(See the Lit. in § 29)
The Gentile Christian type of the gospel is embodied in the writings of Paul and Luke, and in the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews.
The Sources of Paul’s theology are his discourses in the Acts (especially the speech on the Areopagus) and his thirteen Epistles, namely, the Epistles to the Thessalonians — the earliest, but chiefly practical; the four great Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, which are the mature result of his conflict with the Judaizing tendency; the four Epistles of the captivity; and the Pastoral Epistles. These groups present as many phases of development of his system and discuss different questions with appropriate variations of style, but they are animated by the same spirit, and bear the marks of the same profound and comprehensive genius.
Paul is the pioneer of Christian theology. He alone among the apostles had received a learned rabbinical education and was skilled in logical and dialectical argument. But his logic is vitalized and set on fire. His theology springs from his heart as well as from his brain; it is the result of his conversion, and all aglow with the love of Christ; his scholasticism is warmed and deepened by mysticism, and his mysticism is regulated and sobered by scholasticism; the religious and moral elements, dogmatics, and ethics, are blended into a harmonious whole. Out of the depths of his personal experience, and in conflict with the Judaizing contraction and the Gnostic evaporation of the gospel be elaborated the fullest scheme of Christian doctrine which we possess from apostolic pens. It is essentially soteriological, or a system of the way of salvation. It goes far beyond the teaching of James and Peter, and yet is only a consistent development of the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels.
The Central Idea
Paul’s personal experience embraced intense fanaticism for Judaism, and a more intense enthusiasm for Christianity. It was first an unavailing struggle of legalism towards human righteousness by works of the law, and then the apprehension of divine righteousness by faith in Christ. This dualism is reflected in his theology. The idea of righteousness or conformity to God’s holy will is the connecting link between the Jewish Saul and the Christian Paul. Law and works, was the motto of the self-righteous pupil of Moses; gospel and faith, the motto of the humble disciple of Jesus. He is the emancipator of the Christian consciousness from the oppressive bondage of legalism and bigotry, and the champion of freedom and catholicity. Paul’s gospel is emphatically the gospel of saving faith, the gospel of evangelical freedom, the gospel of universalism, centring in the person and work of Christ and conditioned by union with Christ. He determined to know nothing but Christ and him crucified; but this included all — it is the soul of his theology. The Christ who died is the Christ who was raised again and ever lives as Lord and Saviour, and was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1Co_1:30; 1Co_2:2) A dead Christ would be the grave of all our hopes, and the gospel of a dead Saviour a wretched delusion. “If Christ has not been raised then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.” (1Co_15:13) His death becomes available only through his resurrection. Paul puts the two facts together in the comprehensive statement: “Christ delivered up for our trespasses, and raised for our justification.” He is a conditional universalist; he teaches the universal need of salvation, and the divine intention and provision for a universal salvation, but the actual salvation of each man depends upon his faith or personal acceptance and appropriation of Christ. His doctrinal system, then, turns on the great antithesis of sin and grace. Before Christ and out of Christ is the reign of sin and death; after Christ and in Christ is the reign of righteousness and life.
We now proceed to an outline of the leading features of his theology as set forth in the order of the Epistle to the Romans, the most methodical and complete of his writings. Its central thought is: The Gospel of Christ, a power of God for the salvation of all men, Jew and Gentile.
1. The Universal Need of Salvation. — It arises from the fall of Adam and the whole human race, which was included in him as the tree is included in the seed, so that his one act of disobedience brought sin and death upon the whole posterity. Paul proves the depravity of Gentiles and Jews without exception to the extent that they are absolutely unable to attain to righteousness and to save themselves. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” They are all under the dominion of sin and under the sentence of condemnation. He recognizes indeed, even among the heathen, the remaining good elements of reason and conscience, (Rom_1:18-21; Rom_2:14-16; comp. Act_17:28) which are the connecting links for the regenerating work of divine grace; but for this very reason they are inexcusable, as they sin against better knowledge. There is a conflict between the higher and the lower nature in man (the νοῦς, which tends to God who gave it, and the σάρξ, which tends to sin), and this conflict is stimulated and brought to a crisis by the law of God; but this conflict, owing to the weakness of our carnal, fallen, depraved nature, ends in defeat and despair till the renewing grace of Christ emancipates us from the curse and bondage of sin and gives us liberty and victory. In the seventh chapter of the Romans, Paul gives from his personal experience a most remarkable and truthful description of the religious history of man from the natural or heathen state of carnal security (without the law, Rom_7:7-9) to the Jewish state under the law which calls out sin from its hidden recess, reveals its true character, and awakens the sense of the wretchedness of slavery under sin (Rom_7:10-25), but in this very way prepares the way for the Christian state of freedom (Rom_7:24 and Rom_8:1-39).
II. The Divine Intention and Provision of Universal Salvation. — God sincerely wills (θέλει) that all men, even the greatest of sinners, should be saved, and come to the knowledge of truth through Christ, who gave himself a ransom for all. The extent of Christ’s righteousness and life is as universal as the extent of Adam’s sin and death, and its intensive power is even greater. The first and the second Adam are perfectly parallel by contrast in their representative character, but Christ is much stronger and remains victor of the field, having slain sin and death, and living for ever as the prince of life. Where sin abounds there grace super-abounds. As through the first Adam sin (as a pervading force) entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death passed unto all men, inasmuch as they all sinned (in Adam generically and potentially, and by actual transgression individually); so much more through Christ, the second Adam, righteousness entered into the world and life through righteousness, and thus righteousness passed unto all men on condition of faith by which we partake of his righteousness. God shut up all men in disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all that believe.
