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We will briefly study the Biblical Theological beliefs of the Apostle Paul. Biblical theology is a discipline of Christian theology that restricts its study to the Scriptures, and it seeks to determine what the biblical writers said about the issue. Certain major divisions cover the fundamental doctrines of Christian belief. Gaining a summary understanding of his belief system will help the reader understand and correctly interpret his writings. The various letters that Paul penned deal with major theological instructions, while at the same time, you can find parts of his teachings in every letter.
Consider how that Paul’s letters fall into these categories:
In the fields of Soteriology and Eschatology, study Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans. For a study of Christology, examine Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Finally, to be instructed in Ecclesiology, dig into the mines of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.
Look at a summary of some of Paul’s teachings under the following theological headings.
The Apostle Paul declared to Timothy, “and that from infancy you have known the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through trust in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). If Scripture is “God-inspired,” then it is not man-breathed, although men penned it. Paul taught that Scripture reveals God by both General and Special Revelation. – Romans 1:18-21; 2:14-16.
Paul, in his writings, deals with the aspects of Revelation (God’s communication of truth to man), Inspiration (man putting this truth onto paper), and Illumination (the truth coming by the Holy Spirit from the paper into the heart) in the Romans and Timothy passages.
Paul sees the Scriptures as a basis and is vital for understanding God. He presents the main purpose of the Scriptures as giving man an understanding of how to be reconciled with God – Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10, 10:13.
To Paul, the Scriptures were a direct revelation from God, sent to instruct, rebuke, correct, and train us in all that God wants us to know.
Theology Proper –
The study of God, or the doctrine of God.
Paul writes about God as being sovereign and Who reveals Himself in grace through Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16 – 17; 3:21; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 12:7). He declares that God has revealed Himself in judgment to unbelievers (Romans 1:18; 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Paul develops the fact that God will reveal Himself in blessings to believers (Romans 8:18 – 19; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 3:13; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
A dominant part of Paul’s writings deal with the sovereignty of God. God’s sovereignty is defined as “the supreme rank of God as the one having power and authority to rule the lives of man and creation.” The sovereignty of God comes from His omnipotence. Paul uses a number of terms to emphasize this important area of understanding. See Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:4-5, 9 -10, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:27 to name a few places he builds on this.
Paul held a high view of God – the sovereign Majesty who reveals Himself to mankind, so that we can be restored to a personal relationship with Him.
The study of Jesus Christ, or the doctrine of Christ.
Paul writes some of the strongest statements concerning the Deity of Christ, yet he also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. While dealing with the humanity of Jesus, Paul writes about His birth (Galatians 4:4) and his lineage (Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8).
Paul states that Jesus committed no sin, thus being able to redeem what was lost in the Garden. – Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 45, 47; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Paul gives us a well-formulated understanding of the deity of Jesus. His theology provided in his writings is well developed. Christ was pre-existent and eternal; he is involved in the creation and sustaining of this world. – 1 Corinthians 15:47; 2 Corinthians 8:9.
In Colossians 2:9, Paul stresses that all the fullness of Deity resides in Jesus – that he is perfect God. In Philippians 2:6, Paul instructs that Jesus exists in the form (Greek morphe) of the character and essence of God. In Titus 2:13, Paul calls Jesus “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Paul refers to Jesus as Lord. This designates His deity (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:9). The term Lord designates power (Philippians 2:9), divine sovereignty (2 Corinthians 4:5), and kingship and rule. 1 Timothy 6:15; 1 Corinthians 15:25.
So in this summary, we see that Paul recognizes and instructs the reader in understanding who Jesus is.
The study of the Holy Spirit, or the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
The writings of Paul provide us with an extensive disclosure of both the Person and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Considering His personhood, Paul speaks of His Intellect (1 Corinthians 2:10, 13), His Will (1 Corinthians 12:11), Emotions (Ephesians 4:30), and His Deity (Romans 8:9 – 11, 26 -27, 34; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
The many letters of Paul also develop a study into the work of the Holy Spirit. These connect the Spirit to the Father and the Son in their works. The Holy Spirit regenerates (Titus 3:5), he baptizes (1 Corinthians 12:13), he indwells believers (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:7), he seals (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). The Holy Spirit also gives gifts (1 Corinthians 14:4, 7, 11), he fills (controls) the believer (Ephesians 5:18), and finally, he empowers the believer (Galatians 5:16),
Those seven different works described in the referenced passages connect the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son and show forth His works in alignment with the passages.
The study of Angels, or the doctrine of Angels.
