Make a list of two of the characteristics of Paul as a church planter, teacher, and theologian you gained from reading his the prison epistles. Summarize your views.
Only someone who had been saved from great sins, especially the sin of murder and the consequences that should have been his to pay, could have the heart and attitude that Paul had while he was in prison. Not many of us would have gotten away with hundreds, maybe thousands, of murders, even if indirectly, without paying a huge price for our actions. Paul should have been stoned to death, but he wasn't because Jesus had a job for him to do. I believe that his great joy and attitude while chained to a Roman shoulder was, to him, far better than being stoned to death for his killing of Christians.
As a church planter, Paul was diligent in making sure that the new church got off to a good start, even if he had to stay for a year or two to make sure that they would do okay when he left to go to a new area and start a church there. He did not leave until he felt comfortable with doing so, unless he was forced to leave before he wanted to, as he had to in Thessalonica.
As a teacher, Paul was diligent in making sure that the people he left behind knew the gospel inside and out. Even if he couldn't get there to see them, Paul wrote with the same amount of joy, exhortation, love, and patience as if he were there in person. Because he did this, the churches grew in numbers and in spiritual matters, thriving into the future.
As a theologian, Paul was the first real theologian of the Christian church. His epistles are studied more than any other books of the Bible outside of the Gospels. The ideas he wrote about could only have come from Jesus Christ. It seems to me that Paul put as much effort into Jesus' teachings as he did as a Pharisee. As a Pharisee, he knew the Jewish religion inside and out and was far more knowledgeable than the others in his sect. Yet, still, with all of that knowledge of the Torah, and of the prophecies spoken about the coming Messiah, one would have thought that Paul, of all people, would have put two and two together when Jesus was here as to Jesus' identity, even when Jesus admitted His divinity. But, then again, would Paul have become the great missionary he was if he had realized who Jesus was before the crucifixion; before he was struck blind by Jesus on the road to Damascus?
Comment: "After his conversion Paul preached the good news to all that would listen, going from town to town and covering at least 10,000 miles as I spoke of earlier, if not more."
Author Response: Paul proves to us over and over that, without the strength of Christ within us, we cannot do anything. Imagine walking around your home state on foot preaching the gospel. Would any of us make it on our own? We must not forget the time that Paul spent in Arabia all alone receiving the gospel from Jesus Christ. It seems to me that Paul didn't really notice the miles he traveled because he never mentions anything other than the places where he had visited. Never once did he complain about all those miles. For Paul, it was all about Jesus Christ and His gospel of truth. It's a shame that some people today complain when they have to drive a half an hour to get to church every Sunday. Back in Paul's day, everyone walked everywhere. Imagine how strong their legs and backs were from walking all those miles each day. We've become so lazy we won't even walk to the corner store for milk, and getting out of our lounge chair is a major accomplishment. We, today, need the strength of Christ now more than ever.
Comment: "Paul was very humble and took in everything the Lord had taught him."
Author Response: It took the Lord three years to humble Paul. Paul spent three years in Arabia after his conversion. No one knows exactly where he lived during that time, but it surely was a time for Jesus to teach him everything he was to tell people. It was also a time to humble the great Pharisee Paul was before his conversion. Jesus had to get Paul to a place where he (Paul) would realize that it was not about him like it was for him when he was a Pharisee. I'm sure that Jesus had to gently deal with the guilt I believe Paul must have felt after his conversion about all of the Christians he mercilessly murdered and jailed. I for one can't wait to talk to Paul in person about his life. Along with million others, I'm sure.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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