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Paul the Apostle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Paul
Apostle of the Gentiles
Bartolomeo Montagna - Saint Paul - Google Art Project.jpg
Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna
Native name
שאול התרסי
(Sha'ul ha-Tarsi, Saul of Tarsus)
Personal details
Bornc. AD 5[1]
Tarsus, Cilicia, Roman Empire[2]
DiedAD c. 64 or c. 67 (aged 61–62 or 64–65)[3][4][5][6]
probably in Rome, Roman Empire[4][3]
Feast day
Canonizedby Pre-Congregation
AttributesChristian Martyrdom, Sword
PatronageMissions; Theologians; Evangelists and Gentile Christians

Paul the Apostle (Latin: Paulus; Greek: Παῦλος, translit. Paulos; Coptic: ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; c. 5 – c. 64 or 67),[3][5][6] commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus (Hebrew: שאול התרסי‎, translit. Sha'ūl ha-Tarsī; Greek: Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, translit. Saũlos Tarseús),[8][9] was an apostle (although not one of the Twelve Apostles) who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world.[10] Paul is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age[11][12] and in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences.

According to writings in the New Testament and prior to his conversion, Paul was dedicated to persecuting the early disciples of Jesus in the area of Jerusalem.[13] In the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles (often referred to simply as Acts), Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem" when the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light. He was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God.[14] Approximately half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.

Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul.[15] Seven of the Pauline epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is not asserted in the Epistle itself and was already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.[16] It was almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews,[17] but that view is now almost universally rejected by scholars.[18] The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive.[10][11][19] Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.[20]

Today, Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship and pastoral life in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East.[21] Paul's influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive", among that of many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith.[10] Augustine of Hippo developed Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law".[citation needed] Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide.

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  • ✪ The Astounding Conversion of Paul (Acts 9:1–9)
  • ✪ Paul and the apostles Christianity | World History | Khan Academy
  • ✪ The Apostle Paul
  • ✪ Who was Paul of Tarsus? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson


