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Redemptive History: Abraham 2

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Introduction

Paul studied under the famous Gamaliel I (), It is worthwhile pointing out that Gamaliel is represented in later rabbinic literature as a teacher who had considerable appreciation for Greek culture.Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Paul, The Apostle,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1622.At any rate, Paul did become a Christian, and thanks to the Book of Acts we are well informed regarding this event. According to chapter 8, not only did he give approval to Stephen’s stoning, but soon after that he “began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (vv 1, 3). Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Paul, The Apostle,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1623.To the surprise of everyone who had heard of Paul’s enmity toward the church, the new apostle began to preach the gospel vigorously and convincingly. According to , , Paul spent some three years in Damascus and its environs. His ministry, however, eventually drew opposition and he had to escape from Damascus. Upon his return to Jerusalem, the Christians at first could not bring themselves to trust the one who had earlier persecuted them so fiercely, but Barnabas, a highly respected leader in the church, made it possible for Paul to receive a hearing ().Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Paul, The Apostle,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1623.It can be said that, in a very important sense, Paul took up Stephen’s mantle. Bible students have long recognized that Luke, as he wrote the Book of Acts, appears to picture Stephen as a precursor of the great apostle to the Gentiles.Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Paul, The Apostle,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1624. What matters is that Paul did in fact pick up where Stephen had left off.Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Paul, The Apostle,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1624.

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