The social status of the apostle Paul

I found out some interesting things about the apostle Paul over the last couple of days' reading in a book by Ben Witherington on 1 & 2 Corinthians. I never appreciated that in order to receive the education he did, Paul had to have been raised in a well-to-do family. Paul was trained in Greco-Roman rhetoric, and he was also educated under Gamaliel, one of the most famous rabbis of his day. Witherington states that Paul's education was in the top 1-2% of his day.

Paul came from a wealthy family, and he was well educated. He was also a Roman citizen. Not many Jews enjoyed that status. So, all in all, Paul had a lot of social muscle he could flex. He usually didn't. In fact, in Corinth he chose to take the socially low road of being a tentmaker. This move disappointed some of the more aristocratic Corinthians, who came to see Paul as a disappointment and, ultimately, not really apostolic material.

So... when Paul wrote in Philippians 2 about Jesus denying himself all the rights of divinity, he wrote as one who knew from experience what it was like to empty oneself.


Popular Posts

Two signs that someone is humble

A test of your relationship with God

Justice, political correctness and offending people -- what would Jesus do?

Ten essential Dallas Willard quotes

Mother Teresa's turning point