From the Line of Benjamin
Up Close and Personal with the Apostle Paul
Philippians 3:4-5 (KJB) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.
Indeed, many of you are familiar with the life of the Apostle Paul for he is one of the all-time great preachers and teachers of God presented in God’s Word. The purpose of this devotional is for each of you to become more acquainted with him; including his birth, his past, and his future potential in serving and savoring the truths of God.
Paul was born in what is now modern Turkey. He was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28). He was born into Jewish “royalty” being from the lineage of Benjamin as was recorded in (Philippians 3:5-6). His heritage, as was presented in the above verses, seems arrogant, but these facts became important later in his life as he was about to be scourged without due process of the law at the hand of Roman soldiers.
Paul’s pride coupled with his natural inclination for adhering to the law, along with his personal hatred and violence towards the church and Christians, was all instilled in his mind and heart from the days of his youth. Paul had even spent time in his younger years receiving an education at the feet of Gamliel, a respected and knowledgeable man in Jewish circles. Gamliel was well versed in philosophy, literature, the law, and other highly touted, but world-based academia. It was from this man that Paul learned to be “religious” and even articulate scripture (Acts 22:3).
Paul was highly educated in things of this world, familiar with Greek culture, but ultimately led by his own human nature, was indeed overzealous and actively persecuting Christians who dared to profess a personal relationship and trust in Jesus Christ. Paul’s heart was naturally hardened against truths of Jesus Christ.
Paul went on after his studies to become a lawyer being well versed in the law. Many say perhaps he was even a contributing member of the Sanhedrin Council, which was nothing more than an ancient “kangaroo court.” This court was used to rule over the citizens with many strongholds as it was quite zealous about keeping Jewish Law, perhaps much like fanatics and radicals today. Paul was present at the persecution and martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:57-58, Acts 8:1). The scriptures and other accounts of ancient history written by mankind in secular books are loaded with other unscrupulous activities of this ancient court system in this world. This twisted old court was the one who convened in the trial of Jesus.
Yes, today, we still have extremists, religious cults, and boisterous crowds drawing activists and protestors against the law of the land at work on this earth. Perhaps there are even some judges and courtrooms which make law and judge according to their own interpretations, rather than follow the established foundations. Though we have God’s Word filled with ancient precepts, a natural man will always lean towards developing his own dark ways and regulations rather than follow what has already been divinely established. A natural man is bent on breaking rules.
The Apostle Paul was a man, like all others, born desperately spiritually lost. Aligned with the world he was willing to persecute and kill Christians in the gist of following the Old Testament Law along with religious traditions of the Jewish people. Paul had made many personal enemies among Christians but was not above reproach and spiritual remission by a work of God in his heart. Paul would be humbled about his sin by Jesus Christ and end up being one of the Lord’s most loving and obedient servants later in his exceptional life.
Today we even have false doctrine being taught and adhered to in the name of the Apostle Paul, who was nothing more than a mere man. Misdirected men, then and today, choose to follow a man, Paul, who penned truths as was divinely revealed of God. Rather than acknowledge this truth came through a willing vessel of God in Paul, they tout Paul above God. This is called “Pauline doctrine.” This false teaching places undue emphasis on the New Testament teachings penned by Paul while ignoring the whole canon of scripture.
However, the truth is that Paul was a chosen vessel, an ancient spokesman of God given the job of revealing many truths with honor and glory resting with God. Paul gave up himself to live for things of God (Galatians 2:20) making it all about Him!
As you will see in God’s Word, again and again, the Apostle Paul himself had no issue whatsoever with giving all the credit due to God by humbly placing himself under the authority and divine revelation of God. Paul set a great example of a godly hearted preacher, servant, and teacher for mankind to read and apply to their life. However, properly understood, Paul’s teaching does not ever shine brighter or replace seeking God with the whole heart, soul, and mind. Or deny studying and applying God’s truths as found within the entire canon of scripture rather than abiding only in Pauls’s epistles in this current age.
All mankind should seek to live in the image of God. To agree with Him about the nature of sin, savor Him, and seek to be a vessel of service for Him, choosing to emulate His spiritual characteristics in their life, including holiness, unconditional love, mercy, and grace, as they sojourn in this world. Just as the Apostle Paul chose to live in obedience to God’s will and way, despite the state of circumstances at hand in his life. Paul first allowed God to unravel and expose the dark nature of his past, he repented of his sin meeting personally with Jesus Christ one fine day on the road to Damascus.
** Up Close and Personal with the Apostle Paul**
(this in-depth study will take us through Fall and Winter season and ring in 2019).
**Next, in learning more about Paul we will meet up with him as he travels on the infamous Damascus Road in devotion #2 titled Blinded by The Light. coming soon!**