The impact of Paul on Christianity

The impact and contribution of
Paul of Tarsus on Christianity
-Sources of evidence in
the New Testament
- Significance
Evidence in the New Testament
of Paul of Tarsus’s work
Acts of the Apostles
Chapters 16 to 28 detail Paul’s missionary journeys
around the Mediterranean Sea from Antioch to
The Pauline Epistles or Letters
These letters were written to help the new Christian
communities overcome theological concerns and
realise how to live a Christian life in the varied
cultures of the Mediterranean- as Jew or Gentile.
Paul’s letters helped, supported encouraged and
inspired the communities and interpreted the
teachings of Jesus.
How did St Paul change the
world of his time?
• St Paul as a missionary established
Christian communities in key cities such as Rome, Ephesus
and Corinth.
• By spreading the story of Jesus Christ, Paul gave Jews and
Gentiles a way forward. His teachings about love of God
and neighbour challenged the followers of Jesus to follow
the command of love over the law.
• Paul made Christianity a universal faith, rather than a just a
sect of Judaism.
• Paul, a threat to the Roman Empire, was martyred in Rome.
How did St Paul change the
world of his time?
• St Paul challenged the leadership of the Jesus movementPeter and James at the Council of Jerusalem to allow
Gentiles to be Christians without following the food laws
or be circumcised. This is recorded in Acts 15.
• Paul’s writings formulated key teachings about the nature
of the Church. He taught about how Christ lived in them
and by their baptism and the Holy Spirit they were able to
contribute to the Christian community.
• Paul’s teaching on resurrection explained that Jesus Christ
through his death and resurrection offered salvation for all
who believed.
How has St Paul changed
Christianity through history?
• St Paul influenced theology and later theologians such as
St Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther.
• St Augustine (300CE) was changed from an immoral life to
one of faith after reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Augustine's foundational work on the gospel as a gift
(grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination,
and on original sin all derive from Paul, especially Romans.
• Martin Luther during the Reformation studied Paul’s
Letters to the Galatians and the Romans. From this he
formulated belief in justification by faith alone and not
faith and good works as the Catholic Church taught.
How does St Paul influenced
Christians today?
• St Paul’s letters laid the foundations for much of the
belief and practice evident in the Christian Church
• Paul’s writings are foundational underpinning rites
such as Baptism (initiation) and Eucharist (memorial
of Jesus’ breaking of bread).
• Paul’s experience of conversion continues to give
hope that Christians can amend their live and change
for the better with the grace of God.
What is St Paul’s contribution to
development of Christianity?
• Reform: Inclusion of the Gentiles
• Reinterpretation: Clarified and codified
teachings on what was needed for membership
of the Christian community
• Expansion: Spread to the Hellenic community
the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.
What is St Paul’s contribution to
expression(s) of Christianity?
• Reform: Letters formed part of practice of
Christianity used in ceremonies of initiation and
Sunday worship. Interpretation of Paul’s teachings
led to Reformation (Luther).
• Reinterpretation: From a Jewish sect where
Jewish followers of Jesus followed the law of
Moses, Christianity inclusion of Gentiles changed
what it meant to be a Christian.
• Expansion: As Christianity expanded Paul clarified
how the Hellenic community might interpret the
teachings of Jesus.
Key Ethical Teachings
• The importance of love (1 Corinthians 13)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I
am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal This passage
clarifies LOVE as the key ethical teaching for Christians as more
important than the observance of LAW.
• Membership of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13)
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether
Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one
Spirit to drink.
All are equal. Baptism is the visible sign of this membership and
Paul makes reference to the community as ‘one body’. This
defines the importance of COMMUNITY and BAPTISM as a sign
of membership of the community.
Key Ethical Teachings
• Christ’s call to a life of freedom and responsibility (Galatians 5:14)
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as
• The commandment to love your neighbour summed up all Christ’s
teaching into an ethical way of acting with all people. It challenged
Jewish laws such as those found in the Torah that included 613 mitzvot
(rules) for living a good life. It offers ‘freedom’ from these rules but
‘responsibility’ to care for others. This outlines ETHICAL BEHAVIOUR for
• The physical self as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in
you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
• This passage indicates that one must care for oneself as you are God’s
creation and that gift should be respected. This aspect of the Holy Spirit
is evident in a number of passages about how Christians are
empowered/strengthened by their faith. This outlines MORAL
guidelines for Christians.
What is St Paul’s significance
for Christianity?
St Paul’s was the Church’s first theologian
Outlined the ethical demands of Christianity
Missionary to the Gentiles
Challenged Early Christians to accept Gentiles into the
Church as full members
• Taught about salvation through grace and the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ
• Martyr for his faith
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