Paul of Tarsus

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An examination of Paul of Tarsus life and teachings as seen in the early Christian literature likely written by him


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Paul of Tarsus Unit Two

 Lecture Six

                                   Toward the Eternal City
 

Rome is known as the eternal city. It was the capital of an empire that lasted a thousand years. For almost as long as the Christian era, it has been the seat of the papacy; and since the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, its see has been the most powerful and influential of any see in Christendom. The pope has been, and is, the temporal and spiritual ruler of the largest church in the world. From the days of Constantine in the early fourth century, he has been the father of princes and the king of kings.

Paul lived too soon to have any relationships whatever to the papacy. Peter is reputed to have been the first pope. But if he were, he did not know it. The papacy as an institution did not exist in New Testament times. All the apostles, including Peter, were wandering evangelists. There is no evidence that Paul had any contact with Peter in the city of Rome.

Paul was a Roman citizen, however. As such, he enjoyed all the rights and privileges of a free citizen of the largest and most powerful empire on the face of the earth. Its capital was the metropolis of the western world. And Paul longed to visit Rome because he wanted to have some part in the life of the Christian community flourishing there (Rom. 1:8-13). These last chapters of Acts deal with the circumstances that led to Paul's being taken to Rome and describe the events on his way there.

Paul's final destination was not Rome. Like Abraham, the father of his race, "he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). These final chapters in Acts bring to a close all that Luke tells us of Paul's evangelistic and missionary career. Luke does not tell us of Paul's death. But more important than Paul's being temporarily the prisoner of Caesar, he was after his conversion permanently the prisoner of Christ. The city of Rome was but his gateway into God's everlasting kingdom beyond the years. On his way to Rome, he saw before him the crown of righteousness that was laid up for him and that the Lord would give him on the last day (2 Tim. 4:8).

Paul of Tarsus

Jerusalem (21:15-23:35)

Paul's company was enlarged by people from Caesarea who desired to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost. Among them was a Cypriot named Mnason, who owned a home in Jerusalem and who invited Paul to be his guest in that city. Perhaps he had been converted by Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. Their luggage was heavy, so they employed carriages for the sixty-four mile trip from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

On arrival, Paul met with the brethren in general and went the next day to give his report to James, the brother of Jesus, and the elders of the Jerusalem church. They received Paul's glowing report of his missionary successes with joy and thankfulness, but they reported to Paul the rumors about him in Jerusalem, namely, that he had treated Jews as gentiles and freed them from all requirements of the Mosaic law, including the rite of circumcising their male babies. As a result, thousands of converted Jews in the city were scandalized. Therefore, Paul had to declare in some graphic way that the rumors were false and that he had freed only gentile converts from the Mosaic requirements but had insisted on Jewish Christians living up to the law that he had diligently kept.

James and the elders proposed that Paul defray the Temple expenses of four men who had taken the Nazirite vow and go into the Temple with them and join them in their ritualistic purification. This ceremony, begun on one day, could not be concluded until seven days later. Paul began the ritualistic process the day after the suggestion had been made to him. He thereby announced that his purification, along with that of the four men, would be finished seven days later. They would make their sacrifices together, and Paul would pay for all of them.

Some scholars have felt that this could not have happened and that Luke is in error here. They think making such a sacrifice to please the Jewish Christians would be a compromise too great for the apostle to the gentiles to make. He preached Christ who alone is the propitiation for all our sins. But that same Paul confessed he could be all things to all people if by any means he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22). He was willing to be to the Jews a Jew, that is, to live under the law for the sake of those living under the law, and to the gentiles, a gentile. He realized of course that he had been liberated from the bondage of the law and lived entirely by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Thus, his willingness to perform the necessary purification rites by making a sacrifice in the Temple was for the sake of others. He did not want to hinder the progress of the newly converted Jews in the Christian faith. F. F. Bruce puts the matter succinctly when he writes, "A truly emancipated spirit such as Paul's is not in bondage to its own emancipation."

James and the elders did not give Paul good advice, however. It may have convinced the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who were bound to the Mosaic law that Paul had never transgressed that law and was in full harmony with them. But it exposed him in the Temple to the unconverted Jews in the city. There were at the Feast of Pentecost some hostile Jews from Asia, probably from Ephesus itself. They had seen Paul in the streets with Trophimus, one of his gentile converts from Ephesus. No doubt Trophimus followed him into the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple area. There was a sign in the doorway between this court and the Court of Women, stating that any foreigner who passed over from the Court of the Gentiles into the Temple area proper would have only himself to blame for his subsequent death. Jews killed any gentiles who defiled their Temple with their unholy presence. These Asian Jews spread the false rumor through the crowd that Paul had admitted Trophimus into the sacred precinct of the Temple.

Consequently when Paul had done his sacrifice on the seventh day, as they espied him in the Temple, the Asian Jews let out a cry: "Men of Israel, help! Here is the man who speaks everywhere against the Jewish people, their law, and their Temple. Here is he who polluted this holy place by bringing Greeks into it" (21:28, AP). Since there were many men in the Temple area, this was enough to incite them and turn them into a mob. They grabbed Paul and pulled him out of the Temple proper, and the keepers of the Temple shut the doors behind him.

Fortunately for Paul, the Antonia was located adjacent to the Temple. This was the Roman fortress in Jerusalem, and it held a garrison of 760 infantry and 240 cavalry, which made up an auxiliary Roman cohort. Flights of stairs led down from the Antonia into the Court of the Gentiles. The fortress was built above the Temple and higher than any other building in Jerusalem so that the Romans could keep constant watch over the population.

When the Romans saw what was happening in the outer court of the Temple, the military tribune in command of the garrison rushed down with troops to stop the outbreak. If he had not, Paul would have been killed by the mob. When he tried to ascertain what Paul had done to cause such an uproar, everyone was too excited to give him an answer. Some people shouted one thing and some another. Most of them did not know what Paul was supposed to have done. Like sheep following one another, they had just joined in with the rest to do their part in doing what needed to be done by all loyal Jews who loved their Temple. The Romans arrested Paul at the scene and bound him with two chains. Then the soldiers lifted him bodily out of the crowd and carried him up the stairs toward the entrance to the Antonia.

Paul surprised the tribune by addressing him in Greek, the international language of the time. "Why, you speak Greek," the officer said. "I thought you were that Egyptian who staged a riot here not long ago and escaped with his murderous gang into the wilderness" (21:37-38, AP). The reference is no doubt to an alleged prophet of Egyptian origin who led, according to Josephus, a mob of Zealots to the Mount of Olives and assailed the city of Jerusalem to rid it of the Romans. Most of the assailants were hunted down and killed by the Roman governor Felix, but the Egyptian leader had escaped. There is a difference in the number of assailants given by the tribune and by Josephus. The tribune says there were only four thousand of them. This is probably correct, since the revolt was not a major one and was easily put down. Evidently Paul's appearance was such that the Roman officer thought he was an ignorant brigand, but Paul informed him that he was a citizen of Tarsus. And his tone of voice and use of Greek were such that the officer realized Paul was more than ordinary and let him speak.

When Paul addressed the mob in Hebrew, they immediately became an audience, for silence fell. He was able to make his testimony by recounting his own experience in which he was led to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. It is similar to the account Luke gave when he described its occurrence, with a few details Paul now added. For example, he recalled it was high noon when the experience took place, and the heavenly light was strong enough to outshine the noonday sun. He referred to Jesus as Jesus of Nazareth, so there would be no mistake on the part of his audience as to who his Savior really was. They knew Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified. He added incidentally that his companions also saw the light but did not hear the voice so that they became afraid. Paul made the point with them that Ananias, who was the instrument of God in the restoration of his sight in Damascus and who had baptized him and told him to witness to Jesus Christ, was a strict adherent of the Mosaic law and was highly respected by the Jews. Paul reported that he came back to Jerusalem and prayed in the Temple. Indeed, it was in the Temple that God revealed to him that he should leave Jerusalem for his own safety. The fact that he had beaten and imprisoned Christians and had concurred in the death of Stephen would not now stand him in good stead with the Jerusalem Jews. He must go, God told him, to witness to the gentiles.

The crowd had heard him without interruption up to this point. But at the mention of the gentiles, they broke out in fury, casting off their clothes and throwing dust in the air, and demanded Paul's death. The officer ordered him to be taken into the barracks and questioned by scourging in order to get the truth out of him as to what he had really done to cause such an outbreak. Scourging meant being beaten with a whip impregnated with pieces of sharp metal, which lacerated the body.

At this point Paul identified himself as a Roman citizen, for the law forbade such punishment of a Roman. The centurion was amazed when Paul told him this, and he informed his superior that they had more on their hands than they realized. The tribune countermanded his orders, observing to Paul that he had bought his Roman citizenship and implying that it was no longer the honor it used to be, since most anyone could get it who was willing and able to pay a bribe. Paul responded, "You may have gotten your citizenship that way, but I was born a Roman citizen" (22:28, AP). The chief officer now realized Paul was a person of prominence, and he became afraid because he had had him bound.

The tribune summoned the members of the Sanhedrin to the Antonia. He wanted to ascertain from them the crime, if any, of which Paul was guilty. The high priest at the time was Ananias (A.D. 47-58), an unworthy and disreputable man, who had been once accused of treachery but acquitted for lack of evidence; he was eventually deposed.

When Paul assured the Sanhedrin that he had lived in good conscience before God, the high priest ordered the man nearest to Paul to strike him in the mouth to indicate he thought Paul was a liar. Paul said in outrage to the high priest, "God will strike you, you hypocrite, for pretending to judge me by the law and yet behaving toward me contrary to the law" (23:3, AP). The Jewish leaders were scandalized by Paul's remark and cried out against him that he had then and there violated the law forbidding anyone to speak evil of God's high priest (Exod. 22:28).

Paul admitted he had broken the law but added he had not realized this man was the high priest. He had to have known who he was, however, due to his leadership in the interrogation. What Paul meant was that he could not believe God's high priest would conduct a hearing in a rough and violent manner contrary to the law (Lev. 19:15). Paul was being sarcastic; he knew very well to whom he was speaking.

The Sanhedrin was composed of Sadducees and Pharisees, the former adhering only to the Pentateuch and denying the resurrection, the latter accepting the historical and wisdom literature plus the prophets and using the commentaries on the law by their scribes. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead. Paul announced to the Sanhedrin that he was a Pharisee, and he very cleverly turned the tables on his opponents by saying that he was being indicted for declaring his hope in the resurrection of the dead.

His remark divided the Sanhedrin. The less powerful members of the body, the scribes, who were Pharisees, supported Paul against the chief priests, who were Sadducees. The former found no evil in Paul and said that it was possible an angel had been using Paul as his mouthpiece and that the assembly dare not fight against God. The two parties in the Sanhedrin could fight against each other, however, and that is exactly what they started to do. The Roman officer had to have Paul removed from their midst. That night the Lord Jesus appeared to Paul and encouraged him by commending him on his witness in Jerusalem and promising him that he would testify to him in Rome.

