The sixth book in Charles Swindoll's Great Lives series is entitled Paul, A Man of Grit and Grace. Paul was an apostle of Jesus who was responsible for spreading the new religion of Christianity during the first century A.D. across much of Greece, Asia Minor, and Rome. He was also believed to be responsible for writing thirteen books of the New Testament in the Bible. From what is written in the Bible, it is clear that Paul was a dynamo for Christ. He gave everything he had for years on end, letting nothing stop him or discourage him or weigh him down, to fulfill the mission that Christ personally gave to him. He was the main player in the early church to carry out the Great Commission.
While this background history is interesting, there is much more to the story of how Paul came to be Paul. To appreciate this man and what drove him to complete his mission, we need to understand that for the first half of his life he was a member of the powerful Jewish council known as the Pharisees. It is believed that with Paul's scholastic aptitude, connections, and pedigree, he was on course to become the chief priest of the Jews in Jerusalem. In his position with the Pharisees, his mission was to rid the land of the stain that was Christianity. This new movement of followers of Jesus, was seen as nothing other than heresy. It had to be removed from the land by any means necessary. When harassment and intimidation did not bring about the desired results, the Pharisees resorted to murder, all in the name of God. Paul was one of the leaders charged with rooting out the Christian menace.
However, God had a different plan for Paul. He was to be used mightily as an apostle of Christ. He was to be a major force in the early church. During Paul's dramatic conversion, Jesus made it abundantly clear to Paul that his sinful ways were to stop and what he was to do in his name. What many may not appreciate in this story is that Paul was not yet prepared to carry out his charge. He needed to come to truly know Christ and what God's grace was all about. For nearly 10 years after his conversion, Paul lived in obscurity. No preaching, no teaching, no mission. He needed to be transformed from a man unto himself into a man who served God. Yet it was not wasted time. God was molding this man and building him up for the mission ahead. But when he was finally ready to carry out his mission, he gave everything he had for the last 20 years of his life, until he was beheaded in Rome around A.D. 67. Now on to the next volume in this series, Job, A Man of Heroic Endurance.