The Prickly Paul: What Do We Make of Him?

New in Faith Formation

Starting January 13, join us each Wednesday at 6:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall as the Pastor leads a look into the life and letters of Paul.

A Prickly Apostle

Even in his own day, people held many different opinions about Paul. These opinions weren’t always helped by Paul’s “prickly” nature. In the passing centuries, these opinioel_greco_st_paulns have only multiplied.

Some reverence Paul’s words and thoughts so deeply, anything Paul says determines how the rest of the Bible is to be interpreted.

Others approach Paul with a radical skepticism, since he (supposedly) despises women and does not challenge ancient evils such as slavery.

Who is the real Paul? How shall followers of Jesus approach the most famous follower of Jesus and the author of over half of the New Testament? How can we make better sense of his writings, which aren’t always the most accessible? As 2 Peter 3:16 says, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort.”

A Misunderstood Missionary

We would miss out on so much wisdom and truth if we read Paul through either the lens of unyielding reverence or unbending skepticism. If anything, Paul comes across as prickly because he was never one to back away from conversation, even with people who deeply misunderstood him. Of course, some ancient means of “conversing” would be considered ugly arguing in modern times. But Paul is not a modern man.

He is the first missionary to the Gentile world. Paul forever changed the world through his devotion–not to himself and his teaching–but to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and the kingdom he firmly believed had come in him.

Let’s not be afraid to enter into conversation with Paul: prickly as he can be, misunderstood as he is, firm as his letters are. There may be much to learn in these pages.