Paul, Antioch, and Jerusalem : a study in relationships and authority in earliest Christianity
Paul's life and work, including his relationship with the Jerusalem church, were dynamic, rather than having been predetermined in his conversion. The Antiochene church was crucial to Paul's development, to a degree not previously appreciated. Little is known of the years following Paul's conversion, other than it was unsettled, and included travels and sojourns in Arabia, Damascus, Jerusalem, and Tarsus. The encounter with the Jerusalem church did not result in a stable relationship or social integration. It was at Antioch that Paul was first fully incorporated into a Christian community, from which he derived his dyadic identity, and later his apostolic commission. His relationship with the Jerusalem church consisted in corporate participation in the коιυυυία between the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch. In this context, Paul joined Barnabas in defending the Antiochene gospel of uncircumcision, and not his own theology or apostleship, at the Jerusalem conference. The Antioch incident resulted in Paul's separation from the Antiochene church, and exclusion from its коιυυυία with the Jerusalem church. His independent ministry followed, during which he developed his conception of apostleship independent of human authority, in which his self-identity is bound up with the gospel, in response to his isolation, and loss of dyadic identity and apostolic commission. Paul sought to end his isolation through reconciliation with the Antiochene church, and, through its коιυυυία, with the Jerusalem church. This was the object of the collection, but the crisis in Corinth delayed completion, requiring Paul to convey his offering separately. His implicit claim to коιυυυία accordingly became overt, and the collection became the basis, rather than a correlative obligation, of the relationship. This jeopardized the acceptability of Paul's overtures, and, while his reception is uncertain, the journey occasioned his arrest, and ended his missionary career.