Keith Hunt - Church History #7 - Page Seven   Restitution of All Things

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History of the Church #7

The Apostle Paul


From the multi-volume work by Philip Schaff
(late 1800s)



We now approach the apostle of the Gentiles who decided the
victory of Christianity as a universal religion, who labored
more, both in word and deed, than all his colleagues, and who
stands out, in lonely grandeur, the most remarkable and
influential character in history. His youth as well as his
closing years are involved in obscurity, save that he began a
persecutor and ended a martyr, but the midday of his life is
better known than that of any other apostle, and is replete with
burning thoughts and noble deeds that can never die, and gather
strength with the progress of the gospel from age to age and
country to country.

Saul or Paul was of strictly Jewish parentage, but was born, a
few years after Christ, in the renowned Grecian commercial
and literary city of Tarsus, in the province of Cilicia, and
inherited the rights of a Roman citizen. He received a learned
Jewish education at Jerusalem in the school of the Pharisean
Rabbi, Gamaliel, a grandson of Hillel, not remaining an entire
stranger to Greek literature, as his style, his dialectic method,
his allusions to heathen religion and philosophy, and his occa-
sional quotations from heathen poets show. Thus, a "Hebrew of the
Hebrews," yet at the same time a native Hellenist, and a Roman
citizen, he combined in himself, so to speak, the three great
nationalities of the ancient world, and was endowed with all the
natural qualifications for a universal apostleship. He could
argue with the Pharisees as a son of Abraham, of the tribe of
Benjamin, and as a disciple of the renowned Gamaliel, surnamed
"the Glory of the Law." He could address the Greeks in their own
beautiful tongue and with the convincing force of their logic.   
Clothed with the dignity and majesty of the Roman people, he
could travel safely over the whole empire with the proud
watchword: Civis Romanus sum.

This providential outfit for his future work made him for a while
the most dangerous enemy of Christianity, but after his
conversion its most useful promoter. The weapons of destruction
were turned into weapons of construction. The engine was
reversed, and the direction changed; but it remained the same
engine, and its power was increased under the new inspiration.

The intellectual and moral endowment of Saul was of the highest
order. The sharpest thinking was blended with the tenderest
feeling, the deepest mind with the strongest will. He had Semitic
fervor, Greek versatility, and Roman energy. Whatever he was, he
was with his whole soul. He was "totus in illis," a man of one
idea and of one purpose, first as a Jew, then as a Christian.    
His nature was martial and heroic. Fear was unknown to him -
except the fear of God, which made him fearless of man. When yet
a youth, he had risen to high eminence; and had he remained a
Jew, he might have become a greater Rabbi than even Hillel or
Gamaliel, as he surpassed them both in original genius and
fertility of thought.

Paul was the only scholar among the apostles. He never displays
his learning, considering it of no account as compared with the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ, for whom he suffered the
loss of all things, but he could not conceal it, and turned it to
the best use after his conversion. Peter and John had natural
genius, but no scholastic education; Paul had both, and thus
became the founder of Christian theology and philosophy.


His training was thoroughly Jewish, rooted and grounded in the
Scriptures of the Old Covenant, and those traditions of the
elders which culminated in the Talmud. He knew the Hebrew and
Greek Bible almost by heart. In his argumentative epistles, when
addressing Jewish converts, he quotes from the Pentateuch, the
Prophets, the Psalms, now literally, now freely, sometimes
ingeniously combining several passages or verbal reminiscences,
or reading between the lines in a manner which betrays the
profound student and master of the hidden depths of the word of
God, and throws a flood of light on obscure passages. He was
quite familiar with the typical and allegorical methods of
interpretation; and he occasionally and incidentally uses
Scriptural arguments, or illustrations rather, which strike a
sober scholar as far-fetched and fanciful, though they were quite
conclusive to a Jewish reader. But he never bases a truth on such
an illustration without an independent argument; he never
indulges in the exegetical impositions and frivolities of those 
"letter-worshipping Rabbis who prided themselves on suspending
dogmatic mountains by textual hairs." Through the revelation of
Christ, the Old Testament, instead of losing itself in the desert
of the Talmud or the labyrinth of the Kabbala, became to him a
book of life, full of types and promises of the great facts and
truths of the gospel salvation. In Abraham he saw the father of
the faithful, in Habakkuk a preacher of justification by faith,
in the paschal lamb a type of Christ slain for the sins of the
world, in the passage of Israel through the Red Sea a
prefigurement of Christian baptism, and in the manna of the
wilderness a type of the bread of life in the Lord's Supper.
The Hellenic culture of Paul is a matter of dispute, denied by
some, unduly exalted by others. He no doubt acquired in the home
of his boyhood and early manhood a knowledge of the Greek
language, for Tarsus was at that time the seat of one of the
three universities of the Roman empire, surpassing in some
respects even Athens and Alexandria, and furnished tutors to the
imperial family. His teacher, Gamaliel, was comparatively free
from the rabbinical abhorrence and contempt of heathen
literature. After his conversion he devoted his life to the
salvation of the heathen, and lived for years at Tarsus,
Ephesus, Corinth, and other cities of Greece, and became a Greek
to the Greeks in order to save them. It is scarcely conceivable
that a man of universal human sympathies, and so wide awake to
the deepest problems of thought, as he, should have under such
circumstances taken no notice of the vast treasures of Greek
philosophy, poetry, and history. He would certainly do what we
expect every missionary to China or India to do from love to the
race which he is to benefit, and from a desire to extend his
usefulness. Paul very aptly, though only incidentally, quotes
three times from Greek poets, not only a proverbial maxim from
Menander, and a hexameter from Epimenides, which may have passed
into common use, but also a halfhexameter with a connecting
particle, which he must have read in the tedious astronomical
poem of his countryman, Aratus (about B.C. 270), or in the
sublime hymn of Cleanthes to Jupiter, in both of which the
passage occurs. He borrows some of his favorite metaphors from
the Grecian games; he disputed with Greek philosophers of
different schools and addressed them from the Areopagus with
consummate wisdom and adaptation to the situation; some suppose
that he alludes even to the terininology of the Stoic philosophy
when he speaks of the "rudiments" or "elements of the world." He
handles the Greek language, not indeed with classical purity and
elegance, yet with an almost creative vigor, transforming it into
an obedient organ of new ideas, and pressing into his service the
oxymoron, the parono masia, the litotes, and other rhetorical
figures. Yet all this does by no means prove a regular study or
extensive knowledge of Greek literature, but is due in part to
native genius. His more than Attic urbanity and gentlemanly
refinement which breathe in his Epistles to Philemon and the
Philippians, must be traced to the influence of Christianity
rather than his intercourse with accomplished Greeks. His
Hellenic learning seems to have been only casual, incidental, and
altogether subordinate to his great aim. In this respect he
differed widely from the learned Josephus, who affected Attic
purity of style, and from Philo, who allowed the revealed truth
of the Mosaic religion to be controlled, obscured, and perverted
by Hellenic philosophy. Philo idealized and explained away the
Old Testament by allegorical impositions which he substituted for
grammatical expositions; Paul spiritualized the Old Testament and
drew out its deepest meaning. Philo's Judaism evaporated in
speculative abstractions, Paul's Judaism was elevated and
transformed into Christian realities.


