MAN’S COMMUNION WITH GOD ACCORDING TO THE TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY OF SAINT PAUL

 

-Marin Mihalache-

 

Being the only one created in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), the man have to reflect God in creation. And this high calling was perfectly realized through Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10-11). The man has to be like Christ, which is the created image of God, the Divine Word, Logos, and Son of God in human flesh. Christ was at the same time the perfect man and the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

 

God the Father loved man and saved him in Christ through the Holy Spirit. The communion of all was possible in Christ through His Incarnation. According to Saint Paul Christ is the Head of the Church. If we are in Christ we are also in the Father, because the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son. In Jesus Christ, every Christian receives “the wealth of grace” of the spirit by the Holy Spirit. For Christ “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17) or “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…”. And as Saint Paul further rightfully states “through Him to reconcile to Himself all things…” (Colossians 1:18-20). According to Saint Paul, salvation is achieved through Christ. By His Incarnation Jesus Christ assumes the human condition thus justifying all those who are in Christ Jesus. Or as Saint Paul thoughtfully wrote “…one man’s act of righteousness leads to the acquittal and life for all man.” (Romans 5:18). See also the concordance of other biblical texts: Colossians 2:9-10; Ephesians 3:14-21; Romans 6:23 and II Corinthians 5:17-18).

 

Therefore, through Christ we become partakers of the life of the Father in His Son and the Holy Spirit, partakers of the Holy Trinity and its eternal Kingdom. There is a continually and fully manifestation of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in the world, the entire creation and cosmos “the Father through the Son in the Spirit to man; and man in the Spirit through the Son to the Father”. According with Saint Paul the salvation of man is achieved when man enters into the communion of love mystically and divinely manifested within the Holy Trinity. And the love and communion of all those who are in the Body of Christ is fully realized in the Church which imitates and reflects the greatest possible the love and communion which exists within The Holy Trinity.

 

Thus the Church of believers, of those who are in Christ is mystically created in the image and likeness of Her Head, Jesus Christ, and through Christ in the Trinitarian image and likeness. Here the man truly becomes the one Body of Christ, the one living temple of God. In the Church the presence of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of the possibility for anybody to grow in the Truth and Love for God by the diversity of gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worked all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4-8). Concerning the unity of believers in the Body of Christ, Saint Paul writes in his epistle to the Ephesians (4:3-7): “Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives, by the peace that binds you together. There is one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope to which God has called you. There is on Lord, one faith, one baptism. There is one God and Father of all men, who is Lord of all, works through all, and is in all.”

 

In order to accomplish a perfect communion with God, according to Saint Paul, the man has to have first of all faith. Through faith Christ abides in our hearts (“and Christ will make his home in your hearts, through faith” (Ephesians 3:17) and also we “might receive the Spirit promised by God” (Galatians 3:14). Who believes in Christ believes also in God the Father and by faith we may become sons of God (Galatians 2:15-21; 3:23-29, also Philippians 3:8-11).

 

Another crucial condition for man to have communion with God is to be humble. For Saint Paul teaches the Philippians that Christ Himself took a form of servant and God “has highly exalted Him…” (Philippians 2: 5-11) Also, in order to know God we have to love Him, to be purified by the same love through which Christ brought us to the Father. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who know no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21).

 

By conquering sin, death and the devil, Christ has destroyed what separated us from God. Through the Church we participate in Christ sharing His life and the death also: “For we are baptized into the death of Christ” we were buried with Him… “…united with Him in a death like His…” “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6) The death in the image of the death of Christ is death for resurrection and in this case “all this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to Himself” (II Corinthians 5:14-18)

 

To be servant or rather children of God according to Saint Paul, the Christians have to consider the truth and love as the very criteria of everything in their life. The wisdom of God is in Christ, His righteousness, sanctification and redemption (I Corinthians 1:17-31). The same truth which is manifested in Christ is revealed by the Holy Spirit. And therefore the communion of man with God is eternal one. For “if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord…For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:8-9)

 

The redemption and salvation has its essence in this absolute union of God and man, in love of God the Father through Christ for man, for “God shows His love for us in that while were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 or Ephesians 2:4-5). But also “the breath” or “spirit” of love is granted to us through the Holy Spirit. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:5)

 

The divine love for man is therefore the love of God the Father, the love of Christ (Philippians 1:8) and the love of the Spirit (Romans 15:30). The power of love makes possible the union of God and man in Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2) and through Christ in the Holy Trinity. Saint Paul assures us that nothing in the world “can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:28). The absence of love is the same with separation of man from God and from the kingdom of God.

 

The unity of love is the unity of the Church and the key to discover “the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). And the true spiritual knowledge and our personal living contemplation of God (Ephesians 1:18) means union with Him and with whole of the world (Romans 8:5-23).

 

The knowledge of each person of the Holy Trinity is the knowledge of all, because there is an absolute perfection in their relationship, yet the three Persons live and act each in their uniqueness. However, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are revealed not in isolation, but in their perfect communion. But to be in communion with God it is necessary to be in the same will with Him. And the very condition of such unity with God could first of all be realized in prayer (Philippians 4:5-7)

 

Also, we cannot have an authentic knowledge of God and therefore a communion with Him, without the action of grace in us. Through the grace all the gifts of God as wisdom, knowledge, faith, are sent to us by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:1-11, 28-31). And the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of the Son (Ephesians 2:18) and also He is abiding in our hearts crying “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).

 

The love of God for mankind by the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ is manifested in us through the baptism (I Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:25-27) and all the Church’s sacraments. One of the main themes in the Epistle of Saint Paul to Romans and Galatians is about this life of grace, the life in communion with God in love and truth, in opposition with the life by Law (also in Ephesians 6:24 and 3:2; Colossians 1:6; I Corinthians 6:17 and 15:10; II Corinthians 1:12; Philippians 2:13). The Spirit received in baptism leads us to God the Father, to His Kingdom, through the Resurrection and Transfiguration of the world (Romans 8:19-23), when God will be “all in all” (I Corinthians 15:28 and Ephesians 1:23; 2:22), in a manner obvious to all.

 

 

 

 

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