Metaphysical meaning of Paul (mbd)
Paul, paul (fr. Lat.)--restrained; constrained; reduced; lessened; made small; little.
A Jewish man of Tarsus, who persecuted the Christians for a time but was converted to Christ by means of a vision. He became one of the greatest of the apostles, and he wrote many of the books of our New Testament. His name was Saul before he became a Christian (Acts 9:1-22; 13:9).
In the early history of Paul we behold two states of mind: first, the pharisaical state of mind, which may be found in one who is intellectually educated and may inherit his religious bias or get it by association; second, the spiritual state of mind, which is found in one who attains real spiritual understanding through illumination by the Christ mind. Paul experienced both of these states.
When one has been associated with and has zealously defended the doctrines of some sect, and afterward changes one's mind and preaches differently, one is persecuted by those who are still loyal to the old faith. Under these circumstances one should make a simple statement of the facts in the case, and then go about defending the new doctrine that one has espoused, by demonstrating in one's life that which it teaches.
Paul represents the word of the Spirit of truth. The converted Paul (formerly Saul, the will) becomes, by the power of the word, the most active thought in the establishment of good throughout our being.
The will is the very essence of self-consciousness. The story of the conversion and work of Saul of Tarsus fills a large place in Biblical history. In this symbology Saul represents the human will. In all permanent character building the action of the will is based on understanding. Will and understanding go hand in hand. They are the Ephraim and Manasseh of Scripture, whose allotment in the Promised Land was in joint ownership.
The conversion of Saul was preceded by a great light of spiritual understanding. The word Saul typifies the will in its personal dominance. After the discovery that there is a wisdom greater than the personal will, the name is changed to Paul, which means little, restrained, lessened, made small, and its character is converted from that of the violent and oppressive persecutor of things spiritual to the devout and obedient champion of the humble Christ, the spiritual I AM.
It should not be inferred that the will is weakened by conversion; it is made stronger in every respect. When the will is acting in harmony with divine law, its work is gentle, and to the superficial onlooker the will seems little. Saul was a prominent figure in the work of suppressing the early Christians; he carried the authority of the mighty Sanhedrin with a zealous and cruel hand, because of lack of real spiritual understanding. But when conversion came he went forth with a price on his head. He was a very small figure in that day. It has taken the centuries to prove how great was that quiet but steady and persistent planting of the gospel among the Gentiles (Acts 22:3, 6-10).
Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25-40) represent the will and the understanding in their work of clearing up the consciousness. Paul's fearlessness was the strong point of his character. To him, Truth came first and the things of the world second. This is what made him the great apostle--he was will personified in conjunction with understanding. When these are joined in consciousness, man is equal to any emergency.
The body is pervaded by a life and an intelligence that have formed a little world of their own. It has no knowledge of the higher life of Spirit. It has to be regenerated--born from above. The spiritual spark is carried by the converted will, Paul, and it has to meet obstacles of various kinds. The lands and towns in which Paul was "forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word" (see Acts 16:6, 7) represent some of these. When guided by Spirit we are led to develop along the lines of least resistance and where the conditions are most favorable. We should not be discouraged when we strike seemingly barren places within our own consciousness and body, nor waste our time in trying to quicken the localities that at present apparently are too negative to respond. The experience of those who regenerate the body is that a certain fiery element is necessary to give action to the watery, negative parts. This need is referred to in this passage. Macedonia, where Paul worked for a time, means burning adoration and is representative of the enthusiasm and the energy of Spirit that set the whole man aflame. It is necessary that this phase of the consciousness be cultivated, because without it a certain passivity sets in that is content with the battle as only half won.
Philippi, where Paul spent some time preaching, means lover of horses, warlike, horses referring to the vital forces, or power. It is necessary to stir up this fiery power in the man when he gets into barren states of consciousness. The vision of the man in Macedonia crying, "Come over . . . and help us," is the discernment of this inner fervor that needs stirring up. One can do this stirring up by affirming that all obstacles and barriers to the supremacy of Spirit are now cleared away; then, like Paul, making a straight course to Neapolis, the new city, or center of action. This means that he who concentrates all his energies upon the accomplishment of his purpose will surely succeed.
