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Based on Paul’s Christology


Ken Winter

Presented to Professor Mary Hess

Luther Seminary

As a Requirement in


St. Paul, Minnesota

Spring 2019
Based on Paul’s Christology
Ken Winter

“In Paul himself we see a prime illustration of a God who justified the ungodly and called
him to serve. From the very beginning, then, Paul’s theology and his proclamation set
forth the good news of what God has done in Christ to get us in and keep us there.”
(Hultgren, Arland J (2009) pg. 370)
For Paul, the work God does in Christ, the suffering servant, the one whose body we
take on and bear the image of, the one who emptied Himself (Kenosis) to the point of humble
obedience, whose grace lands in our own bodies, is the work that was freely (Liberation) given
to us so that we can proclamation we are children of God, forgiven (Atonement) and reconciled
(Justified) to God. This justification is activated through trust or faith in God’s promises. This
justification brings us new life and the freedom to speak the truth in all situations. Living in this
grace frees us and we no longer need to live with veiled faces. As children of god, we reflect
the Lord. Together we manifest Christ to one another through one another to reveal the Glory
of God. We are simple humble clay jars.
Paul tells the Corinthians that they make the mistake of looking for God through
intellect and human wisdom.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I
came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my
proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom,[a] but with a demonstration of
the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the
power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2 -5

God is found when we understand that the by way of the Cross, God says God is using
what is weak in the world, what is the lowest and exhaling it. That the reality is we will only
find God if we are open to God’s foolishness. God’s foolishness is wiser than any human
wisdom. God uses what is weak in the world to shame the strong so that no one may boast in
the presence of God.
In the cross we are liberated. We are inheritors of the same generative life of the Spirit
that was given to Abraham, the same spirit that gave life to Sarah’s baron womb. This new life
in the Spirit gives us hope against hope. When we trust in Jesus our lives then become
generative for God to be at work. When we are reconciled, we have peace with God.
Whenever we feel defeated, afflicted or oppressed we endure because we know that God’s
promises are working through us. Where we are weak is where God’s mercy will prevail.

“This sovereign freedom is no arbitrary freedom. It also is not the expression of a
spontaneous, so to speak, instinctive and solicitous attention to the misery of his people.
Rather, it is an expression of his fidelity (emet). Graciousness (or mercy) and fidelity are
intimated already in the revelation of God’s name. In the word emet we find the stem
aman, which means something like “to stand firm” and “to gain a hold.” In this way,
divine mercy corresponds to his fidelity.” (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Mercy: (Kindle
Locations 1111-1115).
This fidelity is proven in Christ who ushers in the 2nd Adam, the freedom to live generatively, to
break old patterns of destructive behaviors. Through Christ who takes on our very dysfunction,
we can participate in this gift of freedom, of justification, of grace.
Paul is of a mind, body spirit connection. There is always a threefold pattern for
understanding. What is perceived, logos, what is understood with your heart, and how you live
this out -pathos. What you have perceived (Logos) and what you have experienced is the
difference between what you have received passively and what you will be moved to do
through the power and wisdom of the cross. He represents a call for a shift in our perceptual
capacities of how we view each other. This shift in thinking requires moving from our own self-
interests to that of others. Jesus is now not just seen (perceived) as the “messianic leader” but
through Him we each have new identity (understood with our heart) in which we bear the
death of Jesus in our body and this becomes a way of living, the way we live this out, a way of
the living Spirit.
In Christ, God made the exchange. Jesus entered our sin and corruption

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:21

and took on all the ways we perpetrate violence one another and all the ways we are victims of
one another’s violence. Through Jesus God takes these into God’s own being. Our way of life in
Christ then brings healing power so through our bodies we become the message of
reconciliation. Through our bodies the Holy Spirit creates the generative power of God. Every
day even though we die to pain and suffering, in this dying yet we still are alive. It is the
paradoxical way Christ becomes embodied in us. Paul draws the distinction that our old age
patterns are destroyed, and new ways of life are ushered in through and death and resurrection
of Christ. The First Adam was only concerned with the psychic body that concerns itself with
the need for survival. Our resurrected spiritual body will concern itself with living generatively
and freely and spiritually thereby allowing us to bear the image of Christ. For Paul, we cannot
inherit the Kingdom of God if we live for the survival of the flesh.
Paul’s Christology, (Atonement, Justification, Liberation) can be seen through his
Schema of social and biological metaphors. Social through the Narratives, Law and Prophets
and the Psalms. The biological through the union of our bodies through Christ’s death. The

Second Adam is transformative to a gift of life of a new kind. Bodies that are dead but then
Ultimately the question is; how can we see or conceive of this Atonement? Answer;
through faith; faith that tells us our reconciliation is being worked out even as we are being
struck down, persecuted. We are not destroyed because we carry in our bodies the death of
Jesus, a dying in Christ that opens up the Kingdom of God.
No distrust made him (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew
strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to
do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith[c] “was reckoned to him as
righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake
alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus
our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was
raised for our justification. Romans 4:20-25

It strikes me that throughout scripture, as God sorts through the infinite choices God
has in responding to God’s creation, to humankind, the message is one of resiliency. Resiliency
is a term that describes a way of responding tenaciously to the world that presents us with so
much ambiguity, anger, disappointment, etc. Our human condition leaves us with two choices,
life or death. We either choose to leave this world, broken and unaffirmed or we choose life, to
live as though we know we are loved unconditionally. God was resilient in choosing life for us,
through Christ. In both the Old and New Testaments, God always gave us an opening to life.
Even today the message is still the same; despite every human infidelity, God always gives us
another chance….

“To think that God, who is all-powerful and holy, concerns himself with the distressing
and self-caused situation of human beings, that God sees the wretchedness of poor and
miserable people, that he hears their lament, that he bends down in condescension, that
he descends to persons in their need and, despite every human infidelity, concerns
himself with them again and again, and that he forgives them and gives them another
chance, even though they had deserved just punishment—all of this exceeds normal
human experience and expectation; all of this transcends human imagination and
thought.” (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Mercy: (Kindle Locations 920-922).


Hultgren, Arland J, Paul as Theologian: His Vocation and Its Significance for His Theology
The 2009–2010 Word & World Lecture Word & World Volume 30, Number 4 Fall 2010

Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life (Kindle
Locations 1123-1124). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition.

Malcom, Lois, (2018). Day 1a: Jesus in the Gospels [Power point slides]. Retrieved from

Malcolm, Lois, (2018). Day 1b: Paul’s Witness to The Messiah [PowerPoint slides] Retrieved
Thiessen, Gerd. "Soteriological Symbolism in the Pauline Writings," Social Reality and the Early
Christians: Theology, Ethics, and the World of the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992),

Wright, N. T. “” Christology,” in Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (Downers Grove: IVP
Academic, 2009), 102-108.