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THE PAULINE THEOLOGY.

CHAPTER XVI.

THE ANTI-JEWISH APOLOGETIC.

THE contrasts between this world and the next, between Adam and Christ, the flesh and the Spirit, death and life, are the subjects of the great theology of salvation. No mention is made of Israel, of its law, of its peculiar position. These matters do not concern the Greeks. But the struggle against Jews and Judaizers compelled St Paul to undertake a learned

a exposition of his teaching as compared with Judaism. This struggle had of course to be fought out in the first instance in the sphere of actual fact. The connection with the synagogue had to be cut off in all places where St Paul preached, and the Old Testament had to be brought to the Gentile Christians without the official Jewish explanation. Then St Paul had stubbornly to defy the whole congregation at Jerusalem, and at Antioch to withstand St Peter to the face—fighting, in the first instance, for the freedom of the Gentile Christians, and in the second for their equality of rights with the Jewish Christians. More important here than all his learning was the resolute attitude of his personality. Finally he had to beat back the attacks of the Judaistic emissaries upon the newly founded Churches, and to see to it (in spite of all abuse and denunciation) that none of the newly acquired territory should be lost again. In this struggle against the Judaizersit was at the same time the struggle for his apostleship-St Paul stands revealed to us under his sternest and most rugged aspect. It is there that he breaks forth into abuse of the false apostles and messengers of Satan; it is there that he utters the curse against every one that should preach another gospel, even were it an angel from heaven. The fact is, that he knows that the very existence of Christianity is at stake. When finally the most impetuous attack had been repulsed, there was still no rest for him. For in the meantime, his other great enemy the Jews remained as powerful as ever. They denounced him as an apostate and a blasphemer to the Christians at Rome; they imprisoned him, and all but killed him at Jerusalem ; during his captivity they stirred up all the strife they could in his churches -e.g. at Philippi. He had to ward off the attacks of these Jews till the time of his death. Now this struggle against Jews and Judaizers in actual life naturally led him to engage in a theoretical campaign, both of attack and defence. His aim and object is ever the same: the justification of the mission to the Gentiles free from the bondage of the law. In the explanation of his doctrine, three points come up for consideration : the criticism and setting aside of the law, the defence of the reception of the Gentiles on the basis of faith, and the problem of the prerogatives of Israel.

St Paul of course speaks everywhere from the standpoint of a Christian apologist.

The Law Annulled.

It was a memorable hour when St Paul met St Peter at Antioch, and fairly placed the alternative before him: Christ or the law. Either the one or the other. A little while before, at the council at Jerusalem, he had only proclaimed the freedom of his Gentile converts without criticising the observance of the law by the Jewish Christians.

tians. But now the law and Christ stood opposed to each other. Paul put the following question to Peter: Where have we ourselves found our salvation, and where not ? No sooner was the question put in this antithetical form than the law was annulled. It now took its place amongst those hostile powers from which Christ has set us free. Henceforth St Paul's motto was: to die unto the law, in order to be able to live unto God.

Thereby St Paul destroyed the idea that true religion was the legal system of the Jewish race. His object now was to establish this on a theoretical basis.

There were many ways in which he might achieve this result. The divine origin of the law might be questioned. Or secondly, the eternal and the temporal elements in the law might be separated by means of internal criticism. There was a third road, which led to freedom from the law-allegorical interpretation. Finally it could be pointed out that the law was not the way of salvation, and had been annulled by a new divine dispensation.

The first method—the denial of the divine origin

was that, e.g., pursued later by Marcion, the apostle's zealous follower, but St Paul himself resisted the temptation. A temptation it was for him in the heat of the fray with the Judaists, when he wrote the . letter to the Galatians and the second to the Corinthians. At that time he laid great weight upon the fact that the law had been ordained through angels, by the hand of a mediator; it did not, therefore, originate immediately from the hand of God. Nor did he shrink from counting it among the weak and beggarly elements which, as heathens, they served in times gone by. Or else he spoke of the teaching of the law as of a “ministration of death,” and said of the letter that it killeth, words which surely would only be applied otherwise to powers hostile to God. Nevertheless he clings firmly to the fact that God gave the law. The law is not sin, but holy; the commandment is holy, righteous and good—and herein lay the real source of the difficulty of the problem. Had it not been for his tenacious belief in the divine inspiration of every word in the law he would never have needed to take all this trouble to prove that it would have to be annulled.

The second method was pursued by Catholic and gnostic teachers of the second century, who distinguished the eternal law of nature from the transitory law of ritual. Even the conversation of Jesus with the Scribe as to the supreme commandment seemed to point in this direction. But for St Paul the 'nomos' admits of no such division—it is something whole and entire. It is possible indeed to be uncertain of which

. part of the law he is thinking on this or that particular occasion : e.g. in Rom. ii. and Rom. vii. he has the

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moral law in his mind; in Gal. iv. the law of ritual. But he has never expressed this distinction in so many words, nor does he anywhere treat of one part of the law more favourably than another. The essence of the law is for him the categorical imperative, and all its constituent portions bear this character in like manner.

The allegorical interpretation had been a means even for the Alexandrian Jews (Philo and others) of liberating themselves, at least theoretically, from the literal meaning of the law. It was practised in Palestine also, and Paul knew of it. He made use occasionally of Old Testament stories in an allegorical fashion: e.g. of the story of Isaac and Ishmael. And in like manner he interpreted isolated commandments which seemed to him unsuitable to God if taken literally; as, e.g., the prohibition to muzzle the mouth of the oxen when the corn is trodden out. Could not the whole of the ritual law be thus interpreted? Would not this turn out to be the road to freedom ?

There are indeed certain indications which appear to point in this direction. The circumcision of the heart in the spirit is contrasted with the circumcision of the flesh as that which alone has value in the sight of God. Or we hear of the circumcision not made with hands—i.e. the putting off of the body of the flesh at baptism. If the law is spiritual, does it not then rightly need a spiritual—i.e. allegorical—interpretation of those portions which are of less value? Does not the celebrated antithesis of letter and spirit (2 Cor. iii. 6) lead us to the same conclusion ? St Paul's opinion is the exact opposite of this. By the letter and the spirit he sets up in opposition to each other

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