The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Penal Substitution & Universalism

Hi Bobx1,

Do you agree with the NASB translation of Romans 3:25-26?

*[25] whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

[26] for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. *


As implied in citing Wright’s interpretation, I find NAS’s “righteousness” and “passed over” superior to NIV. This leaves the debate rightly focused on how the cross shows or accomplishes God’s righteousness and faithfulness.

More controversial and unique among today’s translations, is using “propitiation.” Volumes have been written debating the Bible’s use of hilasterion and sacrifices. If it’s taken to mean “punishment that brings justice by assuaging the deity’s anger,” then I think it’s not a good reading of the Bible’s emhasis upon the character of God and his mercy. Thus I prefer the other translations on this term. What do you think?

Hi Bob,

I see hilasterion refers to the sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat in Leviticus 16 because the next phrase in Romans 3:25 includes “blood”. And dozens of verses affirm the centrality of the shed blood of Jesus in redemption such as the following in the NASB:

*Matthew 26:28, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 14:24, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.

Luke 22:20, In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

John 6:53, Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:54, Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

John 6:55, For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

John 6:56, Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.

Acts 20:28, Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Romans 3:25, God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–

Romans 5:9, Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

1 Corinthians 10:16, Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 11:27, So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

Ephesians 1:7, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:13, But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Colossians 1:20, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Hebrews 9:12, He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:14, How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 10:19, Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

Hebrews 10:29, How much more severely do you think those deserve to be punished who have trampled the Son of God underfoot, who have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who have insulted the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 12:24, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 13:12, And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

Hebrews 13:20, Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

1 Peter 1:2, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Revelation 1:5, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

Revelation 5:9, And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God members of every tribe and language and people and nation.

Revelation 7:14, I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 12:11, They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Revelation 19:13, He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.*

Sorry for the overkill in the scripture quotes, but I wanted to emphasize that the biblical importance of the shed blood of Jesus. And I understand why you oppose theology that presents God as primarily angry and needing appeasement.

I see Romans 3:25 teaches that the Father presented the Son as a sacrifice for sin that was foreshadowed by the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16. I also see divine justice as an extension of God’s love. And I’m grateful that Christ died to take away the sins of the world.


Thanks for persevering to grasp my alternative interpretation. No “overkill” is needed! I agree hilasterion points to the “mercy seat” of Lev. 16. Many exegetes prefer translating it precisely that way here (instead of NASB’s “propitiation” that I argued against). And, of course, no one can miss that the N.T. ties it directly to the shedding of Jesus’ “blood.”

But the question remains as to what “mercy seat” or “blood” signifies. I agree with your own final language, when you assume it points to the idea that “Christ died to take away the sins of the world.” I do doubt that this Biblical way of referring to Jesus’ faithful death means that there is something unique about “blood” in some kind of material sense, that in itself satisfies justice or anything within God. Stoning caused death by the loss of much blood, but crucifixion, while more humiliating and excruciating, often brought death without much blood being spilled.

So how do you understand the purpose of Jesus’ ‘atonement’ in Romans 3? Contrary to your last post, your citation was not NASB. But consistent with NASB, suppose that God “passed over” Israel’s sins (not doing much to correct their self-centered failures), and thus appears not “righteous” regarding his promised purpose to create a holy people, a light to the nations who would bless all familes of the earth. Does Paul then conceive that the cross shows that God is in fact faithful about “righteousness,” because he has inflicted what amounts to ‘justice’ upon Jesus (even though my initial 12 reasons to you asserts that many Bible texts oppose this concept of justice :slight_smile: )?

Or, could it be that: (1) The life and death of Jesus (the true seed of Abraham) displayed the gracious righteousness that God sought in Israel, thus “demonstrating” that God is in fact lovingly faithful to accomplish what he said. (2) Christ then becomes the means of producing a universal family of Abraham, whose character will actually reflect the godly righteousness that His Spirit produces in those who now can rest their “faith” in the kind of faithful and loving God demonstrated in Jesus?

What do you think? Of course, my sense is that #2 (Wright) best fits and culminates the Bible’s whole storyline (such at Gregory Mac Donald outlines), making interpretation one unnecessary and unbiblical.

Grace be with you,

Hi Bob,

I see that the Lord eventually poured severe punishment on both the Northern Kingdom and the Kingdom of Judah. I don’t see ‘suppose that God “passed over” Israel’s sins (not doing much to correct their self-centered failures), and thus appears not “righteous” regarding his promised purpose to create a holy people, a light to the nations who would bless all familes of the earth.’

