This thesis has three objectives: (1) To demonstrate that the apostle
Paul expresses his atonement-theology in dramatic, apocalyptic and cosmic
thought patterns; (2) to point out the aspects of a Christus Victor motif
which are firmly established in the earliest kerygma of the church; (3) and
to discuss Paul's interpretation of how this atonement victory was realized.
The nature of this study requires that we deal only with what for the
purposes of this study we consider to be the "undisputed" epistles of Paul:
Romans, I and XI Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians and I Thessalonians.
The Christus Victor theme cannot be discussed in isolation from the
apostle's atonement-theology in its entirety. The categories of flesh, law,
sin and death comprise the major part of the Pauline atonement doctrine and
may, therefore, form the basis of our discussion.
In referring to mankind, Paul applies the word cr^p ^ with such unique
nuance as to imply that the "flesh" is evil. Mankind as crUp has become
mankind as " only." This "crUp -only" orientation includes both
the "desire" to do evil and the religious "desire" to secure a righteousness
of one's own under law.
The apostle Paul shows no speculative interest in Satan and his company.
The demonic power which works upon man is sin. Sin kills, destroys, seduces,
causes rebellion* enslaves and. possesses the individual.
In Paul, sin-existence and death-existence are equated. Death is sin's
logical "wages," a destructive power of chaos which would throw back God's
mighty life-creating hand, Paul saw death in its full demonic horror as the
dreaded "last enemy" of God, the lostness of man and cosmos without the
The emphasis upon victory is no product of the late church, nor is it
an assimilation of Gnostic ideas from outside, Christ is the "bridgehead"
and "foothold," the "citadel of holiness" where God's spirit-power is
triumphantly present as "guarantee" and assurance of victory. Christ's
attaining of victory involves two factors: (1) Christ was the pre-existerxt
Son of God (2) and he was completely obedient, implying sinlessness and
victory of holiness in this world of (T^P^ .
Man is released from the slavery of the past aeon of law and the demonic
too KoTpoo . Righteousness is a gift and a power available only
in Christ, "Parenesis" tradition urges the believer to remain in this
power-relationship of the JiK<i\e>Covv^ G>boo , Paul expands upon the
early sacrificial and cultic tradition adjusting the early kerygma to
portray in the gentile mission situation Christ's universal and cosmic
Cosmology and soteriology are united in Paul. Victory over death and
Christ's lordship over "all things" of5'this world are part of the same hope
based upon the monotheistic presuppositions of early mission kerygma. Those
who are "in Christ" participate in this victory not as an "already" but as
a "not-yet" of Christian confession and hope in the obedience of faith.
Therefore, calling upon the "name" (=power) of the in baptism and
in confessions of early Christianity involves the declaration that the one
Lord Jesus Christ has been acclaimed kosmokrator designatus until the
parousia vihen God will be all in all.