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Reviews | In the Company of Paul

In the Company of Paul

Michael Owen

Paperback or e-book (ePub)

120 pages

In the Company of Paul

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The Christadelphian review (from February 2014)

In the Company of Paul

THIS 120 page paperback by Brother Michael Owen comprises a series of character sketches with a difference. There are several good books about the brothers and sisters who accompanied the apostle (like Howson’s ‘Companions of St Paul’, F F Bruce’s ‘The Pauline Circle’ or Harrington Lees’ ‘St Paul’s Friends’), but Brother Michael’s book is not just a set of character studies. As the title indicates, the focus is upon the Apostle Paul himself and the book follows his progress under the hand of God from his first encounter with the gospel in Jerusalem, where he was outmanoeuvred by the Spirit-filled Stephen , through his Damascus Road experience and on to his encounters with brethren who would become his lifelong companions. Thus we meet Ananias (who reminded the Lord what a dangerous man Paul was!), Barnabas (who tracked Paul down in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch) and off we go on the First Missionary Journey, accompanied for a while by young Mark.

It is the narrative of these journeys that holds the reader’s interest, for when the Second Missionary Journey gets underway, Silas and Timothy join the company and so does Luke. On occasions, Michael pauses from following the narrative to focus on particular characters, like Timothy, Titus and Luke himself (who gets three chapters of his own), but the sweep of the narrative carries us right through the three Journeys, the voyage to Rome and its aftermath.

This is a well written book which is easy to read and instructive. It will appeal to a wide age range and will equally appeal to readers who are not very familiar with Acts, including young people, and to those who know Acts already. For Michael nicely includes background detail about some of the places visited, works in references from Paul’s later letters to these ecclesias, and adds practical observations about our own ecclesial experiences. For example, describing the efforts being made by the apostle to bind together Gentile converts and the Jewish believers at Jerusalem, Michael makes this observation:

“Paul had constantly sought to maintain fellowship links between the original ecclesia in Jerusalem and the new ecclesias of Syria, Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. It may seem surprising to us that this was so important to Paul. But he passionately believed that ‘by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles … For the body is not one member, but many’ (1 Corinthians 12:13,14)”.

Then, to relate First Century experience to our own, the author adds:

“Today, as then, there are those who like to press a particular point of view, or to introduce divisive policies in the ecclesia. All such should reflect on the heroic effort made by Paul and his companions to encourage the ecclesias to ‘stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter’ (2 Thessalonians 2:15, ESV)”.

That’s typical of the way that helpful exhortation is interwoven with useful exposition and good insights into the character of the apostle and his companions. This is a book well worth reading.

Tecwyn Morgan

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