By Charles H. Welch

The conversion and commission of Paul, his Apostleship to the Gentles, and his stewardship of the Mystery as the Prisoner of Jesus Christ, are dealt with in articles, entitled ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, APOSTLE, DISPENSATION, GALATIANS, GOOD DEPOSIT, MYSTERY and PRISON EPISTLES. In the present article we are concerned with the man himself, his background, his character, his equipment. The fact that he was a Roman citizen by birth has an influence both on his attitude to the Gentile world, to illustrations used in his epistles, and particularly in connexion with his appeal unto Caesar and his trial at Rome. We will, therefore, give consideration to these backgrounds, hoping that the Apostle himself will be all the more clearly discerned and more deeply loved.


The second half of the Acts devotes a great deal of space to an account of Paul's apprehension and subsequent trials, culminating in his imprisonment for two years at Rome. When the Apostle arrived at Jerusalem with the contribution for the poor saints there, he was obliged to meet the charge made against him, that he taught all the Jews that were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses. In order to refute this charge publicly, he associates himself with some men who had taken upon themselves the Nazarite vow. While thus engaged, he is recognized by some Jews from Asia, who raise the cry that he has defiled the Holy Place by taking Trophimus into the sacred enclosure. The Romans had given power to the Jews to inflict the death penalty for this act of sacrilege, and the marble slab warning any intruder of the consequences of such an act may still be seen in the office of The Palestine Exploration Fund. See article entitled MIDDLE WALL.

The following extract from Josephus' Wars of the Jews will show how serious was the Apostle's position.

"Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and reproached John and his party, and said to them. Have not you, vile creatures that you are, by our permission, put up this partition wall before your sanctuary? Have not ye been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging, at due distance, and on it engraved in Greek, and in your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that wall? Have we not given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman?" (Josephus, B.J. vi.ii4).

Riots over this and similar things were a constant source of anxiety to the Roman Governor. Under Cumanus, who preceded Felix, there had been a riot which had resulted in the death of a thousand Jews. And so we read in Acts twenty-one:

"All the city was moved, and the people ran together: And they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple" (Acts 21:30).

The tumult had by this time attracted the attention of the authorities, and the Temple guard immediately closed the great gate that secured the inner shrine from profanation. They then closed the other three gates, or, as Acts 21:30 puts it: "and forthwith the doors were shut".

Paul was now outside the sacred enclosure, and the mob was therefore free to shed his blood without defiling the Temple. From their stations on the roof of the cloisters, however, the Roman guard had seen what was going on, and tidings were conveyed to the Captain "that all Jerusalem was in an uproar". The Captain evidently did not under-estimate the violence of the people, for we read that he "took soldiers and centurions", which means that several hundred soldiers were employed, and ran down the steps connecting the castle with the court. And "when they saw the Chief Captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul". Paul is now immediately bound with "two chains", that is, be is handcuffed to two soldiers, one on either side of him, and the Captain seeks to discover the cause of the tumult, asking him "who he was, and what he had done".

As the uproar continues, however, the Captain orders him to be removed to the castle. Fearing that they may lose their prey, the mob now rush for the stairs, and their violence is so great that the soldiers are obliged to "carry" the Apost1e. Paul is now under arrest without warrant.

According to Septimus Buss there were three kinds of custody under Roman law.

  1. Custodia Publica, when the prisoner was committed to gaol, as in the case of Paul and Silas at Philippi.

  2. Custodia Libera, when the accused was placed under surveillance either in his own house, or in the house of a magistrate, who became responsible (sponsor) for his production in court on the day of trial, and gave a legal promise for that purpose.

  3. Custodia Militaris, when the accused were given in charge to a guard of soldiers.

Lysias, the Captain, is surprised when Paul addresses him in good Greek, for he evidently thought he had captured an Egyptian who had led over 4,000 assassins into the wilderness. A second riot threatens to follow the Apostle's speech from the stairs, and so the prisoner is taken into the castle, and examined. Lysias now commands that Paul shall be scourged as a means of extracting a confession from him, but while he is being bound and "bent forward" (proteinan), he quietly says to the Centurion:

"Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?" (Acts 22:25).

