Ch. V Reconciliation and Justification

By James S. Stewart 1935
A Man in Christ

THE greatest and most Christ-like service that one man can render another in this world is to help him towards lightness with God. Among the blessings of this life, peace with God stands supreme ; all other possessions are empty and unsatisfying, ” vanity of vanities,” if this is lacking. Hence the ministry to which Paul felt himself called by his conversion was, in his own phrase, a ” ministry of reconciliation.” x The word which he knew himself charged to deliver, the living word of God which — to use the great language of Jeremiah — *’ was in his heart as a burning fire shut up in his bones,” was ” the word of reconciliation.” a As Christ’s ambassador and spokesman, bearing a royal commission and authority, and charged with the vast responsibility of representing his Master to men, he made this his constant message and appeal — ” Be ye reconciled to God.” 8 Here, as everywhere, his own experience was decisive. On the day when Jesus met him, the peace for which through bitter years of battle he had yearned in vain came to him as a sudden, miraculous benediction : the man in Christ now knew himself to be right with God. And with the clearness of vision of a soul redeemed he saw that, if for him the estranging barriers had fallen, there was no reason why they should remain standing for any of the sons of men. If his own restless and distracted heart had found its * II Cor. 5«. * Jer. 2o« ; II Cor. 5″. » II Cor. 5* .


perfect rest, then on that same breast of God there must be rest for all the world. Reconciliation became his theme.

In the present chapter, then, we shall begin by discussing this great conception. This will lead on to an examination of the place which the death of Christ holds in the apostle’s thought. Thereafter we must relate reconciliation to the cognate, but less personal, more forensic idea of justification. And finally, we must observe how here, as in his central doctrine of union with Christ, Paul looks beyond the present experience to a future consummation, when God’s redeeming work in man will be complete and grace will merge into glory.

It has always been the fundamental postulate of religion that man is made for fellowship with God. To hold communion with his Creator — this is his nature and the very purpose of his existence. He bears God’s image. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness. Deep calls to deep, and the eternity within the soul reaches out hands of faith and kinship to the eternity that is in God. It is man’s glory to live in this world as a child in his Father’s house. It is God’s glory to declare ” When Israel was a child, then I loved him.” 1 ” Can a woman forget her child ? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” 2 Man fulfils his destiny when he is at one with God and lives in the. light and love of that high fellowship.

But religion has always recognized that there is one factor in human experience which has the fatal power of disturbing this fellowship. That factor is sin. Of all

1 Hosea 11*.
2 Is. 49″.


sin’s consequences — and they are many and varied, including outward penalties, and suffering to self and others, stings of conscience, hearts hardened and wills enslaved and ” a certain fearful looking for of judgment ” 1 — by far the most serious is the loss of fellowship with God which sin involves. It brings a cloud across the sun. It interrupts the family relationship. Purity of heart sees God ; and anything which smirches the purity necessarily spoils the vision. What makes sin an essentially lonely thing is not the separation of the sinner from his brother men or even from his own best self : it is his isolation from God. This is what Paul calls ” alienation.” ” You that were sometime alienated (airrj^XoTpicofievovs) , and < enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.” 2 He charges his converts that they ” walk not as other Gentiles walk . . . alienated from the life of God.” 3

This condition of alienation has various stages and degrees. It begins with a vague feeling of estrangement. The soul becomes aware of a barrier which has mysteriously arisen between itself and God. It realizes that although in the actual sin there may have been no intention of wounding God, indeed no conscious thought of God at all, still the relationship has subtly changed. ” Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.” 4 Unless the evil is dealt with, the sense of fellowship is going to be radically impaired, perhaps even ruined for ever. In Jesus’ greatest par- able, home and love and a happy welcome are the returning prodigal’s portion ; but the story makes no effort to conceal the fact that the soul in the far country

1 Heb. 10″.
2 Col. 1″.
3 Eph. 4:18 . Cf. Eph. 2 U : ” aliens from the commonwealth of , Israel . . . without God in the world.”
4 Psalm 51:4 .


has lost, for the time being at least, the Father’s fellowship. 1 The Old Testament prophet who declared, ” Your iniquities have separated between you and your God,” 2 and Paul with his blunt demand ” What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness ? ” 3 are both proclaiming the one plain, emphatic truth, that sin and God cannot go together. Inevitably the barrier rises, and the fellowship is broken. The soul is alienated.

In Paul’s own case, the sense of alienation was connected with his experience under the law. He had failed to fulfil the law’s requirements. Conscience told him that he would never succeed. And yet the law was the will of God. How, then, could he hope to escape the divine displeasure ? Must not God be angry with him ? Was not this stinging sense of guilt itself a symptom of God’s wrath ? And would not that wrath consume him utterly on the great day of final judgment ? Had he not sinned too often and too deeply ever to be forgiven ? Had not the friendly relationship vanished too completely to be restored ? Fellowship with God — were not the very words a mockery ? When Paul described the bitter experience of estrangement he was describing what he knew.

Now it often happens that alienation of this kind hardens into resentment. The soul in its bitterness turns and accuses God. It lays the blame for the estranging barrier at God’s door. Has it failed to observe the law ? Then the fault is God’s, who has pitched His demands so unreasonably high. Is God almighty, and the soul itself but feeble ? That only serves to increase the resentment. Thus failure breeds hopelessness, and hopelessness begets recklessness, and

1 Luke 15:18 .
2 Is. 59:2 .
3 II Cor. 6:1 *.


recklessness becomes downright hostility. The man who was made for the highest fellowship now stands over against his Creator as an enemy. ” We were enemies ” (ixdpoi), says Paul, describing the general attitude to God before conversion. 1 By this disturb- ance of life’s central relationship, all its other relation- ships are deranged and thrown out of gear. To be wrong at this one point is to be wrong all along the line. For, as Dr. Oman has cogently expressed it, ” reality is not one thing and God another ; and if we are at enmity with God, we are at enmity with reality, past and present, as well as to come. . . . Enmity against God is enmity with the lives He appoints.” 2 Clearly it is here that any redemption which claims universal validity must be tested. Can it deal with this alienation ? Can it remove the enmity ? Can it achieve atonement ? This is the decisive test. Paul perceived that a Gospel which broke the bondage of legalism, and ended the tyrant sway of principalities and powers, and remitted sin’s fearsome penalties, and brought up reinforcements for cowed and beaten human wills, and then stopped there, was no Gospel worthy of the name. Great and marvellous achievements these all might be ; but over and above them all, one thing was needful, one thing without which all the other glories of redemption must remain sterile and unavailing — the restoration of the lost fellowship with God. Man wants more than the remission of his sins, more than an escape from inward accusations, more than the crossing of his Red Sea and the vision of his Egyptians lying dead, more than a ransom from the wrath to come. He wants to be right with God. He

1 Rom. 5:10 . Cf. Col. 1« Rom. 11«.
2 Grace and Personality, 115, 118.


wants to be back in the family again. He wants, in a word, reconciliation. Any Gospel that offers itself to a sinning, suffering world must stand and be tested here. This is the real test. It is, quite literally, the ” crucial ” test : for at the heart of it lies a cross.

The word which Paul uses to describe the peace with God into which his union with Christ ushered him is KaraXXayq. In later ecclesiastical usage this term denotes the admission or readmission of penitents to Church fellowship and to the Lord’s Supper ; x but in classical Greek it is simply a variant of the more frequent SiaXXayrj and owaXXayrj, and means the establishing of friendly relations between parties engaged in a quarrel. Now clearly there are more ways than one in which such a peace-making may happen. Much depends on the nature of the estrangement. If the resentment has been mutual, then fellowship can be re-established only when both parties agree to put their angry feelings away. If the enmity has been on one side, harmony may be restored either by a deliberate change of feeling in the hostile mind, or by a friendly approach from the other side which disarms antagonism. Reconciliation, when it is between man and man, can and does take place along these different lines. It is of the utmost importance to determine the line along which it comes when it is between man and God. Other religions there are, apart from Judaism and Christianity, which make use of the idea : and it is significant that all of them take it for granted that God is the one who requires to be reconciled. Ritual acts and offerings are prescribed through which the offended deity may be placated. Is this, then, the conception

1 Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of NT Greek, 93.


with which Paul is working ? When he speaks of reconciliation, is he thinking of a change in the attitude of God ? Or is it a mutual process which he has in view ? Or is it man — not God at all — who needs to be reconciled ?

Let no one imagine that these are merely academic questions. They are anything but that. Practical issues of the profoundest kind are raised by them — our belief in atonement, our attitude to the work of Christ, our very idea of God. It is not easy to reckon the damage that the Church of Christ has suffered down the centuries by some of the theories of salvation which the Church itself has sponsored, and not easy even to-day to disabuse men’s minds completely of the suspicions fostered by the long reign and pressure and prestige of doctrines now recognized to have been, at the best, repulsively mechanical, at the worst, flagrantly immoral. Not yet has Christianity lived down — not perhaps for years to come will it wholly live down — the misunderstandings from the world outside which have been the inevitable nemesis of some of its own unfortunate pronouncements on the centralities of the faith. Certain it is that a truer and more spiritual handling of the great concept of reconciliation would have made some of the more disastrous interpretations impossible. Hence our questions are by no means unreal. They are decisively important. In reconciliation, is man the subject and God the object ? Or vice versa ? Or is the process mutual ?

If we allow the consensus of other religions to influence us, the first position is the one we must accept. But if we do accept it, we shall most certainly be wrong. This is one of the points where the danger of parallel- ism comes out very clearly. Christianity is not to be


understood by the analogy of any other faith whatever : if we think to understand it so, we are sure to blunder badly. It is much too independent and original. With one voice the pagan creeds declare that man must take steps to reconcile his God, and so restore himself to favour. Christianity cuts clean across this, and declares the exact opposite. God is the Reconciler. God, in His changeless and unwearying love, has taken the initiative, has broken into the atmosphere of man’s hostility, and has thrown down every estranging barrier that guilt and hopelessness and dull resentment can erect. ” That the willing God seeks to bring unwilling men to His holy fellowship is the uniform teaching of the Scriptures, and the heart of the Gospel.” 1 The answer to our question about subject and object stands out clear : it is God who reconciles, man who is reconciled.

This undoubtedly is Paul’s position. 2 His own words are plain and unequivocal. ” All things are of God, who hath reconciled us (rod KaraXAdgavTos Tjixds) to Himself by Jesus Christ.” 3 ” God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 4 “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled (/carqAAa- yqiJiev) to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” 5 If we are to take the apostle’s language at its face value, we can only say that of the notion that God requires to be reconciled there is not a trace. Had Paul held any such belief, it is certain that he would have felt it as his bounden duty, for the sake of the souls of men, to declare it in season and out of season.

1 W. N. Clarke, An Outline of Christian Theology, 325.
2 Kaftan, Dogmatik, 494 f.
3 II Cor. 5:18 .
4 II Cor. 5:19 .
5 Rom. 5:10 .


But in point of fact, he was far more concerned to rebut the idea than to propagate it. A God who needs to be reconciled, who stands over against offending man and waits till satisfaction is forthcoming and His hostility is appeased, is not the apostolic God of grace. He is certainly not the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

Those who hold the contrary view — that reconciliation is mutual, and that God is the object of it as much as man — rely mainly upon three arguments.

