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Paulinism: Theology of Paul

Saul of Tarsus: Jewish Viewpoint Information
Did Paul Change His Mind? - An Examination of Some Aspects of
Pauline Eschatology
by Paul Woodbridge
The Paulinism of Acts Again: Two Historical Clues in I
by David Wenham
Paul And The Historical Jesus: A Case Study In First Corinthians
By Stephen J. Bedard
The Righteousness of God in the Pauline Corpus
Darin M. Wood, Ph.D.
Did Paul distort Jesus’s Message?
by Matt
Theology of Paul

Advanced Information
The term is used to describe the type of theology which looks
to Paul, rather than to other NT authors, for its chief
inspiration. The Reformation was essentially a revival of
Paulinism, for the distinctive Pauline doctrine of
justification by faith was and has remained for all
Protestant churches "the article of faith by which the
Church stands or falls" (Luther). In broader terms, however,
the whole Western church may be regarded as "Pauline," over
against the Orthodox churches of the East, which look rather to
John for the NT foundation of their theology. Here Augustine's
influence has meant that the Western churches, Catholic and
Protestant alike, are partners in a theological tradition which
values legal categories of thought and metaphors as the most
fruitful way of talking about the relationship between God and
the world, and which therefore regards justification as the
central soteriological issue, even if Catholic and Protestant
interpret Paul's teaching differently.
Lutheran theologians have generally been conscious of the
priority they give to Paul, but recently three factors have
contributed to a growing feeling that this exaltation is
questionable. Ecclesiastically, the ecumenical movement has
made Western theologians more aware of the Eastern
theological tradition with its very different approach to
justification and Pauline theology generally. Theologically, the
awareness has grown that religious language can only hint and
suggest, never describe, so that perhaps legal language is only
one of several possible metaphor groups that may validly be
used to talk about God and the world. And in NT scholarship a
sharper awareness of the parallel but distinct historical
development of the different theological streams within the NT
(Pauline, Johannine, Synoptic, etc,) has led to a desire to
interpret each within its own terms and not to seek out a
"canon within the canon" on the basis of which the rest of the
Bible can be interpreted. Ecumenical conversations are
therefore found to be mirrored within the NT itself, so that the
issue of diversity and unity in the NT has tremendous modern
Several approaches to this problem are available today. The
traditional Lutheran - Protestant solution is still well
represented: it distinguishes an original, pure, Pauline gospel
from "Early Catholicism," a term used to describe the earliest
movements, traceable in the NT itself, toward a Catholic
emphasis on the sacraments, ordered ministry, and an ethical
Christianity (regarded as a degeneration from the truth). Some
scholars even find this degeneration in Paul himself, and so
locate pure Paulinism only in the earliest epistles. Another
approach identifies a common denominator between Paul and
the other NT authors and questions the possibility of finding
theological harmony outside this center. For Dunn, the NT
authors agree in identifying Jesus of Nazareth with the risen
and exalted Christ, but beyond that show very substantial
diversity of thought, so that Paulinism is simply one version of
Christianity, inevitably existing in tension with other versions.
Recently a third approach has appeared, associated
particularly with the German scholars Martin Hengel and Peter
Stuhlmacher, which asserts a substantial unity between the
main NT streams by finding in them the same central
theological ideas differently expressed and applied. The heart
of Pauline as of Johannine theology is thus the proclamation of
Jesus as the messianic Reconciler who dies a sacrificial death
for the people of God.
NT scholarship is in a considerable state of flux, matching
that in the parallel area of ecumenism. Whatever the outcome,
we must affirm that those for whom, like Luther, the Epistle to
the Romans contains "the purest gospel" have not misplaced
their faith.
S Motyer
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
J D G Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the NT; E Kasemann, "The
Problem of a NT Theology," NTS 19; J W Drane, "Tradition, Law
and Ethics in Pauline Theology," NovT 16; M Hengel, The
Saul of Tarsus
Jewish Viewpoint

