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Summary: Just like Hercules, the Apostle Paul was given a commission by his King to labor for the people and to serve Him. Verse 25 tells us that God commissioned Paul to serve Him and to labor for the Gospel. These labors of Paul were not for fame or fortune, b

THE 8 LABORS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

COLOSSIANS 1:24-2:5

INTRODUCTION... (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Hercules/labors.html) There is a famous story that you perhaps read in high school or college about the Greek hero Hercules. The goddess Hera, determined to make trouble for Hercules, made him lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children. When he awakened from his "temporary insanity," Hercules was shocked and upset by what he’d done. He prayed to the god Apollo for guidance, and the god’s oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years, in punishment for the murders. As part of his sentence, Hercules had to perform twelve Labors, feats so difficult that they seemed impossible. Fortunately, Hercules had the help of Hermes and Athena, sympathetic deities who showed up when he really needed help. By the end of these Labors, Hercules was, without a doubt, Greece’s greatest hero. His struggles made Hercules the perfect embodiment of an idea the Greeks called pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering which would lead to fame and, in Hercules’ case, immortality.

The Labors (*summarize and skip around to show the ’struggle’*):

Labor 1: The Nemean Lion: King Eurystheus decided Hercules’ first task would be to bring him the skin of an invulnerable lion which terrorized the hills around Nemea.

Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra: The second labor of Hercules was to kill the Lernean Hydra.

From the murky waters of the swamps near a place called Lerna, the hydra would rise up and terrorize the countryside. A monstrous serpent with nine heads, the hydra attacked with poisonous venom. Nor was this beast easy prey, for one of the nine heads was immortal and therefore indestructible.

Labor 3: The Hind of Ceryneia: For the third labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring

him the Hind of Ceryneia. The hind is a female red deer and was quite sacred to the people and gods.

Labor 4: The Erymanthean Boar:This one was called the Erymanthian boar, because it lived

on a mountain called Erymanthus. Every day the boar would come crashing down from his lair on the mountain, attacking men and animals all over the countryside, gouging them with its tusks, and destroying everything in its path.

Labor 5: The Augean Stables: For the fifth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up

King Augeas’ stables. Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Then Eurystheus made Hercules’ task even harder: he had to clean up after the cattle of Augeas in a single day. Now King Augeas owned more cattle than anyone in Greece. Some say that he was a son of one of the great gods, and others that he was a son of a mortal; whosever son he was, Augeas was very rich, and he had many herds of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses

Labor 6: The Stymphalian Birds:After Hercules returned from his success in the Augean stables, Eurystheus came up with an even more difficult task. For the sixth Labor, Hercules was to drive away an enormous flock of birds which gathered at a lake near the town of Stymphalos.

Labor 7: The Cretan Bull: After the complicated business with the Stymphalian Birds, Hercules easily

disposed of the Cretan Bull.

Labor 8: The Horses of Diomedes:After Hercules had captured the Cretan Bull, Eurystheus sent him to get

the man-eating mares of Diomedes, the king of a Thracian tribe called the Bistones, and bring them back to him in Mycenae

Labor 9: The Belt of Hippolyte: For the ninth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the belt of Hippolyte [Hip-POLLY-tee]. This was no ordinary belt and no ordinary warrior. Hippolyte was queen of the Amazons, a tribe of women warriors.

Labor 10: Geryon’s Cattle: To accomplish his tenth labor, Hercules had to journey to the end of the world. Eurystheus ordered the hero to bring him the cattle of the monster Geryon. Geryon was the son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe. Chrysaor had sprung from the body of the Gorgon Medusa after Perseus beheaded her, and Callirrhoe was the daughter of two Titans, Oceanus and Tethys. With such distinguished lineage, it is no surprise that Geryon himself was quite unique. It seems that Geryon had three heads and three sets of legs all joined at the waist.

Labor 11: The Apples of the Hesperides: Poor Hercules! After eight years and one month,

after performing ten superhuman labors, he was still not off the hook. Eurystheus demanded two more labors from the hero, since he did not count the hydra or the Augean stables as properly done. Eurystheus commanded Hercules to bring him golden apples which belonged to Zeus, king of the gods. Hera had given these apples to Zeus as a wedding gift, so surely this task was impossible. Hera, who didn’t want to see Hercules succeed, would never permit him to steal one of her prize possessions, would she? These apples were kept in a garden at the northern edge of the world, and they were guarded not only by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon, but also by the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas, the titan who held the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.

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