Outside, a party of more than forty Jewish fanatics covenanted together that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. To accomplish this, they appealed to the chief priests to request a second hearing from Paul. It was contrary to law for the Sanhedrin to engage in a plot of this type, but in desperation people are not always too careful to observe the niceties of the law. Paul's sister resided in Jerusalem, and her son heard of the plot and told his uncle of it. Roman prisons were always open to relatives of inmates. Paul sent his nephew with a centurion to apprise the commanding officer of the plot.

While the tribune was listening to the lad's report, he made up his mind to get Paul out of Jerusalem immediately and to refer his case to the Roman procurator of Judea, who resided in Caesarea. To this end, he composed a letter to the procurator, giving him an account of what had happened, and sent Paul under the cover of darkness with a military escort of two hundred foot soldiers, two hundred spearmen, and seventy cavalrymen on the way to Caesarea. By forced marching, the party reached Antipatris, a distance of thirty-seven miles, overnight. The spearmen and the infantry returned to their barracks the next day; the cavalry transported Paul the twentyfive remaining miles to Caesarea where the governor received him and placed him in Herod's judgment hall.

Paul of Tarsus

Caesarea (24:1-26:32)

Felix, the procurator, or governor as we would say, was an unusual character. He had risen to prominence by his own bootstraps. Felix had been a slave and had not only achieved freedom and Roman citizenship but also this high position in the government of the empire. His brother had been a companion of two emperors, Claudius and Nero, but only in their debauchery. Felix was married to the Jewish princess, Drusilla; she was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, who had jailed Peter and had been stricken at Caesarea and died shortly thereafter (12:22-23). Drusilla was Felix's third wife.

Five days after Paul's arrival in Caesarea, Felix heard his case at a formal trial where the high priest Ananias and the elders presented their charges against him. They did this through a regular trial lawyer, Tertullus, who, judging from his name, must have been a Roman practicing law in Judea. The charges were four: (1) Paul was a public nuisance -- "a pestilent fellow" (24:5); (2) he had caused a riot in the Temple area and was an instigator of sedition; (3) he had caused sedition among the Jews throughout the Roman world, for he was "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (24:5); and (4) he was making an attempt to profane the Temple.

Tertullus's use of "sect of the Nazarenes" is the first and only use of "Nazarenes" to indicate Christians in the entire New Testament. Jesus of course is called "the Nazarene," but not his followers, at least in the New Testament. Later a Jewish Christian sect by that name emerged in church history, but Tertullus's designation does not apply to them, for they acquired their name and organization after Paul's time.

Paul in his own defense made two points: first, that his accusers, the Jews from Asia, were not present as witnesses to testify against him; and, second, that the real issue in the case was that he believed and taught the resurrection of the dead.

Felix postponed his decision on the ground that he needed to talk directly with Lysias, the military tribune in Jerusalem, who was not present. Meanwhile he put Paul in the custody of a centurion and allowed him free intercourse with his friends, the Roman equivalent of our behavior toward a person on bail awaiting trial. Felix brought his Jewish wife to converse with Paul and allowed him to testify again in her presence. On this occasion Paul's testimony was so convincing, especially as he spoke about righteousness and the judgment to come, that Felix trembled and told Paul at a more convenient time he would hear him again on this matter.

It is confusing really as to what Luke means at this point. Does he mean to imply that Felix was about to be converted to Christianity? That is the obvious meaning of the sentence. But what follows casts doubt on this interpretation. Luke says that Felix hoped to get a bribe out of Paul, so he talked with him off and on during his period of custody. He makes no further mention of a favorable disposition on Felix's part toward the gospel. Luke does tell us that before Paul's trial Felix had a rather thorough knowledge of "the way," meaning the Christian way to salvation.

Felix procrastinated in making a decision on Paul's case. He let it drag on until the end of his procuratorship two years later. He tried for his bribe to the very end, confirming the Roman historian Tacitus's appraisal of him: Felix "exercised the power of a king with the mind of a slave."

He was replaced by Festus, a more honorable person who tried to dispense justice in the cases tried. However, his stay in office was relatively short, for he died not many years after taking up his duties in Caesarea. Paul's case was the first one on his docket. Indeed, when he made his first courtesy visit to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem, the chief priests called to his attention Paul's case and asked that it be tried in Jerusalem, for they intended that the original plot to kill Paul be carried out. Festus was too smart to be taken in by them so soon after his investiture as Roman procurator. Obviously he had not heard of the case before, so he invited them to come with their testimony immediately on his return to Caesarea.

Festus had been governor only a fortnight when he sat in judgment on Paul's case. The Jews brought out all their old complaints against Paul, but they could not produce a shred of evidence to support what they said. Yet the fact that they were so vehement in their attack on Paul led Festus to assume that there was more to the case than met the eye. Perhaps it would be better to hear it in Jerusalem after all. He could gather more witnesses and also have access to advisors knowledgeable in Jewish beliefs and customs.

Paul had answered the charges the Jews brought against him in Caesarea and had declared that he had not transgressed Jewish law or in any way profaned the Temple, neither had he done anything detrimental to the reign of Caesar. Still Festus was hesitant to exonerate Paul lest later he should prove to be a revolutionary and a threat to the peace of the province. So he said to Paul, "Will you go back with me to Jerusalem and let us hear your case in the very city where your crime is alleged to have taken place?" (25:9, AP).

This alarmed the apostle. Jerusalem was the last place on earth he could expect to receive justice. So now he took advantage of his Roman citizenship and appealed his case to Caesar. There was nothing more Festus could do but acquiesce: "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go!" (25:12, AP).

Shortly thereafter Festus received a state visit from King Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa I and the brother or halfbrother of Felix's wife, Drusilla. King Agrippa was accompanied by another sister, Bernice, rumored to be his mistress. Agrippa ruled certain territories in the north of Judea toward Syria, and Rome had accorded him the title of king. He was a Jew and was well versed in his Jewish religion. Festus, who hardly knew what to write about Paul in his report to Caesar, was glad of the opportunity to consult Agrippa in the matter. When he apprised Agrippa of the case, Agrippa asked that he might see and hear Paul in person. Consequently a state gathering was arranged for the very next day. King Agrippa and Bernice entered the state chamber in pomp and splendor as did their host Festus. The military officers and principal citizens of Caesarea were present as well, for Festus had commanded them to come.

Paul's defense before King Agrippa was really a testimony, for he reviewed once again the remarkable experience he had on the road to Damascus, both the events leading up to it and its result in the mission God gave him to the gentiles. Paul's account to Agrippa was abbreviated. He told the king that he stood under accusation by the Jewish leaders because of his hope in the resurrection, which ought to be their hope as well. "If God is what we Jews believe God to be, why is it incredible that God should raise the dead?" (26:8, AP). This is what the Christians claim for Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul admitted he rejected this claim and did all in his power to persecute and destroy those who made it. But the living Jesus intervened and changed his mind on the road to Damascus.

In his narration of this experience, there are a few differences in detail from what Paul said to the crowd in Jerusalem. For example, he recalled that his companions, as well as he, were struck to the ground by the heavenly light, but he did not mention his blindness and its cure. He supplied no factual details about himself and his work except to say in general that in that experience Jesus Christ made him a minister and a witness to free people from the power of Satan and to give them their inheritance with the saints. He also recalled that Jesus said to him, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (26:14), which he had not recounted to the Jews in Jerusalem. This was a Greek saying, meaning, You cannot resist fate, which Festus and Agrippa were familiar with, but which would have meant nothing to the crowd at Jerusalem. There is no contradiction whatever in the two accounts. Like any of the rest of us, Paul recounted some things in one that he left out in another. He used what he thought was relevant to those he was addressing. The force of all that he said was that he had not been disobedient to that heavenly vision.

Festus had no comprehension of what Paul was saying. To that practical Roman, Paul appeared to be crazy. He realized Paul was a learned man, too learned in fact for his own good. He interrupted to say in substance, "All those books you have read, Paul, have made you raving mad. Nothing you have said here makes any sense" (26:24, AP).

But Paul saw that Agrippa was listening and weighing his words carefully. On the basis of Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, he was trying to convince Agrippa that Jesus fulfilled them to the letter and that it was necessary for him to suffer and as a result to be the first person to rise from the dead. (Others, like Lazarus, may have been raised from the dead, but Jesus was the first to rise from the dead by his own divine power.)

Paul said confidently to Festus that King Agrippa knew all the things he was talking about. To which King Agrippa replied, "Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian" (26:28). We take this to mean that Paul almost converted Agrippa as a result of his testimony. That is what John and Charles Wesley thought. Charles preached a sermon entitled "The Almost Christian" on this text, and John used Charles's sermon and preached it often as his own; at least he included it in his published sermons.

But I doubt that this is what Agrippa really meant. About all he meant was that he realized Paul was trying to bing him on the basis of what he knew from the prophets about the Messiah to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah. Agrippa was not prepared to go that far. His answer to Paul was probably no more than this: "Paul, do you think in these few words you have spoken to us today that you can make a Christian out of me?" To Agrippa, Paul replied, "I wish to God that you and all who hear me this day would become just as I am without my impediment of being a prisoner awaiting trial" (26:29, AP).

When Festus and King Agrippa had retired from the state chamber to discuss Paul's case privately, the king assured Festus that Paul had done nothing in violation of the Jewish law, and Festus knew that he had not violated any Roman law. Both men realized Paul was guiltless. They shook their heads and said that Paul could have been set free and sent on his way to do what he felt compelled to do if he had not made an appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar. Though the emperor would have no doubt been relieved not to have to hear Paul's case, Festus had no option but to send Paul to Rome since his appeal was a matter of public record.

Paul of Tarsus

The Voyage (27:1-28:13)

 Paul was sent to Rome in the custody of a centurion, that is, a minor officer in the Roman army who had command of a century, or a group of one hundred soldiers. A Roman centurion would be the equivalent of a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The man's name was Julius of the Augustus band, or cohort, which was one of ten divisions of a Roman legion. A cohort numbered between three hundred and six hundred soldiers. The Augustus cohort was probably stationed not too far from Caesarea in Galilee, a part of the kingdom of Herod Agrippa II.

It is likely that Julius took only a few, perhaps six to a dozen, of his troops with him, just enough to guard his prisoners, indeed to kill them if necessary. Not many people could merit an appeal to Caesar. Aristarchus of Thessalonica is mentioned as a fellow passenger, and we might assume he was just another passenger on his way back from Judea to Macedonia except for the fact that Paul mentions in one of his letters that Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner in Rome. Evidently he, too, was on his way to trial (Col. 4:10). Since the voyage falls under one of the "we passages," we know that Luke was accompanying Paul, though not as a prisoner. The transportation used was regular commercial travel. Fortunately for Paul, at the very outset Julius liked him and treated him with admiration and respect.