To apply the flagellum horribile at the very outset was in itself illegal: and much more so in the case of a Roman citizen. And so we read:

"When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman" (Acts 22:26).

Lysias had first of all mistaken Paul for an Egyptian, and now, learning that he claimed to be a Roman citizen, he hurries back to make sure, saying:

"Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him" (Acts 22:27-29).

Lysias could not retain the prisoner in custody without some charge being laid against him, and so we read:

"He loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them" (Acts 22:30).

At this meeting, the difference of opinion between the Sadducees and the Pharisees was so strong, that Paul once again has to be rescued from their violence by the Roman soldiers. When Lysias hears of the conspiracy against the Apostle's life, he determines to send him "safe to Felix". Accordingly he calls out two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen, and bids them be ready by nine o'clock at night for the start to Cresarea. The number of soldiers decided upon to escort one man a distance of sixty miles, is eloquent testimony to the turbulent character of the people. The letter which Lysias sent to Felix follows the usual form, but skilfully covers up his error. It implies that Paul was rescued from the Jews after Lysias had learned that he was a Roman.

Closely allied with the subject just considered is that of Roman citizenship. To this subject, therefore, we now devote our attention.



The Jew regarded the world as made up of "the circumcision" and "the uncircumcision"-his own were the "favoured nation", and the rest of the world "Gentile dogs". The Greek, on the other hand, divided the world up into "Greeks" and "barbarians" (Rom.1:14), while the Roman viewed it as being composed of freemen and slaves. A "freeman" in the Roman sense might either be civis (a Roman citizen), or peregrinus (a foreigner, though free). A "freeman" could either be born free or could become free.

In contrast with the position of the "freeman" the slave was devoid of all rights of liberty, citizenship and position in a family. Nullum habet caput. Up to A.D. 61, a slave could be ordered to fight in the arena with gladiators or wild beasts, and until the time of Claudius, his master could punish him with death at will. There was one well-known case of Vedius Pollio, in the reign of Augustus, who cast his slave into the ponds to feed his lampreys. The only penalty Pollio suffered was the loss of his fish ponds.

A slave who committed murder was punished with great severity, and we read that 400 slaves were executed to avenge the murder of Pedanius Secundus. Torture by whip or fetters was also inflicted for the slightest offences, and most of the large Roman houses contained an ergastulum, or private prison, where the slaves worked in chains.

A slave could become free by the process of "manumission". The actual form of this enactment has come down to us from Delphi and reads as follows:

"Date. Apollo, the Pythian bought from Sositus of Amphia, for freedom, a female slave, whose name is Nicaea, by race a Roman, with a price of three and a half minae of silver. Former seller according to law: Eumnastus of Amphissa. The price he hath received. The purchase, however, Nicala hath committed unto Apollo, for freedom".

The reader will not fail to see the parallel here with the Apostle's words, "bought with a price", and the literal rendering of Galatians 5:1 "for freedom did Christ set us free".

In numerous records of manumission the enfranchised person is said to be allowed henceforth to "do the things that he will", an obvious parallel with Galatians 5:17. Moreover, many manumission orders contain the c1ause that the freed person shall never "be made a slave again", a phrase which finds an echo in such passages as Galatians 5:1 and 1 Corinthians 7 :23.

The "freeman" (liber) might be born free (ingenuus), or he might be made free (libertinus). In the first case (ingenuus) he could either be a citizen (civis) or a latinus-i.e. one occupying a position intermediate between that of the true-born Roman (civis) and the foreigner (peregrinus).

The privileges of the full citizen were as follows:


  1. The right of voting in the comitia (Jus Suffragii).
  2. Eligibility for all public offices and magistracies (Jus Honorum).
  3. The Jus Provocationis, or right of appeal.


