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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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^ Cf. the Eritischen Miacellen; zum Epheserbrief e ; Theol Jahrb. 1844, p. 3dl
(now in Schwegler's Nachap. Zeitalter, ii. 371.— -i^c^i^or), where it is justly re-,
marked that Paul cannot have had these ideas. Hie regarded the end of aU time
and the second coming of Christ as imminent, and could not contrast his own
time as the period of vtfniMiis to the age of manly maturity, as an age still dis-
tant, the goal of Christian history to be attained historically through an immanent
process of development. This is a later standpoint which, reflecting on the
past, conceived the idea of such a division of epochs.



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EFEESIANS AND GOLOSSIANS. 25

"With the apostles ? That it came about firom a consideration of the
contrast between the present and the former state of the Gentile
Christians might possibly account for the passage il 20 ; but that
the same expression should be found in two other passages and
in wholly different connexions, evidently points to something
peculiar in the circumstances of the age, or of the Church to which
the Epistle is addressed.

The apostolic letters show no trace of an order of prophets who
stand on the same level with the apostles. The passage which
&lls to be considered on the subject, 1 Cor. xii 28, shows that
Paul regarded prophecy as a j(apia'fia among other j(apia'fmra, and
by no means as containing in itself all the gifts of grace, or
the special criterion of the true ChurcL And this is the position
of the author of our Epistle ; with him the apostles and the new
prophets, the latter manifestly as successors and representatives of
the apostles in the post^postolic Church, are the depositaries of
divine revelations, the OefUkiov, the foundation of the Church.^

Not Paul, but Montanism, attributed to the prophets such a
position and such importance. The Montardst Tertullian co-
ordinates apostles and prophets in the same way, as equally
organs of the Spirit; what the apostles were formerly, the
prophets are now.^ And the author of our Epistle, identifying
himself with Paul, and speaking of the whole time from the
apostles to the date at which he was writing, says, iii. 5 : vvv
a7r€Ka\v<l>0f) (to fiv<rr7jpiov) roU arfLOi^ aTrooToKoi^ avrov kcH

1 Krit. Misc. 1844, p. 380.

3 De Fadic o. 21, where Tertullian is speaking of the power to forgive sins,
which, he says, belongs only to God and to those to whom it is committed by
God, viz., the apc^tles, as it had been to the prophets of the Old Testament;
Exhihe igitur et fmnc mihi, apostolke^ so he addresses the Koman bishop, prophetka
exemplay et agnoscam dioinitaiemy et vindica Hbi deUctorum ejuamodi remittendorum
potestcUem, — 8ed kabet, inquis^ potestatem eccleda delicta do7tandi. Hoc ego magia
et ctgnosco et digporiOy qui ipsum Paracletum in propJietis novis haheo dicentem : potest
ecclesia donate delictum. If the Boman bishop appeal to Peter, Matth. xvi. 16,
irh»t i;ight has he to. apply to himself what is there said to Peter? Qmd nunc eP.
ad ecdeeiaan et quidem tuam, peychice ? Secundum enim Petri personam 8piritua>libu8
potestas iUa eonveniet, aut apoetoto aut propketae. Nam et ecdesia proprie ^t priiibi'
pcUiter ipte est epiritys.



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26 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part IL

frpo^TfToi/^ €v irvevfAaru The adcUtion ei/ 7ry€v/«iTi is certainly signifi-
cant. Several interpreters wish to refer ev irvevfuvn to 'irpw^av:
exclusively^ but this is justly condemned by Harless and others.
If it be asked what reason can be alleged that this predicate, which
the context shows to be a pregnant one, should be applied only
to the prophets, and not to the apostles also, we must go a
step further and ask, Why is it given to both? It was for the
sake of the prophets that it was inserted and applied to the
apostles also. The author lived at a time when the prophets
were recognised as new organs of the communication of the Spirit ;
only this can account for his expressly calling the apostles and
prophets spiritales, as Tertullian calls them in the same sense.^
And if in the third passage, iv. 11, the woifieve^ refer to the
same ecclesiastical personages as are commonly termed eirurKOTroi,
then we see here just that depreciation of the bishops for which
the Montanists are censured by Hieronymus.^

It arose from the nature of the case that the materials for these
critical investigations were drawn chiefly from the Epistle to the
Ephesians. The Epistle to the Colossians, however, has not been
by any means lost sight of, and there is a further special task
which it presents to criticism. It is well known how many
theories have already been advanced about the so-called false
teachers of this Epistle, without, however, finding for them any
definite place in history, and least of all at the time of the apostle
himself. It is even doubtful whether they were Jews or Christians ;
and this is certainly striking. If they were so considerable a
power that the apostle thought it necessary to write an Epistle
specially against them, we should expect that they had left some
clearer traces of their historical existence. And certainly we
should expect to find in the Epistle itself a more distinct indication
of what they wera Yet how hard is it to construct the peculiar
character of the sectaries in question from the various single
traits, mostly the merest hints, which are given us of them ; and

* Log. dt.

