Sunday, February 19, 2017
Block 51 Paul
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"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ” 2 Timothy 4:7
The apostle Paul (not one of the twelve apostles) was first introduced in the Bible as Saul of Tarsus, a devout Jew who was dedicated to bring and end to the quickly growing Christian movement. Saul and other Pharisees were given permission by the High Priest to actively persecute the Christians. Saul went from house to house, searching for Christians, dragging them out and sending them to prison. He stood over Stephen and watched as he was stoned to death. Saul was traveling down the road to Damascus to persecute the Christians there when a bright light appeared before him and brought him to his knees. Saul heard a voice, a voice he did not know, but we know was the recently risen Jesus Christ. Jesus asked Saul, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” Acts 9:4. Saul asked the voice “Who are you?” and the Jesus replied, “I am Jesus, whom you persecute.” Acts 9:5. Saul’s ears were open to the Lord. He asked Jesus what He wanted of him, and Jesus replied that Saul should go into Damascus and would be told what to do. When Saul rose to his feet, he was blind for three days. Men helped him into the city.
The disciple Ananias also received a vision from the Lord, and the Lord told him to go to Saul and put his hands on him and heal his sight. Ananias was skeptical because he had heard of Saul’s acts of persecution in Jerusalem. But Jesus explained to Ananias that he had big plans for Saul. So Ananias complied and put his hands to Saul’s eyes and restored his vision. Immediately, Saul began preaching the word of Christ in the synagogues of Damascus. He wanted to return to Jerusalem to aid in the ministry there, but it was dangerous for him to travel among Christians, as they would want to punish him for his earlier works of persecution. Several disciples helped sneak Saul to Jerusalem, where he met Barnabas and started going by the name Paul (which was also part of his given name).
Ultimately, Paul became one of the most important figures of the early Church. He founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Because he was a Roman citizen, Paul ministered to both the Jews and Romans. He wrote several books of the New Testament, including Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philipians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Philemon, and (probably) Hebrews. Toward the end of his life, Paul was imprisoned in Caeserea. He wrote a letter of appeal to Caesar in Rome, who released Paul to come to Rome and live under house arrest. During this time, Paul did much of his writing. When he was released from prison, Paul returned to the area that he had previously ministered. Shortly thereafter, he died. It is believed that he died in prison. The life and ministry of Paul demonstrates to us that we do not choose God, God chooses us to continue His work. Even the most unsuspecting individual might be chosen to be God’s messenger to others.