Bible Characters – Paul
Bible Characters – Paul
Paul strongly expressed himself – he was a man who made loyal friends but also a lot of enemies!
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Bible passage – Philippians 3:1–14

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh – though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.


In our Bible passage we can see how passionate Paul was, and how strongly he expressed himself – he was a man who made loyal friends but also a lot of enemies! The passage tells us about his high status as a Pharisee in his faith community of origin. Once meticulously observant of the Jewish Law, he came to believe that it had no power to save his soul at all, that salvation was freely given by God, grace received by faith.

The passage refers to Paul’s valiant struggle to keep the faith from becoming just another Jewish sect. He became known as “the apostle of the Gentiles”. If he had not argued and insisted that Gentiles did not have to embrace Jewish ways to be accepted by God, Christianity might never have come to those of us not of Jewish descent. We have a lot to thank him for.

Much of the New Testament is by or about Paul. Here are two more quotations from his letters:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9);

… “he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).



O God, your grace to us is wonderful. Your strength lifts us up and carries us in our weakness; your love finds and saves us when we are broken and lost. We thank you for the great apostle Paul, for his passionate spirit and his faith in Jesus that came to him with such overwhelming power. Please help us to find, as Paul did, so real a vision of Jesus that our lives are transformed until we too can say – and really mean it – “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain”. For we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.