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writing things down…

Paul: In the Interim

As I was reading in preparation for the Acts course I will be teaching in the Winter quarter, I began to wonder how the time Paul spent in Tarsus, after Jerusalem (Acts 9:30) and before Antioch (Acts 11:25-26), shaped his approach to missions. This was a period of up to 10 years. Surely he continued the proclamation began in Jerusalem to the Hellenists (9:29), but what did he do specifically for those ten years and how did the experiences shape his approach in his mission to the Gentiles that was forthcoming? One has to believe he had some sort of effective and significant influence in Tarsus. If he had been dormant for those 10 years, why would Barnabas have sent for him to come to Antioch? And, it makes me think that Paul’s time in Tarsus was especially important for Hellenists and Gentiles, because Barnabas thinks of him specifically for the situation in Antioch, namely the discipleship of the Hellenists who had heard a word from the Christian Cypriots, Cyrenes, and later Barnabas (11:20-24). Note that Barnabas only sent for him after a “great many people were brought to the Lord” (11:24). Paul was not recruited to evangelize necessarily. He and Barnabas “met with the church and taught a great many people” (11:26). In other words, Paul seems to have been especially well-suited for instruction in living the way of Christ. So much so that the ones he and Barnabas taught would be called “Christians” (11:26).

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