The journey to Italy was not by direct travel. Passengers would book a passage as far as a ship was going in their direction, disembark, and pick up another vessel as soon as one was available. The boats carried cargo as well as people. The first vessel used was a ship out of Adramyttium, a port on the northwest coast near Troas, which was sailing back from the south and stopped to pick up passengers at Caesarea. It stopped at Sidon to unload and load cargo, and Julius graciously permitted Paul to visit with Christian friends there.

The route of the voyage was roughly the same as the route Paul had taken from Assos to Caesarea when he went to Jerusalem for Pentecost just two years and more before. The trip was in reverse order of course and not so extensive, for Paul and company got off at Myra in Lycia and took another ship out of Alexandria in Egypt, which had as its final destination Italy itself. It was a grain ship, hauling wheat from Egypt to Rome. The merchants who sold the grain often owned the ship that hauled it as well and would travel along with their cargo. They received special concessions from the imperial government, for grain from the provinces was essential to the populace of Rome.

Sailing across the Mediterranean was generally safe from the middle of May to early September. But from early November to early March it was so dangerous that voyages ceased altogether. The captain of the Alexandrine ship hoped to reach Italy before the bad weather had set in. Unfortunately winds were not favorable, and the ship had difficulty reaching Fair Havens, a harbor right in the middle of the southern coast of Crete. This was an open harbor, however, and

therefore subject to storms on the Mediterranean Sea; the ships lacked the protection of arms of land around them.

There was another harbor on the same southern coast of Crete some distance to the west on the direct route to Italy. It was Phoenix, today's Phineka, and its harbor was well suited for the wintering of ships. The owner of the vessel insisted, in order to protect his cargo, that they leave Fair Havens and winter in Phoenix. The captain of the vessel felt they could make this other port in relative safety.

But Paul did not agree; he said to attempt it meant risking their lives as well as the cargo. Paul based his warning on the fact that the Jewish Feast of the Atonement was already past. It fell on the tenth day of the seventh month. The Jewish year was a lunar year, and dates varied from year to year depending on the position of the moon. The Day of Atonement in A.D. 59, the most likely year of the voyage, was as late as October 5. The weather had already gotten bad, for the ship had had difficulty proceeding further.

However, the centurion yielded to the wishes of the ship's owner and the advice of the captain. On the first fair day, when the south wind was blowing softly, they put out from port expecting to reach Phoenix safely. In good weather it was only a day's cruise from Fair Havens. The weather seemed to be fine, and they were taking every precaution by hugging the shore as they sailed. But the gentle south wind was short-lived. It was soon displaced by the tempestuous Euroclydon, formed by a meeting of winds from the north and the east. These winds coming down from the mountains of Crete above them were so strong that the sailors could not man the sails of the ship. To strive to do so would have meant that the sails would have been torn to shreds, so the crew had to let the ship drift with the winds.

As the ship drifted under the island of Cauda, twenty-three miles south of where they had hoped to land, they had to draw in the little lifeboat attached by ropes to the larger ship from behind to keep it from being dashed into their ship by the gales. Also they had to fortify their vessel by binding it tight ropes or cables around its planks to hold them together in the storm. They used pulleys to undergird the ship to keep from falling into the quicksands.

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Leaving the protective shield of Cauda, which obviously had no harbor to serve them, they took to the high sea again, where after a day they had to lighten the ship by casting overboard some of the cargo. The third day they threw out the tackle of the ship. The tempest would not die down. For days they sailed, not knowing where they were because sun, moon, and stars were hidden from view, and these were the only means they had for determining their course. Consequently, they gave up all hope and were too distraught to eat.

The apostle Paul reassured them. He said that during the night the angel of God stood by him and told him that he would stand before Caesar in Rome and that God had given to him all those on board ship with him. He assured them that there would be no loss of life among them but that they would lose the ship.

After fourteen days, the sailors saw signs to indicate they were approaching land. They sounded for the depth of the sea. As the water got less and less deep, they stopped the ship and cast out four anchors lest the ship be dashed against the rocks. It was the middle of the night, and they waited anxiously for the morning light. The sailors got frightened, however, and started to abandon the ship and escape in the little lifeboat. They pretended to want to use the boat to cast anchors out of the bow of the ship. The other four anchors were out of the stern. Paul warned the centurion and the soldiers that unless the sailors remained with the ship none could be saved, so the soldiers cut the ropes and set the lifeboat adrift before the sailors could use it.

When daylight came, they saw that land was near and took heart again. Paul urged them to eat to gain strength, for he assured them that no one would be hurt. He took bread in his hands and broke it and gave thanks to God. Some commentators have insisted that in this act he celebrated the Lord's Supper with them. This is absurd. Except for him and Luke and Aristarchus, there were no Christians among them. The others would not have known what the Lord's Supper was all about. What Paul did was to say the table blessing, to give God thanks for their rescue and the provisions for an ordinary meal. They could all understand that and under those conditions appreciate Paul's prayer.

They saw a creek ahead, which they thought would make a good harbor for the ship. They threw out the rest of the wheat. Unfortunately this did little good, for as they sailed inland, the ship ran aground, its bow got stuck in the mud and sand, and its stem was broken to pieces by the waves. In keeping with their discipline, the soldiers started to kill the prisoners, lest they take the opportunity to escape. But the centurion, in order to save Paul, stopped them and ordered all who could to swim to land. Those who could not were to take pieces of the ship and float in. All reached the shore unhurt.

The people on shore kindled a fire and received the party hospitably. Because they could not speak Greek, Luke called them barbarians, but they were really civil and decent people. The name of their island was Melita, which is modern Malta. The Maltese proudly claim that their church was established by the Apostle Paul. Yet Luke provides us with no evidence to support this claim, such as evangelistic preaching by Paul on the island, his organizing a congregation, or the appointment of elders as we have seen him do in other places. But all these things can be taken for granted.

Paul gained immediate influence with the people. As he was placing wood on the fire the natives had built for him and his companions, an adder, or horned snake about two feet long, very venomous, crawled from the unignited wood onto Paul's arm and bit his hand. The apostle took no notice of the incident except to pry loose the reptile and throw it in the fire. But the natives took notice. At first they thought it was a sign that Paul had committed some horrible crime and was escaping execution as a criminal. Fate would not permit this. The gods had sent this adder to destroy him. They fixed their gaze on his hand. When it did not become swollen and he showed no signs of being poisoned, they changed their opinion and took him to be a god in human guise.

Paul's reputation, gained by this incident, went before him. The ruler of the island, Publius, entertained him and his fellow passengers for three days. Publius's father was ill of dysentery, and Paul cured him. People from all over the island came to Paul for relief, and he healed them, too. To do this, he had to pray over them.

It is unreasonable to think that he did not convert them as well. Paul knew that for a person to be whole, that person had to be right with God. He stayed three months on Malta. Therefore, the Maltese are no doubt correct in claiming that Paul won the entire population to Jesus Christ. When the shipwrecked passengers left, the people gave them all they needed for their trip and honored them, especially Paul, in every way they knew how.

It must have been a considerable time after the Feast of the Atonement, say a month or so, that the ship's crew had risked the cruise from Fair Ravens to Phoenix; for after such an ordeal as they had been through, they would not have undertaken to sail again until spring of the next year. Then, they booked passage on another ship from Alexandria, which had wintered in Malta. On its way to Italy, it stopped for three days at Syracuse, the chief port of Sicily, called at Rhegium at the tip of the Italian boot, and after one day in port there, the gentle south wind enabled them to arrive safely in the harbor of Puteoli, which was their port of disembarkation. Their long voyage was over.

Paul of Tarsus

Rome (28:14-31)

Paul's destination was Rome. His purpose in being there was to stand trial at Caesar's judgment seat. He was met by the Christians at Puteoli with whom he stayed for a week. Obviously the centurion was most lenient. He had no definite time to arrive in Rome, so he adapted himself to Paul's desires and let him do pretty much what he wanted to do.

When the Roman Christians got news of Paul's arrival in Italy, they came out from the capital to the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet Paul and to escort him into Rome. The group that met Paul at the Forum of Appius had come a distance of forty-three miles; the second group, waiting at the Three Taverns for him, had come thirty-three miles. The Forum of Appius was about halfway between Puteoli and Rome, so in all probability the Christians of Puteoli went with Paul to the point where the first group from Rome met him.

Seeing all these brethren brought Paul great joy and gave him much courage. Together they took the Appian Way into Rome, and without being aware of it almost recapitulated their divine Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The centurion fulfilled his mission by delivering his prisoners to the captain of the guard. Paul, then, was permitted to live in a house with only one soldier to guard him. This is what we would call house arrest. He was not permitted to wander throughout the city, though.

Consequently, after three days, he invited the Jewish leaders of Rome to visit him in his house. He explained to them why he was in Rome and indicated those in Jerusalem responsible for his predicament, all the while avowing his innocence of any crime against the Jewish nation. It is obvious that the Jewish leaders in Rome had received no information from Jerusalem about Paul and the nature of the complaints against him. In fact, they told him that people who had come from Judea to the capital had had nothing detrimental to say about him. The chances are that those people did not mention him one way or the other. They had heard about the Christian sect, however, and all reports of it had been bad, so now they wanted to hear about it from one of its own members.

They gave Paul time to prepare his apology, and on the day appointed, they came back with as many others who could conveniently accompany them. Paul took a whole day to talk with them about the kingdom of God, using both Moses and the prophets to persuade them to believe in Jesus Christ. Luke says some were persuaded and some were not. Evidently not enough were persuaded, or rather those who were persuaded were not persuaded enough to accept Christ as their Savior and be baptized. Paul dismissed them with the words of Isaiah, who said that the heart of the people has become obtuse, their ears dull, and their eyes closed, so that God can't heal them (Isa. 6:9-10). Paul told them as they left that, since they would not hear, he would preach to the gentiles, to whom God had sent the gospel. He knew they would be open to it.

As he had done everywhere else, so Paul did in Rome. He preached first to his own people, the Jews. But when they would not hear him, he preached to the gentiles, who did hear him. For two years he received as many as would come in his house and preached to them the kingdom of God and taught them about Jesus Christ. The Roman government put no restraint on him so long as he did it in his own house.

At this point the Acts of the Apostles closes. If Paul arrived in Rome in the spring of A.D. 60, based on the probable dating of the shipwreck in the winter of A.D. 59, which is consistent with general Pauline chronology, Acts ends in the spring of A.D. 62. Paul's hope had been fulfilled. He had come to the Christians in Rome, and he was gathering fruit among the gentiles there as he had in all the other places where he had been (Rom. 1:13). Though Paul did not plant the church in Rome (Peter had probably done that, or else it had come into existence by means of converted Jews of the Diaspora who had heard the apostles in Jerusalem and returned with the Christian faith to Rome), Paul now had become a powerful factor in its development and would give it impetus by his martyrdom some years later.

