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Ferdinand Christian Baur.

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religion received by tradition from the fathers. npoeKoirrov, he
says. Gal. i 14, in describing his former avcurrpo^ iv t& ^Iov-
BauTfj^, virep iroWois crvpffkiKiQ)Ta^ ev r^ yevei fiov irepiaaorepto^
^rjktorri^ xnrapr^ffov r&v irarpiK&v fiov TrapaSoa-ea^v, But the more
consistently and eneigetically a tendency is worked out which is
essentially one-sided and narrow, the more certain is it to suffer
shipwreck on its own narrowness ; it crumbles down by its own
inward action, is overcome by the awaking consciousness of its own
finitude, and thus necessarily undergoes a revulsion to the directly
contrary tendency. It seems to be the thing itself which runs
this course, and the subject in whom this takes place appears to
be determined by something objective and external to himself,
although the process is in reality his own spiritual act. And the
vividness of the man's consciousness of this objective power
determining him is a standard by which we may measure the
depth of his nature as it withdraws into itself and works for itself
through the universal process of spiritual life. It is this manifestly
objective character that shows the apostle's act to have been a
really great and wonderful event. It was an act such as only
those natures are capable of whose movement is in the highest
regions of the spiritual life. For we can detect no trace of any
subjective interest or motive having influenced or helped this
change ; it was the immediate, purely objective impression of the
spiritual power that had come over him, which changed Paul into
that spiritual personality who appears before us as the apostle of
Jesus Christ. It is of this characteristic of his spiritual nature, as
manifested at the most important epoch of his life, that the apostle
is thinking, when he calls himself with respect to his conversion to
Christianity an eicTpwfia, 1 Cor. xv. 8. This phrase suggests not a
late birth, but a miscarriage ; yet what he means is not that his
unworthiness and unfitness for the apostolate were so great that he



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE APOSTLE'S CHARACTER 271

held as little right to be an apostle as the fruit of a miscarriage to
continue in the world. What he means by the expression is, that
his birth into the world as a Christian was after a violent £Etshion,
that it was as it were a miscarriage. Grotius very truly remarks :
hoc i4eo dicit, quia non longa institutione ad christianismum
perductus fuit, quo esset velut naturalis partio, sed vi subita,
quomodo immaturi partus ejici solent. This applies, however, not
merely to the fact of his becoming a Christian, but to the whole of
the sweeping revulsion that was brought about in his consciousness
by the objective power of events and tendencies, without his being
aware that he was doing anything to help or hinder it What took
place in him seemed to belie his nature: the absolute truth of
Christianity was brought home to him and forced upon him against
his will by Christ's appearing to him. He could do no other ; little
as he willed it for himself, he was constrained to yield the whole
of thought and will to the obedience of Christ.^

He who has fought through such an inward conflict and in a
personal spiritual process overcome the opposition which he there
encountered, will, when the spiritual principle has worked its way
through all and asserted itseK in its own absolute superiority,
know that he is himself the power that stands above the conflict.
The principle which takes possession of his consciousness is now
the immanent principle of his own seK-consciousness ; he knows

^ It IB said, and yery truly, that the apostle's conyersion discloses to us the
inmc^t depths of his spiritual nature, and that the ultimate subjectiye basis of
that nature is to be explained and comprehended in the light of this one charac-
teristdc fact. If this be so, the problem of the apostle's character may be yiewed
in the light of the question, why he not only became a Christian like others who
were converted from Judaism to Christianity, but believed himself to be called
to be an apostle. This followed, it may be said, from the caU addressed to him
by Christ ; but what appeared to him objectively as the caU of Christ was, sub-
jectively considered, the inward impulse of his own spiritual nature. For it was
the peculiarity of that nature that in every case it went straight to the results of
its principles, and to the absolute. His spiritual nature thus carried him past a
form of Christianity which was nothing but another form of Judaism ; he was
the first to declare the Christian prindi^e in its integrity, in a tray in which none
of the older apostles had declared it, and so could scarcely avoid considering
himself to be a new apostle.



