Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The apostle Paul.

One of the greatest men in Christian history is undoubtedly the apostle Paul. Paul wrote more books in the new testament than all of the other writers combined. So much of what we believe as Christians is based on Paul's writings. And yet most of the contention among Christians is also based on Paul's writings. One of the biggest things we miss in the new testament is what Peter says about Paul.

1And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, 1speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
-2 Peter 3:15-16 (NABRE)

Here we see that Peter considers Paul to be a beloved brother, but also his recognition of the complexity of his writings.
Most of us think of the Demascus rd. as a profound conversion experience for Paul , and it was. But it also was a calling from Christ himself. Paul wasn't a man burdened with guilt, he was a devout Jew who followed the law perfectly.

although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh.If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee, in zeal I persecuted the church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.
-Philippians 3:4-6 (NABRE)

Paul persecuted the church thinking he was doing the work of God. He saw Christianity as a blasphemous religion that worshipped 2 Gods. What happened on the Demascus rd. changed him forever. It not only changed him, but changed his entire view on who God was.

1Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 1Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;and found human in appearance, 1he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. 1Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
-Philippians 2:6-9 (NABRE)

What does Paul mean when he says (Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped)? Many scholars have written about this. It's a profound statement. What Paul is saying is that Christ didn't exploit the fact that he was equal with God. What he did was reveal to us the true nature of God. When Paul says "even death on a cross," it's showing that when they crucified Jesus it was as if God was endorsing the fact that the Jews were right to do so.

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight. You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God. You shall not defile the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage.
-Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (NABRE)

This is the reason the Jews wanted Jesus crucified. They wanted to prove he couldn't be the messiah by having God approve of their sentence upon him. This is what revolutionized Paul's heart and mind. That Jesus didn't take equality with God as something to be exploited, but rather that equality with God means to give your life as a sacrifice for others in the most humble way imaginable. God could have redeemed us any way he wanted to, but on the cross we are shown the embodiment of divine love. Jesus didn't just die on the cross to take the place of our sin, he did it to show us our call to divine love. We receive two commandments from Jesus in the new testament.

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
-Luke 22:19 (NABRE)

Jesus tells us to "do this in memory of me". The other commandment we receive is this.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
-John 13:34 (NABRE)

We have to think about how Jesus loves us. He gives himself as a loving sacrifice for us. When the father raises Jesus , it is not just the vindication of an innocent man. It is the Fathers endorsement of Jesus's interpretation of divine love. So often we talk about the importance of faith, and we should , but even Paul tells us what is more important.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
-1 Corinthians 13:13 (NABRE)

Thank you for reading.


  1. Hello, thank you for the comment on my blog. Sorry for the slow response, i just wanted to put sometime aside to read your blog (which I am now following) before getting back to you. You've got a really beautiful testimony and one that is unique, I've never heard of God working through documentaries before! And I agree, the apostle Paul writes in a challenging way, it really makes us dig out the truth and the meaning.

  2. Interesting what you have written. I love the book of Paul. A man of grace and grit by Charles Swindoll. It gives you a great insight into Acts. Charles is one of my favorite preachers I love to listen to.

    Paul says, Faith without love, is dead faith
    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
    --1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)
    What is love? It is something we say to make ourselves look good? what is our motives behind that love?

    Proverbs 16:2..says all the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the lord weights the spirits , the thoughts and intents of the heart, Verse 3: roll your works upon the Lord, commit and trust them wholly to Him. He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will ,and to shall your plans be establish and succeed.

    Only the lord knows the heart. We may believe we are doing right and have peace about it, and if you are doing things out of love, I don't think it will keep you out of heaven.

    How can you have peace when you throw hatred at others, and have it you your heart?


  3. I listen to chuck swindoll every morning on xm. He's one of my favorites.