Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Man and His Message (Part 1)



SERMON               GM15-043

SERIES:              Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained & Applied

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (Jan 11, 2015)

SUBTITLE:        The Man and His Message (Part 1)

SCRIPTURE:     Romans1:1a

SUBJECT:          The Man and His Message

SUMMARY:       The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul

SCHEME:           that the Christian grasps the ingredients that went into the making of this great man of God
_____________________________________________________________

Our theme is: The Man and His Message

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand all the ingredients that God used to make this man such a valuable player in the eternal plans of God.

 Proposition:  The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul.     

Interrogatory Sentence:  What were the ingredients that God used to make Paul into the man who played such an important role in the life of Christianity and the Church?

Transitional Sentence: This introduction and overview of the man and his message identifies four ingredients that help us see what God used to make Paul, Paul. 



The Man and His Message
 Romans 1:1a
(Part 1) 

REVIEW

We began last week with the statement that the bible is not an ordinary book. We would all acknowledge that it is God’s book. The bible is a book about God and about our relationship with God.

Last week we began what I have called our introduction and overview of the book of Romans. To properly prepare for our study of this great book I think it is crucial and essential to look at seven major areas. This is setting the stage for our study.

We looked at three areas last Sunday. We examined the reason for the arrangement or the placement of Romans in the bible. We concluded it was placed first because it is of the utmost importance to both Christianity and the Church.

We examined the accolades, or the effect of this book on the lives of men throughout history. I believe that examination is crucial so that we can truly view, understand, and appreciate the impact that this book has had on the history of Christianity and the Church.

Then we concluded our study last week with an examination of the advantages of studying the book of Romans. We concluded that some major advantages for studying Romans consisted in its intellectual value, historical value, doctrinal value, and in its spiritual value.

[So, now let’s move to the second part of this introduction and overview and look at our…]

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Our text for this morning is Romans 1:1. As a matter of fact it is the very first Word.

Our theme is: The Man and His Message

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand all the ingredients that God used to make this man such a valuable player in the eternal plans of God.

 Proposition:  The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul.     

So, let’s dig into the man and his message by looking at…

3A. THE AUTHOR (1a)

This next element in our introduction and overview will take most of our time this morning. But I think it is essential to get to know the author of this letter.

I do think at this point we are forced to stop. The very first word in this letter, is paulos, or in English, “Paul…” I truly think we need to learn about as much of Paul as we possibly can in order to appreciate both him as the writer and this remarkable book.

This man named Paul is writing to a church in Rome to a group of Christians. The majority of these believers are Gentiles.

This is an amazing thing! Why would this man write such a letter to this church? I think we can accurately answer this question as we move along.

Also, the bible is a collection of sixty-six (66) books. The bible contains historical writings, narratives, prophecies, and letters. The bible is divided into thirty (39) OT and twenty-seven (27) NT books. These books have been written by some forty (40) authors. We know in retrospect that this man, Paul, wrote thirteen (13) if not (14) of these books.

And of all of the NT authors, Paul seems to be the one author that most probably branded his personality on and in his writings.

Gilbert Murray wrote, “He is certainly one of the greatest figures in Greek literature. [1]

Paul’s letters are our primary source of information for both his life and work. The historical narrative called Acts is our secondary source of information. We have no extra-biblical, or outside of the Bible records of the life or ministry of the Apostle Paul.

There is no doubt that Paul made a wide and deep mark on world history. Paul was a man of action! He was hugely responsible for the spread of Christianity and for the development of Christian theology in the church.

As we will see, Paul was a Jew by birth but he preached the gospel to a Gentile world. He preached from Jerusalem, Syria, to Italy, and quite possibly even to Spain.

Paul preached, worked, and wrote for some thirty-five (35) years after his conversion, which was around 33AD. When we think about his work, his energy, his efforts, and his accomplishments, we have to ask ourselves:

Who was this man?
What contributed to the make-up of this man?
What did God use to prepare this unique man?

I want to look into this man Paul as deeply and thoroughly as we can. I want to look at him in several different ways; we will look at the childhood, the conversion, the credentials, and the commission of this man named Paul.

