St Paul as a Type of the Roman Church

Ss. Peter and Paul are often compared to Romulus and Remus, “Romae parentes, arbitrique gentium.” I written about St Peter and Rome before (or rather quoted Solovyev and Pope Benedict XVI on the subject), but St Paul in his own person foreshadows the transformation of Rome that will be founded by his and St Peter’s blood. St Paul is not only a Roman citizen, but also a son of Benjamin, “the wolf;” and his temperament has something of Rome’s wolf-like, war-like violence. Like Rome itself he is highly gifted and full of zeal for justice and law, but his zeal leads him for a while to persecute the Church. The Roman Empire saw itself as destined to bring peace by imposing law on all peoples. But to the Chosen People Rome appeared as a tyrannical power contrary to the Law of God. The Messiah is expected to defeat Rome. But following His usual method, our Lord does not defeat Rome by force, from outside, but by conversion from within. And this is foreshadowed in the conversion of St Paul. St Paul persecutes the new way, but when he is converted he becomes its greatest missionary spreading throughout the earth. The Acts of the Apostles ends with Paul arriving in Rome. Through Peter and Paul the Messiah does indeed conquer Rome, but in such a way as to transform it and preserve all that was good in it, so that through the Roman Church Rome can indeed bring peace to the whole world.


One thought on “St Paul as a Type of the Roman Church

  1. I love the interpretation of Genesis 49:27. I was reading the passage the other day and wondering what it meant. Perhaps, if Isaiah 53:12 “he shall divide the spoils of the strong” refers to the Messiah’s conquest of the Roman Empire and Numbers 23:24 “it shall not lie down till it devour the prey” refers to the translation of the Covenant, then rest of Genesis 49:27 “in the morning shall eat the prey, and in the evening shall divide the spoil” refers to Paul’s persecution of the Church as a young man and co-foundation of the Roman Church as an old one.

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