(1.) The preparation for this salvation was the promise and the law of the Old dispensation. The promise given to Abraham and the patriarchs is prior to the law, and not set aside by the law; it contained the germ and the pledge of salvation, and Abraham stands out as the father of the faithful, who was justified by faith even before he received circumcision as a sign and seal. The law came in besides, or between the promise and the gospel in order to develop the disease of sin, to reveal its true character as a transgression of the divine will, and thus to excite the sense of the need of salvation. The law is in itself holy and good, but cannot give life; it commands and threatens, but gives no power to fulfil; it cannot renew the flesh, that is, the depraved, sinful nature of man; it can neither justify nor sanctify, but it brings the knowledge of sin, and by its discipline it prepares men for the freedom of Christ, as a schoolmaster prepares children for independent manhood. (Rom 3-7; Gal 2-4; especially Rom_3:20; Rom_5:20; Gal_3:24)
(2.) The salvation itself is comprehended in the person and work of Christ. It was accomplished in the fulness of the time by the sinless life, the atoning death, and the glorious resurrection and exaltation of Christ, the eternal Son of God, who appeared in the likeness of the flesh of sin and as an offering for sin, and thus procured for us pardon, peace, and reconciliation. “God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” This is the greatest gift of the eternal love of the Father for his creatures. The Son of God, prompted by the same infinite love, laid aside his divine glory and mode of existence, emptied himself exchanged the form of God for the form of a servant, humbled himself and became obedient, even unto the death of the cross. Though he was rich, being equal with God, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich. In reward for his active and passive obedience God exalted him and gave him a name above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord.
Formerly the cross of Christ had been to the carnal Messianic expectations and self-righteousness of Paul, as well as of other Jews, the greatest stumbling-block, as it was the height of folly to the worldly wisdom of the heathen mind. (Gal_5:11; Gal_6:12; 1Co_1:23) But the heavenly vision of the glory of Jesus at Damascus unlocked the key for the understanding of this mystery, and it was confirmed by the primitive apostolic tradition, and by his personal experience of the failure of the law and the power of the gospel to give peace to his troubled conscience. The death of Christ appeared to him now as the divinely appointed means for procuring righteousness. It is the device of infinite wisdom and love to reconcile the conflicting claims of justice and mercy whereby God could justify the sinner and yet remain just himself. Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become righteousness of God in him. He died in the place and for the benefit (ὑπέρ, περί) of sinners and enemies, so that his death has a universal significance. If one died for all, they all died. He offered his spotless and holy life as a ransom (λύτρον) or price (τιμή) for our sins, and thus effected our redemption (ἀπολύτρωσις), as prisoners of war are redeemed by the payment of an equivalent. His death, therefore, is a vicarious sacrifice, an atonement, an expiation or propitiation ἱλασμός, ἱλαστήριον, sacrificium expiatorium) for the sins of the whole world, and secured full and final remission (ἄφεσις) and reconciliation between God and man (καταλλαγή). This the Mosaic law and sacrifices could not accomplish. They could only keep alive and deepen the sense of the necessity of an atonement. If righteousness came by the law, Christ’s death would be needless and fruitless. His death removes not only the guilt of sin, but it destroyed also its power and dominion. Hence the great stress Paul laid on the preaching of the cross (ὁ λόγος τοῦ σταυροῦ) in which alone he would glory.
This rich doctrine of the atonement which pervades the Pauline Epistles is only a legitimate expansion of the word of Christ that he would give his life as a ransom for sinners and shed his blood for the remission of sins.
(3.) While Christ accomplished the salvation, the Holy Spirit appropriates it to the believer. The Spirit is the religious and moral principle of the new life. Emanating from God, he dwells in the Christian as a renewing, sanctifying, comforting energy, as the higher conscience, as a divine guide and monitor. He mediates between Christ and the church as Christ mediates between God and the world; be is the divine revealer of Christ to the individual consciousness and the source of all graces (χαρίσματα) through which the new life manifests itself. “Christ in us” is equivalent to having the “Spirit of Christ.” It is only by the inward revelation of the Spirit that we can call Christ our Lord and Saviour, and God our Father; by the Spirit the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts; the Spirit works in us faith and all virtues; it is the Spirit who transforms even the body of the believer into a holy temple; those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God and heirs of salvation; it is by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that we are made free from the law of sin and death and are able to walk in newness of life. Where the Spirit of God is there is true liberty.
(4.) There is, then, a threefold cause of our salvation: the Father who sends his Son, the Son who procures salvation, and the Holy Spirit who applies it to the believer. This threefold agency is set forth in the benediction, which comprehends all divine blessings: “the grace (χάρις) of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the (ἀγάπη) of God, and the communion (κοινωνία) of the Holy Spirit.” This is Paul’s practical view of the Holy Trinity as revealed in the gospel. The grace of Christ is mentioned first because in it is exhibited to us the love of the Father in its highest aspect as a saving power; to the Holy Spirit is ascribed the communion because he is the bond of union between the Father and the Son, between Christ and the believer, and between the believers as members of one brotherhood of the redeemed.
