Paul: His Story

Paul the Apostle
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Paul wrote some of the most beautiful and important passages in the whole of the Bible, but his works have also been used, among other things, to justify homophobia, slavery and anti-Semitism. He has also been accused of being anti-feminist, although many modern scholars would argue that in fact he championed the cause of women church leaders.

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In the final analysis, Paul was the first great Christian theologian, establishing some of the building blocks of the faith that we now take for granted, though there are those who argue that in laying out these ground rules, Paul has obscured and separated us from the true teachings of Jesus. But perhaps the true sign of Paul's importance is that even nearly years after his death he still inspires passion; whatever you feel, it's hard to feel neutral about Paul. However one explains the phenomenon, there is little doubt that the events of the first Easter, sometime in the early 30s of the first century, made a powerful impact on the first followers of Jesus.

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Yet the utterly bizarre nature of the claims that they were making is easy to miss after two thousand years of familiarity with Christianity. Let us pause to consider for a moment what it was that they were saying. God has acted decisively, once for all, by sending his beloved Son to his own people, Israel.

This Jesus, whom some acknowledged as Christ, was subjected to an appalling and humiliating death. Everyone in the Roman Empire knew about crucifixion and the fact that Jesus died in this way was not something one would expect anyone to have been proud of. That God's Anointed One could have been so publicly humiliated seemed outrageous. But for these early Jesus people, the public humiliation was conquered through resurrection, God's vindication of Jesus, and this convinced them that Jesus was not a criminal who had died for his own sins; he had died for the sins of others.

At this stage, it is incorrect to talk about Christianity.

Paul the Apostle - Wikipedia

These earliest followers of Jesus were devout Jews who continued to offer sacrifice at the Temple and to observe the whole Jewish Law. Essentially, they were a small sect within Judaism. So how would such a sect have been viewed by other Jews who were not members of it? Thankfully, we have a pretty clear answer to this question because one of the most famous converts to the new Messianic sect was a Jew named Paul and before his conversion he was so horrified by the claims of this new movement that, he tells us, he persecuted it violently.

So why did people like Paul persecute Jesus' followers? The problem seems to have focused around the cross. It was simply intolerable to zealous Jews like Paul that God's special envoy could have died a criminal's death. He describes it as a "stumbling block" to Jews 1 Corinthians 1. It was unthinkable that the Messiah could have suffered in this way. The problem would have been sharply focused for someone like Paul. He was not from Israel but was born in Tarsus, in modern Turkey.

Jews like Paul, who lived outside the Jewish homeland, were called diaspora Jews. Since they lived among pagans, they were particularly conscious of how their religion might appear to those around them. Jews were called to be a light to the nations Isaiah It could hold Judaism up to ridicule. The importance of Paul's conversion, his turn-around from persecuting Jesus to preaching Jesus, cannot be underestimated.

Paul himself finds it difficult to describe what had happened and in a fascinating passage in one of his letters he explains this as a resurrection appearance of Jesus 1 Corinthians The Damascus Road experience was both a conversion and a call. It was a conversion away from his previous life as a zealous persecutor of Jesus' followers and it was a call to a new life advancing the cause of the new movement with even more vigour than he had shown before. Now, with boundless energy, Paul preached the gospel of the Christ crucified for the sins of all people far and wide, beginning at Jerusalem and continuing all the way to Rome.

His achievement was a matter of some pride for him:. Luke tells us of three enormous missionary journeys, charting [Paul's] progress from Antioch in Syria and moving westwards through modern day Turkey and Greece and finally back to Jerusalem again. For Paul this was a particularly punishing business. Unlike other early Christian missionaries, Paul earned his own living wherever he went.

Luke says that he was a tentmaker Acts Paul's life was remarkable and there is little doubt that it changed the course of Christianity. He made an impact as apostle, as theologian, and as letter-writer. Paul the apostle had expanded the church far and wide, flinging open the doors to Gentiles, strenuously fighting for his conviction that the gospel was for all people and that no barriers should be put in the way of Gentiles. Paul the theologian was the first to work through many of the intriguing questions that Jesus' life, death and resurrection had thrown up.

