From Genesis to Revelation

Day 28: Abnormally Born

Duncan Parlett

Each day of this devotional series, we will consider key moments in God’s glorious plan to redeem us. We will understand both the overarching story of God and the highlights of all He’s done for us in Christ.

“Then He [Christ] appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” – 1 Corinthians 15:7-9, New International Version

Meet the Man

I want to meet the apostle Paul in eternity. I love this intrepid proclaimer of the faith. God uses his writings to deeply minister to my soul. But I’m guessing I’ll find his appearance unimpressive. Traditional sources describe him as short, bald and suffering from some kind of eye malady. 

Influencer

Besides Jesus himself, the apostle Paul stands as the most important figure in Christianity. The early church leaders agreed that Peter served as the apostle to the Jews and Paul the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews). 

Yet within decades, the Gentile church developed into a dominant force in Christianity. The emergence of the Gentile church became the way God spread His love to the ends of the earth.

Paul: A Study in Contrasts

Many acknowledge Paul as a brilliant communicator, but he claimed he did not preach with “wisdom or eloquence” (1 Corinthians 1:17, New International Version). He fiercely taught the truth, yet he dealt gently with others, tenderly soothing conflicts and becoming “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22, New International Version). He suggested that false teachers castrate themselves (Galatians 5:12) and also wrote to friends that he longed for them (Philippians 1:8). His theology was rooted in the traditions of the past, yet he adapted to his “modern” world (Acts 17:23,28)

In one breath, he would demand the respect due to any apostle; in the next breath, he’d claim to be “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9, New International Version). Paul’s famous encounter on the Damascus road transformed him from a persecutor of God’s people to their greatest champion.

Know the Man

Maybe you and I will meet this spiritual pioneer in heaven, but we can get to know him now. We can read about his missionary journeys in the second half of the book of Acts (chapters 13-28). Then we can read his thirteen richly rewarding letters in the New Testament (Romans-Philemon). In these, we get a glimpse of the apostle Paul, the “worst of sinners” and the greatest of Christians. 


Next: Paul was Jesus’ greatest champion, but we’ll meet Jesus’ best friend in the next devotional.


Questions:

  • If you have read some of Paul’s 13 letters in the New Testament, what is your impression of the man?
  • Salvation by faith, not works, was the dominant theological message in Paul’s writings. Why is this important? Does this deemphasize works?
  • According to this devotional, Paul was a study in contrasts. What do you think brought about these contrasts?

Going Deeper:

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