Church of Christ
Mission USA

The Life Of Paul

by Perry Sexton

            On this side of the cross certainly one would be hard pressed to find the apostle Paul’s equal.  Paul indeed was a great man in most every way: from the secular standpoint as well as the religious.  We will use the following acrostic outline for this article:

Under bondage
Living sacrifice

            Let us briefly notice each point:


            Our first knowledge of Paul is found during the stoning of Stephen (Acts 6:8 through 8:1).  At which time Paul was known as Saul.  We see the great zeal and dedication Paul had in the things which he believed (read Acts 8:1-3; 9:1,2; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6).  By Paul’s own admission to the terrible deeds he did we know of his great allegiance (Acts 26:10-11).  He “thought” ( 26:9) he was doing service to God (cp. John 16:2,3), but he was sorely wrong (I Tim. 1:13).

            Meditate upon these questions: Why did Paul persecute the church?  Why did Jesus choose Paul to be an apostle?  Was it not because of his dedication, honesty, courage, etc.?  Sometimes we may shy away from trying to reach those in religious error who exhibit great zeal and dedication in what they believe.  We must not!

            Notice what Paul said after his conversion concerning his acts of persecution: "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9).  Just because we “think” or “feel good” about something, does not make it right (cp. Jer. 17:9).  We can clearly see this in denominational people (Matt. 7:21-23), but can we see it in ourselves? 

Earlier Paul had said: "...Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Acts 23:1).  Thus we see the character of Paul, he did not violate his conscience, therefore he had an honest heart (Lk. 8:15).  We must never violate our conscience (cp. Acts 24:16; I Tim. 1:19), but be absolutely certain that our conscience is built upon the truth (I Tim. 3:9).  Jesus said to Paul: “...Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4).  Paul realized he was wrong religiously and had sinned (I Tim. 1:15).  Ananias said to Paul: “arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16 cp. Mark 16:16).        

            Paul later, in recounting this occasion, stated that Christ said: "for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness” (Acts 26:16).  Therefore we have Paul the Apostle:


            On the road to Damascus Paul was “called to be an apostle” (Rom. 1:1).  The zeal and tireless courage Paul once used to persecute the Christians has now been harnessed and properly directed by truth, for higher service in the Lord’s army.  Paul certainly was well prepared for the mission the Lord gave him: having the best education of the day (Acts 22:3); well taught in the law; a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5); zealous (v.6); skilled as a tentmaker to support himself when needed (Acts 18:3); a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25).

            Paul wrote more books of the New Testament than any other.  Again we see his zeal and dedication.  Paul went on three recorded missionary journeys (beginning in Acts 13).  It was during his third missionary journey that Paul was taken prisoner at Jerusalem, and was eventually taken to Rome where he had longed to go (Rom. 1:11,13) and preach the gospel of Christ (v.15).  Consider Acts 28:30-31:  "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, {31} Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

Under Bondage

            No doubt it was by the providence of God that Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, the capital of the world at that time, thus fulfilling what the Lord had said of Paul: “ to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, ..." (Acts 9:15).  The very reason Paul was imprisoned was because of the fact that he was a bond slave (Rom. 1:1 “servant,” see doulos), voluntarily of course, to Jesus Christ.

Living Sacrifice

            Paul’s conversion is exemplary: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).  He was truly a “new creature” as he would speak of later by inspiration (II Cor. 5:17-20).  Paul’s dedication is seen by his statement before his imprisonment when he said, "for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13).

            Paul was living the word of God which admonished: "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev 2:10).  Certainly we see Paul following the example of Jesus: doing and then teaching (Acts 1:1).  Paul suffered and endured many things for the cause of Christ: labors, stripes, imprisonments, stoning, shipwreck, journeys, various perils, etc. (II Cor. 11:23-28).  Paul did as he admonished:"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom 12:1).

            Having lived a sacrificial life, Paul was well able to speak these encouraging words of II Tim 4:6-8: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. {7} I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: {8} Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

            We well remember those famous words spoken by Paul, " now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:20 b, 21).  Let us strive to follow Paul as he followed Christ (I Cor. 11:1):  to live pure and holy lives (I Tim. 5:22; Eph. 1:4); to be evangelistic minded (Col. 1:23); to truly love the brotherhood (Rom. 12:9,10); to be an example to others, “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Tim 4:12). ♥


Glenn Ary

            The person who loves God supremely will not live in willful and arrogant disobedience to God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).  Likewise, the person who loves his neighbor as himself will seek the welfare of those around him.  These applications are presented in I John 4:4-11.  The person who loves God loves his brother in Christ also (I John 4:20-21).  If he does not love his brother in Christ, he is a child of the devil (I John 3:10-11).  The ability of man to think, reason, and possess knowledge as he does is part of his blessing of being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  The brain contains about 12 billion cells, each of which is connected to 10,000 other brain cells, totaling 120 trillion brain connectors.  Feelings and emotions are produced by what we put into our mind.  These feelings and emotions then drive the body.  We choose to love God or to love this world with our mind (I John 2:15).

            What do you love?  What do you think about?  What do you feed your mind?  What feelings and emotions drive your body?  The Bible commands each of us to feed our mind with those things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good  report (Philippians 4:8).  As you submit to God and purify your heart, your soul, and your mind, you will desire to draw near to God (James 4:7-10).  Your feelings and emotions will drive you more closely to either obey the gospel or maintain a faithful walk with God as a Christian.  Love is listed as the first fruit of the Spirit for us to develop as a Christian (Galatians 5:22-23)!  The Bible tells us that love is greater than faith and hope (I Corinthians 13, verses 1-3 and 13)!  When we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and with all of our soul, and with all of our mind, we will want to obey Him and keep His commandments (I John 2:1-6).  We must stop loving this world and feeding our mind with the lusts and pride of this world to have the love of God in us (I John 2:15-17). ♥

(from “THE GREENFIELD GLEANER” bulletin of the Greenfield church of Christ, Greenfield, TN)