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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

bib'-li-kal the-ol'-o-ji:


1. Definition

2. Relation to Dogmatics

3. Place and Method of Biblical Theology

4. Relation to Scientific Exegesis


1. Its Rise in Scientific Form

2. Patristic and Scholastic Periods

3. Biblical Efforts in 17th and 18th Centuries

4. Old Testament Theology in First Half of 19th Century

5. New Testament Theology in the 19th Century

6. Old Testament Theology in Second Half of 19th Century

7. Bearings of Criticism on Old Testament Theology


1. Divergent Views of Old Testament Divisions

2. Law and Prophecy

3. Primal Prophetism and Final Judaism

4. Place of Mosaism

5. Nature of Israel's Religious Development


I. Biblical Theology As a Science.

1. Definition:

Biblical theology seems best defined as the doctrine of Biblical religion. As such it works up the material contained in the Old Testament and the New Testament as the product of exegetical study. This is the modern technical sense of the term, whereby it signifies a systematic representation of Biblical religion in its primitive form.

Biblical theology has sometimes been taken to signify not alone this science of the doctrinal declarations of the Scriptures, but the whole group of sciences Concerned with the interpretation and exposition of the Scriptures. In that wider view of Biblical theology, the term exegetical theology has been used to define and include the group of sciences already referred to. But the whole weight of preference seems, in our view, to belong to the narrower use of the term Biblical theology, as more strictly scientific.

2. Relation to Dogmatics:

This is not to confound the science of Biblical theology with that of dogmatics, for their characters are sharply distinguished. The science of dogmatics is a historico-philosophical one; that of Biblical theology is purely historic. Dogmatics declares what, for religious faith, must be regarded as truth; Biblical theology only discovers what the writers of the Old Testament and the New Testament adduce as truth. This latter merely ascertains the contents of the ideas put forward by the sacred writers, but is not concerned with their correctness or verification. It is the what of truth, in these documentary authorities, Biblical theology seeks to attain. The why, or with what right, it is so put forward as truth, belongs to the other science, that of dogmatics.

3. Place and Method of Biblical Theology:

Biblical theology is thus the more objective science; it has no need of dogmatics; dogmatics, on the other hand, cannot be without the aid of Biblical theology. The Biblical theologian should be a Christian philosopher, an exegete, and, above all, a historian. For it is in a manner purely historical that Biblical theology seeks to investigate the teaching, in whole, of each of the sacred writers. Each writing it studies in itself, in its relation to the others, and in its place in history taken as a whole. Its method is historical-genetic. The proper place of Biblical theology is at the head of historical theology, where it shines as a center of light. Its ideal as a science is to present a clear, complete and comprehensive survey of the Biblical teachings.

4. Relation to Scientific Exegesis:

In pursuance of this end, Biblical theology is served by scientific exegesis, whose results it presents in ordered form so as to exhibit the organic unity and completeness of Biblical religion. The importance of Biblical theology lies in the way it directs, corrects and fructifies all moral and dogmatic theology by bringing it to the original founts of truth. Its spirit is one of impartial historical inquiry.

II. History of Biblical Theology.

1. Its Rise in Scientific Form:

Biblical theology, in any truly scientific form, dates only from the 18th century. Offspring as it was of German rationalism, it has yet been found deserving of cultivation and scientific study by the most orthodox theology. Indeed, Pietism, too, urged its claims as Biblical dogma, over against the too scholastic dogma of orthodoxy.

2. Patristic and Scholastic Periods:

The Patristic theology, no doubt, was Biblical, and the Alexandrian School deserves special praise. The scholastic theology of the Middle Ages leaned on the Fathers rather than on the Bible. Biblical theology, in spirit, though not in form, found a revival at the Reformation. But this was early followed by a 17th century type of scholasticism, polemical and confessional.

3. Biblical Efforts in 17th and 18th Centuries:

Even in that century, however, efforts of a more purely Biblical character were not wanting, as witness those of Schmidt, Witsius and Vitringa. But throughout the entire 18th century there were manifest endeavors to throw off the scholastic yoke and return to Biblical simplicity. Haymann (1708), Busching (1756), Zachariae (1772) and Storr (1793), are examples of the efforts referred to. But it was from the rationalistic side that the first vindication of Biblical theology as a science of independent rank was made. This merit belonged to Gabler (1787), who urged a purely historical treatment of the Bible, and was, later, shared by his colleague, G. L. Bauer, who issued a Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Ger) in four parts (1800-1802). More independent still was the standpoint assumed by C. F. Ammon in his Biblische Theologie (2nd edition, 1801-2). Ammon does not fail to apprehend the historical character of our science, saying that Biblical theology should deal only with the "materials, fundamental ideas, and results of Biblical teaching, without troubling itself about the connection of the same, or weaving them into an artificial system."

4. Old Testament Theology in First Half of 19th Century:

The influence of Schleiermacher was hardly a fortunate one, the Old Testament being sundered from the New Testament, and attention centered on the latter. Kayser (1813) and, still more, DeWette, who died in 1850, pursued the perfecting of our science, particularly in matters of method. Continuators of the work were Baumgarten-Crusius (1828), Cramer (1830) and Colln, whose work was posthumously presented by D. Schulz in 1836. It was in the second quarter of the 19th century that the Biblical theology of the Old Testament began to receive the full attention it deserved. It has been declared the merit of Hegel's philosophy to have taught men to see, in the various Biblical systems of doctrine, a complete development, and Hegel did, no doubt, exert a fertilizing influence on historical inquiry. But it must also be said that the Hegelian philosophy affected Biblical theology in a prejudicial manner, as may be seen in Vatke's a priori construction of history and doctrine in his work, Die bib. Theologie (1835), and in Bruno Bauer's Die Religion des AT (1838-39), which disputed but did not improve upon Vatke. Steudel (1840), Oehler (1845) and Havernick (1848) are worthy of particularly honorable mention in this Old Testament connection. In his Theology of the Old Testament (3rd edition, 1891; American edition, 1883) G. F. Oehler excellently maintained the close connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament, which Hengstenberg had already emphasized in 1829.

5. New Testament Theology in the 19th Century:

The Biblical theology of the New Testament was furthered by the memorable Neander. In 1832, he first issued his Planting and Training of the Christian Church, while his Life of Jesus first appeared in 1837. In this latter work, he summarized the doctrine of the Redeemer, while the former presented the doctrinal teaching of the apostolic writers in such wise as to show the different shades of thought peculiar to each of them, pointing out, at the same time, "how, notwithstanding all difference, there was an essential unity beneath, unless one is deceived by the form, and how the form in its diversity is easily explained." C. F. Schmid improved in some respects upon Neander's work in his excellent Biblical Theology of the New Testament, issued (1853) after his death by Weizsacker (new edition, 1864). In Schmid's work, the Biblical theology of the New Testament is presented with objectivity, clearness and penetrating sympathy.

Hahn's Theology of the New Testament (1854) came short of doing justice to the diverse types of doctrinal development in the New Testament. The work of G. V. Lechler on the apostolic and post-apostolic age, was, in its improved form of 1857, much more important. E. Reuss, in 1852, issued his valuable History of the Christian Theology of the Apostolic Age, a complete and critical work, but not sufficiently objective in its treatment. The Prelections on New Testament Theology of F. C. Baur, head of the Tubingen school, exemplify both the merits and the defects of the school. They are critical, independent and suggestive, but lacking in impartiality. They were published by his son after his death (1864). A new edition of these lectures on New Testament theology was issued by Pfleiderer in 1893.

Having first dealt with the teachings of Jesus, Baur then set out the materials of the New Testament theology in three periods, making Paul well-nigh the founder of Christianity. For him only four epistles of Paul were genuine products of the apostolic age, namely, Romans, the two Corinthians, Galatians, together with the Revelation. To the growth and history of the New Testament Baur applied the method of the Hegelian dialectic, and, though powerful and profound, displayed a lack of sane, well-balanced judgment. Yet so conservative a scholar as Weiss gave Baur the credit of having "first made it the problem of criticism to assign to each book of the New Testament its place in the history of the development of primitive Christianity, to determine the relations to which it owes its origin, the object at which it aims, and the views it represents." Among Baur's followers may be noted Pfleiderer, in his Paulinism (1873).

