Our Debt to Paul

After Christ Jesus ascended beyond further communication with his disciples, they conceded to three men and later to four the chief responsibility for carrying on the Christian movement. These three were Peter, John, and James; the fourth man was Paul. Peter and this John had been foremost among the Master's disciples from early in his ministry. Incidentally, they were the first men to discover that Jesus had risen from death (John 20:1–9). Although two of the twelve apostles were named James, this James (a brother of Jesus) did not become a disciple until after the crucifixion and resurrection. According to tradition, he was convinced and converted by these events, and especially by a meeting between him and Jesus after the resurrection. Then he became an ardent disciple and one of the three "pillars" of the Christian church at Jerusalem; which was the mother church of that time. (See "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 13.) The facts that Jesus appeared to James after overcoming death and that Peter, John, and James were the pillars of the church at Jerusalem are stated in I Corinthians 15:3–8 and Galatians 2:9. Paul, as is well known, was converted from a persecutor to an ardent disciple by a wonderful experience, including the last known communication by anybody with the risen Jesus. (See Acts 26:9-18 and I Corinthians 15:3-8.)

To estimate justly the services to Christianity rendered by these four men would be difficult or impossible. It can be said, however, that they, more than the other disciples, discerned the true relation between the Jewish "law" and the Christian "way," kept Christianity from becoming only a Jewish sect, and made it a distinct religion of universal scope. It can be said, further, that they contributed conspicuously to the preservation of primitive Christianity and to the course of events which resulted in the discovery of its development and restoration—Christian Science.

John and Paul also contributed to Christian theology, and thus to Christian Science. It is commonly said by theologians that Christianity, as represented by most of the Christian denominations, is more Pauline than Christian; but this comment does not apply to Christian Science. Most of them have doctrines or sacraments based on Paul's use of such words as "election," "justification," and "sanctification," but Christian Science has not. Nevertheless, we Christian Scientists owe him a large debt, of which the main items are mentioned in this writing.

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The Infinite Resources of God
April 5, 1930

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