Full Text for Galatians- Volume 1 - What are you able to tell us about Paul's early life, his education, and personality? (Video)

***ROUGHLY EDITED TRANSCRIPT*** CONCORIDA UNIVERSITY EDUCATION NETWORK GALATIANS AND ROMANS DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR. No. 1 >> When I read the New Testament, I can tell that there are clearly some major figures who are prominent. One of them is the Apostle Paul. What are you able to tell us about his early life, his education and perhaps even his personality. My name is David, by the way, and I'm from Cleveland. >> DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: David, it's a delight to be here again teaching in the delta program, especially on one of my passions and that is the book of Galatians and the missionary journeys of Paul. One of the great things you see when you read the New Testament is that it is not only a book about Jesus Christ, but it's about his church. A church in which we see how Jesus has become a people. And how Jesus is being spread throughout the world by the work of such people as the Apostle Paul. I am a professor of New Testament at Concordia Theological Seminary. I'm also dean of the chapel. I also serve as director of deaconess studies and one of the courses I've been able to teach over the last ten years is a course on Galatians. Galatians you're going to see is one of the earliest epistles of the Apostle Paul. And so it gives us a window into his earlier thinking. But also because of the way that the book is constructed it helps us get into the whole history of the early Christian church. So the first part of our study is going to be a time in which we're going to reflect on the place of Paul in the First Century, his missionary journeys, and his relationships with some of the other great figures of the New Testament. When you read the gospels, it's very clear that John the Baptist and Jesus are the most prominent figures. Each one of them begins with the ministry of John and then goes onto Jesus. Also, Peter is a very prominent figure. And of course there are other minor figures, some of the other apostles. Some of the women who followed Jesus. The religious establishment. But when you look at the gospels themselves, it really is all about Jesus. When you get to the Book of Acts, which is of course now the history of the church after Pentecost, the two major figures are Peter and Paul. We will talk about that a little later. Peter is really the prominent figure in the first 12 chapters of Acts and Paul in the last chapters from Chapter 13 to 28. But we'll also find out that James the brother of our Lord the first bishop of Jerusalem is another significant figure. When you look, however, at the rest of the New Testament with the 13 letters of Paul, he clearly dominates the canon. It's very hard to read the New Testament without seeing the significance of Paul. So I would like to spend a few minutes talking to you about him. We're not sure when he was born. We're not sure when Jesus was born. Most scholars date Jesus' birth in what we would now say is 4 BC. And we think that Paul was probably born three or four years after Jesus was born. And the point there is he is a contemporary of Jesus. If Jesus died and rose again at the age of 33, Paul was either in his very late 20s or his early 30s. So he is somebody who is of the same generation of Jesus. Paul, however, is a very unique figure because of where he was brought up. He is not from Judea, he is not from Jerusalem. He didn't call up in what we now today call Israel or Palestine. Paul is from Tarsus which is in Cilicia which is a part of Asia Minor, what we would call now today Turkey. He grew up in a town that was a significant town in the Roman Empire. It had a university. It was a town that was a center of commerce. It was a sophisticated city. It was a place in which the culture and art of Rome would have flourished. In Paul's early education, probably to the time in which he was what we would call today Bar Mitzvah, to the time in which he became a man, 13 or 14, Paul received a very rigorous Hellenistic education. That means that he was brought up in the Greek schooling of the time. Now, what is most unique about Paul is that he is a Roman citizen. His father was clearly a Roman citizen. Maybe even his grandfather. And we don't know why or how that happened. But it put him in a unique position being a Jew and yet a Roman citizen. We have a pretty good idea that some time at an early age, 13 or 14, Paul was sent by his father to Jerusalem to study to become a Pharisee. Paul was a student in the Pharisaical school of Gamaliel, which was like the Yale or Harvard at the time. He was the top of his class. I would like to say that he was the one who broke the curve. He was a significant presence in that place. And from the say 13, 14, 15 until the time of our Lord's death and resurrection, Paul