Saint Paul is the greatest missionary of the Christian Church and he is well – educated both in Jewish and non – Jewish studies. He is born between 5 and 10 AD at Tarsus in Cilicia with Jewish father and mother. His Jewish name is Saul and he became a persecutor of the followers of Jesus Christ of Nazarene. He studied under the great Jewish rabbi Gamaliel. In Damascus, he experienced conversion and became a faithful Christian. He is transformed into a passionate enthusiastic apostle of Christ with three missionary trips throughout Asia Minor. In Rome, as his final trip and his last, he is arrested and acquitted. However, during the reign of Emperor Nero in Rome, he is arrested and beheaded. The zeal for his Christian faith is seen in his letters, the nine letters are written to the Church communities, Romans, Corinthians 1 and 2, Galatians, Ephesians, Thessalonians 1 and 2, and Colossians, and the three pastoral letters; Timothy a and 2, Titus, and a personal letter to Philemon.
Saint Paul’s original understanding of the Messiah and changed this understanding
In Damascus, where the conversion of Paul happened, it is necessary to see the understanding of Paul before and after it happened. As a query, what is the reason why Saul objected to concerning Jesus and his followers? What are the circumstances that led Saul to persecute the Church? Paul is circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, become blameless (Philippians 3:5-6). It is the scandal of the cross, which bound Paul to do something against the followers of Jesus Christ. He could not possibly imagine that an acclaimed Jewish Messiah put to death by crucifixion on a Roman cross (1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11). None in the standard of the Torah is there any room for a crucified Christ. The persecution of Paul to the Christians is entailed by his Jewish understanding of the Messiah. He is waiting for the Anointed One or the Messiah; he could not tolerate the fragmented loyalty that took place within the nation with the rise of new-fangled sect that gives the impression that Jesus is the awaited Messiah. He has a firm and strong commitment to the Jewish religion. In fact, he wholeheartedly accepted the Pharisaic interpretation of the religion.
The own letters of Paul can help some people understand what he became after his genuine conversion experience. There is one thing clear concerning this matter, Paul tells the people some ideas concerning him. He is not self – reflective, self – preoccupied, narcissistic, or introspective. He mainly refers his personal experience only in contexts where he addressed some other issues; defending the Gospel he truly proclaimed to his Gentile converts (Galatians 1:13-17). In countering a certain supra – spiritual believers who attempted to degrade him (1 Corinthians 9:1 and 15:8-10) and rebutted certain Jewish Christians who are trying to make his converts to convert in Judaism (Philippians 3:4-11). According to Paul, he has seen Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1) and he puts whatever he saw on a par with all of the post – resurrection appearances of Jesus whether to Peter, or to hundreds of believers, to James, or to all the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:5-7). However, the experienced of Paul is the nature of revelation (Galatians 1:11-12); Christ is the agent of that revelation, the content of that revelation is God’s Son, and the ultimate purpose of the revelation is to proclaim Him among the Gentiles. The appearance of Christ has a revolutionary effect on Paul’s life. He consider everything as loss compared to the outshining value of discerning Lord Jesus Christ and only focus on Christ with all that consuming passion (Philippians 3:7-11). Paul has never referred to his own experience as a conversion. In his letters, there is no clear state of a trip to Damascus; no detailed narrative that took place, even as seen in the book of Acts. There is no light, no voice, no Ananias to interpret the importance of everything. The description in Galatians 1:13-17 and Philippians 3:4-7 suggest that Pau experienced a changed of commitment, identity, and values suddenly unexpected.
My personal experience with Saint Paul is that, I am deeply touched by his letters that concerns gaining Christ by pursuing Him (Philippians 3: 12-16). Saint Paul is of great influence in my Christian life. I pursue everything that the Lord Jesus Christ laid hold on me; forgetting the things, which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward. I would like to share to you found in Ephesians 2: 4-5; 8, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
On the Road to Damascus
The first two descriptions of the conversion on Saint Paul in Acts are extremely similar with Jesus that his mission will be explained to him in Damascus. Ananias tells him that he is called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. However, in Acts 26 as the third description, Paul depicts how Jesus gave him his mission to different nations. In addition, fascinatingly it implies successive visions made to Paul, in accordance with what Paul described that happened to him on his return to Jerusalem (Acts 22). Clearly, these visions have a deep effect on Paul and through these visions, he claimed to be an apostle (1 Corinthians 9 and 15), one with Jesus and thought of himself the least of the apostles. Through the visions, Paul claimed that he received the Gospel not from any human being or messenger but through Jesus Christ (Galatians 1).
Saint Paul’s Theology
Epistles of Paul, Pauline epistles, or Letters of Paul, these are the thirteen books in the New Testament that have the name Paul as the first word claimed as Paul the Apostle authorship. In order, appeared in the New Testament; Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Hypothetical Discussion: Did someone forge Saint Paul’s name on the letter? How would you explain this?
Most scholars at present distinguished between two groups of the thirteen New Testament letters attributed to Paul; written by Paul versus written by his followers. However, not all scholars agreed about the authorship of certain letters, rather called the two groups the true letter versus the false letters, it is better to distinguish the undisputed letters versus the disputed letters. Among the thirteen letters, seven undisputed letters or authentic Pauline letters are probably written by Paul and six disputed letters or deutero – Pauline letters others have been written in his name by anonymous followers. By the time the official Bible canon is produced, no one knows that only some are genuine. The historical Paul probably has written 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, Galatians, and Romans. Letters forged in the name of Paul are 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. If 2 Thessalonians is authentic, Paul possibly wrote it soon after 1 Thessalonians in order to correct some misunderstanding caused by 1 Thessalonians since it is similar in form and content. if Colossians is authentic, Paul possibly wrote it near the end of his life after he spent several years in prison, since the theology expressed is different from hid earlier letters.