I would say beyond the person of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself that Paul has had the greatest influence on my life, and that influence has been going on for most of my life; pretty intense over the last 50 years or so for sure. Paul, the author of 13 of the New Testament books; Paul, the looming figure in the book of Acts and the dominant figure for most of the book of Acts, is the main player on the stage after our Lord ascends back into heaven. He has been, for me, a model of ministry, a pattern to follow in every way. He is the inspired author of books that shape all our theology, all our understanding of the gospel and it’s depth, and height, and length, and breadth. He is, in my mind, the one I follow as he follows Christ, and he commanded believers: “Follow me – ” he said “ – as I follow Christ.” His conversion is one of the great stories of human history, and as we come into the 9th chapter of Acts – Acts, chapter 9 – we come to one of the great days in the history of the world, the conversion of a man named Saul, whose name was eventually changed to Paul. So great was the transformation that it apparently needed to be reflected in his name. And so we are told in chapter 13, verse 9, that his name was changed to Paul. The importance of his conversion is indicated by the fact that it occupies so much of the book of Acts. Not only this portion of the 9th chapter, but his conversion, again, is repeated in the 22nd chapter of the book of Acts as he gives his own testimony, and then repeated again in the 26th chapter of Acts. So here in chapter 9, we see this amazing transformation; and then it is rehearsed for us again in chapter 22, and again in chapter 26. The conversion of this man was the pivot on which the future of the church turned, and it was fitting that because of the massive importance of his conversion that it be a unique conversion because he was such a unique individual: by birth, a Jew; by conviction, a Pharisee; by citizenship, a Roman; by education, a Greek; and then by grace, a Christian. He became a missionary, a theologian, an evangelist, a pastor, a teacher, a preacher, an organizer, a leader, a thinker, a statesman, a fighter, and a lover, all at the same time. It would be hard to imagine that there has been another one like him. And I believe as we approach the account of his conversion in chapter 9, we have to remember that we’ve already met him in the book of Acts; and you remember where we met him. We met him back in chapter 7 and verse 58, when the faithful evangelist to the Hellenistic synagogues, a man named Stephen had preached his wonderful sermon, going through the history of the Old Testament and culminating in the arrival of the Righteous One, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ whom the Jews had betrayed and murdered. They rushed on him to stone him to death; and before casting the stones down on Stephen, it says in verse 58, “They laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” And chapter 8, verse 1 begins: “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.” In fact, I told you at the time that he was no doubt the orchestrator of the execution of Stephen, that’s why the cloaks were laid at his feet. And on that day, a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Saul was the great persecutor of the early church that caused the church to be scattered. First, they were scattered into Judea and Samaria and they carried the gospel there; and we saw how the gospel went into Samaria, in particular, in chapter 8. After looking at the ministry of Philip in chapter 8, we now come to chapter 9 and we read now, Saul. I believe a bleeding Stephen’s words and demeanor eventually played a role in the end of a promising career for a young fire-breathing Pharisee named Saul, and was a critical point in him becoming history’s most effective evangelist. Let me tell you a little about Saul – and I have to pull from everywhere, so a little bit of historical narrative. Saul’s home was in Tarsus, Tarsus. Tarsus was a city of Asia Minor right on the Syrian border. Today, it would be on the border of Syria and Turkey. In those days, Tarsus was a very distinguished city. It was distinguished for its university. It was one of the three great universities in the ancient world. The other great universities were in Athens and in Alexandria in Egypt. It was ranked, along with those two, like the Harvard, Yale, and Princeton of our time. Its crowded wharfs were on the Sidonis River and made it a bustling cosmopolitan city with people coming and going, cargo as well. Saul’s father was a Roman citizen, but a Jew. He passed on the priceless assets of Judaism and Roman citizenship to his son. No doubt, his father was also a Pharisee and Saul, therefore, inherited his Pharisaic tradition. Saul was so very Jewish that he could say in the testimony that he gives – remarkable testimony in Philippians, chapter 3 – these words: “I was circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin – ” an extremely noble tribe by the way “ – a Hebrew of Hebrews - ” that means completely devoted to the traditions “ – as to the law, a Pharisee.” He covered all his bases in Judaism. “As to zeal, a persecutor of the church. As to the righteousness, which is in the law, found blameless.” Very devout Jew. In keeping with the Jewish tradition, every young boy had to learn a trade, and young Saul was taught to weave cloth out of black goat’s hair and fashion it into strips that could be assembled together, sewn together, to make tents. This was a common industry in Tarsus. At about 13, when a Jewish boy would become officially a son of the law, it is very likely that at that time, Saul was packed off to Jerusalem. Why did he go there? Because his family wanted him to study Judaism at the highest level, and the highest level was to study under a teacher named Gamaliel. Gamaliel was so elevated and so revered as a teacher that he himself was actually called the beauty of the law. That was to say that the law was never more beautiful than when it was articulated by Gamaliel. So Saul would sit under the teaching of Gamaliel. This would include years of memorizing the Old Testament, years of intense question and answer, arguing and debating back-and-forth on the law of the Old Testament. He would become expert in Judaism, expert in the Old Testament. While he was in Jerusalem during that time studying under Gamaliel, it is not likely that he ever met Jesus. If he had met Jesus in his earthly ministry, he no doubt would have mentioned it. It doesn’t seem possible to me that he could have met Jesus, or seen him personally, or heard him personally and not made reference to that at some point. It is also possible that before Jesus actually began His ministry, he had finished his education and returned to Tarsus. And if he returned after having studied under Gamaliel, there’s no question, he would be a critical leader in a synagogue. He would have grave responsibility there as a teacher. He was very rigid, very zealous, very legalistic, Pharisaical, traditional. This rigid young Saul would have then been a critical member of the Pharisaic form of religion in the city of Tarsus to advocate everything they believe among the Jews there; and there were many Jews in Tarsus. However, by the time of Stephen, he’s back in Jerusalem. We don’t know what brought him back, but he is highly agitated. And why is he so angry? Because he is a Hellenistic Jew. He is a Jew from outside Israel. And this man, Stephen, has been circulating among the Hellenistic synagogues in Jerusalem and preaching Jesus Christ. Stephen himself was a Hellenistic Jew, a Jew from outside Israel, and he is gathering together a large number of Hellenistic Jews to come to hear about Christ. And there are converts, there are converts; and these new converts, these new believers in Jesus are saying that He died to pay the penalty of sin, and He rose from the dead to provide salvation; and they’re preaching a risen Christ. They’re getting more aggressive, the church is expanding and exploding by the thousands, and he is infuriated. He may have tried to argue with them in synagogues. He may have tried to refute them. He certainly tried to silence Stephen, not with an argument, but with an execution. He then rose by his sheer force of leadership and passion to become the leader of the movement to stamp out Christianity. Years later, he said this – it’s recorded in Acts 26: “I, myself, was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and I did so in Jerusalem. I not only shut up many of the saints in prison by authority from the chief priest; but when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them and I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme. And in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” This is Saul. Luke says it simply, “Saul laid waste the church.” And that back in chapter 8 at the beginning, I told you that word describes a wild bore rampaging through a garden, or an army devastating a city. After successfully clearing Jerusalem of those he believed to be heretics, threatening the true religion of Judaism, he himself decided that he would go after them. It wasn’t enough that they left Jerusalem; he wanted to stamp them out, hunt them down wherever they were. He heard that a group of them had gone to Damascus and he secured permission from the religious elites to go to Damascus, and that’s where we pick it up in chapter 9. Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. He launches a fierce campaign, chasing down these believers, and he’s going to begin with a raid, if you will, on Damascus. He was like a warhorse who has the scent of battle and is breathing fury in anticipation of new conquering. By the way, the word “breathing” here literally is “still breathing in, breathing in.” Not breathing out threats and murder; breathing in. What does it mean? His very life breath was slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. He lived to arrest and kill Christians. His sin, not a lot different than Haman, the Agagite, who in the day of Esther wanted to exterminate all the Jews. Saul wouldn’t be satisfied until the Christians were exterminated. All of the mathētēs, all of the learners, the disciples, all the followers of Jesus, He was after them all: “So he, wanting to find any belonging to the Way, any.” Not just in Jerusalem, but everywhere they went. Eradication was his objective, and this led to a trip to Damascus, a journey which changed the world. He was so highly respected among the Jewish authorities that he had permission from them to carry his war to distant cities. That’s what it says in chapter 26, verse 12, that he’d been given permission to go everywhere and exterminate Christians. The high priest, as president of the Sanhedrin, was head of the Jewish state so far as its internal affairs were concerned, and his authority was upheld by Roman power, and he acted as the one who had absolute authority to give to Saul. With that authority, he takes off for Damascus. Damascus in ancient times was called by one writer “a handful of pearls and a goblet of emeralds.” Why? Because it was a lovely white city in a green forested area of plains and trees. Orientals used to call Damascus “the paradise on earth.” The city of Damascus predated Abraham, yet still remained. There was a large Jewish community there. It is estimated by historians that there were tens of thousands of Jews there in 66 A.D. – 66 A.D., year of our Lord – 20,000 of them were massacred, 20,000 were massacred. Damascus had a number of synagogues with so many Jews, many synagogues. Its geographical location was something like this: 2,200 feet above sea level; 60 miles inland from the seacoast, right in the corner there of the Mediterranean, where Syria meets Turkey today; about 160 miles north from Jerusalem. It was, in ancient times, the capital of Syria. It is estimated there were 150,000 people there; it was a large city. And it is likely that the Christians there had not yet separated from the synagogues, that the scattered Christians went there and preached the gospel and won converts. It was how it all started. But it is very likely that they had not yet left the synagogues as the original group of Christians didn’t leave the temple. And it is also likely that there was a Christian leader who had come to faith in Christ and was leading these newly converted Jews, and his name was Ananias. We’ll meet him a little later in verse 10. Paul says about him that he was a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there. So he was significant leader in the city; no doubt, came to Christ and had a great influence in that early beginning group of Christians. Perhaps also, there were believing refugees from Jerusalem. But nonetheless, Paul got the word there were Christians in Damascus. They are identified – please look back at verse 2. They are identified as “belonging to the Way, both men and women, belonging to the Way.” That was an early term to describe Christianity. Paul refers to it also in his testimony in chapter 22; talks about the Way. That is very likely a sarcastic designation because the Christian believed that they knew that through Jesus Christ was the only way to God. Maybe this is mockery like the word Christian that was first used of them in Antioch, and that was a term of disgust: “little Christs.” In this term, they are mocked as those who advocate there’s only one way, arcing back to our Lord’s words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” Anybody who was associated with the narrowness and the exclusiveness of this Christian gospel was fair game for Paul, and he would find any belonging to the Way, male or female, make them prisoners and bring them back to Jerusalem. Now that lets you know that he didn’t go alone. He went with some kind of police, some kind of force; likely, temple police. They were to be brought back to Jerusalem, why? To be tried as heretics, blasphemers; and then to be punished as ecclesiastical offenders, punishment by the Sanhedrin; and, perhaps, punished by death, as their leader had been. From Jerusalem to Damascus, you just basically go straight north. I’ve taken that route a few times in my life and gone to Damascus. The ruins of Damascus are astounding to see, even to this day. You would go north through Judea, then through Samaria, all the way up into Syria and to the city of Damascus. Maybe along the way through Samaria, you might have heard the rumblings of the revival that was happening under Philip, as recorded in chapter 8, and Samaritans were coming to faith, and Peter and John came, and the Spirit came, and there were signs and wonders being done by Philip, and people were being saved. Maybe he heard of that; maybe he didn’t. But he is loaded with papers for Damascus. Historians tell us that caravans usually took about six days for that kind of trip. Armed with his commission from the high priest to do what he wanted to do, all of his entourage, they almost reached the walls of Damascus, almost. And then we come to verse 3: “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.’ “The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” Serious change of plans. What have we here? He ran right into the Lord Jesus Christ, and then came his momentous conversion. I want to consider it under four simple features. First, a divine contact, then divine conviction, divine conversion, divine communion. Just a way to break it down. The divine contact comes in verse 3: “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” I don’t need to remind you again. Here’s another illustration, another illustration as we saw in the illustration of the eunuch from Ethiopia who encountered Philip because the Holy Spirit was making everything happen according to the will of God. This, again, is how salvation happens. It is always the sovereign will of God. It is always His purpose. It comes about by His power and His determination. This is a direct sovereign act of God on Saul. Now I will admit that all people who are saved are saved because of a sovereign work of God, but not all of them have this kind of experience. I certainly didn’t; neither did you. God calls, but He usually calls in a still, small voice. But in the case of Saul, He called with a blazing, smashing, crushing, devastating appearance. Now we could add an awful lot to verse 3 because verse 3 is very cryptic, very short. But to do that, I’d have to take you through chapter 22 and chapter 26, and we’re not there yet. But let me borrow some things from those