To this divine trinity corresponds, we may say, the human trinity of Christian graces: faith, hope, love (1Co_13:13)
III. The Order of Salvation. — (1.) Salvation has its roots in the eternal counsel of God, his foreknowledge (πρόγνωσις), and his foreordination (προορισμός, πρόθεσις); the former an act of his omniscient intellect, the latter of his omnipotent will. Logically, foreknowledge precedes foreordination, but in reality both coincide and are simultaneous in the divine mind, in which there is no before nor after.
Paul undoubtedly teaches an eternal election by the sovereign grace of God, that is an unconditioned and unchangeable predestination of his children to holiness and salvation in and through his Son Jesus Christ. He thus cuts off all human merit, and plants the salvation upon an immovable rock. But he does not thereby exclude human freedom and responsibility; on the contrary, he includes them as elements in the divine plan, and boldly puts them together. Hence he exhorts and warns men as if salvation might be gained or lost by their effort. Those who are lost, are lost by their own unbelief. Perdition is the righteous judgment for sin unrepented of and persisted in. It is a strange misunderstanding to make Paul either a fatalist or a particularist; he is the strongest opponent of blind necessity and of Jewish particularism, even in the ninth chapter of Romans. But he aims at no philosophical solution of a problem which the finite understanding of man cannot settle; he contents himself with asserting its divine and human aspects, the religious and ethical view, the absolute sovereignty of God and the relative freedom of man, the free gift of salvation and the just punishment for neglecting it. Christian experience includes both truths, and we find no contradiction in praying as if all depended on God, and in working as if all depended on man. This is Pauline theology and practice.
Foreknowledge and foreordination are the eternal background of salvation: call, justification, sanctification, and glorification mark the progressive steps in the time of execution, and of the personal application of salvation.
(2.) The call (κλῆσις) proceeds from God the Father through the preaching of the gospel salvation which is sincerely offered to all. Faith comes from preaching, preaching from preachers, and the preachers from God who sends them.
The human act which corresponds to the divine call is the conversion (μετάνοια) of the sinner; and this includes repentance or turning away from sin, and faith or turning to Christ, under the influence of the Holy Spirit who acts through the word. (Rom_2:4; 2Co_7:9, 2Co_7:10; 2Ti_2:25) The Holy Spirit is the objective principle of the new life of the Christian. Faith is the free gift of God, and at the same time the highest act of man. It is unbounded trust in Christ, and the organ by which we apprehend him, his very life and benefits, and become as it were identified with him, or mystically incorporated with him.
(3.) Justification (δικαίωσις) is the next step. This is a vital doctrine in Paul’s system and forms the connecting link as well as the division line between the Jewish and the Christian period of his life. It was with him always a burning life-question. As a Jew he sought righteousness by works of the law, honestly and earnestly, but in vain; as a Christian he found it, as a free gift of grace, by faith in Christ. Righteousness (δικαιοσύνη), as applied to man, is the normal relation of man to the holy, will of God as expressed in his revealed law, which requires supreme love to God and love to our neighbor; it is the moral and religious ideal, and carries in itself the divine favor and the highest happiness. It is the very end for which man was made; he is to be conformed to God who is absolutely holy and righteous. To be god-like is the highest conception of human perfection and bliss.
But there are two kinds of righteousness, or rather two ways of seeking it: one of the law, and sought by works of the law; but this is imaginary, at best very defective, and cannot stand before God; and the righteousness of Christ, or the righteousness of faith, which is freely communicated to the believer and accepted by God. Justification is the act of God by which he puts the repenting sinner in possession of the righteousness of Christ. It is the reverse of condemnation; it implies the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is based upon the atoning sacrifice of Christ and conditioned by faith, as the subjective organ of apprehending and appropriating Christ with all his benefits. We are therefore justified by grace alone through faith alone; yet faith remains not alone, but is ever fruitful of good works.
The result of justification is peace (εἰρήνη) with God, and the state of adoption (υἱοθεσία) and this implies also the heirship (κληρονομία) of eternal life. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” The root of Paul’s theory of justification is found in the teaching of Christ: he requires from his disciples a far better righteousness than the legal righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, as a condition of entering the kingdom of heaven, namely, the righteousness of God; he holds up this righteousness of God as the first object to be sought; and teaches that it can only be obtained by faith, which he everywhere presents as the one and only condition of salvation on the part of man. (Mat_5:20; Mat_6:33; Mat_9:22, Mat_9:29; Mat_17:20; Mar_11:22; Mar_16:16; Luk_8:50; Luk_18:10-14; Joh_3:16, Joh_3:17; Joh_6:47, etc.)