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272 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part UL

himself free from everything by which he was formerly constrained ;
he is conscious of his own independence and autonomy. The
position which the apostle took up as the logical and necessary
consequence of his conversion, involved of course that all those
shackles of religious authority which he had recognised up to
that time at once fell away. But it involved more : namely, that
within Christianity the apostle recognised no other principle as
having authority for him but his own immediate self-consciousness,
rooted as it was in faith in Christ. One main feature of the
apostle's individuality is this lively and powerful consciousness of
freedom. He was quite alive to all that the principle of Christian
freedom implied both for himseK and for all Christians. It was in
him, next to Christ, that this principle received its proper concrete
contents ; it was in him that it first became subjective and indi-
vidual This consciousness of freedom is frequently, and variously,
and energetically expressed in the apostle's letters. It is ex-
pressed most directly and openly in 1 Cor. ix. 1, where he says :
Am I not' free ? am I not an apostle ? have I not seen Jesus Christ
our liord ? have I not you to point to as my work in the Lord ?
These were the evidences which sustained his assured consciousness
of freedom, independence, self-dependence as a Christian and an
apostle. He calls himself free in the sense in which he spoke of
Christian freedom in the eighth chapter {e^ovala, viii 9), free, that
is, as having an essential right to act in accordance with his own
best convictions, without being bound by considerations regarding
others, or being in the least degree subject to any superior
authority.^

^ The feeling of freedom is expreensed most energetically where it meets with
opposition. The opposition which the apostle had to encounter was the appeal
made against him and in disparagement of him to the authority of the older
apostles. Against them, then, he asserted his freedom in the fulness of its own
native energy, and as not requiring any outward sanction, 1 Cor. iz. 4. They
are to him only the boKOvvres. Their apparent dignity is no law to him ; for
wherever the truth of the gospel is concerned, there can be no respect of persons.
If it be the apostles themselves that he caUs ol vrrepkiav d7r6(rrokoi, and not
merely the Judaizing teachers of the Corinthian Church who appealed to their
authority, then this is a very distiact assertion that there can be no external



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE APOSTLES CHARACTER. 273

The true freedom, however, is not without limitation ; it realizes
the conception of freedom by the limit which it sets itself and
then again makes to disappear: and that which is the greatest
freedom from narrowing and enslaving forms is, on the other hand,
the highest capacity for entering subjectively into forms the most
diverse. This mark and evidence of true freedom was not wanting
with the apostle. Though free from everything, free from all
dependence on man, says the apostle, 1 Cor. ix. 19, "I have yet
made myself the servant of all, that in this way I might gain the
more. To the Jews I have become a Jew, that I might gain the
Jews ; to those who are under the law as one under the law, that
I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are
without law, as one without law (not that I was without law in
reference to God, but obeying the law of Christ), that I might gain
them that are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I
might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I
might by all means save soma" Only he can become all things to
all men who is so free and master of himself as to be able to put on
every form of self-restraint. And what makes this self-restraint
possible to him is that he is subject to an infinite power, his
freedom being simply the outward form in which this subjection
appears. The utmost freedom of self-consciousness is thus, when
looked at from another side, the utmost subjection ; he is free, but
his liberty consists in his consciousness being altogether determined
by Christ, it is only in his union with Christ as an ewofjuy; Xpurrov
that he knows himself free, and this his freedom consists in his
subjection. It is with a view to this same freedom which consists
in dependence on Christ that the apostle says, 1 Cor. vii. 23, " Ye
are dearly bought ; be not ye the servants of men, do not be drawn
into any spiritual dependence on men." In every event of life the

authority for him, hy which he should consider himself bound. Aoy [[ofiai yap firjb€V
v(rT€pf]K€vai T&v vircpXuiy a7ro<rrdX»v, 2 Cor. xi. 5, cf. xii. 11 ovdcv yhp varepria-a -
T&v xmtpkiav aTroardXov, €l km ovbiv tlfu (though I be nothing in myself apart
from the grace of God supporting me). And the reason of this is the assurance
he had gained through the knowledge of the truth, ct de lbi^arr)s t& Xcfy^, aXX*
ov rg yv&o'ti.