' Epist. 27 : ita in tertiam, Le. paene nltimum locum episoopi devolvaiitur.



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EFHESIAN8 AND COLOSSI ANS. 27

how little does the polemic of the author, indirect as it is, rather
than direct, show these heretics, supposed to have been so
dangerous, to be the real subject-matter of the Epistle, and the
central point from which the whole contents are to be explained.
In seeking then to sift this matter to the bottom, it is not only
permissible, but necessary, to drop the common hypothesis that
these so-called false teachers were the historical occasion of our
Epistle, and to set up the contrary view, that all that is said about
them is said only by the way, to strengthen and enforce that which
is in reahty the principal theme.

And where is it m(5re natural to find the chief theme of our
Epistle than in that which is said about the higher dignity of
Christ as the central point, not only of the Christian Church, but
of the imiverse in general, and about the great mystery that has
been made manifest in him ? The author comes to this as soon
as he has despatched the necessary introduction, and added to it,
in the ordinary way, his expression of sympathy with the Christians
to whom he is writing ; he at once enforces this as the chief point
to which the whole contents of his Epistle are to be referred. Now
if Christ has this high and absolute importance, if he be considered
in his divine supra-mundane nature, the substantial centre both
of all spiritual and natural existence generally, and specially of
the corporate life that is developed in the Christian Church, then
it is of the first importance to hold steadfastly to this one founda-
tion, and to suffer nothing to be brought by any one into
competition with that communication of religious weal which is
only possible through him, as if anything else could be the channel
of such virtue. In this argument the author does certainly
encounter some conflicting views which serve him for the further
development of his main thesis ; but these have not the special
historical reference which is commonly attributed to them. They
belong merely to certain phenomena here and there, which are a
part of the general character of the time. We might think of
gnosis in this connexion ; we find it elsewhere, even as early as
the Pastoral Epistles, a chief mark of Christian polemics. But



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28 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part II.

gnosis was, in the stage it had then reached, too nearly akin with
the tendency of our Epistles to be spoken of in such a. spirit;
besides that gnosis also sought to place Christ as high as possible,
and to adequately express his absolute dignity. Ebionitism, on
the contrary, especially in the form in which it was most closely
connected with Judaism, and in which it afterwards became a
heresy, contained elements with which the higher conception of
the person of Christ could not fail to come in conflict, as it became
more and more intent upon excluding everything that might bQ
put on the same level with Christ as a channel of grace. The
polemical references of the Epistle to the Colossians are best
explained by referring them to Ebionitism, and if this be so, then
the special local occasion which is said to have led the writer of
this Epistle to his task disappears ; for what is here condemned
as opposed to the Christian consciousness belongs to the whole
general character of Ebionitism, as it stood over against the freer
form of Pauline Christianity, not only at Colosse, but all over Asia
Minor. A polemical reference of this nature is manifestly present,
in what is said, ii lis;., against circumcision. The maintenance
of circumcision is characteristic of Ebionitism ; we see this early
in the case of the antagonists of the apostle in the Epistle to the
Galatians, and it continues to be so with those Ebionites who were
too stiff to surrender their Judaism. Epiphanius expressly remarks
this of his Ebionites, as well as of Cerinthus and his followera^

Then, as for the principles about eating and drinking, and the
observing of certain days and seasons, which gave occasion for the
warning, ver. 16, we know further from Epiphanius that the
Ebionites rejected altogether the use of animal food, considering
that it defiled the eater, a view which is clearly to be recognised
iu those words of emphatic prohibition, filq a-^, iiriSk yeuaij,
jj/n^e 6i^, ver. 21. They must also have held it unlawful to drink
wine, for they celebrated their mysteries, namely, the Eucharist,
with unleavened br^ad and unmixed water.* They were alsp

* Haer. xxx. 2, 16, 28 ; cf. xxviii. 6.

> Hier. xxx. 15, 16; cf. Gement. Horn. xiv. 1.