The first concerns the apostle’s use of the word ” enemies ” (ixdpoi) as applied to sinners. Reference is made to the passage in the epistle to the Romans where Paul declares — ” As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes : but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” * Here, it is said, the clearly intended antithesis between ” enemies ” and ” beloved ” denotes that ixBpoi, like aya.7rr)Tol, is being used in a passive sense, and that it means, not ” hostile,” but ” hated ” or ” hateful ” — hateful, that is, to God ; 2 and if God thus views men with hostility, there must be a change of attitude on His side, as well as on the other, before redemption can be achieved. But this, surely, is putting upon a single passage a weight greater than it can bear. Moreover, in the sentence in question, it is by no means as certain as is generally assumed that the passive interpretation of ixQpos is the right one : if an antithesis is required by the construction, may we not say that stronger

1 Rom. ii» 8 .
2 So Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 130, 337 (ICC) ; Denney, EGT, ii. 684 ; Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of NT Greek, 91 ; H. J. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Theologie, ii. 106.


and more vivid than the accepted antithesis between ” hated ” and ” beloved ” would be that between ” hating ” and ” beloved ” — hating on man’s side, and yet beloved on God’s — and that this contrast would not only be more radical, but also have much more of the evangel in it ? 1 In any case, the other passages where Paul speaks of ” enemies ” put his meaning beyond doubt. ” You, that were sometime alienated,” he writes, ” and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.” 2 That expresses, as plainly as words can do it, the truth that it is man’s hostility, not God’s, which is the problem with which the Gospel has to deal. ” While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” declares the apostle, and then expands his own statement by adding — ” if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled ” ; 3 clearly what is present to his mind is man’s rebellion, that opposition of self to God which is the very essence of sin. Man, not God, is the rebel ; man’s, not God’s, the enmity. The words that Ahab, in the day of his sin’s discovery, flung out at the prophet are still sinful man’s cry to his God, ” Hast thou found me, O mine enemy ? ” * The haunted spirit, troubled by a presence from which there is no escaping, hurls at God the stinging, angry epithet. But always he is wrong. Always Jacob discovers, when morning breaks, that he has been wrestling with the lover of his soul. 5 Paul himself, at one period of his life, had been almost sure that God’s face was set implacably against him ; but there came a day when he learned how wide of the mark and how untrue to the facts this deeply rooted notion of a hostile God had been. From

1 So Anderson Scott, Christianity according to St. Paul, 78. 18
2 Col. 1:21 .
3 Rom. 5:8 – 10 .
4 I Kings 21:20 . * Gen. 32″.


Damascus onwards, ” Thou hast found me, O my friend,” was the burden of his grateful thoughts. In Dr. Oman’s words, ” It is only the shadow of our misunderstanding, as if, fleeing from a friend in the dark, we meet disaster as though he were a foe ; and, as our friend only needs to show his face, we need only truly to see God’s face to be succoured.” 1 It is the very nerve of Paul’s Gospel, that while we are yet sinners, ” enemies,” openly hostile and downright rebellious, ” God commendeth His love toward us,” 2 proves His love by doing what One animated by feelings of antagonism could never do, and sacrificing what One who was hostile could never sacrifice. Ours, says the apostle, is the enmity ; and therefore ours — not God’s — the need to be reconciled.

The second fact to which those who hold the opposite view are wont to appeal is Paul’s use of the idea of ” propitiation.” His words, as translated in the Auth- orized Version, are these : ” Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus ; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.” 3 This certainly seems to open the door to the conception against which we have been arguing. But what does the apostle mean here by IXaoT-qpiov ? There is only one other occurrence of the word in the New Testament, namely, in the epistle to the Hebrews, where ” mercy-seat ” is clearly the mean- ing. 4 This follows the usage of the Septuagint. 5 In the Romans passage, however, the word can hardly bear

1 Grace and Personality, 216 f.
2 Rom. 5:8 .
3 Rom. 3″‘-
4 Heb. 9:5 , ” the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat.”
5 Exod. 25:17 .


this sense. 1 The cognate term IXaafios occurs twice in the first epistle of St. John. ” He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 2 ” Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 3 In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, the verbal form iXdad-qn is found — “God be merciful”; 4 and in Hebrews 2 17 els to IXdaKeodcu is translated ” to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Little light is cast on this circle of ideas by classical Greek : there, from Homer down- wards, the verb is found with the accusative and means to placate an offended individual or an angry god, but this construction is quite foreign to biblical usage. 5 It is now coming to be generally accepted that IXaar-qpiov, as used by Paul in Romans 3 25 , is not a noun at all, but a masculine adjective agreeing with 6V — ” whom God hath set forth with propitiatory power.” 6

If this is the correct rendering, important results follow. One of the most important is that the crude view of the atonement as a sacrifice by which an angry God was appeased (which for long was the orthodox view) immediately loses what it has always regarded as its main scriptural warrant and support. Among all the divergent theories of atonement, one dominant line of thought can be seen reaching back from recent times right across the centuries, through the Reformers to Anselm, and beyond him to Augustine. According to

1 Luther keeps the literal meaning in his translation ” Gnaden- stuhl.” So also Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of NT Greek, 305.
2 I John 2 2 .
3 I John 4 10 .
4 Luke 18″.
5 On this point, see F. Piatt, art. ” Propitiation,” in HDAC, ii. 281.
6 So Denney, EGT, ii. 611 : H. A. A. Kennedy, Theology of the Epistles, 130 ; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 88 (ICC).


this line of thought, man’s sin has offended God’s holiness and dignity, and merits infinite punishment. The absolute destruction of the human race would not be punishment too great. Can God be induced to let men off their punishment ? Not until satisfaction has been given Him, and the debt has been paid. To offer such payment is quite beyond man’s powers. And yet God demands — and, because He is God, is bound to demand — a full requital. Only when such requital is forthcoming will He be prevailed upon to lay aside His just displeasure and to exercise His clemency towards the offenders. Where, then, can the necessary satisfac- tion be found ? The difficulty, declares Anselm, is that man must make the payment : yet, because it is infinite, only God can make it. 1 It is to meet this difficulty that the God-man has appeared. Christ by His sacrifice has offered infinite compensation for the infinite wrong. The cross has persuaded the Father to relent towards man, and to grant him pardon. It has satisfied and appeased the offended dignity of heaven. It has placated the divine antagonism. It has propitiated God.

Such was the orthodox position. Its greatest merit was the serious view it took of sin. Its greatest defect was its disastrous view of God. The adjective is not too strong. ” When the Atonement is presented in that form,” says the Master of Balliol pointedly, ” it seems as though the redeeming love of Christ could save men, but not God, as though God was the one person who was beyond redemption.” 2 That is what many in our generation are feeling, as they contemplate the theory of Christ’s propitiating work which was once almost taken for granted. The orthodox position has always

1 Cur Deus Homo, ii. vi.
2 A. D. Lindsay, The Nature of Religious Truth, 80 f.


claimed to have apostolic authority behind it. To-day, however, it is growingly apparent that at many points that claim cannot be substantiated. It cannot be too firmly emphasized that the whole idea of propitiating God is radically unscriptural. It plays havoc with the Bible’s fundamental tenet, which is the divine initiative. When Paul affirms that Christ possesses ” propitiatory power,” he is careful to remark that it is God Himself who has ” set Christ forth ” in this character ; and it is simply flying straight in the face of such a Statement to suggest (as so many theories of atonement do) a difference of attitude towards men on the part of the Father and the Son. Indeed, it might be well to drop the term ” propitiation ” altogether. The English word has a shade of meaning which Paul, in using lAaorrfpLov, had no wish to convey. What he is declaring here is simply that God was in Christ, working for the removal of the estranging barrier which man’s sin had inter- posed. 1 And this is in direct line with what we have seen to be Paul’s main teaching on reconciliation.

The third and final argument in favour of the view which we are opposing — namely, that God as well as man needs to be reconciled — is drawn from certain statements in the epistles about the ” wrath of God.” ” The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” a ” Because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” 3 Does this not mean, it is asked, that God, having been wronged, cherishes a resentment against the wrongdoer ? Surely, then, God has to be pacified before fellowship can be restored.

1 So Westcott, The Epistles of St. John, 87.
2 Rom. 1″.
3 Eph. 5» ; cf. Col. 3*.


Our answer is that this is precisely what Paul did not mean. Let us look at his words more closely.

We notice, to begin with, that in the majority of the passages where rj opyr) rod 0eou appears the reference is eschatological. It is the conception of ” the day of the Lord “—familiar alike to Jewish and Christian ears —with which he is working. He speaks of ” Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” x ” God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 ” Being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” 3 ” The day of wrath ” is the ” revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” 4 In all this, it is the prophetic strain in Paul that we are hearing. Amos and Malachi and the apocalyptists provide the background. Now this is really a different circle of ideas altogether from that in which our present discussion is moving. What we are concerned with is God’s existing relation to men. Passages plainly eschatological are therefore not relevant here. And when these are excluded, Paul’s remaining references to the wrath of God are few and far between. To build on them an argument that God must be the object, not the subject, of reconciliation is surely— to say the least— highly precarious.

Another fruitful source of error has been the unduly anthropomorphic way in which the concept of the divine wrath has been regarded. ” It is often taken summarily for granted that Paul is here contemplating an attitude in which God for the time lays aside His love and acts like a man who has lost his temper. We may be quite sure that Paul the Apostle never thought of God after this fashion.” 5 ” Wrath ” is a word

i I Thess. 1:10 .
2 I Thess. 5:9 –
3 Rom – 5:9 –
4 Rom – 2
5 – & D. Lamont, The Creative Work of Jesus, 152.


which very readily suggests angry, vindictive feelings : but surely it ought to be as clear as day that the resentment which one man who has been offended frequently bears towards another who has offended him has no analogy in God whatever. Unfortunately, this most obvious of truths has all too often been obscured ; and of some at least of those who have sought to elucidate the thought of the divine wrath, Jesus’ words to Peter might not inaptly be used, ” Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men “— ” Your outlook is not God’s but man’s.” * Between the wrath of God and most of what this world calls wrath, no parallel exists. Between them there is no connection, no faintest resemblance at all. Beware, then, of anthropomorphic interpretations here : they cannot but mislead.

What Paul means by the wrath of God— in its present, non-eschatological sense— is the totality of the divine reaction to sin. Everything that man’s re- bellion against the moral order brings upon him — suffering for his body, hardening for his heart, blinding for his faculty of inward vision— is included in that reaction. Is this punishment ? Yes, certainly ; but it is not God’s outraged dignity retaliating by a direct, penal act. Rather is it the sinner who punishes him- self. Charles Kingsley’s vivid way of putting it was that men ” punish themselves by getting into dis- harmony with their own constitution and that of the universe ; just as a wheel in a piece of machinery punishes itself when it gets out of gear ” ; 2 and if the imagery there is modern, the spirit is entirely Pauline. ” Sin is the attempt to get out of life what God has not 1 Matt. 1 6″ (Moffatt). 2 Charles Kingsley : his Letters and Memories of his Life, 204.


put into it. Necessarily it is a hopeless and calamitous warfare, in which the blows are not light and the falls not soft. . . . The experience of God’s wrath is over- whelmingly calamitous, not as anger, outside of the moral order, but as the essential nature of its working.” 1 To think of God as growing angry and inventing punish- ments for the offender is to misconceive the situation entirely. Paul’s thought, like that of the New Testa- ment in general, is much nobler, much simpler, much more solemnizing. ” This is the judgment, that light is come.” 2

In this interpretation of Paul’s meaning, there is no intention of minimizing the seriousness of the divine attitude to sin, or of regarding it as anything other than life’s sternest reality. God’s will has expressed itself in the very constitution of the universe ; and therefore it is inevitable that evil, wherever and in whatever shape it appears, should feel the full weight of the divine reaction. The stars in their courses fight against Sisera. But this is not ” wrath,” as we com- monly conceive it. Had anyone suggested to Paul that God’s wrath alternates with His love, that where the one begins the other ends, that sometimes God acts out of character and needs to be won round from punishment to mercy, he would certainly have branded the idea as a deadly heresy : he would have declared that God’s wrath is not understood until it is seen as the obverse of His grace. “It is inevitable in the moral order ; it is the negative aspect of an order which has a positive purpose of good in it.” 3 ” The Will of God must be thought of as the embodiment of a single

1 Oman, Grace and Personality, 216.
2 John 3″.
3 W. F. Halliday, Reconciliation and Reality, 132.


principle — the Will to Good.” x God’s wrath is God’s grace. It is His grace smitten with dreadful sorrow. It is His love in agony. It is the passion of His heart going forth to redeem. Of God no less than of man it is true that ” He that goeth forth and weepeth, bear- ing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with re- joicing, bringing His sheaves with Him.” 2

Thus our investigation of the three Pauline ex- pressions — ” enemies,” ” propitiation,” ” wrath ” — con- firms our original conviction, that there is no ques- tion of reconciling God. Paul speaks always of man, not God, being reconciled. Doubtless when the reconciliation is accepted and the estranging barrier dis- appears, a new situation arises for God as well as for man. If the experience makes a difference to the for- given, it must also make a difference to the Forgiver. ” There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” 3 It is true that something happens on the divine side, no less than on the human. It is also true that the redeeming death of Christ, which means so gloriously much for man, means more than mortal mind can ever fathom for God. But we cannot agree with Denney’s contention that because there is this changed situation for God as well as for man, we should go beyond the New Testament usage and speak of God being reconciled. ” He is not reconciled in the sense that something is won from Him for us against His will, but in the sense that His will to bless us is realized, as it was not before.” 4 But is this not using the language of reconciliation in two distinct meanings ?

