DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
To discuss St Paul at any Seminar or Conference is to raise a controversial issue, which makes the audience remain awake to the complex, but yet simple qualities that made him and still make him an indisputable champion of mission and evangelization. If the theme of Paul should raise eyebrows at theological seminars and conferences, then writing a book to be published on Paul should be much more complicated, though most fascinating. This is what I am doing here, and gladly too. I have been 'asked' (a word which suits the name 'Saul' as we shall see briefly) to develop the paper I delivered at the theological seminar organized on the Jubilee celebration of the Apostle Paul by the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, on 4th May, 2009.1 shall carry out this task on St Paul who was also 'asked' by way of divine intervention in his life on the road to Damascus to stop persecuting the 'WORD', but rather 'evangelize' the Gentiles, and by implication all nations. I will not refuse this mandate just as Saul could not do otherwise when the hand of God gripped him.
However, it is important to emphasize from the onset that no particular epoch has ever finished discussions on St. Paul. Thus, it is not only a fact that his pre-conversion era makes him relevant for the discussion of Christian Evangelization but also that his post-conversion period manifests Christian Evangelization as a divine mandate rooted in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is a personality of a great peculiarity. It is rare to find any other one like him in Church history and in Christian theology - of noble birth, highly educated, brutal, anti-Christ, and later on a champion of the Gospel of Salvation, of peace and love, of grace, etc. Indeed, he is a model of discipleship and Christian faith. It is also his multi-faceted thematic consideration of issues in his writings that has made many scholars regard his letters to be extremely difficult to understand. Even St Peter himself complained about Paul's style in 2Pt 3:16'. Paul's intellectual sophistication and complexity are to be noticed as well in the very statement of Festus at the former's defense (See Acts 26:24)2.
Paul might have been considered complex by other people as we have just read. Yet, he describes himself and his demeanour in seemingly simple expressions of weakness. He argues that he proclaims the Word/Mystery of God, not in lofty words of wisdom but in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (1Cor 2:1-5). However, he acknowledges also the influence of the Holy Spirit in his weakness, especially in carrying out God's injunction to evangelize all nations, 'not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Indeed, Paul was a very wise missionary, able to blend his weaknesses and strength for the kingdom of God.
His wisdom and lofty learning are observed in the wide-range of topics treated in his speeches, writings, and pastoral letters: the law, gospel, grace, justification, adoption, flesh and spirit, freedom, faith, hope, love, obedience, etc. These themes have also remained objects of serious theological and religious discussions in the last two Millennia; and might continue to be so for a long time to come. Other issues of important :he discussion on St. Paul include his special consideration of the theme of Resurrection, the Eucharist, Suffering, Miracles, Charisms and Speaking in tongues, Sin, Marriage, Sexuality, Civil Authority, Preaching, Mission, Jews and Gentiles, Evangelization, Women, etc. Paul cannot overlook in the discussion of Christology, Ecclesiology, Pneumatology Morality, Anthropology, Demonology, and Eschatology. One can therefore, that these wide-ranging issues and topics have contribute make Paul appear both complex, difficult and simple to scholars non-scholars alike. It is the complexity and simplicity of this apostle "all nations' that will occupy our attention in this book, divided into se sections: Introduction, the personality of Paul and his background, immediate post-conversion experiences, his three missionary journey the return to Jerusalem and his immediate experiences in the hands of Jews, Paul and his letters, the fate of the cities evangelized by Paul toe and the relevance of St Paul for Evangelization today, where I emphasis the need for sincere dialogue between religions in order to foster peace and understanding in the world. It is a challenging, but not an impossible task if carried out in the spirit of the transformed Saul on the road Damascus. My contribution here is a simple reflection on his mission’s activities, as well as their relevance for us today, in the bid to continue the work of evangelization handed to us by Christ, docete omnesgent (cf. Mt.28:18-20)5.
In the writing of this book, one fact is certain - that the 'primary source are the letters written by Paul himself whereas the account by Luke in tl Acts of the Apostles remains a very important source as well. However: is not to be forgotten that the Lukan account of the Acts of the Apostle is basically a theological narrative with apologetical purposes. The second feature does not reduce its qualitative importance when we talk of data available for the understanding of Paul as a missionary, evangelist, theologian7, etc.
THE APOSTLE OF EVANGELIZATION
PAUL: HIS BACKROUND
To know Paul and his later mission as apostle, it is important to know his birth place and the circumstances surrounding his growth into a practicing Jew, and his avowed religious commitment to the dictates of the Mosaic Law. Paul was born in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia in the southeastern corner of Asia Minor, where East met West as perhaps in no other city of the Roman Empire. Tarsus is in the present–day Turkey. A.P. Davies argues that nowhere could an environment have been found more suited to the needs of one whose chosen mission would require the blending of Judaic and Hellenistic thought. It is here that Paul, the great Apostle of all nations was born and bred up (Acts 9:11; 2:39; 22:3) between 5 or 7 and 10 AD4. There were good schools in Tarsus, although not be compared qualitatively with the famous universities of Athens and Alexandria. However, Tarsus had the exceptional characteristic of evoking more enthusiasm for education than did either of these great cities5.
In fact, there was a great longing for Hellenistic learning for every Tarsian, whether formally educated or not. In other words, there was great Greek influence on every Tarsian. Greek theater was also not left out in this role.
It is interesting to note that the variety of attractions offered by Greek culture was somehow forbidden – strictly indeed – for every orthodox Jew. But it is also important to note that although active participation was a taboo, it was hardly possible not to observe the games. This is the situation in which Paul, the Tarsian Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, (Rom 11:1, Ph 3:5) found himself. Paul describes himself in his own letters that he was at least an interested and keen spectator of such Greek games. In one form or the other, therefore, every Jew came to know something about Greek tragedy and its moral implications or dilemmas, its wistful despairs and its unsparing portrayal of reality6. It is argued that whoever lived in tarsus and spoke Greek breathed the Hellenisti spirit no matter what his faith or nationality7.
Tarsus was great meeting point for trade and commerce, as well as for famous theologians and philosophers from Alexandria. Tarsus is described therefore as Oriental and Greek simultaneously. The Aramaic of Syria was spoken there, while majority of women wore veils according to the majority. This is why it is said that even after many centuries following the Greek and Roman conquests, the images of Asian deities were still engraved on Tarasian coins.
One could rightly ask about position of an orthodox Jew in the face of this religious pluralism and syncretism. The answer is simple and direct for a strict Jew like Paul: it is idolatry, though one that affected even the mind that repulsed8. Every thinking mind in Tarsus was therefore curious to know about the salvation cults with variety of rituals, their “mater dolorsas”, their dying redeemers, etc. Added to these rites were pageants, passion plays, and public liturgical dramas. It is argued that a Jew could be strict but he could not live in Tarsus though it were Jerusalem. This is the enticing and challenging atmosphere in which Paul found himself.
As already implied in the foregoing explications, Paul was a Tarsian Jew known by three names: in Hebrew, ‘Shaul’; in Greek, ‘Paulos’; in Latin, ‘Paulus’. We learn in Acts 13:13 that his name was change from Shaul (Saul) to Paul. A popular explanation, though not necessarily sufficient, has been offered in the course of the centuries, thus: “where Aramaic was spoken, it was natural to call him Shaul, and this is what he is called in the book of Acts when he is in an Aramaic- speaking environment in which, as he moves forward on his journeys, most of the rest of his life will be spent, he is called by his Greek name, Paulos. His Latin name would be seldom used since the common language of the Roman Empire was Greek”9.
It is also held that Paulus, a seemingly Roman cognomen, of high-ranking families was more used than Saulos because the latter “is an offensive word in Greek, meaning an effeminized man, and therefore would have been objectionable”. On the other hand, it is true that the writer of the Acts of the Apostles uses saulos until the sudden change in Acts 13, but in rendering Shaul into Greek, Saulos is the inevitable equivalent. It could also mean that it was used in translating an Aramaic source, and not without embarrassment. Moreover, no sooner had Paul’s journeying provided the logical opportunity, had man lost any time in making the change to Paulos. Paul admits that he is unpolished in speech, though insistent that he is not lacking in knowledge (2 Cor. 6:6). In fact, he received a thorough education in Jerusalem in the scriptures and the Judaic Law under the great teachers, Gamaliel. He was a learned Pharisee. Paul also boasts the he is easily understood – an assumption – which may have been true of his discourses, but is certainly not of his letters. Paul was a Grecian Jew, not a Palestinian, and thought, as well as wrote as such. The Greek cultural background is presumed to have been acquired as a boy in Tarsus. It is to be observed in his logical method, language, and style. He also quoted Greek writers (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33), and was at home with stoic philosophy (2Cor. 5:6-8); Cynicism, from which he borrowed the question and answer method or diatribe (Rom 3:1-9, 27-31); Rhetoric’s (2Cor. 6: 4–10). Paul never attempted attic elegance and deliberately avoided rhetoric’s since his major concern was not necessarily the form but the content of his message of faith and by the signs the Spirit had promised to provide to confirm it (Rm. 15:18; 1Cor 2:4; 1Th. 1–5). This is perhaps also why his grammar is sometimes wrong and his sentences unfinished (1Cor. 9:15). Another reason why Paul is often considered not to be very elegant in his literary method is because of the spontaneity and emotion associated with most of his literary works. Paul is said to have dictated most of his letters (Rm. 16:22) with rare exceptions as in Philemon 19. He is said to have written only the final greeting in order to append his signature and authority to the letters (1Cor. 16:21, Gal 6:11, Col 4:18; 2Th 3:17). Although most of his letters are associated with spontaneity and lack of revision, Col 1:15 – 20 suggests a passage written after a long and careful thought. The literary complexities seen in most of Paul’s letters could have been the reason of Peter’s complaint that Paul was not easily understood (2Pt 3:16). Above all, one observed that Paul’s letters are a clear and profound manifestation of his deep religious conviction and literary power. It is not be forgotten that the majority of his letters are responses to contextual problems and situations in particular churches. They are instruction meant for specific circle of readers and audiences. They are also by implication directed to all the faithful since the basic point de depart of all his message is that “Christ died and was raised from dead”.
In addition to giving instructions to various Christian communities, Paul was a tent – maker, that is, self-employed. He was perhaps at certain intervals an “apostolos”11 of the Temple hierarchy, which meant that he belonged to the group that collected and carried contributions of Jews in Diaspora to Jerusalem. This was also an annual and regular practice. He had learnt a trade like other rabbis as precautionary measure to keep life going in difficult situations and times. He acknowledged such to the Philippians community (Phil. 4:12)12, that he knew experienced moments of buoyancy and deprivation.
As a Pharisee who believed himself to have been called by God in a special way, we can say that Paul “was not greatly interested in reminding his readers of his pre–Christian life. Only on a few occasions does he refer to this period, each time in a more or less polemic or apologetic context”13. In fact, he discusses his pre–Christian life in a few passages: Phil 3:4-6; Gal 1:13–14; 2Cor. 11:22, and Rom 11:1. He either defended himself against preachers who wanted to cling to the Jewish customs he had apparently left behind, or he emphasizes the independence of his gospel and authority from that of the apostles in Jerusalem, or even directed his arguments against his opponents who seemed to have boasted about their Jewish backgrounds. Paul proudly characterizes himself as an Israelite and a descendant of Abraham, precisely, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul is said to make this special emphasis to prove that God has not cast away his people – that God did not Paul the church is by no means something new that dissolves the relationship between God and his people. Instead, he emphasizes that Paul considers the church the direct continuation of this relationship (cf. Rom 9: 6 – 13)14. The church is seen as an Israel within Israel, the inner circle of election. It is also for Paul, who was murdered in Rome as martyr during the persecutions of Nero in AD 67, the chosen remnant of Israel into which the Gentiles are welcomed.
