The Life and Epistles of St. Paul

The Life and Epistles of St. Paul

The Life and Epistles of St. Paul

The Life and Epistles of St. Paul

Excerpt

The purpose of this work is to give a living picture of St. Paul himself, and of the circumstances by which he was surrounded.

The biography of the Apostle must be compiled from two sources ; first, his own letters, and secondly, the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles. The latter, after a slight sketch of his early history, supplies us with fuller details of his middle life ; and his Epistles afford much subsidiary information concerning his missionary labours during the same period. The light concentrated upon this portion of his course, makes darker by contrast the obscurity which rests upon the remainder ; for we are left to gain what knowledge we can of his later years, from scattered hints in a few short letters of his own, and from a single sentence of his disciple Clement.

But in order to present anything like a living picture of St. Paul's career, much more is necessary than a mere transcript of the Scriptural narrative, even where it is fullest. Every step of his course brings us into contact with some new phase of ancient life, unfamiliar to our modern experience, and upon which we must throw light from other sources, if we wish it to form a distinct image in the mind. For example, to comprehend the influences under which he grew to manhood, we must realise the position of a Jewish family in Tarsus; we must understand the kind of education which the son of such a family would receive as a boy in his Hebrew home, or in the schools of his native city, and in his riper youth 'at the feet of Gamaliel' in Jerusalem ; we must be acquainted with the profession for which he was to be prepared by this training, and appreciate the station and duties of an expounder of the Law. And that we may be fully qualified to do all this, we should have a clear view of the state of the Roman Empire at the time, and especially of its system in the provinces ; we should also understand the political position of the

β€œIt has been thought better to leave
this Introduction quite untouched,
though the passages relating to views
and illustrations are not strictly appli
cable to the present edition, H.”

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