(4.) Sanctification (ἁγιασμός). (Comp. Rom_6:19, Rom_6:22; 1Co_1:30; 1Th_4:3, 1Th_4:4,1Th_4:7; 2Th_2:13) The divine act of justification is inseparable from the conversion and renewal of the sinner. It affects the will and conduct as well as the feeling. Although gratuitous, it is not unconditional. It is of necessity the beginning of sanctification, the birth into a new life which is to grow unto full manhood. We are not justified outside of Christ, but only in Christ by a living faith, which unites us with him in his death unto sin and resurrection unto holiness. Faith is operative in love and must produce good works as the inevitable proof of its existence. Without love, the greatest of Christian graces, even the strongest faith would be but “sounding brass or clanging cymbal.”
Sanctification is not a single act, like justification, but a process. It is a continuous growth of the whole inner man in holiness from the moment of conversion and justification to the reappearance of Jesus Christ in glory. On the part of God it is insured, for he is faithful and will perfect the good work which he began; on the part of man it involves constant watchfulness, lest he stumble and fall. In one view it depends all on the grace of God, in another view it depends all on the exertion of man. There is a mysterious co-operation between the two agencies, which is expressed in the profound paradox: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” The believer is mystically identified with Christ from the moment of his conversion (sealed by baptism). He died with Christ unto sin so as to sin no more; and he rose with him to a new life unto God so as to live for God; he is crucified to the world and the world to him; he is a new creature in Christ; the old man of sin is dead and buried, the new man lives in holiness and righteousness. “It is no longer I (my own sinful self) that lives, but it is Christ that lives in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh, I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” Here is the whole doctrine of Christian life: it is Christ in us, and we in Christ. It consists in a vital union with Christ, the crucified and risen Redeemer, who is the indwelling, all-pervading, and controlling life of the believer; but the union is no pantheistic confusion or absorption; the believer continues to live as a self-conscious and distinct personality. For the believer “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”
In Rom_12:1-21, Paul sums up his ethics in the idea of gratitude which manifests itself in a cheerful sacrifice of our persons and services to the God of our salvation.
(5.) Glorification (δοξάζειν). This is the final completion of the work of grace in the believer and will appear at the parousia of our Lord. It cannot be hindered by any power present or future, visible or invisible, for God and Christ are stronger than all our enemies and will enable us to come out more than conquerors from the conflict of faith.
This lofty conviction of final victory finds most eloquent expression in the triumphal ode which closes the eighth chapter of Romans.
IV. The Historical Progress of the gospel of salvation from Jews to Gentiles and back again to the Jews. Salvation was first intended for and offered to the Jews, who were for centuries prepared for it by the law and the promise, and among whom the Saviour was born, lived, died, and rose again. But the Jews as a nation rejected Christ and his apostles, and hardened their hearts in unbelief. This fact filled the apostle with unutterable sadness, and made him willing to sacrifice even his own salvation (if it were possible) for the salvation of his kinsmen.
But he sees light in this dark mystery. First of all, God has a sovereign right over all his creatures and manifests both his mercy and his righteousness in the successive stages of the historical execution of his wise designs. His promise has not failed, for it was not given to all the carnal descendants of Abraham and Isaac, but only to the spiritual descendants, the true Israelites who have the faith of Abraham, and they have been saved, as individual Jews are saved to this day. And even in his relation to the vessels of wrath who by unbelief and ingratitude have fitted themselves for destruction, he shows his long-suffering.
In the next place, the real cause of the rejection of the body of the Jews is their own rejection of Christ. They sought their own righteousness by works of the law instead of accepting the righteousness of God by faith.
Finally, the rejection of the Jews is only temporary and incidental in the great drama of history. It is overruled for the speedier conversion of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the full number or the organic totality of the Gentiles (not all individual Gentiles) will lead ultimately to the conversion of Israel. “A hardening in part has befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved.”
With this hopeful prophecy, which seems yet far off, but which is steadily approaching fulfilment, and will be realized in God’s own time and way, the apostle closes the doctrinal part of the Epistle to the Romans. “God has shut up all men (τοὺς πάντας) unto disobedience that he might have mercy upon all men. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! … For of Him (ἐξ αὐτοῦ) and through Him (δἰ αὐτοῦ), and unto Him (εἰς αὐτόν) are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom_11:32, Rom_11:33, Rom_11:36)
Before this glorious consummation, however, there will be a terrible conflict with Antichrist or “the man of sin,” and the full revelation of the mystery of lawlessness now held in check. Then the Lord will appear as the conqueror in the field, raise the dead, judge the world, destroy the last enemy, and restore the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all (τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν). (2Th_2:3-12; 1Co_15:28)
I. The Pauline System of Doctrine has been more frequently explained than any other.
Among the earlier writers Neander, Usteri, and Schmid take the lead, and are still valuable. Neander and Schmid are in full sympathy with the spirit and views of Paul. Usteri adapted them somewhat to Schleiermacher’s system, to which he adhered.
Next to them the Tübingen school, first the master, Baur (twice, in his Paul, and in his New Test. Theology), and then his pupils, Pfleiderer and Holsten, have done most for a critical reproduction. They rise far above the older rationalism in an earnest and intelligent appreciation of the sublime theology of Paul, and leave the impression that he was a most profound, bold, acute, and consistent thinker on the highest themes. But they ignore the supernatural element of inspiration, they lack spiritual sympathy with the faith of the apostle, overstrain his antagonism to Judaism (as did Marcion of old), and confine the authentic Sources to the four anti-Judaic Epistles to the Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians, although recognizing in the minor Epistles the “paulinische Grundlage.” The more moderate followers of Baur, however, now admit the genuineness of from seven to ten Pauline Epistles, leaving only the three Pastoral Epistles and Ephesians in serious doubt.
