God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Heroes Of Faith: Apostle Paul
After Jesus himself, Apostle Paul is the most influential person to shape Christianity and the history of Christendom.
Even before he was a believer, his actions had an effect on Christianity. His zealous persecution of Christians lead to stoning of Stephen (Acts 6:8 – 8:1), which in turn started the church on its worldwide journey of obeying Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) The Great Commission
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus happened on a road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9); that event changed his life. Paul never lost his fiercely intense devotion to God, but from the time of that encounter, he channeled all his energies towards the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Acts 9:1-9 (NIV) Saul’s Conversion
1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Paul was highly educated and very religious. He was trained by famous Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) of Jerusalem; that was one of the finest schools of the time. Even when he persecuted the early church, his efforts and intentions were sincere; he believed that Christian movement was dangerous to Judaism. Because of that belief, Paul hated Christian faith and persecuted Christians without mercy.
Prior to his conversion, Paul asked the high priest, to give him permission to travel along with letters of recommendation to the communities in Damascus (Acts 9:1-2), so that he could capture Christians who escaped persecutions and bring them back to Jerusalem. It is during that journey to Damascus, that Paul encountered Jesus, and his life was never the same.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey: approx. 45-47 AD
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey: 51-53 AD
Paul’s Third Missionary Journey: 54-58 AD
The primary impact that Paul left on Christianity is through his letters. As an Apostle of Jesus, Paul claimed a special mission to the Gentiles (Rom 1:13, Gal1:15-16); he was diligent in bringing the message of the crucified Messiah to non-believers, and he was an effective preacher and teacher.
As a missionary, Paul undertook three major journeys.
It is widely thought that Paul was imprisoned in Judea in 58 AD, where he was held as a prisoner for two years until 60 AD. Between 60 and 63 AD Paul was transported to Rome (he survived a shipwreck during this journey [Acts 27-28]) and was imprisoned in Rome.
The Good News is that forgiveness and eternal life are a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Jesus Christ and available to all people from all backgrounds.
Obedience results from relationship with God, but obedience will never create or earn that relationship.
Real freedom does not come until we no longer have to prove our freedom.
God does not waste our time – he will use our past and present so we may serve Him with our future.