The actual founder of the Christian Church as opposed to

Judaism; born before 10 C.E.; died after 63. The records
containing the views and opinions of the opponents of Paul and
Paulinism are no longer in existence; and the history of the
early Church has been colored by the writers of the second
century, who were anxious to suppress or smooth over the
controversies of the preceding period, as is shown in the Acts of
the Apostles and also by the fact that the Epistles ascribed to
Paul, as has been proved by modern critics, are partly spurious
(Galatians, Ephesians, I and II Timothy, Titus, and others) and
partly interpolated.
Not a Hebrew Scholar; a Hellenist.
Saul (whose Roman cognomen was Paul; see Acts xiii. 9) was
born of Jewish parents in the first decade of the common era at
Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts ix. 11, xxi. 39, xxii. 3). The claim in Rom.
xi. 1 and Phil. iii. 5 that he was of the tribe of Benjamin,
suggested by the similarity of his name with that of the first
Israelitish king, is, if the passages are genuine, a false one, no
tribal lists or pedigrees of this kind having been in existence at
that time (see Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." i. 7, 5; Pes. 62b; M. Sachs,
"Beiträge zur Sprach- und Alterthumsforschung," 1852, ii. 157).
Nor is there any indication in Paul's writings or arguments that
he had received the rabbinical training ascribed to him by
Christian writers, ancient and modern; least of all could he have
acted or written as he did had he been, as is alleged (Acts xxii.
3), the disciple of Gamaliel I., the mild Hillelite. His quotations
from Scripture, which are all taken, directly or from memory,
from the Greek version, betray no familiarity with the original
Hebrew text. The Hellenistic literature, such as the Book of
Wisdom and other Apocrypha, as well as Philo (see Hausrath,
"Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte," ii. 18-27; Siegfried, "Philo
von Alexandria," 1875, pp. 304-310; Jowett, "Commentary on
the Thessalonians and Galatians," i. 363-417), was the sole
source for his eschatological and theological system.
Notwithstanding the emphatic statement, in Phil. iii. 5, that
he was "a Hebrew of the Hebrews"-a rather unusual term,
which seems to refer to his nationalistic training and conduct
(comp. Acts xxi. 40, xxii. 2), since his Jewish birth is stated in
the preceding words "of the stock of Israel"-he was, if any of
the Epistles that bear his name are really his, entirely a
Hellenist in thought and sentiment. As such he was imbued
with the notion that "the whole creation groaneth" for
liberation from "the prison-house of the body," from this
earthly existence, which, because of its pollution by sin and
death, is intrinsically evil (Gal. i. 4; Rom. v. 12, vii. 23-24, viii. 22;
I Cor. vii. 31; II Cor. v. 2, 4; comp. Philo, "De Allegoriis Legum,"
iii. 75; idem, "De Vita Mosis," iii. 17; idem, "De Ebrietate," § 26;
and Wisdom ii.24). As a Hellenist, also, he distinguished
between an earthly and a heavenly Adam (I Cor. xv. 45-49;
comp. Philo, "De Allegoriis Legum," i. 12), and, accordingly,
between the lower psychic. life and the higher spiritual life
attained only by asceticism (Rom. xii. 1; I Cor. vii. 1-31, ix. 27,
xv. 50; comp. Philo, "De Profugis," § 17; and elsewhere). His
whole state of mind shows the influence of the theosophic or
Gnostic lore of Alexandria, especially the Hermes literature
recently brought to light by Reizenstein in his important work
"Poimandres," 1904 (see Index, s. v. "Paulus," "Briefe des
Paulus," and "Philo"); hence his strange belief in supernatural
powers (Reizenstein, l.c. pp. 77, 287), in fatalism, in "speaking in
tongues" (I Cor. xii.-xiv.; comp. Reizenstein, l.c. p. 58; Dieterich,
"Abraxas," pp. 5 et seq.; Weinel, "Die Wirkungen des Geistes
und der Geister," 1899, pp. 72 et seq.; I Cor. xv. 8; II Cor. xii. 1-6;
Eph. iii. 3), and in mysteries or sacraments (Rom. xvi. 25; Col. i.
26, ii. 2, iv. 3; Eph. i. 9, iii. 4, vi. 19)-a term borrowed solely from
heathen rites.
His Epilepsy.
There is throughout Paul's writings an irrational or
pathological element which could not but repel the disciples of
the Rabbis. Possibly his pessimistic mood was the result of his
physical condition; for he suffered from an illness which
affected both body and mind. He speaks of it as "a thorn in the
flesh," and as a heavy stroke by "a messenger of Satan" (II Cor.
xii. 7), which often caused him to realize his utter helplessness,
and made him an object of pity and horror (Gal. iv. 13). It was,
as Krenkel ("Beiträge zur Aufhellung der Geschichte und Briefe
des Apostels Paulus," 1890, pp. 47-125) has convincingly shown,
epilepsy, called by the Greeks "the holy disease," which
frequently put him into a state of ecstasy, a frame of mind that
may have greatly impressed some of his Gentile hearers, but
could not but frighten away and estrange from him the Jew,
whose God is above all the God of reason (comp. II Cor. v. 13; x.
10; xi. 1, 16; xii. 6). The conception of a new faith, half pagan
and half Jewish, such as Paul preached, and susceptibility to its
influences, were altogether foreign to the nature of Jewish life
and thought. For Judaism, religion is the hallowing of this life
by the fulfilment of its manifold duties (see Judaism): Paul
shrank from life as the domain of Satan and all his hosts of evil;
he longed for redemption by the deadening of all desires for
life, and strove for another world which he sawin his ecstatic
visions. The following description of Paul is preserved in "Acta
Pauli et Theclæ," an apocryphal book which has been proved to
be older and in some respects of greater historic value than the
canonical Acts of the Apostles (see Conybeare, "Apollonius'
Apology and Acts, and Other Monuments of Early Christianity,"
pp. 49-88, London, 1894): "A man of moderate stature, with
crisp [scanty] hair, crooked legs, blue eyes, large knit brows,
and long nose, at times looking like a man, at times like an
angel, Paul came forward and preached to the men of Iconium:
'Blessed are they that keep themselves chaste [unmarried]; for
they shall be called the temple of God. Blessed are they that
mortify their bodies and souls; for unto them speaketh God.
Blessed are they that despise the world; for they shall be
pleasing to God. Blessed be the souls and bodies of virgins; for
they shall receive the reward of their chastity.'"
It was by such preaching that "he ensnared the souls of young
men and maidens, enjoining them to remain single
"(Conybeare, l.c. pp. 62, 63, 67; comp. ib. pp. 24-25; Gal. iii. 38; I
Cor. vii. 34-36; Matt. xix. 12; Clement of Rome, Epistle ii. § 12).
Anti-Jewish Attitude.
Whatever the physiological or psychological analysis of Paul's
temperament may be, his conception of life was not Jewish. Nor
can his unparalleled animosity and hostility to Judaism as
voiced in the Epistles be accounted for except upon the
assumption that, while born a Jew, he was never in sympathy or
in touch with the doctrines of the rabbinical schools. For even
his Jewish teachings came to him through Hellenistic channels,
as is indicated by the great emphasis laid upon "the day of the
divine wrath" (Rom. i. 18; ii. 5, 8; iii. 5; iv. 15; v. 9; ix. 22; xii. 19; I
Thess. i. 10; Col. iii. 6; comp. Sibyllines, iii. 309 et seq., 332; iv.
159, 161 et seq.; and elsewhere), as well as by his ethical
monitions, which are rather inconsistently taken over from
Jewish codes of law for proselytes, the Didache and Didascalia.
It is quite natural, then, that not only the Jews (Acts xxi. 21),
but also the Judæo-Christians, regarded Paul as an "apostate
from the Law" (see Eusebius, l.c. iii. 27; Irenæus, "Adversus
Hæreses," i. 26, 2; Origen, "Contra Celsum," v. 65; Clement of
Rome, "Recognitiones," i. 70. 73).
His Personality.
To judge from those Epistles that have all the traits of
genuineness and give a true insight into his nature, Paul was of
a fiery temper, impulsive and impassioned in the extreme, of
ever-changing moods, now exulting in boundless joy and now
sorely depressed and gloomy. Effusive and excessive alike in his
love and in his hatred, in his blessing and in his cursing, he
possessed a marvelous power over men; and he had unbounded
confidence in himself. He speaks or writes as a man who is
conscious of a great providential mission, as the servant and
herald of a high and unique cause. The philosopher and the Jew
will greatly differ from him with regard to every argument and
view of his; but both will admit that he is a mighty battler for
truth, and that his view of life, of man, and of God is a
profoundly serious one. The entire conception of religion has
certainly been deepened by him, because his mental grasp was
wide and comprehensive, and his thinking bold, aggressive,
searching, and at the same time systematic. Indeed, he molded
the thought and the belief of all Christendom.
Jewish Proselytism and Paul.
Before the authenticity of the story of the so-called
conversion of Paul is investigated, it seems proper to consider
from the Jewish point of view this question: Why did Paul find it
necessary to create a new system of faith for the admission of
the Gentiles, in view of the fact that the Synagogue had well-
nigh two centuries before opened its door to them and, with the
help of the Hellenistic literature, had made a successful
propaganda, as even the Gospels testify? (Matt. xxiii. 15; see
Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 102-135, 420-483; J. Bernays,
"Gesammelte Abhandlungen," 1885, i. 192-282, ii. 71-80;
Bertholet, "Die Stellung der Israeliten und Juden zu den
Fremden," 1896, pp. 257-302.) Bertholet (l.c. pp. 303-334; but see
Schürer, l.c. i. 126) and others, in order that they may reserve
the claim of universality for Christianity, deny the existence of
uncircumcised proselytes in Judaism, and misconstrue plain
Talmudic and other statements referring to God-fearing
Gentiles (Bertholet, l.c. pp. 338-339); whereas the very doctrine
of Paul concerning the universal faith of Abraham (Rom. iv. 3-
18) rests upon the traditional interpretation of Gen. xii. 3 (see
Kuenen, "Prophets and Prophecy in Israel," pp. 379, 457) and
upon the traditional view which made Abraham the prototype
of a missionary bringing the heathen world under the wings of
the Shekinah (Gen. R. xxxix., with reference to Gen. xii. 5; see
Abraham; Judaism; Proselyte). As a matter of fact, only the
Jewish propaganda work along the Mediterranean Sea made it
possible for Paul and his associates to establish Christianity
among the Gentiles, as is expressly recorded in the Acts (x. 2;
xiii. 16, 26, 43, 50; xvi. 14; xvii. 4, 17; xviii. 7); and it is exactly
from such synagogue manuals for proselytes as the Didache and
the Didascalia that the ethical teachings in the Epistles of Paul
and of Peter were derived (see Seeberg, "Der Katechismus der
Urchristenheit," 1903, pp. 1-44).
The answer is supplied by the fact that Jewish proselytism had
the Jewish nation as its basis, as the names "ger" and "ger
toshab" for "proselyte" indicate. The proselyte on whom the
Abrahamic rite was not performed remained an outsider. It
was, therefore, highly important for Paul that those who
became converted to the Church should rank equally with its
other members and that every mark of distinction between Jew
and Gentile should be wiped out in the new state of existence in
which the Christians lived in anticipation. The predominating
point of view of the Synagogue was the political and social one;
that of the Church, the eschatological one. May such as do not
bear the seal of Abraham's covenant upon their flesh or do not
fulfil the whole Law be admitted into the congregation of the
saints waiting for the world of resurrection? This was the
question at issue between the disciples of Jesus and those of
Paul; the former adhering to the view of the Essenes, which was
also that of Jesus; the latter taking an independent position that
started not from the Jewish but from the non-Jewish
standpoint. Paul fashioned a Christ ofhis own, a church of his
own, and a system of belief of his own; and because there were
many mythological and Gnostic elements in his theology which
appealed more to the non-Jew than to the Jew, he won the
heathen world to his belief.
Paul's Christ.
In the foreground of all of Paul's teaching stands his peculiar
vision of Christ, to which he constantly refers as his only claim
and title to apostleship (I Cor. ix. 1, xv. 8; II Cor. xii. 1-7; Phil. iii.
9; Gal. i. 1, 12, 16, on which see below). The other apostles saw
Jesus in the flesh; Paul saw him when, in a state of
entrancement, he was carried into paradise to the third heaven,
where he heard "unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a
man to utter" (II Cor. xii. 2-4). Evidently this picture of Christ
must have occupied a prominent place in his mind before, just
as Meṭaṭron (Mithra) and Akteriel did in the minds of Jewish
mystics (see Angelology; Merkabah). To him the Messiah was
the son of God in a metaphysical sense, "the image of God" (II
Cor. iv. 4; Col. i. 15), "the heavenly Adam" (I Cor. xv. 49; similar
to the Philonic or cabalistic Adam Ḳadmon), the mediator
between God and the world (I Cor. viii. 6), "the first-born of all
creation, for by him were all things created" (Col. i. 15-17),
identical also with the Holy Spirit manifested in Israel's history
(I Cor. x. 4; II Cor. iii. 17; comp. Wisdom x. 1.-xii. 1; Philo, "De Eo
Quod Deterius Potiori Insidiari Soleat," § 30; see also Jew. Encyc.
x. 183b, s.v. Preexistence of the Messiah).
It is, however, chiefly as "the king of glory" (I Cor. ii. 8), as
ruler of the powers of light and life eternal, that Christ is to
manifest his cosmic power. He has to annihilate Satan or Belial,
the ruler of this world of darkness and death, with all his hosts
of evil, physical and moral (I Cor. xv. 24-26). Paul's "gnosis" (I
Cor. viii. 1, 7; II Cor. ii. 14; I Tim. vi. 20) is a revival of Persian
dualism, which makes of all existence, whether physical,
mental, or spiritual, a battle between light and darkness (I
Thess. v. 4-5; Eph. v. 8-13; Col. i. 13), between flesh and spirit (I
Cor. xv. 48; Rom. viii. 6-9), between corruption and life
everlasting (I Cor. xv. 50, 53). The object of the Church is to
obtain for its members the spirit, the glory, and the life of
Christ, its "head," and to liberate them from the servitude of
and allegiance to the flesh and the powers of earth. In order to
become participants in the salvation that had come and the
resurrection that was nigh, the saints were to cast off the works
of darkness and to put on the armor of light, the breastplate of
love, and the helmet of hope (Rom. xiii. 12; II Cor. x. 4; Eph. vi.
11. I Thess. v. 8; comp. Wisdom v. 17-18; Isa. lix. 17; "the
weapons of light of the people of Israel," Pesiḳ, R. 33 [ed. Buber,
p. 154]; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xxxiii. 4; "the men of the shields"
["ba'ale teresin"], a name for high-ranking Gnostics, Ber. 27b;
also "the vestiture of light" in Mandæan lore, "Jahrbuch für
Protestantische Theologie," xviii. 575-576).
The Crucified Messiah.
How then can this world of perdition and evil, of sin and
death, be overcome, and the true life be attained instead? This
question, which, according to a Talmudic legend (Tamid 32a),
Alexander the Great put to the wise men of the South, was
apparently the one uppermost also in the mind of Paul (see
Kabisch,"Die Eschatologie des Paulus," 1893); and in the form of
a vision of the crucified Christ the answer came to him to "die
in order to live." This vision, seen in his ecstatic state, was to
him more than a mere reality: it was the pledge ("'erabon" of
the resurrection and the life of which he was in quest. Having
seen "the first-born of the resurrection" (I Cor. xv. 20-24; the
Messiah is called "the first-born" also in Midr. Teh. to Ps.
lxxxix. 28, and in Ex. R. xix. 7), he felt certain of the new life
which all "the sons of light" were to share. No sooner had the
idea taken hold of him that the world of resurrection, or "the
kingdom of God," had come, or would come with the speedy
reappearance of the Messiah, than he would invest with higher
powers "the elect ones" who were to participate in that life of
the spirit. There can be no sin or sensual passion in a world in
which the spirit rules. Nor is there need of any law in a realm
where men live as angels (comp. "The dead is free from all
obligations of the Law," Shab. 30a, 151b; Niddah 61b). To bring
back the state of paradise and to undo the sin of Adam, the
work of the serpent, which brought death into the world-this
seems to have been the dream of Paul. The baptism of the
Church, to which sinners and saints, women and men, Jews and
Gentiles, were alike invited, suggested to him the putting off of
the earthly Adam and the putting on of the heavenly Adam
(Rom. vi.). He was certain that by the very power of their faith,
which performed all the wonders of the spirit in the Church (I
Cor. xii., xv.), would the believers in Christ at the time of his
reappearance be also miraculously lifted to the clouds and
transformed into spiritual bodies for the life of the resurrection
(I Thess. iv.; I Cor. xv.; Rom. viii.). These are the elements of
Paul's theology-a system of belief which endeavored to unite all
men, but at the expense of sound reason and common sense.
Paul's Conversion.
There is possibly a historical kernel to the story related in the
Acts (vii. 58-ix. 1-31, xxii. 3-21, xxvi. 10-19), that, while on the
road to Damascus, commissioned with the task of
exterminating the Christian movement antagonistic to the
Temple and the Law (ib. vi. 13), Paul had a vision in which Jesus
appeared to him, saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou
me?" (comp. I Sam. xxvi. 18); that in consequence of this vision
he became, with the aid of Ananais, one of the Christian seers,
"a chosen vessel unto me [Christ], to bear my name before the
Gentiles." According to the Acts (vii. 58; ix. 2; xxii. 5; xxv. 1, 10-
12), Paul was a young man charged by the Sanhedrin of
Jerusalem with the execution of Stephen and the seizure of the
disciples of Jesus. The statement, however (ib. xxii. 8-9), that,
being a zealous observer of the law of the Fathers, "he
persecuted the Church unto death," could have been made only
at a time when it was no longer known what a wide difference
existed between the Sadducean high priests and elders, who
had a vital interest in quelling the Christian movement, and the
Pharisees, who had no reason for condemning to death either
Jesusor Stephen. In fact, it is derived from the Epistle to the
Galatians (i. 13-14), the spuriousness of which has been shown
by Bruno Baur, Steck, and most convincingly by Friedrich
Maehliss ("Die Unechtheit des Galaterbriefs," 1891). The same is
the case with Phil. iii. 5. Acts xxii. 17-18 speaks of another
vision which Paul had while in the Temple, in which Jesus told
him to depart from Jerusalem and go with his gospel to the
Gentiles. Evidently Paul entertained long before his vision those
notions of the Son of God which he afterward expressed; but
the identification of his Gnostic Christ with the crucified Jesus
of the church he had formerly antagonized was possibly the
result of a mental paroxysm experienced in the form of visions.
Barnabas and Other Hellenists.
Whether the Hellenists in Jerusalem, at the head of whom
stood Stephen, Philip, and others named in Acts vii. 1-5, exerted
an influence upon Paul, can not be ascertained: that Barnabas,
who was a native of Cyprus, did, may be assumed with
certainty. He was Paul's older companion, apparently of a more
imposing stature (Acts xiv. 12); and, according to ib. ix. 27, he
introduced Paul to the apostles and induced him (xi. 25) to
cooperate with him in the church of Antioch. The two traveled
together as collectors of charity for the poor of the Jerusalem
church (ib. xi. 30, xv. 2; see Apostle), and as preachers of the
gospel (ib. xiii. 3, 7, 13, 14, 43, 46, 50; xiv. 14, 20; xv. 2, 12, 22, 35),
Paul soon becoming the more powerful preacher. Finally, on
account of dissensions, probably of a far more serious nature
than stated either in Acts xv. 36-39 or Gal. ii. 13, they separated.
That both Paul and Barnabas held views different from those of
the other apostles may be learned from I Cor. ix. 6. Paul's
relation to Apollos also was apparently that of a younger
colaborer to an older and more learned one (I Cor. i. 10, iii. 5-23,
xvi. 12).
His Missionary Travels.
According to Acts xiii., xiv., xvii-xviii. (see Jew. Encyc. ix. 252-
254, s.v. New Testament), Paul began working along the
traditional Jewish line of proselytizing in the various
synagogues where the proselytes of the gate and the Jews met;
and only because he failed to win the Jews to his views,
encountering strong opposition and persecution from them, did
he turn to the Gentile world after he had agreed at a
convention with the apostles at Jerusalem to admit the Gentiles
into the Church only as proselytes of the gate, that is, after
their acceptance of the Noachian laws (Acts xv. 1-31). This
presentation of Paul's work is, however, incompatible with the
attitude toward the Jews and the Law taken by him in the
Epistles. Nor can any historical value be attached to the
statement in Gal. ii. 1-10 that, by an agreement with the
seeming pillars of the Church, the work was divided between
Peter and Paul, the "gospel of circumcision" being committed
to the one, and the "gospel of uncircumcision" to the other; as
the bitter and often ferocious attacks against both the Jews and
the apostles of the Judæo-Christian Church (in Phil. iii. 2 he
calls them "dogs") would then have been uncalled for and
unpardonable. In reality Paul had little more than the name of
apostle in common with the actual disciples of Jesus. His field of
work was chiefly, if not exclusively, among the Gentiles; he
looked for a virgin soil wherein to sow the seeds of the gospel;
and he succeeded in establishing throughout Greece,
Macedonia, and Asia Minor churches in which there were
"neither Jews nor Gentiles," but Christians who addressed each
other as "brethren" or "saints." Regarding his great missionary
journeys as described in the Acts after older documents, see
Jew. Encyc. l.c. pp. 252-254. As to the chronology, much reliance
can not be placed either on Gal. i. 17-ii. 3 or on the Acts with its
contradictory statements.
From II Cor. xi. 24-32 (comp. ib. vi. 4; I Cor. iv. 11) it may be
learned that his missionary work was beset with uncommon
hardships. He labored hard day and night as a tent-maker for a
livelihood (Acts xviii. 3; I Thess ii. 9; II Thess, iii. 8; I Cor. iv. 12,
ix. 6-18). He says (II Cor. ix.) that more frequently than any
other apostle he was imprisoned, punished with stripes, and in
peril of death on land and sea; five times he received the
thirtynine stripes in the synagogue, obviously for some public
transgression of the Law (Deut. xxv. 3); three times was he
beaten with rods, probably by the city magistrates (comp. Acts
xvi. 22); once he was stoned by the people; and thrice he
suffered shipwreck, being in the water a night and a day. In
Damascus he was imprisoned by King Aretas at the instigation,
not of the Jews, as is stated by modern historians, but of the
Jerusalem authorities; and he escaped through being let down
in a basket from a window (II Cor. xi. 24-32; comp. Acts xxvii.
41). He was besides this constantly troubled with his disease,
which often made him "groan" for deliverance (I Thess. ii. 2, 19-
iii. 1; II Cor. i. 8-10, iv. 7-v. 5, xii. 7; Gal. iv. 14).
In Greece.
Corinth and Ephesus, the two great centers of commerce, with
their strangely mixed and turbulent as well as immoral
population, offered to Paul a large field for his missionary work;
and, because the Jews there were few and had little influence,
he had free scope and ample opportunity to build up a church
according to his plans. He was greatly aided therein by the
Roman protection which he enjoyed (Acts xviii. 12-17, xix. 35-
40). Yet as long as the church at Jerusalem was in his way he
found little comfort and satisfaction in his achievements,
though he proudly recounted the successes which marked his
journeys throughout the lands. It was to Rome that his efforts
gravitated. Not Athens, whose wisdom he decried as "folly" (I
Cor. i. 17-24), but Rome's imperial city, whose administrative
system he had learned to admire, attracted and fascinated his
mind by its world-wide horizon and power. Consciously or
unconsciously, he worked for a church with its world-center in
Rome instead of in Jerusalem. A prisoner in the years 61-63
(Phil. i. 7, 16), and probably also a martyr at Rome, he laid the
foundation of the world-dominion of pagan Christianity. (For
futher biographical details, which form the subject of much
dispute among Christians, but are of no special interest for
Jewish readers, see the article "Paul" in Hauck,"Real-Encyc.," in
Hastings, "Dict. Bible," and similar works.)
Paul's Church versus the Synagogue.
In order to understand fully the organization and scope of the
Church as mapped out by Paul in his Epistles, a comparison
thereof with the organization and the work of the Synagogue,
including the Essene community, seems quite proper. Each
Jewish community when organized as a congregation possessed
in, or together with, its synagogue an institution (1) for
common worship, (2) for the instruction of young and old in the
Torah, and (3) for systematic charity and benevolence. This
threefold work was as a rule placed in charge of men of high
social standing, prominent both in learning and in piety. The
degree of knowledge and of scrupulousness in the observance
of the Torah determined the rank of the members of the
Synagogue. Among the members of the Essene brotherhood
every-day life with its common meals came under special rules
of sanctity, as did their prayers and their charities as well as
their visits to the sick, the Holy Spirit being especially invoked
by them as a divine factor, preparing them also for the
Messianic kingdom of which they lived in expectation (see
Essenes). The Christian Church, in adopting the name and form
of the Essene Church (Εκκλησία; see Congregation), lent to
both the bath (see Baptism) and the communion meals (see
Agape) a new character.
Influence of the Greek Mysteries.
Paul, the Hellenist, however, knowingly or unknowingly,
seems to have taken the heathen cult associations as his
pattern while introducing new features into the Church (see
Anrich, "Das Antike Mysterienwesen in Seinem Einfluss auf das
Christenthum," 1894; Wobbermin, "Religionsgeschichtliche
Studien zur Frage der Beeinflussung des Urchristenthums
Durch das Antike Mysterienwesen," 1896, p. 153; Hatch,
"Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian
Church," 1890, pp. 281-296; Cumont, "Die Mysterien des Mithra,
Deutsch von Gehrich," 1903, pp. 101, 118-119; Anz, "Ursprung
des Gnosticismus," 1897, pp. 98-107; Reizenstein and Kabisch,
l.c.). To him baptism is no longer a symbolic rite suggestive of
purification or regeneration, as in Jewish and Judæo-Christian
circles (see Baptism), but a mystic rite by which the person that
enters the water and emerges again undergoes an actual
transformation, dying with Christ to the world of flesh and sin,
and rising with him to the world of the spirit, the new life of
the resurrection (Rom. vi. 1-10).
Still more is the partaking of the bread and the wine of the
communion meal, the so-called "Lord's Supper," rendered the
means of a mystic union with Christ, "a participation in his
blood and body," exactly as was the Mithraic meal a real
participation in the blood and body of Mithra (see Cumont, l.c.).
To Paul, the Holy Spirit itself is not an ethical but a magic
power that works sanctification and salvation. It is a mystic
substance permeating the Church as a dynamic force, rendering
all the members saints, and pouring forth its graces in the
various gifts, such as those of prophesying, speaking in tongues,
and interpreting voices, and others displayed in teaching and in
the administration of charity and similar Church functions
(Rom. xii. 4-8; I Cor. xii., xiv.; see Kabisch, l.c. pp. 261-281). The
Church forms "the body of Christ" not in a figurative sense, but
through the same mystic actuality as that by which the
participants of heathen cults become, through their mysteries
or sacraments, parts of their deities. Such is the expressed view
of Paul when he contrasts the "table of Christ" with the "table
of the demons" (I Cor. x. 20-21). While Paul borrows from the
Jewish propaganda literature, especially the Sibyllines, the idea
of the divine wrath striking especially those that commit the
capital sins of idolatry and incest (fornication) and acts of
violence or fraudulence (Rom. i. 18-32; I Thess. iv. 5), and while
he accordingly wishes the heathen to turn from their idols to
God, with desire of being saved by His son (I Thess. i. 9-10), his
Church has by no means the moral perfection of the human
race for its aim and end, as has Judaism. Salvation alone, that is,
redemption from a world of perdition and sin, the attainment
of a life of incorruption, is the object; yet this is the privilege
only of those chosen and predestined "to be conformed to the
image of His [God's] son" (Rom. viii. 28-30). It is accordingly not
personal merit nor the greater moral effort that secures
salvation, but some arbitrary act of divine grace which justifies
one class of men and condemns the other (ib. ix.). It is not
righteousness, nor even faith-in the Jewish sense of perfect
trust in the all-loving and all-forgiving God and Father-which
leads to salvation, but faith in the atoning power of Christ's
death, which in some mystic or judicial manner justifies the
undeserving (Rom. iii. 22, iv., v.; comp. Faith; for the mystic
conception of faith, πίστις, in Hellenism alongside of gnosis,
see Reizenstein, l.c. pp. 158-159).
The Mystery of the Cross.
Heathen as is the conception of a church securing a mystic
union with the Deity by means of sacramental rites, equally
pagan is Paul's conception of the crucifixion of Jesus. While he
accepts the Judæo-Christian view of the atoning power of the
death of Jesus as the suffering Messiah (Rom. iii. 25, viii. 3), the
crucifixion of Jesus as the son of God assumes for him at the
very beginning the character of a mystery revealed to him, "a
stumbling-block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks" (I Cor. i.
23-ii. 2, ii. 7-10). It is to him a cosmic act by which God becomes
reconciled to Himself. God sent "his own son in the likeness of
sinful flesh" in order to have His wrath appeased by his death.
"He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up," so that by
his blood all men might be saved (Rom. v. 8; viii. 3, 32). To a
Jewish mind trained by rabbinical acumen this is not pure
monotheistic, but mythological, thinking. Paul's "Son of God"
is, far more than the Logos of Philo, an infringement of the
absolute unity of God. While the predicate "God" applied to him
in Titus ii. 13 may be put to the account of Paul's school rather
than to his own, throughout all the Epistles a share in the
divinity is ascribed to Jesus in such a manner as to detract from
the glory of God. He is, or is expected to be, called upon as"the
Lord" (I Cor. i. 2; Rom. x. 13; Phil. ii. 10-11). Only the pagan idea
of the "man-God" or "the second God," the world's artificer,
and "son of God" (in Plato, in the Hermes-Tot literature as
shown by Reizenstein, l.c.), or the idea of a king of light
descending to Hades, as in the Mandæan-Babylonian literature
(Brandt, "Die Mandäische Religion," 1889, pp. 151-156), could
have suggested to Paul the conception of a God who surrenders
the riches of divinity and descends to the poverty of earthly life
in order to become a savior of the human race (I Cor. xv. 28,
with ref. to Ps. viii. 6-7; Phil. ii. 6-10). Only from Alexandrian
Gnosticism, or, as Reizenstein (l.c. pp. 25-26; comp. pp. 278, 285)
convincingly shows, only from pagan pantheism, could he have
derived the idea of the "pleroma," "the fulness" of the Godhead
dwelling in Christ as the head of all principality and power, as
him who is before all things and in whom all things consist (Col.
i. 15-19, ii. 9).
Paul's Opposition to the Law.
Paul's attitude toward the Law was by no means hostile from
the beginning or on principle, as the interpolated Epistle to the
Romans and the spurious one to the Galatians represent it.
Neither is it the legalistic (nomistic) character of Pharisaic
Judaism which he militates against, as Jesus in the Gospels is
represented as doing; nor was he prompted by the desire to
discriminate between the ceremonial and the moral laws in
order to accentuate the spiritual side of religion. Still less was
he prompted by that allegorizing method of which Philo ("De
Migratione Abrahami," § 16) speaks as having led many to the
disregard of certain ceremonial laws, such as circumcision (M.
Friedländer, "Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Christenthums,"
pp. 149, 163, Vienna, 1894). All such interpretations fail to
account for Paul's denunciation of all law, moral as well as
ceremonial, as an intrinsic evil (Hausrath, "Neutestamentliche
Zeitgeschichte," 2d ed., iii. 14). According to his arguments
(Rom. iii. 20, iv. 15, vii-viii.), it is the Law that begets sin and
works wrath, because without the Law there is no
transgression. "I had not known lust, except the Law had said,
Thou shalt not covet" (ib. vii. 7). He has no faith in the moral
power of man: "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth
no good thing" (ib. vii. 18). What he is aiming at is that state in
which the sinfulness of the flesh is entirely overcome by the
spirit of Christ who is "the end of the Law" (ib. x. 4), because he
is the beginning of the resurrection. For Paul, to be a member
of the Church meant to be above the Law, and to serve in the
newness of the spirit under a higher law (ib. vii. 4-6, 25). For in
Christ, that is, by the acceptance of the belief that with him the
world of resurrection has begun, man has become "a new
creature: the old things are passed away . . . all things have
become new" (II Cor. v. 17). For Paul, the world is doomed: it is
flesh beset by sin and altogether of the evil one; hence home,
family life, worldly wisdom, all earthly enjoyment are of no
account, as they belong to a world which passes away (I Cor. vii.
31). Having at first only the heathen in view, Paul claims the
members of the Church for Christ; hence their bodies must be
consecrated to him and not given to fornication (ib. vi. 15). In
fact, they ought to live in celibacy; and only on account of
Satan's temptation to lust are they allowed to marry (ib. vi. 18-
vii. 8). As regards eating and drinking, especially of offerings to
idols, which were prohibited to the proselyte of the gate by the
early Christians as well as by the Jews (comp. Acts xv. 29), Paul
takes the singular position that the Gnostics, those who possess
the higher knowledge ("gnosis"; I Cor. viii. 1, xiii. 2, xiv. 6; II
Cor. iv. 6; comp. Reizenstein, l.c. p. 158), are "the strong ones"
who care not for clean and unclean things and similar
ritualistic distinctions (Rom. xiv. 1-23; I Cor. viii. 1-13). Only
those that are "weak in faith" do care; and their scruples should
be heeded by the others. The Gnostic principle enunciated by
Porphyrius ("De Abstinentia," i. 42), "Food that enters the body
can as little defile free man as any impurity cast into the sea
can contaminate the ocean, the deep fountain of purity" (comp.
Matt. xv. 11), has in Paul's system an eschatological character:
"The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. xiv.
17; comp. Ber. 17a; Jew. Encyc, v. 218, s.v. Eschatology). As he
stated in I Cor. ix. 20-22: "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew,
that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as
under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to
them that are without law, as without law (being not without
law to God, but under the law to Christ), that I might gain them
that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I
might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I
might by all means save some."
The original attitude of Paul to the Law was accordingly not
that of opposition as represented in Romans and especially in
Galatians, but that of a claimed transcendency. He desired "the
strong ones" to do without the Law as "schoolmaster" (Gal. iii.
24). The Law made men servants: Christ rendered them "sons of
God." That is, their nature was transformed into an angelic, if
not altogether divine, one (Rom. viii. 14-29; I Cor. vi. 1-3).
Law for the Proselyte.
Only in admitting the heathen into his church did he follow
the traditional Jewish practise of emphasizing at the initiation
of proselytes "the law of God," consisting in "Love thy neighbor
as thyself," taken from Lev. xix. 18 (Rom. xiii. 8-10 contains no
allusion to Jesus' teaching). Also in the mode of preparing the
proselyte-by specifying to him the mandatory and prohibitive
commandments in the form of a catalogue of virtues or duties
and a catalogue of sins, making him promise to practise the
former, and, in the form of a "widdui" (confession of sins), to
avoid the latter-Paul and his school followed, in common with
all the other apostles, the traditional custom, as may be learned
from I Thess. iv. 1-10; Col. iii. 5-14; Rom. i: 29 (comp. J. Rendel
Harris, "The Teaching of the Apostles," 1887, pp. 82-84; Gal. v.
13-23, copied from Rom. l.c.; so also Eph. ii.-vi.; I Peter ii-iii.; I
John iii.-iv.; Heb. xiii.; see Seeberg, "Der Katechismus der
Urchristenheit," 1903, pp. 9-22, and Didache). A comparison of
the "Didascalia"with Paul's various admonitions in the Epistles
likewise shows how much he was indebted to Essene teachings
(See Jew. Encyc. iv. 588-590, s.v. Didascalia, where it is shown in
a number of instances that the priority rests with the Jewish
"Didascalia" and not, as is generally believed, with Paul). Also
"turning from darkness to light" (I Thess. v. 4-9; Rom. xiii. 12;
Eph. v. 7-11; and elsewhere) is an expression borrowed from
Jewish usage in regard to proselytes who "come over from the
falsehood of idolatry to the truth of monotheism" (see Philo,
"De Monarchia." i. 7; idem, "De Pœnitentia," §§ 1-2; comp.
"Epistle of Barnabas," xix. 1-xx. 1). It is rather difficult to
reconcile these moral injunctions with the Pauline notion that,
since law begets sin, there should be no law ruling the members
of the Church. It appears, however, that Paul used frequently
the Gnostic term τέλειος= "perfect," "mature" (I Thess. v. 4,
10; Phil. iii. 12, 15; I Cor. ii. 6, xiii. 12 et seq., xiv. 20; Eph. iv. 13;
Col. i. 28). This term, taken from Grecian mysteries (see Light-
foot, "Epistles to the Colossians," ad loc.), and used also in
Wisdom iv. 13, ix. 6, suggested an asceticism which in some
circles of saints led to the unsexing of man for the sake of
fleeing from lust (Wisdom iii. 13-14; Philo, "De Eo Quod Deterius
Potiori Insidiatur," § 48; Matt. xix. 12; see Conybeare, l.c. p. 24).
For Paul, then, the Christian's aim was to be mature and ready
for the day when all would be "caught up in the clouds to meet
the Lord in the air" and be with Him forever (I Thess. iv. 16-17).
To be with Christ, "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the
Godhead," is to become so "complete" as to be above the rule of
heavenly bodies, above the "tradition of men," above statutes
regarding circumcision, meat and drink, holy days, new moon,
and Sabbath, all of which are but "a shadow of the things to
come"; it is to be dead to the world and all things of the earth,
to mortify the members of the flesh, to "put off the old man"
with his deeds and passions, and put on the new man who is
ever renewed for the highest knowledge of God (gnosis), so that
there is "neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor
uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ
is all and in all" (Col. ii. 9-iii. 11; comp. I Cor. v. 7: "Purge out
therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump").
Conflict with Judaism and the Law.
Far then from making antagonism to the Law the starting-
point of his apostolic activity, as under the influence of the
Epistle to the Romans is assumed by almost all Christian
theologians, except the so-called Dutch school of critics (see
Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl." s.v. "Paul and Romans, Epistle
to the"), there is intrinsic evidence that Paul's hostile attitude
to both the Law and the Jews was the result of his conflicts with
the latter and with the other apostles. There is no bitter
hostility or antagonism to the Law noticeable in I Thessalonians
(ii. 14b-16 is a late interpolation referring to the destruction of
the Temple), Colossians, I Corinthians (xv. 56 is obviously
interpolated), or II Corinthians (where iii. 6-iv. 4, on closer
analysis, also proves to be a late addition disturbing the
context); and so little opposition to the Law does Paul show in
those epistles first addressed to the Gentiles, that in I Cor. xiv.
21 he quotes as the "law"-that is, Torah in the sense of
Revelation-a passage from Isa. xxviii. 11; whereas he avoids the
term "law" (νόμος) elsewhere, declaring all statutes to be
worthless human teaching (Col. ii. 22).
Antinomianism and Jew-Hatred.
His antinomian theology is chiefly set forth in the Epistle to
the Romans, many parts of which, however, are the product of
the second-century Church with its fierce hatred of the Jew,
e.g., such passages as ii. 21-24, charging the Jews with theft,
adultery, sacrilege, and blasphemy, or ix. 22 and xi. 28 (comp.
iii. 2). The underlying motive of Paul-the tearing down of the
partition-wall between Jew and Gentile-is best expressed in
Eph. ii. 14-22, where it is declared that the latter are no longer
"gerim" and "toshabim" (A. V. "strangers" and "foreigners"),
but "fellow citizens with the saints" of the Church and fully
equal members "of the household of God." In order to
accomplish his purpose, he argues that just as little as the
heathen escapes the wrath of God, owing to the horrible sins he
is urged to commit by his clinging to his idols, so little can the
Jew escape by his Law, because "the law worketh sin and wrath"
(Rom. iv. 15). Instead, indeed, of removing the germ of death
brought into the world by Adam, the Law was given only to
increase sin and to make all the greater the need of divine
mercy which was to come through Christ, the new Adam (ib. v.
15-20). By further twisting the Biblical words taken from Gen.
xv. 6, which he interprets as signifying that Abraham's faith
became a saving power to him, and from Gen. xvii. 5, which he
takes as signifying that Abraham was to be the father of the
Gentiles instead of nations, he argues that the saving grace of
God lies in faith (that is, blind belief) and not in the works of
the Law. And so he declares faith in Jesus' atoning death to be
the means of justification and salvation, and not the Law, which
demands servitude, whereas the spirit of Christ makes men
children of God (Rom. iv.-viii.). The Pauline Jew-hatred was ever
more intensified (see ib. ix.-xi., and comp. ix. 31)-which is clear
evidence of a later origin-and culminates in Gal. iii., where,
besides the repetition of the argument from Gen. xv. 6 and xvii.
5, the Law is declared, with reference to Deut. xxviii. 26 and
Hab. ii. 4 (comp. Rom. i. 17), to be a curse from which the
crucified Christ-himself "a curse" according to the Law (Deut.
xxi. 23; probably an argument taken up from controversies with
the Jews)-was to redeem the believer. Another sophistic
argument against the Law, furnished in Gal. iii. 19-24, and often
repeated in the second century (Heb. ii. 2; Acts vii. 38, 53;
Aristides, "Apologia," xiv. 4), is that the Law was received by
Moses as mediator from the angels-a quaint notion based upon
Deut. xxxiii. 2, LXX.; comp. Josephus, "Ant." xv. 5, § 3-and that
it is not the law of God, which is a life-giving law of
righteousness. Furthermore the laws of the Jews and the
idolatrous practises of the heathen are placed equally low as
mere servitude of" the weak and beggarly elements"
(="planets"; Gal. iv. 8-11), whereas those that have put on Christ
by baptism have risen above alldistinctions of race, of class, and
of sex, and have become children of God and heirs of Abraham
(ib. iii. 26-29; what is meant by the words" There shall be
neither male nor female" in verse 28 may be learned from Gal.
v. 12, where eunuchism is advised; see B. Weiss's note ad loc.).
The Old Testament and the New.
The Pauline school writing under Paul's name, but scarcely
Paul himself, worked out the theory, based upon Jer. xxxi. 30-
31, that the Church of Christ represents the new covenant (see
Covenant; New Testament) in place of the old (Rom. xi. 27; Gal.
iv. 24; Heb. viii. 6-13, ix. 15-x. 17; and, following these passages,
I Cor. xi. 23-28). Similarly the interpolator of II Cor. iii. 6-iv. 4, in
connection with ib. iii. 3, contrasts the Old Testament with the
New: the former by the letter of the Law offering but
damnation and death because "the veil of Moses" is upon it,
preventing God's glory from being seen; the latter being the
life-giving spirit offering righteousness, that is, justification,
and the light of the knowledge (gnosis) of the glory of God as
reflected in the face of Jesus Christ. It is superfluous to state
that this Gnostic conception of the spirit has nothing to do with
the sound religious principle often quoted from I Cor. iii. 6:
"The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." The privilege of
seeing God's glory as Moses did face to face through a bright
mirror held out in I Cor. xiii. 12 (comp. Suk. 45b; Lev. R. i. 14) to
the saints in the future is claimed in II Cor. iii. 18 and iv. 4 as a
power in the actual possession of the Christian believer. The
highest hope of man is regarded as realized by the writer, who
looks forward to the heavenly habitation as a release from the
earthly tabernacle (II Cor. v. 1-8).
Spurious Writings Ascribed to Paul.
This unhealthy view of life maintained by Paul and his
immediate followers was, however, changed by the Church the
moment her organization extended over the world. Some
epistles were written in the name of Paul with the view of
establishing more friendly relations to society and government
than Paul and the early Christians had maintained. While Paul
warns his church-members not to bring matters of dispute
before "the unjust," by which term he means the Gentiles (I
Cor. vi. 1; comp. Jew. Encyc. iv. 590), these very heathen powers
of Rome are elsewhere praised as the ministers of God and His
avengers of wrong (Rom. xiii. 1-7); and while in I Cor. xi. 5
women are permitted to prophesy and to pray aloud in the
church provided they have their heads covered, a later chapter,
obviously interpolated, states, "Let your women keep silence in
the churches" (ib. xiv. 34). So celibacy (ib. vii. 1-8) is declared to
be the preferable state, and marriage is allowed only for the
sake of preventing fornication (Eph. v. 21-33), while, on the
other hand, elsewhere marriage is enjoined and declared to be
a mystery or sacrament symbolizing the relation of the Church
as the bride to Christ as the bridegroom (see Bride).
A still greater change in the attitude toward the Law may be
noticed in the so-called pastoral epistles. Here the Law is
declared to be good as a preventive of wrong-doing (I Tim. i. 8-
10), marriage is enjoined, and woman's salvation is declared to
consist only in the performance of her maternal duty (ib. ii. 12,
15), while asceticism and celibacy are condemned (ib. iv. 3). So
all social relations are regulated in a worldly spirit, and are no
longer treated, as in Paul's genuine epistles, in the spirit of
otherworldliness (ib. ii.-vi.; II Tim. ii. 4-6; Titus. ii.-iii.; comp.
Didascalia). Whether in collecting alms for the poor of the
church on Sundays (I Cor. xvi. 2) Paul instituted a custom or
simply followed one of the early Christians is not clear; from
the "We" source in Acts xx. 7 it appears, however, that the
church-members used to assemble for their communion meal
in memory of the risen Christ, the Lord's Supper, on the first
day of the week-probably because they held the light created
on that day to symbolize the light of the Savior that had risen
for them (see the literature in Schürer," Die Siebentägige
Woche," in "Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft,"
1905, pp. 1-2). Little value can be attached to the story in Acts
xviii. 18 that Paul brought a Nazarite sacrifice in the Temple,
since for him the blood of Christ was the only sacrifice to be
Only at a later time, when Pauline and Judean Christianity
were merged, was account again taken, contrary to the Pauline
system, of the Mosaic law regarding sacrifice and the
priesthood; and so the Epistle to the Hebrews was written with
the view of representing Jesus as "the high priest after the
order of Melchizedek" who atoned for the sins of the world by
his own blood (Heb. iv. 14-v. 10, vii.-xiii.). However, the name of
Paul, connected with the epistle by Church tradition, was not
attached to it in writing, as was the case with the other epistles.
Paul and Paulinism.
How far, after a careful analysis discriminating between what
is genuine in Paul's writings and what is spurious and
interpolated, he may yet be regarded as "the great religious
genius" or the "great organizer" of the Christian Church, can
not be a matter for discussion here. Still the credit belongs to
him of having brought the teachings of the monotheistic truth
and the ethics of Judaism, however mixed up with heathen
Gnosticism and asceticism, home to the pagan world in a form
which appealed most forcibly to an age eager for a God in
human shape and for some means of atonement in the midst of
a general consciousness of sin and moral corruption. Different
from Simon Magus, his contemporary, with whom he was at
times maliciously identified by his opponents, and in whose
Gnostic system sensuousness and profanity predominated, Paul
with his austerity made Jewish holiness his watch word; and he
aimed after all, like any other Jew, at the establishment of the
kingdom of God, to whom also his Christ subordinated himself,
delivering up the kingdom to the Father when his task of
redemption was complete, in order that God might be all in all
(I Cor. xv. 28). He was an instrument in the hand of Divine
Providence to win the heathen nations for Israel's God of
His System of Faith.
On the other hand, he construed a system of faithwhich was
at the very outset most radically in conflict with the spirit of
Judaism: (1) He substituted for the natural, childlike faith of
man in God as the ever-present Helper in all trouble, such as
the Old Testament represents it everywhere, a blind, artificial
faith prescribed and imposed from without and which is
accounted as a meritorious act. (2) He robbed human life of its
healthy impulses, the human soul of its faith in its own
regenerating powers, of its belief in its own self and in its
inherent tendencies to goodness, by declaring Sin to be, from
the days of Adam, the all-conquering power of evil ingrained in
the flesh, working everlasting doom; the deadly exhalation of
Satan, the prince of this world, from whose grasp only Jesus,
the resurrected Christ, the prince of the other world, was able
to save man. (3) In endeavoring to liberate man from the yoke
of the Law, he was led to substitute for the views and hopes
maintained by the apocalyptic writers the Christian dogma
with its terrors of damnation and hell for the unbeliever,
holding out no hope whatsoever for those who would not
accept his Christ as savior, and finding the human race divided
between the saved and the lost (Rom. ii. 12; I Cor. i. 18; II Cor. ii.
15, iv. 3; II Thess. ii. 10). (4) In declaring the Law to be the
begetter of sin and damnation and in putting grace or faith in
its place, he ignored the great truth that duty, the divine
"command," alone renders life holy; that upon the law of right-
cousness all ethics, individual or social, rest. (5) In condemning,
furthermore, all human wisdom, reason, and common sense as
"folly," and in appealing only to faith and vision, he opened
wide the door to all kinds of mysticism and superstition. (6)
Moreover, in place of the love greatly extolled in the panegyric
in I Cor. xiii.-a chapter which strangely interrupts the
connection between ch. xii. and xiv.-Paul instilled into the
Church, by his words of condemnation of the Jews as "vessels of
wrath fitted for destruction" (Rom. ix. 22; II Cor. iii. 9, iv. 3), the
venom of hatred which rendered the earth unbearable for God's
priest-people. Probably Paul is not responsible for these
outbursts of fanaticism; but Paulinism is. It finally led to that
systematic defamation and profanation of the Old Testament
and its God by Marcion and his followers which ended in a
Gnosticism so depraved and so shocking as to bring about a
reaction in the Church in favor of the Old Testament against
the Pauline antinomianism.
Protestantism revived Pauline views and notions; and with
these a biased opinion of Judaism and its Law took possession of
Christian writers, and prevails even to the present (comp., e.g.,
Weber, "Jüdische Theologie," 1897, where Judaism is presented
throughout simply as "Nomismus"; Schürer's description of the
life of the Jew "under the law" in his "Gesch." 3d ed., ii. 464-496;
Bousset, "Religion des Judenthums in Neu-Testamentlichen
Zeitalter," 1903, p. 107; and the more popular works by Harnack
and others; and see also Schechter in "J. Q. R." iii. 754-766;
Abrahams, "Prof. Schürer on Life Under the Jewish Law," ib. xi.
626; and Schreiner, "Die Jüngsten Urtheile über das
Judenthum," 1902, pp. 26-34).
For other Pauline doctrines see Atonement; Body in Jewish
Theology; Faith; Sin, Original.
Kaufmann Kohler
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. s.v. Paul, where the main
literature is given; Eschelbacher, Das Judenthum und das Wesen
des Christenthums, Berlin, 1905; Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 413-
425; Moritz Loewy, Die Paulinische Lehre vom Gesetz, in
Monatsschrift, 1903-4; Claude Monteflore, Rabbinic Judaism and
the Epistles of Paul, in J. Q. R. xiii. 161.

