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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
PAUL.—It is fortunate that our subject is limited for us at the outset. We are not called upon to consider the life and theology of St. Paul per se and in all their bearings, but only in that particular relation which belongs to a Dictionary of ‘Christ and the Gospels.’ That aspect alone is momentous enough. The figure of St. Paul looms so large and fills so much of the NT that he may well seem to stand between Jesus Christ and the history of the Christian Church. ‘The Apostle’ was the name given in the early Church to the corpus of thirteen (or fourteen) Epistles called after him. And in the NT at least he does throw the other Apostles—or all but one—into the shade. The Epistle to the Hebrews, if not actually his, is allied to him in spirit. Even 1 Peter is impregnated with his teaching, however this has come about. If we are to believe many modern critics, we should have to number among his disciples the author of the Fourth Gospel and the three Johannine Epistles. The only two really independent books are James and the Apocalypse.
It is indeed well to remind ourselves that this state of things is in part appearance. We are always at the mercy of our evidence, i.e. of such evidence as survives. And while St. Paul has ample justice done to him, the Judaean Apostles and the Judaean Church have not. Still even this is a testimony to the energy and widespread influence of the Apostle of the Gentiles.
The fact remains that the dilated figure of St. Paul seems to bar the way between the subsequent history of Christianity and its Founder. And we are compelled to ask ourselves whether that history may not have undergone a certain amount of deflexion. In other words, Christianity in its first stage appears to have passed through a powerful medium; and the question is, whether that medium left it substantially unchanged, whether it still is what its Founder intended it to be. Two things strike us at once. One is, that the teaching of St. Paul, as compared with that of his Master, is highly theological. The apparent simplicity of the Gospels has given place to elaborate arguments and statements of doctrine. We shall consider the significance of this fact shortly; but in the meantime it rather forces itself upon our attention. And the second point is, that this Apostle whose influence has been so great was not one of the original Twelve, and was not himself f a personal companion of Christ.
These considerations are enough to make the question before us one of some urgency. We shall need to examine with all the closeness in our power the nature of the relation between St. Paul and Christ, or—what almost amounts to the same thing—between the Epistles (as represented by their central group) and the Gospels, as the two main divisions of the Christian half of the Bible. To do this methodically, we will break up our inquiry into the following heads:
I. General character of St. Paul’s teaching.
II. Data of St. Paul’s theology.
III. Genesis of St. Paul’s theology.
IV. St. Paul’s knowledge of Christ.
V. Outlines of the Pauline theology.
VI. Comparison with the teaching of Jesus.
VII. Legitimacy of the Pauline construction.
I. General character of St. Paul’s teaching
1. St. Paul the first Christian theologian on a larger scale.—It is true broadly to say that St. Paul is the first Christian theologian in the more technical sense of the word. He is the first to formulate doctrine on any considerable scale. The first Christians had their simple formulations: such as that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12:3), ‘Jesus is the Christ’ (Acts 5:42; Acts 17:3), ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ (Acts 9:20), ‘He died for our sins according to the scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3), ‘Christ rose from the dead the third day’ (1 Corinthians 15:4), ‘The Lord is at hand’ (James 5:8, 1 Peter 4:7). Many of these occur in Pauline contexts, but in such a way as to show that St. Paul took them over from the common stock of Christian teaching. He no doubt added to and expanded these simple formulae. In his hands they became a theology—not exactly a system, in the sense in which (e.g.) Aristotle’s Ethics or Calvin’s Institutes are systems; for such coherent logical construction is alien to the Semitic mind, and St. Paul was thoroughly Semitic—but yet, at least, a body of reasoned and elaborated doctrines. In other words, the teaching of St. Paul is a great constructive effort of thought.
2. Place of theology in religion.—Now it is also true that at the present day, in certain wide circles, theology in this technical sense has a bad name. It is regarded as something hard, cold, and formal, possessing, perhaps, a certain relative truth for the age to which it belongs, but hardly beyond this, and in our own age only a stumbling-block and hindrance to religion.
But this is just one of those idola tribûs that exaggerate a certain element of truth so far as to make it untrue. Theology is a necessity of life—for the few, consciously; for the many, unconsciously. It is like philosophy. Every man really has his philosophy, expressed or implied. It is inevitable that thought should play upon subjects of such supreme interest; inevitable that it should try to formulate its beliefs, and to brings them into relation with one another. And if it does not do this upon right lines, it will do it upon wrong ones.
