Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 95, 1899

The Apostle Paul and Manual Work


July 20, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 6BC 1065.

After Christ’s ascension the apostles went everywhere preaching the Word. They bore witness to Christ’s work as a teacher and healer. Their testimony in Jerusalem, in Rome, and in other places was positive and powerful. The Jews who refused to receive the truth could not but acknowledge that a powerful influence attended Christ’s followers because the Holy Spirit accompanied them. This created greater opposition; but notwithstanding this opposition, twenty years after the crucifixion of Christ there was a live, earnest church in Rome. This church was strong and zealous, and the Lord worked for it. Angels protected the Lord’s people. The envy and rage of the Jews knew no bounds, and the unbelieving residents were constantly stirred up. They made complaints that the Christian Jews were disorderly and dangerous to the public good. Constantly they were setting in motion something which stirred up strife. This caused the Christians to be banished from Rome. They were banished because they preached that Jesus was the Messiah. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 1

Among those banished were Aquila and Priscilla. Expelled from Rome, they went to Corinth, and there established a business as manufacturers of tents. Paul came to Corinth, and he solicited work from Aquila, for he too was a tentmaker. His father was a man of reputation. He was a Cilician, but still a Roman citizen; for Paul declares that he was free born. Others obtained this freedom with a great sum, but Paul was free born. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 2

Paul had been educated by the most learned teachers of the age. He had been taught by Gamaliel. Paul was a rabbi and a statesman. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, and was very zealous for the suppression of Christianity. He acted a part in the stoning of Stephen, and we read further of him, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every church, and haling men and women, committed them to prison.” [Acts 8:3.] But he was stopped in his career of persecution. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 3

As he was on his way to Damascus to arrest any Christians he could find, “suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.” [Acts 9:3-8.] 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 4

Saul converted was called Paul. He united with the disciples, and was among the chief of the apostles. Why should such a learned man seek to work? Why should Paul be dependent on the labor of his hands? 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 5

There are some men, especially among the nations of Europe, who regard physical labor as degrading to a gentleman. The opinion of men has changed the order of God in their minds. They do not think it fitting for a man who works with his hands to take his place among gentlemen. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 6

The Lord’s purposes are not the purposes and thoughts of men. In the beginning He created man a gentleman, which means a man who can do useful work cheerfully. Men have worked hard to make money, and having gained wealth, have supposed their money would make their sons gentlemen. But many such men fail to train their sons, as they were trained, to useful labor. Their sons spend the money earned without understanding its value. Thus they misuse a talent which God designed to be used in such a way as to accomplish the most good. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 7

The public opinion is that manual labor is degrading. But men may play as hard as they like at cricket, at baseball, in pugilistic games, without being degraded! Satan is delighted to see human beings using their physical and mental powers in that which does not educate, which is not useful, which does not help them to be a blessing to those who need their help. While they are becoming experts in games, which are not of the least value to themselves or to others, Satan is playing the game of life for their soul, taking from them the precious talent God has given them, and placing in its stead his own evil attributes, which not only destroy them, but through their influence, those who have any connection with them. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 8

Satan’s work is to lead men to ignore God, to so engross and absorb the mind that God will not be in their thoughts. The education they have received in school has been of a character to confuse their minds, to eclipse with darkness and uncertainty the true light. Satan does not want the people to have a knowledge of God; and if he can invent and set in operation games and theatrical performances that will confuse the senses of the young, so that human beings will perish in darkness while light shines all around them, he is well pleased. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 9

Jesus Christ, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, was constantly coming into conflict with Satan. He healed the souls and bodies of those whom the enemy had afflicted. He forgave their sins, and by parables taken from the things of nature, He educated them in the things of God. He did not take the books that were in circulation and place them in the hands of the youth. The Bible was the book from which He gave His education. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 10

The Word of God lies at the foundation of all true education. Jesus Christ, who offered up His life to give the human family a correct knowledge of God, gave to His church in the wilderness the education which would be for their highest good in this life, and qualify them for the kingdom of God. He taught them that to love God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. 14LtMs, Ms 95, 1899, par. 11