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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 Paul’s Self-Perception || 14-14 Paul, Philemon and Onesimus || 14-15 Chronology of Paul’s Life

14-7-8 Saul, Paul And Stephen

As well as John the Baptist, it would seem that Stephen likewise had a deep impact upon Paul. Stephen’s condemnation had been because he had reminded the Jews of the fact “Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool” and therefore the temple was not ultimately relevant (Acts 7:48,49). Yet only a few brief years later, Paul was using the very same words and logic on Mars Hill in Athens. It has been observed that Hebrews particularly has enough conscious points of contact with Stephen’s words that it would seem that the author was very familiar with Stephen’s words:

Acts [Stephen]          Hebrews

7:2,55                      1:1-3; 2:10

7:2-5                       11:8

7:2                          11:1-31

7:9-36                     3:16; 11:21,22

7:38                        11:1-29 cf. 4:1-3

7:46                         9:11,24 cp. Is. 66:1,2

7:39-43,52                3:7-12

6:14                         ch. 1-6 

Stephen’s speech (and perhaps other, unrecorded words of Stephen) became imprinted upon Paul’s mind and consciousness. In writing to the brethren he had once persecuted, both consciously and unconsciously Paul was reflecting Stephen’s words. A clear example is found in the way Stephen describes Israel as “thrusting” Moses away from them (Acts 7:39); and Paul is the only other person in the New Testament to use this same Greek word- to describe how although Israel thrust God away from them, yet God did not thrust [AV “cast away”] His people from Himself (Rom. 11:1,2). The even unconscious influence of Stephen upon Paul is reflected in the way he speaks of himself as “born…brought up…educated” (Acts 22:2,3)- using the very terms Stephen uses in Acts 7 about Moses.

Paul’s relationship with Stephen becomes even more acute when we reflect upon how Stephen says that Israel were taken into judgment “to Babylon” (Acts 7:43). He is quoting here from Amos 5:26, which in both the LXX and Masoretic text says that Israel were to go “to Damascus”. Why does Stephen purposefully change “Damascus” to “Babylon”? Was it not because he knew there were many Christians in Damascus, and he didn’t want to speak of ‘going to Damascus’ as a figure for condemnation? And yet straight afterwards we are reading that Saul ‘went to Damascus’ to persecute and kill the Christians there. It’s as if Saul was so infuriated by Stephen’s subtle change that he wanted to prove him wrong; he would ‘go to Damascus’ and not be condemned, rather he would condemn the Christians there, and make it their place of judgment. This suggestion may seem far fetched. But we have to remember the Pharisaic way of reasoning and thinking. Every phrase of Scripture was so valuable to them, and major life decisions would be made over one nuance of the text or interpretation of it. No wonder that in later life, Paul alludes to his dear friend Stephen so much. What a joy it will be to see them meet up in the Kingdom.