Original Research

Een godvechter wordt voorvechter

Rob van Houwelingen
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 64, No 4 | a102 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v64i4.102 | © 2008 Rob van Houwelingen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 January 2008 | Published: 16 January 2008

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Rob van Houwelingen, Theologische Universiteit Kampen, Netherlands

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A godfighter becomes a fighter for God

The Pastoral Letters refer twice, in biographical notes, to the religious past of the apostle Paul. In 1 Timothy 1 he is qualified as “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” (NIV). These qualifications are the stereotypes of a “godfighter", as they are known in secular and early Jewish literature of antiquity. Nevertheless, Paul did not become a recipient of divine vengeance, but of the grace of the Lord. He thus became a fighter for God: the advocate of Christianity. Against this background, how can 2 Timothy 1 state of the same Paul that he, like his Jewish ancestors, has continued to serve God with a clear conscience? This could be seen as a strange discrepancy. Exegesis of both statements in context makes clear, however, that the Pastoral Letters draw a consistent picture of Paul. He had to redefine his faith, but in doing this he did not engage in the worship of any other God than the God of his forefathers.


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