Leadership Skills of Paul of Tarsus

Leadership Skills of Paul of Tarsus

Carmel Gittens

In the light of Romans 1 Corinthians and Galatians what sources of authority does Paul draw on to reinforce his case and what can be learned from the apostle in this respect for contemporary church leadership

Following his conversion on the road to Damascus where Paul of Tarsus one time persecutor of the followers of Jesus met with the risen Lord he became the greatest defender of the newly forming Christian faith His zeal and fervour once so attuned to ridding the world of this perceived threat to Judaism now turned to promoting the same However such was his dramatic and life changing meeting with Jesus that Paul not only devoted his life to growing and nurturing early Christian churches and spreading the gospel across the Mediterranean and beyond but was willing to endure persecution and indeed martyrdom himself in the pursuit of his divine mission It is widely held that Paul was uniquely equipped for this mission as he had many of the qualities needed for such an enormous task In this essay I will look at Pauls journey from persecutor to proselyte a journey that took him many thousands of miles and one that required him to assert his message with conviction and authority Paul would have to defend his teachings and the gospel he proclaimed in many varied and often difficult situations To do this he used a variety of sources for example when Paul defends his apostolic status or challenges lax moral behaviour or advocates his gospel message he draws on his conversion experience the Hebrew Scriptures his finely honed and excellent rhetorical skill and subsequent force of argument to strengthen his case Finally I will look at how his leadership skills and methods may give us an insight into contemporary church leadership today

Let us first look at Pauls apostolic authority There is no doubt that Paul claimed to be an apostle and he certainly exercised authority but when he did would he have claimed this to be as an apostle He would not particularly have claimed that his authority came from his appointment as an apostle but there are times when in defending his status he does assert his apostolic position In the first two chapters of Galatians and in the letters to Corinth Paul hotly defends the position of being an apostle In Galatians some had argued that because he was not one of the original apostles appointed by Jesus he is somehow inferior to them but more importantly as inferior to Peter Of course this is at the heart of the debate over apostleship Pauls response to this was furious he was furious with the old teachers who questioned his authority and tried to tie up the Christians with the old laws But he was even more furious with the Christians for succumbing to their intimidation

Paul begins his letter with a strong and clear account of how his commission is not by vote of man but God given He continues to state how once James Peter and John have recognised this they shake hands with him and Barnabus and assign them to a ministry with the nonJews while they continue with the Jews He is stating here also that even as he rebukes Peter for certain practices that he thinks are out of line Peter recognises his authority and equality with himself

In 1 Corinthians 91 15811 Paul asserts his right to be included as an apostle He had after all seen the risen Christ and the mission work he was doing with the Corinthians attested to his position 1 Cor912

Am I not free Am I not an apostle Have I not seen Jesus our Lord Are you not the result of my work in the Lord2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others surely I am to you For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord

But this claim is not one that Paul constantly refers to He actually only claims to be an apostle in Romans 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians In both Corinth and Galatia some denied that he was an apostle so it is here in his letters to them that he launches his defence But in Romans he speaks from the outset as being an

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