The Man who carried Christ's mission to alien lands and people

Statue of St. Paul in the Arch Basilica of Saint John Lateran by Pierre-Étienne Monnot

St. Paul's life proved to be the most extraordinary career of preaching, writing, and church-founding of which we have record. The extensive travels by land and sea, so replete with adventure, are to be traced by anyone who reads carefully the New Testament letters. He himself tells us he was stoned, thrice scourged, thrice shipwrecked, endured hunger and thirst, sleepless nights, perils and hardships; besides these physical trials, he suffered many disappointments and almost constant anxieties over the weak and widely-scattered communities of Christians.

  • He risked his life a couple times to perform these miracles and show God’s glory. Not all the miracles he performed were to proclaim the Gospel, some of them were to comfort the people, and to meet their physical needs. He followed Jesus’ method of meeting people’s physical needs when that was what they needed before everything, and meeting their spiritual needs when it was what was needed. Paul did not use the miracles to attract people to Christianity, he was giving an example of what Christian love should be.
  • Contrary to a lot of missionaries from today, he didn’t seek financial support for himself. Paul didn’t want to create the confusion that religion was a sort of trade by asking for money. He didn’t want to burden his disciples by demanding financial support. He did receive gifts sometimes but never sought for it. He knew how to be content with what he had.
  • He preached in the synagogue to Jews, and also preached to Gentiles. There are four characteristics particular to Paul and his way of preaching:
    1. Great compassion toward the hearers, their difficulties, theirs needs, their beliefs and their doctrines.
    2. Courage in acknowledging that there are difficulties that cannot be avoided.
    3. Respect for the audience. He treated them like humans who are in spiritual need as much as him and as Christians in general.
    4. Confidence in the Truth of his message and its power.
  • Even though Paul was persecuted and had a lot of reasons to abandon, he didn’t. He “finished the race and fought the good fight.” His method as a missionary are used and studied a lot by today’s missionaries. He set an example for missionaries today.
  • Paul has given us a wealth of counsel, aphorisms, and ethical teachings; he had the power of expressing spiritual truths in the simplest of words, and this, rather than the building up of a systematic theology, was his contribution to the early Church. A man of action, Paul reveals the dynamic of his whole career when he writes, "I press on towards the goal, to the prize of God's heavenly calling in Christ Jesus." Although he himself was forever pressing onwards, his letters often invoked a spirit of quiet meditation, with the beautiful lines: "Whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things."

Paul and Jesus

Instead of describing Christ, Paul's work concentrated on the nature of Christians' relationship with Christ and, in particular, on Christ's saving work (to give up His own life to safeguard others' life). Some of the life incidents of Jesus Christ, mentioned by Paul, are the Last Supper, His death by crucifixion and His resurrection.
St Paul had written three doctrines - Justification, Redemption and Reconciliation. Paul said that Christ took the punishment on behalf of sinners, so that they are relieved off their divine retribution. In the doctrine of 'Justification', faith is regarded as the most vital constituent. A person having faith will achieve salvation on the ground of sacrifice of Jesus.

'Redemption' is themed on freeing of slaves. Just as a specific price was paid to relieve a slave from the ownership of another, in the same way, Christ paid the price of His death, as a ransom, to relieve the common man from their sins.

'Reconciliation' deals with the fact that Christ brought down the dividing wall between peoples in all nations, created by law. The doctrine basically deals with the making of peace.

The message of St. Paul

Let your love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, and serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."