People of the Bible
ďFor for me to live is Christ, and to die gainĒ (Philippians
1:21). These words sum up the life of the Apostle Paul, a man
used outstandingly by God in the spread of the Gospel to the
Gentiles, and for the establishment of the early church in Asia and
Europe. Paulís Christian pathway commenced with his conversion
when the light and voice from heaven stopped him in his tracks on
the Damascus road Ė read about it in Acts 9:1-21.
Prior to his conversion, Paul was very religious. Educated by an eminent Pharisee called Gamaliel in the exactness of Jewish law, he genuinely believed that the Christian faith was a threat to Judaism, and his persecution of believers was relentless. He consented to the stoning of the Lordís servant, Stephen. Then he obtained letters of authority from the high priest to travel to the synagogues of Damascus and to bind any believers that he found and bring them back to Jerusalem.
But Paulís conversion changed his life completely. From this time on, Paul was totally committed to Godís service, and from being a persecutor of Christians he became a preacher of Christ, and became himself the object of persecution for his faith. He undertook three missionary journeys:
1. From Antioch in Syria to Turkey via Cyprus in 46-48 AD (Acts 13-14).
2. From Antioch, revisiting the churches established in Asia during his first journey, then on to Philippi (where he was imprisoned) and Corinth in Greece in 49-52 AD (Acts 15:36-18:22).
3. From Antioch, following much of the route of the second journey, but including a stay of three years in Ephesus. This journey ended in Jerusalem in 57 AD (Acts 18:23-21:15).
Paulís last journey was as a prisoner by ship to Rome Ė ďthe Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good courage; for as thou hast testified the things concerning me at Jerusalem, so thou must bear witness at Rome alsoĒ (Acts 23:11). En route to Rome, Paul was shipwrecked on Malta, but eventually reached Rome, where he was imprisoned and from where he wrote a number of his Bible epistles. The circumstances of his death in Rome are not recorded for us in the Bible.
- Paul went to extraordinary lengths to spread the Christian message.
- God will not exempt you from adversity. Paul suffered shipwreck!
- How much do you study and value what Paul has left for us in his writings?
- Godís word has come to you at great cost. Donít treat it lightly.
A Message for you:
Paulís entire post-conversion life was Christ, and was entirely
devoted to the Lordís service. His three missionary journeys
alone total nearly 8,000 miles, plus more than 2,000 to Rome.
He was frequently imprisoned for his faith, shipwrecked, mobbed and
persecuted. Some of his epistles were written from prison in
terrible conditions, sometimes he was chained.
We have Paulís letters in our Bibles. What do we do with them? Have we read and studied them? Once he wrote, ďÖ lest indeed I have laboured in vain as to youĒ (Galatians 4:11). Have we applied their teachings to our lives? They are written for us, and let us not forget they have been brought to us through much self-sacrifice and at very great cost.
extracted from the March 2017 issue of Youthful