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Gordon Fee’s Pauline Christology: Part 2

July 5, 2012

Gordon Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 2007).

In the second section of this book Fee begins synthesising his observations from the canonical letters of Paul. Beginning with chapter 11 he outlines and ties together six different threads of Paul’s Christology.

Fee states that that any discussions of Christology must first begin with the ‘central feature of Pauline theology’, that of Christ as Saviour.

With this is view Fee outlines Paul’s soteriology with four broad observations to form a background for how he understands Christ’s person. He then focuses in on the second of these observations in a section entitled ‘The Ultimate Goal of Salvation: Re-Creation into the Divine Image’ (484), which he elaborates upon.

“The goal of God’s saving work in Christ is to create an end-time people for God’s name out of both Jew and Gentile together”

 Fee then provides a summary of Scripture that highlights God’s plan with Abraham to bless the nations and Paul’s use of old covenant language for the people of God, showing that Paul understood God’s new covenant people to be both a fulfilment and expansion of the promises found in the former covenant. The church of Christ is not an afterthought but the culmination.

Fee sees this “new-creation” being grounded in Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection with Him. Central to this is the restoration of the original “image of God” found in Gen 1:26-27. Christ is the perfect image-bearer of God (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15) and the one who restores the image of fallen humanity (Rom 8:29).

Fee then examines the place of personal devotion and public worship to Christ. Firstly, with personal devotion Fee notes Paul’s strict monotheism now including the person of Christ, attributing to Him the central place of devotion and using language that ought to belong only to God.

Secondly, three expressions of public worship that have Christological import are discussed: the Lord’s table, where the Passover meal, eaten in honour of Yahweh for deliverance of His people from bondage in Egypt is now honouring Christ as the one who led believers out Satan’s bondage; the singing of hymns to Christ as the “centrepiece of the worship”; and prayer addressed to Christ and the Father, sometimes together, sometimes individually.

In summary, Fee states that Christ as divine saviour is creating a people out of Jew and Gentile who are being conformed into His image to be holy in fulfilment and expansion upon God’s OT promises. And secondly, being the divine saviour, Christ takes the central role as the object of our devotion and worship.

Read the other parts of this review.

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