1 B. H. Streeter, Reality, 229.
2 Psalm I26 e . 3 Luke 15 10 . * The Christian Doctrine of Reconciliation, 238.


Surely what happens on God’s side is so essentially different from what happens on man’s side that to apply the one term to both can only cause confusion. Far wiser is it to follow the explicit guidance of the New Testament, which recognized the danger and was careful to avoid it. Where reconciling has to be done, God is always the subject, never the object. This is Christianity’s distinctive glory. And “be ye reconciled to God ” is its challenge.

No other position was indeed possible for a man like Paul in whose thinking grace — that is to say, the divine initiative — was fundamental. Everything in religion that matters starts from God’s side. Even faith and penitence and prayer, three attitudes of soul which might appear to originate in man and to be human virtues, are, if we believe Paul, nothing of the kind : they are God’s creation, God’s gift — faith because it is evoked by the action of God in revealing Himself as worthy of all trust, penitence because it is produced by that divine reaction to sin of which the cross is the culmination, prayer because when ” we know not what we should pray for as we ought . . . the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us.” * In the words of Baron von Hugel, ” The passion and hunger for God comes from God, and God answers it with Christ.” 2 Man’s intelligence and will and heart and conscience never initiate anything in religion ; and over the best moral and spiritual triumphs of this life the saints can only cry, ” Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.” 3 In this sense at least, Schleiermacher was right when he de-

1 Rom. 8 26 .
2 Greene, Letters from Baron von Hugel to a Niece, xxxi. 8 Psalm 115 1 .


fined religion as an absolute dependence. 1 Of ourselves we can do nothing : there is no Creator but God.

“And every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are His alone.”

This is the meaning of grace, and this is the inmost secret of reconciliation. 2 It is hardly likely that a Gospel so annihilating to human pride will ever be popular with an age conscious of its own enlightenment and trusting to its own initiative for world-redemption and the building of the New Jerusalem upon earth. Nor will Paul ever be persona grata with those — and there are many of them — who seek, by a punctilious observance of religious ordinances, to screen from their own souls and from others the stern and disturbing fact that their first necessity is to have God change radically their whole attitude to Himself. If Paul’s doctrine of reconciliation means anything, then the religion that is tinged with self-satisfaction is, even when it bears the Christian name, a thing downright heathen, and the man who thinks that his own deeds and character are doing God credit and that they have a claim on God’s regard and favour is the victim of a disastrous delusion. To spiritual pride of every degree nothing more devastating than Paul’s evangelicalism could be conceived; and where religion walks clothed in the garments of moral unreality his Gospel will always be anathema. But what matter ? It is the Gospel of God, and there is no other. It is the very Gospel of Jesus, who proclaimed God’s initiative first

1 The Christian Faith, 12.
2 xdpts, says Moffatt, is “one of the shining words that serve the world ” {Grace in the New Testament, 21).


and last, who was Himself God’s initiative become flesh, whose eyes were like a flame of fire to those who would propitiate God by their gifts and offerings and character, whose face smiled the welcome of heaven to those who confessed they had no standing before God at all, who did not wait till sinners sought Him but went forth to seek them first, who lived to bring the gift of reconciliation near to men, who died to put it in their hands. No man who is too proud to be infinitely in debt will ever be a Christian. God gives for ever : for ever man receives. Is it incomprehensible that the holy God should thus deal with unworthy man ? But, as Barth pointedly remarks, ” only when grace is recognized to be incomprehensible is it grace.” 1 For me, Paul would say, religion began on the day when I ceased straining and striving and struggling for heaven’s favour, and was content to bow my head and accept the gift I could never win. ” It is all the doing of the God who has reconciled me to Himself through Christ.” 2

It remains to be added that wherever the prim- ary experience of reconciliation to God is realized, two secondary experiences immediately follow — reconciliation to life, and reconciliation to the brethren ; and both these aspects of the Gospel are stressed by Paul. No man can be at war with God without being at war with everything in his environment which is of God’s appoint- ing. When there is disharmony at the centre, there cannot be peace at the circumference. Life and its conditions look unfriendly. There is a perpetual sense of irksomeness and maladjustment and strain. The

1 Romans, 31.
2 II Cor. 5™ (Moffatt).


world is a ” sorry scheme of things,” and man dreams of being able to
” Shatter it to bits — and then
Remould it nearer to the heart’s desire.”

Meanwhile, he is a rebel. It may never occur to him that this attitude to life and outward circumstance is an infallible symptom of a wrong relationship to God. He may indignantly repudiate any such suggestion. But none the less, it is a fact. The first thing that reconciliation with God does is to adjust the soul to life and its vicissitudes. Rebellion and strain become accept- ance and peace. When Paul speaks of this, his words ring with the triumph of a personal discovery : ” All things work together for good to them that love God.” * ” If God be for us, who can be against us ? ” 2 “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” 3

Reconciliation with God also means reconciliation to the brethren. Nothing amazed Paul more than the way in which the age-long feud between Jew and Gentile vanished before the name of Christ. Utterly insurmountable the age-long barrier had always seemed ; but those who had entered on the new life found that, for them at least, it existed no longer. ” He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” 4 Hence Paul would have said that a failure in love, no less than a rebellious attitude to life, is a sure sign of a defective spiritual religion. The man who, while accepting the Gospel, is capable of censoriousness and resentment and uncharity, is unconsciously announcing to all and sundry, as plainly as if he stated it aloud in words, that

1 Rom. 8″.
2 Rom. 8:31 .
3 Phil. 4«
4 Eph. 2:14 .


he is inwardly wrong with God. That is why all human alienations are serious. Invariably they betoken an alienation, at some point, between man and God. Reconciliation, when it is real, changes all this. To be genuinely reconciled to God is to see all mankind with new eyes. It is to have ” the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” * It is to have the living Christ within, which means to feel towards others as Christ would feel towards them. It is to be raised above all dividing barriers and all the pettiness of spirits unredeemed, into a realm of wider horizons and ampler air, where ” there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female : for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” 2


It is an outstanding characteristic of Paul’s religion that when he thinks of reconciliation and peace with God the thought of the cross is never far away. He speaks of Jesus ” reconciling men unto God by the cross,” 3 ” making peace through the blood of His cross.” 4 Why this continual emphasis ? Wherein did the reconciling power of the cross lie ? What were Paul’s main convictions about the death of Christ ? These are the questions to which we must now attempt an answer.

At the outset, . however, it will be well to remind ourselves of a fact already noted, namely, that to isolate the death of Christ from His resurrection, as some theologies have done, is definitely un-Pauline. 5 Too often there has been a tendency to regard the cross as in itself the assurance of salvation, apart altogether

1 Rom. 5:5 .
2 Gal. 3″
3 Eph. 2″.
4 Col. 1:20 .
5 See pp. 135 f


from the earthly ministry that went before it and the resurrection that came after. This is not the point of view of the New Testament. Everything depends on a man’s union with a living, present Saviour. In the absence of that union, even the Gospel of the cross loses its saving efficacy. ” If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain ; ye are yet in your sins.” x Atonement remains impersonal and largely irrelevant until we make contact with the One who atones : and contact of a vital kind is possible only if Jesus is risen and living now. Hence the New Testament writers refuse to treat either the death or the resurrection of Christ in isolation. When they speak of the cross, they see it ever in the light of the Easter glory ; and when they speak of the resur- rection, they set it against the dark background of the cross. Paul’s words are typical : “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” 2 ” Who is he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again.” 3

Another note of warning should be sounded here. Do not let us try to reduce to a formula or co-ordinate into a single system Paul’s many-sided interpretations of the cross. 4 Efforts of this kind have been the bane of theology. Could such a formula or system be found, it would only mean that Paul was a less towering spiritual genius than we had imagined him. The essential great- ness of the man enabled him to see now one aspect of the cross, now another, and now another. Such flashes of insight are not to be regimented into any formula. The history of dogma has shown conclusively that whenever one solving word or phrase is sought, to epitomize and

1 I Cor. 15:17 .
2 Rom. 5:10 .
3 Rom. 8:34 .
4 See p. 3.


explain the meaning of the death of Christ, truth is in danger of passing into heresy. The cross is too great and glorious for such treatment. Everything has been different since the Son of God climbed Calvary. Life has been different, death has been different, sin has been different, faith and hope and love have been different. Round the wide universe the arms of the cross have reached ; its head has touched the heavens ; its shaft has gone down as deep as hell. How should all this be formulated ? Paul knew better than to make the attempt. It was much more than one solitary word that God had spoken to him at Calvary : it was a message of quite inexhaustible significance. Hence the varied interpretations that meet us in the epistles. Each is part of the total truth. Each is an attempt to share with others something which Paul himself had seen as he stood face to face with the Crucified. Let us, putting theories away, listen to his own words.

The important passage in which the apostle has summed up the main themes of his mission-preaching begins with the statement, ” I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” x Here we discover the basal belief which he shared with the primitive community. Here was the Church’s message from the very day of its birth. Christ died for our sins.

The narratives at the beginning of the Book of Acts suggest that in the earliest Christian thinking and preaching on the death of Christ there were three notes. First, the cross was man’s most flagrant crime. It was sin’s crowning horror. ” It originated in the very slums of the human heart.” 2 “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just,” declared Peter to the people of Jerusalem,

1 I Cor. 15:3 .
2 D. S. Cairns, The Faith that Rebels, 199.


” and desired a murderer to be granted unto you ; and killed the Prince of life.” 1 ” Which of the prophets,” demanded Stephen, ” have not your fathers persecuted ? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One ; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.” 2 Never could the Church forget that it was human minds that had planned the cross, human hands that had erected it on Calvary.

But there was far more than this in the earliest thinking on the death of Christ. From the very first, the hand of God was seen. Behind the apparent tra- gedy, a divine purpose had been at work. All that had happened had been ” by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” 3 Exploring afresh their Old Testament scriptures, the Christians found passage after passage in which the cross was shadowed forth. The great description of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, on which Jesus in the days of His flesh had meditated long, now sprang to sudden life and meaning in the minds of Jesus’ followers ; and Philip, in his conversation with the Ethiopian eunuch, was only doing what any other member of the primitive community would have done when he ” began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” 4 Resolutely they held to the conviction that had gripped them : the cross had been, not God’s defeat, but God’s purpose and God’s victory. Human, historic forces had doubtless played their part. Pharisaic blindness and intolerance, priestly exclusiveness and self-seeking, imperial policy and power, popular disappointment and resentment — all had a share in Calvary. But none of these had been the

1 Acts 3:1 * f •
2 Acts 7:52 .
3 Acts 2″.
4 Acts 8:35 .


final, determining factor. Jesus had gone to death, not driven like a slave, but marching in the freedom of His own unconquered soul. Necessity had been laid upon Him — ” the Son of man must suffer and be slain ” 1 — but it had been the necessity, not of mortal tyranny and violence, but of His own love for the souls of men. In the cross of Jesus, the divine purposes had been, not thwarted and broken, but embodied and proclaimed. This was the second note in the earliest Christian preaching.