The Paulinismus of Weiss (in the third ed. of his Bibl. Theol., 1881, pp. 194-472) is based upon a very careful philological exegesis in detail, and is in this respect the most valuable of all attempts to reproduce Paul’s theology. He divides it into three sections: 1st, the system of the four great doctrinal and polemical Epistles; 2d, the further development of Paulinism in the Epistles of the captivity; 3d, the doctrine of the Pastoral Epistles. He doubts only the genuineness of the last group, but admits a progress from the first to the second.
Of French writers, Reuss, Pressensé, and Sabatier give the best expositions of the Pauline system, more or less in imitation of German labors. Reuss, of Strasburg, who writes in German as well, is the most independent and learned; Pressensé is more in sympathy with Paul’s belief, but gives only a meager summary; Sabatier leans to the Tübingen school. Reuss discusses Paul’s system (in vol. III., 17-220) very fully under these heads: righteousness; sin; the law; the gospel; God; the person of Christ; the work of Christ; typical relation of the old and new covenant; faith; election; calling and the Holy Spirit; regeneration; redemption; justification and reconciliation; church; hope and trial; last times; kingdom of God. Sabatier (L’apôtre Paul, pp. 249-318, second ed., 1881) more briefly but clearly develops the Pauline theology from the Christological point of view (la personne de Christ Principe générateur de la conscience chrétienne) under three heads: lot, the Christian principle in the psychological sphere (anthropology); 2d, in the social and historical sphere (religious philosophy of history); 3d, in the metaphysical sphere (theology), which culminates in the θεὸς τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν “Ainsi naît et grandit cet arbre magnifique de la pensée de Paul, dont les racines plongent dans le sol de la conscience chrétienne et dont la cime est dans les cieux.”
Renan, who professes so much sentimental admiration for the poetry and wisdom of Jesus, “the charming Galilaean peasant,” has no organ for the theology of Paul any more than Voltaire had for the poetry of Shakespeare. He regards him as a bold and vigorous, but uncouth and semi-barbarous genius, full of rabbinical subtleties, useless speculations, and polemical intolerance even against good old Peter at Antioch.
Several doctrines of Paul have been specially discussed by German scholars, as Tischendorf: Doctrina Pauli apostoli de Vi Mortis Christi Satisfactoria (Leipz., 1837); Räbiger: De Christologia Paulina (Breslau, 1852); Lipsius: Die paulinische Rechtfertigunglehre (Leipz., 1853); Ernesti: Vom Ursprung der Sünde nach paulinischem Lehrgehalt (Wolfenbüttel, 1855); Die Ethik des Paulus (Braunschweig, 1868; 3d ed., 1881); W. Beyschlag Die paulinische Theodicee (Berlin, 1868); R. Schmidt: Die Christologie des Ap. Paulus (Gött., 1870); A. Delitzsch: Adam und Christus (Bonn, 1871); H. Lüdemann: Die Anthropologie des Ap. Paulus (Kiel, 1872); R. Stähelin: Zur paulinischen Eschatologie (1874); A. Schumann: Der weltgeschichtl. Entwickelungsprocess nach dem Lehrsystem des Ap. Paulus (Crefeld, 1875); Fr. Köstlin: Die Lehre des Paulus von der Auferstehung (1877); H. H. Wendt: Die Begriffe Fleisch und Geist in biblischen Sprachgebrauch (Gotha, 1878).
II. The Christology of Paul is closely interwoven with his soteriology. In Romans and Galatians the soteriological aspect prevails, in Philippians and Colossians the christological. His christology is very rich, and with that of the Epistle to the Hebrews prepares the way for the christology of John. It is even more fully developed than John’s, only less prominent in the system.
The chief passages on the person of Christ are: Rom_1:3, Rom_1:4 (ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυεὶδ κατὰ σάρκα … υἱὸς θεοῦ κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης); Rom_8:3 (ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν πέμψας ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας) Rom_8:32 (ὃς τοῦ ἰδίου υἱοῦ οὐκ ἐφείσατο) Rom_9:5 (ἐξ ὦν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα, ὁ ὢν επὶ πάντων, θὲος εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας — but the punctuation and consequently the application of the doxology — whether to God or to Christ — are disputed); 1Co_1:19 (ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν, a very frequent designation); 2Co_5:21 (τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν); 2Co_8:9 (ἐπτώχευσεν πλούσιος ὤν, ἳνα ὑμεῖς τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσητε); Phi_2:5-11 (the famous passage about the κένωσις); Col_1:15-18 (ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα … τὰ πάντα δἰ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται …); Col_2:9 (ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς); 1Ti_3:16 (ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί …); Tit_2:13 (τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, where, however, commentators differ in the construction, as in Rom_9:5).