Luke had accompanied Paul to Rome. He had begun his association with him at Assos, when they sailed together to Macedonia. About three years later, he joined Paul again at Philippi, where Paul had left him, and traveled with him to Jerusalem, where Paul was arrested and transported to Caesarea to languish for two years in Roman custody. There Luke joined him again for his voyage to Italy. The intimate friendship with Paul and lengthy association gave Luke the opportunity to gain information about Paul's career, which he describes so vividly from the start in the book of Acts. He does not carry the account, however, to the point of Paul's martyrdom. Why, we do not know, and it would be idle to speculate about the reasons. Enough! He has shown us in fullness Paul the missionary and evangelist. And the subsequent history of Christianity has proved Paul to be the greatest missionary of all times.

Paul of Tarsus

Questions For Reflection and Study

 

1. Paul spoke about being all things to all people in order that he might win some to Christ. When he was with Jews, he observed Jewish traditions; when he was with gentiles, he refrained from forcing Jewish beliefs on them. Does this imply that Christians may do anything in the name of winning persons to Christ? What are some of the positive aspects of this attitude? What are some of the pitfalls? What guidelines might you use upon which to base your decisions as to what is appropriate and what is not?

2. When the riot was incited in the Temple, Luke tells us that many of the spectators became like sheep following one another. Indeed, many of those present were not even certain what the conflict was all about. Do Christians ever join in a conflict without being certain of the issues involved? Name several examples. What do you think makes us susceptible to such blind action? What remedies can you recommend?

3. Paul retells his conversion experience several times, each time as an attempt to convert others to faith in Jesus Christ. Have you ever related the story of your conversion as a way of telling others about the gospel? Are you comfortable in doing so, or in hearing others tell of their experiences? Do you think this is an effective way of winning others to the Christian faith?

4. When giving his witness, Paul uses what he considers relevant to those he is addressing. Although the basic story is the same, he adds or omits details depending on his audience. When you witness to others about your experience, are you sensitive to your audience? How might you adapt your witness to different situations?

5. Throughout his ministry, Paul exhibited extraordinary courage in the face of life-threatening situations. However, we are told that when Festus asked him if he was willing to return to Jerusalem for trial, the apostle became alarmed and appealed to Caesar, as was his right as a Roman citizen. How do you account for this uncharacteristic action by Paul? Was it a sudden attack of cowardice, or was there something more important involved?

6. Following his interview with Agrippa and Festus, Paul could have been set free; both officials knew that he was innocent. However, because he had appealed to Caesar, they had no choice but to send him to Rome. Do you think that Paul may have regretted his decision? Would the ultimate result have been the same in Jerusalem as in Rome? Do you feel that God was at work in these particular circumstances? Why or why not?

7. Throughout his missionary travels, Paul consistently preached the gospel to the Jews, gave them an opportunity to respond, then turned to the gentiles. In view of the fact that his mission to the Jews continually met with failure, why do you suppose he persisted in this pattern? Do you think he might have been more effective if he had simply concentrated on evangelizing the gentiles in the first place? What implications might this have for Christians today?

 

 

 

Paul of Tarsus 

 Paul and the Future of Israel

 

(a) Jew and Gentile in Paul

 

Probably the key issue in the whole of Paul’s correspondence:  how do Jews and Gentiles relate in the light of the gospel?

 

Revision: circumcision and the law.  Galatians, Romans & why this was such an important question.

 

(b) Are There Hints of Universalism in Paul?

 

Rom. 5.18f: “Just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to righteousness and life for all.  For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

 

Rom. 11.32: “For God has consigned all people to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” (cf. v. 36).

 

Phil. 2.9-11: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

(c) Focus: The Problem of Israel

 

Question: what does Paul think will happen to Jews who have not accepted the gospel?

 

§         If  “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11.29),

§         and if God is righteous (Rom. 1.16f, etc.),

§         and if the gospel is true (Rom. 1.1-6 etc.),

§         how can it be that so many Gentiles have apparently come in to the people of God while God’s own, chosen race has not responded?

 

(d). The Character of God & the Election of Israel

 

§         Paul’s theology (reminder).

§         Paul’s view of God: the importance of promise and fulfilment.

§         Paul reworks the purpose of the Law in the new light of the gospel.

§         Scripture: encapsulates the will of God; the Law; the story of Israel; election and promise.

§         NB the role played by Scripture in Rom. 9-11: volume of quotations.

Rom. 9.6: “It is not as though the word of God had failed.”

§      Prophecy and promise: God’ constancy, reliability, faithfulness.

Rom. 9.9: “This is what the promise said . . .”

 

§         Election: heart of Judaism.

Rom. 9.4: “They are Israelites and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever.”

 

(e). The Problem: The Lack of Response to the Gospel

          (i) 1 Thess. 2.14-16: An Earlier View or an Interpolation?

 

For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.”

 

§         Is conjectural emendation of the text called for?

§         Should we translate u(po\ tw~n   )Ioudai/wn (hypo ton Ioudaion) as “from the Jews” or “from the Judeans”?

 

 

(ii) Paul’s Anxiety

 

9.2-3: “I have great sorrow and increasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.”

 

(iii) Paul’s Ministry: What Place the Jews?

 

1.16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and equally to the Greek.”

 

Gal. 2.7: “When they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised . . . and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognised the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

 

2 Cor. 11.24: “Five times from the Jews I have received the forty lashes less one.”

 

(f). Introduction to Romans 9-11

(i) Renewed Scholarly Interest

 

The Holocaust; the new perspective; W. D. Davies.  Is this the climax of the epistle?

 

(ii) The Sovereignty of God: Non-negotiable

 

9.18: “So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.”

 

9.21: “Will what is moulded say to the one who moulds it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’”

 

11.33: “O the depths of the riches  and wisdom and knowledge of God.” A let-out clause?

 

(c). The Gospel: Also Non-negotiable

 

10.9,12: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved . . . For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.”

 

(g). Paul’s Answers in Romans 9-11

          (i). The Remnant

 

11.2, 5: “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew . . . So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.”

 

§         An idea rooted in Paul’s Scriptures – Elijah (cf. 11.2-4) and Isaiah especially.

§         And Paul’s identity:

11.1: “I ask, then, has God rejected his people?  By no means!  I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.”

 

          (ii). The Hardening of Israel

 

§         What happened?  Disobedience and seeking the wrong righteousness:

 

10.3-4: “For being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.  For Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

 

§         Why did this happen?

 

11.7: “Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking.  The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, ‘God gave them a sluggish spirit . . .’”

 

          (iii). The Gentiles Make Israel Jealous

 

11.11: “Have they stumbled so as to fall?  By no means!  But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.”

 

11.25: “So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon the part of Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”

 

11.17-24: The image of the wild olive shoot, grafted onto the olive tree.

 

          (iv).  The Ultimate Answer

 

            11.26: “And so all Israel will be saved.

 

§         But what does “all Israel mean”?

§         Do they convert before they are saved?

 

Clue: 11.26b: “As it is written, ‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer (o9 r(uo/menoj); he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” Cf. 1 Thess. 1.10: o9 r(uo/menoj = Jesus

Paul of Tarsus

 Justification before the Reformation

 

A.  The Christian Gospel

 

Basic to the message of Christianity is: (1) All people have sinned; (2) God will punish those who have sinned; (3) Through the gospel, God has provided a way for sinners to be saved from this punishment

 

Those who have been saved are referred to in the New Testament as those who “have been justified” (Rom 5: 1:  “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ”). 

 

But what does this mean?  What is justification?

 

B.  The early Church—Augustine

 

The process of justification:  several issues

 

1. predestination and human (free) will; 2. Operating and cooperating grace;

3. An inner change; iustificare — “to make righteous”; 4. Merit

 

 

(i)  Simplicianus and Romans 9: 10-29

 

·        A person’s election was based on God’s eternal decree of predestination

 

·        A person’s faith is itself a gift from God

 

·        A person’s will must be liberated if s/he is to be justified

 

 

(ii)  Operating and cooperating grace

 

Operating grace initiates a person’s justification

 

With the will renewed, God cooperates with that renewed will to perform good works and to bring justification to perfection

 

 

(iii)  An inner change—God comes to indwell the justified person

 

Justification is about “being made righteous;” there is a holiness that is intrinsic to the justified person

 

(iv)  Merit and Matthew 20: 1-16

 

“When God crowns our merit, he crowns nothing but his own gifts.”

 

 

Summary:  Justification, then, was a process.  It involved a real change in a person, the indwelling of the Godhead, the performing of good works and the crowning of those works with eternal life.  It was also entirely the work of God, who chose from the beginning those whom he would give it to.

 

 

 

C.  The Middle Ages

 

Thinking within the medieval period is Augustinian

 

 

(i)  Predestination

 

Double predestination — predestination and reprobation

 

Do humans have free will?

 

 

 

(ii) Habit of supernatural grace

 

God wells in the justified:  1 Cor. 6: 19:  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?”

 

Theologians began (around 12th C) to ask:  in what manner can God be said to dwell in a person’s soul?

 

In order to deal with this, the notion of a supernatural habit created in the soul was proposed

 

This idea was later criticised:

 

(a) the ordained and absolute power of God, and the divine pactum

(b) emphasis on the personal nature of God’s action upon a soul

 

Thus, largely discarded in Reformation

 

 

 

(iii) “God will not deny grace to the person who does his best”

 

Augustine—operating grace begins the process of justification

 

Questions arose later—what happens before the sinner is justified? 

Is there a need for preparation by the sinner to receive justification? 

If so, is God obliged to give it upon the performing of such preparation?

 

From 12th C such preparation was believed to be necessary

 

Various questions:  can someone prepare without God’s assistance?

What is the character of this preparation?

Is this preparation for justification considered meritorious?  And if so, how?

 

Later, however, the obligatory character denied

 

 

(iv) The sacraments

 

Questions were also asked about the continuation of justification

 

What happens when a justified person sins?

Can the habit of grace be lost?  If so, how can it be regained?

 

A habit of grace lost by the committing of a mortal sin

 

The necessity of confession, penance and absolution asserted

 

Justification was linked with sacramental system of church

 

Problems regarding the causal character of these ideas, especially penance (contrition, confession and satisfaction)

 

 

(v) Merit

 

Augustine had argued that believers merit eternal life; God crowned his gifts

 

Later developments:  questions, for example, such as “can a person merit his/her first justification?” were asked

 

Distinction between condign merit and congruent merit

 

The distinction—and idea of merit generally—came under fire as a result of texts like Romans 4: 4-5:  “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

 

The meritorious nature of Christ’s work

 

   Paul of Tarsus

Justification in the Reformation

  

A.  Review of Medieval views (with specific reference to Martin Luther)

 

 

(i)  The distinction between the ordained and absolute power of God

 

·        The contract (or pactum) between God and humankind

 

·        The idea of contractual causality

 

 

(ii)  These ideas affected different schools in different ways (via antiqua, via moderna, via Scoti, etc.)