Hi Bob,

One of my issues is that I see most of your 12 points as a stretch while I see implications of substitute sacrifice all over the Bible. I jotted a note or two about each of your 12 points.

  1. Christ saves us from the punishment we deserve for our sins.
  2. Perhaps God could’ve decided on another plan for forgiveness, but many verses in both the Old Testament and the New Testament point to a sacrificial system to restitute the consequences of sin.
  3. The Bible is strong in telling people not to take justice in there own hands and let God ultimately handle justice. (And Socrates or one of his friends could have paid a fine instead of Socrates suffering the death penalty.)
  4. God designed a system of justice while he disciplines us for our own good.
  5. This relates to 4. The justice we deserve would be too much for us so God made another plan.
  6. The focus of 1 Corinthians 15 is that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead then the apostles are false witnesses and their faith is worthless.
  7. The New Covenant requires that we believe in Jesus, which includes all of his teachings.
  8. I in no way see that believing that Christ dies to take the penalty for my sins makes ongoing sins less of a concern.
  9. Old Testament sacrifices and the New Testament sacrifice are worthless without genuine repentance.
  10. Each individual will on day be reconciled to God. It’s both individual and corporate.
  11. These verses could be describing Jesus feeling rejected by the Father.
  12. The Father offered the Son as a sacrifice. This was a deliberate act by the Father.

You come across to me as presenting false dilemmas. I don’t see your points making substitute sacrifice for sins unbiblical.

May I ask how you see that the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences (Hebrews 9:14)?

Not to interrupt this conversation, but this line triggered for me the notion that I should share an essay I wrote a few years back.


You are very welcome to jump in! I too am skeptical about the use of “deserve.” Salvation is a gift that transcends it, and I also would not see ‘punishment’ as involving a requirement to render what is “deserved” to meet ‘justice.’ I’d prefer emphasizing it as consistent with love which functions to obtain correction and practical righteousness, rather than securing what is deserved. Indeed, N.T. Wright’s “Evil and the Justice of God” argues that our Western world has neglected the centrality of “restorative justice.”

Hi Jim!

Many haven’t engaged our issue. Jason and Bobx3 seem to welcome my atonement slant, but you’re clearly unconvinced, which keeps it interesting! But I’m puzzled by the first of your most recent responses. Also your interpretation still appears unclarified as to how “blood” functions, or what dikaios and “demonstrating” it means in Romans 3.

Your response to questions on these seems to assume that God’s “punishment” upon Israel means that recognizing God’s faithful “righteousness” cannot really be at issue, as I argued it is. Thus you conclude that you “don’t see that God passed over Israel’s sins,” or did not correct their failures, or leave them looking as if God had not faithfully created a holy people. Are Wright and I deceived that Paul sees that God’s dealing with Israel had indeed failed to produce a light to the nations, nor blessed the families of the earth?

Are you saying that God had already in fact effectively put Israel’s sins right? Or that since God '“eventually” allowed some punishments, Paul can’t mean that God “passed over” Israel’s sins? If you thus mean that NASB wrongly translates this, what is your alternative? If you believe it means that God effectively “forgave” their sins, how can that be even more compatible with your own observation that He actually punished them? What is ‘forgiveness’?

I’m confused. I continue to think that both NASB and Wright remain unanswered. What am I missing?

Hi Bob,

I see blood functioning as a sign of both life and death. The Old Testament (OT) describes blood as the life of animals. And the OT emphasized the shedding and sprinkling of blood in the Levitical sacrificial system that played a central role in salvation from sins for the nation of Israel. And blood-shedding sacrifices in the Levitcal system foreshadowed the scourging of, crucifixion of, and final spear thrust into Jesus. The death of Jesus signified by the shedding of his blood paid ransom for sinful humans.

I suppose dikaios means “righteous” or “just” depending on the context and is similar to dikaiosune. I suppose you’re referring to God demonstrating righteousness according to Romans 3:25. I assume this refers to God revealing his perfect plan for salvation in the new covenant.

I’m sorry that I left these assumptions open to you. My main point is that God severely punished the Israelites while I reject interpretations of Romans 3:25-26 that suggest otherwise. Also, I believe that God forgave the sins of the minority faithful among the old covenant Israelites while the severe punishments didn’t make the majority of Israel righteous. And God upped the grace by offering Jesus to be scourged and crucified to death as ransom for sinful people.

