Paul, the Apostle, 1
1. The Acts
2. The Thirteen Epistles
(1) Pauline Authorship
(2) Lightfoot's Grouping
(a) First Group (1 and 2 Thessalonians)
(b) Second Group (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans,
(c) Third Group-(Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians)
(d) Fourth Group (1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy)
(3) Paul's Conception of His Epistles
(4) Development in Paul's Epistles
II. MODERN THEORIES ABOUT PAUL
1. Criticism Not Infallible
2. The Tubingen Theory
3. Protest against Baur's View
4. Successors to Baur
5. Appeal to Comparative Religion
6. The Eschatological Interpretation
III. CHRONOLOGY OF PAUL'S CAREER
2. Crucial Points
(1) The Death of Stephen
(2) The Flight from Damascus
(3) The Death of Herod Agrippa I
(4) The First Mission Tour
(5) The First Visit to Corinth
(6) Paul at Troas according to Acts 20:6 f
(7) Festus Succeeding Felix
1. The City of Tarsus
2. Roman Citizenship
4. The Mystery-Religions
6. Personal Characteristics
(1) Personal Appearance
(2) Natural Endowments
(3) Supernatural Gifts
(3) Effect on Paul
5. The First Great Mission Campaign
6. The Conflict at Jerusalem
7. The Second Mission Campaign
8. The Third Mission Campaign
9. Five Years a Prisoner
10. Further Travels
11. Last Imprisonment and Death
1. The Acts:
For discussion of the historical value of the Acts of the Apostles see the article on that subject. It is only necessary to say here that the view of Sir W.M. Ramsay in general is accepted as to the trustworthiness of Luke, whose authorship of the Acts is accepted and proved by Harnack (Die Apostelgeschichte, 1908; The Acts of the Apostles, translation by Wilkinson, 1909; Neue Untersuch. zur Ap., 1911; The Date of the Acts and of the Synoptic Gospels, translations by Wilkinson, 1911). The proof need not be given again. The same hand appears in the "we" sections and the rest of the book. Even Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 311) admits the Lukan authorship though dating it in 100 AD instead of 60-62 AD, against Harnack. The Acts is written independently of the Epistles of Paul, whether early or late, and supplements in a wonderful way the incidental references in the epistles, though not without lacunae and difficulties.
2. The Thirteen Epistles:
(1) Pauline Authorship.
See the articles on each epistle for detailed criticism. It is here assumed that the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by Paul, though Pauline in point of view. One cannot stop to prove every statement in an article like this, else a large book would be needed. Criticism is not an infallible science. One can turn easily from the Hatch-Van Manen article on "Paul" in Encyclopedia Biblica (1902) to the Maclean article on "Paul the Apostle" in the 1-vol HDB (1909). Van-Manen's part of the one denies all the thirteen, while Maclean says: "We shall, in what follows, without hesitation use the thirteen epistles as genuine." It is certain that Paul wrote more epistles, or "letters," as Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 225) insists on calling all of Paul's epistles. Certainly Philera is a mere "letter," but it is difficult to say as much about Romans. Deissmann (St. Paul, 22) admits that portions of Romans are like "an epistolary letter." At any rate, when Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 64-82) carefully justifies the Pauline authorship of both 1 and 2 Thessalonians, it is clear that the case against them cannot be very strong, especially as Moffatt stands out against the genuineness of Ephesians (op. cit., 393) and the Pastoral Epistles (p. 414).
