The Apostle of the Gentiles as Saint Paul is revered as, is a persecutor of the followers of Christ, of Christians. It was on his way to Damascus that Jesus Christ revealed Himself to Saul (the Jewish name of Paul). It is in Chapter 22 of the Book of Acts that the incident was narrated when Jesus Christ asked Paul as to why Paul is persecuting the Lord. Hence, the Lord Jesus commanded Paul to go to Ananias where Paul got the message that the Lord has chosen him to spread his Word and declare His name to all pagans and Kings and nations.
This revelation that brought about the conversion of Paul is due to the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ to have dwelt in Paul. Paul awakened to the distinction of the life he wishes and is destined to pursue as a Christian compared to his life as a Jew. Being born with the spirit of Jesus Christ at that instance and thenon caused the Word of God to dwell in him It was immediately clear to Paul who is Jesus Christ and how he will communicate to the whole world about him.
It is a paramount teaching and admonition of Saint Paul that mankind should listen to the spirit, as he wrote his First Letters to the Thessalonians (Chapter 5 Verse 13). Paul thus was fully empowered and authorized to spread the Word of God and the Knowledge of God. “Paul sees himself as a charismatic. Consequently his proclamation rests on the power of the spirit and is accompanied by signs and wonders. He was given the grace of the apostolic office. Through this he has special authority that he can exercise with regard to the church, even if he makes only reluctant use of it. ”
After the conversion and baptism of Paul in Damascus he went to Arabia to prepare for his mission. He returned to Damascus and started preaching which enraged the Jews. Feeling the threat of such anger, Paul visited Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem. It was Barnabas who introduced Paul to Peter and the other apostles, declaring that Jesus Christ revealed himself to Paul and spoken to him and that Paul had already preached in the named of Jesus Christ. So when Peter and Paul met together with James, Paul learned from them everything about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter narrated how the event happened and proven as Jesus Christ revealed himself as alive and risen from the dead to hundreds of people So, together with the 12 apostles and the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, Paul considers his enlightenment as a way of tradition which he relays to those he converts to follow Jesus Christ. “Tradition was a living and growing thing in the first-century church: the tradition which Paul delivered was fuller than what he received, for he was able to amplify the record of appearances of the risen Lord with his personal testimony. ”
Peter and the rest of the apostles were wary about Paul as he was known to be a persecutor of Christians. Yet, they all felt and believed that they are indeed being made to be united for the mission that is to declare the Word of God. Paul and the apostles met with the Council of Jerusalem where they encountered the profound issue of the Mosaic Law – the commandments of God has handed down to Moses. One of the mandates that the Jews standby firm is that salvation will only be attained after circumcision in the manner of Moses. The law must be strictly adhered to and the people of Jerusalem believes no other means to heaven.
“The law had a special relationship with Israel, particularly to protect and discipline Israel in the period from Moses to Christ. But that was a temporary role. It should not be assumed, however, that this is the only function of the law and therefore that the coming of Christ means the abolition of the law” Yet, Paul heard how Peter has explained that belief and living by the Word of God in the way Jesus Christ has taught and exemplified and lived and died for is the true message of salvation. It is in such faith, Peter and the apostles thus attested that God’s miracles and wonders that they have seen and done were made possible.
It is to adhere to the Word of God and at the same time avoiding all sins of idolatry and lusts. Paul was further enlightened on what Jesus Christ gospels and teachings are geared to. That God is a forgiving and all knowing God. His Divine Plan for mankind is to live in peace and love amongst each other and to revere His Divinity as one and absolute. And as Paul went about his ministry to propagate the faith in such accord, he was known for the solidity of his thoughts, the fluidity of his message and the sanctity of his feelings for mankind.
“Paul’s theology of God was no abstract speculation but sustained and informed by his own experience in conversion and mission and prayer. It is the integration of intellectual rigour, missionary and pastoral effectiveness, and personal experience which makes his speech about God so compelling. ” Paul’s teaching about the goodness of God as exemplified in giving to the world His Only Son by dying on the cross. Yet he expounded on the lesson that death from this life is a transition to another, better life. Paul achieved the realization as he painstakingly preached that Jesus Christ proved that it is in dying that man is born to eternal life.
“The power of Christianity inspired by this faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is hard for us now to realize. Eighteen centuries have intervened between our selves and the living witnesses of the resurrection. But then they were living. And yet there were difficulties which Paul had to encounter, and many of them. It was not plain or easy work. ” Thus, the preaching method of Paul ventured on showing and demonstrating the goodness he experienced in his vision of Jesus Christ. His change and his commitment to the Lord were all gifted to him.
Jesus Christ became the only basis of his interpretation of the goodness of God; what a true relationship to God is all about. It is because as Paul explained in his Letter to the Galatians in Chapter 1, Verses 12 to 16, his enlightenment and conversion and mission do not come from man but from Jesus Christ. “The connotation of communicated knowledge is reinforced by the fact that, strictly speaking, what is revealed in v. 12 is the ‘good news’ whereas the purpose of the revelation in v. 16 is ‘to preach good news’. In Paul’s case, conversion and call to ministry are inseparable” Bibliography:
Abbott, Lyman. The Life and Letters of Paul the Apostle Boston and New York Houghton, Mifflin and Company The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1898 Becker, Jurgen; Dean, O. C. ; & Soards, Marion L. Paul: Apostle of the Gentiles Westminster John Knox Press, 1993 Bruce, Frederick Fyvie. Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000 Dunn, James D. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006 O’Connor, Jerome Murphy- Paul: A Critical Life Oxford University, 1997 The Holy Bible. King James Version New York: American Bible Society, 1999 New York: Bartleby. com, 2000
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