There should be no doubt Jesus Christ was a real person, not a fictional figure – although there might be a little more room for ‘doubt’ (lack of Faith/ incomplete evidence) as to whether or not He was what He claimed to be – or what Chritianity has raised Him up to be.
So what of St Paul of Tarsus from whom we received much of the New Testament in the Holy Bible? Few would deny his existence in reality also, while again there is less ‘certainty’ as to his motives in writing what he did – those can never be ‘proven’ beyond ANY doubt since he is no longer living to be questioned concerning them.
What is known about Paul though, through contemporaries of his, and his works, can be investigated and some conclusions drawn. i would recommend all discover the facts of Paul and draw their own conclusions based upon the evidence – and not biased opinion.
Whatever his motivations concerning his conversion to Christianity in the first century AD there can be little doubt he knew very well that what he was doing was putting himself in extreme danger for very little ‘earthly’ reward. (Paul had himself, under direction of Rome, put many Christians to death for their challenging of the Empire’s domination in the Middle East and Europe, before undergoing his own conversion to the then ‘cult’).
Unlike the ‘prophets’ of today who push the theme of Christianity and gain massive followings and huge bank accounts for their (His) Churches Paul was not able to gain such benefits and was facing (and suffered) imprisonment and worse for his crimes against the Roman Empire – not the most ‘forgiving’ of cultures in a less than ‘enlightened’, non-violent period of our history.
In short – he gave his life for what he believed in after spending many years in Roman ‘house arrest’/prison, all the time continuing to uplift and encourage a minor sect of Judaism to stay true to a new message ‘from God’ through his various ‘letters’ to Christian churches in cities in Eurasia.
That message today is held close to the hearts of 2, 000 million Christians while the ‘original’ religion – Judaism – now has some 15 million adherents.
Much of those numbers are due to a less than ‘Christian’ adoption of the religion over the 300 and more years after His crucifixion by the same Roman Empire, which was largely dismantled by the 5th century, but through and because of whom almost all of Europe, and thus the rest of the world, came to have Christianity imposed upon them through the force of arms, and later the force of missionary zeal.
Today half of the world’s Christians hold the Pope to be their Supreme Authority on earth (Papa = (Our) Father) and his Seat – The Vatican – lies but a short distance from Rome and uses their language – Latin – in their religious practice.
It is largely thanks to the Reality of Paul that today each one of us is ‘free’ to read for ourselves of the life and teachings of Christ and of how life-changing they can be to us still some 2000 years later.
We do not have to do so because we are required to by an Empire that wishes to avoid internal squabbling that may result in a loss of power and position of that Empire as was previously the case.
We are free to decide the truth for ourselves – every single one of us.
As this most ‘Sacred’ of times approaches again this year i encourage all to reconsider what we believe in a NEW way – in order that He live even closer to us tomorrow than He may today.