Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: A Compendium of Biblical Scholarship. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. 1067 pp. Hardcover, $60.00.
This dictionary has substantial entries on numerous topics in Paul’s letters. For example, the entry on baptism is over 600 words, while the entry on Ephesians is over 1000 words long.
The Dictionary is broadly Evangelical, with a slight Reformed bias on topics that would be of most interest to JOTGES readers. But there are surprising Free Grace insights here and there.
For example, the entry on Apostasy, written by J. M. Gundry-Volf, says that Paul taught that salvation cannot be lost and verses dealing with disapproval may have to do with disapproval of one’s service to God:
Some texts seem to reveal Paul’s apprehension that his own conduct will in some way disqualify him from final salvation. Yet Paul can express confidence of his final salvation (Phil 1:21, 23). It is God’s approval of his apostolic service that he does not take for granted. “Lest…I might become disqualified [adokimos]” at 1 Corinthians 9:7 probably refers to Paul the apostle instead of Paul the Christian (cf. 1 Cor 3:13-15). For when Paul uses the language of testing (dok–) of himself, it always has to do with divine approval of his apostolic service. Paul seeks to avoid divine disapproval as an apostle by subduing his body through the giving up of his rights (to food and drink, pay, a wife) (p. 42).
However, Gundry anchors the believer’s assurance of salvation on the fact of election and predestination, not on the promise of eternal security. She says that people who fall away from the faith, or who act unethically, “may call into question the genuineness of one’s profession of faith” (p. 43).
Similarly, in his article on Judgment, S. H. Travis affirms that Paul taught a judgment according to works, but does not seem to recognize that it occurs at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Instead, Travis places the judgment according to works at the Last Judgment, where “professing Christians [who] persistently did evil rather than good [will] show themselves not to be Christians and to be in danger of condemnation at the final judgment” (p. 517).
R. M. Fuller’s article on Rewards recognizes that Paul taught that believers will have different degrees of eternal happiness, but fails to connect that truth with the Bema.
Generally speaking, the authors interact with higher-critical scholarship and seem to generally prefer conservative conclusions in a lukewarm way. For example, in his article on Ephesians, C. E. Arnold discusses the possibility that it was not actually written by Paul and weakly concludes that such arguments are not strong enough to overturn the traditional belief in Pauline authorship (p. 242).
Although theologically uneven, this book covers a tremendous amount of territory on virtually every aspect of Paul’s theology, including overviews of each letter, Paul’s missionary journeys, how Paul used the OT, and almost every major theological topic he addressed. This would be a helpful reference tool for discerning believers.
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society