F.F. Bruce and N.T. Wright on Paul’s Gospel

What is the heart of Paul’s gospel, or good news?

Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?

Wright: “If you start with the popular [i.e. Reformed/protestant!!] view of justification, you may actually lose sight of the heart of the Pauline gospel; whereas if you start with the Pauline gospel itself you will get justification in all its glory thrown in as well” (N.T. Wright, What St. Paul Really Said [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997], 113).  Elsewhere, Wright notes that justification is not at the “centre” of Paul’s thought; the gospel is (Ibid., 114). 

Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

Now Bruce: “For Paul, life in the sense of salvation begins with justification but goes beyond it…it includes sanctification…and is consummated in final glory….  In this comprehensive sense, ‘salvation’ may well be regarded as the key ‘to unlock the wards of Paul’s theology'” (F.F. Bruce, Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963], 81).  As a further note, for Bruce, to be “justified by faith” means “be saved” (Ibid). 

Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?

Does Wright have the last word?  “If we come to Paul with…questions about how human beings come into a living and saving relationship with the living and saving God — it is not justification that springs to his lips or pen” (Wright, 116).

One more question: Did Bruce “lose sight of” the heart of the Pauline gospel?


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