and the Gift by John M. G. Barclay. For instance...
We tend to miss the radical social implications of Paul's message of grace. We moderns tend to make grace a personal and psychological experience: I feel grateful because God loves me, an unworthy sinner.
But in Paul's context the message of incongruous grace--God gives gifts to the unworthy--blew up the entire ancient way of thinking about social relationships.
In short, rather than creating an internal, private experience grace creates a new social imagination and reality.
According to Paul, in the light of grace all previous cultural standards of significance and worth--how we divide up the winners and losers in any society--are dissolved and eradicated.
Grace is an acid that dissolves the social barriers that separate the winners from the losers.
Read Beck's complete post at Experimental Theology