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Bible Lives  

14.  Paul

14-1 The Conversion Of Paul / Saul || 14-2-1 Paul And His Brethren || 14-2-2 The Weakness Of Paul || 14-2-3 Paul: A Character Study || 14-3 The Preaching Of Paul || 14-4 Saul Changed To Paul || 14-5 Paul's Relationship With Jesus || 14-6 Paul And Christ  (1) || 14-6-1 Paul's Use Of The Gospels  || 14-6-2 Paul's Quotations From The Gospels: Statistics || 14-6-3-1 Paul's Quotations From The Gospels: Analysis And Implications || 14-6-3-2 Inspiration: The Human Factor || 14-6-3-3 The Enigma Of John's Gospel || 14-6-3-4 The Nature Of The Gospel Records || 14-6-3-5 Memorizing Scripture || 14-6-4 The Supremacy Of Christ || 14-7 Paul And Christ (2) || 14-7-1 Paul's Use Of The Gospels: Further Observations || 14-7-2 Paul And The Parables || 14-7-3 Paul's Use Of The Sermon On The Mount (Mt. 5 - 7) || 14-7-4 Paul's Exposition Of Gethsemane || 14-7-5 Paul And The Characters In The Gospels || 14-7-6 Paul In The Gospels || 14-7-7 Paul And John The Baptist || 14-7-8 Saul, Paul And Stephen || 14-7-9 Following Elders || 14-7-10 Connections Between The Gospels And Epistles: Observations || 14-8 Paul's Heroes || 14-8-1 Paul And Moses || 14-8-2 Paul And King Saul || 14-9   Paul and Corinth || 14-10 Paul And His Weak Brethren || 14-11 Paul's Thorn In The Flesh || 14-12 Paul's Shipwreck  || 14-13 Paulís Self-Perception || 14-14 Paul, Philemon and Onesimus || 14-15 Chronology of Paulís Life

14-7-5 Paul And The Characters In The Gospels

There is something about the Gospels which has universal relevance, to all times and places. It's as if in them we see every category of human character, and their response to the Gospel. Paul's mind was so saturated with the Gospel records that he seems to have seen the people in his life, both in the world and in the ecclesia, as having their counterparts in the characters presented in the Gospels. His familiarity with those records enabled him to make sense of life, it held no surprises for him, he saw all human behaviour as fitting in to the patterns and responses which are chronicled in the Gospels. By studying those same records we too can find a similar stability and framework for understanding life as God would have us do. The following are examples of what I mean:

- Lk. 1:30 = Heb. 4:16. When you ask for forgiveness, be like Mary in her spiritual ambition in asking to be the mother of Messiah. Mary herself was an inspiration to Paul in his trial (Lk. 1:45 = Acts 27:25).

- Lk. 1:6 = Phil. 2:15; 1 Thess. 3:13. Have the serene spirituality, all down the years, of Zacharias and Elizabeth.

- Mt. 21:21 = Rom. 4:20. Paul saw Abraham as being like the man in the parable who had the faith to throw mountains into the sea.

- Often Paul sees similarities between the Pharisees' behaviour as recorded in the Gospels, and that of people he brushed against in his life (e.g. Mt. 15:2 = Gal. 1:14; Col. 2:8; Mt. 15:9 = Col. 2:22; Tit. 1:14; Mt. 16:6 = 1 Cor. 5:6,7; Gal. 5:9; Mt. 23:31,32 = 1 Thess. 2:15). And time and again Paul warns his brethren not to behave like the Pharisees did in various incidents in the Gospels (e.g. Mt. 23:4 = Acts 15:10; Mt. 23:25 Gk. = 1 Cor. 7:5, where Paul is saying 'If you lust inwardly but outwardly appear to have rejected marriage for the sake of the Gospel, you're like those condemned Pharisees). Let it be noted that the danger of Pharisaism, of spiritual hypocrisy, of adopting a hard line on issues which in essence we too fail in, was a great theme with Paul.

- Mt. 11:25 = 1 Cor. 1:19. Paul saw the simplicity of the Corinthian believers as the sort of thing Christ referred to in Mt. 11:25.

- Lk. 2:37 = 1 Tim. 5:5; 2 Tim. 1:3. Widows in the ecclesia should model themselves on Anna.

- Lk. 10:41 = 1 Cor. 7:32. Be aware that married life will tempt you to be more like Martha than Mary. And Mary was the more commendable.

- Lk. 8:23 = 1 Cor. 15:30. Paul felt that if he gave up his faith, he'd be like those faithless disciples in the storm on Galilee.

- Lk. 19:9 = Rom. 4:11,12. If you have real faith, you'll be like Zacchaeus. You'll have his determination, his unashamedness to come out in the open for Christ your Lord.

- Mk. 12:43 = 2 Cor. 8:12. Paul saw those generous ecclesias as the widow with one mite, and also as rich Mary giving what she had (Mk. 14:8 = 2 Cor. 8:11). This reveals his sensitivity; he knew some of them were poor, some rich. Yet he saw they were all making a real effort. And he understood this in terms of characters in the Gospels. 

- Mt. 5:7 = 2 Tim. 1:16. Paul saw Onesiphorus as the merciful man of Mt. 5:7; and the Jerusalem ecclesia (Heb. 10:34) as the persecuted people of Mt. 5:12.

- Mt. 20:22 = Rom. 8:26. This is an example of where appreciating the links with the Gospels opens our understanding of Paul's letters. Paul is implying that we are like the mother of Zebedee's children, in that when we pray, we know not what we ask for in the sense that we don't appreciate what we ask for. I know what to pray for: my redemption, and that of others. Read wrongly, Rom. 8:26 implies we haven't the foggiest what on earth to ask God for. But we do know what to ask for; the point is, we don't appreciate what we are asking for, just as that woman didn't appreciate what she was praying for when she asked that her two boys would be in the Kingdom.

-  In addition to these, there are many significant allusions made by Paul to John the Baptist and Peter. These have been commented on elsewhere.

 


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