Paul the Pharisee
“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Galatians 1:13
“The best and the brightest,” could have been said to describe Saul of Tarsus (we know him as Paul the Apostle); a child of the best upbringing; an impeccable pedigree; a student of the vaunted Gamaliel; a Roman citizen; trained in the best schools; a second generation Pharisee; groomed to become chief priest. By today’s standards, Paul might as well be a legacy at Yale Law School with grand political aspirations and expectations.
However, perhaps corrupted by his righteousness, Paul spent half of his life persecuting the Christian movement in the name of “The Law.” But God, the same way He has a plan for you and me, had a plan for Paul. A plan to use Paul’s training and strengths for His purpose and His Kingdom.
Thus, second only to Jesus, Paul is the second most influential person in Christianity. Paul’s upbringing and training uniquely positioned him to bridge the gap between the “if-this, then-that” expectations of the Old Testament with the “Saved-by-Grace and Grace alone” of the New Testament. Arguably the greatest threat to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is legalism. This is where Paul comes in. I wonder why Paul wrote more of the Bible than anyone else?
As man’s desire for the predictability and comforts of legalism threatens to replace the gospel of free grace–with a message of salvation by works–Paul the Pharisee, the lawyer, explains that the law understood in that way only leads to death. In the Epistles, Paul employs his mastery of the Old Testament to reconcile the theological teaching and religious directives of the Old Testament with the Saving Grace of the New Testament. Drawing on Old Testament precedent, he charges believers with ethical imperatives, principles and precepts regulating practical behavior.
Today’s Training: Kingdom Men, God created us for a purpose. He gave each of us unique talents. It is up to us to choose to use those those strengths to further His Kingdom. Saul initially used those gifts to persecute the Church. But later, as Paul, he used those gifts to spread the Gospel, unmatched.