Paul does not develop or spend too much time in this field of study. We find 13 references to angels in his letters. He warns us against falling into the heresy of worshipping Angels. (Col. 2:18) They were powerful and were seen as heavenly rulers (Romans 8:38; Galatians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Paul speaks of their watching mankind (1 Cor. 4:9; 1 Tim. 5:21), and their watching Jesus. – 1 Timothy 3:16.
Paul identifies them as created beings in Colossians 1:16 -17. That makes them subject to God. In 1 Timothy 5:21, Paul speaks of them being the “elect” angels – meaning the ones who did not fall with Satan and are in the presence of God.
From these verses, we see that Paul understands that they are lower than God, yet higher than man. They have great power yet are not to be worshipped. There are two classes of angels, elect and demonic, while being created at the same time, have chosen and established their position either in connection with God or against God.
The study of Satan, or the doctrine of Satan.
Paul recognized the existence of a real being called the Devil, or Satan. He was a being created perfect in his ways, one of great beauty and exalted in position until pride led him away from God. Consider what Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:6 (ASV) – “lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”
Paul, in that passage, ascribes personal characteristics to Satan. Paul warns against Satan’s craftiness (2 Cor. 2:11), his wiles (Eph. 4:14; 6:11-12), his miraculous powers (2 Thess. 2:9), and his deceptiveness. – 2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:9 -10.
Paul did see him as the god of this world (age) living in the heavenly realms (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:11-12; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). He is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He allures men to evil (1 Cor. 7:5; 1 Thess. 3:5) and then ensnares them (1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26). He takes possession of some men (Ephesians 4:27) and blinds the minds of others. – 2 Corinthians 4:4.
The Devil energizes his ministers (2 Cor. 11:13 – 15; Eph. 2:2-). He hinders the servants of God, (1 Thess. 2:18) and buffets them. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
He tests believers (Rom. 8:28), and will be the energizing power of the Antichrist. – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10.
Paul sees Satan as a conquered enemy (Rom. 8:3-4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 6:16; Colossians 2:15) and encourages the believer to be fully equipped to withstand him. – 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11-18; Colossians 1:13.
Paul recognized Satan as a real person, a created being that stands in opposition to God and His followers. He is the author of sin and seeks to destroy the work of God. He sees the Devil as having great power, to deceive and destroy, and the need for believers to be prepared for the battles they will face against this opponent. “Apart from total dependence upon God, we cannot win the victory over the devil.”
The study of demons, or the doctrine of demons.
Paul recognized that in conjunction with Satan, or the Devil, there are created beings called Demons (1 Cor. 10:20,21; 1 Tim. 4:1). Paul saw them as producing moral impurity (Eph. 2:2) taking the form of spiritual suggestion (Eph. 6:11-12), and obsession (Eph. 4:17 – 19). He speaks of the believer being engaged in spiritual warfare against these beings.
They are organized under the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), and Paul sees them as having the intellectual ability to design and spread the various false doctrines in the world today (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Most of Paul’s teachings concerning demons are in conjunction with his writings on Satan.
Paul warns against the worship of demons in Colossians 2:18. And some scholars attribute “white magic” to be “black magic” as being the same thing – the one masquerading in more pious terms than the other. This appears in many of the false teachings and cults of today.– 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15; 1 Timothy 4:1,2.
So, while Paul acknowledges the existence of created beings called demons, he does not devote too much time to them individually but includes them into his beliefs about Satan.
The study of salvation, or the doctrine of salvation.
Paul brings some of the themes dealing with soteriology to their fullest elaboration. He centers his teachings on the grace of God, which satisfied divine justice and gave us release from the bondage of sin, and provided the legal declaration of righteousness.
Paul shows us that God forgave our trespasses out of His grace. (Col. 2:13) He uses the Greek word aphesis in Eph. 1:7 and Colossians 1:14 which means to be released, pardon, cancel, and obligation or punishment. God, in his grace, has canceled the debt of sin a man could not pay.
Seven times in the New Testament, Paul uses the term apolutrosis (redemption). It means to be set free by the payment of a price. (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30; Colossians 1:14). Paul teaches that this transaction was made using the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24). Paul speaks of the propitiation (to appease) in Romans 3:25, again dealing with the truth that Christ’s blood fully met and satisfied the demands of a righteous and Holy God. “God is propitiated (satisfied) with the death of Christ making full payment for sin.”
Finally, Paul uses a term that shows up in his writings 29 times – justification. Justification is a legal term whereby God declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of Christ’s blood.
Paul’s theology is plainly that justification is a gift of God’s grace (Romans 3:24) given through faith (Rom. 5:1; Gal.s 3:24), made possible through the blood of Christ (Rom. 5:9), and completely apart from the law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; 3:11). Man is not justified by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.