  1. Conubium, the power to contract a legal marriage, with power of life and death over the family.
  2. Commercium, the right to acquire, hold or transfer property, and to make contracts.

The Apostle himself was a full Roman citizen (ingenuus, or "free born"), for his father had been a citizen before him. We do not know how Paul's father had acquired this coveted privilege, but it was so ordered, in the wisdom of God, in order that His messenger to the Roman world should be fully equipped. He was a Tarsian, "a citizen of no mean city"; he was also a Roman, a Jew, a Pharisee and one trusted by the Sanhedrin.

"How often", says Cicero, "has this exclamation Civis Romanus sum ("I am a Roman citizen") brought aid and safety even among Barbarians in the remotest parts of the earth" (Cic. Verr. v.57). The reader will remember how scared the Philippians were when they discovered that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens (Acts 16:37-39). They had probably heard of the punishment in A.D. 44 of the inhabitants of Rhodes, whom Claudius had deprived of their freedom for putting a Roman citizen to death.

The trial of the Apostle before Nero demands some space here, and the following notes may be of help. The Roman courts required the personal presence of the prosecutor. The crown was not the prosecutor, as in English law. We learn from Josephus that at about this same time two embassies set out from Jerusalem for Rome, one, to impeach Felix for his conduct while Governor (we remember how, upon his recall, he sought to placate the Jews by leaving Paul bound, Acts 24:27), the other, to intercede with Nero on the subject of Agrippa's palace, which overlooked the Temple. As the High Priest himself was included in this latter embassy, he may also have been entrusted with the prosecution of Paul.

"The law's delays" are no modern evil. Josephus tells us of three Jews who had languished in prison for three years without a hearing, and who were finally released upon his appeal to Poppaea. It was Nero's custom to consider separately each charge against a prisoner (Suet, Nero, 15), and in the case of Paul we have seen that there were three counts against him. A further source of delay was that proceedings would be adjourned from time to time to suit the Emperor's convenience. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History is the only authority that we have for the opinion that Paul was tried on the occasion of this first imprisonment, for the Acts does not record the trial. Eusebius says:

"After defending himself successfully, it is currently reported that the Apostle again went forth to preach the gospel, and afterwards came to Rome a second time".

The Apostle's statement in Philippians 1:12-14,25 and 2:23, 24 suggests that a trial is nearing its end, and that the result is a foregone certainty. Tiberius and Claudius followed the ancient custom of hearing causes in the Forum, but Nero sat for this purpose in his palace. Standing before the tribunal, the Apostle's bonds would become manifest in the whole Praetorium (Phil. 1:13). The preliminaries of the trial had already taken place under Felix and Festus, the prisoner being therefore already in a state of accusation. The termination of the proceedings was announced by a crier proclaiming "dixerunt" (they have spoken). The jury then voted by depositing in an urn, wax tablets bearing the letter A for absolvo, C, condemno or N.L., non liquet (a new trial).

At his second arrest Paul did not receive the humane treatment that characterized the first. He now suffered as an "evil doer". His place of detention is no longer the house of a friend or his own hired house, but a dungeon, so damp and cold that he asks Timothy to bring with him, when he comes, his c10ke that had been left behind at Troas.

The trial fell into two parts, for he speaks of his "first defence" (2 Tim. 4:16). Evidently he had been remanded; the presiding judge having pronounced the word amplius, an adjournment had taken place, and the Apostle seized the opportunity to write his last letter to his beloved son Timothy. Hatred of the Christians now ruled men's minds, and a charge of treason, from which there would be no hope of acquittal, would be laid against the Apostle.

Somewhere outside the city walls, along the Via Ostiensis, where now stands the church of San Paolo fuori le mura, the Apostle was led forth from his dungeon to execution. In the days of the Republic this would have been effected by the lictor's axe, but under Nero, it was accomplished by the sword. It is not for us to follow the traditions of men as to what became of Paul's body after his death. He had finished his course, he had kept the faith, he was assured that there awaited him "at that day" a crown. We can rejoice that what seemed most like defeat, was victory. He was "more than conqueror" through Christ Who loved him.