was studying the Scriptures in Jerusalem. Now we can't say this for sure. But certainly in reading the New Testament we can say that Paul was a fine biblical scholar. I don't think it's a stretch to say that he could have been perhaps the finest biblical scholar in the world at that time. Paul was a brilliant man. And he was a very fierce, passionate man about the law and what it meant to be a Jew. Now, this is something, again, that we can't say for sure. But I think it's a deduction that we can make from the New Testament. During Jesus' Galilean ministry, Paul was in Jerusalem. And we know that the school there, the Pharisees in Jerusalem -- and I'm going to talk about the Pharisees in a minute -- but the Pharisees in Jerusalem sent a delegation up to Galilee to check out what Jesus was teaching. Now, we don't know if Paul was part of that delegation. But he certainly would have been privy to what found out. In other words, Paul knew about Jesus. Paul knew what he taught. Paul knew everything that anybody else knew about Jesus. And Jesus of course was the most significant, prominent, most important figure in Israel during his three-year ministry. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem for his death, it is most likely that Paul was in Jerusalem going to school there and was an eyewitness of the events. How intimately he was involved, we don't know. But even if he wasn't in Jerusalem, he certainly would have heard about it. Being one of the most significant students in the school of Gamaliel. Paul is a Pharisee. That is a very important thing to understand. Because Jesus, our Lord, was most closely associated with the Pharisees during his ministry. The Pharisees were the conservative biblical scholars. They operated outside of Jerusalem. Which means that they were the ones who took care of the synagogues and the liturgy of the synagogues. They were teachers. Teachers of the law. Rabbis. They were the ones who opened up the Scriptures to people outside of Jerusalem. The other major party is the Sadducean party. And the chief priests came from this party. These Sadducees weren't as conservative as the Pharisees. They didn't believe in the resurrection. They didn't believe in angels. They didn't really accept most of the Old Testament canon except for the first five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. And they were centered in Jerusalem because they were in charge of the liturgy of the temple. The Pharisees however were very conservative. So Jesus felt very much at home with them. The way they interpreted Scripture. Their beliefs. Their conservative understanding of the messianic prophesies and the hope of the resurrection. All of these things Jesus and the Pharisees had in common. And yet as you read the New Testament you know how fierce Jesus is against the Pharisees. And the reason is they were so much alike and yet in one most significant fundamental way, they were so much different. Because the Pharisees taught that salvation was by works of the law. And Jesus taught that salvation was through him by grace. and the Messiah. This was a fundamental difference. And therefore, it made the Pharisees as much as they had in common with Jesus, it made the Pharisees one of his enemies. And if you read the New Testament, you can see that his harshest words are directed against the Pharisees. I believe that if you read the New Testament, particularly the Gospel of Luke, you can see that the ones who were really behind Jesus' death among the religious establishment were the Pharisees. Ultimately the chief priests on the Council called the Sanhedrin of which both Pharisees, Sadducees and laypeople had a representative was the Council that put him to death. But the Pharisees were the instigators. That's why Paul was such a fierce persecutor of the church. He persecutes the church because he sees it as a fundamentally theologically different vision of what he reads in the Old Testament. And even though we believe that Paul never physically put any Christians to death, there were many Christians who died in the early period because of Paul's instigations. Because of Paul's support of those who did commit these persecutions and these martyrdoms for the church. One of the things that is important to recognize about Paul is his passion. Wherever Paul is in his life, he is passionate about what he believes. Before the Damascus road experience, which we'll talk about later on where he is converted to the Christian faith, Paul is passionate for the law, passionate for the principles of Judaism, passionate for the Old Testament and its teachings. After his conversion, he is passionate for Jesus and the Gospel. We're going to see that passion in the book of Galatians. This is Paul the pastor, the genuine, loving, absolutely in love with this congregation pastor. We're going to see how passionate he really is in his own words.