I’m sorry that I don’t know the specifics of your reference to Wright. But I love his defense and clarification of substitutionary atonement (

*One of the things that I’ve been frustrated and puzzled about in some of the
debates that have gone on and in messages on blog sites and so on, is that people have often said things that imply that I, Tom Wright, don’t believe, for instance, in substitutionary atonement. Or that I don’t believe in justification by grace through faith. And I want to say to them, “Here. Read my lips. Look what I’ve done, look what I’ve written. I’ve been preaching and writing about substitutionary atonement and justification by grace through faith for twenty or thirty years now.”

Indeed, when it comes to substitutionary atonement, I think I have written the longest ever defense of the view that Jesus himself conceived his own coming death in terms of Isaiah 53 in my book Jesus and the Victory of God. I actually expected when I wrote that chapter that many of my evangelical friends and colleagues would stand up and cheer. Instead they were worried about other aspects of the book and that seems to have slid by them.

That caused me to reflect that sometimes people hold the right doctrine but they put it into the wrong story. It’s possible to say a phrase, but the phrase comes out as part of a different narrative, then the phrase is going to mean something very slightly different. If I say, “I love you,” and I’m in a context where I’m with my wife, and we’re doing stuff together, then it means what it means within that narrative. But if I say, “I love you” in a different context it might mean something completely different. It’s a silly example, but you see what I mean.

If you say Christ died in our place and took our penalty and our punishment, that’s fine. But if the narrative that you have in mind is of a malevolent, capricious, angry God who is determined to punish somebody for all this sin that’s going on, and, ah! here’s somebody who happens to be his own Son, right, he’ll do, we’ll punish him and then the rest of you can go free–that story radically distorts the beautiful biblical meaning of substitutionary atonement.

Now I deliberately caricature to make the point. But substitutionary atonement which is so central to justification means what it means within the biblical story, which is not that rather arbitrary angry God, determined to take it out on somebody, and it just happens to be an innocent victim. I’m not surprised that when people hear the story told like that, they often react against it. My aim has been to tell the story of the death of Jesus in its proper biblical context.*

Hi Jim,
First, I like your ideas on “blood & righteousness,” except that they mean “paying ransom,” if that means penal substituion as my initial paper defined it. On the rest, no one questions that Israel experienced disciplines and punishment, but my interpretation stands that it was not effective, & echoes Wright’s way of telling the story of atonement. The need is to offer an interpretation compatible with “passed over,” and with Israel’s story.

Thanks for the link on N.T. Wright and his familiar quote that P.S. belongs to his own view. My perception is that Wright’s atonement view is controversially complex. For many evangelicals that form his paying readership, P.S. is a crucial mark of being orthodox, he is a politically astute Bishop, and I acknowledge that he clearly insists that his view can be called P.S. But I too affirm that Jesus experienced “punishment” & suffered the “penalty” that my sins deserve.

The facts are that yesterday I completed “Evil and the Justice of God,” on atonement as the solution, where he clearly states that to him the N.T. view is Christus Victor. More crucial, above I cited “The Atonement Debate,” a forum by the British Evangelical Alliance on Penal Substitution, where many papers attacked Wright for opposing P.S. Afterall, he’d endorsed Steve Chalke’s book which passionately assaulted P.S., and said that Chalke represented his own view just as Chalke had claimed. After the effort you quoted to put out the firestorm, Chalke reaffirmed that he embraced Wright’s view, but would never say it is anything like P.S. And Wright continues to affirm Chalke’s exposition as a lead spokesman for an alternative view. Thus many evangelicals continue to define his view as non-P.S.

It may be fair to say that some of these debates get lost in semantics, where everyone says their view has been caricatured, no one wants to admit their view is a departure, and then the reality and reasons for substantive differences never get addressed. The reality is that Wright has expounded at length on Jesus and the cross, and to me as a preacher indoctrinated in P.S. from youth to seminary, none of it sounds like it. Indeed, his writings were strategic in my turn against it.

In the protest you print, he never defines the P.S. he ostensibly affirms. He clearly says that a God whose anger needs to be satisfied is the extreme of what he rejects. I.e. he rejects more than that, and I never hear him say that the cross satisfies God’s justice either. In the quote he only affirms that the key is to understand the atonement in terms of the Biblical story. His version of that story is what I tried to describe above as his interpretation of Romans 3. That is very different than P.S.'s view there that the cross is securing ‘justice’ so that God can be gracious to us.


Your second post to me on July 11 perceives that the conflicts alleged in the texts of my 12 arguments are “false” or illusory. But your 12 brief notes leave me unclear as to why. Does the cross provide a sacrificial transaction that sufficently substitutes for our rebellion, cancels our sin, or in itself secures our salvation?