The third note connected the death of Christ with the forgiveness of sins. The way in which the cross brings pardon was left largely undefined ; but as to the fact itself, there was never any doubt whatever. Jesus died and rose, declared Peter, ” to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” 2 ” Through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” 3 To find a warrant for this conviction, it was not necessary for the primitive community to hark back to ancient prophecy, although there (and very notably in the Isaiah passage already referred to) strong support was forthcoming. There were words of Jesus Himself which gave all the warrant that was needed. ” The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 4 ” This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” 5 Hence the earliest Christian proclamation, ” He died for our sins,” carried the Master’s own authority with it. How the death of the cross mediates forgiveness may be hard enough to define : that it does mediate forgiveness is as sure as the word of

1 Luke 9″.
2 Acts 5:31 .
3 Acts 10:43 .
4 Mark 10:45 .
5 Mark 14:24 .


Christ Himself, as unshakable as the deepest instinct of the human heart.

This, then, was the fundamental conviction with which Paul began. ” Christ died for the ungodly.” * He ” gave Himself for our sins.” 2 Man by his sin had involved himself in chaos and death ; and Christ, in His passion to extricate man from his self-made ruin, did the one thing that could effectively deal with sin and with the desperate situation sin had caused — He made our doom His own, and gave His life for our redemption. In all this Paul was saying no more than the Christian conscience had been saying since Pentecost. But he went further than this. He ad- vanced to new conclusions. Truths still latent he drew out and made explicit. It is to these we must now turn. What were the deeper insights that were granted to the apostle as he pondered the mystery of the cross ?

Some of them have already occupied our attention in connection with other features of Paul’s religion : these we shall not dwell upon here. Thus, for example, our study of the conversion showed us how the cross ceased to be a stumbling-block and a ” scandal,” and became a messenger of grace and truth. 3 We have seen, too, what Paul means when he declares that the death of Christ has brought deliverance from the curse of the law, on the one hand, and escape from the power of the flesh, on the other. By being made ” under the law,” and by wearing human flesh, Christ accepted deliberately the full, dread consequences of both these conditions ; in His death He allowed the double tyranny to work its uttermost will upon Him,

1 Rom. 5«.
2 Gal. i«.
3 See pp. 138 S.


so that its force was spent, its sting drawn, and its domination broken. 1 Again, on the negative side, we have marked the fact that Paul never regards the cross as an offering by which Christ sought to placate an angry God or to turn Him from hostility to love. 2 These points have already engaged our thoughts, and call for no further comment now. But there are other directions which Paul’s mind follows. In particular, three great realities come home to him as he views the cross — the condemnation of sin, the revelation of love, and the gift of salvation. Let us briefly examine his teaching on these three cardinal facts.

It was one of the apostle’s most radical convictions, that at the cross sin stood condemned once for all. The law had made sin hateful enough : but how in- finitely more hateful it appeared when its true handi- work thus stood revealed ! And conscience told Paul — as indeed conscience tells every soul still in the hour of its awaking — that his was the sin that had com- passed the death of the Son of God, and his the guilt of that terrible betrayal. Others besides Pilate and Caiaphas and the rulers of the Jews were involved : the cross was a mirror held up to the sins of all the world. ” This is what sin means always and every- where,” it seemed to say. Paul, in his pre-Christian days, had persecuted the Christians madly ; but the first words that broke across his trembling soul in the turmoil of the Damascus hour were ” Why persecutest thou Me ? ” 3 Then there dawned upon him a truth which he never afterwards forgot, a truth which sooner or later dawns upon every soul that is moving on

1 See pp. 116 ff.
2 See pp. 214 S.
3 Acts 9*.


towards salvation — ” My hand inflicted Jesus’ wounds. My deeds drove in the cruel nails.”

” Lo ! Every soul is Calvary,

And every sin a Rood.”

But the condemnation of sin at the cross goes deeper even than this. The death of Christ, according to Paul, not only shows what sin is : it also declares what God thinks of it. Absolutely uncompromising Jesus was, when sin appeared on the field : He opposed it with His life. To His last drop of blood He resisted it. Here, then, the mind and judgment of God stand revealed. Sin cannot be tolerated. Righteousness cannot come to terms with it. If love is to deal with sin, then it must deal with it in a way that will not minimize its gravity. There must be no blurring of the eternal difference between right and wrong. For- giveness, if forgiveness there is to be, must vindicate the moral law that sin has outraged. The very act that mediates pardon must also proclaim judgment. Mercy cannot replace justice : it must itself be justice. Is this possible ? Does the problem admit of any solution ? Can such a forgiveness be found ? It was Paul’s burning conviction that he had found it at the cross. Pardon was there, pardon full and free : but the stern moral realities of life were also there, and the very mode of God’s pardoning grace was sin’s downright condemnation for ever.

It is in this sense that the difficult passage in Romans 3 23 «- is usually understood. Dr. Moffatt’s translation runs as follows : ” All have sinned, all come short of the Glory of God, but they are justified for nothing by His grace through the ransom provided in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as the means of


propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to demonstrate the justice of God in view of the fact that sins previously committed during the time of God’s forbearance had been passed over ; it was to demonstrate His justice at the present epoch, showing that God is just Himself and that He justifies man on the score of faith in Jesus.” 1 After Calvary, Paul seems to say, no man can possibly imagine that sin does not matter to God. To some minds, the fact of the divine patience and long-suffering might lend colour to the view that the sins of men are of little account. Earlier in this same epistle, reference is made to the attitude of those who make light of evil and presume upon the forbearance of God ; 2 and it is worth re- calling how in his Athenian speech, as reported in Acts, Paul characterizes pre-Christian history with the words, ” The times of this ignorance God winked at.” 3 Judaism, too, had become awake to the fact that through man’s defective moral values God’s righteousness

1 Cf. Denney, EGT, ii. 612 ; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 89 f. ; Dodd, Romans, 59 f. ; R. H. Strachan, The Individuality of St. Paul, 159; Gore, Belief in Christ, 291, 302 ; Pfleiderer, Paulinism, i. 93 ; Weinel, St. Paul, 305 ; Weizsacker, Das Apostolische Zeitalter, 144. Dr. Moffatt, whose translation of the passage we have given, points out that the Greek admits another interpretation. If, as is possible, Trdpeans is taken as equivalent to d^eo-ts, and if SiKaioovvt} is regarded as God’s ” saving favour,” the idea of a misunderstanding of God’s attitude to sin, which the cross was designed to remove, vanishes {Grace in the New Testament, 217 f.). Dr. Anderson Scott (Christianity according to St. Paul, 60 ff.) argues strongly against the traditional interpretation. But the idea underlying that interpretation, namely, that men see at the cross how real and terrible is the problem with which sin confronts God, is one which runs through Paul’s thinking. Quite apart from the present passage, it is present when he speaks of Christ as being ” made sin for us ” (II Cor. 5 s1 ), ” made a curse for us ” (Gal. 3 1S ), and indeed whenever the costliness of redemption is stressed (e.g. I Cor. 6 20 , 7 23 , Rom. 8 M ).
2 Rom. 2:5 *•
3 Acts 17:30 .


was in serious danger of being compromised. This was the situation that called forth the significant warning of the Mishna which declared, ” If anyone says to himself, ‘ I will sin, and the Day of Atonement will expiate it,’ the Day of Atonement does not expiate it.” 1 The same disastrous delusion as to God’s true estimate of sin evidenced itself in the spurious Christianity which cried ” Let us continue in sin that grace may abound. ” 2 ” Open your eyes to the cross, ‘ ‘ is Paul’s command. ” Do not think that, because former sins have been passed over in the divine forbearance, you are entitled to conclude that God is lax and in- dulgent to evil. If you can think that, you have never been at Calvary. For there the shadow cast upon the divine righteousness by man’s misconception God Himself has dispelled for ever. There the thought that there can be in God any trifling with moral realities is finally shattered. There the divine passion for truth and holiness is vindicated. And there, in the very act of forgiving, God has judged sin with His uttermost judgment.”

Beyond this supreme condemnation of sin, Paul saw in the cross a supreme revelation of love. The marvel of it was overwhelming, that the sinless One should have been ready and glad, for the sake of miserable sinners, to endure such shame and agony. Words were poor inadequate things to describe a love so glorious and subduing. It ” passeth knowledge,” he wrote to the Ephesians. 3 ” I am controlled by the love of Christ,” he told the Corinthians. 4 It is not theology, it is the adoration of a breathless wonder,

1 Yoma 8, 8 : quoted Moore, Judaism, i. 508.
2 Rom. 6 1 .
3 Eph. 3 19 .
4 II Cor. 5″ (Moffatt).


that we hear in the greatest words he wrote to the Galatians : ” The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” 1 There speaks the individual soul alone with its crucified Redeemer ; but Paul could also see the arms that had been stretched wide on Calvary reaching far out beyond himself and em- bracing the whole beloved community. ” Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” 2 He begs the brethren to make Christ’s spirit of sacrificial love the ideal and inspiration of their own corporate life. ” Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.” 3

Love and sacrifice — the two ideas belong together. Now we know what Paul meant when he spoke of the cross as the deed of an infinite love. But what did he mean when he thought of it as a sacrifice ? Here we must exercise caution. To read some of the older commentaries is to receive the impression that sacrifice, in the Levitical sense of the word, was the apostle’s regulative conception. Nothing could be more mis- leading. In point of fact, he scarcely ever uses the technical language of sacrifice with reference to Christ’s death at all. 4 This ought to warn us that to find a clue to Paul’s doctrine of the cross in the supposed analogy of ancient sacrifices, Levitical or other, is precarious exegesis. We must guard against ascribing to Paul positions and points of view with which the

1 Gal. 2 2 °.
2 Eph. 5 25 .
3 Eph. 5*.
4 Christ as sacrifice (dvaia) is mentioned in Eph. 5* ; but the usage here, as E. F. Scott points out (Ephesians, 225. MNTC) is purely metaphorical. Christ as Passover occurs in I Cor. 5 7 : this also, as the context shows, is a metaphor (H. A. A. Kennedy, Theology of the Epistles, 130).


epistle to the Hebrews has familiarized the mind of later generations. Moreover, our study of his teaching on reconciliation disclosed the fact that any idea of an offering made to God for the purpose of securing the divine favour was thoroughly alien to Paul’s whole outlook. He does indeed speak quite frequently of ” the blood of Christ ” (atfia), and it has been suggested that here at least the thought of the sacrificial blood- offering must be in his mind. Sinners were ” made nigh by the blood of Christ.” * For them Jesus ” made peace through the blood of His cross.” 2 ” We have redemption through His blood.” 3 We are ” justified by His blood.” 4 All this has seemed to many to point to ideas of sacrifice similar to those present in the Old Testament. 5 But is this the case ? Surely such an interpretation blunders by its very literalism, and reads into Paul’s use of atfia more than he intended to convey. It is far more likely that the phrase ” the blood of Christ ” stood simply as a synonym for the death of Christ, a synonym expressing in a peculiarly vivid and emphatic way the awfulness of the price at which redemption was purchased, and the absoluteness of the devotion with which the Redeemer gave Him- self for men. We are not, of course, arguing that thoughts of sacrifice were absent from Paul’s mind as he meditated on the death of Christ : that would be patently untrue. 6 The fact that Paul regarded the

1 Eph. 2 13 .
2 Col. i 20 .
3 Eph. i 7 .
4 Rom. 5 9 .
5 Mackinnon, The Gospel in the Early Church, 92 : ” From the frequency with which he uses the phrase ‘ the blood of Christ,’ he evidently had in mind the Jewish idea of blood sacrifice for sin.”

• Deissmann definitely goes beyond the mark when he says, ” The idea of sacrifice in Paul has not even remotely the importance which is usually attached to it ” (St. Paul, 177).


cross as a sacrifice is not in dispute : the sense in which he so regarded it is the vital question. And the con- clusion to which we are brought is this, that by sacrifice Paul means the utter self-abandonment and self- consecration of love. ” I beseech you,” he writes to the Romans, ” that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice ; ” 1 the principle there enunciated held good for all the sons of men, but in Christ alone had it been seen at work in full perfection. The obedience of His life, crowned by the self-oblation of His death — this was Christ’s offering to God. This was His tribute of uttermost devotion. This was His ” sacrifice.” And to all who identified themselves with it, in faith and vital union, the blessedness of salvation was sure.