THE APOSTLE PAUL: AS SAUL
Paul never set out to write his autobiography, although we can deduce a lot from his own writings and letters to communities, congregations, and individuals – most of whom were his missionary colleagues. But the best secondary source on his life and missionary activities is the account of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. To understand Paul, the first question to ask about him is the duality of identification associated with his person and name: as Saul and as Paul. Let us begin with the name, Saul, since it appeared first in the designation of Paul in the biblical account of this great figure, “Shaul” is a Hebrew word and name meaning “Asked”. It is a name associated with the first king of Israel when he asked Samuel to appoint a king to rule them (cf. 1Sam 8:5,7; 9:16) like their neighbours who had their own kings. There is an important distinction to be made n the quest associated with name, Saul, both in the Old and New Testaments. Whereas in the Old Testament account of this name, it is associated with the direct request by Israel to God to have a king to rule them in order to overcome their enemies, in the New Testament, it is God himself “asking” Saul to go on a mission of evangelization for Him. Saul was asked, not only stop persecuting Christ in his apostle and church, but also to become an apostle to the Gentiles.
The name Paul has its own peculiarity as well. The Latin word, “Paulus” means literarily, “small, short”, which concurs with the physical stature of the great apostle Paul. Thus, one can say that whereas the Latin “Paulus” refers to the small man chosen by God to work for Him, the Hebrew “Shaul” defines his mission of evangelization to all nations by a special divine intervention. According to Vincent Onwukeme, “Paul was a small man asked by our Lord to evangelize the world on his behalf”15. It is to this exceptionally small man that the world of scripture and lay scholars alike has accorded a lot of respect for his erudition and missionary prowess. A great majority of scholars have unanimously agreed to uphold the fact the Paul’s letters are the earliest documents of the New Testament, though one of the last to be called to become an apostle. Paul is said to be the last but not the least in the apostolic college. He did not see Jesus Christ walking the streets of Jerusalem, yet his account of him is irresistibly foremost in the understanding of Christ’s mission of salvation on earth. The small man asked to preach to all nations also become one of the greatest orators and pastors human history has witnessed in the last two Millennia. He was not only a teacher of exceptional qualities. He became and is still a model of missionary work. Since God endowed Paul with these wonderful qualities, it is not irrelevant to consider his own relevance for the work of evangelization today. As I have already mentioned, this is the impetus for this book.
Bearing this fact in mind, then it becomes necessary for us to know why Paul is indispensable in understanding the Christ-event in our lives as Christians, and in our dealing with non-Christians as well. It is not only his personal qualities that challenge us as Christians, but also his journeys, vision, suffering, and his friendship with others. Paul is very relevant for any pluralistic and heterogeneous society like ours today. Paul’s life speaks to us concretely and demands a realistic response 16. Paul was and remains a model to dialogue, though often fiery in his approach to issues concerning his faith as a convinced and transformed Christian.
When I read the Lukan account of Paul and his own letters concerning his journeys and experiences – on foot and by sea – I imagine the type of energy he was endowed with by the risen Lord who asked him to preach to the gentiles. But Paul never exaggerated his strength-he made it clear to all that he was weak and that it was the grace of God that always sustained him. It is the combination of human weakness and spiritual strength that has made Paul a missionary model for many Christians. Paul was a worthy ambassador of Christ (2Cor 5:20) and challenges all of us to be the same in the 21st Century and beyond, though the first time this great name in the history of Christians, Saul (Acts 7:59). St Luke writes, “The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a Youngman call Saul”17. It is important to note that the Scriptures are referring to the false witnesses” at the trial of Jesus similarly brought the accusation that “he would destroy the Temple”. There is also a similarity in the climax of the two trials, Acts 7:56 – 57 and Matt. 26: 62-66, in which allegations concerning Mosaic practice will be made in Paul’s case as well (Acts 15:1.5; 21:21,28;25:8;28:17). Paul as Saul approved of the killing of Stephen and other Christians (Acts 8:1). He did so with the conviction that Christians were abusing Yahweh and that they were violating his covenant (Dt. 17:3). In fact, they were guilty of idolatry and merited death by stoning.
The nobility and prominence of Saul as a Pharisee in the Jewish society gave credence to the killing of Stephen (Acts 7: 58; 22:20) and other Hellenist Christians at the early period of Christian evangelization. He persecuted them because they had dissociated themselves from the Judaism centered on the Temple in Jerusalem (Acts 8:3; 22:4; Gal 1:13). Saul was convinced Jew and persecuted Christians out of ignorant religious conviction in the Mosaic tradition-a he would later on acknowledge that Jesus came to accomplish in its fullness. He went “from house to house arresting both men and women and sending them to prison (Act 8:3)20. In fact, he embraced the mission of scattering and destroying the Church. He hated the disciples and Christians who are thus associated with the small circle of those first adherents of Jesus who are called by this name in the gospels.
It did not take long before his avowed persecution of the Gospel and the Church turned to be the greatest instrument of his conversion. Saul’s conversion ended his era as Saul as well as his brutal and violent relationship with God and his human instruments of evangelization, the Disciples of Christ. Thus, on the road to Damascus21, c. AD 34, he became converted and his life was changed when the risen Lord opened his mind to the truth of the Christian faith and revealed that he has been chosen him to be the Apostle of the Gentiles (Acts9:3-16).
To understand Paul in the course of this exposition and his entire missionary Endeavour, it persecuted them because they had dissociated themselves from the Judaism centred on the Temple in Jerusalem (Acts 8:3; 22:4; Gal. 1:13). Saul was a convinced Jew and persecuted Christians out of ignorant religious conviction in the Mosaic tradition-a tradition he would later on knowledge that Jesus came to accomplish in its fullness. He went "from-o use to house arresting both men and women and sending them to prison Acts 8:3)20. In fact, he embraced the mission of scattering and destroying the Church. He hated the disciples and manifested it through his actions. Disciples' in this context refer to the Christians who are thus associated with the small circle of those first adherents of Jesus who are called by • s name in the gospels.
It did not take long before his avowed persecution of the Gospel and the Church turned to be the greatest instrument of his conversion. Saul's .inversion ended his era as Saul as well as his brutal and violent relationship with God and his human instruments of evangelization, the triples of Christ. Thus, on the road to Damascus21, c. AD 34, he became; inverted and his life was changed when the risen Lord opened his mind: the truth of the Christian faith and revealed that he had chosen him to e the Apostle of the Gentiles (Acts 9:3-16).
To understand Paul in the course of this exposition and his entire missionary; endeavour, it is important to realize that he was a person of great indication. He believed and pursued his ideals without fears or favours. Whether as a devout Jew or as a converted Christian, what mattered to him was God, and as his servant, he never compromised anything to satisfy his conscience in the service of his creator. Single-mindedly, he persecuted those he considered according to Jewish custom, as God's enemies (Acts 24:5, 14) and later as Christian, preached and served Christ with unwavering fervor as the universal Savior. This is to say that Paul knew and accepted his divinely given work as a preacher, which entailed hard work, exhaustion, suffering, poverty, and danger of death. Did these foretold dangers and difficulties weaken Paul? No! Rather, they strengthened his resolve to love Christ till the end of his life (Rom.8:35–39). He welcomed Christ as his crucified Master (2 Cor. 4:10; Ph. 3:10). Paul did not just accept these missionary responsibilities, he boasted of them23, though not arrogant as he is often mistakenly described and portrayed. A very close look at the character of Paul would convince any open-minded person that he was very humble. In fact, he offered himself as a model Christian and missionary (2 Th.3:7), admitting his previous persecution of the Church, something that made him describe himself as ‘unworthiest of all the apostles’. Paul was both ashamed of having d the Gospel as well as being proud to be its forerunner after rsion24. It is as a result of this inner conviction and constant opinion of himself as an unworthy apostle that he constantly evoke the grace of God as the basis of his apostolic kerygma25, that is, that Christ had been crucified and raised from the dead and that this had been foretold 3tures (Acts 2:22; 1 Cor. 2:2; 15:3-4; Gal3:l).
Paul had a seemingly personalized relationship with the different Christian communities he founded. He is said to be very sensitive to their problems and situations. For instance, with the Church in Philippi, he had a childlike trust (Phil. 1:7; 4:10-20); deep affection for the Christians in Ephesus (Acts 20: 17-38); furious with the converts in Galatia because of their propensity to apostasy (Gal 1:6; 3:1 -3); was deeply upset with the church in Corinth their tendency towards vanity and instability in the faith he brought to them (2Cor 12:11-13:10). In spite of his show of disappointment to the church in Corinth, he was fatherly (1 Cor. 4:14), and even motherly (Gal. 4:19).
There was an overriding moral concern for his converts throughout his converts throughout his life. He did not spare any occasion to caution those who tried to derail them from their hard-won faith in Christ. Two groups were therefore Paul's major targets in this case: the 'strict Jews' who were bitterly opposed to Hellenist Christianity and opposed Paul as well wherever he went (Acts 13:45; 14:2:17:5:18:6; 19:9;21:27) and judaising ‘Hebrew’ Christians who wanted all followers of Christ to follow the Law (Gal 1:7; 2:4; 6:12). For instance, they insisted on the circumcision of any intending Christian, something which Paul opposed greatly.
Paul accepted and respected the apostolic authority in Jerusalem (Gal.2) and was very conciliatory in his approach to them, even after some seeming misunderstandings between him and Peter (Gal 2:11-14)26. He did everything legitimate to show his unity with the apostolic authority in Jerusalem. For instance, he organized collection for the poor Christians in Jerusalem there (Gal 2:10). In fact, the charitable gesture was to prove that the gentile converts were sincerely and truly one with the Christians of the mother Church (Rom 15:25)27. His deep respect for the authority in Jerusalem, however, did not stop him from making it clear to everyone that he had embraced the work of evangelization as his own gospel (Rom 1:16; 16:25), probably because of the manner he was converted. For him, his gospel was identical to the faith held by the other apostles (Gal 1:6-9; Col 1:5-7). But he explained that though he was preaching the same faith and gospel as the other apostles directly called by Jesus Christ while he walked the streets of Jerusalem, he did not see anything wrong in admitting gentiles. Indeed, his first missionary activity was at Antioch Acts l1) among gentile converts of the Hellenists ‘scattered in the troubles over Stephen’ (Gal 1:16; 2:7-9), to which he played a crucial role as a strict Jew.
He proudly communicated his mystical experiences, starting from his conversion on the road to Damascus to the various stations where he was either imprisoned or maltreated28. He had revelations and ecstasies (2Cor 12:1-4). He even attributed everything he had received from the apostles and the apostolic tradition to direct communication from the Lord (1Cor. 11:23; Gal 1:12). Paul, ‘the Apostle’ was indeed proud of his exceptional calling and vocation from the Lord, just as he was courageous in persecuting Christians as Saul ‘the Pharisee’. To understand the mission of Paul in his new role as a Christian Apostle, let us have a flashback of what mission meant in ancient Judaism where Paul as Saul was also very active.
