Adam C. Koontz What follows is a lightly edited portion of Dr. Koontz’s dissertation now in preparation for publication. Send questions and inquiries for more to email@example.com. Was there a larger strategy that Paul had in mind when commanding financial or behavioral change? This question will engage a larger debate about the frame for understanding Paul’s work. Perhaps Paul remained somehow “within Judaism,” although he uses the word only once to eschew it as belonging to his “former life” (Gal. 1:13) within Judaism. Why, indeed, does Paul not have an abstract noun similar to the English words “Christianity” or “Judaism” to describe what he is doing with so many different ethnic groups and social classes in so many different locations within the ancient Mediterranean? Was there something universal or catholic present in all his churches of any kind anywhere? We will first look at the surrounding material for imitation that links to what Paul expects “in all the churches.” That sense of universality will be connected to the scope of Paul’s commission, revealing that imitation is for the sake of the larger project of exhibiting the same behaviors and ways among a massive variety of people throughout the inhabited world known to Paul. That larger project Paul will describe as his apostolate, mission, or commission, and it will be to bring the nations into obedience to Christ, whose image they will bear as they are obedient in faith to Jesus whom Paul believes is already ruling over the nations as king. Thus imitation will finally be connected to a larger frame of missiological endeavor and christological conviction for Paul. There is a uniformity on which Paul insists in certain distinct cases, especially among the Corinthians whom he finds to be so often arrogantly distinctive in their practices. After explaining the rationale for how and why women should cover their heads (1 Cor. 11:2-15), Paul explains that should anyone object to this practice and find it unacceptable, there are two other factors that should be considered. First, “we have no such practice,” that is the apostolic group for which Paul is speaking does not inculcate a practice of women being bareheaded. Not coincidentally, this section follows directly after the second Pauline admonition to imitation (1 Cor. 11:1) and the reiteration that the Corinthians are commended for remembering Paul “in everything” and maintaining the traditions he has delivered to them (1 Cor. 11:2). The Corinthian church is marked by a firm adherence to Pauline practice, so that if anyone should want to depart from that practice, he should remember that female headcoverings are Pauline and universal in the churches. Second, Pauline practice aligns with the practice of all the “churches of God.” Those churches may not be exclusively Pauline as in the case of Judea or of Rome, but they align practically with the Pauline churches. There is therefore no distinction between Pauline and non-Pauline for Paul but between “of God” or of some other source. One might conceive of a church where women do not wear headcoverings, but that church would not be “of God” according to Paul’s lights. Uniformity in this practice is evidence of something larger even than the imitation of Paul although here imitation of Paul and maintenance of Pauline tradition are the conduits through which the Corinthians have access to what is universally practical in the churches of God. Likewise the worship practices of the Corinthians are to be brought into harmony with universal church practice (1 Cor. 14:26-36). Women were speaking “in the churches,” but Paul commands silence for women in the churches so that they are not participating in the public proclamation and overriding the necessity for submission (1 Cor. 14:34). The command to silence harmonizes with the command to wear a head covering in that Paul seeks to inculcate a universal practice of female submission to men “in all the churches.” The distinctive for our purposes is the Pauline reminder that “in all the churches” or “in all the churches of the saints” something is the case. This universality of practice opens up a broader horizon for the significance of Pauline imitation than even the questions of power or specific practice that we covered in the previous two chapters. If Pauline imitation is a gateway to something larger, what was that larger thing with which Paul was concerned? In these two admonitions in 1 Cor. 11 and 14 we see a glimpse of the larger thing: universal practice marking out a distinctive community. The rationales about female subordination to men that Paul provides in 1 Cor. 11:2-15 and 14:34, 37 are decisive in tone and include exhortations to obedience such that one has no other choice but to obey or be cast out. Indeed, should one disregard Paul’s admonitions concerning women’s silence or any other practical regulation he delivered, “if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized” (1 Cor. 14:38). The adherence to Pauline tradition and practice is the litmus test of being among the brothers and within the churches of all the saints. Through that adherence, one practices those things that accord with being “in Christ,” whether in a Pauline congregation such as Corinth, Philippi, or Thessalonica or anywhere else, for the practices are the same “in all the churches of God.” That universality is reflected in Paul’s discussions with both his own churches and others about the nature of belonging to the church. We have seen that ethnic belonging was not requisite within the Pauline churches, but when explaining ethnicity, especially the question of the importance of Jewishness, to non-Pauline addressees, Paul assumes that their thoughts accord with his gospel on the matter. For though he unsurprisingly calls anyone seeking to circumcise Pauline Christians “dogs…evildoers…those who mutilate the flesh” when speaking to people whom he has taught (Phil. 3:2-3), he speaks similarly about the uselessness of circumcision to the Romans. Playing on the value of being Jewish, Paul asserts that “a Jew is one inwardly, and a circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not the letter” (Rom. 2:29). This voiding of the value of ethnicity is something that Paul not only practiced but also presumed non-Pauline churches believed and practiced. Thus the use of baptism into Christ (cf. also Rom. 6) is that it nullifies ethnicity while it makes immediately urgent the value of belonging to Christ through baptism. Ethnicity is irrelevant to being in Christ (Gal. 3:28), but inheritance as God’s children and Abraham’s offspring remains or becomes (depending on one’s level of surprise at Paul’s gospel) paramount. The one baptized into Christ receives the whole inheritance of Abraham and is a son of God (Gal. 3:26-29). Such a person has or will become as Paul is, behaving in the ways that Paul marks out as appropriate for one who belongs to Christ Jesus (Gal. 5:24), and that person whose faith is working by love (Gal. 5:6) walks in a distinctive way through the world and belongs to the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). Thus the church has become the new people of God (2 Cor. 3-4, 1 Cor. 10) with all the stories and promises of God pertaining to it, the true fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ. Since ethnic belonging is useless and mystical belonging through baptism into Christ is of firstimportance, the practice of baptism with its attendant way of life is also paramount. Arguing less polemically than to the Galatians, Paul asks rhetorically to the Romans in connection with baptism whether one should not sin after baptism (Rom. 6:1). The answer is an obvious and vehement “No!” because of what baptism has effected through union with the death of Christ and thus with the resurrection of Christ, so that the one raised from baptism is raised to be “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). This union with Christ through baptism nullifies the ethnic identity of the baptizand and gives him solely an identity of value to God in Christ Jesus (cf. Gal. 3:28). The nature of Paul’s understanding of the mystery of baptism indicates that Paul believes his practices centered on non-ethnically specific behaviors and ways of life are what they are because of who Christ is. Since Christ died to “sin once for all” (Rom. 6:10), then anyone subject to death may also be freed from sin and be crucified with Christ and be raised to new life. Paul’s practices and the rationales for them are founded on the deeper premise of who Christ is and what he came to do, which draws us into this final discussion of the significance of the imitation of Paul for Paul’s broader mission and theology. We will then trace Paul’s universality in theology to his universality in practice to understand Pauline imitation as one means of ensuring the universality among the churches of God that Paul understood to exist first in God, then in God’s mission to the world through Christ, thus through God’s commission of Paul to proclaim Christ, and finally in the churches created through that Pauline commission and the apostolic commission everywhere in the world.