From these and other passages the following doctrinal points may be inferred:
The eternal pre-existenceof Christ as to his divine nature. The pre-existence generally is implied in Rom_8:3, Rom_8:32; 2Co_5:21; Phi_2:5; the pre-existence before the creation is expressly asserted, Col_1:15; the eternity of this pre-existence is a metaphysical inference from the nature of the case, since an existence before all creation must be an uncreated, therefore a divine or eternal existence which has no beginning as well as no end. (John carefully distinguishes between the eternal ἦν of the pre-existent Logos, and the temporal ἐγένετο of the incarnate Logos, Joh_1:1, Joh_1:14; comp. Joh_8:58.) This is not inconsistent with the designation of Christ as “the first-born of all creation,” Col_1:15; for πρωτότοκος is different from πρωτόκτιστος (first-created), as the Nicene fathers already remarked, in opposition to Arius, who inferred from the passage that Christ was the first creature of God and the creator of all other creatures. The word first-born corresponds to the Johannean μονογενής, only-begotten. “Both express,” as Lightfoot says (Com. on Col.) “the same eternal fact; but while μονογενής states it in itself, πρωτότοκος places it in relation to the universe.” We may also compare the προτόγονος, first-begotten, which Philo applies to the Logos, as including the original archetypal idea of the created world. “The first-born,” used absolutely (πρωτότοκος בְּכוֹר Psa_89:28), became a recognized title of the Messiah.
Moreover, the genitive πάσης κτίσεως is not the partitive, but the comparative genitive: the first-born as compared with, that is, before, every creature. So Justin Martyr (πρὸ πάντων τῶν κτισμάτων), Meyer, and Bp. Lightfoot, in loc.; also Weiss, Bibl. Theol. d. N. T., p. 431 (who refutes the opposite view of Usteri, Reuss, and Baur, and says: “Da πάσης κτίσεως jede einzelne Creatur bezeichnet, so kann der Genii. nur comparativ genommen werden, und nur besagen, dass er im Vergleich mit jeden Creatur der Erstgeborne war”). The words immediately following, Joh_1:16, Joh_1:17, exclude the possibility of regarding Christ himself as a creature. Lightfoot, in his masterly Comm. (p. 212 sq.), very fully explains the term as teaching the absolute pre-existence of the Son, his priority to and sovereignty over all creation.
The recent attempt of Dr. Beyschlag (Christologie des N. T., pp. 149 sqq., 242 sqq.) to resolve the pre-existent Christ of Paul and John into an ideal principle, instead of a real personality, is an exegetical failure, like the similar attempts of the Socinians, and is as far from the mark as the interpretation of some of the Nicene fathers (e.g., Marcellus) who, in order to escape the Arian argument, understood prototokos of the incarnate Logos as the head of the new spiritual creation.
2. Christ is the mediator and the end of creation. “All things were created in him, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible …; all things have been created through him (δι ̓ αὐτοῦ and unto him (εἰς αὐτόν); and he is before all things, and in him all things consist,” Col_1:15-18. The same doctrine is taught in 1Co_8:6 (“Jesus Christ, through whom are all things”); 1Co_10:9; 1Co_15:47; as well as in the Ep. to the Hebrews Eph_1:2: (“through whom he also made the worlds” or “ages”), and in Joh_1:3.
3. The divinity of Christ is clearly implied in the constant co-ordination of Christ with the Father as the author of “grace and peace,” in the salutations of the Epistles, and in such expressions as, “the image of the invisible God” (Col_1:15); “in him dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col_2:9): “existing in the form of God,” and “being on an equality with God” (Phi_2:6). In two passages he is, according to the usual interpretation, even called “God” (θεός), but, as already remarked, the exegetes are still divided on the reference of θεός in Rom_9:5 and Tit_2:13. Meyer admits that Paul, according to his christology, could call Christ “God” (as predicate, without the article, θεός not ὁ θεός); and Weiss, in the 6th edition of Meyer on Romans (1881), adopts the prevailing orthodox punctuation and interpretation in Rom_9:5 as the most natural, on purely exegetical grounds (the necessity of a supplement to κατὰ σάρκα, and the position of εὐλόγητος after θεός): “Christ as concerning the flesh, who [at the same time according to his higher nature] is over all, even God blessed for ever.” Westcott and Hort are not quite agreed on the punctuation. See their note in Greek Test., Introd. and Appendix, p. 109.
4. The incarnation. This is designated by the terms “God sent his own Son” (Rom_8:3, comp. Rom_8:32); Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Phi_2:7). Without entering here into the Kenosis controversy (the older one between Giessen and Tübingen, 1620-1630, and the recent one which began with Thomasius, 1845), it is enough to say that the Kenosis, or self-exinanition, refers not to the incarnate, but to the pre-existent Son of God, and implies a certain kind of self-limitation or temporary surrender of the divine mode of existence during the state of humiliation. This humiliation was followed by exaltation as a reward for his obedience unto death (Phi_2:9-11); hence he is now “the Lord of glory” (1Co_2:8). To define the limits of the Kenosis, and to adjust it to the immutability of the Godhead and the intertrinitarian process, lies beyond the sphere of exegesis and belongs to speculative dogmatics.