Bartlet, who was once at a loss to know what to do with the Pastorals on theory that Paul was not released from the Roman imprisonment (Apostolic Age, 1899, 200), is now quite willing to face the new facts set forth by Ramsay (Expos, VII, viii-ix, VIII, i), even if it means the admission of a second Roman imprisonment, a view that Bartlet had opposed. He now pleads for "the fresh approach from the side of experience, by men who are in touch with the realities of human nature in all its variety, as well as at home in the historical background of society in the early Roman empire, that has renovated the study of them and taken it out of the old ruts of criticism in which it has moved for the most part in modern times" (Expos, January, 1913, 29). Here Bartlet, again, now eloquently presents the view of common-sense criticism as seen by the practical missionary better than by a life "spent amid the academic associations of a professor's chair," though he pauses to note as an exception Professor P. Gardner's The Religious Experience of Paul (1912). We may quote Bartlet once more (Expos, January, 1913, 30): "In the recovery of a true point of view a vital element has been the newer conception of Paul himself and so of Paulinism. Paul the doctrinaire theologian, or at least the prophet of a one-sided gospel repeated with fanatical uniformity of emphasis under all conditions, has largely given place to Paul the missionary, full indeed of inspired insight on the basis of a unique experience, but also of practical instinct, the offspring of sympathy with living men of other types of training. When the Pastorals are viewed anew in the light of this idea, half their difficulties disappear." One need not adopt Deissmann's rather artificial insistence on "letters" rather than "epistles," and his undue depreciation of Paul's intellectual caliber and culture as being more like Amos than Origen (St. Paul, 1912, 6), in order to see the force of this contention for proper understanding of the social environment of Paul. Against Van Manen's "historical Paul" who wrote nothing, he places "the historic Paul" who possibly wrote all thirteen. "There is really no trouble except with the letters to Timothy and Titus, and even there the difficulties are perhaps not quite so great as many of our specialists assume" (St. Paul, 15). See PASTORAL EPISTLES. Deissmann denies sharply that Paul was an "obscurantist" who corrupted the gospel of Jesus, "the dregs of doctrinaire study of Paul, mostly in the tired brains-of gifted amateurs" (p. 4). But A. Schweitzer boldly proclaims that he alone has the key to Paul and Jesus. It is the "exclusively Jewish eschatological" (Paul and His Interpreters, 1912, ix), conception of Christ's gospel that furnishes Schweitzer's spring-board (The Quest of the Historical Jesus). Thus he will be able to explain "the Hellenization of the gospel" as mediated through Paul. To do that Schweitzer plows his weary way from Grotius to Holtzmann, and finds that they have all wandered into the wilderness. He is positive that his eschatological discovery will rescue Paul and some of his epistles from the ruin wrought by Steck and Van Manen to whose arguments modern criticism has nothing solid to offer, and the meager negative crumbs offered by Schweitzer ought to be thankfully received (ibid, 249).
(2) Lightfoot's Grouping.
(Compare Biblical Essays, 224.) There is doubt as to the position of Galatians. Some advocates of the South-Galatian theory make it the very earliest of Paul's Epistles, even before the Jerusalem Conference in Ac 15:1-41. So Eramet, Commentary on Galatians (1912), ix, who notes (Preface) that his commentary is the first to take this position. But the North Galatian view still has the weight of authority in spite of Ramsay's powerful advocacy in his various books (see Historical Commentary on Galatians), as is shown by Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 90 ff. Hence, Lightfoot's grouping is still the best to use.
(a) First Group (1 and 2 Thessalonians):
1 and 2 Thessalonians, from Corinth, 52-53 AD. Harnack's view that 2 Thessalonians is addressed to a Jewish Christian church in Thessalonica while 1 Thessalonians is addressed to a Gentilechurch is accepted by Lake (Earlier Epistles of Paul, 1911, 83 ff) but Frame (ICC, 1912, 54) sees no need for this hypothesis. Milligan is clear that 1 Thessalonians precedes 2 Thessalonians (Commentary, 1908, xxxix) and is the earliest of Paul's Epistles (p. xxxvi). The accent on eschatology is in accord with the position of the early disciples in the opening chapters of Acts. They belong to Paul's stay in Corinth recorded in Ac 18:1-28.
