The Life And Missions Of St. Paul Essay, Research Paper
2. The early life of Saul/Paul
3. The stoning of St. Stephan
4. The blinding of Paul on his way to Damascus
5. The conversion of Saul
6. Saul returns to Jerusalem
7. Paul s Belief and Theology
8. Paul s Teaching Methods
9. The imprisonment and death of Paul
10. The Canonization of Paul
11. The effects of St. Paul on modern world
Paul of Tarsus is one of Christian History greatest oddities. He was born and a Zealot. (Cremona P.18) I relished In the death and destruction of Christians and their heretic religion. Then in a flash of blinding light Saul was knocked from his horse. From that fall one of the greatest readers of the Christian faith, He converted anyone who would listen and even a few who did not want to listen. He traveled a cross most of the known world and did not stop even at the cost of his life. The greatest enemy the church ended up being its savior and propagator.
Paul was originally not known as Paul. His given name was that of Saul. He was the son of a tent mat maker in Tarsus. Since Tarsus was a major crossroads of trade and caravans, his family became slightly rich. This qualified his family for Roman citizen ship. This gave him certain rights such as exception from execution and public humiliation as punishment for crimes. Also living in a roman trade city exposed Saul to many different languages that would pay off in his future journeys. Saul most likely spoke Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and probably a handful more. All which were used in his spreading of Christ s word to the gentiles of the known world (Cremona, Saint Paul, 32). He willingly joined the most zealous form of Judaism, the Pharisees (Cremona P. 18). As a Pharisee, Saul studied under one of the Jewish religions greatest scholars of the first century Gamaliel. Gamaliel instilled a religious Saul an even more religious zeal (F.F. Bruce, New Testament History, 236). This religious fervor, a roman citizen ship, a strong Jewish tradition of hard work, and a gift for words and public speaking helped mold on of the greatest spreaders of the catholic church (F.F. Bruce, New Testament History, 236).
When Saul was in his twenties he participated in the brutal death of St. Stephan. He attended one of Stephan meetings with a group of ruffians with full blessing form the sanhedrien. He argued Stephen s points until both were out of breath and then order Stephan death. Saul was only in his twenties so Pharisee law did not allow him to stone Stephan. Therefore, he guarded the cloaks of all the stoners. With him guarding the cloaks, the stoners were able to concentrate on their brutal task. That way he was able to Stephan through all the other stoners. Out of the whole mob of killers, Saul is the only one mentioned in any history (Cremona P. 19). As Stephan gave up his final breath he was said to have reached up to god and Smiled (Cremona P. 24). It good almost be that as Stephan was taken to heaven god had said if you knew the apostle tat I shall create form your blood. He will be THE Apostle and have no equal in all the ages of the church (Cremona P. 24). Taking a look back through are churches history it can be observed that no apostle ever matched the intensity and fevered love of god that was obtained by one of Christianity s greatest persecutors (Cremona P. 24).
After dealing with Stephan Saul felt confident enough that these Christians were dangerous and obtained warrants from the sanheirden to arrest the Christians in Damascus. Damascus and his escort of loyal Jews set out to rid Damascus of the Christian menace . On the way to Damascus it is said that god reached out to Saul. Saul was Engulfed by a bright light and heard a voice. SAUL, Saul why do you persecute me. Saul responded who are you? and the lord replied I am Jesus. The light engulfing Saul vanished and the caravan scattered in fear of the light. As Saul opened his eyes he learned he had become blind.
In Damascus there lived a faithful follower of Jesus named Ananias. The lord ordered Ananias to go out to the main street and find a man named Saul from Tarsus. Ananias begged god not to make him go to help Saul because he had heard of the terrible deeds of Saul. God ordered Ananias to go exclaiming, HE is my chosen one. He shall spread the word to the foreigners. Now GO! Ananias left and found Saul was god had told him he would be. Saul had been taken by some of the caravan to a local house to rest. Ananias entered the house and placed his hands on Saul proclaiming Saul the lord Jesus who spoke to you on the road has sent me to cure you. Open your eyes, see, and be filed with the Holy Spirit. Saul opened his eyes ate and was cured.
