by Richard Mansel, assistant editor
The Apostle Paul scarred from the daily spiritual wars, sought release through the rest Christ promised (Hebrews 4:8-11). His arduous battle was at an end. Few would face the struggles he had endured. His body was tired and ached for relief. Spiritually, his soul hungered for God and the glory he knew awaited. He had worked the entire day and soon the night would fall about them.
Paul’s fervor, fellowship and faith gave him the impetus to be confident in his eternal destiny. It explains his self-motivation as he endured his life of sacrifice.
A MAN OF FERVOR
Paul was a man who vigorously fulfilled his mission, no matter the orders. Whether it required the gore of persecution or the glory of God, he stood ready for duty. Isaiah said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8, NKJV). Paul exemplified these words throughout his life.
Paul’s overwhelming desire for work and finality brought fulfillment to his life. His self-motivation and untiring zeal for truth were indispensible in the work of God. They would steel his resolve through the persecutions he would face. He would need them.
Paul is first seen in Scripture as Saul, the persecutor (Acts 7:58).
“Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:1-3).
He “was like a war horse who sniffed the smell of battle” in his persecutions of the saints.”/1 He signified the damage a wild boar would do in a helpless vineyard. /2 In Acts 9:21, the people had “destroyed” those who were Christians. Barclay says of the word destroyed: “It is the word for an army sacking a city. Just as an invading army might tear a city stone from stone and murder and slaughter right and left with almost sadistic brutality, so Paul attacked the Church.”/3
As a Pharisee, Paul was just as dedicated and quickly rose to prominence. The son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), he advanced in his studies under the esteemed Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).
During the school experience, “Learned men met and discussed scriptures, gave various interpretations, suggested illustrations, and quoted precedents. The students were encouraged to question, doubt and even contradict.”/4
Paul learned the mental toughness and unassailable logic he would need as he taught the gospel in often hostile situations.
“Saul was a man of such vehemence and power that he was head in whatever circle he moved, whether as Saul the persecuting Pharisee, or Paul the laboring missionary.”/5
1/ A.T. Robertson, Epochs in the Life of Paul (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 105.
2/ William Barclay, Ambassador for Christ (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1973), 39.
5/ Robertson, 1.