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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

14-7-6 Paul In The Gospels

Paul didn't only see others in the Gospels. He saw himself, he saw his own life and experiences in the light of the words of the Gospels. He saw himself as having been like those Roman soldiers who nailed Christ to the tree trunk (Lk. 23:34 = 1 Tim. 1:13). He saw himself as " chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15), and therefore one of those referred to by Christ in Mt. 9:13. Yet he also saw himself as the man who gives all to buy the pearl (Mt. 13:45,46 = Phil. 3:7,8; although this passage also alludes to Moses; as if he took inspiration from Moses to be like the man in the parable). He saw the excellency of the knowledge of Christ as the pearl whose beauty inspired even a rich man to give up all that he had. Paul took comfort, real comfort, from the way he found himself in situations similar to those of his Lord. Thus as he spoke and wrote to brethren who were not as spiritually mature as they ought to be for their time in Christ, he saw the similarity between himself and the Lord Jesus talking to the crowds, those crowds of very human people who at that time comprised God's ecclesia (Mt. 13:15 = Heb. 5:11). Or as he wrote to his unspiritual Corinthian brethren, he was doubtless hurt at the thought of their opposition to him; yet his mind flew to the similarities between himself and his Lord being rejected by his brethren (Mk. 3:21 = 2 Cor. 5:13). When Corinth reviled him (2 Cor. 7:4), he saw this as being reviled and persecuted after the pattern of Mt. 5:12. And when the world outside reviled him, he saw himself as the beaten prophets Jesus had spoken about (2 Cor. 11:24,25 = Mt. 21:35). 

It's not so difficult to spot these allusions, once you are looking for them. But most of those allusions were probably the product of much conscious and unconscious meditation and churning over of those passages in his mind. Thus his decision not to take money from Corinth (1 Cor. 9:18) was due to his deep, deep meditation on the principle contained in Mt. 10:8; although there were other passages in the Gospels which he knew implied that it was Christ's will that the missionary should be paid (1 Cor. 9:14 = Mt. 10:10). This issues of payment shows how Paul based his life decisions on his understanding of the principles of the Gospels. He did far more than learn those Gospels parrot-fashion. They were in his heart, and influenced the direction of his life. Likewise he seems to have seen in Christ's prophecy that the Gospel would be fully known world-wide in the last days of the first and twentieth centuries as being a specific, personal command to him (Mt. 24:14 = 2 Tim. 4:17). 

Paul was ever aware of his own proneness to failure. He saw himself as tempted to be like the man in the parable who thought he should have more, because he had laboured more abundantly than the others (Mt. 20:12 Gk. = 2 Cor. 11:25). He knew that his salvation partly depended  upon not being ashamed of Christ's words before men; hence his frequent self-examination concerning whether he was witnessing as he should. Thus when he declares that he is not ashamed of the Gospel, he is expressing his certainty of salvation; he is implying that therefore Christ will not be ashamed of him at the judgment (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 1:8,12,16 = Mk. 8:38). The threat of Lk. 9:23-25 rung in his mind (in 1 Cor. 3:15; 2 Cor. 7:9; Phil. 3:8): If a man gains the world for Christ but does not take up the cross, or is ashamed of Christ's words and principles in this world, he will be cast away. Especially does Paul allude to these words in 1 Cor. 9:27: " Lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" . Paul recognized his temptation: to think that his zeal for preaching excused him from taking up the cross. In essence, we must all see our own likely temptations: to focus on one area of spirituality, with the hope that it will excuse us from the cross. 

 Likewise the idea of striving to enter the Kingdom, the need for such agonizing effort (Lk. 13:24), meant an awful lot to Paul (1 Cor. 9:25; Col. 1:29; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7). It's fashionable these days to focus upon the certainty of our redemption in Christ and to ignore the warnings about apostasy. In Paul we see a brother who brought these two strands together; because his mind was so Christ and Gospels-centred. He personalized those Gospels, he must have kept thinking to himself  'Now this applies to me...it really does...'. What a brother. What an active mind, a mind which he knew had Christ living in it. When you're good, really good, you know you're good without being proud about it. Paul knew he had the mind of Christ. He saw the power it influenced upon him. And without pride and undue self-presentation he invites us, time and again, to follow (Gk. mimic) the level of mimicking Christ which he had reached.

 


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