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Gifted to Serve

Paul is a unique apostle because he was not one of the original twelve, taught by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Paul, also known as Saul of Tarsus, was Jewish and a citizen of Rome, therefore uniquely qualified to speak to both Jew and Gentile. Paul said he was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” and a student of Gamaliel making him the only apostle with extensive theological training (Acts 22:3–5).

Paul was on his way to Damascus hoping to arrest and prosecute Christian believers when he encountered the risen Christ. That encounter left Paul blind and after spending time in Damascus with Ananias, Paul became a Christian believer and a preacher/teacher of the gospel.

Three years after his conversion, Paul returned to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and other Christian leaders (Galatians. 1:18). Paul’s apostolic ministry to Gentiles was affirmed during the Jerusalem Council, described in Acts, Chapter 15.

Paul’s work included three missionary journeys that established Christian churches throughout Asia and eventually Europe. Much of the New Testament is comprised of Paul’s letters to these churches, clarifying Christian doctrine, theology and practices for that day, and preserved as Scripture for Christians from then on.

Paul was arrested on many occasions, persecuted by Jewish and Roman leaders, and ultimately was martyred after being rearrested in Rome. Brittanica.com describes Paul as “often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity.” Paul wrote his letters to the church in Corinth around AD 55 to address problems in the young congregation, to answer their questions about the Christian faith and to defend his apostolic leadership.

The letters reveal Paul’s pastor heart for those early Christians who were seeking to develop a holy character in the midst of their diverse and pagan culture. Paul originally visited Corinth on his second missionary journey after leaving Athens. The large seaport city was strategic to the progress of Christianity, and Paul spent eighteen months with the people there. Paul wrote the letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians a few years later from the city of Ephesus during his third missionary journey.

Paul understood the potential influence the Corinthian church could have in the world and was devoted to helping this congregation maintain their witness of biblical doctrine and Christian character. Those priorities make his letters important teaching for every Christian.