Last Updated 19 Mar 2017

Paul of Tarsus

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Paul of Tarsus or Saint Paul is considered by many Christians today to be the most important disciple of Jesus, and beside this the second important found in the development of Christianity. Saint Paul had a major impact on the spread of Christianity, contributing to the underlying unity of the religious tradition by helping expand Jesus’ original teachings into a developed integrated belief system. The reason why Paul of Tarsus was one of the most significant persons in Christianity is because of his contributions of the development of Christianity, establishing it as a destructive and flourishing tradition.

Some of Paul’s contributions were his missionary journeys. Paul’s mission journeys are best understood as systematic plan to take Christianity to Gentiles. His Roman citizenship helped him in considering how widespread Christianity could be. The Christian missions as the disciples understood it was a Jewish mission; the preparations for the end of time involved only the chosen people. Paul’s great innovation was the successful expansion of the Christian mission to include Gentiles; in the end, this was why Christianity survived as a religion. Paul’s Missionary Journeys worksheet). Although many of Paul’s teachings have been contributed in the formation of Christianity, his teachings have also caused many controversies for the faith. This started with his controversial championing of the Gentiles but also caused other strong divisions in early Christianity. Other elements of Paul’s teachings eventually stimulated the Reformation- the pre-eminent schism in the history of Christianity.

In addition, still others of Paul’s words cause controversy for the modern Christian Church in ‘his’ insistence on a subservient role for women and his condemnation of homosexuality. As a member of the Hellenic world, Paul recognised the relevance of the message of Christianity beyond the Jewish faith. He became an advocate for the inclusion of the Gentiles among the true followers of Christianity. Until Paul’s challenge, Jewish Christians believed that non-Jews had to convert to Judaism and follow the law, which included restrictions and circumcision.

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Gentiles who worship in the synagogue but did not become proselytes were called god-fearers and were only second-class citizens in the synagogue. As the Gentiles did not follow kashruth, many Christian Jews refused to eat with Christian Gentiles, believing them to be unclean and not acceptable. This had implications for church fellowship and for the ritual celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Paul challenged this belief, (Galatians 2: 11-14) most strongly at the Council of Jerusalem in 50 CE.

This lead to the decision by the early Christian leaders to enable Gentiles as well as Jews to be followers of Jesus of Nazareth and to call themselves Christians. Permitting freedom from the laws of kashruth and circumcision allowed Christianity to spread more freely amongst the Gentiles and is why Paul is so significant today. (Christianity vs. Judaism worksheet). Paul’s writings on social issues were just as influential on the life and beliefs of the Christian culture, and are still considered part and parcel of the broader Christian doctrine by the more conservative Christians.

Paul condemned sexual immorality; homosexuality in particular, apparently based on the strict moral laws of the Old Testament, as well as presumably his own private revelation form the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:9f; Eph, 5:21-33). Some of his other dictums included device to his contemporaries not to marry in the expectation of the near return of Jesus and the Apocalypse; and the command to young men who have trespassed by sleeping with a woman to marry her, a notion that remained prominent in the European culture and the English Common Law until relatively recently.

His statements are also apparently critical of women holding visible roles in church leadership. Paul may have been ambivalent towards slavery, saying that pending the near return of Jesus, people should focus on their faith and not on their social status (1 Cor. 7:21f). Due to his authority, these views have had an influence in Western society into modern times; Paul’s failure to explicitly condemn slavery in his Epistle to Philemon may have been sometimes interpreted as justifying the ownership of human beings.

Paul of Tarsus helped extend Christianity and had a greater impact on the early religion than anyone else. His connections and Roman citizenship allowed him to spread the Gospel more easily. His wealth helped the poor, which provided good public relations. Paul's rejection of circumcision and founding of the Roman church allowed the religion to thrive and survive the Jewish Revolt. This significance made Christianity become a separate faith shaped by Paul’s vision of salvation through the Risen Savior, which helped with the expression and development of Christianity today.

Although not of all Paul’s letter are established as being from the hand of Paul, all of them show the dominance of his theory. Each of Paul’s letters shared a common purpose- uniting the new believers behind a common theology. Paul was excited about being able to minister at last in this church, and everyone was well aware of that fact (Romans 1:8-15). The letter to the Romans was written from Corinth; however, the significance of Romans if far greater than its relevance just to that city.

The Book of Romans is primarily a work of doctrine and can be divided into four sections: righteousness needed, 1:18–3:20; righteousness provided, 3:21–8:39; righteousness vindicated, 9:1–11:36; righteousness practiced, 12:1–15:13. Paul first condemns all men of their sinfulness. He expresses his desire to preach the truth of God’s Word to those in Rome. It was his hope to have assurance they were staying on the right path. He strongly points out that the gospel (Romans 1:16) is the power by which everyone is saved outlining his belief in the risen Christ.

The Book of Romans speaks about God, who He is, and what He has done, of Jesus Christ, and what His death accomplished. Paul points out that God did not demand men have their lives straightened out before coming to Christ. From this letter Paul purpose in writing was to proclaim the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ by teaching doctrine and edifying and encourage the believers who would receive his letter. These principles remain at the core of Christian teaching today, partly due to the forces into which Paul presented them.

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