The Apostle has referred to his early days, how that he was a Pharisee, and a zealot for the traditions of his fathers, and these terms should be understood if we are to possess a true portrait of this Apostle of grace. His entry into the pages of Scripture is not at his conversion but at the stoning of Stephen.

The infuriated Jews who stoned Stephen for his faithfulness found a champion for their traditions in the young man, Saul of Tarsus:

"The witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul, and they stoned Stephen. . . and Saul was consenting unto his death" (Acts 7:58-8:1).

What sort of man was this who would consent to the death of such a saint? The secret of his blind cruelty was "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" . Many of the Pharisees knew that Jesus was the Christ. They had said, "this is the heir, come, let us kill him". Paul, however, tells us that what he did, he did "ignorantly and in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1: 13).

To the English reader, separated by centuries from the period of the Gospels, the term "Pharisee" has taken upon itself a colouring more or less traditional. All Pharisees were not alike, however, even as all Scribes or all Priests were not alike in their zeal or character.

The Talmud tells us of seven classes of Pharisees. It speaks of the Shechemite Pharisee, who obeyed for self-interest; the tumbling Pharisee (nifki), who paraded humility; the bleeding Pharisee (kinai), who, rather than risk outraging his modesty by seeing a woman, risked a broken skull by walking with his eyes shut; the mortar Pharisee (medukia), who covered his eyes, as with mortar, for similar reasons; the timid Pharisee, who was actuated by motives of fear; the tel-me-another-duty-and-I-will-do-it Pharisee; and the seventh class, the Pharisee from love. Saul of Tarsus was of the sixth order enumerated above, for in Galatians 1:14 we read:

"I was going ahead (a metaphor taken from a ship at sea), in Judaism above many of my contemporaries in mine own nation, being more vehemently a zealot for the traditions handed down from my fathers".

The choice of the word zelotes confirms this. The Zelotai were a sect which professed great attachment to the Jewish institutions, and undertook to punish, without trial, those guilty of violating them. It was this bigoted or fanatical temper which moved the young man Saul to associate with the murderers of Stephen, and to personally conduct a campaign, with the idea of exterminating the heresy of the Nazarenes. Such was the character of the "chosen vessel" who was destined, by grace, to shake traditionalism and legalism to their fall, and to stand alone with God, preaching "the faith which once he destroyed" (Gal. 1 :23).

To stay here, however, would be but to give a one-sided view of the character of Saul of Tarsus. Writing by inspiration of God, in the full light of his acceptance in the Beloved, he says concerning his past, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phil. 3:6).

According to the teaching of the rabbis, there were 248 commands and 365 prohibitions of the Mosaic Law, which formed part of the "hedge of the law". These laws and prohibitions, without exception, in letter as well as spirit, and with the almost infinite number of inferences which were deduced from such laws, were to be obeyed. The belief was current that if only one person could attain unto this perfection for but one day, the Messiah would come, and the glory of Israel be ensured. This hope then, together with a nature which must spend and be spent upon that to which for the time being the possessor is attached, was the force which actuated Saul of Tarsus, and through him breathed out threatenings and slaughter.

In eight separate passages does Scripture refer to the terrible persecutions with which Saul of Tarsus was prominently associated. It is written, "he made havoc of the church". The word used here is that used in the LXX of Psalm 80:13 of the uprooting by wild boars. He dragged men and women to judgment and prison; he devastated in Jerusalem those that called upon the name of Jesus. In the epistle to the Galatians the Apostle tells us how he persecuted the early saints beyond measure. To the Corinthians (1 Cor.15:9) and to the Philippians (Phil. 3:6), he recounts with sorrow how he persecuted the church. To the day of his death he never forgot that grace which had changed a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious bigot (1 Tim. 1: 13), the very chief of sinners, into the chiefest of the Apostles. Truly, he "persecuted this way unto the death" (Acts 22:4).

