The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul by Adam Hamilton on Amazon
I always enjoy Pastor Hamilton's practical scholarship and his attention to contextualizing scripture into our own life and mission! The Call rollicks and frolics along with the energy and excitement of the NT book of Acts, and that's fitting, since a lot of the information we have about Saul (Jewish name) / Paul (Roman name) of Tarsus comes from the narrative in Luke's Acts.
Pastor Adam knows the texts extremely well; he's also getting to know the terrain and layout of the biblical Holy Land. As we journey with Paul and his companions, Hamilton observes what was going on in politics, in Jewish circles, in Christian hangouts, "among the" Greek and Roman gods and culture back at that time and suggests real-life present day applications for each of us in our churches and in the surrounding communities. The book places Paul's life, ministry, and letters in the times and places when and where he grew up, learned, taught, talked, and walked; this New Covenant of grace is not entirely different from the Old one, but it's about Trusting Jesus rather than Trusting Torah.
In the Protestant world in which many of us live (and move, and have our being), Paul is our most prominent theologian; we think we know him mostly for his Christology (on pages 72-74 we get a very shorthand version of the saving person and work of Jesus the Christ), yet in The Call Hamilton reminds us it is the work and reign of the Pentecostal Spirit of Life that inspired and enabled Paul /Saul; the Spirit of Life that raised Jesus from the dead in turn brings us to living faith in Jesus. As Martin Luther famously said in his Small Catechism: "I cannot by my own effort or understanding know Jesus my Lord or come to him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith, just as the HS calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Church..." In his Acts of the Apostles the gospel-writer Luke brings us most of what we know about the chronology and events in Paul's life; in fact, the Spirit is prominent throughout Luke and Acts. (Pneumatology is the branch of theology that emphasizes the person and work of the HS.)
The six chapters of The Call describe God's call to the Apostle Paul along with a parallel call to each of us: 1.to Follow Christ; 2.to Go; 3.to Suffer; 4.to Love; 5.to Give, and 6.to be Faithful. Adam Hamilton includes a few anecdotes and incidents from his own life, mostly in ways that encourage us to discover similarities in our own. The hardbound book is a comfortable size to hold and heft, printed in easily readable type, and includes B&W maps and photographs. However, I seriously wish the book had been edited to omit and change at least most – if not all – of the too many sentences written in the passive voice.
Hamilton believes Galatians is Paul's earliest undisputed epistle ... time for me to check that out.
my amazon review: Paul and Jesus; Paul and the Church