Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Paul: the apostolic team builder

This is certainly consistent with how Paul leads. He is a team builder. Of the 13 letters that claim Pauline authorship in the New Testament, more than half (seven in total) are team efforts. Paul and Sosthenes write 1 Corinthians. Paul and Timothy write 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, while Paul, Silas and Timothy write 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The six letters written by Paul are Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus.

The book of 1 Corinthians is rich in alliances and networks, in which “All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings” (16:20). The letter is co-authored (1:1) and is the result of a report from Chloe’s household (1:11). Paul has baptised Crispus, Gaius (1:14) and the household of Stephanas (1:15). Paul exercises ministry alongside Apollos (3:5), Barnabas (9:6), Timothy (16:10) and Apollos and the brothers (16:12). Paul’s understanding of servant in chapters 3 and 4 is in the plural. The church is a body, with different gifts (12:4). Paul greets the household of Stephanas (16:15) and shares greetings from the churches in Asia, Aquila and Priscilla and their house church (16:19). He is grateful that his ministry has been “resourced managed” by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (“they supplied what was lacking” 16:17). This represents ten individuals, three house churches and three other groupings of churches. This is a connected leader enmeshed in alliances and networks.

(An excerpt from upcoming Built for change: innovation and collaboration in leadership).

Posted by steve at 07:25 AM


  1. Absolutely Steve. Thanks and happy new year.
    The Pauline communities might be termed ‘learning communities’ according to Claire Smith from Sydney.
    Claire Smith, Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2012).
    Claire showed, by her analysis of the vocabulary of teaching in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, Timothy and Titus, that those “early Christian communities portrayed in four letters of the NT might faithfully and productively be characterised as ‘scholastic’ or ‘learning communities’”, 390-391.
    Paul the team builder, building congregations into learning communities!
    Looking forward to your new book.
    Kind regards, John.

    Comment by John Littleton — January 12, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

  2. Thanks John. Glad you found it helpful. I’m very happy about Paul as networked collaborator but not sure about learning community facilitator. Creative theologian yes. But not sure his letters suggest the needed postures.


    Comment by Steve — January 12, 2016 @ 7:34 pm

  3. I’d argue for Romans as collaboration, at least to the extent that Tertius physically wrote the letter, and Phoebe carried and delivered (speaking aloud) the letter to the churches in Rome. I delight in imagining ways in which they both might have helped with composition, as listeners, conversation partners, … Romans 16 is a celebration of community, of collaboration, if not in letter writing, then at least in ministry.

    Comment by sarah — January 12, 2016 @ 8:05 pm

  4. Thanks Sarah. For a storyteller, yes I can imagine the imagining (:)) working fine. For what I’m doing, I think I need to stick with what is stated. There does seem to a degree of difference between being named as an author at the start of a letter and being a physical writer or mail-woman.

    But yes, Romans 16 is richer even than 1 Corinthians.


    Comment by steve — January 12, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

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