Lect 2: Pauline Lit and Theology

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  1. Match Galatians to the date and to whom it was written; match 1 & 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians to the date and place from which each was written.
    • Galatians (50 AD) by Paul in Galatia
    • 1 and 2 Thessalonians (51 AD) by Paul in Corinth
    • 1 Corinthians (54 AD) by Paul in Ephesus
  2. Background, occasion, and purpose of Galatians.
    Background:Paul’s churches in Galatia (and Lyconium), established on his First Missionary Journey, were made up of some Jews, Gentiles on the fringes of the synagogues.

    The new Christian movement was in the throws of understanding the gospel, especially in its relationship to Judaism and the law.

    • Occasion and purpose:
    • Troublemakers have infiltrated these churches.

    1.1.1 Paul answers these attacks in a three-point argument designed to keep the Galatians from abandoning the Gospel by becoming Jewish proselytes or converts to the law.

    The deepest theological issue here is the finality and sufficiency of Christ alone. Heresy is always “Christ plus.”
  3. Recognize the three-point argument that Paul makes in Galatians to counter the “Judaizers.”
    • 1. Personal argument
    • Paul’s message and ministry are directly from the Risen Christ; confirmed in Jerusalem and Antioch.

    • 1.1.2 Chapters 3-4—Theological argument
    • The promise trumps the law. Abraham, not the law, is our prototype. The purpose of the law is to bring us to Christ where we are all made one by faith alone.

    • 1.1.3 Chapters 5-6—The result of faith-righteousness is freedom, living in the Spirit, loving each other and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
    • Now in community we carry each other’s burdens, exercise godly discipline and sow to the Spirit.
  4. Recognize the three roles Paul assumes in 1 Thessalonians and the concerns about the Day of the Lord in 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
    • 1. Teacher
    • 2. Discpipler
    • 3. Church planter


    1. No grounds for fear for those who have died, they are “asleep.” (1 Thess. 4:13-18) Those who are still alive are “awake” in Christ. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

    2. The return of Christ is certain but still future: “the rebellion” and “the man of lawlessness” must first be openly revealed. (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
  5. Background, purpose, and occasion of 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
    1. No grounds for fear for those who have died, they are “asleep.” (1 Thess. 4:13-18) Those who are still alive are “awake” in Christ. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

    2. The return of Christ is certain but still future: “the rebellion” and “the man of lawlessness” must first be openly revealed. (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
  6. State (in 1 sentence/phrase each) the themes of Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians.
    1 Corinthians = What it means to be “spiritual” and living it out in community.

    2. 1 Thessalonians theme: Imitate Paul and live a life of holiness, love, work and hope.

    3. 2 Thessalonians theme: Suffering, hope, what must precede the Lord’s coming (dispelling the fear that Jesus has already returned), and the necessity to work in the meantime.

    4. Galatians = We are justified, not by works, but by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone.
  7. Occasion, purpose, and backgrounf for 1 Corinthians.
    1. Paul writes this letter to challenge the results of Hellenistic Dualism: heightened spirituality and Dualism’s value system. These were undermining his “foolish” message of the cross, the reality of the bodily resurrection, and depreciated the physical life and its moral consequences.

    2 He challenges a false “spirituality” and excesses in the use of the gift of tongues, and replaces it with a true spirituality where multi-giftedness is motivated by love in order to build up the church.

    3 He re-establishes his role as the “father” of the church and seeks to heal the divisions centered in bad theology and false leadership claims.

    4 He challenges the quest for “wisdom” in ecstasy, promising the true Spirit-given wisdom from God for the mature.

    5 He also corrects specific moral failures such as legal incest, lawsuits among believers in the secular courts, women looking like prostitutes when prophesying and praying in public and people excluding the poor and getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper.

    • 1.1.6 Gordon Fee writes that the real conflict is between Paul and a few key leaders.
    • “He and they are at odds on almost every issue; and their conflicting understandings of the Spirit and his activity seem to stand at the heart of things. Whatever else, they consider themselves to be pneumatikoi (Spirit people); because of Paul’s bodily weakness and non –‘wisdom,’ non-rhetorical presentation of the gospel, they are less than sure about him. At issue throughout the letter, in most of its parts, is a basic conflict over what it means to be people of the Spirit.” Their view has a touch of over-realized or overspiritualized eschatology. “…they consider themselves already to have arrived at the ultimate spiritual experience.”
    • 7 These issues (and others) come to Paul orally from visits of church members and a letter to him from the church.
  8. Recognize aspects of Hellenistic dualism that lies beneath the problems addressed by each major literary unit in 1 Corinthians.
  9. Recognize the ways in which humans view the cross as an offense.
    • 1.1.1 The historical offense
    • Jewish offense: the crucified are cursed by God. (Deuteronomy 21:25; Gal. 3:13) Greco-Roman offense: crucifixion is the ultimate form of capital punishment.

    1.1.2 The cultural offense: in Roman society it was obscene to even speak of the horror of crucifixion.

    • 1.1.3 Philosophical offense: rather than starting with a universal, general, reasonable assumption, such as “God is love,” the gospel starts with the particular (the cross) and from it establishes the universal that “God is love in that Christ died for us.”
    • 1.1.4 Moral and theological offense: we cannot save ourselves.
  10. Recognize Carson and Moo’s description of and conclusion regarding the use of amanuenses (trained scribes) by New Testament authors.
    The scribes would write the letters. They might have been given word choice liberty based on their skill levels.
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Lect 2: Pauline Lit and Theology
2012-02-07 01:01:37

Lecture 2 – Overview of Paul’s Letters – Part 1
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