Ch. VI Historic Jesus and Exalted Christ

By James S. Stewart 1935
A Man in Christ

FROM our study of Paul’s religion, one fact has emerged predominantly — the man’s over-whelming devotion to the person of his Lord. Paul felt he had nothing which Christ had not given him. Forgiveness, a fresh start, a new relation to God, guidance for each day’s need, reserves of moral power, glad fearlessness in the face of life’s vicissitudes, an eternal hope that mastered death — all were the Redeemer’s gift. He was immeasurably Christ’s debtor. In view of this, the question naturally arises, What was his final estimate of the One to whom he owed it all ? What place does he give Christ in relation to God and man and the universe ? And this question involves another. How does his Christ-religion stand related to the historic Jesus ? Is it consonant with the picture offered in the Gospels ? These are the questions which must engage our attention in this concluding chapter.

The idea has gained wide currency that Paul was responsible for changing the whole character of Christianity. In Paul’s cosmic Christ, it is said, the Jesus of the Gospels is barely recognizable. The evangelic tradition shows us a village carpenter who becomes  a preacher and prophet. He moves from place to place,


preaching and teaching and doing good. He makes friends of a group of fishermen and others. He lives in their company. He washes their feet. He teaches them to pray to God as Father. He gets into trouble with the authorities. He is arrested and condemned as a public danger. He dies on Calvary between two thieves. He is buried in a garden grave. He returns from the dead, and shows Himself to His followers. This is the one side of the picture. Over against it — so runs the argument — stands the Christ of Paul. The carpenter-preacher has now become the Judge of all mankind. The voice which taught simple lessons from the lilies of the field and the birds of the air now awakens the world like a trumpet. The homeless wanderer of Galilee is enthroned above the kings of the earth, all creation sings His praise, and the whole universe finds in Him its meaning and its goal.

What conclusion can be drawn from this, it is asked, but that the New Testament itself contains, not one Gospel, but two ? And of these two, which are we to accept ? Which strikes the authentic note ? Must we not conclude that Paul has been to blame, that he has led Christianity along a track which its own Founder never intended for it ? The simplicities of Galilee have been overlaid with ideas — theological, metaphysical, and mystical — which are quite unwarranted, and burdened with Christological speculations foreign to their nature. The religion of Jesus — a creed of simple trust in the heavenly Father — has been turned into a religion about Jesus. He who was faith’s pattern and example has become faith’s object. Surely Paul has been supremely indifferent to history ! The human life of Jesus he has simply ignored. He was not interested in it. He took no trouble to


acquaint himself with the facts of it. Do not his own words about ” not knowing Christ after the flesh ” suggest that he actually gloried in his ignorance ? Between the Jesus of history and the Pauline Christ a great gulf is fixed.

Such is the argument. Wrede, in his Paulus, made himself its champion. 1 Harnack, who subordinated everything else in the Gospel to Jesus’ ethical teaching and revelation of the Fatherhood of God, gave it modified support. ” The Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed it,” he declared, ” has to do with the Father only and not with the Son.” 2 The position is stated emphatically by Morgan. ” In Paul we meet with a fully elaborated doctrine of redemption of which Jesus can scarcely be said to know anything at all. … So far from sharing Paul’s pessimistic estimate of the natural man, He appeals to him with a confidence that is rooted in a splendid optimism. . . . Jesus has no doctrine of adoption. . . . There is nothing in Jesus’ teaching to correspond with the Pauline doctrine of the Spirit. Human goodness is traced not to the Spirit’s supernatural operations, but to the human heart and will.” 3 ” The God of the Jews and of Jesus,” according to Professor Kirsopp Lake, ” is a very beautiful figure — much more beautiful than the God of Paul ” : a statement whose effect is scarce likely to be enhanced by the words that immediately follow, ” But for us, as for educated Greeks of the first century, it is a beautiful picture which we cannot fully accept.” 4 Again, Pfleiderer, to take another representative of the view we are discussing, asserts that

1 Paulus, 90-97.

2 What is Christianity ? 144. For a criticism of Harnack’s position, see E. Brunner, The Mediator, 65 ff.

3 The Religion and Theology of Paul, 252 ff.
* Paul : his Heritage and Legacy, 76.


Paul’s ” dogmatic indifference to the historical life of Jesus really presupposes a lack of historical knowledge of that life, and was only possible at all on this ground.” 1 The argument, however, by which Pfleiderer seeks to support this statement is far from convincing. He points out that when Paul wishes to impress upon his converts the duty of a mutual, self-sacrificing love, he adduces as an example of this virtue, not any of the events of Jesus’ public ministry, which ought surely to have occurred to his mind as illustrating it, but either the incarnation or the death. ” It is more than probable,” says Pfleiderer, ” that one who had so far to seek for an example of self-sacrificing love, had no precise information regarding the circumstances of the historical life of Jesus which lay much nearer to hand.” 2 This, surely, is strange reasoning. If Paul, wishing to set before his readers’ eyes a pattern of sacrifice and love, refers to the incarnation and death of Christ rather than to any of the other incidents of sacrifice and love with which the Gospel narrative abounds, it is not because these incidents are unknown to him, but simply because he wishes, quite naturally and rightly, to select the supreme and most heart-subduing illustrations available. Many of the assumptions on which the theory of a hiatus between Jesus and Paul rests can only be called precarious in the extreme.

But let us examine the matter more closely. There is certainly less reference in the epistles to the events of Jesus’ earthly life than might have been expected. Moreover, the apostle himself draws attention to the independence of his Gospel. This is a point of which those who regard Paul as ” the second founder ” of Christianity make much. And undoubtedly it is

1 Paulinism, i. 124. 2 lb. i. 123.


important. ” I certify you, brethren,” he writes, ” that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Paul disclaims all intermediaries. ‘■ I conferred not with flesh and blood,” he says. 2 Nothing will he preach except what he calls ” my Gospel.” 3 Direct revelation is its source. When Paul, writing out of the fullness of an intensely individual experience, declares to the Corinthians, ” No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 4 he is virtually reproducing the great words of the Master to Peter, ” Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” 5 And Paul not only claims independence. Quite obviously he is independent. The personal equation is everywhere. At no time has the Christian Church contained a more original or creative mind. To Paul, a plagiarized creed would have been intolerable. A humanly derived religion would have appeared little better than agnosticism. Hearsay and report were no basis for a working faith. God alone could give that. But to recognize all this quite frankly is certainly not to say that Paul turned the stream of Christianity out of
the channel that Jesus made for it : that does not necessarily follow by any means. For after all, independence such as Paul showed in his religion is only what every Christian must be able to claim, if his Christianity is to be real and vital and significant. Second-hand piety has always been the Church’s bane and a lamentable source of weakness to the Christian cause. Indeed, we might put it in the form of a paradox

1 Gal. i nf – ■ Gal. i”.

3 Rom. 2 18 , II Cor. 4 3 . Cf. I Thess. i\ II Thess. 2 14 . Gal. 2 s .

* I Cor. 12 3 . * Matt. 16″.


and say that the more original a man’s Christianity is, and the more the personal equation enters with it, the more likely is it to be true to Christ. This is what we see in Paul. It is ” my Gospel,” as he says ; and just in the degree in which it is his own, it is more than his own — it is Christ’s. To separate Paul from Jesus, to explain Paul’s Gospel without reference to the life that Jesus lived and the message Jesus taught and the Gospel Jesus brought to light, is, as Raven has well expressed it, ” as absurd as to explain the movements of the planets without reference to the sun.” x

On the question of Paul’s acquaintance with the facts of the life of the historic Jesus, one or two points call for notice. We may be sure, as was pointed out in our discussion of the pre-con version period, 2 that Paul already at that time had taken trouble to acquaint himself with the beliefs of the men and women he persecuted. Who was this Jesus to whom they were so extraordinarily devoted ? How had He lived ? What had He taught ? What was there in His character to explain an influence so remarkable ? For information on these matters, Paul had obviously two sources at his disposal — fellow-Pharisees who had been eye-witnesses of Jesus’ ministry, and members of the Church with whom the persecutor’s activities brought him into contact. But the question rises here, Was there perhaps a third source available ? Is it possible that Paul himself had seen Jesus ?

This is one of the unsolved questions of the New

1 Jesus and the Gospel of Love, 46. H. J. Holtzmann (Neu-testamentliche Theologie, ii. 238) says that if Paul was the founder of a religion, it was only in the relative sense in which Luther also has been called the founder of a religion (Religionsstifter).

2 See p. 120.


Testament. On the negative side, there is the fact that the epistles contain no explicit reference to any such meeting. Is there not a high degree of probability, it may be asked, that if Paul had encountered Jesus or listened to His voice, some mention of the fact would have been made ? On the positive side, there is the consideration that Paul may well have been in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ trial and death. If so, is it not likely that their paths would cross ?

