Paul the Apostle, His Life Letters and Thought– Part Twenty Six


p. 422- Romans says little about Christ’s return or res. Of the dead. But see Rom. 6.5; 8.18-30; 13.11-12— the latter clearly envisions decisive events lie in the near future. He thinks Rom. 6.5 refers to participation in Christ’s death through the ritual of water baptism. But ‘baptism into his death’ probably refers to the work of the Spirit mortifying the old self not what happens in baptism (see 1 Cor. 1). He take Rom. 8.11 to mean that the Holy Spirit is already giving life to the believer’s mortal body [but the verb is ‘he will give life’ not ‘he is giving life’.]

p. 423—in Rom. 8.19-23 the creation is passing away but it is not already gone as in 2 Cor. 5.17 [but there Paul is referring to the old creature, the old self, not the whole of creation]. He says in Rom. 8.23 Paul simply combines Spirit with first fruits, whereas in 1 Cor. 15 Christ is said to be the first fruits of the res. First fruits is language about offerings presented in the temple.

p. 424— Rom. 8.29 destined to be conformed to Christ’s image means the change comes in the future. He argues there is no inner and outer dualism in Romans [surely there is in Rom. 6-7—it’s the old inner self which has been mortified and buried].

What is true is that the more one thinks of death, the more likely one thinks about the afterlife in heaven rather than the future res.

p. 425— He thinks that in Romans “Resurrection, rather than waiting on the Lord to return, has been the central motif in Paul’s thought about eternal life, and the expectation that the Parousia will be in the lifetime of most believers has cooled”. This ignores the real implications of Rom. 13.11-12 not to mention the promise about the stamping out of Satan in Rom. 16.

p. 426— He suggests that Paul is trying to meet the Corinthians with their body/soul dualism half way in 2 Cor. 3-5, [but this would not explain why he was not already doing this more in 1 Cor. 15].

p. 427— The Roman church is not Paul’s own so maybe less personal reflections on death and dead Christians here, and less on his own demise.

p. 428— He thinks that the evidence of Rom. 6.4,11;8.11 Phil. 1.21 about new life in Christ now and the Spirit vivifying us now is “the continuation of the theme of new life in Christ in the present is the result of the delay of the Parousia. Realized eschatology was meant to make Christians feel better about their present lives.

p. 429—“Realized eschatology did not last long. With regard to human transformation, Philippians and Romans return to the view of 1 Corinthians: the great change will occur at the eschaton.” He never surrendered his conviction that the Lord would soon return, but after 1 Thess. this motif plays a smaller role than the res. Of the dead. [This does not work since Paul believes that res. of believers only happens because Christ returns. The two are linked].

p. 430— Paul’s views on future res. are not entirely compatible with his realized eschatology in 2 Cor. 3-5. He did not work out a systematic both/and combination of immortal soul and subsequent res. body, for example by saying the soul went to heaven until the res. at which time it would be reunited with a transformed body. His main view was transformation of the whole person when Christ returns.

[On the one hand, Sanders is right about the ad hoc nature of Paul’s comments, theologizing and ethicizing into specific situations and adjusting his verbage accordingly. It absolutely does not follow from this that Paul was not a thorough and systematic thinker, or that he was caught out when some Christians died in Thessalonike, and he had to come up with an response on the spot to dead Christians. Is there development in Paul’s thinking? Yes the nearer he came to death, or the more dangerous situations he was in, the more apt he was to talk about dying and going to be with the Lord. There is a connection, but its not the one Sanders thinks. Paul shows no anxiety about the supposed delay of the Parousia. He affirms the idea of parousia until the end as he does the future res. Possible imminence of either does not lead to speculation or theological adjustments engendered by ‘delay’ of either. Delayed parousia is not a category in Paul’s eschatology and it does not explain the development in his thought.]