Gordon Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study(Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 2007).
Fee now turns to examine “what the data suggest are Paul’s primary categories for understanding the person of Christ” (530): that Jesus was the pre-existent Son of God and exalted Lord. He devotes the next two chapters to these two titles and notes that ‘Son of God’ emphasises the relationship between Christ and the Father and ‘Lord’ emphasises Christ’s relationship to the church and the world.
Fee argues that Paul’s understanding stems from Jewish Messianism, primarily Davidic kingship. Jesus as Messiah was both David’s “son” and the “Lord” in Psalm 110:1, yet Paul had a far expanded understanding of both concepts: Jesus was not only David’s son, but God’s eternal Son; and at Jesus’ exaltation the very “name” of God (“LORD”) was given to him so he could be the focal point of honour and glory.
However, Fee claims that Paul’s particular understanding and emphasis did not begin with him, but it existed with the Aramaic-speaking community that preceded him. This is seen in two Aramaic terms that Paul quoted: Αββα=”Father”, the name for God that believes have appropriated because of our relationship to Christ (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15) and Μαρανα θα=”Come, Lord”, the ‘coming’ of God Himself (Mal 4:5) was now attributed to Christ (1 Cor 16:22).
Firstly, Fee demonstrates how Paul viewed Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the fulfilment of God’s promises by examining Rom 9:5, and a number of other texts. To establish Paul’s understanding of Jesus as the Messianic son of God, the history of Israel is ‘re-read’ in a Christocentric light, specifically examining the theme of “son of God” and how it developed as a messianic term.
Next, Paul’s understanding of Christ as the eternal Son of God is examined by surveying a number of themes found in the OT and NT texts including the Abba-cry (Gal 4:4-7; Rom 8:15); the echoes of Abraham and Isaac (Gen 22); the use of language (Gal 2:20; Rom 8:32); the Son as God’s image-bearer (2 Cor 4:4); the Son as Creator (1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:13-17).
In conclusion, Fee sees Paul’s understanding of Christ being the ‘son of God’ as stemming from Jewish Messianism originally, which expected the Messiah to be the ‘son of God’; and yet his understanding has far exceeded this expectation: Jesus the Messiah is actually the divine and beloved ‘Son of God’ who was pre-existent with the Father, the agent of creation, and perfectly bears the divine image.