The main question of this thesis, how Paul employs various missionary tactics
to meet different situations, is explained in Chapter One. The question stems from
the debate on whether Paul has a coherent attitude to the law or not. The
position adopted here is that Paul has various attitudes to the law and that these
various attitudes are the tactical implications of a missionary strategy which is
designed to meet different situations.
There are three missionary tactics. Chapter Two deals with Paul's first
missionary tactic: Paul encourages Jews to observe the whole law, rather than to
practise circumcision only. Paul provides a law-bound tactic as an option for Jews,
because the law is often so important for Jews that, unless they are allowed to
continue to obey the law, it will be very difficult for them to become Christians.
Observance of the law, however, is considered only as a life-style appropriate to
making the response of faith. What is essential for salvation is faith in Christ.
This principle is valid for both Jews and Gentiles. Paul regardes the law as
optional, while his opponents regard it as essential. This is because Paul
understands Jesus' death as iXaoxfipiov which has replaced, or fulfilled, all the
functions of Jewish religion, including the law.
Chapter Three explains Paul's second missionary tactic: for Gentiles faith alone
is essential. The law is not necessary for them to become members of God's
people. Here Paul employs the Abraham story and claims that Abraham was
reckoned as righteous by faith long before he was circumcised. Accordingly, he is
a "man of faith". Therefore those who want to inherit blessings given through him
must possess what Abraham has, that is, faith. Paul provides a law-free tactic for
Gentiles, because Jewish law is too difficult for Gentiles to practise and because he
realizes that uncircumcised Gentiles may experience the Spirit.
Chapter Four talks about Paul's last missionary tactic: when Paul faces a mixed
community of Jews and Gentiles, he requires each individual to choose whatever he
believes to be an appropriate way to respond to faith: Jewish Christians may
respond to God's saving grace by observance of the law, while Gentile Christians
may respond to the same grace in another way, a way freed from Jewish law and
also freed from those things which are incompatible with faith. When the weak
group in the community needs special care and support, however, Paul may ask
Jews to abandon the law, or ask Gentiles to practise it. Paul is able to be so
flexible, because he regards faith as the only condition of becoming a member of
God's people, while he considers observance of the law as only one option in
making the response of faith. In other words, faith is essential, while the law is
The last chapter, Chapter Five, sums up the main arguments of the thesis and
presents the main results of the research, that is: Paul teaches a "universal
soteriology" which claims that faith in Christ is the common foundation for both
Jews and Gentiles to become members of God's people. Based upon this
foundation, various types of response, law-observing or non-observing, are allowed.
Finally, the question of worshipping ancestors in Taiwan is taken as a test case in
order to apply the main results to a local context.