Summary: Throughout the ages God has used outstanding men and women to accomplish his purposes in the world. Today we are going to study , the apostle Paul .
Throughout the ages God has used outstanding men and women to accomplish his purposes in the world. Today we are going to study , the apostle Paul .
1. When people think of the life of Paul, they likely think of...
a. His persecution of the church prior to his conversion
b. His vision of the Lord on the road to Damascus
c. His three missionary journeys recorded in the book of Acts
but there is so much more to this man……………
First, let’s notice Paul’s background.
Paul was a rigid, fanatical, Jew. He hated Jesus Christ and everything connected with him, and regarded him as a blasphemer. As a young man, Paul, then known as Saul, tried to destroy the Christian Church. In Jerusalem he went from house to house, dragged off men and women and put them in prison… Read Acts 9:1- 31 . On the road to Damascus Paul encountered Jesus His life was totally transformed, and he became the mighty defender of the Christian faith .
Now let’s take a closer look at this because we cannot but be impressed by the amazing way in which God prepared this man for his task.
Paul was gifted with unusual and exceptional natural gifts and abilities. There is no question about that. It is something that comes out everywhere in all of his letters, and also in what we are told about him in the book of Acts. Paul was undoubtedly one of the great minds, not only of the Church, but also, of the world. This is something that is acknowledged even by non-Christians…
Towards the end of World War II a series of lectures was given in London on the “The Master Minds of the Ages.” It was a secular society that arranged the lectures, but in the list was the apostle Paul, because they had to admit that he was one of the master minds of the ages.
Paul’s great mind is something that comes out very clearly in everything he does. You cannot help noticing his tremendous reasoning power, his logic, his arguments, the way in which he assembles his evidence and facts, and then presents them. He was a most amazing man if you look at him from a natural stand-point and consider the incredible gifts and abilities which he had. But in addition to that, notice his birth, his upbringing and his training. Notice how God was preparing Paul for the great task to which he had appointed him.
First and foremost, Paul was a Jew. He has told us all about that Phil 3: 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh-- 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
And not only that; he was also trained as a Pharisee. Paul had the privilege of sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, the greatest teacher among the Pharisees. And there, under that superior teaching, he himself became an expert on Jewish law, at least is it was taught and interpreted by the Pharisees (Philippians 3:5b). Paul tells us that he excelled above all others. He obviously came out as the top student in all his classes, earning the equivalent of two Ph.D. degrees. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, & an expert in the Jewish understandingand interpretation of the law of God.
But although Paul was a Jew, he was also born a Roman citizen. Do you remember how in the book of Acts, when he had to make his defense after being arrested in Jerusalem, he pointed out that he was “born a citizen” of Rome . read Acts 22: 1-30
Being a Roman citizen in those days was a big deal. It was a high honor to be a Roman citizen. Many privileges accompanied Roman citizenship, and on more than one occasion Paul used his Roman citizenship to facilitate his work as an evangelist and church planter.
Another thing that is important in this regard is that Paul happened to be born and raised in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 21:39). Now, Tarsus was one of the three main centers of Greek culture. The other two were, of course, Athens (in Greece) and Alexandria (in Egypt).
As you read Acts you discover that the apostle Paul had been well-trained in Greek culture. He knew the Greek poets and he could quote them. He understood Greek philosophy and logic, and was able to debate the most able Top of Form Greek minds of that day. Paul had this amazing background of Greek culture at its best, in addition to his Roman citizenship.