 

·        For the young Luther (via moderna):

 

Of course justification a process, sacraments essential, etc.

 

Habit of grace no longer a necessity

 

“God will not deny grace to the person who does his best”

 

Thus God’s gift of justification would be given as a matter of necessity to the one who meets the minimum requirement (who does one’s best)

 

This preparation could be accomplished without God’s grace

 

The necessity spoken of here is contractual

 

 

 

B.  Luther’s Discovery

 

(i)  Biographical background—Luther at Erfurt

 

(ii)  Luther’s hatred of the ‘righteousness of God’ (Romans 1: 17)

 

‘Although I lived an irreproachable life as a monk, I felt that I was a sinner with an uneasy conscience before God; nor was I able to believe that I had pleased him with my satisfactions.  I did not love — in fact, I hated — that righteous God who punished sinners, if not with silent blasphemy, then certainly with great murmuring.’        

- from Luther’s 1545 autobiography

 

(iii)  Three significant changes

 

·        Operative grace

 

·        People’s wills captive to sin

 

·        Luther discards the notion of preparation for justification

 

 

(iv)  A new understanding of righteousness—the ‘alien righteousness of Christ

 

God justifies sinners not by giving them a righteousness of their own, which is maintained by them via the sacraments, etc (according to the thought of the patristic and medieval church) by which they will be judged by God, but rather God justifies sinners by giving them the righteousness of Christ as a gift, which remains outside of them but is counted as theirs and justifies them.  Justification, then is no longer a process.

 

·        Simul iustus et peccator

 

 

(v)  The nature of true faith

 

formed and unformed (historical) faith

 

implicit and explicit faith

 

 Paul of Tarsus 

C. Calvin’s exposition of Romans 3: 20-24

 

 

20 Therefore no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law has been manifested, to which the Law and the Prophets testify, 22 even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe; for there is no difference:  23 for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

v20. Therefore by the works of the law ,etc.  It is a matter of doubt, even among the learned, as to what the works of the law mean.  Some extend them to the observance of the whole law, while others confine them to the ceremonies alone.  …  But this difficulty may be very easily removed: for since works are so far righteous before God as we seek by them to render to him worship and obedience, in order expressly to take away the power of justifying from all works, he has mentioned those, if there be any, which can possibly justify—for the law has promises, without which there would be no value in our works before God.  You hence see the reason why Paul expressly mentioned the works of the law; for it is by the law that a reward is apportioned to works.  Nor was this unknown to the schoolmen, who held it as an approved and common maxim that works have no intrinsic worthiness, but become meritorious by covenant (ex pacto).  And though they were mistaken inasmuch as they did not see that works are always polluted with vices which deprive them of any merit, yet this principle is still true:  that the reward for works depends on the free promise of the law.  Wisely then and rightly does Paul speak here; for he speaks not of mere works, but distinctly and expressly refers to the keeping of the law, …

 

But we contend, not without reason, that Paul speaks here of the whole law; for we are abundantly supported by the thread of reasoning which he has followed up to this point and continues to follow, and there are many other passages which will not allow us to think otherwise.  It is therefore a truth, which deserves to be remembered as a matter of the utmost importance — that by keeping the law no one can attain righteousness.  He had before assigned the reason  … that all, being to a man guilty of transgression, are condemned as unrighteous by the law.  And these two things, to be justified by works and to be guilty of transgressions, are wholly inconsistent with one another.  …

 

For by the law ,etc.  He reasons from what is of an opposite character; that is, he argues that righteousness is not brought to us by the law, because it convinces us of sin and condemns us; for life and death cannot flow from the same fountain.  And as he reasons from the contrary effect of the law, that it cannot confer righteousness on us, let us know that the argument does not otherwise hold good, except we hold this as an inseparable and unvarying truth:  that by showing to man his sin, the law cuts off the hope of salvation.  To be sure, the law by itself, as it teaches us what righteousness, is the way to salvation.  But our depravity and corruption prevent it from being in this respect of any advantage to us.

 

 

v21. But now without the law ,etc.  It is not certain for what distinct reason he calls that the righteousness of God, which we obtain by faith; whether it be because it can alone stand before God, or because the Lord in his mercy confers it on us.  As both interpretations are suitable, we will accept either one.  This righteousness then, which God communicates to a person, and accepts alone, and owns as righteousness, has been revealed, he says, without the law ,that is without the aid of the law; and the law is to be understood as meaning works; for it is not proper to refer this to its teaching, which he immediately adduces as bearing witness to the gratuitous righteousness of faith.  Some confine it to ceremonies; but this view I shall presently show to be unsound and frigid.  We ought then to know that the merits of works are excluded. We also see that he does not blend works with the mercy of God; but having taken away and wholly removed all confidence in works, he sets up mercy alone.

 

It is not unknown to me that Augustine gives a different explanation.  He thinks that the righteousness of God is the grace of regeneration; and this grace he allows to be free, because God renews us, when unworthy, by his Spirit; and from this he excludes the works of the law, that is, those works by which people of themselves endeavor, without being renewed, to render God indebted to them.  I also know that some new speculators proudly adduce this sentiment, as though it were at this day revealed to them.  But that the Apostle includes all works without exception, even those which the Lord produces in his own people, is evident from the context.

 

For no doubt Abraham was regenerated and led by the Spirit of God at the time when he denied that he was justified by works. Hence he excluded from a person’s justification not only works morally good (as they commonly call them) and such as are done by the impulse of nature, but also all those which even the faithful can perform.  Again, since this is a definition of the righteousness of faith, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven,” there is no question to be made about this or that kind of work; but the merit of works being abolished, the remission of sins alone is set down as the cause of righteousness.

 

They think that these two things well agree — that man is justified by faith through the grace of Christ and that he is justified by works, which proceed from spiritual regeneration; for God gratuitously renews us, and we also receive his gift by faith.  But Paul takes up a very different principle.  He argues that the consciences of people will never be quieted until they rest on the mercy of God alone.  Hence, in another place, after having taught us that God was in Christ justifying men to himself, he declares “by not imputing their sins to them.” (2 Cor 5: 19)  In like manner, in his Epistle to the Galatians, he puts the law in opposition to faith with regard to justification; for the law promises life to those who do what it commands.  Gal 3:11-12:  ‘Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous will live by faith.”  But the law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”’  It hence follows, that in the righteousness of faith, no merit of works is allowed. 

 

It then appears evident, that it is but a ridiculous sophistry to say, that we are justified in Christ, because we are renewed by the Spirit, inasmuch as we are the members of Christ; that we are justified by faith, because we are united by faith to the body of Christ; that we are justified freely, because God finds nothing in us but sin.

 

For we are in Christ because we are out of ourselves; and justified by faith, because we must rest on the mercy of God alone, and on his gratuitous promises; and freely, because God reconciles us to himself by burying our sins.  Nor can this be restricted to the commencement of justification, as they imagine.  For this definition — “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven” — was applicable to David, after he had long exercised himself in the service of God; and Abraham, thirty years after his call, though a remarkable example of holiness, had yet no works for which he could glory before God, and hence his faith in the promise was imputed to him for righteousness. …  It hence follows that we cannot remain, even to death, in a justified state, except we look to Christ only, in whom God has adopted us, and regards us now as accepted.  Hence also is their sophistry refuted, who falsely accuse us of asserting that according to Scripture we are justified by faith only, while the actual word alone is nowhere to be found in Scripture.  But if justification depends neither on the law, nor on ourselves, why should it not be ascribed to mercy alone?  And if by mercy alone, then it is by faith alone.

 

 

v22. Even the righteousness of God ,etc.  He shows in few words what this justification is, even that which is found in Christ and is apprehended by faith.  At the same time, by introducing again the name of God, he seems to make God the founder and not only the approver of the righteousness of which he speaks, as though he had said that it flows from him alone, or that its origin is from heaven, but that it is made manifest to us in Christ.

 

When therefore we discuss this subject, we ought to proceed in this way: First, the question respecting our justification is to be referred, not to the judgment of people, but to the judgment of God, before whom nothing is counted righteousness but perfect and absolute obedience to the law; which appears clear from its promises and threats: if no one is found who has attained to such a perfect measure of holiness, it follows that all are in themselves destitute of righteousness. Secondly, it is necessary that Christ should come to our aid; who, being alone just, can render us just by transferring to us his own righteousness. You now see how the righteousness of faith is the righteousness of Christ.  When therefore we are justified, the efficient cause is the mercy of God, the meritorious is Christ, the instrumental is the word in connection with faith.  Hence faith is said to justify, because it is the instrument by which we receive Christ, in whom righteousness is conveyed to us. Having been made partakers of Christ, we ourselves are not only just, but our works also are counted just before God, and for this reason, because whatever imperfections there may be in them, are obliterated by the blood of Christ; the promises, which are conditional, are also by the same grace fulfilled to us; for God rewards our works as perfect, inasmuch as their defects are covered by free pardon.

 

Unto all and upon all ,etc.  For the sake of amplifying, he repeats the same thing in different forms in order that he might more fully express what we have already heard, namely, that faith alone is required, that the faithful are not distinguished by outward qualities, and that hence it does not matter whether a person is a Gentiles or a Jew.

 

For there is no difference, etc. (v23)  He urges on all, without exception, the necessity of seeking righteousness in Christ; as though he had said, “There is no other way of attaining righteousness; for some cannot be justified in this way and others in that way; but all must alike be justified by faith, because all are sinners, and therefore have nothing for which they can glory before God.”  But he takes as granted that every one, conscious of his sin, when he comes before the tribunal of God, is confounded and lost under a sense of his own shame; so that no sinner can bear the presence of God, as we see an example in the case of Adam.  He again proves his point by approaching it from a different angle.  Since we are all sinners, Paul concludes that we are deficient in, or destitute of, the praise due to righteousness.  There is then, according to what he teaches, no righteousness but that which is perfect and absolute.  Were there indeed such a thing as half righteousness, it would yet be necessary to deprive the sinner entirely of all glory: and hereby the figment of partial righteousness, as they call it, is sufficiently confuted; for if it were true that we are justified in part by works, and in part by grace, this argument of Paul would be of no force — that all are deprived of the glory of God because they are sinners.  It is then certain that there is no righteousness where there is sin, until Christ removes the curse; and this very thing is what is said in Galatians 3: 10, that all who are under the law are exposed to the curse, and that we are delivered from it through the kindness of Christ. The glory of God I take to mean the approval of God, as in John 12: 43 , where it is said, …

 

v24. Being justified freely ,etc.  A participle is here put for a verb according to the usage of the Greek language. The meaning is that since there remains nothing for people, as considered in themselves, except to perish … they are justified freely through God’s mercy; for Christ comes to their aid and communicates himself to believers, so that they find in him alone all those things which they lack. There is, perhaps, no passage in the whole of Scripture that illustrates in a more striking manner the efficacy of Christ’s righteousness.  For it shows that God’s mercy is the efficient cause, that Christ with his blood is the meritorious cause, that the formal or the instumental cause is faith in the word, and that moreover, the final cause is the glory of the divine justice and goodness.