Mission in ancient Judaism: the involvement of Saul
It is contested whether Judaism was a proselytizing and ‘missionary religion’, especially at the birth of Christianity. Many scholars give their differing opinions with regard to mission in ancient Judaism29. It raises the question of whether the Jews were really concerned with converting gentiles to Judaism or not. Shaye Cohen, for instance, is not very clear in his conclusions with regard to this issue. At one time, he argued that there were certain missionary tendencies on the part of many ancient Jews and an ardent desire to convert Gentiles30. But in his later consideration of the problem, he maintained that Judaism in the first century B.C.E. and first century C.E. in both Israel and in the Diaspora was not a missionary religion31. It did not however preclude his assumption that there were varieties of Judaism in the ancient world. Another scholar, Donaldson, left the question open by arguing that the fundamental issue at stake was act not necessarily whether or not Judaism was a ‘missionary religion’. Rather, he states that what is needed is not simply a denial that Judaism was a missionary religion. Instead, what is necessary is a more positive recognition of the distinctive ways in which some Jews attempted to draw Gentiles under the wings of the Shekinah32. These investigative studies with regard to the Jewish conception of mission in Ancient Judaism would help very much in understanding Paul's indebtedness to his Jewish heritage in relation to his mission-involvement. These searching questions about mission in ancient Judaism also help us to know whether Jewish writings of the Second Temple period provided evidence of a commitment, individually and collectively, to mission.
Considering the missionary mindset of ancient Judaism, one could begin by asking about the Jewish attitudes toward Gentile religion. Prior to A.D. 100, Goodman argues that there was a tolerant attitude toward Gentile paganism outside the land of Israel33. The position of M. Goodman immediately raises the question of the negative attitude of the Jews in the Pentateuch towards pagans in the holy land. Studying Goodman closely, one discovers that the anti-paganism of the Pentateuch relates only to pagans in the ‘holy land’ who may have led Israel astray. To show how restricted the anti-paganism was in his conception, he cites examples with the writings of Philo and Josephus who showed a consistently friendly perspective toward Gentiles34. In fact, their writings never pointed out where the Gentiles were compelled, or even expected to give up their local deities. Goodman deliberately restricted his investigation of Jewish attitudes toward Gentiles to literature written before A.D. 100 because after the victory of Titus over Jerusalem (A.D. 70), Jewish feelings and attitudes toward ‘pagans’ changed dramatically–and negatively also-especially when it became clear that Rome had no intention of rebuilding the Temple35. Paul seemingly maintained the already mentioned tolerant desire of the Jews to accommodate Gentiles during his missionary work. Perhaps, that explains his constant emphasis on inclusive salvation in the crucified Christ. Goodman argues therefore that the necessary mental framework for engaging in mission–moral dissatisfaction with paganism–did not exist among Jews prior to A.D. 10036.
McKnight speaks of an integrating tendency among the Jews of the period before AD 10037. He mentions eight distinguishing factors which support his position: universalism, friendliness, Gentile participation in Judaism, citizenship within Hellenistic and Roman societies, Hellenistic education, intermarriage, assimilation, and apostasy. With regard to universalism, McKnight stresses the Jewish belief that under Yahweh humanity shares a solidarity; Jews regard friendliness as a religious attitude of openness; Hellenistic education was specially valued by the Jews; intermarriage was also practiced; assimilation assured that the lines between 'Jewish' and 'pagan' boundaries were not overemphasized; apostasy showed as well how far some Jews went in their acceptance of paganism. But McKnight did not deny the fact that there was also some restriction for the Gentiles, especially with reference to entering the Temple; the general prohibition of intermarriage (cf. Tob. 4:12). There was the constant reminder on the consistent expectation of a future judgment on the wicked (Sir 36:1-7). Gentile worship is mentioned in Wis. 13-15. For Goodman, all these prohibitions and denunciations do not really depict tolerance properly understood in relation to Gentiles38.
John P. Dickson cites a passage in Tacitus’ Historiae, which depict the Jewish contempt for Gentile worship and lifestyle, thus: “whatever their origin, these rites are maintained by their antiquity... the Jews are extremely loyal toward one another, and always ready to show compassion, but toward every other people they feel only hate and enmity. They sit apart at meals... they abstain from intercourse with foreign women... Those who are converted to their ways follow the same practice, and the earliest lesson they receive is to despise the gods (contemnere deos), to disown their country... The Egyptians worship many animals and monstrous images; the Jews conceive of one god only, and with the mind alone: they regard as impious (profanos) those who make from perishable materials representations of gods in man's image" (Tacitus, Hist. 5.5 trans. Jackson LCL)39.
We have seen so far that the Jewish attitude to Gentiles and Pagans were full of ambivalence–integrating and despising tendencies. For John P. Dickson, it is however, the very ambivalence reflected in the evidence that is consonant with a ‘mission-orientation’ because ‘integrating tendencies’ designed to commend one's religion to outsiders are precisely what we should expect of one seeking to win over those whose present religious behavior is deemed unsatisfactory40. For him, therefore, "we need look no further than the Jewish Apostle Paul to find a clear example of the mission possibilities of such integrating tendencies (1 Cor. 9:19- 22)41.
From the ambivalence already quoted, it is obvious that the general Jewish expectation in relation to the Gentiles is the hope that at the end of history God would convert the Gentiles to the faith of Israel. Although one cannot conclusively claim that such an expectation constitutes evidence of actual missionary practice, it really confirms that the Jewish conception is that conversion of the Gentiles is something desirable and part of God's ultimate plan for humanity42. J. Jeremias enumerates five characteristics of the biblical expectations of the end-time (eschatological motif):
Appearance of God: The epiphany of God, in which Yahweh is revealed to the nations as the true Lord (Isa 2:2-3, 40:5; 51: 4-5); The call of God, which commands Gentiles to look to him (Ps 50.1; Isa 45:20-22), follows the appearance of God; Response: There is a response to this divine call, which involves the journey of the Gentiles to Jerusalem (Zech 8:21-23, Isa 60:11; Ps 47:10); Goal of the Pilgrimage, which is the worship at the world-sanctuary (Isa 45:20-24); and The Messianic banquet on the world-mountain (Isa 25: 6-8)43.
According to John P. Dickson, "while these convictions do not constitute evidence of missionary activity they provide a reason for taking any such evidence very seriously indeed"44. Moreover, he argues that it can also offer a conceptual context within which the evidence may be understood. By citing a few instances where the Jews had embarked upon missionary activities. The earliest evidence of Jewish missionizing is traceable to Rome in 139 B.C., where Valerius Maximus reported about the expulsion of Jews from the city by order of the praetor Cornelius Hispanus because they had tried to transmit their religion to the Romans45. There is another evidence of Jewish proselytizing in Rome in A.D. 19, which led to the expulsion of a great number of Jews from the city by Tiberius. For instance, the account of Cassius Dio 57.18.5a, the latest of the sources available to us, reads:
As the Jews had flocked to Rome in great numbers
and were converting many of the natives to their ways,
he banished most of them (trans. E. Cary LCL)46.
Another account from Joseph Ant. 18.81 -84 states: "There was a certain Jew, a complete scoundrel, who had fled his own country because he was accused of transgressing certain laws and feared punishment on this account. Just at this time he was resident in Rome and played the part of an interpreter of the Mosaic Law and its wisdom... He enlisted three confederates not a whit better in character than himself; and when Fulvia, a woman of high rank who had become a Jewish proselyte ..., began to meet with them regularly, they urged her to send purple and gold to the temple in Jerusalem. They, however, took the gifts and used them for their personal expenses, for it was this that had been their intention in asking for gifts from the start. Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, at the instigation of his wife, duly reported this to Tiberius, whose friend he was, whereupon the latter ordered the whole Jewish community to leave Rome. The consuls drafted four thousand of these Jews for military service and sent them to the island of Sardinia; but they penalized a good many of them, who refused to serve for fear of breaking the Jewish law. And so because of the wickedness of four men the Jews were banished from the city (trans. L. H. Feldman LCL)" 47.
We have another report concerning the Jewish missionary activities in Rome from Tacitus Ann. 2.85, thus: "Another debate dealt with the proscription of the Egyptian and Jewish rites, and a senatorial edict directed that four thousand descendents of enfranchised slaves, tainted with that superstition (ea superstition infecta) and suitable in point of age, were to be shipped to Sardinia and there employed in suppressing brigandage: "if they succumbed to the pestilential climate, it was a cheap loss". The rest had orders to leave Italy, unless they had renounced their impious ceremonial (profanes ritus exuissent) by a given date (trans. J. Jackson LCL)48.
Another relevant passage from the work of Suetonius Tib. 36, states: "He (Tiberius) abolished foreign cults (externas caerimonias), especially the Egyptian and the Jewish rites, compelling all who were addicted to such superstitions to burn their religious vestments and all their paraphernalia. Those of the Jews who were of military age he assigned to provinces of less healthy climate, ostensibly to serve in the army; the others of that same race or of similar beliefs (reliquos gentis eiusdem vel similia sectantes urbe summovit) he banished from the city, on pain of slavery for life if they did not obey. He banished the astrologers as well, but pardoned such as begged for indulgence and promised to give up the art (trans. J.C. Rolfe LCL)49.
Apart from the minor differences in the account of the Jewish activities in Rome at the time in question, the main point of interest is the reason given for the expulsion of the Jews from Rome and Italy in general. For instance, Tacitus and Suetonius provide no explanation at all. On the other hand, Josephus puts the explanation down to the conduct of four Jewish scoundrels. Cassius Dio, who we already know to be the latest source of information for us in this regard, clearly connects it with widespread proselytizing on the part of the Jews. In other words, the Jews were the cause of their own expulsion from Rome because of their effort to convert pagans and gentiles to Judaism. We discover that the four writers variously referred to the phenomenon of pagan attachment to the faith of the Jews.
The apostle Paul seems to confirm in his rhetorical letter to a Jewish teacher about the misdeeds of Jewish missionaries in Rome. In what indirectly refers to Isa 48:1-4, Paul writes:
If you can call yourself a Jew, and you really trust in the Law, and are proud of your God, and know his will, and tell right from wrong because you have been taught by the Law; if you are confident that you are a guide to the blind and a beacon to those in the dark, that you can teach the ignorant and instruct the unlearned because the Law embodies all knowledge and all truth–so then in teaching others, do you teach yourself as well? You preach that there is to be no stealing, but do you steal? You say that adultery is forbidden, but do you commit adultery? You detest the worship of objects, but do you desecrate holy things yourself? If, while you are boasting of the Law, you disobey it, then you are bringing God into contempt. As scripture says: It is your fault that the name of God is held in contempt among the nations (Rom 2:17-24).
It is to be observed that Paul's critique of the Jewish behavior in Rome in relation to Gentiles and pagans finds a lot of similarity with the description of Josephus about the renegade Jewish teacher in Rome in A.D. 1950. Some scholars like Dunn, Bruce, Cranfield, and Watson speak of the possibility of ‘sacrilege’ against the Jerusalem temple51. T. Levi 14.5, on the other hand, refers to the possibility of the Jews 'robbing' the Jerusalem temple. With regard to the accusation of adultery, we read about Josephus' uneasiness, which coincides with the incident involving Fulvia and her male instructors. However, F. Watson argues that this suspicion or speculation is difficult to confirm, though not completely ruled out. According to him, “Josephus tells how the proselyte Fulvia began to meet regularly with the Jewish teacher and his companions, and it is easy to see how the charge of adultery could arise from such meetings as these"52. Paul's strong condemnation and rhetorical words against the Jewish teacher provide a kind of evidence of missionizing activity by Jews, especially in Rome. According to Donaldson, the Pauline passage of Rom 2:17-24 shows vividly his close familiarity with the type of religious self-consciousness which made the attraction of God-fearers and the reception of proselyte’s possible53.