(b) Second Group (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans):
1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, 55-58 AD. This is the great doctrinal group, the four chief epistles of Baur. They turn about the Judaizing controversy which furnishes the occasion for the expansion of the doctrine of justification by faith in opposition to the legalistic contention of the Judaizing Christians from Jerusalem (Ac 15:1-3; Ga 2:1-10). The dates of these epistles are not perfectly clear. 1 Corinthians was written shortly before the close of Paul's 3 years' stay at Ephesus (Ac 20:31; 1Co 16:8; Ac 20:1 f). 2 Corinthians was written a few months later while he was in Macedonia (Ac 2:13; 7:5,13; 8:16-24). Romans was written from Corinth (Ac 16:23; 20:2 f) and sent by Phoebe of Cenchrea (Ro 16:1). The integrity of Romans is challenged by some who deny in particular that chapter 16 belongs to the epistle Moffatt (Intro, 134-38) gives an able, but unconvincing, presentation of the arguments for the addition of the chapter by a later hand. Deissmann (St. Paul, 19) calls Ro 16:1-27 "a little letter" addressed to the Christians at Ephesus. Von. Soden (History of Early Christian Literature, 78) easily justifies the presence of Ro 16:1-27 in the Epistle to the Romans: "These greetings, moreover, were certainly intended by Paul to create bonds of fellowship between the Pauline Christians and the Roman community, and to show that he had not written to them quite exclusively in his own name." A common-sense explanation of Paul's personal ties in Rome is the fact that as the center of the world's life the city drew people thither from all parts of the earth. So, today many a man has friends in New York or London who has never been to either city. A much more serious controversy rages as to the integrity of 2 Corinthians. Semler took 2Co 10:1-18 through 2Co 13:1-14 to be a separate and later ep., because of its difference in tone from 2Co 1:1-24 through 2Co 9:1-15, but Hausrath put it earlier than chapters 1 through 2Co 9:1-15, and made it the letter referred to in 2Co 2:4. He has been followed by many scholars like Schmiedel, Cone, McGiffert, Bacon, Moffatt, Kennedy, Rendall, Peake, Plummer. Von Soden (History of Early Christian Literature, 50) accepts the partition-theory of 2 Corinthians heartily: "It may be shown with the highest degree of probability that this letter has come down to us in 2Co 10:1 through 2Co 13:10." But the unity of the epistle on theory that the change in tone is a climax to the disobedient element of the church is still maintained with force and justice by Klopper, Zahn, Bachmann, Denhey, Bernard, A. Robertson, Weiss, Menzies. The place of the writing of Galatians turns on its date. Lightfoot (in loc.) argues for Corinth, since it was probably written shortly before Romans. But Moffatt (Introduction, 102) holds tentatively to Ephesus, soon after Paul's arrival there from Galatia. So he gives the order: Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans. In so much doubt it is well to follow Lightfoot's logical argument. Galatians leads naturally to Romans, the one hot and passionate, the other calm and contemplative, but both on the same general theme.
(c) Third group (Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians):
Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians. Date 61-63, unless Paul reached Rome several years earlier. This matter depends on the date of the coming of Festus to succeed Felix (Ac 24:27). It was once thought to be 60 AD beyond any doubt, but the whole matter is now uncertain. See "Chronology,"III , 2, (2), below. At any rate these four epistles were written during the first Roman imprisonment, assuming that he was set free.
But it must be noted that quite a respectable group of scholars hold that one or all of these epistles were written from Caesarea (Schultz, Thiersch, Meyer, Hausrath, Sabatier, Reuss, Weiss, Haupt, Spitta, McPherson, Hicks). But the arguments are more specious than convincing. See Hort, Romans and Ephesians, 101-10. There is a growing opinion that Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians were written from Ephesus during a possible imprisonment in Paul's stay of 3 years there. So Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 229; Paul, 16); Lisco (Vincula Sanctorum, 1900); M. Albertz (Theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1910, 551 ff); B. W. Bacon (Journal of Biblical Lit., 1910, 181 ff). The strongest argument for this position is that Paul apparently did not know personally the readers of Eph (1:15); compare also Col 1:4. But this objection need not apply if the so-called Ephesian Epistle was a circular letter and if Paul did not visit Colosse and Laodicea during his 3 years at Ephesus. The theory is more attractive at first than on reflection. It throws this group before Romans--a difficult view to concede.
