It can be arguably said that the Apostle Paul might be one of the most misunderstood characters in the Bible. He is considered one of the chief builders of the early church and most significant purveyor of the gospel to the Gentiles. And yet, it was Christ’s apostle, Peter who is considered Rome’s first monarchical bishop. From him, and by one-man, apostolic succession (monarchical episcopacy) was presumed to continue through every church generation.
I hear a lot these days about what our Christian Community should resemble. A common biblical reference often cited is in the Book of Acts. It is written, “And they [the church] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:43-45). Now, this would have been a Christian community to behold. The church members prayed, took communion, and studied the word of God together as one family.
It should be apparent to anyone even casually reading the news that the world is becoming more divisive. Some might argue the earth has always experienced conflict, which is probably accurate, and only proves that humanity continues to go through cycles of self-destructive behavior that ultimately leads to major national and international conflicts. Are we in that same place today? A new survey from the Pew Research Center reveals the political polarization in the United States has reached a dangerous extreme.
The Apostle Paul had much to say to the gentiles about their relationship with the Jewish people, even warning them to not boast or become arrogant against them. Paul made these critical points in his message to the church at Rome, specifically Chapters nine through eleven. I have paraphrased and emphasized these below, and I believe scripture speaks plainly for itself.