8



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274 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

Christian has this inward spiritual freedom, without it his con-
sciousness would not be a Christian consciousness at alL He is
free inwardly though outwardly he be a slave. For in Christ
freedom and bondage pass into each other, and neither of the
two exists without the other. He who is called in the Lord
being a slave, is yet free in relation to the Lord : and he who is
called being free, is Christ's servant, 1 Cor. vii. 22. As there is
no contradiction in a man's being dependent on Christ and yet
free, nor in his being free and yet at the same time dependent,
so bondage externally does not in the least preclude inward
freedom. This inward freedom and independence of everything
outward comes only to the man who has found in Christ the abso-
lute principle of his spiritual life. The more he feels his depend-
ence on Christ, the more independent is he of everything but
Christ.

For a Jew who had been bound to the law from his childhood
and felt the law's authority and control in every part and province
of his life, to cut himself adrift from the law at once and altogether ;
to cast off its dictation, and with it to renounce all the natural and
national ties which bound Jew and Jew together, — ^this must have
been a step the gravity and far-reaching importance of which we
can scarcely measure. This step our apostle took in his conver-
sion ; and in taking it he entered into a position of utter solitude ;
he was not attracted, though he became a Christian, to the older
apostles; he was not drawn into fellowship with them, but re-
mained alone. The boldness of this step may give us an idea of his
spiritual energy. Now the shaking off of authority and the ad-
vance to autonomy is not admirable in itself: the moral and
spiritual value of such a step consists in this, that it is not a capri-
cious and arbitrary act, nor one brought about by merely outward
circiunstances, but a step tsJ^en from a full conviction that truth
requires it. The autonomy which becomes the ruling principle
must, in a word, be the autonomy of reason. And we must keep
this in mind in considering the apostle's conversion ; for it was a
change from Judaism to Christianity, and Christianity, the absolute



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE AF08TLE8 CHABACTEB. 275

religion, is also absolute reason. The apostle did, indeed, recognise
in his conversion to Christianity a supernatural event, a miracle, a
thing incomprehensible even to himself. Yet we see Iiityi labouring
with all the power of his spirit to engraft this event which he had
experienced, on his reason, to take it up into his thinking conscious-
ness, thus to make it, what it could not otherwise be, his own spiritual
act. In this fact more than anything else we have an explanation
of the peculiar organization of his spiritual individuality ; for it is
this spiritual process that is worked out in the whole development
of his doctrine, and in the discussions, personal and otherwise, which
form the main contents of his Epistles. To speak of nothing else,
let it be considered how he deals with the idea of the law, how he
analyses it in its various elements, and seeks thus to resolve it into
itself, in order to justify to the thinking consciousness that degra-
dation of the law from its absolute authority, that depreciation of
it to the position of a merely subordinate stage, which was necessary
from the standpoint of Christianity. The development of the
apostle's doctrine of justification with all the ideas which belong
to it, — what is it but an analysis of the Christian consciousness
according to the inward connexion of its momenta as they act and
react upon each other, the nature of justification being thus ex-
plained from the inner necessity of the case ? Here also we find
the reason why the apostle's main developments of doctrine always
grow in his hands into theories of religious history; since the
course of history cannot be understood save by regarding one stage
as contained by implication in the preceding stage, and regarding
the whole in the light of the immanent idea which is the principle
of the whole movement The different determining periods of
history, the contrasts into which it is divided, the contrast of sin
with grace, of the law which requires works with faith which
justifies without works, of death with life, of the first psychical with
the second pneumatical Adam, these are simply so many momenta
of the conception as it works forward by its own inward power.
The great distinguishing characteristic which appears everywhere
in the apostle's writings is the innate impulse, springing from the



