The Historic Christ In The Letters Of Paul -- By: Rhys Rees Lloyd

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 058:230 (Apr 1901)
Article: The Historic Christ In The Letters Of Paul
Author: Rhys Rees Lloyd

The Historic Christ In The Letters Of Paul

Prof. Rhys Rees Lloyd

The careful student of the Pauline letters often asks himself, How much did Paul know about the historic life of Jesus? How much does he tell his various readers about that life? This article aims to answer these two questions. In trying to do this, it will gather its data from the thirteen letters usually attributed to this apostle. Not a reference to the earthly life of Jesus will be consciously overlooked. Care will be taken to consider thoughtfully all of the so-called “allusions” to that life. But in the consideration of these references and allusions, I shall not call upon the Gospels for help to finish any portion of the portrait of Jesus which Paul may have left unfinished. This process will tend to prevent my reading into certain expressions of Paul ideas which they do not naturally convey to other thoughtful readers. The temptation to read into the words and phrases of Paul ideas that are taught only in the Gospels is very great. But we must watch and pray so as not to enter into that temptation.

Let us then ask, What does Paul teach in these letters about the birth of Jesus? We are told that Jesus was an Israelite (Rom. 9:5), that he came from the seed of David (Rom. 1:3). Like all other children, he was “born of woman,” and born “under law” (Gal. 4:4; cf. 1 Tim. 3:16). He was “sent” into the world “in the fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4; cf. Eph. 1:6). These expressions contain all of the information given by Paul in answer to our

question. All of them are found in the so-called “indisputable letters.” The phrase “the fullness of the time” gives us no possible clew to the year, month, day, or hour in which our Saviour was born. In like manner, “the seed of David” leaves us asking, From what family of the seed of David did he come? Who was his father? What was the name of his mother? To these questions there is no answer, save the phrase “born of woman.” Was this expression designed to suggest that there was anything peculiar in the manner of the Saviour’s birth? No. Analogous phrases are found in Job 14:1 (“Man that is born of woman,” etc.), and in Matt. 11:2 (“Among them that are born of women”), which designate only ordinary, human births. In the absence of anything in this context which requires that the phrase should have her...

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