[So, let’s start with…]

1B Paul’s Childhood

[As we look at Paul’s childhood, the first thing we see is…]

1C His Place of Birth
When Paul was arrested during his last visit to Jerusalem, he was brought before the military officer who was in command of what was known as the Anonia Fortress.
This officer thought Paul was an Egyptian terrorist who had attempted a military coup. When he heard Paul speaking Greek or maybe Aramaic, he asked Paul who was he? Paul answered him:

“I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. (Acts 21:39, ESV)
The King James Version says of no mean city. He meant Tarsus was no average or plain Jane town. It was an important town.

[Let’s take a minute and look at…] 

Cilicia

First of all – Cilicia bordered the Mediterranean Sea in SE Asia Minor.

Second, Cilicia was a major trade route, and a major highway ran thru Cilicia.

[Now, let’s talk about…]

Tarsus

--was the main city of Cilicia
--was built on the River Cydnus
--it was a fortified city, it had a fort protecting the city from enemy attacks
--it was a very important trade city
--Alexander the Great saved the city from being burnt by fire by the Persians in 33 BC
--it became a Roman city
--it became the capital of the province
--it was a Free city

This meant it was a self-governed city during the Greek and Roman Imperial eras. The status was given by the king or emperor, who nevertheless supervised the city's affairs through his curator respectively. Several of these autonomous cities had also the right to issue civic coinage bearing the name of the city as a “free city”

When Augustus was Emperor, Cilicia:

--was exempt from Taxation
--the Tarsians pursued fine culture
--they studiously pursued philosophy
--was a university city
--was very prosperous

So, when Paul said he was from no average city, he was telling the truth. Tarsus was a “major player.” It was played a very important role in this Roman period.
This was the town that Paul was born in and that God used to prepare Paul to become the Apostle to the Gentiles and the author of this letter. Paul grew up in a large, well-to-do, highly cultural, sophisticated, and philosophical capital city. These elements played a major part in the life of our author.

[Let’s move from his place of birth to…]

2C His Period of Birth

First, we have no biography or record of the birth and life of Paul. As we said earlier the only info that we have is from Paul’s letters and the historical narrative of Luke.
Paul was possibly born between 5 BC and AD 5. He was probably born around the time Jesus was born. Most scholars think he was born at least a decade within Christ’s birth.

What is most notable about his time of birth is most think that Paul was born in the first ten (10) years of the birth of Christianity.

Pau’s place of birth was Tarsus of Cilicia and the period of birth was around the time of Jesus birth.

[The third element that God used to prepare Paul was…]

3C The Parents of His Birth

The military officer in charge of Paul and his hearing or arraignment was very surprised to learn that Paul was a Roman citizen. This officer was very proud of his citizenship. He had paid a huge sum of money for his citizenship.

Paul replied to him:  “I was born a citizen!” (Acts 22:27)
Now, for Paul to have been born a citizen Paul’s father had to have been a Roman citizen.

How did Paul’s family, a Jewish family, acquire this highly coveted prize?

First - Paul’s parents were most likely not absorbed in Gentile ways through assimilation or compromise. They probably were not very “worldly” and active in the Gentile and Roman social and political scene. How do we know this?

Remember Paul said that he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” (Phil 3:5)

He was raised in a very orthodox manner by parents who must have been very orthodox themselves. Otherwise Paul would have been very “worldly” socially and politically. He wouldn’t have been able to say that he was a Hebrew of Hebrews.

Second - we can’t be sure how his parents, mainly his father became free born citizens.
--we can surmise that Paul’s grandfather or possibly great-grandfather performed some type of great service to Rome. He was rewarded with citizenship with allowed his son, Paul’s father to be a citizen, thus enabling Paul to be a citizen by birth.

--Paul’s parents seemed to be well-off. Only the upper-crust were free-born. They quite possibly owned their own business. Paul was taught the trade of tent-maker. His parents may have owned a fabric, canvas, type business that made and/or repaired tents.

Sadly, we know nothing else about his parents. We don’t know their names, character, or anything about their personality, or etc.

