Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 8/7/2017
Perhaps the most misunderstood word in the Bible, and one Paul seems to rely on in the letter to the Romans, is "wrath", as in "the wrath of God". Is God angry, mean, resentful or vindictive--or does "wrath" mean something very different, even if still challenging?
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 7/31/2017
In the suffering Servant song of Isaiah 53, God works through this despised, rejected and persecuted figure of the Suffering Servant, rather than working through the persecuting crowd. Jesus consistently made God available to people in this way, not only taking the side of the marginalised, but being made as marginal as possible through crucifixion. It’s not a total surprise then that the only way God would get through to Paul, or the only way he wanted to get though, is as The Persecuted One.
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 7/17/2017
Much is made of the fact that Jesus made no great missionary journeys himself. Some even take this as an indication that Christ had no great missionary intentions. Was Paul taking the Gospel where Jesus had never intended it should go?
Paul in prison, writing
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 7/3/2017
Paul wrote “letters,” but at the same time, they weren’t only letters...
Paul the Apostlee
John Hemer, 6/26/2017
Had Paul claimed that Jesus is Messiah because of his life and teaching, many could accept that. Had he even claimed that despite his ignominious death, Jesus was still messiah, a Jewish martyr, this too would be understandable within Jewish frames of reference. But Paul claims Jesus as messiah precisely because of the cross...
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 5/22/2017
Certain influential voices today claim that Christianity is something completely different to what Christ intended, and that it is all Paul's fault. Did Paul go too far in his ministry?
Paul the Apostle Deesis detail
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 5/8/2017
Paul seems to think of himself and of other Christians as "included" or "located" in Christ, but not as an isolated believer.
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 4/17/2017
If formerly Catholics seemed over-concerned with what happens after death, we find that now they often have little concern and only the vaguest ideas. And then, as now, people question how the resurrection of the dead could be possible. Paul speaks to all of this.
Paul and the Cross, Basilica of St Paul, Rome
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 4/3/2017
Paul, the Pharisee and persecutor of the followers of ‘the Way’, thought that Jesus was a counterfeit Messiah, whose false claims brought him to the kind of shameful and scandalous death that he deserved. Then he met the risen and glorious Christ...
Paul the Apostle by G Sciltian
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 3/20/2017
Paul was the earliest writer of the New Testament and the first ever to articulate an understanding of the saving death of Jesus Christ.
Conversion of St Paul Basilica of St Paul Rome
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 3/6/2017
"Metanoia" very aptly captures the essence of Paul’s experience and points to us the kind of conversion to which we too are being called today.
Paul, by Angelica Ballan, PDDM
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 2/27/2017
It sounds like a trick question, but Scripture scholars today spill much ink in discussions about the authorship of the Pauline epistles. Why would such a question arise? What are the most important things for an ordinary Catholic to know in this regard?
Paul and his Companions
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 2/13/2017
"Works well with others" is not the sort of notation we might expect on Paul's report card, but the record shows that he did, after all, work very well with others--if they were as intent as he was on the spread of the Gospel.
Paul the Apostle, detail of stained glass
John Hemer, 1/30/2017
The early Paul (Saul) believed that the promises made to Israel by God had still not been fulfilled, but that the countdown was on.
Paul with open Bible, icon detail
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 1/16/2017
How did Paul put together the history and sacred writings of Israel with the teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus? Was the Bible to be written from scratch, now that Jesus had come and made all things new?
Detail of Paul by Nino Gregori
Armanda Santos, FSP, 1/2/2017
Who was this Apostle sent to proclaim the Good News to the Gentiles? If we want to know Paul we must look primarily at the letters he wrote, which give firsthand information about his person and teaching.
John Hemer, 12/19/2016
Was Paul wrong about the "end of the ages"?
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 12/5/2016
It has become commonplace to regard ‘low’ Christology (i.e. an emphasis on the humanity of Jesus) as early and ‘high’ Christology (i. e. an emphasis on the divinity of Jesus) as a late arrival to theology.
Detail from the Altar of St Paul
Armanda Santos, FSP, 11/21/2016
1961: The city of Rome was celebrating the centenary anniversary of the Apostle’s arrival there. To mark the occasion, Alberione commissioned two altars for the Queen of Apostles Basilica. One altar was to feature a painting of Jesus, the Divine Master or Teacher; the other, his faithful disciple, Paul.
John Hemer, 11/7/2016
In the last five chapters of Romans, Paul draws some practical conclusions from the dense doctrinal considerations of the first half of his letter. It all begins with a statement which could be described as a manifesto for Christian living: I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Rmns 12:1).
