ST. PAUL'S MESSAGE AND TEACHINGS

TEACHINGS OF ST. PAUL


The Apostle Paul by Rembrandt

Paul never met Jesus, he claimed his authority from a revelation by Jesus. He briefly met St. Peter and James, but otherwise appeared to have little contact with the Apostles. Many of his views conflicted with those of the Apostles. Paul had no problem with this because he believed his views were revealed directly to him by Christ through his visions.

Paul has been credited with defining and expressing the significance of the Christian position on redemption, Jesus’s death and resurrection. He also: 1) described salvation as something that comes “by grace...rough faith” not from following the laws of Moses; 2) worked out the logic of Christ dying for the sins of mankind; and 3) portrayed redemption as emancipation from sin rather in the Old Testament concept of freedom from slavery and oppression.

Two other important contributions made by St; Paul were finding a place for the Old Testament law in Christianity and exploring the relationship between the Jews and Christians. On the former he asserted that the yes the Old Testament laws were holy but were not complete and new laws could be added and serve as a “tutor to bring us into Christ.” As to the latter he basically said the Jews had been given chance but blew it and now it was the turn of the “righteous remnant”---the Christians---to forge a new path. Christians were the ones whom “the end of the ages has come” and delivered “out of the darkness and translated...into the kingdom of the Son.”

Paul was a fervid believer in end of the world scenarios and thought that the second coming of Jesus was imminent. The hard tone of some of his teachings was intended to get sinners off their butts and repent before the second coming occurred. The teachings were not meant to be church dogma for the next 2,000 years.

Websites and Resources: Christianity Britannica on Christianity britannica.com//Christianity ; History of Christianity history-world.org/jesus_christ ; BBC on Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity ;Wikipedia article on Christianity Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/christ.htm ; Christian Answers christiananswers.net ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library www.ccel.org ; Early Christianity: Elaine Pagels website elaine-pagels.com ; Sacred Texts website sacred-texts.com ; Gnostic Society Library gnosis.org ; PBS Frontline From Jesus to Christ, The First Christians pbs.org ; Guide to Early Church Documents iclnet.org; Early Christian Writing earlychristianwritings.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Early Christian Art oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/Early_Christian_art ; Early Christian Images jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols ; Early Christian and Byzantine Images belmont.edu/honors/byzart2001/byzindex ; Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Bible History Online bible-history.com ; Biblical Archaeology Society biblicalarchaeology.org ; Saints and Their Lives Today's Saints on the Calendar catholicsaints.info ; Saints' Books Library saintsbooks.net ; Saints and Their Legends: A Selection of Saints libmma.contentdm ; Saints engravings. Old Masters from the De Verda collection colecciondeverda.blogspot.com ; Lives of the Saints - Orthodox Church in America oca.org/saints/lives ; Lives of the Saints: Catholic.org catholicism.org Jesus and the Historical Jesus ; Britannica on Jesus britannica.com Jesus-Christ ; Historical Jesus Theories earlychristianwritings.com ; Wikipedia article on Historical Jesus Wikipedia ; Jesus Seminar Forum virtualreligion.net ; Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ bible.org ; Jesus Central jesuscentral.com ; Catholic Encyclopedia: Jesus Christ newadvent.org

Paul Presents a New View of the Messiah

Professor L. Michael White told PBS: “In the Jesus movement it's clear that a new understanding has come to the fore. In fact it's slightly odd from certain perspectives. One doesn't normally expect that a Messiah should die and yet we have this ironic message in Paul that in fact the Messiah is the one who has been crucified. Now it's true that one could within a standard Jewish tradition think of the Messiah dying. The difference is that even when a Messiah should go through some sort of death or suffering that the event precipitated by that death should be the coming of the new kingdom....


Christ appears to Paul

"What we find in Paul, and indeed among most of the early Christians, is a slightly ironic twist of fate that the death of the Messiah doesn't immediately inaugurate the new kingdom, and yet that doesn't seem to diminish their sense of apocalyptic expectation. Paul still thinks it's coming soon. He will go through his entire life thinking the kingdom will come soon but the Messiah had already died. [Source: L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“So when we hear Paul talking about the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified, we're beginning to get for the first time in the New Testament the language that will become the hallmark of all the later Christian tradition. Indeed it's where we get much of the vocabulary that makes Christianity distinctive. The term "Christ" is a title. It's the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messioc and they mean exactly the same thing. They both refer to someone who is anointed. ... It's identifying him as a religious figure in a new way. <>

