INTERPRETATIONS OF PAUL’S LETTERS RESPONSE
Our text book tells us that Paul’s influence was felt in the early church, a century after his death. Paul became a battle ground for the early church as different believers and Christians had different opinions and interpretations of his letters to the churches and its people. The Gnostics, believed that Christ was not a human man, and used scriptures from Paul’s epistles to supposedly prove this; scriptures such as Romans 8:3, “the likeness of sinful flesh,” and Gal 5:13,”what the spirit desires is opposed to the flesh.” In A.D. 180, Irenaeus, countered this by referencing Paul and using passages, like Ephesians 4:13, “till we all come in unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” and 1 Cor 15:50-57, to prove Christ was a man; the second Adam, here to save us from the sins of the first Adam.
Origen, in A.D. 210, believed that because of the work and great sacrifice of Jesus, that God will one day redeem all of earth back to him; even the devil and all his angels. Origen arrived at this interpretation by using Romans 5:18, “that by one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.” Origen used this and other scriptures from Paul’s letters to open a window to universalism and to get rid of afore notion that all was predestined for eternal damnation. In (c 400) Augustine interpreted Romans 5:12-21, to mean that Adams sin was biologically passed down to all humans, causing death to all, except for salvation to those who believe in Christ and receive salvation through grace and not by works. In (c 1250) Thomas Aquinas believed that God can be seen through creation, Romans 1:20, “his divine nature is seen through the things he has made.”
Martin Luther and John Calvin interpreted Romans 3:21-26, “we must obtain our righteousness solely from God, by faith in Christ,” justification by faith, then became...