Paul and His Teachings in the Bible

Paul the Apostle was a man who lived a long time ago. He was originally known as Saul of Tarsus; he was a Jewish Pharisee.

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An open Bible.
An open Bible. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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Paul the Apostle was a man who lived a long time ago. He was originally known as Saul of Tarsus; he was a Jewish Pharisee who initially persecuted Christians.

At first, he didn’t like the people who followed Jesus. But one day, something changed his mind, and he started believing in Jesus too. He underwent a dramatic conversion experience while travelling to Damascus. He became temporarily blind, but the Lord restored his sight later. This experience led him to become a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

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After that, he travelled to many places, telling people about Jesus. He wrote letters to help and teach the new Christian groups. He became an influential figure in the early Christian church. People remember him a lot because he helped spread the ideas of Christianity.

For today’s lesson, we’re exploring important lessons from Paul’s letters in the Bible. Paul talks about being humble like Jesus and doing good things for others. He also tells us to respect our leaders and follow rules while still believing in our own faith. There’s a story about forgiveness between two people, Onesimus and Philemon, that teaches us how powerful forgiveness can be. These teachings show us how to be kind, responsible, and forgiving in our lives, just like Paul wanted people to be.

Paul popularised the church as it is known today.
Paul the Apostle is instrumental in what we have come to identify as the church today. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Exhortation of Paul on Humility and Imitating Christ

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul urges believers to emulate Christ’s humility. He tells us of how Jesus, despite his divine nature, humbly took on human form to save humanity. He encourages followers of Christ to imitate Jesus in their service to God and others.

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Similarly, in St. Peter’s writings, humility is depicted as the antithesis of pride, which led to Satan’s downfall. Peter urges believers to clothe themselves with humility as a defence against temptations from the devil.

Attributes of humility outlined in these epistles include:

  1. Respect for authority: Believers should demonstrate reverence for elders and constituted authority figures in acknowledgement of their roles and positions in society and the church.
  2. Selfless service: Christians should engage in acts of selflessness and service to humanity in tandem with Christ’s example of sacrificial love and service.
  3. Freedom from anxiety: We should live a life free from anxiety by entrusting everything to God’s care. We must understand that God’s providence is for our ultimate good.
  4. Exaltation through humility: Jesus’s humility led to his exaltation both in heaven and on earth. This illustrates the divine reward for humility—a principle that reflects God’s favour towards the humble.
An open Bible.
An open Bible. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Christian Civic Responsibility according to Paul’s Teachings

Paul’s writings in the book of Romans emphasise the importance of Christians fulfilling their civic responsibilities while navigating differing religious ideologies. He preaches the need for Christians to harmoniously balance their civic responsibilities with their religious convictions.

  1. Obedience to laws and authorities: Paul advises Christians to abide by the laws of the state and respect constituted authorities. This includes rendering useful services to the community despite differing religious beliefs.
  2. Civic duties and responsibility: Christians are encouraged to discharge their civic duties, such as paying taxes, rates, and other levies essential for community progress and development. These responsibilities contribute to the well-being and advancement of society.
  3. Obedience to God through respect for authorities: Paul notes that respecting and obeying constituted authorities is akin to obeying God Himself.
  4. Avoidance of open confrontation: Christians are urged to avoid direct confrontation or rebellion against the government. Paul cites historical examples, like the Jewish revolt against the Roman government, which led to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D., as cautionary tales against such actions.
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Read: An Account and the Significance of the Temptation of Jesus Christ

Application of Paul’s Teachings on Civic Responsibility in Daily Life

Paul’s teachings on civic responsibility offer practical guidance applicable to our daily lives. Incorporating these teachings into our daily activities can help in building a community grounded in discipline, moral education, productivity, and the avoidance of behaviours detrimental to the individual and society.

  1. Self-discipline and reliability: Doing the right things, listening to leaders, and being reliable help make a peaceful and good society. When we’re honest and do what we say, it makes our community stronger and happier.
  2. Youth mobilisation and moral education: When kids get involved in groups that teach about being good and kind like Jesus, it helps them grow up to be good people. Learning these things helps them make good choices and do nice things for others in their community.
  3. Doing useful things and avoiding bad actions: This means taking care of yourself, not depending too much on others, and staying away from things like drugs. Christians are told to work hard and avoid things that can hurt themselves or others.
The book of Paul
An illustration of letters written by Paul. Image credit: OverviewBible.

The Letter Paul Wrote about Onesimus to Philemon

There’s a story about Onesimus and Philemon in a letter from Paul. Onesimus was a slave in Philemon’s service who didn’t do well in his job. He fell short of living up to the meaning of his name, Onesimus, which means “profitable.”

Onesimus fled and ended up in Rome, where he met Paul, who was imprisoned for his faith. Paul helped him become a believer in Jesus. Onesimus found faith in Christ and underwent a transformation.

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Paul then wrote a heartfelt letter to Philemon. He asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus and treat him like a brother, even though he used to be a slave. He expressed Onesimus’s usefulness and his own trust in Philemon’s forgiveness and acceptance of Onesimus. Paul urged him to welcome Onesimus back, not just as a slave but as a beloved brother in Christ.

Lessons from Paul’s Letter to Philemon

Paul’s letter to Philemon is stuffed with a number of lessons. It posits that the ability to forgive is the essence of Christian values. The letter is also emphatic about the transformative power of faith in Christ.

  1. The letter talks about forgiving someone and making things right. It shows that forgiving is powerful and asks Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as a friend, not just as a former slave.
  2. It also talks about how believing in God helps people be forgiven. Like how God forgives us through Jesus, this letter asks Philemon to forgive Onesimus.
  3. It tells us that helping others and asking for help for them is important. Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus, just like we should help and pray for others.
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