E.g. on #6, I argued “no,” since 1 Cor. 15:17 sees something additional, the resurrection, as essential to providing that. You respond that it’s simply mentioned to protect the apostle’s “witness.” But I quoted, “If Christ had not been raised, you are still in your sins.” Doesn’t that pertain to our salvation from sins, and suggest that the cross alone doesn’t secure that? I still think the apostles see the risen Christ and the Spirit’s work as a crucial part of God’s way of meeting our need for redemption. A substitute sacrifice is not enough in itself to deal with our sins.

More pivotally, I say in #1, “The Bible never says God needs a sacrifice to be gracious toward sinners” (to forgive). But you repeat that "substitute sacrifice" is all over the Bible," and “many verses point to the sacrificial system to provide restitution for the consequences of sin.” I need to know which verses you think most clearly spell out that this system is what “restitutes sins.”

My paper references passages which sound like it did not in itself restitute or pay for sin, or cause God to forgive it.
Psalm 40:6 *“Sacrifices and offering You did not desire… sin offerings You did not require.” *Isa. 66:3 says, “Whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a human being… whoever makes a grain offering is like one who worships an idol.” Hos. 6:6 “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Hebrews 10 quotes this, and thus says, even “though” the law agrees with sacrifice, Jesus comes to "set aside" that approach; rather than say Jesus’ sacrificial life and death endorsed that system, I’d prefer saying it was to end it.)

I also cited texts where God forgives without sacrifices or punishment. In what sense is a sacrifice a necessary substitute for God or us? I don’t see that they secure any restitution or retribution, but rather that they invite an essential change in us, as we trust in the God who has always been gracious. Your own #9 acknowledges that all “sacrifices are worthless without genuine repentance.” So again, where does it assure than a sacrifice is acceptable in lieu of sin, or “restitution for the consequences of sin”? “Repentance” means that we turn from sin, and I agree with you that no sacrifice is a substitute for any consequences of failing to do that. Forgive me that I may be obtuse about words and how you see this. But why do you insist that sacrifices are necessary to substitute for sin’s consequences?

I came to Universal Redemption by way of Preterism.

The question became: How could a propitiated God still retain and pour out wrath on Jerusalem/Israel in 70AD? He’s propitiated, right? There shouldn’t be any wrath.

The key to solving that dilemma was to understand Christ when he said that all scripture MUST be fulfilled.

Christ’s mission was two-fold - 1. Saving mankind from death and the Law and… 2. Bearing a sword against Israel.

He fulfilled both missions. The first at the Cross - where both he and the Law were nailed. The second in 70AD - where both the Law (every jot and tittle of it) and all prophesy against Israel came down in a horrific display of stored up wrath emptied out in a seven year period within the generation who had killed him TO fulfill scripture.

It HAD to happen. It could not NOT happen because unfulfilled scripture would remain dangling for eternity - and the cosmos on edge - waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But it did drop in 70AD - and that’s why we can rest assured that God is propitiated and our sins taken away forever, because, likewise, this will also be fulfilled: every resurrected person will confess that Christ is Lord. That MUST be fulfilled as well.

And who are the resurrected? Everyone. It turns out that Christ’s redemption of the quick and the dead included all mankind - all that His Father had given him. So great a salvation.

Bottom-line: Penal Substitution is a hard pill to swallow if one’s eschatology has a choke-hold on the gospel.

People are resurrected from death whether they are believers or not. Your argument in untenable: “Christ didn’t take away the sins of the world until you believe that he didn’t take away the sins of the world.” Presumably, at that point, you take over in your salvation - adding a crucial nod, now and then, to Christ for dying.

The verse that you quoted is saying that if Christ’s sacrifice was not accepted and he was not resurrected - then he did not take away your sins.

Basically, your argument starts in disbelief and stays there.

Ran Ran,

Thanks for your reactions to my paper and discussion with Jim. On Sept. 22, you nicely clarify what you think Jesus came to do. But I’m feeling slow because I can’t understand what your argument is for it. You appear to offer no Biblical exegesis in its’ behalf, unlike my paper and discussion with Jim which cites and wrestles with hundreds of Scriptures. When you conclude that the key is to agree with you about “eschatology,” it sounds like a tautology to me: that the key to insight is simply to agree with your conclusions.

