Posted by: chuckbumgardner | February 3, 2010

Paul and Stephen

I re-listened recently to Sinclair Ferguson’s outstanding presentation, “Justification and the New Perspective on Paul” (online here).  In passing, he made the following observation about Paul and Stephen, which I found intriguing in that I had never drawn more than an incidental connection between the two men before: Saul happened to be available to hold coats while Stephen was stoned.  But in discussing Romans 7, Ferguson notes,

I actually personally have come to the conviction that when Paul says in Romans 7 that sin revived and he died, and it was when the commandment said ‘You shall not covet’ that he felt himself undone, that in all likelihood what lay behind that was his encounter with Stephen.  I think Luke makes it almost certainly clear in the Acts of the Apostles that Stephen and Saul belonged to the same synagogue in Jerusalem.  And Paul says in Philippians 3 [that] he outstripped everybody.  There was nobody that could hold a candle to him.  But Luke tells us in Acts that there was nobody that could hold a candle to Stephen.  And I suspect that for the very first time in his life, Saul of Tarsus coveted something religious in somebody else that he couldn’t find in himself.  And it’s against that background that Saul of Tarsus was converted.  The intricacies of the relationship between the conversion of Saul and the life of Stephen are far too clear in Paul’s writings as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, I think, to come to any other conclusion.  (1:15:35 – 1:17:00)

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