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The Apostle Paul Theology of Salvation The foundational elements of Pauls salvation theology can be summed-up in three parts.

We must consider his cultural and religious background, his worldview, and his actual ideas concerning salvation shown in his writings. Greek culture, Roman citizenship, and Hebrew religion met in the cultural makeup of the apostle Paul. Paul was born near the beginning of the first century, into a strict Pharisaic family at Tarsus of Cilicia. Though being a Jew in the Roman city made Paul a minority, he had the increased rights to claim both the privilege of Roman citizenship and leadership in the Jewish faith. Paul took full advantage of these rights to better relate with Jews and Gentiles; and at times, to shield himself from their opposition. As a Jew (and a Pharisee, at that), Paul believed that he was elected to salvation simply by his heritage. He believed that Gods promised grace was intended for, and given to, only the Hebrew people, and this was to be proved through a strict adherence to the law resulting in a persons life of good and righteous works as testimony. These Jewish beliefs also lend to his apocalyptic worldview. Uniquely within that view though, Paul was a Jew who ended up believing that Jesus was the Messiah. He believed that time had a beginning and an end; and, within these parameters, there was the past evil age, the Messiah point (namely Jesus involvement on earth), and the promised new life. In his mind, Paul was existing in the promised new life. Pauls background in the Jewish belief system led to an incredible conversion point in his life as he discovered the true meaning of Gods saving grace. His theology became rooted in his own revolutionary experience with Christ. His experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus (and later with Ananias) changed Pauls message from humanly adherence to the Law, to that of reconciliation to God through Christs fulfillment of the Law. His conversion allowed Paul to recognize mans inability attain to righteousness through his own efforts, and he realized that God had provided a way of salvation, wholly out of grace and love, in Jesus Christ, for all people, available through faith in Him alone. The apostle now saw his life as a part of a present evil age, and looked forward to the parousia, which would usher in the promised new life. Pauls new position, in recognizing freedom from the law in relationship with Jesus, not only provided him with a new expression of beliefs and understanding, but propelled him forward in a new work of ministry in which he began preaching Jesus as the Son of God. Just as in the Jewish Day of Atonement, a scape goat was necessary to take away sins

and to bring righteousness. The apostle now presented Jesus as the atonement for the sins of all people, and as the only way for righteous salvation. This proclamation was consistent with Gods initiation, as in the Jewish election, and it also included the promise of saving grace for Gentiles. The bulk of Pauls letters contain either admonishment for unbelievers or encouragement for those who did believe the gospel of Jesus as the saving Son of God. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul confronted a people who had rejected the gospel as a free gift of God. The church at Galatia was relying on their own efforts of righteousness for salvation. In 2:15-16, Paul writes: We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Paul demanded that they do not listen to false teachers, who encouraged salvation by the Law, because, by ignoring free grace, they were nullifying the death of Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul exclaimed his excitement and encouragement for the peoples understanding of the blessings of redemption. In 1:6-8, He wrote of the glory of Gods grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved, and he gave praise for Christ in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. He continued by encouraging the people of Ephesus to conform to Christ and His ways, living a life ethical and moral behavior. Participation in Christ would achieve its goal in the complete transformation of believers into the image of God in Christ. He wanted them to understand that justification by faith would not exclude people from judgment of the life in the flesh as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Rather, they would be rewarded by a life of faith and of a continuing Christian lifestyle. He affirms these teachings again in his letter to the Colossians as he described the glory and saving power of Christ. He speaks to them of the Christian response of a changed lifestyle that is dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil, desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. He encourages characteristics of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience in relationship with other and in every thing a Christian does. In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul most significantly dealt with questions about the Parousia. While no man could predict the time when Christ would return, Paul promised that Jesus would indeed return in glory. His encouragement was placed in readiness. The apostle told them to be vigilant and ready in 1 Thessalonians 5:8f, saying: Let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. He gave them hope that Christ would make a glorious return and that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.

In an examination of Pauls salvation theology, we find that salvation is something that has happened; yet, it is still happening, and it is something that will happen. Salvation is in some way, is the climax of a process with a decisive beginning, (the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah) followed by believers lifelong conformity to image of Christ. The decisive beginning must be worked out until the moment of glorification in the Day of the Lord. It is in Christ, the Atoner that our sins are forgiven. The act of God in sacrificing Jesus provides all people with the right to salvation. Upon believing in Jesus as the Son of God and as the atonement for sin, we are justified to God and we enter into a saving relationship with Him. We are then sanctified in redemption by spending our lives conforming our minds and our actions to the image of Christ. This process of submission and obedience in changing our ways to Gods ways are evidence of an authentic saving relationship with God. The work of salvation is only finished when Gods glory, which has been lost and disfigured in humans by sin, is wholly renewed. Therefore, salvation can only be completed in the occurrence of the parousia, bringing in the promise of the new life. These are Pauls reflections and beliefs concerning salvation as reflected in his life and his teachings. The New Testament books attributed to Paul give evidence that Paul genuinely believed that Jesus Christs death and resurrection, and human proper response in relationship to God are the key to salvation.

Act of GOD in Jesus Christ Belief signified by Baptism Continuing Christian Life Day of the Lord: return of Christ in glory

(1/2 Thess.) (Galatians) (Corinthians)

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