For the following weeks Saul spent his times with the followers of the way. There he learned Jesus message and began to preach his word like known had before. The people of Damascus became confused by Saul’s new convictions. They asked themselves if this was the same, one sent to arrest the Christians in the first place. He caused even more confusion among the Jews. Who he tried to convince that Jesus was the Messiah. Some of the Jews became outraged and planned to kill Saul. Saul Learned of the plan and was lowered over the city walls in a basket.
Saul went back to Jerusalem and tried to join the Christians there. They were too afraid of Saul and thought he was not a true believer. Then he met Barnabas who took Saul to meet the apostles. He explained to them about his blinding by god and his subsequent conversion. Barnabas then stood up to tell how he had seen Saul stand up bravely and publicly proclaim Jesus word. After that meeting, Saul was allowed to move freely among the Christian community. While in Jerusalem he would argue with the Jews who spoke Greek. This new tactic lead to another assignation attempt. The followers of Christ learned of the attempt and smuggled Saul of to Caesarea.
Paul is best remembered for his great missionary journeys that he under took (Acts 13-28). Paul s missionary technique used different style then today s methods. Today we are used to everything being done after many debates by committees that formulate a strict plan of action. Paul did not do this, instead he set a goal he thought was gods will and accomplished it (Kane pg. 73).
Paul targets were specifically four provinces-. Galatia, Asia, Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 9:31, Corinthians 9:2). While in these cities Paul choose to visit large cities of strategic importance- These cities were known for Roman Administration, Greek Civilization, Jewish influence, and commercial ports (Allen 13). By establishing churches in these cities he created places that were capable of spreading his message to many more people then he could alone.
Paul followed the principle of “to the Jew first” (Romans 16: 1), thus his strategy was to target the people of the covenant in the synagogue (Acts 13:5,14; 14). The custom was to invite a visiting rabbi to give a word of exhortation (Acts 13:15), so Paul took advantage of these devout, attentive, and intelligent audiences. Found there were three distinct classes: Jews, proselytes, and God fearing Gentiles. Here Paul felt at home, as all of them had knowledge of the one true God, an acquaintance with the Old Testament, and an expectation of the ‘coming’ Messiah. Only when he was expelled did he go elsewhere.
For Paul, the spread of the gospel and the extension of God’s Kingdom were of paramount importance. He believed that every ethnic group had the right to hear the gospel and he would gladly preach to them, but if they adamantly refused the message and persecuted the messenger, no purpose could be served in staying amongst them. He felt it would be better to move on to a responsive group, Paul experienced that it was the devout Gentiles that were most responsive to the gospel and the Jews that opposed his message (Acts 21:27, 23:12). Turning away from his own people hurt him deeply (Acts 13:46), for he loved them (Romans 9:2-3), but he could not compromise the gospel. He was conscious of the fact that a Christian worker was required to be faithful (I Cor, 4:2)-
Though Paul was called directly by God to be a missionary (Acts 13:2; Acts 9:15, Acts 13:47), he is confirmed by action (Acts 13:2,3) and sent by the church (Acts 13:3-4). Paul was convinced that the missionary must have a strong base at home, for at the end of each journey he always returned to Antioch to report on his journeys (Acts 14:26 28; 18:22, 23). The connection between the prayers of the church and the success of the missions was a vital thing. Paul spent significant time on his return visits and knew the importance of it. When he was planning to go on to Spain with the gospel, a letter was sent to Rome to ask for their support (Romans. 15.15 24).
