Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology

Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology

Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology

Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology

Excerpt

In his recent biography of Paul, Edgar J. Goodspeed delineates the purpose of one who would write about the apostle: "It is his task to bring [Paul] back as he moved among men, a man of vision, power and conviction, dealing with people very much like ourselves, but dealing with their problems and weaknesses with such extraordinary patience, penetration and understanding that what he said to them can still guide and instruct us, even in this late day, and teach our generation lessons of faith, tolerance, love and courage it still greatly needs to learn." Paul is one of the most intriguing characters in Christian history--yes, in world history--and we of the twentieth century can learn much from him that will guide us to our high Christian destination.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to the Christian movement had it not been for the apostle Paul. At least nine letters of the New Testament were written by him--First and Second Thessalonians, Galatians, First and Second Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Four more letters, if not from his pen, are based upon his life and Thought--Ephesians, First and Second Timothy, Titus. The Gospels of Mark and Luke were written by friends who traveled with him,and who were with him in his prison days at Rome; the Gospel of John succinctly shows Paul's theological influence; the book of Acts devotes seventeen chapters to his life. Without Paul the New Testament would be a slender volume.

Paul, however, did something more than inspire or inscribe New Testament writings; he made history. There is little doubt in the minds of many religious historians that if it had not been for Paul's mission to the Gentiles, which resulted in the Jerusalem Conference in A.D. 46-47, the Christian movement would have remained primarily on Palestinian soil as a prophetic reform within Judaism. The Mediterranean world of the first century would have been meagerly evangelized to the Christian gospel, and we today might be worshiping in the Western world under some other symbol than that of the Cross.

Why do certain great personalities appear on the scene of history at the proper time with the properly balanced qualifications? How any of these personal requisites are caused by biological and environmental conditions? How much are such potentialities energized by man's response to divine guidance? How much of a role is placed in the life of such leaders by God's initiative? We can never completely discern a mathematical formula to answer these questions. From the New Testament viewpoint we can say merely: The historical scene is the locale where God and men carry on . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.