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276 UFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

very roots of his nature, towards rational speculative contempla-
tion.*

^ It is a deep conviction of the apostle, and comes repeatedly and in yarious
ways to the surface in his writings, that Christianity is the truly rational, and
that in matters of religion nothing can stand that cannot justify itself to rational
contemplation. When he speaks, Rom. xii. I, of a Xoycjc^ \arp€iay in which a man
is to present himself a living sacrifice to God, he means a service which does not
consist, like that of Judaism, merely in outward rites, but is spiritual in its nature
and founded in the spirit itself, so that in everything it contains the worshipper
must have the rational end and purpose of his act before his mind. And thus he
adds an exhortation not to hold exclusively to that which is in accordance with
the ruling tendency of the world and the time, but to be transformed in the
renewing of the spirit {rov v6os), «.e. to go hac]f. into one's self in thought, to con-
sider and to prove in one's self what is the will of God, what is the good, and
acceptable, and perfect. And here, I think, we find the explanation of that dis-
tinction which the apostie sometimes draws between that which he is in his yp&firi,
and that which he is in pursuance of an imrayfj of the Lord. It is not probable
that this iirircrpi refers to an utterance of Jesus which he had received through
tradition. A comparison of the various instructions which he gives on difficult
questions of social duty will show us what the nature of the distinction is.
Where he is conscious of a rational objective ground lying in the nature of the
case, his instruction at once and of itself assumes in his consciousness the form of
an immediate command of Christ. He speaks of a mere yvafiri in cases where
he could not deny the subjective nature of his view. Cf. 1 Cor. viL 6, 10, 12, 25,
40. As the objective truth could only declate itself in the form of the subjective
consciousness, it is very natural that with the apostle the one constantly passes
over into the other. Thus he says, verse 25, that he has no tmrayrf of the Lord
in reference to virgins, but gives a yvcifirj, &s TJk€rifi€Vos vrrb Kvpiov irurrbs tlvcu,
t.e. an opinion deserving of all consideration, as given quite in accordance with his
apostolical consciousness. In the same way, verse 40, after the words Kara rfjv
ifiTjp yv&fitjVj he adds, doK& de Koyo) nv€VfjM 0§ov tx*iv» As his caU was Br fact
of his consciousness, the self-assurance of his consciousness was his highest prin-
ciple of knowledge. His self-assurance, however, is not called forth by himself,
but rests on grounds of reason. The authority which he claims for himself as an
apostle must not be said to be founded on the external fact of the appearance of
Christ which he asserted he had had ; it was founded rather upon two inner
momenta : 1. The truth of his gospel, a thing to him irrefragably true, Gal. i. 8 ;
2 Cor. xi. 4, and resting ultimately in the absolute satisfaction of man's need of
salvation which it brought, in all that goes to make up faith in the Pauline sense.
2. The reality of the success of his wor^ He appeals to this as his strongest
argument against his opponents. Those whom he had converted could not but
bear witness that it was through him that they had become Christians, 1 Cor.
ix. 1-3 ; 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3. But how could they have become Christians through him
if he was not an apostie, and how could he have worked with such success as an
apostie, 2 Cor, x. 13-18, if it were not God's vnll that he should so work, and
how could this be (rod's vnll if it were not in accordance with the highest truth



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE AF0STLW8 CHARACTER. 277

If the first great characteristic of his personality be that he was
as it were the receptive soil in which the principle of Christian
consciousness should first take form and appear as a concrete con-
sciousness, the second must be found in this, that that conscious-
ness was expressed by him mainly in the way of thought. The
apostle is conscious of the power of his thought ; he declares to
his opponent^, 2 Cor. x. 2 aq., how he intends to meet those who
take him to be but a weak and ordinary man. For though, he
says, I walk in the flesh, yet I do not war in a weak human way ^
for the weapons with which I fight are not humanly weak, but
divinely strong to the pulling down of strongholds. I cast down
arguments, and every work that is erected against the knowledge
of God, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience pf
Christ. Far from being, as has been thought, the apostle's protest
against the exercise of reason in things pertaining to faith, these
words are an expression of the absolute confidence he reposed in
his dialectical powers, that on the ground of reason he could never
be defeated. The more we penetrate into the process of thought
in the apostle's writings, the more minutely we analyse his mode
of argument, the method of his development and representation,
the more shall we be convinced that his is a thoroughly dialectical
nature.^ Here we may remind the reader of what was said, in our

