Culture Change by the Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul was a dynamic leader as a founder of Christianity and the church of Jesus Christ. As a Jew, Paul was keenly aware of the culture of the Jewish people and their customs, but recognized growth was necessary for his people to follow Jesus the Christ. Paul’s central message throughout his ministry focused on a simple concept: to become like Jesus Christ and live a life in accordance with his teachings and example. (I Co. 11:1, Ep. 5:1, 4:22-24, Ga. 3.27, Ro. 8:29) In establishing Christianity, Paul was on a journey to change the culture of the Jewish people to embrace a new reality given to them by Jesus.

Schein (2010) points out a main principle of culture change is to concretely define the change goal rather than stating cultural change is needed. (p. 311) He also notes one of the sources of culture is the beliefs, values, and assumptions of the founder. (Schein, 2010, p. 219) Though Paul was not the source for the beliefs, values and assumptions of Christianity, he did serve as the conduit that brought these cultural elements from Jesus to the known world through Paul’s missionary journeys. He served to implement the process of evolving the Jewish culture by reframing the reality in ways introduced by Jesus. (Chatterjee, 2006, p. 153) The Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5) is a collection of statements where Jesus took a widely held understanding by the Jewish community and reframed it for a broader understanding. Paul’s ministry was centered on taking this message of Jesus, the deepening of the Jewish Law, and teaching others how to adopt these new values, practices and behaviors (Berry, 2010, p. 2) to establish a new culture of followers of Yahweh.

Has living like Jesus become second to evangelizing for modern Christians: why?

References

Berry, W. (2010). Paul, people, and pointing the way: exploring the relationship between Paul’s anthropology and his practice of leadership. Restoration Quarterly, 52(1), 1–17.

Chatterjee, D. (2006). Wise Ways Leadership as Relationship. Journal of Human Values, 12(2), 153–160.

Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: study Bible: English standard version (ESV text ed). Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.

Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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