Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
Jesus is Risen
Paul And The Early Church
by David Limbaugh
This is a very readable account of how the early Church developed in the light of Pauline teaching. It uses six of his epistles to do so: Galatians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Corinthians, and his most theological work: Romans.
Limbaugh writes as an evangelical Christian. But there is little here for an orthodox Catholic to disagree with.
The first chapter looks at St Paul's conversion. Chapters 2 to 6 cover the account given in Acts of the Apostles regarding the birth of the Church. The contributions of Peter and Paul are summarised. Chapter 6 discusses Galatians. Although the author appears to confuse the Jewish laws with the Ten Commandments, we can agree that obedience to the law alone will not save us. We need grace in order to be saved. Catholics believe that we need to cooperate with the grace given to us by good works. Chapter 7 is a commentary on 1&2 Thessalonians. Chapters 8 to 10 are commentaries on 1&2 Corinthians. The last two chapters are on Romans.
Although the style is somewhat journalistic, overall the book is well researched and scholarly. It is clear that the author is passionate about Pauline teaching. He wants the reader to read Paul. Paul agonised over the fate of the Jewish people, his people. He calls us to live the freedom that only Christ can give. He teaches us to live in the Holy Spirit.
Given his Protestant background, there are some limitations to this study.
But the author's passion and respect for St Paul and his teachings come through.