“... [However] for Paul to use the term "Christ" does not automatically signal that we're dealing within a Christian frame of reference that everyone would have recognized. The term Christ, Messiah, could have been used by any number of different Jewish people and still meant different things. So just to hear that term even in the Greek city like Antioch probably wasn't all that unique, and yet it had to have sparked some interest. It's significant therefore that the Book of Acts tells us that the term "Christian" is a follower of the Messiah or a proponant of some Messiah. <>

St. Paul's Letters

The Epistles (Letters) of Paul, including Thessalonians and Corinthians, are the earliest known Christian documents. The earliest were written around A.D. 50. They were written before the Gospels and make up a considerable part of the New Testament. These letters were written over the years to his friends and to churches. The Book of Acts describes the early history of the Christian Church and Paul’s life and works. “Carrying the 'good news' of Jesus Christ to non-Jews, Paul's letters to his fledgling congregations reveal their internal tension and conflict.”


Paul

The following are texts in the New Testament related to Paul and the Pauline Churches
Missionary Activity: Acts of the Apostles [
Failure in Athens, Acts 17:16-34:
Success in Corinth, Acts 18:1-11
Theology
Foolishness of Faith, I Corinthians 1:17-2:8
Resurrection of Christ and the Saints, I Corinthians 15:1-55
Faith and Law, Romans 1:13-17, Galatians 3:15-29
Predestination, Romans 8:18-31, 9:14-22
Body and Spirit, Romans 7:22-8:17
Radical Equality, Galatians 3:27-29
Love, I Corinthians 13:1-13
Men and Women
Undisputed Letters:

Thessalonians
Galatians
I Corinthians
II Corinthians
Romans
Philippians
Philemon
Disputed Letters:
Colossians
II Thessalonians
Post-Pauline Epistles:
Ephesians
I Timothy
II Timothy
Titus
2ND Darrell J. Doughty: Pauline Paradigms and Pauline Authenticity JHC 1 (Fall 1994), 95-128. [At Drew] [Source: sourcebooks.fordham.edu]

Kingdom Is Still Coming


Kingdom of God

Professor L. Michael White told PBS: “It's clear that one of the concerns that keep showing up throughout this period of Paul's ministry is when is this kingdom going to arrive. What's going to happen? How soon? From a fairly early stage we know that almost from the moment that Paul began preaching in the Greek world that people assumed that the kingdom would have to arrive soon. Paul's very first letter, the earliest, single writing that we have in the New Testament is First Thessalonians and already in First Thessalonians Paul is having to console them when people are starting to die within the congregation and the kingdom hasn't arrived yet. [Source: L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“Still, by the end of Paul's career when he writes the massive Roman letter, probably the last thing that he wrote, and when he writes it he still is saying the time has grown short. The kingdom is still near. It appears that Paul never expected to die before the kingdom would arrive and so this apocalyptic message that was the hallmark of the earliest stages of the Jesus movement is still one of its central features prophetic preaching of Paul. <>

“Paul's an interesting case because he is so able to blend a thoroughly Jewish self consciousness and a thoroughly Jewish interpretation of scripture with a great deal of knowledge of Greek rhetoric and philosophy of standard letter writing and other aspects of Greek culture. Paul really is a blend of all of those things and it's precisely that blending that seems to provide a lot of the dynamic quality of his understanding of early Christianity. Now when Paul gets to the end of his Aegean phase of ministry he seems also to be facing some problems. We know that later on... by the middle fifties... around 55 to 58, other Christians are starting to move in to Paul's territories and starting to argue with his congregations over proper forms of Christian practice and belief. <>

Paul's Threatening Message

Holland Lee Hendrix told PBS:“Paul alludes in a number of his letters to the message that he would have communicated verbally probably in the settings of the forum... and the homes of private individuals in these cities. And in talking about what he preached to them, he emphasizes two things; on the one hand, very clearly, the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, on the other hand he also emphasizes the importance of understanding the end time, and the immediacy of the end time, and that one must be prepared for it, and the way one prepares for it is to be good. We find a lot of ethics in Paul. And it's around this issue of how one lives in anticipation of the end time that's just around the corner for Paul. This is tied very importantly to Paul's message about the saving significance the dead, now risen, Jesus. [Source: Holland Lee Hendrix, President of the Faculty Union Theological Seminary, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]


engraving of Paul by Hogarth

“Clearly the message about the coming end time was the part that would have been threatening to a Roman official and would have been threatening to any native population that had vested some authority in Roman officialdom. And it's very important to keep that in mind. Paul would not just have upset potentially Roman officials, Paul would have upset local populations dependent on Roman rule for their livelihood and continued peace and security. <>

