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Gordon Fee’s Pauline Christology: Part 5

August 2, 2012

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

Paul’s Jewish Messianism is also brought to bear in the chapter, “Jesus: Jewish Messiah and Exalted Lord”. This is the second major piece of the Christology puzzle for Paul; in fact his understanding of Christ as ‘Lord’ is “the absolute heart of Pauline Christology” (558) according to Fee. Fee he first illustrates this by examining Paul’s significant uses of ‘Lord’ language in his letter greetings (eg. 1 Thess 1:1); to describe his Damascus Road experience (1 Cor 9:1); and as the primary confession of believers (Rom 10:9). As with the previous chapter, Fee sees this language as Paul confirming the deity of Jesus without undermining his monotheism.

As with ‘son of God’, Fee contends that the title ‘Lord’ is drawn from eschatological expectations for the Messiah found in Psalm 110:1, which is found in four places in Paul: 1 Cor 15:27, Eph 1:20, Rom 8:34, and Col 3:1.

Next, Fee examines the intent behind the word ‘Lord’. Does Paul intend to mean an earthly lord or is he carrying over all of the divine understandings of the word as the Greek Septuagint’s translation of the Name (Yahweh)?

After surveying 1 Cor 8:6, Phil 2:10-11, Rom 10:9-13, and 1 Cor 1:2 Fee concludes that Paul identifies Christ with the Septuagint ‘Lord’, including all of the theological ‘weight’ that this name carries as the very name of God. Fee then examines Paul’s usage elsewhere, noting where Paul places Christ (as ‘Lord’) in contexts and roles that belong to God alone. This includes the day of the Lord, the coming of the Lord, the Lord as judge and the Lord as recipient of prayer. Fee then briefly overviews Paul’s citations or allusions to the Septuagint that have identified the ‘Lord’ (Yahweh in Hebrew) as the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fee asserts in his conclusion, “one can hardly miss the rich variety of ways Paul has included Christ in the divine identity by means of the name-turned-title “the Lord” (585). Contrary to those that claim otherwise, Paul had a very high Christology indeed.

Read the other parts of this review.

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