« AnteriorContinuar »
Christ, and the intimacy of the relation in which He stands to God, as well as of the saving significance of His Person to the human race, than this, that He acts on men's souls with the power of God's Holy Spirit, and that His influence conveys to us what is proper to the very life of God.
This practical identity of Christ and the Spirit of God is the ground or reason of that union between Christ and His people that is so characteristic a feature of the experience of the Christian life described in the Epistles of Paul, and that sets his thought of Christ in so original a light. Inasmuch as His Spirit is in them, and is the source of their life, and His Person is in a true sense one with the Spirit, He Himself is said to be and to live in them, and they in like manner are said to be and to live in Him. Everyone is aware of the frequency with which the phrase “ in Christ " is used by the apostle in reference to the inner life of the believer. It points to a union with Him as Spirit or Pneuma, in virtue of which He is the very principle of their lives, so one with all that is most deeply personal in them that He moulds and determines their activities, and reproduces in them what is most deeply personal to Himself. Quickened at the centre of their being by the very Spirit of God that formed the principle of His Personal life, and having Christ thus dwelling in them, believers are enabled to live His life over again; or, rather, they are the agents by and in whom He lives over again His own life, reincar
It is to be observed that where this union of the believer with Christ is referred to, it is the phrase εν τω Χριστώ or Κυρίω that is invariably used, never év tớ ’Ingoû. The latter term describes the Man Jesus in His historical appearing, and is never employed to describe the spiritual fellowship of believers with the Son of God who sends the Spirit. This has been pointed out by Harless (Commentar zur Epheser Brief, p. 411). The term “Christ" when conjoined with “ Jesus” in the Epistles always points to the religious significance Jesus has for believers. On recent literature on this phrase év XploTÔ, see Note B.
nating Himself, as it were, ever anew in the flesh of His people. The historic Jesus has, with the apostle, passed into the Spiritual and Mystical Christ, who lives in, and reveals Himself through, believers; and we cease to wonder that the past circumstances of the earthly life of Jesus have comparatively little interest for Paul, now that as Exalted, Christ has entered on a present activity in the hearts of men, in which He re-enacts in their experience what was most vital in His historical career, and repeats in them all that was most distinctive of His own Divine life. The poet represents the apostle as longing that he had lived in the days when Jesus was seen of men
“ Oh to have watched Thee through the vineyards wander,
Pluck the ripe ears, and into evening roam !
Legions of angels shone about thy Home ! ”i
There is, however, no trace of this feeling in the apostle's recorded words. Why should he or his fellowbelievers go back to the past, or dwell with fondness on the recollections of Jesus' earthly life, on what He did and said in Galilee and Jerusalem ? Had they not Christ living and working in them here and now? Was he not himself conscious sometimes of the “shock of His possession thrilling and touching” him? Whence that passion for souls that burned in the apostle's heart? Was it not from the contact of Christ's mighty heart with his own? Did not Christ walk the streets of Corinth and Rome and Ephesus to-day as He had done in the cities and towns of Syria ? Was He not found in the homes and workshops of men, audible still in the words of grace and truth that came from the lips of His followers, visible to the eye of men in the gentle, pure, devoted lives of
1 From “Saint Paul,” by F. W. H. Myers.
those who loved Him? 1 Where they are, He is, living Himself out from them, embodying His holy will in the actions of their lives. It is this Christ, dwelling in His people, filling them with new experiences, manifesting Himself in and through them to the world, that was the real Christ to Paul, and made the Christ to him no mere dogma, but a personal presence and an immediate life.
The locus classicus for this view is Gal. ii. 10, where we have the record of his deepest experience as a Christian. After the remarkable words, “I am crucified with Christ,” that express the completeness of his deliverance from the old life of self, he goes on to say, " It is no more I who live, but Christ who liveth in me.” It is difficult to translate this into common language. The words at least point to a new moral and religious consciousness formed by his connection with Christ,—a consciousness of what had entered into the inner life of Christ, of Divine Sonship and power over the flesh, power to love and to do the will of God. In this consciousness, indeed, the apostle realised his own proper life, and exercised the functions of spiritual manhood, but its source was not in himself, but in the Spirit of Christ that occupied the place of self, and by the rush of Divine life that pulsed through his soul annihilated almost the sense of his own selfhood. “Not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Christ became the true self of the apostle, and what he lost in individuality by the substitution of Christ, the Living Principle of love, for self limited and particular, he gained in personality, for in passing out of his old self into Christ he found his real self and realised his true life in God. The supremacy of this new Principle in his experience was absolute. To the Christ within
It was a quaint saying of the great German Reformer, “Should anyone knock at my breast and say, 'Who lives here?' I should reply, 'Not Martin Luther, but the Lord Jesus'” (Table Talk).