The Theology of the New Testament, by J. J. Van Oosterzee (English edition, 1870), is a serviceable book for students, and the New Testament Theology of A. Immer (1878), already famous for his hermeneutical studies, is noteworthy. Chief among subsequent cultivators of the Biblical theology of the New Testament must be reckoned B. Weiss, whose work in two volumes (English edition, 1882-83) constitutes a most critical and complete, thorough and accurate treatment of the subject in all its details: W. Beyschlag, whose New Testament Theology (English edition, in 2 volumes, 1895) is also valuable; H. Holtzmann, whose treatise on New Testament Theology (1897) dealt in a critical fashion with the doctrinal contents of the New Testament. Holtzmann's learning and ability are great, but his work is marred by naturalistic presuppositions. The French work on Theology of the New Testament, by J. Boron (2 volumes, 1893-94) is marked by great independence, skill and fairness. The Theology of the New Testament, by W. F. Adeney (1894), and the yet more recent, and very attractively written, work with the same title, by G. B. Stevens (1899), bring us pretty well up to the present state of our science in respect of the New Testament.

6. Old Testament Theology in Second Half of the 19th Century:

Coming back to the Biblical theology of the Old Testament in the second half of the 19th century, we find A. Klostermann's Investigations into the Old Testament Theology, which appeared in 1868. The Old Testament theology, no less than that of the New Testament, was set forth by that great scholar, H. Ewald, in four volumes (1871-75; English edition (first part), 1888). His interest in New Testament theology was due to his strong feeling that the New Testament is really the second part of the record of Israel's revelation. A. Kuenen dealt with the Religion of Israel in two volumes (English edition, 1874-75), writing nobly but with defective insight into, and comprehension of, the higher religious ideas of Israel. F. Hitzig's Prelections (1880) deal with theology of the Old Testament, as part of their contents. H. Schultz treated of the Old Testament Theology in two volumes (1st edition, 1869; 5th edition, 1896; English edition, 1892), in a careful, mainly just, and, by comparison, well-balanced handling of the development of its religious ideas.

We have not touched upon writers like Smend, for example, in his History of Old Testament Religion (1893), and J. Robertson, in his Early Religion of Israel (2nd edition, 1892), who treat of the Biblical theology of the Old Testament only in a way subsidiary to the consideration of the historico-critical problems. The Conception of Revelation in the Old Testament was dealt with by F. E. Konig in 1882 in a careful and comprehensive manner, and with regard to the order and relation of the documents, revelation in Israel being taken by him in a supranaturalistic sense. Significant also for the progress of Old Testament Biblical theology was The Theological and the Historical View of the Old Testament, by C. Siegfried (1890), who insisted on the development of the higher religion of Israel being studied from the elder prophets as starting-point, instead of the law.

Mention should be made of Biblical Study: Its Principles, Methods and History, by C. A. Briggs (1883; 4th edition, 1891); of the important Compendium of the Biblical Theology of the Old and the New Testament by K. Schlottmann (1889); of E. Riehm's valuable Old Testament Theology (1889); and of G. Dalman's Studies in Biblical Theology-the Divine name and its history-in 1889. Also, of the Old Testament Theology of A. Duff (1891); A. Dillmann's Handbook of Old Testament Theology, edited by Kittel (189:5); and of Marti's edition of the Theology of the Old Testament of A. Kayser (3rd edition, 1897).

Of Theology of the Old Testament, by A. B. Davidson (1904), it may be said that it does full justice to the idea of a progressive development of doctrine in the Old Testament, and is certainly divergent from the view of those who, like Cheyne, treat the Old Testament writings as so many fragments, from which no theology can be extracted. Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, by B. Stade (1905), is the work of a distinguished representative of the modern critical views, already famous for his work on the history of Israel (1887). The Theology of the Old Testament by W. H. Bennett (1906) is a clear and useful compendium of the subject.

7. Bearings of Criticism on Old Testament Theology:

Recent works like The Problem of the Old Testament by James Orr (1905), Old Testament Critics by Thomas Whitelaw (1903), and Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism, by Harold M. Wiener (1909), deal with the critical questions, and do not concern us here, save to remark that they are not without bearing, in their results, upon theology of the Old Testament. Such results are, e.g. the insistences, in Orr's work, on the unity of the Old Testament, the higher than naturalistic view of Israel's religious development, the discriminate use of Divine names like Elohim and Yahweh, and so forth; and the express contention in Whitelaw's work, that the critical hypotheses are not such as can yield "a philosophically reasonable theology" (p. 346). Indeed, it must not be supposed that even works, like that of S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (first issued in 1891), axe without resultant influence on Biblical theology.

So far from that, the truth is that there is probably no result of the readjustment of the history and literature of the Old Testament so important as its bearings on the Biblical theology of the Old Testament. For the order and the method of revelation are most surely involved in the order and relation of the books or documents, and the course of the history. The progress of the revelation ran parallel with the work of God in Nature and in the growth of human society. Hence, the reconstruction of the historical theology of the Old Testament will take much time and study, that the full value of the Old Testament may be brought out as that of an independent and permanent revelation, with characteristic truths of its own. Meantime, the reality of that revelation, and the teleological character of the Old Testament, have been brought out, in the most signal manner, by theological scholars like Dorner, Dillmann, Kittel, Kautsch, Schultz and others, who feel the inadequacy of natural development or "human reflection" to account for Old Testament th eology, and the immediacy of God's contact with man in Old Testament times to be alone sufficient to account for a revelation so weighty, organically connected, dynamically bound together, monotheistic and progressive.

III. Divisions of Biblical Theology.

1. Divergent Views of Old Testament Divisions:

The divisions of Old Testament theology are matters of grave difficulty. For the newer criticism has practically transformed that mode of representing the process of Israel's religious development, which had been customary or traditional. On this latter view, the Patriarchal Age was succeeded by the Mosaic Age, with its law-giving under Moses, followed, after an intercalated period of Judges and monarchy, by the splendid Age of Prophecy. Then there was the Exile preparing the way, after the Return, for the new theocracy, wherein the Law of Moses was sought with more persistent endeavor, though not without darkly legalistic result. Such were the historic bases for Old Testament theology, but the modifications proposed by the new criticism are sufficiently serious. These it will be necessary to indicate, without going beyond the scope of this article and attempting criticism of either the one view or the other. It is the more necessary to do so, that finality has not been reached by criticism. We are only concerned with the difference which these divergent views make for Old Testament Biblical theology, whose reconstruction is very far from perfected.

2. Law and Prophecy:

That they do mean serious difference has been indicated in the historical part of this article. Most obtrusive of these differences is the proposal to invert the order of law and prophecy, and speak rather of the Prophets and the Law. For the Law is, on the newer view, taken to belong to the post-prophetic period-in short, to the period of the return from the Exile, whereas, in the traditional scheme of the order of revelation, the Law was found in full force both at the Exodus and the Return, with a dead-letter period between. The garment of legalism, the newer criticism asserts, could not have suited the Israelite nation in its early and undeveloped stage, as it does after the teachings of the prophets and the discipline of the Exile. Against this, the older scheme prefers the objection that an external and legalistic system is made the outcome of the lofty spiritual teaching of the prophets; the letter appears super-imposed upon the spirit. Criticism, however, postulates for the ritual codes of the Pentateuch an influence parallel in time with that of prophetism.

3. Primal Prophetism and Final Judaism:

Besides the adjustments of prophecy and law just referred to, the critical views postulate a primal period in which the religion of the prophets, with their view of Israel's vocation, was inculcated; also, a final period of Judaism, intercalated between the Return and the Maccabees, in which are seen at work the Levitical law, and various anti-legal tendencies. It must be obvious that attempts to integrate the Old Testament theology amid the prevailing uncertainties of criticism must be far from easy or final, even if the need and importance be felt of keeping the religious interest before even the historical in Old Testament study. For the Old Testament writers, religion was primary, history secondary and incidental, we may well believe.

4. Place of Mosaism:

We must be content to know less of the remote beginnings and initial stages of Israel's religious development, for, as A. B. Davidson remarked, "in matters like this we never can get at the beginning." J. Robertson deems criticism wrong in not allowing "a sufficient starting-point for the development," by which he means that pure prophetic religion needs "a pure pre-prophetic religion" to explain its more than "germinal or elementary character." It may be noted, too, how much greater place and importance are attached to Mosaism or Moses by critics like Reuss, Schultz, Bredenkamp and Strack, than by Wellhausen, who yet allows a certain substratum of actual and historical fact.

5. Nature of Israel's Religious Development:

It may be observed, further, that no one is under any compulsion to account for such a transformation, as even Wellhausen allows, in the slow growth from very low beginnings of the idea of Yahweh up to pure and perfect monotheism-among a non-metaphysical people-by the simple supposition of naturalistic theory. Evolutionary the critical hypothesis of the religious development of Israel may be, but that development was clearly not so exclusively controlled by human elements or factors as to exclude the presence of supernatural energy or power of revelation. It had God within it-had, in Dorner's phrase, "teleology as its soul." Thus, as even Gunkel declares, "Israel is, and remains, the people of revelation." This is why Israel was able to make-despite all retrograde tendencies-rectilinear progress toward a predestined goal-the goal of being what Ewald styled a "purely immortal and spiritual Israel." Old Testament theology does not seem to have sufficiently realized that the Old Testament really presents us with theologies rather than a theology-with the progressive development of a religion rather than with theological ideas resting on one historic plane.


