Friday, December 27, 2013 4:52 AM

A Great Little Man

Friday, December 27, 2013 4:52 AM
Friday, December 27, 2013 4:52 AM

The word “Paul” in Greek literally means “small,” or “little.” The earliest physical description we have of Paul comes from The Acts of Paul and Thecla, a second-century apocryphal writing that describes the apostle as “a man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel.” Although written many years after his death, these words may well reflect an authentic tradition about Paul’s actual likeness.

 We know that his opponents in Corinth poked fun at his physical appearance, claiming that while his letters were weighty and bold, he was not much to look at in person. “His bodily presence is weak,” they alleged 2 Cor. 10:10 and his speech was of no account. It seems that Paul also had an eye problem that added to his difficulties: Gal. 4.13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of the blessing you felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. They themselves were “super-apostles”2 Cor. 11:5, as Paul dubbed them, glorying in their eloquent speech, miraculous powers, and impressive platform performance.

 While we cannot be sure that Paul’s opponents in Galatia were the same as those he confronted in Corinth, there seems to be a common thread running through his defense against both sets of adversaries. In both Galatians and 2 Corinthians he advanced a theology of the cross in distinction from a theology of glory. In 2 Cor. 12 Paul resolved to boast only in his weaknesses, afflictions, and persecutions, “for when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Cor.12:10. In Gal 2 he identified himself with the crucified Christ and his cross, the only proper standard of boasting for a true follower of Jesus Gal 6:14.[1]



[1] George, T. (2001). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (77–78). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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