The 2018/2019 study for Men of the Word will be Men Around Paul: A study of the men who shaped, supported, or challenged the Apostle Paul.
When: Wednesdays, 7:00 PM - 8:45 PM
Where: Meetings are in the Worship Center at Grace Community Church.
The influence of the apostle Paul on world history is immeasurable. When he was converted on the Damascus road around AD 33, the Christian church was considered by the Romans to be an insignificant sect, limited to a small geographical area and a peculiar group of people, the Jews. Most believed that the movement would die out as quickly as it began.
Three decades later, Christianity was a world religion. Men and women of all races and social and economic classes, living in the most influential cities of the empire, confessed Christ as Lord. While Paul was not directly involved in all the dimensions of this remarkable expansion, the degree of his influence upon it is unmistakable. As New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce states, “Paul was not the only preacher of Christianity in the Gentile world of that day…but he outstripped all others as a pioneer missionary and planter of churches, and nothing can detract from his achievement as the Gentiles’ apostle par excellence.”
But no great man of influence stands alone. Around him are found men of lesser recognition, but not of lesser character. This is certainly the case with Paul. Although at the time of his conversion no one would willingly identify himself as Paul’s friend, by the time he was martyred dozens of men were associated directly with his mission. This is part of what made Paul great. As he grew older, he not only pulled more and more men into his orbit, but he himself became more and more dependent on and beholden to others. Evidence of this can even be found in Paul’s magnum opus, the book of Romans. One whole chapter (16) is comprised of affectionate greetings to individuals in the church who had become precious to him.
To a significant degree, the influence of Paul’s achievements was related to the greatness of the team God assembled around him. Thus, not only Paul but the members of his circle serve as examples worthy of imitation. Paul himself points to this when he writes to the Philippians, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Philippians 3:17).
In keeping with this exhortation, the focus for the upcoming year in Men of the Word will be the pattern of character displayed by the men around Paul. Beginning September 5, each Wednesday evening will provide a biographical sketch of a different personality found within Paul’s sphere of influence. Most will be examples of faith and dedication to imitate, but a few, however, will be examples of opposition, since the character of a man’s opponents also says much about the man himself. Small group discussion will provide opportunities to apply the lessons learned at a personal level—in a way that is relevant to the responsibilities and challenges men face today.
Ultimately, by analyzing the lives of the men around Paul we are able to reach a better understanding of the apostle himself. And as we understand Paul better, we understand the One whom Paul adored and strove to imitate with all his might.
Onesimus: A Demonstration of Grace
No Meeting (Shepherd's Conference)
Philemon: A Man of Opportunity
Onesiphorus: A Source of Refreshment
Agrippa: An Epitome of Indecision
Hymenaeus: An Example of Apostasy
No Meeting (Easter)
Demas: A Tragedy of Betrayal
Nero: A Maker of Martyrs
Learning from Leaders