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Ferdinand Christian Baur.

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ness to another, but also from one direction of life into the very
opposite direction, was characteristic of the man, it reveals to us
the power and significance which Christianity had for him. .That
the same man, who just before was persecuting Christianity with
the most violent hatred, should come all at once to believe in him
whose followers he had been seeking to destroy, and that in this
faith he should become a totally different man ; — ^what is this but
a victory which Christianity owed to nothing but to the might of
its own inherent truth ? Of all those who have been converted to
faith in Christ, there is no one in whose case the Christian
principle broke so absolutely and so immediately through every-
thing opposed to it, and asserted so triumphantly its own absolute
superiority, as in that of the apostle PauL First of all, then, the
Christian principle has this peculiarity with him, that it declares
itself in its absolute power and importance, and asserts itself in its
absoluteness, by overcoming all that conflicts with its supremacy.
In the fresh consciousness of a stand-point, in the still recent
attainment of which all his strength and energy had been engaged,
the apostle stands upon the absoluteness of his Christian position,
«nd Christianity is thus to him the absolute power of the spiritual
life forcing its way through and overcoming the most formidable



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124 UFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

obstacles. The spiritual process he passed throngh in the act
of his conversion is simply the key to the Christian principle
as unfolded in his person. The absoluteness of the Christian
principle consists, however, simply in this : that it is essentially
identical with the person of Christ. The entire absolute
importance of Christianity resides, in the apostle's view, in
the person of Christ; hence it was in that person that the
Christian principle came to his consciousness as that which it
essentially is. This is what he asserts when he says of his con-
version (Gal. i 15, 16) that it pleased God, who separated him
from his mother^s womb, and chose him for this particular destiny,
and called him by his grace, to reveal his Son in him, that is, to
disclose the peraon of Jesus (against whom he had hitherto acted
such a hostile part, as not only not to recognise him as Messiah, but
to behold in him merely a false Messiah, quite repugnant to the
true idea of the Messiah), in his consciousness, through an inward
act of the consciousness, as that which he really was, the Son of
God. The expression " Son of God " denotes the essential change
which took place at his conversion in his view of the Messiah, and
^e must examine what this change was in order to appreciate its
importance. It has already been remarked that up to that time the
difference between the believing and the unbelieving Jew consisted
mainly in this, that the former regarded Jesiis of Nazareth as the
Messiah already actually come, as the same who was to appear as
Messiah, according to the promises and prophecies of the Old
Testament, and that notwithstanding that his whole appearance, and
particularly the manner of his death, presented so great a contrast
to all that the common imagination expected the Messiah to be
and to do. The belief in the resurrection of Jesus did away with
that contradiction, and thus the most essential element in the
apostle's conviction of the Messianic dignity of Jesus was, that he
believed in him as the risen One (1 Cor. xv. 8). But the peculiar
inward process through which the belief in Jesus, as the Messiah,
had arisen in him, made his conception of the Son of Grod, which
he now recognised Jesus as being, one of far wider qieaning than



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Chap. L] PBINCIPLE OF THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. 125

that of the other disciples. For these latter the belief in the
resurrectioii, which removed the ofifence of the death of Christ,
meant simply that there was a prospect of a second appearance of
the risen One, and that then all that had remained unaccomplished
at the first coming would be realized (Acts iii. 19 sq,). For the
apostle Paul, on the contrary, the death of the Messiah was in
itself simply inconceivable, except by such a revolution in his
Messianic consciousness as could not but produce the greatest
effect in his whole view of Christianity. Everything that was*
national and Jewish in the Messianic idea (and this had been
modified in the consciousness of the other apostles only by their
changing the form of it and referring it to the second coming of
Jesus) was at once removed from the consciousness of our apostle
by the one fact of the death of Jesus. With this death everything
that the Messiah might have been as a Jewish Messiah disappeared ;
through his death, Jesus, as the Messiah, had died to Judaism, had
been removed beyond his national connexion with it, and placed
in a freer, more imiversal, and purely spiritual sphere, where the
absolute importance which Judaism had claimed tiU then was at
once obliterated. It is of this complete reversal of bis Messianic
consciousness, brought about by contemplation of the death of
Jesus, that the apostle speaks in a passage which is important in
this connexion, and which finds an appropriate place here in the
sense in which it was formerly explained, 2 Cor. v. 16. He says
here, that since he began to live for Christ who died for him as
for all, and who rose again, he knows no Christ /cara aapKa any
longer. This is equivalent to saying that from the moment when
the full meaning of the death of Jesus burst upon him, he had
renounced all the limitations of his Jewish stand-point, and of the
Jewish Messianic ideas. The Jewish Messiah was to him a
Messiah after the flesh ; as a Messiah who had not passed through
death, he was not free from the carnality which only death, as the
destruction of the flesh, can put away. The apostle therefore saw
in the death of Christ the purification of the Messianic idea from
all the sensuous elements which cleaved to it in Judaism, and its