But the love of Calvary which had laid its spell on Paul’s mind and heart was more than the love of Jesus : it was the love of God the Father. Once he had thought of God as remote and inexorably stern, setting His face against weak, sinful man, dealing out the awards of retributive justice, and visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Now he saw a Being of infinite grace and mercy, who from the foundation of the world had been yearning for the wayward sons of men, and had come forth to seek and to save. ” God commendeth His love toward us.” 2 ” He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things ? ” 3 The statement to which a dull, myopic type of religion sometimes commits itself, that the cross proves Jesus’ love but not God’s, that indeed a God who could look on while such a tragedy was happening and do nothing to avert it cannot be love at all, would to Paul have been simply

1 Rom. 12:1 .
2 Rom. 5:8 .
3 Rom. 8:32 .


meaningless. ” God was in Christ, reconciling the world.” 1 Just as the flame which flashes out from a volcano momentarily reveals the elemental, unceasing fires burning at the earth’s heart, so the love that leapt out on one crowning day of history in the sheer flame of the cross disclosed what God’s inmost nature is for ever. Jesus, as we have seen, made Himself a sacrifice when He poured out His soul unto death : but in the deepest sense, the sacrifice was God’s. It was God who made the offering, God who paid the price, God who ” having loved His own which were in the world, loved them unto the end.” 2

Awe and wonder fill Paul’s mind as he dwells on the cost of man’s redemption to the divine love. ” Ye are bought with a price,” he says ; 3 and the quiet words convey more of the terror and the glory of the sacrifice, more of the love’s majestic heights and awful depths, than any rhetoric could have done. Bushnell was not misreading Paul when he fixed on the fact of the cost of forgiveness to God as the very heart of the atonement. A God who deals with sin by divine fiat, by a mere announcement of pardon, is not the God that the apostle knows and worships. Could forgiveness have come that way, how much less moving it would have been to those who received it, how much less morally creative and spiritually vitalizing in its results ! Paul’s own life exemplifies the truth that incomparably the greatest power in this world for stirring the human deeps of gratitude and devotion is a forgiveness achieved by the sacrifice of the Father and the Son. To know oneself forgiven at a cost so terrible is first to be brought to one’s knees in utter penitence, and thereafter to be set upon one’s feet, ready for God’s command. The view

1 II Cor. 5:19 .
2 John 13:1 .
3 I Cor. 6:20 , 7″.


of the death of Christ which Abelard in the twelfth century held may not cover all the facts : but so far as it goes, his conception of the sacrifice of the cross as the way which divine love took to awaken an answering love in the hearts of men, and so to influence them for righteousness and turn their faces from the earth to the skies, is entirely valid and true to the spirit of the Gospel which Paul proclaimed. ” He died for all,” declares the apostle, ” in order to have the living live no longer for themselves but for Him who died and rose for them.” x After Calvary, God has a claim on men. To refuse what meets us there is to proclaim ourselves devoid of feeling and honour. Bought with such a price, we are no longer our own. We are bound to Him who bought us with fetters stronger than steel. Jesus Him- self saw that His death would have this result. He saw it, and He intended it ; and in the lifelong devotion of His bond-slave Paul and of an uncounted multitude of others, the dream of His heart came true. He ” died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” 2

” Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

These two great realities which confronted Paul at the cross — the condemnation of sin, and the revelation of love — held in their arms a third, the gift of salvation. Not only had Christ by dying disclosed the sinner’s guilt, not only had He revealed the Father’s love : He had actually taken the sinner’s place. And this meant, since ” God was in Christ,” that God had taken that place. When destruction and death were rushing up to

1 II Cor. 5:15 (Moffatt).
2 I Thess. 5:10 .


claim the sinner as their prey, Christ had stepped in and had accepted the full weight of the inevitable doom in His own body and soul. Thus the cross ” represents an actual objective transaction, in which God actually does something, and something which is absolutely neces- sary.” x Paul could never stand in thought before the cross without hearing an inward voice which said, ” He died instead of me.” To endeavour, as some theologies have done, to eliminate all substitutionary ideas from Paul’s presentation of the faith is quite arbitrary and unreal. ” One died for all,” he writes. 2 Jesus was ” made sin ” for us, ” that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 3 If words mean any- thing, this means that Christ did something for Paul which Paul could not do for himself, something which — now that Christ had done it — Paul did not need to do. As Denney puts it, ” In His death everything was made His that sin had made ours — everything in sin except its sinfulness.” 4 There are modern students of the Gospel who profess to be repelled by the bold, unhesitating use Christianity makes of the vicarious principle, and would fain construct a creed in which an idea which they complain to be so dangerous or even immoral would have no place. They do not see that to surrender this is to make an end of the Gospel : if God in Christ has not borne our sins, there is no good news to preach. 5 Nor do they see that it means giving up love and life itself : for life is built on those lines, and on the day when love ceases to be vicarious it will cease to be love. It is a sure instinct of the soul that sees the

1 E. Brunner, The Mediator, 439.
2 II Cor. 5″.
3 II Cor. 5:21 .
4 The Death of Christ, 160.
5 The essential correlate of the substitutionary idea is that ” God was in Christ ” : many critics of the idea have forgotten this.


crucified Christ standing in the sinner’s place, taking all the guilt and shame and horror upon His own great loving heart, and allowing sin’s direst consequences to have their way with Him in grief and agony — until, in that death of Christ on Calvary, the curse of sin has worked itself out to an end and is finished once for all. This is Paul’s Gospel ; and Christian experience in every age will repeat, humbly and wonderingly but with unassailable conviction, the words of the apostle’s great confession, ” The Son of God gave Himself for me.” 1

But this thought of Christ as our substitute always for Paul went hand-in-hand with another which safe- guarded and completed it — the thought of Christ as our representative. ” One died for all ” — that is the one aspect of salvation : ” then were all dead ” — that is the other. 2 In Athanasius’ words, ” The death of all was fulfilled in the Lord’s body.” 3 Jesus, travelling the road of the cross in the greatness of His sacrificial love, has become ” the second Adam,” the head of a new humanity. ” As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” 4 ” As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 5 It is here that the full force of Paul’s great conception of union with Christ appears. Christ unites Himself with us, and takes our place and bears our sins : we then identify ourselves with Him by surrendering up to Him our life. Thereby His attitude to sin becomes our attitude, His love for the Father our love, His passion for holiness our passion. ” They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” 6 United with Christ in His death, they die to sin. By

1 Gal. 2:20 .
2 II Cor. 5:14 .
3 De Incarnatione, xx. 5.
4 Rom. 5:19 .
5 I Cor. 15:22 .
6 Gal. 5:2 «.


the cross on which Jesus poured out His soul, the world is crucified to them and they to the world. 1 In His resurrection, they also rise, and live henceforward in newness of life. Their prayer now is this :

” Look, Father, look on His anointed face,
And only look on us as found in Him.”

He is their representative. They are ” in Christ.” And in virtue of that identification, God receives them. They are accepted ” for Jesus’ sake.” As Denney said finely, looking at Charles Wesley’s familiar words from a sud- denly new angle, ” It is the voice of God, no less than that of the sinner, which says, ‘ Thou, O Christ, art all I want ; more than all in Thee I find.’ ” 2 The man who is in Christ is right with God. He may be far from perfection yet, but that union is the seed which contains within itself all the promise of the future. In the face and in the soul of Christ, God sees what the man yet may be ; and He asks nothing more. ” This is My beloved,” He says, ” and this is My friend.” Nothing in life or death, no voice of earthly criticism, no accusing challenge of sin, can shake that verdict or ” lay any- thing to the charge of God’s elect.” 3 It is the word of atonement. And the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The extraordinary paradox which lies at the heart of the Christian experience of reconciliation was never more succinctly or startlingly expressed than in Paul’s phrase — ” God who justifies the ungodly.” 4 ” Justification,” says Emil Brunner finely, ” is the most incomprehensible thing that exists. All other marvels

1 Gal. 6 14 .
2 The Christian Doctrine of Reconciliation, 162.
3 Rom. 8:22 .
4 Rom. 4:2 .


are miracles on the circumference of being, but this is the miracle in the centre of being, in the personal centre.” 1

There is, indeed, a tendency to-day, in reaction from theologies which made justification the quintessence of Paulinism, to regard this whole aspect of the apostle’s thought and teaching as purely ephemeral, the pro- duct of controversies which have long been dead and irrelevant. ” That the so-called doctrine of justifica- tion,” writes Deissmann, ” is so prominent in Paul’s letters, which have come down to us, has less an inner, than an outer, cause. The hard fight against the Judaizers and the Law compelled the Apostle thereto.” * This doctrine, declares Titius, ” has an almost ex- clusively polemical character.” 3 Wernle goes even further. ” Whoever examines St. Paul’s doctrine of justification,” he says, ” laying aside all Protestant prejudices, is bound to reckon it one of his most dis- astrous creations.” 4 One can only wonder at the recklessness of this last statement. Strange, surely, that this ” disastrous creation,” this child of contro- versy, should have possessed such vitalizing power throughout the centuries ! Luther’s discovery of the apostolic doctrine of justification was like Milton’s discovery of the sonnet :

” In his hand
The thing became a trumpet ; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains.”
And every revival of religion has evidenced the stirring and bracing and energizing influence of this great

1 The Mediator, 524.
2 The Religion of Jesus and the Faith of Paul, 271.
3 Der Paulinismus, 270.
4 The Beginnings of Christianity, i. 309.


article of the faith. No doubt the Judaistic debate of the first century gave it a special significance in Paul’s writings. No doubt the forensic colour still clings to it. But to regard it as a mere weapon brought into being to meet the exigencies of a passing controversy is entirely gratuitous. It would be better to turn the argument round and say, not that the controversy produced the doctrine of justification, but that the revolutionary religious position implicit in the doctrine produced the controversy. 1 That position, put quite simply, is this : no man can save himself, for ” salva- tion is of the Lord.” And he must be blind indeed who denies the relevance of this to an age like our own, in which so many modern substitutes for the Gospel — secularism and humanitarianism and moralism and legalism — have appeared on the field, and so many voices are declaring that Abana and Pharpar are better than all the waters of Israel. Even among Christians the attempt to develop Christian graces (which are the circumference of religion) without having first faced up to the question of self-surrender and Tightness with God (which is religion’s centre) is not unknown ; and as long as this is so, Paul’s doctrine of justification, so far from being an obsolete survival of merely historical and antiquarian interest, will remain a living word of God, challenging and convincing and convicting, and mighty to save.

Behind Paul’s doctrine lies the Old Testament conception of righteousness. This cardinal idea of Hebrew religion defies definition. It includes more than justice or holiness. ” Succour is included under

1 Moffatt holds that this is true of Paul’s teaching on grace. Grace in the New Testament, 131.


it ; the deliverance of the weak from their oppressions ; and also disciplinary correction. Ultimately ‘ right- eousness ‘ and ‘ grace ‘ become almost indistinguish- able.” x ” It is the quality in God, which divides His Godhead with His power, something intellectual as well as moral, the possession of a reasonable purpose as well as fidelity towards it.” 2 Barth explains it as ” the consistency of God with Himself,” 3 and this is perhaps the nearest approach that can be made to a satisfactory definition. The important point is that God’s righteousness, as the Old Testament conceives it, is dynamic, not static. It manifests itself in God’s active vindication of His purposes with mankind, and particularly of His purpose with Israel. In times of His people’s distress and defeat, it is the saving favour that champions their cause, and the retribution that descends on their enemies. This explains the frequent collocation of the ideas of ” righteousness ” and ” salvation.” ” My righteousness is near ; My salva- tion is gone forth.” * ” My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished.” 5 ” My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.” 6 ” There is no God else beside Me ; a righteous God and a Saviour.” 7 Now this idea points beyond itself to another. For when God, in His capacity as righteous, vindicates His afflicted people’s cause, He proves that they, not their enemies, are in the right : in other words, He is demonstrating their righteousness as well as His own. This is the sense of the word in such a saying as ” The Gentiles shall see

1 A. Martin, The Finality of Jesus for Faith, 184.
2 G. A. Smith, Isaiah, ii. 227.
3 Romans, 40.
4 Isaiah 51:5 .
5 Isaiah 51:6 .
6 Isaiah 56:1 .
7 Isaiah 45:51 .


thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory.” 1 But here there rises a crucial problem for Hebrew faith. Not always is God’s vindication forthcoming : some- times Israel appeals in vain. Does this mean that God has ceased to be righteous ? The answer of the prophets is, No : it means that Israel itself must be in the wrong. It means that God cannot vindicate wickedness. Thus we see the two ideas of righteous- ness in the sense of a divine pronouncement and righteousness in the sense of integrity of character merging into each other.

