The Apostle Paul’s humanity is highly evident throughout the New Testament. His actions and his teachings provoked, and still provoke, strong reactions from people. From his maximally dramatic conversion to Christianity in the book of Acts, and throughout his teachings, Paul’s love and devotion to Jesus is inspiring and convicting. His complex personality made him the man for the job of leading the laying of a firm and broad foundation for God’s Kingdom on earth. Here are 10 significant things about Paul;
“‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ (Jesus) replied.”
Paul knew his religious stuff well.
In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul lists his credentials;
“…though I myself have reasons for such confidence.If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”
3. Paul struggled with fear and depended on God for encouragement. Justifiably so, Paul says in I Corinthians 2:3, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” Paul dealt with death threats and violence as the Gospel prospered. Acts 18:9-11 tells how God encouraged him;
“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ’Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”
Paul was frequently surrounded by violence.
4. Paul accomplished an amazing amount of things for God. Paul split his time between evangelism and discipleship. Paul was armed with the good news of salvation, but he also understood that The Church was being established. He focused heavily on planting churches, teaching and training leaders, and on then correcting sinful behavior and providing guidance to the new churches through letters. These letters are called The Epistles and are believed to make up 13 books of the New Testament.
Because Paul had been a Pharisee and had been very works-oriented, he was instrumental in teaching grace and mercy to the people. These were new concepts to the people who followed Old Testament law.
5. Paul used secular means to further his ministry. Paul was not a monk. He didn’t separate himself from society or stay within the synagogue walls. Instead, he mingled in the marketplace and dared to engage with opposing theologies. In Acts 16:13, Paul just wants to find a place to pray. Instead, he ends up speaking “to the women who had gathered there.” Verse 14 tells us that he spoke to Lydia, “a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Paul took every opportunity to share the Gospel.
Paul was not a monk. He didn’t separate himself from society or stay within the church walls.
6. Paul was transparent and vulnerable, not self-righteous and religious. Paul wrote many of the instructions and standards of the New Testament as inspired by the Holy Spirit, but was honest that living a sinless life was a high order and required tremendous grace. In Romans 7:19-20, he says, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” He was vulnerable about this human struggle in order to point to Christ. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
Paul also spoke of an unexplained longstanding problem that kept him humble. 2 Corinthians 12:7 says, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Paul admits his frustration, but determines that God be glorified through it.
7. Paul operated in the supernatural gifts. The Holy Spirit had free reign in Paul’s ministry, and miracles happened. I Corinthians 2:4-5 says, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” He also was led by dreams and visions. Act 16:10 says, “After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Paul ministry was effective here simply because he eventually became “so annoyed”!
Romans 1:13 explains Paul’s scheduling limitations. It says, “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.” Paul rolled with the punches. He knew he wasn't in control, but God was.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul lists the many hardships that he endured preaching the Gospel. When all was said in done, he summarized them all by saying, “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.” His concern was that his suffering gave God glory. In Philippians 4:13 he says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
9. Paul encouraged people to test his teachings against Scripture. Paul knew that he preached the truth, so he was not threatened by earnest seekers of truth who challenged his teachings. Acts 17:11-12 records Paul’s acceptance of cross-examination of his teachings;
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.”
Paul did everything for Jesus.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”–Hebrews 12:1-2