THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 EARLY CHRISTIANITY-1

James Stalker and Edward D. Andrews

Paul, The Apostle.

Known as Saul of Tarsus before his conversion to Christianity and the most influential leader in the early days of the Christian church. Through his missionary journeys to Asia Minor and Europe, Paul was the primary instrument in the expansion of the gospel to the Gentiles. Moreover, his letters to various churches and individuals contain the most thorough and deliberate theological formulations of the NT.

Most of the biographical material available comes from the Book of Acts. Though modern critics question the reliability of this narrative, there is every good reason to use it as the basis for outlining Paul’s life. Moreover, the teachings of Paul, as set forth in his letters, are best summarized within the historical framework provided by the Acts narrative.

Background and Conversion.

Date of Birth. Little is known of Paul’s life prior to the events discussed in Acts. He is first mentioned in chapter 7 in connection with the execution of Stephen. According to verse 58, “the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” The term “young man” probably indicates someone in his 20s, though this is uncertain.

The events mentioned in Acts 7 may have occurred as early as A.D. 31 if Jesus’ death took place during the Passover of A.D. 30. On the other hand, if Jesus’ death is dated in the year 33[1] then those events could have taken place no earlier than 34, but no later than 37. (Second Cor 11:32, 33 states that when Paul escaped from Damascus that city was being ruled by the Nabataean king Aretas, who died in the year 40. Since, according to Gal 1:17, 18, Paul left Damascus three years after his conversion, the year 37 must be regarded as the latest possible date for Stephen’s death.)

Using the year 34 as an approximate date for the time when Saul is described as a “young man,” and assuming that Saul was no older than 30 years at that time, then it can be concluded his birth took place no earlier than A.D. 4. And since it is very unlikely that he was younger than 20, A.D. 14 can be set as the latest possible date for his birth. This conclusion is supported by the knowledge that Paul studied under the famous Gamaliel I (Acts 22:3), who according to some scholars became a member of the Sanhedrin about A.D. 20. If Paul was 15 years old when he entered the school, the range of A.D. 4–14 for his birth fits all the information available. So it can be said with a degree of accuracy that Saul was born in the city of Tarsus about A.D. 9, but any estimates about his age should allow a leeway of 5 years either way.

Upbringing. The city of Tarsus was a major population center in the province of Cilicia in the southeastern region of Asia Minor. Lying on a significant commercial route, Tarsus felt the influence of current cultural movements, particularly Stoic philosophy. It is difficult to determine to what extent Greek thought affected Paul as a child. There is a possibility that his family had become “Hellenized”—after all, Paul was born a Roman citizen (it is not known how his father or ancestors acquired citizenship, though military or other notable service is a strong possibility); accordingly, he was given not only a Hebrew name (Gr. Saulos; Saul) but also a Roman cognomen (Paulus, though some have argued that he adopted this Roman name at a later point). At any rate, the fact that in his letters he shows great ease in relating to Gentiles suggests that he obtained a Greek education while in Tarsus.

A scene from Asia Minor
A scene from Asia Minor, the location of Paul’s birth (Tarsus) and much of his ministry.

On the other hand, he describes himself as one “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews” (Phil 3:5), and such a characterization, particularly the last phrase, perhaps served to distinguish him from those Jews in the Dispersion who freely adopted Greek ways. Moreover, according to Acts 22:3, he was actually brought up in Jerusalem (possibly in his sister’s house, cf. Acts 23:16), and some scholars infer from that statement that Paul was brought up in a totally Jewish environment from earliest childhood.

It is worthwhile pointing out that Gamaliel is represented in later rabbinic literature as a teacher who had considerable appreciation for Greek culture. Besides, soon after his conversion, Paul spent at least 10 years ministering in Tarsus and its environs (cf. Acts 9:30; Gal 1:21; 2:1; see below). These questions are interesting for more than historical reasons. One of the most basic issues debated among modern interpreters of Paul is whether he should be viewed primarily as a Greek or as a Hebrew. The latter position has, with good reason, become more and more prominent, but the strong Hellenistic elements that formed part of the apostle’s total character should not be overlooked.

THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1From Pharisaism to Christianity. In addition to the statement in Philippians 3:5, Paul makes some biographical comments in Galatians 1:13, 14: “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” It is clear that Paul had made a total religious commitment to his Pharisaic heritage. But what precisely did that mean? The difficulty in answering that question arises from two problems. One is the issue of how 1st-century Pharisaism should be characterized; the other is the debate that has raged over the relation between Paul’s religious background and his conversion to Christianity.

The first issue may be dealt with briefly. Paul’s own statement in Galatians 1:14 provides an important key, namely, his reference to “the traditions of my fathers.” That phrase is equivalent to “the traditions of the elders,” used by the Pharisees to criticize Jesus’ conduct (Mk 7:5). It refers to the rabbinic “oral law,” a body of legal biblical interpretation that played an authoritative role among the Pharisees. Unfortunately, much of that interpretation was characterized by a tendency to relax the stringency of God’s commands, and the Pharisees were often in danger of thinking that they had satisfied the divine requirements (cf. esp. Mt 5:20, 48; Lk 19:9–14). This religious background is clearly reflected in Philippians 3:9, where Paul, obviously referring to his pre-Christian experience, speaks of “a righteousness of my own that comes from the law.”

This fact leads naturally to the second difficulty: how do we relate Paul’s background to his conversion? Some scholars have argued forcefully that Protestants have interpreted Paul’s conversion in the light of Martin Luther’s experience. This reading, they add, is quite misleading, for there is no evidence that Paul was moved to embrace Christianity out of a sense of guilt. In fact, they say the term “conversion” should not even be used since Paul himself speaks rather of a “call” (e.g., Gal 1:15).

There are some valid insights in the charge that Protestantism has placed too much emphasis on “the introspective conscience of the West” (so Krister Stendahl), but it would be a serious mistake to suggest that Luther and the Reformers misunderstood Paul’s experience at a fundamental level. Part of the debate focuses on the meaning of Romans 7:7–25, especially such a statement as the following: “Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died” (v 9). Whether this and subsequent verses should be understood as biographical or not is a question that has divided exegetes for a long time.

However, the significance of Philippians 3 is clear. In verse 6 of that chapter, Paul characterizes his pre-Christian life as “blameless” with reference to legal obedience. Since he can hardly mean that he was (or had earlier thought he was) free from sin, the statement reflects the same attitude expressed by the Pharisee in the parable of Luke 18:9–14, namely, religious self-satisfaction and a lack of sense for the need to cry out for divine mercy. Whether Paul went through a period of guilt (comparable to Luther’s) before he surrendered to the claims of the gospel is not known. What matters is that he came to view the knowledge of Jesus Christ as incomparably superior to what he had earlier known. In the light of the gospel, his previous advantages and accomplishments, great as they were, could only be regarded as rubbish (Phil 3:7, 8).

With regard to Paul’s pre-Christian attitude to the gospel, one thing is certain—he was opposed to it with his whole heart. In his apostolic letters he speaks of his previous hatred for the church (e.g., Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6). Paul does not say explicitly why he felt this way, but there are some hints. In 1 Corinthians 1:23, for example, he speaks of the crucifixion of Christ as a stumbling block to the Jews; and in Galatians 3:13 he quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 (“Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree”) as evidence that Christ, by dying on the cross, became a curse for us. It seems reasonable to infer that Paul, along with many other Jews, viewed the preaching of the gospel as blasphemy. How could these Christians regard as Messiah (God’s anointed) a lowly man who suffered a criminal’s death and received the divine curse itself? Not surprisingly, this theme would become a basic one in Paul’s own proclamation of the gospel.

paul on road to damascus

At any rate, Paul did become a Christian, and thanks to the Book of Acts we are well informed regarding this event. According to chapter 8, not only did he give approval to Stephen’s stoning, but soon after that he “began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (vv 1, 3). Not satisfied, he decided to pursue the disciples as far away as Damascus. The sequel is familiar to all Bible students. As he and his traveling party approached Damascus, a light flashed and a voice said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” The One speaking identified himself as “Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:1–5; cf. also 22:4–8 and more fully 26:9–18). Unable to see anything, he followed the Lord’s instructions and waited in Damascus. Ananias, a disciple, was sent to speak to Paul, restore his sight, and baptize him (Acts 9:6–19).

The street called “straight”
The street called “straight” (Acts 9:11) in Damascus.

Early Ministry.

