During the period when the first church had just been established, Paul, then Saul, was a force to reckon, both before and after his conversion to Christianity. He exhibited strong leadership skills whichever side of the divide he was on. He believed so much in the ideals he followed, whether good or bad, that he always gave his all to see that they were practiced by others as well. Just after the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ had departed to go back to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), the church faced major persecution and Saul was among those spearheading the persecutions as seen in the book of Acts of the Apostles. “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison”- Acts 8:3.
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Paul was so zealous in persecuting the church that he obtained letters from the high priest to take to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any Christians there, whether men or women, he would bring them bound to Jerusalem.
It was that while he was on this particular mission that he met with the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ, in a miraculous encounter that served to change his heart and made him convert to the Christian faith. It took time for the new covert Paul to convince the Christians that he was now on their side. However, this small problem was quickly overcome with the help of the apostle Barnabas. Paul began to convert people to the Christian faith that he had just joined. He began to closely work with the then leaders of the church like Apostle Peter, often working harder than any of them, as is written in his letter to the Corinthian church- “But by the grace of God I am what I am and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,”-1 Corinthians 15:10.
Paul led by example. There is nothing that he ever asked his follower to do that he didn’t do himself. He would often urge his followers to do that which they had already seen him do. In his letter to the Philippians, he tells them, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” –Philippians 4:9. Paul dedicated his entire life after his conversion to winning more converts for the church. He became all things to all men that he would, perhaps, win some over to Christianity (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). He moved from town to town, city to city, establishing churches and going back via the same routes to strengthen these same churches. He lived such a life that he would inspire his fellow Christians to also live a life of converting people to the Christian faith. He would urge them to live for this very purpose (2 Corinthians 5:12-21, Romans 10:14-15).
Paul was a leader who loved his followers dearly, often asking them to uphold love amongst each other. He would always pray for all the churches, even with tears. He told the members of the church that the only debt they had left was that of loving each other (Romans 13:8). This seems to be the basis on which he wrote the letter to Philemon. In his letter, he seems to be bringing together Philemon and Onesimus, who had fallen out for some reason. Onesimus was a slave of Philemon (Philemon 16) but had run away (Bible Gateway). It’s during this time that he met with Paul, who converted him and he became a member of the church. Paul was now sending Onesimus back to Philemon with this letter, that Philemon might accept him back as a fellow member of the church and to view him as much more than a mere slave (Bible Gateway).
He is appealing to Philemon to accept Onesimus as he would if it were Paul himself and to charge any wrongdoing by Onesimus to Paul’s account. This letter is a classic example of how Paul believed in love and forgiveness as virtues to be upheld by the members of the church, that he even intervened when there was discord between any members, only that he may reconcile the people involved. In a letter to the Corinthians, he had told them that in fact, without love, nothing else practiced by the members of the church held any water( 1 Corinthians 13). This is why he took time to preach love and forgiveness in the church, even helping people come to reconciliation like is seen in this letter to Philemon (Bible Gateway).
As mentioned earlier, Paul was a leader by example, and he exemplified his love to the church by the way he dedicated his entire life to preaching the gospel that he believed would change the lives of anyone who agreed to follow it.
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Paul was a strong apostle, never weakening in his faith. His radical attitude toward various issues pertaining to the Christian faith made his followers examine their own lives with the hope of changing and becoming better Christians. Whatever Paul went through-and he went through a lot of hardships (2Corinthians11:22-30) – he made sure to keep his faith so that those who looked to him would remain encouraged. Because of his endurance and strong leadership even in times of difficulty, many people were converted and the many churches that had by now been established were strengthened. He was often imprisoned for his radical ideas that he let everyone know of fearlessly.
Even in the prisons, he still preached and converted jailers who were keeping watch over him, winning even more members for the church. It is because of such a lifestyle that he inspired many to join the Christian faith. Because of his leadership, the churches grew stronger, being guided by his letters and until today, the Christian faith is being practiced. Paul defended the gospel even unto death; for history reveals that he was eventually taken prisoner and martyred for his faith.
Scriptures lifted from the Holy Bible, KJV
Bible Gateway: Paul’s Relationship to Philemon: Commentaries, 2009. Web.