I. Old Testament Literature:

B. Stade, Biblische Theologie des A T, 1905; H. Schultz, A T Theologie, 5th edition, 1896; English edition, 1892; H. Ewald, Revelation: Its Nature and Record, English edition, 1884; G F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, English edition, 1874; A. Kuenen, The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the Jewish State, English edition, 1875; E. Riehm, AT Theologie, 1889; S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 1st edition, 1891, A. B. Davidson, Theology the Old Testament, 1904; J. Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament, 1905; A. Duff, Old Testament Theology, 1891; J. Robertson, Early Religion of Israel, 2nd edition, 1892; W. R. Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, new edition, 1892; W. H. Bennett; The Theology of the Old Testament, 1896; T. K. Cheyne, Founders of Old Testament Criticism, 1893; T. Whitelaw, Old Testament Critics, 1903; W. G. Jordan, Biblical Criticism and Modern Thought, 1909; H. M. Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Crit icism, 1909; E. C. Bissell, The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Structure, 1885; D. K. V. Orelli, The Old Testament Prophecy, Amer. edition, 1885, English edition, 1893; B. Duhm, Die Theologogie der Propheten, 1875; E. Richre, Messianic Prophecy, 2nd English edition, 1891; C. I. Bredenkamp, Gesetz und Propheten, 1881; W. R. Smith, The Prophets of Israel, 1882; D. K. Schlottmann, Kompendium der biblischen Theologie des A. u. N. Testaments, 1889; A. T. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament, 1891; J. Lindsay, The Significance of the Old Testament for Modern Theology, 1896; R. Kittel, Scientific Study of the Old Testament, English edition, 1910.

II. New Testament Literature:

W. Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, 2nd edition, 1896; English edition, 1895; H. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der N T Theologie, 1897; B. Weiss, Lehrbuch der biblischen Theologie des New Testament, 7th edition, 1903; English edition, 1883; J. J. V. Oosterzee, Die Theologie des New Testament, 2nd edition, 1886; English edition, 1870; J. Boron, Theologie du Nouveau Testament, 1893-94; C. F. Schmid, Biblische Theologie des New Testament, new edition, 1864; G. B. Stevens, The Theology of the New Testament, 1899; F. C. Baur, Vorlesungen uber New Testament Theologie, 1864; W. F. Adeney, The Theology of the New Testament, 1894; A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, 1897; E. Reuss, History of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age, English edition, 1872; H. H. Wendt, The Teaching of Jesus, English edition, 1892; A. B. Bruce, The Kingdom of God, 1890; J. Moorhouse, The Teaching of Christ, 1891; O. Pfleiderer, Der Paulinismus, 2nd edition, 1890; 2nd English edition, 1891; A. Sabatier, The Apostle Paul, English edition, 1891; G. B. Stevens, The Pauline Theology, 2nd edition, 1897; G. Matheson, The Spiritual Development of Paul, 1890; E. Riehm, Der Lehrbegriff des Hebraerbriefs, 1867; B. Weiss, Der petrinische Lehrbegriff, 1855; G. B. Stevens, The Johannine Theology, 1894; B. Weiss, Der johanneische Lehrbegriff in seinen Grundzugen untersucht, 1862.

James Lindsay




1. Personality of Writer

2. Earlier New Testament Writings

3. Christian Experience and Teaching of History

4. Widening Contact with Gentile World

5. The Odes of Solomon

6. Antagonism to Gnostic Speculation


1. God Is Spirit

2. God Is Life

3. God Is Light

4. Ethical Attributes

God Is Righteous

5. God Is Love

(1) The Love of God

(a) Primarily a Disposition

(b) Embodied in Christ's Self-Sacrifice

(c) Love in Redemption

(2) Love Is God's Nature


1. Historical Antecedents of the Logos-Doctrine

2. The Logos-Doctrine in John

3. The Incarnation as Delineated in the Fourth Gospel

4. The Incarnation in the First Epistle

5. Practical Implications of the Incarnation


1. The Work of the Spirit-in the Fourth Gospel

Perpetuates, but also Intensifies the Consciousness of Christ

2. In the First Epistle

(1) A Divine Teacher

(2) Other Aspects

3. The Person of the Spirit

His Deity Implied


1. Sin

2. Propitiation

(1) In the Gospel

(2) In the Epistle

(3) One with New Testament Teaching


1. Ethical Rather than Eschatological

2. Metaphysical Aspect

Reply to Criticism

3. Development of Doctrine

(1) Source in God

(2) Mediated by Christ

(3) Through the Spirit

(4) The Divine "Begetting"

(5) The "Children of God"

(6) The Divine Abiding


1. The World

2. Two Classes in the Human Race


1. The Church

2. The Sacraments

(1) Baptism

(2) The Lord's Supper


1. Type of Thought Idealistic

2. Yet History Not Ignored

3. Nor Eschatology

4. Eschatological Ideas

(1) Eternal Life

(2) Antichrist

(3) Resurrection

(4) Judgment

(5) The Parousia

(a) A "Manifestation"

(b) Relation to Believers


The materials for the following sketch of the Johannine theology are necessarily drawn from the Fourth Gospel and the Epistles, chiefly the First Epistle, of John. The question of authorship is not here considered (see articles on the GOSPEL and on the JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF). These writings, whether by the same or by different authors, are equally saturated with that spiritual and theological atmosphere, equally characterized by that type of thought which we call Johannine, and which presents an interpretation of Christianity scarcely less distinctive and original than Paulinism. Where there are differences in the point of view, these will be indicated.

I. The Antecedents.

1. Personality of Writer:

To attempt a full account of the historical sources and antecedents of the Johannine theology is beyond the scope of the present article; but they may be briefly indicated. Much must be attributed to the personality of the great anonymous writer to whom we directly owe this latest development of New Testament thought. Only a thinker of first rank among the idealists and mystics, a mind of the Platonic order, moving instinctively in the world of supersensuous realities, absorbed in the passion for the infinite, possessing in a superlative degree the gift of spiritual intuition, could under any conditions have evolved a system of thought having the special characteristics of this theology.

2. Earlier New Testament Writings:

Yet with all his originality the builder has raised his structure upon the foundation already laid in the teaching represented by the earlier New Testament writings. The synoptic tradition, though freshly interpreted, is presupposed. At certain points there is a strong affinity with the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the main, however, the Johannine doctrine may be said to be a natural and inevitable development of Paulinism-the conclusion to which the earlier writer's mind is visibly moving in e.g. the Epistle to the Colossians.

3. Christian Experience and Teaching of History:

Among the influences which have stimulated and guided this development, the first place belongs to the natural growth of Christian experience and the teaching of history. In the closing decades of the 1st century, Christianity was compelled by the force of events to liberate itself more completely from the husk of Jewish Messianism in which its Divine seed had first been deposited. The faith of the first Christian generation in the Messiahship of Jesus and the triumph of His cause had expressed itself (necessarily so, under the historical conditions) in vivid expectation of His Second Coming. He was only waiting behind the clouds, and would speedily return to the earth for the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21). But after the fall of Jerusalem this primitive apocalypticism became, with the passing years, more and more discredited; and the Christian faith had either to interpret itself afresh, both to its own consciousness and to the world, or confess itself "such stuff as dreams are made of." It would be difficult to overestimate the service which the Johannine theology must have rendered in this hazardous transition by transferring the emphasis of Christian faith from the apocalyptic to 'the spiritual, and leading the church to a profounder realization of its essential and inalienable resources in the new spiritual life it possessed through the ever-living Christ. Eternal life was not merely a future felicity, but a present possession; the most real coming of Christ, His coming in the Spirit. The Kingdom of God is here: the eternal is now. Such was the great message of John to his age, and to all ages.

4. Widening Contact with Gentile World:

In another direction, the widening contact of Christianity with the Gentileworld had stimulated the development of doctrine. A disentanglement from Jewish nationalism, more complete than even Paul had accomplished, had become a necessity. If Christianity was to find a home and a sphere of conquest in the Greek-Roman world-to recreate European thought and civilization-the person of Christ must be interpreted as having a vastly larger significance than that of the Jewish Messiah. That this necessity hastened the process of thought which reached its goal in the Loges-doctrine of John cannot well be doubted. The way had so far been prepared by Philo and the Jewish-Alexandrian school. And while it is probably mere coincidence that Ephesus, with which the activity of John's later years is associated by universal tradition, was also the city of Heraclitus, who, 500 years earlier, had used the term Logos to express the idea of an eternal and universal Reason, immanent in the world, there is as little room as there can be motive for questioning that in the Johannine theology Christian thought has been influenced and fertilized at certain points by contact with Hellenism.