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126 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

elevation to the truly spiritual consciousness where Christ comes
to be recognised as (that which he was to the apostle) the absolute
principle of the spiritual life. The absolute importance which the
person of Christ has for the apostle is the absoluteness of the
Christian principle itself; the apostle feels that in his conception
of the person of Christ he stands on a platform where he is in-
finitely above Judaism, where he has passed far beyond all that is
merely relative, limited, and finite in the Jewish religion, and has
risen to the absolute religion.

A further definition of the absoluteness of the principle of the
Christian consciousness, as it is presented in the person of Christ
himself, is this : that in this principle the apostle is conscious of the
essential difference of the spirit from the fiesh, of freedom from
everything by which man is only outwardly affected, of the re-
conciliation of man with God, and of man's union with God. It
is the same absolute character of the Christian consciousness which
finds its expression in all these different relations. The term
"spirit " is used by the apostle to denote the Christian consciousness.
He asks the Gkilatians, who were wavering in their Christian faith
(iii. 2), whether they had received' the spirit by the works of the
law, or by the faith that had been born in them of the preaching
they had heard ; and if it were not the height of folly, having begun
with the spirit to end with the flesh, — to relapse from Christianity
the spiritual to Judaism the fleshly and material The apostle
refers the Galatians here to an immediate and undeniable fact of
their Christian consciousness ; this is that which declares itself
most immediately in the Christian, which indeed constitutes his
Christian consciousness itself, that he has within him the spirit,
an essentially spiritual principle, which forbids him to regard
anything merely outward, sensuous, material, as in any way a
condition of his salvation ; that he is conscious of his immediate
communion and union with God. It is as a purely spiritual principle
that the Christian consciousness, inasmuch as it proceeds upon a
faith which rests on certainty of the divine grace, is the consciousness
of the sonship of God ; for all who are impelled by the spirit of God



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Chap. L] PRINCIPLE OF THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. 127

are also sons of God ; they do not receive a spirit of bondage,
which could only work fear, but a spirit of adoption in which they
ciy, Abba, Father ; the >spirit itself witnesses with our spirit that
we are children of God (Eom. viii 14-16), ie., since the irvevfia
rffL&v (ver. 16) is the same irvevfia which, according to GaL iii. 2,
is itself one we have received, the spirit of God, as it is found
expressed in our Christian consciousness, is at the same time so
identical with the objective spirit-^ of God (the spirit as the objective
principle of the Christian consciousness), that this sonship of God
rests on the testimony of both, and thus is no mere subjective
assertion of our subjective Christian consciousness, but has, in the
absolute self-existent spirit of God himself, its objective reality
and absolute certainty. This avfifiapTvpelv of the avro to irvev^
with the irvevfia r^fi&Vy this identity of the spirit as it appears in
us with the spirit as it is in God, is thus the highest expression
for the absolute truth of that which the Christian consciousness
asserts as its own immediate contents.^

The spirit, as principle of the Christian consciousness, is thus
traced back to the objective spirit of God, and identified with it
The apostle takes up the same absolute stand-point in the passage

^ Geist an sicli.

