Campfire Scripture: A dose of man-Bible every weekday, for the thoughtful, manful Christian.
Book Author and Date:
Paul of Tarsus, the last man to see the risen Christ. Christ came specifically to him from heaven on the road to Damascus to tell him to stop killing Christians, and become one instead… he did what he was told. Paul wrote over half the New Testament including numerous epistles to the Corinthians which were not canonized. This letter was probably written sometime between A.D. 55-56.
Endurance, Bush-craft, Perseverance, Badassery.
This was the last letter (so far as anyone knows) that Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. They were rebelling against Paul and listening to vile critics of him. As a result he was forced to write an account and defend himself against these empty accusations. He explains so clearly how much he hates having to boast about himself… but man he does it with style.
What I Reckon:
Ah what don’t I reckon? I think it’s easy for us to think of the disciples as these somewhat more gentle folk (even the fisherman). Maybe it’s the way they’re depicted in many paintings and artworks.
This passage blows that inaccurate picture out of the water.
Paul was a legend. Now I’m sure you can proffer up some contrivance about divine protection, but there’s no evidence for it in this passage. The Lord was with Paul, the way he’s with us. But Paul still would’ve felt every pang of hunger and every laceration spread across his back. No, Paul was as a hard as a coffin nail. Paul lived in almost constant fear for his life. He spent the majority of his time on the road. This passage demonstrates just how physically hardy Paul had to have been to survive his ministry.
Whether he was around people, or battling the elements he knew how to handle himself. It’s likely that he was pretty handy with bush craft, and what we would describe as ‘survival skills’. Back then they were probably called chores or basic life skills. He certainly would’ve known how to light fires, set up tents, fish and probably even knew a thing or two about hunting for food. I’ll bet Paul even knew about starlight navigation (common in those days).
We know from his writings that Paul was a brilliant negotiator and rhetorician. It’s fun to imagine how often he probably talked his way out of trouble (probably shared the gospel at the same time), maybe even knew how to disappear quickly in a crowd and lay low, classic James Bond espionage type stuff.
All this in service of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he once hated, and for his blessed sheep. I have images of Paul floating on a piece of driftwood, near starving to death, or being traipsed around in a rickety jail carriage, still wincing from the pain and the smell of open lash wounds across his back, totally distraught and filled with concern. I imagine how all he could probably think about was how he needed to get to where he was going because he had some invaluable message to deliver or teach. With completely reckless regard for his own life, he courageously and fervently spread the Word of God throughout the Mediterranean and Asia Minor all the while making use of his impressive list of manly skills.
It’s hard to describe how much Paul’s example humbles and inspires me.
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All Campfire Scripture passages are taken from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise stated.
John MacArthur, 2006, The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (1995 edition).