5. The true, but sinless humanity of Christ. He appeared “in the likeness of the flesh of sin” (Rom_8:3); he is a son of David “according to the flesh” (Rom_1:3), which includes the whole human nature, body, soul, and spirit (as in Joh_1:14); he is called a man (ἄνθρωπος) in the full sense of the term (1Co_15:21; Rom_5:15; Act_17:31). He was “born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal_4:4); he was “found in fashion as a man” and became “obedient even unto death” (Phi_2:8), and he truly suffered and died, like other men. But he “knew no sin” (2Co_5:21). He could, of course, not be the Saviour of sinners if he himself were a sinner and in need of salvation.
Of the events of Christ’s life, Paul mentions especially and frequently his death and resurrection, on which our salvation depends. He also reports the institution of the Lord’s Supper, which perpetuates the memory and the blessing of the atoning sacrifice on the cross (1Co_11:23-30). He presupposes, of course, a general knowledge of the historical Christ, as his Epistles are all addressed to believing converts; but he incidentally preserves a gem of Christ’s sayings not reported by the Evangelists, which shines like a lone star on the firmament of uncertain traditions: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Act_20:35).
III. Paul’s Doctrine of Predestination. — Eternal foreknowledge of all persons and things is necessarily included in God’s omniscience, and is uniformly taught in the Bible; eternal foreordination or predestination is included in his almighty power and sovereignty, but must be so conceived as to leave room for free agency and responsibility, and to exclude God from the authorship of sin. Self-limitation is a part of freedom even in man, and may be exercised by the sovereign God for holy purposes and from love to his creatures; in fact it is necessary, if salvation is to be a moral process, and not a physical or mechanical necessity. Religion is worth nothing except as the expression of free conviction and voluntary devotion. Paul represents sometimes the divine sovereignty, sometimes the human responsibility, sometimes, as in Phi_2:12, Phi_2:13, he combines both sides, without an attempt to solve the insolvable problem which really lies beyond the present capacity of the human mind. “He does not deal with speculative extremes; and in whatever way the question be speculatively adjusted, absolute dependence and moral self-determination are both involved in the immediate Christian self-consciousness,” Baur, Paul, II. 249. “Practical teaching,” says Reuss (II. 532) to the same effect, “will always be constrained to insist upon the fact that man’s salvation is a free gift of God, and that his condemnation is only the just punishment of sin.” Comp. also Farrar, St. Paul, II. 243, 590; Weiss, p. 356 sqq.; Beyschlag, Die paulinische Theodicee (Berlin, 1868). Weiss thus sums up Paul’s doctrine of predestination: “An sich hat Gott das absolute Recht, die Menschen von vornherein zum Heil oder zum Verderben zu erschaffen und durch freie Machtwirkung diesem Ziele zuzuführen; aber er hat sich in Betreff des christlichen Heils dieses Rechtes nur insofern bedient, als er unabhängig von allem menschlichen Thun und Verdienen nach seinem unbeschränkten Willen bestimmt, an welche Bedingung er seine Gnade knüpfen will. Die Bedingung, an welche er seine Erwählung gebunden hat, ist nun nichts anders als die Liebe zu ihm, welche er an den empfänglichen Seelen vorhererkennt. Die Erwählten aber werden berufen, indem Gott durch das Evangelium in ihnen den Glauben wirkt.”
There can be no doubt that Paul teaches an eternal election to eternal salvation by free grace, an election which is to be actualized by faith in Christ and a holy life of obedience. But he does not teach a decree of reprobation or a predestination to sin and perdition (which would indeed be a “decretum horribile,” if verum). This is a logical invention of supralapsarian theologians who deem it to be the necessary counterpart of the decree of election. But man’s logic is not God’s logic. A decree of reprobation is nowhere mentioned. The term ἀδόκιμος, disapproved, worthless, reprobate, is used five times only as a description of character (twice of things). Rom_9:1-33 is the Gibraltar of supralapsarianism, but it must be explained in connection with Rom 10-11, which present the other aspects. The strongest passage is Rom_9:22, where Paul speaks of σκεύη ὀργῆς κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν. But he significantly uses here the passive: “fitted unto destruction,” or rather (as many of the best commentators from Chrysostom to Weiss take it) the middle: “who fitted themselves for destruction,” and so deserved it; while of the vessels of mercy he says that God “before prepared” them unto glory (σκεύη ἐλέους ἃ προητοίμασεν, Rom_9:23). He studiously avoids to say of the vessels of wrath: ἃ κατήρτισεν, which would have corresponded to ἃ προητοίμασεν, and thus he exempts God from a direct and efficient agency in sin and destruction. When in Rom_9:17, he says of Pharaoh, that God raised him up for the very purpose (εἰς αύτὸ τοῦτο ἐξήγειρά σε) that he might show in him His power, he does not mean that God created him or called him into existence (which would require a different verb), but, according to the Hebrew (Exo_9:16, the hiphil of עָמַד), that “he caused him to stand forth” as actor in the scene; and when he says with reference to the same history that God “hardens whom he will” (Rom_9:18. ὅν δε θέλει σκληρύνει), it must be remembered that Pharaoh had already repeatedly hardened his own heart (Exo_8:15, Exo_8:32; Exo_9:34, Exo_9:35), so that God punished him for his sin and abandoned him to its consequences. God does not cause evil, but he bends, guides, and overrules it and often punishes sin with sin. “Das ist der Fluch der bösen That, dass sie, fortzeugend, immer Böses muss gebären.” (Schiller.)