two chapters because in those two chapters, Paul gives his testimony when he’s called into court. And if we borrow from what we learn in 22 and 26, we can fill in details. Those chapters tell us it was about noon, midday, sun at the apex. And if you’ve ever stood beneath of the glare of the sun in the Middle East at noon, you understand that it is a bright sun. But there was something far brighter because we read later in the book of Acts that a light shown above the brightness of the sun, shining around Paul and all those who journeyed with him, a light brighter than the sun. The sun is bright, but distant. This is in their midst. The whole group then collapses to the ground in sheer terror. We are also told later in the book of Acts that it was a light out of heaven. “It was a light – ” in this verse it also says “ – from heaven, flashing around them,” miraculous, supernatural, transcending the brightness of the noonday sun. Chapter 26 where the testimony of Paul, again, is given, it says, “The men got up, but Saul remained flat on the ground.” Chapter 22, verse 9 says, “They heard the sound, they heard noise, but they couldn’t understand.” It says they didn’t understand. They couldn’t articulate or distinguish words. This is similar to what we read in John 12:29. You may remember John 12:29. “So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying an angel had spoken to Him.” Heaven had spoken there to Christ, and the people heard the sound, but couldn’t distinguish it. Well, this was a similar situation. The others are stunned, crawling around, trying to make sense of it, stupefied, confused. And in their lack of clarity, they’re very different from Paul. The light breaks through to Saul and he sees Jesus. How do you know he sees Jesus? Well, go down to verse 7. “The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one, seeing no one.” But that’s not Paul’s testimony. Go down to verse 17: “Ananias later departs and enters the house, and after laying his hands on Saul says, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road,” that’s enough. The Lord appeared to him on the road. Down in verse 27, Barnabas took hold of him, brought him to the apostles, described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road. And in his own testimony in chapter 22, and verse 14 – I’ll just read it to you: “He said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.’” Paul saw the Lord. You say, “Well, what does that mean?” I can’t go beyond what Scripture says. He saw the Lord. First Corinthians 15:8, he talks about the appearances of Christ and he says, “And least of all, He appeared to me,” or, “He appeared to me in the least of all.” He saw the glorified Christ. He saw the transcendent Christ coming out of the middle of this blazing, shining light. I think this is kind of a glorious sequel, isn’t it, to Stephen? Stephen saw heaven open and he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Remember, we saw that at the end of chapter 7. He saw the Lord Jesus next to God in heaven. Saul stood by and saw, stood by when Stephen saw the glorified Christ; and here, saw himself, sees the glorified Christ. The heavens are opened once more and this murderous man named Saul is to gaze into the blazing glory of the same person Stephen saw. And Stephen’s prayer is answered. Do you remember Stephen’s prayer? “Lord, lay not this – ” what “ – sin to their charge.” Which is to say, “Forgive them for this.” The Lord is about to forgive the one who led the execution and answer Stephen’s prayer. So that’s the contact. God sovereignly makes contact with the sinner who is the object of His electing grace and sovereign regenerating power. Not always this dramatically, but always this sovereignly. The salvation of anyone is totally initiated by God. Saul was going one way with no idea of turning to go the other way, and God sovereignly spun him around: divine contact. And then we see in verse 4 the divine conviction. This is very interesting: divine conviction. In bringing a person to salvation, there is an initial contact initiated by God, and then there is the conviction of sin. And where there is genuine salvation, there is a potency to that conviction. And verse 4 says, “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’” He doesn’t know what hit him, obviously. He is laying at the feet of his conqueror. He is in the right position, you might say, for conversion. In Luke’s writings, the repetition of a name like this seems to imply a rebuke or a warning: “Martha, Martha.” “Jerusalem, Jerusalem.” “Simon, Simon.” Here, “Saul, Saul.” There’s an emphatic nature to that repetition: “Why are you persecuting Me? For what reason?” Remember in John 15:25, Jesus said, “They hated Me without a cause.” “Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?” This is a thrilling statement. I need to just take it apart for a minute. “Why are you persecuting Me?” Well, wait a minute. Jesus wasn’t even around, He was back in heaven. But our Lord identifies for us this very significant reality that to persecute any of His people is to persecute Him, that He is inseparable from His people. He is bound together with all the members of His body so that every stroke which is directed against us is a blow that falls on Him. He is truly identified with us. Persecuting us is persecuting Him. Saul was delivering blows to Jesus. Later on in his life, he would gladly say, “I am accepting now the blows that were meant for Him. I bear in my body the marks of Christ.” Saul learned the great truth that he soon taught and lived, that every member of the body of Christ is a member of Christ, is one with Christ, the glorious head of the body. And if one believer is touched on earth, that touch is felt in heaven. That’s how identified we are with Him. Truly, He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows. Saul was persecuting Jesus when he persecuted His people. He is hit with the real issue; you’ve got to understand this. When God initiates salvation, immediately you need to go to the real issue, and the real issue is stated here: “You are persecuting Me. Why?” That is the issue of conviction that is essential. “Why are you treating Jesus the way you’re treating Him?” that’s the issue. There are a lot of sins in the world, but the sin that is most important is the knowledge of the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. The issue for conviction is not that a man is a liar, not that a woman is cruel, or unkind, or deceptive, or whatever else, or immoral; the crime for which people are damned to hell is rejection of Christ. First Corinthians 16:22 again, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s anathema, he’s cursed, damned. This is always the issue. The work of the Holy Spirit, John 16, our Lord said, “Is to convict the world of sin because they believe not on Me.” That is the crime of all crimes. That is the unpardonable sin, the unforgivable crime. And Saul is literally smashed with that indictment: “You are persecuting the Son of God.” That’s the conviction that has to reside in the heart. Now that leads to the conversion, the divine conversion in verse 5. This is, again, a very abbreviated account. But verse 5 records, “And he said, ‘Who are You – ” what’s the next word “ – Lord. Something dramatic has happened: “Who are You, Lord?” He’s not yet even sure who he’s looking at. He’d never seen Jesus before. But even if he had seen Jesus before, this was not going to be the same because Jesus was not the same in His glorified form. But he quickly finds out that he has been indicted for persecuting Jesus who is Lord. He is now acknowledging that He is Lord: “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus – ” and chapter 22, verse 8 adds, “ – of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting, the very One you’ve been persecuting.” I would say that Jesus has captured Paul’s attention, wouldn’t you, filled him with the fear of conviction, and presented the truth concerning Himself: “I am Jesus of Nazareth.” You say, “Now wait a minute. That’s not enough to be saved to say, ‘I’m Jesus of Nazareth.’” It’s not enough even to say, “Lord, that’s not enough.” You’re right. But can I help you a little? Paul (Saul) knew very well the Christian gospel. He was a highly educated theologian. It