Saul was a Pharisee of the strictest sect, not indeed of the
hypocritical type, so witheringly rebuked by our Saviour, but of
the honest, truth-loving and truth-seeking sort, like that of
Nicodemus and Gamaliel. His very fanaticism in persecution arose
from the intensity of his conviction and his zeal for the
religion of his fathers. He persecuted in ignorance, and that
diminished, though it did not abolish, his guilt. He probably
never saw or heard Jesus until he appeared to him at Damascus.   
He may have been at Tarsus at the time of the crucifixion and
resurrection.  But with his Pharisaic education he regarded Jesus
of Nazareth, like his teachers, as a false Messiah, a rebel, a
blasphemer, who was justly condemned to death. And he acted
according to his conviction. He took the most prominent part in
the persecution of Stephen and delighted in his death. Not
satisfied with this, he procured from the Sanhedrin, which had
the oversight of all the synagogues and disciplinary punishments
for offences against the law, full power to persecute and arrest
the scattered disciples. Thus armed, he set out for Damascus, the
capital of Syria, which numbered many synagogues. He was
determined to exterminate the dangerous sect from the face of the
earth, for the glory of God.  But the height of his opposition
was the beginning of his devotion to Christianity.


On the subordinate questions of Paul's external condition and
relations we have no certain information. Being a Roman citizen,
he belonged to the respectable class of society, but must have
been poor; for he depended for support on a trade which he
learned in accordance with rabbinical custom; it was the trade of
tent-making, very common in Cilicia, and not profitable except in
large cities.
He had a sister living at Jerusalem whose son was instrumental in
saving his life.
He was probably never married. Some suppose that he was a
widower. Jewish and rabbinical custom, the completeness of his
moral character, his ideal conception of marriage as reflecting
the mystical union of Christ with his church, his exhortations to
conjugal, parental, and filial duties, seem to point to ex-
perimental knowledge of domestic life. But as a Christian
missionary moving from place to place, and exposed to all sorts
of hardship and persecution, he felt it his duty to abide alone.

He sacrificed the blessings of home and family to the advancement
of the kingdom of Christ.

His "bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible" (of
no value), in the superficial judgment of the Corinthians, who
missed the rhetorical ornaments, yet could not help admitting
that his "letters were weighty and strong." Some of the greatest
men have been small in size, and some of the purest souls
forbidding in body. Socrates was the homeliest, and yet the
wisest of Greeks. Neander, a converted Jew, like Paul, was short,
feeble, and strikingly odd in his whole appearance, but a rare
humility, benignity, and heavenly aspiration beamed from his face
beneath his dark and bushy eyebrows. So we may well imagine that
the expression of Paul's countenance was highly intellectual and
spiritual, and that he looked "sometimes like a man and sometimes
like an angel."

He was afflicted with a mysterious, painful, recurrent, and
repulsive physical infirmity, which he calls a "thorn in the
flesh," and which acted as a check upon spiritual pride and
self-exultation over his abundance of revelations. He bore the
heavenly treasure in an earthly vessel and his strength was made
perfect in weakness. But all the more must we admire the moral
heroism which turned weakness itself into an element of strength,
and despite pain and trouble and persecution carried the gospel
salvation triumphantly from Damascus to Rome.


The conversion of Paul marks not only a turning-point in his
personal history, but also an important epoch in the history of
the apostolic church, and consequently in the history of mankind.
It was the most fruitful event since the miracle of Pentecost,
and secured the universal victory of Christianity.
The transformation of the most dangerous persecutor into the most
successful promoter of Christianity is nothing less than a
miracle of divine grace. It rests on the greater miracle of the
resurrection of Christ. Both are inseparably connected; without
the resurrection the conversion would have been impossible, and
on the other hand the conversion of such a man and with such
results is one of the strongest proofs of the resurrection.
The bold attack of Stephen - the forerunner of Paul - upon the
hard, stiff-necked Judaism which had crucified the Messiah,
provoked a determined and systematic attempt on the part of the
Sanhedrin to crucify Jesus again by destroying his church. In
this struggle for life and death Saul the Pharisee, the bravest
and strongest of the rising rabbis, was the willing and accepted

After the martyrdom of Stephen and the dispersion of the
congregation of Jerusalem, he proceeded to Damascus in pursuit of
the fugitive disciples of Jesus, as a commissioner of the
Sanhedrin, a sort of inquisitor-general, with full authority and
determination to stamp out the Christian rebellion, and to bring
all the apostates he could find, whether they were men or women,
in chains to the holy city to be condemned by the chief priests.

Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world, known in the
days of Abraham, and bursts upon the traveller like a vision of
paradise amidst a burning and barren wilderness of sand; it is
watered by the never-failing rivers Abana and Pharpar (which
Naaman of old preferred to all the waters of Israel), and
embosomed in luxuriant gardens of flowers and groves of tropical
fruit trees; hence glorified by Eastern poets as "the Eye of the

But a far higher vision than this earthly paradise was in store
for Saul as he approached the city. A supernatural light from
heaven, brighter than the Syrian sun, suddenly flashed around him
at midday, and Jesus of Nazareth, whom he persecuted in his
humble disciples, appeared to him in his glory as the exalted
Messiah, asking him in the Hebrew tongue: "Shaul, Shaul, why
persecutest thou Me?" It was a question both of rebuke and of
love, and it melted his heart. He fell prostrate to the ground.
He saw and heard, he trembled and obeyed, he believed and
rejoiced. As he rose from the earth he saw no man. Like a
helpless child, blinded by the dazzling light, he was led to
Damascus, and after three days of blindness and fasting he was
cured and baptized - not by Peter or James or John, but - by one
of the humble disciples whom he had come to destroy. The haughty,
self-righteous, intolerant, raging Pharisee was changed into an
humble, penitent, grateful, loving servant of Jesus. He threw
away self-righteousness, learning, influence, power, prospects,
and cast in his lot with a small, despised sect at the risk of
his life. If there ever was an honest, unselfish, radical, and
effective change of conviction and conduct, it was that of Saul
of Tarsus. He became, by a creative act of the Holy Spirit, a
"new creature in Christ Jesus." 

We have three full accounts of this event in the Acts, one from
Luke, two from Paul himself, with slight variations in detail,
which only confirm the essential harmony. Paul also alludes to it
five or six times in his Epistles. In all these passages he
represents the change as an act brought about by a direct
intervention of Jesus, who revealed himself in his glory from
heaven, and struck conviction into his mind like lightning at
midnight. He compares it to the creative act of God when He
commanded the light to shine out of darkness. He lays great
stress on the fact that he was converted and called to the
apostolate directly by Christ, without any human agency; that he
learned his gospel of free and universal grace by revelation, and
not from the older apostles, whom he did not even see till three
years after his call. 

The conversion, indeed, was not a moral compulsion, but included
the responsibility of assent or dissent. God converts nobody by
force or by magic. He made man free, and acts upon him as a moral
being. Paul might have "disobeyed the heavenly vision." He might
have "kicked against the goads," though it was "hard" (not
impossible) to do so. These words imply some psychological
preparation, some doubt and misgiving as to his course, some
moral conflict between the flesh and the spirit, which he himself
described twenty years afterwards from personal experience, and
which issues in the cry of despair: "O wretched man that I am!   
Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" On his journey
from Jerusalem to Damascus, which takes a full week on foot or
horseback - the distance being about 140 miles - as he was
passing, in the solitude of his own thoughts, through Samaria,
Galilee, and across Mount Hermon, he had ample time for
reflection, and we may well imagine how the shining face of the
martyr Stephen, as he stood like a holy angel before the
Sanhedrin, and as in the last moment he prayed for his murderers,
was haunting him like a ghost and warning him to stop his mad

Yet we must not overrate this preparation or anticipate his riper
experience in the three days that intervened between his
conversion and his baptism, and during the three years of quiet
meditation in Arabia. He was no doubt longing for truth and for
righteousness, but there was a thick veil over his mental eye
which could only be taken away by a hand from without; access to
his heart was barred by an iron door of prejudice which had to be
broken in by Jesus himself. On his way to Damascus he was "yet
breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the
Lord," and thinking he was doing "God service;" he was, to use
his own language, "beyond measure" persecuting the church of God
and endeavoring to destroy it, "being more exceedingly zealous
for the traditions of his fathers" than many of his age, when "it
pleased God to reveal his Son in him." Moreover it is only in the
light of faith that we see the midnight darkness of our sin, and
it is only beneath the cross of Christ that we feel the whole
crushing weight of guilt and the unfathomable depth of God's
redeeming love. No amount of subjective thought and reflection
could have brought about that radical change in so short a time. 
It was the objective appearance of Jesus that effected it.

This appearance implied the resurrection and the ascension, and
this was the irresistible evidence of His Messiahship, God's own
seal of approval upon the work of Jesus. And the resurrection
again shed a new light upon His death on the cross, disclosing it
as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, as the means
of procuring pardon and peace consistent with the claims of
divine justice. What a revelation! That same Jesus of Nazareth
whom he hated and persecuted as a false prophet justly crucified
between two robbers, stood before Saul as the risen, ascended,
and glorified Messiah! And instead of crushing the persecutor as
he deserved, He pardoned him and called him to be His witness
before Jews and Gentiles! This revelation was enough for an
orthodox Jew waiting for the hope of Israel to make him a
Christian, and enough for a Jew of such force of character to
make him an earnest and determined Christian. The logic of his
intellect and the energy of his will required that he should love
and promote the new faith with the same enthusiasm with which he
had hated and persecuted it; for hatred is but inverted love, and
the intensity of love and hatred depends on the strength of
affection and the ardor of temper.