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EFHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS. 29

distinguished by their strict religious observance of certain days
and seasons. Epiphanius mentions repeatedly the rite of circum-
cision and the celebration of the Sabbath as the ordinances of the
"Jewish religion which the Ebionites held most sacred.^ The
vovfM)via$ are to be understood not only of the new moons, but
generally of the festivals, the date of which was determined by the
moon, and the phrase may bear special reference to the Jewish
or Ebionite celebration of the Passover, which was customary
in Asia Minor. But most of all do the worshipping of angels
and the transcendental speculations about the spirit-world that
were bound up with that worship, as it is described, ii 18,
appear to be a characteristic trait of Ebionitism. Kot only
did the Ebionites attach great importance to the doctrine of angels
and the religious worship of them, they closely connected Christ
himself with the angels, and even considered him to be one of
thenL^

And it is just here that we see what was the point of the
polemics of the Epistle to the Colossians. The Ebionites agreed
in saying of Christ that he was created before all, exalted above
the angels, the ruler of all created thinga But then again they
placed the angels in a co-ordinate relation to Christ, ascribed to
them also a redeeming and mediating function, even invoked them
directly in this capacity, and regarded Christ as only eva r&v
afyxa^fjiXjcov. The Epistle to the Colossians, on the contrary,
insists strongly on the point that the dignity of Christ is not a
question of degree, but consists in an absolute superiority over

. * Haer. xxx. 2, 16, 17.

^ According to Epiph. Haer. zzz. 2, the Ebionite doctrine about Christ (though,
as Epiphanius remarks, they were not all together at one on the subject, or
perhaps he was unable to harmonize the statements which he had before him)
was in the main this : \fyova-w avmScv fi€v Svra irp6 irdvr&v de KTurBevra, irvevna
opra KOI inrep ayy€\ovs ovra irdvr&v bk KVpuvovrat koi Xpiarhv \eyea-Bai, Cf. c.
16 : ov <l>d<rKova'i dc e/c Qeov Uarpbs avT6v y€y€wr}(r6cut akXh iKTia-Boi ws iva r&v
ap-)(ayytK<»Vy fietiova dc aifTS>p Zvra avrbv be Kvpi€V€iv tS>p dyycKav Kai irdvr&v
T&v virb Tov iravTOKparopos ireiroirjfiepcov. Tertullian also says (De came Christi,
c. 14), '^Ebionem coatUuisse Jesum plane propheHa glorUmorem ut ita m Ulo
angduafuiase dkatur.**



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30 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part II.

everything created. Christ is accordingly not merely irpo irdvrtov
KTiaOeh, but the TrpandroKo^ irdaj}^ /crlaeco^;; so far f5pom being
himself created, that on the contrary aU things are created in him.
Bence it is strongly asserted that Christ is the xe^Xij both rov
atojuiTo^, T^9 €/cKXfj<ria^, and Traai]^ ^PXV^ '^ €^ovala<; ; and the
chief proposition of the whole contention is, in contrast to that
Ebionite ov Kparetv ttjv K€J>aX7}v, that in so pre-eminent a sense
is Christ to be held as head, that whatever is not itself the head
cannot be thought to stand to him in any relation but that of
absolute dependence. What is said both against circumcision and
against the (rroLxela rov fcda-fLov, is to be regarded from the same
point of view, namely, as opposition to everything that might
detract from the absolute dignity of Christ. Now a doctrine which
made man dependent in religion on his natural, physical being or
material nature, which made religious welfare obtainable through
the purifying and sanctiiying power that was ascribed to the
elements and substances of the world,^ through the influence
which the heavenly bodies were said to exercise on the sublunary
world, through what was naturally clean as distinguished from
what was held for unclean, — this doctrine placed the arroixela rov
/cdafiov in the position which only Christ, as the Eedeemer, ought
to occupy. Just in this way do we find, ver. 8, that the aroix^la
Tov KoafLov and Christ are placed over against each other. This
then is what our writer caUs philosophy in the same sense in
which the essence of philosophy is called worldly wisdom. It is
the science which deals with the aroix^ca rov Koa-fwv ; it is only
a KoafiLKri TraiSeia, as philosophy is termed in the Clementine
Homilies (Hom. i. 10), in contrast with the doctrine of the true
Prophet. It thus contains nothing to raise man above the world
to God. It is a mere cosmology, not a theology, a distinction
which seems to be before the writer's mind when he proceeds, after

^ As was the case with the Ebionites, cf. Epiph. in loc. cit. They ascribed
sach yirtue especiaUy to water. According to the Clementine Homilies in the
Contestatio pro eis, qui librum accipiimt, one is to invoke as fidprvpas . . .
ovpav6v, yrjv vdap, iv ols rh irdirra jrepuxtTca, irp6s tovtois bi &traxnv kcX rhv hta
iravTov bi^Kovra aipa ol av€v ovk avofirvito.