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Did Paul Change His Mind? -
An Examination of Some
Aspects of Pauline Eschatology
by Paul Woodbridge
Dr Paul Woodbridge is Academic Dean at Oak Hill
Theological College, London, and is tutor in New Testament.
Themelios 28.3 (Summer 2003): 5-18.
[Reproduced by permission of the author]
This article was one of a series of lectures, given at the
Tyndale Fellowship Associates Conference at Tyndale
House, Cambridge in June 2002.

I embarked on a study of Pauline eschatology having been

provoked by a number of scholars' suggestions that Paul was
inconsistent in a variety of areas, not least in eschatology. I
wondered, if it was possible, as an evangelical, to say that Paul
was inconsistent, or changed his teaching on various matters at
certain stages in his life? Was it true to say that Paul developed
in his thinking as far as his theology was concerned?
Thus I made a list of those matters on which various scholars
claimed that Paul did in fact change his thinking.

Points on which scholars say Paul changed

his mind
Discrepancy in details of events to occur
before the parousia
Romans 9-11 may be compared to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. It
seems that in the latter there is a somewhat pessimistic picture
of events due to take place before Christ's return - life will get
more difficult, a rebellion will take place and a 'lawless one' will
be revealed (v. 2) who will engage in various wicked acts and
deceptions (w. 9-10) before Christ destroys him (v. 8).
However, in Romans 9-11, there is a rather more optimistic
picture of events before the parousia. There is a positive view of
the number of people to receive salvation, and in particular
Israel's rejection of her Messiah is not final, and indeed 'all
Israel will be saved' (11:26).

Did Paul expect the parousia within his

lifetime, or after his death?
It would seem that in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1
Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul expected the parousia to come
quickly, so quickly that it would take place before his death. In
1 Thessalonians 4:15-1 7, Paul twice uses the expression, 'We
who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord', which
may be taken to mean 'we Christians who survive until the
parousia'. A similar idea may be seen in 1 Corinthians 15:51f.,
where the 'we' that is emphasised in verse 52b ('we shall be
changed') indicates that Paul placed himself among the
survivors at the parousia.
However, in Paul's later epistles, it seems that he no longer
expected to be alive at the second coming of Christ, but rather
to die before it took place. Verses such as 2 Corinthians 4:12
('death is at work in us, but life in you'), 5:1, 8 ('we know that if
the earthly building we live in is destroyed ... we would rather
be away from the body and at home with the Lord') are said to
reflect this way of thinking, as well as Philippians 1:21, 23,
where Paul speaks of dying as 'gain' and of his desire to 'depart
and be with Christ which is far better'. So now the apostle
considers death before the parousia to be a real possibility, a
perspective he did not seem to have prior to 2 Corinthians, and
he now thinks that the parousia will no longer take place in the
proximate future.
Discrepancy regarding the time at which
the Christian receives the resurrection
When did Paul think that believers would receive their
resurrection body? Two passages which give information on
this matter are said by some scholars to be inconsistent with
each other. Thus in 1 Corinthians 15, it is clear that believers do
not receive their resurrection bodies until Christ returns - see
verses 22-26 (the order of the resurrection of the dead taking
place is first Christ, then at his coming, those who belong to
Christ - verse 23), and 5 1-52 (the dead will be raised
imperishable at the last trumpet, i.e. at Christ's coming, and
then receive the resurrection body) - compare also 1
Thessalonians 4:14ff.
However, in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 1 seems to say that it is at
the moment of death that the heavenly body is received - there
is no gap between death and the parousia during which the
believer is disembodied. It is only by receiving the resurrection
body at death that this state of nakedness will be avoided (v. 3).
So for the individual Christian, it is at death that they will
receive the building that God has provided, as soon as the
present physical body is destroyed.

What is the intermediate state of the

Christian dead?
In his earlier epistles, Paul seems to have described this state
as one of 'sleep', thus an unconscious intermediate state. Christ
will return to raise sleeping, unconscious
believers to life again. This appears to be reflected in verses
such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 15 ('concerning those who have
fallen asleep in Christ'); 5:10 ('whether we are awake or asleep')
and 1 Corinthians 15:18, 20, 51.
However, two sets of verses in Paul's later letters seem to give
rather a different picture of the apostle's view of the
intermediate state: 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ('away from the body
and at home with the Lord') and Philippians 1:21-23 ('to die is
gain ... to depart and to be with Christ'). These verses seem to
indicate that when believers die, they go immediately into the
presence of Christ without there being any state of
unconsciousness or 'sleep' at all.

The nature of events preceding the

parousia in 1 and 2 Thessalonians
In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10, it seems that the parousia will come
suddenly and unexpectedly - like 'a thief in the night', whereas
in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, it is clear that certain events have to
take place before Christ returns (the rebellion, the appearance
of the lawless one, etc).

Future/realised eschatology in respect of

the believer's resurrection with Christ
It seems clear that the resurrection is a future event in 1
Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 and Romans 6:4f.
Colossians 3:1-4, however, seems to talk about resurrection as
an event that has already taken place in the believers' lives
('you have been raised with Christ ... you have died and your
life is hidden with Christ in God'). Is there at least a different
perspective on resurrection at this later stage in Paul's life?

Possible methods of resolving apparent

How have people handled these alleged discrepancies?

Theory of development (or change of mind)

If one is prepared to talk of 'development' in Paul's thinking,
it is important to define how one understands this term. If it is
taken to mean 'an increase in understanding', few would object
to such a term being applied to Paul's theology. If, however,
'development' is meant to refer to a total change of outlook on
Paul's part, involving acceptance of new ideas and the rejection
of former beliefs as mistaken, then some would want to raise
questions about 'development' being applied to Paul in this
Did, therefore, Paul modify or expand his thinking as his life
proceeded? Did his ideas progress without the later ideas
contradicting the previous ones, or did he at a later stage in his
life modify or expand his thinking so as to hold different views
contradicted the earlier ones? This would seem to be an
important distinction to bear in mind when considering
development theories. Thus one writer says, 'Paul's theology
was not formed and static, but open and developing throughout
his ministry'[1].
This distinction is especially important to bear in mind when
considering the work of someone like C.H. Dodd,[2] who argues
that Paul is likely to have developed his thinking as he went
along in his missionary life - and by this, he seems to mean
'change of mind', as may be seen in certain areas which Dodd
As far as the parousia is concerned, Dodd is of the opinion
that Paul expected to be alive at Christ's return at an early
stage in his missionary career reflected in what Dodd classifies
as an earlier group of epistles (1 and 2 Thess., 1 Cor., 2 Cor. 6:14
- 7:1; 10-13), whereas in a later groups of epistles, he expected
to die beforehand (2 Cor.1-9, Rom., Phil., Col. and Eph.).

There is development in Paul's attitude to

this world and its institutions
As far as the state is concerned, in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11,
(written at an early stage in his Christian life), Paul has a
comparatively negative view of the state, particularly the law
courts and advises the Corinthians to have little to do with
them (cf. vv. 1 and 2 - it is a mistake to take grievances to court
before unbelievers); however, in Romans 13:1-7, representing a
later stage in Paul's thinking, Paul is rather more positive in his
evaluation of the state - all are to be subject to the governing
authorities which have been instituted by God and are his
servants - verses 1 and 4.
As far as marriage is concerned, 1 Corinthians 7 seems to have
some reservations about its value - see verses 28, 29, 33-34, not
least because at this stage Paul believed the parousia was near
(vv. 29, 31); but in Ephesians 5:22ff., the institution of marriage
is compared to that of Christ and his church, a high
comparison. Thus Paul has at least changed his thinking on
these matters.
Dodd is also of the opinion that Paul changed his mind on the
time a believer receives the resurrection body (cf. 1 Cor. 15 and
2 Cor. 5:1-10 - see above).
If it is the case that Paul has developed in his thinking on
these matters, then an obvious question is why this took place.
Dodd and a number of scholars[3] subsequently,
have suggested that it was an event which occurred in Asia
which caused the apostle to change his thinking on various
matters. This is described in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. It seems Paul
was in mortal danger here, and as a result of his almost
miraculous escape from what seemed certain death, he
underwent a spiritual crisis which transformed his
eschatological (and other) thinking, as we see reflected in his
later letters. So this harrowing experience (which is not easily
identified but may have been a serious illness) made Paul
realise that death was somewhat nearer than he had previously
thought and caused him to think more carefully about the
implications this had for belief in an intermediate state and the
time of receipt of the resurrection body.
However certain points seem to modify somewhat the prima
facie strength of this argument: it perhaps needs to be borne in
mind that the danger of death referred to in 2 Corinthians 1:89
was certainly not the first time Paul had faced imminent death.
Earlier epistles give the impression that Paul had on several
occasions been in danger of his life in the period before 2
Corinthians 1 - see e.g., 1 Corinthians 15:30-32. Further, it is
doubtful if the events mentioned in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11; 6:4-10
and 11:23-33 refer only to the time shortly before the writing of
2 Corinthians. At no stage did Paul consider death to be an
exceptional occurrence for the believer; as has been pointed
out, the death rate in Paul's day was not so surprisingly low
that few if any of his fellow believers had died in the twenty-
five years or so after Jesus' crucifixion. Also the experiences
mentioned in Acts 8:1 and 9:23f. (as well as those mentioned
above) hardly indicate that Paul had any confident expectation
of life. So dangers were a consistent part of the apostle's life,
and it seems fair to say that the possibility of death before the
parousia existed for some time before the events described in 2
Corinthians 1 :8f.[4]
Against this it might be said that the way Paul expresses
himself in 2 Corinthians 1 :8f. seems to indicate such a severe
experience that this was the catalyst that made the apostle
consider to a greater degree than before the question of the
state of the believer after death, made him transfer the time
the Christian receives the resurrection body from the parousia
to the moment of death, and forced him to reconsider his own
relationship to the return of Christ. However we might ask
whether personal experience would have granted to Paul
insights which his pastoral concerns had failed to prompt. Was
the apostle the sort of person to have one view when others'
deaths were the issue, but another (more pleasant and
congenial) view when his own death seemed near?
We may say then, that the change in Paul's personal
circumstances reflected in 2 Corinthians 1 :8f. has perhaps been
given too much emphasis as being the cause of Paul's
eschatological alterations of perspective.
So this view states that Paul's thinking developed, changed,
progressed on these various matters in these particular ways.
But perhaps there is another way of approaching these alleged
inconsistencies, which reflects on them in a way different to
that of development. One possibility is to consider whether a
careful exegesis of certain passages helps to fit the verses
together in a way that indicates that it is possible to see Paul's
teaching fit together more coherently.

Alternative exegesis of relevant passages

Focussing on just three of the apparent inconsistencies
mentioned above.

Paul's expectation of the parousia - in his

lifetime or after his death?
A number of points are worth making concerning the earlier
passages. Concerning 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians
15:51f., it appears quite possible to interpret these verses in a
way other than that these passages indicate that Paul expected
to be alive at the parousia. When the apostle used the first
person plural to refer to believers, this does not necessarily
mean he included himself. 1 Corinthians 6:14, 15 and 10:22 are
examples of Paul classing himself with those he is describing
without necessarily implying he is one of them. It also seems
reasonable to say that in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17, where Paul is
talking about two classes of believers (those asleep and those
alive), as he was in the latter class when he wrote, it was
natural for him to use the first person plural of himself and his
fellow believers.
It further seems possible to take 'we' of 1 Thessalonians 4:15,
17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51f. in a future sense ('We who will be
alive, who will survive'),[5] or as hypothetical ('If we are alive, if
we survive'). Also 'we' may well signify nothing more than a
general designation, "we", insofar as we are permitted to
experience this and insofar as this will be found to apply to us'.
[6] It may also be argued that when 1 Thessalonians 5:10 is
taken with 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17, the indication is that Paul
held, simultaneously and in tension, the twofold possibility of
his survival to Christ's return (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17) or his
death before that event (1 Thessalonians 5:10). One might
further argue from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 that Paul taught the
incalculability of the time of the return of Christ, and
specifically claimed ignorance about its date. This would seem
to add weight to an interpretation of 'we' as not necessarily
indicating that Paul believed he would be
alive at the parousia.
Thus it would seem that 'we' does not indicate a delimited
hope; rather if it does not restrict the time of Christ's return to
within Paul's life, it would seem a natural prelude to 1
Thessalonians 5:1-11. So it might well be argued that Paul
awaited the parousia as an event which might take place at any
moment, and so he reckoned with the possibility of being alive
at that time, without necessarily thinking that this would
definitely be the case at any stage of his Christian life. It might
also be said that if Paul thought he would live to see Christ's
return, this would be to attribute to himself an immortality
contrary to how he usually speaks of his own life and death (cf.,
for example, 1 Thess. 5:10; Rom. 14:7-9; 8:l0f.; Phil.1 22ff.; 2:17; 1
Cor. 4:11; 5:1ff.).
Perhaps we may conclude this point that while Paul may well
have thought more on the possibility that he might die before
Christ's return in his later epistles, nevertheless he always
thinks of the parousia as imminent throughout his life. It seems
most likely that

'Paul took note of the deaths which

had taken place and perhaps also came
to believe that his own death would
happen earlier than at first seemed to
him likely, than that he radically altered
his opinion about the time of the
Absolute certainty concerning whether he would live to, or
die before the parousia was something Paul would never have
claimed at any stage in his life. Paul was certain that Christ
would return, but a similar certainty concerning his own (or his
contemporaries') survival to that time was something he would
never have claimed. Thus we may say that it seems reasonable
to argue that Paul always entertained the dual possibility of
survival until or death before the parousia throughout his
Christian life.

Intermediate state of the Christian dead

One issue to be explored is the meaning of the term 'sleep' as
used in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15; 5:10 and 1 Corinthians 15:18,
20, 51. It could well be argued that this could be understood as a
euphemism for death rather than as referring to a state of
unconsciousness. A survey of OT, Intertestamental literature
and Rabbinic writings indicates that the word 'sleep' was used
in two main ways: to relate the certainty of resurrection which
was portrayed as a wakening from sleep, and also simply to
describe the dead with no thought of resurrection in view.[8]
This being the case, it would seem hazardous to deduce
anything so specific as 'unconsciousness' from the use of 'sleep'
for death.
Concerning Paul's use of the term, it occurs eight times in his
writings. While for most of them there seems no reason to say
that the sense demands that 'sleep' should refer to
unconsciousness rather than simply meaning 'to die', four
instances seem to refer to the idea of a continuous condition of
sleep, a continued state of being unconscious, rather than the
fact of having died, a single act: 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 5:10; 1
Corinthians 11:30; 15:10. On the other hand, one might say that
when Paul calls dead believers 'asleep', he appears to be looking
upon their condition from a human point of view, as one
looking forward to their resurrection. It also may be said that
the condition of dead believers, who are said to be 'asleep in
Christ', is intricately connected with their Lord who came alive
from the dead. So 'sleep' is given a new context by the death
and resurrection of Christ. However, the word is not meant to
be an objective indication of the intermediate state of the dead
believer. It may also be said that the force of the present tense
in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and 1 Corinthians 11:30 is that a
continuous number of deaths keep occurring, in which case
Paul's words do not support the idea of a continuous state of
If these interpretations are accepted, there is no information
about the intermediate state in these verses at all. It then seems
reasonable to conclude that the word 'sleep' as used by Paul
may aptly be taken as a euphemism for death and nothing
more, and there is no need to see it as referring to an
intermediate state of unconsciousness.
It also seems that an interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 and
Philippians 1:21-23 which sees these verses as referring to an
intermediate state of conscious fellowship with Christ is by far
the most likely way of understanding these passages. The
following points may be noted: concerning 2 Corinthians 5:6-8,
it appears unlikely that a time gap divides the 'being away from
the body' from the 'being at home with the Lord'. Verse 6 would
seem to imply that the state of being at home in the body and
the state of being away from the Lord occur at the same time:
immediately the believer dies and is therefore no longer in the
physical body, there is no longer an absence from the Lord.
Also, verse 7 portrays walking by faith and seeing the Lord face-
to-face 'as two mutually exclusive and immediately successive
states of Christian existence'. Death may end the Christian's
walk of faith, but it brings immediate contact with Christ. Thus
we may argue that in talking about the state of the Christian
after death 'as one of dwelling in the company of the Lord', it
seems most probable that Paul is thinking of a 'heightened
form of inter-personal communion' between the believer and
the Lord, a mutual fellowship.[10]
Concerning the meaning of 'to die is gain' (Phil. 1:21), it seems
most likely that the gain Paul is referring to is the idea that
death would bring him personally into a deeper
state of fellowship with his Lord, and allow him to be with
Christ in a way far superior to what was possible on earth.
Living, in Philippians 1:21, which is equated with Christ, and
dying, which is gain, are not compared and contrasted, but
rather dying is a consequence of living. Living in the present for
Paul meant being taken up with Christ, and because of this,
dying could only mean more of the same thing, but then
without any of the problems associated with living in the
physical body.[11]
Concerning verse 23, what Paul appears to be saying is that
the very moment he dies, at that precise moment, he will be
with Christ. Paul is not using resurrection terminology here -
the contrast in these verses is not between present sufferings
and future glory (as at 3:l0f., 17-21), but between life and death.
A final indication that these two sets of verses indicate that
Paul expected to find himself in the presence of Christ
immediately after death is as follows: if Paul had contemplated
being unconscious and inactive during the interval between his
death and the parousia, how are we to explain his preference (2
Cor. 5:8) or desire (Phil. 1:23) to depart to Christ's presence?
Even with all its difficulties, active conscious life on earth
would doubtless have seemed preferable to a state of
unconsciousness after death. It appears unlikely that Paul
would have believed that Christians could have their union
with Christ interrupted, even temporarily, by bodily death.
Thus the apostle's knowledge that life in the immediate
presence of Christ is far superior to earthly existence formed
the ground of his preference for departure in 2 Corinthians 5:8
and of his desire for departure in Philippians 1:23.
So the alleged inconsistency on the intermediate state is best
resolved by an alternative exegesis of the verb 'to sleep' in 1
Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians which argues that it does not
refer to any intermediate state of unconsciousness, but rather
is simply a euphemism for death. Thus Paul intends to make no
statement on the intermediate state by the use of this term.