How fully he was permitted to enter into the sufferings and afflictions of the faith the Scriptures amply testify. Alone, forsaken by all earthly friends, he was permitted to drain to the dregs the bitter cup of religious persecution. Stoned and left for dead, beaten with rods on five occasions by the order of some ruler of the synagogue, imprisoned, betrayed, suffering the anguish of hunger, thirst, nakedness, shipwreck, and finally martyrdom, he fulfilled the opening words of his commission, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name's sake" (Acts 9:16).

As Saul of Tarsus, or Paul the Apostle, this man was not content to do things half-heartedly. His zeal for the time at least stamped out the activity of the heresy of the Nazarene in Jerusalem, but from other cities news arrived that this pernicious weed had taken root. Unsatiated by the blood of the saints shed in Jerusalem, he desired to vindicate his Pharisaic claims by uprooting the Christian faith in the distant city of Damascus.

Armed with the necessary warrant from the high priest, the persecutor started upon his journey of 150 miles in a frame of mind expressed in the unparalle1ed term, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter". How long the journey took we do not know; but taking the nature of the roads, the climate, and the Eastern method of travelling, authorities have estimated that it occupied the better part of a week.

What were the thoughts of this man during this week's travel? Nothing is recorded in the Scriptures to tell us, except the words of the Searcher of the hearts, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (or ox goads). Saul, during that fateful journey, had been "kicking against the goads", as the rebellious oxen do in the plough. The whirl of the city, the excitement of the persecutions and scourgings gave place to the isolated meditation of the Damascus journey. The ox goads against which Saul had kicked were of a similar nature, though perhaps of much deeper intensity, than those which many believers and readers of this little witness have had, when faced with the claims of dispensational truth, and balanced by the opinions of men, and liability of being "put out of the synagogue".

Could it be possible that such men as Peter and Stephen were right, and he with the whole Sanhedrin were wrong? Pride rose against such a thought; those who spoke against the law and the temple must certainly be accursed. Thus would he reason; he could not give expression to these ideas to those with him, for that would be suicidal. Did the angel face of Stephen haunt his steps along the road? We know not. Was Gamaliel, his teacher, right in even suggesting that such action as his might prove to be fighting against God? We cannot tell. What we do know is this. Spurred on by the goads of an uneasy conscience, Saul urged his followers to abandon the wonted noon-day rest and press on to the city of their desires.

Then, suddenly, the persecutor was changed into the preacher, the infuriated bigot into the Apostle of grace. A light, which eclipsed the noon-day sun, as the gospel did the traditions so tenaciously held by Saul, shone about them. He was struck to the earth; something awful had happened. One man alone knew its solemn meaning and intelligently heard the words from heaven; into the darkened heart of Saul of Tarsus had entered "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ". God had revealed His Son in him. That was the turning-point of his life, for he had seen the Lord.

After the blinding flash of heavenly light there came a Voice from heaven speaking in the Hebrew tongue, saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me, it is hard for thee to kick against the goads!" In answer to the trembling cry, "Who art Thou, Lord?" the Voice replied, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest". Oh wondrous revelation! Had the Voice said, "It is Israel's Messiah you are persecuting", the Apostle would have denied the charge, but in the revelation from the heavenly glory that he was persecuting "Jesus of Nazareth", and that He indeed was the Lord, the Messiah of Israel, all his hopes, his pride, his tenacious hold upon the traditions of the elders, his self-righteousness and meritorious zeal, vanished and left him naked and destitute.

