Paul’s Motivation

Did the martyrdom of Stephen influence the Apostle Paul to accomplish more than the other apostles?

Stephen is martyred in Acts 7. The first verse of Acts 8 says that Paul was there holding the coats of the people who stoned him and Paul approved of his death. This is of course before Paul is converted in Acts 9.

So how did Stevens martyrdom affect him in his Christian ministry for the rest of his life? First of all, I believe the most transformative moment in Paul’s life was when he met the living Lord Jesus standing before him.

He was blind for three days, symbolizing how he was coming out of darkness into light. He found in a profound way that he was working against God and Jesus his Son. When he was aware of this he spent three days fasting and praying and was converted.

This is further confirmed in Galatians 2 where Paul talks about his former life. He says he was advancing in Judaism beyond anyone else, and he includes persecuting the church (Galatians 1:13-14).

As part of the persecution of the church you can include Stephen. So he mentions what he has done throughout his ministry. Paul’s motivation came from meeting the Lord Jesus. When he realized he was on the wrong side and the Lord confronted him, he became a Christian.

We cannot earn God’s grace by our own works. So all of his ministry of preaching the gospel, being in chains for the gospel, and the suffering he suffered were all part of being God’s servant. Stephen and the others he had either helped persecute or even helped martyr were probably always in the back of his mind.

As far as Paul accomplishing more than the other apostles, we only have the pages of Scripture and the traditions of the Early Church Fathers, as well as some outside resources, to know the effect of Paul’s ministry.

What I mean by this is we follow Paul through most of the book of Acts. His works are recorded more than other apostles in the church history of Acts. So we don’t know what else was done by Peter and the other ten apostles. Many of them did great things that some of the church fathers talked about. But we don’t know the extent of their works compared to Paul’s.

So we can’t make a judgment that Paul did more than any other apostle. He does have 13 books in the New Testament attributed to his name. So he did write more than any other apostle. But as far as his works in total we cannot make a judgment based on the evidence we have of the others.

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