Time of receipt of the resurrection body

It seems clear that 1 Corinthians 15 does clearly teach that the
resurrection body will be given to the believer at the parousia,
a view which the vast majority of commentators hold to.
However while 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 is a much more difficult
passage to get to
grips with, a good case can be made for these verses referring
to the parousia as the point at which the resurrection body is
bestowed. In particular, the following points are important:
(1) The 'building from God', the 'house not made with hands'
of 5:1 almost certainly refers to the resurrection body, for the
following reasons: it would seem most natural to give to 'house'
in verse lb the same meaning as it has in verse la. Also, as there
are several references to the physical body in 2 Corinthians 4
(see w. 7, 10, 11, 16a), it seems most likely that 'the earthly
tent/house' (5:1a) refers to the physical body than to any sense
of corporate identity.
(2) The way the 'house' is described in 5:1 ('from God', 'a
house not made with hands', 'eternal in the heavens') has direct
parallels with the description of the resurrection body found in
1 Corinthians 15. 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2 talks about the 'house'
being 'from God', a 'heavenly dwelling', to which we may
compare 1 Corinthians 15:38 (God gives a body); it is spiritual (2
Cor. 5:1 - 'not made with hands') - compare 1 Corinthians 15:44,
46 - a spiritual body; it is permanent and indestructible (2 Cor.
5:1 - 'eternal'), corresponding to the new body being
'imperishable' in 1 Corinthians 15:42, 52-54; it is 'heavenly' (2
Cor. 5:1) which may be paralleled with 1 Corinthians 15:40, 48f.
referring to heavenly bodies and those who are 'of heaven'
bearing the image of 'the man of heaven'. This close
correspondence between the way Paul describes the
resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15 and his description of the
'building' in 2 Corinthians 5:1 would seem to be a good
indication that the two should be identified.[12]
In arguing that 2 Corinthians 5:1 refers to death before the
parousia, we may note the following: at death, the earthly tent-
dwelling is 'taken down' and destroyed. This is not the type of
language Paul uses to refer to those alive at Christ's return. In
the latter case he talks about transformation (cf. Phil. 3:21)
which will involve a 'putting on' of the new spiritual body
without the necessity of a prior 'taking off' of the old body (cf. 2
Cor. 5:2-4, 1 Cor. 15:51ff.). There will be no destruction of the
earthly body of those still alive at the parousia, although it will
be changed. It is fair to say that Paul is more personally
involved in the question of death before Christ's return in 2
Corinthians 5:1-10 than in his earlier epistles, but even so his
assurance is similar to that of 1 Corinthians 15: if he does die,
he knows that he has a resurrection body from God.[13]
This brings us to the question of the meaning of 'we have' in 2
Corinthians 5:1. I would argue that this should be taken as
designating a future possession of the spiritual body at the
parousia. It appears reasonable to take 'we have' as giving the
sense of assured possession, a futuristic present used by Paul to
express his certainty of gaining
the resurrection body at the Lord's coming. So convinced was
Paul that this would be the case that he could speak of it as
It also seems possible to interpret Paul's use of 'to be further
clothed, 'to put on over' in verse 4 as indicating his desire to
put on the heavenly habitation over the earthly tent at the
parousia rather than at the moment of death. Paul says he
groans because he does not wish to be unclothed, but to be
'clothed upon', to be further clothed, to put on one garment
over another (v. 4). He appears to be saying that he does not
wish to experience an interval of being unclothed, but that he
should be able simply to put on his future heavenly body over
the top of his present earthly body. It is hard to see how Paul
could have thought of this taking place at death, for at death
the earthly body is taken off. It is true that Paul's groaning in
verses 2-4 is a contrast to his previous confidence, but we
would argue that it is the result of his desire to put on the new
body over the present, earthly body, without death coming first.
Paul also says in verse 4 that when the heavenly dwelling is
put on, then what is mortal is swallowed up by life. These are
very similar terms to those he uses in 1 Corinthians 15:54, and
that chapter clearly indicates that it is at Christ's return that
this will take place. It is not unfair to say that the same would
be the case in 2 Corinthians 5:4 unless there is clear evidence
against this assumption.[16]
In considering the meaning of 'naked' in verse 3, a likely
interpretation in the context seems to be that which refers it to
the state of disembodiment which death before the parousia
would bring for the believer. It appears that 'naked' is opposed
to the idea of being clothed in verse 3, and synonymous with
the notion of 'to put off, be unclothed' in verse 4, and where
this clothing is seen as specifically referring to embodiment,
then 'naked' quite naturally refers to the disembodiment which
believers would enter upon at death. Paul argues that the object
of the Christian's longing is not the stripping off of the body,
but a new heavenly form of embodiment - the believer shrinks
from a state of not being clothed. In verse 4, the groaning is
connected with great oppression, and this is 'because we do not
wish to be unclothed, but to be further clothed'. So there are
two reasons for groaning: negatively, the dislike of the prospect
of putting off the present body, and positively the desire to put
on over it the heavenly body, which could only take place if the
parousia occurred before death. Paul fears death because it
would be a much happier event to survive to Christ's return; if
he died first, he would have to spend some time 'naked', and
then be raised up, whereas if he lived until the parousia,
he would be transformed immediately.[17]
Death however, does have an attractive side for the believer
despite the prospect of nakedness, and Paul is prepared to leave
the physical body for the sake of being at home with the Lord
(vv. 6-8). So if death comes to destroy the 'outward man',
fellowship with Christ will continue, be much deeper, and will
end with the spiritual body which God has prepared for the
believer to receive at Christ's return. Thus death might mean
temporary nakedness, but it would also mean freedom from the
frustration of living in the earthly body which restricts the
Christian's fellowship with Christ.[18]
An objection that is sometimes raised to this interpretation is
that it means Paul had two contradictory attitudes to death
within ten verses. At first he shrinks from the nakedness that
death would bring, and then he says that if faced with the
choice between death and remaining in the present body, he
would prefer to die because this would mean being with the
Lord. But it might be said that Paul was in two minds about
death. In one sense death was an enemy; it would lead to a state
of disembodiment. However death would also lead a believer
into the Lord's presence even without resurrection, and
communion would be enhanced since it would no longer be
subject to the limitations of the physical body. Faced by death,
Paul thinks of the realities of heaven. The temporary nature of
the state of nakedness is shown by his assurance of the reality
of the future heavenly body, and this makes death seem
abnormal. Yet even if death destroys the physical body it
cannot damage Paul's link with his Lord. This will continue
through death, even though the earthly body does not, and
eventually the resurrection body will be received at Christ's
return. There will be individual blessedness at death, while the
soul is disembodied until the parousia, but the total Christian
hope is of something more than individual blessedness, since
perfect fullness of life has to be corporate. Thus it is the
parousia with its 'perfection of corporateness' given in the
bestowal of the physical body to every believer for which Paul
really longs.[19]
It might also be said that if Paul had undergone a complete
change of mind in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, it is hard to see
indications of this in the passage. For example, regarding 'we
have' (v. 1), the present tense seems inadequate evidence for
suggesting a change in Paul's thinking. If Paul now wished to
say that the resurrection body was to be received at death it
would be more accurate to call this a complete contradiction of
what he had previously taught, rather than a development from
it. The specific order of events described in 1 Corinthians 1
5:23-26 would no longer be correct and the mystery
described in 1 Corinthians 15:51ff. that at the last trumpet the
dead would be raised imperishable would no longer be true. Yet
there is no indication of such a complete break with what he
had previously meant when the apostle mentions the
resurrection of the dead in 2 Corinthians 1:9 and 4:14.
It would be fair to say that 'for we know' (2 Cor. 5:1) is an
unlikely way of introducing a new teaching which has been
made clear to Paul only recently. These words would seem
rather to indicate that the teaching of 2 Corinthians 5 will have
been known already to the Corinthians and will agree with
Paul's previous teaching (which is that the receipt of the
spiritual body is at the parousia).[20]
Thus this alleged inconsistency on the time a believer
receives their resurrection body is resolved by an alternative
exegesis of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 which interprets these verses in
terms of the resurrection body being bestowed at the second
coming of Christ, not at the moment of death.[21]

It has been argued that the method of solution which
provides the most satisfactory way of resolving the three
alleged inconsistencies that we have examined is an alternative
exegesis of appropriate passages, and the conclusions we have
reached provide us with a coherent picture of Paul's
eschatological thinking on these matters. Thus in arguing that
for Paul the parousia was always imminent, that he looked
upon death as a possibility at all stages of his Christian life, not
just from the time immediately before he wrote 2 Corinthians
(although it seems that he considered death for himself more
probable as time went on), it was natural for Paul also to
consider the state of the believer between death and the
parousia (which, we argue, he thought to be one of disembodied
conscious fellowship with Christ), and the events which would
take place at Christ's return (including the receiving by
believers of the spiritual body), although one should also bear
in mind that it was often the questions of, and the difficulties
facing the Christians Paul wrote to, that have resulted in us
having his views on these matters.
Thus we submit that the three alleged inconsistencies which
we have considered are more apparent than real, and given an
appropriate exegesis of the relevant passages, a
basic coherence and consistency in Paul's writings on these
matters is to be seen. In addressing altered situations in his
own life and in the life of his churches (especially the
Corinthian Church), Paul may use new imagery and apply
further reflection, and particular situations may have evoked
particular emphases in his teachings, but he does not go back
on anything he has asserted in previous epistles. Paul's basic
eschatological framework, which posits the dual possibility of
the believer's death or the prior return of Christ, remains
[1] C.L. Mearns, 'Early Eschatological Development in Paul: the
Evidence of I and II Thessalonians', New Testament Studies 27,
1981, 154. On the issue of development in Paul's eschatology
and various approaches, see especially L.J. Kreitzer,
'Eschatology', in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters, eds. G.E.
Hawthorne, R.P. Martin and D.G. Reid, lVP, Illinois/Leicester,
1993, 260-61.
[2] C.H. Dodd, 'The Mind of Paul: I; and 'The Mind of Paul: II'
in New Testament Studies (Manchester: University Press, 1953),
67-82 and 83-128. Kreitzer comments that 'one cannot
overestimate the seminal work by C.H. Dodd in this area', Li.
Kreitzer, Jesus and God in Paul's Eschatology (Sheffield: JSOT Press,
1987), 250, n. 22.
[3] See M.J. Harris, '2 Corinthians 5:1-10: Watershed in Paul's
Eschatology?', Tyndale Bulletin 22, 1971, 56f.; FF. Bruce, Paul:
Apostle of the Free Spirit, (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1977), 295,
300, 310.
[4] See on these points, among others, R. Berry, 'Death and
Life in Christ' Scottish Journal of Theology 14, 1961, 60f.; W.G.
Kummel, The Theology of the New Testament (London: SCM, 1974),
239; B.E. Meyer, 'Did Paul's View of the Resurrection of the
Dead undergo Development?', Theological Studies 47, 1986, 384ff.;
D.E. Garland, 2 Corinthians (Nashville: Broadman and Holman,
1999) 254f.
[5] Compare C.E.B. Cranfield, 'Thoughts on New Testament
Eschatology', Scottish Journal of Theology 35, 1982, 506: 'it seems
to me perfectly possible to take the "we" to mean "We
Christians" (in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 - "those of us (Christians)
who are alive, who are left")'; l.H. Marshall, 1 &2 Thessalonians
(London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1983), 127: 'Here in the
present passage (1 Thessalonians 4:15) there is really no
difficulty in taking his words to mean "those of us who are
alive". (We may well ask how Paul could have said, "those of us
who are living then" shortly and succinctly without using the
actual wording employed here)'.
[6] See H. Ridderbos, Paul - an Outline of his Theology (London:
SPCK, 1977, 492. Ridderbos notes another example of this type
of facultative sense in Romans 15:1.
[7] C.K. Barrett, 'New Testament Eschatology', Scottish Journal
of Theology 6, 1953, 143 n 2.
[8] See on this topic, G. Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Eerdmans:
Grand Rapids, 1961, 142-44; R.E. Bailey, 'Is "Sleep" the Proper
Biblical Term for the Intermediate State?', Zeitschrift für die
neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 55, 1964, 162ff.; D.E.H. Whiteley,
The Theology of St Paul (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974), 262-69.
[9] See on these points, C.K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the
Corinthians (London: A. & C. Black, (1971), 275; E. Best, A
Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians
(London: A. & C. Black, 1977), 185; D.E.H. Whiteley, Theology,
[10] See for these points (and the quotations), M.J. Harris, '2
Corinthians 5:1-10: Watershed in Paul's Eschatology?', Tyndale
Bulletin 22, 1971, 4Sf. See also M.J. Harris, 'Paul's View of Death
in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10' in R.N. Longenecker & M.C. Tenney
(eds.), New Dimensions in NT Studies (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1974), 324 and Harris' Raised Immortal the relation between
resurrection and immortality in New Testament teaching (London:
Marshall. Morgan and Scott, 1983), 136f.
[11] On these points, see H. Ridderbos, Paul, 498ff.; F.F. Bruce,
Free Spirit, 311ff; A.T Lincoln, Paradise Now and Not Yet
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 104; M.J. Harris,
Immortal, 134.
[12] On these points, see M.J. Harris, 'Watershed', 39f.; R.
Gundry, 'Soma' in Biblical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1976), 150; J. Osei-Bonsu, 'Does 2 Corinthians
5:1-10 teach the reception of the resurrection body at the
moment of death?', Journal for the Study of the New Testament 28,
1986, 97, n. 24; P. Barnett, 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1997), 259f.
[13] See on this, J. Osei-Bonsu, '2 Corinthians 5:1-10', 82f.
[14] See for this interpretation, among others, G. Vos, Pauline
Eschatology, 188; H. Ridderbos, Paul, 501; C.K. Barrett, The Second
Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (London: A. & C. Black, 1973), 151;
R. Gundry, Soma, 150f.; A.T. Lincoln, Paradise, 63f.; R.P. Martin, 2
Corinthians (Waco: Word, 1986), 104.
[15] See on this, F.F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Corinthians (London: Marshall,
Morgan and Scott, 1971), 202ff.; C.K. Barrett, 2 Corinthians, 152f.;
R.H. Gundry, Soma, 152; A.T. Lincoln, Paradise, 66; P. Barnett, 2
Corinthians, 259f.; D.E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, 258.
[16] See C.K. Barrett 2 Corinthians, 256; A.T. Lincoln, Paradise,
[17] On these points, see C.K. Barrett, 2 Corinthians, 156; A.T.
Lincoln, Paradise, 67; R.P Martin, 2 Corinthians, 106ff.; B.E. Meyer,
'Paul's View of the Resurrection', 380ff.; I. Osei-Bonsu, '2
Corinthians 5:1-10', 91; P. Barnett, 2 Corinthians, 264f.
[18] On this line of interpretation, see, among others, R.P.
Martin, 2 Corinthians, 109ff.; V. Furnish, 2 Corinthians (Garden
City: Doubleday, 1984), 301ff.; P. Barnett, 2 Corinthians, 268ff.;
D.E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, 264f.
[19] See on these points, R. Berry, 'Death and Life in Christ',
Scottish Journal of Theology 14, 1961, 67; A.T. Lincoln, Paradise,
69f.; R.H. Gundry, Soma, 152. Compare also G.E. Ladd, The Pattern
of New Testament Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), 106f.
[20] See further on this, M.J. Harris, Raised Immortal, 255 n. 4.
Note also the comments of W.L. Craig, 'The Bodily Resurrection
of Jesus', in Gospel Perspectives - Studies of History and Tradition in
the Four Gospels (Sheffield: JSOT, 1983), 62ff.
[21] For detailed treatment of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, see
especially R. Berry, 'Death and Life', 60-76; A.T, Lincoln,
Paradise, 59-71; J. Osei-Bonsu, '2 Corinthians 5:1-10', 81-101; R.
Gundry, Soma, 146-54; P. Barnett, 2 Corinthians, 255ff.; D.E.
Garland, 2 Corinthians, 253ff.; M.E. Thrall, 2 Corinthians I
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1994), 357ff. See also W.L. Craig,
'Paul's Dilemma in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10: a "Catch-22 "?', New
Testament Studies 34, 1988, 145-47, where he argues that Paul
was in a sort of 'Catch-22' situation, and the appearance of
inconsistency 'arises out of the paradoxical situation in which
Paul was placed and the Catch-22 decision with which he was
[22] On these and other aspects of Pauline eschatology, see W.
Baird, 'Pauline Eschatology in Hermeneutical Perspective', New
Testament Studies 17, 1971, 314-27; A.C. Perriman, 'Paul and the
Parousia: 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10', New
Testament Studies 35, 1989, 512-21; B. Witherington, Jesus, Paul
and the End of the World (Exeter: Paternoster 1992), 152-231. See
also the detailed bibliography in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters,
The Paulinism of Acts Again:
Two Historical Clues in I
by David Wenham
Themelios 13.2 (Jan./Feb. 1988): 53-55.
[Reproduced by permission of the author]

Few books of the NT are so important as the book of Acts for
the question of the historical reliability of the NT, and few
books are so controversial. Many scholars have seen Acts as
offering the most objective and concrete evidence for the
historical competence of one of the evangelists; others have
seen Acts as a thoroughly theological book which is of doubtful
historical value.
Scholars arguing in favour of the first view have noted,
among other things, the remarkable accuracy of Acts on points
of historical and geographical detail, e.g. over the names of the
officials of the different cities mentioned (e.g. the 'strategoi' of
Philippi in Acts 16:20; the 'politarchs' of Thessalonica in 17:6;
the 'grammateus' of Ephesus in 19:35; the 'protos' of Malta in
28:7). They have seen this as confirmation of the seriousness of
Luke's claim in the prologue of his gospel to be writing an
accurate account on the basis of eyewitness testimony (1:1-4)
and of his implicit claim in the 'we' passages of Acts to have
been a companion of Paul, closely in touch with eyewitness
tradition (cf Acts 16: 10ff.).
William Ramsay (1851-1939), who was one of the foremost
experts on ancient Asia Minor in his day, was one of the best
known advocates of this first view: he started out with a
sceptical opinion of Acts as a theological and historically
imaginative work of late date (a view resembling that of some
modern redaction critics), but he ended up convinced of Luke's
stature as a historian of the first rank.[1] A modern scholar in
the same general tradition is F. F. Bruce, who concludes a major
recent survey on 'The Acts of the Apostles: Historical Record or
Theological Reconstruction?' as follows: 'A writer may be at one
and the same time a sound historian and a capable theologian.
The author of Acts was both. The quality of his history naturally
varied according to the availability and trustworthiness of his
sources, but being a good theologian as well as a good historian,
he did not allow his theology to distort his history.'[2]
Scholars arguing in favour of the more sceptical view of
Luke's writings have noted particular historical difficulties,
such as the supposedly anachronistic references to Quirinius in
Luke 2:2 and to Theudas in Acts 5:36. They have also detected
significant discrepancies between the account given of Paul in
Acts and what we know of the apostle from his own writings.
For example, it is argued that there are historical
contradictions between Paul's own account of his conversion
and the events following it in Galatians 1 and 2 and Luke's
account in Acts 9-15; also that the Lukan portrait of Paul as a
moderate man open to compromise, for example in Acts 21, is
quite unlike the radical apostle of freedom whom we meet in,
for example, Galatians.
Such arguments have not gone uncontested. For example, on
the question of Paul's radicalism it is observed that in his
epistles Paul can be conciliatory and flexible, and that the Paul
of Acts 21 is not very different from the Paul of 1 Corinthians
9:19-23 (though this is not to deny that Luke may have
emphasized some aspects of Paul's theology and ministry more
than others). On the questions of chronology, the difficulties
are admitted, and yet, it is argued, they are much less
formidable than they at first appear, when the limitations of
our historical knowledge, the fallibility of Josephus (whose
testimony is sometimes at variance with Luke's) and the
differing purposes of Acts and Paul's epistles are borne in mind.
Also, there are satisfactory explanations of some of the
difficulties: for example, if Paul's visit to Jerusalem in Galatians
2 is identified with the famine relief visit of Acts 11:27-30, not
with the Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15, this eliminates
one group of historical problems.[3]
However, the purpose of this article is not to tackle the
question of the Paulinism of Acts in general, but simply to make
a few observations about two possibly relevant texts in 1
Thessalonians. I have argued elsewhere that 1 Thessalonians
throws a lot of light on the history of gospel traditions, notably
on the traditions of Jesus' eschatological teaching, since Paul
presupposes and echoes those traditions.[4] I wish now to
suggest also that the epistle throws some interesting light on
the book of Acts.