What are the first words which Saul as a believer shall utter? They form a keynote to his after life, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" From henceforth he served the Lord Christ; from this time onward for him to live was Christ. He had fallen to the earth a proud, persecuting fanatic; he rose a humble and gracious follower of Christ. How different to what he had dreamed was his actual entry into Damascus and departure therefrom. No longer breathing threatenings and slaughter, but breathing prayers and supplications, for it is written, "Behold he prayeth!" Not leaving the city with the trophies of his inquisition and the applause of the orthodox, but let out of the city by stealth, in a basket from the wall! After the darkness and the visit of Ananias came the light, for "there fell from his eyes as it had been scales". Something of the character of this Apostle can be gleaned from the following extract of an able writer:

"It was, throughout life, Paul's unhappy fate to kindle the most virulent animosities, because, though conciliatory and courteous by temperament, he yet carried into his arguments that intensity and downrightness that awakens dormant opposition. A languid controversialist will always meet with a languid tolerance, but any controversialist whose honest belief in his own doctrines makes him terribly in earnest, may count on a life embittered by the anger of those on whom he has forced the disagreeable task of re-considering their own assumptions . . . Out of their own Scriptures, by their own methods of exegesis, in their own style of dialectics, by the interpretation of prophecies of which they did not dispute the validity, he simply confounded them. He could now apply the same principles which in the mouth of Stephen he had found it impossible to resist".



Most students of Scripture have at some time or other used Conybeare and Howson's Life and EpistIes of St. Paul. In the introduction to Vol. I there occurs one of the longest sentences to be met with in ordinary literature-a sentence containing more than 500 words.

The introduction opens as follows:

"The purpose of this work is to give a living picture of St. Paul himself, and of the circumstances by which he was surrounded".

Later on in the introduction we read:

"We must listen to his words, if we would learn to know him. . . . In his case it is not too much to say that his letters are himself-a portrait painted by his own hand, of which every feature may be "known and read of all men".

"Here we see that fearless independence with which he "withstood Peter to the face" -that impetuosity which breaks out in his apostrophe to the "foolish Galatians"-that earnest indignation which bids his converts "beware of dogs", "beware of the concision" and pours itself forth in the emphatic "God forbid" which meets every Antinomian suggestion-that fervid patriotism which makes him "wish that he were himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites"-that generosity which looked for no other reward than "to preach the Glad Tidings of Christ without charge" and made him feel that he would rather "die than that any man should make this glorying void" -that dread of officious interference which led him to shrink from "building on another man's foundation"-that delicacy which shows itself in his appeal to Philemon, whom he might have commanded, "yet for love's sake rather beseeching him, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ" and which is even more striking in some of his farewell greetings as (for instance) when he bids the Romans salute Rufus, and "his mother who also is mine" -that scrupulous fear of evil appearance which "would not eat any man's bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that he might not be chargeable to any of them" -that refined courtesy which cannot bring itself to blame till it has first praised, and which makes him deem it needful almost to apologize for the freedom of giving advice to those who were not personally known to him;-that self-denying love which "will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest he make his brother to offend" -that impatience of exclusive formalism with which he overwhelms the Judaizers of Galatia, joined with a forbearance so gentle for the innocent weakness of scrupulous consciences-that grief for the sins of others, which moved him to tears when he spoke of the enemies of the cross of Christ-"of whom I tell you even weeping"-that noble freedom from jealousy with which he speaks of those who, out of rivalry to himself, preach Christ even of envy and strife, supposing to add aflliction to his bonds; "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" -that tender friendship which watches over the health of Timothy, even with a mother's care-that intense sympathy in the joys and sorrows of his converts, which could say, even to the rebellious Corinthians, "Ye are in our hearts, to die and live with you" -that longing desire for the intercourse of affection, and that sense of loneliness when it was withheld, which perhaps is the most touching feature of all, because it approaches most nearly to a weakness, "When I had come to Troas to preach the Glad Tidings of Christ, and a door was opened to me in the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus, my brother; but I parted from them, and came from thence to Macedonia". And "when I was come into Macedonia, my flesh had no rest, but I was troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. But God, Who comforts them that are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus". "Do thy utmost to come to me speedily, for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me".

Under the heading, "The Self-drawn Portrait of the Apostle Paul", a series of fourteen studies ran through The Berean Expositor, in Volumes XXXI to XXXIV, a series too bulky to reproduce here; all that we can do is to draw the reader's attention to the series, in the hope that where fuller light upon the Apostle's character is sought, those articles may make their contribution.