5. The Odes of Solomon:

On the other hand it is possible that this influence has been overrated. Fresh material for the investigation of the sources and connections of the Johannine theology is furnished by the recent discovery of the Odes of Solomon (J. Rendel Harris, M.A., Odes and Psalms of Solomon, Cambridge, 1909; AdoIf Harnack, Ein judisch-christliches Psalmbuch aus dem ersten Jahrhundert, Leipzig, 1910). This collection of religious poems is regarded by its discoverer, Rendel Harris, as the work of a writer who, while not a Jew, was a member of a community of Christians who were for the most part of Jewish extraction and beliefs. But though the Odes in their present form contain distinctly Christian elements (references, e.g. to the Son, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, the Passion, the Descensus ad inferos), Harnack's closer analysis tends to the conclusion that in their original form they were purely Jewish, and that they have been adapted to Christian use by a process of interpolation. For the original work Harnack gives as a possible date the beginning of the Christian era, the Christian redaction falling within the 1st century. Harnack recognizes a possibility that the redactor may have been acquainted with the Fourth Gospel. The religious feeling of the writer is throughout individual and mystical, rather than nationalistic and Messianic. The characteristic atmosphere is strongly Johannine (we may quote in, illustration only the noble sentence from the 12th ode: "The dwelling-place of the Word is man; and its truth is Love"). The Odes have, in common with the Johannine writings, such leading conceptions as "grace," "believing," "knowledge," "truth," "light," "living water," "life" (for a full exhibition of the parallelisms, see article by R.H. Strachan, The Expository Times, October, 1910). Harnack asserts deliberately (p. 99) that in the Odes we possess "the presuppositions of the Johannine theology, apart from the historical Jesus Christ, and without any Messianic doctrine." More recent criticism of the Odes, however, has resulted in great diversity of view regarding their origin. They have been assigned to Gnosticism, and on the contrary to Montanism; and again are described (Bernard) as Christian baptismal hymns. In view of this division of critical opinion, all that can be said in the meantime is that the Odes testify to a collateral mystical development, the recognition of which necessitates a revision of the estimates which have been made regarding the extent to which the Johannine theology is indebted to Hellenistic philosophy.

6. Antagonism to Gnostic Speculation:

One other factor in this theological development remains to be mentioned-antagonism to Gnostic speculation. In the Gospel this has left not a few traces, in the way both of statement and omission; in the 1st Epistle scarcely any other danger to the faith and life of the church is apprehended than the spreading influence of Gnostic tenets (see JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF). John himself has been charged with Gnostic tendencies; but the truth rather is that to him Gnosticism must have been the more hateful and have seemed the more dangerous because its conceptions were at some points the caricature of his own. In it he saw the real Antichrist, the "spirit of error," giving fatally misleading solutions of those problems which the human mind can never leave alone, but regarding which the one true light is the historic Christ. Gnosticism had lost all historical sense, all touch with reality. It moved in a world of sheer mythology and speculation; history became allegory; the incarnate Christ a phantasm. John took his stand only the more firmly upon historical fact, insisted the more strenuously upon the verified physical reality of the Incarnation. In many of its adherents Gnosticism had lost almost completely the moral sense; John the more vehemently asserts the inviolable moral purity of the Divine nature and of the regenerate life which is derived from it. Gnostic dualism had set God infinitely far from men as transcendent Being; John brings God infinitely near to men as Love; and sweeps away the whole complicated mythology of Gnostic emanations, eons and archons, by his doctrine of the Logos, coeternal and coequal with the Father, incarnate in Jesus, through whom humanity is made to participate in the very life of God-the life of all love, purity and truth.

II. The Divine Nature.

1. God Is Spirit:

One of the glories of the Johannine theology is its doctrine of God, its delineation of the Divine nature. This is given in a series of intuitional affirmations which, though the manner of statement indicates no attempt at correlation, unite to form a complete organic conception. The first of these affirmations defines what is the Divine order of being: God is Spirit (John 4:24). The central significance of this inexhaustible saying is defined by the context. The old local worships, whether at Jerusalem or Samaria, had implied some special local mode of Divine presence; and this naturally suggested, if it did not necessitate, the idea of some kind of materiality in the Divine nature. But God is spirit; and true worship must be an intercourse of spirit with spirit, having relation to no local or material, but only to moral conditions. Thus the concept of the Divine spirituality is both moral and metaphysical. The religious relation to God, as it exists for Christian faith, rests upon the fact that the Supreme Being is essentially moral, but also omnipresent and omniscient-the Divine Spirit whose will and percipiency act immediately and simultaneously at every point of existence. Such a Being we utterly lack the power to comprehend. But only such a Being can be God, can satisfy our religious need-a Being of whom we are assured that nothing that is in us, good or evil, true or false, and nothing that concerns us, past, present or future, is hid from His immediate vision or barred against the all-pervading operation of His will. To realize that God is such a Being is to be assured that He can be worshipped with no mechanical ritual or formal observance: they that worship Him must worship Him "in spirit and in truth."

2. God Is Life:

God, who is spirit, is further conceived as Life, Light, Righteousness and Love. Righteousness and Love are the primary ethical quailties of the Divine nature; Life the energy by which they act; Light the self-revelation in which they are manifested throughout the spiritual universe. God is Life. He is the ultimate eternal Reality. He was "in the beginning" (John 1:1), or "from the beginning" (1 John 1:1; 1 John 2:13). These statements are made of the Logos, therefore a fortiori of God. But the Divine nature is not mere abstract being, infinite and eternal; it is being filled with that inscrutable elemental energy which we call Life. In God this energy of life is self-originating and self-sustaining ("The Father hath life in himself," John 5:26), and is the source of all life (John 1:3, 4, the Revised Version (British and American) margin). For every finite being life is union with God according to its capacity.

But the lower potencies of the creative Life do not come within the scope of the Johannine theology. The term is restricted in usage to its highest ethical significance, as denoting that life of perfect, holy love which is "the eternal life," the possession of which in fellowship with God is the chief end for which every spiritual nature exists. The elements present in the conception of the Divine life are these:

(1) The ethical: the life God lives is one of absolute righteousness (1 John 2:29), and perfect love (1 John 4:9).

(2) The metaphysical: the Divine life is nothing else than the Divine nature itself regarded dynamically, as the ground and source of all its own activities, the animating principle or energy which makes Divine righteousness and love to be not mere abstractions but active realities.

(3) In Johannine thought the Divine life is especially an energy of self-reproduction. It is this by inherent moral necessity. Love cannot but seek to beget love, and righteousness to beget righteousness, in all beings capable of them. With John this generative activity of the Divine nature holds a place of unique prominence. It is this that constitutes the Fatherhood of God. Eternally the Father imparts Himself to the Son (John 5:26), the Word whose life from the beginning consisted in His relation to the Father (1 John 1:2). To men eternal life is communicated as the result of a Divine begetting (John 1:13; John 3:5 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:7, etc.) by which they become "children of God" (John 1:12 1 John 3:1, etc.).

(4) But God is not only the transcendent final source, He is also the immanent source of life. This is clearly implied in all those passages, too numerous to be quoted, which speak of God's abiding in us and our abiding in Him. Life is maintained only through a continuous vitalizing union with Him, as of the branches with the vine (John 5:1-6). It must be observed, however, that John nowhere merges the idea of God in that of life. God is personal; life is impersonal. The eternal life is the element common to the personality of God, of the Loges, and of those who are the "children of God." Any pantheistic manner of thinking is as foreign to John as to every other Biblical writer.

3. God Is Light:

God is not life only; He is light also (1 John 1:5). That God is life means that He is and is self-imparting; that He is light means that the Divine nature is by inward necessity self-revealing.

(1) As the essential property of light is to shine, so God by His very nature of righteousness and love is necessitated to reveal Himself as being what He is, so as to become the Truth (he aletheia), the object of spiritual perception (ginoskein), and the source of spiritual illumination to every being capable of receiving the revelation. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." In God there is nothing that hides, nothing that is hidden. The Divine character is utterly transparent-goodness without a shadow of evil.

(2) This self-revelation of God is given in its perfect form in Jesus, the incarnate Word, who is the light of men (John 1:4), the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5), the true light (John 1:9 1 John 2:8).

(3) It is in their illumination by this Divine light that there exists, even for the sinful, a medium of moral fellowship with God. We can "come to the light" (John 3:19-21) and "walk in the light" (1 John 1:7). In the translucent atmosphere of the true light, we, even while morally imperfect and impure, may come to have a common view of spiritual facts with God (1 John 1:8-10; 1 John 2:9, 10). This is the basis of a spiritual religion, and distinguishes Christianity from all irrational superstitions and unethical ritualisms.

