What To Do With PNEUMATIKOS

Mike Sangrey msangrey at BlueFeltHat.org
Fri Oct 5 10:10:01 EDT 2001


On Fri, 2001-10-05 at 03:17, Iver Larsen wrote:
[snip]

> Paul Schmehl <p.l.schmehl at worldnet.att.net> said:
> >
> > And then we come to PERI DE TWN PNEUMATIKWN.  Paul's entire
> > treatise, prior
> > to chapter 12 concerns *primarily* fleshly matters, if you will.
> > Divisions
> > amongst the brethren, using the courts to settle disputes, misusing
> > communion, living immorally or in an idolatrous manner, handling marriage
> > and sex improperly, etc., etc., etc.  Now we come to chapter 12, and Paul
> > makes an abrupt change of subject.  It's as if he says, "Whew!!  Now that
> > we've finally gotten all that sense knowledge crap out of the way, let's
> > discuss spiritual matters."
> 
> I am afraid I have to disagree here. There are several "spiritual" topics
> and much spiritual vocabulary before chapter 12, for instance in 2:13-15.
> And Paul does not think in a linear step-by-step way so that he could say
> "Whew! we have finished that. Let us go on to the next step." He will often
> hint at a problem or topic and then come back to it later in more detail. If
> we squeeze his writings into a Western mould, we are likely to misunderstand
> the original structural pattern.
> 

Actually, Iver, doesn't your point argue FOR Paul's?  I completely agree
that 1 Cor 2:13-15, or even 2:6-16, introduces "spiritual things" (the
word  PNEUMATIKOS is used here).  But notice 3:1-2.  It's as if he says,
"There, I've introduced (hinted at) spiritual things, but I have to get
these other things, these non-spiritual things, out of the way first
because of the nature of the people I'm writing to."

At one level much of the discussion throughout this letter is about
topics which swirl around the basic need for unity.  Before chapter 12
Paul appears to me to deal with it in a very practical, down to earth
way.  Chapter 3, for example, in my view, is very practical advice
regarding how to work through disagreements:  different people bring
different roles and will perform these roles to different degrees of
benefit for Christ; you need to give the results of these efforts some
time, eventually you will see what is best and what isn't; God owns the
building you're building, so don't be too overly concerned; don't think
for one moment you have a hot-line connection to God; assess ALL the
data, don't dismiss any of it just because you disagree with it.

That appears to me to be very, very practical.

And now (for time's sake I'm skipping over the intervening chapters,
though they appear to me to be much more of the same type of thing--very
practical advice, almost procedural in genre), chapter 12 evidences that
Paul has come back to the "spiritual things" topic and is going to get
into it with much more detail.  This time it is far less procedural,
even to the point of placing love as the keystone in the whole
discussion.  He is still dealing with the overarching topic of unity,
but now he gets into a lot more detail about the spiritual support for
that.

This has been a very helpful discussion for me--thanks to all who have
participated.

-- 
Mike Sangrey
msangrey at BlueFeltHat.org
Landisburg, Pa.
                        "The first one last wins."
            "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."




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