But even so, the order of these epistles is by no means certain. It is clear that Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians were sent together. Tychicus was the bearer of Colossians (4:7 f) and Ephesians (6:21 f). Onesimus carried the letter to Philemon (1:10,13) and was also the companion of Tychicus to Colosse (Col 4:9). So these three epistles went together from Rome. It is commonly assumed that Phil was the last of the group of four, and hence later than the other three, because Paul is balancing life and death (Php 1:21 ff) and is expecting to be set free (Php 1:25), but he has the same expectation of freedom when he writes Philemon (Php 1:22). The absence of Luke (Php 2:20) has to be explained on either hypothesis. Moffatt (Introduction, 159) is dogmatic, "as Philippians was certainly the last letter that he wrote," ruling out of court Ephesians, not to say the later Pastoral Epistles. But this conclusion gives Moffatt trouble with the Epistle to the Laodiceans (Col 4:16) which he can only call "the enigmatic reference" and cannot follow Rutherford (St. Paul's Epistles to Colosse and Laodicea, 1908) in identifying the Laodicean Epistle with Ephesians, as indeed Marcion seems to have done. But the notion that Ephesians was a circular letter designed for more than one church (hence, without personalities) still holds the bulk of modern opinion.
Von Soden (History of Early Christian Literature, 294) is as dogmatic as Wrede or Van Manen: "All which has hitherto been said concerning this epistle, its form, its content, its ideas, its presuppositions, absolutely excludes the possibility of a Pauline authorship." He admits "verbal echoes of Pauline epistles"
Lightfoot puts Philippians before the other three because of its doctrinal affinity with the second group in chapter 3 as a reminiscence, and because of its anticipation of the Christological controversy with incipient Gnosticism in chapter 2. This great discussion is central in Colossians and Ephesians. At any rate, we have thus a consistent and coherent interpretation of the group. Philemon, though purely personal, is wondrously vital as a sociological document. Paul is in this group at the height of his powers in his grasp of the Person of Christ.
(d) Fourth Group (1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy):
1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. The Pastoral Epistles are still hotly disputed, but there is a growing willingness in Britain and Germany to make a place for them in Paul's life. Von Soden bluntly says: "It is impossible that these epistles as they stand can have been written by Paul" (History of Early Christian Literature, 310). He finds no room for the heresy here combated, or for the details in Paul's life, or for the linguistic peculiarities in Paul's style. But he sees a "literary nicety"--this group that binds them together and separates them from Paul. Thus tersely he puts the case against the Pauline authorship. So Moffatt argues for the "sub-Pauline environment" and "sub-Pauline atmosphere" of these epistles with the advanced ecclesiasticism (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 410 ff). Wrede thrusts aside the personal details and argues that the epistles give merely the tendency of early Christianity (Ueber Aufgabe und Metbode der Sogen. New Testament Theologie, 1897, 357). The Hatch-Van Manen article in Encyclopedia Biblica admits only that "the Pastoral Epistles occupy themselves chiefly with the various affairs of the churches within `Pauline circles.' "