Paul’s ultimate goal was to establish strong, indigenous churches; congregations that would be equipped to carry on the task (Thess. 1: 1,8). He stayed as long as he could, setting up the church inspire of the difficulties. When mature local leaders had been trained, he would move on, leaving the leaders in charge. These church plants were self governing (Acts 20:17), self-supporting, and self-propagating (I Thess, 1: 8).
Paul believed in teamwork. On all the missionary journeys he had companions along. Barnabas and John Mark set out with him on the first journey (Acts 12:25; Acts 13:13), and Silas set out with him on the second (Acts 15:40). The preaching of the gospel was a joint effort (I Thess. 1:1) and Paul must have recruited many as fellow laborers.
The apostle Paul was a profound influence in many different respects. He was such an influence on the secular world that his words are uttered in areas that Christians would normally not deem as being very spiritual.
The first of St. Paul’s epistles in the canon is his epistle to the Romans. The reason that Romans appears first among his epistles is “because of the superlative excellency of the epistle, it being one of the fullest of all.” (Henry, 363). Romans is one of the best places to find an organized expression of Paul’s theology and in it he teaches a radical doctrine of theocentricity having three aspects: God’s providence, God’s redemption and God’s purpose(henry 363).
Providence is the most general aspect of Paul’s theocentric theology for it defines the relationship that exists between the Creator and the entire created order. God is the one who controls and governs all things. The entire cosmos is only as it is because God has both created to be as such and has sustained it as well. In Romans 4:17, Paul calls God the one who creates out of nothing, because he called the universe into existence without the aid of any other being or without the benefit of using pre-existing materials. Everything that exists does so “from Him and through Him.”(Romans 11:36). God is the governor of the universe and is Lord over all things (Romans 10:12). Therefore, He owns the universe and as such is the center of it. According to Romans 9, God is a potter and man is a lump of clay, and God has the right to make of that clay whatever He desires. It is God’s intrinsic and unalienable right to do with the universe whatever He wills. The authority that man seems to possess is not his, it is given to him by God.(13:1,6) Even the sinful state of man is as it is because God has so ordained it to be. In Romans 1, Paul uses the phrase, “God gave them over”, three times in four verses. Man did not arrive at his evil condition, except that God has given him over to it. God is the one who governs and controls all that He has created (Dodd, 138).
The second aspect of the theocentricity of Paul’s theology has to do with redemptive work of God whereby He reclaims that which belongs to Him. Redemption is a work that “is all founded on the impregnable rock of the eternal will of God.”(Dodd, 142) Paul, in Romans 8, writes that it is God who fore knows, predestines, calls and glorifies. “God’s action in redemption is free and absolute, springing wholly from within Himself.”(Stevens, 98) He is the perfect initiator in the work of salvation; man plays only the role of a passive lump of clay.(Stevens, 114) Priority in salvation is on divine grace and the absolutely gratuitous character of God.(Ridderbos, 349) God is the one who saves His own from His own wrath.(Romans 5:9), for He is both the judge and the advocate, having mercy on whom He wills and hardening whom He wills.( Romans 9:18) All the world is accountable to God (Romans 3:19) and deserving of death (Romans 3:23), but He is also “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”(Romans 3:26) According to Paul, “it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (Romans 9:16)
God not only governs all things but He is also the one who redeems. The final aspect of the theocentricity of Paul’s theology describes God’s purpose in both His governing and His redeeming. For Paul, all things are done for God. In Romans 11:36, Paul says, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” God has worked all things according to His purposes so that all things will work for His benefit. This is the primary motive of God. “Christ himself seeks above all things the glory of his father in the redemptive work, in his life, in his death, in his triumph.”(Kennedy, 289) God brings about all things for His benefit and in so doing also brings benefit to His people. The Christian’s hope, according to Paul, is the glory of God (Romans 5:2), as such they are defined by their expectation of the vindication of the glory of God. Paul also defines the Gospel in these terms by calling it “the righteousness of God.”( Romans 1:17); which is, according to C.H. Dodd, the act of God whereby He vindicates the right.(Dodd, 13) God is the right and the process of the history of redemption is the unfolding of God’s plan whereby He is vindicating His character by redeeming back to Himself what is His. “Paul’s conception of God’s righteousness is that it consists basically in his inclination to act always for his own name sake, that is, to maintain and demonstrate his glory.”(Piper, 160) God’s purpose is, in all things and at all times, to bring glory to Himself, which is what He rightly deserves.