With all the suddenness and radicalness of the transformation
there is nevertheless a bond of unity between Saul the Pharisee
and Paul the Christian. It was the same person with the same end
in view, but in opposite directions. We must remember that he was
not a worldly, indifferent, cold-blooded man, but an intensely
religious man. While persecuting the church, he was "blameless"
as touching the righteousness of the law. He resembled the rich
youth who had observed the commandments, yet lacked the one thing
needful, and of whom Mark says that Jesus "loved him." He was not
converted from infidelity to faith, but from a lower faith to a
purer faith, from the religion of Moses to the religion of
Christ, from the theology of the law to the theology of the
gospel. How shall a sinner be justified before the tribunal of a
holy God? That was with him the question of questions before as
well as after his conversion; not a scholastic question merely,
but even far more a moral and religious question. For
righteousness, to the Hebrew mind, is conformity to the will of
God as expressed in his revealed law, and implies life eternal as
its reward. The honest and earnest pursuit of righteousness is
the connecting link between the two periods of Paul's life. 

First he labored to secure it by works of the law, then by
obedience of faith. What he had sought in vain by his fanatical
zeal for the traditions of Judaism, he found gratuitously and at
once by trust in the cross of Christ pardon and peace with God.  
By the discipline of the Mosaic law as a tutor he was led beyond
its restraints and prepared for manhood and freedom. Through the
law he died to the law that he might live unto God. His old self,
with its lusts, was crucified with Christ, so that henceforth he
lived no longer himself, but Christ lived in him. He was
mystically identified with his Saviour and had no separate
existence from him. The whole of Christianity, the whole of life,
was summed up to him in the one word: Christ. He determined to
know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins,
and risen again for our justification.

(that last statement was within a context Paul used. Paul
preached and taught more than just Jesus crucified for sins and
His resurrection - Paul was a complete man of "theology" and so
it is evident in his epistles - Keith Hunt)

His experience of justification by faith, his free pardon and
acceptance by Christ were to him the strongest stimulus to
gratitude and consecration. His great sin of persecution, like
Peter's denial, was overruled for his own good: the remembrance
of it kept him humble, guarded him against temptation, and
intensified his zeal and devotion. "I am the least of the
apostles," he said in unfeigned humility, "that am not meet to be
called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by
the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed
upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they
all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" This
confession contains, in epitome, the whole meaning of his life
and work.

The idea of justification by the free grace of God in Christ
through a living faith which makes Christ and his merits our own
and leads to consecration and holiness, is the central idea of
Paul's Epistles. His whole theology, doctrinal, ethical, and
practical, lies, like a germ, in his conversion; but it was
actually developed by a sharp conflict with Judaizing teachers
who continned to trust in the law for righteousness and
salvation, and thus virtually frustrated the grace of God and
made Christ's death unnecessary and fruitless.

Although Paul broke radically with Judaism and opposed the
Pharisaical notion of legal righteousness at every step and with
all his might, he was far from opposing the Old Testament or the
Jewish people. Herein he shows his great wisdom and moderation,
and his infinite superiority over Marcion and other ultra-and-
pseudo-Pauline reformers. He now expounded the Scriptures as a
direct preparation for the gospel, the law as a schoolmaster
leading to Christ, Abraham as the father of the faithful. And as
to his countrymen after the flesh, he loved them more than ever
before. Filled with the amazing love of Christ who had pardoned
him, "the chief of sinners," he was ready for the greatest
possible sacrifice if thereby he might save them. His startling
language in the ninth chapter of the Romans is not rhetorical
exaggeration, but the genuine expression of that heroic
self-denial and devotion which animated Moses, and which
culminated in the sacrifice of the eternal Son of God on the
cross of Calvary.

Paul's conversion was at the same time his call to the apostle-
ship, not indeed to a place among the Twelve (for the vacancy of
Judas was filled), but to the independent apostleship of the
Gentiles. Then followed an uninterrupted activity of more than a
quarter of a century, which for interest and for permanent and
ever-growing usefulness has no parallel in the annals of history,
and affords an unanswerable proof of the sincerity of his
conversion and the truth of Christianity.

God deals with men according to their peculiar character and
condition. As in Elijah's vision on Mount Horeb, God appears now
in the mighty rushing wind that uproots the trees, now in the
earthquake that rends the rocks, now in the consuming fire, now
in the still small voice. Some are suddenly converted, and can
remember the place and hour; others are gradually and imper-
ceptibly changed in spirit and conduct; still others grow up
unconsciously in the Christian faith from the mother's knee and
the baptismal font. The stronger the will the more force it
reqnires to overcome the resistance, and the more thorough and
lasting is the change. Of all sudden and radical conversions that
of Saul was the most sudden and the most radical. In several
respects it stands quite alone, as the man himself and his work. 
Yet there are faint analogies in history. The divines who most
sympathized with his spirit and system of doctrine, passed
through a similar experience, and were much aided by his example
and writings. Among these Augustin, Calvin, and Luther are the
most conspicuous.