 

With regard to the efficient cause, he says, that we are justified freely, and further, by his grace; and he thus repeats the word to show that the whole is from God, and nothing from us. It might have been enough to oppose grace to merits; but lest we should imagine a half kind of grace, he affirms more strongly what he means by a repetition, and claims for God's mercy alone the whole glory of our righteousness, which the sophists divide into parts and mutilate, that they may not be constrained to confess their own poverty. -- Through the redemption ,etc.  This is the material,-Christ by his obedience satisfied the Father’s justice, and by undertaking our cause he liberated us from the tyranny of death, by which we were held captive; as on account of the sacrifice which he offered is our guilt removed.  … 

 Augustine’s sermon on Matt 20: 1ff

… In that hire then shall we be all equal, and the first as the last, and the last as the first; because that denarius is life eternal, and in the life eternal all will be equal. For although through diversity of attainments (meritorum) the saints will shine, some more, some less; yet as to this respect, the gift of eternal life, it will be equal to all. For that will not be longer to one, and shorter to another, which is alike everlasting; that which hath no end will have no end either for thee or me. After one sort in that life will be wedded chastity, after another virgin purity; in one sort there will be the fruit of good works, in another sort the crown of martyrdom. One in one sort, and another in another; yet in respect. to the living for ever, this man will not live more; than that, nor that than this. For alike without end will they live, though each shall live in hisown brightness: and the denarius in the parable is that life eternal. Let not him then who has received after a long time murmur against him who has received after a short time. To the first, it is a payment; to the other, a free gift;yet the same thing is given alike to both.

             

Paul of Tarsus

 Justification by Faith and the New Perspective

 

(1) Revision:  the New Perspective on Paul

 

 

For many years, the standard scholarly understanding of Paul was dominated by the following ideas:

 

Ø      Jews in the first century were all desperately concerned about their attempts to fulfil the law.  Those who succeeded in fulfilling the law tended to boast and to be self-righteous (e.g. Pharisees).  Those who failed to fulfil the law felt it to be a burden.

 

Ø      Paul, like all Jews, shared in this problematic situation.  But he discovered the idea of “justification by faith”, whereby the individual is freed from the burden of the law and is justified instead by his/her faith in Christ.  This doctrine was the heart of his theology.

 

For E. P. Sanders, this standard perspective is wrong about Judaism and wrong about Paul.

 

Ø      It is wrong about Paul because “justification by faith” does not lie at the heart of Paul’s thought.  Debates about “justification by faith” arose in specific contexts in which there were Judaisers who insisted on the necessity for circumcision of Gentile converts.  Paul said that one is justified (more properly “righteoused”)  not by works of the law but by faith in Christ.

 

Ø      The thing that really lay at the heart of Paul’s thinking was participation in Christ – everywhere in his letters; applied to all aspects of life:  ethics, sacraments, relationships.

 

Ø      It is wrong about Judaism because the situation it describes is an inaccurate, Lutheran caricature of first century Judaism, which was ignorant about the actual texts.

 Paul of Tarsus

(2) More on the New Perspective

 

Enthusiastic endorsement by James D. G. Dunn,

 

e.g. “But now Sanders has given us an unrivalled opportunity to look at Paul afresh, to shift our perspective back from the 16th century to the first century, to do what all true exegetes want to do – that is, to see Paul properly within his own context, to hear Paul in terms of his own time, to let Paul be himself.”

 

Ø      Dunn coins the term “new perspective” in 1982.

 

Ø      Dunn nevertheless thinks that Sanders’s Paul does not relate well to Sanders’s Judaism

 

Ø      Dunn’s key contribution:  interpretation of works of the Law in Gal. 2.16 (etc.):  these are not deeds done in order to earn salvation but are “covenant works”, key “badges” of Jewish identity which separate Jews from Gentiles, specifically Sabbath, circumcision and food laws.

 

Ø      Effectively, what Paul is saying is that one is not justified by becoming a Jew but by one’s faith in Christ, i.e. it is all about boundary markers and identity.

 

Also largely supportive of the new perspective is N. T. Wright, though he resists the idea that he agrees with a “monochrome” new perspective.

 

Ø      Especially characteristic of Wright’s approach is the stress righteousness as covenant faithfulness

 Paul of Tarsus

(3) Backlash against the New Perspective

 

NB that there is consensus on a key element (arguably the key element) in Sanders’s critique:  that the older caricatures of first century Judaism as a religion of legalistic works-righteousness simply will not do:

 

Ø      A poor foundation for the understanding of Paul

 

Ø      Misrepresents Judaism.

 

Ø      Politically, religiously, theologically dangerous. 

 

The disagreement arises over whether or not Sanders et al have succeeded in the rest of the project

 

Ø      Has Sanders overstated the case for covenantal nomism?  Does he play down the role of obedience to the Law too much?

 

Ø      What is the evidence for “works of the law” functioning in the way that Dunn describes?

 

Ø      What about Paul’s language about “boasting”?

 

Ø      Is justification by faith in fact far more important than Sanders claims?

 

Key players:  Stephen Westerholm, Peter Stuhlmacher, A. Andrew Das, Simon Gathercole.

 

Ø      Reassessment of the evidence from Second Temple Judaism re. attitudes to the Law:  claims that Sanders wrongly minimized the role of obedience to the Law in these texts.

 

Ø      Notes in particular the importance of the weighing of deeds on judgement day (especially Das).  Is this “judgement by works”?

 

Ø      “Boasting” is related to successful observance of the Law by Israel, and so to confidence in God’s vindication of his people at the eschaton (especially Gathercole).

 

Ø      Justification is not simply about Jewish and Gentile relations, but concerns the whole of humanity.

 

Ø      “Works of the law” is not simply about boundary markers / Jewish identity but is about the observance of the whole Law.

 

“The Pauline doctrine of justification is the doctrine about the implementation of God’s righteousness through Christ for the entire creation” (Peter Stuhlmacher), i.e. not the focus on Jewish and Gentile equality that marks out the new perspective.

 

“In short, to understand Second-Temple Judaism as ‘covenantal nomism’ downplays, ignores, or denies the role of obedience as a decisive criterion for final vindication in the Jewish texts.” (Simon Gathercole).

Paul of Tarsus

(4) How successful is the backlash?

 

It is not yet possible to give a clear answer – these works are all very recent; backlash still underway.   Some have hailed these newer works;  others remain persuaded by the new perspective:

 

Ø      One major achievement:  reassessment of the role played by obedience to the Law in Second Temple Judaism.

 

Ø      Yet even here, a stress on obedience can make sense within the term covenantal nomism favoured by Sanders.

 

Ø      Do we really want to return to unhelpful terms like “legalism” (e.g. used by Das)?

 

Ø      Is much of the backlash driven by some present day Christian dogmatic preferences?  NB in particular the reaction in some Christian “reformed” circles to N. T. Wright.

 

(5) A related major issue:  the faith of Jesus Christ?

 

Gal. 2.15-16, RSV: “We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.”

 

Richard Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3.1—4.11 (2nd edition; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001) resurrected an older, arguably more accurate translation of the Greek:

 

Ø      The term pistis Iēsou Christou could be translated faith of Jesus Christ rather than “faith in Jesus Christ” (if you take Iēsou Christou as a subjective genitive, so that this is talking about Jesus’ own faith / faithfulness, rather than as an objective genitive, whereby Jesus is the object of the believer’s faith).

 

Ø      This changes the way that the passage reads.  A completely fresh element is introduced, the story of Jesus’ act of faithfulness – cf. Phil. 2.6-11.

 

Ø      Several have found Hays’s position convincing, not least given that it makes good sense of the Greek (immediate context) and of the “narrative substructure” of Paul’s thinking.

 

(6) Where next?  The fresh perspective on Paul?

 

One of the difficulties about calling anything “new” is that it does not stay new for long!  One of the most discredited terms in Historical Jesus research is “the new quest”, replaced by the “third quest”.  Can the term “new perspective” stay current?  Das speaks of his “newer perspective”.

 

N. T. Wright recently talked about “the fresh perspective” introduced into recent NT scholarship by those who look at Paul in the Roman imperial context, e.g. Richard Horsley, and recently John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan Reed.  This will be the subject of Lecture 8, Paul, Politics and the Roman Empire.

 

 

For discussion: Galatians 2.11-20 (NRSV): 1 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; 12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. 13 And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

 

 

 

Paul’s Christology

 

1. Definitions

 

‘“Low Christology” covers the evaluation of him in terms that do not necessarily include divinity, e.g., Messiah, Rabbi, Prophet, High Priest, Saviour, Master. “High Christology” covers the evaluation of Jesus in terms that include an aspect of divinity, e.g., Lord, Son of God, God’ (Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology (London: Chapman, 1994), p. 4).

 

2. An Older View

 

·        Christology began low and developed ever higher, low Christology associated with Christianity’s Jewish roots, high Christology with its increasing Hellenisation.  See Maurice Casey’s From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God for a lucid exposition of this.

 

·        Thus the lowest Christology in the NT is that found in the early apostolic preaching, e.g.:

 

·        Acts 2.36 (Peter’s preaching at the Pentecost): “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

 

·        Rom. 1.3-4 “the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

·     And the highest is that found in the latest writing - John’s Gospel (1.1, ‘In the beginning was the Word’).

 

·        Key question:  where does Paul fit on this grid?  Is the grid valid?

 

3. Preliminary Question: Paul and the Pre-Easter Jesus

 

·        Paul’s gospel is clearly focused on Christ crucified.  Remember this as a repeated emphasis in (e.g.) Galatians – “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2.19-20).

 

·        What then of the life of Jesus?  What was Paul’s attitude to this?

 

·        It is a common fallacy to think that Paul showed no interest in life of Jesus traditions.

 

·        1 Corinthians is particularly rich in such traditions, and we have interesting parallels in the gospels to two of them:

 

1 Cor. 7.10-11 (divorce), cf. multiple parallels in the Synoptics

1 Cor. 9.14 (saying re. mission), cf. Matt. 10.10 // Luke 10.7

 

& cf.:   1 Cor. 11.23-26 (Lord's Supper)

1 Cor. 15.3-8 (Resurrection appearances)

 

·        Difficulty of our lack of information about Paul’s actual preaching.

 

·        Question of whether Paul was loathe to utilise Jesus traditions too much because his information was second hand;  contrast Peter and James, with whom Paul has a somewhat chequered relationship.