Damascus. To the surprise of everyone who had heard of Paul’s enmity toward the church, the new apostle began to preach the gospel vigorously and convincingly. According to Galatians 1:17, 18, Paul spent some three years in Damascus and its environs. His ministry, however, eventually drew opposition and he had to escape from Damascus. Upon his return to Jerusalem, the Christians at first could not bring themselves to trust the one who had earlier persecuted them so fiercely, but Barnabas, a highly respected leader in the church, made it possible for Paul to receive a hearing (Acts 9:23–27).

Jerusalem. At once he resumed his preaching, and the Acts narrative gives us a significant clue regarding the distinctiveness of Paul’s ministry. According to 9:29 Paul “talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.” The significance of this statement is that it draws a suggestive parallel between Paul’s preaching and Stephen’s ministry. The story that describes Stephen’s selection as a deacon is set in the context of conflicts within the church between Greek-speaking, partially Hellenized Jews and those who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic (Acts 6:1; the latter were natives of Palestine and probably stricter in their observance of the Jewish ceremonies). Since Stephen himself belonged to the Greek-speaking community, this is where he took his ministry; indeed, he spoke powerfully as he presented the gospel to the Jews of Cyrene, Alexandria, and other foreign places (vv 8, 9).

Paul_Bible Character_01

To judge by the Jews’ subsequent accusations (that he spoke against the temple and the OT customs, vv 11–14), it seems that an important theme in Stephen’s preaching was the newness of the gospel message and therefore the secondary importance of the Jewish traditions. This is probably the best explanation for the violent reaction of the Jews against him. Up to this point, the Jewish leaders, though annoyed by the preaching of the apostles, put up with it (see esp. Acts 5:27–40). Now, however, that preaching may have taken a new twist that threatened in a fundamental way the Jewish establishment. So significant was this turn of events that it led to Stephen’s death and the persecution of the Christians.

It can be said that, in a very important sense, Paul took up Stephen’s mantle. Bible students have long recognized that Luke, as he wrote the Book of Acts, appears to picture Stephen as a precursor of the great apostle to the Gentiles. More recently, scholars have become increasingly aware of the significance of this connection in the light of the serious Jewish-Gentile conflicts experienced by the early church. During its first years, the Christian church was totally Jewish and it was taken for granted that it would remain so. In spite of persecution from their countrymen, it does not seem to have occurred to the early Christians that the gospel might affect their evaluation of Jewish observances. They continued to circumcise their boys, to attend the sacrifices at the temple, to keep the sabbath, to make Nazirite vows, to avoid association with Gentiles, and so on.

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Probably because of his Hellenistic background, Stephen was apparently one of the first Christian leaders to raise questions about these matters. Perhaps reflecting Jesus’ own remarks about the transitory character of the temple (cf. Jn 2:19; 4:21–24), Stephen challenged his hearers’ assumptions in clear terms (Acts 7:44–53). Paul too had a Hellenistic background, and one wonders whether his earlier enmity toward Stephen may have been occasioned in part by fear that Stephen was possibly correct. Whether guilt over Stephen’s death played a part in Paul’s conversion—and in his later decision to take up the ministry to Hellenistic Jews—is much too speculative.

What matters is that Paul did, in fact, pick up where Stephen had left off. This ministry once again aroused the ire of the Jews, and so the believers in Jerusalem, concerned for Paul’s life and no doubt fearing that a new wave of persecution might be unleashed, sent the apostle off to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). According to Galatians 1:18–24, Paul’s stay in Jerusalem had lasted only two weeks, and most of the Christians there and in the outlying areas had no personal acquaintance with him. Subsequent events suggest strongly that from the beginning of his ministry Paul’s distinctive interests and emphases created special tensions. While it would be an exaggeration to say that the Jerusalem church was opposed to him (note esp. Gal 1:24), it is certain that some individuals and groups entertained doubts about his ministry. The Christians in Judea had no desire to break off their ties with Judaism, and preachers like Paul who emphasized the antithesis between it and the gospel could easily be perceived as troublemakers or worse.

The apostle Paul preaches to a man

Tarsus and Antioch. The time Paul spent in Tarsus and other parts of Cilicia must be regarded as “dark years” in his ministry, since virtually nothing is known about his activities during this period. Luke gives us no information in Acts, and the casual reader might infer that this was a relatively brief period. In Galatians 2:1, however, Paul says that 14 years elapsed from the time of his conversion (or possibly from the time he was sent off to Tarsus) to the time of an important meeting with the Jerusalem apostles. The identification of this visit to Jerusalem is a major point of controversy among scholars, but even if the earliest possible date for it is taken, the year A.D. 46, it appears that Paul spent at the very least 9 years in Tarsus before he became a prominent figure in the early church. It has been suggested that some of the experiences listed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:23–27 (perhaps also the revelations mentioned in 12:1–10) may have taken place during these “dark years,” but even if this thesis is correct, there are little more than generalities to back it up. It is a most intriguing fact that the great apostle to the Gentiles spent the first decade of his ministry in relative obscurity, virtually unknown by the vibrant early church in Jerusalem.

At least one leader in the Jerusalem church, however, had not forgotten Paul. Barnabas—himself a Hellenistic Jew from Cyprus—was sent by the church to Antioch of Syria, a large metropolitan center in the Middle East and the third largest city in the Roman Empire. The Christians in Jerusalem had heard that the gospel was being preached with great success in Antioch. Some of them probably were concerned about reports that this evangelistic effort had been extended to the “Greeks,” and this represented quite an innovation.

Sometime earlier Peter had by revelation brought the gospel to Cornelius, a “God-fearer,” that is, a Gentile who was sympathetic to Judaism and probably attended the synagogue services but who was not willing to adopt Judaism completely. The Christians who accompanied Peter were astonished to find out that a non-Jew was granted the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44–46), and when the church in Jerusalem heard about his visiting a Gentile, Peter was under considerable pressure to explain his actions (11:1, 3). His explanation satisfied the church (see v 18), but obviously not everyone was happy.

In any case, the news that Antiochene Gentiles (presumably “God-fearers” too, though there is some disagreement about this) were being received into the church suggested that some supervision might be required. The Jerusalem leaders wisely chose Barnabas, no doubt because he, like some of the “evangelists” in Antioch, was from Cyprus; certainly someone was needed who enjoyed the confidence of both parties. Barnabas was greatly encouraged by what he saw in Antioch (Acts 11:22–24). The work was so large and promising that he traveled to nearby Tarsus and persuaded Paul to help him with this work. “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people” (Acts 11:26).

Because of the great famine of a.d. 46, predicted by the prophet Agabus, the Christians in Antioch sent a gift to Jerusalem by the hand of Barnabas and Paul (Acts 11:27–30). According to some scholars, this “famine visit” is to be identified with that related by Paul in Galatians 2:1–10. In any case, Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch, taking along with them John Mark, Barnabas’s cousin (Acts 12:25).

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Ministry in Asia Minor and Syria.

First Missionary Journey. Beginning with chapter 13, the Book of Acts focuses almost exclusively on the missionary work of Paul. Under direct divine guidance, the church in Antioch sent him and Barnabas, with Mark as helper, to spread the gospel abroad. Sailing from the port city of Seleucia, they traveled to Cyprus, Barnabas’ home country. When they reached the city of Paphos, a significant event took place: the proconsul Sergius Paulus, after witnessing the miraculous blinding of a sorcerer, responded to the preaching of the gospel. It is at this point in the narrative (Acts 13:9) that Luke tells us for the first time that Saul was also called Paul. Some have thought that Paul adopted this name as a result of this incident and in honor of the proconsul Sergius Paulus, but Luke certainly does not say that, and it seems unlikely anyway (Paul would almost surely have been given a Roman name at birth.)

The significance of this information should be tied to the fact that, while up to this point Luke has referred to the party as “Barnabas and Saul,” from now on he uses the expression “Paul and his companions” (v 13) or “Paul and Barnabas” (v 43, etc.; the only real exception is 15:12). There appears to have been, therefore, not merely a name change, but a shift of leadership, and possibly a change in the party’s missionary strategy. It has been suggested, with good reason, that the conversion of Sergius Paulus signaled a fundamentally new development. Prior to this incident, the reception of Gentiles into the church seems to have been limited to “God-fearers,” that is, individuals who already had a point of contact with Jewish tradition. Quite possibly, the proconsul’s conversion was the first instance of a Gentile who was received as part of God’s people without the intermediary role of the synagogue.