(Well to popular "Christianity" such men as just mentioned,
seemed to be converted, but in reality they were far from true
conversion; they were blind leaders of the blind, that just moved
in a certain direction, but were still blind to the truths of
God's word - Keith Hunt)

St. Augustin, the son of a pious mother and a heathen father, was
led astray into error and vice and wandered for years through the
labyrinth of heresy and scepticism, but his heart was restless
and homesick after God. At last, when he attained to the
thirty-third year of his life (Sept.386), the fermentation
of his soul culminated in a garden near Milan, far away from his
African home, when the Spirit of God, through the coinbined
agencies of the unceasing prayers of Monica, the sermons of
Ambrose, the example of St. Anthony, the study of Cicero and
Plato, of Isaiah and Paul, brought about a change not indeed as
wonderful - for no visible appearance of Christ was vouchsafed to
him - but as sincere and lasting as that of the apostle. As he
was lying in the dust of repentance and wrestling with God in
prayer for deliverance, he suddenly heard a sweet voice as from
heaven, calling out again and again: "Take and read, take and
read!" He opened the holy book and read the exhortation of Paul:
"Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the
flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." It was a voice of God; he
obeyed it, he completely changed his course of life, and became
the greatest and most useful teacher of his age.

(Just not so!! Satan can talk to you; as Paul wrote, the Devil
can come as a angel of light, making out that he is God's
messenger. Augustin was NEVER converted to God, he was blinded by
the great deceiver, he was led along still into error thinking it
was light, but it was still darkness, deceived into believing it
was light - Keith Hunt)

Of Calvin's conversion we know very little, but he himself
characterizes it as a sudden change (subita conversio) from papal
superstition to the evangelical faith. In this respect it resem-
bles that of Paul rather than Augustin. He was no sceptic, no
heretic, no immoral man, but as far as we know, a pious Romanist
until the brighter life of the Reformation burst on his mind from
the Holy Scriptures and showed him a more excellent way. "Only
one haven of salvation is left for our souls," he says, "and that
is the mercy of God in Christ. We are saved by grace - not by our
merits, not by our works." He consulted not with flesh and blood,
and burned the bridge after him. He renounced all prospects of a
brilliant career, and exposed himself to the danger of
persecution and death. He exhorted and strengthened the timid
Protestants of France, usually closing with the words of Paul:
"If God be for us, who can be against us?" He prepared in Paris a
flaming address on reform, which was ordered to be burned; he
escaped from persecution in a basket from a window, like Paul at
Damascus, and wandered for two years as a fugitive evangelist
from place to place until he found his sphere of labor in Geneva.
With his conversion was born his Pauline theology, which sprang
from his brain like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. Paul never
had a more logical and theological commentator than John Calvin.

(Again, at this time in Christian history, it was time for the
Whore of Babylon - Mystery babylon Religion - to produce
CHILDREN! The Protestant protest was the CHILDREN born of this
Babylon whore woman. The Protestant reformers, many of them, came
"out of" the whore Babylon, the protested against SOME of her
teachings and customs and practices, but they also RETAINED MANY
of them, as they do to this day. Calvin was never truly converted
- the great deceiver was once more appearing as an angel of
light, while still having MUCH darkness - as all Protestant
churches still do to this very day - Keith Hunt)

But the most Paul-like man in history is the leader of the German
Reformation, who combined in almost equal proportion depth of
mind, strength of will, tenderness of heart, and a fiery
vehemence of temper, and was the most powerful herald of
evangelical freedom; though inferior to Augustin and Calvin (not
to say Paul) in self-discipline, consistency, and symmetry of
character. Luther's commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians,
though not a grammatical or logical exposition, is a fresh
reproduction and republication of the Epistle against the self
righteousness and bondage of the papacy. Luther's first
conversion took place in his twenty-first year (1505), when, as a
student of law at Erfurt, on his return from a visit to his
parents, he was so frightened by a fearful thunder-storm and
flashes of lightning that he exclaimed: "Help, dear St. Anna,
I will become a monk!" But that conversion, although it has often
been compared with that of the apostle, had nothing to do with
his Paulinisn and Protestantism; it made him a pious Catholic, it
induced him to flee from the world to the retreat of a convent
for the salvation of his soul. And he became one of the most
humble, obedient, and self-denying of monks, as Paul was one of
the most earnest and zealous of Pharisees. "If ever a monk got to
heaven by monkery," says Luther, "I ought to have gotten there."
But the more he sought righteousness and peace by ascetic
self-denial and penal exercises, the more painfully he felt the
weight of sin and the wrath of God, although unable to mention to
his confessor any particular transgression. The discipline of the
law drove him to the brink of despair, when by the kind
interposition of Staupitz he was directed away from himself to
the cross of Christ, as the only source of pardon and peace, and
found, by implicit faith in His all-sufficient merits, that
righteousness which he had vainly sought in his own strength.
This, his second conversion, as we may call it, which occurred
several years later (1508), and gradually rather than suddenly,
made him an evangelical freeman in Christ and prepared him for
the great conflict with Romanism, which began in earnest with the
nailing of the ninety-nine theses against the traffic in
indulgences (1511). The intervening years may be compared to
Paul's sojourn in Arabia and the subordinate labors preceding his
first great mis sionary tour.

(To compare Luther to the apostle Paul is the silliest and
craziest kind of thinking - it is again deceptive thinking - it
is Satan once more coming as an angel of light, but in reality
still full of darkness. Hence the depths of Satan can be deep
indeed - a little light of truth given - so deception is in some
ways even greater. Luther called the epistle of James, the
"espidtle of STRAW!" Luther was far from the truths of God in the
Protestant reformation. Luther just wanted the Roman Catholic
church to REFORM certain things he could see were wrong in
teaching and in practice. Luther was FAR from being an apostle
Paul in true theology of the Most High God - Keith Hunt)


Various attempts have been made by ancient heretics and modern
rationalists to explain Paul's conversion in a purely natural
way, but they have utterly failed, and by their failure they
indirectly confirm the true view as given by the apostle himself
and as held in all ages by the Christian church.