4. Ethical Attributes:

In Gnostic speculation the Divine nature was conceived as the ultimate spiritual essence, in eternal separation from all that is material and mutable. But while John also, as we have seen, conceives it in this way, with him the conception is primarily and intensely ethical. The Divine nature, the communication of which is life and the revelation of which is light, has, as its two great attributes, Righteousness and Love; and with his whole soul John labors to stamp on the minds of men that only in righteousness and love can they walk in the light and have fellowship in the life of God. It is characteristic of John's intuitional fashion of thought that there is no effort to correlate these two aspects of the ethical perfection of God; but, broadly, it may be said that they are respectively the negative and the positive. Love is the sum of all that is positively right; righteousness the antithesis of all that is wrong, in character and conduct.

God Is Righteous.

(1) That such righteousness-antagonism to all sin-belongs to, or rather is, the moral nature of God, and that this lies at the basis of Christian ethics is categorically affirmed. "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one also that doeth righteousness is begotten of him" (1 John 2:29). (2) This righteousness which belongs to the inward character of God extends necessarily to all His actions: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9). When on the ground of Christ's propitiation God forgives those who by confessing their sins make forgiveness possible, He acts righteously; and because He acts righteously, He acts also faithfully, that is, self-consistently. He does not "deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13), but does what is in accordance with His own unchangeable character. (3) God's righteousness is related imperatively to the whole moral activity of His creatures, rendering sin inadmissible in them-inadmissible de jure in all, de facto in all who are "begotten of him." This John maintains with unexampled vigor (compare 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:6, 8-10; 5:18). It is true, however, that in its doctrine of Divine righteousness the Johannine theology makes no notable contribution to the sum of New Testament thought, but simply restates in peculiarly forceful fashion the conception of it which pervades the whole Biblical revelation.

5. God Is Love:

(1) The Love of God.

It is far otherwise with the next of the great affirmations which constitute its doctrine of God: God is Love. Here Gospel and Epistle rise to the summit of all revelation, and for the first time clearly and fully enunciate that truth which is the innermost secret of existence.

(a) Primarily a Disposition:

Love is primarily a disposition, a moral quality of the will. What this quality is is indicated by the fact that the typical object of love in human relation is invariably our "brother." It is the disposition to act toward others as it is natural for those to do who have all interests in common and who realize that the full self-existence of each can be attained only in a larger corporate existence. It is the mysterious power by which egoism and altruism meet and coalesce, the power to live not only for another but in another, to realize one's own fullest life in the fulfillment of other lives. It is self-communication which is also self-assertion.

(b) Embodied in Christ's Self-Sacrifice:

In history love has its one perfect embodiment in the self-sacrifice of Christ. "Hereby know we love (i.e. perceive what love is), because he laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16). The world had never been without love; but till Jesus Christ came and laid down His life for the men that hated and mocked and slew him, it had not known what love in its greatness and purity could be.

(c) Love in Redemption:

But here history is the invisible translated into the visible. The self-sacrifice of Christ in laying down His life for us is the manifestation (1 John 4:9), under the conditions of time and sense, of the love of God, eternal and invisible. In the closely related parallel passages (John 3:16 1 John 4:9, 10) this is declared with matchless simplicity of statement. The Divine love is manifested in the magnitude of its gift-"his Son, his only begotten" (elsewhere the title is only "the Son" or "his Son" or "the Son of God"). Other gifts are only tokens of God's love; in Christ its all is bestowed (compare Romans 8:32 Genesis 22:12). The love of God is manifested further in the purpose of its gift-"that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." It is the self-determination of God, not only to rescue men from what is the sum and finality of all evils, but to impart the supreme and eternal good. But again, the love of God is manifested in the means by which this purpose is achieved. His son is sent as "the propitiation for our sins." God shrinks not from the uttermost cost of redemption; but in the person of His Son humbles Himself and suffers unto blood that He may take upon Himself the load of human guilt and shame. And the last element in the full conception of Divine love is its objects: "God so loved the world"; "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us." Its ineffable mystery reveals itself in its absolute spontaneity, its self-origination. Its fires are self-kindled; it shines forth in its purest splendors upon the unattractive and unworthy. Such is the conception John sets before us. In this entirely spontaneous, self-determined devotion of God to sinful men; this Divine passion to rescue them from sin, the supreme evil, and to impart to them eternal life, the supreme good; in this, which is evoked not by their worthiness but by their need, and goes to the uttermost length of sacrifice in bearing the uttermost burden of their sin and its inevitable consequences; in this, which is forever revealed in the mission of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, is love.

(2) Love Is God's Nature.

And God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).

(a) God is love essentially. Love is not one of God's moral attributes, but that from which they all proceed, and in which they all unite. The spring of all His actions is love.

(b) Therefore also His love is universal. In a special sense He loves those who are spiritually His children (John 14:23); but His undivided and essential love is given also to the whole world (John 3:16 1 John 2:2). That is John's great truth. He does not attempt to reconcile with it other apparently conflicting truths in his theological scheme; possibly he was not conscious of any need to do so. But of this he is sure-God is love. That fact must, in ways we cannot yet discern, include all other facts.

(c) The love of God is eternal and unchangeable; for it does not depend on any merit or reciprocation in its object, but overflows from its own infinite fullness. We may refuse to it the inlet into our life which it seeks (John 3:19; John 5:40); we may so identify ourselves with evil as to turn it into an antagonistic force. But as our goodness did not call it forth, neither can our evil cause it to cease.

(d) If love is an essential, the essential attribute of God, it follows that we cannot ultimately conceive of God as a single simple personality. It is at this point that the fuller Johannine conception of multiple personality in the Godhead becomes most helpful, enabling us to think of the Divine life in itself not as an eternal solitude of self-contemplation and self-love, but as a life of fellowship (John 1:1 1 John 1:2). The Godhead is filled with love. "The Father loveth the Son" (John 3:35); and the prayer of the Son for His followers is "that the love wherewith thou lovedst me may be in them" (John 17:26). The eternal giving and receiving of Divine love between the Father and the Son is, in the Johannine theology, an essential element of the Divine nature.

III. The Incarnation.

The 2nd great contribution of the Johannine writings to the development of Christian theology is their doctrine of Christ-the latest and most deliberate effort within New Testament times to relate intellectually the church's faith in Jesus to its faith in God. In these writings the superhuman personality of Jesus is expressed by three titles which are used as practically synonymous-"the Christ," "the Son" ("Son of God," "only begotten Son of God"), the "Word" (Logos). The last alone is distinctively Johannine.

1. Historical Antecedents of the Logos-Doctrine:

Historically, the Logos-doctrine of John has undoubted links of connection with certain speculative developments both of Greek and Hebrew thought. The Heraclitean use of the term "Logos" (see above, I) to express the idea of an eternal and all-embracing Reason immanent in the world was continued, while the conception was further elaborated, by the Stoics. On the other hand, the later developments of Hebrew thought show an increasing tendency to personify the self-revealing activity of God under such conceptions as the Angel, Glory, or Name of Yahweh, to attach a peculiar significance to the "Word" (me'mera') by which He created the heaven and the earth, and to describe "Wisdom" (Job, Proverbs) in something more than a figurative sense as His agent and coworker. These approximations of Greek pantheism and Hebrew monotheism were more verbal than real; and, naturally, Philo's attempt in his doctrine of the Logos to combine philosophies so radically divergent was less successful than it was courageous. How far, and whether directly or indirectly, John is indebted to Philo and his school, are questions to which widely different answers have been given; but some obligation, probably indirect, cannot reasonably be denied. It is evident, indeed, that both the idea and the term "Logos" were current in the Christian circles for which his Gospel and First Epistle were immediately written; in both its familiarity is assumed. Yet the Johannine doctrine has little in common with Philo's except the name; and it is just in its most essential features that it is most original and distinct.

As the Old Testament begins with the affirmation, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," so the Fourth Gospel begins with the similar affirmation, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). The Word was the medium of Divine action in creation (John 1:3).

2. The Logos-Doctrine in John:

In the Word was life, not merely self-existing but self-imparting, so that it became the light of men (John 1:4)-the true light, which, coming into the world, lighteth every man (John 1:9). And finally it is declared that this Divine Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, so that "we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Here faith in Jesus as Divine has been traced back to, and grounded in, a duality within the Godhead itself. In the twofold mode of the Divine existence, it is seen that there is God who is just God (so to say), God in Himself; and there is God-with-God, God who is God's other self, God going forth from Himself in thought and action. The first without the second would be essence without manifestation, mind without utterance, light without effulgence, life without life-giving, fatherhood without sonship. It is seen that within the Divine Being there is one through whom, as there is also one from whom, all Divine energy goes forth.