Moffatt has a vigorous attack on these letters in EB, but he "almost entirely ignores the external evidence, while he has nothing to say to the remarkable internal evidence which immediately demands our attention" (Knowling, Testimony of Paul to Christ, 3rd edition, 1911, 129). Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 414) holds that the Pastoral Epistles came from one pen, but the personality and motives are very vague to him. The personal details in 2Ti 1:14-18; 4:9-22 are not on a paragraph with those in The Acts of Paul and Thekla in the 2Ti 2:1-26nd century. Many critics who reject the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles admit the personal details in 2 Timothy, but it is just in such matters that forgeries are recognizable. To admit these fragments is logically to admit the whole (Maclean in 1-vol HDB), as Moffatt sees (Intro, 414), however much he seeks to tone down the use of Paul's name as "a Christian form of suasoriae," and "a further and inoffensive development of the principle which sought to claim apostolic sanction for the expanding institutions and doctrines of the early church" (ibid., 415). The objection against these epistles from differences in diction has been grievously overdone. As a matter of fact, each of the four groups has words peculiar to it, and naturally so. Style is a function of the subject as well as a mark of the man. Besides, style changes with one's growth. It would have been remarkable if all four
groups had shown no change in no change in vocabulary and style. The case of Shakespeare is quite pertinent, for the various groups of plays stand more or less apart. The Pastoral Epistles belong to Paul's old age and deal with personal and ecclesiastical matters in a more or less reminiscential way, with less of vehement energy than we get in the earlier epistles, but this situation is what one would reasonably expect. The "ecclesiastical organization" argument has been greatly overdone. As a matter of fact, "the organization in the Pastoral Epistles is not apparently advanced one step beyond that of the church in Philippi in 61 AD" (Ramsay, The Expositor, VII, viii, 17). The "gnosis" met by these epistles (1Ti 6:20; Tit 1:14) is not the highly developed type seen in the Ignatian Epistles of the 2nd century. Indeed, Bartlet ("Historic Setting of the Pastoral Epistles," The Expositor, January, 1913, 29) pointedly says that, as a result of Hort's "Judaistic Christianity" and "Christian Ecclesia" and Ramsay's "Historical Commentary on the Epistles of Timothy" (Expos, VII, vii, ix, VIII, i), "one feels the subject has been lifted to a new level of reality and that much criticism between Baur and Julicher is out of date and irrelevant." It is now shown that the Pastoral Epistles are not directed against Gnosticism of advanced type, but even of a more Jewish type (Tit 1:14) than that in Colossians. Ramsay (Expos, VIII, i, 263) sweeps this stock criticism aside as "from the wrong point of view." It falls to the ground. Lightfoot ("Note on the Heresy Combated in the Pastoral Epistles," Biblical Essays, 413) had insisted on the Jewish character of the Gnosticism attacked here. As a matter of fact, the main objection to these epistles is that they do not fit into the story in Acts, which breaks off abruptly with Paul in Rome. But it is a false premise to assume that the Pastoral Epistles have to fit into the events in Acts. Harnack turns the objection that Paul in Ac 20:26 predicted that he would never see the Ephesian elders again into a strong argument for the date of Luke's Gospel before 2Ti 4:21 (The Date of Acts and Synoptic Gospels, 103). Indeed, he may not have revisited Ephesus after all, but may have seen Timothy at Miletus also (1Ti 1:3). Harnack frankly admits the acquittal and release of Paul and thus free play for the Pastoral Epistles Blass (Acta Apostolorum, 24) acknowledges the Pastoral Epistles as genuine. So also Findlay, article "Paul," in HDB; Maclean in 1-vol HDB; Denney in Standard BD. Sanday (Inspiration, 364) comments on the strength of the external evidence for the Pastoral Epistles. Even Holtzmann (Einl(3), 291) appears to admit echoes of the Pastoral Epistles in the Ignatian Epistles Lightfoot (Biblical Essays, "Date of the Pastoral Epistles," 399-437) justifies completely the acceptance of the Pauline authorship. Deissman (St. Paul, 15) has a needed word: "The delusion is still current in certain circles that the scientific distinction of a Bible scholar may be estimated in the form of a percentage according to the proportion of his verdicts of spuriousness. .... The extant letters of Paul have been innocently obliged to endure again a fair share of the martyrdom suffered by the historic Paul."
See further PASTORAL EPISTLES.
