Sunday, January 20, 2008

Misconceptions of Paul & His Mission


There are 4 misconceptions with respect to Paul: The first is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS NAME. As a child growing up under the teachings of Christianity I learned along with most everyone else that Saul, the Jew, was converted over to become a Christian and now has the name of Paul. So, Saul was the Jewish name and Paul his Christian name. This is completely false.

There are two evidences that reveal the truth about his name: FIRST-Saul was his Hebrew (Jewish) name and Paul was his Greek name (to the gentiles). So, with this in mind you will see that Saul and Paul are interchangeable. S

SECOND-Saul, not Paul, is used several times after Jesus apprehended Saul on the road to Damascus. It is not a Christian conversion. If there is any sort of conversion, it is a personal transformation through Jesus. So, Saul, Paul, a Christian (a follower of the Christ) is now a follower of Jesus as the Christ.

The second is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS CONVERSION. What was the core of Paul's belief? Why was he so triggered by the followers of Jesus to the point of putting so much energy into stopping them? The core of his beliefs was the hope of the Messiah, Who would someday come and bring deliverance to His people. The followers of Jesus just didn't fit into the "accepted" way of the Messiah Paul was looking for. In other words, Paul was looking for and protecting the purity of the coming of the Messiah. Or even more to the point, Paul was a devoted follower of the Messiah, the Christ. Paul could be called a Christian.

Now, as a Christian, Jesus apprehended his life on the road to Damascus. Jesus is still actively apprehending people's lives today-non-Christians AND Christians.

The third is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS MESSAGE. When Saul-Paul was blinded, he was sent to Ananias in Damascus to get relief. Ananias was given by God what Paul should say and do. But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel-(Acts 9:15). Paul's message that he was to proclaim was very, very simple. He was to proclaim the name of Jesus.

The fourth is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS MISSION. In the same verse Paul is given a specific mission-to proclaim the name of Jesus to three groupings of people. The three groups are the gentiles, their kings and the house of Israel. Paul was not just to speak to the gentiles as is normally taught.

Normally Peter is viewed as the one who speaks to the Jews and Paul is the one who speaks to the gentiles. However Peter is led by God to speak to the non-believer gentiles in Acts 10 and Paul continually speaks to a group of the believing Jews.

These are four common illustrations of how Paul and his mission are grossly misunderstood. Once you understand who Paul was and how Jesus came into his understanding, then it is much easier to make sense out of how Jesus works today. Paul doesn't want to be a Christian. He tried that and found it lacking. Then he met Jesus. Jesus apprehended him on the road to Damascus.

Here's the question: "Have you allowed Jesus, Himself, to apprehend your life?"

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