There are also other accounts of conversions of pagan royal families to Judaism, such as that of the house of Adiabene in northern Mesopotamia at about A.D. 30. Josephus in Ant.20.17-96 narrates how the Queen Mother, Helena, and King Izates (20.34-46) were converted to Judaism. The conversion of Prince Izates took place while he was taken into protective custody by the king of Charax Spasini awaiting for his maturity for the royal function as a king. While there, Prince Izates met a certain Jewish merchant called Ananias who visited the king's house. The Jewish taught the wives of the king how to worship God according to Jewish tradition. He eventually won the prince over to Jewish religion (20.34-35 trans. L.H. Feldman LCL). It is reported that at the end of the apprenticeship of Prince Izates, he went home only to find out that his mother was already converted to Judaism. Later in his life, Prince Izates also got circumcised according to Jewish tradition and culture54.
In the New Testament account of the possibility of Jewish proselytism and mission-commitment, we read about the very reaction of Jesus in relation to the Jewish teachers, especially in the ‘woes’ he pronounced against them. In one of the sevenfold indictment of the scribes and Pharisees, he said, “Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and anyone who becomes one you make twice as fit for hell as you are (Matthew 23:15)"55.
The main word that affects our purpose in this context is ‘proselyte’, which refers to conversion to new way of relating to God. It is variously argued that the word, proselyte, was very rare in its usage in the first century. On the other hand, most scholars agree that wherever it occurred, it was either used in relation to “an approach toward a new godly c onstitution”56 or to a “Gentile convert to Judaism”57.
From the foregoing, we can raise the question of the role or Paul in his pre-Christian era, especially as a zealous Jew. Did Paul preach circumcision to Gentiles or not? Several scholars have interpreted his statements in Gal 5:10b-11 differently in his dispute with judaizing Christians. He uses this passage to refute the charge that had at some time or other preached to Gentiles the importance of circumcision. He writes, “anyone who makes trouble with you will be condemned, no matter who he is. And I, brother-if I were still preaching circumcision, why should I still be persecuted? For then the obstacle which is the cross would have no point anymore (Gal 5:10b-11)”.
The passage mentioned alludes to Paul’s pre-Christian days, which helps to cancel some of the accusations of “inconsistency” raised against Paul. For instance, J.P. Dickson observes that some of Paul’s agitators “had learned Paul’s occasional circumcision of Gentile converts (Timothy, for instance, in Acts 16:3) and of his radical policy of missionary accommodation (1Cor 9: 19-23), and had used this information against Paul in Galatia”58. Seyoon Kim stands outs in this accusation of inconsistency in Paul’s answer to his opponents by insisting that it would be impossible to imagine that here was ever a time after Paul’s conversation in which he preached circumcision59. But Betz insists the Paul’s rhetorical method of refutation should be closely observed. For him, “not every rhetorical denial is an accusation turned down”60. It could be an effort to make a point perfectly apparent, thus, giving plausibility to the position of Paul by referring to his earlier statement in Gal 1:10, thus: “Whom am I trying to convince now, human beings or God? Am trying to please human beings? If were still doing that I should not be a servant of Christ”. The word, "still" clearly refers to Paul's pre-conversion era when he used to preach circumcision. We therefore see some correlations between Gal 5:11 and Gal 1:10 pointing to a response to a perceived criticism. The use of the conditional clause "if' means that what was once true no longer (still) holds water. Paul refers to his former life in Judaism when he preached circumcision to the Gentiles. It may not be fair to conclude that this statement meant that Paul was once a professional Jewish missionary. Such a professional or formal way of missionising may not have existed before Christianity. It could be used analogously in relation to what 'Ananias the Merchant' and Eleazar: Ant. 20.34-48) did, as already mentioned in the conversion of the royal house of Adiabene. In other words, Paul in his pre-Christian era could have tried occasionally to convince Gentiles or pagans to accept circumcision as proselytes61. But one can rightly claim that reading Paul and his writings, he did try to transfer the mission-traditions of his Jewish heritage into his Christ- believing communities. It is a conviction Terrence Donaldson puts most vividly when he writes, "Paul's Gentile mission may be understood as the Christological transformation of a proselytizing concern already present in his pre-conversion"62. From the foregoing, one can argue that proselytizing activity was not the obligation or interest of Jewish communities in general. However, it could be assumed that some Jewish teachers saw it as an obligation to instruct Gentiles - whether in Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Galilee or Adiabene - in the way of the Torah. It is by so doing that one can consider their religious activity to be analogous to a missionary activity. It is also this role of a missionary that Paul as a committed Pharisee would embrace with utmost sense of responsibility as 'Apostle Paul'. Having seen the antecedents of Paul's religious and spiritual transformation as a Jew, we can consider his real conversion and the subsequent mission that awaited this new way of serving God and humanity through evangelization.
The Conversion of Saul and the commission as Apostle to all nations
We have seen that Saul was a great persecutor of Christians and enjoyed the role of witnessing to this unnoble or dishonourable job63. He acknowledges his persecution of the community of God in Gal. 1:13. Even, he writes that three years after this persecution he goes to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Peter (Gal. 1:18). According to G. Lohfink. Paul did play a decisive role in the persecution of Christians64. But since God has also the power to transform any person into an instrument of salvation, he did exactly the same with Saul in Acts 9 (See correlations in Acts 8:3; 22:4-16; 26:9-18; Gal. 1:12-17). Saul's conversion remains, therefore, a very crucial event in Church history. The Lukan account and the remaining two accounts are found in Paul's discourses. These accounts have resounding echoes in the Old Testament vocation narratives, as indicated in Gen.31:11 -13; 1 Sam 3:4-14. They also have echoes of a theophany (Dan. 10:5-9) and of the conversion of another persecutor of God's people (2Mac.3:24-40)65. After his conversion, deliverance and healing in the same temple he came to loot (2Mac3:35), Heliodorus "openly testified to all men about the work of the supreme God which he had seen with his own eyes". He later on advised the king against ordering further military actions against Jerusalem and the holy temple saying, "He who has his dwelling in heaven watches over the place and defends it. and he strikes down and destroys those who come to harm it" (2 Mac 3:39-40). When God struck Heliodorus, he laid prostrate on the ground, and when he did the same with Saul on the way to Damascus, 'he fell to the ground and then he heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 9:4-5). ‘Lying prostrate’ of Falling to the ground’ is a sign of submission to the will of God, as can be seen from the two aforementioned instances.
At the Damascus encounter, God transformed Saul into his 'chosen instrument to bring His name before Gentiles and Kings and before the people of Israel (Acts 9:15). To buttress his revelation to Ananias, the great disciple of God in Damascus, who was to lay his hands on Saul and give him back his sight, the Lord said, "I myself will show him how much be must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:17). In other words, when the hand of God gripped Saul, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and began his mission for Christ in the same city of Damascus (Acts 9:20) where he was heading to persecute the disciples of Christ.
True to the revelation given to Ananias, Paul began preaching the Gospel and the risen Christ in the Synagogues a few days after staying together with the disciples in Damascus (cf. Acts 9:20)66. The subject of his-reaching was: “Jesus is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20)67. Paul's boldness and faith in the risen Christ indeed threw the whole Jewish colony at Damascus into confusion because they knew that he had come there with the sole purpose of persecuting Christians. From that moment, Paul never had it easy again as a Jew, as we shall observe in the development of his missionary activities.
The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus made him realize his calling to be the ‘Apostle’ to the nations (Rom 11:13). This means that Paul began to see and understand68 himself as one who has been given grace by God to be a ‘minister of Christ Jesus to the nations’ (Rom 15:15-16); as one called to preach the gospel “among the nations” (Gal 1:15-16; Gal 2:2)69. Paul describes his call in the Old Testament language of the calling and commissioning of the prophets, such as Jeremiah and Isaiah. In Jeremiah 1:5, we read, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations". The same divine commissioning to be prophet to the 'nations', which Paul receives at the moment of his conversion could been seen in the experience of Prophet Isaiah, thus: And now Yahweh has spoken, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and to re-unite Israel to him... I shall make you a light to the nations (Isa 49:5-6)
It is interesting to observe that Paul refers to the churches he founded as 'the churches among the gentiles' (Roml6:4). This can also be expressed as 'the church of all nations' or 'of the gentiles'. Similar expressions can be found in Gal 1:2; 1 Cor. 16:1. In each of these uses of the greetings Paul sent to Christian communities, we observe some kind of reference to the 'nations' in the sense of Roman provinces, or from a Hellenistic-Jewish perspective, indicating nation or gentile. They could be Galatia70, Asia71, Macedonia72, and Judea73. The implication of the use of the word, "nations" by Paul is that the gospel, which he is commissioned to proclaim is applied equally to the people of Israel as a nation, as well as to other nations of the world74. The Jewish state was however admitted by him as the starting point of such a proclamation (Rom 1:16). Paul was to realize that both the Jews (his own brethren) and the other nations would be at one time or the other a stumbling block to the preaching of the gospel through the incessant persecutions he would encounter in their hands75.
He would later on refer to the Jews as "false brethren" (Gal 2:4; 2Cor 11:26) because of their unbelief and consistent effort to obstruct the proclamation of the 'Risen Christ'. They were false brethren because they received but rejected the message of Salvation. They were false because they rejected the truth and reality of Paul's conversion with its concomitant commission to preach the Gospel to all nations. On the contrary, Paul lived out the truth of his divine transformation and used it to carry out the divine mandate he received on the road to Damascus - to proclaim Christ to all nations and peoples.
In the unfolding circumstances of his life and ministry, we shall observe that Paul did witness to his vocation, irrespective of the situation. He was a faithful disciple and apostle of Christ.
THE RELEVANCE OF PAUL FOR MISSION AND EVANGELIZATION TODAY
The story of the risen Christ would perpetually remain incomplete without bringing into focus the activities of Paul in the history of Christian salvation. Paul advanced from his initial status as a persecuting Jew to the new level of' God-fearing' and 'God-loving' person, a disciple and an apostle as well. In fact, a special apostle to all nations (Rom 15:16), including ours today. Paul is particularly known to us for his peculiar writings and letters to congregations and individuals. According to Andrew Walls, "For the life and work of Jesus the Christ the collection of early Christian writings known as 'the New Testament' is the crucial early source. This consists of four accounts of the ministry and teaching of Jesus (called 'Gospels'); a supplement to the third of the Gospels describing the early preaching of Jesus in Jerusalem and the wider Mediterranean world (the 'Acts of the Apostles'); a collection of letters ('the Epistles'), most to congregations, a few to individuals, many of which bear the name of the early missionary Paul;...”1.
Going further, Andrew Walls writes that these writings, especially those of Paul 'reflect the ideas and images of Jesus held in the early Christian communities, and indeed, brought these communities into being, as well as giving accounts of his teaching'2. Reflecting on the life of Paul and his writings, it is possible to understand that from its earliest period, Christianity has been marked by the consciousness of shared life in a community of which Christ is the head. It is almost universal in Christian thought about the conviction that God is active in the Church or Christian community; and ours would not be an exception.
Paul reminds us of our status as Children of God (Rom. 8:14-15 Gal.4:4-7; Gal.5:13; Jn 1:12), guided by the spirit of God, and making us sons of God as well. Our sonship in the Lord has removed and cancelled the spirit of slavery, craving to bring us back into fear. It is the special grace of the spirit of adoption, which we have received that has enabled us and continues to enable us to cry out, 'Abba, Father' (Rom 8:15).The spirit we have received is one of courage, love, and strength -to continue the work of evangelization which the sacrament of baptism commissioned us to foster all the days of our life on earth.