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 10/17/2016
An essay on the Letter to the Colossians and the new and bracing worldview it proposes.
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 10/3/2016
The surprisingly high vision of the Church in Paul's letter to the Ephesians has led many scholars to doubt Paul's personal authorship of this letter, but there is much we can learn from the image of the Church as Bride of Christ.
Paul and the Cross, Basilica of St Paul, Rome
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 9/19/2016
What is the faith that leads to salvation, according to St Paul? Is it our "faith in Jesus", or the "faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2: 20)?
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 9/5/2016
The Holy Spirit is the Power that makes it possible for each Christian to do what Christ did.
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 8/22/2016
In Romans 6:11 Paul tries to get his readers to think through and act out the consequences of their baptism, of their having declared allegiance to another Lord: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 8/8/2016
The Galatians are people who have been living by grace and some have come along and tried to persuade them to live by the Law again. What is the relationship between grace (freedom in Christ) and Law? Do we even now really live according to St Paul's understanding?
Paul the Apostle, detail of stained glass
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 7/25/2016
Many modern-day readers hold the mistaken notion that the sequence in which the New Testament books are arranged in our modern-day editions follow the time or chronology of their writing. But the first writer of the New Testament was Paul, the Apostle, and his very first letter was addressed to the Christian community in Thessalonica (ca. 50 A.D.).
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 7/11/2016
No one in the history of the world has understood and articulated the problem of Law and religion better than St. Paul, particularly in Romans and Galatians. But with this subject more than any other the opportunities for a superficial reading present themselves.
Image of Paul preaching
Armanda Santos, FSP, 6/27/2016
Raphael's depiction of "Paul Preaching at Athens" shows Paul at his parental best, patiently engaging in the process of religious formation. Like a concerned father or mother, Paul tries to meet these “children” on their own level, adapting his message in a way they will best understand while encouraging them in a journey toward acceptance of and maturation in Christ.
Paul at Miletus, by Teresa Groselj (detail)
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 6/13/2016
The Pauline mission, characterized by participation, collaboration, pooling of energies and resources, was a “networking in love” in the most concrete sense.
Detail:Paul the Apostle, Tempio di San Paolo, Alba
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 5/30/2016
Paul retells the story of Jesus’ self-offering at the Last Supper as a solution to a concrete problem experienced in the Corinthian community.
Paula and David la Fede: Paul (detail)
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 5/16/2016
We take it for granted that we have only four accounts of the gospel in the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But then, what is Paul trying to prove when he claims that he had been “set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1)?
Paul the Apostle
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 5/2/2016
Throughout history, not a few readers of the Epistles have come to regard the Apostle Paul as a renegade Jew, antagonistic to his fellow-Jews. Some have even suggested that Paul, who described himself “a Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil 3: 5), was himself “anti-semitic”! This misunderstanding about Paul's attitude toward Judaism became widespread from the sixteenth century onward.
Paul preaching (detail)
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 4/18/2016
The paradox of Christian salvation is that though Christ shares our death in order that we may share his life, the believer can only share that life if he/she, in turn, is willing to share Christ’s death. This, in turn, reveals the mysterious fruitfulness of suffering.
Paul the Apostlee
John Hemer, 4/4/2016
Insights from Rene Girard and James Alison shed light on what Paul meant in "God made him to be sin who knew no sin" and "Christ became a curse for us."
Paul the Apostlee
John Hemer, 3/21/2016
The whole of the New Testament bears witness that Christ’s death is sacrificial, but few theological ideas have been more misunderstood.
Detail from Moscow Cathedral, Paul the Apostle
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 3/7/2016
How many people distance themselves from religion because they cannot outgrow the idea of a god, who, like a policeman, is always on the watch for offenses and ready to inflict the severest punishment? Is this the image Paul presents?
St Thecla, detail
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 2/22/2016
Contrary to charges that Paul was a woman-hater, the early Church cherished legends and stories of Paul's extraordinary women disciples, first among them Thecla, "equal to the Apostles."
Paul in Chains, detail
Armanda Santos, FSP, 2/8/2016
In various passages Paul identifies himself as a prisoner, but how many times was he actually incarcerated? According to secondary sources, namely the Acts of the Apostles and the Second Letter to Timothy, Paul may have been imprisoned as many as five times, each imprisonment varying in duration.
Sr Paul
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 1/25/2016
The story of Saul of Tarsus’ meeting with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus appears three times within the Acts of the Apostles. Luke has placed the three versions of the story at strategic points in his narrative, each time with the intention of drawing the readers’ attention to a particular aspect of Paul’s experience.
