I am wondering what you think about Luke’s purpose in dedicating so much of his writings at the back end of the book of Acts to the legal proceedings involving Paul. What is he wanting to highlight by giving essentially a quarter of the book (chapters 21-28) to the details around these matters, including a very detailed account of the shipwreck (cf. Acts 27). One thought could be that Luke wants us to see Paul in the strain of the OT prophets. Similar to Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. Luke shows Paul speaking truth to power, and repeats his calling moment (Damascus Rd experience) twice more in these final chapters. Is that it or is there more to it.
In Acts 13, Saul conflicts with the Jewish false prophet Bar-Jesus and is called by the name Paul for the first time. I explore the literary dynamics of this account a bit more closely.
Do you have any broader comments on the personal greetings and instructions at the end of Paul’s letters and their significance? Of course each one is unique, but I wondered if there’s anything we can draw more generally from their presence and recurring patterns.
I discuss the connections between Saul of Tarsus and King Saul.
How should Gentile Christians situate themselves when listening to the New Testament’s many sections which were originally directed towards Jewish Christians, but seem now in many ways to apply to Gentiles who have been raised in the the faith?
For example, large sections of Romans are clearly directed at Jewish believers (e.g. Romans 2:17-29), with the basic thrust here and elsewhere being the dangers for those who use the law to justify themselves whilst condemning others.
However, with most churches across the world now being predominantly or wholly Gentile, there will be few, if any, converted Jews in the congregation to create this tension. These passages, then, are usually reapplied as a warning to mature Gentile believers not to look down on others.
The logic of this “re-application” is obvious, as mature Gentile believers, standing atop centuries of Christendom, do find the religious Jews addressed by Paul easier to relate to than the recently converted, formerly idolatrous Gentiles he addresses elsewhere – and yet to identify with them seems to do a violence to both the text, and the categories of Jew and Gentile which God has created. Even though the dividing wall has been torn down in Christ, both categories still exist and matter in some sense. As a Gentile Christian, though my felt experience may be as an “older brother”, the reality and categories of salvation history inescapably categorise me as a “younger brother”.
However, if one preached and taught these sections with exclusive reference to Jewish Christians in congregations where you will never actually have any Jewish Christians, I imagine the result would be a lot of sermons directed at people who aren’t there!
How then should we Gentiles situate ourselves when applying these texts?”
Given that Paul is the most prominent evangelist / church planter in the Bible, why are exhortations to evangelize seemingly so rare in his work? In many parts of the evangelical church we seem to foreground the need for evangelism and background discussion of ethics, should we reverse this?
Why does Paul say that Sarah and Hagar represent two covenants in Galatians 4:21-31? Where can we see this reality in the Old Testament?