The primary task of the Christian, then, is to be righteous and bring glory to God. Paul urges, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”( Romans 12:1) It is the Christian’s primary duty, his “spiritual service of worship” to give himself to God as an instrument of righteousness to God.(Romans 6:13) The theocentricity of Paul’s theology drives the people of God to perceive their tasks and value from the perspective of God. According to Paul, a man derives his benefit in his enslavement to God.(Romans 6:22) Only in as much as an individual gives himself over to be possessed and used of God as He desires, is that individual valuable. “The glory and the praise of God should constitute the chief preoccupation of any Christian worthy of the name in his pursuit of salvation, penetrated as he is with the love of God and of the savior.”(Kennedy, 292) “For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s”(Romans 14:8) “Paul was a God intoxicated man.”(Morris, 25) His epistle to the Romans reflects this passion and his theology is rested upon it. God is the center and is, by His own design, the primary beneficiary of all that occurs. Christ has accepted His people for the purpose of bringing glory to God (Romans 15:7), therefore God’s people are to always act and think as Christ thinks, theocentrally.
Michael Card, a servant of God in contemporary Christian music, penned some incredible lyrics and insights about the Bible and its main message, Jesus. A perpetual source of inspiration for Michael Card is Paul. As a sample of the scope of Paul’s influence on contemporary Christian music, you can follow Paul’s life passion in some of what Card has penned. This is not a review of any Michael Card “record” but an overview of Paul’s impact on him; an impact that points the hearer to Jesus Christ, the amazing portrait painted by both Paul and Michael Card.
You will find a repeated reference to Paul’s words in the earlier writings and compositions of Michael Card. This Must Be the Lamb rejoices that Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7). Card points out that “in the New Testament Jesus is our Passover Lamb” (Immanuel, 184). Knowing Colossians 1:18, Card sings of the importance of Christ’s resurrection in Love Crucified Arose because this “is the reason for our hope that we will rise again as well” (Immanuel, 190).
Although based on the gospels, Card’s first trilogy (about the life of Christ) has some of its roots in what Paul said about Jesus. The Final Word contains the message of the incarnation. “We speak of the Incarnation literally as the ‘en-fleshment’ of God, or God taking on human flesh in order to be able to share fully in all the dimensions of human experience.
The second part of the trilogy speaks of Jesus Christ, the Scandalon. Paul makes it clear that Christ is good news/bad news (Romans 9:32-33; 10:11). “A frank recognition of the scandalon, who is Christ, is needed corrective to our distorted understanding of the gospel he proclaimed and established by his death and through his resurrection” (Card, The Life, 41). In Pauline fashion, Card communicates the confrontive nature of Christ’s earthly ministry.
In the last of the three, Known By the Scars, Card concludes with the passion of Christ. Speaking to today’s hearers he says, “as Jesus’ resurrected body was recognizable by its scars, so His body, the church, should be known by its scars and tears and the unspeakable joy it knows in spite of, and indeed because of, it all” (Immanuel, 175).
Michael Card’s next recording provides the best sample of the impact Paul has made on contemporary music. Present Reality finds its entire basis on the letters of Paul. The depth to which Michael explores the tensions of the present comes close to the deep paradox of the present life that Paul knew well.
All of this proves the heart of Paul is focused on Christ and this focus extends beyond the first century into ours. Michael’s portrait of Paul’s heart points to today; this mentor wants Christ to shine energetically on others so that, they too can “bear the light” of Jesus to others.