^ Gal. iv. 6 is exactly parallel to Bom. yiii 14 ; in the former passage we read,
Because (ore mast be taken in this sense) ye are sons, God has sent out the spirit
of his Son into your hearts ; thus the sending of the spirit pre-supposes the vibs
ctvai. This is to be explained simply by the relation of faith to the spirit, which
is the principle of Christian consciousness. One becomes vths Oeov at once
through faith, but this is a merely abstract relation, and the concrete contents
which it must have in the living reality of consciousness come only through
the spirit, which is nothing else but the very principle of the Christian conscious-
ness. The apostle purposely writes : c^orrcWciXev 6 Otbs r6 irv€Vfia rod viov
avTovy ver. 6, to correspond to i^arrtfrreikev 6 Qt6s r6v viov avrov, ver. 4. What
the first c^oTrooTcXXciv is objectively as an objective historical fact, the second is
subjectively ; the sending of the Son becomes an inward experience, experimen-
tally a fact of consciousness, only through the spirit, in which alone does objec-
tive Christianity become subjective. This subjective stage is indicated by the
apostle by the addition €ls ras Kap^ias vfi&p ; and as this is merely the subjective
experience corresponding to the fact expressed in that objective c^froorcXXciv,
he calls the mfevyM here very appropriately the rrvevfia of the Son. The Christian
consciousness, of which the spirit is the principle, is communicated by Christ
himself, is Christ himself becoming inward.



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128 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Part III.

1 Cor. ii 9 $q,, where he expresses the infinity of the contents of
his Christian consciousness in the words, " what no eye hath seen,
no ear hath heard, what has entered into no heart of man, that has
God prepared for those who love him. (The viol Beov, Eohl viiL
14 ; Gal. iv. 6.) But God hath revealed it to us by his spirit ;
for the spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God.
As what is human is known only to the spirit of a man that is in
him, so only the spirit of God knows what is divine. But we have
not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit from God, that
we might know that which is given us by God." The Christian
consciousness is thus an essentially spiritual one ; what speaks in
it is the spirit, as the principle of it ; for the divine, which is the
contents of the Christian consciousness, must be what only the
spirit can know. For it is the spirit that searches all things, and
all searching and knowing as such, the more therefore in proportion
as its contents are the absolute, the divine, can only take place by
means of the spirit. And this spirit which knows the divine is
the spirit from God, not merely the spirit which God has com-
municated, but as the spirit of the Christian consciousness, iden-
tical with the spirit of God himself, with that spirit, which, just
as the human spirit is the principle of the human self-conscious-
ness, is in God the principle of the divine self-consciousness.
Thus in the unity of this spirit, the knowledge a man has of the
contents of his Christian consciousness is the knowledge of Grod
Himself. In his Christian consciousness as an essentially spiritual
one, the Christian knows himself to be identical with the spirit of
God ; for only the spirit, the spirit of God, the absolute spirit,
can know the divine contents of the Christian consciousness. On
this high and absolute stand-point does the Christian stand in the
contents of his Christian consciousness which God has revealed to
him. It is a truly spiritual consciousness, a relation of spirit to
spirit, where the absolute spirit of God, in becoming the principle
of the Christian consciousness, opens itself up to the consciousness
of man.

Being in this sense spiritual, the Christian consciousness is also



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Chap. I.] PBINCIPLE OF THE CHBI8TIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. 129

