Vol.XV No.I Pg.1
March 1978

Paul Was No Pansy

Robert F. Turner

When converted, "straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God" (Acts 9: 20). He "increased in strength, and confounded the Jews" (v. 22); so they sought to kill him (v.23). How's that for a beginning?

He and Barnabas "had no small dissention and disputation" with Judaizing teachers (15:2); and when he went to Jerusalem about this matter he stood his ground against "those who seemed to be somewhat" (Gal. 2:1-10). Shortly thereafter he "withstood (Peter) to the face, because he was to be blamed" (v. 11). In a matter of judgment his contention with Barnabas about John Mark was so sharp "they departed asunder" (Acts 15:37-f), although this did not hinder his regard for them both as saints (1 Cor. 9:6; 2 Tim. 4:11). There's a man for you. His spirit was "stirred" by idolatry, and he "disputed" with his adversaries (Acts 17:16-17). Yet, he retained a sense of propriety, and at times he ceased to plea, saying, "Your blood be upon your own heads" (18:6; 28:2428). He shows us one may be intent and firm without losing balance. Paul was an independent man with a strong sense of justice. He refused to leave prison quietly, but said, "They have beaten us openly uncondemned ... let them ... fetch us out" (Acts 16:37). He labored with his own hands to support himself (20:33), yet strongly argued his right to be sup ported by others (1 Cor. 9:6-f). He did not hesitate to claim and use legal protection (Acts 22:25; 25:9-11), and spoke sharply against an abuse of law (23:3), while showing respect for the "office" of dignities (23:5). On one occasion he seems to have used a "debate" trick to divide the opposition (23:6); but later acknowledges this may have been out of line (24:20-21). He spoke the truth without compromise or fear, as is seen from his sermon before Felix (Acts 24:24-f). Paul comes through as a rugged individual, with strong convictions and deep sense of purpose. But he leaned on a source of strength greater than his own. "Be not afraid, but speak;" "My grace is sufficient for thee" (18: 9-11; 2 Cor. 12:7-9). If the apostle Paul needed these encouragements, Oh Lord, in thy way, what about me??