We conclude with a few opinions of Paul culled from modern writers. "He is difficult to comprehend, not because he conceals himself, but because he reveals so much of himself in his epistles" . . . Deissmann (St. Paul 62 ff). Deissmann notes his ailing body and his tremendous powers for work, his humility and his self-confidence, in periods of depression and of intoxication with victory, his tenderness and his sternness: he was ardently loved, and furiously hated; he was an ancient man of his time, but he is cosmopolitan and modern enough for today. Findlay adds that he was a man possessed of dialectical power and religious inspiration. He was keenly intellectual and profoundly mystical (cf. Campbell, Paul the Mystic, 1907).

He was a theologian and a man of affairs. He was a man of vision with a supreme task to which he held himself. He was a scholar, a sage, a statesman, a seer, a saint (Garvie, Studies in Paul and his Gospel, 68-84). He was a man of heart, of passion, of imagination, of sensibility, of will, of courage, of sincerity, of vivacity, of subtlety, of humour, of adroitness, of tact, of genius for organization, of power for command, of gift of expression, of leadership-"all these qualities and powers went to the making of Jesus Christ's Apostle to the nations, the master builder of the universal church and of Christian theology." (Findlay, H. D. B., see St. Paul the Master Builder, 1905; and M. Jones, St. Paul the Orator, 1910). Extract from International Standard Bible Encyclopcedia.

Speaking of Paul's Gospel the same article says:

"He insisted strongly on the spiritual experience of Christ as the beginning and the end of it all, as opposed to mere ritualistic ceremonies which had destroyed the life of Judaism. But all the more Paul demanded the proof of life as opposed to mere profession. (See Romans 6-8 in particular.) Mystic as Paul was . . . he was the rarest of moralists, and had no patience with hypocrites and licentious pietists or idealists who allowed sentimentalism and emotionalism to take the place of righteousness" .

The underlying truth expressed by the poet in the lines:

"What do they know of England
Who only England know?"

leads us to realize that we shall not have a true portrait of the Apostle unless we include some of his friends and fellow workers. He valued and stressed fellowship in service, and such as Ananias, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Luke, Aquila and Priscilla, show by their concern, their friendship, their loyalty and their endurance, aspects of the Apostle's character that would not otherwise be appreciated. This theme too, has been given a place in The Berean Expositor and eight articles under the title, PAUL AND HlS COMPANIONS, will be found in Volume XXVI to which the reader is directed. The limitations of space make it impossible to reproduce them here, but the reader may appreciate the closing article, as a sample of the rest.



Some of the Apostle's companions were definitely called by the Holy Spirit and acknowledged by the Church, as was Barnabas (Acts 13:2,3). Some possessed qualifications which practically forced them into the breach that opened before them, as Silas (Acts 15:26,27,32,40). In the case of Aquila and Priscilla two very different and remote causes worked together for their good, for the Apostle's consolation and our lasting benefit. These were the edict of a Roman Emperor, and the teaching of the Talmud.

"After these things Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome), and came unto them" (Acts 18:1,2).

Suetonius, a Latin historian, says that Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because of the tumults among them stirred up by one, Chrestus. Whether Chrestus was the actual name of some disturber of the peace, or, as some believe, an ignorant misreading of the name Christ, cannot now be determined. We know that there were pious Jews from Rome who heard Peter's message on the day of Pentecost, just as there were Jews from Pontus, the birthplace of Aquila. Whatever the fact may be, one result of this edict was the migration of Aquila to Corinth, and there the Apostle found him. There is nothing in the narrative to suggest that Paul was acquainted with Aquila and sought him out. The narrative rather suggests that he looked for suitable shelter in the Jewish quarter of Corinth, and that he was guided by the Lord unknown to himself. However, the narrative continues:

"And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers" (Acts 18:3).

