We’ve all been trained to think the bulk of Paul’s theology is found in Romans, when actually….
consider the following:
The Christian church—at least in the West, and especially Protestants—has read Paul through the lens of Romans. We have historically regarded this letter as the center of Paul’s theology.
I don’t think this is right. Inasmuch as we can speak of a “center” of Paul’s theology and insofar as any extant NT letter represents that, I think Ephesians is a better candidate. Among other reasons, here are just a few:
First, Romans is situational while Ephesians isn’t. Paul argues as he does in Romans because he’s trying to resolve a conflict. Many of his statements are directed to that end, and when they’re taken out of their communicative context and transformed into abstract theological principles, they give a distorted picture of Paul’s theology.
Ephesians, on the other hand, isn’t situational. It’s probably a circular letter that Paul intended to be read to a range of churches in Asia Minor, informing them of what God has done in Christ and how they can participate in that. Because Paul writes to give multiple Christian communities a broad understanding, we can say that Ephesians represents Paul’s basic gospel proclamation (i.e., Paul’s “theology”).
Well there is more and it is certainly a provocative post. I like it! Let me know what you think. 🙂