Twelve more favourite Bible characters – Paul

Paul

I was reticent including Paul in my favourites list as I felt sure if I were around in his day we might not have got on and I might have reacted against his self-assuredness, or to put it in another way – his perspective was the only one that truly mattered. The parting of ways between him and Barnabas suggests it may not just be me! Yet it is also easy to see why Paul should be included, if for no other reason than, if you are on my theological wavelength, your understanding of the glorious gospel likely owes more to the writings of the Apostle Paul than to anyone else. After all, having set out his store: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” Romans 1:16, he then meticulously provides the most powerful argument as to why the gospel needs to be proclaimed, received and lived out that I have ever come across. His writings virtually dominate the NT – 13 of its 27 books were written by Paul and in one other (Acts) Paul is the major player. And there are so many more strings to Paul bow, beginning with his conversion experience. No one is born a Christian and to become one you need to be converted. As for Paul, his conversion experience was as dramatic as it comes, encountering the risen Christ on his way to Damascus to arrest the very Christians, who he was persecuting. From that point onward he was whole hearted in discharging the commission Jesus had given him, by way of his various missionary journeys, culminating in his imprisonment in Rome and likely execution. The variety of approaches and methods Paul used is a text book stuff when it comes to carrying out the Great Commission. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” Philippians 1:21 and “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14 are two of many memorable, profound Pauline quotes. Paul will be forever remembered as the great apostle, serving the Church that Christ himself had founded and His cause, yet was also Christ’s humble servant, who could say: “by the grace of God I am what I am” 1 Corinthians 15:10. Christians down the ages owe Paul a huge debt.

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2 thoughts on “Twelve more favourite Bible characters – Paul

  1. Paul Barnes says:

    Self-assuredness? Yet it was the apostle Paul who said he put no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3: 4). I cannot think of a more humble, Christlike character in the whole Bible than this dear man. I see Paul as a man of tender feeling and compassion, a man of tears, yet a man of courage and confidence in the Lord his God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to which his life was devoted. His strength lay not in himself but in the Spirit of God that indwelt and empowered him. It was Paul who said “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” Far from being self-assured, he was wholly dependent on the commission entrusted to him by God – “I was not disobedient to the Heavenly vision”. It was Paul who could say, “I am crucified with Christ…” That, in my understanding, is the very opposite of self-assurance.
    I do not think you would have clashed with him. Rather, I think you would have been over-awed in his presence, that here is a man who walks with God; here is a man whose face shines with the radiance of Christ; here is a man whose every word carries a winsome authority; and here at last I have met a man whose very life is an example of what Jesus meant when he said, “Love one another”, to an extent not seen in any other man except Jesus Himself and Peter, James and John.

  2. Thank you for your comment Paul. As you will have gathered, this is MY list of favourites and I was trying to think why I did not include first time round and could have missed him second time – after all it is a personal choice and there many worthy contenders that aren’t even mention. I expect if I did 100 favourite characters there will still be those who I will miss. Thank God He is the God of said characters and they merited inclusion only because of Him. You and I were brought up in set ups that prided itself (if I dare use that term) of being beholden alone to the pure word of God and that included putting Paul on a pedestal that made him untouchable and since his writings were divinely inspired that settled it. Any contention would be frowned on – leaving one with an impression that would also have been the case if we had hypothetically engaged with the great man. No doubt in encouraging, what often included rebuking, churches, he offered a view when the question could have been begged – what about or consider this context. I may not have convinced you but then I don’t need to – it is my rationale why Paul is my favourite and like every other favourite, Jesus aside, he was not perfect. I did amend the offending sentence hopefully it might allay misunderstanding although maybe not in your case: “I was reticent including Paul in my favourites list as I felt sure if I were around in his day we might not have got on and I might have reacted against his self-assuredness, or to put it in another way – his perspective was the only one that truly mattered. The parting of ways between him and Barnabas suggests it may not just be me!” But thanks for sharing – your response reinforces why Paul is one of the great Bible characters.

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