I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. . . . He set me apart before I was born, and called me by his grace.
You were aflame, a Pharisee.
I was. Without a flaw.
Then blameless? Perfect purity?
Yes, in the law.
Did you consent to Stephen’s death?
More than consent, approved.
And did you hear his final breath?
I did, unmoved.
Did you condemn the innocent?
More than condemn, blasphemed.
And was your sentence violent?
It was. They screamed.
Did you not once lament all this?
Not once. Nor felt regret.
Or feel the heat of the abyss?
Nor chill, nor sweat.
And still you say, you were elect?
I do: to pray, to preach.
And all this time your King reject?
And worse, impeach.
Did he regard your wickedness?
With flawless eye, enthroned.
And you he purposed to possess?
Then why so many wicked years?
My guilt, my unbelief.
What? Make you like your sinful peers?
No. Rather, chief.
But yet the last apostle! Paul.
Not only last, but least.
A co-inheritor of all!
For whom, then, all this sin, this pain?
For you, like me, depraved.
And what my benefit, my gain?
From Pharisee to freedman then.
Two thousand years apart.
The hope of all the worst of men:
His patient heart.