Paul, the Disciple
As you read through the gospels it’s easy to see how Jesus taught and gave practical experience to His twelve disciples. Even after His death and resurrection He continued to take advantage of His time left and opened the scriptures to them:
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 NLT)
My question this week is, since Jesus was gone, “Who discipled Paul?” You may remember that Paul became a follower of Christ a few years after His ascension, so then, who stepped in and became his teacher and mentor? Jesus clearly teaches that you have to ‘be’ a disciple before you ‘can’ disciple. Paul was already an educated guy in the scriptures, a Pharisee who was tutored in the Old Testament by the well- respected rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3); so who discipled Paul in the ways of Messiah?
I submit to you that after Paul’s conversion (Acts 9) he was guided by the Holy Spirit into an intense discipleship program led by the Holy Spirit. He was not one of the Twelve, he did not benefit from the hands-on training of Jesus, however, Gal. 1:17-18 tells us that he left Jerusalem and went to Arabia for three years. There is no record of this time in Paul’s life but I had to ask myself, “What was he doing in those silent years?”
Consider these thoughts:
1. Was he spending time in the Word verifying the ancient Messianic prophecies with what he already knew about Jesus Christ? As an astute teacher of the scriptures, could God have been imparting fresh revelation of Himself (Matt. 13:52)?
2. Was it a time of solitude? Paul states in Gal.1:14-16 that he had direct revelation of the Son; was God sending him away for a time of solitary meditation and communion with Himself? His passion and zeal that caused him to persecute believers would be transformed into passion and zeal for people to come to Christ and grow in Him (2 Cor. 11:2-4).
3. Was he receiving an impartation from the Holy Spirit for understanding the mystery of the marriage relationship of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:22-33) that believers would need in time of tribulation? That intimate picture of Bride and Bridegroom gives hope and encouragement in times of trouble would bring peace and joy in place of fear.
4. Was he experiencing a crash-course discipleship program from God Himself? Paul has now been discipling people for over 2,000 years, he undoubtedly was led by the Spirit to this remote place to learn, grow, and experience Jesus Christ again, more intimately now, in order to teach and write for future generations.
Believers all over the world are discipled by Paul to this day and whatever he was doing, I thank God that we can benefit from his obedience.