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Bible Studies In The Life Of Paul by Henry T. Sell


STUDY I EARLY LIFE THE PLACE OF PAUL +The Man, Paul,+ judged by the influence he has exerted in the world, is one of the greatest characters in all history. He is pre-eminent not only as a missionary, but as a marvelous thinker and writer. |He was a personality of vast power, force, and individuality.| There are some men who seem to be born and prepared to do a large work for the world; Paul makes the impression upon those who carefully read the record of his life that he stands first in this class of men. +The Work of the Apostle.+ -- As John the Baptist preceded Christ and prepared the way for His coming, so Paul succeeded Christ and went throughout the heathen world proclaiming that the Christ had come, and calling upon all men, Jews and Gentiles, to repent and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. So wide was his work as a missionary of the cross, and an interpreter of the Christ, that a certain class of critics have sought to make him the creator of Christianity, as we know it; a position which Paul would be the first to repudiate. He sought of himself, before he was apprehended by Christ on the way to Damascus, to drive Christianity from the face of the earth. +The Leading Thought+ in Paul's mind, after his conversion, was personal devotion to Christ; this was the mainspring of every act. He said, |I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me|: (Gal.2:20). |For me to live is Christ| (Phil.1:21). In his letters to the churches which he founded, there are found no picturesque descriptions of cities or of scenery; his one thought is to make known the Christ. He says, writing to the Corinthian church, |and I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified| (1 Cor.2:1, 2). In the evangelization of the heathen world, for which task he had been set apart by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2) and which he had accepted with all his heart, it is not only his leading, but his only thought to make known Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To miss this supreme purpose of Paul in the study of his life is to miss its whole significance (Phil.2:1-11; Col.1:12-20). BIRTH +Place.+ -- The world is interested in the birthplaces of its great men. Some of these birthplaces are in doubt. There is no doubt about the place in which Paul was born. He says, in making a speech to the Jews, |I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia| (Acts 22:3). This city was the capital of Cilicia and was situated in the southeastern part of Asia Minor. It was but a few miles from the coast and was easily accessible from the Mediterranean sea by a navigable river. A large commerce was controlled by the merchants, on sea and on land. Tarsus, while one of three university centers of the period, ranking with Athens and Alexandria, was an exceedingly corrupt city. It was the chief seat of |a special Baal worship of an imposing but unspeakably degrading character.| +Time.+ -- The date of Paul's birth is nowhere recorded, but from certain dates given in the Acts, from which we reckon back, it is thought that he was born about the same time as Jesus Christ. +Family.+ -- We are left, in this matter, without any uncertainty. Paul says, |I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee| (Acts 23:6). I was |circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law, a Pharisee| (Phil.3:5). Paul's father and mother were Jews of the stricter sort. The expression which Paul uses, |An Hebrew of the Hebrews| is very significant. The Jews of the Dispersion were known at this time as Hebrews and Hellenists. The Hebrews clung to the Hebrew tongue and followed Hebrew customs. The Hellenists spoke Greek by preference and adopted, more or less, Greek views and civilization. Paul had a married sister who lived in Jerusalem (Acts 23:16) and relatives in Rome (Rom.16:7, 11). TRAINING +Home.+ -- The instruction received in the home has often more influence and is more lasting than any other. Paul received the usual thorough training of the Jew boy accentuated in his case, in all probability, by the open iniquity which was daily practised in his native city. We never hear him expressing any regret that he received such thorough religious instruction at the hands of his parents. +Mental, Moral, and Religious.+ -- Good teachers were employed to instruct the boy, who was afterwards to make such a mark in the world. After going through the school, under the care of the synagogue at Tarsus, he was sent to Jerusalem to complete his education. Paul, speaking in this chief Jewish city, says, I was |brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers| (Acts 22:3). It is very evident that He had a profound knowledge of the Scriptures from the large use he makes of them in his Epistles. He seems also to have been quite well acquainted with Greek philosophy and literature. He quotes from the Greek poets, Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander. No man ever studied men and the motives which actuate them more than he. His inward life was pure (Acts 23:1; 24:16). Paul differed from Christ in that he was a man who sought the cities and drew his illustrations from them, while Christ was much in the country and drew his illustrations from country life. But in this study of and work for the city Paul was but carrying out the commands of Christ. +Industrial.+ -- It was required of every Jew father that his boy should learn some trade by which he might support himself should necessity require it. It was a common Jewish proverb that |he who taught his son no trade taught him to be a thief.| Paul wa
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