The missionary activities of Paul, especially his dialogue at different occasions re-evokes our Christian approach to dialogue and proclamation. We must dialogue, both from within and outside the Christian fold. "Nostra Aetate" (the Vatican II Document treating the issue of the relations between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions) has launched the need for new approach to evangelization. Subsequent Vatican documents have helped to strengthen dialogue in the proclamation of the word of God: "The Attitude of the Church towards the followers of other Religions (Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission)", published in 1984; as well as "Dialogue and Proclamation (Reflections and Orientations on Inter-religious Dialogue and the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus (1991). We remember that Pope Paul VI in "Ecclesiam Suam" also emphasized the need for dialogue. Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical, "Redemptoris Missio" helped to re-emphasize the need for dialogue in the Proclamation of the Word of God. In fact, in our own time, there is need to emphasis that both Dialogue and Proclamation must be situated within the context of the mission mandate3, which St Paul piloted vigorously. Since the inception of his Pontificate in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has continued to emphasise the importance of dialogue in the promotion of evangelization.
In our present day society when and where the spirit of self-sacrifice is almost a mirage, the life of St. Paul remains a constant reminder to us of what real Christian life should be. So many people are no longer ready to offer their services to the society, even when they receive a lot of money for them. According to the "Leader" Newspaper editorial of Sunday Feb. 15- Saturday Feb 21, 2009, "the fortune of a nation depends largely on the attitude of its citizenry towards their civic responsibilities which means performing their allotted tasks, functions and duties promptly, sincerely, legitimately and in due process"4. The virus has spread so badly that the Church, especially the Christian Churches have fallen victim to this wide-spreading disease. But I am tempted to ask if the Church is not supportive of this ugly development by commission or omission. There is need, therefore, for deep reflection and questioning. This calls for serious reconsideration of the manner of proclaiming the Gospel. The Church has to re-evaluate its missionary role today, especially in the spirit of Paul5.
Again, the life of St Paul challenges the promotion of Piety in our various parishes and communities. In other words, the Gospel would suffer if there is no serious effort to revive the pious societies in the parishes. This is because they form the pivotal axis of spiritual life in any parish or Christian community. It is to be seen, especially in the developed countries that almost everything is 'hurried' up in order to satisfy the people or the congregation. Perhaps, we should rethink seriously about the depth of our Christian practice. If we neglect the pious societies, or rather if we do not encourage their continuous growth, the promotion of the word of God, especially in the manner St. Paul started it would suffer. For me, these pious groups are the strongest expressions of the so-called 'Basic Christian Communities' (BCC). People need to meet with one another in small numbers in the various pious societies in our parishes. What would be our parishes without constant life of prayer in the various small groups, be it St Jude's Society, St. Anthony's Society, Catholic Biblical Instructors' Union (CBIU), The Charismatic Society, Legion of Mary, Sacred Heart Society, the Block Rosary Society, etc.
It is not to be forgotten that the quest for piety has however led so many Christians astray. The craze for "Miracles" and "Visions" has made a lot of ardent Christians derail from their traditional faith and belief. Sickness, misfortune, poverty, and even misunderstanding in the family and in the society have driven so many people to the so-called diviners, visioners, miracle workers, and prophets. The most disheartening is the deep involvement of some prominent church awardees of honour and titles in this ugly quest for the supernatural. The trajectory is a regular movement from one healing church to the other. Miracle crusades and Liberation or Deliverance ministries have taken over the lives of most of our Christians. To fall sick these days is seen as a sign of demonic attack. In the Catholic Church, for instance, so many people have lost faith in the traditional practice of Sick Call and the Sacrament of the Sick. Everything is coined in the language of "Holy Ghost Fire", "Back to Sender", etc as witnessed every day in the poorer regions of the Globe. Almost everyone accuses the other of being the cause of his or her predicament. There is indeed a "pious confusion" prevalent in these poor societies or communities. The language of suffering for God and Christ is almost extinct and irrelevant for the majority of our Christians today. The fire of love which drove St Paul to suffer and offer himself for the Gospel is put to test. The year of St. Paul, thus, challenges us to say with him, "In my estimation, all that we suffer in the present time is nothing in comparison with the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us6.
This is also the time for us to reconsider our call to be Christ's servants with all the implications involved. In the mind of St. Paul, "people should think of us as Christ's servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God", with the implication that 'each of us should be found trustworthy'. Whoever succeeds to be trustworthy in his own task or function has covered a considerable degree of life's journey, leaving the rest to be God's own judgment. This is the mind of St Paul for all of us who are called to be stewards of the Gospel: to be trustworthy.
I would like to conclude this booklet by considering some of the things I refer to as boundaries, which the life of St Paul challenges us to confront in the world that is doing everything to erase personal relationships and mutual understanding between peoples and religions. They include: tearing the boundaries and moving from fear to love; from death to life; from slavery to freedom; from flesh to Spirit; and from law to Christ. Tearing boundaries of bondage in their different forms are necessary to progress in our Christian vocation as Children of God.
Tearing the boundaries: from fear to Love
The spirit of the risen Christ gathers humankind in love and unity. This is one of the greatest concerns of Paul in his life as missionary and teacher of 'all nations'. In fact, one can argue that the contribution of Paul is principally the freedom from religious narrow-mindedness and shortsightedness to an open-minded spirituality - spirituality of love and broadmindedness. Paul realized that the consciousness of belonging to the people of God no longer meant race or nationality. It envelopes a universal disposition to love and cherish one another in the spirit of Christ-the universal Redeemer. In his letter to Timothy, he emphasizes the universal salvation planned by God and realized in the death and resurrection of Christ, his only son (cf.1Tim 2:4). The spirit of Christ has therefore broken the wall of discrimination and separation manifested in the enslavement by cultures and racial discrimination (cf Eph 2:14). With the tearing of this ugly wall of discrimination and separation between the children of God, Paul explains in his letter to the Galatians that "all are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26-28). Indeed, all should be children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, having been baptized and clothed in Him. For Paul, there can be no longer Jew or Greek, neither slave nor freeman, or even a distinction with regard to gender or sex because all are one in Christ Jesus. This is the peculiar characteristic that links all to the progeny of Abraham, the heirs named in the promise (Gal 3:29).
Paul is simply inviting all of us to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the familial link binding humankind together. We all belong to a single and universal family of the children of God. It is however the Holy Spirit who is the confirming and unifying power that touches the hearts of men and women, of all created beings. The transforming presence of the Spirit of God in all mankind is spurred specially in and through the many gifts of the same Spirit in us. For as Paul rightly explained in the variety and the unity of gifts we receive: "there are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord" (1Cor 12:4-6). Paul urges all of us to use our separate gifts and powers to enhance the common or general good. Each person deserves respect from the other. This is an art of moving from fear to love in Christ.
From the foregoing, it means that the standard for measuring our sincerity in the realization of the unity of Spirit bestowed on us, is our degree of love for one another. That is what Paul means when he writes, "the particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good" (1Cor 12:7). The careful listing of the several gifts: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, the power of distinguishing spirits, the gift of different tongues and the interpretation of tongues, etc eventually leads Paul to the climax of all gifts - love - which he explains in 1Cor 13 in his Hymn to Love. In fact, "Love never comes to an end" (1Cor 13:8) although prophecies and other gifts pass away.
Paul's hymn to Love teaches us that it is a liberating force in our life, freeing us from fear and anxiety. If we recognize our special privilege that enables us to call God, Abba Father, then we can no longer live in fear and dichotomy rooted in hatred, slavery, and enmity (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:7). On the other hand, we live in love and harmony rooted in our faith in God, that is, a faith-guaranteeing salvation. It is a liberating love "which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). Love invigorates us, energizes us, and uplifts us. This is why Paul admonishes us to serve one another in love (Gal 5:13). Love manifests itself in mercy and compassion towards one another. It surpasses the "Ego" and every kind of egoistic or selfish tendency rooted in the satisfaction of selfish interests and longings. Love entails the building up of inner harmony and peace, from which one reaches out to others. Sincere love, therefore, transcends the "I-It" relationship to the more sincere and objective "I-Thou" relationship. It is at this level that we meet with one another with openness and trust. Love as compassion over-rides the ever- corroding cultural, religious, and racial competitions that render our relationships parochial and conflictual.
Tearing the boundaries: from death to Life
Whoever lives 'in Christ' experiences already God's healing presence - everlasting life. This is the fundamental position of Paul in his theology of life in Jesus Christ, arising from his personal experience of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. In other words, the spiritual transformation, which changed 'Saul' to 'Paul' meant a movement from death to life. He himself never hesitated to use the same expression often: from death to life in the Spirit (cf Ezek 36:27f).
Paul does not merely use both words “death” and “'life” in their material sense. Death in the Pauline context points to the separation of oneself from one's Creator through sin. Therefore, he maintains that the reward of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Death is rooted in life in the flesh (cf. Rom 8:6). Paul makes it clear that the Christian's spiritual life is very important in his craving for salvation. Thus, condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit which gives life in Christ Jesus has set them free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:1-2).
When Paul speaks of death, it is necessary to make some distinctions. He contrasts the order of sin and death with the new order of the Spirit, in which case, the word' Spirit' means either the Holy spirit in person (cf. Rom 8:9) or the human spirit made new by its presence (Rom 5:5; 1:9). Paul goes further to highlight the inefficacy of the Mosaic Law to guarantee us the salvation we await (cf. Rom 8:2). For him, the Mosaic Law imposed from without could not be an inward principle of salvation (cf. Rom 7:7), thus, necessitating God's sending of his own Son in the same human nature (Rom 8:3). Indeed, it is only Christ, who by his death destroyed our unspiritual nature or flesh in his own person who could also destroy sin whose domain was the 'flesh' (See 1Cor 15:55-56).
To be set free from the strings of human nature based on law and the flesh, Paul suggests that the only avenue is 'through Christ' who has opened the gate of life for us. It is undoubtedly Christ's death that has won us our victory over death (cf. 1Cor 15:57; 2Tim 1:10) and has brought us the light of imperishable life. This is what Paul means in Rom 6:23 when he writes: "for the wage paid by sin is death; the gift freely given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". Here, we must differentiate between eternal life and life after death. Eternity is the godly depth of the Present. We, therefore, acknowledge and recognize that our life unfolds here and now in God when we allow God's Spirit to lead us. Thus, "for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see" (2Cor 5:17). This is already a participation in eternal life.
In all, there is a special characteristic to be associated with Pauline theology, his constant use of two words: "in Christ". He used the expression, "in Christ" almost 148 times. For Paul, the new spiritual life of any Christian unfolds itself 'in Christ', in what he calls life-giving union with the glorified Christ-a life hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Paul uses other similar expressions like: 'Christ lives in us' (cf. Rom 8:10) and 'we are in Christ' (cf. Eph 1:4); 'through baptism, we have been clothed in Christ' (Gal 3:27); as well as "now Christ's body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole" (1Cor 12:27). For Paul, there is a mystical unity with God in Christ. That is why he is bold to assert that 'life is Christ' (cf. Phil. 1:21). Every Christian should be able to say that he is no longer the one who lives but that it is Christ who lives in him (Gal 2:20)'11.
Paul concludes that Christ is God's saving Presence in us and around us. In fact, we are godly and must recognize, as well as acknowledge it as St Augustine argued. It is in the realization of this truism also that all religions have their meeting point, and can dialogue with one another. For Christians particularly, it is the acknowledgement of this fact that forms the basis and depth of their Christian spirituality (cf. Eph 3:17-19).
