Paul and the Early Church
Christian Church, which arose in the first century, declared about itself not only as the Mystical Body of Christ but the subject of the spiritual and social life. The church had to overcome many difficult social obstacles barring the way to execution of its higher purpose. Interacting with many diverse individuals and corporate social subjects that made up the Roman world, the Church became embroiled in different conflicts and had to take on the heavy burden of conflict interaction.
To take a decent social and moral position and not to allow imposing an alien model of hostile, antagonistic interaction, the Church had to develop social consciousness. Christian thinkers, men of apostolic, apologists, the Fathers of the Church, and scholastic theologians set about their works of its development (Lossl, 2010). It is worth mentioning that the Church would not exist without Apostles. Christ, as the “cornerstone” of the Church, entrusted all the care of its creation to Apostles. They became its “basis”.
When the Church was founded, Christ was not with it (visibly), and Apostles had to convey the message of Christ to those who did not know Him and to share their experience of communion with God. Perceiving the apostolic preaching, people obtained the spiritual freedom and became a royal priesthood. The Apostle Paul said that God’s revelations were priority to him. Paul had to spend a lot of effort in order to confirm his apostleship and the right to teach with authority. Even before the Church, Apostles noticed that there were preachers who did not go for them. A great variety of doctrines and opinions in early Christianity can be compared with the modern confessionalism.
Religious groups worshiping Christ but rejecting Apostles appeared (Lossl, 2010). One of twelve Apostles, advocating the doctrine about Christ, was the Apostle Paul. St. Paul, originally bore a Hebrew name Saul, was born in the city of Tarsus (a part of modern Turkey), which was then known for its Greek academy and the education of its residents. Paul had the right of Roman citizenship.
In Tarsus, Paul received his first education and, probably, he acquainted with the pagan culture. There were traces dating from pagan writers in his speeches and writings. He received subsequent education in Jerusalem, in a famous rabbinical academy. Young Saul was preparing to be a rabbi (a religious teacher). That is why immediately after his education and training, he showed himself as a strong zealot of pharisaic traditions and persecutors of the Christian faith. By appointment of the Sanhedrin, he witnessed the death of the protomartyr Stephen.
Then he got a power to persecute Christians even outside Palestine in Damascus (Marrow, 1986). The Lord, seeing him as a “chosen vessel” on the road to Damascus, called him to the apostolate. During the trip Saul was lighted with bright light, from which he fell to the ground blind. He heard the voice of the Lord from light. God commanded Saul to go to Damascus, where he would be instructed what to do. Saul’s companions heard the voice of Christ, but they did not see the light.
Being led by hands to Damascus, blind Paul was taught the faith. He was baptized on the third day. At the time of immersion in water, Saul recovered his sight. Since then, he became a zealous preacher of formerly persecuted doctrie. At the time he went to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus to preach about Christ. Rage of the Jews was on the rise by his conversion to Christ.
It forced him to flee to Jerusalem, where he joined the community of believers and met with Apostles. When the Hellenists attempted to kill him, he went to his native Tarsus. He was summoned by Barnabas to Antioch to preach, and then he traveled with him to Jerusalem. Soon after his return from Jerusalem, at the behest of the Holy Spirit, Saul with Barnabas went on their first missionary journey, which lasted from 45 to 51 years. Apostles walked the island of Cyprus.
During the time of the missionary journey, Christian communities were founded by Paul and Barnabas in cities Pisidian, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. In 51, St. Paul took part in the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem, where he rose against the need for the Gentiles, who became Christians, to observe rituals of the Mosaic Law.Returning to Antioch Paul, accompanied by the Force, undertook his second missionary journey. At first he visited churches in Asia and then moved to Macedonia, where he founded the community in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. In Lystra, St.
Paul purchased his favorite pupil Timothy. From Troas he continued his journey with St. Luke, who joined to them. St. Paul went to Greece from Macedonia, where he preached in Athens and Corinth. Hence he sent two letters to the Thessalonians.
In his first letter, he wrote about the “fate of the Christians who understand death until the coming of Christ”. Paul comforts them that all who live with Christ in their souls will not be lost in the resurrection. The fate of those who died before Christ’s return will not be different from those who will find Christ’s return while still being alive. The dead will be raised. We are certified the resurrection of Christ.
