Pauline Theology of Church Leadership

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Paul’s writings and the Pauline epistles are among the key documents for anyone interested in early Christianity. Paul’s unique and local leadership style are well known within the historical Pauline theology of church leadership. Most scholars, however, concentrate more on Paul’s relationship to the church at Ephesus, rather than his overall role in the early Church. Very little is known about Paul’s interaction with Gentiles, Romans, and Greeks in general; the Epistle to the Hebrews and Galatians are too elliptical in their tone to be trustworthy as histories, while the letters of Paul have more clear historical resonance.

Paul’s unique and locally rooted approach to leadership is shown most fully in his treatment of Gentiles and the Jerusalem church. Paul’s approach to power and authority in the early Church is presented as a unique model of Gentile Orthodoxy, since he repeatedly associates the people of Israel with Israel and God (Acts 15:4-6). He repeatedly emphasizes that God is our security provider and oppose Gentile power and authority claiming that those who do not practice this model of authority are bound to be corrupt. He explicitly links Gentiles and Israel together under the description of being God’s people under the providence of a Redeemer.

Paul’s unique model of Jewish communal membership and authority can also be found in the Pauline epistle to the Hebrews, in which Paul expounds the idea of Gentiles being God’s Chosen People, a concept that would later shape the foundations of Early Christian church organization. The uniqueness of Pauls model of Gentile church leadership is revealed again in the writings of Paul. The Gentiles were to be made part of Christ’s sheepfold (or His flock) by God’s commission given through the Holy Spirit. This commission is given to every Israelite, without whom the Israelites would not be saved. Paul viewed the Gentiles as being saved by grace through faith in Christ.

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