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This seems so natural to modern Christians that it is difficult to appreciate how shocking it must have sounded to Jewish ears. Indeed, it may well be that this theological problem (and not merely homesickness!) is what led Mark to abandon the missionary party and return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13; this would also help to explain why Paul was so adamantly opposed to taking Mark again at a later point, 15:36–40). Whether this interpretation of the evidence is valid or not, the fact is that Paul plays a prominent role in the subsequent narrative, and that the distinctiveness of his ministry lay in his vigorous presentation of the gospel to Gentiles in spite of Jewish opposition.

An immediate example of this is in connection with the party’s arrival in Antioch of Pisidia (inland in Asia Minor). Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in the Jewish synagogue there and received a positive response (Acts 13:42, 43), but their success led to Jewish enmity and a word of judgment had to be pronounced: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles” (v 46). Great success among the Gentiles led to further and more vigorous persecution and so they moved on to Iconium, where the same pattern developed. After visiting two other nearby cities (Lystra and Derbe), they retraced their steps, strengthening and encouraging the believers. Eventually they returned to their “headquarters” in Antioch of Syria, where they stayed for “a long time” (Acts 14:28).

Paul's Missionary Journeys02
The Apostolic Council. Chapter 15 of Acts plays a key role in the narrative, since it relates what was perhaps the most important event in early church history, the great Apostolic Council in Jerusalem (A.D. 49). Some of the Jewish Christians who were quite unhappy with the way in which Gentiles were being freely received as believers traveled to Antioch of Syria and demanded that they become Jews by submitting to circumcision (v 1). This led to intense debate and the church, no doubt deeply troubled, commissioned Paul and Barnabas to visit Jerusalem and discuss the matter with the apostles and elders there.

The Apostolic Council. Chapter 15 of Acts plays a key role in the narrative, since it relates what was perhaps the most important event in early church history, the great Apostolic Council in Jerusalem (A.D. 49). Some of the Jewish Christians who were quite unhappy with the way in which Gentiles were being freely received as believers traveled to Antioch of Syria and demanded that they become Jews by submitting to circumcision (v 1). This led to intense debate and the church, no doubt deeply troubled, commissioned Paul and Barnabas to visit Jerusalem and discuss the matter with the apostles and elders there.

Spread of Christianity

An apparently formal meeting was called and the missionaries reported on their activities. This report led to a lengthy discussion on the question of whether Gentiles should be expected to become Jewish. If this is the same meeting to which Paul refers in Galatians 2:1–10, the Gentile Titus became a test case, with the Judaizers arguing that he ought to be circumcised. Paul’s description in that passage suggests that the great “apostles of the circumcision,” James, Peter, and John, may have at first been impressed by the Judaizers’ arguments. Finally, however, Peter stood up and, reflecting on his experience with Cornelius, argued that the Gentiles’ salvation comes through grace and not by fulfilling the Jewish ceremonies (Acts 15:7–11). At that point, Barnabas and Paul gave further testimony to the mighty works of God among the Gentiles (that Barnabas is mentioned first in v 12 may reflect his prominence in that particular setting).

Having no doubt perceived a growing sense of unanimity in the council, James (who was apparently regarded as the leader of the Jerusalem church) appealed to a prophecy regarding the Gentiles in Amos 9:11, 12 and concluded that no unnecessary obstacles should be placed before believing Gentiles (Acts 15:13–21). The council drafted a letter that was taken to Antioch by Paul and Barnabas along with two men from Jerusalem, Judas Barsabbas, and Silas. The letter in effect rejected the Judaizers’ view that Gentiles must be circumcised; instead, it simply requested that gentile Christians abstain from certain practices that were offensive to the Jews. This decision was a source of great joy and encouragement for the believers in Antioch (vv 22–30).

Bible Character

It is difficult to grasp fully what a magnanimous decision this was and what a fundamental role it played in the development of early church history. The churches in Jerusalem and Judea were under great pressure to do nothing that might infuriate the unbelieving Jews; indeed, to accept Gentiles as part of the church could easily be interpreted as apostasy. Nevertheless, they were willing to suffer the consequences of their action for the sake of preserving the great principle of salvation by grace.

This great event had a major significance therefore for Paul’s ministry. His concern to preach a gospel of freedom now received the support of “the pillars of the church,” who gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship and commended them to preach among the Gentiles (Gal 2:7–9). However, the Judaizers who were so soundly defeated at the Council of Jerusalem were not all necessarily submissive to this decision. Eventually they would take more positive steps to undermine the work of the apostle.

Conflict in Antioch. It should also be noted that in spite of the significant agreement reached at the council, not all of the leaders saw the issues as clearly as Paul did. Evidence for this appears in an incident that perhaps took place soon after the council (though scholars are not agreed on this matter). According to Galatians 2:11–14, Peter visited Antioch and took it upon himself to eat with the Christian Gentiles. It could be argued that this move went beyond what the council had required. The council’s decision seemed to suggest that Christian Jews would continue practicing their customs and that Gentiles need not follow them. It did not address the question of table fellowship, however. If a Jew wanted to preserve Jewish practices, he would not be able to have this kind of fellowship with Gentiles; on the other hand, refusing to commune in this way with them implied a lack of acceptance. Accordingly, Peter chose the more generous option.

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Unfortunately, when certain strict Jews from Jerusalem came to Antioch, it seems that Peter felt ashamed of how they might interpret his actions and therefore withdrew from the Gentiles. This decision influenced other believers, even Barnabas himself. Paul, however, saw clearly that this turn of events was a blatant denial of the very principle upon which the council had agreed. By their actions, Peter and the others were in effect telling the Gentiles that they must become Jews—otherwise they would always remain second-class citizens. Not surprisingly, the apostle proceeded to rebuke Peter publicly. There is possibly a summary of the contents of Paul’s rebuke in Galatians 2:15–21. Here Paul affirms that the Law itself, by its teachings and effects, leads us to die to the Law so that we might live to God by faith in Christ. If we suggest in any way that the righteousness required by God can be obtained by our own obedience to the Law, then we are in effect saying that Christ died in vain.

Asia Minor Revisited. What is usually called Paul’s “second missionary journey” began perhaps a few months after the Council of Jerusalem. After the dispute with Barnabas over the advisability of taking along Mark, Paul chose as his new companion Silas, who no doubt had strongly supported the council’s decision. Traveling on land, the party went through Cilicia, surely visiting Tarsus, then on to the cities of Derbe and Lystra, where churches had been established earlier. In Lystra, Paul was apparently impressed with a young man named Timothy who had never been circumcised even though his mother was Jewish. Paul wanted to take him along and, in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts with Jews (who might consider Timothy an apostate), he had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:1–3). Luke makes a point of telling about this, perhaps to make clear that Paul had no objections whatever to a Jew retaining his cultural identity; he also states, for example, that some years later Paul himself took on a Jewish vow (18:18).

Paul and Timothy

Ministry in Macedonia and Achaia.

Philippi. Paul’s travels eventually took him to the port city of Troas, on the western coast of Asia Minor. Here he had the well-known vision of a Macedonian asking him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (16:9). At this point in the narrative the author of Acts begins to refer to the missionary party, not as “Paul and his companions,” but rather as “we” (v 10). It appears therefore that Luke joined the party in Troas (indeed, some speculate that he was the Macedonian who appeared in Paul’s vision) and that he accompanied them to Philippi, Paul’s first major stop in what is now called Europe.

Since the author drops the “we” in describing Paul’s departure from Philippi, it may well be that Luke was left in charge of the new Christian congregation in that city. That congregation consisted of Lydia and other influential women (such as Euodia and Syntyche, Phil 4:2, 3), and their faithful support of the apostle’s labor stands as one of the most beautiful examples of Christian commitment in the pages of the NT (cf. 2 Cor 8:1–5; Phil 4:14–19).

Paul’s stay in Philippi was cut short on account of his having exorcised a divining spirit from a slave girl. The girl’s owners had profited considerably from her fortune-telling, so when they “realized that their hope of making money was gone” they accused Paul and Silas of “throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice” (Acts 16:19–21). The two men were severely flogged, put in prison, and fastened in the stocks.