[The fourth element that God used to prepare this great man was…]

4C The Pedigree of Paul

[To clearly see and appreciate this pedigree, let’s start with…]

1D Paul’s Name

As a Roman citizen Paul would have had three (3) names:

--He had a forename – praenomen
--He had a family name – nomen
--He had an additional name – cognomen (gentile)

Of these names we only know his praenomen and his Gentile name. He might have chosen Paulus because of its repetition of vowels that cause it to rhyme with his Jewish name of Saulus.

Saul is written as Saulos - Paul is written as Paulos

Even though it might make a good Sunday school lesson, Paul did not become Paul at his conversion. He had already been Paul.
Paul would have used his Jewish name Saul at home and in the Synagogue.
He would have used his Gentile name in the community or the market-place and when dealing with Gentiles.

[Now, let’s look at…]

2D Paul’s Nationality (citizenship)

Paul used his Roman citizenship status on at least two (2) occasions.

--@ Philippi
--@ Jerusalem

As a citizen, a free born citizen, Paul was entitled to all the rights and privileges as a Roman citizen anywhere in the Roman Empire.

--the rights and responsibilities of being a Roman citizen were written down and supplemented since the time of the beginning of Rome around 509 BC

Some of the things citizenship afforded Paul were:

--citizens were entitled to fair and public trials; no secret trials
--exempt from terrible forms of punishment, horrendous public beatings, crucifixion
--protected against summary execution, they were not to be arrested and executed without a trial

When a person said, “ciuis Romanus sum – “I am a Roman citizen”, how did he prove it?

First of all, it was a capital crime to falsely claim to be a Roman citizen. You would be put to death after a trial proving you falsely claimed to be a citizen.

--A new citizen might have his citizenship certificate with him

--As an established citizen, they might have a diptych – a pair of folding tablets containing birth documents

--It is possible traveling citizens carried their paperwork with them as they frequently moved about

--This could be a problem with Paul

He would undoubtedly at times face bandits or robbers who could steal his papers
He was shipped wrecked and could lose them in the water

As a matter of fact He spent about 18 hours in the water on one occassion
He was jailed on occasion, where his things, including his papers could be lost, stolen, or confiscated

He had to leave more than one town in a hurry where he might not be able to grab everything.

3D Paul’s Nature (Jewish heritage)

If possible there was something more important to Paul than his birthplace or Roman citizenship – this was his Jewish heritage

Granted – this heritage in referred to by Paul from a Christian perspective
Listen to him from Philippians 3:6

-Circumcised on the 8th day – in keeping with Jewish law given by God thru Moses
-Of the nation of Israel (Jewish) – God’s chosen and peculiar people
-Of the tribe of Benjamin -  the favorite child of  & King Saul was a Benjaminite
-A Hebrew of Hebrews -  very proper, very fundamental
-A Pharisee -  coveted position of leadership and noteriety

Paul was a Jew by birth!        
                             
He belonged to the tribe of Benjamin

Benjamin, according to biblical tradition, was one of the 12 tribes that constituted the people of Israel, and one of the two tribes (along with Judah) that later became the Jewish people. The tribe was named after the younger of two children born to Jacob (also called Israel) and his second wife, Rachel.

After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land and, dividing the territory among the 12 tribes, assigned south-central Palestine to the tribe of Benjamin. Members of the tribe were separated when two distinct kingdoms were established after the death of King Solomon (922 BC) and the territory of Benjamin was divided between them. Jews belonging to the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel disappeared from history after the Assyrian conquest of 721 BC and are known in legend as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

The Benjaminites in the southern kingdom of Judah were assimilated by the more powerful tribe of Judah and gradually lost their identity. Modern Jews thus consider themselves to be descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin or are classed as Levites to indicate an affinity with the religious functionaries who at one time exercised the priesthood in ancient Israel. Saul, the first of Israel’s kings, and St. Paul the Apostle were both of the tribe of Benjamin.