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1. The PhariSee

2. Saul and Sin

3. Primitive Christianity


1. Christ

2. The Spirit

3. The Unio Mystica

4. Salvation

5. Justification


1. Abolition of the Law

2. Gentiles

3. Redemption

4. Atonement

5. Moral Example

6. Function of the Law


1. The Church

2. The Sacraments

I. The Preparation.

In order to understand the development of Paul's theological system, it is necessary to begin with his beliefs as a Pharisee. The full extent of these beliefs, to be sure, is not now ascertainable, for Pharisaism was a rule of conduct rather than a system of dogmas, and great diversity of opinions existed among Pharisees. Yet there was general concurrence in certain broad principles, while some of Paul's own statements enable us to specify his beliefs still more closely.

1. The Pharisee:

Saul the Pharisee believed that God was One, the Creator of all things. In His relation to His world He was transcendent, and governed it normally through His angels. Certain of these angelic governors had been unfaithful to their trust and had wrought evil, although God still permitted them to bear rule for a time (Colossians 2:15; compare Enoch 89:65). And evil had come into humanity through the transgression of the first man (Romans 5:12; compare 2 Esdras 7:118). To lead men away from this evil God gave His Law, which was a perfect revelation of duty (Romans 7:12), and this Law was illumined by the traditions of the Fathers, which the Pharisees felt to be an integral part of the Law itself. God was merciful and would pardon the offender against the Law, if he completely amended his ways. But imperfect reformation brought no certain hope of pardon. To a few specially favored individuals God had given the help of His Spirit, but this was not for the ordinary individual. The great majority of mankind (compare 2 Esdras 7:49-57), including all Gentiles, had no hope of salvation. In a very short time the course of the world would be closed. With God, from before the beginning of creation, there was existing a heavenly being, the Son of man of Daniel 7:13, and He was about to be made manifest. (That Saul held the transcendental Messianic doctrine is not to be doubted.) As the world was irredeemably bad, this Messiah would soon appear, cause the dead to rise, hold the Last Judgment and bring from heaven the "Jerus that is above" (Galatians 4:26), in which the righteous would spend a blessed eternity.


2. Saul and Sin:

Romans 7:7-25 throws a further light on Saul's personal beliefs. The Old Testament promised pardon to the sinner who amended his ways, but the acute moral sense of Saul taught him that he could never expect perfectly to amend his ways. The 10th Commandment was the stumbling-block. Sins of deed and of word might perhaps be overcome, but sins of evil desires stayed with him, despite his full knowledge of the Law that branded them as sinful. Indeed, they seemed stimulated rather than suppressed by the divine precepts against them. With the best will in the world, Saul's efforts toward perfect righteousness failed continually and gave no promise of ever succeeding. He found himself thwarted by something that he came to realize was ingrained in his very nature and from which he could never free himself. Human nature as it is, the flesh (not "the material of the body"), contains a taint that makes perfect reformation impossible (Romans 7:18; compare Romans 8:3, etc.). Therefore, as the Law knows no pardon for the imperfectly reformed, Saul felt his future to be absolutely black. What he longed for was a promise of pardon despite continued sin, and that the Law precluded. (Any feeling that the temple sacrifices. would bring forgiveness had long since been obsolete in educated Judaism.)

There is every reason to suppose that Saul's experience was not unique at this period. Much has been written in recent years about the Jews' confidence in God's mercy, and abundant quotations are brought from the Talmud in support of this. But the surviving portions of the literature of the Daniel-Aqiba period (165 B.C.-135 A.D.) give a different impression, for it is predominantly a literature of penitential prayers and confessions of sin, of pessimism regarding the world, the nation and one's self. In 2 Esdras, in particular, Saul's experience is closely paralleled, and 2 Esdras 7 (of course not in the King James Version) is one of the best commentaries ever written on Romans 7.

3. Primitive Christianity:

Saul must have come in contact with Christianity very soon after Pentecost, at the latest. Some personal acquaintance with Christ is in no way impossible, irrespective of the meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:16. But no one in Jerusalem, least of all a man like Saul, could have failed tq learn very early that there was a new "party" in Judaism. To his eyes this "party" would have about the following appearance: Here was a band of men proclaiming that the Messiah, whom all expected, would be the Jesus who had recently been crucified. Him the disciples were preaching as risen, ascended and sitting on God's right hand. They claimed that He had sent on all His followers the coveted gift of the Spirit, and they produced miracles in proof of their claim. A closer investigation would show that the death of Jesus was being interpreted in terms of Isaiah 53, as a ransom for the nation. The inquirer would learn also that Jesus had given teaching that found constant and relentless fault with the Pharisees. Moreover, He had swept aside the tradition of the Fathers as worthless and had given the Law a drastic reinterpretation on the basis of eternal spiritual facts.

This inwardness must have appealed to Saul and he must have envied the joyous enthusiasm of the disciples. But to him Pharisaism was divine, and he was in a spiritual condition that admitted of no compromxses. Moreover, the Law (Galatians 3:13; compare Deuteronomy 21:23) cursed anyone who had been hanged on a tree, and the new party was claiming celestial Messiahship for a man who had met this fate. The system aroused Saul's burning hatred; he appointed himself (perhaps stimulated by his moral desperation) to exterminate the new religion, and in pursuit of his mission he started for Damascus.

Saul must have gained a reasonable knowledge of Christ's teachings in this period of antagonism. He certainly could not have begun to persecute the faith without learning what it was, and in the inevitable discussions with his victims he must have learned still more, even against his will. This fact is often overlooked.

II. The Conversion.

1. Christ:

The immediate content of Paul's conversion was the realization that the celestial Messiah was truly Jesus of Nazareth. This was simply the belief of the primitive church and was the truth for which Christ had died (Mark 14:62). But it involved much. It made Christ the Son of God (Romans 8:32 Galatians 4:4, etc.), "firstborn of (i.e. "earlier than") all creation" (Colossians 1:15), "existing in the form of God" (Philippians 2:6) and "rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). In the Messiah are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" (Colossians 2:3), to be manifested at the end of time when the Messiah shall appear as the Judge of all (2 Corinthians 5:10, etc.), causing the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:45, etc.). All this was given by Paul's former beliefs and had been claimed by Christ for Himself. That this Messiah had become man was a fact of the immediate past (the reality of the manhood was no problem at this period). As Messiah His sinlessness was unquestioned, while the facts of His life proved this sinlessness also. His teaching was wholly binding (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11; that the writer of these words could have spared any effort to learn the teaching fully is out of the question). The conversion experience was proof sufficient of the resurrection, although for missionary purposes Paul used other evidence as well (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

Faith in this Messiah brought the unmistakable experience of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:2 Galatians 3:2, etc.; compare Acts 9:17), demonstrating Christ's Lordship (1 Corinthians 12:3; compare Acts 2:33). So "the head of every man is Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3; compare Colossians 1:18 Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:15), with complete control of the future (1 Corinthians 15:25), and all righteous men are His servants ("slaves," Romans 1:1, etc.). To Him men may address their prayers (2 Corinthians 12:8 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.; compare Acts 14:23).

Further reflection added to the concepts. As the Lordship of Christ was absolute, the power of all hostile beings must have been broken also (Romans 8:38 Philippians 2:9-11 Colossians 2:15 Ephesians 1:21-23, etc.). The Being who had such significance for the present and the future could not have been without significance for the past. "In all things" He must have had "the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18). It was He who ministered to the Israelites at the Exodus (1 Corinthians 10:4, 9). In fact He was not only "before all things" (Colossians 1:17), but "all things have been created through him" (Colossians 1:16). Wisdom and Logos concepts may have helped Paul in reaching these conclusions, which in explicit statement are an advance on Christ's own words. But the conclusions were inevitable.

Fitting these data of religious fact into the metaphysical doctrine of God was a problem that occupied the church for the four following centuries. After endless experimenting the only conclusion was shown to be that already reached by Paul in Romans 9:5 (compare Titus 2:13, the English Revised Version, the American Revised Version margin), that Christ is God. To be sure, Paul's terminology, carried over from his pre-Christian days, elsewhere reserves "God" for the Father (and compare 1 Corinthians 15:28). But the fact of this theology admits only of the conclusion that was duly drawn.