was because of the heresy that he was killing these people. He knew what they were saying. He knew they were proclaiming this man as the Messiah, this man as the Son of God. This man is God’s chosen sacrifice for sin. This man rose from the dead. This man has been anointed by God as the Righteous One. And I’m very confident that he did not forget the culminating words of Stephen’s sermon, at the end of chapter 7, that this one they had killed is the Righteous One, a Messianic title, and that Stephen had said, “I see Him, the Son of Man, standing at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven.” No, all the parts were already in his mind. But up to this point, for him it’s heresy. It’s heresy, blasphemy. And they claimed that He had risen from the dead, and now he know He has. The horrible truth captures his soul. Jesus is alive. He is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. He is the One from glory who was standing at God’s right hand. And I think all the bloodshed must have drowned Saul in the sorrow of sin. He was shattered, penitent, broken, now lying beneath the conquering Christ needing mercy. His heart is broken in repentance and sorrow, and at the same time, healed in faith. His conversion was shocking, sudden. All his doubts were erased and he knew the truth immediately. Paul’s conversion has baffled people. Renan, the French atheist, said it was an uneasy conscious with unstrung nerves, fatigue from the journey, eyes inflamed by the hot sun, and a sudden stroke of fever that produced Paul’s hallucinations. Other writers say it was a thunderstorm that hit, and in fear, he imagined he saw Jesus because he felt so much guilt for what he was doing to the followers of Jesus. A very popular view is that he suffered from epilepsy. Dr. Klausner writes, “Some epileptics have been great and powerful personalities: Mohammed, Augustine, St. Bernard, Savana Rolla, Beam, Swedenborg, as well as Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Peter the Great, Pascal, Rousseau, and Dostoevsky.” Was this an epileptic seizure? Ridiculous. Saul cried out, “Who are You, Lord?” The answer came back, “I am Jesus.” He used His personal name, the name given to Him when He was born as a babe in this world because Jesus means “Jehovah saves.” The battle was over. The battle was over. It had been a very difficult battle for Saul. He had been kicking against the goads. What does that mean? A goad was any sharp, pointed instrument which was used to pierce or perforate, and you would use them to stab an ox to keep him moving. In fact, Shamgar in Judges slew, I think it’s 600 men with an ox goad. What does it mean to kick against the goads? It means to just inflict pain on yourself by continuing to do what you do. He was literally bashing his own conscience by resisting God. You can’t fight God, rebel against God, make war against God and not feel the pain. So all of this is just to tell us of this amazing, amazing encounter. In first contact, God’s sovereign grace; conviction of his sin against the Lord Jesus Christ. He responds in humble penitence, and I believe conversion takes place. That becomes obvious as the story goes on. A good way to understand the conversion part of the story would be to look for just a minute – and I’ll just take a minute to do this – at 1 Timothy, 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 12. Here Paul gives a testimony to Timothy: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” That’s his testimony. That’s the internal testimony. We see the external story in this 9th chapter. Back to Philippians 3; more about the internal, what was going on in his heart. He says this, Philippians 3:7, “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I counted loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be lost in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” First Timothy 1, Philippians 3, we have the internal testimony. Proof of that conversion comes really fast. How do you know he was converted there? I’ll give you the proof; it’s in his testimony in chapter 22 – and I will read this to you. Chapter 22, he’s giving his testimony again and he says in verse 8: “And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene whom you are persecuting.’ And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but didn’t understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord? What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’” How do you know he was converted? What’s the first response of a true conversion? Submission, confessing Him as Lord. He had a new master: “Master, Lord, what do you want me to do?” He calls Him Lord. He calls Him Lord, as everyone must do is saved. He called Him Lord. He recognized the truth that Jesus is Lord. You don’t make Him Lord; He is Lord. Chapter 10 of Acts, verse 36: “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all.” Conversion was immediate, absolutely immediate: “What shall I do, Lord? What do you want me to do?” Verse 6: “Get up and enter the city and it’ll be told you what to do. The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. And leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.” He is broken, devastated, shattered, melted down; submissive, compliant, obedient. This is how salvation works. Supernatural divine sovereign contact, conviction of the great sin of rejecting Jesus Christ, conversion into a submissive follower of a new heavenly master. And there’s one final component: the divine communion. Verse 9: “He was three days without sight, neither ate nor drank.” What did he do? What did he do for three days? I’ll tell you what he did; he communed with his new Master. The last thing he had seen before he went blind was the blazing presence of the glory of Jesus. That sight dominated his now sightless eyes. It was a blindness that I would think was not the blindness of blackness, but the blindness of light. Not the blindness of looking into the darkness of a pitch black night, but the blindness of looking into the brilliance of a blazing sun. It was said of an astronomer, who made the mistake of looking too long at the blazing sun, that his blindness was not the blindness of darkness, but the blindness of light. Great guilt weighed him down. He had a lot to think about for three days, didn’t he? He knew nothing about his future. He didn’t know who he was anymore. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. This was total devastation of everything he was, and it was in those days that all that he had considered precious became rubbish. Salvation was sudden, but its depth are often plumbed slowly. He is now stunned; he is helpless; he is friendless. He has friends who are now enemies, and enemies who don’t know they’re to be friends. For three days, he communed with his Lord. This is a magnificent picture of salvation in all its beauty and glory. It is sudden, it is explosive, it is a miracle in a moment, but it must embody that sovereign work, that conviction of rejecting Christ as the great sin, that conversion of submitting and saying, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” And then that contemplation and communion that thinks deeply about this miracle. Well, that’s the beginning. Much more to come about even this encounter as we look at it next time. Father, we are so grateful, again, to You for giving us the truth. Again, as we were talking about it this morning, so many writers, and yet the all say the same thing about salvation, about sin, about judgment, about grace, about mercy, about righteousness. Here’s just another encounter, and yet such a unique one. Lord, I pray that even tonight, there might be some sinners here that You would in Your grace stop dead in their tracks and shine the glorious light of Christ into their darkened eyes. Make Christ known to them, and may they realize the horrible sin of rejecting Him and fall before Him in loving submission and say, “Lord, Lord, what will You have me to do?” And then, Lord, from that moment on, may they begin that sweet communion with You that deepens their understanding of this divine miracle. Again, we thank you for a wonderful day today, and You have blessed us in so many ways. Continue to bless us, even as we enjoy fellowship together. We’ll thank You in our Savior’s name. Amen.