Later Judaism, with its profound emphasis on the law, carried this process a stage further. God’s righteousness now becomes the consistency of the divine character and action with the revealed law. Man’s righteousness is everything involved in con- formity to the law of God. Pharisaism found its watchword in such sayings as this of Deuteronomy — ” It shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us.” 2 But only God Himself can tell whether a man’s conformity reaches the requisite standard. To God alone belongs the final verdict, and each man must appear before the bar of God to hear that verdict pronounced. Hence in the last resort, righteousness is not something a man attains by himself : it is something ” reckoned ” to him by God. 3 The great question confronting every soul is — ” Shall I be counted righteous or unrighteous ? What will God’s verdict be — ‘ Guilty ‘ or ‘ Not Guilty ‘ ? ” Fidelity to the law would no doubt influence that

1 Isaiah 62:1 .
2 Deut. 6:85 ; cf. Deut. 24:13 .
3 Cf. Gen. 15’ : ” and He counted it to him for righteousness.”


verdict : hence the painstaking devotion with which all the minutiae of the law must be observed. God’s fiat would be absolute, and God’s judgment none could fore- cast ; but always there was the lurking thought that sheer unremitting faithfulness might establish a claim upon God, and that a record of unbroken obedience would decide the fateful balance and secure a favourable verdict. God would acquit, or pronounce righteous, or ” justify,” the man whose good works merited salvation.

Such was the background to the apostolic thought of righteousness. The term, as Paul uses it, covers a wide range of meaning. It stands both for the divine nature itself, and for a status given to men. It ” exists already in God as an attribute and active force ; it is transferred to man, and realized in him by the action of Divine grace.” 1 In the former sense, it is used occasionally as an equivalent of the more sombre aspect of justice, and stresses the fact that there is no laxity with God ; 2 but generally it denotes that energy of the divine character by which men are delivered from the power of sin, while at the same time moral realities are upheld. A good instance of this occurs in Romans i 16f -, where the phrases ” the power of God unto salvation ” and ” the righteousness of God ” are virtually synonymous. There is thus no cleft between God’s righteousness and His love : it is in the love which goes forth to save men from the tyranny of evil that the divine righteousness most clearly appears. On the other side, Paul speaks of righteousness as passing over from God to man. Here, too, there is a double meaning. Occasionally it is righteousness as an ethical quality which is in

1 A. Sabatier, The Apostle Paul, 298.
2 Rom. 3:5 .


the apostle’s mind, as in the saying, ” Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin : but yield . . . your members as instru- ments of righteousness unto God.” x But in the main, Paul treats of righteousness as a status conferred on men by God. When God accepts a man ” for Christ’s sake,” He vindicates him ; He declares him to be acquitted ; He pronounces him righteous. ” Just as the touch of the royal sword,” says Brunner, ” trans- forms a burgher into a noble, so the divine declaration of forgiveness raises the sinner into the state of righteousness.” 2 The Old Testament conception here shines clearly through. This is the underlying idea of the words, ” He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 3 Paul’s great ambition — so he tells the Philippians — was to be found in Christ, ” not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” 4 The very form of the words (rip Ik ®eo€ SiKaioavv-qv) empha- sizes the fact that man’s acceptance has its source, not in any human achievement, but in the character of God. In short, the only righteousness which is valid before God is one of God’s own conferring. It consists in a radically new relationship to God, and a consequent participation in the life which is life indeed.

The gift of this new status Paul calls ” justification ” (SiKaiwois) . Resemblances there are to Jewish doc- trine, but the difference is momentous and decisive. Pious Jews could only peer into a dim, mysterious future,

1 Rom. 6 13 ; cf. Rom. 14 17 .
2 The Mediator, 523.
3 II Cor. 5″.
4 Phil. 3*.


hoping against hope that God would pronounce a sentence of acquittal at the last. But it was Paul’s glorious certainty that for himself, and for all who had faith in Christ, the liberating sentence had already been pronounced. What else could the peace and joy which had come to him at Damascus mean ? Judaism toiled and hoped and struggled and doubted : Paul possessed. The new life surging in his heart could betoken only one thing — God had accepted him. ” Not guilty,” had been the verdict. What, then, had become of his sins, that bitter and grievous burden which had been the problem of long, haunted years ? God, in accepting him, had blotted them out. They were annulled. Hence justification and forgiveness went hand-in-hand. Daily forgivenesses might still be necessary for daily sins, as Jesus in the great prayer He taught His followers implied ; 1 but the initial act was complete. The alien had been proclaimed a member of the household. The defeated devotee of an elusive righteousness had been clothed in a righteousness of a higher and diviner order. The sinner had been ” justified.”

At point after point in our survey of the apostle’s thought, we have observed the extraordinary prominence he gives to the fact of the divine initiative ; and nowhere does this receive greater emphasis than in his teaching on justification. It is the cardinal fact of religion, and here it is asserted in its most naked, chal- lenging, and even paradoxical form. This alone would ensure that the doctrine of justification will never become obsolete. Human nature has an inveterate tendency to work with ideas of merit ; and the doctrine which, more than any other, flatly negates such notions

1 Matt. 6 12 ; cf . I John i ‘, where Kadapl^ti bears the sense of ” goes on cleansing.”


will always have a salutary and indispensable message for mankind. Pedantry has often buried Paul’s doctrine beneath a mass of words and lost the living soul of it in a haze of argument ; and many have been repelled. But justification, when truly seen, is nothing less than Christianity at its grandest and most daring. Brunner’s words go to the heart of the matter : ” It is just in this way that Christian faith is distinguished from all religion. No religion ever had the courage thus to go to the bitter end in giving man up, as the Christian faith does. All religions make an attempt at the self -justification of man — at least of man as a religious subject. It is exclusively the faith in justification by grace alone which sacrifices not only the rational man, or the moral man, but the religious man as well.” * That is well and truly said. The ” last infirmity of noble mind ” is to think that the virtuous soul deserves something of God. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, thousands of years older than Christianity, the soul of the departed enters Osiris’ hall of judgment, reciting its own righteous acts ; and Bunyan’s Mr. Honest made arrangements with ” one Good-conscience ” to meet him at the end and help him over the river. Outside Romanist theology altogether, the thought of merit still clings to the moral and spiritual life of multitudes. But when Paul came preaching his Gospel of justification by faith alone, that clean-looking, high-principled thought had the search- light of God turned upon it, and was branded for ever as a he. Pharisaism, then and now, may boast its religious devotion, its exemplary morality, its visiting of the fatherless and widows in their affliction, its unspot- tedness from the world ; but when justification drives its real message home, then — in Paul’s words — ” boasting

1 The Word and the World, 80 f .


is excluded.” * How can anyone boast who realizes that everything he has — forgiveness, and a place in the family of God, and eternal life — comes from sheer un- merited grace ? That is the negative aspect of the doctrine. On the positive side, it conveys the glorious truth that the redeeming welcome of God awaits all who, weary of futile quest and fruitless effort, cast themselves in simple faith on Christ.

” Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot ” —
that is the secret of acceptance. That is justification.

Is this consonant with Jesus’ teaching ? The charge is frequently heard that Paul overlaid the simple thoughts of the Gospels with complexities of doctrine which were unwarranted in their origin and ruinous in their effect. Nowhere, it is said, did this happen more disastrously than in his argument on justification. This criticism is more plausible than profound. When justification is understood, it is seen to be an unfolding of the central truths of Jesus’ message. It is clear, for example, that our Lord’s purpose in telling the parable of the labourers in the vineyard 2 was to convey to those who had ears to hear the truth that the man who thinks to bargain about final reward will always be wrong, and that God’s sovereign loving-kindness will always have the last unchallengeable word : and what is this but Paul’s thought of a God who ” justifies the ungodly ” ? Another parable depicts a servant coming in from the field at the close of day, and making ready his master’s evening meal before thinking of anything for himself. 3 Is he seeking to acquire merit ? Is he looking for thanks ? Is he putting his master under an obligation ?

1 Rom. 3″.
2 Matt. 20:1 – 16 .
3 Luke 17:710 .


No, declares Jesus, the question of obligation never enters : he is merely doing his duty. Here again the germ of Paul’s doctrine is clear. The actual term ” justified ” (SeSi/ccuw/zeVo?) occurs in the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, 1 a story which, as the evangelist points out, was specifically directed against certain people who ” trusted in themselves that they were righteous (SUatoi) and despised others.” 2 In the greatest of all the parables, the father accords the returned prodigal a lavish welcome : there is no ques- tion of a period of probation, no ” forgiveness by degrees,” no dwelling upon the shame and rebellion of the past. 3 ” Father, I have sinned ” — that is enough. The wanderer’s face is homeward, and the father restores him there and then to the full status of sonship. ” He brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love.” 4 It is the elder brother, whose merit-philosophy is more deeply rooted than his love, who stands condemned. Jesus did more than teach all this in words : He expressed it in His life. His whole attitude to sinners embodied it. He sought them out. He overturned all human verdicts. He would observe no canons of merit. He made the last first. He was the divine initiative incarnate. Men suddenly knew, look- ing at Jesus, that God had accepted them. His fellow- ship gave them a new standing. For this end He was born ; for this, in word and deed, He laboured ; for this He laid down His life. Here is the true root of Paul’s conception of j ustification. It is no invention of his own. It is no mere legacy of Jewish scholasticism. It springs

1 Luke 18»-“.
2 ” Christ’s reflection on the two men is equivalent in drift to Paul’s doctrine of justification by grace through faith ” (A. B. Bruce, The Parabolic Teaching of Christ, 314).
3 Luke 15:11 ” 32 .
4 Song Sol. 2*.


from Gospel soil. It bears the stamp of Paul’s deep, evangelical experience. It mirrors the life and death and teaching of his Lord.

What happens in justification Paul sometimes de- scribes by the term ” adoption ” (vlodeata). The justi- fied man is now aware that his relationship to God is that of a son to a Father. No longer is he an outcast or a hired servant : his place is in the family. ” Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” 1 God ” predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.” 2 ” God sent forth His Son . . . that we might receive the adoption of sons.” 3 Behind such statements lies Paul’s own radical change of attitude, when he passed out of bitterness and slavish fear into peace and liberty. The vivid poignancy and the deep, thankful joy present in the apostolic idea of adoption have perhaps never been better expressed than in these words of McLeod Camp- bell : ” Let us think of Christ as the Son who reveals the Father, that we may know the Father’s heart against which we have sinned, that we may see how sin, in making us godless, has made us orphans, and under- stand that the grace of God, which is at once the remis- sion of past sin and the gift of eternal life, restores to our orphan spirits their Father and to the Father of spirits His lost children.” 4 The keynote of the life of adoption is freedom. On the other side of the line lies bondage, the unconfessed but sore and melancholy servitude of the man who has no strong controlling pur- pose, whose path is lit by no guiding light more reliable

1 Rom. 8:15 .
2 Eph. 1:5 .
3 Gal. 4:8 .

* The Nature of the Atonement, 147.


than his own reason and desires, whose inner life is one of inglorious moral defeat. But adoption into the family carries with it ” the glorious liberty of the children of God.” * Personality, once disintegrated, is now unified ; repression gives way to release ; the tone of the moral life becomes victorious. It is life ” in the Spirit,” says Paul. ” As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” 2 And it is a life of wonderful assurance. It does not spend its days anxiously debating the question, ” Am I saved or am I not ? ” Its cry is — ” Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” 3 This confidence, of course, is based on noth- ing in the man himself. It has its source in God, and in the troth of God, who ” never goes back upon His call.” 4 If God has accepted a man into His family, who is to shut him out ? As Paul himself puts it bluntly, ” When God acquits, who shall condemn ? ” 5 Come the whole universe against him, the man who knows his sonship of God can remain untroubled and unshaken. One word of the living God means more than a thousand loud hectoring voices of this earth. ” Faithful is He that calleth you ” 6 — that is the adopted soul’s high con- fidence ; and it stands against the world.