Paul (the word of Truth, not the whole Truth) is a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-4). Truth always builds up; it never tears down. When this realization enters our mind it joins itself to all the upbuilding forces there at work. But Truth is not content with mere physical upbuilding (tentmaking). It would instruct the man how to build his own tent or body, symbolized by Paul's reasoning with both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath (the synagogue is the center of spiritual thought in individual consciousness, and the Sabbath signifies a time of rest or meditation).
Paul is also a tremendous outpicturing of ambition or zeal; first active on the intellectual plane as champion of the law and the prophets, afterward swift to carry out the freeing doctrine of the Christ consciousness.
Because Paul was a very great apostle, and wise in spiritual things far beyond us in many ways, it does not follow that he was perfect or that we should accept as gospel truth all that he wrote. He had his weak points. In this place he proclaims that he is going to Jerusalem "bound in the spirit." This is not a wise affirmation for one who is preaching freedom from bonds; neither is the one that he is going to Jerusalem regardless of the warnings of the Holy Spirit that "bonds and afflictions" await him there. It seems that he was told by Spirit not to go to Jerusalem, but his obstinacy and persistence, which he had so long held in abeyance, broke forth on this occasion, and he was determined to have his own way regardless of divine warnings.
So we find in our spiritual ongoing that old states of mind that we have thought wholly overcome will crop out again and have to be demonstrated over. Spiritual obedience will save us from hard experiences. Had Paul been obedient he would have avoided the years of imprisonment in Jerusalem and in Rome. The Lord does not put trials upon us nor are we bound in doing His work. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17).
On the other hand, Paul's going to Jerusalem represents the word of Truth as going into the spiritual consciousness, proclaiming the I AM doctrine of Jesus Christ, just as Paul in all his missionary trips represents the word of Truth going into the various parts of the consciousness proclaiming this I AM doctrine of the Christ. The spiritual center (Jerusalem) is under the dominance of the Jews who cling to the Mosaic law and make a great religious outcry against the new kingdom that the I AM or Christ proposes to set up. We are not to let the old religious convictions and teachings deter us from proclaiming that which we know to be true. Jesus Christ is King of the Jews (our religious ideas), and this Paul, with his true words, must go without fear of results into the most holy parts and there plant the seeds of the new church, or new state of consciousness.
It may seem for the time being that our words have borne no fruit, that we have been put in prison by these narrow religious thoughts that the Jews signify here; but if we are faithful to God we shall be swiftly and safely delivered from them.
If we turn to material law in our extremity the fruit of our words will be slow in coming to ripeness. This seems to be the lesson we are to learn in the appeal of Paul to Cæsar. In his extremity he claimed his Roman citizenship and asked the protection of manmade law (Acts 22:25-28; 25:11, 12; 26:32). He was put in chains and sent to Rome. Had he adhered to spiritual ways and sung songs of praise and given thanks to God for his speedy deliverance, he would doubtless have received such divine help as he and Silas had received on a former occasion.
Yet the true word finally bore its fruit, and the trip to Jerusalem and imprisonment in Rome brought forth abundantly in after years. So every word of Truth that we speak will surely make itself manifest; that manifestation will be swift or slow, according to our loyalty to spiritual ways under every trial.
Cæsar represents the tyrannical rule of the personal will unmodified by spiritual love, mercy, and justice. Paul (signifying the word of Truth), imprisoned at Cæsarea (Acts 23:23--25:4), indicates that the dominating force of the will had confined the expression of Truth to the intellectual, or sense, realm in consciousness.
The idea of Truth is inspired in man from the higher self and conceived by him in the heart. of which Jerusalem is the symbol, but because of intellectual dominance it is attracted to the head, of which Rome is the symbol. When one is dominated by his intellect in his religious ideas, he is given to form and ceremony without perceiving the spiritual Truth back of them; such a one still has Rome as his center. If he were truly spiritual, Jerusalem would be his center. Paul's being taken to Rome in chains (Acts 27:1; 28:16) is a fitting symbol of the word or expression of Truth that Paul symbolizes captured by the intellect in conjunction with the dominant personal will, and confined to the bonds of sense that it has placed upon itself.
The reason why Paul symbolizes the will in some lessons, and the word of Truth in others, is that the faculties play many parts in the manifestations of the mind. Matthew represents the will in the individual development of the man Jesus. Paul represents the will in a universal sense. Before Paul's conversion took place he was called Saul. Saul is the name, in the Old Testament, of the king, or the will. When Saul changed his mind he became Paul (little); in other words, the large personal will was converted into the obedient servant of the Christ.