Many commentators have claimed that II Corinthians 5 16 settles the matter, and points to a positive answer. 1 It is doubtful, however, if this passage can be admitted as evidence. The crucial words are these : *’*’ Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh : yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.” This statement presents a number of difficulties. 2 When Paul uses the plural ” we,” is he speaking of himself alone, or of the apostles in general ? Is ” Christ ” here an official title, equivalent to Messiah, or is it a name purely personal ? Does the phrase ” after the flesh ” indicate the method of ” knowing,” or does it stand closely conjoined to the word Christ ? Gore suggests that Paul is speaking for the Christian messengers generally, with no specific personal reference at all. 3 But the whole context seems to indicate quite definitely that it is his own name in which he is speaking, and his own experience which he is recording. 4 Again, it is only
very rarely indeed in the epistles that ” Christ ” bears

1 W. Sanday, art. Paul, in HDCG, ii. 887 ; J. Weiss, Das Ur-christentum, 137 ; J. H. Moulton, From Egyptian Rubbish Heaps, 72.

2 Even H. J. Holtzmann confesses, ” Die Stelle 5 1S widerstrebt jeder sicheren Auslegung ” (Neutestamentliche Theologie, ii. 68, n.).

3 Belief in Christ, 105.

* Moffatt so translates it throughout.


the official sense of Messiah i 1 if we are to be guided by Paul’s predominating usage, we shall certainly be inclined to take the term personally here. As to the words ” after the flesh,” we must go to the first part of the verse for the necessary clue. 2 When Paul declares, ” Henceforth know we no man after the flesh,” he means that whereas before his conversion such distinctions as those between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, learned and illiterate, slave and free, were of paramount importance to him, now they have practically ceased to exist : the only distinctions he now recognizes are spiritual. No longer will he take any man for granted. Even Jewish birth and piety guarantee nothing. All such differences among men are purely fortuitous and external. Once they impressed him mightily : now, in the light of the Gospel, they are nothing. ” Henceforth know we no man after the flesh. We refuse to have our estimate of any man dictated to us by externals.” Then he goes on, ” Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh ” — as though to say, ” If my estimate of Christ was once similarly superficial, if as a Pharisee I thought of Christ in terms of His attitude to the law, if as a Roman citizen I regarded Him simply as a strange phenomenon in history, if my view of Him was obscured by prejudice and misunderstanding and all the criticisms natural to an unsurrendered will, if, in short, I knew Him in any way but the redeeming and reconciling way — all that is over. In that way I know Christ no longer. Henceforth and forever He is to me the power of God unto salvation. It is thus — and thus alone — I know Him.” It is possible that Paul intends this as a veiled rebuke

1 Rom. 9 5 is one such occurrence ; possibly Rom. io 6 – 7 is another.

2 Notice that Paul says /card /ca, not iv aapicl, which would give a very different meaning.


to the Judaizing Christians. These men seemed bent on carrying over into Christianity the very formalism and externalism which the new religion had been born to destroy. They were emphasizing secondary things out of all proportion : their real interest was not in Christ the personal and universal Saviour, but in Christ as embodied in the framework of Jewish history and piety. 1 Whether this was in the back of the apostle’s mind or not when he wrote the words, it is clear that they cannot be adduced as evidence for the belief that he had actually seen Jesus before the crucifixion.

But neither do they in any way negate that possibility. And indeed the pupil of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, the witness of the death of Stephen, was hardly likely to miss the opportunity, if opportunity occurred, of looking upon One whose words and ways had given the religious leaders of the land so much food for thought. “It is no unsupported phantasy,” says Principal W. M. Macgregor, “that Paul, though with jaundiced eyes, had seen Jesus, thinking of Him only as a disturber of the worship of God, and that the memory of the encounter had remained with him, like a fragrance, subtly influencing thought and memory and feeling.” 2

If the answer to the problem we have been investigating

1 So J. Weiss, Das Urchristentum, 347. The words in II Cor. 5 18 mean, according to Weiss, “dass er auf irgend welche natiirlich-menschlichen Beziehungen zu ihm, deren die Judaisten sich riihmen, keinerlei Gewicht mehr legen kann.” R. H. Strachan, The Historic Jesus in the New Testament, 28 : ” aimed at his legalistically-minded Christian opponents, who quoted the example and teaching of Jesus regarding the Law and His general attitude towards Jewish institutional religion against Paul himself.” Lietzmann, / und II Korinther, 191 (HBNT) : ” Dass er eine polemische Spitze hat, ist unverkennbar. ”

2 Christian Freedom, 108. Dr. Anderson Scott {Living Issues in the New Testament, 15) says it is ” not only possible but probable.”


must remain in doubt, there can be no uncertainty about the larger question. Whether Paul had seen Jesus with his own eyes or not, he was thoroughly cognizant of the facts of Jesus’ life. Apart from the information which he was able to gather in his persecuting days, his contacts with the apostles after his conversion would certainly be turned to good account. From the lips of Peter and others he would learn the full story in all its intimacy and wonder and beauty. 1 When critics, arguing from the reticence of the epistles, commit themselves to the statement that ” Paul was not interested in the human Jesus,” one can only express amazement at the underlying psychology. The ” argument from silence ” is proverbially risky : it is completely fallacious here. Is it conceivable that this incomparably loyal, passionately devoted servant of Christ could have been indifferent to anything that concerned his Lord ? Does not the theory of a purely nominal interest on Paul’s part in the Jesus of history bear its refutation on its face ?

Indeed, it is unlikely that this charge would ever have been brought against the apostle if due stress had been laid upon the obvious fact that what we have in Paul’s New Testament writings is not his preaching to the unconverted but his letters to Christian brethren. He was writing to people who had already been instructed in the evangelic history and presumably knew it well. In preaching, the conditions were different. As long as the Christian mission was confined to Palestine, the missionaries could doubtless count on a certain knowledge of the facts among their hearers ; but when they faced the Gentile world, they had to build from the very foundation. For here no common

1 Gal. i 18 .


ground existed : the very name of Jesus was unknown. Who was this Jesus of whom so great things were told ? Some answer to this question was essential. 1 Hence the apostolic preaching involved more than a pro- clamation of the redeeming death and resurrection: it consisted largely of an account of the life and character and sayings and miracles of the One who had died and risen. It was K-tipvypa, a heralding of Jesus. 2 The best evidence of the importance which the early Church attached to the story of the historic Jesus lies before us in the Gospels. 3 Behind a Gospel like Mark stand the sermons of the Christian preachers, who felt themselves charged, wherever they went, to hold up Christ, to ” placard ” Christ, as Paul puts it. 4 It was the gathering together of the themes on which they discoursed, and of the subsequent instruction they gave their converts, which formed the basis of the Gospel tradition. If Paul’s epistles say little about the earthly ministry of Jesus, it is certain that his preaching was full of it. And the suggestion that Paul may have confined himself to proclaiming the heavenly Christ, and have left his subordinates Barnabas and Silas to fill in the details of the human story, is — as Johannes Weiss has shown — patently absurd. 5 Is Christ divided ? No Christian, least of all an apostle, can hold the two aspects apart, as though there were two Redeemers. The Gospel is a unity, or it is nothing. Here we come in sight of another important consideration. The epistles were written to men and women who not only had been instructed in the historic

1 J. Weiss, Das Urchristentum, 166.
2 Rom. 16; I Cor. 1:2*, 15:14.
3 Das Urchristentum, 544.
4 Gal. 3:1.
5 Das Urchristentum, 167.


facts but were actually in touch with the living Christ every day. That is what Christianity meant for them. If they were not always looking towards the past or dwelling in the memory of the Galilean and Judean days, it was not because the earthly ministry of Jesus meant little to them : it was because He had become a vivid and abiding presence. They did not need to hark back continually to the experiences of the original disciples : they themselves were now disciples, learning daily from their Lord. Through dangers and perplexities and sufferings their road might often lead them ; but always He was there, ” closer than breath- ing, nearer than hands and feet,” guiding them, speaking to them, flooding them with His own risen life and power. But this does not mean that the knowledge of the historic facts ceased to be a treasured possession. It was with joy and wonder that they realized that the exalted Christ with whom they held daily communion was none other than the Jesus who had walked the earth. They could not think of their eternal Lord without thinking of the life He had lived and the death He had died. On this point, Paul’s own language is full of significance. We naturally expect him to use the name ” Christ “where the exalted Lord is intended, and ” Jesus ” where he is thinking of the earthly story ; and, in point of fact, this is often what we find. But what is important to observe is that sometimes this rule is reversed. Sometimes Paul uses ” Jesus ” of the heavenly One, and ” Christ ” of the human figure. 1 This is another witness to the truth we are maintaining, namely, that for Paul’s mind and heart and conscience there was no hiatus between

1 E.g. ” Jesus ” in I Cor. 9:1 , II Cor. 4:11 ; ” Christ ” in Rom. 5*.
II Cor. id».


Christ in glory and the Jesus who had ” lived on earth abased.” 1 That the man who knew the former so well deliberately ignored the latter is clearly incredible, alike to psychology and to religion.

No doubt there have been Christians who have sat loose to history ; but Paul was not one of them. He had the genius to see that in a world full of fantasies and myths and cults and mysteries, it was
precisely in its historic basis that the new religion’s strength and promise of victory lay. Abstract questions — such, for example, as the famous one which Anselm was later to propound, Cur Deus Homo ? — were never his principal concern : his real interest was a Person. Salvation, in his view, did not mean being initiated into a Logos Philosophy : it meant, as he said himself, ” being conformed to the likeness of God’s Son.” 2 It is not a divine idea of Incarnation which redeems, nor is it a vague principle of Atonement that is the sinner’s hope. It is through the personality of Jesus that men for nineteen centuries have seen the Father. To say that history meant little or nothing to Paul is simply not true : it meant everything to him. As Denney put it : ” Paul could not in his work as an evangelist preach salvation through the death and resurrection of an unknown person ; the story which was the common property of the Church, and with which her catechists everywhere indoctrinated the new disciples, must have been as familiar to him, in substance, as it is to us.” 3 As familiar ? Far more so. Sayings of our Lord and incidents of His life now unknown to us may well have been in the

1 On this whole matter, see J. Weiss, Das Urchristenlum, 349 f. ” Dieselbe Personlichkeit in zwei Phasen ” is Weiss’s phrase.
2 Rom. 8:2*.
3 II Corinthians (Expositor’s Bible), 203.


knowledge of His great apostle. The earthly and heavenly Christ were one ; and never while Paul gloried in his daily fellowship with the eternally living Redeemer did he cease to ponder on the life and walk and character of One who by entering history had changed all history for ever.


It is commonly assumed and stated that in Paul’s writings reminiscences of the historic Jesus are extremely meagre. But is this the case ? Let us take the fact of Jesus under the three aspects of His life, His character, and His teaching ; and let us see whether Paul’s references are really as scanty as the critics of the Tubingen school and others have declared them to be.

Looking back to the story of the earthly life, Paul dwells in one of his most impressive passages on the fact that Jesus entered history ” born in human guise, and appearing in human form.” x He was ” made of a woman, made under the law.” 2 By natural descent He stood in the direct lineage of David. 3 His primary ministry was among the Jews of His own nation. 4 He set a great example of self-sacrifice and bravery under persecution. 5 Ere He died, He instituted, by His words in the upper room, the great Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. 6 He was arrested by treachery. 7 He was killed upon the cross — ” crucified in His weakness.” 8 He was buried. 9 He rose from the dead. 10

1 Phil. 2′ f – (Moffatt).
2 Gal. 4*.
3 Rom. i:3 .
4 Rom. 15:8 .
6 Rom. 15:3 .
7 I Cor. ii:23 “- » I Cor. 11″.
8 II Cor. 13:4 . • I Cor. 15*. »• I Cor. 15:4 .


He appeared after His resurrection to many of the brethren. 1

Turning to the character of Jesus, we must give due weight to the passage where Paul declares it as God’s purpose that Christians should be ” conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren,” or, as Dr. Moffatt translates it, ” the first-born of a great brotherhood.” 2 Clearly this presupposes, as Professor C. H. Dodd has pointed out, that both writer and readers have a fairly accurate under- standing of Jesus’ character. 3 Elsewhere Paul speaks of ” the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” 4 thus stressing the very qualities enshrined, in our Lord’s own words ” I am meek and lowly in heart.” 5 More than once he dwells on the obedience of Jesus to the Father’s will. 6 He prays God that his readers’ hearts may be directed towards the patient endurance (virofiovrj) of Christ. 7 It would probably not be too much to say that, in all his delineations of Christian life and character, Paul has Jesus before his eyes as the norm and the ideal.
Professor John Baillie has suggestively remarked that what we have in the great description of the nature of love in I Corinthians 13 : ” Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy ; love makes no parade. Love is never glad when others go wrong, love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient ” 8 -4is not so much a philosopher discoursing on an abstract virtue as a Christian saint meditating on the character of Jesus. ” Can we have any doubt who it was who sat

1 I Cor. 15:5
2 Rom. 8:2
3 Romans, 14: 2 {MNTC).
4 II Cor. 1o:1
5 Matt. 11*».
6 Rom. 5™ Phil. 2:8 .
7 II Thess. 3:5. But this may be ” the patience Christ inspires.”
8 I Cor. 13«-«- 7 (Moffatt).


in the studio of Paul’s imagination for that famous little vignette of the ideal man ? ” 1

But it is when we turn to the teaching of the historic Jesus that the real range and extent of Paul’s knowledge stands revealed. There are, first of all, certain passages where Paul expressly quotes sayings of Jesus. In treating of marriage and divorce, for example, he is careful to distinguish between primary rulings which have Christ’s direct authority behind them, and secondary rulings which carry only apostolic sanction. Of the former, he says ” these are the Lord’s instructions, not mine ” ; of the latter, ” these are my instructions, not the Lord’s.” 2 Dealing at a subsequent point in the same chapter with another problem of social ethics, he introduces his advice with the words, ” I have no orders from the Lord, but I will give you the opinion of one whom you can trust, after all the Lord’s mercy to him.” 3 Here we have a clear indication of the decisive importance Paul attached to authentic words of Jesus. Another direct reference to Jesus’ teaching is present in the words, ” Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 4 Again, Paul quotes Jesus’ picture of the coming consummation. ” This we say unto you by the word of the Lord . . . the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” 6 There is also the ” unwritten saying ” quoted in Paul’s address to the elders at Miletus : ” Remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 6

1 The Place of Jesus Christ in Modern Christianity, 81.
2 I Cor. 7:10 – 12 . Cf. Matt. 19*- 8 .
3 I Cor. 7″ (Moffatt).
4 I Cor. 9 14 . Cf. Luke 1o:7 .
5 I Thess. 4:15 Cf. Matt. 24:30
6 Acts 2o:35 . This has no Gospel parallel ; but the same thought is presented in Luke 14:12.


In addition to these direct citations, there are numerous passages in Paul where indirect reminiscences of Jesus’ teaching are very apparent. 1 Thus the instruction to ” render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom,” 2 clearly presupposes Jesus’ famous declaration about Caesar’s rights and God’s. 3 When Paul, in the course of a summary of the Christian’s ethical duties, writes ” Bless them which persecute you. Recompense to no man evil for evil. If thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink,” 4 we are at once reminded of the words in the sermon on the mount, ” Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” 5 It is from Jesus that Paul has taken his dramatic picture of the thief in the night. 6 Jesus spoke of a faith which could move the mountains, and Paul reproduces the image in his great hymn to love. 7 The apostle’s repeated warnings against an unchristian use of the critical faculty point back to the Gospel passage beginning ” Judge not, that ye be not judged.” 8 ” Be careful for nothing,” writes Paul to the Philippians, using the same word (ixcpifivdre) which occurs in Jesus’ injunction, ” Take no thought for your life.” 9 The true inwardness of the new religion was stressed by Jesus when He affirmed that nothing outside of a man could defile him : this has a parallel in Paul’s declaration, ” I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus ” (a significant phrase in this connection) ” that there is nothing unclean of itself :

1 A. Titius, Der Paulinismus, 11 ff., has a very careful and elaborate investigation of this question.
2 Rom. 13:7 .
3 Matt. 22:21 .
4 Rom. 12:14 – 17 – 20 .
5 Matt. 5″.
6 I Thess. 5:2W -. Cf. Matt. 24″ •«» ‘•
7 I Cor. 13:2 . Cf. Matt. 17:20 .
8 Rom. 14:4-1o-“. Cf. Matt. 7:1
9 Phil. 4:5. Cf. Matt. 6:25 .


but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” * In the prayer which He taught His disciples and in the words expounding it, Jesus revealed the essential connection which exists between human forgiveness and divine : Paul reproduces this idea in a way which makes it almost certain that he knew the Lord’s Prayer well, although there is no explicit allusion to it in his epistles. 2 On the primary duty of loving one’s neighbour, Paul speaks almost in the very words of his Master. 3 When the apostle, at the opening of his hymn to love, repudiates certain forms of religion which make a brave outward show and are eloquent in words, we seem to be hearing an echo of Jesus’ warning, ” Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” 4 The strong statement, ” Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils,” points back to one equally uncompromising, ” No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” 5 Further illustrations could be given ; but enough has been said to show how wide and accurate was Paul’s knowledge of the sayings of Jesus. 6 Resch has argued that Paul (whose epistles, of course, were written before our Gospels in their present form appeared) had at his disposal some earlier document,

1 Rom. 14:14 . Cf. Mark 7:15.
2 Col. 3:13 . Cf. Matt. 6:121; E. F. Scott argues, on the basis of this text in Colossians, for a knowledge of the Lord’s Prayer. Colossians, 72 (MNTC).
3 Rom. 13:9 . Cf. Matt. 2:2-3
* I Cor. 13!^. Cf. Matt. 7:21 .
6 I Cor. 1o:21 . Cf. Matt. 6:24 .

