“Tentmakers”

On September 1, Pastor Jim preaches on Acts 18:1-4.

The Apostle Paul is an interesting character. Fourteen of the 27 books in our Bible have traditionally been attributed to Paul. These “books” are actually letters written to churches or, in a few cases, individuals. Did Paul realize that his letters would eventually be called Holy Scripture?

His letters reveal an emotional man, full of passion and love for Christ, as well as a dark past filled with violence and sin. In a letter to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” What did he mean by that?

In the letters he condemns his enemies, sometimes with disturbing and descriptive brutality.(Galatians 5:12) He scolds the churches he started, calling them “foolish” and “babies in Christ,” and bemoans his own infirmities and failures. “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24)

Paul was both an educated Pharisee and a politically savvy Roman citizen. Like any properly trained Jew, he also had a trade. He was a tentmaker. This was not a part-time profession when he wasn’t being an apostle; it was his full-time job.

We are used to full-time clergy. I’m particularly used to and in favor of it. 🙂 Nevertheless, the great Apostle Paul had a job. He sliced and sewed leather into tents. He cut and sanded poles and tied the ropes. He interacted with customers and met deadlines.

Seems like a rather menial job for a great Apostle. Surely the good Lord could have made better arrangements for Paul.

Monday is Labor Day. What does Paul’s working life reveal to us as we strike a balance between work, our families, and all the other stuff that demands our attention? Given our busy lives, is there time to serve Christ?

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