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Ferdinand Christian Baur.

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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS. 36

same time, 2 Tim. iv. 12, can scarcely be a diflferent one from that
spoken of, Eph. vi. 21 ; Col. iv. 7. We must therefore imagine the
apostle's assistants to have taken journey after journey from the
east to the west, and from west to east again, if these different
dates are not to stand side by side in the most glaring contra-
diction.

It has long been acknowledged that in expression and style
these Epistles have a character of their own, and are distinguished
from the Epistles of Paul ; especially is this true of the Ephesian
letter. In its heavy long-drawn periods, laden with far-fetched
and magniloquent expressions, we miss both the lively dialectical
process and the wealth of thought for which the apostle is dis-
tinguished. In the Colossian letter this is less strikingly the case,
yet in many passages it also gives us the impression of a composi-
tion without life or spontaneity, moving forward in repetitions and
tautologies, and sentences grouped together with a merely outside
connexion.

What, then, we have still to ask, is the true object of these
Epistles, if they be not by Paul, and can only be understood in the
light of the features of that later age from which they sprang ?
The central idea around which everything else revolves in them is
to be found in their Christology ; but it is impossible to assume
that the object for which they were written was the purely theore-
tical one of setting forth those higher views of the person of Christ.
The occasion out of which they arose n^ust have been some prac-
tical need in the circumstances of the time ; and even the idea of
the person of Christ is at once brought into a certain definite point
of view. Christ, it is manifest, is taken here as the centre of the
unity of all opposites. These opposites embrace the entire uni-
verse ; heaven and earth, the visible and the invisible, and every-
thing that exists has in Christ the basis of its existence ; in him,
therefore, aU oppositions and distinctions disappear ; even up to the
highest spirit- world there is nothing that has not its highest and
absolute principle in him. This metaphysical height is sought,
however, only in order to descend from it to the immediate present



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36 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Paet IL

and its practical necessities ; for here also there are opposites of
which only Christ can be the reconciling and atoning unity. Here^
accordingly, we find the stand-point from which the object and
the contents of the Epistles can be satisfactorily comprehended. It
is obvious that they point to the distinction of Gentile and Jew
Christians ; and thus they clearly belong to a time when these two
parties were still, to some extent, opposed to each other, and when
the removal of their mutual opposition was the only road to the
unity of the Christian Church. How strongly the need of such
unity, to be realized by the mutual approaches and the gradual
fusion of the two still separated parties, was felt at the time when
our Epistles were written, is clear on the face of them ; first, in
the earnest exhortations to unity, as especially Eph. iv. 1 ; in the
repeated commendations of love as the bond of peace, Eph. iv. 25,
V. 2 ; Col. ii 2 ; iiL 14 ; and further, in all those passages where
the Church is described with such emphasis as an organism sub-
sisting in the idea of its own unity and the inward connexion of
-all its members with each other. This unity of the Church as an
organic whole is the object towards which those Epistles labour
with all their powers ; they seek to make it clear that this oneness
with the principle on which the Christian Church is based is
necessarily contained in Christ as the head of the Church, and
thus that the important point is to become fully alive to that
which is abeady a fact, to recognise it practically, and carry it out.
We find three momenta in which the conception of the person of
Christ possesses itself its essential unity, and which supply the
motives for this eflFort after unity which belongs to the idea of
the Church. 1. The Epistle to the Colossians takes up the highest
metaphysical stand-point : here Christ in his pre-mundane existr
ence as the image of the invisible God, is the principle of creation
itself ; if aU things be created in him and through him, then all
have in him their perfect unity and their highest teleological
reference. As everything comes forth from him, so everything
must return to him ; and there is no opposition, no distinction,
which is not done away in him, the principle of all unity, from the



