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Did God intend for Paul to show us the kind of Christian life we were all meant to live?

I don't mean every nitty-gritty detail. Obviously things would be different if you were born a woman or mute or disabled, or if you were married or terminally ill, or if you lived in a society that didn't persecute Christians, etc... And I'm not asking in an overly broad sense either: Paul loved God so Christians should love God. I'm talking about Paul's chosen discipleship and evangelism methods.

The algorithm of Paul's life seemed to be to go to a place where the gospel wasn't known, share the gospel and attempt to build a church (sometimes taking years), raise up leaders, double-back to the churches he planted before to make sure they were still following the truth, take mature leaders along with him, and do it over and over again. He also submitted himself to the leadership of Peter, James, and John (the so-called pillars).

This could be seen in contrast to other outreach styles: para-church organizations that don't have pastors, christian musicians/celebrities that go places and preach but don't attempt any church growing, churches that focus primarily on social justice, monk-style Christianity that seeks to escape the world altogether, etc...

I'm not asking whether one is wrong and another is right, but simply if Paul's methods indicate sort of a "best practice".

Here Paul was reproaching, rather tongue-in-cheek, the Corinthians for living such relatively comfortable, lavish lives while Paul and the other Apostles were spending there's on the gospel. Paul seemed to know that what he was doing and the matter in which he was doing it was what God had intended:

1 Cor 4:9-17 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

I again want to emphasize that I'm not asking whether the bible shows that every little detail of Paul's life should be copied. I just wonder if there's indications that show that Paul's life of obedience was the life we were meant to imitate; as revealed through scripture.

EDIT: I think I may have been unclear. Paul intentionally said "...imitate me..." as opposed to "...ask God how he wants you to evangelize..." Plus the majority of the book of Acts is following Paul's life, along with most of the non-Gospel new testament being Paul's efforts in building up the church. Certainly all growth is from God, but we're called to sow the seed and water it. My question is to whether Paul was the man with the ideal seed sowing/watering method we were meant to emulate, as it seems to be so in scripture. This is a question of best-practices; principles, not exceptions.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Affable Geek, David Stratton, wax eagle Jun 2 at 20:29

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I would say there are many ways to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus so I am a bit confused about your question. Are you asking if Paul's way is the right way? Bit difficult to answer if the scripture we are to judge him against is his own writing and he says 'imitate me'. If Paul is weighed against the rest of the Bible then you might get an answer worth having. –  gideon marx May 31 at 18:07
    
@gideonmarx Sorry for the confusion. Hopefully my edit will help. I'm trying to make special emphasis on Paul's discipleship methods. Every Christian should be a disciple and disciple others, that's the Great Commission, though Paul chose to disciple following a specific methodology that I show above--and this is against other methods chosen by, for example, touring musicians/preachers that don't build churches or submit to church leadership. My question is to whether people think Paul's discipleship methodology is sort of a best practice for Christians everywhere to follow. –  LCIII Jun 2 at 15:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)

Paul, indeed said that we should follow his example, which is to follow the example of Christ. The ultimate goal in Christian life is to become like Christ. Therefore,

The Ideal Christian to be imitated is not only Paul, but all the Apostles also.

The Ideal Person to be imitated is Jesus Christ.

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I wouldn't go so far as to say Paul is the "ideal Christian". It would be more accurate to call him a good Christian, an exemplary Christian, but "ideal" implies "perfection; it can't get any better than this". –  Paul Draper Jun 1 at 5:36
    
@PaulDraper By Ideal Christian, it means the best. The Apostles were the best Christians ever and I think they are a kind of role model for us to follow, next to Christ. –  Mawia Jun 2 at 5:15

"The algorithm of Paul's life seemed to be to go to a place where the gospel wasn't known, share the gospel and attempt to build a church (sometimes taking years), raise up leaders, double-back to the churches he planted before to make sure they were still following the truth, take mature leaders along with him, and do it over and over again. He also submitted himself to the leadership of Peter, James, and John (the so-called pillars)."

No, his algorithm, or life pattern, was not to be slavishly copied by the Christian. Not every Christian is called to build a church, go place to place with mature believers, and appoint leaders. Very few Christians would be put in a position where this could happen in their lives. Paul followed that pattern because the Holy Spirit led him to do those things. There were even a couple of places in Acts where Paul wanted to go somewhere to preach, but the Spirit turned him from that way. He went where the Spirit led, and that's what will make the difference in a believer's life of service. That's the pattern we are to follow.

Jesus Himself ordered His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature, so believers should take this to heart and be ready to share. It just need not always be in a church-building or evangelistic campaign context.

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Thier are different channels of Christian life.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

Conclusion: If God has put it in your heart then that is what you are to do for one plants the seeds, another waters.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NKJV

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

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1  
Thanks for the quick response! Though I think you're answering past my question. Paul intentionally said "...imitate me..." as opposed to "...ask God how he wants you to evangelize..." Plus the majority of the book of Acts is following Paul's life, along with most of the non-Gospel new testament being Paul's efforts in building up the church. Certainly all growth is from God, but we're called to sow the seed and water it. My question is to whether Paul was the man with the ideal seed sowing/watering method we were meant to emulate, as it seems to be so in scripture. –  LCIII May 30 at 19:47
    
He was one of them only because he followed the way of Christ, which is trusting God to fulfill the law for us. –  Only he is good. May 31 at 2:05

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