In this mysterious problem of predestination Paul likewise faithfully carries out the teaching of his Master. For in the sublime description of the final judgment, Christ says to the “blessed of my Father:” “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mat_25:34), but to those on the left hand he says, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat_25:41). The omission of the words “of my Father,” after “ye cursed,” and of the words, for you, “and, from the foundation of the world,” is very significant, and implies that while the inheritance of the kingdom is traced to the eternal favor of God, the damnation is due to the guilt of man.
IV. The doctrine of justification. This occupies a prominent space in Paul’s system, though by no means to the disparagement of his doctrine of sanctification, which is treated with the same fulness even in Romans (comp. Rom 6-8 and 12-15). Luther, in conflict with Judaizing Rome, overstated the importance of justification by faith when he called it the articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae. This can only be said of Christ (comp. Mat_16:16; 1Co_3:11; 1Jo_4:2, 1Jo_4:3). It is not even the theme of the Epistle to the Romans, as often stated (e.g., by Farrar, St. Paul, II. 181); for it is there subordinated by γάρ to the broader idea of salvation (σωτηρία), which is the theme (Rom_1:16, Rom_1:17). Justification by faith is the way by which salvation can be obtained.
The doctrine of justification may be thus illustrated:
Δικαιοσύνη τοῦ νόμου Δικαιοσύνη τοῦ θεοῦ
ἐξ ἔργων ἐκ θεοῦ
ἰδία. τῆς πίστεως
ἐκ τῆς πίστεως
διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ.
The cognate words are δικαίωσις, δικαίωμα, δίκαιος, δικαιόω. The Pauline idea of righteousness is derived from the Old Testament, and is inseparable from the conception of the holy will of God and his revealed law. But the classical usage is quite consistent with it, and illustrates the biblical usage from a lower plane. The Greek words are derived from jus, right, and further back from. δίχα, or δίς, two-fold, in two parts (according to Aristotle, Eth. Nic., v. 2); hence they indicate a well-proportioned relation between parts or persons where each has his due. It may then apply to the relation between God and man, or to the relation between man and man, or to both at once. To the Greeks a righteous man was one who fulfils his obligations to God and man. It was a Greek proverb: “In righteousness all virtue is contained.”
Δικαιοσύνη (צְּדָקָה צֶדֶק) is an attribute of God, and a corresponding moral condition of man, i.e., man’s conformity to the will of God as expressed in his holy law. It is therefore identical with true religion, with piety and virtue, as required by God, and insures his favor and blessing. The word occurs (according to Bruder’s Concord.) sixty times in all the Pauline Epistles, namely: thirty-six times in Romans, four times in Galatians, seven times in 2 Corinthians, once in 1 Corinthians, four times in Philippians, three times in Ephesians, three times in 2 Timothy, once in 1 Timothy, and once in Titus.
Δίκαιος צָּדִּיק righteous (rechtbeschaffen), is one who fulfils his duties to God and men, and is therefore well pleasing to God. It is used seventeen times by Paul (seven times in Romans), and often elsewhere in the New Testament.
Δικαίωσις occurs only twice in the New Test. (Rom_4:25; Rom_5:18). It signifies justification, or the act of God by which he puts the sinner into the possession of righteousness.
Δικαίωμα, which is found Rom_1:32; Rom_2:26; Rom_5:16, Rom_5:18; Rom_8:4, means a righteous decree, or judgment. Aristotle (Eth. Nicom., v. 10) defines it as τὸ ἐπανόρθωμα τοῦ ἀδικήματος, the amendment of an evil deed, or a legal adjustment; and this would suit the passage in Rom_5:16, Rom_5:18.
The verb δικαιόω (הִצְדִּיק צִדֵּק)occurs twenty-seven times in Paul, mostly in Romans, several times in the Synoptical Gospels, once in Acts, and three times in Jam_2:21, Jam_2:24, Jam_2:25. It may mean, etymologically, to make just, justificare (for the verbs in όω, derived from adjectives of the second declension, indicate the making of what the adjective denotes, e.g., δηλόω, to make clear, φανερόω, to reveal, υφλόω, to blind); but in the Septuagint and the Greek Testament it hardly, ever has this meaning (“haec significatio,” says Grimm, “admodum rara, nisi prorsus dubia est”), and is used in a forensic or judicial sense: to declare one righteous (aliquem justum declarare, judicare). This justification of the sinner is, of course, not a legal fiction, but perfectly true, for it is based on the real righteousness of Christ which the sinner makes his own by faith, and must prove his own by a life of holy obedience, or good works. For further expositions see my annotations to Lange on Romans, pp. 74, 130, 136, 138; and my Com on Gal_2:16, Gal_2:17. On the imputation controversies see my essay in Lange on Rom_5:12, pp. 190-195. On the relation of Paul’s doctrine of justification to that of James, see § 69
V. Paul’s doctrine of the Church has been stated in § 65 of this vol. But it requires more than one book to do anything like justice to the wonderful theology of this wonderful man.