Paul’s critics have sometimes urged that his main argument on justification and adoption involves a ” legal fiction.” Moral interests, it is claimed, are in- adequately safeguarded by a doctrine which can speak of God looking upon a guilty soul and pronouncing it ” Not guilty.” And if God ” imputes ” to the sinner something the man does not possess — the righteousness of Christ — is not the unreality of the whole transaction

1 Rom. 8:21 .
2 Rom. 8″.
3 Rom. 8:17 .
4 Rom. 11:2 » (Moffatt).
5 Rom. 8:33 (Moffatt).
6 I Thess. 5″.


thereby increased and made still more flagrant ? Is there not a risk that the absolute emphasis on divine grace, and the depreciation of every idea of human work and merit, may destroy all incentive to ethical strenuousness and self-discipline ?

But this criticism, cogent as it may appear, is really quite beside the point. There is no such thing in Paul’s epistles as a mechanical imputing of the righteousness of Christ to sinners. Everything turns upon faith. Justification does not happen in a vacuum. It happens in a faith-pervaded atmosphere. Paul’s faith-conception we have already examined, in our discussion on union with Christ. 1 The sinful soul, confronted with God’s wonderful self – disclosure in Christ, and with the tremendous and subduing fact of the cross where the whole world’s sins were borne, responds to that divine appeal and abandons itself to the love that stands revealed : and that response, that abandonment, Paul calls faith. This is what God sees when He justifies the ungodly. Far from holiness and truth and all that makes a son of God, the sinner may yet be : but at least his face is now turned in a new direction. He may still, like Abraham, be in the midst of paganism, but his heart is in the land of promise. He may still dwell, like Daniel, in Babylon, but his windows are ” open toward Jerusalem.” This is what God sees ; and on the basis of this, God acts. It may be that the sinner is still woefully entangled in his sins ; it may be that there is a long, weary road to travel before he can finally escape from the far country which he has made his home. But that matters comparatively little. What matters supremely is that his life has found a new orientation. He is now ” in

1 See pp. 173 ff.


Christ.” He is ” looking unto Jesus.” 1 And that means three things. It means, first, that the sinner is now looking, not inwards, but outwards — trusting not to any merit in himself, but to something outside of himself altogether, the grace and love of an entirely trustworthy God. It means, second, that he is looking not downwards, but upwards, not down to sin’s alluring shame, but up to the beauty and purity of Christ. It means, third, that he is looking, not backwards, but forwards, ” forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” 2 His position may not have altered much, but his direction has been changed completely ; and it is by direction, not position, that God judges. Once the sinner had his back to Christ : now his face is Christward. This is faith, and it holds the potency of a glorious future. This is what God sees; and seeing it, God declares the man righteous. God ” justifies ” him. Is this a ” legal fiction ” ? The question answers itself. There is nothing fictitious about it whatever. It is the deepest and most genuine of realities.

The same result appears when we examine the connection between justification and its cognate idea, sanctification 3 It is safe to say that if Paul’s commentators had followed the apostle’s example and bound these two great conceptions indissolubly together, instead of sundering them and endeavouring to treat them apart, no talk of ” fictions ” or ” antinomianism ” would ever have been heard. Too often sanctification has been spoken of as a secondary work of the Spirit of God, superimposed on the original

1 Heb. 12 2 .
2 Phil. 3 1S .
3 Rom. 15″, I Cor. i 30 , 6″, I Thess. 4 s , II Thess. 2″.


act of justification as a kind of extra. In reality, of course, there is no such hiatus. When Paul uses the verb SiKaiovv he means, as we have seen, ” to pronounce righteous,” not ” to make righteous ” ; but the very pronouncement does, in point of fact, have the effect of making a man something he was not before. Justification carries life with it. It puts life into the man who receives it. It is life. 1 ” Had there been any law,” writes Paul to the Galatians, ” which had the power of producing life, righteousness would really have been due to law ” 2 — an illuminating sentence which shows that justification and the producing of life were, in the apostle’s mind, virtually synonymous. 3 ” Justification is not a mere precondition of the blessing : the whole blessing is given with it.” 4 It is a dynamic, creative act. Dr. Oman brings this point out well when he emphasizes the fact that the ” righteousness of God ” into which by faith the Christian enters is not merely a righteousness God demands or confers, but ” a righteousness God looks after.” 5 In other words, sanctification is not a new thing, but simply the unfolding, by the operation of the Spirit, of something already present. It is God’s justifying verdict itself which sanctifies, for it makes a new creature, with a new heart, in a new world. It trans- lates the soul from the domain of the flesh and all evil spirits into the control of the Spirit of Christ. To be justified means that a man stands up and lives, really

1 Cf. the phrase ” justification of life ” (5«-atWis far/s) in Rom. 5 18 –

2 Gal. 3″ (Moffatt).

3 ” In Paul’s terminology StKaLuxns is ^uonotrjiris ” (Moffatt, Grace in the New Testament, 220).

4 Titius, Der Paulinismus, 166.

5 Grace and Personality, 230.


lives at last, erect and clean and in his right mind before God. And this is sanctification.

No doubt the Gospel of justifying grace and free forgiveness as Paul preached it involves, not only faith on the part of man, but also a risk on the side of God. Guarantees of any kind the sinner cannot give ; nor does God demand them. He deals with sinful men as Jesus dealt with Zacchaeus and many another, accepting them without any security of accumulated merit, or any period of probation, long or short. Is there any risk greater than that which God takes, when in sheer grace He forgives ? But perhaps the idea of a faith which ” creates its own verification ” goes deeper than even William James, the great ex- ponent of the idea, suspected. 1 Perhaps in that idea there is a truth which holds good on the divine even more than on the human level. Perhaps the very faith which God has in the future of a poor defeated sinner who has nothing to offer but a cry, the faith by which God accepts the risk for Jesus’ sake and justifies the ungodly, creates its own verification and brings that apparently impossible future into actual existence. Certainly this was what happened when Jesus brought all His love and trust to bear upon the publicans and sinners who felt that they had forfeited all love and trust for ever : His forgiveness not only cancelled the past, but regenerated them in the present, and made them saints for the future. And this is the Pauline nexus between justification and sanctification. The divine love which takes life’s greatest risks creates life’s most glorious results. It is precisely because God waits for no guarantees but pardons out-and-out, because He dares to trust a man who has no claim or

1 The Will to Believe, 24 f.


right to trust at all — it is because of this that forgive- ness regenerates, and justification sanctifies. It is not only or mainly that the man so forgiven feels bound in honour to put forth greater moral efforts than before, though this, of course (as indeed Paul is careful to point out), 1 is involved in the redeeming experience : the determining fact is that the forgiven man is now pos- sessed by a power greater than his own. The leaven of Christ has begun its work of leavening the whole lump. So completely has the whole atmosphere and climate of his life been changed that graces, hitherto unheard-of and impossible, begin to grow. Hence- forward it is simply not true to say that ” failure is the fate allotted.” 2 Moral problems with which he could hardly cope unaided lose their terror when Christ is dwelling within. The new relation to God produces results which once would have seemed incredible ; the new spiritual status bears fruit in daily miracles ; the new identification with Christ means ” being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 3 Where once there lay the shadows of sin, now shines the steady light of holiness ; and where once there was an ever-deepening despair, now rises the victor’s cry, ” I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 4


It is characteristic of Paul that, while rejoicing in the assured possession of a real and present salvation,

1 Eph. 4″‘-, Phil. 2″, Col. 3»*-
2 ” Whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed ; failure is the fate allotted ” (R. L. Stevenson).
3 II Cor. 3:1 “. • Phil. 4:13 .


he can also gaze away into the future and see visions and dream dreams of a culminating and glorious day of the Lord. Faith, by its very nature, is paradoxical ; and Paul’s Christianity glories in paradox. ” Al- though Christ is already present, His coming is still expected ; although Christians are already redeemed, still must they wait for the full redemption ; sonship is theirs now, and yet they have still to obtain it ; they are already glorified, and yet hope for glory ; they possess life, but life they must yet receive.” 1 Justification, according to Paul, has an eschatological side ; and this we must now consider.

Let us guard, however, against exaggeration here. There is a school of writers who hold that it was in eschatology that Paul’s main religious interest lay. This, they believe, is the master-key to unlock all the secrets of the apostle’s mind. Such a position is radi- cally unsound. If fails entirely to do justice to Paul’s dominating conviction, that in Christ the promised Redeemer had appeared and the Messianic age had projected itself out of the future into the present. Jewish prophecy and apocalypse foretold a time when the Spirit of God would be poured forth with sudden power : but the revolutionary belief which Paul shared with the primitive Christian community declared that the great day had actually dawned. ” This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” 2 The new order of things, the age of the Spirit, had broken in upon them. They were living in it every day. And their daily fellowship with the risen Christ was the proof of it. “As ye have received Christ, so walk ye in Him,” 3 writes Paul, reminding his readers that God’s

1 J. Weiss, Das Urchristentum, 421.
2 Acts 2 19 .
3 Col. 2 9 . 261

unspeakable gift of grace was a realized fact. ” Such were some of you,” he declares to the Corinthians, after a sombre catalogue of the vicious ways of pagan- ism, ” but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 The great transaction had hap- pened. They had entered the Kingdom. They had ” received the atonement.” 2 They had passed into a new realm of being. Things which prophets and kings of olden time had yearned in vain to see and hear were now happening all around them. Eternity had broken through into time. Christ was with them. The Spirit was in control. Their own lives were eternal. It is absurd, in the face of all this, to main- tain that Paul was primarily an apocalyptist, or that his main concern with religion was eschatological.

But hope did occupy an important place in his thoughts. In our study of his fundamental doctrine of union with Christ, we saw that the very wonder of the intimacy with his risen Lord which he now enjoyed con- strained him to look forward to a still closer intimacy to come. 3 In the same way, his thought of justification glows with the rapture of the forward view. ” Our salvation,” he writes, ” has a great hope in view.” 4 ” We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” 5 Very striking is his expression to the Galatians, ” We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” 6 Here God’s justifying decree, which has already been heard in the hour of a man’s conversion, is regarded as anticipating the verdict of the final judgment : as there is ” no condemnation ” now, so there will be none in the

1 I Cor. 6″.
2 Rom. 5″.
3 See pp. 199 ff.
4 Rom. 8:24 .
5 Rom. 5:2 .
6 Gal. 5:5 .


last great hour of decision. The age of the Spirit has begun, and believers inhabit a new world of joy and freedom ; but the gift of the Spirit is a ” foretaste ” (d-TTapxrj) , 1 an ” earnest ” (appafidjv) , 2 of a still deeper joy and a still ampler freedom. This will happen when Christ, now present with them but unseen, returns in the fullness of His splendour and power. ” When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” 3 ” Our citizenship is in heaven ; from whence also we look for the Saviour.” 4 To be a Christian means ” to serve the living and true God ; and to wait for His Son from heaven.” 5 With all the early Church, Paul could raise the cry ” Maranatha ” fl — Lord, come !

Various causes suggest themselves for this feature of the apostle’s thought.

First, it is important to observe that Paul here stands in direct line with the teaching of Jesus Himself. Oral tradition, in the days before the Gospels as we have them were written, preserved not a few sayings of the Master in which the thought of a rapidly approaching consummation was enshrined. These were no doubt Paul’s background when in prophetic mood he wrote of Christ’s return and of the certainty of the victory of God.