(3) Paul's Conception of His Epistles
Assuming, therefore, the Pauline authorship of the thirteen epistles, we may note that they, reveal in a remarkable way the growth in Paul's apprehension of Christ and Christianity, his adaptation to varied situations, his grasp of world-problems and the eternal values of life. Paul wrote other epistles, as we know. In 1 Cor 5:9 there is a clear reference to a letter not now known to us otherwise, earlier than 1 Corinthians. The use of "every epistle" in 2Th 3:17 naturally implies that Paul had written more than two already. It is not certain to what letter Paul refers in 2Co 2:4--most probably to one between 1 and 2 Corinthians, though, as already shown, some scholars find that letter in 2Co 10:1-18 through 2Co 13:1-14. Once more Paul (Col 4:16) mentions an epistle addressed to the church at Laodicea. This epistle is almost certainly that which we know as Ephesians. If not, here is another lost epistle. Indeed, at least two apocryphal Epistles to the Laodiceans were written to supply this deficiency. As early as 2Th 2:2 forgers were at work to palm, off epistles in Paul's name, "or by epistle as from us," to attack and pervert Paul's real views, whom Paul denounces. It was entirely possible that this "nefarious work" would be continued (Gregory, Canon and Text of the New Testament, 1907, 191), though, as Gregory argues, Paul's exposure here would have a tendency to put a stop to it and to put Christians on their guard and to watch for Paul's signature to the epistles as a mark of genuineness (2Th 3:17; 1Co 16:21; Ga 6:11; Col 4:18). This was all the more important since Paul evidently dictated his letters to amanuenses, as to Tertius in the case of Ro 16:22. In the case of Phm 1:19, Paul probably wrote the whole letter. We may be sure therefore that, if we had the other genuine letters of Paul, they would occupy the same general standpoint as the thirteen now in our possession. The point to note here is that the four groups of Paul's Epistles fit into the historical background of the Acts as recorded by Luke, barring the fourth group which is later than the events in Acts. Each group meets a specific situation in a definite region or regions, with problems of vital interest. Paul attacks these various problems (theological, ecclesiastical, practical) with marvelous vigor, and applies the eternal principles of the gospel of Christ in such fashion as to furnish a norm for future workers for Christ. It is not necessary to say that he was conscious of that use. Deissmann (St. Paul, 12 f) is confident on this point: "That a portion of these confidential letters should be still extant after centuries, Paul cannot have intended, nor did it ever occur to him that they would be." Be that as it may, and granted that Paul's Epistles are "survivals, in the sense of the technical language employed by the historical method" (ibid., 12), still we must not forget that Paul attached a great deal of importance to his letters and urged obedience to the teachings which they contained: "I adjure you by the, Lord that this epistle be read unto all the brethren" (1Th 5:27). This command we find in the very first one preserved to us. Once more note 2Th 3:14: "And if any man obeyeth not our word by this ep., note that man, that ye have no company with him." Evidently therefore Paul does not conceive his epistles as mere incidents in personal correspondence, but authoritative instructions for the Christians to whom they are addressed. In 1 Cor 7:17, "And so ordain I in all the churches," he puts his epistolary commands on a paragraph with the words of Jesus quoted in the same chapter. Some indeed at Corinth (2Co 10:9 f) took his "letters" as an effort to "terrify" them, a thing that he was afraid to do in person. Paul (2Co 10:11) does not deny the authority of his letters, but claims equal courage when he comes in person (compare 2Co 13:2,10). That Paul expected his letters to be used by more than the one church to which they were addressed is clear from Col 4:16: "And when this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye also read the epistle from Laodicea." If the letter to Laodicea is our Eph and a sort of circular letter (compare Galatians), that is clear. But it must be noted that Colossians, undoubtedly a specific letter to Colosse, is likewise to be passed on to Laodicea. It is not always observed that in 1Co 1:2, though the epistle is addressed "unto the church of God which is at Corinth," Paul adds, "with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours." Philemon is, of course, a personal letter, though it deals with a sociological problem of universal interest. The Pastoral Epistles are addressed to two young ministers and have many personal details, as is natural, but the epistles deal far more with the social aspects of church life and the heresies and vices that were threatening the very existence of Christianity in the Roman empire. Paul is eager that Timothy shall follow his teaching (2Ti 3:10 ff), and "the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2Ti 2:2). It is this larger view of the future of Christianity that concerns Paul very keenly. The very conception of his ministry to the Gentiles (Ro 15:16; Eph 3:7 ff) led Paul to feel that he had a right to speak to all, "both to Greeks and to Barbarians" (Ro 1:14), and hence, even to Rome (Ro 1:15 f). It is a mistake to limit Paul's Epistles to the local and temporary sphere given them by Deissmann.
