Paul’s Thinking About God

The basis for all Jewish religious ritual was the recitation of the Shema. “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4). Paul preaches the same:

Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. yet for us there is [but] one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we [exist] for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we [exist] through Him. (1 Corinthians 8:4, 6)

The one God is also the Father:

  1. Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. (1 Thessalonians 1:1)
  2. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:2)
  3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, (Galatians 1:3)
  4. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3)
  5. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:2)
  6. To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called [as] saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
  7. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2)
  8. To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ [who are] at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. (Colossians 1:2)
  9. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:2)
  10. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1:3)
  11. Yet for us there is [but] one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we [exist] for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we [exist] through Him. (1 Corinthians 8:6).

God the Father is also the Creator:

  1. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man [has his birth] through the woman; and all things originate from God. (1 Corinthians 11:12)
  2. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him [be] the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
  3. Yet for us there is [but] one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we [exist] for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we [exist] through Him. (1 Corinthians 8:6)
  4. And to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; (Ephesians 3:9)
  5. For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
  6. The New Testament is written against the background of Gnosticism: which was an attempt to solve the problem of sin and suffering in this world made of evil. The New Testament writers stress so firmly that God is Creator
  7. God’s act of creation was also an act of self-revelation so by studying the world men will arrive at God: Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:19-21)

This creating God is also a sustaining God: So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:7)

This sustaining God is also active in people’s lives: planning for them and directing their paths.

  1. But when He who had set me apart, [even] from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased (Galatians 1:15)
  2. Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called [as] an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1)
  3. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy [our] brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: (2 Corinthians 1:1)
  4. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. (1 Corinthians 4:19)
  5. Always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. (Romans 1:10)

This sustaining God is a supplying God:

  1. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as [coming] from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, (2 Corinthians 3:5)
  2. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  3. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

God was behind every fact in the life of Jesus:

  1. The incarnation: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did:] sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, (Romans 8:3). But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (Galatians 4:4)
  2. The cross: [He] who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:25). Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (Galatians 1:4). He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
  3. The resurrection: Paul, an apostle (not [sent] from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), (Galatians 1:1). But for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, (Romans 4:24). Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:5). And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, (Colossians 2:13)

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.

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