It is therefore a mistake to place theology, as religious thought, in contrast with religious feeling, and to call the one warm and living and the other cold and dead. It is the nature of feeling to be warm, and the nature of an intellectual process to be by comparison cold. But the two things should not be opposed to each other; they rather supplement and complete each other. They appeal to different faculties; the one supplies material for the other. Each without the other is wanting; and it is together that they become an activity of the whole man.
3. In the teaching of St. Paul there is no divorce between theology and religion.—In the teaching of St. Paul there is certainly no lack of religious emotion. And it is not fair to concentrate attention upon one side of his teaching and to ignore the other. What can be more intense or more elevated than the feeling of Romans 8:31-39, or more exquisitely delicate than that of 1 Corinthians 13? And passages like the first of these and Romans 11:33-36 are striking examples of the way in which theological thought supplies the ground for, and passes into, religious emotion. The controversial argument of Gal. is not the most attractive part of the Apostle’s writings; but how lovely are the pictures of Galatians 5:22-23; Galatians 6:1-2! And yet these pictures are in closest contact with his theology. Indeed, the sustained enthusiasm which is so characteristic of the Apostle is kindled directly by his convictions (2 Corinthians 5:14, Romans 5:1-11).
II. Data of St. Paul’s theology.—St. Paul’s theology, then, was an effort of intellectual construction. And the first question that meets us is, What had he to build with?
1. Old Testament.—Like his Master, St. Paul had behind him the OT as an authoritative volume, a sacred book. He was himself to bear a part in laying the foundation of another sacred book; but this, after all, was but a second volume in continuation of the first, and which in course of time came to be placed upon the same level with it. The OT was the religious authority from which all Christians alike started. And yet new conditions had to be met in new ways. The Master boldly laid down a new law: ‘Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time … but I say unto you’ (Matthew 5:21 f. etc.). The disciple could not do this; but when, at a critical stage in his career, he found himself in collision with the letter of the older Scriptures, he showed great skill in turning the edge of the arguments directed against him, by the use of current methods of interpretation.
2. Contemporary Judaism, Rabbinical and Apocalyptic.—Generally speaking, the Apostle was in regard to the interpretation of the OT at the common level of his time. But he rose above this through his superior insight and strong grasp of religious principle. The OT really was a revelation from God and the work of inspired men; and by virtue of his essential kinship with these St. Paul was able to elicit from it deeper truth than his contemporaries. His methods are not exactly those which the Christian exegete of to-day cannot help adopting; but, as he had the heart of the matter, and the OT writers also had in their measure the heart of the matter, his interpretations are really in harmony with all that was best in them. We might take as an example his treatment of Abraham s faith. There are in the OT the two elements of Law and Faith; and their ultimate relation to each other in the counsels of God is not really different from that which St. Paul made it to be.
It was not, however, purely a question of interpretation. On the common basis of the OT, the contemporaries of St. Paul had developed a number of inferences and ideas which the Apostle began by sharing with them. We may distinguish—not sharply, and as though they were mutually exclusive, but rather as at one time in alliance and at another in opposition—two main streams, the Rabbinical and the Apocalyptic. From the second century of our era onwards the former became more and more dominant, while the latter dropped into the background. And, even in the time of St. Paul, the official classes inclined strongly to Rabbinism; it was chiefly the freer speculation of the time that took the shape which is found in the Apocalypses. On both sides, along with much that was arid or fantastic, there was also not a little that was penetrating and beautiful: witness the Pirke Aboth on the one hand, and 4 Ezra and Apocalypse, Apocalyptic Baruch on the other. St. Paul had at his command all this accumulated material, and he used it as it suited him. But he was not in bondage to it, and he applied it in connexion with root ideas that were peculiarly his own.
3. The teaching and life of Christ.—The touchstone that St. Paul applied to the current ideas of his day and generation was their bearing upon his own intense faith in Christ. Those which proved capable of assimilation to this he retained and worked into his own teaching; those which were not capable of assimilation he simply let drop.
We have spoken of faith in Christ; it is a. further question how far this faith is related to detailed knowledge of Christ’s life and teaching. We shall have to estimate the extent of this presently. For the moment we need only note that, whether in greater or less degree, St. Paul must have had some such knowledge, and that knowledge must have played some part in the construction of his theology.
4. Palestinian traditions.—Nearly all his knowledge of Christ must have come to St. Paul mediately, and not immediately. It seems a natural inference from 2 Corinthians 5:16 that the Apostle had at least had sight of Jesus during His lifetime; but it can hardly have been more than this, or his self-accusations would have been even more bitter than they were. We are coming very soon to the question of the information about Christ which St. Paul derived from others. But, besides this, there must have been in any case those simple formulae to which we have already referred, in which the first disciples summed up their fundamental beliefs. We shall see later how St. Paul dealt with these; but they must at least have formed the starting-point of his own more adventurous and developed thinking.