Miraculously, about midnight, while they were singing hymns, an earthquake shook the prison, the doors were opened, and all the chains came loose. When the jailer woke up, he assumed that the prisoners had escaped and, to save his honor, prepared to kill himself. Paul assured him, however, that no one had escaped. The jailer, acknowledging the evidence of God’s work in the ministry of the apostle, asked how he could be saved. “Believe in the Lord Jesus,” they replied, “and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens. The next morning the city officials decided to release Paul and Silas, but now Paul accused them of punishing Roman citizens without due process. Alarmed, the officials apologized and requested them to leave. Soon after that they traveled west to the capital of Macedonia, Thessalonica. Following the usual pattern, Paul spoke powerfully to the Jews, some of whom were persuaded by his preaching. The majority, however, were angered and started a riot. They accused Paul and Silas of political sedition against Caesar (Acts 17:6, 7), precipitating their flight south to Beroea. As soon as the Thessalonian Jews heard of this they went to Beroea as well. The agitation was such that the believers took Paul to the coast, boarded a ship with him, and headed for Athens.

According to 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2, Timothy must have joined Paul in Athens soon after this. The apostle, however, was intensely concerned about the welfare of the Thessalonians, whom he had left after only a few weeks of ministry (1 Thes 2:17–20; cf. Acts 17:2). Unfortunately, as he says, Satan prevented him from returning to the church, a remark that may allude to some recurrent physical ailment. (cf. 2 Cor 12:7, 8; Gal 4:13–15. On the slim basis of Acts 23:1–5 and Gal 6:11, some have argued that Paul suffered from an eye disease. Perhaps better is the suggestion that he contracted malaria when he reached Asia Minor in his first journey, but this too is speculative.) At any rate, Paul decided to send Timothy back to Thessalonica. His form of expression in 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:10 suggests strongly that this was a period of great loneliness and stress for him (note also 1 Cor 2:3, in which Paul tells the church in Corinth that he first came to them, right after his experiences in Athens, “in weakness and fear, and with much trembling”).

All that Luke says in his narrative of Acts 17:16–34 is that Paul was distressed to witness the idolatry of the city, preached to both Jews and God-fearers, and began to dispute with the city’s philosophers. Their interest piqued, the philosophers brought Paul to a formal meeting of the Areopagus, where he challenged their idolatry and proclaimed the only God as the one who commands people to repent, because he will judge everyone through Jesus, whom he raised from the dead (vv 22–31). Paul’s reference to the resurrection was more than they could take, however, and they dismissed him, some courteously, others mockingly.

Corinth. During this time Paul had been anxiously waiting for Timothy’s return and for news of the situation in Thessalonica. Perhaps discouraged, he left Athens and traveled to Corinth, a very busy commercial center in the province of Achaia. Some time later Timothy and Silas joined Paul in Corinth.

Timothy’s report was very encouraging. The Thessalonians, in spite of many trials, had remained strong in their faith. At the same time, it appears that some opponents of Paul had accused him of being a charlatan, a flyby-night philosopher who had stayed in Thessalonica just long enough to cause trouble and make a profit. In addition, some of the believers, having misunderstood Paul’s teaching concerning the return of Christ, were very depressed that friends and relatives had died prior to this great event. They wondered if this meant they were lost. Others in the congregation, sure that Jesus’ return was near, thought it unnecessary to continue working and were making themselves a burden.

Immediately, Paul sat down to write a letter to these believers. It is quite likely that 1 Thessalonians is the earliest of Paul’s letters (many prominent scholars, however, believe that Galatians is even earlier). The thrust of this letter is generally positive. He does however defend himself against the apparent charges of dishonesty (cf. 2:1–12). He encourages them in their difficult times of trial (2:13–16; 3:2–10), reminds them of their need for sanctification (4:1–12), and clarifies the doctrines associated with the second coming of Christ (4:13–5:11).

Christian Elders and Paul

Soon after, while Paul was still in Corinth, he found it necessary to write a second letter to the Thessalonians. Perhaps some of the believers had further misunderstood Paul’s teaching; perhaps a false letter had been circulated (2 Thess 2:2). In any case, 2 Thessalonians gives further instruction regarding the end times as well as more severe warnings to those who remain idle (2 Thess 3:6–15).

Although Luke says nothing about this correspondence, he does give some interesting information regarding Paul’s ministry in Corinth, which lasted more than 18 months (Acts 8:11, 18). With the support of an influential Christian couple, Aquila and Priscilla, Paul preached in the synagogue until, as usual, Jewish opposition forced him to focus his ministry on Gentiles. It seems clear that the Christian congregation in Corinth, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, flourished dramatically (cf. vv 8–10). Luke also mentions that at one point the Jews brought Paul to trial.

Nothing came of this, but the incident is of some importance because Luke identifies the proconsul as Gallio (vv 12–17), whose name is otherwise attested. According to an inscription, Gallio served as proconsul of the province of Achaia beginning in the year 51 (possibly 52), and thus Paul’s second missionary journey can be dated with relative precision as covering the years 50–52 (it began no earlier than 49 and it ended no later than 53), that is, when Paul was in his early 40s.

Third Missionary Journey.

Ministry in Ephesus. On his way back to Antioch, Paul stopped to visit the great port city of Ephesus, on the southwestern coast of Asia Minor. The apostle was no doubt impressed with the potential of this metropolitan center for the spread of the gospel and he determined to return (Acts 18:18–21). It is not know how long it was before Paul set out on his third missionary journey (Luke merely tells us that he spent “some time in Antioch,” v 23). For this trip Paul appears to have followed the same route he had traveled on the previous journey, except instead of heading northwest to Troas he went to Ephesus, as he had planned (18:23; 19:1).

spread-of-christianity

His stay in Ephesus was long, productive, and stormy. As usual, he began to preach in the synagogue; as usual, opposition drove him away (19:8, 9). His ministry lasted for more than two years and the gospel spread throughout the large province of Asia (v 10). Luke also relates two major incidents: an exorcism that led to many conversions (vv 13–17) and a riot provoked by craftsmen (vv 23–40). The latter, who fashioned shrines for the goddess Artemis, were losing money as a result of Paul’s success. Paul was not directly affected by the uproar. Luke may have emphasized the incident as evidence that officials could find nothing legally wrong with Paul’s activities.

The Corinthian Problem. Some important events took place, however, that Luke does not mention at all. Paul had sent, perhaps at the beginning of this journey, a letter to the Corinthian Christians in which he warned them of associating with disobedient believers (1 Cor 5:9). He had also mentioned to this church that he was raising a collection for the poor in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1). While in Ephesus, however, Paul received reports that the church in Corinth was experiencing severe problems, particularly divisions within the congregation (1 Cor 1:11, 12). Immorality, disruptions in the worship services, confusions about the resurrection, and several other evils threatened the spiritual life of this church. Moreover, the church itself had written a letter to Paul requesting instruction about such matters as marriage and divorce, meat offered to idols, spiritual gifts, and the method Paul was using for his collection (1 Cor 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1).

The apostle was confronted with a massive task, and his long first letter to the Corinthians was his attempt to deal with the problem. It appears that the church as a whole did not respond positively to this letter. Encouraged by a certain false apostle who opposed Paul, the members resisted the apostle’s authority. Paul found it necessary to pay a “painful visit” to Corinth (not recorded in Acts, but alluded to in 2 Cor 2:1; cf. 13:1). This too was unsuccessful, so Paul sent Titus as his representative. It is probable that Titus carried with him a written ultimatum (the “sorrowful letter” mentioned in 2 Cor 2:4 and 7:8, though some scholars believe these verses refer to 1 Cor). In any case, Paul instructed Titus to attempt to resolve the problem and to meet him in Troas (cf. 2 Cor 2:12, 13).

The Galatian Problem. During this difficult time in Ephesus, Paul was also facing one of the most serious challenges to his ministry. Reports from the churches in Galatia (Iconium, Lystra, Derbe) indicated that Judaizers had visited these Christians and largely persuaded them that Paul, who had received his teaching and authority from the Jerusalem apostles (James, Peter, John), was a renegade who could not be trusted. Quite impressed by the Judaizers’ arguments, the Galatians listened to their claim that Gentiles ought to be circumcised and observe the Jewish rites.

Paul, deeply disturbed by these reports, feared that the Galatian churches were at the point of committing apostasy: adopting the Judaizers’ position meant abandoning the freedom of the gospel, salvation by grace (Gal 1:6–9; 2:15–21; 3:1–5; 4:8–11; 5:2–4). Accordingly, his Letter to the Galatians is full of polemics, with some very harsh statements against the false teachers (esp. 5:7–12). In it he denies absolutely that he received his gospel from the other apostles, for it came to him as a revelation from God himself (1:11–17); he also argues very carefully that the true heirs of Abraham are not those who are his physical descendants but those who, whether Jews or Gentiles, believe in God’s promise as Abraham himself believed (3:7–29). Unfortunately, there is no evidence of how these churches responded to Paul’s letter, though the apostle’s expression of confidence (e.g., 5:10) indicates that they would have recognized the truth of his message.