On Sept. 25, you call my statement that Paul sees the risen Christ and work of the Spirit as vital to God’s redemptive purpose “untenable,” saying “Christ doesn’t take away the sins of the world until you believe that he didn’t…” Again I don’t follow your logic. If you are meaning to paraphrase my own view, I don’t recognize it as mine. If you mean that the Biblical view of the cross is that the Bible has no concern about our lives or response to what Jesus did or secured at the cross, your reading of countless exhortations and warnings simply baffles me.

You do seem to assert that 1 Cor. 15 only means that if Christ is not resurrected, his sacrifiice was not accepted and thus he didn’t take away sins. But I argued with numerous references that Paul seems to think the problem here of still “living in our sins” is more than having a sacrifice remove sin’s penalty. Rather, that Paul is often concerned with God’s desire to deal with actual sin in our lives by the work of Christ’s living Spirit who can produce crucial and genuine actual righteousness as we meet the true “requirements of the law,” rather than only grant imputed righteousness that cancel’s sin’s consequeces. That’s the foundation on which I find your interpretation unlikely.

Your apparent closer that the problem is my “unbelief” is unintelligible to me. I may not be following your logic, but it sounds like an empty ad hominem argument.

Grace be with you,


Bob, the problem Paul is expressing in 1Cor 15 is that of a ‘futile faith’ if Christ is not raised - then, of course, we’re still living in our sins! He never took them away!

Where is the sting of death? It used to be sin - but it was taken away. Where is the power of sin - the law? Nailed to the cross.

I don’t see Paul being compelled to add anything more to Christ’s accomplishment to complete it, as you seem to be suggesting. So I do agree with Paul, not believing in the perfection of His sacrifice does put one back in living in their sins - and, frankly, stuck there in the untruth, lie, illusion - call it what you will. Disbelief will cause that - especially if one calls that ‘faith.’

It wasn’t an empty ad hominem argument - it’s not you - it’s the argument itself. I’ve a heard a thousand variations of it. But in every case, Christ is replaced by another christ who accomplished nothing. Talk about substitution!

Seems like Ran is arguing along the lines of Ultra Universalism. If I follow correctly, it’s that Jesus died for all sins of all time and therefore sin is left powerless over all he died for.

I would thus question of course the fact that there are far too many warnings of those who don’t believe; so many it’s not even worth beginning to list. Paul does seem concerned for his own fellow jews that he would cut himself off for their sake. If in fact all will be ressurected to eternal life with no hell awaiting than Paul would appear confused to me. Perhaps you believe Paul was confused on some matters?

Ran, perhaps I’m not understanding you correctly. How do you handle the argument Bob made that Jesus died to save us from God (it appears you do hold to that view)?

Ran Ran, thanks for an illuminating clarification of how you read the value of Christ being risen for us. Frankly it seems quite coherent, given the assumptions that are striking to you (especially–am I right?–that not “living in our sins,” or our “sins being taken away” simply means being exempted from the penalty our sins would otherwise bring).

But you seem to repeatedly bolster this interpretation with the assumption (1) that any other atonement view than P.S. means "Christ accomplished nothing (but why must that follow?). (2) My argument above that many surrounding texts assume that our response to Christ and his way are important to God and essential, you see as fatally meaning that I “add something to Christ’s accomplishment to complete it.”

I wouldn’t put it that way, perceiving that the grace of God demonstrated at the cross gets the credit for what takes place in us, but that may be a semantic distinction for you. So before perhaps examining pertinent texts, can you confirm that you indeed see no indications that Paul thinks that God judges or deals with us according to the responses seen in our own life? And if I agree with you that “disbelief” would leave us with our sins not taken away, why doesn’t that sound like our belief would be “adding” something?

That precisely what I don’t believe! What I said was that ‘disbelief’ leaves one with the illusion that their sins were not taken away.

Our Faith does not propitiate God - but many argue that it does and so usurp Christ.

What one believes does matter. Many people cannot get beyond John’s introduction to Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” before disbelief kicks in and begins attacking every aspect of that truth.

Is there any other kind? Universal is universal.

I do think there was confusion in NT church over the Mt. Olivet Discourse. Was Christ coming back within that generation (Mt 24:34) to end everything? After 70AD, the confusion amongst the early church was, for the most part, gone. Nero was the anti-Christ, Christ came against the Jews, destroyed the Temple, but the world would go on. Hind sight helped.

So there’s Paul off preaching to the rest of the world and saying things like: “The Law was nailed to the Cross.” “Where there is no Law - there is no sin.” and imploring people to repent and start loving God and their neighbor. On those things, he was not confused at all.