Note: I am now continuing my Saint of the Month series, however it will not always be monthly. For this reason, I am now calling it My Favorite Saints instead.
The Acts of the Apostles introduces an apostle who was once an enemy of the Christians. We know him today as St. Paul.
St. Paul was originally named Saul of Tarsus. Under this name, he was present when the church’s first official martyr, St. Stephen, was stoned to death. This incident inspired him to persecute anyone who followed the Way (which is what Christianity was called at the time. ) Yet, Jesus sought after him and confronted him (Acts 9:1-9), blinding him in the process. He eventually converted after being assisted by a member of the apostles’ community, and earned a new name, Paul.
When a biblical figure changes status, there is often a change in name as well. Abram became Abraham after he decided to follow God, and his wife Sara became Sarah as well. In the new testament, Simon became St. Peter when Jesus gave him the new position as the leader of the apostles prior to his crucifixion. This also made him the first pope.
I think what I really like about St. Paul is his eloquent approach to evangelism. What follows are some of my favorite quotes from his epistles.
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophesy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tounges, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13)
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10)
I died to the law so that I might live for God. (Galatians 2:19)