Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paul: A people-person?

When you think of Paul in the Bible, what characteristics do you think of? Do you think of him as a missionary, as a writer, maybe as a scholar? Some non-Christians have even accused him of being a male chauvinist pig. But when you examine Romans 16, you see that Paul was intensely interested in people. In fact, judging by Romans 16, Paul might even be said to show more interest in people than anyone else in the Bible except Jesus!

“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” (Romans 16:1-2)

Phoebe is a pagan name, a feminine form of Phoibos, which was a name given to the god Apollo. But she had become a Christian.

Since Phoebe is the only one commended to the church (the first time the word “church” appears in Romans), it seems likely that she was the bearer of the letter to the church at Rome. She probably had people traveling with her, since it was not safe for a woman to travel alone in the ancient world. She was probably single and a prominent, wealthy woman, since it took money to travel, especially with companions. She had been a servant to the church in Cenchrea (the eastern port of Corinth).

In Romans 16:3-16, Paul sends greetings to over 24 people in Rome, even though he had never been in Rome. When you think about the fact that there was no Internet back then, no TV, no radio, no phones, and not even a postal service as we have today, it is amazing that Paul knew all these people, and knew so much about them. Paul knew most of them personally, so they may have been people he had come to know in his travels and missionary work. As far as the others, possibly someone had come from that city (like Priscilla and Aquila, for example) and had told Paul about them. He may have led some of them to Christ, or maybe they worked with him, or they might have been with him in prison. In any case, Paul remembered them and had kept track of them.

7 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

Yes, Paul was a scholar and a people person. Something for us Christian bloggers to remember with our conduct.

Greg said...

Paul became a "people person" on that road to Damascus, I think. He received a genuine love and concern for lost souls and the young in Christ. He took his mission very seriously (as did many of the other early Christians), and it's an inspiration to us all. :)

And I think he was better off without the Internet... too much of a distraction, don't you think??? ;)

Jeff said...

Russ,

Yes, Paul was a scholar and a people person. Something for us Christian bloggers to remember with our conduct.

Yes, in blogging and in real-world encounters.

Jeff said...

Greg,

He received a genuine love and concern for lost souls and the young in Christ. He took his mission very seriously (as did many of the other early Christians), and it's an inspiration to us all. :)

I totally agree. Each of us who are saved should pray to have a burden for souls and a love for people.

And I think he was better off without the Internet... too much of a distraction, don't you think??? ;)

The Internet provides many different positive opportunities (for example, blogging), but it also provides many pitfalls, dangers and negative opportunities for various addictions and distractions. It can also prevent us, to some degree, from having real-world interaction with others, but at the same time, it also offers new ways to interact with others, and to interact with people around the world whom we would otherwise never meet (though the 'interaction' is only a virtual one, and not face-to-face...although it might be compared to having pen pals).

Before I got a computer, I used to spend more time outside, more time exercising, more time reading books, etc. However, we live in a technological age, and for better or worse, IPods, cell phones, texting, PlayStation 3, Facebook, MySpace, blogging, and etc. have become a part of the world we live in. A little over a year ago, I considered throwing away my computer completely, but then I lost my job, and I found that the computer can be a huge asset when it comes to looking for employment, creating and printing your Resume, emailing potential employers, etc.

Similarly, before I had a credit card, I used to buy everything with cash. That had some definite advantages (i.e., not going into debt), but it also had definite limitations (i.e., not being able to buy certain things like a car or a house, without credit).

Jeff said...

Greg,

Several weeks ago, my sister introduced me to Facebook. I joined and went on for a few minutes. Several days or a couple weeks later, I went on it again, just for a couple minutes or so, but it did not really intrigue me. Then, Russ forcibly pushed me into it by tempting and coaxing me, basically twisting my arm, hard, until I had no choice but to give in and become a full-time Facebook addict. For the past few weeks, I have been wasting hours on Facebook, and that is why I have not been posting articles on a daily basis like I used to, on my blog site. I am now addicted to Facebook, and its all Russ' fault.

(LOL, just kidding, Russ!)

It made it worse when I got my brother to join, and he is now addicted to several of the games on Facebook. With some of the games, you can advance much faster when you invite others to join Facebook or invite others to play the game as well. My brother found out a way to invite a ton of people, for the sake of getting them to help you advance faster in the game, and, after applying his secret, I now have over 100 friends on Facebook (most of whom I have never met). One negative side of that is that I daily receive invitations and requests for various games and applications on Facebook. I've had almost a hundred Facebook notifications in one day, of things that people sent me or asked me to join. Outside of playing the vast number of available games on Facebook, just responding to all those notifications, invitations and requests every day, can eat up a good portion of your day.

Russ' suggestion that I join Facebook was for the purpose of advertising my blog. I also see it as an evangelistic opportunity. Though it can be helpful toward networking, it, like all the other technological wonders of our day, is also filled with pitfalls and temptations and all kinds of ways to waste your time.

Farrah said...

Mainly as an evangelist, but there are a few things that jumped to mind. One is the sorrow people expressed when he was leaving them, showing the close relationships he had with them.

Another is when he said his letters were considered to be quite the opposite of his conduct:

2 Cor. 10:1,11 "Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you...
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." So I think he was not too overbearing in person. Probably patient and "apt to teach."

I think he was a very smart guy:

Acts 23:6,7 [6] "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided."

He earned the respect of some of the highest people of his time during his prison years, which says something about his speaking skills and intelligence.

I think he enjoyed debating and discussing scripture and teaching others. "Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him."

Lots of love in his letters and lots of admonition.

Jeff said...

Farrah,

Very excellent points you make. Good insight.