Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Why I Believe God Chose Paul to be His Missionary to the Gentiles




Why I Believe God Chose Paul to be His missionary to the Gentiles
Wendy Glidden
Colorado Christian University: College of Adult and Graduate Studies


Why I Believe God Chose Paul to be His missionary to the Gentiles
As weird as it may sound, I think that God chose Paul to be His missionary to the Gentiles because he knew Paul’s heart from the very beginning. We read in Galatians that Paul believed he was predestined for his specific calling.

[15] But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased [16] to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, [17] nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15-17, National American Standard Bible)

As we read about Paul’s background, we quickly realize that he was no ordinary Jew; he was both Jew and a Roman citizen. He was also not just a run of the mill Pharisee; Paul sat at the feet of Gamaliel.

“Paul was “brought up” in Jerusalem “at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3. Later traditions associate Gamaliel with the eminent contemporary of Jesus, the rabbi Hillel, as successor to his school and possibly even his grandson, though this is uncertain.” (McRay, p.43, 2003)

I think the combination of all of these things are what made Paul the right choice to preach to the Gentiles. He knew the law, the Old Testament, inside and out. He never stepped away from his Jewish history, but he fully understood and appreciated the message of grace as well as the burden of the law. It was his complete understanding of both of these things that gave him the authority to call out false teachers. If he was a weak Jew, the false teachers would have possibly had a leg to stand on when trying to enforce the issue of circumcision.

Paul was a respected man, with a great love and knowledge of both God and God’s word and he used everything God had taught him from childhood to his conversion on the road to Damascus to minister to the Gentiles and the Jews alike. I have no doubt that Paul was hand-picked by God to preach to good news to all.

How was I personally impacted by this session's assignments and/or topics?

Paul is one of my favorite people in the Bible. Learning more about him only gave me a greater appreciation for God and how He works. I knew some of Paul’s past before reading chapter 1 in our text, but I did not truly appreciate the depth of his education from childhood on. I always knew that he was taught by Gamaliel, but I didn’t understand just who Gamaliel was and how that influenced the way Paul thought. In the end it was monumental as our text makes clear.

“Like Hillel, Paul would take a more commonsense approach to matters. The law did specify that an ox should be taken out of the ditch even on Sabbath. For Hillel this meant also that one could eat an egg laid by a chicken on the Sabbath. One could offer Passover sacrifice, even if the day for sacrifice fell on a Sabbath. It was this mind-set, this more lenient approach to the matters of the law and grace, that eventually won out for Paul overcoming his more strident background of strictness in biblical interpretation. Providence is an altogether marvelous thing. How different history might have been had Paul come under the influence of the Shammai school rather than that of Gamaliel. Saul of Tarsus was just the man for whom God was looking at this point in history, the fullness of time.” (McRay, p. 45, 2003)


References

McRay, J. R. (2003). Paul: His life and teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

MacArthur, John. (2006). The MacArthur Study Bible. LaHabra, CA. The Lockman Foundation
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