III. Genesis of St. Paul’s theology.—We have seen what were the materials that St. Paul had to work upon. The other leading factor that gave shape to his thoughts was the subjective habit and attitude that he brought to bear upon these materials. On this head, too, there are some remarks to be made.
1. St. Paul not an immediate disciple of Christ.—No doubt it is an important fact, and from one point of view a defect and loss, that St. Paul had not been a personal companion of Christ. And yet, when we look a little further, we can see a certain appropriateness that he should have come upon the stage as he did, and at the point where he did. Christianity consists not only in a particular body of teaching, but also in the working of great spiritual forces that flow from the incarnation of Jesus Christ. That is to say, it includes not only the teaching of Christ, but an estimate, or apprehension, of His Person and work.
From this side it was not altogether a disqualification that the Apostle’s outlook should be directed forwards rather than backwards. The principle of Tennyson’s well-known lines holds good, that the past does not present itself in a complete and rounded form to those who are actually moving in it. So we may well believe that the first disciples were for a time immersed in the details of their own recollections, and that their grasp on the whole as a whole was weaker in consequence. In proportion as St. Paul was less involved in such concrete details, his grasp on the central idea of his faith seems to have been all the stronger. This may seem at first sight paradoxical; but there are paradoxes in the use which God makes of His instruments. There was a sense in which the knowledge of Christ after the flesh hindered rather than helped the apprehension of Him according to the spirit.
2. His temperament and training.—St. Paul was not one of those who need for their mental sustenance a great wealth of concrete details. He had the gift of religious imagination, to fill out an idea or an impression and convert it into a powerful motive. So the vision on the road to Damascus held his fascinated gaze throughout his career. It worked ceaselessly within, and dominated all his thinking.
And then we have to remember that according to the standards of his time St. Paul was highly educated. His bent was intellectual, and it was encouraged by his training. When he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, he must have heard problems discussed like the faith of Abraham, to which we have already referred, or the origin of evil desire in connexion with the Fall of man. These active discussions took with him the place that books do with us. St. Paul was learned as his age counted learning, and he could not help treating the questions that arose after the manner of the learned.
3. Spiritual experience.—But a deeper influence than learning was his own spiritual experience. Continually we see this living experience reflected in what comes to us as doctrine. St. Paul taught what he had first felt, and he verified his teaching by experience. We shall naturally illustrate this when we come to speak of his theology more in detail.
4. The teaching of history.—At the same time St. Paul was not a mere student, but an active missionary, who soon came to be burdened with ‘the care of all the churches.’ He had something else to do besides following the logic of his own thought. The controversy with the Judaizers was one important episode in his life: and this had a great influence upon the form which his teaching took while it was going on.
Later on, when the victory was won, when the free admission of the Gentiles was secured and Jewish churches and Gentile churches stood over against each other on an equal footing, the Apostle is able to see the Divine purpose running through the alternate acceptance and rejection, and to map out the periods of history as the balance swayed now to one side and now to the other. The letters of St. Paul all bear traces, more or less distinct, of the occasions which called them forth. If, as we believe, the Pastoral Epistles are his, their different tone and style can only be accounted for by the special object with which they were written.
For the sake of clearness we have tried to distinguish the particular causes that contributed to make the theology of St. Paul what it is. But because we have singled out these causes, we of course do not suppose that only one was at work at a time. Very often two or more were at work together, subtly blended and passing into each other. The abstract distinctions that the mind creates always have about them something artificial; and yet history becomes clearer when the process of analysis precedes that of synthesis.
IV. St. Paul’s knowledge of Christ.—We now come to the direct question, What means had St. Paul of knowing about Jesus, and what did he know? We will take the latter half of this question first, as being the less speculative, and as helping us to answer the first.
1. Extent of his knowledge.—We are speaking now of the historical Jesus, and not of the glorified Christ. And here we are met at the outset by exaggerated statements, that St. Paul had little or no interest in the historical Jesus, and knew little or nothing about Him. It is coming to be seen that these statements are exaggerated, and in recent years allowance is being made for knowledge on a considerably larger scale than used to be the case (see, for instance, the opinions mentioned by Knowling, The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ, pp. 201–204, 503–518). There are, however, certain points that we are obliged to leave undecided.
