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Ferdinand Christian Baur.

Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 online

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to be regarded. He goes back to the absolute will of God, and
argues that no one can derive from his outward position any right
to make definite claims on God, since in such things as depend on
the absolute will of God there can be no such thing as injustice
towards one party or another. This standpoint, where we are referred
to the absolute will of Grod, is of course liable to be compared with
another where the man complaining of iujustice at God's hands is
reminded of his own sins voluntarily committed. The apostle,
however, makes no attempt to reconcile these two positions.
Neither here nor anywhere else does he feel called upon to deal
with speculative extremes. And in whatever way the question
between freedom and predestination be adjusted in speculation, the
two positions, that of absolute dependence and that of moral self-
determination are both involved and rooted in the immediate Chris-
tian self-consciousness. Thus all that is hard, repellent, and one-
sided in the argument of Eom. ix., is to be regarded merely as the
extreme logical consequence of one of two positions. It is true,
we must admit, but then there is the truth^ of the opposite position,
which the apostle himself takes up afterwards, to be placed over
against it In making the practical application of his main pro-
position, verse 30, as he had developed it, verses 6-29, the apostle
turns from the objective view of the matter to the subjective. The
will of God being an absolute will, it is necessary to recognise it
as such, and to remember our absolute dependence upon God. As
the absolute will of God is not determined by anjrthing human, so
men's guilt is great if they refuse to recognise this dependence.
With regard to the promises of God, the question is not whether a
man belongs externally to the people of God, but whether he is
himself elect of God, verses 6-9. It is of God's free choice to prefer
one and to reject another, verses 10-13. Nor is this arbitrary choice
to be regarded as an injustice on God's part, for man has no ri^ht
to reclaim against him, the Lord of his fate, verses 14-21. And
man is the less entitled to dispute God's absolute right of
disposal when he considers that in those who are devoted to



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260 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part HI.

destruction, God's longsufifering and retributive justice and omni-
potence are manifested, and in the others the fulness of his grace,
since he has called us as vessels of mercy from among both Jews
and Gentiles, verses 22-29. The conclusion that is reached through
all these considerations is that it does not depend on a man's will-
ing and running ; that the heathen obtained what they were not
seeking, and the Jews did not obtain what they were seeking,
namely, righteousness. And the reason of this was that righteous-
ness is not to be obtained by seeking it through the law and the
works of the law, but by faith alone. Thus the Jews brought their
fate upon themselves ; they did not obtain righteousness because
they attached value to their own righteousness and did not submit
themselves to the way of the divine appointment, through which
righteousness may be obtained. For with Christ the life that is
. under the law has an end, and righteousness may now be obtained
through faith by all, both Jews and Gentiles. Salvation is only
to be had through faith. Though Moses teaches a righteousness
that is to be achieved in the way of the law, yet it cannot be
obtained, nor the salvation that proceeds from it, save by doing all
that the law contains. But the righteousness that comes from
faith is so near every man that he need not go far to seek it, either
to heaven, as if Christ had to be brought down from above, or
to the depths, as if he had to be brought up from the dead. It is
offered freely and at once, and has only to be laid hold of. There
can be no excuse for the want of a faith like this.

It is obvious that as in chapter ix. the apostle seems to argue for
absolute predestination, so in chapter x. he takes up the opposite
position. Here the cause of the rejection of Israel is found not in
the will of God, but in their own wilful unbelief. This is no solu-
tion of the problem of predestination ; the one position is simply
set over against the other. In chapter xi, however, the apostle
approaches the same question in a diJBferent way. From the sub-
jective side he recurs again to the objective. Israel is undoubtedly
the chosen people of God, the subject of his promises. And what
God has promised must be fulfilled. God cannot have rejected



