Paul — Man of Strong Emotions

8th January, 2011 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

Did you ever think about what an emotional man Paul was? He expressed many strong emotions in his epistles, and he readily talked about his feelings to the believers that he loved.

My church has decided to memorize the book of Philippians together, so many verses a week, finishing the entire epistle by Easter. I’ve decided to join them on this journey, hoping that I still have the capability to memorize large chunks of Scripture that I had as a teenager. So, this week I’ve been reciting Philippians 1:1-11.

In those eleven verses Paul expresses a number of deep emotions, and it’s no wonder that he did because Paul’s short visit to Philippi resulted in memorable experiences and a small church of strong believers in Christ.  Philippi was not an obviously ripe location for a new church – there wasn’t even a synagogue in town, only a small group of women praying by the riverside. Yet, in a short time several dramatic conversions happened.

Lydia, the wealthy merchant-seller, believed and opened her heart and home. The demon-possessed girl was delivered from her oppression by Paul and became a believer, but the subsequent events landed Paul and Silas in jail. The dramatic rescue from jail — an earthquake that shook the whole prison — led to the conversion of the Philippian jailer who spoke the well-known words, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Years later, Paul was sitting in a Roman jail at the end of his life and writing the letter to the believers at Philippi. In just eleven verses he writes about many emotions. Paul is thankful when he thinks about the Philippian believers, and he uses all-inclusive words to emphasize his feelings (“all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all” — vs. 4).  His thoughts of them bring him great joy so that praying for them lifts his spirits (“making prayer with joy”). He speaks with confidence (“and I am sure of this”) and his affection for the Philippians is so great (“I hold you in my heart” and “I yearn for you with the affection that is in Christ”).  He earnestly prays that the  Philippians’ love for him, for Christ, and for each other would continue to abound and abound, not just so that he could continue to experience that love, but so that they would be pure and blameless and that God would receive praise and glory at the day of Christ Jesus.

Here in these short verses we see a number of emotions: thankfulness, joy, confidence, affection, love, and hope. Paul was confident that what God had begun in his life and in the life of the Philippian believers would be completed because God Himself would ensure that it was completed.

Paul’s example shows us that the Christian life is not devoid of emotion. Though our faith doesn’t rest upon our feelings but upon the truth of the gospel, our experience of the Christian life is replete with emotion. Those emotions draw us closer to Jesus who loves us with a love we cannot fathom and closer to other believers who are our partners in the work of grace of which we are privileged to have a part.

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