Tearing the boundaries: from Slavery to Freedom
A slave is someone who is in bondage, experiencing some kind of servitude in everything he does. Pauline theology makes it clear that Christ's mission on earth was to free humankind from enslavement to sin. His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead achieved this ultimate freedom for all of us. Our faith in Christ frees our heart and renders us spiritually fit to be children of God. He confesses this liberating experience himself after the divine intervention in his life on the road to Damascus. He recognized after his conversion that he had lived in servitude to the Law and Religion. He had been constrained to love God. But his liberating experience with Christ opened his heart and mind to the freedom of worshipping God like a son, a friend, and a Christian. For Paul, God is no longer the 'distant' Patriarch, exuding fear and demanding servitude, the God he worshipped under the influence of the Law (cf. Gal 3:23f). He insists that all that the Law does is to tell us what is sinful (Rom 3:20; 7:13).
Paul asks us the implication of our liberation from the slavery of sin as Christians. For him, it means that Christ has freed human beings from evil so as to restore them to God (cf. Rom 6:15-16). A Christian is one who is redeemed and set free, one who can be a slave no longer but must serve the new master freely and faithfully. That is why he argues that Christ has paid for our redemption with his life (1Cor 6:20; 7:23; Gal 3:13; 4:5). Developing the biblical ideas of redemption (cf. Rom 3:24), Paul goes further to explain that Christ has made us permanently free (Gal 5:1,13). In his new situation, a Christian must not allow himself be caught again b; those who once owned him, that is, by sin (cf. Gal 2:4,4:0; 5:1; Rom 6:18-22); by Law (Rom 6:14; 8:2; Gal 3:13; 4:5; Rom 7:1) with its ritual observance (Gal 2:4); the principles of the world (Gal 4:3,8; Col 20- 22); and corruption (Rom 8:21-23).
A Christian is free (1Cor 9:1), the child of a free mother, that is, the spiritual Jerusalem (Gal 4:26, 31). But it is a liberty that is not a license (permissiveness) to sin (Gal 5:13; l Pt. 2:16). It means serving anew master, God (Rom 6:22; 1 Thess 1:9), the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1: James 1:1; 2Pt 1:1) to whom the Christian now belongs (1Cor 6:19. 3:23), and for whom he lives and dies (Rom 7:1). It is an obedient service that is prompted by faith and leads to uprightness and holiness (Rom 6:16-19). This is also the type of freedom a son has (Gal 4:7), once he has been set free by 'the law of the Spirit' (Rom 8:2). It is a freedom that renders him ever-prepared to surrender it as well as to serve his neighbor in charity (Gal 5:13).
Paul's conception of freedom from slavery can be said to tolerate slavery as a social institution, especially in a society that is after all, transient (1Cor 7:20-24, 31), which has no real significance in the new order established by Christ (1Cor 12.13; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11). In fact, the Christian slave has been enfranchised by the Lord, Jesus Christ, thus making slave and master equally servants of Christ (1Cor 7:22; cf. Eph 6:5-9), their ultimate Master.
Tearing the boundaries: from Flesh to Spirit
Paul speaks of ‘life in the flesh’ and 'life in the Spirit'. The Damascus event was a turning point in his life–a spiritual revolution (Gal 1:17) that made him embrace the mission of proclaiming Christ without reference to any human authority. Paul describes how he lived in the past, within Judaism and how there was simply 'no limit to the way he persecuted the Church of God in his attempt to destroy it' (Gal 1:13). The divine call he experienced lifted him up and he accepted the inner struggle against his past life very seriously: a war between the flesh and the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul does not use the word, 'flesh', in the same sense he uses it for 'body', because the 'body' for him is sacred - a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19). Rather, he uses the term, flesh, to designate the existential weakness of the human person. It is a symbol of the inner longing to hold on to the 'Ego', the 'I', which obstructs the real longing or passage to the true self and God. The 'ego' in the Pauline sense is a blockade, an inhibition to grow spiritually. It leads to death and to enmity with God (Rom 8:6-8).
Every person born of flesh has the tendency to cling to the flesh and its attractions. Paul acknowledged this fact in what he termed the inward struggle to overcome the flesh. According to him, "we are well aware that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand my own behavior; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate..." (Rom 7:14-15). It is in this situation of sheer helplessness, if not hopelessness, that God sent his son, Christ to free humankind from sin (cf. Rom 8:2). Thus, the Spirit of Christ opened the door to a new kind of living - life in the Spirit. The Spirit leads us to life and peace (Rom 8:6) while the love of God is poured into our hearts through the same Spirit (Rom 5:5).
Paul associates the new life of the Spirit with the special grace of God. For him,".. .when Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because you have been justified, and if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead has made his home in you, then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you" (Rom 8:10-11). This special privilege involves a challenge - not to be dominated again by human nature, for the Spirit lives in us (Rom 8:9). Thus, "all who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with all its passions and its desires" (Gal 5:24), creating room for a new life of joy and freedom (Phil 4:4).
From the foregoing, it is obvious that we learn something concrete from Paul's consideration of the distinction between life in the flesh and that of the spirit. Self-indulgence leads to sexual vice, impurity, and sensuality, the worship of false gods and sorcery; antagonisms and rivalry, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels, disagreements, factions and malice, drunkenness, orgies, etc (Gal 5:19-21). Those who are enslaved by these negative characteristics will not inherit the kingdom of God. On the other hand, Paul recognizes the fruit of the spirit as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). In fact, Paul maintains that these fruits of the spirit transcend any law (Gal. 5:23). In his unique manner, Paul reminds us of the obligatory role we have to play as Christians living in the Spirit. He writes, "Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behavior be guided by the Spirit and let us not be conceited or provocative and envious of one another" (Gal 5:25). The ideal Christian in the Pauline sense must be ascetic in order to overcome the negative characteristics of life in the Flesh.
Tearing the boundaries: from Law to Christ
Paul narrates to the Jews in Jerusalem his personal experience from above (Acts 22:6-11), the life-changing transformation that launched him into a new era with Christ, the crucified Saviour. One can rightly claim that the main structure of his Theology and Spirituality is rooted in his passage from the old to the new existence in Christ. In fact, we can only understand Paul very well when we identify him with his revolutionary experience on the road to Damascus. The Damascus experience was a turning point, which transformed his thought pattern and thinking process, especially in relation to the Jewish law and its religious implications. The traditional Jewish law became for Paul after the Damascus encounter something very narrow and parochial. His contact with the risen Lord became liberating and nourishing as well (cf. Phil 3:5-8). It opened up his mind to the reality of universal salvation proclaimed by Christ (cf. 1Tim 2:4). The transformation which Paul experienced on the road to Damascus becomes automatically the basic expectation for any true Christian interested in following Christ sincerely and honestly.
Paul describes the universal of work of salvation in three phases: God speaks to everyone through reason (cf Rom 1:19-20). However, man does not always listen to God in this manner. Rather, he follows the dictates of the sense (Rom 1:24-25), desires or lust. The result is that his mind remains darkened (Rom 1:21 -24). God does not give up in the divine plan to grant us salvation. Therefore, the second phase involved God's intervention through the Prophets and Wise men. This is where Paul acknowledges the role of the Law revealed to Israel in the universal plan for the salvation of humankind. According to Paul, the Law is in itself good, holy, and just (cf Rom 7:12), and being determined by God's Spirit (Rom 7:14), he expresses his joy in its existence (Rom 7:22) as well. But, Paul is convinced that the law in itself cannot save mankind because of its wrong application (Rom 8:3). In fact, the Law cannot justify anyone before God (Rom 3:20). In the third and final phase, God reveals himself in Jesus Christ, his son. Therefore, Paul sees in Christ the end of the Law (Rom 10:4), the fulfillment of the saving goal of the Law (Rom 8:4). This is his message to the Church in Galatia (Gal 4:4-5). The presence of Christ leads mankind to a new life, to the freedom of the Children of God. In this new condition, we are no longer subject to the Law (Gal 5:18). This is for Paul a special grace and a commission to live realistically in the new state of life which Christ has opened for us. In fact, it is a mission to be accomplished.
The distinction between the three phases does not revoke any chronological dichotomy, or any feeling of antagonism against the role of Reason or the importance of the Mosaic Law in the history of salvation. Rather, we need to hold all the phases in respect, especially bearing in mind that the Spirit of God is at work in the heart of man always and everywhere. We know that Paul showed the same deep respect for the law and for his fellow Jews (Rom 9:3), although after his Damascus-encounter, he realized the special place which his faith in the sacrifice of God in Christ had in his life - a liberating phase, transcending reason and the law. For him, Christ is the Life (Phil 1:20-21), which all mankind should strive to have. It is a life that subsumes the other phases and fulfils them - a life that allows all humankind to feel like one in a universal family of the redeemed in Christ (cf Rom8:14).
Christians in dialogue and mission today
One would ask oneself after going through this book, and at this point, about what would have been the mind of Paul for mission in the 21st century. This is a question that provokes a deep sense of reflection for mission and evangelization for every committed Christians all over the world. I would think that Paul's answer would be that mission should be essentially action, passion, and commitment - to the spirit of the crucified and risen Christ - to love and to cherish one another as persons. Paul of Tarsus lived his faith and left no one in doubt as to the enormous contribution he made to the building up of the early Christian Church, The issue would not be to ask what Paul would have done today but to ask what we can get from his writings and his missionary style as source of inspiration for doing mission today. I think that the second thought-pattern would do more injustice to the sacrifices made by Paul to promote mission than to try to situate' him physically in the present-day circumstances.
Paul's transformation on the road to Damascus opened his eyes to the new worldview about the unconditional love rooted in the mission of Christ on earth. Paul saw the world differently from the moment of his encounter with Jesus and sends a powerful message across to all and sundry to see the world with a new eye of faith and love for God's creation. His freedom from the bondage of his previous style of life when he was a slave to God's law opened the door of love for him to cross the boundaries of gender, class, culture, religion, and language to minister and preach the risen Christ to all nations. This is what made Paul's method of evangelization one of action, passion, and commitment.
As already mentioned above, the world has more and different challenges added to what Paul experienced during his own days. The horizon today encompasses globalization, environmental crises, international and coordinated domination by conglomerates, global financial mismanagement and corruption, militarization and quest for atomic acquisition, global migration, universal misuse of technology, supersonic communication development, and glaring signs of poverty and degradation in the midst of plenty. In other words, some other problems that would not have been foreign to Paul include poverty, racism, abuse of power, religious bigotry and fanaticism, inter- and intra-Church conflicts, the question about the role of women in the church and the society, the dignity of women, and the inequality of sexes. These are actual problems and issues of concern for the realization of true Christian mission today. When one looks at these issues, one would really agree with me that the concern of Paul for us today is how we should live an authentic life in Jesus, the Crucified. The ability to transcend the stings of tribalism and cultural bias, and launch our world into a new realm of authentic intercultural and interreligious relationships could provide a suitable platform to talk about a new creation in Jesus. This is what can make the new context of mission and evangelization both local and universal without destroying the authentic values of the Gospel message proclaimed by Jesus Christ and lived to the full by Paul - one of the strongest models of Christian evangelization and inspiration.