The heretical and malignant faction of the Judaizers was disposed
to attribute Paul's conversion to selfish motives, or to the
influence of evil spirits.    
The Ebionites spread the lie that Paul was of heathen parents,
fell in love with the daughter of the high priest in Jerusalem,
became a proselyte and submitted to circumcision in order to
secure her, but failing in his purpose, he took revenge and
attacked the circumcision, the sabbath, and the whole Mosaic law.
In the pseudo-Clementine Homilies, which represent a specu-
lative form of the Judaizing heresy, Paul is assailed under the
disguise of Simon Magus, the arch-heretic, who smuggled
antinomian heathenism into the church. The manifestation of
Christ was either a manifestation of his wrath, or a deliberate


It attributes the conversion to physical causes, namely, a
violent storm and the delirium of a burning Syrian fever, in
which Paul superstitiously mistook the thunder for the voice of
God and the lightning for a heavenly vision. But the record says
nothing about thunderstorm and fever, and both combined could not
produce such an effect upon any sensible man, much less  upon the
history of the world. Who ever heard the thunder speak in Hebrew
or in any other articulate language? And had not Paul and Luke
eyes and ears and common sense, as well as we, to distinguish an
ordinary phenomenon of nature from a supernatural vision.


Resolves the conversion into a natural psychological process and
into an honest self-delusion. It  is the favorite theory of
modern rationalists, who scorn all other explanations, and
profess the highest respect for the intellectual and moral purity
and greatness of Paul. It is certainly more rational and
creditable than the second hypothesis, because it ascribes the
mighty change not to outward and accidental phenomena which pass
away, but to internal causes. It assumes that an intellectual and
moral fermentation was going on for some time in the mind of
Paul, and resulted at last, by logical necessity, in an entire
change of conviction and conduct, without any supernatural
influence, the very possibility of which is denied as being
inconsistent with the continuity of natural de velopment. The
miracle in this case was simply the mythical and symbolical
reflection of the commanding presence of Jesus in the thoughts of
the apostle.
That Paul saw a vision, he says himself, but he meant, of course,
a real, objective, personal appearance of Christ from heaven,
which was visible to his eyes and audible to his ears, and at the
same time a revelation to his mind through the medium of the
senses. The inner spiritual manifestation was more important than
the external, but both combined produced conviction.   The
vision-theory turns the appearance of Christ into a purely
subjective imagination, which the apostle mistook.    

It is incredible that a man of sound, clear, and keen mind as
that of Paul undoubtedly was, should have made such a radical and
far-reaching blunder as to confound subjective reflections with
an objective appearance of Jesus whom he persecuted, and to
ascribe solely to an act of divine mercy what he must have known
to be the result of his own thoughts, if he thought at all.

The advocates of this theory throw the appearances of the risen
Lord to the older disciples, the later visions of Peter, Philip,
and John in the Apocalypse, into the same category of subjective
illusions in the high tide of nervous excitement and religious
enthusiasm. It is plausibly maintained that Paul was an
enthusiast, fond of visions and revelations, and that he
justifies a doubt concerning the realness of the resurrection
itself by putting all the appearances of the risen Christ on the
same level with his own, although several years elapsed between
those of Jerusalem and Galilee, and that on the way to Damascus.

But this, the only possible argument for the vision-hypothesis,
is entirely untenable. When Paul says: "Last of all, as unto an
untimely offspring, Christ appeared to me also," he draws a clear
line of distinction between the personal appearances of Christ
and his own later visions, and closes the former with the one
vouchsafed to him at his conversion. Once, and once only, he
claims to have seen the Lord in visible form and to have heard
his voice; last, indeed, and out of due time, yet as truly and
really as the older apostles. The only difference is that they
saw the risen Saviour still abiding on earth, while he saw the
ascended Saviour coming down from heaven, as we may expect him to
appear to all men on the last day. It is the greatness of that
vision which leads him to dwell on his personal unworthiness as 
"the least of the apostles and not worthy to be called an
apostle, because he persecuted the church of God." he uses the
realness of Christ's resurrection as the basis for his wonderful
discussion of the future resurrection of believers, which would
lose all its force if Christ had not actually been raised from
the dead.
Moreover his conversion coincided with his call to the
apostleship. If the former was a delusion, the latter must also
have been a delusion. He emphasizes his direct call to the
apostleship of the Gentiles by the personal appearance of Christ
without any human intervention, in opposition to his Judaizing
adversaries who tried to undermine his authority.

The whole assumption of a long and deep inward preparation, both
intellectual and moral, for a change, is without any evidence,
and cannot set aside the fact that Paul was, according to his
repeated confession, at that time violently persecuting
Christianity in its followers. His conversion can be far less
explained from antecedent causes, surrounding circumstances, and
personal motives than that of any other disciple. While the older
apostles were devoted friends of Jesus, Paul was his enemy, bent
at the very time of the great change on an errand of cruel
persecution, and therefore in a state of mind most unlikely to
give birth to a vision so fatal to his present object and his
future career. How could a fanatical persecutor of Christianity,
"breathing threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of
the Lord," stultify and contradict himself by an imaginative
conceit which tended to the building up of that very religion
which he was laboring to destroy!

But supposing (with Renan) that his mind was temporarily upset in
the delirium of feverish excitement, he certainly soon recovered
health and reason, and had every opportunity to correct his
error; he was intimate with the murderers of Jesus, who could
have produced tangible evidence against the resurrection if it
had never occurred; and after a long pause of quiet reflection he
went to Jerusalem, spent a fortnight with Peter, and could learn
from him and from James, the brother of Christ, their experience,
and compare it with his own. Everything in this case is against
the mythical and legendary theory which requires a change of
environment and the lapse of years for the formation of poetic
fancies and fictions.