It has been popularly assumed that Saul's name was changed when he became a follower of Jesus Christ, but that is not the case.[22][23] His Jewish name was "Saul" (Hebrew: שָׁאוּל, Modern: Sha'ûl, Tiberian: Šāʼûl), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. According to the Book of Acts, he was a Roman citizen.[Acts 22:25–29] As a Roman citizen, he also bore the Latin name of "Paul"(essentially a Latin Transliteration of Saul)—in biblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos),[24] and in Latin: Paulus.[25][Acts 16:37][22:25–28] It was typical for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.[26][27][28]

Jesus called him "Saul, Saul"[29] in "the Hebrew tongue" in the book of Acts, when he had the vision which led to his conversion on the Road to Damascus.[30] Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus".[9] When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".[31]

In Acts 13:9, Saul is called "Paul" for the first time on the island of Cyprus—much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates that the names were interchangeable: "Saul, who also is called Paul." He thereafter refers to him as Paul, apparently Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those that he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul's missionary style. His method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style to which they could relate, as in 1 Cor 9:19–23.[22]

Available sources

The main source for information about Paul's life is the material found in his epistles and in Acts. However, the epistles contain little information about Paul's pre-conversion past. The book of Acts recounts more information but leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome.[32] Some scholars believe Acts also contradicts Paul's epistles on multiple accounts, in particular concerning the frequency of Paul's visits to the church in Jerusalem.[33][34]

Sources outside the New Testament that mention Paul include:

Biblical narrative

Early life

Geography relevant to Paul's life, stretching from Jerusalem to Rome
Geography relevant to Paul's life, stretching from Jerusalem to Rome

The two main sources of information by which we have access to the earliest segments of Paul's career are the Bible's Book of Acts and the autobiographical elements of Paul's letters to the early church communities. Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD.[35] The Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, but Helmut Koester takes issue with the evidence presented by the text.[36][Acts 16:37][Acts 22:25–29]

He was from a devout Jewish family[37] in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast.[38] It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university. During the time of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor.[37]

Paul referred to himself as being "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee".[Phil. 3:5]

The Bible reveals very little about Paul's family. Paul's nephew, his sister's son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16. Acts also quotes Paul referring to his father by saying he, Paul, was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6). In Romans 16:7 he states that his relatives, Andronicus and Junia, were Christians before he was and were prominent among the apostles.

The family had a history of religious piety (2 Timothy 1:3). [39] Apparently the family lineage had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations.[Philippians 3:5–6] Acts says that he was in the tent-making profession.[Acts 18:1–3] This was to become an initial connection with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he would partner in tentmaking[Acts 18:3] and later become very important teammates as fellow missionaries.[Rom. 16:4]

While he was still fairly young, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel,[Acts 22:3] one of the most noted rabbis in history. The Hillel school was noted for giving its students a balanced education, likely giving Paul broad exposure to classical literature, philosophy, and ethics.[40] Some of his family may have resided in Jerusalem since later the son of one of his sisters saved his life there.[Acts 23:16] Nothing more is known of his background until he takes an active part in the martyrdom of Stephen.[Acts 7:58–60; 22:20] Paul confesses that "beyond measure" he persecuted the church of God prior to his conversion.[Gal. 1:13–14] [Phil. 3:6] [Acts 8:1–3] Although we know from his biography and from Acts that Paul could speak Hebrew, modern scholarship suggests that Koine Greek was his first language.[41][42]

In his letters, Paul drew heavily on his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the revealed word of God.[43]

He also owed much to his training in the law and the prophets, utilizing this knowledge to convince his Jewish countrymen of the unity of past Old Testament prophecy and covenants with the fulfilling of these in Jesus Christ. His wide spectrum of experiences and education gave the "Apostle to the Gentiles"[Rom. 1:5] [11:13] [Gal. 2:8] the tools which he later would use to effectively spread the Gospel and to establish the church in the Roman Empire.[40]


Paul's conversion can be dated to 31–36[44][45][46] by his reference to it in one of his letters. In Galatians 1:16 Paul writes that God "was pleased to reveal his son to me." In 1 Corinthians 15:8, as he lists the order in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Paul writes, "last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also."

According to the account in Acts, it took place on the road to Damascus, where he reported having experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus. The account says that "he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul replied, "Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks (goads)."[Acts 9:4–5]

According to the account in Acts 9:1–22, he was blinded for three days and had to be led into Damascus by the hand. During these three days, Saul took no food or water and spent his time in prayer to God. When Ananias of Damascus arrived, he laid his hands on him and said: "Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."[Acts 9:17] His sight was restored, he got up and was baptized.[Acts 9:18] This story occurs only in Acts, not in the Pauline epistles.[47]

The author of Acts of the Apostles may have learned of Paul's conversion from the church in Jerusalem, or from the church in Antioch, or possibly from Paul himself.[48]


Caravaggio (1571–1610), The Conversion of Saint Paul, 1600
Caravaggio (1571–1610), The Conversion of Saint Paul, 1600
Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657
Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657

And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

In the opening verses of Romans 1, Paul provides a litany of his own apostolic appointment to preach among the Gentiles[Gal. 1:16] and his post-conversion convictions about the risen Christ.[11]