absolutely free, absolved from all limits of finality, and unfolded to
the full clearness of absolute self-consciousness. Now the Lord,
says the apostle (2 Cor. iii. 17), the Lord as the contents and the
principle of the Christian consciousness, is the spirit : but where
the spirit of the Lord is, or the Lord as spirit, as principle of an
essentially spiritual consciousness and life, there is liberty, — the
liberty of self-consciousness. The apostle develops this idea in
the passage we have named, in a connexion which asks for careful
consideration. At the end of chapter ii he was speaking joyously
of the victorious issue of his apostolic activity, which the influence
of his teaching seemed to render certain ; but in order to exclude
everything subjective, as if he should praise himseK, or ascribe too
much to himself, he turns (chapter iii) to the self-consciousness of
the Corinthians themselves, which must attest the fruits of his
activity, and where everything could be read as if in an Epistle.
Here there is not merely something subjective, but something real
and actuaL Here there is a result which cannot be denied ; yet
even with regard to this work that he has wrought, the apostle is
unwilling to dwell upon himself as the author of it. It is not he,
who, as author, by his merely subjective activity, has brought this
to pass ; it is his work only i^ so far as he is a Biaxovo^i teaivfj^
Biadi^/cri<;, The personal is to be sunk entirely in the official, and
here the apostle takes occasion, as against his Judaizing opponents,
to discuss the nature of the K€uvrj hiajBriicq, and to show from it
that the double dealing, reservation, and insincerity with which
they charge him, are quite incompatible with the nature and prin-
ciple of this iiaOritcriy so that they cannot be the character of its
SiAkovo^, As the principle of this Siad-qKrf is an absolute one, so
the consciousness of a BiaKovo^ of it cannot harbour any elements of
disturbance or of restraint, or any limitation such as would destroy
its absoluteness. The apostle shows that Christianity as the Katvfi
BiaOri/cr} is the absolute religion in contrast to the old, by the an-
tithesis, verse 6, in which he develops the difference between the
old religion and the new. The new religion is not letter, such as
the old Buidiq/crj which was written upon tables of stone, but spirit,

I



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130 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL, [Part III.

and so does not kill as the letter does, but makes alive. The
apostle then argues from the glory on the face of Moses, as a
symbol of the glory which even the old BulO-^kt) possessed, how
greatly the glory of this BuiKovia rov irvevfiaro^; outshines aU others.
The Old Testament has indeed its own glory ; but if the two differ
from each other, as letter does from spirit, and condemnation from
justification, in the same proportion does the glory of the one differ
from the glory of the other. Thus, so far as the glory of the old
BiaOriKri had a real existence, it was not permanent, verse 10, on
account of the glory of the new hiaOriicq which outshone it, for how
could this be other than a far-exceeding glory (el 70/3, verse 11) ?
If that which was finite and vanishing had its own glory, the glory
of the abiding must be vastly greater. Since, then, he goes on, I
have such hope that the glory of the new BuiOi^kt) is one which
abides for the future, and will disclose itself more and more, I act
quite freely and openly,^ and not like Moses, who put a veil on his
face, to the effect that the Israelites did not see the end of that
which came to an end according to its finite nature. As Moses, the
apostle means, covered his shining countenance with a veil, the
Israelites were unable to perceive how long the glory lasted which
rested on his face, and which lasted only a certain time in each in-
stance. This is the first reference of to reXxx; tov /carafyyovfievov ;
but in this expression the apostle points further to the finiteness
of the old dispensation, of which the periodical splendour of the face
of Moses was a symbol The Israelites could not see the Bd^a tov
irpoa-crrrov ai/rov, the /caTafyyov/j.€v7), and so could not know whether
or not it still continued ; and in the same way the Israelites are
not now aware that a BiaOr^icq, which was designed from the begin-
ning to last only a certain time, has come to an end simply because
the Kaivri BuiOriicq has appeared. What is characteristic of
Mosaism is the opposite of that irapprja-la spoken of, verse 12. This

^ frapprja-ia is here properly the freedom of self-consciousness, such as is pos-
sible only from the Christian stand-point. As the principle of the Christian
self-consciousness is the complete liberty of the spirit, nothing can remain before
it concealed or confined, and thus all reserve and double-dealing is necessarily
foreign to the Christian. It is clear that the apostle opposes this vapprja-la to
his opponents* charges, as being the principle of his own conduct.



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Chap. L] PRINCIPLE OF TBE CHRISTIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. 131