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Chap. VHI.] . DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN QUESTIONS. 261

the people whom he foreknew (Trpoer/vo}, xi. 2, in the same sense as
viii. 29). What then of the unbelief of the people ? how can God's
decree be accomplished in spite of their unbelief? To bring out
this point the apostle enters on a teleological view of the world,
from which it appears that everything must be subjected sooner or
later to the absolute idea of God. The decree of the election
of Israel is accomplished in the following momenta: — I. God
has not cast away his people, since a part at least of them is
accepted in virtue of his gracious choice, though the rest are
hardened, xi. 1-10. 2. This hardening is certainly in contradic-
tion with God's decree, yet it is not without its uses ; it is not
meant to lead to the final exclusion of the Jews, but only to pro-
vide an opportunity for the conversion of the Gentiles. 3. The
hardening is only for a time, and will issue at last in the general
conversion of Israel. This last pointy reached by way of deduc-
tion from the other two. If the fall of them be the riches of the
world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how
much more will their general entrance into the Messianic king-
dom and blessedness bring about a great era of salvation ? For if the
casting away of them be the reconciling of the world (of the Gentiles
with God), what can the receiving of them be but the quickening of
the dead, the last great catastrophe which we look for at the resurrec-
tion of the dead at the end of the world ? If "then the hardening of
Israel be so full of blessing even for the heathen, it cannot but
have blessed consequences for Israel also. The final and universal
conversion of the Jews may also be inferred from the beginning
which has already been made. For if the first fruit be holy, the
lump is also holy, and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
The hardening of a part of the Jews, then, can only last till all the
heathens have entered in, and then all Israel will be saved. The
apostle grounds this hope and confidence on the original election of
Israel attested by the divine promises. For if in regard to the
gospel they be hated of God for the sake of the Grentiles (inasmuch
as the Gentiles believe — as it is God's will that the Gentiles should
obtain salvation — through the unbelief of the Jews), yet as regards



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262 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

the election they are beloved of God for the fathers' sake. For
God cannot revoke his gifts and calling. As the Gentiles were
once disobedient to God, but have now, through the disobedience of
the Jews, become the objects of God's mercy, so have the Jews in
their turn become disobedient, that in consequence of the mercy
shown to the Gentiles they also might obtain mercy. For God
has concluded them all in imbelief, that he might have mercy upon
aJl. And here the apostle sees the depth of the riches of the wis-
dom and the knowledge of God ; the unsearchableness'of his judg-
ments; the mystery and hiddenness of his ways; the absolute
dependence of all on God, since from Him all things proceed,
through Him all things come to pass, and to Him all things tend.

The apostle's main idea is the universality of the grace of God ;
no man can be excluded from it, it must extend at last to all, both
Jews and Gentiles, in order to achieve the end it has in view.
Grace being absolute, and it being impossible that what God has
promised should remain unfulfilled, the apostle infers that the
ends of grace must be realized universally. This universalism of
grace, however, contains a decidedly particularist element Grace
may be universal in its operation, yet the peculiar object of the
divine decree of the bestowal of grace and salvation (the TrpdOeat^
Kar eicKoyrp; Eom. ix, 11, the cKKoyrj xi 28, €K\oyfj j^dpiro^,
xi 6) are the Jews as descendants of the patriarchs to whom God
gave his promises. God's decree is therefore particular, inasmuch
as it applies only to the Jews and not to the Gentiles. And it
is also an absolute decree, for the election of the Jews precludes
the possibility of their being cast away; it cannot be thought that
the promise God has given to the Jews can remain unfulfilled.
Now, how does it agree with this particularism and this absolute-
ness that the Gentiles have been brought into the kingdom of
God, and that by far the greater part of the Jews is excluded from
it ? It is inconceivable except in this way, that each of these two
events, the reception of the Gentiles and the exclusion of the
Jews, is considered as itseK constituting a momentum in the
realization of the divine decree. The apostle does so regard the



