Who is Paul

This can be listened to here


Gate Pa – Year A 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time,

Readings:
Psalm                          Psalm: 13            
First Reading:             Genesis 22:1-4                                 
Second Reading:        Rom 6:12-23                                   
Gospel:                        Matt 10:40-42                                   

What I want to say:
I want to explore who Paul is and do a brief intro to his letter to the Romans as a starter for the next few weeks

The Sermon

       1.      Introduction- Who is Paul?

next 12 Sundays we will be reading from Paul’s letter to Romans
In light of that – thought good opportunity to spend some time with Paul
while do hear passage from one letters most Sundays
            generally tend to focus on Gospel reading
            is starting point understanding who is God
                        in light of that who we are
                        in light of that  - what is our to do
But Paul is important in all this
so next few Sundays when I am here,
spend some time exploring what Paul has to say
so to begin with
Who is Paul?
what do we know? -> ask
·         persecuted church
·         converted on road to Damascus
o   he has experience of resurrected Jesus
·         tentmaker
·         Pharisee
·         Jew – come back to this – really really important
o   never stops being Jew and seeing world from Jewish perspective
o   renegotiates his understanding of what that meant
·         missionary to Gentiles
·         church planter
·         letter writer -> again come back to this
·         called himself apostle – not appointed by any church body or other apostles
o   he like other apostles had been with risen Jesus (criteria set down when Matthias elected replace Judas)
·         theologian
o   not systematic theologian as we understand it today
o   not so much interested in making sure people believed the right thing
§  good doctrine
o   much more interested in how people lived with each other
·         radical
·         mysognist?

       2.      Why is he important?

his letters dominate New Testament
24% NT - letters attributed to him (not counting Hebrews)
½ books Acts about him – he is apostle book mostly about
pretty clear that is out of proportion to importance and influence in early church
è serious opposition to him and gospel he preached from within early church
cf 2% Peter – rock on which church built according to gospels
similar James – head Jerusalem church
            they not write letters?
            if they did – why Pauls kept and theirs not?

       3.      Paul’s letters

letters then are important just because they dominate our scriptures
first parts of NT to be written
            predate gospels by 10 to 30 years
first thing note is that Paul did not write them all
-          some he did
-          some dictated – e.g Romans
-          some thought he said “write a letter saying this” one of his followers
-          some not his at all – come later
o   dealing with issues of established church on how regulate ongoing ministry
-          Hebrews not his in any way shape or form.
it is thought Paul wrote or dictated:
Romans
1 and 2 Corinthians
Galatians
Philippians
Philemon
1 Thessalonians
Debate about
Ephesians
Colossians
è did he ask someone else to write it
è was it written later
written later by “disciples in his name”
2 Thessalonians
1 and 2 Timothy
Titus

       4.      Letters not scripture

second thing note is that they were written as occasional letters
not written as scripture
Paul not sit down and think
“today I am going to write carefully thought out letter that people can read for centuries to come to help them in their life in Christ”
nor was he mostly not setting out his theological framework
they were letters
            written off the cuff
to particular people
                        addressing particular issues in communities that he had founded
                        so that they continued follow path he had started them on
which means that to understand them we need to know
            as much as we can
            who writing to
what the issues were
and cultural context they lived in -> shapes what he is saying
thirdly – not put them in the post
-          taken by someone he trusted – often person who had written it for him
-          task would be to read it out loud to gathered community
-          then deal with questions that letter raised
o   using letter to teach and clarify
fourth thing to note
-          even letters that Paul wrote have been edited
-          e.g some people think 2 Corinthians is 2 letters that have been pushed together
-          passages have been inserted
o   e.g 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1
o   or some think 1 Corinthians 14: 34–35 – women being silent in church stuffed middle passage about prophesy in church
§  passage makes more sense without it
§  makes no sense given know women lead house churches Paul set up (he writes the letters to them)

       5.      Letter to Romans

Romans is unique
-          he did not found this church
-          people he does not know well
-          thought to be last books definitely written by him
-          writing it not to deal with issues in churches he has founded
o   but to elicit their support for his proposed missionary journey into Spain
-          carefully crafted not off the cuff
-          carefully lays out his theology
o   important because it gives best overall picture of how Paul understood what was happening in Christ event.
o   we will spend next few weeks looking at some of the big themes within this.
-          Begin first observation
o   often talk about this being Paul’s letter to church in Rome
o   writers like Katherine Grieb and others
o   suggest that this letter not letter not written to one church
§  but number house churches
§  some Jewish Christians
·         whom following torah and being Jewish was important part of being Christian
§  some Gentile Christians
·         who following Paul did not follow Torah and remained gentile
o   this letter was written to help those churches look beyond the huge and significant issues that separated them
o   instead look to gospel that united them
o   so that they might work together supporting his proposed mission.
o   how he does that we will explore over the next few weeks.

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