and reason 7 What he says, GaL ii. 8, in the pregnant worda that Gk>d €i^pyi;o-c
iitM €U rh, tBvfi is an argnment from effect to cause, an argument which would
have no force were it not understood that nothing can really take up a position
in the world but what is more or less true and rational The success of his preach-
ing to the heathen is in his eyes a proof that his gospel is true. This was the
best credentials of his apostolic calling. It says a great deal for the apostle's
sober good sense that he never appeals to the appearance of Christ to him as a
purely outward fact, such as the Acts represent it. There was a good deal of the
ecstatical in him, as the onrauim and airoKoKv^tis KvpUtv, 2 Cor. xii. 1, show
us (the ecstasy described, verse 2, cannot, however, be identified with the act of
his conversion ; the fourteen years, 2 Cor. xii. 2, cannot coincide with the fourteen
years of GaL ii. 1) ; but this element was so thoroughly subordinate to his clear
and rational self-consciousness that it could never make him a visionary.

^ It belongs to the essence of the dialectical method, that it proceeds by nega-
tion, and in order to deny, accentuates the opposite, the contrast, and thus has
naturally an element of irony. In the apostle's dialectic irony is not wanting ;
of. 1 Cor. iv. 8 ; 2 Cor. xi 18, 19 ; and Rttckert's observations on the first of these



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278 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part IIL

examination of the great Epistles, of their arrangement and the
conception of thought from which it proceeds. We see every-
where in them the effort to place the subject treated of in the most
general point of view it will admit of, to proceed from the general
to the particular, and consider the main thought in all its aspects
successively. What we have here is the true dialectical procedure ;
namely that the thought is made to move through all its stages, and
to arrive at the totality of its momenta, at which point its concrete
determination coincideswith and meets its abstract truth. Could the
utter contemptibility of the sectarian squabbles at Corinth have been
put more clearly than in the apostle's words : Is Christ divided ?
Was Paul crucified for you ? Were you baptized in the name of
Paul? (1 Cor. L 13.) Here a rapid turn of thought brings the
question so entirely under the standpoint of an absolute contem-
plation, that we have nothing but an absolute Yes confronting an
absolute "So} But the dialectical mediation follows at once. The
apostle sees the source of the sectarianism of Corinth in the love of
the Corinthians for worldly wisdom ; he therefore considers Chris-
tianity itself as wisdom. Wisdom is divided in his eyes into the
wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God ; these are the two
stages through which it moves ; through its negation in worldly
wisdom it comes to affirm itself in the divine. At the opening of
the Epistle to the Bomans, in the same way, the apostle takes up
the absolute standpoint of the Sitccuocrvvri Oeov, the two momenta
of which are the SixaLoa-vprf ef epytov and the SiKaioavvrf €k Trla-
T66D9* Here also the development consists in the conception passing

passages. The latter passage is a striking instance of his dialectic, as it fortifies
itself with irony, and smites, oyerthrows, and crashes the opponent.

^ Another notable instance of this is to be found in the passage 1 Cor. xi 3.
The question of women having their heads uncovered is at once put in this way :
the head of the man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man : the head of
Christ is God. The question whether the custom be a Christian one or no is
placed under its absolute point of view : aU that is asked is whether the custom
be or be not consistent with the absolute dependence of Christ. Thus a question
referring solely and simply to a case in practical life is identified with the very
highest question, the relation to Christ. This rapid soaring up from the par-
ticular, the empirical, to the absolute, to the idea, to God, Christ, is a genuine
Pauline trait.



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE APOSTLE'S CHABACTEB. 279

through the stage of denial in order to afiarm iteelf. The Bi/caio-
avvTj Oeov passes through the negation of SiKaioavvrf ef €pya>v, and
becomes in hiKaLoavvq he irLcrew^ the true self-mediated ZiKcuoavvr\
Oeov. It belongs to the dialectical method to take the object
which is to be explicated dialectically, in its various stages, both
negative and affirmative ; since it is only in the consciousness of
its mediation that the conception completes its dialectical move-
ment. And our view that dialectical thought was the apostle's
natural element is greatly confirmed by the fact that he never
forgets the practical side of his discussion in the theoreticaL
What must be affirmed theoretically must often be denied practi-



Online LibraryFerdinand Christian BaurPaul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 27 of 35)