(It should be pointed out that many conservative scholars do not think it possible that the Letter to the Galatians could have been written as late as the third missionary journey. In their opinion, the letter was written many years earlier, prior to the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, usually dated in the year 49. If this early date is correct, there is reason to believe that the Galatians did repent of their error, for Paul continued to visit those churches in his subsequent journeys.)

Travel to Corinth. When Paul finally left Ephesus he went to Troas and was distressed not to find Titus there (2 Cor 2:12, 13). Concerned that perhaps Titus had met more trouble in Corinth, Paul continued on to Macedonia, probably to the city of Philippi (cf. Acts 20:1). There he did meet Titus, who reported with great joy that the Corinthians had finally come around (2 Cor. 7:5–7, 13–16). To be sure, not everything was in order. There seemed to be some hesitation, for example, with regard to supporting the collection Paul was raising. More seriously, a few individuals in the church continued to resist Paul’s authority, and their opposition had to be dealt with.

Inscribed sherds from Corinth, where Paul stayed 3 months and founded a church.

Inscribed sherds from Corinth, where Paul stayed 3 months and founded a church.

In preparation for his upcoming visit to Corinth, therefore, Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia. In this letter he expresses considerable joy at the response of the church, explains the nature of his ministry (3:1–5:21), encourages the congregation to give generously for the poor in Jerusalem (chs 8, 9), and argues vigorously against the “super-apostles” who oppose him (chs 10–13). All indications are that the response to 2 Corinthians was positive. Later Paul mentioned, for example, that the believers in Achaia (the province where Corinth was located) “were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem” (Rom 15:26). Another indirect piece of evidence is that during his three-month stay in Corinth (cf. Acts 20:2, 3) Paul wrote the great Letter to the Romans. The character of this letter—it is the lengthiest and the most carefully reasoned—out of his writings—suggests strongly that Paul enjoyed a period of relative calm in which he was able to formulate in coherent fashion his most important theological concerns.

The Letter to the Romans. The fact that Romans is so clearly theological in character has led most interpreters to ignore the historical occasion of the letter. It is important to remember, however, that during the third journey Paul had been dealing in a painful and personal way with the very issues that Romans carefully expounds. Moreover, the letter itself indicates that the apostle was anticipating controversy in the near future, upon his arrival at Jerusalem. In 15:30–32 Paul urges the believers in Rome to “struggle” in prayer with regard to this visit to Jerusalem. Paul was concerned not only about the unbelieving Jews but also about Jewish believers who might question or even oppose his work among the Gentiles and who therefore might be reluctant to accept the offering he was bringing to them.

The apostle realized that when he met the Jerusalem church he would be faced with the same objections that had been thrown at him by the Judaizers during his third journey. The calm that he was enjoying in Corinth provided him with the opportunity to gather his thoughts and to formulate in a clear and organized way his answer to those objections. Under divine inspiration, therefore, he wrote a letter that may be viewed as a systematic response to the criticisms raised by Jews against what he called his gospel, that is, his distinctive presentation to the Gentiles.

After emphasizing the sin of both Jews and Gentiles (1:18–3:20), Paul states briefly the essence of his preaching in 3:21–24—free justification, apart from the Law, to those who believe in Jesus Christ. But a Jew might object that this renders God unjust: how can a just God simply acquit the guilty? Paul’s answer is that God has not overlooked sin but condemned it by offering Christ as the atoning sacrifice (vv 25, 26). Again, it may be objected that God revealed his salvation to Abraham and that obedience to the sign of circumcision was part of the divine covenant. But Paul responds that Abraham was accounted righteous when he believed, and this happened while Abraham was still uncircumcised (4:9–12). Similarly, the charge that Paul’s preaching encouraged sinful behavior (“if obedience to the law is not necessary for salvation, Gentiles will conclude that they might as well continue sinning”) is one that the apostle answers with a three-chapter-long discussion of sanctification: those who have been justified freely have also been sanctified, they have broken their bond to sin and walk according to the Spirit (6:1–4, 15–18; 7:4–6; 8:1–8).

Most important is Paul’s handling of the unbelief of Israel in chapters 9–11. Though many view this section of the letter as parenthetical or otherwise unrelated to the previous chapters, it is more likely the very heart of the letter, for no Jewish objection to the gospel was so powerful as their claim that, if Paul’s preaching were true, then surely God’s own people would recognize it as such. The fact that the Jewish nation as a whole rejected the gospel, they claimed, could only mean one of two things: either the gospel is not true or else God’s promise has failed and his people have been rejected. Yet the apostle gives us a third option. God’s word has not failed—it is simply that being a descendant of Abraham does not make one automatically part of God’s people (Rom 9:6). Earlier in the letter he had affirmed that a true Jew is one who is circumcised, not in the flesh, but in the heart (2:28, 29); and that the true child of Abraham is one who, whether circumcised or not, follows in the steps of Abraham’s faith (4:11, 12; note the earlier discussion of Gal). Chapter 9 picks up this emphasis, relating it to God’s purpose of election (v 11), the OT concept of the remnant (v 27), the sin of the Israelites (10:16), and God’s future plans (11:25–36).

If Paul, by writing this letter, was rehearsing his upcoming “defense” in Jerusalem, why would he send the letter to Rome? Paul had for some time wanted to visit Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 19:21). He intended to fulfill those wishes as soon as he had delivered the offering to the saints in Judea (Rom 15:23–25, 28, 32). It is likely, however, that the church in Rome had some awareness of the criticisms that had been raised against Paul. In fact, this church too was experiencing some Jewish—Gentile tensions of its own (cf. Rom 11:13–21 and the debate over eating meat in ch 14). Therefore, the best way for Paul to introduce himself to the Roman Christians was by giving them a clear exposition of “his” gospel (cf. 2:16) in the context of the controversies that surrounded him.

Travel to Jerusalem. Picking up the Acts narrative at 20:3, Paul left Corinth and retraced his steps through Macedonia. He and those accompanying him stopped in Troas for a week (20:6–11), then sailed on to the island of Miletus, where the elders from nearby Ephesus came to hear a farewell from the apostle (vv 13–38). To them he mentioned that the Holy Spirit had warned him of hardships he would have to face in Jerusalem (v 23). Indeed, as the party landed in Palestine, some of the brethren in Tyre pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem; the scene repeated itself in Caesarea after the prophet Agabus prophesied that Paul would be imprisoned (Acts 21:4, 10–12). Paul was persuaded, however, that he must fulfill his mission, and he was more than ready to suffer in the name of Christ (v 13).

Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, he was met by James and the elders, who informed Paul that thousands of Jewish believers had questions about his methods and wondered whether in fact Paul was leading Jews to abandon Judaism. They suggested that Paul give evidence of his own obedience to the Law by joining four men who had made a vow and by paying for the expenses involved (21:17–24). Paul was quite willing to do this. Unfortunately, some Jews from the area around Ephesus recognized Paul and incited the crowds in the temple to riot (vv 27–30). When the Roman troops arrived on the scene, Paul was given the opportunity to speak to the crowds. He gave a ringing affirmation of his Christian faith, but as soon as he mentioned that God had commissioned him to go to the Gentiles (22:21) the crowds became unruly again.

Paul Imprisoned

Imprisonment and Death.

Caesarea. The next day Paul was brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin; on this occasion he made an issue of his belief in the resurrection, and as a result members of the Sanhedrin began to argue vigorously among themselves. (The Sadducees opposed this doctrine while the Pharisees accepted it.) The dispute led to violence and Paul was taken to the barracks (23:6–10); the following night, having been apprised of a Jewish plot to kill Paul, the commander dispatched him to Caesarea, the official residence of the Roman governor, Felix (23:12–35).

Within a week Felix gave audience to the Jewish accusers and listened both to their complaints and to Paul’s defense, but he refused to make a judgment in the hopes of receiving a bribe. As a result Paul remained imprisoned in Caesarea for two years, until the governor was replaced by Porcius Festus (24:1–27). The most likely date for this change in administration is the year 59. Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea, therefore, is usually dated about 57–59; this means that the third missionary journey would have spanned the period from 53 to 57.