(i.) The most important of these has reference to the two well-known passages in which St. Paul appears to show detailed knowledge—1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (the institution of the Lord’s Supper) and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (the appearances after the Resurrection). Are these passages to be treated as just samples of St. Paul’s ordinary knowledge—so that he might, if he had pleased, have described other incidents in the Lord’s life with equal fulness and precision? Or are we to take these two specimens of detailed information as something altogether exceptional and abnormal? For ourselves, we believe that the first alternative is far nearer the truth than the second. The very precision with which the Apostle writes looks as if he were drawing from a well furnished store. On the other hand, the paucity of the references proves hardly anything. There is frequently something that will seem to be capricious in our experience of such matters—the proportion in which a writer quotes what he might have quoted. We have to remember that, if this one Epistle had chanced not to survive, we should have had no evidence that St. Paul possessed detailed knowledge of this kind at all. This, then, is our own belief; but at the same time, if it is questioned, we cannot profess to make it good to demonstration.
(ii.) We note further that there are express appeals to ‘words of the Lord’ in 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Corinthians 9:14. Besides these, there are coincidences of expression so striking as almost to amount to quotation in Romans 12:14, 1 Corinthians 4:12-13; 1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 12:2-3.
(iii.) Again, St. Paul shows a marked insight into the character of Jesus as it is described in the Gospels. He singles out exactly those traits (‘the meekness and gentleness of Christ,’ 2 Corinthians 10:1) which the Jesus of the Gospels took as characteristic of Himself (‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,’ Matthew 11:29). Other allusions point in the same direction (e.g. Philippians 2:5-8).
(iv.) Really this insight into the character of Christ is part of a phenomenon that strikes us on a larger scale. The hortatory passages of St. Paul’s Epistles show that he understood to a nicety the new religious ideal introduced by Christ. The ideal was really a new one. The nearest approach to it was that of ‘the poor’ in the Psalter, ‘the poor in spirit’ of the Gospel (Matthew 5:3). But even these were not free from vindictiveness; they were not prepared to say, ‘Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you,’ or ‘If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink’ (Matthew 5:44, Romans 12:20). It is not merely a question of verbal parallelism; the whole conception is really the same. It could not be more perfectly delineated than it is in 1 Corinthians 13. When it is contended (as it is, e.g., by Wrede, Paulus, p. 91) that St. Paul is thinking mainly of those who are brethren in the faith, that is really not the case; his exhortations are in no way confined to the relations of the brethren to one another.
2. Sources of this knowledge.—That there is a real connexion, and a close connexion, between the ideal laid down by Christ and that inculcated by St. Paul cannot be denied; it is really one and the same. How did St. Paul acquire the knowledge of it? He must have done so in no merely. transient manner; he must have had the ideal so completely set before him that it sank deep into his soul.
(i.) In spite of the independence which he claims for himself, we know that St. Paul had long and familiar intercourse with disciples, like Barnabas and Mark, and with others in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1), who could not fail to instruct him as to what was new and distinctive in the teaching of Christ. In Galatians 1:18 he speaks of himself as paying a visit to Peter at Jerusalem and spending a fortnight in his company. Both there and in Galatians 2:2 a considerable comparing of notes seems to be implied. There are sufficient indications of oral intercourse between St. Paul and the older disciples to explain the knowledge which he evidently possessed.
(ii.) Had he, in addition to this, anything in writing that he could refer to? He cannot have had access to our present Gospels; but is it not possible that he may have had in his hands one or other of the documents out of which our present Gospels are composed? The Mark-Gospel is excluded by its date; but not so the second main document, often called Logia, and now generally known by the symbol Q. There is nothing, so far as we can see, in this document to make it impossible for St. Paul to have had the opportunity of consulting it. If we are right in forming our conception of it from the passages common to St. Matthew and St. Luke that are not found in St. Mark, it would be a work of precisely such a character as would bring out clearly the new moral ideal taught by Christ. We may well believe that this was really the object with which it was composed—that it was a manual for Christian missionaries to put into the hands of their converts as supplying them with a rule of life. The principal argument against this view is that, if it was early enough to be used by St. Paul, it is difficult to see why it should not have been used by St. Mark. Some scholars think that it was used by him, but we should not like to commit ourselves to that alternative. The question must be left open.
On the other hand, the markedly individual character of the two chief specimens of the Pauline tradition, as compared with the Gospels, would go to show that the sources from which he drew were distinct from those used by our present Evangelists.
V. Outlines of the Pauline theology.—As we have already implied, the great and central event in St. Paul’s career was his conversion. It is this that really gives the key to his theology. It determined for him at once his conception of Christ, and the nature of his own response to the appeal which Christ made to him.
