Sat, 27 June 2009
Paul is welcomed by the brethren in Jerusalem, and is shown many Jewish converts to Christianity who are zealous for the law. Many of these had heard that Paul advises converts to forsake Moses, and Paul is told to -- and does indeed -- help some converts to perform a purification ritual to prove that this accusation is untrue. (Paul in fact writes in Galatians that the circumcised should live according to the circumcision.)
Some Jews from Asia see Paul in the temple and mistakenly believe that the converts are Greek Gentiles and that Paul has defiled the temple by doing this. A riot breaks out across Jerusalem, and Paul is arrested. The tribune asks Paul to speak to the crowds, which he does, though the crowds erupt again when Paul tells of the mission to the Gentiles. Paul is then taken away again, but when they find out that he is a Roman citizen, the Roman authorities send him to the Sanhedrin. Paul then pits the Pharisees and the Sadducees against each other and gets off.
Forty men then take up a plot to kill Paul. Paul discovers this and is then taken to Caesarea, where he is shuffled around various rulers (Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa II) and then makes an appeal to the emperor, which means that his case must be heard by the Emperor. On his way to Rome, he is shipwrecked on Malta, where he spends the winter and makes a strong impression on the people there.
Paul then arrives at Rome and the believers meet him as he is in chains. He then makes an impassioned plea to the local leaders of the Jews, who have not heard much about him other than general news of the sect. Some listened but others turned away when Paul claimed that the Gentiles were to be preached to as well. He lived in Rome for two years and sent several letters in the next few years, including one to Timothy where he dispatches several people to preach the good news and asks for material to continue to study. Beyond this, we do not have any definitive information on the life of St. Paul.
Paul's life challenges us to think of the Church as something more than a social group, and to shine forth Christ. If we see the Church as merely a denomination, we do a disservice to the true Church of God. We must keep an active life of mission to bring people to the truth of God and work to form a community to spread the word of Christ.
Music: Boismortier's Sonata 6 in G Minor - Allemanda-Allegro, from the album 'Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin - Opus 51 - Boismortier' performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com
The end of our Life of St. Paul series coincides with the end of the Church's observance of the Year of St. Paul. We hope that this year of Pauline material has been beneficial to you. As always, your feedback and comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and are very much appreciated.