 

·        Most importantly, the theological centre of Paul’s thought is elsewhere – life of Jesus traditions were much, much less significant to him than the death and resurrection.

 

·        One very interesting text in 2 Corinthians 5.16, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view;  even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.”  Is this Paul denigrating life-of-Jesus traditions?

 

 

4. Reminder:  Paul’s Occasional Letters

 

·        It does not seem to be the case that Paul was involved in out-and-out conflict over Christology.

 

·        His big battle in Galatians was soteriological

 

·        1 Corinthians focuses on a variety of issues, theological, pastoral, pneumatological, and only tangentially Christological.

 

·        We pick up Paul’s Christology, therefore, from a variety of hints, comments in passing and only rarely any lengthy exposition.

 

·        e.g. Philippians 2.5-11 – one of the key passages – is Paul using a Christological example to illustrate a pastoral/ethical command (“be humble . . .”);  we only get to discover Paul’s Christology here because he uses the hymn to illustrate a quite different point.

 

 

5. Key Texts in Paul

 

Rom. 1.3-4: ‘the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord . . .’

 

Rom. 8.3:  ‘For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us . . .’

 

1 Cor. 8.6:  ‘Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’

 

1 Cor. 10.4:  ‘For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ’

 

2 Cor. 8.9:  ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.’

 

Gal. 4.4:  ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.’

 

Phil. 2.5-11:  ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God (e0n morfh+| qeou~), did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of human beings.  And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’

 

 

6.  Dunn’s Thesis

 

‘By “historical context of meaning” I have in mind the task of trying to hear the words of the text as the writer of these words intended those for whom he wrote to hear them’ (Dunn, Christology, 2nd ed., p. xiv).

 

Phil. 2.6-11:  v.6a:   in the form of God (cf. Gen. 1.27)

v.6b:  tempted to grasp equality with God (cf. Gen. 3.5)

v.7:  enslavement to corruption & sin - humanity as it now is (cf. Gen. 2.19,                            22-24; Ps. 8.5a; Wisd. 2.23; Rom. 8.3; Gal. 4.4; Heb. 2.7a; 9a)

v.8:  submission to death (cf. Wisd. 2.24; Rom. 5.12-21; 7.7-11; 1 Cor.                                            15.21-22)

vv.9-11:  exalted and glorified (cf. Ps. 8.5b-6; 1 Cor. 15.27, 45; Heb. 2.27b-8,                                 9b)

 

‘the Philippians hymn is an attempt to read the life and work of Christ through the grid of Adam theology . . . It is the Adamic significance of Christ which the hymn brings out’ (Christology, 2nd ed., p. xix)

 

            Col. 1.15-20:  wisdom ‘was a way of speaking of divine agency rather than of a divine agent distinct from God in ontological terms . . . in reading Col. 1.15-20 Paul and his         readers had in mind the understanding of Wisdom as a vivid personification of God’s            immanence.’ (Christology, 2nd ed., p. xx).

 

 

7.  Alternatives and Evaluation

 

            (a). Some conservative reactions: Marshall; Holladay; Balchin.  Dunn’s response:           methodology

 

            (b). N. T. Wright:  cf. the Shema (Deut. 6.6): ‘Hear O Israel: The LORD our God is one           LORD’ & 1 Cor. 8.6:

 

‘Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’

 

 Paul of Tarsus

8.  Christology Before Paul

 

·        Was Paul a great innovator or are there signs of the same kind of Christology before Paul?

 

·        Scholarship is now moving away markedly from the old fashioned view expressed in, for example, the title to Maurice Casey’s book, From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God.

 

·        One of the most interesting recent developments is the new stress on the worship of Jesus from very early on – e.g. Richard Bauckham and Larry Hurtado.

 

·        Worship of Jesus is already a striking feature of the Philippian hymn, which, by common consent, pre-dates Paul.

                                            

 Paul of Tarsus

6: Paul’s Eschatology

 

1. Eschatology: Introduction

 

Ø      What do the terms eschatology, parousia, kingdom of God, day of the Lord mean?

 

Ø      Jewish apocalyptic eschatology – many Jews in Paul’s time thought in terms of a present evil age and an age to come.  Paul inherits this thought world from his Jewish (Pharisaic) background and also from the new Christian movement, a highly eschatological movement.

 

Ø      The new Christian movement took the standard Jewish apocalyptic eschatology one very important stage further:  it believed that the resurrection of Jesus marked the beginning point of the end-time.  The eschaton now impinging on and transforming the present.

 

2. Christian Eschatology Before Paul

 

Ø      This is an area where Paul clearly inherits and carries forward the teaching of the first Christians.  1 Thess. (his first letter) features teaching apparently derived from traditions of Jesus’ words:

 

1 Thess. 4.13-18: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming (parousia) of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

 

Ø      And v. 16 here is very similar to Matt. 24.31.

 

Ø      The same epistle gives a clear idea of the earliest Christian eschatology apparently preached by Paul to the Thessalonians: 

 

1 Thess. 1.9-10: “For they themselves (Macedonia and Achaia) report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true god, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

 

3. Paul’s Thought

 

Ø      Day of the Lord or Day of our Lord Jesus Christ prominent in Paul’s thought – inherited from OT and perhaps other early Christians.

 

1 Cor. 1.8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

1 Cor. 3.13: “The work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.”

 

1 Thess. 1.2: “For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (cf. Matt. 24.43, Luke 12.39).

 

Ø      Delivered from the present evil age:

 

Gal. 1.4: “ . . .who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father”

 

Ø      Living now as “first fruits” in anticipation of the eschaton:

 

Rom 8.22-25:  “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

 

Ø      Christians transformed, resurrected:

 

1 Cor. 15.51f: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery!  We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

 

Ø      Awaiting parousia:

 

Phil. 3.20-21: ‘But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord          Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which       enables him even to subject all things to himself.’

 

Ø      A day of judgement:

 

2 Cor. 5.10: “For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.”

 

Ø      Note that “salvation” is future in Paul (though see Eph. 2.8: “By grace you have been saved through faith”).

            Romans 5.8-10:

 

4. Does Paul’s Thinking About the Timescale Develop?

     

 

1 Thess. 4.15: “For this we declare to you by word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming (parousi/a) of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died . . .” (cf. Matt. 24 etc.)

 

 

b. Problem: Deaths

 

1 Thess. 4.14, 17: “We do not want you to be  uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died . . . then we who are alive, who are left . . .”

 

 

 c. Problem: More Deaths

 

1 Cor. 15.51: “We will not all die, but we will all be changed . . .”

 

 

d. Problem: Paul’s Suffering and Near Death Experiences

 

2 Cor. 1.8-9: “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

 

2 Cor. 5.1-4:  “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3 if indeed, when we have taken it off  we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

 

2 Cor. 11.22-23: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death.”

 

 

e. A Different View?

 

Phil. 1.23: “I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.”

 

2 Cor. 5.8-9: “Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”

 

 Paul of Tarsus

f. Did Paul change his mind?

 

Ø      C. H. Dodd’s classic theory was that Paul matures;  his view becomes steadily more “realised” and less “imminent”, particularly given his own near-death experiences.

 

Ø      But NB Rom. 13.12: “the day is near”.

 

 

g. Life after life after death?

 

Ø        N. T. Wright has recently claimed that the overwhelming early Christian belief followed the dominant Jewish belief in resurrection of the body.  The major difference was that the Christian believed in Jesus’ resurrection as a firstfruits of the general resurrection.

 

Ø        Wright sees other references to life after death in the NT as referring not to alternatives to resurrection of the body but to the preliminary stage, thus there is life after death (Phil. 1.23 etc., a kind of going to heaven) and the all important “life after life after death” (= resurrection).

 

Ø        On this view, much of Christianity has been mistaken in thinking of life after death as a matter of the soul going to heaven after the death of the body, and staying there forever more.  For Wright, the New Testament speaks of a new heaven and a new earth, and of resurrection of the saints who will live there.                             

 

 Paul, Sexual Ethics and 1 Corinthians

 

1. Some Key Issues

 

  • Is Paul’s thinking about ethics in any way distinctively Christian?  Or does he simply carry over the ethics derived from his Jewish upbringing without serious new thought? 

 

  • Is Paul more “libertine” or “legalist”?  The question was framed in this way by John Drane, who argued that Paul modified his earlier “libertine” view in Galatians to take on a more “legalistic” view in 1 Corinthians.

 

  • Debate over homosexuality in the Church, and especially the Anglican Church, has brought the question of Paul’s sexual ethics to the forefront.  What does Paul say about homosexuality (if anything) and should why should we care?

 

  • Though less widely discussed now, Paul’s view may also be relevant to the discussion of heterosexual Christian ethics, sex before marriage, sex outside marriage, divorce.

 

  • Key text for the discussion of Paul’s sexual ethics is 1 Corinthians, especially Chapters 5-7.  The homosexuality debate also draws largely on Romans 1.

 

2. Are Paul’s Ethics Distinctively Christian?

 

“When forced to think, he was a creative theologian; but on ethical issues he was seldom forced to think, and simply sought to impose Jewish behaviour on his Gentile converts.” (E. P. Sanders, Paul, p. 116).

 

1 Cor. 6.10f: “Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, catamites, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.  And this is what some of you used to be.  But you were washed, you were sanctified . .”

 

1 Thess. 4.2-5: “For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each of you know how to take your vessel in holiness and honour, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.”

 

·        Does the very question in fact presuppose a kind of Christian supercessionist view, i.e. that Paul’s view is only of interest if it can be shown to be un-Jewish?

 

·        There is little doubt that Paul is heavily indebted to the Jewish ethics which are fundamental to his way of thinking.  For  a Jew like Paul, the Law expressed the mind of God, including his mind on (what we would call) ethical issues.

 

·        Yet there are many key Christian elements that Paul apparently contributes:

 

 

(a) Eschatology

 

1 Cor. 7.25f, 29: “Now concerning virgins . . . I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are . . . the appointed time has grown short

 

1 Thess. 3.13: “And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming (parousia) of the Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

 

 

(b) Edification

 

1 Cor. 10.23f: ‘ “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial.  “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.  Do not seek your own advantage but that of the other.’

 

Rom. 14.19: “Let us, then, pursue all that makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”

 

 

(c) Imitation of Christ – and Paul

 

1 Thess. 1.6: “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord”

 

1 Cor. 11.1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

 

Phil. 3.17: “Join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us” (cf. 4.9).

 

1 Cor. 2.16: “But we have the mind of Christ”

 

1 Cor. 7.40: “I think that I too have the spirit of God”

 

    

(d) Participation in Christ

 

1 Cor. 6.15f: “Do you not know that you are members of Christ?  Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?  Never!  Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her?”

 

·        Remember our discussions of Paul’s Soteriology.  Participation in Christ is one of the key elements in his thought.  When E. P. Sanders is attempting to demonstrate the importance of participation in Christ as central to Paul’s thinking, he specifically draws attention to this passage.