1. The glorified Christ.—The vision that he saw was of Christ glorified. In other words, Christ appeared to him as Spirit; and it is this spiritual Christ that henceforth controlled his experience. And yet, not that alone. The glorified Christ was none the less identical with the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. It is in this double aspect that the exalted Form that he saw made such an intense impression upon the Apostle.
2. Christ within.—The vision was for him; it appealed personally and directly to him; and he responded with all the ardour of his being. It was as if he clasped to his heart the image of Christ that he saw, and it entered into him and possessed him. Or, conversely, it might be said that the extended arms of the Christ whom he saw embraced and enfolded himself. These two ways of speaking St. Paul always treats as equivalent—to say that he clasped Christ or that Christ clasped him, that he was ‘in Christ’ or that Christ was ‘in him,’ meant the same thing. The same act had a Divine side and a human; and the one corresponded to the other. The process of which the Apostle was conscious in himself had to be repeated in his converts (Galatians 4:19). It is all a way of expressing the closest appropriation, assimilation, and union.
3. Faith.—In another connexion St. Paul calls the act by which he entered into this relation ‘faith.’ This act of faith could be expressed intellectually as assent to the proposition that ‘Jesus is the Christ,’ or that ‘Jesus is Lord.’ But any such process of the intellect was swallowed up at once in the warmer emotion of loyalty, gratitude, and adoring love. We must think of it always as love for One who is in heaven and not on earth, and therefore as at one and the same time love and adoration. It is this which gives its peculiar quality and value to ‘faith,’ as St. Paul conceived it. The impression that the Apostle received was so overpowering, that it seemed to make his whole life a different thing; ‘a new creation,’ he called it himself (Galatians 6:15); ‘the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
4. The death of Christ.—We go back to the Damascus vision. It was proof that Jesus of Nazareth, whose followers the Apostle in his blindness had persecuted, was no mere ambitious pretender, but all that His disciples believed Him to be—both Lord and Christ. But if that was so, the apparently shameful death that He died could not be really shameful: whatever appearance it wore in the eyes of men, there must really be in it a Divine virtue—a virtue infinite, because Divine.
Already in the infant Church, following, as we believe, hints of the Lord Himself, there was a tendency to explain the death of the Crucified by means of principles inherent in the OT, by the idea of sacrifice and by the idea of vicarious suffering; on the one hand, by the analogy of the Levitical sacrifices, and, on the other hand, by the description of the Servant of Jahweh in Deutero-Isaiah. St. Paul took up these ideas, and worked them out in his own manner: the sacrificial idea, especially in Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9, 1 Corinthians 5:7 (cf. Hebrews 9:22); the vicarious idea, esp. in 2 Corinthians 5:21. St. Paul also added a new explanation of his own in Galatians 3:13. This last might be described as somewhat Rabbinical; but the same cannot be said of the other two. The principles of sacrifice and of vicariousness are deeply impressed upon God’s world; and that they should culminate in a supreme act of self-devotion has in it nothing incredible.
5. Justification and reconciliation.—The death of Christ established a new relation between God and man. It established it, as it were, objectively and ideally. For it to take full effect, man had to do his part; he had to realize the new relation in a reformed and regenerate life. But the Christian was allowed to anticipate this. He had not to wait for the Divine forgiveness, which was vouchsafed to him at once as soon as he became a Christian and was launched upon that career of amendment and advance to which as a Christian he was pledged. St. Paul uses a judicial term, and describes the convert from the first as ‘justified,’ i.e. ‘declared righteous’ or ‘acquitted.’ This is the Divine answer to the faith by which he makes his profession and has it sealed by baptism. By this decisive act the Christian enters at once into the circle of the Divine favour; he is received as a son reconciled to his Heavenly Father, as a prodigal returned. Henceforth his course is not one of weary effort and failure, but the way is smoothed for him and brightened by the Father’s love.
This was one way of describing the process. Another way turned round St. Paul’s characteristic manner of conceiving the relation of the Christian to Christ of which we have spoken. We have said that in St. Paul’s own experience the vision of the exalted Christ was, as it were, clasped to his heart. The act was so intense and so absorbing that it amounted to a kind of identification: ‘No longer I, but Christ liveth in me.’ And yet this ideal Christ still wears the features of the historical Christ. It is the Christ who died and rose again. The Christian who is identified with such a Christ must himself also die and rise again—in such sense as he can, i.e. in a moral and religious sense; he must die to sin, and rise again to newness of life (Romans 6:1-11); he must emerge from the imprisonment in which he is held by sin into the free and spacious life of the Spirit (see below).