  • Paul described himself as
    • a servant of Jesus Christ;
    • having experienced an unforeseen, sudden, startling change, due to all-powerful grace – not the fruit of his reasoning or thoughts;[Gal. 1:12–15] [1 Cor. 15:10]
    • having seen Christ as did the other apostles when Christ appeared to him[1 Cor. 15:8] as he appeared to Peter, to James, to the Twelve, after his Resurrection;[1 Cor. 9:1]
    • being inflicted with a debilitating physical condition akin to having a handicap which he refers to as "a thorn in the flesh";[2 Cor. 12:7]
    • called to be an apostle;
    • set apart for the gospel of God.
  • Paul described Jesus as
    • having been promised by God beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures;
    • being the true messiah and the Son of God;
    • having biological lineage from David ("according to the flesh");[Rom. 1:3]
    • having been declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead;
    • being Jesus Christ our Lord;
    • the One through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, "including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ".
  • Jesus
    • lives in heaven;
    • is God's Son;
    • would soon return.[11]
  • The Cross
  • The Law
    • he now believed the law only reveals the extent of people's enslavement to the power of sin – a power that must be broken by Christ.[Rom. 3:20b] [7:7–12]
  • Gentiles
    • he had believed Gentiles were outside the covenant that God made with Israel;
    • he now believed Gentiles and Jews were united as the people of God in Christ Jesus.[Gal. 3:28]
  • Circumcision
    • had believed circumcision was the rite through which males became part of Israel, an exclusive community of God's chosen people;[Phil. 3:3–5]
    • he now believed that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but that the new creation is what counts in the sight of God,[Gal. 6:15] and that this new creation is a work of Christ in the life of believers, making them part of the church, an inclusive community of Jews and Gentiles reconciled with God through faith.[Rom. 6:4]
  • Persecution
    • had believed his violent persecution of the church to be an indication of his zeal for his religion;[Phil. 3:6]
    • he now believed Jewish hostility toward the church was sinful opposition that would incur God's wrath;[1 Thess. 2:14–16] [10]:236 he believed he was halted by Christ when his fury was at its height;[Acts 9:1–2] It was "through zeal" that he persecuted the Church,[Philippians 3:6] and he obtained mercy because he had "acted ignorantly in unbelief".[1 Tim. 1:13][39]
  • The Last Days
    • had believed God's messiah would put an end to the old age of evil and initiate a new age of righteousness;
    • he now believed this would happen in stages that had begun with the resurrection of Jesus, but the old age would continue until Jesus returns.[Rom. 16:25] [1 Cor. 10:11] [Gal. 1:4] [10]:236

Paul is critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority [Rom. 2:16–26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9–11]

There are debates as to whether Paul understood himself as commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles at the moment of his conversion.[49]

Early ministry

The house believed to be of Ananias of Damascus in Damascus
The house believed to be of Ananias of Damascus in Damascus
Bab Kisan, believed to be where Paul escaped from persecution in Damascus
Bab Kisan, believed to be where Paul escaped from persecution in Damascus

After his conversion, Paul went to Damascus, where Acts 9 states he was healed of his blindness and baptized by Ananias of Damascus.[50] Paul says that it was in Damascus that he barely escaped death.[2 Cor. 11:32] Paul also says that he then went first to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[Gal. 1:17][51] Paul's trip to Arabia is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and some suppose he actually traveled to Mount Sinai for meditations in the desert.[52][53] He describes in Galatians how three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem. There he met James and stayed with Simon Peter for 15 days.[Gal. 1:13–24] Paul located Mount Sinai in Arabia in Galatians 4:24–25.

Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from man, but directly by "the revelation of Jesus Christ".[Gal 1:11–16] He claimed almost total independence from the Jerusalem community[4]:316–20 (possibly in the Cenacle), but agreed with it on the nature and content of the gospel.[Gal 1:22–24] He appeared eager to bring material support to Jerusalem from the various growing Gentile churches that he started. In his writings, Paul used the persecutions he endured to avow proximity and union with Jesus and as a validation of his teaching.

Paul's narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem.[Gal. 2:1–10] It is not known what happened during this time, but both Acts and Galatians provide some details.[54] At the end of this time, Barnabas went to find Paul and brought him back to Antioch. [Acts 11:26]

When a famine occurred in Judea, around 45–46,[55] Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community.[56] According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative center for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians".[Acts 11:26]

First missionary journey

The author of Acts arranges Paul's travels into three separate journeys. The first journey,[Acts 13–14] led initially by Barnabas,[57] took Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then into southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and finally returning to Antioch. In Cyprus, Paul rebukes and blinds Elymas the magician[Acts 13:8–12] who was criticizing their teachings. From this point on, Paul is described as the leader of the group.[citation needed]

They sail to Perga in Pamphylia. John Mark leaves them and returns to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas go on to Pisidian Antioch. On Sabbath they go to the synagogue. The leaders invite them to speak. Paul reviews Israelite history from life in Egypt to King David. He introduces Jesus as a descendant of David brought to Israel by God. He said that his team came to town to bring the message of salvation. He recounts the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. He quotes from the Septuagint[58] to assert that Jesus was the promised Christos who brought them forgiveness for their sins. Both the Jews and the "God-fearing" Gentiles invited them to talk more next Sabbath. At that time almost the whole city gathered. This upset some influential Jews who spoke against them. Paul used the occasion to announce a change in his mission which from then on would be to the Gentiles.[Acts 13:13–48]

Interval at Antioch

Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul's evangelism,[4] and he remained there for "a long time with the disciples"[59] at the conclusion of his first journey. The exact duration of Paul's stay in Antioch is unknown, with estimates ranging from nine months to as long as eight years.[60]

Council of Jerusalem

A vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place some time in the years 50–51,[61] described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1.[32] The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised.[61][62] At this meeting, Paul states in his letter to the Galatians, Peter, James, and John accepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles.

The Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, and also in Paul's letters.[63] For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief[Acts 11:27–30] apparently corresponds to the "first visit" (to Peter and James only).[Gal. 1:18–20][63] F. F. Bruce suggested that the "fourteen years" could be from Paul's conversion rather than from his first visit to Jerusalem.[64]

Incident at Antioch

Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter in a dispute sometimes called the "Incident at Antioch", over Peter's reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch because they did not strictly adhere to Jewish customs.[61]

Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts, "I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong", and says he told Peter, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"[Gal. 2:11–14] Paul also mentions that even Barnabas, his traveling companion and fellow apostle until that time, sided with Peter.[61]

The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that Paul won the argument, because "Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw the justice of the rebuke".[61] However Paul himself never mentions a victory and L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity draws the opposite conclusion: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return".[65]

The primary source account of the Incident at Antioch is Paul's letter to the Galatians.[Gal. 2:11–14]

Second missionary journey

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. This sermon addressed early issues in Christology.[66][67]
Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. This sermon addressed early issues in Christology.[66][67]

Paul left for his second missionary journey from Jerusalem, in late Autumn 49,[68] after the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem where the circumcision question was debated. On their trip around the Mediterranean sea, Paul and his companion Barnabas stopped in Antioch where they had a sharp argument about taking John Mark with them on their trips. The book of Acts said that John Mark had left them in a previous trip and gone home. Unable to resolve the dispute, Paul and Barnabas decided to separate; Barnabas took John Mark with him, while Silas joined Paul.

