PAUL: The Leading Choleric
Throughout this month we’ve explored a post-series titled “Leaders Are Everywhere: God can use anyone, from anywhere, to do anything.” This week, we come to our last Biblical leader, the Apostle Paul, the Leading Choleric.
As we’ve done with all of our Biblical leaders throughout this series, a foundation needs to be laid. To offer an adequate background on Paul, we need to start in the days when he went by the name of Saul.
Saul was a Pharisee. And the Pharisees were the religious élite of Jewish culture in that day. Saul who would become Paul, was well-trained and excelled within this Pharisaic culture.
Saul the Persecutor
In Acts 7, we read Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin. But to focus on Saul, we’re going to look at the events immediately following Stephen’s speech.
“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:54-56)
“At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:57-60)
A Couple of Items to Note:
- Saul witnessed the first of many martyrs of the early church.
- Saul, was given one of the best seats in the house, as people moved out-of-the-way and laid down their coats for him.
Then we turn over to chapter 8.
“And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:1-3)
To Destroy the Church
This became Saul’s mission as a young Pharisaic leader; “…to destroy the church.” (1:3)
For a moment, let’s jump ahead to read Paul’s own words about his Pharisaic days, when writing to the Philippian church.
“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” (Phil. 3:4b-6)
Thankfully, God had a plan for this strong-willed, persecutor of the church. God saw a man with incredible leadership potential and was about to pour out a miraculous conversion experience.
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Can I get your feedback?
Saul (Paul) was one of the greatest persecutors of the early church, yet God saved him. How does this impact your view of modern persecution?