(4) Development in Paul's Epistles
For Paul's gospel or theology see later. Here we must stress the fact that all four groups of Paul's Epistles are legitimate developments from his fundamental experience of grace as conditioned by his previous training and later work. He met each new problem with the same basal truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, revealed to Paul on the way to Damascus. The reality of this great experience must here be assumed (see discussion later). It may be admitted that the Acts does not stand upon the same plane as the Pauline Epistles as a witness concerning Paul's conversion (Fletcher, The Conversion of Paul, 1910, 5). But even so, the Epistles amply confirm Luke's report of the essential fact that Jesus appeared to Paul in the same sense that He did to the apostles and 500 Christians (1Co 15:4-9). The revelation of Christ to Paul and in Paul (en emoi, Ga 1:16) and the specific call connected therewith to preach to the Gentiles gave Paul a place independent of and on a paragraph with the other apostles (Ga 1:16 f; Ga 2:1-10). Paul's first preaching (Ac 9:20) "proclaimed Jesus, that he is the Son of God." This "primitive Paulinism" (Sabatier, The Apostle Paul, 1893, 113) lay at the heart of Paul's message in his sermons and speeches in Acts. Professor P. Gardner regards Luke as a "careless" historian ("The Speeches of Paul in Acts," Cambridge Biblical Essays, 1909, 386), but he quite admits the central place of Paul's conversion, both in the Acts and the Epistles (ib; compare also The Religious Experience of Paul).
We cannot here trace in detail the growth of Paulinism. Let Wernle speak (Beginnings of Christianity, 1903, I, 224) for us: "The decisive factor in the genius of Paul's theology was his personal experience, his conversion on the road to Damascus." This fact reappears in each of the groups of the Epistles. It is the necessary implication in the apostolic authority claimed in 1Th 2:4-6; 2Th 2:15; 3:6,14. "We might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ" (1Th 2:6). For the second group we need only refer to 1Co 9:1 f and 1Co 15:1-11, where Paul justifies his gospel by the fact of having seen the risen Jesus. His self-depreciation in 1Co 15:9 is amply balanced by the claims in 1Co 15:10. See also 2Co 10:1-18 through 2Co 13:1-14 and Ga 1:1-24 and 2 for Paul's formal defense of his apostolic authority. The pleasantry in Ro 15:14 does not displace the claim in Ro 15:16,23 f. In the third group note the great passage in Php 3:12-14, where Paul pointedly alludes to his conversion: "I was laid hold of by Jesus Christ," as giving him the goal of his ambition, "that I may lay hold"; "I count not myself yet to have laid hold." This concentration of effort to come up to Christ's purpose in him is the key to Paul's life and letters, "I press on toward the goal." So the golden cord reappears in Eph 3:2-13: "How that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ." In the fourth group he still recalls how Christ Jesus took pity on him, the blasphemer, the persecutor, the chief of sinners, and put him into the ministry, "that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering, for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life" (1Ti 1:16). He kept up the fight to the end (2Ti 4:6 f), for the Lord Jesus stood by him (2Ti 4:17), as on the road to Damascus. So the personal note of experience links all the epistles together.They reveal Paul's growing conception of Christ. Paul at the very start perceived that men are redeemed by faith in Jesus as the Saviour from sin through His atoning death, not by works of the Law (Ac 13:38 f). In the first group there are allusions to the "work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 1:3). He speaks of "election" (1Th 1:4) and "our gospel" (1Th 1:5) and the resurrection of Jesus (1Th 1:10). The Father, Son and Spirit cooperate in the work of salvation (2Th 2:13 f), which includes election, belief, sanctification, glorification. It is not necessary to press the argument for the conception of salvation by faith in Christ, grace as opposed to works, in the second group. It is obviously present in the third and the fourth. We seem forced to the view therefore that Paul's experience was revolutionary, not evolutionary. "If we consider the whole history of Paul as it is disclosed to us in his letters, are we not forced to the conclusion that his was a catastrophic or explosive, rather than a slowly progressive personality?" (Garvie, Studies of Paul and His Gospel, 1911, 32). "His gospel was included in his conversion, and it was meditation that made explicit what was thus implicit in his experience" (same place) . This is not to say that there was no "spiritual development of Paul" (Matheson, 1890). There was, and of the richest kind, but it was a growth of expression in the successive application of the fundamental Christian conception. The accent upon this or that phase of truth at different stages in Paul's career does not necessarily mean that the truth is a new one to him. It may simply be that the occasion has arisen for emphasis and elaboration.
