The other day a friend and I were talking about the apostle Paul. Among the things we discussed about him were his personality, which God did not change upon converting Paul, God just gave it new direction. Paul was a very driven, zealous man. He gave every ounce of his energy for the cause of Christ, and expected his fellow Christians to do the same, especially if they were working with him. At times this led to contention between him and his friends and colleagues, as seen in Acts 15:36-40. While contentions could be and were reconciled, which must have happened for Paul to write what he did in 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul does not seem like he was the kind of man who took any nonsense.
Considering Paul’s zealous nature, as well as the hearty encouragement and scathing rebukes he wrote in his letters, my friend and I wondered how many people got along well with Paul, and how many people would get along well with him if he were around today. Paul certainly had friends, and close friends at that, given the mentions in his letters, but I’m not sure that everyone took an immediate liking to him. My friend, who also has a strong personality, was pretty sure he wouldn’t get along well with Paul’s strong personality, and figured he probably wouldn’t like Paul. While I think they’d probably respect each other, they probably wouldn’t like each other very much.
From the people that interacted with Paul, it seems God gave him some friends that softened his edges a little. For one, there was Barnabas, who was with him a lot and was one of the first to welcome Paul into Christian circles. Added to that, since the name Barnabas was a nickname that means “son of encouragement,” or “son of consolation,” I’m pretty sure he tempered Paul quite a bit from time to time. For another, there was Timothy, who was like a son to Paul, and was likely a fairly driven man himself given how well Paul thought of him.
While I have no way of knowing exactly how Paul was or how he behaved personally with his friends and colleagues, it’s interesting to surmise and discuss what his personality and relationships were like. It gets me wondering what other Biblical figures I’d get along with if they were around today.