Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled- featuring the London Touring Cast from the album Risen! The Musical recorded and produced by Joffy Girling
So last week I wrote that Mustard Seed Songs’ sequel to Risen! The Musical is Acts- The Musical and that the second act centres on Saul/Paul.
Last week I looked at why Saul’s name changed to Paul – this week I will look at his early life.
The two main sources of information by which we have access to the earliest segments of Paul’s career are the Bible’s Book of Acts and the autobiographical elements of Paul’s letters to the early Christian communities. Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD. The Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, and there is some debate as to how this came to be. One school of thought says that he inherited the citizenship from his father who gained it either by purchasing it or by performing some notable deed in the military.
He was from a devout Jewish family based in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centres on the Mediterranean coast. It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university. During the time of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor
Paul referred to himself as being “of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee”. The Bible reveals very little about Paul’s family. Acts quotes Paul referring to his family by saying he was “a Pharisee, born of Pharisees”. Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16. In Romans 16:7 he states that his relatives, Andronicus and Junia, were Christians before he was and were prominent among the Apostles.
The family had a history of religious piety. Apparently the family lineage had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations. Acts says that he was an artisan involved in the leather or tent-making profession. This was to become an initial connection with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he would partner in tent making and later become very important fellow missionaries- Acts 18:18-19
While he was still fairly young, Paul was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis in history. Some of his family may have resided in Jerusalem since later the son of one of his sisters saved his life there.- Acts 23: 16-17. Nothing more is known of his biography until he takes an active part in the martyrdom of Stephen,[ a Hellenised diaspora Jew converted to Christianity- Acts 7- 8.
Although we know from his biography and from Acts that Paul could and did speak Hebrew, modern scholarship suggests that Koine Greek was his first language. In his letters, Paul drew heavily on his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the Gospel and to explain his Christology.
Today’s featuring song “ Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled” is, I felt, appropriate for the difficult times in which we are living. It is sung by Jesus to His disciples and comes from John 14: 1-3