Excursus of the Prophets and Incursus of Paul

This journey of Paul is like that of the prophets, especially of the Old Testament: their inspiration comes to them in the peace of the desert or in the highest mountains, under the Shekinah. Revelation comes to them directly and its words are written on the tables of their hearts. They savour them on their tongue and this food becomes sweeter than honey, entering their inward parts, their very hearts and minds, until that food becomes what they are and they what it is, the revelation becomes them and they it. (cf. Ezekiel 3:1-4, 10, 11)

Thus we understand how Saul-Paul discovered Christ and his teachings without the Gospel (for at that time no Gospel had yet been written) or any other books or papers, and without meeting or establishing a relationship with any of the apostles who preceded him. As he tells us, “..nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles who preceded me,” (Galatians 1:16, 17). In fact, “they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.” (Acts 9:26) Paul shows us how he discovered the teachings of the Holy Gospel: “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12)

Saint Paul was not a faithless and lawless apostate, despising Mosaic Law: quite the contrary. He himself gives us an account of his cultural and religious life: “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel,” (Acts 22:3) who was “a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people.” (Acts 5:34) and, he continues, was “taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” (Acts 22:4) Elsewhere he says, “My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” (Acts 26: 4, 5)

So Paul was a believer of extraordinary conviction, who remained faithful to that first Jewish conviction over which Jesus had shed new light, “which lighteth on every man that cometh into the world,” (John 1: 9) “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:32)
In Paul, then, the Old Testament books have, so to speak, embraced their perfection in the Gospel, or New Testament in Christ Jesus. So the visions of the patriarchs and prophets have met and fused with the vision of Paul on the road to Damascus. Both visions - indeed, all visions, revelations and utterances - have intertwined, for the one God is the source of all, as Paul wrote in the Epistle to the Hebrews: -

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

There is the old made new, always new, ever-renewed, always young, ever-living: Jesus is born, the new Child, God before the ages. He is of the stem of David according to the flesh, but he is the Word from the beginning: -

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

Yes, Jesus Christ is God and man. He has destroyed all barriers of history, time, place, geography, ethnicity, past, present and future; barriers between people, Jews and pagans, male and female, slave and free, great and small, to make humanity into the new man, as he is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In him all nations are reconciled, all parties and mind-sets, all trends unite in him, as Saint Paul says: -

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. (Ephesians 2:13-17)

Paul unifies his thoughts, feelings, vision, message and Gospel around Jesus – bringing together all the ways of seeing, Scriptures and languages that he knew and the Roman, Greek, Hebraic, Aramaic, Semitic civilizations with which he was familiar.

Paul is a lover of Jesus: he became so twice. He loved him without knowing him in the Torah and the Prophets; he loved him a second time on the road to Damascus after the experience of the vision of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. “God …separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace.” (Galatians 1:15)

So Paul unites in himself, his life, teachings and spiritual experience what Saint John said in his Gospel: “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1: 16, 17)