A Different Perspective

Sometimes I Wonder If I Would Get Along With Paul…

Okay, be honest…  I’m sure I am not the only one!

You don’t even have to be female to wonder along these lines.  Paul is a phenomenal person, whose mark on Christianity is second to none – except Christ of course, whose name we all bear!  Yes, Paul’s legacy and impact is probably felt more than Peter’s because of the many books he wrote in the Bible, and how he constructed what is regarded as Christian doctrine today.

Love him or hate him, we respect Paul!  Agree with him or not, we admire him.

But Paul was not the easiest person to get along with.  Even within the accounts of the Bible, his personality shone through.  You could see that he was someone who was fearsome to some people, misunderstood by a lot of people, and loved by not that many.  He had fall outs in the Bible, he challenged Peter on at least one occasion, and publicly too, and he wrote “threatening” epistles to the Churches, talking about how “I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (2 Cor 13:2-3).

He was a FULL personality, whose world was defined by his heritage as a Jew, his privilege as a Roman, and his rebirth as a Christian.  Even as the Spirit of God used him to teach mightily, we can still distinguish Paul’s personality from his writings.  He never tried to be a nice guy.  He was zealously about his Father’s business.  He saw what needed to be done, and that his time was short, and he went all out for it.

In as much as he had a strong personality, I know also that I have a strong personality.  This is not just a speculative post, because I have actually lived in community with other Believers before, and I know how personalities can clash, even when we both love and fear God.  In the beginning, when you join such a fellowship – or when you are a newbie believer, everyone tends to handle you with kid gloves…

But soon enough, as you begin to come out of your shell, and as you grow in maturity, you begin to interact more with the “Big Boys” of the Faith, who will not take kindly to your lack of awareness of proper order and conduct for all things spiritual.  You will find yourself challenged spiritually, and you will just have to be mature enough not to take it as a personal attack, but God’s mode of pruning and humbling you, as you submit one to another.

So, I have thought to myself…  If I was born in the time of Paul, and had met him, and even had the chance to live in community with him, would I have been able to get along with him?  Would I have been kicked out of his fellowship, like I was kicked out of the Jesus Christians?  Paul is remembered for his strong words to the Corinthians, saying to “…deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5), so my speculation is not so unreasonable.

Would I have taken offense at his attitude towards women, or would the culture of that time mean that I would never question him on such statements as “women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church. Did God’s word originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” (1 Cor 14:34-36).

And I wonder, if Paul lived in our time, would he still be of this mind, that women are not permitted to speak in Church?  Could it be that his understanding of this and many other things were growing, as we can see that the Church grew in their understanding of what was clean and unclean?

I am encouraged and inspired by his statement that “…there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).  It may have been like a light bulb moment, like when Peter observed how the Holy Spirit came on Cornelius and his family, without them being water baptised, and he remembered that Christ’s baptism was of the Spirit, while John’s was of water (Acts 10-11).  However, the Church continued in water baptism, not fully grasping this revelation.  And we see yet another inspired writing by Paul on this issue: “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism” (Eph 4:5).

How much of his writings were based on his cultural perspective and how much were from his own understanding, and how much was truly the word of God in him, is hard to tell.  I always appreciated the times he made a distinction, but I still find this one about women speaking only through their husbands hard to accept as truly inspired, though he said in 1 Cor 14:37 that his teaching in that chapter was the commandment of the Lord.

I believe culture and religion, and our own prejudices, have always presented a hindrance to discerning the word of God.  I also believe that Paul was not exempt from this.  I didn’t observe this attitude towards women in Christ.  I also didn’t perceive from Christ that He was so particular about religious observances, like woman covering their heads while praying, which was something Paul wrote much on in 1 Cor 11:5-16, even drawing upon culture for understanding on why it is shameful for women not to cover their heads.

But with all that said, I love and respect my Brother Paul very much, and value his contribution to our Faith!  I know that he would never want me or anyone to follow him in error, and he was humble enough to say “follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor 11:1), and that I shall.  I know that when we finally meet in Heaven, neither religion, culture nor personality will be a hindrance to our understanding and fellowship.