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS. 37

begiiming and absolutely: ra irdvra Zt avrov kolI el^ avrov
exTurrat, CoL i. 16. 2. The second momentum is Christ as the
K&f>a\^ T^ €KK\f]ala^, as the Lord raised through his resurrection
and ascension, to be the head of the Church as his body. Here the
view goes upwards from beneath, as in the first instance it went down-
wards from above, so that both are but the two sides which can-
not be disjoined, of one and the same unity realizing itself through
their difference. This second momentum is enforced with equal
emphasis in both Epistles : Col. i. 18, sq., and Eph. L 20, $q. Here
it is clearly set forth how in Christ, as the head of the Church,
all oppositions and differences in the Church, and indeed in the
world, must disappear, since he is pre-ordained, dvate€(l)a\ai<i<raa'0ai
ra irdvra in himself as Kej>a\ri ; everything without distinction,
both things in heaven and things on earth (this could not be the
case were he not the absolute principle of all things existing, as he
is described, CoL i. 15). The very obvious inference is drawn
from this, how much it is the interest of the various parties in the
Church to overlook all differences that keep them from each other,
and in the consciousness of the unity of their common principle,
to come together themselves to actual unity. 3. To these two
momenta, standing as they do over against each other, comes the
third in wtich they are mediated. This is found in the death of
Christ; It is one of the peculiarities of those Epistles that they
regard the death of Christ in the light of an arrangement made by
God with the view of destroying the wall of partition between
Gentiles and Jews, and of reconciling both at once to God through
the peace that has thus been brought about. There is nothing
that both Epistles together insist upon more than this general
elprjvtyjroielv, and dTroKaraXdrreiv, through Christ : Eph. ii. 14, $q. ;
CoL i. 20,sq. All distinction between Jews and Gentiles is abolished ;
the absolute superiority which the Jew had over the Gentile is
taken from him ; for through the death of Christ the Mosaic law,
the handwriting that was against us of a law consisting in positive
commandments and ordinances of direct authority, is now destroyed.
Since, then, in Christianity all national differences and oppositions,



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38 LIFE AND WOliK OF PAUL. [Part IL

with everything else that divides men from each other in the
various relations of life, are abolished through the death of Christ,
there appears in it the new man who has now to lay off more* and
more in practical reaUty the old man that still cleaves to him, CoL
iii 9 ; Eph. ii 10, 15; iv. 22. Connected with this, and starting
from a metaphysical idea of the person of Christ, the Epistle to the
Colossians represents the effects of his death in doing away with
all distinctions and oppositions, as affecting even the invisible
world. In that sphere, also, Christ has reconciled all things
through the relation in which they stand to him, has made peace
through the blood of his cross, and brought back all things, both
in heaven and earth, to the unity that is in him. So essential a
part is it therefore of the peculiar task of the Christian church to
strive after unity, and to realize the idea which she sees presented
to her in Christ, who is the highest and absolute principle of her
existence, as he alone can be the goal of all her efforts.

All this carries us to that period when, not without the ferment
and commotion of conflicting elements, the Christian church was
coming to realize herself and to achieve her unity. With all the
authors of the inmiediately post-apostolic age whose writings
have come down to us, the prominent interest of the time appears
to have been the unity of the Church, the necessity of which they
recognised, and which they strove in various ways to usher in.
We have thus before us a state of affairs which lies beyond the
stand-point of the apostle PauL His task was to lay the founda-
tions of the Gentile Christian churches ; but here we see the two
parties fully formed, and confronting each other, and the great
point is to bring them nearer to each other, and to bridge over the
gulf which still divides them. Our Epistles find the point of
meeting where these differences may be reconciled chiefly in the
death of Christ. In the same way the author of the Johannine
Gospel regards the unity which binds the different elements of
the Church into one body as an effect which nothing but the death
of Christ could have procured. ^

1 Cf. Abhandlg. Uber das joh. Ev. ; TheoL Jahrb. 1844, p. 621 (Unters. Uber
die Evang. 316).



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHE8IANS AND C0L088IAN8. 39

To the apostle Paul himself this view is not familiar. It is true
that the death of Christ is to him also the principle of a new creation,
a new life, but with him this is only in essence, theoretically,
generally, and in connexion with his doctrine of faith, inasmuch as
to him who believes in Christ and his atoning death, old things are
passed away, and all thiugs are made new. But he never made a
definite practical application of the death of Christ to the differ-
ences existing between the two parties out of whose union the
Christian Church was to arise^ such as is made here ; still less did
he ever ascribe to the death of Christ such an influence in the
super-sensuous world as we find in our Epistles ; that could be
done only from the stand-point of their peculiar Christology.^
Thus even here there is a very noticeable difference ; on a closer
view, however, we become aware that even the Pauline doctrines of
justification by faith, and of the relation of Judaism and heathen-
ism to each other and to Christianity, are modified in a way which
can only be explaiued from the circumstances of the time in which
these Epistles were produced, and the peaceful tendency which
these circumstances impressed on them. The writer of the
Epistle to the Ephesians cannot, as a true follower of Paul, degrade
the Pauline doctrine of justification from the position which
belongs to it ; yet hardly has he mentioned faith, when he appears,
although tmconsciously, to be unable to refrain from going on
to speak of works or love. This is most strikingly the case, ii 8,
where the sentence, Ty yap xdpvrl lore aeaoDafiepoc Sia t7J<s irla-