• E.g. Rom. 2», Matt. 15 14 (the blind leading the blind) ; Rom. 16 19 , Matt, io 16 (serpents and doves) ; I Cor. i 22 , Mk. 8 uf – (seeking a sign) ; I Cor. 7 7 , Matt. 19 12 (marriage) ; II Cor. 5 10 , Matt. 25 31 (Jesus as Judge) ; Phil. 3 8 , Matt. 16 26 (losing and gaining) ; I Thess. 2 15 , Matt. 23 31 (killing the prophets); I Thess. 5 eM -, Matt. 24″ (watchfulness).


a collection of Jesus’ sayings of which the evangelists themselves made use ; and this is certainly not impossible. 1 But whether the apostle had a written source to draw upon or not, the fact is abundantly clear that stored within his mind was a great multitude of the memorable and decisive words which his Lord, in the days of His flesh, had spoken.

We can go further than this. Apart from direct quotations and indirect reminiscences of particular sayings, Paul’s fundamental positions and the whole tone and trend of his religious teaching are a legacy from the historic Jesus. ” The distinctively Christian thought of God goes back in the completest possible way to the mind that was in Christ Jesus Himself.” 2 At various points in our study we have had occasion to observe Paul’s indebtedness. We found, for example, that his doctrine of justification has its roots in certain of Jesus’ greatest parables. 3 His teaching on adoption reflects the Master’s deep sayings on the Fatherhood of God and the blessedness of the child-heart in religion. 4 His thought of faith is entirely in line with the Gospel conception. 5 His eschatology reproduces many of the leading features of Jesus’ pictures of the coming consummation. 6 We need not recapitulate these matters here. But one or two additional points where Paul stands in Jesus’ debt call for mention.

Take the apostle’s radical attitude to the law. It is sometimes maintained that here he was an innovator. But this is not so. For in Jesus’ words and deeds the

1 A. Resch, Agrapha, 28 f.
2 J. Baillie, The Interpretation of Religion, 435.
3 See pp. 252 f.
4 See pp. 254 f.
6 See pp. 176 f. • See p. 263.


decisive break with the law was already foreshadowed. What do the brief parables about the patched garment and the new wine mean if not that the doom of legalism was imminent ? 1 Openly and fearlessly Jesus attacked the spirit which was exalting the minutiae of tradition above the living word of God. 2 The new morality which He taught was too essentially inward to be compatible with the legalist spirit. His own way of welcoming sinners involved a clean break with Pharisaism’s most rooted ideas. It might indeed be urged that the passage where Jesus speaks of coming ” not to destroy but to fulfil ” the law points in an opposite direction. 3 But surely the intention of the words is not to rehabilitate legalism, but to stress the duty of obedience to God’s revealed will as distinct from the formal observance of a pettifogging legislation which carried no divine sanction whatever ; and moreover, the incarnation could be called a ” fulfilling ” of the law in the sense of Paul’s statement that ” the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” 4 In any case, the Gospels make it perfectly clear that it was Jesus’ collision with the law which led to His rejection by the leaders of religion and
ultimately to His death. Paul’s radical attitude was thus no innovation. Here again he was following in the footsteps of the Jesus of history. He was but leading

1 Mark 2:21f
2 Mark 7:8.
3 Matt. 5″”
4 Gal. 3**. Some scholars regard Matt. 5 18 – 1 * as unauthentic.
A. S. Peake suggests that these verses reflect a later controversy : they are Jewish-Christian in origin, and Jesus is here made to disavow the Pauline position (art. ” Law,” in HDCG, ii. 15). So also P. Feine, ” Die beiden Verse sind ein Einschub des Evangelisten, der die Stelle damit fur seine eigene Zeit zurechtriickt ” (Tkeologie des Neuen Testaments, 43). E. F. Scott, on the other hand, holds that ” there is no sound reason for questioning their authenticity ” (The Ethical Teaching of Jesus, 31). This is confirmed by the parallel in Luke 16 17 .


to its logical and inevitable issue a movement his Master had begun.

Again, take Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God. At first sight, it is perhaps surprising that this conception, so prominent in the Synoptic Gospels, holds no great place in the epistles. But Paul, writing to Gentile Christians, would doubtless feel constrained to translate into other terms an idea whose background and associations were predominantly Jewish. It is noteworthy that where the phrase does occur in the epistles, it is used quite in the spirit of Jesus : there is the familiar double aspect of the kingdom, as a present actuality and a future hope. When Paul writes, ” The kingdom of God is not meat and drink ; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” 1 or ” God hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son,” 2 or ” The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power,” 3 clearly it is the thought of the kingdom as already established on the earth that is in his mind. On the other hand, when he writes, ” Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” 4 or ” They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” 5 he is looking beyond the present to the day when the kingdom will break in as a direct act of God. But the substance of Jesus’ kingdom-preaching is to be found in Paul even where the term itself does not appear. Whenever the apostle speaks of life as the great correlative of salvation, whenever he dwells on the blessedness of the sons of God, echoes of the Master’s proclamation of the kingdom can be heard. Here again his faithfulness to the Jesus of history stands revealed.

Most important of all, however, is the matter of

1 Rom. 14:17.
2 Col. 1:13.
3 I Cor. 4:20.
4 I Cor. 15:50.
5 Gal. 5:21.


Paul’s Christology. It is in regard to this that the charges of innovation and misconstruction have been most confidently affirmed. The apostle’s doctrine of Christ, it is said, and Jesus’ self-estimate, are radically different : there is no basis in the latter for the former.

What are the facts ? It is a point of first-class importance that there never was any disagreement between the primitive Christian community and Paul on the ground of Christology. 1 This fact has not received the emphasis it deserves. Criticisms of various kinds the apostle to the Gentiles had to meet from his fellow-Christians, and more than once there was a serious clash of opinion ; but the one point on which he seems never to have been challenged was his doctrine of Christ. Leaders of the Jerusalem Church, he tells us, examined him carefully on the Gospel he was preaching. 2 But the central matter — his teaching about Christ — was not called in question. Strange, surely, that the very point at which modern critics grow most vociferous in accusing Paul of innovation was one of the few points at which his contemporary critics had no fault at all to find in him !

The fact is, those who speak as if Paul were the creator of Christology are forgetting that there was a Church and a Gospel and a Christian mission before ever Paul was converted. Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona multi. There were men ” in Christ before me,” says the apostle, regretting his life’s lost years. 3 Problems in abundance the story of the earliest Christianity raises : 4

1 Wernle, Jesus und Paulus, 50.
2 Gal. 2:2 **•
3 Rom. 16:7 . Even the Gentile mission had been begun before Paul — a point sometimes overlooked. Von Dobschiitz, Probleme des apostolischen Zeitalters, 57.
4 T. R. Glover, Paul of Tarsus, 198 : ” The hardest of all periods in Church History for the historian to recover and to understand is


but some things are certain. It is certain that the Church from the first preached Christ as Messiah and Lord and Judge. 1 It is certain that the Christians believed that their Lord had poured out His Holy Spirit upon them. 2 It is certain that through Him they were conscious of forgiveness and full salvation. 3 It is certain that they realized His presence in the breaking of bread, and worshipped Him with prayers and hymns in a way that was an implicit confession of His divinity. 4 All this was in the common stock of Christian teaching before Paul had spoken a single word for Christ. There are passages in his epistles where he quotes the very words of primitive creeds and confessions of faith. ” I delivered unto you,” he tells the Corinthians, ” that which I also received,” — and then follows a summary of doctrine which is plainly of early origin. 5 At the opening of the epistle to the Romans, a similar brief statement is found. 6 When Paul uses the phrase ” Jesus is Lord,” he is quoting what was probably the oldest of Christian creeds : there is reason to suppose that this was the formula used in baptismal confession. 7 No doubt Paul, in the course of long and deep reflection on the mystery of Christ, has gone beyond these comparatively rudimentary positions of the primitive community : he has done this, for example, in his doctrine of pre-existence and of Christ’s place as agent in the work of that short interval, variously estimated between one year and six years, that lies between the Crucifixion and Paul’s journey to Damascus.”

