CHRIST, the CENTRE and CIRCUMFERENCE
of Paul's ministry
Exhibited by selections from his epistles.
At the time of our Lord's earthly ministry, the Scriptures then in use were those books known to us as the Old
Testament, and one outstanding fact in connection with our Lord's use of these same Scriptures was His affirmation
that they testified of Him.
This is and ever must be a delightful study to follow the lead of type and shadow, prophecy and biography and
ponder the miracle of `Christ in All the Scriptures'. Such a task is not our immediate project, but one though more
limited in scope, yet precious in the extreme, namely:
`The Place which Christ occupies in the epistles and life of the apostle Paul'.
Before Paul was converted he had been a student of the Scriptures, and at his conversion we can see the
transition from the shadows of the law, which as a Pharisee he venerated, to the reality of Christ, which became the
core and touchstone of his after life and ministry.
First let us consider his testimony following his conversion. While we read of his actual conversion in Acts 9,
we also are conscious by reading the opening verses that he was already a very perplexed and troubled man. The
seeds had been sown by the martyr Stephen. Saul of Tarsus had followed only too closely Stephen's pointed
exposition of Israel's history, focusing attention on two points:
(1) The rejection of Joseph by his brethren, but their recognition of him `the second time' (Acts 7:13).
(2) The parallel rejection of Moses at the first, but his acceptance after forty years exile (Acts 7:35),
and then gathering all up in that searching application:
`As your fathers did, so do ye' (Acts 7:51).
Saul had to screw himself up to side with blasphemers and murderers, and condemn one who prayed for his
enemies, who also said `Lord Jesus, receive my spirit'.
On the road to Damascus, in a sudden and supernatural blaze of light, Saul heard a voice saying unto him:
`Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?'
and replied while prone upon the earth:
`Who art Thou, Lord?' (Acts 9:4,5).
The man who thus spoke was of the straitest sect of his religion, a Pharisee. He was an Hebrew of the Hebrews,
and as such would never, even at the cost of life itself, have used the sacred name `Lord' of any but of Israel's God.
Whereas Elohim could be used of `gods' as well as of `God', Jehovah is a proper name, and is never used otherwise.
To Saul, the Hebrew and the Pharisee, the name `Lord' was sacred. Who, but `the Lord' could thus speak from such
glory as struck him down on the road to Damascus? The answer from that radiant glory was epoch making. It
turned a persecuting Pharisee into a zealous and faithful witness. That answer was `I am Jesus' (Acts 9:5) and to
him, `Jesus of Nazareth', this stricken, yet emancipated soul gave the sacred name, `Lord':
`And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?. And the Lord said unto him, Arise,
and go into the city' (Acts 9:6).
Ananias confirmed Paul's new born faith saying:
`The Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way' (Acts 9:17).
Without training or long preparation, this converted Pharisee `straightway preached Christ in the synagogues,
that He is the Son of God', `and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ'