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Paul's First Missionary Journey - Essay Example

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University of …. The Faculty of … This research traces the beginning of Paul’s missionary work as presented in the book of Acts, Pail’s letters, as well as viewed by the scholars in the field. The paper argues that Paul’s first missionary journey represents a qualitatively new initiative that changed the geographical and social scope of the Christian movement and laid the foundations of the Christian community as we know it today…
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Pauls First Missionary Journey
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Paul's First Missionary Journey

Download file to see previous pages... Table of Contents Introduction 2 Dating Issues 5 Bringing God’s Message to the Gentiles 9 Implications for the Church 19 Conclusion 20 Bibliography 21 Introduction Paul was born in Tarsus as Saul1, into a devout Jewish family that brought him up “a member of the people of Israel, a Hebrew...; as to the law, a Pharisee”23. By that time, Tarsus was the metropolis of Cilicia, which had been administered by the governor of the Roman province of Syria4. There is a little mention of the city of Tarsus in the scriptures5; however, having been written about the time of Paul, Strabo’s Geography presents a more detailed account of the issue, stating that the city of Tarsus possessed a flourishing and powerful population, and all kinds of schools of rhetoric6. Another description of Tarsus is given by Flavius Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius, where the city is considered “harsh and strange and little conductive to the philosophic life”, and its citizens nowhere else more addicted to luxury7. From looking at these accounts of Paul’s place of birth, one would envisage an important city, whose self-confident inhabitants lived more or less a comfortable life, in a “proud and virile atmosphere of mental and physical achievement”8. According to Paul’s own words, not only could his family trace their line of descent back to “the tribe of Benjamin”9 – they also adhered very strictly to the way of life regulated by the stipulations of the Jewish law – “circumcised on the eighth day”10 – and maintained close ties with the Jewish community in Palestine11. Some scholars point out that the traditional concept of Paul’s personality could be traced back to the second-century apocryphal Acts of Paul –“Small of stature, balding, bow legs, large eyes, eyebrows meeting, nose slightly hooked”, with appearance “full of grace”, sometimes looking “more like an angel than a man”12. On the other hand, his writings imply a sign of specific weakness – “a thorn was given to me in the flesh”13, which has been variously interpreted in terms of a physical defect, whether epilepsy, leprosy, or even stigmata14. Compelling evidence of Paul’s education is provided throughout his letters, insofar as some of his ideas, theological assertions, and terminology could be paralleled in rabbinic Judaism15; however, an explicit account of the issue is found in Acts of the Apostles – “brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law”16. On the other hand, the style of Paul’s letters, e.g. literary patterns, hint other educational influences, namely Roman, Hellenistic stoic philosophy, etc.17 The turning point in Paul’s life – from a persecutor of the Church of God to the apostolic commission to preach the word of God to the Gentiles – is widely believed to have taken place during the Damascus episode18. Nevertheless, Paul’s own account in his letter to the Galatians speaks of the continuity of divine action19, which had actually began before his birth – “…God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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