1 Acts 2:36, 1o:42.
2 Acts 2:33 . H. J. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Theologie, i. 446 : ” Die Urchristenheit war eine Inspirationsgemeinde.
3 Acts 2:38, 4:12.
4 Acts 2« 7″, Col. 3 16 . E. F. Scott believes that in Eph. 5:14 we have a quotation from one of the primitive hymns. Ephesians, 231 (MNTC).
5 I Cor. 15:5
6 Rom. 1:3ff
7 Rom. 10:9 , I Cor. 12:3 , Phil. 2:11 ; cf. Acts 2:s8, 19:5.


creation. 1 But the circumstance that his Christology stood unchallenged means that nothing in it was felt to be alien to the fundamental tenets of the Church. He was simply making explicit what had been present in germ in the Christian attitude to Jesus from the first. Even pre-existence was less an arbitrary importation than an inference from acknowledged fact.

Now the importance of all this for our present purpose will become evident when it is remembered that behind the Christology of the earliest community (and therefore behind the Christology of Paul) stood the Christology of Jesus Himself. Lake has recently revived the notion that the Jesus of the Gospels never intended to claim for Himself Messianic rights or divine Sonship, and that it was the error of His too enthusiastic followers and apostles which clothed Him with that dignity. 2 All that can be said about this theory is that every page of the Gospels discredits it. Our certainty that Jesus believed Himself to have come forth from the very bosom of God is based on something more fundamental than isolated passages. 3 Such passages, indeed, abound, and their cumulative effect is great. There is the famous declaration, ” All things are delivered unto Me of My Father : and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father.” 4 There is the prophetic manifesto at the opening of the ministry, clinched by the words, ” This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” 5 There is the assumption of the power to forgive sins. 6 There is the reply to the

1 H. R. Mackintosh, The Person of Jesus Christ, 42, 74.
2 Paul : his Heritage and Legacy, 43.
3 The evidence has been admirably summarized by Principal Martin in his Cunningham Lectures, The Finality of Jesus for Faith, ch. hi.
4 Matt. 11:27 .
5 Luke 4:21 , Is. 61 ».
6 Mark 2:5 ff –


Baptist’s question about ” One that should come.” 1 There is the demand for men’s implicit trust and obedience. 2 There is the claim to be ” greater than the temple,” ” greater than Solomon.” 3 There is the story — most autobiographical of all the parables — about the rebel husbandmen, with its central words ” I will send My beloved Son.” 4 ” Surely,” says Professor J. A. Robertson, ” in Him who thus dares to put upon the lips of God such words about Himself the confidence in His own consciousness of Sonship is complete.” 5 But over and above these specific references, the Gospels set before us One whose conscious authority is unparalleled, whose moral perfection is dimmed by no faintest shadow of sin, whose will is God’s will, whose very presence is salvation. This is Jesus’ own tremendous claim.

Hence it was no perfervid apostolic hyperbole or idolatry which spoke of Jesus at the right hand of God, nor was Paul indulging in unwarranted speculation when he found in Christ the very meaning of the universe. For Jesus was never anything else but central to His own religion. The type of critic who regards Pauline Christology as a flagrant instance of affection outrunning judgment will doubtless always be with us ; but the lack of understanding is in himself and not in Paul. Daring the apostle certainly was in his vision of the ultimate truth, but not too daring. If he saw Jesus enthroned in glory, he was but seeing what Jesus Himself had prophesied. If he dreamed of the wide universe as Christ’s possession, he was but envisaging what Christ Himself had claimed.

Our conclusion, therefore, is this. The charge that

1 Matt. 11:3
2 Mark 8:3 «.
3 Matt. 12:5 «.
4 Luke 2o 9fr
5 The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Jesus, 185.


Paul changed the character of the original Gospel is baseless. At all points, not least in his Christology, he was true to the mind of Jesus. By the grace of God within him, he was able to draw the overwhelming conclusions to which the life and teaching of Christ had pointed. He was no corrupter, as he has been called, of the faith once delivered to the saints. The very reverse is true. It was Paul, more than any other, who kept the new religion pure and uncontaminated and faithful to its great Original and Object, in days when danger and corruption were threatening it on every side. This, and nothing less, is our debt to the great apostle. His was the loyal mind that preserved Christ’s essential Gospel intact for the world ; and his the spiritual genius that has enabled the Holy Catholic Church to realize something of the breadth and length and depth and height of the glory of her own eternal Lord.


One of the two questions which faced us at the opening of this chapter — the question of the relation between Paul’s Christ-religion and the historic Jesus — has now been answered. We turn to the other : What was the apostle’s final estimate of his Redeemer ?

That he recognised Jesus as the long-promised Messiah goes without saying. The day of Damascus settled that. The first and fundamental truth which flashed its way into his soul in that tremendous hour was that Jesus was alive. This could only mean that God Himself had set the seal to Jesus’ Messianic claim. Jesus was Messiah. Such was the theme of the first Christian sermons Paul preached. 1

1 Acts 9 M .


But great and glorious as the conception of Messiahship was, it was not really adequate for Paul’s purpose. At Damascus he had encountered One clothed in something greater than any outward dignity of office : he had found a personal Saviour. Henceforward, when Paul spoke of ” Christ,” the official sense of the term was quite submerged beneath the personal. All the local, national, and material ideas which Jewish Messianism had developed so strongly were completely transcended. Blessed in his own soul with so wonderful a redemption, Paul knew instinctively that no racial limits and no traditional categories could hold the Redeemer he had now discovered : His meaning, His message, and His mission were universal. Not a new Israel, but a new humanity, was to be His creation. ” The first man is of the earth, earthy : the second man is the Lord from heaven.” 1 Patriotic Jews whose thoughts of Messiah could not rise beyond One who would restore to God’s ancient people their vanished splendours and revivify the dreams that had died were falling infinitely short of the glorious truth. Here was One sent by God to deal with a foe far stronger and more deeply entrenched than the foreign legions that offended His people’s nationalism and desecrated the land they loved, One whose campaign was ” not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers,” 2 against the unseen spiritforces of the age that deluged the world in sin and all unrighteousness and ruin, against the legions of evil that went marching through the sanctities of the souls
of men. Thus the very experience which revealed Jesus to Paul as Israel’s Promised One was destined to break through all such categories ; and the very

1 I Cor. 15:47 .
2 Eph. 6:12 .


voice which rang the glad tidings through his heart, “Behold the Messiah,” was to cry, almost ere the first echoes had passed, ” A greater than Messiah is here.”

All this shows once again how radically mistaken is the position adopted by many scholars from Baur to Lake, namely, that everything, or almost everything, in Paul’s Christology can be traced back to an inherited pre-Christian Messianic dogma. If Paul and his fellow-Christians had gone to work in this way, simply fitting Jesus into an already existing scheme of things, they would have been implicitly confessing that Christianity to them was no more than a Jewish sect. But while the beginnings of Church history speak of two phenomena, a Jewish as well as a Gentile Christianity, the fact remains that it was Christianity, not Judaism. Christian Judaism, as von Dobschiitz has done well to point out, would have been a very different entity from Jewish Christianity. 1 To none of the apostles, to Paul least of all, was Jesus a mere plus — something to be added on to a traditional dogmatic, and super-imposed rather precariously on an edifice already erected. Jesus meant a new creation. Christianity was not a variety of Judaism that had cleverly made room for Jesus : it was a new thing, down to the very foundations. 2 When we find Lake asserting, ” There can be little doubt that when Paul said that Jesus was ‘ the Lord ‘ he was trying to expound his own belief that Jesus was the Hebrew ‘ Messiah ‘ or ‘ Anointed One,’ ” 3 we can only reply that this is precisely what Paul was not doing. Any theory which pictures Paul

1 Probleme des apostolischen Zeitalters, 54.
2 Von Dobschiitz, Probleme, 53 : ” Nicht bloss ein Plus . . . es war tatsachlich doch ein Neues, vom Zentrum aus neu.”
3 Paul : his Heritage and Legacy, 122.


constructing his Christology in this artificial and mechanical way scarce needs refuting : it is negatived on every page of the epistles. Not so did those glowing confessions have their birth. They sprang from the experience of a man who had seen Christ face to face, who realized that Christ had done for him something which only the power of God could do, who knew what it meant to be led and guided by the Spirit of Christ every day he lived. Messiah ? Yes, Jesus was Messiah — not the Messiah of Jewish dogmatic, but the suffering, triumphant, ever-living Messiah of God. ” All the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen.” x But the Messianic idea, even when redeemed from ancient prejudice, broke down before the glory of the fact. Paul could not rest in it. Here, as at so many other points of his experience, he found himself constrained to ” forget the things that were behind,” and to keep pressing on to where the wider horizons of God’s truth in Christ were beckoning.