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Chap. VIIL] DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN QUESTIONS. 263

reception of the Gentiles when he asserts that the Gentiles have
been received only for the Jews' sake. The Jews have stumbled,
he says, xi II, not to fall for ever; but rather through their fall
salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke the Jews to
emulation. Through their unbelief the Jews have been broken
off as branches from the olive tree, and the Gentiles stand by
faith as branches on the tree, verse 20. But blindness happened to
a part of Israel, till the fulness of the Gentiles should have come
in to the kingdom of God, verse 25. For the fact that the Jews did
not receive the Gospel the apostle has no explanation but this :
that what was wanting on the side of the Jews for the accomplish-
ment of the divine decree was to take place on the other side,
that of the Gentiles. The Jews did not submit themselves to the
divine ordinance of justification by faith ; and so, as justification
could only be by faith, it had to be received by the Gentiles.
Thus the unbelief of the Jews has provided, as it were, an oppor-
tunity for the Gentiles to obtain a part of that salvation, to which
they had no claim in virtue of any election. They take part in
it because in justification by faith God has opened up a way in
which it is possible for them also to obtain it. But the position
which they occupy in thus partaking of the gospel is in reality
merely that of substitutes for the Jews. They receive the gospel
in virtue of that election of which the Jews were the objects
originally ; they, the branches of a wild olive tree, are grafted into
the good olive tree. Here the particularism of the election appears
in a very strong light. Particularism is to lead to universalism at
last, but the idea of the particular decree is not departed from.
Now if the divine mercy has been extended to the Gentiles in
this way, it is impossible that the Jews, on the basis of whose
election the Gentiles have obtained mercy, should continue to be
excluded from that mercy themselves, verse 31. Their blindness
cannot shut out mercy from them for ever ; their election cannot
remain for ever unfulfilled. And though they be at present in a
state of blindness, unbelief, and disobedience, that merely shows
that theix unbelief is a stage upon the road to the divine mercy.



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264 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Pakt IIL

For it is God's intention to catry out his decree of grace through
disobedience and not otherwise. He has concluded all in dis-
obedience, in order to have mercy upon all, says the apostle. Thus
he does not hesitate to ascribe this disobedience not merely
to a permission, but to an ordinance, of (jod ; he regards the dis-
obedience as a momentum through which the mercy is mediated,
and which disappears in mercy as the end and consummation
which it subserves and ushers in.

What grace is in the absolute conception of it must of necessity
be realized, and as grace would not be absolute if it were not
universal, it requires the universal mercy of God for its realiza-
tion. Now how is this absoluteness and universality of grace,
this objective character of grace, to be reconciled with freedom on
the part of man ? The apostle's whole doctrine of faith shows how
important the subjective element is to him, and even in the dis-
cussion of chapter xi everything turns on faith and unbelief,
obedience and disobedience. But what importance can be
ascribed to the subjective element of faith, if it be the case that
grace is so absolute that it necessarily overcomes sooner or later
every possible opposition, and gathers in all things to the embrace
of universal mercy ? All that we can say on this point is that the
apostle does not by any means slur over the subjective side in
favour of the objective ; that he lets the two stand side by side
without showing how they harmonize. On the one hand, all that
grace must be in order to be absolute is to be developed and to
become actual; and on the other hand, there is to be no com-
promise of the self-determination of the subject, the free and
voluntary exercise of faith. How these two can be reconciled the
apostle has nowhere shown. He is indeed thoroughly femiUar with
all the processes of subjective consciousness, and has the faculty of
illuminating its inmost recesses ; yet his interest is engrossed still
more in the objective development which is determined by the
absolute idea of Gtod. Heathenism, Judaism, and Christianity, are
to him great historical opposites, general forms of religious develop-
ment ; he regards not the individuals, but the masses, and in the



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Chap. VIIL] DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN QUESTIONS. 265

