In the first post of my series looking at the Epistle of Paul to the Romans I discussed a bit about the role of the messiah (the Christ) from a Jewish perspective. Today, I want to talk about Paul himself since we need to understand some things about Paul before tackling his letter to the Romans.
However, I have now reconsidered my position. Rather than a lengthy exposition on Paul the person, I have come to realize that I really don’t think that it is appropriate to say too much about him right at the beginning. I also do not have the patience to go into a history of Paul with you can just look up Paul of Tarsus on Wikipedia and learn enough about him that you would have all you need to go into the future posts.
Having said that, Paul identified himself as an apostle in the first line of his letter to the Romans, but he does not appear in any of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Instead, Paul makes his debut in the biblical story in the first book after the Gospels, namely the Acts of the Apostles.
We know that Paul was a Pharisee, that is one of the very religious sects of Judaism at the time. Paul was known to be someone who torture and torment Christians but on one fine day, he had a vision of the resurrected Messiah. As a result of the vision he became blind, and then suddenly became perhaps the biggest and most influential activist supporting Christianity to this day. Paul was a rock star. In one instant God helped him see the light (pun intended) and now he was bought the story hook line and sinker.
Paul traveled the Mediterranean area planting new churches for this Jesus following community and teaching what he called the gospel (more on that later). The book of Romans was a letter that he wrote to a community of people in Rome who had already heard the gospel, but Paul had more to tell to them.
I believe the book of Romans contains much of the source material for the division between the reformed churches and non-reformed. It also has a very interesting side-bar into what some have called natural theology, which is a personal favorite of mine since I believe in simplicity.
Many would think that simplicity has little to do with theology, but I think it could not be more wrong on that account. If theology (how we know and relate to God) is difficult, then it could not be true. God is everyone’s God, not the God of the intellectuals. Not the God of the elite. Not the God of the educated. God is the God of,….us.
Whew. I have been laboring over this post and I am glad I got it out of the way so I can move forward into some of the elements that I find more inerteresting.
God bless you and please give me a comment or two….