Paul the disciple
George Methodist Church
Sunday 7th October 2018
With Peter Veysie
Paul humble – small – Hebrew Saul and Latin Paul.
The two main sources of information by which we have access to the earliest segments of Paul’s career are the Bible’s Book of Acts and the autobiographical elements of Paul’s letters to the early church communities. Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD. The Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth.
He was from a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university. During the time of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor.
Paul referred to himself as being “of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee”.[Phil. 3:5]
The Bible reveals very little about Paul’s family. Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16. Acts also quotes Paul referring to his father by saying he, Paul, was “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6). In Romans 16:7 he states that his relatives, Andronicus and Junia, were Christians before he was and were prominent among the apostles.
The family had a history of religious piety (2 Timothy 1:3). Apparently the family lineage had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations.[Philippians 3:5–6] Acts says that he was in the tent-making profession.[Acts 18:1–3] This was to become an initial connection with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he would partner in tentmaking[Acts 18:3] and later become very important teammates as fellow missionaries.[Rom. 16:4]
While he was still fairly young, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel,[Acts 22:3] one of the most noted rabbis in history. The Hillel school was noted for giving its students a balanced education, likely giving Paul broad exposure to classical literature, philosophy, and ethics.Some of his family may have resided in Jerusalem since later the son of one of his sisters saved his life there.[Acts 23:16] Nothing more is known of his background until he takes an active part in the martyrdom of Stephen.[Acts 7:58–60; 22:20] Paul confesses that “beyond measure” he persecuted the church of God prior to his conversion.[Gal. 1:13–14] [Phil. 3:6] [Acts 8:1–3] Although we know from his biography and from Acts that Paul could speak Hebrew, modern scholarship suggests that Koine Greek was his first language.
In his letters, Paul drew heavily on his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the revealed word of God.Stoic definition :the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.
synonyms: patience, forbearance, resignation, lack of protest, lack of complaint, fortitude, endurance, acceptance, acceptance of the inevitable, fatalism, impassivity, dispassion, calmness, coolness, cool
He also owed much to his training in the law and the prophets, utilizing this knowledge to convince his Jewish countrymen of the unity of past Old Testament prophecy and covenants with the fulfilling of these in Jesus Christ. His wide spectrum of experiences and education gave the “Apostle to the Gentiles”[Rom. 1:5] [11:13] [Gal. 2:8] the tools which he later would use to effectively spread the Gospel and to establish the church in the Roman Empire.
Conversion of Paul the Apostle
Paul’s conversion can be dated to 31–36 by his reference to it in one of his letters. In Galatians 1:16 Paul writes that God “was pleased to reveal his son to me.” In 1 Corinthians 15:8, as he lists the order in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Paul writes, “last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
According to the account in Acts, it took place on the road to Damascus, where he reported having experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus. The account says that “he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul replied, “Who are you Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus who you persecute ).”[Acts 9:4–5]
According to the account in Acts 9:1–22, he was blinded for three days and had to be led into Damascus by the hand. During these three days, Saul took no food or water and spent his time in prayer to God. When Ananias of Damascus arrived, he laid his hands on him and said: “Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared to you on the way as you came, has sent me, that you will receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”[Acts 9:17] His sight was restored, he got up and was baptized.[Acts 9:18] This story occurs only in Acts, not in the Pauline letters.
As we see the growth of Paul as a mighty man of God transformed and ready to live and die for Jesus what are some of the characteristics of him as a disciple?
- He was a learner as much as he was learned and willing to submit himself to the disciples teaching. Proverbs 9:8-10, Matthew 4:19 and John 6:60-66
- He committed himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Acts 11:18
- He lived a life of sacrificial obedience. Romans 12:1-2, 1 Cor 6:19,20 and Ephesians 4: 22-5:5
- He had a deep personal devotional life.
- He applied the Word to his daily life. Acts 17:11
- He was a witness to others. Matthew 28:18-20 and 1 and 2 Timothy
- He connected to a fellowship. Wherever Paul went he joined communities and planted churches Acts 11 – 28
- He committed himself to financial giving as a cheerful giver. 1 Cor 16:1-2
- He exercised the fruits of the Spirit Galatians 5:22 and 23
What about us as disciples. Learners and followers of Jesus.