light of his well-assured Christian consciousness all the questions
and riddles of the world find their solution in this one conception :
that all things are to be subordinated at last to the absolute idea
of Christianity, to be penetrated by it and received up into its
unity. He takes a broad majestic sweep through the whole course
of historical development, and traces it from stage to stage ; but
his Christian consciousness hurries him forward so fast towards
the final issue that he passes over many considerations which must
be essential momenta of the process, and which had a claim to be
considered. Grace is glorified at last, issuing forth as universal
mercy, but who are the objects of this mercy? The apostle says
indeed that God has mercy upon all as he has concluded all in
unbelief; but who are the Trdvre; on whom he takes mercy? are
they the same individuals as were shut up to unbelief? are those
who iv Xpurr^ fyxyiroi/qOr^ovrai, the same individuals who died in
Adam ? — for the necessary condition of ^(uxmotela'Oai, is elvav ev
Xpurr^. The resurrection, the last world-catastrophe, is to be the
general tModicie, but only for those who as Christians have been
changed or have risen from the dead. Siu and grace, reprobation
and mercy, are demonstrated on their objective side, but not on
the subjective. The two should have been interwoven, but the
one is merely placed after the other. There is a gap here in the
apostle's system, which none of the materials in our hands enable
us to supply.

6. The heavenly habitation, 2 Cor. v. 1 sq.

The view contained in this passage is noticed here merely
because the apostle's meaning in it has frequently been misunder-
stood, and a belief attributed to him which he was far from
holding.

For us, the apostle says, iv. 16-18, who look not to the things that
are seen, but to the things which are not seen (for the things that are
seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal),
there is an infinitely exalted glory. We shall take part in it, the death
of the body is the porch to it. For we know that if this earthly house
of our body were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not



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266 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For as long as we are in
this body we groan, yearning to be clothed upon with our heavenly
habitation. What follows, eiye koI ivhya-dfievovy etc. (read thus :
not 6/tfSv(r.)>can only be taken as an explanation of hrevhvtraaOai,. We
shall not be without the covering of a body, for of course as soon
as we are clothed upon in the way we expect we shall not be
naked, not without a body to cover us. This is merely a repeti-
tion of hrevhwaaBah and is to say that in this euhvaaaOai that
which was most repugnant to the feeling acquired by the Christians
from Judaism does not take place, namely, yv/jLvot evpeOfjvau And
it is added that our longing in the present body is not to be under-
stood to mean that we have any desire to be naked and without a
body fidtogether. Being in the body we do indeed groan under the
burden, but it is not to be concluded from this that we desire to
^be unclothed ; we wish to be clothed upon, that mortality might be
swallowed up of life. The apostle's utterances here amount to
neither more nor less than the idea of the resurrection expressed
in 1 Cor. xv. 53. In this passage it appears as a wish arising out
of the pressure of the present body, and which the apostle takes
care shall not be misunderstood. If man is not to be naked and
without a body in the future, if he is to have another body con-
sisting of better materials, then the future body must in one way
or another be identical with the present one, must be built up on
the same basis, and the change that is to take place must con-
sist in being clothed upon. Thus the substance of the man's
personality remains, even in its bodily features; what of it is
earthly falls off from him, and it is thus transfigured and becomes
heavenly. The man has even now an inward occult supersensuous
ground- work for a bodily existence different from the present one,
and that which he is essentially even in the present life emerges
at his death into reality. This then is what is meant by the
oIkoBo/jltj €/c Oeov, the olKca ayeipoirol'qTiy;, the ol/eriT7jpiov 6{
ovpavov. These phrases have been wrongly thought to indicate a
heavenly body which true Christians were to receive immediately
after death, and which was to be imited at the resurrection with



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Chap. VIIL] DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN QUESTIONS. 267

