Pauline Theology: Some Notes
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These are some brief notes to help
one to read Paul's* letters with better understanding.
(*Rom. 1 & 2 Cor, Gal, Philemon - see Pauline Authorship)
|básár||sarx||flesh||living creature||i.e, stress on creatureliness, weakness, impotence before God, waywardness, as in Isa 40:6: 'all flesh is grass'|
|nephesh||psyché||soul||living creature||i.e., stress on being alive|
|One lives either:||kata sarka, 'after/in accordance-with-the flesh'|
|or:||kata pneuma, 'after/in accordance-with-the-Spirit'|
|To live kata sarka||is to live other than in total dependence upon God, his will and his strength; it is to try to make it on one's own, to look out for oneself: concerned for my rights, my perks, my justice, my good name, self-justification.|
|To live kata pneuma||is to live in total dependence upon God's will, way and strength as seen in Christ crucified.|
|Thus: Gal 5.19-21:||'works** of the flesh' - a vice list of things that make for the breakdown of interpersonal relationships, many of which do not involve the physical body (and this shows that 'flesh' as such is not referring to our material body).|
|Gal 5.22-23:||'fruits** of the Spirit' - love, joy, peace, etc. - all the things that make for the establishing, maintaining, deepening and extending of interpersonal and socially supportive and upbuilding relationships.|
|(** akin to: We prepare for heaven, but we make our own hell.)|
|3. Sin and Death|
|These are personified and semi-hypostasized (hypostasize: to attribute objective existence to something).|
|Sin is like an endemic disease, the symptoms of which are transgressions.|
|Except when quoting from received tradition (as in 1 Cor 15.3: 'Christ died for our sins') Paul generally uses hamartia, 'sin', in the singular. Like a disease, Sin reigns within us (see Rom 6.12).|
|If Sin may be said to lead the shock-troops, then Death does the mopping up.|
|Rom 5.12: 'Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.'|
|Note here: There is no automatic 'Fall' in Adam (in this Paul agrees with the rabbis).|
|If Sin is 'let loose' in the world through the one man, yet each person sins on his or her own and so becomes liable to Death.|
|4. Image of God (for full details see Image of God)|
is: Man (male & female) in his physical stature.
It represents: God's ownership and sovereignty.
It means: Everything it shines on belongs to God and exists for his will.
To it is added the vice-regency (Gen 1.28: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the whole earth').
|As an End-time model:|
|When we are totally conformed to the Image of God who is Christ (2 Cor 4.4; Rom 8.29), then we shall be the perfect and effective symbol of God's shálôm, his peace that is the perfect order.|
is the model behind the End-time pictures of
1 Cor 15.24-28 (Christ) and
Rom 8.18-22(-30) (We)
These are equivalent for Paul, since Christ = Body = Church.
|5. Equivalent End-time terms in Paul (used almost interchangeably) and passages where they can be seen to be interrelated:|
|1 Cor 3.16-23||2 Cor 6.16||2 Cor 3.18; 4.4||Rom 8.14-29|
sons of God
8.15 adoptive sonship, 8.23
8.16 children of God (tekna theou)
8.23 Body (singular) - i.e. Body of Christ
|I.e., the goal is the consummation of mankind, creation and history as per the End-time model of Gen 1.|
|6. Love (agapé): God's love, his Wisdom, shown in Christ crucified and raised.|
love (Wisdom) holds us so that we are freed from anything in our past, so that
we are given a new beginning (Well-being) through Faith. God's love frees
us from any fear of the future so that we have Hope (Power) to move
forward. And God's love (Wisdom) enables us to love our neighbour now.
I.e., Love encompasses both faith and hope as Wisdom encompasses well-being and power in Wisd. 7.22-8.8.
Paul stresses God's love for us in sending his Son (Rom 5.8, 10; 8.3, 32, 35, 38-39).
Held by this love, we are to love the neighbour (Gal 5.14; 6.2).
Thus God's love frees us to love the neighbour, and it is only twice that Paul speaks about our loving God (Rom 8.28; 1 Cor 8.3).
This is completely integrated with Paul's understanding of ministry (see "Recognized" Ministry in the New Testament) and overall theology (see Wisdom, Power and Well-being).