What exactly was the influence of Paul the Apostle and Jesus? In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Robert Orlando writes how crucial Paul's role was in developing our Christian faith. As he writes, Jesus was the figure head of the Church and prepared the way while Paul recruited and developed Christianity into what it is today. The influence Jesus had on Paul manifested into our Christian faith today.
According to this article, Jesus' ministry was primarily a message to the Jewish people in preparation for a Messianic kingdom. It was Paul who targeted a larger Greco-Roman community. Gred Ludeman stated, "Without Paul there would be no Church and no Christianity. He is the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism....but no Christianity."
Paul's new Gospel broke with the original followers of Jesus, and ultimately gets him almost killed in Jerusalem. However, the central theme fusing the life of Paul in his letters with Jesus from the Gospels was the coming Kingdom of God. This "visitation" was not the Jewish understanding of the general resurrection. When Paul confronted Jesus in his Damascus vision, he also faced a new idea of resurrection -- but there was no kingdom, no destruction of Rome, no end times. In other words, there were no signs of Jewish Messiah.
From this moment forward, the Christian movement pivots from Figurehead to Founder. Paul's interpretation of this vision of the Messiah would determine the meaning of his life, his mission and eventually the Western World.
Still a common argument against Paul as founder of Christianity was the fact that he had a movement to convert to, but again, this is not what is in question. The question is would this original cult of Jewish Christian believers in Judea -- without Paul -- have come to found the Christian church?
History has claimed Jesus "the Christ" as the figurehead, but without Paul the Apostle, the founder, who improvised his message -- free of the Jewish religion -- and broke the resistance of his original followers there would be no church and perhaps not even a Jesus.
So what do you think? Was Paul's role truly this significant?