T€G)9, KCbi TOVTO OVK cf Vfl&V' 0€OV TO B&pOV Olf/C €^ CpyCOV, Iva

liTj TA9 KavyrioTfraL, indorses the Pauline doctrine with laboured
and abundant emphasis; but with how little inward sequence
does the next sentence follow it, a sentence adopted from the
doctrine of James : avrov yap eafiev wolrjfia, icnaOivre^ iv

^ CoL L 20 ; Eph. iiL 9, 8g. The Epistle to the ColossianB represents the
death of Christ as peculiarly a victory over the evil powers ; Christ stripped
them of their power, made a show of them openly, and triumphed over them,
ii 15. This is not found with the apostle in such immediate connexion with the
death of Christ, but is a feature of later, particularly of Gnostic representations ;
Cf. Gesch. der Lehre von der VersShnung, p. 27, «$.



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40 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Part IL

Xpurro} 'Irfaov eirl epyoi^ arfoOoU, oh TrpoffToifiaaeif 6 0€O9,
Ufa €v airroh TrepiiraTTyrcofiev* Works are thus to go by the side
of faith, but instead of faith being alleged to be the foundation of.
them, they are placed by the side of faith as the final purpose of
the creation of men. It is the same with love ; the apostle Paul
expresses by his phrase, irurn^ Sv a^airrf; evepyovfievr), the inward
unity of faith and love; in place of which the author of the
Epistle to the Ephesians has only love by the side of faith, iii 17,
18, and vi. 23, arfaTrrj fiera Trlorrean^. The Epistle to the Colossians
prefers to take faith and works together as the moral praxis of the
Christian life, i 10 ; iii 9, sq. By setting faith and love in this
relation to each other, justice is to be done to both parties ; and we
see that in these Epistles, Grentile and Jew Christians are placed
side by side, as equally privileged members of the Christian Church.
Thus Judaism and heathenism equdly occupy a negative position
in relation to Christianity, Eph. ii 11 ; CoL i. 20 ; yet as conces-
sions may have been made to the Grentile Christians for the sake
of unity, so out of regard for the Jewish Christians there are
certain concessions made to Judaism of which the apostle Paul
would not altogether have approved. It is said of the Gentiles,
Eph. ii 11, that they who were called uncircumcision by that
which is called circumcision in the flesh, had been, during the
whole period of heathenism, without Christ, aliens to the citizen-
ship of Israel, unacquainted with the covenants of promise,
without hope and without God in the world ; but that now, they
who before stood far off have come near in the blood of Christ.
That is to say, the heathen have only received a share of what
the Jews had before ; and thus Christianity is not the absolute
religion in which the negativeness of heathenism and that of
Judaism come to an end together; on the contrary, the 'Substan-
tial contents of Christianity are just Judaism itself. Thus the
universality of Christianity consists in this, that Judaism is
extended to the heathen through the death of Christ. In
it the hostility, the wall of division, and every thing positive
that separated the two parties, has an end ; both are reconciled to



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIAN8 AND COLOSSIANS. 41

God in one body and in one spirit, both have the same access to the
Father. It is true that the heathen have thus, as Christians,
everything that the Jews have ; yet they are in the position of
having been admitted, of having come near, of having received
a share ; for they, as the eOvrf, are merely ovyKkvfpdvofia kcu
avaa-oDfia koi avfifieroxa t^9 en-arfyeXla^ ev r^ Xpurr^. They
are merely partakers of that to which the Jews have the first
and indisputable claim. Now, if we consider how the Apostle
expresses himself on this subject, especially in the Epistle to
the Eomans, we cannot admit this to be a genuine Pauline
view. The deeper reason of the difference is, that the peculiar
Pauline conception of faith is not familiar to these Epistles. They
know nothing of faith as an inward process in the conscious-
ness, the most essential part of which is a personal conviction and
experience of the impossibility of justification through the law.
Hence the object of this faith, the death of Christ, remains
purely external to them. The death of Christ has indeed brought
about the cancelling of the law as well as the forgiveness
of sins ; but the law, which is set aside in the death of Christy
appears to be here little more than the injunction of circum-
cision.^