His most-loved name for Jesus was not Messiah but Lord. We have already seen that the true background for Paul’s use of this term is to be sought not in the pagan mystery cults, as Bousset suggested, but in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. 2 Primitive Christianity on Palestinian soil had learnt to worship Jesus as Lord before the Gentile mission had been inaugurated : the Aramaic liturgical expression ” Marana tha ” (“Lord, come”), is proof of this. 3 Psalms such as the one hundred and tenth — ” The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool ” — were

1 II Cor. 1:20 .
2 See p. 73.
3 See p. 47.


regularly interpreted by the Church as referring to Jesus. But Paul’s usage of the title Lord went deeper. Indeed, it would be true to say that for him it had ceased to be a title. It had become the most sacred expression of a personal devotion stronger than death. Love and gratitude and loyalty were in it. The only way to fathom the word’s depths of meaning for the apostle is to remember that the man who was using it was conscious of a debt he could never repay. Luke’s account of the conversion most significantly represents Paul as using this word in the very first sentence he ever spoke to Jesus — ” Who art Thou, Lord ? ” 1 — and it is certain that it was the Damascus experience and the extraordinary life-revolution springing from that experience which gave the name its innermost meaning i;or Paul for ever afterwards. Everyone who has experienced a great forgiveness, everyone to whom the love of Christ has meant all the difference between victory and defeat, between radiant happiness and despair, will understand the spirit in which Paul spoke of himself as Christ’s ” slave.” 2 The ransomed soul was bound to its Ransomer. No demand that Jesus could make would be too great. Life’s crowning joy would be to toil unceasingly for the One who had saved him from death and from something worse than death. With glad heart Paul acknowledged himself a bondman to the greatest of all masters. He was the slave : Jesus was the Lord.

But did this name, as Paul used it, connote divinity ? It seems impossible to resist that conclusion. In one of the greatest passages he ever wrote, Paul hailed it as the ” name which is above every name.” 3 According to this passage, it is God Himself who confers it, and

1 Acts 9 s .
2 Rom. I 1 , SoDXoj.
3 Phil. 2».


it is Jesus in His exalted state who bears it. On the day of Damascus, it was Jesus clothed in glory (Sofa) who had revealed Himself ; and from that hour the thought of glory and exaltation was never far away when Paul called Jesus Lord. His place was at the right hand of God. To His authority there were no limits whatever. Before Him all created things would bow. Every voice in the universe would declare, ” He is Lord of all.”

That Paul held and preached the divinity of Christ becomes still clearer when his adoring language about Jesus’ Lordship is taken in conjunction with his use of the name ” Son of God.” Here again, psalmists and prophets had prepared the way ; and Jesus’ own filial consciousness, which had expressed itself in words treasured in the Church’s memory from the very first, had given the warrant. To Paul, Jesus was Son of God in the sense that through Him the very nature and being of God had been perfectly revealed : He was ” the image of the invisible God, the first-born.” 1 Moreover, He had done for sinful men what only God could do. This was Paul’s own impregnable conviction. None but God could justify ; and yet through Jesus he was sure of justification. None but God could reconcile those whom sin had alienated ; yet for the chief of sinners one meeting with Jesus had made reconciliation a fact. None but God could legitimately claim the full surrender of a man’s soul ; and yet Paul found himself constrained and glad to make that surrender in the presence of the cross where Jesus died. What could all this mean if not, in the apostle’s own words, that ” God was in Christ ? ” 2 There are

1 Col. i 15 .
2 II Cor. 5™.


passages, too, which suggest that sometimes in Paul’s devotional life, in his practice of the presence of God, it was the face of Jesus that filled his vision ; and a man can hardly pray to Jesus without being sure of His divinity. 1 It ought further to be remarked that Paul’s mysticism points in the same direction. The fundamental experience of union with Christ, which was the very heart of his religion, has no real parallel in ordinary human relationships : only One whose place was on the side of God and whose nature was divine Spirit could take men into such vital fellowship and unity with Himself. This was the place, and this the nature, which Paul was ascribing to Jesus when he called Him Son of God. Jesus was ” declared to be the Son of God with power.” 2 ” The Son of God was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea.” 3 Every occurrence of the name in the epistles is an adoring confession of faith, a confession based ultimately upon direct personal experience. ” The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” 4

But while Paul spoke thus clearly of the place which Jesus held on the divine side of reality, he could also speak of the Son as subordinate to the Father. We pointed out, in dealing with his cardinal conception of union with Christ, that it was never the way of the apostle to thrust God into the background or to stop short of faith’s final goal. 5 In uncompromising monotheism he had been reared, and to his dying day a monotheist he remained. The most unequivocal statement of the subordinationist position occurs, of course, in the great picture of the goal to which the whole creation moves : ” Then comes the end, when He hands

1 I Cor. 2 1 , II Cor. 12 8 .
2 Rom. 1*.
3 II Cor. i 19 .
4 Gal. 2*°. 6 See pp. 170 ff.


over His royal power to God the Father, after putting down all other rulers, all other authorities and powers. For He must reign until all His foes are put under His feet. . . . And when everything is put under Him, then the Son Himself will be put under Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be everything to everyone.” J Echoes of the same conception are heard throughout the epistles. The very phrase ” the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ” envisages a relationship of dependence. 2 In the pictures of Christ as ” the first-born of a great brotherhood,” 3 and as the Intercessor for men at the throne of God, 4 the same thought reappears. If Jesus has brought salvation, the ultimate ground of salvation is the will of God : it is ” of God ” that Christ is made our righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. 5 If Christ came forth in the fulness of the time, it was God who sent Him. 6 If Christ has brought us peace, it is peace with God. 7 Summing up the meaning of the atoning death and resurrection, Paul can say, ” It is all the doing of the God who has reconciled me to Himself through Christ.” 8 Very clear and emphatic is the statement, ” The head of every man is Christ ; and the head of Christ is God.” 9 And the great passage which describes the humiliation and exaltation and final majesty of the Son closes with the words, which give the ultimate purpose of it all, ” to the glory of God the Father.” 10

Here, then, we have unmistakable evidence that in the thought of Paul Christ is in some way subordinated

1 I Cor. 15:2 *N- (Moffat t).
2 Rom. 15″, II Cor. 1:3 , Col. 1:3 , Eph. 3″.
3 Rom. 8:2 » (Moffatt).
4 Rom. 8:34 .
5 I Cor. 1:30 .
6 Gal. 4:4 .
7 Rom. 5:1 .
8 II Cor. 5″ (Moffatt).
9 I Cor. 11:3 .
10 Phil. 2:11 . See J. H. Michael, Philippians, 97 (MNTC).


to God. Perhaps such an idea is inherent in the very conception of Sonship. In any case, it is clear that Paul’s apprehension by Christ never destroyed nor even imperilled his monotheistic faith. Its reaction was quite different. The resolute monotheism which was the groundwork of all religion was now immeasurably enriched. With Paul, there never was any question of a Scvrepos ©eo? : what had happened was that the one and only God now for the first time stood revealed. Eternal love had made itself incarnate, visible, tangible. Creative power had entered redemptively the field of sinful man’s experience. In other words, while maintaining his monotheism, and while speaking of the Son as subordinate to the Father both now and in the coming consummation, Paul never conceived of Jesus as being anywhere else than on God’s side of the line that separates divine and human. 1 It was by no fantasy of the imagination that he saw Christ occupying a place within the sphere of the Godhead. He knew, by the compelling force of revelation and by the sheer logic of spiritual experience, that no other place was possible. This conviction he has stated in words too plain and decisive to admit of any doubt. ” In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” 2 “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” 3 Moreover, the juxtaposition of the names in such a greeting as that to the Romans, ” Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,” 4 itself implies a confession of Christ’s divinity. 5 The Church of the Thessalonians is “in God the Father and in the

1 H. R. Mackintosh, The Person of Jesus Christ, 72 : ” It is certain that he held the deity of Christ.”
2 Col. 2:9 .
3 Col. 1:19 .
4 Rom. 1:7 .
5 So Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 16 (ICC).


Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 And there is the Trinitarian benediction, where ” the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ ” is correlated to ” the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost.” 2 Only ” a virtuoso in exegetic evasion,” to use a phrase of Denney’s, 3 could explain away the obvious implication of sayings so striking in their individual purport, so convincing in their cumulative effect . Paul could never think of God without seeing the face of Jesus, and he could never commune with Jesus without feeling the presence of God. The Son might be subordinate to the Father : yet in the deepest sense of all, Father and Son were one — and one not only in mind and will, but in nature and eternal being. Christ was divine even as God was. He was the fullness of heaven’s wisdom, power, and love, the King of glory, the everlasting Son of the Father.