Second, Paul’s personal religious experience pointed in the same direction. That experience was emphatically a growing thing. There was nothing static about it. Great as the revolution of Damascus had been, it was but the prelude to a life of ever-increasing wonder and ever-deepening knowledge of the grace of God in Christ.

i Rom. 8:23 .
2 II Cor. 1:22 .
3 Col. 3:4 .
4 Phil. 3:20 .
5 I Thess. !•«■ G I Cor. i6 22 .


A piety to which ” being saved ” is the goal of all ambition, the climax beyond which it is unnecessary and impossible to go, is totally unlike that of Paul. Conversion, he found, was not an end, but only a beginning. He knew something of what Jesus meant for the world and for himself when he looked up from the dust to which the flashing vision had abased him, and cried ” Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do ? ” x — but he knew far more when, years afterwards, he wrote from prison, ” To me to live is Christ.” 2 However much he discovered, there was always more beyond. ” O Lord God,” prayed Moses, when his life on earth was almost done, ” Thou hast begun to shew Thy greatness ” ; 3 and it is the same note we hear in Paul’s words to the Philippians — ” Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect : but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” 4 God’s riches were unsearchable, and to the very end of the day there would remain much land to be possessed. Hence personal experience, no less than the teaching of Jesus, added hope to faith, and turned his eyes towards the day of consummation.

Third, there was the problem of the body. Terribly hampering, even to a man in Christ, the burden of the flesh remained. Against the limitations of the flesh, the spirit had to fight incessantly ; and sometimes it had to acknowledge defeat. Perfect attainment could scarcely be hoped for, until ” the body that belongs to our low estate,” as Paul describes it, 5 had been radically and for ever changed and transformed. For the flesh, while not itself sinful, gave sin its material to work upon,

1 Acts 9:8 .
2 Phil. 1″.
3 Deut. 3″.
4 Phil. 3:13 . s Phil. 3″ (Moffatt).


and hence was an element of weakness and a constant menace to the soul. ” We sigh to ourselves,” declares Paul, ” as we wait for the redemption of the body that means our full sonship.” 1

Fourth, there was the fact of death. To the Hebrew mind, death was more than a mere physical change : it was an event of profound spiritual significance. Brought into the world by sin, it meant separation from God. Hence the horror with which every spiritually minded Jew regarded it. Paul shared that horror. Death is ” the wages of sin.” 2 It is ” the last enemy that shall be destroyed.” 3 But destroyed it must be : else Christ’s work remains incomplete. The very principle of death, by which sin’s dire hold over the human race has from the beginning of time been signalized, shall be eliminated and cease to be.

Finally, Paul could not but yearn for a day when the struggles of the present would be crowned with glorious victory. Rank upon rank of hostile forces stood confronting the Church of God ; and the unseen forces were the deadliest. ” We have to struggle, not with blood and flesh but with the angelic Rulers, the angelic Authorities, the potentates of the dark present, the spirit-forces of evil in the heavenly sphere.” 4 Was this state of things to endure indefinitely ? Was Christ committed to a perpetually indecisive warfare ? Was an uneasy balance of power between Christ and Anti-christ the best that could ever be hoped for ? Paul could not believe it. The day was sure to come when God would break in irresistibly and gather His kingdom to Himself. Then at last the stubborn spirits of evil would be beaten from the field. Then not an enemy

1 Rom. 8″ (Moffatt).
2 Rom. 6″.
3 I Cor. 15″.
4 Eph. 6″ (Moffatt)


would be left to trouble the endless peace or to challenge Jesus’ sway. Then the universe itself would be remade, nature as well as human nature would be redeemed, and God would ” sum up all things in Christ.” 1

Such were some of the factors that inspired Paul’s religion v/ith an eternal hope. To frame a fully articulated scheme of eschatology, however, was certainly not his intention. Commentators with a passion for carefully elaborated schemes will no doubt continue to ” systematize ” Paul’s doctrine of the things to come : but it is a mistaken endeavour. 2 The apostle’s dreams of the future, his sudden insights, his flashes of vision, his long deep ponderings and meditations, are not patient of such treatment. But let us, for the sake of convenience, take three great eschatological concerns of early Christianity — the Resurrection, the Judgment, and the Parousia — and examine briefly his teaching about each.

It is clear that when Paul speaks of a coming resurrection, he is thinking mainly of the destiny of believers. The words ” As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 3 have sometimes been interpreted in a universalist sense, implying that all shall rise and that all must in the end enjoy salvation. But that this was the apostle’s meaning cannot be conclusively proved. It would be truer to say that on this matter he deliberately refrained from dogmatic statements and preserved a reverent agnosticism. His belief in future judgment does indeed suggest that, in his view, there would be resurrection for all. But it is the Christian’s future with which he is primarily concerned, and speculations on the ultimate doom or salvation of men

1 Eph. 1 ]
2 See pp. 27 f.
3 I Cor. 15:2


outside of Christianity are conspicuous by their absence. The Christian has already been raised with Christ ; already he has passed from death to life ; even now he is living eternally. Hence the resurrection of the hereafter is simply God’s seal set upon the life in Christ which the believer now possesses. Here Paul’s thought comes very close to that of the fourth evangelist, to whom the possession of eternal life is not the consequence of a future resurrection, but its presupposition. 1

Now to Greek minds, the whole conception of a resurrection was strange and novel and puzzling. The first natural reaction of a Greek to the new idea would be to ask, ” With what body do they come ? ” 2 Philosophy had taught the Greek to believe in a purely spiritual immortality, without a body of any kind. Wise men regarded the body as a tomb in which the living spirit lay buried : /ia arjfia, they used to say. 3 Death was the imprisoned soul’s escape. 4 But Paul could not thus conceive a realm of disembodied spirits. To him, the very idea would have been repugnant : witness the earnestness of his desire that he should ” not be found naked ” after death, but ” clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” 5 The real point at issue, of course, as Paul saw very clearly, was the continuance of personal identity. Some sort of body there must be, if the soul’s essential individuality was to survive. But if Paul differed from the Greek conception of immortality, he differed equally from the Jewish. Resurrection was a familiar enough idea to the Jew, but it was marked by a crass materialism. The very body which had died was to rise again. Even if its elements

1 John 6:40-54 .
2 I Cor. 15:35 .
3 Plato, Gorgias, 493 A • t6 fnev * Plato, Phaedo, 64c : rrjs if/vxfjs aird tov God ” have, as was pointed out above, an eschatological reference. 3 Impenitent sinners are ” treasuring

1 Phil. 3:20 .
2 I Cor. 15″.
3 See p. 218.


unto themselves wrath, against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” x Apocalyptic literature had depicted the terrors of judgment in lurid colours and with an excessive wealth of detail. Very different is Paul’s treatment, which is characterized throughout by a noble dignity and restraint: It is noteworthy that judgment, in his view, is universal. Christians, as well as unbelievers, have to meet it. ” We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” 2 God ” will render to every man according to his deeds.” 3 When Paul appeals to Christian people to refrain from censoriousness and criticism of their neighbours, it is on the ground that ” the hour of reckoning has still to come, when the Lord will come to bring dark secrets to the light and to reveal life’s inner aims and motives.” 4 Apostolic preaching owed much of its urgency and passion to the conviction that life in the present, for every soul without exception, was charged with eternal issues, and that everything depended on men’s relation to God here and now. But if the Christian, no less than the non-Christian, had to appear before the divine tribunal, he could contemplate that hour of decision without fear or trembling. For God’s justifying verdict had already been spoken. The sentence of full acquittal had been pronounced. The indwelling, present Christ was the believer’s security. United with Christ by faith, he could face the future with confidence and courage. The great words of Thomas a Kempis are thoroughly Pauline in their tone and meaning : ” The sign of the cross shall be in heaven when the Lord cometh to judgment.” 5 There could be no terror in

1 Rom. 2:5 .
2 II Cor. 5:10 .
3 Rom. 2:6 .
4 I Cor. 4:5 (Moffatt).
5 The Imitation of Christ, 11. xii.


judgment to those whom the Son of God had sealed. Having died with Him in His death and risen with Him in His resurrection, sharing now His attitude to sin and to holiness, belonging to Him by virtue of God’s grace and their own full, willing surrender, and growing up daily into His likeness by the operation of His Spirit in their hearts, they knew that even in the last crisis they would stand unshaken. ” There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ.” »

The third great hope which filled Paul’s thoughts as he looked forward to the future was that of the parousia. In God’s good time, Jesus would return. We ” wait for His Son from heaven.” 2 ” The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” 3 It is sometimes argued that such expressions are characteristic of a comparatively early stage of the apostle’s Christian thinking, and that as time went on he grew away from them and sought to modify them. If the epistles are taken in their chronological order, it is said, a distinct process of development can be traced. Now it is certainly possible that, on the question of the time of Christ’s return, Paul’s views may have been subject to change with the passage of the years. More than this we cannot say. It was Bernhard Weiss who set the fashion of discovering intricate processes of theological development as between the earlier epistles and the later. 4 Of course Paul’s was a living mind and a growing religion ; but none the less, most of the

1 Rom. 8:1 .
2 I Thess. 1:10 .
3 I Thess. 4:16 .
4 E.g. in his Biblical Theology of the New Testament.


schemes of development are precarious and artificial. 1 Apart from the fact that the true sequence of the epistles is by no means finally settled, 2 there are two important considerations which the development theorists have somewhat surprisingly ignored : namely, that Paul had been preaching and meditating on the Christian Gospel for about twenty years before our earliest epistle appeared ; and that thereafter all the epistles, from the earliest to the latest, fell within one decade. 3 To speak as if I Thessalonians represented an early and comparatively undeveloped stage of the apostle’s religious thought is therefore quite unwarranted. Does the expectation of the Parousia, prominent in one epistle, recede in another ? That does not mean that it has been lost. Sooner or later it reappears. ” It is high time,” Paul tells the Romans, ” to awake out of sleep. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” 4 ” We are a colony of heaven,” he writes to the Philippians, ” and we wait for the Saviour who comes from heaven.” 5 Here the note of his earliest epistles is reproduced. If that note rings out more clearly at some points than at others, we need not be surprised. It is only natural that ” at certain moments in his career the vista of the kingdom of God would lengthen out for him, at others it would

1 ” He is described as sitting down, like a philosopher, and producing a ‘ first draft ‘ of his theory in one of his epistles and a considerably different version of the theory in another ” (Gore, The Philosophy of the Good Life, 293).
2 The generally accepted position as to the dates and places of origin of the ” captivity epistles ” may have to be radically revised in view of Professor G. S. Duncan’s important book, St. Paul’s Ephesian Ministry.
3 Moffatt, Grace in the New Testament, 157 ; Inge, Christian Ethics and Modem Problems, 72.
4 Rom. 13″*- * p hi i 320 (Moffatt):


seem to contract.” x The important point is that Paul, realizing that eternity had now broken through into time and that the long prophesied age of the Spirit had begun, felt — as did all his fellow-believers — a wonderful thrill of hope and expectation. Nothing now could defeat Jesus or bring His cause to confusion. The coming consummation was faith’s most radiant certainty.

In hours of vision, Paul already saw it near. He saw the day of God breaking like dawn in the eastern sky. He saw the same mighty Lord, who once at Damascus had stirred his own soul from its slumber, now awakening the whole wide world. Two crowning blessings Christ’s return would bring. For the individual believer, there would be the life of glory. ” This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 2 And for the cause of God, there would be victory, final and complete. ” Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father.” 3

This high faith, conceived in Paul’s heart by the Holy Ghost, born of his conversion experience, nourished by daily communion with Christ, never left him, never wavered. It is the faith of a reconciled and justified soul. Over it, the world and the assaults of the enemy and the slow years’ disillusions have no power nor sway. Courage and confidence and zest and meaning are its gifts to life, while life endures ; and it greets death as glorious gain.

1 H. A. A. Kennedy, St. Paul’s Conceptions of the Last Things, 162.
2 I Cor. 15:63 .
3 I Cor. 15″.

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