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A taking tormentor of Christians, Saul of Tarsus sought to destruct the Church ( 1 Cor. 15:9 ; Gal. 1:13, 23 ) . Except for Jesus, no 1 influenced the early church more than Saul, besides known as the apostle Paul. This paper will analyze the fortunes and events motivating a avid tormentor of the church to go the most influential leader for the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
It will be shown that the “ naming ” of Saul was a true transition even though he was non traveling from one faith to another. His “ naming ” emphasized alteration but emphasized the strong belief that the concluding look and purpose of Judaism had been born.
Paul was born a Jew, and was a citizen of Tarsus where he was a tentmaker by trade. He received his rabbinic preparation in Jerusalem, under the instruction of Gamaliel.
Harmonizing to Paul ‘s ain history, he was a rigorous disciple among Pharisees ( Gal. 1:14, Phil. 3:5-6 ) . Paul inherited Roman citizenship ( Acts 22:2528 ) , which was widely granted during the latter portion of the Roman democracy. Paul claims in Acts 22:28, that he had been born a Roman citizen. This would intend that he had inherited Roman citizenship from his male parent. Small is known of Pauls life prior to the events discussed in Acts. He is first mentioned in chapter 7 in connexion with the executing of Stephen. Harmonizing to Acts 7:58, the informants laid their apparels at the pess of a immature adult male named Saul.
Paul was a Pharisee, a outstanding immature member of that religious order. Steeped in the monotheism of the Old Testament Scriptures, he could merely number as blasphemy the claims of Jesus ‘ adherents that their Maestro was the Son of God. He could merely roast the issue of a life that terminated, as he thought, on a despised cross and in a glooming burial chamber, instead than on a throne of glorification. With respect to Pauls pre-Christian attitude to the Gospel, one thing is certain ; he was opposed to it with his whole bosom. In his apostolic letters he speaks of his old hatred for the church ( Gal 1:13 ; Phil 3:6 ) . His persecution of Christians was to him a holy war. The lone account that can be given of his sudden reversal is that the risen Christ really appeared to him and by the sheer persuasion of His divinity, claimed the religion and commitment of the tormentor.
Paul ‘s conversion/calling to the “ Way ” took topographic point near the metropolis of Damascus. Four features stand out in the histories of this event. First, Paul was actively engaged in oppressing Christians and did non expect his transition ( Acts 9:19 ; 22:416 ; 26:917 ) . Second, the event that initiated the unexpected alteration of class was a disclosure of Jesus Christ made to Paul entirely. Third, Soon after this disclosure Paul had contact with a certain Christian ( Ananias ) in Damascus who recognized Paul as a truster in Christ by baptising him. Fourth, Paul was instantly called by Jesus to take the Gospel to the Gentiles ( 1 Cor. 9:1 ; 15:89 ; Gal. 1:1516 ; californium. Eph. 3:16 ) .
Paul ‘s Damascus experience becomes the most celebrated conversion/calling in history. Suddenly he is blinded by a visible radiation from heaven the visible radiation of the glorification of Christ. His resignation to Jesus was instantaneous and complete: What shall I make, Lord? ( Acts 22:10 ) . He could non see because of the glorification of that visible radiation ( Acts 22:11 ) , but he had already seen the visible radiation of the cognition of the glorification of God in the face of Jesus Christ ( 2 Corinthians 4:6 ) . The God of this universe could blind him no longer.
At his conversion/calling, Paul was commanded to open the eyes and turn them from darkness to visible radiation ( Acts 26:18 ) . Although Paul was blinded after his brush with the Lord, Ananias laid custodies on Paul, “ something like graduated tables ” fell from his eyes ( Acts 9:18 ) , and he was able to see. He had first-hand cognition and experience of turning from darkness to visible radiation, and his bid from the Lord was every bit clear as his freshly regained sight.
Content to touch to Paul ‘s sightlessness and recovery as historical events, Luke wants by a sober narrative of carefully selected facts to do it clear that Paul ‘s meeting with Christ is non to be classed with other visions, nevertheless supernatural, but is to be accepted on a par with the other
visual aspects of the Risen Lord. So Paul goes from opposing God and oppressing Jesus to fall ining the persecuted side. After passing several yearss with the adherents at Damascus, Saul went into the temples and boldly proclaimed Jesus, that he is the Son of God ( Acts 9:20 ) .
Krister Stendahl argues that a proper reading of Romans 7 shows that Paul, as a loyal Jew, had experienced no battle or guilt feelings that would hold led him, through dissatisfaction with the jurisprudence, to turn to Christ… .Neither did he endure from an introverted scruples… ..Stendahl prefers to see him as person who did non abandon his Jewishness for a new faith but, instead, as a Jew who was given a new career in service of the Gentiles.
The description, in Acts, of Paul ‘s sudden transition on the route to Damascus is chiefly the creative activity of Luke ; Paul ‘s biographer. Luke ‘s description of Paul is non impartial life either, for it was intended to dramatise the early church ‘s journey from Judea into the gentile universe. In some ways Luke downplays Paul ‘s claims, but he uses Paul ‘s life and mission to exemplify the fate of Christianity. Many of the inside informations of Paul ‘s life semen from Luke since most biographical inside informations are losing from Paul ‘s ain letters. Luke ‘s description of Paul ‘s transition draws on the Hebrew Bible for subjects of prophetic naming, paralleling the commissioning of Jeremiah ( Jer. 1:5-11 ) and Isaiah ( Isa. 6:1-9 ) .