Ephesians is approximately certainly a later expansion of Colossians since it is similar in structure and theology but a bit different from the earlier letters of Paul; it is possibly written to serve as a cover letter near the beginning collection of Pauline letters. The pastoral letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, are possibly written late in the first century by some members of the Pauline institution who wanted to become accustomed of Paul’s teaching to changing conditions. Be reminded that disputed letters does not mean that it is of any less value than the undisputed letters. However, it is only written later by someone other than Saint Paul. All the thirteen letters attributed to Paul are still considered canonical that means all of the letters are still part of the Holy Scripture, the Holy Bible and a sacred opening for the Christian Church. In addition, to distinguish the letters based on an actual authorship allows scholars to see more clearly on the development of early Christians practice and theology.
Why does Paul have a problem with the Galatians who follow the law?
The Galatians church had a problem with people who continued to persist on a strict observance of the Mosaic Law alone for any hope to heaven. Paul is not in opposition to following the law per se but rather in trusting in the law that showed sin rather than in Christ, who died to save humankind from their sins. In the end is the gospel not in the law. Some of the Galatians are those who insisted that Gentiles follow all of Mosaic Law, not just the commandments, also the ritual cleansing laws, the law of circumcision, and other items that Paul determined are for the Jews alone (Acts 15:1-32; Romans 2:17 – 3:31; and Galatians 5-5). The law that Paul has referred is the Mosaic Law. This is the law code given to Moses that consisted some 300 laws and statutes the nation of Israel is given, the best – known part the Ten Commandments. This law includes requirements to perform definite sacrifices on certain days; it required many festivals, and many Sabbaths. It also required all males be circumcised; something interesting about this law is that it is bonded upon the nation of Israel at that time, and it has a purpose to accomplishment law code’s purpose, to make transgressions manifest until the seed arrives to whom the promise had been made. Consequently, the law has become our tutor or teacher leading to Christ (Galatians 3: 19-24). The special purpose of the law is to defend and lead the nation of Israel so that they might be ready to accept Christ when he arrived. The many sacrifices required by the Law reminded the Israelites that they are sinners who needed a Savior. In addition, it sets them apart from surrounding nations who are steeped in false religion with its immoral rituals and child sacrifices to false gods. Jesus Christ is the promised savior, even as the angel proclaimed at His birth.
How does Paul deal with the Law in the letter to the Romans?
The union with Christ is of supreme significance in the Christian life. It is the basis of the cause of all the downfall of all people lost in Adam. People are reunited to Christ and at peace with God, no longer at enmity with God, no longer God’s enemies. People are no longer desperate to gain His approval. In fact, there is no need for human kind to do one blessed thing to gain His approval. People have it and He wants people to live of that great truth. Paul says, in the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Roman 6:11). Paul wants the people to come to a thorough realization that everything we have is the result of our union to Christ. This notion of being in union with Christ and being out from under the law that leads to many questions. Does it mean that we can live however and whatever we want? Does it mean that we ought to commit more sin and God’s grace will be more gracious? Does it mean that people just continue living unchanged lives since we are under God’s grace and not under law? Until today, these kinds of questions are still asked by some people. The answer to those questions is vigorously no. The only fact that assures every person’s forgiveness before God is his union with Christ.
It is the thing that against his acts or the things he choose. Every person is bought with the blood of Christ and His purchase of every life out of bondage implies that the loyalty is different from the past compared to present. People are free from guilt and penalty because we are free from sin. We are not free from whatever we choose instead that we are free to obey Him.
In Romans chapter 6, Paul tries to make a clear point by illustrating the union to Christ in three different ways. First is the baptism, one of the illustrations of our union with Christ, as perpetual reminder and a continual glorious truth. People are identified with Christ in His death and identified with Christ in His life (Romans 6:4-5). Second, Paul compared our union to Christ to being frees from the domain of wickedness and cruelty. This illustrates that wicked salve master is a sin. Paul pointed out that when we are united with Christ in every justification we have we are rescued out from under the cruel reign of sin and we are transferred to a wise reign of grace of Christ. The last illustration when Paul compared our union to Christ to the freedom that a woman gained when her husband dies. The husband is viewed as cruel, harsh, and abusive, however, it is not the principle point of Paul. His point is that the man has authority over a woman or his wife as long as the husband lives. When death comes, the union is broken and the woman is free to marry again and to bear fruit with another man. He means to say that believers have died to the dominion of the law as justified before God and united to a new husband, Christ, the exposition of Paul (Romans 7:1-6).
The moment Paul wrote his letter to the Romans is disturbing for the new church, Christianity is not yet evolved into a discrete religion with hierarchy of authority and a defined doctrine. The believers in Jesus are generally born Jewish and identified as Jews who believed in the Old Testament prophesies. The church is not a single unified body governed by central authority rather a collection of individual communities separated by distances. Christians lived in constant fear of persecution in decades and even at present with constant expectation of the second coming of Jesus as a triumphant return to Earth and save the faithful ones. The aim of the letter is to inspire every one and instruct the faithful on difficult points of doctrine. The letters is individualized that respond to the definite problems of the community. With the possibility of exception of the letter to the Romans, Paul shows evidence that the letters are intended to carry on a permanent documents. The overall story of the Gospels is made to illustrate the significance of faith for the Christians. It is clear to see that the only factor that separates the Christians from non – believers are faith in Jesus. However, the opposition between the faith and the Law is made clearly as in Romans. Paul elevates the role of faith and he described the sole means through which people can achieve salvation. Through the self – sacrifice of Jesus, Paul teaches the people that God gave human kind the gift of a covenant of salvation freely. It is only through faith in Jesus that a person can achieve true salvation.