Paula Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 92-93.
Until and unless we keep in view all of the social agents in Paul’s world – not only its humans, but also its gods – we will misconstrue his reports of “persecution,” both those he gave and those he got. Divine agents figure vividly in Paul’s mission. They were a daily and an active (even aggressively) reality, dogging his work among their people. They were a practical consideration and a growing concern for those pagans, whether Romans or Greeks, whose families and cities were roiled – and, in their view, endangered – by the spread of the gospel. And they were key actors in the final apocalyptic battle, when their ultimate defeat and subjection to the god of Israel would be accomplished by the returning, triumphant Christ (1 Cor 15.24-26; Rom 8.18-30; Phil 2.10).