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The Character of Paul

By Lindsay Aitcheson

The Apostle to the Gentiles
Acts 13:47 "For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."

Originally Paul was called Saul which means appointed and it was while he was called this that the Lord appointed him for the task in hand on the Road to Damascus in Acts 95 And he (Saul) said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Later Saul changed his name to Paul which means little because he said in 1 Corinthians 159 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the ecclesia of God.

Facts about Paul
Born in Tarsus - a city of Cilicia:- Acts 2139 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city.

Nationality - Israelite:- 2 Corinthians 1122 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.

Of the Tribe of Benjamin:- Romans 111 say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Worldly Citizenship - A free born Roman:- Acts 2227 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. 28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Native Language - Greek, but could also speak Hebrew:- Acts 2140 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue

Occupation - By trade a tentmaker:- Acts 183 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

"Religion" - A Pharisee: - Acts 236 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Education - At Jerusalem under Gamaliel, a highly esteemed and wise teacher of the law:- Acts 2231 am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city (Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Under such instruction Paul would have been required to know and possibly memorize scripture (Deut 6:4-96 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: Note: Gamaliel also gave wise counsel concerning the Apostle Peter (Acts 5:34-39

Stature - Self described as "weak and contemptible" 2 Corinthians 1010 but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible.

As Expositor - Powerful 2 Corinthians 109 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. 10 For his letters, say they, are -weighty and powerful;

Health - Paul suffered from some affliction, generally thought to be poor eyesight, a residual effect of his blinding on the way to Damascus. Three time he entreated the Lord to remove this impediment 2 Corinthians 127 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. The indications that it was poor eyesight is further reinforced by the fact that Paul did not write his epistles, but in general dictated them. In his letter to the Galatians, he acknowledged his infirmity in the flesh, and their desire to give him eyesight. Galatians 4:13, 1513 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. 15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. In 1 Corinthians he gave the final salutation, and he wrote the letter to the Galatians in large print (Gal. 6:11

Character: Very strong, yet tempered with compassion and mercy

Disposition: A follower and bond servant of Christ 1 Corinth 111 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. And Ephesians 31 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles

Our Apostle
Paul, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, is, for us who were Gentiles, our greatest Bible character, because he is the Apostle to the Gentiles. Jesus was the minister to the Jews 1 Corinthians 15:8 "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:" but Paul was the minister to the Gentiles 1 Corinthians 15:16 "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit".

Though Jesus said "Salvation is of the Jews", through Paul the scriptures, together with the means of access to the promises contained in them were revealed to the Gentile believers.

Through Paul's Epistles, we who were once "without Christ" Eph 2:12 have now come into a covenant relationship with the promises of God as we read in Eph 3:2 - 82 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;