In modern times Paul has not had a very good press. Thus Okot p’Bitek writes: “This ex-Pharisee, who has been described as the ugly little Jew, was a small man barely five feet tall, bow-legged, a chronic malaria patient with serious eye trouble. We learn from Acts Chapter IX that he became a mental case for a short time, and on recovery he joined the Christians whom he had formerly persecuted. Paul was a great woman hater” (Let the Earth Hear His Voice, p. 1219). Apart from the statements that Paul was an ex-Pharisee and that he joined the Christians whom he had earlier persecuted, none of this, of course, can be substantiated.
One wonders whether such writers ever take the trouble to read Paul. So much of what Paul contributed to our understanding of the Christian faith has passed into the common stock of Christian knowledge that few realize what we owe to him. Most Christians would, for example, unhesitatingly call John “the Apostle of love.” But Paul used the word agape, “love,” seventy-five times, while it is found in John’s Gospel only seven times, with a further eighteen in First John. True, John uses the corresponding verb more often than Paul (thirty-six times as against thirty-three), but Paul has an emphasis on love that ought not to be overlooked. He, not John, wrote First Corinthians 13, and the importance of love pervades all his writings. He addresses people as “beloved” twenty-seven times (next are II Peter and I John, each with six). He is fond of the word “brother” (one hundred and thirty-three times, with Acts next at fifty-seven).
These days we are fond of singing about “amazing grace.” About two out of every three New Testament occurrences of the word are in Paul (one hundred out of one hundred and fifty-five). ...1
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