Lect 1: Pauline Lit and Theology
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Recognize four reasons why one should study Paul.
- 1. It is the canon of scripture and is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- 2. It has historical and theological reasons.
- 3. Paul makes a great contribution to Western civilization and world civilizations.
- 4. It has a great impact on church theologians (Luther, Augustine, Wesley).
*When we study Paul we are at the heart of the gospel and in the stream of theological and spiritual awakening in the history of the church. *
List (in 1 word each) Paul’s three worlds (other than the Church of Jesus Christ) in which he operated. Specify which world was the most determinative for Paul’s life and thought and explain (in approximately 2 paragraphs) three reasons why. For Paul’s other two worlds, describe two features of each world (in 1-2 sentences per world).
1. The Greek/Hellenistic World.
He was born in Tarsus and spoke two languages. He spoke both Aramaic and Greek.
2. The Roman world.
Gave him protection in Rome.
3. The Jewish world
- It is Paul’s Jewish heritage and study of the law that most determines his life and thought (more than his Greek and Roman worlds).
- As we have seen, Galatians 1:14 confirms this: “I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my own people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of our fathers.”
- Paul frequently boasts of his Jewish credentials.
- Paul spent his formative years studying the law in Jerusalem.
- He is competitive in his Judaism.
Recognize Saul’s (Paul’s) main beliefs and activities before his conversion.
a. Strict observance of the law (oral and written) and enforced obedience. He would have agreed with Rabbi Hillel: “The more law, the more life.”
- c. Agenda
- For Paul, it seems that his focus was on purifying Israel, God’s people, preparing for the coming of the Messiah and the overthrow of the powers of evil (including Rome). This led him not only to live out and enforce the law but also to persecute heretics. The Rabbis taught: “If all of Israel would repent one day, Messiah would come.”
- d. Paul embraced the three central points of Judaism before and after his conversion:
Recognize the three central points of Judaism that Paul embraced
- 1. Monotheism
- 2. Election
- 3. Eschatology
List (in 1 sentence/phrase each) five of the six things Paul learned at the point of his conversion.
1. Christ is alive; he has been raised from the dead. (Implication – the New Age, the resurrection of the dead, has begun in our time-space history.)
2. Christ’s cross is not his defeat, but his victory over Satan, sin and judgment.
3. Salvation is by grace alone
4. The solidarity of the Church with Christ.
5. Paul’s call to preach to the Gentiles.
6. Salvation includes healing, being filled with the Spirit, baptism, and welcome into the Christian community.
Recognize the “the works of the law” that Jews used as identity markers, and recognize the new Christian identity markers.
- Works of law that Jewish used as identity markers.
- 1. Food laws eliminating Jewish table-fellowship with Gentile
- 2. Holy Days
- 3. Circumcision
- The Church’s new identity markers: faith and the Holy Spirit
- Paul concludes Galatians 3 with the reality that “all are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female (3:26-29). The new identity markers for the people of God are faith and the Holy Spirit who produces his fruit in them and leads them in their new life. (Gal. 5:22-25)
Summary of Lecture 1 - Core Takeaways
- Putting it All Together
- · For historical and theological reasons one cannot be a literate Christian without studying Paul. His conversion and ministry mark the turning point from Christianity as a Jewish sect into a world-religion.
- · Paul operated within the Greek, Roman and Jewish worlds, but it was the Jewish world (other than the Church of Jesus Christ) that most determined his life, thought and theology.
- · Paul was a radical Jew – radical in zeal and Jewish in his core convictions. However, Paul was converted, not away from Judaism, but by an objective encounter with the Risen Jesus. He was converted to a remnant of Judaism fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ (Messiah – see Romans 9-11) and commissioned to the Gentile world.
- · Throughout Paul’s ministry he had to contend with those proponents of “the works of the law” who demanded that to become a true or fulfilled Christian one must become a Jew by coming under the Old Testament Law. For Paul, the true identity markers of the people of God are faith in Jesus Christ for the gift of righteousness or right-standing before God and the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit (his gifts and fruit).
Recognize the two probable reasons why New Testament authors chose to communicate in the letter format
- 1. Means of communication at a distance.
- 2. Sense of personal immediacy - establishing personal presence from a distance.
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