“For two millennia, the apostle Paul and his writings have been central to the history of the Christian faith. No other biblical author has received so much attention, so much study, so much controversy in the history of the church as this apostle and his writings.” Dr. Erik Herrmann, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Arguably, when a discussion is held regarding who are the greatest theologians in the history of the church, the names of Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, Carl Henry, and J. Gresham Machen, among others, are listed. Often added to this stellar list are such recent additions including Francis Schaeffer and R. C. Sproul.
However, without a doubt the single, greatest theologian, aside from the LORD Jesus Christ, who has most benefited the church and contributed to its spiritual health, well-being and theological orthodoxy would have to be the Apostle Paul. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul is responsible for nearly half the New Testament canon.
Frankly, I at first was unsure as to what subject to pursue following the conclusion of our examination of the Book of Isaiah. Suddenly, the thought came to my mind of researching and examining the life, ministry and theology of the Apostle Paul. A study of Paul seemed to be a good counterbalance to the study of the Prophet Isaiah. The most significant Old Testament prophet followed by the most significant New Testament apostle seemed like a good fit.
It is certainly not because there is a dearth of materials about the apostle. There are a host of resources available about Paul. Some are evangelical, scholarly and well worth the investment of time and money. Others, not so much for they tend to be less than orthodox and much more revisionist in their viewpoint as to the Pauline authorship of many of the epistles which bear his name.
I want to study the life, ministry and theology of Paul for my own spiritual benefit and understanding. I am increasingly captivated by the goal of knowing as much as I can about this former persecutor of the church who became one of the staunchest defenders and preachers of the gospel. Perhaps there are some of you who regularly follow this column who think and feel the same way.
I have already discovered some facts about the life of Paul that either I did not know, or had forgotten. I am sure there will be more information to glean and to gather, which will fit into either of these two categories, in the days to come.
Finally, it is not my intention for either myself, or you, to simply store up information about the apostle and leave it at that. I want to be impacted and strengthened by his example and his understanding of the gospel; more so now than ever before. I want to saturate my mind with as thorough a comprehension of Paul’s epistles as is possible; especially his epistle to the Romans. I trust you will embark upon this quest with me with an equal, or greater, passion.
I encourage you to either open, or acquire, a good study Bible and begin reading the introductions to Paul’s epistles. You will discover background information, not only about each epistle, but also about Paul himself. It is a good place to start our journey into the life and ministry of this servant of Jesus Christ.
And so we begin.
Soli deo Gloria!