Background Information on the Apostle Paul and His Leadership in Philemon

July 16, 2013 — 4 Comments

A couple years ago I wrote a series of blog posts about the Apostle Paul and how he displayed specific leadership characteristics in the book of Philemon. However, looking back on those posts now, I do not believe that I provided adequate background information on the Apostle Paul. Because of that, some of the leadership principles might have been missed.

Background Information on the Apostle Paul and His Leadership in Philemon

Photo Credit: IsraelTourism

At the bottom of this post I’ve provided links to my four posts about Philemon and Paul’s leadership. However I’ve shared in today’s post some significant background information on the Apostle Paul to help you see how his leadership was displayed in the book of Philemon.

Paul’s Family Heritage
Paul was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:38-39) who grew up in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). His parents, a family of Pharisees of the tribe of Benjamin, probably taught him about the law and prophets as well as the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. 1

Paul’s Educational Background
Paul was one of the most educated Pharisees who knew the laws and prophets extremely well. He was educated and carefully trained in Jewish laws and customs in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3) by Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel, who founded a Pharisaic school. In this context, Paul greatly advanced his studies past his fellow students. 2

Paul’s Occupational Skills
Paul was a tent maker while in ministry until he was placed in prison in Rome (Acts 18:3). 3 Paul’s main occupational skill was to deliver God’s message to Gentiles, kings, and the people of Israel (Acts 9:15). He did this with other believers whom he coached and mentored while doing ministry together (examples are Barnabas, Priscilla and Acquilla, Timothy, and Titus).

Paul’s Cultural Advantages
Paul had many ways to build connections to kings, Jews, and Gentiles. This was because he was a Roman citizen, a Jew, and was also a Pharisee before becoming a follower of Jesus. Knowledge of the Scriptures and different cultural connections allowed Paul to explain God’s truth and revelation to people in a variety of different contexts.

Paul’s Religious Experiences
Paul’s ministry was marked by his conversion while traveling on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 9). Jesus appeared to Paul (then known as “Saul”) revealing himself to Paul and asking why Paul was persecuting him. This led to Paul being consecrated for God’s “special work” (Acts 13:1-3) along with the receiving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9). This led to Paul participating in tremendous evangelism efforts to both Jews and Gentiles, assisting in the planting of churches, and teaching of proper doctrine to new and established churches. Before Paul’s conversion he had a strong influence as a Pharisee persecuting Christians (Acts 9:13-14) and he used that influence to drag followers of Christ out of their homes and to prison (Acts 8:3).

To read the series of posts about the Apostle Paul’s leadership in the book of Philemon here:

  1. A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower (part 1)
  2. A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower (part 2)
  3. A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower (part 3)
  4. A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower (part 4)
Question: What other important information about the Apostle Paul is necessary to know in order to see the leadership principles in Philemon?

Notes:

  1. Philip W. Comfort and Walter A. Elwell, eds., Tyndale Bible Dictionary: A comprehensive guide to the people, places, and important words of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 996.
  2. Philip W. Comfort and Walter A. Elwell, eds., Tyndale Bible Dictionary: A comprehensive guide to the people, places, and important words of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 997.
  3. Philip W. Comfort and Walter A. Elwell, eds., Tyndale Bible Dictionary: A comprehensive guide to the people, places, and important words of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 997.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

  • davewainscott

    Good stuff. I have been spending lots of time in Philemon, teaching BIb 436 so much. A friend of mine, Brian Dodd (who wrote a great book on Paul, and another great one on leadership), wrote his dissertation on Paul’s leadership by example/view of himself. he graciously allowed me to post his pages on Philemon here:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B95vo-D0ql1CNGpSQVVfT2tTVE9jX0pIWm12XzI4QQ/edit?pli=1

    Hope seminary is awesome!

    • Thanks, as always, for reading Dave. And thanks for sharing the link. This will be a helpful resource.

      As far as seminary, I sure hope it will be awesome. I’m doing two classes online right now: Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics and Intro to Theology. Learning lots in both.

      Thanks soon!

  • “…kick against the goads.” —the man/god, Dionysus, to his persecutor, the king of Thebes, from Euripides’ book of Greek mythology, “The Bacchae”, written circa 450 BC.

    Isn’t it odd that Jesus would borrow an expression from Greek mythology in his appearance to the self-proclaimed “Thirteenth Apostle”?