Nothing in Paul’s estimate of the Redeemer is more illuminating than the way in which he correlates Christ and, the Spirit. He was, indeed, almost bound to take this step by the very nature of the experience through which he had passed and of the new life into which he had entered. The characteristic mark of that new life was power — power to overcome the world and to live daily with a wonderful sense of zest and liberty and moral victory, power to achieve the impossible. Inevitably the life in Christ connected itself with the thought of the Spirit. For from the very first the Spirit of God had been associated in men’s minds with the gift of power. This was the idea present in the Hebrew word ” Ruah,” which meant literally ” breath,” or ” wind,” and then came to signify the invisible, mysterious,

1 I Thess. 1:1 .
2 II Cor. 13:1 *.
3 The Christian Doctrine of Reconciliation, 80.


superhuman force which sometimes leapt upon men and possessed them at critical moments of life, as in the stories of Gideon, Samson, and Saul. 1 That is to say, the power of the Spirit, as originally conceived, was abnormal in its nature, intermittent in its action, and non-ethical in its manifestation. With the coming of the great prophets, the whole idea was lifted to higher levels ; the moral aspects of the Spirit’s working were emphasized ; inspiration now consisted, not in spasmodic miracles and deeds of herculean strength, but in knowledge of the mind and purpose of a righteous God
and in complete self-dedication to His will. 2 Yet even so, the Spirit of God remained somewhat aloof and remote from the ordinary life of men in the world. A new orientation was given to the idea by its conjunction with Israel’s Messianic hope. The Spirit of the Lord would rest upon the coming Redeemer in a unique and glorious way. His appearing would signalize the dawning of the era of the Spirit. The gift which had been the privilege and prerogative of the few would then be poured out ” upon all flesh.” 3 This was the great hope which the Church saw fulfilled at Pentecost. In the primitive Christian community there was a tendency at the first — perhaps quite natural under the circumstances — to revert to the cruder conceptions of the Spirit, and to trace His working mainly in such phenomena as speaking with tongues. It was Paul who saved the nascent faith from that dangerous retrogression. Not in any accidental and extraneous phenomena, he insisted, not in any spasmodic emotions or intermittent ecstasies were the real tokens of God’s Spirit to be found ; but in the quiet, steady, normal life of faith, in

1 Jud. 6:3 «, 13* 5 , 14«” ; I Sam. 19 9 .
2 Is. 61 * ; Zech. 4 6 .
3 Joel 2″.


power that worked on moral levels, in the soul’s secret inward assurance of its sonship of God, in love and joy and peace and patience and a character like that of Jesus. 1 Schleiermacher’s words express Paul’s teaching perfectly : ” The fruits of the Spirit are nothing but the virtues of Christ.” 2

But if old Messianic tradition and recent historic fact prepared Paul’s mind to connect the conceptions of Christ and the Spirit, his own experience made them virtually inseparable. In the vision of his conversion, it was Christ clothed in His ” glorious body ” — to o-cD/xa Trjs 86£r)s 3 — His spiritual body, Christ as Spirit, whom he saw ; and from that moment, his own life had been flooded with a wonderful spiritual power. Hence he could define Christ to the Corinthians as ” a life-giving Spirit.” 4 The question therefore arises, Are we to go further than this, and hold that Christ and the Spirit are identical in the mind and religion of Paul ?

Some have maintained that the words in II Corinthians 3 17 settle the question in the affirmative. ” Now the Lord is that Spirit : and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 5 It is a difficult verse ; but when it is taken in close conjunction with what precedes and follows, its meaning is clear. Lietzmann suggests that if Paul had left out the middle clauses of his syllogism and simply said ” Now the Lord is liberty,” he would have conveyed the truth he was aiming at, while avoiding an unnecessary ambiguity ; and doubtless this is correct. 6 In any case, it would be precarious,

1 Rom. 8:16 , Gal. 5 22 .
2 The Christian Faith, 576.
3 Phil. 3:21 .
4 I Cor. 15:5 .
5 In this, says Holtzmann ” die ganze paulin. Christologie in nuce beschlossen liegt ” (Neutestamentliche Theologie, ii. 99).
6 und II Korinther, 180 (HBNT). Gore, following Hort, proposes an alteration in the text ; but this is unnecessary (Belief in


on the basis of this single passage, to argue for a complete identification on Paul’s part of Christ and the Spirit. Elsewhere he speaks of the Spirit in relation to Christ in a way which makes it clear that he is referring, not only to the Spirit Christ possesses, but to the Spirit which Christ bestows on believers, the Spirit which in believers witnesses to Christ. ” Anyone who does not possess the Spirit of Christ,” he warns the Romans, ” does not belong to Him.” l The same idea reappears when he writes to the Philippians about ” the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” 2 ” God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts,” he tells the Galatians. 3 But this is not ” identity.” In discussing the historic basis of Paul’s Christianity, we noticed that the Lord he worshipped still bore the lineaments of the Jesus who had lived and died, the Jesus who in amazing love to men had undertaken and in uttermost self-sacrifice had finished the work of reconciliation which God had given Him to do upon the earth. Certainly it would never have occurred to Paul that this personal Being, this historic Christ, and the Spirit of God were simply to be identified. This is further proved by such phrases as ” the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead,” 4 and ” God, who hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit ” ; 5 while the very phrase ” the Spirit of Christ,” which brings the two names so closely together, ” implies an effort to distinguish.” 6 At the same time, we cannot but recognize that the ideas have been blended in a remarkable degree. Continually, in Paul’s mind, they are acting and reacting upon each

Christ, 254). Moffatt’s translation, ” The Lord means the Spirit,” brings out the true sense of the verb.

1 Rom. 8:9 (Moffatt).
2 Phil. 1:19 .
3 Gal. 4:6 .
4 Rom. 8″.
5 II Cor. 5*.
6 E. F. Scott, The Spirit in the New Testament, 182.


other. Upon the man who is united with Christ by faith, the Spirit as a divine gift is bestowed ; and the Spirit, in turn, works for the strengthening and intensifying of that union. Only in the light of Christ can the Spirit’s true nature be understood ; and only by the Spirit’s aid can a man confess Christ’s divinity, and say ” Jesus is Lord.” * By the fact of the Spirit, the fellowship of Jesus was made accessible for all believers. On the other hand, as Dr. Wheeler Robinson has well remarked, by the fact of Christ ” the Spirit of God was personalized as never before, whilst the holiness of the Spirit was ethicized as never before.” ” If the Lord gave personality to the Spirit, the Spirit gave ubiquity to the Lord.” 2 And always there was the thrilling certainty that the Spirit, as at present experienced, was only the ” firstfruits,” the ” pledge and instalment,” the ” foretaste ” 3 of a coming blessedness, when all believers, freed at last and for ever from the body of humiliation, would bear the very image of Christ, and be clothed in a spiritual body like that of their already glorified Spirit-Lord.

But the passages where Paul’s thought climbs to its most stupendous heights and reaches a climax are those in which he speaks of Jesus as the origin and the goal of all creation. Men have always found, in the words of Professor R. H. Strachan, that ” it is impossible for a Christian who thinks at all to have Christ in his heart and to keep Him out of the universe.” 4 To have had a vital and redemptive contact with Jesus is to know,

1 I Cor. 12:3 .
2 The Christian Experience of the Holy Spirit, 136, 19.
3 airapxy, Rom. 8:25 ; appafiuv, II Cor. 1:32 , 5:5 .
4 The Historic Jesus in the New Testament, 72.


beyond doubt or challenge, that it is along the lines of the pattern of the soul of Jesus that God’s world-plan is built. The man whose own life has suddenly leapt into meaning beneath the touch of Jesus, who has seen his own experience transformed from a chaos into a cosmos by some never-to-be-forgotten Damascus encounter, has a right to claim that he has found the clue to the riddle of life and destiny. In this sense at least, Browning’s bold words are true, that ” the acknowledgment of God in Christ solves all questions in the earth and out of it.” It is a root conviction of Christian experience that a man who is united to Christ by faith has not only found a personal Saviour : he has come into touch with ultimate reality. The veil has been removed, and he sees into the deep heart of things. Gazing on the face of Christ, he is made to realize that everything which is irreconcilable with Christ’s Spirit bears its doom within itself and must ultimately pass away ; and that everything which shows true kinship with that Spirit shall survive death and time’s corroding influence, and stand for ever. The fact of Christ is the key to the meaning of the universe ; and Christian experience will never consent to be robbed of the conviction that the Redeemer who has shown Himself of absolute and final worth in the experience of the individual soul must be absolute and final all along the line of God’s creation.

” That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows,
Or decomposes but to recompose,
Become my universe that feels and knows.”

This is the conviction in which Paul’s thought of
Jesus culminates. ” There is one Lord Jesus Christ,”
he tells the Corinthians, ” by whom are all things, and


we by Him.” * One of the most explicit statements of this high doctrine occurs in the letter to the Colossians. Jesus, he says, ” is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature : for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by Him, and for Him : and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” 2 The full force of this great passage can be felt only when we remember the situation to which it was addressed. Heresy had reared its head within the Colossian Church. The finality of Jesus was being challenged. The aid of angels and other supernatural powers was being invoked. Man, it was said, was in the grip of cosmical forces and spirit agencies with which Christ by Himself could never cope. The human soul was a weak, helpless thing in a hostile universe. It must form protective alliances. It must call in angelic mediators. It must secure itself by propitiatory gifts and cults and worships. Jesus was insufficient. This was the situation with which Paul had to deal.