People have the hope of resurrection and should not grieve like the Gentiles, who do not know about the resurrection of the dead. This phenomenon will happen on the earth, where they will meet together. After that, all will be caught up together in the air space to meet the Lord, with Whom they will be forever. Then the Apostle Paul turns to the question of the date of the appearing. It is found that the timing of the resurrection cannot be identified. The date is hidden.
That day will come as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5: 1 – 2). The Apostle Paul’s answers opened new questions. Some certain external signs (apparently persecution of the synagogue on Christian community had critical shade) accompanied it. The main reason was that someone sent a forged letter to the Thessalonians, allegedly on behalf of Paul, alleging that the coming of Christ had already come or coming (2 Thess.
2: 1 – 2). This prompted Paul to write his second letter. The aim of the second message was the same as the first to inform about the teaching of revelation of the Second Coming of Christ and calm people that could make wrong conclusions from his first message. The Apostle writes to the Thessalonians not to become discouraged in their oppression that they suffer from the Jews. At the Second Coming the righteous judgment of God will come, and the oppressed will be justified.
People, who do not believe in the Lord, will expect eternal destruction. Apostle raises the issue of time of the second coming of Christ and speaks of the Antichrist, which should appear before tthe coming of the Lord. The Apostle insists on appearing of the man of sin. St. Paul went to Jerusalem, visiting on his way Ephesus, Caesarea, and Antioch.
After a short stay in Antioch, Paul took the third missionary journey. According to his custom, he visited previously based churches in Asia at first and then stopped at Ephesus, where he spent two years in a daily sermon in the school of Tyrannus. He wrote his letter to the Galatians from there (about the rise of the Judaizing party) and the first letter to the Corinthians. A rising of people by silversmith Demetrius against Paul made the Apostle leave Ephesus. He went to Macedonia and then to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, due to the uprising against him, Paul was arrested by Roman authorities and was imprisoned.
It happened in 59, and two years later, the Apostle Paul, as a Roman citizen, was sent to Rome to the court of Caesar. From Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the Philippians, the Colossians, the Ephesians and Philemon, a resident of the Colossus.The further fate of the Apostle Paul is not exactly known. Some believe that he stayed in Rome and at the command of Nero was martyred in the year 64. However, there is a reason to believe that after two years of imprisonment and protection of the business before the Senate and the Emperor, Paul was released and traveled back to the East. Instructions for this can be found in his “pastoral letters” to Timothy and Titus.
After spending a long time on the island of Crete, he left Titus his disciple to ordain presbyters in every city, indicating the ordination of Titus in a bishop of Cretan church. Later in his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul instructed him how to perform duties of a bishop. The same message shows that he intended to spend the winter in Nikopol, near his native Tarsus. An overall look at the life of the Apostle Paul shows that it is sharply divided into two parts. Prior his conversion to Christ, Saint Paul was a strict Pharisee, an executor of the Law of Moses and fathers’ traditions.
They thought to be justified by observing the Law, and zeal for the faith of their fathers, which reached up to fanaticism. After his conversion to Christ, he became the Apostle of Christ wholly devoted to the cause of spreading the Gospel. He was happy in his vocation but conscious of his own impotence in the performance of this high service. He attributed all his deeds and merits to the grace of God. All of Paul’s life before his conversion to Christ, according to his deep conviction was an error, a sin and led him to the conviction.
Only the grace of God retrieved him from this pernicious delusion. Since that time, Paul tried to be worthy only of God’s grace and did not shy away from his calling. He was aware that there can be no questions of any merit in front of God. Everything was His grace. The Apostle Paul wrote 14 letters, which are the systematization of Christian doctrine. These messages, thanks to its wide formation and discernment, are very distinctive.
Paul, as well as the Apostle Peter, worked hard to spread the Christian faith. He is honored to be “a pillar” of the Church and the preeminent Apostle. The Apostle Paul, as well as the Apostle Peter, died as martyrs in Rome during the reign of Nero, and their memory is celebrated on the same day.