The Areopagus speech

One of the most controversial questions about the book of
Acts has to do with the speeches of Paul and the other apostles.
It is widely accepted that the speeches are the composition of
the author of Acts rather than records of what was actually said
historically by the speaker referred to. Comparison is made of
Josephus and other Graeco-Roman historians who felt free to
compose speeches for participants in their narrative. So far as
Paul's speeches in particular are concerned, it has been argued
that the ideas expressed in the Pauline speeches in Acts (and in
the non-Pauline speeches also) are Lukan, not those of the Paul
of the epistles. So, for example, the rather philosophical Paul of
the Areopagus
speech of Acts 17 is thought to be different from the Paul of
the epistles who knew only Christ and him crucified.
This view of the speeches of Acts has been countered in
various ways: for example, it is argued that the speeches are
not polished literary pieces such as might be expected if Luke
were following the tradition of other Graeco-Roman authors in
composing them. It is argued that Luke's regular use of sources,
such as Mark, for his speeches in his gospel makes it unlikely
that he will have invented the speeches in Acts. It is suggested
that the differences between the Paul of the Acts speeches and
the Paul of the epistles may partly reflect Lukan editorial
selectivity, but partly the differing audiences and situations
presupposed: the epistles are instruction for converted
Christians, the Acts speeches are apologetic to unbelievers,
with the exception of the speech in Miletus in Acts 20:17-35,
which is notably more similar to Paul's epistles.
It is not the purpose of this article to elaborate or examine
these general arguments, but simply to contribute to the debate
some observations about one piece of evidence from 1
Thessalonians that has been insufficiently noted by scholars.
The evidence is that of 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, where Paul
describes his missionary visit to the Thessalonians and their
response to his ministry. Their response was to 'turn to God
from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to await his Son
from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues
us from the coming wrath'.
The striking thing about this summary is its close
correspondence to Paul's Areopagus speech described by Luke
in Acts 17:16-31. That speech, which is preceded by Luke's
description of Paul's grief over the idolatry of Athens, begins
with an extended discussion by Paul of the Athenians' ignorant
and idolatrous religiousness as contrasted with the truth of God
as the creator who gives life and breath to all things and 'in
whom we live and move and have our being'. Paul then invites
the Athenians to repent of their ignorant idolatry, because 'God
has fixed a day in which he will judge the world by a man whom
he appointed, providing assurance of this to all by raising him
from the dead'.
The similarity of the ingredients in the two passages hardly
needs spelling out:[5] in both there is an emphasis on (a)
turning from idolatry to the living God, (b) coming judgment to
be prepared for, (c) the resurrection of Jesus. There are some
differences of emphasis, for example in that 1 Thessalonians
speaks of Jesus as the saviour from the wrath and Acts of him as
the appointed agent of judgment (though Acts implies his
saving role). But the comparison at least tells against those who
see the emphases of Acts 17 as unPauline, and it lends some
support to those who argue that the differences in the
emphases of Paul's speeches in Acts and his epistles reflect the
difference between his evangelistic preaching and his
subsequent Christian instruction: the significant thing about 1
Thessalonians 1:9-10 is that Paul is here describing the response
to his evangelistic ministry and preaching.
Of course the similarity between the two passages need not
prove Lukan knowledge of the Pauline sermon. It could simply
be that both Paul and Luke are reflecting a common and well-
known pattern of Christian preaching to Gentiles.[6] But,
although this possibility must be reckoned with, it is still
significant that Paul describes the Thessalonians' conversion
and by implication his own evangelistic preaching in these
terms: the gap between the Paul of the Acts and the Paul of the
epistles is thus reduced.
But a further consideration that has not been taken full
account of by commentators and that may favour the view that
Luke is drawing on historical reminiscence is a consideration of
chronology. According to the most widely accepted chronology
of Paul's ministry and according to the most natural reading of
1 Thessalonians, Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians quite soon after his
visit to Thessalonica and after his subsequent visit to Athens.[7]
1 Thessalonians is usually supposed to have been written by
Paul from Corinth, where he had gone on from Athens. The
significance of this for our argument is this: 1 Thessalonians
was written very soon after the speech which, according to
Acts, Paul delivered to the Areopagus. It could be a remarkable
coincidence that Luke describes Paul's evangelistic ministry at
this time in terms so strikingly similar to those actually used by
Paul in describing his own ministry in this period; but it is
simpler to do without the hypothesis of coincidence and to
suggest that Luke had accurate information about Paul's
ministry at this time.[8]

The appointing of elders

Another historical reference in Acts which may be
illuminated by 1 Thessalonians is the reference to Paul's
appointment of elders in Acts 14:23. It has often been argued
that this is an anachronism, reflecting more on the 'early
catholicism' of Luke's church than on historical realities.[9] It is
suggested, not least because of the evidence of 1 Corinthians
and Paul's failure in that letter to refer clearly to the leaders of
the church, that the earliest Pauline churches did not have
formally appointed ministers.
However, the evidence of 1 Thessalonians once again puts this
commonly accepted view in doubt. The evidence in this case is
Paul's injunction to the Thessalonians to 'respect those who
labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish
you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their
work' (5:12-13). This evidence indicates that, although Paul had
a relatively short and turbulent stay in Thessalonica (as may be
deduced from 1 Thessalonians as well as Acts), he did not leave
without establishing some sort of eldership (although the
actual word 'elder' is not used). If he did so in Thessalonica, it is
entirely probable that he will also have done so in his ministry
in Galatia not very long before, as Acts suggests.
But what then of the evidence of 1 and 2 Corinthians? In this
case also it is useful to recall the probable Pauline chronology.
Paul, having established the church in Thessalonica, moved
south via Berea to Athens and then on to Corinth; and it was
while he was establishing the church in Corinth that he wrote 1
Thessahonians. Given this probable chronology and given the
evidence indicating that Paul appointed church leaders in
Thessalonica, it seems intrinsically probable that he will also
have appointed such leaders in the Corinthian church.
A comparison of 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians certainly
suggests that these two churches, which were geographically
quite close to each other and which were founded at the same
sort of time, had much in common. For example, they both
probably had a 'charismatic problem' (cf I Thes. 5:19-20 with 1
Cor. 12-14), and they had questions over the
resurrection and the second coming - perhaps quite similar
questions (cf 1 Thes. 4:13-18 and 1 Cor. 15). But did they have
similar structures of church leadership? The a priori probability
that they will have done so is confirmed by a comparison of 1
Thessalonians 5:12-13 with 1 Corinthians 16:15-16, where Paul
speaks of the diakonia of the household of Stephanas, 'the first
converts in Achaia', and of other 'fellow-workers and
labourers'. The language used in the two passages is quite
similar (with the kopiao and erg- roots in common). The church
of Corinth did then have recognized church leaders; note also
the reference to 'helps and administrations' in 12:28, the latter
word guberneseis having very similar connotations to the word
episcopos.[10] Their lack of prominence in Paul's letters to the
Corinthians may reflect the fact that they were a relatively
ineffective and/or divided force in the Corinthian church, as
well as Paul's strong convictions about the corporate nature of
the church with the leaders being only part of the body, and his
preference for dealing with issues theologically rather than
institutionally. We may conclude that the evidence of 1
Corinthians in no way contradicts the testimony of Acts about
Paul's appointment of elders; on the contrary, the combined
evidence of 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians tends to confirm
what Acts says.[11]
The two pieces of historical evidence that we have noted in 1
Thessalonians are not, of course, new discoveries. But their
significance for an appreciation of the historical plausibility of
Acts has not been adequately recognized by the majority of

[1] On Ramsay and on the history of Acts studies see W. W.
Gasque, A History of the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles
(Tübingen/Grand Rapids: Mohr/Eerdmans, 1975).
[2] This very valuable article is in Aufstieg und Niedergang der
Römischen Welt, eds. H. Temporini and W. Haase (Berlin: de
Gruyter, 1985), vol. 11.25.3, pp. 2578-2603.
[3] On this see, for example, Colin Hemer's article 'Acts and
Galatians reconsidered', Themelios 2:3 (1977), pp. 81-88.
Compare also his 'Luke the Historian' in BJRL 60 (1977), pp. 28-
51. Before his recent death, Dr Hemer read and kindly
commented on this paper; I gratefully acknowledge his help on
this and many previous occasions. On the Quirinius and
Theudas questions see, for example, I. H. Marshall, Luke (Exeter:
Paternoster, 1978), pp. 99-104, and Acts (Leicester: IVP, 1980),
pp. 122-123.
[4] See my Rediscovery of Jesus' Eschatological Discourse
(Sheffield: JSOT, 1984). I did not there point out another
historical question which may be clarified by the evidence of 1
Thessalonians, namely the question of the authenticity of 2
Thessalonians. It is often argued that 2 Thessalonians expresses
a different eschatological understanding from 1 Thessalonians.
If, however, it can be shown that both 1 and 2 Thessalonians are
drawing on the same corpus of dominical teaching (as I argue in
Rediscovery), and that the supposedly divergent theological
perspectives derive from that underlying tradition, then the
negative case against Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians is
weakened and the positive case for common authorship of the
two epistles is strengthened.
[5] Cf L. Cerfaux, Christ in the Theology of St Paul (New
York/Edinburgh and London: Herder/Nelson, 1959), pp. 15ff.
[6] Cf U. Wilckens, Die Missionsreden der Apostelgeschichte
(Neukirchen: Neukirchener, 1963:2), pp. 81-88. It may be noted
that the Lystra speech of Acts 13 does not resemble 1 Thes. 1:9-
10 as closely as the Areopagus speech.
[7] In G. Lüdemann's radical reconstruction of the chronology
of Paul's ministry, put forward in his Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles
(London: SCM, 1984), Paul's foundation of the churches in
Greece is dated before AD 40. My particular argument about the
Areopagus speech works just as well given Lüdemann's
chronology as on the traditional chronology. But Lüdemann's
relatively negative assessment of the historicity of Acts is called
into question by the sort of observations noted in this article.
For criticisms of Lüdemann's reconstruction see F. F. Bruce,
'Chronological Questions in the Acts of the Apostles', BJRL 68
(1986), pp. 273-295.
[8] We must, of course, take seriously Paul's statements in 1
Corinthians about the centrality of the cross in his gospel. Some
scholars have explained the absence of reference to the cross in
the Areopagus sermon through the hypothesis that Paul had a
major change of policy when he came to Corinth. But this
hypothesis is unnecessary (and improbable): in the first place, it
is a silly reading of Paul's words in I Cor. 2:2 to take them to
mean that he preached about the cross and nothing else - 1
Corinthians itself shows that the resurrection was an important
part of his gospel; see l5:lff. - or even that the cross was always
the most prominent (as opposed to the most fundamental)
element in his sermons. In the second place, it is a silly reading
of Acts 17 to suppose that Luke intends this as a complete
transcript of Paul's sermon, rather than a selective summary of
important points. The climactic point of the sermon is the
resurrection, and it is not unlikely that Luke presupposes that
the preaching of the resurrection included explanation of the
death of the one who rose. In any case the point remains that
Paul too - in 1 Thessalonians - can summarize his evangelism at
this time in a similar way to Luke, without specific mention of
the cross.
[9] E.g. E. Haenchen, Acts (Oxford: Blackwells, 1971), p. 437.
[10] C. K. Barrett, I Corinthians (London: Black, 19712), speaks
of 'helps and administrations' possibly foreshadowing the
ministry of deacons and bishops (pp. 295, 296).
[11] We note also the evidence of Phil. 1:1 as showing that yet
another church founded on the same missionary journey by
Paul had officially appointed leaders, 'bishops and deacons'.
The accumulation of evidence noted makes it clear that the sort
of church order presupposed in the Pastoral Epistles is not as
obviously unPauline as is often suggested. On the passages in 1
Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians, and generally on the structure
of ministry in the Pauline churches, see E. E. Ellis, Prophecy and
Hermeneutic in Early Christianity (Tübingen/Grand Rapids:
Mohr/Eerdmans, 1978), pp. 1-22.
Paul And The Historical Jesus:
A Case Study In First
By Stephen J. Bedard
Meaford, ON
McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry 7 (2006) 9-22

How well did the Apostle Paul know the earthly life of
Jesus of Naz- areth? Did Paul know anything of the life
and ministry of Jesus or was he only interested in the
theological implications of the crucifixion and
resurrection? These questions have divided New
Testament scholars for many years. The classic contrast
is that of W.D. Davies who argued that “Paul is steeped
in the mind and words of his Lord”1 and R. Bult- mann
who claimed that “the teaching of the historical Jesus
plays no role, or practically none, in Paul”.2 This debate
has expanded beyond the disputes of the academic
world, as seen by the recent claim of one former New
Testament professor writing for a popular audience:

What is absolutely striking about [the writings of

Paul] is their virtual silence on the whole subject
of a historical Jesus of Nazareth. There is no
question that this is the datum that ultimately
stares down the proponents of historicity.3
Is it true that the teachings and life of the historical
Jesus was at best unimportant and at worst unknown to

There is, in fact, evidence to support that the earthly life

of Jesus was both known and used by Paul in his Epistles.
This paper will focus on 1 Corinthians as a case study on
Paul’s knowledge and use of the Jesus story. It is helpful
to focus on one letter, in order to obtain a clear
understanding of the possible uses of the Jesus tradition
and how that fits with Paul’s overall argument for the
particular situation. While there are some important
references in other epistles, 1 Corinthians is one of the
most important sources for our understanding of Paul’s
knowledge of Jesus. S. Kim, in his generous list of
references, allusions and echoes of Jesus’ sayings, offers
four certain or probable references and eight possible
echoes in 1 Corinthians, a frequency comparable only to
that found in Romans.4 What is also helpful about
focusing on 1 Corinthians is the fact that Paul uses the
Jesus story in a number of dif- ferent ways, which
clarifies how he understood this material. This paper will
look at (1) Paul’s explicit citation of Jesus’ sayings, (2)
Paul’s use of liturgical traditions of the Jesus story and (3)
Paul’s echoing of imagery or statements known to us
from the Gospel narratives.

1. W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (New York:

Harper & Row,



2. R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (New York:
Scribner, 1951), vol. I, p. 35.
3. Tom Harpur, Pagan Christ (Toronto: Thomas Allen, 2004),
pp. 166-67.

1. Explicit Citation of Jesus’ Sayings

In Paul’s writings, there are six explicit references to the
“words of the Lord”. When those that are words of the
risen Lord or prophetic teachings by Paul are removed
from the list, there are only three references in 1
Corinthians and one in 1 Thessalonians. One of the
references in 1 Corinthians is the liturgical tradition
found in 1 Cor. 11:23-25, which will be dealt with
below. The remaining two references in 1 Corinthians
are seen by some—known as “minimalists”—as the
only two explicit references to sayings of Jesus in Paul.5
And to the ones having married, not I but the
Lord commands that a wife should not be
separated from her husband. But if she is
indeed sep- arated, let her remain unmarried
or let her be reconciled to her husband and a
husband is not to leave his wife.6
This passage takes place in the context of a lengthy answer by
Paul to a particular question concerning marriage, which was
asked by the Corinthians. The length of the reply gives some
indication of both the importance of this subject for Paul and
the level of misunderstanding by the Corinthians. Within this
argument, Paul takes the rare action of quoting a saying of
Jesus to support his position. There is no reason to presume
that this was a direct revelation from the risen Christ rather
than a reference to a well-known teaching.

4. S. Kim, “Jesus, Sayings of,” in Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph

P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid (eds.), Dictionary of Paul and his
Letters (Downers Grove: Inter- Varsity, 1993), pp. 475-81.

5. Kim, “Jesus, Sayings of,” p. 475.

6. Scripture passages are the author’s translation.

The teaching of Jesus found here is from Mk 10:2-12

and parallels, where Jesus taught that divorce was only
a temporary concession, that divorce was contrary to
God’s will and that remarriage after divorce was
adultery. C.K. Barrett sees Paul’s use of Jesus’ teaching
on divorce as evidence that Mark gives the original
form of the teaching rather than Matthew who gives an
option of divorce in cases of fornication.8
The divorce sayings appear both in Mark (Mk 10:11
// Mt. 19:9) and in Q (Lk. 16:16 // Mt. 5:32). Mark and
Paul apply the saying to wives and husbands. In both
Mark and Q, the form is of casuistic law. How- ever,
Paul remolds the saying into its apodictic form to fit
with the Corinthian situation.9
While it is likely that Paul did remold this teaching
to fit the Corinthian context, there are some who have
seen greater changes. Nikolaus Walter sees Paul’s
divorce teaching as
an expansion of older tradition on the basis of
Hellenistic laws regarding marriage. So it is
beyond question that here we have a saying of
Jesus which has been expanded and “applied”
after Easter and in an “alien” environment and
that furthermore this new version has been
attributed to Jesus…10
However, this interpretation is not necessary, since
Paul’s use of the divorce teaching is faithful to Jesus’
teaching as recorded in the Synop- tic Gospels. There is
nothing to indicate that this passage is anything more
than Jesus’ teaching applied to the Corinthian situation.
As Traugott Holtz states, “In form its presentation is
fitted to the present

7. Archibald Robertson and Alfred Plummer, First Epistle of

St. Paul to the

Corinthians (Edinburgh: T. & T.

Clark, 1999), p. 140.
8. C.K. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians (Peabody:


9. Gordon D. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT;
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), pp. 292-93.
10. Nikolaus Walter, “Paul and the Early Christian Jesus-
Tradition,” in A.J.M. Wedderburn (ed.), Paul and Jesus
(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), p. 69.
text and its situation, although it is closely dependent on
the instructions of the Lord received in the tradition.”11
Although Paul considers his teaching to be
authoritative, even when not quoting Jesus, it is clear
that he sees Jesus’ authority as higher than his own.
When Paul speaks on his own authority, he “speaks,”
not “commands.”12 F.W. Grosheide worded it this way:
“The apostle may recommend, the Saviour
commands.”13 While, most likely Paul saw his teaching
as more than recommendations, his regret at not having
a word of the Lord in 1 Cor. 7:12 demonstrates his
esteem for Jesus’ teaching: “It is not Paul’s practice to
quote dominical sayings, but he evidently takes Jesus’
instruction…as absolutely binding on the church.”14 In
contrast to this, J. Murphy-O’Connor sees Paul’s
apparent allowance for divorce in 1 Cor. 7:15 as
questioning Jesus’ absolute authority: “We are forced to
the conclusion that Paul considered Jesus’ prohibition of
divorce, not as a binding precept, but as a significant
directive whose relevance to a particular situation had to
be evaluated by the pastor responsible for the
community.”15 However, Paul’s teach- ing about divorce
in 1 Cor. 7:15 may simply be explicative of the radical
prohibition for dealing with mixed marriages.16
Why does Paul explicitly use a teaching of Jesus at
this point when most often he does not? Fee sees the
reason for Paul’s usual lack of ex- plicit reference to
Jesus as the result of (1) Paul seeing all his ethical
commands as coming from the Lord as Paul models
himself after Jesus and (2) that many of the situations
faced by the Gentile churches were not addressed by
Jesus.17 Barrett sees one reason for Paul’s use of Jesus in
this case as the difference between this teaching on
divorce and that of the current Jewish teaching and even
the Old Testament allowance

11. Traugott Holtz, “Paul and the Oral Gospel Tradition,” in

Henry Wans- brough (ed.), Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition
(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991), p. 383.

12. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the

Corinthians, p. 140.

13. F.W. Grosheide, Commentary on the First Epistle to the

(NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), p. 163.
14. William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther, 1 Corinthians
(Anchor Bible; New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 212.
15. Quoted by Frans Neirynck, “Paul and the Sayings of
Jesus,” in A. Vanhoye (ed.), L’Apôtre Paul: Personalité, style et
conception du ministere (BETL, 73; Leuven: Leuven University
Press, 1986), p. 317.
16. Neirynck, “Paul and the Sayings of Jesus,” p. 320.

17. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp. 291-92.

for divorce. As a result, Paul needed to rely on the
additional authority of Jesus.18

So also the Lord ordained those announcing the Gospel to

live from the


This verse takes place in the context of an argument that

was very close to Paul’s heart: his status as an apostle.
In every Epistle, excluding Philippians, Paul, to some
degree, has to fight for his acceptance as an apostle.
Although on the surface, Paul is using his example of
not receiving all of his rights as an example to the
Corinthians to voluntar- ily restrict their freedom, it is
clear that Paul is also attempting to assert his identity as
an apostle with the Corinthians.
In the midst of this discussion, Paul brings up
another saying of Jesus. This passage comes from Lk.
10:7 in which Jesus gives instructions to the seventy-
two (twelve in the parallel in Mt. 10:10) missionary
disciples as they were about to prepare the way for
Jesus. One of the instructions was to “Stay in that house,
eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the
worker deserves his wages.” While Paul is known to use
Old Testament passages out of context for his pur-
poses, Paul does make an appropriate connection
between his own min- istry and that of the seventy-two.
Paul had been sent out to prepare the way for Jesus and
therefore Paul deserved the same rights given to the first
missionaries. The use of ἀπέστειλεν in Lk. 10:1
introducing a section that Paul uses to defend the rights
of apostleship is additional evidence of Paul’s reference
to Jesus.19
B. Fjärstedt has developed an interesting theory
concerning clusters of theme words that function as
allusions to traditional material. Fjärstedt focused
specifically on 1 Corinthians 1–4 and 9. There has been
much criticism of Fjärstedt’s work, as his proposed
allusions have proved to be too allusive.20 However,
Dale Allison believes that Fjärstedt has demonstrated
his case with 1 Corinthians 9. When the vocabulary of 1
Corinthians 9 and Luke 10 are compared, the parallels

18. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 162.

19. David Wenham, Paul and Jesus: The True Story (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans,


20. Dale C. Allison, Jr., “The Pauline Epistles and the Synoptic
Gospels: The
Pattern of the Parallels,” New Testament
Studies 28 (1982), p. 9.
are extensive and the thoughts are similar.21 It seems
clear that Paul had
Luke 10 (or the tradition behind it) in mind when he
wrote 1
Corinthians 9, with 1 Cor. 9:14 only being the most
obvious example.
The actual saying of Jesus was originally a proverb
and not a command. However, within the tradition,
Jesus’ authority makes it a command.22 Although it is
unknown if the Corinthians were aware of the
missionary discourse, Paul’s casual use of it suggests
that it was known to them.23 The purpose of Paul’s use
of a Jesus saying at this point is that he was trying to
build up a particularly strong case by com- bining
reason and common experience, the Old Testament,
universal religious practice and finally the teachings of
Jesus.24 The fact that 1
Tim. 5:18 explicitly quotes Lk. 10:7 is significant. If 1
Timothy was written by Paul, this is proof that Paul was
very familiar with this par- ticular Jesus tradition. If 1
Timothy was written by someone else, he was being true
to Paul in identifying 1 Cor. 9:14 with Lk. 10:7.25 1 Cor-
inthians 9:14 is very important for helping us to
understand Paul’s pat- tern of using the Jesus tradition.
As Holtz states, “Paul appeals to an instruction of Jesus,
gives its factual content in so far as it is necessary for
the context of his argument, but does not quote the
saying of Jesus which he envisages, although he surely
had it in mind in a fixed form of words.”26
2. Liturgical
Traditions of

Although 1 Cor. 11:23-25 clearly is an example of

Paul’s quotation of Jesus, it is often treated differently
because it belongs to a liturgical tradition.27 1
Corinthians 15:3-5 is introduced by Paul in a similar
way and also most likely belongs to a liturgical
tradition. Both passages are very important for revealing
Paul’s knowledge of the historical Jesus.

21. Allison, “Pauline Epistles,” p. 9.

22. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 413.

23. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 413.
24. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 208.
25. Holtz, “Paul and the Oral Gospel Tradition,” p. 384.
26. Holtz, “Paul and the Oral Gospel Tradition,” p. 384.
27. Walter, “Paul and the Early Christian Jesus-Tradition,” p.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to
you that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was
betrayed, took bread and having given thanks, he
broke it and said, “This is my body on behalf of you,
do this for my remembrance.” Likewise also the cup,
after the meal, saying, “This is the cup of the new
covenant in my blood, do this as often as you drink in
my remembrance.”

This passage is introduced by Paul with the technical

language of tradition: “received” (παρέλαβον) and
“delivered” (παρἐδωκα), as established in both Jewish
and Greek usage.28 The question that arises is: how did
Paul receive this tradition from the Lord? Was it a direct
revelation from the risen Christ? Or was this tradition
passed on to Paul by others, such as Peter or James?
What complicates matters is Paul’s comment in Gal.
1:11-12, “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I
preached is not something that man made up. I did not
receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I
received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Fee
explains how Paul could receive this tradition from
other Christians without contradicting Gal. 1:11-12: “In
Galatians Paul is not referring to the teachings and
narratives about Jesus, but to the message of redemption
through Christ’s death and resurrection, offered freely
by God to those who believe.”29 Barrett offers a good
compromise between direct revelation and human
tradition when he suggests that this is an example of
“the authority of the Lord operating with, and through,
the human tradition.”30 This tradition need not have been
in written form when Paul received it.31 The fact that
this tradition was in a fixed state does not contradict its
oral nature.32
Despite some differences, 1 Cor. 11:23-25 is clearly
describing the same event recorded in Mt. 26:26-28, Mk
14:22-24 and Lk. 22:19-20. When examined together, it
can be seen that not only are there differ- ences between
Paul and the Synoptic Gospels, there are also
differences among the various Gospel accounts. Closer
examination reveals that the tradition of the institution
of the Lord’s Supper was passed down in two forms:
one represented by Mark and Matthew and the other

28. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 264-65.

29. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 548.

30. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 266.
31. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the
Corinthians, p. 243.
32. Holtz, “Paul and the Oral Gospel Tradition,” p. 383.
represented by Paul and Luke.33 Even after this
classification, there remain some differences between
Paul and Luke, the most significant difference being that
Paul replaces Luke’s “which is poured out for you” with
“do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
It is likely that Luke represents the more primitive form
of the common tradition with Paul adjusting the citation
for the Corinthian situation. Fee writes,
Paul repeats the command “do this in my
remembrance” precisely because this is where his
concern lay—not in the repetition of the words per se,
but in their eating the Lord’s Supper truly in “Christ’s
honor,” that is, in “remembrance” of the salvation
that his death had procured


This passage may have been used liturgically within

the churches, but it still is an example of a Jesus
tradition known by Paul and used for teaching purposes.
Paul writes assuming that the Corinthians know the
Passion story.35 This knowledge may have originated
with Paul’s passing on of the tradition or it may have
been common knowledge in the Church. It is possible
that this passage reveals further knowledge of the
Passion. David Wenham comments, “The way Paul
begins his reminder—‘on the night that he was
betrayed’—suggests that they knew the story of how
Jesus was betrayed as well as the story of the Last
Supper.”36 Dale Allison suggests the possibility that the
institution was found in a wider context, not quoted by
Paul.37 E. Earle Ellis claims that “the tradition of Jesus’
teaching at the Last Supper, which Paul had previously
transmitted to the Corinthians, concerned not only the
passion of Messiah but also the nature of the church as
his body, that is, the body of Christ.”38 What is
important is that a significant event in the life of Jesus,
an event described in essential agreement with the
Gospel accounts, was well known by Paul and the early
33. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 546.

34. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp. 555-56.

35. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the
Corinthians, p. 243.
36. Wenham, Paul and Jesus, p. 148.
37. Allison, “Pauline Epistles,” p. 16.
38. E. Earle Ellis, “Traditions in 1 Corinthians,” New
Testament Studies 32 (1986), pp. 481-502 (487).
For I delivered to you as first things, that which I also
received, that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, and that he was buried and that he rose on
the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he
was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve.

The present passage is quite different from previous

examples. The previous passages all refer to actual
words of Jesus, while this passage contains no sayings.
Also, the other passages clearly refer to the histor- ical
Jesus, while this passage describes Jesus after the
resurrection. While to some, the risen Jesus belongs to
faith and not to history, it is evident that Paul is
describing something different than his usual theo-
logical reflections on the cross and the resurrection.
Paul seems to be grounding belief in the resurrection in
historical facts. As Stanley Porter states, this passage is
“one of the most important passages with regard to
Paul’s knowledge of the earthly Jesus.”40
This passage begins similarly to 1 Cor. 11:23-25
with the language of tradition, but with the omission of
the phrase, “received from the Lord.” This undoubtedly
was another fixed liturgical tradition that Paul had
received from others and had passed on to the
Corinthians. Again, with 1 Cor. 11:23-25, this was not
received by direct revelation from the risen Christ.41
That is not to deny Paul’s belief of revelation within the
tradition. As Robertson and Plummer remind, “He
received the facts from the Apostles and others; the
import of the facts was made known to him by
Paul does not attempt to prove that God raised Jesus
from the dead, since historical evidence cannot prove or
disprove the existence of God. What Paul does do is
ground the resurrection in its historical context. The
resurrection “is not unrelated to history, for the
affirmation began to be made at a particular point in
time, which can be dated by

39. Barrett suggests that the primitive tradition ends at v. 5;

see First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 342.
40. Stanley E. Porter, “Images of Christ in Paul’s Letters,” in
Stanley E. Porter, David Tombs and Michael A. Hayes (eds.),
Images of Christ: Ancient and Modern (Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1997), pp. 95-112 (99).
41. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the
Corinthians, p. 333.

42. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the

Corinthians, p. 333.
historical means, and it was motivated by occurrences
which can be described in historical terms.”43
Some of the historical context that Paul provides is
regarding the witnesses to the resurrection. It is worth
noting that this tradition does not include the
appearances to Mary Magdalene or the two traveling to
Emmaus. However the Gospel of John does not include
these appear- ances either in the summary in 21:14,
assuming that they could be con- sidered disciples.44
Most likely, this tradition was crafted to provide the
strongest support for the testimony of the resurrection.
The tradition does state that Jesus appeared to
Cephas. There is a
suggestion that this special appearance took place in Lk.
24:34, which says, “The Lord has risen and has
appeared to Simon.” A special appearance to Peter
would be expected considering Peter’s denial before the
crucifixion and his later rise to leadership in the Church.
It should be noted that “Cephas” rather than “Peter” or
“Simon” is used in this tradition. “Cephas” is Paul’s
usual name for Peter, and it is quite possible that Paul
inserted “Cephas” into this tradition.45 Paul also de-
scribes an appearance to the “Twelve.” The absence of
Judas is not a contradiction to this description as “the
Twelve” refers to the group and not just the number of
people. This early mention of “the Twelve”
demonstrates that this was not just an early invention of
the Church. Fee puts in context the place of “the
Twelve” among Jesus’ followers:
This designation for Jesus’ disciples, plus the fact that
Paul will later refer to another appearance to “all the
apostles” (v. 7), suggests most strongly that the
joining of these two terms into the title “the twelve
apostles” had not yet taken place in the church. That
is, in Paul’s view “the Twelve” were a distinct entity,
no doubt considered apostles, but

the latter designation covered a

much larger group.46

It is quite clear that Paul was aware of traditions of

some of the historical context for Jesus’ resurrection
and that he used those traditions for teaching purposes.

43. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 341.

44. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the

Corinthians, p. 336.
45. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 729.
46. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 729.
3. Echoes of
There are a number of passages in 1 Corinthians that
could possibly be echoes of Jesus’ teaching. S. Kim lists
eight possible echoes of Jesus in
1 Corinthians.47 For this discussion, two of these
will be examined.


Until the present hour, we hunger and thirst and are

naked and are buffeted and are unsettled and labour
working with our own hand. Being reviled, we bless,
being persecuted, we endure, being defamed, we
beseech. As refuse of the world we have become
scum of all things even until now.

At first glance, Paul does not seem to be quoting Jesus

or anyone else. However, Kim lists this passage under
“certain or probable references” rather than “possible
echoes.”48 The reason for this is that some of the
language in this passage is quite close to that found in
the Sermon on the Mount or the Sermon on the Plain.
Fee sees, “Being reviled we bless,” as a direct echo of
Jesus’ teaching (Lk. 6:28) and Jesus’ life (Lk.
23:34).49 Robertson and Plummer are not sure that Paul
is definitely alluding to Jesus’ commands, but admit
that he is under their influ- ence.50 Barrett sees both the
continuity with Jesus’ teaching, as well as the ambiguity
of Paul’s source:
His behaviour as he describes it recalls clearly the
teaching of Jesus, especially in the Sermon on the
Mount…of which there are fairly clear echoes; Paul,
however, characteristically gives no indication that he
is aware that he is using the language of Jesus, or
acting in obedience to



It seems clear that Jesus is using imagery from the Jesus

tradition. The question is: Did Paul know he was
quoting Jesus? Holtz sees evidence from the use of the
Sermon on the Mount/Plain tradition in Did. 1:3 to
suggest that in this passage, “Paul was conscious that he
was adopting
47. Kim, “Jesus, Sayings of,” p. 481.

48. Kim, “Jesus, Sayings of,” p. 477.

49. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 179.
50. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the
Corinthians, p. 87.
51. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 112.
sayings of Jesus into his own speech.”52 Based on
evidence in Romans and 1 Cor. 4:12, Allison believes,
“It is not easy to avoid the inference that Paul knew the
cluster now preserved in Luke 6:27-38.”53 When 1
Cor. 4:11-13 is compared to Lk. 6:20-22, 27-31, many
of the images
overlap. It is likely that Paul had the Sermon on the
Mount/ Plain in mind when he wrote this passage, but
chose not to offer Jesus as the source. Perhaps the
Corinthians were already aware of this material and
knew that it came from Jesus.


And if I have prophecies and know all mysteries and

all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I
give all my possessions and if I deliver my body in
order that I might be burned, but if I have not love, I
am profited nothing.

This is another passage where Paul is not explicitly

quoting Jesus, but where the language is very close to
that of Jesus’ teaching. The first part of this passage
sounds like Jesus’ promise to his disciples: “The
knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has
been given to you, but not to them” (Mt. 13:11). This
could be discounted as coinci- dence, if not for what
follows. Paul’s comment about faith that can move
mountains also is very close to Jesus’ teaching: “If you
have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to
this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will
move” (Mt. 17:20). There is some disagree- ment as to
the relevance of this similarity. Robertson and Plummer
suggest that both Jesus and Paul used the same
proverbial expression.54
Barrett agrees, believing that Paul is not quoting Jesus
but sharing a proverb.55 On the other hand, Fee believes
that “This qualifier is another sure evidence of Paul’s
acquaintance with the teaching of Jesus.”56 William Orr
and James Walther see this as evidence that “Paul
proclaimed not only the death and resurrection of Jesus
but also his moral teaching.”57 The probability that Paul
is thinking of Jesus’ teaching increases in the next verse
where Paul speaks of giving away

52. Holtz, “Paul and the Oral Gospel Tradition,” p. 392.

53. Allison, “Pauline Epistles,” p. 12.

54. Robertson and Plummer, First Epistle of St. Paul to the
Corinthians, p. 290.
55. Barrett, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 301.
56. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 632 note.
57. Orr and Walther, 1 Corinthians, p. 291.
possessions, an action often mentioned by Jesus. Fee
believes that
“Paul is probably once again reflecting on the
teaching of Jesus.”58
Each phrase by itself is not strong enough to claim
an origin in the Jesus tradition, but together they make a
good case for Paul’s use of Jesus’ teachings. It is
possible that the Corinthians were aware of some of
Jesus’ teachings and felt that they were justified in their
knowledge, faith and generosity as commended by
Jesus. Paul reminded them (without quoting the
passage), that obedience to these teachings of Jesus are
meaningless without obedience to Jesus’ central
message of love for God and for neighbor (Mt. 22:37-
40). It is likely that Paul knew the importance that Jesus
placed on love for neighbor, as Paul quotes this Old
Testament passage twice—Rom. 13:9 and Gal. 5:14—
in a similar way to Jesus. As David Wenham states, “We
may conclude that in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul is recalling
some of the most important examples of spirituality as
taught by Jesus, but insisting on the absolute priority of
love, which was, of course, the priority in Jesus’ own
teach- ing.”59 While we cannot know for sure what Paul
intended with this imagery, it does seem probable that
Paul was responding to some mis- understandings of
Jesus’ teaching in the Corinthian church. Once again,
Paul’s knowledge of Jesus’ teaching is demonstrated.


It is well known that Paul does not often quote the

teachings or refer to the earthly life of Jesus. However,
this should not be taken as evidence that these traditions
were unknown to Paul. 1 Corinthians is a good example
of Paul’s use of the Jesus tradition in a number of forms.
In this letter, Paul explicitly cites Jesus, quotes liturgical
traditions con- cerning Jesus and incorporates echoes of
Jesus’ teaching into his own arguments. 1 Corinthians
demonstrates that the Jesus tradition, includ- ing details
of the passion and resurrection, as well as specific
teachings, were well known to Paul. It seems as if
reference to Jesus’ teachings is a tool that Paul uses only
when he wants to make a particularly strong point. The
lack of use of the Jesus tradition in many places only
streng- thens the impact when Paul does bring in Jesus’
authority. In other places, Paul has so absorbed the
traditions and teachings of Jesus into his own life that
the separation between Paul and Jesus is often difficult

58. Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 633.

59. Wenham, Paul and Jesus, p. 163.

to determine. It is obvious that the traditions of the life and teachings of
Jesus were extremely important to Paul and were used in his teaching where
The Righteousness of God in
the Pauline Corpus
Darin M. Wood, Ph.D.
All information, unless otherwise notated, is © Darin M.
Wood, Ph.D., 2006

Chapter One
Pauline Terms For Righteousness And
Definition of Terms
The term oticatocruvri is usually translated from the Hebrew
term mpnv In the LXX, It is used 81 times for "Sticatoavvri"
and six times it is translated "just," or "righteous." In eight
instances the term is used for "IP;71, meaning "loving-kindness,"
In Hebrew usage, the term indicates more than a Western idea
of appropriate justice to each person. "Usually the word suggests
Yahweh's saving acts as evidence of God's faithfulness to his
covenant."3 Thus, the term, while it may indicate the idea of
equality and justice, announces a commitment to the people as
well as the covenant God both initiated and maintained. The
emphasis, in the Hebrew concept, is on the faithfulness to the law
and Covenant and thereby God himself.'
The Hebrew word is most often used as a "term rooted in a
legal forensic terminology"5 rarely implying an ethical quality.
Usually, it is rooted in relationship terms depicting a kinship
between two parties.6 In the relationship between Saul and
David in 1 Sam 24:17, David is reckoned to be more righteous
than Saul since he maintains his role as a subject of Saul's rage
without retaliating.' Thus, righteousness is established on sealing
a covenant and maintaining it.

G. Schrenk, "Staicatoavvri vcr, Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament, Vol II, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 195.

K.L. Onesti and M.T. Brauch, "Righteousness, Righteousness
of God," Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. G. Hawthorne
and R. Martin (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 829.


Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.
Ardnt, (Chicago: University Press, 1979), 196. Cf. Morris,
101, Dunn, 164.

Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, Vol I.(New
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1954), 271.

James D.G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 342.

In Greek terminology, the word implies a similar covenantal

flavor, retaining much of the meaning from the Hebrew. The idea
of proper behavior or right standing in relationship to others is
seen often in the early meaning of oticatoavvri. This
characteristic was considered a virtue to the Greek citizenry.8 "In
Roman Civil Law, justice was done when one acted toward
another in accordance with one's respective status established by
tradition and the Roman legal corpus."'
However, on occasion, the Greeks used the term in an ethical
sense,1° implying a rightness or correctness of behavior. One was
righteous when one acted in accordance with the laws and statues
of the land. Therefore, while different, the concept of covenant is
still in view.

Synonyms and Antonyms in Contrast to Aticatoavvri

In contemplating the term oticatcruvri, it may be of benefit to
examine the logical opposite of the term in order to grasp the
breadth of its meaning. Antonyms include ()coma (Rom 1.17,
3.5.; 4.5; 5.6.; Rev. 22.11) and agapatia,(Rom 6.19; 2 Cor 6.14).
These terms, each denoting a state of unfaithfulness or wrong-
ness, imply such in ethical terms as well as in theological terms.
In parallel nomenclature, the oticatoavvi is the Baaagta
(Mattt 6.33), °atm; (Eph 4.24), ercpatEta (Acts 24:25),
etpivii Kat xapa (Rom 14:17), aogna and alftaap,o; (1 Cor
1.30), ayaecoavvii Kat aXiegta (Eph 5.9), and evae3aa,
virogovi, npauraegia (1 Tim 6:11 cf. 2 Tim 2:22). "A
survey of the usage confirms the assumption of a twofold
dimension in the New Testament usage of dikaiosunh: as a
major theological-soteriological concept and as an expression of
ethically correct human conduct."'

Pauline Usage of Atic- Words

Of the 302 times a otic- word is used, 138 of those are found in
the Pauline writings.12 Paul thus establishes the meaning of the
concept of the oticatoavvi and gives it its widest variance of
meaning.13 He affirms the close connection of the concept with the
Old Testament, and thus with the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob, demonstrating the

Bultmann, 1:271.


Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1988), 101. 11Kertelge, 326.

John Reumann, "Righteousness in the New Testament,"

Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. D.N. Freedman, (New York:
Doubleday Press, 1992), 747.

H. Seebass, "Righteousness," The New International


Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III, ed. Colin

Brown, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Press, 1978), 363.

idea of a relational connection in righteousness.' This concept of

righteousness is tied closely to the Old Testament understanding
of righteousness between two parties based upon an obligation to
maintain their roles.15 Paul assumes the covenantal faithfulness
of God as he asserts the oticatoavvi egoi5, equating it with the
power of God to save.16

&wawa vvii OEov

This genitival term lies at the very heart of the Pauline
concept of justification and the sinner. Two possibilities arise as
to how this phrase is to be understood. First, one may understand
this as an objective genitive, that is the righteousness from God.
This option implies "righteousness from God" with God as the
object of the faith 17 This explanation has at its root the
justification of man through the redemptive work of Christ.
Therefore, the righteousness of God appropriates itself into lives
through faith in Christ and in God. Righteousness stands as the
covenantal renewal with God as both keeper and founder of the
Second, one may understand this as a subjective genitive,
meaning righteousness that is a gift from God as a result of his
character.18 Thus, faith is based on a "God gift of his character"'
never to be separated from the Giver. "The righteousness of God
is God's power in Christ reaching out into the world"
experienced in the sphere of Christ's lordship (Rom 10:4).20
While strong possibilities exist for both interpretations, the
best solution may be a "both and". Grammatically, either
alternative is possible and thus, it is possible that Paul

Jospeh Fitzmyer, Anchor Bible Commentary — Romans, ed.


W.F. Albright and D.N. Freedman, (New York: Doubleday

Press, 1992), 350.

Dunn, 342.

Ibid., 343.

So A.T. Robertson, A Greek Grammar In Light of Historical


Research, (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914. cf. Dunn

and Morris.

Cf. KAsemann, P. Stuhlmacher.

Alistar McGrath, Iuistia Dei: A History of the Christian
Doctrine of Justification, (Cambridge: University Press, 1986),
52. In history, a subjective understanding as well as an objective
interpretation of the construction iustita Dei implies "a gracious
act of justification rather than to a divine property which stands
over and against man. . . In a soteriological setting, it refers to
"the salvation of manking, whether as a consequence of God's
faithfulness to his promises of mercy or of the bestowal of the
divine righteousness upon the sinner.

Onesti, DPL, 835

intended both objective and subjective to be understood.21

However, this phrase seems to lean more toward the possibility of
an objective genitive, placing God in the position of being faithful
to his covenant as well as the object of faith. Such an
understanding seems to be in keeping with much of Paul's
Romans provides the point of understanding of this term since
the majority of the Ancatoavvi Ogov passages are found there. In
Rom 1:16-17, the phrase is introduced and given what may be its
most full explanation. Through the gospel, the oncatocruvi 0E015
is revealed through faith, confirming the prophecy regarding those
who live by faith. "For Paul, the historical gospel — the life,
death, and resurrection of Christ — is the historical manifestation
of divine power."' In this passage, the concepts of righteousness
and gospel meet. The only viable response to such an encounter is
faith.23 Thus, faith in Christ is the means of appropriating this
righteousness (Rom 1; 3; 10).
Despite human frailty and wickedness (Rom 3:3-5), God
remains faithful to his covenant. This underlying principle is
the basis upon which Paul builds the balance of his argument.
God is true to his covenantal promises. Therefore, man can take
confidence in the reliability of the oncatoavvi OEov and in it,
they find justification and right standing before God.
The sacrificial nature of Christ's death is an essential
component in appropriating the righteousness of God (Rom 3:24-
35). Christ is the manifestation of the righteousness of God and
the covenant renewal. Once that has been established, believers
are challenged to reconcile their lives to God in order to be
"instruments of righteousness" (Rom 6:13). Believers are said to
be "slaves to righteousness" (Rom 6:18). Righteousness, then, is
the foundation for God's relationship to man (Rom 10:10).

Ancatocruvii 0E015 as Kerygmatic Formula

Some have taken the concept of the oucatoavvi 0E015 as a
starting point for understanding Paul's theology. They assert
that Paul adopted the term and embodied it with a more
complete meaning,' contrasting the oncatoavvi OEov with the
righteousness of man. His use of this term, especially in
Romans, is recognized as one the keys to apprehending his
salvific concept.
In examining the history of oncatoavvi OEov as a kergymatic
formula in pre-Pauline tradition, it is possible that Paul assumed
the phrase from other places since usage of it in other writings
was prevalent.' This formulaic idea, filled with connotations

Walter Schmithals, The Theology of the First Christians,
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 95-96.
Likewise, Bultmann, Theology, 1: 271

Dunn, 342.


James Moffatt, "Righteousness," Dictionary of the


Apostolic Church, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,

1918), 382.

Kertelge, 327.

of Old Testament covenant renewal and rightness of relationship

between man and God, would have made the term a favorite
with Jewish Christians.' It implied the idea of justification of
each person and thus the re-establishment of the covenant
promised. The possibility of Paul's adoption of this term is
further substantiated by the use of oticatoavvi Ogaii in 1 Cor
5:21 and Rom 3:25e as a means (or a marker) of entering into
the new life of this covenant (cf. Rom 1:3-4; 4:25; 10:9; 14: 9; 1
Thes 1:9-10, 4:1416; 1 Cor 15:3-5).
Therefore, the proclamation of covenantal establishment
manifests itself by God's announcement of a permanent solution
to the enigma of sin. While correcting the broken relationship
between man and God is impossible from a strictly human
standpoint, the oticatoavvi Ogaii is offered based on God's
abilities to both offer it and maintain it.

Aticatocruvi 0E015 as Justification

Directly connected to the concept of the ovicatoavvi OEov is
the Pauline thought of justification.' Man is treated "(a) as if he
had never sinned and (b) as if he always accomplished all the
good God could expect from him."' This righteousness is the
great and comprehensive idea which embraces in its width
both God and man.' This idea of justification is exemplified in
passages such as 2 Cor 5:21, when Paul makes it clear that this
justification was done on the part of God for the benefit of
mankind. First Corinthians1:30 asserts that Christ himself is
redemption, righteousness and holiness, thus appropriated
through faith in him.

Atic- as an adjective
The a Svc- used adjectivally in the Pauline corpus is rare. In
Rom 3:10, Paul declares the complete fallibility of man as he
declares that there are none who are inherently righteous. At
times, God is characterized as righteous in nature (Rom 3:26).

Fitzmyer, 342, notes that the pre-Pauline form of this saying
may have appeared as: "being justified freely through
redemption (which comes) in Christ Jesus, whom God
presented as a means of expiating sin through his blood, as a
manifestation of his uprightness for the pardon of past sins
committed in the time of forebearance."

Ibid.. Cf. J. Reumann, "Righteousness in the New Testament,"
Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol V, (New York: Doubleday Press,
1992), 758. "The phrase oticatocruvi Ogov , which occurs in
some of the pre-Pauline formulas, has a supposedly technical
term in the OT and Jewish Apocalyptic lit, and has been taken as
the starting point for Pauline development."
Schmithals, 96.

F. Godet, Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, trans


A. Cusin, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1982), 159.

W. Sanday and A.C. Headlam, The Epistle to the Romans: An


Exegetical Commentary, International Critical Commentary, (New

York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920), 24.

Additionally, Paul uses oticatoavvi to describe a righteousness

emanating from God (Rom 3:22).
When a otic- term used in reference to humans, it designates
him as one having the characteristics of righteousness. In Rom
5:7, Paul describes in adjectival tone the man who is regarded as
righteous. Paul describes the ones called righteous as those who
live according to the principles of God's law and thus have their
lives shaped as a result (cf. Eph 6:1; Phil 4:8; Col 4:1; Titus 1:8;
Gal 3:11).