Finally, the whole life-work of Paul, from his conversion at
Damascus to his martyrdom in Rome, is the best possible argument
against this hypothesis and for the realness of his conversion,
as an act of divine grace. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
How could such an effective change proceed from an empty dream?
Can an illusion change the current of history? By joining the
Christian sect Paul sacrificed everything, at last life itself,
to the service of Christ. He never wavered in his conviction of
the truth as revealed to him, and by his faith in this revelation
he has become a benediction to all ages.

The vision-hypothesis denies objective miracles, but ascribes
miracles to subjective imaginations, and makes a lie more effect
ive and beneficial than the truth.

All rationalistic and natural interpretations of the conversion
of Paul turn out to be irrational and unnatural; the supernatural
interpretation of Paul himself, after all, is the most rational
and natural, and was not the sudden effect of nervous excitement,
but brought about by the influence of the divine Providence which
quietly prepared his soul for the reception of Christ; and that
the appearance of Christ vouchsafed to him was "no dream, but

Professor Reuss, of Strasburg, likewise an independent critic of
the liberal school, comes to the same conclusion as Baur, that
the conversion oś Paul, if not an absolute miracle, is at least
an unsolved psychological problem. He says: "La conversion de
Paul, apres tout ce qui en a ete dit de notre temps, reste
toujours, si ce n'est un miracle absolu, dans le sens
traditionnel de ce mot (c'est-d-dire un evenement qui arrete ou
change violemment le tours naturel des choses, un effet sans
autre cause que l'intervention arbitraire et immediate de Dieu),
du moins un probleme psycholo gique aujourd'hui insoluble.  
L'explication dite naturelle, qu'elle fasse intervenir tin orage
ou qu'elle se retranche dans le domaine des hallucinations ... ne
nous donne pas la clef de cette crise elle-mime, qui a dcide la
metamorphose du pharisien en chretien." 

Canon Farrar says (I. 195): "One fact remains upon any
hypothesisand that is, that the conversion of St. Paul was in the
highest sense of the word a miracle, and one of which the
spiritual consequences have affected every subsequent age of the
history of mankind." 


     He who can part from country and from kin, 
     And scorn delights, and tread the thorny way, 
     A heavenly crown, through toil and pain, to win
     He who reviled can tender love repay, and buffeted, f
     For  bitter foes can pray, He who, upspringing at his
     Captain's call, Fights the good fight, and when at last the
     day of fiery trial comes, can nobly fall
     Such were a saint - or more - and such the holy Paul" -

The conversion of Paul was a great intellectual and moral rev-
olution, yet without destroying his identity. His noble gifts and
attainments remained, but were purged of selfish motives,
inspired by a new principle, and consecrated to a divine end The
love of Christ who saved him, was now his all-absorbing passion,
and no sacrifice was too great to manifest his gratitude
to Him. The architect of ruin became an architect of the temple
of God. The same vigor, depth and acuteness of mind, but
illuminated by the Holy Spirit; the same strong temper and
burning zeal, but cleansed, subdued and controlled by wisdom and
moderation; the same energy and boldness, but coupled with
gentleness and meekness; and, added to all this, as crowning
gifts of grace, a love and humility, a tenderness and delicacy of
feeling such as are rarely, if ever, found in a character so
proud, manly and heroic. 

The little Epistle to Philemon reveals a perfect Christian
gentleman, a nobleman of nature, doubly ennobled by grace.  The
thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians could
only be conceived by a mind that had ascended on the mystic
ladder of faith to the throbbing heart of the God of love; yet
without inspiration even Paul could not have penned that seraphic
description of the virtue which beareth all things, believeth all
things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, which never
faileth, but will last for ever, the greatest in the triad of
celestial graces: faith, hope, love.

Saul converted became at once Paul the missionary. Being saved
himself, he made it his life-work to save others. "Straightway "
he proclaimed Christ in the synagogues, and confounded the Jews
of Damascus, proving that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the
Son of God. But this was only a preparatory testimony in the
fervor of the first love. The appearance of Christ, and the
travails of his soul during the three days and nights of prayer
and fasting, when he experienced nothing less than a spiritual
death and a spiritual resurrection, had so shaken his physical
and mental frame that he felt the need of protracted repose away
from the noise and turmoil of the world. Besides there must have
been great danger threatening his life as soon as the astounding
news of his conversion became known at Jerusalem. He therefore
went to the desert of Arabia and spent there three years, not in
missionary labor (as Chrysostom thought), but chiefly in prayer,
meditation and the study of the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of
their fulfilment through the person and work of Jesus of
Nazareth. This retreat took the place of the three years
preparation of the Twelve in the school of Christ. Possibly he
may have gone as far as Mount Sinai, among the wild children of
Hagar and Ishmael! On that pulpit of the great lawgiver of
Israel, and in view of the surrounding panorama of death and
desolation which reflects the terrible majesty of Jehovah, as no
other spot on earth, he could listen with Elijah to the thunder
and earthquake, and the still small voice, and could study the
contrast between the killing letter and the life-giving spirit,
between the ministration of death and the ministration of
righteousness. The desert, like the ocean, has its grandeur and
sublimity, and leaves the meditating mind alone with God and

(Paul himself said [Galatians] that he was personally taught by
Christ Jesus during those 3 years in the desert of Arabia - Keith

Paul was a unique man for a unique task. His task was twofold:
practical and theoretical. He preached the gospel of free and
universal grace from Damascus to Rome, and secured its triumph in
the Roman empire, which means the civilized world of that age.   
At the same time he built up the church from within by the
exposition and defence of the gospel in his Epistles.  He
descended to the humblest details of ecclesiastical
administration and discipline, and mounted to the sublimest
heights of theological speculation. Here we have only to do with
his missionary activity; leaving his theoretical work to be
considered in another chapter.