2. The Spirit:

A second fact given directly by the conversion was the presence of the Spirit, where the actual experience transcended anything that had been dreamed of. Primarily the operation of the Spirit was recognized in vividly supernatural effects (Romans 15:19 1 Corinthians 12:5-11, etc.; compare 2 Corinthians 12:12 Acts 2:4), but Paul must at first have known the presence of the Spirit through the assurance of salvation given him, a concept that he never wearies of expressing (Romans 8:16, 23 Galatians 4:6, etc.). The work of the Spirit in producing holiness in the soul needs no comment (see HOLY SPIRIT; SANCTIFICATION), but it is characteristic of Paul that it is on this part of the Spirit's activity, rather than on the miraculous effects, that he lays the emphasis. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," etc. (Galatians 5:22); the greatest miracles without love are more than useless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3); in such sayings Paul touched the depths of the purest teaching of Christ. To be sure, in the Synoptic Gospels the word "Spirit" is not often on Christ's lips, but there is the same conception of a life proceeding from a pure center (Matthew 6:22; Matthew 7:17, etc.) in entire dependence on God.

Further reflection and observation taught Paul something of the greatest importance for Christian theology. In prayer the Spirit appeared distinguished from the Father as well as from the Son (Romans 8:26 f; compare 1 Corinthians 2:10 f), giving three terms that together express the plenitude of the Deity (2 Corinthians 13:14 Ephesians 1:3, 6, 13, etc.), with no fourth term ever similarly associated.


3. The Unio Mystica:

The indwelling of the divine produced by the Spirit is spoken of indifferently as the indwelling of the Spirit, or of the Spirit of Christ, or of Christ Himself (all three terms in Romans 8:9-11; compare 1 Corinthians 2:12 Galatians 4:6 Ephesians 3:17, etc.). The variations are in part due to the inadequacy of the Old terminology (so 2 Corinthians 3:17), in part to the nature of the subject. Distinctions made between the operations of the persons of the Trinity on the soul can never be much more than verbal, and the terms are freely interchangeable. At all events, through the Spirit Christ is in the believer (Romans 8:10 Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:19 Ephesians 3:17), or, what is the same thing, the believer is in Christ (Romans 6:11; Romans 8:1; Romans 16:7, etc.). "We have become united with him" (Romans 6:5, sumphutoi, "grown together with") in an union once and for all effected (Galatians 3:27) and yet always to be made more intimate (Romans 13:14). The union so accomplished makes the man "a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

4. Salvation:

Paul now saw within himself a dual personality. His former nature, the old man, still persisted, with its impulses, liability to temptation, and inertnesses. The "flesh" still existed (Galatians 5:17 Romans 8:12; Romans 13:14 Ephesians 4:22 Philippians 3:12, etc.). On the other hand there was fighting in him against this former nature nothing less than the whole power of Christ, and its final victory could not be uncertain for a moment (Romans 6:12; Romans 8:2, 10 Galatians 5:16, etc.). Indeed, it is possible to speak of the believer as entirely spiritual (Romans 6:11, 22; Romans 8:9, etc.), as already in the kingdom (Colossians 1:13), as already sitting in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Of course Paul had too keen an appreciation of reality to regard believers as utterly sinless (Philippians 3:12, etc.), and his pages abound in reproofs and exhortations. But the present existence of remnants of sin had no final terrors, for the ultimate victory over sin was certain, even if it was not to be complete until the last day when the power of God would redeem even the present physical frame (Romans 8:11 Philippians 3:21, etc.).

As the first man to belong to'the higher order, and as the point from which the race could take a fresh start, Christ could justly be termed a new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-49; compare Romans 5:12-21). If Cor 15:46 has any relation to the PhiIonic doctrine of the two Adams, it is a polemic against it. Such a polemic would not be unlikely.

5. Justification:

A most extraordinary fact, to the former Pharisee, was that this experience had been gained without conscious effort and even against conscious effort (Philippians 3:7 f). After years of fruitless striving a single act of self-surrender had brought him an assurance that he had despaired of ever attaining. And this act of self-surrender is what Paul means by "faith," "faith without works." This faith is naturally almost anything in the world rather than a mere intellectual acknowledgment of a fact (James 2:19), and is an act of the whole man, too complex for simple analysis. It finds, however, its perfect statement in Christ's reference to `receiving the kingdom of God as a little child' (Mark 10:15). By an act of simple yielding Paul found himself no longer in dread of his sins; he was at peace with God, and confident as to his future; in a word, "justified." In one sense, to be sure, "works" were still involved, for without the past struggles the result would never have been attained. A desire, however imperfect, to do right is a necessary preparation for justification, and the word has no meaning to a man satisfied to be sunk in complete selfishness (Romans 6:2; Romans 3:8, etc.). This desire to do right, which Paul always presupposes, and the content given "faith" are sufficient safeguards against antinomianism. But the grace given is in no way commensurate with past efforts, nor does it grow out of them. It is a simple gift of God (Romans 6:23).

III. Further Developments.

1. Abolition of the Law:

The adoption by Paul of the facts given by his conversion (and the immediate conclusions that followed from them) involved, naturally, a readjustment and a reformation of the other parts of his belief. The process must have occupied some time, if it was ever complete during his life, and must have been affected materially by his controversies with his former co-religionists and with very many Christians.

Fundamental was the problem of the Law. The Law was perfectly clear that he-and only he-who performed it would live. But life was found through faith in Christ, while the Law was not fulfilled. There could be no question of compromise between the two positions; they were simply incompatible (Romans 10:5 Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11 Philippians 3:7). One conclusion only was possible: "Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:4). As far as concerned the believer, the Law was gone. Two tremendous results followed. One was the immense simplification of what we call "Christian ethics," which were now to be determined by the broadest general principles of right and wrong and no longer by an elaborate legalistic construing of God's commands (Romans 13:8-10 Galatians 5:22 f, etc.; compare Mark 12:29-31). To be sure, the commandments might be quoted as convenient expressions of moral duty (Ephesians 6:2 1 Corinthians 9:9, etc.; compare Mark 10:19), but they are binding because they are right, not because they are commandments (Colossians 2:16). So, in Paul's moral directions, he tries to bring out always the principle involved, and Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 are masterpieces of the treatment of concrete problems by this method.

2. Gentiles:

The second result of the abolition of the Law was overwhelming. Gentiles had as much right to Christ as had the Jews, barring perhaps the priority of honor (Romans 3:2, etc.) possessed by the latter. It is altogether conceivable, as Acts 22:21 implies, that Paul's active acceptance of this result was long delayed and reached only after severe struggles. The fact was utterly revolutionary, and although it was prophesied in the Old Testament (Romans 9:25 f), yet `the Messiah among you Gentiles' remained the hidden mystery that God had revealed only in the last days (Colossians 1:26 Ephesians 3:3-6, etc.). The struggles of the apostle in defense of this principle are the most familiar part of his career.

3. Redemption:

This consciousness of deliverance from the Law came to Paul in another way. The Law was meant for men in this world, but the union with Christ had raised him out of this world and so taken him away from the Law's control. In the Epistles this fact finds expression in an elaborately reasoned form. As Christ's nature is now a vital part of our nature, His death and resurrection are facts of our past as well. "Ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). But "the law hath dominion over a man" only "for so long time as he liveth" (Romans 7:1). "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ" (Romans 7:4). Compare Colossians 2:11-13, 20, where the same argument is used to show that ritual observance is no longer necessary. In Romans 6:1-14 this argument is made to issue in a practical exhortation. Through the death of Christ, which is our death (6:4), we, like Him, are placed in a higher world (6:5) where sin has lost its power (6:7), a world in which we are no longer under Law (6:14). Hence, the intensest moral effort becomes our duty (6:13; compare 2 Corinthians 5:14).

4. Atonement:

This release from the Law, however, does not solve the whole problem. Evil, present and past, is a fact, Law or no Law (on Romans 4:15 b; 5:13b; see the comms.), and a forbearance of God that simply "passes over" sins is disastrous for man as well as contrary to the righteous nature of God (Romans 3:25 f). However inadequate the Old Testament sacrifices were felt to have been (and hence, perhaps, Paul's avoidance of the Levitical terms except in Ephesians 5:2), yet they offered the only help possible for the treatment of this most complex of problems. The guilt of our sins is "covered" by the death of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3, where this truth is among those which were delivered to converts "first of all"; Romans 3:25; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:6, etc.). This part of his theology Paul leaves in an incomplete form. He was accustomed, like any other man of his day, whether Jew or Gentile, to think naturally in sacrificial terms, and neither he nor his converts were conscious of any difficulty involved. Nor has theology since his time been able to contribute much toward advancing the solution of the problem. The fatal results of unchecked evil, its involving of the innocent with the guilty, and the value of vicarious suffering, are simple facts of our experience that defy our attempts to reduce them to intellectual formulas. In Paul's case it is to be noted that he views the incentive as coming from God (Romans 3:25; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:32, etc.), because of His love toward man, so that a "gift-propitiation" of an angry deity is a theory the precise opposite of the Pauline. Moreover, Christ's death is not a mere fact of the past, but through the "mystical union" is incorporated into the life of every believer.