6. Law and grace.—In his earlier experience, religion for St. Paul, as for the rest of his countrymen, meant primarily obedience to law; to be righteous was to keep the Law. But that was really an impossible task. The Law might command, but it could not secure performance. Human nature was too weak to keep up obedience to its rigorous behests. In the multitude of rules and precepts there were always some that were neglected. And to break the Law in any degree was to break it, and to forfeit the reward of welldoing.
It was otherwise with the service of Christ. Here the motive was personal loyalty and devotion, carried out under the conditions which have just been described, with the assurance of forgiveness, of Divine favour and Divine aid. Thus, whatever might be its outward conditions, the life of the Christian was one of inward joy and peace.
An incidental consequence of this new experience was that in his controversy with the Judaizers St. Paul was able to take his stand upon a broad ground of principle. He was able to contrast Christianity with Judaism as a higher type of religion, as a reign of Grace over against a reign of Law.
7. Developed Christology.—At this point we may turn to consider St. Paul’s contribution to the Christian doctrine of God. So far as Christianity brought a change in this doctrine, it all arose from the recognition of the Divine nature and mission of Christ, and from the further consequences which that recognition brought with it. Jesus Himself had certainly come as the promised Messiah, though during His life on earth the full supernatural attributes of the Messiah were veiled and restrained. The Resurrection was the decisive proof that they were really there; and from that time onwards the little band of believers proclaimed openly the central article of its faith. It did so especially under the double title of Messiah and Son of God. St. Paul took over these titles in the full depth of their meaning. We have seen that for him the Messiah was especially the glorified Messiah. That was, indeed, since the Resurrection, essentially the case with all Christians, but St. Paul grasped his belief with peculiar intensity and concentration. Whereas, too, the title ‘Son of God,’ though literally and strictly meant, was used by the first disciples in a way that was naïve and unreflective, St. Paul evidently dwelt upon it, and pressed its full metaphysical meaning. He had clearly satisfied himself that the manifestations of Christ’s Divine Sonship required nothing short of this. And then, as we might expect, he went on to make use of other terms that his speculative training naturally suggested, to illustrate and carry home the same fundamental idea.
8. God the Father.—There are three ways in which St. Paul adds to the doctrine of God the Father: (i.) By discriminating and correlating the spheres of Him whom we call God the Father and of Him whom we call God the Son. The designations were already current, and the tendency to discriminate or define all grew out of the Incarnation. There is not much set teaching, but there are many side allusions which testify to considerable activity of thought on the subject.—(ii.) By calling attention to the work of the Son as revealing the character of the Father. The whole scheme (so to speak) of the Incarnation proceeds from the Father, and therefore itself bears witness, more direct and more unmistakable than any other, to the love which underlies the dealings of God with man—to the love not only of the Son who becomes incarnate and who suffers for human sin, but also to that of the Father who sent Him (Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Colossians 1:19-20).—(iii.) By marking out in a sort of broad chronology the periods of the world’s history (Romans 9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28). It is, no doubt, possible to press particular expressions (such as Romans 9:17-18) in such a way as to make them conflict both with the free will of man and with the justice of God. That was not at all the Apostle’s intention, but only to enforce that strong sense of a providential ordering of successive events which must be felt by every religious mind.
9. The Holy Spirit.—The belief in the Holy Spirit was just shared by St. Paul with his fellow-Christians. The remarkable phenomena which they saw around them—prophecy, speaking with tongues, exorcisms, and the like—were all in the language of the time naturally referred to His activity. St. Paul did but adopt this language, and then perhaps extend it, more than his neighbours were in the habit of doing, to phenomena that were less extraordinary but more deeply related to the moral and religious life (we remember that 1 Corinthians 13 comes in the midst of a long passage dealing with gifts of the Spirit). It is noticeable that he—not alone, but in company (e.g.) with Lk. in Acts 16:7 (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 )—expressly associates the Spirit, not only with God, but with Christ (Romans 8:9).
10. The Church and the Sacraments.—It was obvious and natural that the blessings brought by Christ must hold good in the first instance for those who rallied to the cause of Christ, and ratified their adhesion to Him by confession and baptism. The society so formed could not but start with a position of privilege analogous to that of the Jewish Church under the old dispensation. But neither under the one dispensation nor under the other was that position of privilege given only to be selfishly enjoyed. For the OT see Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 19:18-25; Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 49:6, Micah 4:1-3 etc. It was just an instance of ‘the purpose of God according to selection.’ The recipients of it were to be missionaries who were to carry the gospel to the end of the world.
