This book will be
used as a textbook for seminary students taking introductory courses
on Paul and his letters. This book also will be helpful to pastors
and laity who are serious about Paul’s theology in the critical
ministry contexts. In addition, this book will be a renewed stimulus
to biblical scholars, who may be challenged by this kind of integrative,
contextual biblical theology that deals with holistic aspects
of life in Paul's time. Today, the convergence of theology and
ethics is very important, and this book provides a venue for critical
dialogue about Pauline theology in new way.
1 Overview of Pauline Interpretation
2 Toward a Threefold Theology of Paul
3 Threefold Theology of Paul: God’s Righteousness, Christ’s
Faith, and the Believer’s “Body of Christ”
4 God’s Righteousness (Dikaiosyne Theou)
5 Christ’s Faith (Pistis Christou)
6 The Believer’s Body of Christ (Soma Christou)
7 “Imitators” (Mimetai) in 1 Cor 4:16 and
11:1: A New Reading of Threefold Embodiment
8 Reading Paul Today: Convergence of Theology and Ethics
1. What is the author’s
motivation to write this book and what is the primary goal that
he tries to achieve?
2. Do you think this
particular way of reading Paul’s letters and understanding
his theology makes sense? Explain why or why not.
3. Compare the threefold theology of Paul with the other traditional
readings of Paul. What are some benefits of this threefold approach?
Or, what are some weaknesses?
4. Why is it important
to distinguish between the subjective genitive readings and the
objective genitive readings? Example: “the righteousness
of God,” “the faith of Christ,” and “the
body of Christ.”
Overview of Pauline Interpretation
1. Five readings of Pauline scholarship are explained in this
book: forensic salvation, social-scientific or sociological approach,
New Perspective on Paul, apocalyptic theology, and ideological,
political reading. Explain differences among these readings. What
are some pros and cons of each reading?
2. What is the common weakness of these five readings?
3. Can the threefold theology of Paul solve the common weaknesses?
If yes, in what way? If not, why not.
Chapter II: Toward a Threefold Theology of Paul
1. Who is Paul to you? Put him in historical, cultural, religious
contexts: Jewish tradition, Hellenism, Diaspora community, and
first-century Jesus movement. Discuss his major contexts that
he had to deal with.
2. What made him change his former way of life (persecuting Christian
gatherings) so that he could become a follower of Jesus (an apostle,
slave of Christ to Gentiles)? What kind of revelation did he seem
to receive? What happened to him? What is wrong with him if he
had to change his mind regarding his past? How has Paul’s
view of God, Judaism, the messiah, or the law changed after his
3. Briefly explain about the law of God and the law of sin.
How can sin be dead? Can Christ’s death defeat sin’s
power? Or, can it be undone by human participation in Christ’s
III: A Threefold Theology of Paul: God’s Righteousness,
Christ’s Faith, and the Believer’s Body of Christ
1. Paul’s primary theological position is theocentric (God-centered).
Do you agree to this? Read Rom 1:1-2. What is the gospel of God
which concerns his Son?
2. Do Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, and Romans contain the threefold
theology of Paul? Explain how each letter addresses the threefold
theological concerns raised in each community. Briefly explain
each letter’s situation and the need of the threefold theology
to address the problems in each community.
3. Without human participation, there will be no solution to the
problems in Paul’s communities. Evaluate this position from
the perspective of a threefold theology of Paul.
IV: God’s Righteousness (Dikaiosyne Theou)
1. Explain both the
subjective and objective genitive cases of “the righteousness
of God.” Which one do you think Paul meant to convey in
Rom 3:21-26? Relate to Paul's ministry contexts in Rome and elsewhere.
2. What is God’s
righteousness (a subjective genitive) for Paul as he communicates
with his audiences? Include Paul’s various contexts (Judaism
and Greco-Roman world) and inter-texts (Jewish scripture and tradition).
3. Is God’s
righteousness interchangeable with God’s gospel (Rom 1:2)?
4. Evaluate this following
position: “For Paul, the believers have to put faith in
God (not in Christ)” (for example, 1 Thess 1:8).
5. Likewise, the church
is God’s, not the Christ’s (“the church of God”
in 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13). Why is
this distinction important to Paul or to a threefold theology?
V: Christ’s Faith (Pistis Christou)
1. Explain both the subjective and objective genitive cases of
“the faith of Christ.” Which one do you think Paul
meant to convey in Rom 3:21-26 and Gal 2:16-17?
2. Paul uses the Greek genitive case “the faith of Christ”
in his seven letters. In fact, he could have used the Greek preposition
“en” (in) before “Christ” if he had meant
to convey the believer’s faith in Christ. Do you agree to
3. How is Christ’s faith different from Abraham’s
or the believers’? What are the contents of Christ’s
faithfulness shown in the world?
4. Is Christ’s faithfulness embodying God’s righteousness?
In what way?
5. Why does Paul emphasize that he would proclaim only Christ
crucified (1 Cor 2:2)?
6. Interpret Rom 3:22. There are three parties mentioned in one
verse. Is this the good case for a threefold theology of Paul?
(That is, can we understand like this: “God’s righteousness
through Christ’s faith for all who have Christ’s faith”?).
Similarly, can we interpret Gal 2:16 like this: “we can
live righteously by Christ’s faith” because Christ
showed what God wants (love and justice)?
VI: The Believer’s Body of Christ (Soma Christou)
1. According to Paul,
why did humans fail to live up to God’s law? (For example,
read Rom 1-3).
2. Does the language
of “cutting of a covenant,” cutting of the foreskin
(circumcision), or animal sacrifices have to do with human commitment
to God? Eventually, does that language have to do with submitting
their hearts to God’s law?
3. What is the meaning
of “the body of Christ” in 1 Cor 12:27 and Rom 7:4?
Can we say that this is a subjective or an attributive genitive?
Discuss and explain.
4. Where can we see
Paul’s emphasis of the believer’s participation in
Christ or Christ’s death?
List all of them from Paul’s texts. For example: dying with
Christ; baptism into his death, “believing into Christ”
in Gal 2:17 [Greek preposition "eis" (into) used here,
not "en" (in)].
5. Similarly, can
we interpret “you are the body of Christ” as one's
association with Christ crucified? Read also 1 Cor 6:12-20. Can
we find here Paul’s emphasis of Christian holism and dynamism
in the sense that the holistic participation with Christ is the
key to interpreting this text? See also Rom 7:4 “dying to
the law through the body of Christ.” What does this mean
and what Christians have to do in relation to the body of Christ?
VII: “Imitators” (Mimetai) in 1 Cor 4:16
and 11:1: A New Reading of Threefold Embodiment
1. What different
models of imitation can we identify in ancient contexts and literature?
2. What do you think
Paul’s view of imitation is?
3. Why does Paul emphasize
to imitate Christ (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1)? How is imitation of Christ
related with God’s righteousness?
VIII: Reading Paul Today: Convergence of Theology and Ethics
1. Summarize your
learnings so far: in terms of new information about Paul, new
form of critical thinking, and new ministry insights for today.
2. What relation is
there between Paul's theology and ethics?
3. What is the essence
of Paul's theology? What can we do if we truly understand Paul's