The Son and the Sons of God : a study in the elements of Paul's christological and soteriological thought
This thesis examines Paul's use of the divine Sonship conception
in order to discover its place and significance in his
Christological and soteriological thought. Because Paul relates
the divine Sonship idea both to Christ and to Christians, this
thesis naturally divides into two main parts: Part one studies
the divine Sonship of Christ, and part two investigates the
divine sonship of Christians.
Our examination in part one reveals that Sonship characterizes
Christ's relation with God at every stage of his existence from
before he became a man through to his present position as universal
sovereign. The divine Sonship which Paul attributes to Christ is
of fundamental importance for understanding the unique roles which
Christ plays in creation and redemption. In particular, Paul's
soteriology is inconceivable without the supposition of the divine
Sonship of Christ. Paul's own belief in the divine Sonship of the
man Jesus of Nazareth arose through the revelation he received at
his conversion and call. Because of this experience, the Son of
God became the content of Paul's Gospel.
In part two we show that Paul's believer sonship conception
was in continuity with his Jewish heritage and the teaching tradition
associated with Jesus. By a careful examination of Gal. 3-4 and
Rom. 8-9 we demonstrate that Paul attributed great significance
to the idea of the divine sonship of Christians. This concept
expresses the continuity between the present and future experience
of salvation, while emphasizing its personal character. We also
discover that believer sonship was capable of embracing a variety
of other important aspects in Pauline theology.
When the two sides of divine Sonship are seen together,
especially in their relationship to one another, the one theme
of divine Sonship is seen to provide a very valuable perspective
on Paul's Christological and soteriological thought.