Paul ‘s “ naming ” , and ultimate transition to Christianity, depicts the decisive alteration Paul experienced. Not merely was Paul ‘s conversion/calling singular with regard to his position of Jesus, but in his attitude toward Gentiles. Hebraism is good known for its exclusivist attitude. It was improper for a Jew to hold fellowship with one who is uncircumcised. Along with his transition he received a prophetic committee to change over the heathens. It is unequal to talk merely in footings of Paul ‘s conversionas if he were traveling from one faith to another ; and likewise merely in footings of his Callas if he were go oning in an unchanged religion. The conversion-call combination emphasizes both continuity and alteration.
Stendahl challenges the rightness of transition linguistic communication because Paul has non changed faiths, that is, he ne’er turns from truenesss to the God with which he began. While the reply might look clear plenty, working with Stendahl ‘s premises complicates the undertaking ; and moreover, Luke nowhere explicitly defines transition, nor provides a consistent form of entry into the church. When he does stipulate the agencies by which one joins the group, he is by and large rounding out narrative parts which demonstrate the overarching effects of sermon. He does, nevertheless, offer sufficient stuff for us at least to see the nature of a changed relationship with God, and inquire whether the alteration constitutes transition. Although we customarily label this experience Pauls transition, this can be done merely in retrospect, for at that clip Judaism and Christianity were non yet separate faiths. In world, Paul changed trade names of Judaism, exchanging from Pharisaic to Christian Judaism. One of the chief ways that Luke demonstrates Saul ‘s changed relationship with God is to demo this alteration in group associations. That is, while non an terminal in itself, his new corporate individuality points to the ultimate world underpinning his alteration.
What is apparent is the fact that the gospel message is get downing to widen beyond Jerusalem and Judea. Paul inhabits that universe of Christianity which he once tried to kill off through the violent death of Stephen. However, it was Stephen and his circle, non Paul, who launched a mission to Gentiles.
Paul ‘s missional endeavor is non framed in generalizations, as it is in Acts 1:8 ( to be my informants ) and Acts 9:15 ( to transport my name ) . In Acts 22 and 26, Paul is directed to attest specifically about what he has seen and heard on the route to Damascus. The missional charge to prophesy “ before male monarchs ” in Acts 9:15 is Luke ‘s expectancy of the manner he closed Paul ‘s public ministry by holding Paul preach before King Agrippa ( Acts 26:1-32 ) , and it is implicative of a Pauline visual aspect before Caesar ( californium. Acts 23:11, 25:10-12 and 27:23-24. )
Since Paul is the great missional to the Gentiles, it is appropriate that his conversion/call instantly precede the world-wide spread of the Gospel. Hence, Luke introduces it instantly before the motion of the Gospel into the Gentile universe, as the decision to the Palestinian mission.
What were the effects of this event for Pauls divinity? The most hard inquiry to work out was, What impact does the Christian Gospel have on the construct and observation of the Law ( Torah ) ? This inquiry is still disputed today. The basic job is that Paul seems to be hovering between two constructs of jurisprudence, a Judaic construct and his ain Christian construct. Paul called his new construct the jurisprudence of Christ ( Gal. 6:2 ) . The jurisprudence summarized the Scriptures in another manner, by sing the love bid as the common denominator. “ For the whole jurisprudence is fulfilled in one word: you shall love your neighbour as yourself ” ( Gal. 5:14 ) . As Paul attempted to do sense of Christian divinity, the Damascus event provided an unexpected reply to an old Judaic inquiry: Is God the God of Jews merely? Is he non the God of heathens besides? Because Christ ordered Paul to prophesy the Gospel to the heathens, Paul could now reply boldly: Yes, of Gentiles besides
When reading Acts, one is struck by the immediateness of Paul ‘s activity as an vindicator and theologist for the Christian community after his transition ( Acts 9:20-22, 28-29 ) . His theological positions were already so profound as to be incontrovertible by his first-century Judaic oppositions ( 9:22 ) . Neither the brevity of the Damascus event nor the three short yearss of sightlessness following it allowed for a new theological instruction. Therefore the brush with Jesus must non hold required the forsaking of his former acquisition, but informed and reoriented it toward a new apprehension of salvation-history around some cardinal theological point revealed to him in the event.
It was Paul ‘s strong belief that if one read the Torah narrative, stressing it as a narrative of God ‘s plants of redemption and righteousness for antediluvian Israel, so one could non get away seeing that God had wrought another redemption, and committed another righteousness, in Christ merely like the 1s of old but an even greater one! Paul was so excited by his belief that God had committed a new, mighty act in Christ, that he merely could non understand why everybody did non see it the manner he did. For Paul, as for Jeremiah, it was a inquiry of how you think.
The New Testament contains six sum-ups of Paul ‘s transition experience ( Acts 9:1-30 ; 22:1-21 ; 26:1-23 ; Gal. 1:13-17 ; 1 Cor. 15:8-10 ; Phil. 3:4-11 ) . Paul besides alludes to the event on the route to Damascus several times ( Rom. 10:2-4 ; 1 Cor. 9:1, 16-17 ; 2 Cor. 3:4-4:6 ; 5:16 ; Eph. 3:1-13 ; Col. l:23-29 ) . Those mentions emphasis the significance Paul placed on his transition experience and for finding his ministry.