By Tyson Thorne

February 14, 2018

Paul Large

This November Hollywood will release a movie that should be interesting to believer's everywhere, Paul, Apostle of Christ. The movie will chronicle the life of Paul as told in the book of Acts. The title role is played by James Faulkner (of Game of Thrones and Downtown Abbey) and is accompanied by Jim Caviezel (The Passion and Person of Interest) playing Luke. The movie is being directed by Andrew Hyatt (Full of Grace, The Last Light, and The Frozen). In anticipation of the movie, we've produced this brief introduction to the man so you will be able to judge if the movie hits the mark.

Paul was an intellectual giant, speaking as profoundly today to a modern audience as to the early, original readers. He spoke in a way that was characteristic of Greek thought, and wrote in Greek with eloquence. His teaching was for the Jew first, but had its impact in the Gentile community. His influence is clear in both European and North American thought. For this reason it is easy to think of Paul as a Westerner like ourselves, but that would be a mistake. Paul was a Jew — first and always — and we must understand him from this perspective.

Let's look at his name as an example. Many teach that Saul was a Jew who persecuted the followers of Jesus, and Paul was the Christian who wrote most of the New Testament. While both refer to the same man, it is thought that he took the name Paul upon his "conversion" to Christianity. This is incorrect. Paul, like most Jews of that time, had both a Jewish and a Roman name. Paul never ceased to be Saul. Just like Simon was the Jewish name for Peter (his Roman name). The man we call Paul was raised and trained as a Jew, and this is something he never stopped being. Remember, at this time in history there is no institution of Christianity. Jesus taught he was the Jewish Messiah, Paul came to believe Jesus and continued along a fork of Judaism that saw Jesus as Messiah. There was no "conversion", but instead a change of mind within his Jewish belief system.

This is clear from much of Paul's actions in Acts. He celebrates the feasts, and adheres to customary washing and other ceremonies. He even visits the synagogues in each city he brings the gospel to first, and takes the gospel to the Gentiles second. His love for Israel and his fellow countrymen is never in question. So why is this important? Because how we understand Paul changes how we understand his writings and his tactics. It also changes how most of Western Christianity understands the role of Israel in God's redemptive plan. We must conclude that Jesus coming in the flesh wasn't the end of God's plans for Israel. We should have renewed respect for Messianic Jews who, to this day, continue trying to reach their countrymen just as Paul did. It's why we are instructed to "pray for Israel" in the book of Revelation. I challenge you to sit down today and read the book of Galations with this perspective in mind and see what you learn.



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