No mistake could be greater than to suppose that this is an old story, remote from our modern point of view, and irrelevant to our present problems. The form of the challenge to the faith has changed since the days of Paul : its substance remains the same. Is Jesus God’s last word ? Or does His revelation but mark another milestone on the way ? Is there anything in Jesus that can make a man free and victorious in this world of rigid law and scientific necessity ? Or is such freedom a myth ? Does Christianity have anything to say to a man dwarfed into insignificance,

1 I Cor. 8«.
2 Col. 1:15 “-


perhaps even terrorized, by the vastness of the material universe around him ? Take Sir James Jeans’ vivid words on this matter. ” We find the universe terrifying because of its vast meaningless distances, terrifying because of its inconceivably long vistas of time which dwarf human history to the twinkling of an eye, terrifying because of our extreme loneliness, and because of the material insignificance of our home in space — a millionth part of a grain of sand out of all the sea-sand in the world. But above all else, we find the universe terrifying because it appears to be indifferent to life like our own ; emotion, ambition and achievement, art and religion all seem equally foreign to its plan. Perhaps indeed we ought to say it appears to be actively hostile to life like our own.” * No one can read words like these without realizing how crucial is the problem confronting faith in the modern age. And, in essentials, it is the same problem which the apostle had to deal with at Colosse, all over again.

How did he deal with it ? He dealt with it by pointing to the absolute priority and preeminence of Jesus. How could the angelic beings supply anything that was not already present in Christ ? He was above them all. Indeed, He was the agent in the creation of them all. And how could the universe have any terrors for a man or a Church that belonged to Christ ? It was in Christ that the universe itself cohered and held together. Christ was ” the first-born from the dead.” 2 His resurrection had already proclaimed the doom of the hostile forces. He had overcome the world. Satan had fallen like lightning from heaven. To God’s Christ the last word belonged. When Jesus rose, the new age broke in. A new humanity came

1 The Mysterious Universe, 3.
2 Col. 1:18 .


into being. A new moral and spiritual order was established. The Church, where reconciliation between man and God and between Jew and Gentile was already a realized fact, was a microcosm, a presage of a yet more glorious development where all things — ” whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” 1 — would find their reconciliation in Christ. This was the apostle’s answer ; and it still holds good. In every age it has been proved that there is in Christ a power to make men independent of all hostile forces whatever. In Christ, all the goodness and beauty and truth of life are focused. In Christ, all the lines of the divine plans for humanity and for the universe converge. And even while clouds and darkness are around our path, and we can know only in part and see but through a glass darkly, in Christ we can arise and shine, glad that our light is come and that the glory of the Lord is risen upon us.

The Colossian passage quoted above clearly implies a doctrine of Christ’s pre- existence. From the foundation of the world and before it, the Son had His dwelling with the Father. This thought is present also where Paul uses the expression ” God sent forth His Son.” 2 When he speaks of Christ sacrificing His riches and becoming poor, ” that ye through His poverty might be rich,” 3 he is seeing the incarnate life against the background of a pre-temporal glory. The most notable occurrence of this conception is, of course, in the epistle to the Philippians, where Paul says of Christ — ” Though He was divine by nature, he did not set store upon equality with God but emptied Himself by taking the nature of a servant.” 4 The

1 Col. 1:20 .
2 Gal. 4:4 . Cf. Rom. 8 3 .
3 II Cor. 8:9 .
4 Phil. 2:6t – (Moffatt).


incidental way in which these striking words are introduced — in the course of an exhortation to Christian humility and self-negation — indicates that the doctrine of Christ’s pre-existence was, for Paul, less an elaborate metaphysical speculation than a self-evident inference from the plain facts of redemption. It has been argued that this whole notion came into Christianity by way of Judaism, that Paul was acquainted with Jewish habits of ascribing pre-existence to such objects of devotion as the Law, the Temple, the Sabbath and the Messiah, and that he simply transferred the category to the new object of his worship, Christ. But indeed it is hardly necessary to search for the origins of the conception in his Jewish heritage and training. For it is clear that as soon as he said ” God was in Christ,” as soon as he laid hold upon the principle of incarnation, this other idea was bound to follow. Unless the exalted Christ who had met him was simply a deified man (and for such a position there is not a scrap of evidence in Paul — a thoroughly repugnant idea he would have considered it), He must have held from eternity the glory which He now possessed. Bethlehem did not begin the story. Christ had been active in Israel’s agelong history, 1 active and creative in the dim mists of the world’s dawning day. 2 The human mind may feel itself inadequate to grasp the mystery opening up here before it ; but Paul would have said — and rightly — that the difficulties of the conception were as nothing compared with the difficulty that would have been involved in its denial. To him, in Deissmann’s words, pre-existence was ” only the result of a simple contemplative inference backwards from the fact of the spiritual glory of the present Christ.” 3 And

1 I Cor. 10:4 .
2 Col. 1:16 .
3 St. Paul, 170.


indeed, no man sees Christ correctly who does not see Him sub specie aeternitatis. Beneath the rather formidable doctrine of Christ’s pre-incarnate life there is a real religious issue at stake. For, as it has been put, ” a Christ who is eternal, and a Christ of whom we cannot tell whether He is eternal or not, are positively and profoundly different, and the types of faith they respectively call forth will differ correspondingly both in spiritual horizon and in moral inspiration.” 1 Paul was convinced that the love of Christ which had flamed out in history at a definite point of time was really a love to which time was irrelevant. The love which had bled and died on the hill called Calvary, the love which for Stephen had made martyrdom a blaze of glory, the love which across the spiritual midnight of his own soul had cried ” Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” 2 — that love had been the instrument of divine creation, the sustaining principle of the universe, and the dwelling-place of the faithful in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, even from everlasting to everlasting, all things were of love ; and love was Christ’s, and Christ was God’s.

If Paul thus saw in Christ the Alpha of the universe, he also saw in Him its Omega. It is the purpose, he declares, of God’s providential ordering and guiding of His creation ” that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ.” 3 Well might the Church of apostolic days, knowing the strength of the enemy and seeing its own advent hope receding down the multiplying years, begin to wonder whether the kingdom dream would

1 H. R. Mackintosh, The Person of Jesus Christ, 460.
2 Eph. 5″.
3 Eph. 1:10 .


ever be fulfilled, or whether the new creation of Christ would perish in the desert far from the goal, and chaos and ancient night return. To this question — which is as haunting in the twentieth century as in the first — Paul’s answer is clear and definite. The world is not moving on to chaos : it is moving on to Christ. In the person of Jesus lies the key to God’s hidden plan with mankind and with the world. No longer is the mystery of things left dark and baffling and unrelieved. Those who ignore or refuse Christ, indeed, cannot share the secret : but to all who have eyes to see, it is an ” open secret ” now. To them it is given to realize that in the very constitution of the universe there is “something which is on the side of the Gospel, and that the ultimate values which give life its meaning all converge on Jesus Christ, like mountain-paths converging as they near the summit. It is from Christ as God’s creating and life-giving power that every principle of goodness and every deed of beauty and every word of truth have sprung ; it is in Christ that these things are sustained and have their real existence ; and they are never lost, nor does their influence ever die, for it is to Christ their goal that they move on. The universe may seem a riddle and a chaos ; but the Gospel has put the solving clue into our hand. This is Paul’s argument. ” So richly,” he says, ” has God lavished His grace upon us ! He has granted us complete insight and understanding of the open secret of His will, showing us how it was the purpose of His design so to order it in the fulness of the ages that all things in heaven and earth alike should be gathered up in Christ.” 1 This explains the impregnable confidence and the

1 Eph. i»«- (Moffatt).

deathless hope which shine out on every page of the epistles. To despair of the world, if we believe Paul, is simply to despair of Christ. It is to proclaim oneself an atheist. It is to take sides with the forces of Anti-christ. For if the redeeming death and resurrection reveal a ” love divine, all loves excelling,” they reveal also a divine determination which nothing in earth or hell shall prevail to break, and a Christ who is marching from the green hill where He died to the throne of all the world. The faith which has been born of a personal experience on some Damascus road of the spirit cannot stop short of this. It knows that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. It knows that creation itself, bound long in affliction and iron, shall yet be reborn and redeemed. It knows that the everlasting gates of the universe shall lift their heads to let the King come in. And then the victory of the love which once agonized and died for reconciliation, the love which even now is interceding, shall be perfect and complete ; and Jesus, seeing of the travail of His soul, shall be satisfied.

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