The study of sin, or the doctrine of sin.
In his theology of sin, Paul uses a number of different Greek words to describe the nature of sin. Hamartia is the general word used by Paul to describe sinful acts (Rom. 4:7; 11:27). Paul links man’s sin to Christ’s death with this term (1 Cor. 15:3). He uses it also in Romans 3:9, 20; 5:20; 6:16, 23. He also uses the term paraptoma which means to step aside or deviate in Romans 2:23; 4:15, 25; Galatians 3:19; 6:1; and Ephesians 2:1. Finally, he uses anomia in 2 Corinthians 6:14 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3, meaning lawlessness or iniquity.
So, from these words and teachings, we see that Paul sees sin as a debt that man is obligated to but unable to pay (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). It is a deviation from God’s established path as his standard. – Romans 2:14-15, 23; 4:15.
Paul’s theological view of sin is that it is lawlessness and rebellion against God (Rom. 11:30; Eph. 2:2; 5:6; Col. 3:6). This includes both eternal acts and internal attitudes. A taskmaster enslaves unbelievers (Rom. 6:16-17), a falsehood that hides the truth (Romans 1:18), and trades the truth for a lie. – Romans 1:25.
The study of man, or the doctrine of man.
Paul, in his theology, understood man to be created in the image of God, possessing intellect and a holy nature (Rom. 5:12, 14; Eph. 4:23-24; Col. 3:10). However, by an act of disobedience, man fell from his state of innocence bringing upon him and all future men and women sorrow, pain, and death.
This disobedience brought on Adam the sinful nature, which he passed on to all of his children (Rom. 5:12, 16-19; 1 Tim. 2:14). Paul makes it clear that man cannot fully know God because of the Fall. – Romans1; 1 Corinthians 2.
Because all people carry this sin nature, all are born into condemnation (Rom. 3:9-10, 19, 22-23; 5:12; Gal.s 3:10; Eph. 2:3). This sin nature produces both physical and spiritual death – temporally and eternally (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Unbelievers are helpless as captives to sin and Satan. – Romans 7:14-15, 23-24; Ephesians 2:3.
Paul saw man as both material and immaterial in his being. Paul spoke of man’s material being in places such as Romans 6:6, 12; 7:24; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 15:44; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 3:21. References to man’s immaterial being are found in Romans 8:16; 11:8; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 14:14,15; 2 Corinthians 4:16; 12:18; Philippians 1:24.
Paul differentiated between the “old” man and the “new” man. The “old” man stood for the unredeemed, unregenerate person (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). He derives that lust and all forms of sin come from this (Rom. 1:21, 24; Eph. 2:3). The “old” man is deceived by sin (2 Cor. 4:3, 4, 6; Eph. 1:18), and is hardened by sin. – Romans 2:5.
Paul spoke of the “new” man as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) upon his redemption and justification. He sees the “new” man as being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:22), the Son (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17), and the Father.– 2 Corinthians 6:16.
Paul’s theology of man is both negative and positive. He sees mankind as being condemned and separated from God, yet upon their confession of faith (Rom. 10:9-10) they are created anew, restored to complete fellowship with God in all of His persons.
The study of the church, or the doctrine of the church.
The word translated church – ekklesia – simply means a “called out group.” In the New Testament, it generally refers to those who are believers. Paul uses the term in two ways, the “universal” church (Gal. 1:13; Eph. 1:22; 3:10, 21; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32), and a local body of believers. – 1 Corinthians 1:2; 4:17; 7:17; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 8:1; Galatians 1:2, 22: Philippians 4:15; Colossians 1:18, 24; 4:15, 16; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
Paul saw entrance into the church through a person’s union with Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13) Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 2:10), and He leads it into maturity (Colossians 2:19) as it submits to His authority (Eph. 1:22-23). It is within the church that God has given and uses the spiritual gifts to strengthen and grow the church. (Eph. 4: 11-13) He teaches about these gifts in Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4.
Paul saw the church as a living organism, yet it is also an organization involving offices and functions. The office of elder (presbuteros, 1 Tim. 5:17; Tit. 1:5) and bishop, or overseer (episkopos, 1 Tim. 3:1 – 7) shows forth the shepherding or nurturing responsibilities. The other office is that of deacon (diakonos) showing the task of serving. –1 Timothy 3:8 – 13; Philippians 1:1.
Paul also referenced the ordinances of the New Testament church – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He speaks to water baptism in 1 Corinthians 1:13 – 18; 15:29, and to Spirit baptism in Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 10:2; 12:13; Galatians 3:27. He provides a detailed explanation of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 34. He says this was from a direct revelation from the Lord (1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:12). He emphasizes that this is a memorial act (1 Cor. 11:25) and is not to be taken casually or for granted. He warns against partaking this memorial casually, or else they would face judgment.