Paul's Letter to The Galatians is a “bitterly polemical letter” that “ reflects tensions between Paul and the Christian community he founded in Galatia, a Roman province in Asia Minor. In his absence, Paul is finding that his teachings are being challenged by others claiming to be Christian teachers who are encouraging the formerly pagan Galatians to be circumcised and observe other elements of Jewish law. Paul responds by vehemently excoriating these false teachers, warning against circumcision, and asserting that Christians need not follow Jewish dietary laws.” <>

Paul’s Angry Galatians

Galatians 1.6 -1.9: 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. [Source: Revised Standard Version, except Ch. 3, which is the New Revised Standard Version]

Chapter 3, Galatians 3.1 - 5.26: “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4 Did you experience so much for nothing?--if it really was for nothing. 5 Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

Paul on the Promise to Abraham


Abraham in a Filippino church

Chapter 3, Galatians: 6 Just as Abraham "believed God, and I it was reckoned to him as righteousness," 7 so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you." 9 For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. [Source: Revised Standard Version, except Ch. 3, which is the New Revised Standard Version]

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law." 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for "The one who is righteous will live by faith." 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, "Whoever does the works of the law will live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"-- 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15 Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: once a person's :will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, "And to offsprings," as of many; but it says, "And to your offspring that is, to one person, who is Christ. 17 My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

Paul on the Purpose of the Law

Galatians: 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through a mediator. 20 Now a mediator involves more than one party, but God is one. [Source: Revised Standard Version]

21 Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been gioven that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. 22 But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.


23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Paul: Children of God, an Appeal to Friendship

Galatians: Chapter 4: 1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; 2 but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. 3 So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir. [Source: Revised Standard Version]

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; 9 but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! 11 I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.

12 Brethren, I beseech you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong; 13 you know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first; 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What has become of the satisfaction you felt? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 For a good purpose it is always good to be made much of, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you! 20 I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you....

St. Paul, Women and Sex


Paul and Thecla in a Christian catacomb

Many of Christianity’s strong positions against women’s rights and sexuality can be traced back to Paul, not Jesus. Although Paul encouraged Christians to be celibate, many scholars believe that he had a wife that he divorced before his conversion at the age of 30.

Paul was less tolerant for sexual deviancy and sinning in general than Jesus. Reacting to the “unbridled passion” and “sexual addiction” he observed in the Roman Empire, he wrote: “Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery, or homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanders or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God.”

On homosexuals, Paul added: “God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural...Men committed shameless acts with men and received their own persons the due penalties for their error.”

Some of Paul’s more unpopular views must be seen in the context that he was spreading the word in a pagan Roman world that “deified violence and exploitation” and where keeping slaves, exploiting women and even raping young boys were common practices.

Paul on Circumcision and Freedom for Love

Galatians: Chapter 5: 2 Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. [Source: Revised Standard Version]

7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. 12I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves!


Ravissement de Paul by Poussin

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.

Paul: Works of the Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [Source: Revised Standard Version]

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.

Paul: Are Jews and Non-Jews Equally Welcome as Christians?

Professor L. Michael White told PBS: “It's during the time that Paul is Antioch that a major new development starts to take place in the Christian movement. Because it's there that we first hear of the expansion of the movement more to gentiles, to non-Jews. Even though it's coming out of this predominantly Jewish social context of the synagogue communities of Antioch. Now the situation seems to be that initially when people were attracted to the Jesus movement, they first became Jews and they had to go through all the rituals and rites of conversion to Judaism. But apparently it's among Paul and some of his close supporters that they began to think that it was okay to become a member of the Christian movement without having to go through all of those rites of conversion to Judaism, and that would, in the case of Paul's career, spark one of the most important controversies of the first generation of the Christian movement. Do you have to become a Jew in order to be a follower of Jesus as the Messiah? [Source: L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]


“The major issues in converting to Judaism for a gentile, for a non-Jew, is that one must, if a male, become circumcised, and of course this was a an obvious distinction if one is working out in a Greek gymnasium where everyone was nude to begin with so the physical fact of circumcision was the noticeably distinctive quality to Jewish self-identity in the Greco-Roman world. So the ritual of circumcision as a process of conversion to Judaism is one of those major hurdles that people would have thought about from the Greek world background in which Paul was living. <>

“Now the other things that one must do in order to convert to Judaism, in addition to circumcision if a male, would be to observe the Torah. That is, the Jewish law and the dietary and other kinds of purity regulations that would have come from the Torah. <>

“The one other thing to say, though, is that conversion to Judaism was actually much easier for women, and it may actually be the simple fact that more women could easily be attracted to Judaism...we know that later on when we see Paul's churches in the Greek world... in those Greek cities there are far more women in them, and it may be that this is where he had an early following precisely because it was already a hurdle that was easier to jump. <>