This was always the ulterior object with which Christians were to use and enjoy their privileges (Romans 11:28; Romans 10:12-15). They might enjoy them, but they were bound to do what in them lay to spread them. Therefore, when St. Paul enlarges upon the felicity of being a Christian (e.g. in Romans 5:1-11), it is in no spirit of narrowness or exclusiveness, but rather the contrary (as appears from ch. 11). The exhortations to the Church to organize itself as efficiently as possible, and to prosecute the Christian life to the uttermost, must all be taken with this tacit condition.
The two Sacraments belong to the internal organization of the Church. They are neither of them due to the initiation of St. Paul. He found them in existence, and he fully accepted them, and from time to time he dwells upon them in such a way as to show that he was well aware of their significance and value. St. Paul distinctly recognizes them as means of grace essential to the life of Christians. We cannot at all accept the view that he was the first to introduce repeated acts of communion; 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 implies that he found it a regular practice.
11. The Last Things.—The Epp. supply an important part of the evidence that the element of eschatology in the teaching of Christ, and in His own conception of Himself, was as large as we find it in the Gospels. In proportion as we go back in time to the earliest Epp., this element is seen at its greatest. In 1 and 2 Thess. it is the main topic, and in 1 Cor. it is very prominent. It became less so as time went on, but even in the latest period it does not wholly disappear (Philippians 4:5).
The Pauline Epp. are even more important still from the part that they play in covering the transition from a form of Christianity in which eschatology is prominent, to one in which it has fallen into the background. In the later Epp. the basis of Christianity has been silently shitted; its foundations have been ‘underpinned’ by doctrines of more permanent applicability—esp. by the stress that is laid upon the working of the glorified Christ or the Spirit of Christ.
VI. Comparison with the teaching of Christ.—We are now in a better position to take a coup d’œil of the relation of St. Paul’s mission and teaching as a whole to that of his Master. It has been rightly observed by more than one of those who have treated of the subject (see Knowling, Testimony of St. Paul to Christ, p. 514), that the Gospel of St. Paul begins where the earthly life of Jesus ends. The dictum needs some qualification (as we have seen); but it is in the main true. It means that the elaborate Pauline theology is of the nature of a development, so that what we have to consider is how and in what sense it is a development.
1. The teaching of Jesus presupposed.—That this was the case, we may see (i.) from the easy and natural allusions to the character of Christ and of the Christian ideal (§§ iv. 1. (iii.) (iv.) above); (ii.) from the general position in the earlier Epp. on the subject of eschatology, which directly continues the attitude described in the Gospels; (iii.) and, in particular, from the conception of the ‘Kingdom of God.’ This last point is so important that we must give it a section to itself.
2. The Kingdom of God in St. Paul.—There is no exposition of the idea of the Kingdom; it is taken for granted as well known. There are several examples in Epp. of all dates in which the phrase is used in its ordinary future sense: e.g. Galatians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 6:9 f., Ephesians 5:5. Similar to these is the use in 1 Thessalonians 2:12. But by the side of these are other passages in which the Kingdom is evidently present. Such would be: 1 Corinthians 4:20 ‘the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power’; in Colossians 1:13-14 it is the sphere of present forgiveness into which the Christian is translated; in Colossians 4:11 it has reference to the work of missions. But most significant of all is Romans 14:17 ‘the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ Here the Kingdom is entirely a present idea, and it seems to cover the whole range of the gospel. Nothing could better mark the transition spoken of above.
3. Pauline developments.—So far, the teaching of St. Paul has been just a continuation of the teaching of Christ. But in the outlines of his theology which have been sketched above it will have been seen that there is much which goes beyond this. This developed teaching has reference primarily and especially to the conception of the Person of Christ. Another new element is the elaborate psychological analysis of the process of belief, and generally of the Christian habit of mind. And lastly, as we have seen, there is certain special teaching that has grown out of the circumstances of the time.
4. Origin of the developments.—It would be an utter mistake to suppose that St. Paul’s teaching as to the Person of Christ was a new invention of his own. We have seen that it was really nothing more than a further analysis of the meaning contained in the simple doctrinal formulae; of the primitive Church: such as that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ ‘Jesus is the Christ,’ ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’ It would be equally an utter mistake to imagine that the primitive Church was going against the will of Jesus Himself. There are indications enough that it was in no sense doing this. The only thing that has given any colour to such an idea is the great reticence and reserve that our Lord showed in putting forward His claims. There is something of a problem in this. But that Jesus knew Himself to be both Messiah and Son, we may regard as quite certain.
It is true that St. Paul reflected upon these titles, and true that in all his teaching his own experience entered as a shaping force; but it is just that fact which gives to his teaching such depth of reality.