A harmful affectation sometimes assumed by those having a literary bent, or who pose as scholars, is to boast of their uselessness in manual work and their inability to distinguish between a chisel and a screwdriver! Paul needed no such pretension to bolster up his dignity. He was as great, while stitching his tents, as when he wrote Ephesians, for in both he was doing the will of the Lord. It is written in the Talmud:

"What is commanded of a father towards his son? To circumcize him, to teach him the law, to teach him a trade".

Gamaliel said:

"He that hath a trade in his hand, to what is he like? He is like a vineyard that is fenced."

There are several references by Paul in his writings to the fact that he supported himself by his own manual labour. He did so at Ephesus (Acts 20:34), at Corinth (1 Cor.9:12; 2 Cor.7:2), and Thessalonica (1 Thess.2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8), and no doubt these are but typical instances of his habit.

Because cilicium, a hair c1oth, was in common use at the time, it has been assumed that the tents made by Aquila and Paul must of necessity have been of goats' hair. Chrysostum, however, who was born at Antioch, and died in A.D. 407, says on this subject:

"St. Paul, after working miracles, stood in his workshop at Corinth, and stitched bides of leather together with his own hands, and the angels regarded him with love, and the devils with fear".

We find that after maintaining a witness at Corinth, extending over a period of eighteen months, Paul set sail for Syria, Priscilla and Aquila accompanying him. On the journey they touched at Ephesus, and there Paul parted from Aquila for a time (Acts 18:18-28). It was at Ephesus that these two companions of Paul did such splendid service in that they took Apollos with them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. The Apostle mentions these companions in three epistles.

"Greet Prisca and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus; who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house" (Rom. 16:3-5 R.V.).

The R.V. here rightly reads "Prisca", as does the A.V. in 2 Timothy 4:19. The form of the name is probably an affectionate diminutive, and the use of it opens for a moment a door into the private life and homely affections of the great Apostle. The genuineness and reality of the Apostle's character was such that he had no need as we say, "to stand on his dignity" and could indulge in a little playfulness without detracting from the solemnity of his message.

With regard to the passage quoted from Romans sixteen it is written: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). So Aquila and PrisciIla had shown the Apostle the highest quality of love this world affords. How? where? and precisely what? were all the circumstances which brought out this manifestion of love we do not know. The narrative of the Acts abounds with accounts of riots, plots and murderous attacks upon the Apostle, and at least on one of these dangerous occasions the intervention of this homely couple saved the life of the Apostle, for which it may truly be said, not Paul only, but the churches of the Gentiles ever since, give thanks.

Aquila and Priscilla join the Apostle in sending salutations to the Church at Corinth, and it is noticeable that while they have evidently removed from one city to another, they still have a church in their house (1 Cor.16:19). The faithful fellowship and affectionate nearness of these companions of Paul continued to the end. "Salute Prisca and Aquila", wrote the Apostle on the eve of his martyrdom. At last he was to lay down his neck for the truth he held dearer than life itself, and he cannot forget those whose love was instrumental, under God, in enabling him to finish his course. Apart from the important instance recorded in Acts eighteen in connexion with Apollos, we do not associate Aquila or Priscilla so much with teaching as with that equally important ministry of hospitality and loving service, even unto death. What a sanctifying of life for man and wife and home, thus to be consecrated to the Lord! On every hand there are indications that before this dispensation ends the "church" will once more be in "the house" of such believers. What glory may be awaiting some readers of these lines!

May the Lord use the message to accomplish His purposes of grace and prepare His Aquilas and His Priscillas, for service in these closing days. Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He spoke Greek. He was a Roman citizen. In his writings we find that he draws upon these three sources for his analogies and types. The following list does not pretend to be exhaustive, but it is a fair sample.

Greek Latin
Mercy Seat
Potter and clay
Muzzle ox
Middle Wall
Sweet smell
Offer to idols
Race, Prize, Crown
Letter of
Sign, seal, earnest
Olive culture

An Alphabetical Analysis

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