“Paul's notion that it was possible for gentiles to enter the congregation of God without some of the rules of Judaism interestingly enough seems to be a conviction on his part that comes from his own interpretation of the Jewish scriptures. In fact he gets it mostly from the prophet Isaiah. Paul's message of the conversion of gentiles seems to be predicated on the Isaiah language of what will happen when the kingdom comes when the Messiah has arrived and there will be a light to the nations, "a light to the gentiles." And in that sense Paul views the messianic age having arrived with Jesus as being a window of opportunity for bringing in the gentiles into the elect status alongside the people of Israel. So what Paul is really doing is creating this apocalyptic message of what the kingdom is about to be, and the arrival of the gentiles, the engrafting or integrating of the gentiles who will come to believe in the true God of Israel into the community of Israel as the elect nation, then is one of the hallmarks of the messianic age. <>

Paul's Story of the Conflict at Antioch

Galatians 2.1 - 2.14 reads: 2. “I went up by revelation; and I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4But because of false brethren secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage-- 5to them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.


Paul and King Agrippa

6And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) --those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; 7but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), 9and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; 10only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do.

“11But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. 14But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

Paul Frets Over Jews and Gentiles Eating Together

Professor L. Michael White told PBS: “Apparently Paul's attitude toward gentile converts stimulated controversy both at Antioch among the Jewish communities there and also among the older Christian communities back in Jerusalem. There are several issues involved here. One is the notion of the dietary laws, the eating restrictions that would have obtained for eating certain kinds of food if one was an observant Jew. Also with whom one could eat, and so we see some indication during Paul's time in Antioch that this becomes a source of some tension. Precisely because in Paul's view it's now possible to integrate these gentiles, people who don't keep the proper food laws, into a dining fellowship with Jews, all of whom are followers of Jesus. And it's in that mixed community where fellowship around a common meal and the celebration of the story of Jesus is the center where Paul brings everyone together, but because it's at a meal it also runs headlong into some Jewish sensitivities about what kind of foods you can eat and with whom you can eat. [Source: L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“Now where we see this tension coming to a head most clearly is after Paul returns from a conference in Jerusalem. When he went to Jerusalem he took with him a young gentile convert by the name of Titus who was Paul's test case and Paul says explicitly that he went down to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders of the church there. ... Peter, one of the leading Apostles from all the gospel stories, and James the brother of Jesus himself.... When Paul goes to see them he takes with him Titus and some of others of the Antioch community who are his supporters in the beginning..., and they go down to ask the question of "how do we deal with these gentile converts?" and they manage to get some sort of rough agreement with the Jerusalem leadership. They agree that it's okay for Paul to convert these gentiles and yet not to force them to be circumcised. <>

“So when Paul goes back to Antioch he seems to think that he's won a major victory in the understanding of what the Christian will be. Shortly after his return to Antioch, however, Peter arrives from Jerusalem. Initially Peter seems to have been willing to [keep] fellowship with Paul and these gentile converts. He eats with them, but then not too long thereafter some other people from Jerusalem arrive and Peter backs off. He refuses to eat with them, and Paul blows his stack because he feels that Peter has backed out on a fundamental agreement on what it means for gentiles to convert to followers of Jesus. Paul says he confronts Peter to his face and challenges him with hypocrisy. <>

“The other thing that emerged out of the Jerusalem conference was that Paul would go predominantly to a gentile audience and from this point on in Paul's career he is a preacher predominantly to gentiles. He doesn't really work mostly in Jewish communities any longer. In fact he even says that Peter is the one charged to be the missionary to the Jewish communities. Now as part of this agreement that was reached in Jerusalem, Paul also decides that it would be important to raise funds in support of the poor in Jerusalem. That is, the followers of the Jesus movement who live there and who seem to be beset with some problems as a result of the famine or other kind of economic distress. So part of Paul's missionary activity for the rest of his career is raising funds to bring back to Jerusalem. <>


Miracle of Saint Paul on the Island of Malta


“The blow up in Antioch over eating with gentiles probably is the turning point in Paul's career. Up until that point Paul has worked predominantly within Diaspora Jewish communities, where he moves out of the Jewish context to deal with gentiles, but after the blow up with Peter, Paul leaves Antioch and probably never returned again. And from that point on, Paul works almost exclusively within gentile communities. Now we know he does encounter other Jews in these major Greek cities and there presumably are Jewish communities in all of them, but Paul doesn't view himself as working any longer within a predominantly Jewish matrix. <>

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com; “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” users.ox.ac.uk ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org, Frontline, PBS, “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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