that which rose out of the physical body. It is said that the
connexion of verse 2 with verse 1 requires that the olKrjrripiop should
be the same ^ the ol/coBofjiij, that each of these is opposed to the
€7rc7€«>9 oIkU, and must therefore signify a body, and that there-
fore verses 1 and 2 must both refer to a body which true Christians
are to have at once at their death. Now, it is said, such a body
can be no other than a heavenly body, quite diflferent from the one
we have, but to be united with it at the time of the resurrection.
This curious imagination is quite inconsistent with the argument
of our passage. The apostle is seeking to lift up his readers to the
surpassing glory of the world to come, and he would not have
served his object by speaking of an intermediate body. It is
certainly true that this new body is represented as coming
immediately after death. But this difSculty, as it is held to be, is
not removed by supposing that the apostle hoped to receive the
new body without the painful process of the soul's departure from
her old tenement. It is said that what he desired was a painless
change of his mortal body into an immortal, that to represent this
change he passed from his former analogy of a house to the more
convenient one of a garment, as if the new garment were put on
over the old one, and the old one only then put off, or destroyed
without pain, by the overpowering energy of the new one. This,
however, is a merq expedient of interpretation, and is sufficiently
disposed of by the feet that the apostle is not speaking only of
himself, but of Christians generally. And supposing that the
apostle overleaps here the middle stage between death and the
resurrection, why should that be thought remarkable ? Of course
if the resurrection be conceived in the Jewish form, as the issue of
a body from the grave, then there is a reason to inquire about a
middle state. But the apostle does not entertain any such con-
ception. In this passage he is not speaking of the resurrection at
all, and what he says at 1 Cor. xv. 52 is that the dead will be
raised a^ckprou Now if they are raised ai^daproi, what part of
the resurrection-body can come up out of the grave, for the grave
contains nothing but the corruptible ? In the apostle's view the



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268 LIFE AiTl) WORK OF PAUL. [Part IIL

resurrection-body does not come out of the grave, but is a building
of God, a house not made by men's hands, an eternal, heavenly
habitation, following the earthly in accordance with the divine
order which appoints the mortal and corruptible to be changed into
the immortal and incorruptible. And if these two sides of the
existence of man be of such a nature that they are intimately and
immediately connected with each other, then neither can they be
separated and held apart from each other in time. The Christian
consciousness forbids us to think of a middle state as a stage of
existence by itself; for that consciousness is so well assured (the
expfiev, verse 1, indicates this) that to it the mortal includes the
immortal, and the incorruptible is present even in the corruptible.
The corruptible is under the necessity of putting on the incor-
ruptible, the mortal of being swallowed up of life. The apostle
therefore adds, verse 5, we may with perfect confidence look forward
to this state in which our earthly body will be transfigured into
the heavenly, and our mortal nature into the immortal, and
penetrated with the principle of life ; for it is God who is to bring
us to that state ; the whole constitution which he, its creator, has
given to our nature points to it, and the spirit that is given to us,
which we have within us as the earnest of our destination in the
future, vouches for it. The imaginations of Judaism were not
without their part in the apostle's Christian faith ; yet, as we see,
his rational consciousness was able to assert itself against them.



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NINTH CHAPTER

ON CERTAIN FEATURES OF THE APOSTLE'S CHARACTER.

We do not aim at a complete description of the apostle's
character. Many data are wanting, without which it is not
possible to make him stand before us as he was. What we pro-
pose is merely to take up a few noteworthy traits which appear
prominently in his writings. And it is quite proper that this
should follow at once on our discussion of the doctrine, for the
apostle's doctrine is the immediate reflection of his spiritual
individuality.

That the apostle was converted from Judaism to Christianity,
that he was transformed suddenly and decidedly from a bitter
persecutor of Christ's followers to a faithful and devoted disciple
of Christ, this great fact gives us a deeper insight into his spiritual
organization than anything else we know of him. This was
a step from one of two extreme opposites to the other, so that we
see here a spirit involved in a great struggle, in the throes of a
travail which cannot be accomplished save with labour and con-
flict and high spiritual energy. And' if the two alternatives, than
which he saw no other, and each of which displayed itself to him
in all its significance and gravity, were great and very contrary
alternatives, then this reveals to us one great feature of his character,
that he could never stop half-way, but followed up the one line as
much as the other to its last conclusions. Thus, if he was to
persecute Christianity, it was a war of extermination that he waged
against it, GaL i. 13. Here we have a very determined nature, for
which the consequences of the idea it has formed have all the power
of necessity, which throws itself into everything that it takes up



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270 LIFE AND WOEK OF PAUL. [Part HI.

with its whole energy, which is what it is entirely and absolutely.
As a Christian, Paul would know nothing but Christ, and lived and
moved entirely in him; just so he had formeriy been with his
whole soul a Jew, and the most zealous of all champions for the



Online LibraryFerdinand Christian BaurPaul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 26 of 35)