Blessed James Alberione
Brother Aloysius Milella, SSP, 1/19/2016
As the Daughters of St Paul centennial nears its official conclusion, one of the Founder's collaborators reflects on the essential place of St Paul in Alberione's thought and spirituality.
Detail of Saul, Stoning of Stephen, Pauline Door
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 1/11/2016
St. Paul is one of the best-known personalities of the ancient world—the historian's dream come true. We have a better idea of Paul's life than we do of many major figures of the Roman Empire. We certainly know more about Paul than we do, humanly speaking, about Jesus, who left no personal writings at all.
Paul Icon, detail
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 12/28/2015
John and Paul give two perspectives of the one reality of the Incarnation. For John, it is “putting on”; for Paul, it is “taking off.” For John, God becomes one of us by “putting on human flesh,” whereas for Paul, it is by “emptying himself of divine glory.”
Detail of Paul treasuring scrolls of the Bible
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 12/14/2015
How was a staunch Jew like Paul, without turning his back on his Jewish belief in the one true God of Israel, able to declare that “Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Phil 2:11). What force does this declaration have for him?
Rembrandt, The Apostle Paul (detail)
Armanda Santos, FSP, 11/30/2015
An attribute common to all of Rembrandt’s paintings of Paul is old age. As depicted in this painting, the Apostle is an elderly man, devoid of virile strength and grace. He is a lonely figure sitting in darkness, weighed down by layers of warm clothing. Rembrandt seems to have left nothing in writing to explain why the Apostle was a favorite subject of his, or why he chose to present Paul as older and vulnerable.
Detail of Paul (miniature)
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 11/16/2015
Pauline ethic may be summarized in three simple, yet loaded words: Identity informs behavior.
Detail of Paul (watercolor by Veneziano)
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 11/2/2015
For us today, “justice” only evokes images of a legal system—law, court hearing, verdict, etc. An alternative translation is “righteousness,” with connotations of moral uprightness, but this fails to capture the mentality behind Paul’s original expression.
John Hemer, 10/19/2015
Aside from a few facts, Paul gives us no direct information about the life of Jesus. This has lead some scholars to conclude that Paul had no interest in, and possibly even no knowledge of the earthly Jesus, and this view has in turn given rise to the idea that Paul’s Jesus is purely a theological construction with no basis in any historical fact.
Detail of Paul by Beccafumi
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 10/5/2015
But Paul's relationship to the Bible isn't only that of an author.
Paul the Traveler
Armanda Santos, FSP, 9/21/2015
We who travel today in speed and comfort may fail to recognize Paul’s commitment of time and personal abnegation in traveling by foot from place to place. What drove Paul onward in his journeys despite fatigue and the hardships of travel?
Paul the Apostle, Orvieto Cathedral Museum
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 9/7/2015
If you’ve ever heard the exhortation, “Offer it up!” you were encountering a Pauline notion.
Paul with the Word
John Hemer, 8/24/2015
Paul makes it clear again and again that Christ was the fulfilment of everything Judaism tried to do, and one way to express this was to refer to Jesus as the messiah.
The Ecstacy of St Paul, Coghetti (detail)
Armanda Santos, FSP, 8/10/2015
Writing to the Philippians, Paul declares that he has been grasped by Christ (cf. Phil 3:12), as if Christ had physically captured him by surprise. It is this “assault” that Coghetti seems to be alluding to in his fresco in the Basilica of St Paul.
Paul, detail (la Foresta)
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 7/27/2015
The first mention of a collection of Paul’s letters was found in a Latin document (165-185 A.D.) known as the Muratorian Canon, an annotated list of sacred Christian writings. Thirteen of Paul’s letters appeared in the list. Several theories have been proposed by scholars regarding the formation of the Pauline Corpus.
Paul the Apostle
John Hemer, 7/13/2015
Perhaps the most remarkable thing in the New Testament is that someone highly unlikely to attribute divinity to anyone but God, i.e. a Jew steeped in rabbinical tradition, is precisely the person who makes the clearest claims for the divinity of Christ.
Last embrace of Peter and Paul
Anne Flanagan, FSP, 6/29/2015
Although Paul wrote frankly about a public disagreement with Peter, Christian art and literature have firmly and consistently kept the two together.
St Thecla, disciple of Paul
Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, 6/15/2015
The apostle Paul is sometimes characterized as a misogynist, and there are expressions in the epistles that could lead a modern mind to that conclusion. Scripture scholar Sister Bernardita Dianzon draws very different conclusions from her analysis of Paul's writings. (This article is being posted on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Daughters of St Paul.)

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