Further developments of this doctrine about Christ's death find in it the complete destruction of whatever remained of the Law (Colossians 2:14), especially as the barrier between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:15 f). The extension of the effects of the death to the unseen world (Colossians 2:15; compare Galatians 4:9 Ephesians 4:8) was of course natural.

5. Moral Example:

The death of Christ as producing a subjective moral power in the believer is appealed to frequently (compare Romans 8:3 Galatians 2:20 Ephesians 5:2, 25 Philippians 2:5, etc.), while the idea is perhaps present to some degree even in Romans 3:26. From a different point of view, the Cross as teaching the vanity of worldly things is a favorite subject with Paul (1 Corinthians 1:22-25 2 Corinthians 13:4 Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:14, etc.). These aspects require no explanation.

There are, accordingly, in Paul's view of the death of Christ at least three distinct lines, the "mystical," the "juristic," and the "ethical." But this distinction is largely only genetic and logical, and the lines tend to blend in all sorts of combinations. Consequently, it is frequently an impossible exegetical problem to determine which is most prominent in any given passage (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:14).

6. Function of the Law:

Regarding the Law a further question remained, which had great importance in Paul's controversies. If the Law was useless for salvation, why was it given at all? Paul replies that it still had its purpose. To gain righteousness one must desire it and this desire the Law taught (Romans 7:12, 16; Romans 2:18), even though it had no power to help toward fulfillment. So the Law gave knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7). But Paul did not hesitate to go beyond this. Familiar in his own experience with the psychological truth that a prohibition may actually stimulate the desire to transgress it, he showed that the Law actually had the purpose of bringing out all the dormant evil within us, that grace might deal with it effectually (Romans 5:20; Romans 7:8, 25; compare 1 Corinthians 15:56). Thus the Law became our paidagogos "to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24; see SCHOOLMASTER), and came in "besides" (Romans 5:20), i.e. as something not a primary part of God's plan. Indeed, this could be shown from the Law itself, which proved that faith was the primary method of salvation (Romans 4; compare Galatians 3:17) and which actually prophesied its own repeal (Galatians 4:21-31). With this conclusion, which must have required much time to work out, Paul's reversal of his former Pharisaic position was complete.

IV. Special Topics.

1. The Church:

As Christ is the central element in the life of the believer, all believers have this element in common and are so united with each other (Romans 12:5). This is the basis of the Pauline doctrine of the church.

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3551. nomos -- that which is assigned, hence usage, law
... 3551 () is used of: a) the Law (Scripture), with emphasis on the first five books
of Scripture; or b) any of religious thinking (theology), especially when ...
// - 7k

3131. manna -- manna
... 2307 ). [GHC MacGregor, "There is evidence to show that Jewish theology regarded
the giving of manna as the miracle , the even for the Messiah. ...
// - 7k

1322. didache -- doctrine, teaching
... [The NT uses two feminine nouns (1319 , 1322 ) from the same root. For more
on this see 1319 ("-teaching, systematic theology").]. ...
// - 7k

2072. esoptron -- a mirror (ie an object for looking into)
... So, to get an accurate picture (reflection) the viewer had to look (""). This has
profound implications in "doing theology"! Word Origin from eis and the fut. ...
// - 7k

3544. nomikos -- relating to law, learned in the law
... 3544 (from 3551 , "law") -- properly, an expert in Jewish (theology); an ancient
Jewish-attorney ("Scripture-lawyer"), specializing in interpreting the OT and ...
// - 8k

5385. philosophia -- the love or pursuit of wisdom
... Spelling: (fil-os-of-ee'-ah) Short Definition: love of wisdom, philosophy Definition:
love of wisdom, philosophy, in the NT of traditional Jewish theology. ...
// - 7k

2583. kanon -- a rule, standard
... 2583 ("rule, standard") was used for a summary of orthodox Christian doctrine in
the early Church (its "consensual theology") -- called "the rule () of truth ...
// - 7k

1320. didaskalos -- an instructor
... 1321 , "to teach") -- a teacher, an instructor acknowledged for their mastery in
their field of learning; in Scripture, a Bible teacher, competent in theology. ...
// - 7k

384. anaskeuazo -- to pack up baggage, dismantle
... 384 ("subversively rearranging"), used only in Ac 15:24, refers to people
with () trying to "re-arrange" the theology of others! ...
// - 7k


Systematic Theology
Systematic Theology. <. Systematic Theology Charles Grandison Finney.
Table of Contents. Title Page. NOTE BY THE EDITOR. PREFACE. ...
// theology/

to be of a perfectly orthodox character, quite what ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/theology.htm

The Theology of Holiness
The Theology of Holiness. <. The Theology of Holiness Dougan Clark. Curtis
A. Weyant, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. ...
// theology of holiness/

... THE HISTORY OF SUSANNA THEOLOGY. This History' does not appear to have been written
with a view of supporting any erroneous or debateable points in theology. ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/theology 2.htm

On Theology
... On Theology. * How To Teach Theology * On Blessedness, The End Of Theology *
On Religion * Rule Of Religion: The Word Of God * Authority ...
/.../arminius/the works of james arminius vol 2/on theology.htm

... Part IV. THE HISTORY OF BEL AND THE DRAGON THEOLOGY. The whole piece makes
a mock at idolatry [76] with a view of turning men from ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/theology 3.htm

Mystic Theology
Mystic Theology. <. Mystic Theology Dionysius. Table of Contents. Title Page.
MYSTIC THEOLOGY. CAPUT I. What is the Divine Gloom? CAPUT II. ...
// theology/

On Theology
... DISPUTATION I ON THEOLOGY. As we are ... to God. In theology, therefore, God
himself must be considered as the object of this duty. V ...
/.../arminius/the works of james arminius vol 2/disputation i on theology.htm

The End of Theology
... THE END OF THEOLOGY. We have been engaged ... at rest. But the same person who is
the Author and Object, is also the End of Theology. The very ...
/.../arminius/the works of james arminius vol 1/the end of theology.htm

Preface to Mystic Theology.
THEOLOGY is like that ladder set up on the earth whose ...
/.../dionysius/dionysis on divine names/preface to mystic theology.htm

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) The science of God or of religion; the science which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of God, his laws and government, the doctrines we are to believe, and the duties we are to practice; divinity; (as more commonly understood) the knowledge derivable from the Scriptures, the systematic exhibition of revealed truth, the science of Christian faith and life.
Topical Bible Verses
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Hebrews 6:1-20
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

John 3:1-36
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

... the science of Christian faith and life. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
BIBLICAL THEOLOGY. bib'-li-kal the-ol'-o-ji: I. BIBLICAL ...
/t/theology.htm - 95k

... It is a significant revelation of the spirit of Greek theology that all the Greek
commentators understood by ordinances in these two places, the gospel as a ...
/d/dogma.htm - 10k

... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. BIBLICAL DISCREPANCIES. bib'-li-kal
/b/biblical.htm - 45k

Atonement (112 Occurrences)
... Specifically, in theology: The expiation of sin made by the obedience, personal
suffering, and death of Christ. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. ATONEMENT. ...
/a/atonement.htm - 101k

Retribution (14 Occurrences)
... ret-ri-bu'-shun: 1. New Testament Terms 2. A Revelation of Wrath as Well as Grace
3. Witness of Natural Theology 4. Retribution the Natural Consequence of Sin 5 ...
/r/retribution.htm - 29k

Justification III. ... II. The Threefold Use of the Term in Theology. ...
/i/imputation.htm - 39k

Tradition (13 Occurrences)
... 3, 6 Mark 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13 1 Corinthians 11:2 Galatians 1:14 Colossians 2:8 2
Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). 1. Meaning in Jewish Theology: The term ...
/t/tradition.htm - 17k

... in Scripture 5. Historic Rise and Development of the Doctrine 6. The Doctrine in
the Middle Ages 7. Predestination in the Reformed Theology 8. Predestination ...
/p/predestination.htm - 26k

... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia JOHANNINE THEOLOGY. jo-han'-in,-in: I. THE
ANTECEDENTS 1. Personality of Writer 2. Earlier New Testament ...
/j/johannine.htm - 38k

Providence (3 Occurrences)
... ends for which they were created. "Providence is the most comprehensive
term in the language of theology. It is the background of ...
/p/providence.htm - 44k



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Flame (61 Occurrences)

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Natural (49 Occurrences)

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Living (3112 Occurrences)

Language (112 Occurrences)

Last (1087 Occurrences)


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Fall (522 Occurrences)

Father (11359 Occurrences)

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