Faculty News, Profiles, and Books

The Glory of God at the Heart of Pauline Theology

An interview with Thomas R. Schreiner


No matter what you think of the apostle Paul, if you are a serious teacher of the Bible, you’ll have to come to grips with him. Thomas R. Schreiner, associate dean of the School of Theology and James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary, has spent much of his life studying Paul and the complexities of his theology. In the second edition of Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ, which has been revised throughout to engage the latest Pauline scholarship, Schreiner seeks to unearth Paul’s worldview by observing what Paul actually says in his writings, laying out the most important themes and how they are connected. According to Schreiner, “The passion of Paul’s life, the foundation and capstone of his vision, and the animating motive of his mission was the supremacy of God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.” While continuing to return to this foundation, Schreiner explores themes such as the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s people, the power of sin, God’s liberating work of grace, and the unity of the church, as well as the often-neglected topics of Paul as a missionary and his apostolic sufferings.


Jeff Robinson

What is new in the second edition?

Thomas R. Schreiner

I included some newer works on Pauline theology and reconsidered every line as I revised it. I would say, however, that upon reading the work again it is substantially the same book. I felt free to revise but for the most part I was pleased with what I wrote before.


How have Pauline studies changed since the first edition? What challenges—such as the New Perspective on Paul—have arisen?


The new perspective isn’t new anymore! Still, I continue to interact with it, as I did in the first edition. The apocalyptic reading of Paul has become more popular, and I interact to some extent with this perspective. Of course, Pauline theology has branched off in so many directions with post-colonial readings, feminist readings, anti-imperial readings, etc. My book, however, centers on an exposition of Paul’s theology from the biblical text, because I wanted to write a book on Pauline theology that centers on what Paul himself said.


What other books on Paul would you recommend that pastors and teachers who regularly preach and teach God’s Word read?


I love Stephen Westerholm’s writings. He writes beautifully and in a compelling way. See his Perspectives Old and New on Paul and Justification Reconsidered. I think Westerholm has the best treatment of the New Perspective on Paul.

I don’t agree with some significant parts of James Dunn’s The Theology of Paul the Apostle, but I learned much from reading his book. I also don’t agree with N. T. Wright’s take on the New Perspective, but I especially enjoyed his Climax of the Covenant. His two-volume work on Paul, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, has many good insights but it is far too long for most readers.


You’re a scholar who writes in a way that’s accessible for pastors and even thoughtful laymen. How would you like to see pastors benefit from the book?


I hope pastors have a better understanding of Paul, because that would mean they would have a better understanding of the whole Bible, and of God himself. Paul’s theology is particularly important because he reflects, in a unique and extensive manner, on the significance of the fulfillment of God’s saving promise in Jesus Christ. When we see the place which Paul’s writings occupy in the canon of Scripture, we see why his writings are so important for understanding who God is and what he has accomplished in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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