VII. Legitimacy of the Pauline construction.—It may be said, not without truth, by way of discounting these Pauline developments: (i.) that the methods of argument by which they are supported, especially the exegetical methods, are not always what we should consider valid; (ii.) that the personal experience on which they rest is exceptional and peculiar; and (iii.) that, in like manner, the conditions of early Christian history by which they were shaped necessarily had about them something relative and transient.
But, on the other hand: (i.) few propositions are more true than the proverbial one, that conclusions are often more right than the explicit reasoning that leads up to them. Methods of proof are often of the nature of a scaffolding the real purpose of which is to set up a construction in presentable shape, when it verifies itself after the fact by its own inherent properties in the experimental field of life.
(ii.) It is not to be denied that the personal experience of St. Paul has in it much that is exceptional and peculiar. But that is far more because of its penetrating intensity along lines that are common to lesser men, than because there is in it anything eccentric that disqualifies his experience from representing theirs. In other words, St. Paul was a religious genius of the highest order that human nature has ever produced—in the same category with the writer whom we call Second Isaiah, with Jeremiah, with many of the Psalmists, with St. John, and at a later date with that astonishing genius, St. Augustine. We believe that men like these were specially raised up by God, and endowed by His Spirit with many marvellous gifts, for the express purpose of pointing out the way in which the crowd of religious people may follow, of setting before them an ideal after the heights and depths of which they may strive. We have only to think of the consummate beauty of the chapter on Charity, which, after all, is but the culmination of other passages that are strewn thick over the hortatory portions of the Epistles; and to remember, along with this, that such passages do but translate the theoretic side of theology into the activities of daily life.
(iii.) It might be said of each of the foregoing heads, and it may be said specially of that which turns upon the relativity of the teaching that emerges from history, that at most the objection does but amount to this, that the theology of St. Paul, so far as it rests on the grounds enumerated, is subject to the conditions of all things human. All things human are relative, and relative, in particular, to the age to which they belong. But in this class at least of things human, while there is the perishable envelope which is inevitably stripped off by time, there is no less something permanent as well, a permanent residuum or deposit—not always definable in words, but very real and very precious—which passes on into all the ages that follow. This we believe to be true pre-eminently of the first age of Christianity, and true, in particular, in a very high degree of the teaching of St. Paul. The world since his day—and not the Christian world alone—has drawn sustenance from it to an extent of which it is probable that, with all its eulogies of the Apostle, it has never been fully aware. There is a large ingredient of Pauline teaching in the very life-blood that courses in a Christian’s veins.
Literature.—The subject of St. Paul in his relation to Christ has been much discussed in recent years, and that on critical and modern lines. The larger works are: Feine, Jesus Christus und Paulus (1902); Goguel, L’Apótre Paul et Jésus-Christ (1904): and in English, Knowling, Witness of the Epistles (1892), and The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ (1905). Dr. Knowling’s two books are written with exhaustive knowledge, and with his invariable lucidity and accuracy of statement and admirable temper; they cover a wide extent of surface, and all that can be said on the other side is that, perhaps owing to some defect of construction, they may seem to be more upon the surface than they really are. There is a crowd of smaller tracts and articles, for the most part dating from the last two or three years. Among these may be mentioned: H. J. Holtzmann, ‘Jesus und Paulus’ in Prof. Monatschrift (1900); Kölbing, Die geistige Einwirkung der Person Jesus auf Paulus (1906); Wrede, Paulus2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] (1907); Jülicher, Paulus und Jesus (1907) [both in the series of Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbücher]; Julius Kaftan, Jesus und Paulus (1906); and Arnold Meyer, Wer hat das Christenthum begründet; Jesus oder Paulus? (1907). Of these, the writer thinks that he has derived most from the two tracts of Wrede and Jülicher—from Wrede in a negative sense, and from Jülicher in a positive. Wrede has constituted himself a sort of advocatus diaboli in the case of St. Paul: his writings are all marked by very great sincerity; and his sincerity takes the form of bringing all the objections that the natural man of the twentieth century might be moved to bring. Wrede’s striking career was cut short somewhat abruptly on 23rd Nov. 1906. Jülicher’s pamphlet the writer believes to be one of the very best productions of its author; when allowance is made for the point of view, it is full of sympathy and insight. Kaftan is also very good, but not quite so good in the second part of his little treatise as in the first. The anon, work, The Fifth Gospel: being the Pauline Interpretation of the Christ (1907), and Du Bose, The Gosp. acc. to St. Paul (1907), may also be recommended.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Paul (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/p/paul-2.html. 1906-1918.