Paul provides for us a mini biography of himself in Philippians 3:5-6. Paul says that if there is anyone who has reason to show pride it is him because of his lineage. Most of what Paul describes doesn’t mean much to us today, but Paul was a special individual. He was born at the crossroads of history. God selected Paul because in Paul were all the qualities required to take the message of Jesus Christ from the Jewish outpost of Jerusalem into the metropolis’ of the Roman world. Ravi Zacharias provides a wonderful summary of Paul’s unique place in the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Dr. Zacharias is looking at 2 Corinthians 4:6 as the evidence of Paul’s ability to bridge the gap between the three major groups during his lifetime:
The apostle Paul was born a Hebrew, raised as a Roman citizen in a Greek city. The Romans gave to us our legal ideals. The Greeks gave to us our philosophical ideals. The Hebrews gave to us our moral ideals.
- The Hebrew’s pursuit was symbolized by light. “This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world.” “The people that sat in the darkness have seen a great light.” “The LORD is my light and my salvation.”
- The pursuit of the Greeks was knowledge. “These things are written that we might know that we have eternal life.” The Academy was a Greek invention.
- The pursuit of the Romans was glory – the glory of Rome, the glory of the Caesars, the glory of the eternal city, that wasn’t built in a day.
Paul, who was born a Hebrew, a citizen of Rome, in a Greek city, says this in Second Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV).((Dr. Zacharias has used this example on several occasions. One example is from a message given at the Urbana Conference in 1993.))
It is not mere coincidence that in Christ God seeks to embody all of the pursuits and ideals of man. And it is Paul, because of his unique place in history, who has the insight to demonstrate how Christ is the Redeemer of the world.