Let us first glance at his missionary spirit and policy.

His inspiring motive was love to Christ and to his fellow-men. 
"The love of Christ," he says, "constraineth us; because we thus
judge, that one died for all, therefore all died: and He died far
all that they who live should no longer live unto themselves, but
unto him who for their sakes died and rose again." He regarded
himself as a bondman and ambassador of Christ, entreating men to
be reconciled to God. Animated by this spirit, he became "as a
Jew to the Jews, as a Gentile to the Gentiles, all things to all
men that by all means he might save some."
He made Antioch, the capital of Syria and the mother church of
Gentile Christendom, his point of departure for, and return from,
his missionary journeys, and at the same time he kept up his
connection with Jerusalem, the mother church of Jewish
Christendom. Although an independent apostle of Christ, he
accepted a solemn commission from Antioch for his first great
missionary tour. He followed the current of history, commerce,
and civilization, from East to West, from Asia to Europe, from
Syria to Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, and perhaps as far as Spain.
In the larger and more influential cities, Antioch, Ephesus,
Corinth, Rome, he resided a considerable time. From these salient
points he sent the gospel by his pupils and fellow-laborers into
the surrounding towns and villages. But he always avoided
collision with other apostles, and sought new fields of labor
where Christ was not known before, that he might not build on any
other man's foundation. This is true independence and missionary
courtesy, which is so often, alas! violated by missionary
societies inspired by sectarian rather than Christian zeal.

"Westward the course of empire takes its way." This famous line
of Bishop Berkeley, the philosopher, expresses a general law of
history both civil and religious. Clement of Rome says that Paul
came on his missionary tour "to the extreme west"  which means
either Rome or Spain, whither the apostle intended to go (Rom.
15: 24,28). Some English historians (Ussher, Stillingfleet, etc.)
would extend Paul's travels to Gaul and Britain ...

His chief mission was to the Gentiles, without excluding the
Jews, according to the message of Christ delivered through
Ananias: "Thou shalt bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings,
and the children of Israel." Considering that the Jews had a
prior claim in time to the gospel, and that the synagogues in
heathen cities were pioneer stations for Christian missions, he
very naturally addressed himself first to the Jews and
proselytes, taking up the regular lessons of the Old Testament
Scriptures, and demonstrating their fulfilment in Jesus of Naza-
reth. But almost uniformly he found the half-Jews, or "proselytes
of the gate," more open to the gospel than his own brethren; they
were honest and earnest seekers of the true religion, and formed
the natural bridge to the pure heathen, and the nucleus of his
congregations, which were generally composed of converts from
both religions.

In noble self-denial he earned his subsistence with his own
hands, as a tent-maker, that he might not be burthensome to his
congregations (mostly belonging to the lower classes), that he
might preserve his independence, stop the mouths of his enemies,
and testify his gratitude to the infinite mercy of the Lord, who
had called him from his headlong, fanatical career of persecution
to the office of an apostle of free grace. He never collected
money for himself, but for the poor Jewish Christians in
Palestine. Only as an exception did he receive gifts from his
converts at Philippi, who were peculiarly dear to him. Yet he
repeatedly enjoins upon the churches to care for the liberal
temporal support of their teachers who break to them the bread of
eternal life. The Saviour of the world a carpenter! The greatest
preacher of the gospel a tent-maker!

Of the innumerable difficulties, dangers, and sufferings which he
encountered with Jews, heathens, and false brethren, we can
hardly form an adequate idea; for the book of Acts is only a
summary record. He supplements it incidentally. "Of the Jews five
times received I forty stripes save one. Three times was I beaten
with rods, once was I stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a
night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in
perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my
countrymen, in perils from the heathen, in perils in the city, in
perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among
false brethren; in labor and toil, in watchings often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides
those things that are without, there is that which press eth upon
me daily, the anxious care for all the churches.  Who is weak,
and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?"   

Thus he wrote reluctantly to the Corinthians, in self-vindication
against his calumniators, in the year 57, before his longest and
hardest trial in the prisons of Caesarea and Rome, and at least
seven years before his martyrdom. He was "pressed on every side,
yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not in despair; pursued, yet
not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed." His whole public
career was a continuous warfare. He represents the church
militant, or "marching and conquering Christianity." He was 
"unus versus mundum," in a far higher sense than this has been
said of Athanasius the Great when confronted with the Arian
heresy and the imperial heathenism of Julian the Apostate.

Yet he was never unhappy, but full of joy and peace. He exhorted
the Philippians from his prison in Rome: "Rejoice in the Lord
alway; again I will say, Rejoice." In all his conflicts with foes
from without and foes from within Paul was "more than conqueror"
through the grace of God which was sufficient for him. "For I am
persuaded," he writes to the Romans in the strain of a sublime
ode of triumph, "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be
able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord." And his dying word is an assurance of victory: 
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have
kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me
at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have
loved his appearing" (2 Tim.4:6-8).


The apostle Paul was one of the greatest human instruments the
the Lord used in the first century A.D.

He was inspired to write 14 books of the New Testament - the
number 14 used by God for salvation.

To compare any Roman Catholic Pope or Bishop, to compare any
Protestant protester, such as Calvin and Luther, to the apostle
Paul, is showing the lack of understanding the truths of the
Bible, that Paul preached and taught, with the depths of Satanic
deception, that prevailed in the Protestant reformation, who were
merely just the children, daughters, of the Great Babylon Whore.

The apostle Paul stands alone against any Protestant protester.

The apostle Paul was of the true Church of God ministers, which
Church of God has never been part of the Babylon Mother and her

Keith Hunt 

To be continued

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