And Paul the letter-writer gave us not only some of the profoundest pieces of early Christian theological reflection, but also some of the finest, most poignant writing in history. At the end of the Bible, though, lies not Paul but Revelation, a book that at first sight looks like the black sheep in the New Testament family. With its fantastic visions of heaven, its gory stories of the future, its impenetrable signs and symbols, many a reader has given up in exasperation in the attempt to fathom out its mysteries.

Some Christians have struggled with Revelation; Luther wished it was not in the New Testament at all.

Conversion of Paul the Apostle

Yet at heart, Revelation is a profoundly Christian book. Its central message is that in spite of any appearance to the contrary, God is still Lord and King over the universe.

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Until about the midpoint of his life, Paul was a member of the Pharisee s, a religious party that emerged during the later Second Temple period. Catholicism portal. Daniel Kirk [] finds evidence in Paul's letters of a much more inclusive view of women. His wide spectrum of experiences and education gave the "Apostle to the Gentiles" [Rom. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas wrote that Paul misrepresented the message of Jesus, [] and Rashid Rida accused Paul of introducing shirk polytheism into Christianity. Related topics.

It is a vision of God's kingdom, his judgement but most importantly his sovereignty over everything. Where there is injustice in the world, this will be rectified.

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Where there is sin, sickness, disease and the devil, these will be eradicated. John, [its author] is a seer and has been given a revelation of what is going on in heaven. He is able to see God's perspective. And the message he hears there is that after all, God is indeed in control, through Jesus his Son, who has conquered death through his own victory over death. Paul was born in Tarsu now in the south east of Turkey to a Jewish family. He had a dual identity as lots of Jews did in antiquity. He had a Jewish education, a Jewish way of life and abided by the Law of Moses. But was brought up outside of the homeland and was also at home in Greek culture, fluent in Greek, and had at least some understanding of the Greek or Roman cultural traditions.

He was a Pharisee, one of a group of Jews who policed the boundary of the law and made sure that they and others were faithful to the law of Moses. Paul was an extremely passionate Jew and he often uses the word 'zeal' of himself. One of the most fascinating stories about Paul is his incredible transformation on the Damascus road but one thing that doesn't change in this transformation is his passion. He just becomes passionate for a different cause.

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Paul gives us a brief description of what happens after his experience on the Damascus road. He says that he didn't go to Jerusalem immediately but that he went off to Arabia. Arabia would be quite close to the northern part of Damascus, so he could have gone to reflect on what had happened.

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor

Paul: His Story Paperback – February 23, Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's disciplined imagination, nourished by a lifetime of research, shapes numerous textual, historical, and archaeological details into a colourful and enjoyable story of which Paul is the flawed but undefeated. Paul: His Story. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor. Abstract. The purpose of this book is to reveal the personality of Paul of Tarsus. Too long considered merely as a.

When he goes to Jerusalem, it appears that he is accepted and is instructed in the basics of Christianity. He stays with Peter for two weeks and presumably learns a little about Jesus from him. Paul then disappears for a period and later reemerges in Antioch. Antioch in Syria which was the third biggest city in the Roman empire and becomes the center of the movement to expand this new Christian sect - this sect of Jesus the Nazarene. Paul: His Story by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor Synopsis: For someone who has exercised such a profound influence on Christian theology, Paul remains a shadowy figure behind the barrier of his complicated and difficult biblical letters.

Debates about his meaning have deflected attention from his personality, yet his personality is an important key to understanding his theological ideas. This book redresses the balance.

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's disciplined imagination, nourished by a lifetime of research, shapes numerous textual, historical, and archaeological details into a colourful and enjoyable story of which Paul is the flawed but undefeated hero. This chronological narrative offers new insights into Paul's intellectual, emotional, and religious development and puts his travels, mission, and theological ideas into a plausible biographical context. As he changes from an assimilated Jewish teenager in Tarsus to a competitive Pharisee in Jerusalem and then to a driven missionary of Christ, the sometimes contradictory components of Paul's complex personality emerge from the way he interacts with people and problems.

His theology was forged in dialogue and becomes more intelligible as our appreciation of his person deepens. In Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's engaging biography, the Apostle comes to life as a complex, intensely human individual. Lawson Younger Jr. Cleon Skousen. Desmond Alexander. Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday! Albert Mohler. Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither?

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