Summary and Review for The Pauline Eschatology

The Pauline Eschatology is Vos's magnum opus.

During his professorial career, Dr. Geerhardus Vos (Vos) published only three major theological treatises: the above mentioned, The Self-Disclosure of Jesus, and The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church.1 Vos's The Pauline Eschatology, the last of his own books, represents a fully mature Vos, a Vos who had recently seen Princeton Seminary, where he had labored for over 30 years, all but disintegrate and fall into disarray with the restructuring of the seminary in 1929, a Vos who had been driven back to his God and the Word of God through it all. In The Pauline Eschatology we encounter the fruition of Vos's decades of Reformed scholarship. The development of Vos's own theology shows through the increasing emphasis and precedence he places with eschatology. And as the ecclesiastical world which Vos knew and loved all but crumbled around him it was eschatology was to be his asylum. Published only one year after the reconstruction, The Pauline Eschatology stands as the crowning achievement in Vos's illustrious career. Two years after it saw the light of day Vos retired, not again to take up the pen.

The magnitude of The Pauline Eschatology has yet to be fully appreciated by the scholarly community. And Vos's pithy language, scholarly idiom, and complex germanesque sentences make him difficult for the beginner. His references to the Greek and Hebrew text and alludes to his contemporary opponents and their views often appear foreign to the modern reader. But the effort it takes to get through Vos's language is far outweighed by the rewarding insights his exegesis affords. If there is only one book on Paul in your library this should be the one.

Vos establishes the relationship between the Apostle's theology as a whole and its foundation in redemptive history. This relationship is particularly clear between Paul's soteriology and his eschatological interpretation of the gospel event. The objective transition from one age-world to another is the foundation of Paul's gospel message. This cosmic transition-event, Vos brilliantly identifies as the substance of the Apostle's eschatology, both already and not-yet. Moreover this transition occured in and through the cross and resurrection of Christ. Thus the transfer of environments is not purely subjective, but objective, having its foundation in historical fact. Furthermore Vos identifies the Spirit is the environment into which we have been brought in Christ. And for Vos the eternal estate is characterized by the redemptive nature of the historical event, the realm in which our union with Christ is perfected in God, the preŽminent realm of the Spirit.

"The Eschatology of the Psalter"

An appendix to the original work, Vos's article "The Eschatology of the Psalter" is a wonderful complement in the later editions. Vos recognizes the eschatology of the Psalmist to be the possession of his God in glory and endless worship of his God. To the exclusion of every rival hope, the Psalmist yearns for God Himself, and the Psalmist's faith embraces God for Himself, regardless of all external factors. Vos suggests that the modern church has lost the Psalmist's passion, substituting or diluting it with a fixation on cultural betterment which terminates short of glory. The rebuke of the Psalmist, living in a dispensation of shadows, is all the more poignant for us who live in a dispensation of the Spirit. Vos calls us to return to the piety of the Psalmist whose soul-songs betray a passion for God which is sorely missing in the more glorious age of the gospel.


i The Structure of the Pauline Eschatology

ii The Interaction Between Eschatology and Soteriology

iii The Religious and Ethical Motivation of Paul's Eschatology

iv The Coming of the Lord and its Precursors

v The Man of Sin

vi The Resurrection

vii Alleged Development in Paul's Teaching on the Resurrection

viii The Resurrection-Change

ix The Extent of the Resurrection

x The Question of Chiliasm in Paul

xi The Judgment

xii The Eternal State

1 Since his death in 1949, Vos's shorter writings were collected and anthologized by Dr. Richard Gaffin Jr. under the title Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation. His work on Hebrews was collected, edited, and published by his son, Dr. Johannes G. Vos, under the title, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews. A number of lecture manuscripts on Old Testament eschatology were collected, edited and published by James T. Dennison Jr. under the title The Eschatology of the Old Testament. Several manuscripts from Vos's "Biblical Theology" class have also been assembled and edited by J. G. Vos and published under that title. Vos had published a series of six sermons preached at the seminary chapel under the title Grace and Glory. After his death several more of his sermons were collected and published along with the original six under the same title. Currently two other publication projects are being pursued. These are 1) Vos's lectures on the Gospel of John and 2) an English translation of his Gereformde Dogmatiek.