“The Christian has always a double life and a double address.” – James Barclay
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–” Ephesians 3:1
Many historians believe that Paul was probably born in 5 AD in Tarsus. Saul, as he was then called, studied at the feet of Gamaliel in Jerusalem. The same year Saul would turn 25, Christ was crucified. It seems likely that Saul could have been present in Jerusalem for Christ’s crucifixion, although he doesn’t mention it in his epistles. Saul was definitely in Jerusalem only two years after the crucixion, approving of Stephen’s death.
On the day of Stephen’s death, Saul began to destroy the church. Believers fled from Jerusalem to escape the persecution. Saul pursued them, leaving Jerusalem for Damascus with letters from the high priest that granted him permission to arrest Jewish Christians.
And then Saul went “over the wall,” going as wrong as it was possible to go in the eyes of the Jews.
Not for Saul a simple conversion to The Way. Everything changed, including his name.
Paul, the new man, immediately started his new work, and spent the next thirty years converting Gentiles to The Way all over the Roman Empire. During his ministry, Paul stood in the presence of the great and the small to testify about Christ’s love for all mankind.
Paul, once beloved and admired in Jerusalem, took Jesus’s place as the most hated man in Jerusalem. All the love for Saul of Tarsus, student of the great rabbi Gamaliel, was burnt up by a fiery hatred. The pent-up outrage in Jerusalem exploded against him on his fifth return to the city over false charges that he had brought a Gentile into the temple. A mob attacked Paul, dragged him out of the temple, and tried to kill him. The Roman soldiers arrested Paul, for his protection and to keep the peace.
Unbelievably, Paul was allowed to speak to the mob, and they actually listened. But at the end of his speech, Paul recounted Christ’s charge: “‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ The crowd listened until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, ‘Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!'” Acts 22:21-22
Paul was imprisoned twice. In a sense, Paul could attribute his imprisonments to be for the sake of the Gentiles, and not only the Ephesians, to whom he wrote, but for the sake of all Gentiles everywhere.
Paul considered himself to be a prisoner of Christ. At the time he wrote the letter to the Ephesian church, he awaited trial before Nero. He knew he was probably going to die for his beliefs. But Paul was content to be Christ’s prisoner, his sufferings all for Christ, to bring the lost–especially the Gentiles–to Christ.
Resource: Timeline of the Apostle Paul
- The Question of Works (christsreflections.wordpress.com)
- Messages that are not preached today! (allanblog.me)
- The Author of Ephesians: Paul (24emmausroad.wordpress.com)