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Commentary

Rebuilding your life?

The apostle Paul is arguably, after Christ himself, the greatest advocate of the Christian faith, and just as some people wanted to kill him in his own lifetime, those who hate Christianity do their best, even today, to do a character assassination job on Paul. ‘Radical’ academic theologians have described him as narrow-minded, a woman hater, a bigot, a fool and more.

John Benton

But as we read through the New Testament’s eye-witness accounts of Paul, we realise that such slanders could not be further from the truth. We see this particularly in the later chapters of Acts. As we follow Paul on his return journey to face danger in Jerusalem, we see that such was the attractiveness of his personality that at virtually every stop along the way people had real difficulty in letting him go (Acts 20.36-38; 21.1; 21.5; 21.12). And it was not just Christians who loved Paul. On the ill-fated sea voyage towards Rome which ended in shipwreck on Malta, it is clear that many on board had taken to him (27.31, 32, 36, 43). Paul was actually a deeply sympathetic man, who, except for those already spitefully prejudiced against him, spontaneously generated warmth and affection from those he met. Once he had indeed been the narrow-minded murderous persecutor, Saul of Tarsus. But since meeting the Lord Jesus he had wonderfully changed. Instead of wanting to get away from him, people couldn’t get enough of him. What an enormous evidence for the truth of the gospel.