^ It is in this way that the chief result of the death of Christ is
the reconciliation of heathens and Jews : this reconciliation was a
thing of course, as soon as the wall of partition, that is, circum-
(5ision, the difference between Trepirofirj and aKpo^varla, was taken
away. Such is the Christian universalism of these Epistles; it
is not based upon the profound idea of the Apostle's religious
anthropology, but only upon the coalition of heathens and Jews,
which is one of the outward effects of the death of Christ. It is
the same external universalism which the pseudo-Clementine
homilies make the object of Christ's death in addition to the

^ The Koff fiiJLmv x*H^^po<l>ov rois b&yfuuriVj t fjv vntvavrlov fjfuv. Col. iL 14
(cf. Eph. ii. 15, 6 vdfios t&v €vto\S>v iv doyfuuriv), is quite adequately accounted
for by referring it to the penalty connected with the injunction of circumcision,
that every man not circumcised was to be regarded as liable to be put to death.



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42 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part U.

forgiveness of sins. The Christian identifies himself with a new
man, who, according to these Epistles, arises out of Christianity,
so that he, as Christian, is neither Jew nor Gentile (cf. Eph. iL 15),
and, as Christian, has now to put oflf all the impurities of heathen-
ism. Judaism thus loses, it is true, the absolute claim it made
through the law of circimicision ; but for this loss the Epistle
to the Colossians seeks to provide a compensation ; it is at some
pains to show that even in these altered circumstances there is a
circumcision, not ev aapxl yeipoirolryro^, but wxeipoTroirfro^, 6i/
T^ aTrcKSvaei rov atofiaTO^ rf/^ aapKO^, the TrepiTOfirj tov Xpurrov,
which takes place in baptism, in which rite Christ makes alive
the vexpou^ ovra^ ev ry cuepo^voTia rf}^ aapxo^, for in baptism
they renounce all sensual desires, and dedicate themselves to a
pure and holy life. This statement that Christian baptism was
to have the same meaning with Jewish circumcision, is one
we meet with elsewhere in post- Apostolic writings. The more
importance the author of the Epistle to the Colossians attaches to
the foundation thus gained for the union of Gentile and Jew
Christians, the more must he have been led to controvert the
principles of Ebionitism, a sect which repudiated universalism
if coupled with such conditions, and would hear of no renuncia-
tion of those elements which, as he shows, were irreconcilable
with the absolute Christian principle.

It is quite clear that the Epistle to the Ephesians is secondary
to that to the Colossians ; but it may be doubted whether it was
written much later, and whether by another author. May not the
twin Epistles have gone forth into the world together ? A com-
parison of the contents of both suggests that the materials have
been divided between them purposely with some such view. All
that is polemical, special, and individual, is given to the Colossian
letter : the Ephesian letter seems purposely to avoid all such topics,
while, on the other hand, it treats the general subject of the Colos-
sian letter more at large. The close relation of the Epistles to each
other makes it somewhat striking that they seem to contain refer-
ences to one another ; the writer to the Colossians tells his readers



