Paul Of The Bible

When questioned about who is Paul in regards to the Bible, one can answer that this predominant New Testament character was an Apostle, writer, missionary, and an exceptional follower of Christ. Though he started his religious experiences as a student of the law and later a Pharisee, this amazing man eventually became the noted expert of doctrine according to the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Paul was born a Jew and was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, but he was also a Roman citizen. God used Paul's diverse background and privileged education to open doors into the Jewish community and into the Gentile world. Believed to be the writer of thirteen letters in the New Testament, this man of privileged social standing and intellect received the attention of the fledgling Christian community, Jewish scholars of the law, and the Roman government. Who better than the Paul of the Bible to usher Christianity into the world beyond Israel?

Also known as Saul, this key New Testament figure came onto the biblical scene as a persecutor. When we ponder who is Paul, we find that this man joined other Pharisees in condemning the new Christian movement which at the time was called the Way. Saul was present at the stoning of the newly appointed Christian leader named Stephen. Those who stoned Stephen threw their outer garments at the feet of Saul. Saul did nothing to stop the stoning and in doing nothing, he supported the murderous actions of the mob who killed the young man who testified of Christ. And Saul, zealous for the law, soon began to persecute the growing Christian church. He received legal documentation that allowed him to arrest those who claimed to be members of the Way. Word spread about Saul among the Christians; Saul was a man to be feared. And then a most unusual event happened to our Paul of the Bible.

On the road to Damascus (a city with a large Jewish population of which a significant number had become Christian), Saul experienced a very unusual encounter. To know who is Paul is to know the life-changing moment when he was blinded by bright light from heaven. The Scriptures tell us that, "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?'" (Acts 9:4) In these famous passages, the voice heard from heaven goes on to address the surprised and ferocious persecutor, saying that Paul was actually persecuting Christ as Christians were persecuted. Though those traveling with him could hear the voice of Christ, they could see nothing. Were told that the infamous Paul of the Bible trembled and was astonished. Christ then told this man to go into the city and there he would be told what to do. Eye sight did not return to Paul for three days.

From the Road to Damascus story, Saul's life took a dramatic turn. It is at this incident that Saul's name became known as Paul and though the members of the church were initially fearful of the man who was now attempting to befriend the believers, they soon saw evidence that the Spirit of the Lord was with him. This great Apostle took three missionary journeys through what is now known as modern day Turkey and Greece. The Paul of the Bible said that his ministry was both to Jews and to Greeks, and this man shared the Gospel throughout all of his travels. Fellowships of small churches sprang up in many of the cities that Paul visited and these included the churches at Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth. The Epistles, or letters, that the Apostle sent to these churches became the New Testament books of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and more. It is in these letters that we truly discover who is Paul. A great theologian emerges and teaches readers about the importance of doctrine and living a holy life in response to a holy calling. In these carefully crafted Epistles, Paul addresses problems that were arising in the church and many of the troubles the church members experienced are issues that modern day Christians face as well. The teachings found in the New Testament letters also address many doctrinal issues that are still debated today. A well-known example of this is found in the letters to the church of Thessalonica which reveals issues surrounding the promised return of Jesus Christ and life after death.

The Apostle Paul's amazing journeys revealed a fearless witness of the power and the grace of Christ Jesus and the passion of a great apologist for the Gospel. Because of his unwavering faith, Paul of the Bible was beaten, flogged, stoned, arrested and held in prison on several occasions. This man proves to be an incredible model of one living the faith and phenomenal teacher of the grace of Christ. The writer of a good portion of the New Testament, this was a man who ran the race and finished well. At the end of his life, the Apostle was imprisoned in Rome after appealing to Caesar which, by the way, was his right as a Roman citizen. According to traditions, he never stood before Caesar, but was martyred under Nero. This Apostle has contributed so much to the development of the church, doctrine, and missionary work, it is impossible to adequately cover his life in this article.

Visionary Leadership

Visionary leadership is needed in the kingdom of God in order to fulfill the outline that God that has for reaching the world. Individuals who live in obedience to His direction can implement God's vision and plan for individuals, churches, communities as well as the world. Leadership with insight is not about mighty exploits of human creativity that end in successful praise of the followers. Rather, a Christian leader with a spiritual goal is one who receives directions from God then launches out into the deep by believing that "faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it!" (1 Thessalonians 5:24) Click here for an excellent resource for any leader.

The spiritual concept of visionary leadership can sometimes collide with the human understanding of leadership plus creativity. The natural abilities or talents of many people qualify them to be born leaders who can motivate, lead as well as succeed at many tasks. The creativity as well as common sense that many people posses equips them with the innate abilities of a visionary leader. Many talented people can set a goal, implement a plan, pursue the end result then reach the finish line before anyone else. However, natural abilities are not what leadership with insight is all about in relationship to His intention for many situations.

The Word of God states that God uses the "weak things of the world to confound the mighty," implying that only God Himself can work His design through yielded human vessels. That is not to say that preparation, talent, skills along with abilities are not important in order to fulfill the design or task that God has initiated for any leader. When a leader understands however, that it's "not by might nor by power but by my Word, saith the Lord", then God's intention will succeed as He does the work through any leader. Obedience to God's will along with belief in God's Word is critical in in order to accomplish God's intentions for whatever purpose He has designed.

Leadership with insight is the skillful implementation of a plan to reach the goal that includes other people who are motivated to become involved. Most leaders who have a plan for the success of a particular task in life expend tireless energy in the pursuit of the goal and will not give up until it's accomplished. This type of insightful leadership is energized by faith in God's call, then is guided by direct willing response to Him. Learn more about God, as well as His plan for your life, take our Bible Quiz.

Seeing things God's way is an earmark of a true leader, who makes sure that pursuit of the goal is not dampened by doubters or skeptics. The Bible says that "where there is no vision, the people perish" which provides great emphasis on the need for everyone to be open to whatever God's plan is for our lives as the plan affects others. Many times a goal is squelched by those who insist on viewing circumstances, others or God with limited understanding along with openness. Visionary leadership from anyone requires stepping out by faith into the unfamiliar and many times, against all odds.

Gideon was a fine example of insightful leadership when he defeated his enemies with just a handful of scared soldiers who relied on God's direction. Gideon's obedience to God's vision and plan for the future was activated by a strong belief when he took a little band of 500 then rallied them to defeat thousands of soldiers who were humanly more powerful than Gideon's army. The biblical story paints the picture of a man who is skilled at battle as well as a respected leader of men. Facing all odds against a task he was called upon to perform as part of God's vision and plan for Israel, Gideon displayed unshaken compliance, along with great confidence in the Lord. It was not a path that Gideon would have chosen, yet he obeyed through faith and was the victor.

God's vision and plan for that time was accomplished while Gideon's visionary leadership has gone down in history. All Christians are called upon to implement God's intentions for their lives through belief along with compliance to the Word of God. Some people are called upon to fulfill some goal through faith that will affect many people around the world. Others are called upon to follow insightful leadership as part of God's plan for the church and the world. No matter your calling or intention, whether is modest or spectacular, will only be truly successful if performed through belief along with obedience to God's will. "For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

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