Paul's ethics

Brian Rosner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Throughout his career Paul was confronted with a number of complex moral and practical problems in the fledgling Christian communities which threatened their very survival. The early church regularly struggled with questions concerning Jews and Gentiles, male and female roles, sex and marriage, rich and poor, church order and worship, politics and slavery. To put it simply, the study of Paul's ethics considers his responses to these issues. These can in the main be found in the form of three types of paraenesis or moral exhortation scattered throughout his letters: traditional paraenesis, involving general moral themes such as holiness and love (e.g. Rom. 12:1-13:14); situational paraenesis, consisting of advice and exhortation on specific matters of pressing concern (e.g. 1 Cor. 5:1-11:1); and ecclesiastical paraenesis, directed to the institutional needs of the church and the ministry (e.g. 1 Cor. 11:2-14:40). Paul's moral teaching, however, cannot be isolated from the rest of his instruction. Doctrine and ethics are intimately related in Paul's letters. It is commonly observed that some of the letters exhibit a basically two-fold structure (e.g. Romans, Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians), the first predominantly pertaining to matters of belief, the second primarily to Christian conduct. However, this is an oversimplification, for application is not postponed until the second half of Romans, for instance, being implicit in the exposition in chs. 1-2 and explicit in chs. 6 and 8.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to St Paul
EditorsJames D.G. Dunn
Place of PublicationCambridge, United Kingdom
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780511999987
ISBN (Print)0521781558, 9780521781558
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


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