by Jack Eberle
Paul, the great apostle, wrote many of the epistles of the “New Testament”. But what kind of man was he? Or maybe even, what kind of human being was he? I thought of this as I was reading in Philippians where Paul kind of laid it all out. That is, in popular terms, “he spilled his guts”. I don’t like that kind of terminology, but I want you to know the real nitty-gritty without soft-coating it. Chapter 3 of Philippians begins with Paul’s exhortation to his brethren in the Lord to “rejoice”. He had been dealing with these overly involved nit-picking Pharisaical types. To them, Paul was the loose cannon whom they couldn’t reign in. He, on the other hand, was greatly enthralled and obviously saved and captured from head to toe by the real Savior. They didn’t believe in this “supposed” Savior or Paul’s so-called conversion to this chimerical imposter. Paul, himself, not so much concerned, but for his brethren in salvation was protective and concerned. The enemies of his Savior he portrayed as “dogs”, “evil workers”, “mutilators”. You may not understand his characterizations, but those believers he was addressing understood him well.
Paul characterizes his past to them. He gleefully recounts “Eighth day circumcision, of the Israeli tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of the Hebrews, even a Pharisee himself… according to zeal, persecuting the assembly” (how the church was known in those days). They all knew how God had smitten him on the road to Damascus. He is gleefully now recounting all these things. The Jewish establishment and hierarchy despised him and willfully plotted by every device they could concoct to get him out of the way of their hypocritical practices of “religion”. Paul said, “Yes, doubtless I am also esteeming all things to be loss through the excellency of the knowledge of my Lord, Christ Jesus, through Whom I suffered loss of the all things and esteem them refuse that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 TW). To equate this with our times, very few of us could commensurately “lose” what Paul (in earthly terms) gave up.
One of Paul’s most quoted statements is found in Philippians Chapter 3, verses 13 and 14. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.
In short, Paul was an eminent Jewish citizen who had “the (Jewish) world at his right hand, BUT voluntarily gave it up. Unquestionably, he had wisdom beyond his civilization and environment. Think, as you read his epistles what God has shown him! Treasure! The Word of God written by God’s holy emissaries of His marvelous, powerful Word!
by Jack Eberle