Let me elaborate one of the points listed above much more clearly in this paragraph-mission as interreligious dialogue. This is a realm that transcends the urge for technological and scientific advancement to a craving for 'personal' encounter between peoples, cultures, and religions. The world has experienced a new relationship with astral powers, with the moon, mars, etc. But, it is still closed to a relationship that would involve all humans on the globe at a very personal level and contact12. There is still a lot of antagonism and intrigue; bickering and rancor as well as skepticism as to what should make human beings live in harmony with one another. There is a lot of evidence, overt and covert, that religion is still being manipulated to divide the world into warring groups and classes. But it is the job of everyone who really feels called to be a Christian missionary - and every baptized Christian is actually called to be so–to engage himself very actively in the task of promoting love and understanding between religions. Each Christian should identify himself closely with the effort to build up the 'local' church, and by so doing, the whole human family. That would really be the mind of St Paul for us today. It means that exchange between the churches and religions can no longer be overlooked. Exchange does not mean relativism or syncretism as such. It means openness to learn from others while maintaining one's religious identity. My openness to other religions can lead me back to study and practice my own faith. As Christians, however, we must know our own faith first and foremost in order to know how to apply this method of openness to other religions. It might not be the case that people of other faiths should suddenly embrace Christianity. But it is not unrealistic for us Christians to walk with people of other faiths13, share the Gospel, share their sacred places, deepen their commitment to their own faith and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest of the work. This is a powerful message I have got from the pastoral journeys of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in the 21st century. Pope John Paul II once wrote," Mission is one and undivided, having one origin and final purpose... Looking at today's world... we can distinguish three situations... First, peoples groups and social-cultural contexts in which Christ and his Gospel is no known... Secondly, Christian communities (where) the Church carries out her activity and pastoral care... Thirdly... where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of faith... In this case, what is needed is a 'new evangelization'14.
The latest Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, "Caritas in Veritate"15 is a real challenge to the world to rethink and rechannel the God-given resources and natural endowment to promote authentic charity and love for the upliftment of humanity. By so doing, the Pontiff shows that the Catholic Church is still very much interested in letting the world realize that Mission as teaching is one of the functions of the Church. I do hope that the world as a body would dispose itself to learn from the noble words of this encyclical and from Catholic social teachings, which are the Gospel confronting and addressing the social and moral concerns of every age. - Injustice, poverty, prejudice or oppression.
If we accept the fact that interreligious dialogue has become a constitutive element for mission today, then we have to agree that it is something that has become an essential element for public discussions and interactions. Religions are deeply associated with cultures. People of different religious backgrounds who interact together bring with them their cultural differences, leading to enrichment and conflicts. We cannot forget refugees who must leave their own lands for one reason or the other to live in other lands and communities. They bring with them their own identities. Other reasons than wars can also make people migrate to new places, such as employment, trade, and commerce. In this sense, we remember the post second world war migrations around the Globe: to America particularly. It has made cities like New York, Chicago, etc multicultural and pluri–religious centres of interaction. In Australia, we recall the emigration of Italians to the homeland of the Aborigines where they must live together. Recently, the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq has also forced some people from these countries to strengthen the multicultural nature of Australia. There is in this meeting of cultures and religions the potentiality for conflict and mutual understanding as well. They must be harnessed for world unity. In this region, Christians and Muslims, as well as people of other religious affiliations come together for various reasons, which do not rule the religious bias they brought with them. I think that serious effort should be made to organize several fora for mutual co-existence and interaction, to reduce suspicion, and above all, to talk about the Gospel message of love, peace and respect for one another.
By encouraging one another to talk together in a multicultural environment, one can promote, not only justice and compassion, but also live out the admonition of Paul in 1Thessalonians 2 that mutual encouragement is absolutely necessary to live in the spirit of Christ. This makes Mission assume the character of mutual Encouragement for one another.
Christian dialogue may not be limited to discourses and interactions with other faiths and cultures. Christian dialogue as mission can also involve addressing and challenging other systemic wrongs prevalent in the world today. Science and Technology have made considerable progress and try to interpret everything from this point of view. Even, the Church, if not the Vatican itself is under pressure to endorse some of the 'abnormal' methods of present-day scientific and technological advances which challenge the moral position of the Gospel. One thinks of the pressure16 on the Vatican to provide moral approval to the use of genetic engineering technologies as a significant tool to combat hunger. It is the mission of the Church to challenge such a step and advise on other methods of combating hunger and human predicaments without destroying the basis of Christian faith and mission on earth. To do so, the Church has to dialogue intensively with the political and power-blocks behind these projects.
Christian mission as dialogue therefore, entails building bridges - between peoples, cultures, and religions. One of the most important bridges to be built in our world today is that between Christians and Muslims. Both religions must cooperate to achieve peace in the world. We have experienced a lot of renewed misunderstanding between both religions in the last one decade. The ugly incident of September 11, 2001 in America still reminds us of the need to work very hard to achieve mutual understanding and harmony in the world. It is interesting to note that the document, "A Common Word"17, which is a open Letter from Muslim scholars to "Leaders of Christian churches everywhere" in 2007 has been welcomed as a very good development. The document, which was signed initially by 138 Muslim scholars has been updated to over 300 Muslim scholars. The document proposes that love of God and love of neighbor should be the foundation to Christian and Muslim cooperation. It was a letter which received a positive attention from the Vatican and other Christian bodies such as the Church of England and the World council of Churches. The letter is receiving good responses from several quarters around the world.
1. In all his letters there are of course some passages which are hard to understand and these are the ones that uneducated and unbalanced people distort, in the same way as they distort the rest of scripture - to their own destruction. In v. 17, Peter continues: "Since you have been forewarned about this, my dear friends, be careful that you do not come to the point of losing the firm ground that you are standing on, carried away by the errors of unprincipled people. Instead, he admonishes in v. 18, that they should continue to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2. He had reached this point in his defense when Festus shouted out, 'Paul, you are out of your mind; all that learning of yours is driving you mad'.
3. Cf Jn 1:1; Jn 8:24; 10:30; Gen 1:1-5; Ph 2:6; 1Jn 1:1-2
4. We know that today, most healers even apply or evoke Paul in the quest to cast out demons - wrongly or correctly.
5. See also Brooks, O.S., 'Matthew 28, 16-20 and the Design of the First Gospel'. JSNT 10 (1981), pp. 2-18.
6. Peerbolte, L.J Lietaert, Paul the Missionary, Leuven: Peeters, 2003, p. 139. See also Allen, R., Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? London: World Dominion Press, 1960.
7. 7.  Cf . Betz, H.D., "Paul." in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D.N. Freeman, 186-201. New York: Doubleday, 1992: Barrett. C.K "Paul: Missionary and Theologian." in Jesus and the Word and Other Essays. 149-62. Allison Park: Pickwick Publications, 1995.
8.  Cf. Bowers, W.P., "Church and Mission in Paul." in JSNT 44 (1991): 89-111; Bowers. W.P.; "Fulfilling the Gospel: The Scope of the Pauline Mission." JETS 30 (1987): 185- 198.
9. 2 Gasque. W.W., 'Tarsus'. ABD vol. 6, pp. 333-334.
10. 3 Davies Powell, A., The First Christian (A Study of St. Paul and Christian Origins), New York: Farrar, Straus and Caudaly, 1957, p. 11
11. 4 Cf Letter of the Bishops of Turkey to all the Christians of Turkey: Pauline Year 2008-2009. p.2.
12. 5 Davies Powell. A., op. cit., p.11
15. Op.cit, p.12
16. 9 Op.cit., pp. 12-13 (Aramaic belongs to the same language group as Hebrew and for most purposes had gradually replaced it in the last centuries B.C. Such traditional Hebrew names as Shaul remained the same. The reason for the form Saul instead of Shaul is that there is no "sh" sound in Greek).
17. 0. Ibid.
18. For a more detailed understanding of the meaning of the word, apostolos, See Buhner, J. A., s.v. “apostolos”, EWNT, vol. 1 cols. 342-351.
19. See also Heb.l3:5; 2Cor.l2:9-12: Col 129.
20. Peerbolte, L.J.L., op.cit p.139. (See also. Muller, U.B., Der Brief des Paulus an die Philipper (ThHK, Leipzig: Evangelische verlagsanstalt, 1993), p.147; Fee, G.D., Paul’s letter to the Philippians (NIC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 196). Pp.127-129
21. Op.cit., p. 150 See also Cranfield, C.E.B., The Epistle to the Romans, 2vols (ICC: Edinburgh: Clark, 1975, 1979), p 471.
22. Onwukeme, V., Being All Things To All People, Nigeria: Ambassador Publications, 2008, p. 1
23. Cf. Daube, D. “Missionary Maxims in Paul,” in The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, 336-61. London: Athlone, 1956.
24. The Youngman referred to here is the future apostle, Paul, (Acts 13:9)
25. With regard to Stephen’s arrest. St Luke writes "there they put up false witnesses to say. “This man is always making speeches against this Hoi) Place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus, this Nazarene. is going to destroy this Place and alter the traditions that Moses handed down to us".
26. Cf. Dt. 17:6-7 A death sentence may be passed only on the word of two witnesses or three: and no one must be put to death on the word of one witness alone. The witnesses’ hands must strike the first blow in putting the condemned to death, the rest of the people following.
27. Cf. Acts 9:1-2; 22:4: 26:10-11: lCorl5:9: Gal. 1:13: Ph.3:6: 1Tim 1:13.
28. Cf. Dunn, J.D.G “A Light to the Gentiles”:The Significance of the Damascus Road Christophany for Paul," in The Glory of Christ in the Neir Testament: Studies in Christotogy in Memory of George Bradford Caird, edited by L.D. Hurst and N.T. Wright. 251-266. Oxford: Clarendon. 1987.
29. See 1Cor 9:16; 1Cor 4:9-13; 2Cor 4:8; 6:4-10; 11:23-27.
30. See 2Cor 11:28; Col. 1:24; 1Cor 15:10; 2Cor 11:5
31. Cf. Corrigan, G.M., “Paul’s Shame for the Gospel”, in Biblical Theology Bulletin 16, no 1 (1986): 22-27.
32. Cf. 1Cor 15.10; 2Cor 4:7; Ph 4:13; Col 1:29.
33. Cf. Donfried, K.P.. 'Peter. ABD vol. 5, pp. 251-263.'
34. See also Lietaert Peerbolte, L.J, Romans 15:14-29 and Paul's Missionary Agenda', in P.W. van der Horst, M.J.J. Menken, G.C.M. van Oyen, J.F.M. Smit. Persuasion and Dissuasion in Early Christianity, Ancient Judaism, and Hellenism (CBET 33: Leuven, Paris. Dudley MA: Peeters. 2003.
35. See Acts 9:17; 22:14: 26:16: 1 Cor 9:1: 15:8: Acts 22:17-21.
36. See Bamberger, B.J., Proselytism in the Tslmudic Period, New York: Ktav Publishing House. 1968: Braude. W.G.. Jewish Proselytizing in the First Five Centuries of the Commtm Era: the Age ofTannaim and Amoraim, Providence, R.I.: Brown University Press. 1940 Moore. G.F., Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: the Age of the Tamiaim vol. 1. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932: Jeremias. J.. Jesus' Promise to tlu Nations, London: SCM Press, 1958, pp.11-19: Carleton Paget, J., "Jewish Proselytism a the Time of Christian Origins: Chimera or Reality?" JSNT 62 (1996):65-103: Bedell, C.H "Mission in International Judaism", in Mission in the New Testament: An Evangelica Approach, edited by W.J. Larkin and J.F. Williams, 21-29, Maryknoll N.Y.: Orbis Books 1998;etc for those who argue for 'mission' in ancient Judaism: and for those who denie; it, see Collins, J.J.. Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistir Diaspora (2nd ed). The Biblical Resource Series. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 2000. pp.26: 272: Munck, J., Paul and the Salvation of Mankind, London: SCM. 1959. pp.264-27! McKnight, S.A., Light Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991: Goodman M., Mission and Conversion Proselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire, Oxford: Clarendon Pi es 1994.