This verbal form is used to "describe that divine action which
affects the sinner in such a way that the relationship to God is
altered or transformed (either ontologicallly. . . .orr
postionally)."31 This term is usually seen as a action of God,
changing and reshaping the person or groups, back toward the
covenant relationship with Him (Rom 3:21-31; 5:19; Gal 2:17).
The righteousness of God, therefore, is neither a new doctrine
nor a new idea, but "the appearing of that which had been
determined in the council of God with respect in the fullness of
time."' Using the established definition of oticatoavvi, Paul
addressed the issue of covenantal righteousness through a
multitude of usage.
This oticatocruvi egoli is the primary phrase chosen by Paul to
communicate both the foundation of the covenant and the
continuance of it. Both are to be found in the oticatoavvi egoli. It
is the means of justification (bringing believers into the rightness
of relationship) and sanctification (the continuing results of this
new covenant). The means for appropriating this into one's life is
through faith in the work of Christ.
This oticatocruvi comes from God himself and nowhere else.
He alone is the source for true oticatocruvi. Therefore, out of his
own good pleasure and desire to re-establish a right relationship
with man, God himself had to initiate the process.

Onesti, DPL, 835.

Herman N. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology,
trans H.R. DeWitt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 162.

Chapter Two
Exegesis Of Romans 3:21-26

This passage represents the first time in Romans Paul

approaches the issue of Christology in detailed fashion.33 This
passage, a classic in the arena of study, demonstrates the
initiative of God in restoring humanity to a right relationship to
himself.34 These verses provide the sum and substance of the
gospel of the Apostle, not just for the Jew who stands under the
old covenant, but also for the Gentile who has been welcomed
into this new covenant. From this passage, one cannot help but
ascertain one thing for sure: God has sat in judgment, judged sin,
and punished such through the act of Christ on the cross.
Through such a graphic and definitive act, God established his
oticatocruvi in His people and thus through his people.'

Rom. 3:21 - But now righteousness from God, apart from law,
has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets

From the outset of this passage, Paul fully intends to employ a

contrast between the "righteousness" of the old covenant (under
Moses, the Law and the Prophets) and the new covenant
established under Christ. The adverbial phrase vuvt SE, which
opens this pericope, emphasizes the shift in thought as Paul
moves from his discussion in 3:1-20 of the righteousness
established through the acts of the man. Morris notes that the
"but now" phrase implies the intervening hand of God himself.36
Fitzmyer refers to this as the "eschatological" adverb, which
marks a new day in salvation history.' Dunn notes this phrase as
characteristically Pauline in transitioning from one point to

Fitzmyer, 343.

Ibid., 341.

Fitzmyer, 341. "God himself has taken the initiative and has
restored for humaniry the right relationship of it to himself. The
gospel proclaiming Christ's passion, death and resurrection and
the effects of those events are thus manifestations of "God's
power (unleashed) for the salvation of everyone who believes"


James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary,
ed. G. Barker and D. Hubbard, (Dallas: Word Books, 1988),
164. He further notes its use as a transition from "one epoch to
another where a decisive new element has transformed the
circumstances which previously pertained." Cf. Fitzmyer, 343.

This new day is underscored as one being xcopi; vopm.' This

marks a dramatic shift for not only the Gentiles but for the Jews
as well.' The traditional and accepted method of obtaining
righteousness is no longer viable. The new righteousness, which
is now interposed, is disconnected from any effort at rule
maintenance. It is completely xcupic vol.tov.
This vogo; is further defined as that which is gainupaul.tivi
imo 'col) vol.tau iced, teiiv nporitaiv. Thus, Paul defines the Law
as encompassing the Decalogue, the Levitical Laws, as well as
the words of Prophets. All of these gainupaupivi to the
righteousness which is now revealed. Thus, while Paul does not
cast off the Law and the Prophets, they are to be viewed as an
insufficient method for meeting the demands of God.
Righteousness, and thus justification, must be found somewhere
If justification is to be found apart from the law, from
whence does it come? Through the oticatoai5vi Om). As has
been already demonstrated, this righteousness of God is both
descriptive of his character, which is normative for Paul, and
prescriptive for a covenantal relationship with God. Schrenk
rightly notes that this is not the same type of righteousness as
found in the synagogue.' Rather this distinctive type of
righteousness is impaveporcat - being made known. The tense
of the verb suggests a complete yet continuing action.' Thus,
while this manifestation of the righteousness of God took place
at a specific point in time, its impact continues with a durative
concept. The implication is that this righteousness, heretofore
unknown, has come (and remains) in full view.

Rom. 3:22a - This righteousness from God comes through faith in

Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Paul now begins to describe this righteousness and the means

of appropriation of such. Interestingly, Paul inserts the adversative
SE, further distinguishing this new righteousness with the old
methods of justification.' He first notes that this oticatoaim is
found in the person of God himself. The absence of the verb in
this verse implies the

39 veipm is the typically Pauline word when dealing with the

Torah. He wants to be certain that his readers understand that
this new righteousness has nothing to do with ritual purity or
covenant maintenance. Also, given the context of the rest of
Rom 3, equating this v61.tov
with the Torah is almost inescapable.

Ibid., 165.

G. Schrenk, "Sticatoavvi ra.", Theological Dictionary of the


New Testament, Vol II„ ed. G. Kittel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1964), 196.

' Robertson, 893.

action is initiated and carried out through the work of God

himself, not through normal means of mediation."
The nature of otix niatewc Xptatab deserves no
small attention. The

appropriation of this new found righteousness is through otix

niatecoc This genitival phrase has plagued many a New
Testament commentator. Is this a subjective genitive, meaning
the faith of Jesus Christ brings about this righteousness or an
objective genitive meaning faith in Jesus Christ. Many, such as
Kittel and Williams,' read this as a subjective genitive. However,
many others, such as Dunn, Robertson and Morris,x read this as
an objective genitive, thus Jesus is the object of faith.46 That is,
God's righteousness comes into full expression thorough faith in
Christ. Faith in Christ is the only path available to true
oticatocruvi.47 The central issue then is on the operation of God's
righteousness and the salvific effect of faith in Christ. This is the
first time Paul links the idea of righteousness with faith in
This faith is unto etc navtac tobc ntatei5orcac. Paul here
restates his emphasis on the underlying broadness of these words.
This faith in Christ is for no single ethnic or socio-political group,
it is for all who believe. This faith is the designating mark for all
who believe.

Rom 3:22b-26: There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented
him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did
this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had
left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to
demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the
one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.'

Paul addresses the issue of the universality of frailty and the

sinful condition. Despite the geographic, ethic, political or social
conditions of the readers of Romans, Paul sweeps them all
together as he makes clear - ov yap iCTUV otacnoXii, narce; yap

" Dunn, 165.

Taken from Fitzmyer, 345

So Dunn, 165. Morris, 176.

E.H. Gifford, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, (London:

John Murray, 1886), 89, says "Faith therefore, is not an arbitrary
condition imposed upon us from without, but a law of our true
nature. It exalts man to his rightful dignity by allowing the free
consent of his will, and the active exercise of his faculties, and yet
humbles him before God in acknowledgment of mercy
undeserved. Thus, faith is at once the soul's highest exercise of
freedom, it lowliest confession of sin and the only homage it can
render to God.
Morris, 176.

xai ixrupoi5vtat 'ru; So ii; Tab 0E01). The multitude of distinctions

— otacnoXii5° - are bound up and cast aside as the mutually
destitute plight of all is brought into view by the Apostle.
Paul continues his emphasis on the broad nature of his
language as he leaves no room for questions as he uses the
plural /Pim; to describe those whom are included in this group.
While many have sought to appease or please God through
covenant maintenance, all have ttaptov Kai ixrcepoi5vtat tfic
öigi; 'col) ego15, regardless of their efforts. The compound
verbal phrase ttaptov Kai ixrcepolmat emphasize both the
plight and the failure of humanity to reach the plateau sought in
seeking reconciliation with God. The tense of ttaptov, an aorist,
may indicate a continual state of sinning, as well as sinning at a
punctilliar point in time. Furthermore, those who ixnepoi5vtat
are included. Not only is there a punctilliar and repeated failure
on the part of narce;; there is also a ixrcepolmat (lacking;
falling short), which results in missing the Sigi; Tub 0E01).
The glory of God is often referred to in the future tense in Paul
(Rom 2:7, 10; 5:2; 8:18, 21), but with a present element as well.51
Is it possible that by linking the concept of man's sin with the loss
of the glory of God that Paul intends to speak of God's original
creative purpose?' It is plausible, but equally likely that Paul is
emphasizing that in order to enter a right relationship with God,
sin and failure are insufficient to receive the Sigri; Tab Ogial5.53
The works of the law are not adequate to accomplish this weighty
task. Only a dramatic intervention of God is sufficient to remedy
this problem. Therefore, the sin of mankind results in the
necessity of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross creating a
pathway to this oticatoai5vii 0E01).
From the ashes of defeat comes the promise of deliverance.
Those who are helpless to remedy their own situation are
oticatoi*evoi,- justified - by the work of Christ. This indicative
participial phrase of &mato) is without parallel in Paul, though he
does speak of God as "the justifier."' This justification is brought
about, not through the merits of the recipients since Paul has
already made clear that they have no merit on their own, but rather
as a free gift, a ocopeav55 given through his xi:Zinn . Thus, no man
has the right or


Ibid. He notes that God's original purpose was for man to
share in his WIN. However, because of man's sin, another
plan for man to share in that glory had to be invented thus
the whole redemptive work of Christ.

Fitzmyer, 347, Dunn, 168. Dunn states Paul's overall


emphasis in v.22 and 23 is to reduce all mankind to their

"common creature-liness."

Dunn, 168.

55 BAGD, 210.

privilege of proclaim his worthiness to receive such a gift, since

all who receive it do so freely, in spite of the sinful condition
marking their lives. Furthermore, perhaps Paul is setting the
freely given grace in antithesis with the works of the law and
the earned righteousness.56
This justification by grace is actualized otic 'ru;
anokutpthaecoc 'ru; iv Xptato)
- through the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. The
essential term anokutpthaecoc57 is a slavery term, used in terms
of purchasing ownership of a slave.58 Perhaps Paul intends to
draw on the analogy of a change of ownership. This may be the
best option in light of the Old Testament emphasis on bondage
and freedom (Deut 7.8; 9:26; 13.5; 15:15: Psm 25.22, 26:11;
31:5; Isa.51:11, 52:3; 62:12; 63:9). Thus, while at one time,
those who are justified were in bondage to sin, through the
Christ event; they have been anokyrpthatc-ied into his kingdom.
This redemption is brought through the work of Xpiate,)
'Irpoi5 whom God presented as a sacrifice of atonement. This
work of atonement is done out of the purposes of God himself.
Christ is npoiegto by God in order to be the iXacnriptov. The
issue of setting forth is a thorny one. Before whom did God set
forth Christ? Before himself as a measure of his punitive
judgment and righteousness or before man as a marker of the
price of propitiation? While it is plausible to read this passage as a
punitive requirement of the righteous law of God and thus
punishment had to be served, it seems more likely to read this
with regards to the public nature of Christ's death. This was not a
secretly initiated offer, but instead an offer made publicly to all
who would receive it.
Furthermore, this is to have parallels to the Suffering Servant
passage in Isaiah 53. The implication is clear and Paul had this
in mind as he spoke about the public nature of the death of
The term iXacniiptov has gained much attention in
scholarship.' There are two readings that are most plausible. First,
some have understood it to mean the place of atonement or the
mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. In the LXX, the
iXacniiptov is designated as the mercy seat, which on the Day of
Atonement is sprinkled with blood by



Dunn, 169, notes this as a familiar term to Jewish writers.
He also notes the strong possibility that many of those
listening were either slaves or ex-slaves, speaking more
directly to the desire for freedom.
Chris Vogel, The Exegetical Substructure of Romans 3:10-18
and its Relationship to its Context, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity
Press, 1989), 25.

James Moffatt, Dictionary of The Apostolic Church,
"Righteousness", ed. J. Hastings (Charles Scribner's Sons,
1918), 389 states that it is here that Paul's concept of
righteousness crosses with his concept of atonement.

the High Priest.61 This seems to be an open understanding in

light of the similar terminology and style. 62 However,
Christ's death was not done privately, as the sacrificial
animal on Yom Kippur, but openly for all to see.
Furthermore, would the Gentile readers of Rome have
understood it that way?
These concerns led F. Godet to suggest a second possibility: a
public display of that atonement without the heavy emphasis on
the Old Testament concept of sacrifice. While Godet concedes
that the Old Testament influence may be present, he resists the
temptation to make this a type/anti-type scenario on three
grounds. First, the book of Romans is not a Levitical book, such
as Hebrews.' Second, the clear absence of the definite article with
iXacniiptov. If Paul had in mind a specific, well-known place,
would he not have used it? Third, if the term is to be used in such
a heavily theological place, why does Paul only use it here?
While Godet may be right to not place all of Paul's emphasis
on the ilaatijimov as the mercy seat, the references to blood and
the seemingly similar circumstances surrounding the death of
Christ and the term iXacniiptov make it difficult to dismiss the
concept completely.' Therefore, while not assigning an
overwhelming amount of influence to iXacniiptov as mercy
seat, it will be recognized as a strongly likely possibility.' Thus,
the interpretation perhaps best suited here is to read this term as
"sacrifice, (NIV), "propitiation" or "expiation", all of which
emphasize the sacrificial nature of Christ's death without
emphasizing other specific details. In other words, thoruggh the
sacrificial work of Christ, somehow, the wrath of God is averted
by Jesus death.'
61Dunn, 170, underscores the LXX nature of this term.
Used 21 times in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers for the
lid of the Ark.

Walter Schmithals, The Theology of the First Christians,


(Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 95-6.

F. Godet, Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Roman:


Clark's Foreign Theological Series, trans A. Cusin, (Edinburgh: T

& T Clark, 1982), 255.

James Moffatt, "Righteousness", Dictionary of the Apostolic
Church, Vol II., (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918), 388.
Moffatt notes "Whether aacrrEptov means propiatory gift or
sacrifice, it is offered by God himself, not by men and this
sacrifice of Christ was neccessary for the realization of God's
righteousness or redeeming purposes. . . .What enables God to
justify sinners, what justifies justifying them, is the aaateptov of
Christ. It is through this sacrificial death that God's moral
character as &mato; becomes in relation to human sin, the attitude
and action of Swaim. Till Christ and outside of Christ there is no
righteousness for men."

C.E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the


Epistle to the Romans, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975),

210. So Dunn, Morris. Cranfield further notes a connection
between the deaths of martyrs and the view of such as part of the
tXecat eptov
of Israel- 217.

This act is accomplished &it [Tfi;] niateco; returning to

Paul's emphasis on the aspect of faith, whether the emphasis be
the faith of God or faith in God, in the saving efficacy of the
Christ event. Again, Paul seems to place num; in contrast to the
works off the law. The work of Christ is to be responded to
simply through faith.
This sacrifice was made iv t aiYcoi5 aigatt (in his blood),
symbolic of the events of Yom Kippur and the annual sacrifice
needed for remission of the sins of the Hebrews. The
effectiveness of the blood of Christ is in the same line of thought
as that of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Such a sacrifice
of blood was in accordance with Old Testament law (Ex 29:21;
Lev 8:15; cf. Heb 9:22). Paul's use of type and anti-type is
evident here as he sets up Christ as the penultimate sacrifice, thus
abolishing the sacrificial system permanently.
The purpose of the sacrifice of Christ was etc ivog'41,v tfic
oucatoaiSvic aircol) —lit. "in order to demonstrate his
righteousness."67 The use of the term ivog'41,v implies a
righteousness demonstrated by God's willingness/ability to lay
down a sacrifice for those to whom he has pledged himself.'
For an undetermined period, God passed over the sins of
mankind, ota tirw napecriv
Taw npo7E7ovOtaw apuptimatwv (through the passing over of
sins committed beforehand). This does not mean to imply God
"overlooked" the sins of man, but rather delayed the proper time.
To overlook the sins of man is wholly incompatible with the
nature and character of God.69 To bypass sin forever would be in
complete contradiction with his holy nature as well as a "cruel
betrayal of sinners"' Instead, the day of decisive judgement
stands in the heart of Good from the beginning Thus, the
outpouring of judgement and wrath will be held back until that
In patience, God held back his wrath - iv TT) avoxij Tab egoic
(in the forbearance of God). This theme is common in the Jewish
cosmology (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:8; Psm 86:15; Jer. 15:15). The
sacrificial system had stood for so long that the forbearance of
God was simply a given equation. However, as will be soon
demonstrated, this patience would not last for eternity. Thus, the
understanding that God's timetable is radically different than
those understood by men.
This forbearance would not last forever. There would be a day
when punitive
righteousness would be restrained no longer. Thus, npO;

gvoe'41,v tfi;
oticatoaiwi; ociytoi5 iv t vbv - to the demonstration
of his righteousness in

the present time. That time had come. The vi5v icatixo indicated a
time frame of recent,
Dunn, 171.

This reading gives credence to the possibility that God set


Christ before himself, but still seems best read as a public


Dunn, 173. Contra Cranfield, 211, who takes this as "offering" or


"making available."

Cranfield, 212.


if not immediate, history. This pivotal point in history stands as

the turning point and hinge pin on which the rest of history will
rest. Thus, this recent demonstration of righteousness is the
prophetic and apocalyptic act, looking both back toward the
history of the promises of God as well as forward to this new
oncatocriwric appropriated through faith in Christ.
But how can a holy God be both just and the justifier? Through
the propitiatory act of Christ. etc TO givat aircov oixatov Kai,
oucatolma Toy ix niatecoc lia01). —(toward him being just and
justifier to those who have faith in Jesus. First, God is Just simply
because he is so by nature (1 Thess 1:5-6; Rom 3:4).71 He is not
simply Just because he acts in accordance with an abstract sense
of justice, but rather because, in keeping with the term
oncatoai5vri, he is righteous by keeping his word of covenant
with his people. The unrighteousness of the people had to be dealt
with in a permanent way —thus was the purpose of Jesus' death
as the aacrceptov.
Moreover, the Christ event sets God apart as not only Just, but
in justifying those who name the name of Christ. Once again, in
keeping with his covenantal word, God establishes his object as
bringing man into a right relationship with himself. Moreover, the
emphasis is clearly on faith, not law. Paul has no patience for
those who desire to mix the two.72 Therefore, as the covenant
keeper and as characteristically holy and just, God establishes a
new covenant in a new era for all, regardless of ethnicity, to enter
into with him.
In this passage, Paul addresses some of the most significant
and conclusive verses in his corpus. Herein, he formulates a
basis for justification, redemption, expiation and possibly
pardon.73 These great concepts, as distant and as thorny as they
appear, are accessible to the least of God's children through
faith. Moreover, even the most learned and scholarly are still
bound to come to Christ through the same pathway — faith in
the Christ event. Such a paradox is the foundation for the
balance of Paul's thought.
The concepts presented in this passage are each firmly rooted
in the person of God and the fact that through him and in him is
the otical,001)vi) OE01).

Dunn, 175. Morris, 184.

Fitzmyer, 342.

Chapter Three
Resultant Interpretations Of Aticatoavvii
Distinction between the oticatoavvi Comb
and Jewish Piety

An indispensable component in the concept of

righteousness is Paul's contrast between the oticatocruvri
Om-) and the righteousness of the Jewish state. Five
distinctions are apparent.
First, the olicalOOVV1 COE015 is righteousness already
imputed to man, not strictly an eschatological blessing as the
Jews proposed.' This was a present reality.
Second, righteousness is a present reality as well as an
eschatological promise.' The righteousness offered through
Christ's propitiatory act is active in the lives of those who are
called by his name today. The activity of this righteousness will
continue into the new age.76
Third, the present reality of the oticatocruvi Cogoi5 rests
upon the occurrence of salvation through the atoning work of
Christ.' This salvation is both present in tense as well as future in
orientation. It is a present reality resulting in an entrance into the
aeon of new covenant.78
Fourth, while the Jew takes for granted that covenant
continuance can be maintained by keeping the Law, Paul asserts
clearly that such a proposition is no longer tenable. The "works of
the law" are no longer sufficient for acceptance into the
covenantal fellowship of God. Rather, this new oticatocruvri
Comb, received through the act of Christ on the cross, stands as
the only entry point in to this new covenant.
Fifth, Paul depicts a contrast between the boasting of rule
keeping and the simple faith necessary for salvation.79 The
selection of Israel as God's covenant people was based on God's
divine grace, not on their ability to earn a high position. Such is
the case as well for believers in Christ. Righteousness has its
origins in the grace of God.



Herman Ridderbos, When the Time had Fully Come, (Grand


Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 50.

Bultmann, 276

Ridderbos, 50.

Bultmann, 281.

The righteousness of God becomes the ovicatocruvi 8E015

when recognized as the foundation for the justification of
believers. It is "God-given, God-adjucated righteousness"80 and
founded only on the divine grace of God.

Types of Righteousness

As a result of the above distinctions and the exegetical

examination of Rom 3:21-26, several elements of oticatocruvi
Comb become evident. While some are interpretations based on
what is omitted, the absence creates the possibility that such a
meaning was understood by the first century Christians.81
Righteousness as Imputed
Aticatoaim cannot be earned or merited. The Law represented
man's efforts at earning such a covenantal rightness and yet,
continually demonstrated the failure of man to meet the
qualifications for such. Therefore, since man cannot earn
oticatoai5vi, it must be bestowed, imparted on the person /
people God chooses. This impartation recognizes the destitute
condition of man, as well as his thorough inability to live up to
the high standards for this oucatoaiSvi. Yet the love of God is
such that it "counts as righteous" those who come to faith in
Christ. This righteousness is revealed and placed in the lives of
believers (Rom 1:17; 3:20, 22; 4:3, 5, 13; 5:1, 17; 6:20; 10:4; 1
Cor 6:11; 2 Cor 3:9; Gal 2:16; 3:6; 21 Tim 3:16; Titus 3:7)

Righteousness as Declared
Since this oucatoaiSvi is imparted, it also must be declared.
This declaration perceives one as righteous, regardless of
appearance or worthiness to receive it. It is righteousness based
on the character of God, not on the character of man. The
covenant renewal is announced and acted upon as if it were a
settled and proven fact, thus counted to him as "if it were
righteousness" (Rom 2:13; 3.26, 28; 4:2-9; 6:18, 20; 8:30; Gal
2:16; 3:24; 5:4; 2 Th 1:5; 1 Tim 3:16; Titus 3:7). The declaration
is based on the oticatoaim of God and nothing else. Without this
oticatoaiSvi, a declaration of this type would require God to
simply override his own Law which would violate his holiness.
However, because of the Christ event and the oucatoaiSvi that it
brings, man can be declared righteous and thereby in right
standing with God.

