Pharisee to Persecuted Prophet

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“Wherefore I ask that you may not faint at my tribulations for you, which are your glory.” Ephesians 3:13.

Paul the apostle in his lifetime went from zealous for the religion of the Jews to zealous for the church of Jesus Christ. As a religious leader he was honored among his peers, respected by the people, no doubt praised by his teachers, and he excelled all his fellows by seeking to destroy Christians, thinking they were against God.

However, as a Christian, he was persecuted, first, for Christ’s sake and the gospel, and then secondly, for the sake of the Gentiles that he was seeking to reach. This, he says, was for their glory, as one day they would be received up into glory because they received the message Paul preached.

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles. If so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that grace of God which was given me to you-ward” Eph 3:1-2 (Emphasis added). In Paul’s words the change that took place in his heart that sent him in another direction was the grace of God. His transformation was not by human effort or engineering, but by the power and presence of God, due to no merit of his own.

The most glorious reality is the gift of God’s grace that results in a transformed life. This grace is described in chapter one as heavenly blessings, depicted in chapter two as the calling of Gentile believers, and further illustrated in chapter three by the transformation of an individual – Paul the Apostle.

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