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIJNS AND C0L08SIANS. 43

expressly, iv. 16, that they are to communicate their letter to the
Laodiceans, and to get another letter from Laodicea communicated
to themselves. The question is naturally suggested whether our
Epistle to the Ephesians is this Laodicean epistle. Marcion asserts
that the Epistle had the title, To the Laodiceans; but Marcion may
have had no other authority for this statement than the passage,
CoL iv. 16, itsel£ Yet though the letter was originally addressed
To the Ephesians, and intended for them, i 1, we may still suppose
that the writer imagined the letter to have been taken by Tychicus
to Ephesus, but to have been meant for other churches also ; and
thus it might reach Colosse from Laodiceeu This .would explain
why the words, iv. 16, are not Tqv ew ActoBiKeia^, but rijv he
AaoSiKela^. If the address, Eph. L 1, contained originally nothing
more than T0I9 a/yioi^ xal irtoToU Iv 'Irfa. Xp,, the addition toU
ovai^v €v 'E<f>€aip, might easily arise from 2 Tim. iv. 12, where
Tychicus is spoken of, the same who is named, Eph. vL 21, CoL
iv. 7, as the messenger of the apostle and the bearer of the Epistle,
Tdxi/cov Se aWoretXa eU "E^eaov. Tychicus is thus, in any case,
named as the bearer of both Epistles. Now it is curious to find it
said, Eph. vi 21, iva Sk eiZfjTe koI vfuh ra Kar cfie, rl irpaaa-m,
iravra v/uv yvc^plaei 6 Tt^xiKo^, etc. This fcal before vfiel^ can
only be explcdned from CoL iv. 7. The author of the Epistle to
the Ephesians writes as if he, that is, the apostle, had just before
been writing to the Colossians the letter intended for them. This
may indeed be the invention of the author of the Ephesian letter
writing later than the other author. But the circumstance can be
accounted for equally well by supposing that the authors of both
Epistles are one and the same man. He will then have referred,
Eph. vi 21, to the Colossian epistle, as, in CoL iv. 16, to the
Ephesian epistle. What makes this the more likely is, that it is
hard to see why the readers of the Colossian epistle should be
referred to another epistle about to reach them from Laodicea, if
there were not such an Epistle in existence at the time. The
same author will thus have purposely divided into two letters
what he could have said in one ; and why ? Probably because he



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44 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part II.

thought that what was said in the same way in two letters would
produce the greater impression. The passage, CoL ii 1, shows also
how the author of this Epistle had two churches in his mind when
he was writing, so that even this passage, taken in connexion with
iv. 16, might make it seem not unlikely that as his subject was of
equal importance to both churches, he felt himself induced to write
two separate letters to them. Thus the more important the subject
appeared to him with which both Epistles deal, the easier did it
seem to imagine how the Apostle came to write these Epistles to
two churches with which he was personally unacquainted (for
this is especially remarked, CoL il 1, and the same thing is inferred,
Eph. i. 15).-^ These explanations may have appeared necessary to
the later author, but what reason could have induced the Apostle
himself, judging even by the contents of our Epistles, to write to
two churches with which he did not stand in any intimate rela-
tions ? The Epistle to the Bomans cannot be appealed to here as
a case in point, unless a comparison were possible between the
contents of the Epistle to the Bomans and the contents of these
two Epistles, which are so far inferior.

Whatever may be thought of the theory here advanced of the
identical authorship of both Epistles, there can be no doubt of this,
that the two are so much interwoven that they must stand or fall
together in their claim to apostolic origin.

^ If it be assumed that the Epistle to the Ephesians was addressed to Laodicea
as a circuhur, we have still the difiBculty that GoL ii 1, iv. 16, mentions only
Laodicea. Then it is to be considered that if Paul could not possibly write
to the Ephesiims in the words ascribed to him, i. 15, neither could an author,
writing under his name, Write in such terms, since the Apostle's relations with
the Church at Ephesus were too well known to be passed over. Both Epistles
appear to be written purposely to churches which were not personally known to
the Apostle. Considering all this, and in addition to this, the close connexion
which the Epistles bear to each other, one can scarcely avoid taking the Ephesian
Epistle, in spite of its title and the oi<riv iv *E<l>€<r<^, to be an Epistle to the
Laodiceans.



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FIFTH CHAPTER

THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.

The critic who first ventured to cast doubt on the genuineness
of the Epistle to the Ephesians, has lately asserted of the Epistle to
the Philippians that its genuineness is above all question.^ It is
true that no sufficient reasons have been alleged as yet for doubting
its apostolic origin; yet I think there are such reasons, and I deem
it necessary to stat^ shortly, for the further consideration of criti-
cism, what they are. I think there are three points to be considered.*

1. This Epistle, like the two we have just discussed, is occupied
with Gnostic ideas and expressions, and that not in the way of
controversy with Gnostics, but employing them, with the neces-
sary modifications, for its own purposes. The passage, ii. 6, one
of great importance for dogmatics, and of as great difficulty, can

1 De Wette : EinL in's Neue Test. 4 Aufl. 1842, p. 268. [In his Fifth Edition,



Online LibraryFerdinand Christian BaurPaul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 5 of 35)