Righteousness as Dynamic
This oticatocnSvi is as alive as the Giver of the
oticatocnSvi. Far from a static concept of lifeless laws, the
righteousness imparted and declared is dynamic. The Law was
never intended to be dynamic, but always static. Therefore, to
speak of the oticatoaiwi Owl) as a dynamic, life-giving source
was a radical notion. Yet throughout the writings of Paul, such
a concept is seen repeatedly. In Rom 3:21,

Ibid., 285.
Note that these terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
In charting, there was a great deal of overlap, but not enough to
warrant the elimination of a category.

oticatoaim is seen as the means to life itself. In Rom 4:13,

oticatoaim is presented as the seminal force resulting in continuing
life. Such an impression results in the reflection that through the
creative God comes the dynamic ovicatoaim which results in a life
flow into those who are declared righteous (cf. Rom 5:1; 6;16; Gal
3:8, 11, 21)

Righteousness as Forensic Justification

"The heart of Paul's theology of justification was the dynamic

interaction between the `righteousness of God" as God's saving
action for all who believe and the oticatoai5vi as God's
faithfulness to Israel, his chosen people."82
By far the majority of the uses of oticatoai5vi have a forensic
element inherent. The principle of justification for sin is the chief
use. It is possible that Paul intended to show through this usage
the costly nature of sin and reconciliation. Perhaps Paul intended
to imply a participatory act in this justification. In other words,
each man is called to die to sin on an individual basis. Only as
one has died to sin and the efforts to establish the oticatoaim
apart from one's own merits may one become justified and thus
able to do the will of God.83
The propitiatory death of Christ made clear that righteousness
does not come without a price This high price was paid for the
rectification of the relationship between man and God, paid
through the person and work of Christ himself. Apart from this
work of Christ, Paul asserts, oucatoaiSvi is not available. It can
only be through this process of justification that this
righteousness comes into being experientially.
How then does the Christ event demonstrate the oticatoai5vi
as justification? "It does so by a great, and we may say cosmical,
act, the nature of which we are not able wholly to understand; but
which at least present analogies to the rite of sacrifice and to that
particular form of the rite which had for its object propiatiation."
In other words, oticatoaim is demonstrated by Christ's sacrifice as
the final payment of the sacrifical system, but also the renewal of
the covenant in each believer's life. (Rom 3:4, 5, 10, 24, 25, 28;
4:2-11; 5:1, 9, 19; 6:18-20; 8:33; 10:4, 10; 1 Cor 4:11; 6:11; 2 Cor
3:9; Gal 2:1617, 21; Gal 3:6, 8, 11, 21, 24; 5:4; Eph 4:24; Phil
3:9; 2 Th. 1:5; 1 Tim 3:16; Titus 3:7).

Righteousness as Eschatological Hope

The future tense of righteousness is founded on the basis of
the covenant philosophy. Such a future idea is seen clearly in the
Jewish concept of justice, that is future acquittal in the judgement
of God.85 "To Paul, the eschatological reality of the divine

Dunn, Theology, 344.

Seebass, 363.

Sanday and Headlam, 89.

Herman Ridderbos, When The Time Had Fully Come (Grand


Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957),

and the divine acquittal are revealed in the Cross and in the
resurrection of Christ."86 The oncatoaim is not simply for the life
of this physical body that is redeemed, but is for the time to come
as well. Thus, while oncatoaiSvi looks back toward the cross, it
also looks forward to the day of ultimate deliverance and
covenantal fulfillment. (Rom 2:5; 5:17, 19, 21; 6:18-20; 10:10;
14:7; Gal 3:8; Eph 5:5).
In the Pauline corpus, the Apostle takes special
consideration to distinguish the oncatoaim of which he spoke
from Jewish covenantal thought. He makes clear that simple
rule maintenance will no longer suffice.
In examing the various ways in which oticatoaim is used,
several elements become clear. Righteousness is depicted as
impute by the hand of God. Righteousness is seen as declared by
God in spite of appearances. Righteousness is seen as dynamic in
nature. Righteousness regularly has a forensic nature to it and
often has an element of eschatological hope found with it. These
combine to present the complete image of Pauline oucatoai5vi
0E015 as a right relationship restoring love for humanity that
reached beyond human efforts at covenant to the very heart of
man. This oncatoai5vi Ogoi5 is forged through the costly work of
Christ and is actualized in man through faith.


The concept of the Ancatoavvi Ogoli plays a crucial role in

grasping the Pauline ideas of justification, propitiation, expiation
and covenant. The thoroughly Jewish nature of Paul's
background is evident as he emphasized the covenantal aspects
of the oncaoavvi in his writings.
By taking on the commonly used covenant terminology of the
day, Paul adopted and transformed the idea of the oncatocruvi
into oncatoavvi 0E015 which may have been an early Christian
kerygma. The phrase implied a right standing with God. This
right standing is founded in the action and heart of God,
manifested by the Christ event. This took place in the fullness of
God's time and according to his good pleasure. Man responds by
faith, and only by faith, in Christ Jesus to the offer of
righteousness. This righteousness comes only as a free gift.
Paul substantiates these views throughout his writings, but
specifically in Romans 3:21-26. Here, Paul states that this
righteousness is based on the act of God and not the ability of
man to maintain laws. For all men are equally destitute and thus
equally worthy of condemnation since each has failed to measure
up to the glory of God. Therefore, each man is required to find
another means to this glory. This means is found in the person
and work of Christ. He is both the propitiation for sin as well as
the mediator for the covenant. The deeds of Christ introduced the
covenant to man and thus brought the oncatoavvi Ogoi5 into
reach for man. Only through his work can mankind be made
Paul intended his readers not to confuse the new righteousness
with the old system of sacrifice, therefore, he set out to distinguish
the two, delineating the new covenant throughout his writings.
Thus, the oticatoavvi 0E015 is righteousness imputed since it
cannot be earned. It is a righteousness declared since only God can
grant it. It is a dynamic, life-giving source which comes through
connection and covenant with the Life-giver. It is also forensic
justification, recognizing that apart from the propitiatory act of
Christ, such righteousness cannot be attained.
The oticatoavvi Comb is the relationship restoring love of
God that poured itself out through the person of Christ. The
passion of Christ demonstrates the intensity of God in restoring
man to this right relationship with Him. Therefore, the oticatoauvi
Comb is rooted in the love of God for man and His creative desire
to fellowship with man. Such a desire brought about the
propitiatory work of Christ and his anokutpthaecoc of those
whom he created. This covenant renewal in rescuing those he
loves continues.
Did Paul distort Jesus’s
by Matt
published August 7, 2015
The Meandering Dilettante
Im a seeker of peace chasing the elusive mayfly
known as love

With increasing volume and frequency the motivations of the

Apostle Paul’s contributions to Christianity have been called
into question. For sometime, most critical scholars would not
dare to paint Paul in a negative light. Even the Jesus Seminar,
the group of skeptics that deny nearly every recorded word of
Jesus except for easily recalled platitudes “Render unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s, and render to God, that which is God’s”
still accepts the majority of Paul’s writings as authentic. Most
critical scholars accept everything from Paul except for the
Pastoral Epistles (1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus). Robert Price
(who thinks that the extreme skepticism of the Jesus seminar is
far too conservative) is one of two New Testament scholars,
with pertinent terminal degrees, who argue that Jesus never
existed. Even with Price’s extreme skepticism he still held to
the authority and authorship of Paul for some time. Price’s view
concerning Jesus and Paul however became highly problematic
when scholars began to utilize the accepted writings of Paul to
refute him. This tactic became so successful that Robert Price
eventually relented and…decided that Paul never existed as

The problem with Presupposition

The difficulty when considering the New Testament as a
purely historical document is that no one is impartial when it
comes to this text. It seems there is no one who does not have a
strong opinion concerning the New Testament and strong
opinions always carry with it the weight of “presupposition” or
bias. Humans are already incurably biased (a good litmus test to
determine if one is biased, is to simply ask her if she is). People
who are the most limited by bias and presupposition will always
be the people who think that she is completely free from it. I
am horribly biased toward Christianity; it is not only my life but
also my livelihood. However, there are a few safeguards I can
implement to limit the degree of presupposition when bearing
in mind the New Testament, specifically when considering the
text purely as an historical document.
Every “skeptic” I dialogue with concerning doubts about the
historical reliability of Jesus, The Apostle Paul, or The New
Testament has never reached her errant conclusions via a
systematic or methodological approach to history—most
“skeptics” base her errant conclusions off of vague talking
points given by other skeptics. Further, my suspicions
concerning lack of method become apparent when the skeptic’s
plight for obscurity in history is limited solely to the New
Testament. If one is only skeptical concerning the New
Testament, then not only is this not true skepticism, but it is
presuppositional imbedded skepticism.
Even when pressed, the skeptic cannot even create (or know
how to begin to create) a logically consistent and sustainable
model of philosophy of history that could be applicable to any
historical event, person, or document, let alone the New
Testament. My usual response is to (via Socratic method) create
a philosophy of history with the skeptic in tow. By the time we
have completed the list of desirable attributes for a profitable
philosophy of history, the list usually includes every areas of
which the New Testament has abundant evidence (Early eye
witnesses testimony, multiple eyewitness testimonies,
embarrassing facts, enemy attestation, documents that undergo
textual criticism, and documents that have a short time frame
from when they were written and when the earliest copies were
found). At this point, it is quite easy to determine if this
skepticism is based on presupposition or not. If after laying out
the historical method and how this method provides sufficient
evidence for New Testament reliability she is still skeptical then
the evidence is not at issue but rather the culprit is
Since attacks on Jesus have for the most part completely
failed, the source of these attacks has switched targets and
become focused on Paul. Thus, instead of questioning the scope
of Jesus’ claims, “skeptics” have left Him alone (for now) and
have gone after Paul arguing that he never knew Jesus, and that
he created a religion independent from Jesus and Jesus’
message. This view will not last long because it is completely
absurd. I wish to present a series of evidences, which will not
only expose the inherent presupposition against Paul, but also
utilize internal Biblical evidence, historiography, and reason to
prove that Paul was the disciple of the historical Jesus.

Enter the Skeptic

One issue that always comes to light in situations of
unchecked bias and “skepticism” is the type of cherry picking
of verses and Biblical events. Do not misunderstand me, I am
not maintaining that one must relent and argue, “you must
either take the Bible (or any historical document) completely or
reject it completely.” The primary issue I have concerning the
general acceptance or denial of various Biblical passages is that
the denial or acceptance is based solely on that text
contradicting or affirming a given worldview independent of
Christianity. Or that a major problem occurs when the denial or
acceptance of a given segment of Biblical data is only
contingent upon it contradicting or affirming one’s worldview.
“General acceptance and denial,” is typified if one argues
something like, “Paul never met Jesus and the content of the
epistles is vastly different than the gospels.” Such a statement,
unless accompanied with an early first century citation, (of
which there are none) would be nothing other than pure
rhetoric, which is obviously not based on any historical
evidence and therefore should be disregarded.
The cherry picking of various facts because they adhere to a
given worldview is common among both laymen and scholars.
Cherry picking is not based on historical method but rather it is
due to presupposition. Presupposition occurs when the text is
engaged and one’s background, worldview, and bias weed
through the verses that do not correspond with his worldview
and are then rejected. For example, when I dialogue with Latter
Day Saints I ensure that he adheres to the authority of the New
Testament before we begin our discussion. The missionaries are
usually quick to affirm the text’s authority, however every
dialogue reaches an eerie impasse when I begin to refute his
worldview via the New Testament. Latter Day Saint
methodology concerning the New Testament is paradoxical at
best. Before appealing to the text I set up my arguments by
ensuring that the Mormon holds to the reliability and
authenticity of the New Testament. I usually achieve this before
I tell the missionary that I train people in how to refute
Mormon theology. The moment is “errie” because once the
New Testament is no longer a device to bolster the Mormon
worldview then it immediately becomes an obstacle that the
missionary must overcome. Unfortunately for the Mormon, I
have already allowed him to voice authority and authenticity
concerning the text. He is left in a “lose-lose” scenario. Either,
he admits that the New Testament is errant, and thus his view
should not be heeded because it is not trustworthy (because he
lied) or the New Testament is accurate and authentic, however
if this is the case there is no room for “another testament of
The primary problem with the cherry picking view is, it relies
on the overall acceptance of the New Testament as evidence,
but yet denies crucial points which conflict with a contrived
Non-Biblical worldview. Since this is the case, then the New
Testament is not on trial, but rather the worldview which is
attempting to utilize the New Testament to affirm the view but
yet not to deny. What a suspicious position, the most popular
“book” of all time, which has been scrutinized and studied
more than any other text solely has the ability to affirm a
worldview which is contradictory to the Bible but however is
incapable of denying it. Huh? What about that makes sense?
Thus, if one is going to choose which Biblical texts one should
adhere to and yet neither provide a consistent historical
method or why his worldview is true independently of the
Bible, then such assertions should be immediately dismissed as
pure bias and have no role in proper Biblical interpretation.
The authority of the Apostle Paul
Concerning, Paul, both types of “skepticism” are utilized in
maintaining that he perverted the original Christianity of
Christ to create the modern version of the religion. The vague
comments are quite easy to refute and include statements such
as, “Paul never met Jesus,” “Paul did not know anything about
Jesus,” “Jesus was Jewish and not Christian,” “Paul founded
Christianity apart from Jesus and distorted it into something
that Jesus never intended.” Fortunately for me, in refuting the
vague view I can also easily refute the cherry picking view.
The writings of Paul (according to the majority of New
Testament scholars) predate the writing of the Gospels. While I
argue that the it is likely the Gospels were written first, I will
accept this assertion for the purposes of my argumentation.
Two of Paul’s earliest works actually give evidence that Paul
received the content of his epistles by very early sources. For
example 1st Corinthians is most likely the earliest of Paul’s
Epistles and was written about 20 years after Christ died.
Another Epistle, which is widely accepted by critical scholars as
authentic is Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In the ancient world a
20-year time gap does not even register as a gap (the majority
of time gaps in the ancient world are hundreds of years)
however it is easy to establish that aspects of these Epistles
predate even the writing of said Epistles. In fact a high
Christology (a view that Jesus is God) can be established (via
these two epistles) from within about the year of the
Resurrection of Christ. Or that, the miniscule time gap of 20
years is reduced to a single year via an in-depth study. Dating
the content of the epistle’s closely to the Resurrection (and the
Gospels) is crucial in ensuring that Paul lacked sufficient time
(and as will be argued shortly Paul also lacked “motivation”) to
establish a separate religion.
Jesus’s Jewishnesss is considered much more readily
defensible and accepted by critical scholars than his Hellenistic
aspects. Scholar, JND Kelly’s central thesis in “Earliest Christian
Doctrines” maintains that it was only due to the unwavering
monotheism of second temple Judaism that Christianity
flourished in the beginning. Or that, Jews were the earliest
converts and leaders of the early church, and it was due to their
strict monotheism that the Jewish devotion to Christ as God
was so resolute. At that time in Rome, no other religion or
worldview was given dispensation by the Roman government to
worship his own god without consenting that Caesar was also
god. Judaism was the only religion given a dispensation from
the Roman mandate because Jews were the only people in the
entire world who were so dogmatic that their God alone
(Yahweh) was worthy of worship—Rome realized that no
semblance of control could be applied to the Jews unless they
were free from worshiping Caesar as god. At first Christianity
was seen as simply an evolved form of Judaism and was left
alone by the Roman officials. However, once it became evident
that Christianity was not only distinct from Judaism, but that
the established Jewish ruling class found Christians and
Christianity to be repugnant; Rome began to crack down on the
early church.
Thus, even without considering relevant texts, bearing in
mind that at first, it was difficult to distinguish Christianity and
Judaism, it seems that the claim that Christianity was a
completely unique religion is a bit unwarranted. While Jesus
did refute various aspects of religious tradition, he did affirm,
“Do not think I have come to destroy the Law and the Prophets,
I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” If the life and
ministry of Christ is both based on and yet distinct from
Judaism, it seems likely that Jesus would employ someone with
a strong scholastic and Jewish background who would be able
to properly interpret, explain, and explicate His teachings;
enter Saul from Tarsus.
In 1st Corinthians 15 Paul (formerly Saul) not only establishes
the Jewish roots of Christianity, but also his early reception of
the Gospel. “For, I declare unto you, that which I also received,
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He
was seen by Cephas and James, and over 500 brethren at
once…” It seems strange to consider these verses as being of
much help concerning the authority and authenticity of Paul
but this section actually results in a fantastic argument. There
are a plurality of subjects in these verses that authenticate Paul
and the early message of Christianity, but I wish to merely
focus on two. First, the words that Paul utilized at the
beginning, “declare,” and “received,” were technical rabbinical
language that one would predicate before quoting his teacher.
Saul’s well known teacher was Gamaliel, a famed Pharisee who
sought the end of Christianity. If Paul is going to quote from a
Rabbi it seems highly unlikely, that Paul would quote a man
which sought to end the very Gospel he was currently
preaching especially when the content of that quotation refers
to Jesus as dying for the sins of mankind; in the Jewish mindset
only God can forgive sin, therefore to claim that someone else
(Christ) can forgive sin is evidence of His (Christ’s) deity.
Therefore Paul not only quoted a Rabbi other than His former
Jewish one, but quoted one who had a high Christology. The
only two logically consistent sources for this quotation are
either a Post-Resurrected Christ or another Apostle of Christ.
No matter the source (Rabbi), the quotation confirmed Him as
being involved with Christianity from very early on. And if Paul
was involved early on it is unlikely that he distorted the
message of Christ. Further, if Christ was Paul’s Rabbi then
obviously, Paul never preached a new religion but the same
message as Christ. Paul’s usage of the word “Gospel” in the
context provided is also evidence of His knowledge of
Christianity. While the term “gospel” was relatively common in
the Ancient Near East, it was not commonly utilized in terms of
a religious context. The fact that Paul is aware of and utilizes
the “Gospel” in this unique Christian aspect is further evidence
that Paul was on board with the same message of Jesus and the
Apostles from the beginning.
What if Paul received the message from the Apostles? Even if
this was the case, Paul still could not be accused of creating a
new religion. In fact, the verse I quoted from 1 st Corinthians is
actually an ancient creed, which pre-dated Paul’s writing by
about 20 years. Creeds are found throughout the New
Testament Epistles. They are actually relatively easy to notice,
as the writing style will suddenly change within the text and
will take on a poetic feel. Creeds are a series of teachings that
are comprised of crucial doctrines and were either read or sung
at early church gatherings. The 1 st Corinthians 15 creed is
significant because it has a High Christology (refers to Jesus as
God, because only God can forgive sins) which entails that the
Christian conception that Jesus was God was confirmed very
early and thus was not likely the product of myth (this is
perhaps one of the reasons Kelly argues that it was the high
Christology of Christ and the strict monotheism of 1 st century
Judaism that allowed for the flourishing of Christianity). Or
that, by the time Paul wrote his first epistle, the early Church
was already worshiping Jesus as God.

Would the Apostle’s encourage a heretic of

Jesus’ teaching to continue?
If Paul did receive the gospel from the Apostles, then when
did he receive it? The three men who knew Jesus best were
arguably James (his half brother), and the Apostles Peter, and
John. It is recorded in Galatians 2:9, that these four met and
that they fellowshipped together. And though Paul had never
spent any time with the Pre-Resurrected Jesus, the three men
who knew Jesus best felt confident in him continuing to preach
what he had been preaching. The text claims that the three
men gave Paul the “right hand of fellowship,” which was meant
to convey that Paul was given a “thumbs up” to continue
teaching and preaching the same Gospel as the men who knew
Christ the best were also preaching. Now if Paul was truly the
creator of Christianity or had so perverted it beyond the
original intent of Christ, would not these three forbid Paul from
preaching this false gospel? Barnett in his book Jesus and the
Logic of History writes that during this time of fellowship it is
likely the Paul was able to learn even more about the historical
Jesus. Also this instance is significant because it showed that
although these Apostles had never met before they had each
received their Gospel message and authority from Jesus.
Therefore, while it seems unlikely that Paul received the
gospel from anyone other than Jesus, he could have received it
from the Apostles very shortly after the Resurrection. The
reason that one should deny that Paul received the Gospel from
the Apostles is the events that were also recorded in Galatians.
A key hermeneutic tool is recognition of patterns—patterns of
thought, an author’s tendencies, writing systems, and so on.
Patterns are helpful because when a pattern is broken it tends
to stand out. In his letters, Paul has a standard greeting. His
greeting usually contains, an introduction of himself, a
statement of credentials (usually a reference to receiving his
apostleship from God), a note to the church he is writing, a
blessing to the church, and a note of thanksgiving for the
church. This pattern is seen in virtually all of the Apostle Paul’s
writings. The only letter missing a key aspect of this
introduction is his letter to the Galatian church—the
thanksgiving is omitted.
Paul neglects the thanksgiving because he is quite upset with
the church, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away
from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and turning to a
different Gospel.” This passage is hardly used as a defense for a
historical Jesus or the early church but allow me to continue.
First of all, Paul is definitely claiming to have knowledge of the
Gospel of Christ. Now it could be noted that I am equivocating
on the word “gospel,” and that since it merely means “good
news” it is in reference to a lower case “g” gospel, and the
upper case “G” Gospel was what was recorded by the Apostles.
This could be a plausible argument if not for my second point,
that is in chapter 2, verse 11 of Galatians, Paul states that he
admonished Peter to his face for refusing to fellowship with
gentiles while other Jews were present.
This is absolutely crucial. What right or authority did Paul
have to rebuke Peter? If Peter did not consider Paul as an
authoritative source to the degree of being able to rebuke him,
would Peter have let the admonishment continue uncontested?
Peter is not known for being silent. In fact, he seemed to always
put his foot in his mouth. Yet, when Peter was called out by a
wretched Pharisee (Paul), he accepted the admonishment.
Would Peter accept criticism from a person who is preaching a
different Gospel? Further, It is evident that Peter accepted the
correction because there is no record of Peter contesting the
claim in any of Paul’s Epistles or the Epistles of the other
Apostles. In fact, the opposite seems to be true in that not only
does Peter accept the criticism from Paul, but goes as far as to
say that Paul’s writing is Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). So not only
does Peter accept rebuke from Paul (which is unlikely unless
Paul had some authority concerning the teachings of Jesus), but
even goes on to claim that Paul’s writing is on the same level as
the cherished Old Testament Scriptures.
How easy would it have been for Peter to argue something
like, “Who do you think you are talking to, did you eat and
sleep with Christ? Did He say that you are the ‘Rock of His
Church’? Did Jesus give you the keys to heaven?” It would have
been very easy for Peter to claim such things, or even “you
never even knew Christ.” So not only does Peter not attempt to
resist the rebuke against him, but he considers the correction
to be sound and from an authoritative source. Thus, it would
seem that Paul had the same knowledge (or quite similar) of
Christ’s teaching as that of Peter. Further evidence of Paul’s
knowledge is when Paul met with James, Peter, and John
received from them the “thumbs up” to continue preaching the
A final source of evidence concerning that it is unlikely that
Paul was the founder of Christianity is that not only is there is a
severe lack of motivation for him to create a new religion but
the religion has already existed by the time he became
involved. By the time Paul enters into the scene Christianity
was beginning to spread and he was tasked with binding men,
women, and children who confessed Christ and returning them
to Jerusalem to be put to death for the errant teachings. The
crucial question is not just “How could Paul create a religion
which was already created,” but “What would motivate a man
to join a religion of which the members were being
systematically hunted and put to death?” Enter the Post-
Resurrected Christ; the only conclusion that can explain the
data at hand (that Paul went from terrorizing and killing the
early church to being a leader) is Paul’s account from Acts is
trustworthy and he had an encounter with the Risen LORD.
Jesus was very Jewish and the entirety of the Gospel message
was based on the Old Testament Scriptures. And while Jesus
excelled in teaching, fishermen and tax collectors lack the
intricate knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus, in
order to properly connect the Gospel with the Old Testament
Scriptures the early Church and Apostles were given a man who
had the capacity to explain Jesus’s teaching in light of those Old
Testament Scriptures. While it is likely that Jesus was the Rabbi
of Paul, no matter where he received his knowledge of Jesus
and the Gospels, the people who knew Jesus the best
encouraged Paul to continue to preach the Gospel that he was
preaching. Lastly, since not only did the emergence of
Christianity predate Paul, but there was no earthly benefit for
Paul to join the Christians being slaughter (let alone join to
distort the message) it is very likely that Paul was merely a
faithful preacher of the Gospel and not the innovator of it.

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