Apostle Paul Essay Series: Histories of Theology
New Testament ♥ Fall 2020
Paul is one of the most important people to have ever lived in regards to spreading the message Yeshua had. He did as he was instructed, even to the point of incarceration, where he wrote some of the Epistles (Letters).
Paul was born Saul of Tarsus, and he persecuted Jews until he had an encounter that changed his life. He was renamed Paul, yet his name in the native language is coincidentally pronounced Poll in English, indicating he would have been called Paul in some places before his transformation. He spent the rest of his life aiding Yeshua in the mission to spread the “Good News”. In the New Testament, Paul is said to have written 13 books; in some of the sources I encountered, they are also crediting him with another book, Hebrews.
The difference of one number does not change the fact that he wrote about half of the Septuagint, which is 27 books in total.
Paul sent out seven letters to different congregations that were scattered all throughout the region. The churches were in Asia Minor, or Anatolia, and is now modern-day Turkey. Turkey has consistently been a focal point for several locations of major events that are written about in the Bible, as well as ushering in the era of Christianity when Constantine ruled from the city named after himself, Constantinople (Today it is Istanbul).
Turkey is a major location, mentioned several times and seen in the Canonical text since the Great Flood. These letters to the church(es) and to groups of people are similar to the “hail Mary” pass at the end of the football game.
Paul was making a last-ditch effort to reinforce the moral and ethical ways in which we should conduct ourselves, he instructs the congregations to repent and change their ways, or he gets specific and tells them exactly what the issues are, and what they can do to fix it. The seven churches Paul sent letters to were: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Paul writes these places and others for one of several reasons; the congregations were being persecuted against, they were feeling abandoned, or/and they needed encouraging words and reassurance. Paul lets them have all of these things in the confirmations he wrote out for them.
He tells them to stay strong even until death, as they knew it to be inevitable. Some of the churches Paul writes are hypocritical and fake, they are described as being “lukewarm”. Paul tells these congregations of the love of Yeshua, and how He died to save the soul of every person who has ever existed or has yet to exist as long as they want it. Paul scolds from a place of genuine concern and love for the Lord. “For neither at any time did we use flattering words with you, even as you know, nor a cover as God’s our witness...nor were we seeking glory from men, neither from you, or from others...” (2 Thessalonians, verse 5).
Paul is saying that he spoke the truth and did not sugar coat it, he expects others to go out and be up front about what is expected. He is telling them the only way they can “earn” eternal life is because of the grace of God. “We need the grace God provides; it cannot be accomplished any other way. We are called by grace, we are forgiven by it, we live through grace and we operate in it daily” (Coulter, Who Was Paul?).
Paul continues on the write for the other congregations as well. Thyatira and Pergamos are spoken about in 1 and 2 Corinthians, and in 2 Thessalonians too. He speaks out to the church at Sardis in the books of Romans and in Hebrews, this is according to those theologians who believe he wrote that book. Paul is telling the Christians to beware of the sheep in wolf’s clothing. He is letting them know that there will be false prophets, inadequate teachers, and those who are purposely aiming to lead the Lord’s people away from the good deeds and hope believers carry with them. He also details the miracles and deeds of Yeshua in Acts (named so for the “acts” of the Messiah), and continues to write, even after he is thrown in jail.
All of the chaos surrounding Rome and the Jews, along with Gentiles that were now grafted in, did not settle down and dissipate. Added tension eventually led to the exile of the Jewish people who lived in Rome, thousands upon thousands of people had to leave everything they ever knew, and find another home. The mass exit of Jewish people included the rabbis, teachers, interpreters, and other people who were needed to teach the Gentiles. Paul and his words became the only source most gentiles had, there were no Jews left in the city to keep the ancient part of the truth going. Over time, the Roman empire continued to wither down, but not until after 70 AD, when they held out for another victory against countries less advanced. With the Jews gone, the Christians had to improvise. Constantine and his vision for how things should be done eventually led to the creation of the Roman Catholic Church. (This is when Shabbat on Saturday is moved to being on Sunday).
Nelson, Ryan. “Who Was the Apostle Paul?” OverviewBible, 20 July 2020, overviewbible.com/apostle-paul/.
“St. Paul's Contributions to the New Testament.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/list/st-pauls-contributions-to-the-new-testament.
Voorwinde, Stephen. “The Formation of the New Testament Canon.” From Vox Reformata 60, 1995., vol. 60, 1995, doi:http://www.bible-researcher.com/voorwinde1.html.