opposite is not, however, as the interpreters have incorrectly under-
stood the passage, a tecte or even fravdtderUer agere on Moses* part,
as if he had arranged intentionally to deceive the Israelites and to
keep from them the true state of the casa Nor is it, as De Wette
thinks, that he covered up the truth with symbols ; we must look
on the matter from the stand-point of the Israelites in their posi-
tion towards Moses, and then we shall see that the point is, that the
finiteness of the old SiaO-^tcrj was not recognised. That they had
no idea of this finiteness, — this was the barrier in their conscious-
ness, which, as long as it was unremoved, prevented them from
being anything more than Jews. The step from Judaism to Chris-
tianity could only be made by recognising that Judaism was merely
a finite form. That the Jews did not recognise this, and that on
this account their minds were sealed against Christianity, such was
the KoXvfifjMf the covering, the concealing veil which, as the apostle
says still more plainly, verse 14, lay upon their consciousness as
upon the face of Moses. They do not see the end ; their thoughts
are become obtuse, for to this very day the same covering remains
at the reading of the Old Testament, which, as long as it is not re-
moved, prevents them from coming to perceive that the old Siad-^tcrj
is at an end in Christ. Yes, to this very day a veil lies upon their
hearts when Moses is read (and here, still more distinctly than in
the foregoing, it is intimated in the words eni ry dva/yvaxrei, that
this KoKvfifjLa is only subjective, and is to be accounted for, not by
that which is read, by the writings of the Old Testament, by Moses
himself, but only by the subjective condition of those who read and
hear these writings) ; but when they turn to the Lord, the veil will
be taken away ; and as soon as this takes place, everything that
is needed will follow. The conversion to the Lord is the taking
away of the veil, but the Lord whom one has after the veil is
taken away is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there
is liberty. And hence he who stands on this platform and is a
BioKovo^ of this iiaOriKri cannot but have that perfect freedom and
unclouded self-consciousness which sets him far above all that was
limited, concealed, and finite, in the stand-point of the old Stad-nfcrj.



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132 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Part III.

And this, the apostle says, is true not only of me, the apostle, as the
Suucovo^ of this BuiO'n/cr} : — it is true generally of us all We have
all of us in Christ the principle of spiritual freedom, of a conscious-
ness released from all finite limits, from all dim and obstructing
modia. What Christ is to us objectively, as the object of our con-
sciousness, as the Sofa which we see before us as in a glass, he is to
become to us subjectively ; that which is now objective is to become
identical with ourselves by our being changed into the same image
from glory to glory. This cannot but be the case, since the trans-
formation proceeds from the Lord, whose whole essence is spirit.

The essence and principle of Christianity is thus defined here as
simply spirit, and in what sense it is such is very clearly apparent
from all those contrasts between the old ButO-q/etj and the new. It
is spirit, because in the consciousness of the man who stands upon
this platform there is no barrier, no veil, nothing disturbing or ob-
structing, nothing finite or transitory ; it is a consciousness clear
and free within, and one with itself. Or the Lord is the spirit,
for the principle of Christianity and of the Christian consciousness
is, in one word, an absolute principle, in which everything else, as
being merely relative and finite, naturally comes to an end. He
who is at this stand-point is conscious of his freedom and of his
own infinity ; he knows himself as the subject of all things, all
things have their final reference to him, to his own self, which can
never become a mere object for others ; everything is for him, for
he is above all. "All is yours," says the apostle (1 Cor. iii 21),
in order to awaken in the Corinthians a Christian self-regard
which should make it impossible for them to surrender themselves
to others, who would make them the mere puppets of their own
sectarian egoism, "all is yours : whether Paul,. or Apollos, or Cephas,
or the world, or life, or death, Or things present, or things to come ;
aU is yours ; and you are Christ's ; and Christ is God's." You then
are the absolute subject, but only in that identity with Christ and
God which is to the Christian the principle of his consciousness
and of his life. At this point of absolute self-consciousness, the
whole view of the world which the Christian has is a difierent one



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Chap. I.] FRIJNCIPLE OF THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. 133

from that of other men, because he can look at things only from
the point of view of the absolute idea, the consciousness of which
has been engendered in him by Christianity. The apostle shows
this in 1 Cor. i. 19, and iii 18. "If any man," he says in the
latter passage, " thinks himself wise in this world, let him become
a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly
before God." From the stand- point of the Christian consciousness,
wisdom and folly change places. What is wisdom is in fact folly ;
what is folly is in fact wisdom. So great is the difference and the
contrast in which the divine in Christianity stands to all that is
human. They are related to each other as finite and infinite, as
relative and absolute. At the stand-point of one contemplating
the absolute, everything that is not the absolute itself, everything



Online LibraryFerdinand Christian BaurPaul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 13 of 35)