Paul saw the church as something vital and something special in God’s sight.
The study of the last things, or the doctrine of the last things.
Paul has provided a significant amount of teaching about the church, and in this, he speaks toward the consummation or future of the church. He speaks of the transformation to come (1 Cor. 15:51-57). He tells of the resurrection of believers (1 Thess. 4:16) and how the church will be suddenly snatched up (some call this the Rapture) to be with Christ (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Following this will be the Bema or judgment seat of Christ to determine the rewards (or lack) that a believer will receive (1 Cor. 3:15). Paul refers to these as crowns in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and 2 Timothy 4:8.
Paul deals with Israel’s position in Romans 9-11. He shows great concern over their rejection of the Messiah. (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1-5) and their scorn of the privileges they had been blessed with (Rom. 9:4-5). Yet, Paul was confident that God had not abandoned His people (Rom. 11:1) because He had a remnant (Rom. 11:1, 5). While blinded temporarily, Paul saw a day when this blindness to the Messiah would be lifted and Israel will come to Him. – Romans 11:26.
While Paul held to a future hope for the church and for Israel, he also dealt with the judgment of God to an unbelieving world. He used the term orge, which is translated as wrath to describe the judgment that God will dispense to the unbelievers. He uses the term to denote the “day of wrath” when God will judge the morally impure and rejecters of Jesus (Rom. 2:5; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6). While covering this topic, he also goes to great pains to show that believers will not enter into this time of wrath. – Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9.
He calls this time when the man of lawlessness (also called the son of destruction) will appear and exalt himself as God (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 6, 8). When this person is free to do as he pleases, he will deceive many. But at the return of Christ, this lawless one (commonly called the Antichrist) will be destroyed. – 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
Thus, Paul displays a very orchestrated view of how the last things of Israel, the church, and the world will take place.
All of the preceding material on the theology of Paul is given as a summary of his doctrines or teachings. It is not to be considered to envelop all that Paul taught or believed on these topics, but to help the reader gain an insight into the belief system of the great Apostle Paul. This author would encourage the reader to make a study of Paul’s writings on each of the above topics.
SCROLL THROUGH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES BELOW
BIBLE TRANSLATION AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM
BIBLICAL STUDIES / INTERPRETATION
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
CHURCH HEALTH, GROWTH, AND HISTORY
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989). Page 23.
 This will be in no fashion be an exhaustive study of the field of Biblical or Systematic Theology. We will look at some of the themes found in Paul’s writings.
 Brephos is the period of time when one is very young–‘childhood (probably implying a time when a child is still nursing), infancy.
 Pisteuo is “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’
 Or inspired by God
 Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2008). Page 900.
 First, it must be told that I am almost amazed at how so many Bible scholars say nonsensical things, contradictory things when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Bible Commentators use many verses to say that the Holy Spirit literally,
- dwells in the individual Christian believers,
- having control over them,
- enabling them to live a righteous and faithful life,
- with the believer still being able to sin, even to the point of grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).
Let us walk through this again, and please take it slow, ponder whether it makes sense, is reasonable, logical, even Scriptural. The Holy Spirit literally dwells in individual believers, controlling them so they can live a righteous and faithful life, yet they can still freely sin, even to the point of grieving the Holy Spirit. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit is not powerful enough to prevent their sinful nature from affecting them? The commentators say the Holy Spirit now controls the Christian, not their sinful nature. If that were true, it must mean the Holy Spirit is ineffectual and less powerful than their sinful nature of the Christian, because the Christian can still reject the Holy Spirit and sin to the point of grieving the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is controlling the individual Christian, how is it possible that he still possesses free will?
Let us return to the phrase of “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Just how often do we find “indwelling” in the Bible? I have looked at over fifty English translations and found it once in the King James Version and two in an earlier version of the New American Standard Bible. One reference is to sin dwelling within us, and the other reference is to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
See a deeper discussion here: What Does the Bible Really Say About the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit? (https://christianpublishinghouse.co/2016/10/05/what-does-the-bible-really-say-about-the-indwelling-of-the-holy-spirit/)
 If, as some authors will contend that Paul was the author of the book of Hebrews, then we see this developed further in Hebrews 1: 4 – 7.
 Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2008). Page 387.
 Merrill E. Unger, Demons in the World Today (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House, 1971). Pages 85-86.
 Paul Enns. The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chiago, Ill: Moody Press, 1989). Page 110.
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Are the Natural Jews Today Still God’s Chosen People?