Soon after Festus became governor, the Jews urged him to send Paul to Jerusalem to be tried. Paul protested, however, and, exercising his right as a Roman citizen, demanded to be tried by the emperor himself (Acts 25:1–12). Festus consulted with King Agrippa, who asked to hear Paul. Luke records a lengthy defense by Paul in chapter 26; Agrippa’s judgment was that “this man could have been set free, if he had not appealed to Caesar” (v 32).

Paul_Bible Character

To Rome. Luke also documents quite carefully the trip to Rome, including the shipwreck and the stay on the island of Malta (27:1–28:10). Upon his arrival in Rome, Paul asked to see the Jewish leaders, to whom he gave an account of his situation. They were at first receptive and Paul presented the gospel to them. While some believed, most apparently objected, for the apostle reminded them of Isaiah’s mission to blind the eyes of the people and then concluded, “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles and they will listen!” (28:17–28). The Book of Acts somewhat abruptly comes to an end with the information that Paul stayed under house arrest for two years and that he continued to preach boldly and without hindrance (vv 30, 31).

Traditionally, this two-year period is regarded as the setting for the so-called prison letters—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Many modern scholars question this opinion and prefer to view either Caesarea or Ephesus as the place from which these letters (some or all of them) were written. It is doubtful if a definitive solution to this problem will ever be reached, but there is no compelling reason to abandon the traditional view.

Apart from Philemon, which was written to deal with the very specific problem of the runaway slave Onesimus, the prison letters are characterized by an emphasis on the present enjoyment of heavenly blessings (“realized eschatology”; see esp. Eph 1:3, 13, 14; 2:4–7; Phil 1:6; 3:20; Col 3:1–4). In addition, Ephesians and Colossians are similar in their treatment of the unity of the church as the body of Christ (Eph 1:22, 23; 4:15, 16; Col 1:18, 24; 2:19). Philippians, perhaps best known for its “Christ-hymn” (2:6–11), is an important source for Paul’s teaching on joy, suffering, and sanctification (1:9–11, 21, 27–30; 2:12, 13; 3:12–14; 4:4–9).

Last Years. The evidence gathered from outside of Acts is not at all clear as to whether or not Paul was released from his imprisonment. If the Letter to the Philippians was written during this period, it can be inferred that Paul had some concern that he might be executed (cf. Phil 1:19–24; 2:17). On the other hand, he sounds rather confident that he will be released and will be able to see the Philippians again (1:25, 26; cf. also Phlm 22).

Conservative scholars have argued that Paul was indeed released after two years, since the charges against him were groundless; that he possibly traveled to Spain as he had hoped (Rom 15:24, 28); that he returned to the east, visiting Crete (Ti 1:5), Ephesus and Macedonia (1 Tm 1:3), Miletus and Corinth (2 Tm 4:20), Troas (2 Tm 4:13), and Nicopolis (on the western coast of the Greek mainland, Ti 3:12); that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus during this period of freedom; that finally he was imprisoned again after a.d. 64 (the year of the great fire in Rome, which led to the Neronian persecution of Christians); that he wrote 2 Timothy during this second imprisonment in Rome; and that he was decapitated under Nero between the years 65 and 67. Most likely, Paul was not yet 60 years old when he became a martyr for the faith.

This reconstruction of events is somewhat speculative, but it seems to account for the data more clearly than other suggestions. However, even if Paul was indeed released after the imprisonment described in Acts 28, it must be emphasized that almost nothing is known about his activities after such a release. In other words, the real significance of Paul’s ministry must be deduced from the material actually found in the Book of Acts and in the major Pauline letters. God in his wisdom had determined that Paul would be “my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15, 16). The evidence is clear: Paul was obedient to the heavenly vision (26:19), and his ministry made possible the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Mamertine prison in Rome

Mamertine prison in Rome, where, according to tradition, both Paul and Peter were imprisoned.[2]

MOISÉS SILVA

[1] Edward D. Andrews dates Jesus’ death to Nisan 14, A.D. 33 (c. 3:00 p.m., Friday) Golgotha, Jerusalem

[2] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1621–1634.

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Technological and societal change is all around us. What does the future hold? Trying to predict the future is difficult, but we can get a clue from the social and technological trends in our society. The chapters in this book provide a framework as Christians explore the uncharted territory in our world of technology and social change.

CHRISTIANS AND GOVERNMENT: A Biblical Point of View

Government affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to politics and government. This book provides an overview of the biblical principles relating to what the apostle Paul calls “governing authorities” (i.e., government) with specific chapters dealing with the founding principles of the American government. This includes an examination of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers.

CHRISTIANS AND ECONOMICS A Biblical Point of View

Economics affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to money, investment, borrowing, and spending. They also need to understand the free enterprise system and know how to defend capitalism. Chapters in this book not only look at broad economic principles, but a section of the book is devoted to the challenges we face in the 21st century from globalization and tough economic times. A section of the book also provides an in-depth look at other important social and economic issues (gambling, welfare) that we face every day

Christian Apologetics

REASONABLE FAITHREASONABLE FAITH: Saving Those Who Doubt 

Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or the church, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” Ours is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the truthfulness of his Word, the Bible. A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION of REASONABLE FAITH is on healing for the elements of emotional doubt. However, much attention is given to more evidenced-based chapters in our pursuit of overcoming any fears or doubts that we may have or that may creep up on us in the future.

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP: The Word of God Is Authentic and TrueDEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP: The Word of God Is Authentic and True

How true is the Old Testament? For over two centuries Biblical scholars have held to the so-called documentary hypothesis, namely, that Genesis-Deuteronomy was not authored by Moses, but rather by several writers, some of whom lived centuries after Moses’ time. How have many scholars …

Agabus CoverDEFENDING AGABUS AS A NEW TESTAMENT PROPHET: A Content-Based Study of His Predictions In Acts by Sung Cho

Agabus is a mysterious prophetic figure that appears only twice in the book of Acts. Though his role is minor, he is a significant figure in a great debate between cessationists and continualists. On one side are those who believe that the gift of prophecy is on par with the inspired Scriptures, infallible, and has ceased. On the other side are those who define it as fallible and non-revelatory speech that continues today in the life of the church. Proponents of both camps attempt to claim …

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DIEWHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DIE?: Should You Be Afraid of Death or of People Who Have Died?

People grow old, get sick, and die. Even some children die. Should you be afraid of death or of anybody who has died? Do you know what happens if we die? Will you ever see your dead loved ones again? “If a man dies, shall he live again?” asked the man Job long ago. (Job 14:14) Did God originally intend for humans to die? Why do you grow old and die? What is the Bible’s viewpoint of death? What is the condition of the dead? Are the dead aware of what is happening around them? What hope is there for the dead?

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM: A Biblical Point of ViewUNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM: A Biblical Point of View

Islam is making a significant mark in our world. It is perhaps the fastest-growing religion in the world. It has become a major obstacle to Christian missions. And Muslim terrorists threaten the West and modern democracies. What is the history of Islam? What do Muslims believe? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Why do we have this clash of civilizations? Is sharia law a threat to modern democratic values? How can we fight terrorists in the 21st century? These are significant questions that deserve thoughtful answers …

IS THE QURAN The WORD OF GOD?: Is Islam the One True Faith?IS THE QURAN THE WORD OF GOD?: Is Islam the One True Faith?

