ST.PAUL, THE APOSTLE
Paul the Apostle whose original name Saul of Tarsus was a Christian missionary who took the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Being a Jew and a Roman citizen were ideal pedigrees for his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.
A native of Tarsus, the capital city in the Roman province of Cilicia, he wrote that he was “a Hebrew born of Hebrews”, a Pharisee, and one who advanced in Judaism beyond many of his peers. He zealously persecuted the early followers of Jesus of Nazareth and violently tried to destroy the newly forming Christian church. Paul’s dramatic conversion experience with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus dramatically changed the course of his life.
After his conversion he began to preach that Jesus was the messiah and the Son of God. His leadership, influence, and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped Jesus, adhered to the “Judaic moral code”, but relaxed or abandoned the ritual and dietary teachings of the Law of Moses. He taught that these laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ, though the exact relationship between Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still disputed. Paul taught of the life and works of Jesus Christ and his teaching of a New Covenant, or “new testament”,established through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have been attributed to Paul, and approximately half of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul’s life and works. However, only seven of the epistles can be accepted as being entirely authentic. The other six are believed to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul’s surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive.
Today, his epistles continue to be deeply rooted in the theology, worship, and pastoral life in the Roman and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East.Among the many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith,his influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as “profound as it is pervasive”.Augustine of Hippo developed Paul’s idea that salvation is based on faith and not “works of the law“.Martin Luther‘s interpretation of Paul’s writings heavily influenced Luther’s doctrine of sola fide. The Bible does not record Paul’s death.
Araditha C R, student Representative, ACC