Paul and the Greek World

Paul’s unique privilege was to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and he was certain about his calling:

The calling to be an apostle to the Greeks:

  1. But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; (Acts 9:15)
  2. “For thus the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU SHOULD BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'” (Acts 13:47)
  3. And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood [be] upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6)
  4. Delivering you from the [Jewish] people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, (Acts 26:17) that the Christ was to suffer, [and] that by reason of [His] resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23)

The writings that he was an apostle to the Greeks:

  1. And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. (Romans 1:13)
  2. But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, (Romans 11:13)
  3. To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, that [my] offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:16)
  4. Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. And it was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but [I did so] in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But [it was] because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) –well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter [had been] to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in [his] apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we [might go] to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. [They] only [asked] us to remember the poor–the very thing I also was eager to do. (Galatians 2:1-10)
  5. For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– (Ephesians 3:1) To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, (Ephesians 3:8)
  6. And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:7)
  7. For which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. (2 Timothy 1:11)

Paul’s citizenship in Tarsus – no small pride:

  1. But Paul said, “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:39)
  2. “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today. (Acts 22:3)

Paul’s citizenship in Rome – brought fear to those beating him:

  1. But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.” And the policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. And they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. (Acts 16:37-39)
  2. The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way. And when they stretched him out with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” And when the centurion heard [this,] he went to the commander and told him, saying, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman.” And the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said, “Yes.” And the commander answered, “I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.” And Paul said, “But I was actually born [a citizen.]” Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let go of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains. But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them. (Acts 22:24-30)
  3. But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these [charges]?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to [the] Jews, as you also very well know. “If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is [true] of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then when Festus had conferred with his council, he answered, “You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go.” (Acts 25:9-12)

Paul was proud of his Roman citizenship – two kinds of citizenship. Commercium – trading rights and Connubium – marriage rights, which it is clear that Paul enjoyed full citizenship.

  1. Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. (Romans 13:1-5)
  2. First of all, then, I urge that entreaties [and] prayers, petitions [and] thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
  3. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing [mother] tenderly cares for her own children. (1 Thessalonians 2:6-7)

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.

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