18. Paul and Empire

  1. Stephen Westerholm
  1. N. T. Wright

Published Online: 20 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444395778.ch18

The Blackwell Companion to Paul

The Blackwell Companion to Paul

How to Cite

Wright, N. T. (2011) Paul and Empire, in The Blackwell Companion to Paul (ed S. Westerholm), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444395778.ch18

Editor Information

  1. McMaster University, Canada

Author Information

  1. University of St. Andrews, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 29 APR 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405188449

Online ISBN: 9781444395778



  • Paul and Empire - Augustus extending the irony with great care - he had, in restoring the Republic;
  • Romans as a whole, wisely, went along with this convenient fiction - hailing Augustus and then his successors as “savior” and “lord”;
  • Ancient Judaism and pagan empire - struggle between the global claims of their own god and global realities of pagan power;
  • ancient traditions of Israel, putting the Jewish people - on a collision course with the all-embracing claims of human empire;
  • long, slow build-up of Roman rule, first beginnings - to full flowering of empire under Augustus and his successors;
  • Paul within the first century - we cannot understand the early Christian movement, or Paul as being a part of it;
  • counter-imperial messages in the Letters - Paul's view of politics, and the Roman Empire with a quick reference to Romans;
  • Colossians, offering a vision of the lordship of Jesus - over all structures of human authority;
  • both the cross and the resurrection of Jesus - central to traditional theological analyses, central;
  • “Paul and empire” one of the most fascinating - if sometimes frustratingly elusive, of current questions about the apostle and his world


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Setting

  • Paul within the First Century

  • Counter-imperial Messages in the Letters?

  • Conclusion

  • References