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPUESIANS AND COLOSSI ANS. 31

the words, Kara ra aroi^'xeia Koi ov Kara XpioTov, and adds that
it is in Christ that the wX'qpcofm t^? deorriro^ dwells. It is this
divine element which distinguishes Christianity from a philosophy
which deals with nothing more than the oTOij^eZa rov Koafwv,
Such a doctrine is nothing but a philosophy ; it may be called a
Kein] airoTT}, a mere jrapaSoai^ r&v avOpcufrmv.

If, as can scarcely be denied, the polemical references of the
Epistle to the Colossians are rightly accounted for by what we
have brought forward, it must be admitted that the position
occupied by our writer in this controversy is a totally different
one from that of the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians.
He was dealing there with the naked opposition in which Chris-
tianity was coming to stand towards Judaism, and with the
question whether, in addition to faith in Christ, Jewish circum-
cision could have a place as a necessary condition of salvation.
But here the stress of the antithesis is no longer, as formerly, in
the sphere of soteriology (which was of course the first and chief
contents of the Christian consciousness), it has advanced to the
sphere of Christology, and the important point is now to bring
what was thought to be the soteriological contents of Christianity
to its absolute expression in the clearer and more definite concep-
tion which was coming to be formed of the person of Christ The
process of the development of the Christian consciousness con-
sisted just in this, that instead of the immediate consciousness of
the blessings of Christianity, there came a stage where these
blessings were taken for granted, and here only such a conception
of the person of Christ was admissible as would represent him
with full capacity to produce all those effects, inwardly intense,
and outwardly extensive, in which the work of redemption was
held to consist In this sense the absolute conception of the
person of Christ is the theme of both Epistles, and if we find them
(a point to which we must recur afterwards) insisting upon a unity
in which all differences are done away, then Christ himself must
be taken as the central point of that unity. Thus the dispute
with Ebionitism waa of importance only as the views of that body



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32 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Part U.

came into collision with the conception of the peiBon of Christ
which was thus being developed.

Thus the more special subjects which seemed to give this I^istle
an advantage over that to the Ephesians, fail to dispel the sus-
picion of its post-apostolic origin. But apart &om tiie historical
phenomena by which both epistles are to be explained, there are
numbers of smaller points about them which would lead us to con-
clude that the author stood at some distalice from the apostolic
age. If Paul were the author of these Epistles, how could he him-
self have given td the dirwrroXoi the predicate ar/ioil iii 5.
De Wette at once remarked this, and justly considered it as
weighing against the apostolic origin of the Ephesian letter. To
this Harless answiered "that the predicate arfioi was positively
required by the context Why, he said, should the apostle^ who
calls all Christians &yioi, cany his modesty so far as to scruple to call
the apostles the same, even though he himself was one of them ?^
Does he caU himseK so xar €^o)(tiv, pr was it such a virtue in
the apostles to be ayiot, that they should not have ventured to
mention it, however unobtrusively ? Those whom he calls &yioi
are the apostles called by God, and so distinguished &om oth^
men." But the chief point is that this designation is not found iu
any other passage of an apostolical letter, but becomes a standing
predicate of the apostles in a later age, which the greater the dis>-
tance from them, looked up to them with the humbler reverenca
The author of the Epistle, then, seems here to have made a slip,
and to have betrayed himself involuntarily as a different man from
the apostle, and as living in a later aga But on the other hand,
we cannot fail to see how earnestly he tries to convince us of his
identity with him. Thus he makes the apostle assure us again
and again that he is Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, the prisoner
for the sake of the gospel In EpL iii 1 the q,postle says of him-

1 As remftrked in the Krit. Misc., p. 282, there is something remarkable in the
frequent use of the predicate Syioi as a convertible phrase with '' believers " or
"church/' Compare with this the emphasis with which the Epistle to the
Ephesiaus dwells on the sanctity of the Church, e.g, v. 27.



