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St. Paul, Apostle | Biography

St. Paul, Apostle | Biography

Introduction

Of all the Christians that have ever lived, there is, perhaps, not one whose; life is invested with a greater interest than that; of St. Paul the Apostle.

A Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, of the strictest sect of the Pharisees, highly educated, and brought up under the eye of the chief doctor and teacher of that time, a man of position among the Jews,

he must necessarily have been one of the most conspicuous of the early converts to Christianity; even had his conversion not been miraculous.

But to us Gentile Christians, St. Paul, the Hebrew of the Hebrews, stands in a very special relation:

for he, as the Apostle of the Gentiles, reminds us that we have a claim to the promises which God made to Abraham - promises which the parenthetical dispensation of the Law could in no way disannul.

It is in St. Paul’s writings especially that we read

- of the liberty of Christians, and
- of the necessity, power, and abundance of the grace of God;
- of the personal relation to God in which all true religion consists;
- of corn science, which makes the just man a law to himself; and
- of a simple interior godliness which he speaks of as Christ being formed in us.

But while he insists on our spiritual freedom, he dwells no less strongly on our duties:

- on the sincere charity that we owe one to another;
- the care we should take to avoid scandal;
- the interior preparation with which we should approach the holy sacraments; and
- the truth and reality that should pervade our lives.

St. Paul, too, is a great example and teacher of the way in which we should conduct ourselves towards unbelievers and the civil law of the State:

For we find him not only showing charity to all men, and respect and submission to the magistrates and rulers in all that was lawful, but also availing himself of all his civil rights and privileges as a Roman citizen.

And does not the condition of our own times increase and intensify the interest which must always attach to the life of this great Apostle?

The wide-spread structure of mediaeval Christendom is broken up, and public opinion is no longer on the side of right because right is the Will of God. Nations frame laws and constitutions which recognise neither the Church, nor the God Who founded it.

As it was in the days of St. Paul, so is it now: material prosperity, luxury and pleasure, are the ends for which men live.

The Church, now as then, is a private community of believers, depending, after the grace of God, on the good-will of its members individually, and on no authority derived from civil governments.

Many a Gallio lives now indifferent to all religions; many a Demetrius who judges of religion simply by the gain it brings to the craftsmen; many an Agrippa who is all but a Christian; many a polished Nero ready to persecute.

Meanwhile, we that are within are cheered by the same hopes, and tried by many of the same temptations, as were the lot of the early Christians.

May the great Apostle of the Gentiles guide and help us in times which are growing more and more like to his own, and obtain by his prayers that Christ may live in us by grace, and truth, and peace.