"Paul the Apostle", by Robert E. Picirilli (book review)

“Paul the Apostle” took quite a long time for me to review, and it was not for lack of interest in it.  Instead, there was so much information to digest, cross-reference, and make notations of the information in my Bible margins.  Wow, what a tremendous resource this book proved to be!  There are so many positives to this book, so I’ll limit it to just a handful.

First, Picirilli provided excellent historical and cultural insight into the Apostle Paul’s life, from his pre-conversion days up to his martyrdom.  So much of what he revealed about Paul helps to shed light on the context of scripture and his ministry.

Second, Picirilli made good use of breaks to place "insert" articles within the chapter bodies.  I’ve read numerous books where side-bar comments and insert articles appear at some of the most inopportune times, causing me to lose focus on the paragraph or thought being read.  But Picirilli inserted “insert” articles at logical places so that the reader could continue reading without having to skip around and return to the storyline somewhere else.  These insert articles provide various nuances that add to the chapter’s information, but may or may not have necessarily directly applied to the particular text.  They were simply extra insights.  For instance, one good insert explained what political and military structures looked like during Paul's time, but that insert was not the primary purpose of the chapter.  The insert articles could be skipped, if the reader desired, but their information added greatly to the rest of the text.

Third, a feature I liked in this book pertained to the brief handling of each of the Pauline epistles as they likely would have been written within the chronology of the unfolding storyline of the book of Acts.  When handled, Picirilli treated Paul's epistles with a relatively quick, fly-by fashion, but with sufficient detail to explain themes and purposes of those letters.  However, each epistle’s outline and general themes were provided.  These would be phenomenal tools for digging deeper into the epistles in personal or group Bible study.

Finally, as I suggest for any book labeled and sold as “Christian”, it is always good to have a Bible open as you read this one.  First, it’s crucial that Christians always be reading books biblically and critically, guarding against erroneous teaching.  Second, have a Bible on hand is helpful for adding notes and cross-references in the margins.

While this book contained such a deep level of information about the Apostle Paul’s life, Picirilli made it easy to read and comprehend.  This book would probably be a bit too much for a new / young believer, but would be greatly helpful for the more mature.

RATING: I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for its depth, insight, and usefulness.

DISCLAIMER: I received “Paul the Apostle” free of charge from Moody Press in exchange for my unbiased review of it.  All opinions are mine.

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