Second – He was a Hebrew of Hebrews

He probably attended synagogues where the service was conducted in Hebrew
Hebrew was probably his first language

Paul was born into a Jewish family, possibly a wealthy family, as a Roman citizen in a Greek speaking city, although speaking Hebrew at home and Aramaic in the city.

Paul’s family were very strict observers of Jewish way of life. He was raised a very strict orthodox.

A Jew born @ Tarsus in Cilicia
Brought up in Jerusalem
Educated by Gamaliel

Listen to Galatians 1:14 – “And I was advancing in Judaism beyond any of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the tradition of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:14, ESV)

Third – Paul said he was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5, 23:6)

Who were the Pharisees?

The Pharisees first appeared in the middle of the second century BC around 160-143 BC

There were three (3) schools of thought among the Jews

·        Pharisees – they believed in one God, they tried to believe both free will and predestination.
·        Sadducees – they believed in the total freedom of the will to choose God
·        Essenes – they believed in predestination by God of all beings

The Pharisees believed in divine predestination and human choice.

Pharisees had a passionate devotion to the law

They hated the change to Judaism by way of the Greek influences on Jewish life

The Word Pharisee shares a root with a Hebrew and Aramaic word meaning “separate.”

Pharisees means “separated ones” They represented the staunch separation from anything morally or ceremonially unclean.

The Pharisees took great pains to:

                     Observe the Sabbath
                     Observe food restrictions
                     Tithe – even to the smallest spice

They built a system equal to Scripture and it was called, “The Tradition of the Elders.”

In Paul’s day there were two (2) schools of Pharisees

The school of Shammei – very strict, much more than the other
The school of Hillel

So what kind was Paul? What school did he subscribe to?

First, he was taught by Gamaliel who succeeded Hillel.

And second, Paul seems to have a bit of a different attitude than Gamaliel. He might have been more closely aligned to Shammei in practice. Paul seemed to be more straight-laced and by the book.

5C The Preparation of Paul

•        At 5 children began memorizing Scripture (OT)

•        At 10 they began learning the Mishnah (the first major written redaction of the           Jewish oral traditions known as the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work            of Rabbinic literature.)

•        At 13 the males were considered to be subject to the law & sons of the law

Saul was probably sent to Jerusalem around the age of 13. He left Tarsus for Jerusalem to live in the house of Gamaliel and study.

It was these influences that lead to the person we know as Paul. He was strict, he was zealous, he was passionate, and he was unstoppable.

That was a Paul’s Childhood! Quite a remarkable childhood and upbringing he had, wasn’t it?

To develop a full understanding and appreciation of this letter by Paul, I think it is crucial that we get to know this man. What he was and what he became had an impact on his writings including this letter.

Our theme has been: The Man and His Message

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand all the ingredients that God used to make this man such a valuable player in the eternal plans of God.

 Proposition:  The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul. 

[Well, let’s wrap this up, shall we?]
         
CONCLUSION

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God prepared Paul by using the city and its influences where he was born. God used his parents, particularly the strict disciplinarian of his father. He used his flavor of Judaism and commitment to the law. All these things were used by God prepare Paul for his future calling and work as an apostle to the Gentiles.

God uses a number of elements to prepare his people for service and obedience. Do not discount where you were born or raised, this influence of your parents, your Christian training and development and even your education. The power and the results are God’s. The obedience is yours

We don’t know what Paul’s father said or what he did or how he felt when the midwife told him he had a son. Paul’s childhood shaped this man who became the author of this great letter to the Romans. [Exhortation…]

  And So, I exhort you as genuine believers to take some time this coming year and study the life of Paul in order to gain insight into this remarkable individual chosen by God in order to see the work of grace in his life enabling you understand the work of grace in your life.

Remember the Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:2…

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2, NKJV) 

 Let’s pray! J

Benediction Blessing:
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:23, NKJV)


[1] G. G. Murray, Four Stages of Greek Religion (New York, 1912), p. 146

2 comments:

Our Simple Life3 said...

I just came across your blog, and what a blessing it is..
Blessings Renee
https://oursimplelife3.wordpress.com/

Gregg Metcalf said...

Thank you very much! Hope you come back often and please leave a comment!