Liberty University the Significance of the Calling of Paul the Apostle Research Paper

9 September 2016

From his past, to his life and teachings, Saul of Tarsus is one of the most intriguing and shocking people of history. Born a Roman citizen to Jewish parents, Saul grew up to become a well-known persecutor of the primitive Christian faith. Saul still puzzles the world with one of the most shocking pivotal points in history – his conversion to the faith he so adamantly tried to stomp out. A Look into Saul’s Past Saul was born a Roman citizen to Jewish parents in the city of Tarsus, which today sits in the country of Turkey. Saul was a Pharisee like his father.

He grew up as any Jewish boy would have – studying the scriptures. He completed his studies under the teachings of Gamaliel the Elder, the leading authority in the Sanhedrin during that time. Saul knew the scriptures; his theological knowledge is displayed repeatedly throughout the letters he wrote. The name of Saul of Tarsus changes in Acts 13:9. “Then Saul (who also is called Paul)…” Before this verse, he is only ever referred to as Saul. After this verse, he is only referred to as Paul, outside of making references to his former self[1].

Liberty University the Significance of the Calling of Paul the Apostle Research Paper Essay Example

Saul is first introduced to us in history through the story of Stephen’s stoning in the Bible. Here Saul is pictured as young; we could even imagine him being authoritative and commanding. Saul is left holding coats as he approves the stoning of a Christian. We meet him first in his natural setting, probably at the beginning of his career of making lessons out of anyone that was part of this heresy against his beliefs. The last time we see this version of Saul is when he is making the journey south into Damascus, which is now the capital of modern-day Syria.

From the Damascus road to the end of his life, Saul will no longer be the same. Sean McDonough speaks of Saul’s physical stature, which he was known for because he was “head and shoulders” above the rest. There are secular descriptions of Saul’s appearance as well. It can be assumed Saul was a large man. What is interesting about McDonough’s notes is that Paulus, or Paul, means “little. ” McDonough states that Samuel was told by God not to look at physical stature[2]. The name change of Saul to Paul could have been deliberate, though we have no substantial evidence. Jesus Confronts Saul The moment of saving faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has often come as a result of a traumatic personal crisis. This was especially true for a Pharisee in the first century after Christ by the name of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the Apostle Paul. [3]” Saul’s experience on the Damascus road has been approached from many different viewpoints throughout the years. Saul would have obviously already been familiar with the claims of Christ’s resurrection as he was a persecutor of that faith. He knew well the shouts of blasphemy against the God of his people.

The irony of the situation is that these things he heard and punished as Saul the Persecutor were planted deep inside of his soul and ignited upon the appearance of Christ in the middle of his journey to Damascus. Wendel Meyer says of the Damascus Road Incident, “…the scene is so powerful, so vivid and tangible, that it is easy for it to become the window through which we view and engage the concept of Paul’s conversion. In truth, however, we know that that singular moment as dramatic and important as it proved to be, was only the first instilment of the conversion of … Paul. 4]” It is important to note that it did not take Saul long to form his theological ideas after the Damascus Road Incident. There was no massive change in beliefs that Saul had to go through. What changed in him was an additional piece added into what he already knew to be true. The Hebrew Scriptures that formed Saul’s beliefs had not been re-written. They were simply fulfilled, as Mathew 5:17 states, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [5]” Paul’s Life and Teachings People had no idea what to make of the new Saul of Tarsus.

Surely his behavior was a trick, a trap to find Christians and kill them too. The reactions and emotions that rose up against Saul in the beginning of his journey are logical and reasonable. Everyone was terrified of him. Here was the man famous far and wide for killing people who claimed to follow a man named Jesus. Here he was, standing in the temple preaching Jesus. Many thought it was a trap, and rightly so, others were baffled, and even fewer believed. Even the twelve disciples stayed away from Saul after his conversion. The one person that did believe Saul however, was Barnabas.

When no one else trusted him, Barnabas took Saul and brought him to the others for acceptance. Barnabas went on to become Paul’s missionary partner and friend. Because of Barnabas, Paul is able to be seen as a disciple of God. He is not considered one of the twelve, but he does play a special role in the early church[6]. Paul’s ministry was first to the Jews, who rejected him, until he turned to the Gentiles as stated in Acts 13. Charles Hedrick also says of Paul’s ministry, “Paul is directed to testify specifically about what he has seen and heard on the road to Damascus.

The missionary charge to preach “before kings” in Acts 9:15 is Luke’s anticipation of the way he closed Paul’s public ministry by having Paul preach before King Agrippa[7]. ” What is so significant about Paul is his change from being the well-known version of Saul of Tarsus to the missionary version of Paul the Apostle. Paul went from beating and stoning to being beaten and stoned. His change was radical! He never stayed silent. Paul proclaimed what he believed for everyone to hear. He was willing to suffer for something he once persecuted for. This life baffles people.

He lived a life so drastic and thorough that you can’t even call him a hypocrite. He was open about his past and broken by it. Thousands of people over the years and throughout cultures have been stunned by the life and teachings of Paul. The Death of Paul the Apostle Saul the Persecutor becomes Paul the Persecuted. In coming full circle, Paul realized that he could be more effective in his ministry. He lived a life full of opposition. Paul understood the anger and frustration of the persecuting because he had stood in their place. Saul was stoned, beaten, chased out of cities, ridiculed, and more.

It is unknown, through the Bible and through Secular History, exactly how Paul the Apostle died. It is assumed by most scholars that he was beheaded by the Romans in 67 A. D. Paul’s death has little to do with the legacy that he left behind for all. It was his life that matters most to us today. It is the way he lived that bewilders and confuses and offers a brilliant hope. The Christ of Paul enabled him to live out such an inspirational life that readers of Paul want to follow in his footsteps and live a better life. Conclusion The image of Saul of Tarsus and that of Paul the Apostle are drastically different.

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