he attributed all that he did and experienced as a believing man. It was as one who was “in Christ," and was the subject of the activity of His Spirit that he accomplished his life - work, that he formed judgments and came to conclusions, that he followed the courses and modes of conduct that characterised his Christian profession, that he cherished confidence in others, that he suffered, that he rejoiced. He recognised himself to be but an organ for the activity of Christ, a “ vessel of earthenware" containing the “ treasure” of His light and truth. Christ dwelt in him, Christ in the fulness of His personal life, so that the very love with which Christ loved men impelled Paul to a similar life of unselfish love ;8 and Christ's longing and pity filled the apostle's heart with the same emotions, and Christ's truth and sincerity spoke in the words of truth and sincerity which the apostle spoke,10, and the will of Christ empowered his own will to do what it had no strength in itself to do, and Christ's mind was his inmost possession, inspiring in him the thoughts and dispositions of His Lord,12 and Christ's sufferings were repeated in those that fell to him as His servant.13 It was as if the very personality of Christ had entered into the apostle and used him as the organ of its expression.
To describe at length the specific experience formed in the apostle by the introduction into his inner life of this sinless principle, the Spirit of Christ, would carry us too far afield. It is evident, however, that the result in his experience was the practical solution of the moral problem of his life. Holiness became an actual attainment. The inward contradiction between the higher and lower i Phil. iv. 13.
2 Rom. xiv. 14. 3 1 Cor. iv. 17 ; 2 Cor. ii. 12-14. 4 Gal. v. 10. 5 2 Cor. xiii. 4. 6 Phil. iv. 10. 2 Cor. iv. 7. 8 2 Cor. v. 14. 9 Phil. i. 8. 10 2 Cor. xi. 10; Rom. ix. I. 11 Phil. iv. 13. 12 1 Cor. ii. 16. 13 2 Cor. iv. 10; comp. Col. j. 24.
elements of his life which had torn him in twain ceased. We are startled by the language in which he speaks of himself as a Christian-a pneumatic man. He has no hesitation in appealing to his own character and conduct in proof of his moral integrity.? Again and again he describes himself an example in respect of Christian discipleship, and bids others follow him. He does not indeed claim to be sinless. He has not yet reached the ideal, but is always pressing on toward it. The flesh still lusts after what is condemned by the Spirit, and he has to keep it in subjection. But his moral state is now one of harmony with the will of God. He is freed from the “law of sin and death."? He is done with the old life, and has entered on a new life characterised in its aim and normal attainment by sinlessness. The one serious hindrance to the perfection of his state is the sufferings of this present life, the mortality of the body, the vanity and perishableness of existence; but this feature is destined soon to pass away, when, with the second coming of the Lord, the full glory of the new age (aiwv uéllwv) shall dawn upon the world.
11 regard Rom. vii. 21-25 as referring to Paul's state while still unregenerate ; his normal state as a Christain man is described in Rom. viii. 1-5. To this, the view held by all the Greek Fathers, first departed from by Augustine in his later writings, most modern commentators have now returned.
? 1 Cor. iv. 2-5, ix. 15; 2 Cor. i. 12, iv. 11, vi. 3, x. 7, etc.
5 Gal. v. 17.
6 i Cor. ix. 27. 7 Rom. viii. 2.
8 Rom. vi. 1-14. 9 Rom. viii. 18-25. Ritschl has called attention to the consciousness of moral integrity that characterises Paul's Christian experience. After enumerating passages, he goes on to say: “Diese Zusammenstellung beweist, dass neben der Ueberzengung von der Rechtfertigung durch den Glauben ein Bewusstein persönlicher sittlicher Vollkommenheit, insbesondere vollkommener Treue im Beruf möglich ist, welches durch keine Gewissensrüge getrübt ist, aber auch nicht den Grundsatz verlezt dass man sich Gottes rühmen soll, welches endlich von der Gewissheit eines besonderen göttlichen Lohnes gemäss dem von Gott verliehenen Erfolge der anstrengungen in seinem Dienste begleitet ist ” (Rechtfertigung u. Versöhnung, ii. p. 370).