The structure of the theology and ethics in the Pastoral Epistles
A summary of the salient points of this thesis appears in chapter 5, sect. 1, pp. 506-515, to which the reader is referred for further detail. The main points may be itemized in the following manner. Since Martin Dibelius, the ethical teaching of the Pastoral Epistles has been interpreted increasingly as evincing a conception of Christian existence that seeks above all a peaceful home in the world. Christliche Burgerlichkeit, as it is called, was supposedly the unavoidable development from an earlier Pauline conception of the Christian life caused largely by dissapointment over the delay of the parousia. To test this interpretation and indeed to assess positively the teaching of the Pastorals, we examined three essential elements. First, it turns out that the heretical movement(s) evident in all three letters, the essential aspect of background, was having quite a dramatic effect upon the communities in terms of both theology and ethics. In fact the author's presentation could not be appreciated apart from an tinder-standing of the nature and effects of the false teaching. Second, the theological structure of the letters revealed an undiminished eschatology, an emphasis on an already---not yet conception of salvation as linked to the past and future appearances of Christ, and a clear understanding of the Church's role in the missionary enterprise. The presuppositions of the proponents of christliche Burgerlichkeit do not stand up to a balanced exegesis. Third, the ethical structure of the message proves to center on the observable side of the Christian life, which is carefully linked to the Christ-event and conversion, and to be motivated by mission. This ultimate motivation disproves the major contention of christliche Burgerlichkeit; peaceful coexistence in the world is not the goal of the author's ethics, but rather a means to the greater end of mission. Theology and ethics in the Pastorals are carefully integrated to restore a balance between faith and works, in Pauline fashion, in light of the correct understanding of salvation in this age and the perverted notions of the heretics.