37. Cf Cohen. S.J., "Conversion to Judaism in Historical Perspective: From Biblical Israel H Postbiblical Judaism", in Conservative Judaism 36. no.4 (1983):31-45.
38. Cf Cohen, S.J., "Was Judaism in Antiquity a Missionary Religion?", in Jewish Assimilation, Acculturation, and Accomodation: Past Traditions, Current Issues and Future Prospects, edited by M. Mor, 14-23. New York: University Press of America, 1992, pp.20-21.
39. Donaldson, T.L., Paul and the Gentiles: remapping the apostle's convictional world. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997, p.59
40. Goodman M., Mission and Conversion: Proselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire. Oxford: Clarendon. 1994. p. 5l.
41. For more information on the writings of Philo and Josephus on this issue, see Borgen, P. ‘Philo of Alexandria’, in M.E Stone (ed), Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period. Apocrypha, Pseudepigraphia, Qunran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus (CRINT 2,2; Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadlphia: Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 233-282.
42. Goodman, M., op.cit, p.43-44
43. See Goodman, M. op. cit p. 54.
44. McKnight S.A, A Light Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991, pp.12-19
45. Goodman M., Mission, p.51.
46. See Dickson. J.P., Mission-Commitment in Ancient Judaism and in the Pauline Communities, (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2 Reihe 159). Mohr Siebeck: Tubingen, 2003, pp. 14-15.
49. Cf Jeremias, J.. Jesus' Promise to the Nations. London: SCM Press, 1958. pp. 56-62.
50. Ibid (See also Tobit 13:13-14) It is important to understand that the event of God's universal disclosure of himself to the Jews and Gentiles alike is not aimed at subjugating Gentiles to Jews. Rather, the Gentiles are 'blessed forever", Tobit 14:6.
51. Dickson, J.P., op.cit., p.24.
52. Dickson, J.P., op.cit., p.24 quoting Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings, 1.3.3 (Valerius Maximus is said to have compiled his collection of sayings during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) and published them in the work. Memorable Doings and Sayings).
53. See Dickson, J.P., op.cit., p.27; Williams, M.H., "The Expulsion of the Jews from Rome in A.D. 19", Latomus 48 (1989): 765-84. 767). See also Daniel, J.L., 'Anti-Semitism in the Hellenistic-Roman Period", JBL 98 (1979), pp. 45-65.
54. See Dickson. J.P., op.cit., p.26. quoting M.H. Williams (Williams, M.H. "The Expulsion of the Jews from Rome in A.D. 19". Latomus 48 (1989). 765-84. 767).
55. See Dickson, J.P., op.cit., p.26 quoting M.H. Williams (Williams, M.H., "The Expulsion of the Jews from Rome in A.D. 19". Latomus 48 (1989): 765-84. 767).
56. See Dickson, J.P., op.cit., 26 quoting M.H. Williams (Williams, M.H., "The Expulsion of the Jews from Rome in A.D. 19". Latomus 48 (1989): 765-84. 767).
57. Cf Watson. F., Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles: a Sociological Approach. Vol. 56, JNTS.
58. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 114
59. 51. Dunn.J.D.G., Romans 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary, 1988, p. 114: Bruce.F.F., Romans,
60. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, London: The Tyndale Press, 1967,p.93: Cranfield C.E.B., Romans Vol. I, The International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1975, pp. 169-70: Watson.F., Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles: a Sociological Approach, Vol.56, JNTS. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. p. 114.
61. 52. Cf. Watson, F., Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles. A Sociological Approach, Vol.56, JNTS.
62. Cambridge: Cambrdge University Press, 1986, p. 114.
63. 53. Cf. Donladson.T.L., Paul and the Gentiles: remapping the apostle's convictional world.
64. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997, p.283.
65. 54 See Schiffman, L.H., " The Conversion of the Royal House of Adiabene in Josephus and Rabbinic Sources", in Joseplius, Judaism, and Christianity, edited by L.H. Feldman and G. Hata, 293-312. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987", pp.304-306; Cohen, S.J.D., "Conversion to Judaism in Historical Perspective: From Biblical Israel to Postbiblical Judaism". Conservative Judaism 36, no.4 (1983) pp.31-45; Cohen,S.J.D., "Rabbinic Conversion Ceremony", in Journal of Jewish Studies 41(1990), pp.177-203.
66. 55 See Dickson, J.P., Mission-commitment in ancient Judaism and in the Pauline Communities, pp.39-46; Derwacter, F.M., Preparing the Way for Paul, 42-46; Munck.J.. Paul and the Salvation of Mankind, 264-71; Jeremias. Jesus' Promise, 17-19; Flowers, "Matthew Xxiii, 15", 67-69; Hoad, "on Matthew xxiii. 15 A Rejoinder", 211-212; Kuhn, TDNT 6, 742; De Ridder, The Dispersion of the People of God, 120-27; Garland, The Intention of Matthew 23, 129-31; McKnight, A Light Among the Gentiles, 106-108; Feldman. Jew and Gentile, 298-99; Goodman, Mission and Conversion, 69-73; Levinskaya, Diaspora Setting, 36-39: Baraett, "Jewish Mission", 271-72; Newport, The Sources and Sitz im Leben of Matthew 23, 135-137.
67. 56 Leviniskaya, Diaspora Setting, 39-46
68. 57 The word is severally used in the Septuagint (LXX), by Philo where he uses it as a title for a religious convert (cf Philo: Special Laws 1.51, 1.308-309; Questions on Exodus 2.2 i Exodus 22:20); and in the New Testament where it is used three times to refer to Gentile converts to Judaism (Acts 2:11; 6:5; 13:43). In the time of the Diaspora, it was connected to some kind of a religious state or full conversion of a Gentile. The term is hardly seen in the work of Josephus.
69. 58. See Dickson, J.P op cit., p 47. Some of the scholars who accuse Paul of inconsistency in his refutation of the accusation of circumcising Gentiles include Martyn Galatians, 476-477; Dunn, Galatians, 278-79; Fung, Galatians, 239-40; Ramsay, Galatians, 163.
70. 59. Kim, S., The Origin of Paul’s Gospel, 39. See also Longenecker, Galatians, 233.
71. 60. Betz, Galatians, 56.
72. 61. Cf Schoeps, Paul. 219: Matera, Galatiaus. 184
73. 62. Donaldson, "The Origin of Paul's Gentile Mission", in The Road from Damascus, ed by R. Longenecker), p.81.
74. 63. See Hengel Martin & Schwemer Anna Maria, Paulus zwischen Damaskus mid Antiochen (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 108), Mohr Siebeck: Tubingen, 1998. pp.60-78.
75. 64. See Lohfink. G„ The Conversion of Si Paul, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press. 1976, p.3.
76. 65. It is an account of the punishment and conversion of Heliodorus, who had arrived with his body guards near the Treasury, when the Sovereign of spirits and of every power caused so great an application that all who had dared to accompany Heliodorus were dumbfounded at the power of God and reduced to abject terror.
77. 66. See also Gal 1:16-17 for the direct account of his stewardship in Damascus by Paul himself.
78. 67. Son of God' corresponds to Christ' in Acts 9:22 and 13:33: with correlations in Mt 4:3. In Pauline Christology. one sees the use of this title often: Rom 1:3-4:9: Gal. 1:16: 2:20: 4:4.6: ITh 1:10 and Rom. 9:5.
79. 68. Cf. Suhl. A.. Der Beginn der selbstandigen Mission des Paulus', NTS 38 (1992). pp.430- 447: Stanley. D.M. Paul's Conversion in Acts: Why the Three Accounts?', CBQ 15 (1953). pp.315-338.
80. 69. Cf Rom 1.5: Eph 3:8.1 Tim 2:7; 3:16; 2Tim 4:17. For further reading see Sandnes. K. O., Paul- One of the Prophets? A Contribution to the Apostle's Self-Understanding (WUNT 2.43; Tubingen: Mohr-Siebeck. 1991). pp.61, 63-64.
81. 70. On Galatia as a "nation", see the work of Josephus Ant. 1.123: BJ 2.358-360: Sib. Or. 5.598-599.
82. 71. On Asia as a "nation", see Sib. Or. 3.598-599; see also Josephus BJ 2.366. Strictly speaking, the continent of Asia is composed of many "nations" (cf. Philo Mos. 1.263: 2.19; Legat. 11, 144).
83. 72. On Macedonia as a "nation", see Sib. Or. 3.172: Josephus BJ 2.360.
84. 73. On Judea as a "nation", see Philo Legat. 214-215; Josephus Ant. 10.184; 12.141; 14.184.
85. 74. Cf Rom 3:30: 1Cor 1:24.
86. 75. Cf 2 Cor 11:26: 1Thess 2.14-16: 1Cor 1:23.
87. Walls. A., "Christianity" in Handbook of Living Religions, ed. By John R. Hinnells, London: Penguin Books, 1998, p.56
89. 3 Cf. Adigwe, H. A., "Dialogue and Proclamation as the Mission of the Church", in One God Many Religions: Let us Talk, ed. By H.A. Adigwe, Onitsha: Thonik prints Production Ltd., 2003, (pp.49-77).
90. 4 Leader Newspaper editorial of Sunday Feb. 15 - Saturday Feb. 21, 2009, "Civic Responsibility", p.2.
91. 5. cf. Bowers, P., 'Church and Mission in Paul', JSNT 44 (1991), pp.89-11: "Paul and Religious Propaganda in the First Century', NT 22 (1980). pp.316-323.
92. Rom 8:18
93. 7 1Cor 4:1
94. 8 1Cor 4:2
95. 9 1Cor 4:5 (Mtt 7:1).
96. 10 I use the word boundaries here in a more or less negative sense to show what hinders, prevents. or obstructs us from progressing in our expected Christian lives. The new life - Christ helps us to transcend these obstacles and assume our new roles as children of God
97. 11. See also 2Cor 3:18; Eph. 4:13.
98. 12. I would say that the earth is endangered, though scientifically subdued. It means that our cosmos demands a way of relating to it, in fact, of being missionary as well. The Earth we live in reminds us that creation is interconnected. In other words, if we are to be the light of the crucified Christ in the world, in a secular culture, then we need to make connections between science and the Gospel, thus, paving the way for a new relationship with God and all creation.
99. 13. Let us remember Paul's encounter with people of other faith, whereby through his discourse, he was able to reveal to them that the 'unknown god' they were worshipping he was proclaiming to them (cf Acts 17:23).
100. 14. Pope John Paul II. Redemptoris Missio, 1990. n.31-33.
101. 15. The "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth). 2009 of Pope Benedict XVI breaks new grounds on such topics as microfinancing, intellectual property rights, globalization and the concept of putting one's wealth at the service of the poor.
102. 16. Perhaps many people do not know that some powerful agro-chemical and seed companies seek control of the world's food systems through patented ownership of the technologies and proprietary rights. One of the targets is the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, which recently supported and sponsored an event advocating the pros of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). But the Vatican has not yet taken an official position because it has to weighed strongly.
103. 17. See www.acommonword.com for the complete text of the letter.
1. 1Thess 5:8-9
2. Dickson, John., Mission-Commitment in Ancient Judaism and in the Pauline Communities, Mohr Siebeck: Tubingen, 2003, p.4
4. It is not to be forgotten that eight letters within the Pauline corpus are regarded as primary evidence of the convictions of Paul himself. They include 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon (for a better understanding of what is called the Pauline Christianity) and the remaining five epistles treated as secondary evidence.
5. See Disu Kamor, “Boko Haram: Prohibition of knowledge and reason”, in the Guardian, Tuesday, August 4, 2009