 

Rom. 6.3, 12: “Do you now know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? . . . Therefore do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.”

 

 

 

(e) The Love Command

 

·        Unites the Hebrew Bible, 2nd temple Judaism, Jesus and Paul.

 

1 Cor. 13: “And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

 

Rom. 13.9f: “The commandments . . . are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

 

Gal. 5.13f: “Through love become slaves to one another.  For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself!’”

 

 Paul of Tarsus

3.  Paul and the Corinthians

 

·        One major issue has remained a concern in discourses about Paul’s view – sexual ethics – and one has not – idolatry, but Paul sees the two together, typically for a first century Jew. 

 

10.7: “Do not be idolaters”              10.8: “We must not indulge in immorality”

 

6.9: “Neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts . . .       will inherit the kingdom of God”

 

5.1-2, 4-5: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not even found among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife . . . you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

 

·        Situation in Corinth, and the problems Paul faced there, is clearly different from other situations in Paul’s ministry.  It coheres with what we know of Corinth from ancient sources – something of a reputation for sexual immorality. 

 

 Paul of Tarsus

4. Libertine or Legalist?

 

·        John Drane’s thesis:  Paul preached libertine Gospel in Galatians, which he greatly changed in response to circumstances in Corinth:

 

Gal. 5.1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

 

·        Drane then sees Romans as a kind of synthesis of the thesis (Galatians) and antithesis (1 Corinthians).

 

·        Value of the thesis is its reminder of the occasional nature of Paul’s epistles.

 

·        But that is also its problem – circumcision and “works of the law” as Jewish identity markers are in view in Galatians;  question of everyday sexual ethics and idolatry, and the threat of returning to pagan lifestyle is in view in 1 Corinthians.

 

·        And insurmountable problem for Drane is the question of the order of the epistles.  There is good evidence that Galatians post-dates 1 Corinthians (e.g. Galatia is in view still in 1 Cor. 16 but it has dropped out by 1 Cor. 8-9 and Romans 15), i.e. Paul does not degenerate from libertine to legalist – 1 Corinthians is the earlier letter.

 

 

5. Paul and Homosexuality

 

A key passage in the debate:

 

1 Cor. 6.9-11:  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV)

 

·        But did they know about what we call “homosexuality”?

 

·        Key terms here are much debated:

 

μαλακοὶ (malakoi): “soft”, sometimes used of the passive partners in male on male sexual activity, young boys, catamites.

 

ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai):  only here in the New Testament and not found in any Greek literature prior to this point. So what does it mean?

 

·        Robin Scroggs argues that it translates Hebrew mishkav zakur (“lying with the male”) – Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13

Leviticus 20.13 LXX:  καὶ ὃς ἂν κοιμηθῇ μετὰ ἄρσενος κοίτην γυναικός βδέλυγμα ἐποίησαν ἀμφότεροι θανατούσθωσαν ἔνοχοί εἰσιν

kai hos koimēthē meta arsenos koitēn gunaikos bdelugma epoiēsan amphoteroi thanatousthōsan enochoi eisin

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”

 

For discussion:  the second key passage:

 

Romans 1.18-32 (NIV):

 

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

   21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

   24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

   26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

   28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, Godhaters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

 

 

But whatever Paul’s view, the current debate revolves around hermeneutical questions like the following:

 

·        Should we care what Paul says?  Does it matter?

 

·        What would Jesus have said?

 

·        Should Christians today be deriving their sexual ethics from the Bible?

 

·        What view do we hold of the inspiration and authority of Scripture?

 

·        How far are Paul’s views simply the result of the standard prejudices of his day?

 

·        What is the relationship between our views on homosexual and heterosexual ethics?

 

·        In particular:  what is the role to be played here by fornication and adultery?

 

·        Does gay marriage solve the problem?

 

·        What about divorce?

 

             

  ‘O Foolish Galatians!’

 

1. Paul: Evangelist, Pastor, Letter Writer

 

“the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the Churches” (2 Cor. 11.28)

 

a. Sending Emissaries: 1 Thess. 3.5-8: “When I could bear it no longer, I sent that I might know your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labour would be in vain.  But now that Timothy has come to us from you . . . we have been comforted about you through your faith.  For now we live, if you continue to sand firm.”

 

b. Writing Letters: 2 Cor. 10.9-11: ‘I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.’

 

2. Galatia

 

a. The Place and the People: north or south?  The Roman Province and the ‘Celts’

 

b. Paul’s ministry in Galatia

 

4.13-15: ‘You know that it was because of a weakness of the flesh that I preached the gospel to you at first; and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.  What has become of the satisfaction you felt?  For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.  Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?’

 

3. The Epistle: Background

 

a. The Catalyst

 

Preaching ‘circumcision’:   1.7, 9: ‘There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ . . . If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received let that person be accursed.’    

 

b. The Opponents

 

1.17: ‘troublemakers’;  5.12: ‘agitators’; 5.17: ‘Who hindered you from obeying the truth?’; 6.12: ‘It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.’  3.1: ‘O foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?’

 

c. Why are they preaching circumcision to the Galatians?

 

6.13: ‘They desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.’

 

4. The Epistle: Argument

 

a. The Anatomy of Galatians

 

            1.1-2.14: autobiographical section: career as a Pharisee; dealings with Jerusalem            2.25-5.12:  theological section: righteousness through faith in (or of) Christ        5.13-6.10: ethical epilogue: the sins of the flesh

            6.11-18: appendix -  in Paul’s own hand                                   (John Muddiman)

 

b. The ferocity of Paul’s reaction and the usefulness of 6.11-18

 

1.6: ‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel . . .’

 

4.19: ‘My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!  I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone . . .’

 

            5.12: ‘I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves!’

 

            6.11: ‘See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand!’

 

 

c. The arguments he does not use

 

            i. Appeal to Jesus’ teaching;

 

ii. Reference to Genesis 17, e.g. vv. 13-14: ‘So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.  Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’

 

 

d. The autobiographical section

 

1.11: ‘For I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel which was preached by me is not a human gospel.  For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.’

 

            2.6:  ‘Those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me . . .’

 

2.11-12:  ‘But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  For before certain people came from James, he ate with the Gentiles.’

 

 

e. Theological section: righteousness through faith in Christ, not works of the Law

 

            2.21: ‘If justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose’

 

3.6-9 (RSV): ‘Thus Abraham "believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed."  So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.’

 

            dikaio/w (dikaioō): to justify, to rightwise, to righteous 

dikaiosu/nh (dikaiosynē): righteousness, justification

            pi/stij (pistis): faith, faithfulness               (ta\) e!qnh (ta ethnē): Gentiles, nations           pisteu/w (pisteuō): to believe, to have faith                                                    

 

Paul’s Soteriology

 

1. Definitions

 

Soteriology: the study of salvation (cf. Greek swthri/a, sōtēria), how believers are saved by God from sin, death, the devil, etc.; Christology: the “person” of Christ; soteriology: his “work”

 

 

2. Before Paul; Early Paul

 

1 Cor. 15.3: “For I delivered to you as of first importance, that which also I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . .”

 

1 Thess. 1.9-10: “. . . you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true god, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

 

 Paul of Tarsus

3. Atonement In Paul

 

Rom. 3.24-25: “[All] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

 

Gal. 3.13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for   it is written, ‘Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree.’”

 

1 Cor. 5.7: “For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.”

 

 

4. The Tense Of Salvation

 

Salvation: always future in Paul.  The exception: Rom. 8.24: “For in hope we were saved”

 

            Cf. Eph. 2.8: “By grace you have been saved through faith”

Romans 5.8-10:

  

Phil. 3.20-21: “But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

 

 

5. Justification By Faith

a. History and Meaning

 

            Luther & his legacy: “imputed” righteousness and the contrast between “faith” and “works”

 

Bultmann: “There is complete agreement between them [Paul and Jews] as to the formal meaning of dikaiosyne [righteousness]: It is a forensic-eschatological term” (Theology, p. 273).

 

b. The Problem of Terminology

 

            Faith & belief; righteousness and justification: the dik- words and the pis- words

 

3.6-9 (RSV): “Thus Abraham "believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed."  So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.”

 

dikaio/w (dikaioo): to justify, to rightwise, to righteous  

dikaiosu/nh(dikaiosyne): righteousness, justification

                        pi/stij (pistis): faith, faithfulness                                   (ta\) e!qnh (ta ethne):    Gentiles

pisteu/w (pisteuo): to believe, to have faith                                                                                nations 

c. The Origin of the Terminology

 

            Gen. 15.5-6: “. . . “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed (faithed) God and it was    reckoned to him as righteousness (= justification)”;  cf. also Rom 4.3

 

d. The Occurrence of the Terminology

 

            Galatians; Romans; Philippians 3

 

 

6. Participation In Christ

a. E. P. Sanders and the “New Perspective”

 

Ø         Schweitzer: mystical union with Christ.

 

Ø         Bultmann dies in 1976;  Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism published a year later.

 

Ø         Challenging the twin pillars of the Lutheran consensus: both Paul and Palestinian Judaism

 

Ø         For Sanders, the Lutheran consensus was wrong about Judaism and wrong about Paul

 

o          Judaism was not a legalistic religion of works-righteousness.  The law was a gift, not a burden.

 

o          Justification by faith was not at the heart of Paul’s religion.  This was a secondary crater in Paul’s thought, brought about by the peculiar circumstances he found himself in Galatia etc.  The true key is participation in Christ.

           

Ø         Paul thinks backwards - from solution to plight – Gal. 2.21: “If justification were through    the law, then Christ died to no purpose”

 

b. The Terminology and its Distribution

 

Ø         “In Christ”: frequently in Paul; “body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12, 14; Rom. 12.4-8)

 

Ø         A key text: Rom. 6.3-4: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,          so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

 

c. Bultmann vs. Sanders: Justification or Participation?

 

            i. The Distribution of the terminology: the comparative infrequency of the forensic language

 

            ii. Pressing forensic language into the service of participation theology:

 

                        Rom. 6.7: “For the one who has died is righteoused from sin”

 

            iii. Participation in Paul’s Ethics:

 

1 Cor. 6.15-16: “Do you not know that your bodies are members are members of         Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them the members of a prostitute? Never!  Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her?”

 

            iv. Participation in Baptism (Rom. 6) and the Eucharist (1 Cor. 10-11):

 

                        1 Cor. 10.17: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all                                      partake of the one bread”

 

            v. The category “covenant”: does this clarify matters?  The contribution of N. T. Wright

 

   




 

  


 




 

Trinity College of Biblical Studies-Undergraduate Studies

Trinity College of Biblical Studies Library

An examination of Paul of Tarsus life and teachings as seen in the early Christian literature likely written by him

Paul of Tarsus Unit Two