Paul who?

There's no doubting that God used Saul of Tarsus - better known by his alias: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus - in a very remarkable way to establish his church among the Gentiles. He is a fascinating figure for many reasons, and a man we would do well to know at more than just a superficial level. Michael F. Bird has helped us in this task with his book Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message.

He concludes his first chapter, "What is Paul", by saying:
Paul was regarded by many Jewish Christians as a meddlesome nonconformist, by Jews as a blasphemous apostate, and by Roman authorities as a mischievous nuisance... The chief legacy of Paul is his claim that Gentiles can be part of the Israel of God without becoming proselytes to Judaism. He also claims that there is another "Lord, one who rivals Caesar and who will establish an everlasting kingdom that will overthrow all despots and self-divinized pretenders (Phil. 2:10-11; Acts 17:7).
Paul is not given the thirty-nine lashes by his fellow Jews because he asks them to "try" Jesus in the same way one might try a kebab (2 Cor. 11:24). He is not executed for suggesting that Roman citizens may wish to invite Jesus into their hearts. No, Paul has the courage and conviction to proclaim that the one who is to come again, the Messiah, is Jesus, who has fulfilled Israel's hopes by being cursed on a cross and raised from the dead. Jesus is the deliverer Israel has hoped for and desperately needed (2 Cor. 1:20; Acts 13:32-34; Rom. 11:26).
Paul dares to defy an empire by claiming that the seat of judgment is occupied by Jesus Christ and not by Caesar (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10).


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