IS THE QURAN THE WORD OF GODIs Islam the One True Faith? This book covers the worldview, practices, and history of Islam and the Quran. This book is designed as an apologetic evangelistic tool for Christians, as they come across Muslims in their daily lives, as well as to inform …

REASONS FOR FAITH: The First Apologetic Guide For Christian Women on Matters of The Heart, Soul, and MindREASONS FOR FAITH: The First Apologetic Guide For Christian Women on Matters of The Heart, Soul, and Mind

If you have the desire to become better equipped to reach others for the lost or to strengthen your faith, Judy Salisbury’s guide—written specifically to meet the needs of Christian women today—offers you a safe, practical, and approachable place to start. In her lively, …

BIBLICAL CRITICISM: What are Some Outstanding Weaknesses of Modern Historical Criticism?BIBLICAL CRITICISM: What are Some Outstanding Weaknesses of Modern Historical Criticism

Historical Criticism of the Bible got started in earnest, known then as Higher Criticism, during the 18th and 19th centuries, it is also known as the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation. Are there any weakness to the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation …

BIBLICAL CRITICISM: Beyond the BasicsBIBLICAL CRITICISM: Beyond the Basics

Biblical criticism is an umbrella term covering various techniques for applying literary historical-critical methods in analyzing and studying the Bible and its textual content. Biblical criticism is also known as higher criticism, literary criticism, and historical criticism. Biblical …

CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM: Reaching Hearts with the Art of PersuasionCHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM: Reaching Hearts with the Art of Persuasion

APOLOGETICS: Reaching Hearts with the Art of Persuasion by Edward D. Andrews, author of seventy-two books, covers information that proves that the Bible is accurate, trustworthy, fully inerrant, and inspired by God for the benefit of humankind. The reader will be introduced to Christan …

REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses: Examining the History of the Watchtower Translation and the Latest Revision

REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is going to challenge your objectivity. Being objective means that personal feelings or opinions do not influence you in considering and representing facts. Being subjective means that your understanding is based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or ideas. If the reader finds these insights offense, it might be a little mind control at work from years of being told the same misinformation repeatedly, so ponder things objectively …

REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES: Sharing CHRIST as You Help Others to Learn about the Mighty works of God

Use of REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES should help you to cultivate the ability to reason from the Scriptures and to use them effectively in assisting others to learn about “the mighty works of God.” – Acts 2:11. If Christians are going to be capable, powerful, efficient teachers of God’s Word, we must not only pay attention to what we tell those who are interested but also how we tell them. Yes, we must focus our attention on…

REASONING WITH THE WORLD’S VARIOUS RELIGIONS: Examining and Evangelizing Other Faiths

God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) God has assigned all Christians the task of proclaiming the Word of God, teaching, to make disciples. (Matt. 24:15; 28:19-20: Ac 1;8 That includes men and women who profess a non-Christian religion, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam to mention just a few. If there are Hindus, Buddhist or Muslims are in your community, why not initiate a conversation with them? Christians who take the Great Commission seriously cannot afford to ignore these religions…

CONVERSATIONAL EVANGELISM: Defending the Faith, Reasoning from the Scriptures, Explaining and Proving, Instructing in Sound Doctrine, and Overturning False Reasoning, [Second Edition]CONVERSATIONAL EVANGELISM, [Second Edition]

Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Today the …

THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST: Always Being Prepared to Make a Defense [Second Edition]THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST: Always Being Prepared to Make a Defense [Second Edition]

MOST Christian apologetic books help the reader know WHAT to say; THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST is HOW to communicate it effectively. The Christian apologist words should always be seasoned with salt as we share the unadulterated truths of Scripture with gentleness and respect. Our example …

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK: How All Christians Can Effectively Share God's Word in Their Community, [SECOND EDITION]THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK: How All Christians Can Effectively Share God’s Word in Their Community, [SECOND EDITION]

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK is a practical guide (for real-life application) in aiding all Christians in sharing biblical beliefs, the Good News of the kingdom, how to deal with Bible critics, overturning false beliefs, so as to make disciples, as commanded by Christ. Matthew 24:14; …

YOUR GUIDE FOR DEFENDING THE BIBLE: Self-Education of the Bible Made Easy [Third Edition]YOUR GUIDE FOR DEFENDING THE BIBLE: Self-Education of the Bible Made Easy [Third Edition]

The reader will receive eight small introductory books in this one publication. Andrews’ intention is to offer his reader several chapters on eight of the most critical subject areas of understanding and defending the Word of God. This will enable the reader to lay a solid foundation for …

THE CULTURE WAR: How the West Lost Its Greatness & Was Weakened From WithinTHE CULTURE WAR: How the West Lost Its Greatness & Was Weakened From Within 

The Culture War. How the West lost its greatness and was weakened from within outlines how the West lost its values, causing its current decline. It is a forceful attack on the extreme liberal, anti-religious ideology which since the1960’s has permeated the Western culture and …

EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE FIRST CENTURY Jesus' Witnesses to the Ends of the EarthEARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE FIRST CENTURY Jesus’ Witnesses to the Ends of the Earth

EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE FIRST CENTURY will give its readers a thrilling account of first-century Christianity. When and how did they come to be called Christians? Who are all obligated to be Christian evangelists? In what way did Jesus set the example for our evangelism? What is the …

CRISIS OF FAITH: Saving Those Who DoubtCRISIS OF FAITH Saving Those Who Doubt 

Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or congregation, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” OURS is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the …

Investigating Jehovah's Witnesses: Why 1914 Is Important to Jehovah?s WitnessesINVESTIGATING JEHOVAH?S WITNESSES: Why 1914 Is Important to Jehovah?s Witnesses

The intention of this book is to investigate the biblical chronology behind Jehovah’s Witnesses most controversial doctrinal position that Jesus began to rule invisibly from heaven in October 1914. This biblical chronology of the Witnesses hinges upon their belief that the destruction of …

Translation and Textual Criticism

THE COMPLETE GUIDE to BIBLE TRANSLATION: Bible Translation Choices and Translation Principles [Second Edition]THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BIBLE TRANSLATION: Bible Translation Choices and Translation Principles [Second Edition] 

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BIBLE TRANSLATION (CGBT) is for all individuals interested in how the Bible came down to us, as well as having an insight into the Bible translation process. CGBT is also for those who are interested in which translation(s) would be the most beneficial to use.

CHOOSING YOUR BIBLE: Bible Translation DifferencesCHOOSING YOUR BIBLE: Bible Translation Differences

There are more than 150 different Bible translations in the English language alone. Some are what we call literal translations, which seeks to give the reader the exact English equivalent of what was written in the original language text, thus allowing the reader access to the actual Word …

THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT The Science and Art of Textual CriticismTHE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Science and Art of Textual Criticism

THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT was copied and recopied by hand for 1,500 years. Regardless of those scribes who had worked very hard to be faithful in their copying, errors crept into the text. How can we be confident that what we have today is the Word of God? Wilkins and Andrews …

MISREPRESENTING JESUS: Debunking Bart D. Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" [Third Edition]MISREPRESENTING JESUS: Debunking Bart D. Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” [Third Edition]

Edward D. Andrews boldly answers the challenges Bart D. Ehrman alleges against the fully inerrant, Spirit-inspired, authoritative Word of God. By glimpsing into the life of Bart D. Ehrman and following along his course of academic studies, Andrews helps the reader to understand the …

Biblical Studies

HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE: Rightly Handling the Word of GodHOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE: Rightly Handling the Word of God

A comprehensive book on HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE by observing, interpreting, and applying, which will focus on the most basic Bible study tools, principles, and processes for moving from an in-depth reading of the Scriptures to application. What, though, if you have long felt that you are …

THE NEW TESTAMENT: Its Background, Setting & ContentTHE NEW TESTAMENT: Its Background, Setting & Content

…the author’s intended meaning to his original readers and how that meaning can then apply to us. Marshall gives you what you need for deeper and richer Bible study. Dr. Lee M. Fields writes, “‘Deep’ study is no guarantee that mature faith will result, but shallow study guarantees …

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST: What Do You Know About Jesus? [Updated and Expanded]THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST: What Do You Know About Jesus? [Updated and Expanded] 

The life of Christ is an exhaustless theme. It reveals a character of greater massiveness than the hills, of a more serene beauty than the stars, of sweeter fragrance than the flowers, higher than the heavens in sublimity and deeper than the seas in mystery. As good Jean Paul has …

THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL: The Apostle to the Nations [Updated and Expanded]THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL: The Apostle to the Nations [Updated and Expanded] 

Stalker’s Life of St. Paul became one of the most widely read and respected biographies of the Apostle to the Gentiles. As an insightful compendium on the life of Paul, this work is of particular interest to pastors and teachers who desire to add realism and vividness to their account of …

INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical HermeneuticsINTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics

Delving into the basics of biblical interpretation, Edward D. Andrews has provided a complete hands-on guide to understanding what the author meant by the words that he used from the conservative grammatical-historical perspective. He teaches how to study the Bible on a deep, scholarly …

HOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE: An Introduction to HermeneuticsHOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE: An Introduction to Hermeneutics

…Linguistic and literary factors are analyzed so that the various genres of Scripture are examined for their true meaning. The importance of having sound principles of interpretation cannot be overstated as to ignore them will result in all manner of erroneous assumptions. Beville presents …

THE CHURCH COMMUNITY IN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE: Evangelism and Engagement with Postmodern PeopleTHE CHURCH COMMUNITY IN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE: Evangelism and Engagement with Postmodern People