In a broad generalization the first group of the epistles is eschatological, the second soteriological, the third Christological, and the fourth pastoral (Garvie, Studies of Paul and His Gospel, 22). But one must not get the notion that Paul did not have a full gospel of salvation in the first group, and did not come to the true motive of the person of Christ as Lord till the second, or understand the pastoral office till the fourth. See emphasis on Paul's work as pastor and preacher in 1Th 2:1-20 (first group), and the Lordship of Christ also (1Th 1:1,3; 2Th 1:1; 2:13 f), on a paragraph with the Father.
There was a change of accent in each group on questions of eschatology, but in each one Paul cherishes the hope of the second coming of Christ up to the very end when he speaks of his own death (2Ti 4:8,18). Paul has a whole gospel of grace in all his epistles, but he presses home the special phase of truth needed at the moment, always with proper balance and modification, though not in the form of a system of doctrine. In the first group he relieves the minds of the Thessalonian Christians from the misapprehension into which they had fallen concerning his position on the immediate coming of Christ. In the second group Paul vindicates the gospel of grace from the legalistic addition of the Judaizers who sought to rob the Gentiles of their freedom by insisting that they become Jews as well as Christians. This ringing battle is echoed in Ac 15:1-41 and is the mightiest conflict of Paul's career. We hear echoes of it in Php 3:1-21, but he had won his contention. In the third group the battle with error has shifted to the province of Asia, especially the Lycus Valley, where a mystic mixture of Judaism (Essenism) and heathen mystery-religions and philosophies (incipient Gnosticism) was so rife in the 2nd century (the various forms of Gnosticism which combined with some aspects of Christianity). It is possible also that Mithraism was already a foe of Christianity. The central position and essential deity of Jesus Christ was challenged by these new and world-old heresies, and Paul attacks them with marvelous skill in Col and Eph and works out in detail his teaching concerning the person of Christ with due emphasis on the soteriological aspects of Christ's work and on Christian life. Bruce (St. Paul's Conception of Christianity) conceives that Paul gives us his entire conception of Christianity in the four great epistles of the second group, while B. Weiss (Biblical Theology of the New Testament) sees a more developed doctrine in the third group. He is in his prime in both groups. In the fourth group the same struggle lingers on with variations in Crete and even in Ephesus. The Jewish phase of the heresy is more decided (perhaps Pharisaic), and recalls to some extent the Judaistic controversy in the second group. Paul is older and faces the end, and Christianity has enemies within and without. He turns to young ministers as the hope of the future in the propagation of the gospel of the happy God. The fires have burned lower, and there is less passion and heat. The tone is now fierce, now tender. The style is broken and reminiscent and personal, though not with the rush of torrential emotion in 2 Corinthians, nor the power of logic in Galatians and Romans. Each epistle fits into its niche in the group. Each group falls into proper relation to the stage in Paul's life and justly reveals the changes of thought and feeling in the great apostle. It is essential that one study Paul's Epistles in their actual historical order if one wishes to understand the mind of Paul. Scholars are not agreed, to be sure on this point. They are not agreed on anything, for that matter. See two methods of presenting Paul's Epistles in Robertson, Chronological New Testament (1904), and Moffatt, Historical New Testament (1901).
Continued in PAUL, THE APOSTLE, 2.