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11 replies »

  1. Paul also wrote: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – 1 Cor. 9:19-23
    I think that his main concern was honoring God, and in his culture men like Apollos could do that by debating religious leaders in public, while his teacher Priscilla could not do so freely. To that end, he wrote the rules – a paraphrase might be: “Do all things in such a way it honors God.” So in a patriarchal society, that meant that men took the lead. But we’re not a patriarchal society, existing as if we are one does the opposite – dishonors God. Paul was all about using culture to reach people – whether it’s preaching about an unknown God (rather than out of the Hebrew Scriptures) or clearing up a misunderstanding about him not Being Zeus and Hermes. So I think today he’s totally be on the side of opening up the doors to women participating in Christianity because that’s what our culture views as honorable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post! Personally I believe you would like and respect Paul because he always gave credit to his Lord and Savior, never himself. I enjoy being around passionate people who live as they preach. (What we both don’t enjoy, don’t you think, is being around controlling people and I don’t believe that describes Paul.) Paul was continually striving toward excellence, realizing he’d always be far from perfect. He knew Truth and wanted others to become as excited about learning about it themselves. I guess it’s the same way I feel about knowing physiological truth and want others to strive for a vibrant healthy lifestyle. Blessings,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To be honest, I love Paul. Asides respect, I just admire the man. I think He’s my role model after Jesus and he was just misunderstood but I have an assurance that God was pleased with Him, infact so pleased that His letters are included in the Bible to guide us in life till date. As for the women not speaking in churches, I believe there’s more to meet the eye than what He expressed there. I was reading one of Hagin’s book where He actually explained what Paul meant and how it’s been mistunderstood.

    I mean this is a spiritual book and it takes Spirit to unveil all of it’s truth to us and not just mere intellect. It’s just like what John the beloved saw in Revelation, so many mysteries that the human mind cannot fathom except the Spirit of God. When you talked about Paul’s personality, I believe it’s the zeal that God requires from each and every one of us who calls the name of Christ. In Revelation, Jesus mentioned that the Lukewarm church had to be zealous and repent. The same bible tells us ‘The zeal for your house has eaten me up’ The way it consumed Jesus, it was consuming Paul. Haven’t you ever felt that zeal sometimes when God shows you something and you can’t wait to tell everyone? The Spirit of God in us is meant for bigger things but it’s sad that many people grieve Him or limit Him to one corner.

    For the demons to have called Paul’s name alongside Jesus when the seven sons of sceva were binding, it meant Paul had attained a stature in Christ. A stature that was beyond talking about forgiveness and repentance but higher things like meat. God would only show His secret and treasures to those who have grown in Him but I believe there are people who will even rise like Paul for the wine change at the wedding by Jesus signified something sweeter is coming. The master of the feast commended that every man at the beginning sets out good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now, -Meaning Paul, John, Peter were like foundation for us, the first ones to come, the last days draw nigh when God’s best is yet to come through Men that will walk like Jesus on the Earth.
    The earth is waiting for such manifestations of the Sons of God before He finally returns. I pray we will also come to attain that stature in Christ.

    Sorry for the long epistle. xo!

    Liked by 2 people

    • No need for apologies dear! It was a blessed contribution, thanks! I also love the reference to the latter wine… that is also my perspective. Jesus said the first shall be last and the last first… Too often, we limit ourselves by what has gone before, but they are the foundation on which we stand, and not our threshold! Amen.


  4. Wonderful post.
    I’ll like to shed a little light on what you may already know. The reference in the scriptures made by Paul about women not speaking in the temple was the due to the structural build of the temple and the religious plan. Women had their own court separate. They only listened to the message being preached from where the men were. To prevent distraction and insubordination, he asked that they direct all questions to their husbands at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ummm…. But why? I think because he hadn’t yet come to the understanding which he later shared that there is neither male nor female. If he had, wouldn’t he have resisted the custom, as he also resisted circumcision?

      Liked by 1 person

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