Once upon a time, Postmodernism was a buzz word. It pronounced Modernism dead or at least in the throes of death. It was a wave that swept over Christendom, promising to wash away sterile, dogmatic and outmoded forms of church. But whatever happened to postmodernism? It was regarded …

DEVELOPING HEALTHY CHURCHES: A Case-Study in RevelationDEVELOPING HEALTHY CHURCHES: A Case-Study in Revelation

church. It offers an appointment with the Great Physician that no Christian can afford to ignore. Developing Healthy ChurchesA Case-Study in Revelationbegins with a well-researched outline of the origins and development of the church health movement. With that background in mind the …

DYING TO KILL: A Christian Perspective on Euthanasia and Assisted SuicideDYING TO KILL: A Christian Perspective on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

…liberties in a multi-cultural society that is becoming increasingly secular. This work provides an ethical framework in which euthanasia and assisted suicide can be evaluated. These issues are on the radar indicating a collision course with Christian values. It is time for Christians to be …

JOURNEY WITH JESUS THROUGH THE MESSAGE OF MARK: Experience the Ministry of Jesus in a Spiritually Captivating WayJOURNEY WITH JESUS THROUGH THE MESSAGE OF MARK

Journey with Jesus through the Message of Mark is an insightful and engaging survey of Mark‘s Gospel, exploring each major section of the text along with key themes. It is a work that can be enjoyed by laypersons as well as pastors and teachers. Pastors will find the abundant use …

ANGELS & DEMONS: The Bible AnswersANGELS & DEMONS The Bible Answers

What are angels & demons? Can angels help us? What does the Bible say about angels? What is the truth about angels? Can Angels affect your life? Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2? Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:2? Who is Michael the archangel? Can Satan the Devil control …

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT The Christian Worldview

An Encouraging Thought elucidates the ways in which Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are informed by and communicate a biblical worldview. This book will help readers appreciate the ways in which a biblical worldview informs Tolkien’s work, to the end that their own faith may be confirmed in strength, focused in understanding, deepened in joy, and honed in its ability to communicate the Gospel.

Bible Doctrines

WHERE ARE THE DEAD? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithWHERE ARE THE DEAD? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

What is the Bible’s viewpoint? Without delving into an endless stream of what man has said, Andrews looks at what the Bible says about death and the like. Why do we grow old and die? What happens at death? Is there life after death, or is this all there is? Do we have an immortal soul? …

IDENTIFYING THE ANTICHRIST: The Man of Lawlessness and the Mark of the Beast RevealedIDENTIFYING THE ANTICHRIST: The Man of Lawlessness and the Mark of the Beast Revealed

Herein Andrews will give the reader exactly what the Bible offers on exposing who the Antichrist and the Man of Lawlessness are. If we look at the texts that refer to the antichrist and the man of lawlessness, we will have lines of evidence that will enable us to identify them. Why is it …

UNDERSTANDING THE CREATION ACCOUNT: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithUNDERSTANDING THE CREATION ACCOUNT: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Throughout the Scriptures, God is identified as the Creator. He is the One “who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it.” [Isa 45:18] He is the One “who forms mountains and creates the wind” (Am 4:13) and is the One “who made the heaven and …

The SECOND COMING of CHRIST: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithThe SECOND COMING of CHRIST: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who …

WHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithWHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in …

Miracles? - Do They Still Happen Today?: God Miraculously Saving People’s Lives, Apparitions, Speaking In Tongues, Faith HealingMIRACLES – DO THEY STILL HAPPEN TODAY? God Miraculously Saving People’s Lives, Apparitions, Speaking In Tongues, Faith Healing 

Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place. There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that are often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve …

HOMOSEXUALITY - The BIBLE and the CHRISTIAN: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithHOMOSEXUALITY – The BIBLE and the CHRISTIAN: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the …

Daily Devotionals

DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS: Growing Up In Christ

Young ones and teens, you are exposed to complex problems that your parents may not understand. Young Christians, you are bombarded with multiple options for solving everyday problems through social media. Where do you turn to find answers? Where can you look to find guidance from Scripture? In order to provide a Christian perspective to problem-solving, the author of this devotional book decided to take a different approach.

DEVOTIONAL FOR TRAGEDYDEVOTIONAL FOR THOSE COPING WITH TRAGEDY: A Journey Back to God

This devotional book follows the author’s own faith journey back to God. Significant life events can shake our world and distort our faith. Following life’s tragedies, a common reaction is to become angry with God or to reject Him altogether. Examples of tragedies or traumas include life-changing events such as physical or sexual assault, destruction of one’s home, the tragic death of a loved one, diagnoses of terminal diseases, divorce, miscarriages, or being a victim of a crime. Tragedies or traumas can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt.

DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERSDEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS: Finding Strength Through Faith 

Throughout the book, common themes emerge to support caregivers. The reader will find interesting Bible Scriptures, offering a Christian perspective, for handling issues that may arise. These inspiring passages will assist the caregiver in finding peace and faith as they travel their journey as a caregiver. Although caregivers may not know how long they will play this role, they take on the responsibility without any question. Taking care of others is often mentioned in the Bible and, as noted in this devotional, this self-sacrificing, highly valued, and often challenging service will ultimately be rewarded.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL Daily Musings From the Old Testament

Humans must breathe in the air of our atmosphere to survive. Many cities because of pollution face a dangerous level of contamination in their air. However, an even more deadly air affects both Christians and nonChristians. Ordinary methods or devices cannot detect this poisonous air.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Daily Musing From the New Testament

Paul counseled, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2) It is, for this reason, Marshall has penned the DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Daily Musings From the New Testament, which can help us be protected against Satan’s efforts at controlling our mind and heart.  For each day of the year, DAILY DEVOTIONAL provides a Daily Bible Reading and comments for consideration.

BREAD OF HEAVEN: Daily Meditations on Scripture

BREAD OF HEAVEN helps the reader to have a greater understanding of the timeless truths of Scripture and a deeper appreciation of the grandeur of God. It offers meditations on selected Scriptures which will draw the reader’s attention upwards to the Savior.

Christian Fiction

THE DIARY OF JUDAS ISCARIOT: How to Keep Jesus at Arm's LengthTHE DIARY OF JUDAS ISCARIOT: How to Keep Jesus at Arm’s Length

…desert but none of such significance as a handful of scrolls retrieved from a buried Roman satchel (presumed stolen) at this site. The discovery has since come to be known as ‘The Diary of Judas Iscariot.’ In The Diary of JudasIscariot Owen Batstone relates the observations and feelings …

THE SECRET HIDEAWAYTHE SECRET HIDEAWAY ON BRIDGETON HILL

Rachael Garrison knows all the shrewd ways to successfully close multi-million-dollar real estate deals with her father’s famous New York real estate enterprise. But beyond her savvy to rake in huge deals is her premonition that an impending global takeover of the world’s financial wealth is on the horizon by evil leaders of The Great Ten Nations. From New York City to the Irish Hills of Michigan, and into the streets of Detroit her life takes on enormous purpose as

THE RAPTURE: God’s Unwelcomed WrathTHE RAPTURE: God’s Unwelcomed Wrath

Kevin Trill struggles with the notion that he may have missed the Rapture. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a solid gold pocket watch, he sets off towards Garbor, a safe haven for those who haven’t yet taken the mark of thebeast. While on his way to Garbor, he meets up …

SEEKERS AND DECEIVERS: Which One are You? It Is Time to Join the Fight!

There grew an element in the valley that did not want to be ruled by the Light of the Word. Over time, they convinced the people to reject it. As they started to reject this Light, the valley grew dim and the fog rolled in. The people craved the darkness rather than the Light because they were evil. They did not want to  …

The Shadow Flames of Uluru: Book ONE in the CHAOS DOWN UNDER 

When an ancestor saddles them with the responsibility to purge Australia of a demon threatening to wipe our humanity with black flames, fraternal siblings Amber and Michael Hauksby lay their lives on the line. As the world crumbles around them into chaos, and ancient marsupials wreak havoc in their hometown, they must journey into …

WRITE PLACE, RIGHT TIME: The Pre-Apocalyptic Misadventure of a Freelance Journalist 

“Write Place, Right Time” follows the pre-apocalyptic misadventures of freelance journalist Don Lamplighter. While on what he expects to be a routine Monday night trip to a village board meeting, Lamplighter’s good nature compels him to help a stranded vehicle. Little does he know that by saving one of the car’s occupants, he sets forth a chain of what to him seem to be unrelated events where he must use his physical and social skills to save himself and others from precarious situations.

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