The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 152 of 181
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The Self-Drawn Portrait of the Apostle Paul.
The Portrait as a Whole.
pp. 109, 110
Most students of Scripture have at some time or other used Conybeare and Howson's
"Life and Epistles 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'."
Every reader of The Berean Expositor will feel that the better we know the apostle
Paul, the better we shall know his Lord, for he is given as an example for us to follow.
We propose, therefore, in a series of short and simple studies, to take the long sentence
already mentioned and use its separate clauses, point by point, as a means of appreciating
the many-sided character of the earthen vessel, to whom, under God, we owe so much.
As many of our readers may not possess a copy of Conybeare and Howson, we give
below the sentence that will supply us with our clues, and then in subsequent studies we
will take feature by feature, so that we may obtain a full-length portrait. Such a study
will not lead to any foolish adulation of the man. We shall realize that he was indeed of
like infirmity with ourselves; but we shall also see what grace can do--perhaps be the
more inclined to look away from ourselves and our limitations, and give a larger place to
the glory and grace that made Paul what he was, and can make us more than those who
know us would believe possible.
"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