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Chap. IV.] EFISTLE8 TO EFRE8IAN8 AND COLOS^IANS, 33

self: €70) IlavXxy;, 6 Beafiio^ rov Xpi&rov 'Irfaov wrep vfi&v tS>v
e0v&v . . . Tov evarfyeklovy ov eyepo/jurjv BiaKOVo^ Kara ttjv Scopeav rfj^
XaptTos TOV 0€ov . . . €fiol T^ eKa')(urroTeptp Trdprcop r&v dylcov iBdOrf
V X«^P^^ avTT), €V To2<; eOveaiv evayyeXlaaaOat rov . . . ttKovtov rov
Xpurrov' iv. 1, nrapaKoKS) ovv v/m^ iyo) 6 Beafiio^ ev Kvpiqt'
vi 20, irpeapevoi ev dXvaei, CoL i. 23, rov evwyyeXiov . . . ou
eyepofiTiv eyo) ITat)\o9 Bcd/covo^' ver. 24, 17 e/cKXfiala ^9 er/evop/qv
€70) Bca/covo*s, Kara Tqv oiKOVopiav rov 0€ov, ttjv hoOeiaav p>OL 6*9
vpJas; ... 61/ Tot9 eOveaLv. Is it the apostle's custom to speak thus of
himself and his apostolate? How different are those passages which
we naturally compare with the above, 1 Cor. xv. 9, 2 Cor. x. 1,
GaL V. 2. Is it not remarkable that the same thing should be
insisted on again and agedn ? How many words are used, how the
expressions rise higher and higher ! A notable instance of this
exaggeration of expression is the peculiar form €Xaj^toT(yr€/}09, where
the writer evidently had 1 Cor. xv. 9 (ey© o ixdxtoTos;) before his
•mind. Thi^ simple and natural form, however, did not content him^
nor did the phrase €\d)(iaTo^ tS>v diroardkcav, for which, with the
same love of extremes, he substitutes e\a;^60T0T€pd9 7rdvT(ov dyicov.
And what a contrast to this eKa'^^i^o^drepo^ irdvTaiv drfUdv does it
present, when the apostle not only reckons himself among the
aywt, but even writes to the Church at Ephesus that they will be
able to see from his Epistle how great insight he possesses into the
mystery of Christ (iii. 4, 5). ^

Such digressions into personal matters, such exaggerations
of the materials which are used,^ such contradictions, in which
the personation that is going on is clearly betrayed, — these
are among the characteristic features of our two Epistles, as
they are of the Pastorals. Here we have also to mention
what De Wette justly remarks on the passage, Eph. ii. 20,
that the apostle, who was actively engaged up to the end of his
Ufe, and who was conscious that his position was no other than
that of a labourer for the kingdom of God, could hardly have

* CoL iii 11 is also sucb a passage ; it is evidently formed after the passage
Gal. iii 28, and exaggerates the differences there spoken oi

C



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34 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part II.

regarded himself (as we find in the passage named) as the founda-
tion already laid, and still less in conjunction with other apostles
who laboured in a different spirit from his. Such a view would
be appropriate, as De Wette remarks, only to a disciple of the
apostle who saw before him the complete results of the apo-
stolical labours, who was filled with reverence for them, at whose
time, moreover, the gift of prophetic inspiration had ceased to be
generally diffused throughout the Church, so that the prophets of
his age appeared to him in a higher light than that in which the
apostle Paul regarded them.

The same late date of composition is betrayed in the passage,
Eph. iv. 14, Iva fiff/cen &/i€P • • . K\x/^vi^ofi€voi koI ir€puf>€p6fJu€voc
iravri dv€/jup t^9 BtBcur/caXui^, ev r^ Kvfieia r&v avOporrrav, etc.
This unstable swaying to and fro between different and constantly
changing doctrines, which is mentioned here as a state of things of
which there had ab^ady been experience, is quite out of place as
a picture of the apostolic age.

In conclusion, we may notice the salutations sent fix)m Mark
and Luke, CoL iv. 10, 14. Mark and Luke are mentioned at the
close of the Second Epistle to Timothy, and as soon as doubt is
thrown upon the genuineness of that Epistle, we are led to believe
that there was some special reason for mentioning them. Their
Grospels wer6 at that time highly valued as a basis for that
general unification of the Church which every one desired, and
thus there was a motive to call attention on every occasion to the
harmonious relation that existed between these two men, and
between them and the apostles. Thus the mention of their names
in the Epistle to the Colossians can scarcely be without some under-
lying motive. The mention of Mark is connected with a further
difficulty. According to the Second Epistle to Timothy (iv. 12),
which must have been the last of the apostle's letters, he was to be*
called to Eome at that date, while, according to the Epistle to the
Colossians, with which that to Philemon agrees (ver. 24), he was
with the apostle at Kome already. And this is the more remark-
able, that the journey of Tychicus to Ephesus, mentioned at the



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Online LibraryFerdinand Christian BaurPaul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 4 of 35)