Paul and Silas initially visited Tarsus (Paul's birthplace), Derbe and Lystra. In Lystra, they met Timothy, a disciple who was spoken well of, and decided to take him with them. Paul and his companions, Silas and Timothy, had plans to journey to the southwest portion of Asia Minor to preach the gospel but during the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him to go to Macedonia to help them. After seeing the vision, Paul and his companions left for Macedonia to preach the gospel to them.[Acts 16:6–10] The Church kept growing, adding believers, and strengthening in faith daily.[Acts 16:5]

In Philippi, Paul cast a spirit of divination out of a servant girl, whose masters were then unhappy about the loss of income her soothsaying provided (Acts 16:16–24). They turned the city against the missionaries, and Paul and Silas were put in jail. After a miraculous earthquake, the gates of the prison fell apart and Paul and Silas could have escaped but remained; this event led to the conversion of the jailor (Acts 16:25–40). They continued traveling, going by Berea and then to Athens, where Paul preached to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the Greek intellectuals in the Areopagus. Paul continued from Athens to Corinth.

Interval in Corinth

Around 50–52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. The reference in Acts to Proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date (cf. Gallio Inscription).[32] In Corinth, Paul met Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2), who became faithful believers and helped Paul through his other missionary journeys. The couple followed Paul and his companions to Ephesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and most faithful churches at that time (Acts 18:18–21).

In 52, departing from Corinth, Paul stopped at the nearby village of Cenchreae to have his hair cut off, because of a vow he had earlier taken.[69] It is possible this was to be a final haircut prior to fulfilling his vow to become a Nazirite for a defined period of time.[70] With Priscilla and Aquila, the missionaries then sailed to Ephesus[71] and then Paul alone went on to Caesarea to greet the Church there. He then traveled north to Antioch, where he stayed for some time (Greek: ποιησας χρονον, perhaps about a year), before leaving again on a third missionary journey.[citation needed] Some New Testament texts[72] suggest that he also visited Jerusalem during this period for one of the Jewish feasts, possibly Pentecost.[73] Textual critic Henry Alford and others consider the reference to a Jerusalem visit to be genuine[74] and it accords with Acts 21:29, according to which Paul and Trophimus the Ephesian had previously been seen in Jerusalem.

Third missionary journey

The Preaching of Saint Paul at Ephesus by Eustache Le Sueur (1649)
The Preaching of Saint Paul at Ephesus by Eustache Le Sueur (1649)

According to Acts, Paul began his third missionary journey by travelling all around the region of Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen, teach and rebuke the believers. Paul then traveled to Ephesus, an important center of early Christianity, and stayed there for almost three years, probably working there as a tentmaker,[75] as he had done when he stayed in Corinth. He is claimed to have performed numerous miracles, healing people and casting out demons, and he apparently organized missionary activity in other regions.[32] Paul left Ephesus after an attack from a local silversmith resulted in a pro-Artemis riot involving most of the city.[32] During his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth.[76]

Paul went through Macedonia into Achaea (Acts 20:1–2) and stayed in Greece, probably Corinth, for three months (Acts 20:1–2) during 56–57 AD.[32] Commentators generally agree that Paul dictated his Epistle to the Romans during this period.[77] He then made ready to continue on to Syria, but he changed his plans and traveled back through Macedonia because of some Jews who had made a plot against him. In Romans 15:19 Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, but he may have meant what would now be called Illyria Graeca,[78] which was at that time a division of the Roman province of Macedonia.[79] On their way back to Jerusalem, Paul and his companions visited other cities such as Philippi, Troas, Miletus, Rhodes, and Tyre. Paul finished his trip with a stop in Caesarea, where he and his companions stayed with Philip the Evangelist before finally arriving at Jerusalem.[Acts 21:8–10] [21:15]

Journey from Rome to Spain

Among the writings of the early Christians, Pope Clement I said that Paul was "Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West", and that "he had gone to the extremity of the west".[80] John Chrysostom indicated that Paul preached in Spain: "For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not".[81] Cyril of Jerusalem said that Paul, "fully preached the Gospel, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing Signs and wonders".[82] The Muratorian fragment mentions "the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] [5a] (39) when he journeyed to Spain".[83]

Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles

This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity.[63] Note that the matching of Paul's travels in the Acts and the travels in his Epistles is done for the reader's convenience and is not approved of by all scholars.

Acts Epistles
  • First visit to Jerusalem[Acts 9:26–27]
    • "after many days" of Damascus conversion
    • preaches openly in Jerusalem with Barnabas
    • meets apostles
  • There is debate over whether Paul's visit in Galatians 2 refers to the visit for famine relief[Acts 11:30, 12:25] or the Jerusalem Council.[Acts 15] If it refers to the former, then this was the trip made "after an interval of fourteen years".[Gal. 2:1]
  • Another[84] visit to Jerusalem[Gal. 2:1–10]
    • 14 years later (after Damascus conversion?)
    • with Barnabas and Titus
    • possibly the "Council of Jerusalem"
    • Paul agrees to "remember the poor"
    • followed by confrontation with Peter and Barnabas in Antioch[Gal. 2:11–14]
  • Apparently unmentioned.
  • Fifth visit to Jerusalem[Acts 21:17ff]
    • after an absence of several years[Acts 24:17]
    • to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings
    • Paul arrested
  • Another[85] visit to Jerusalem[86]
    • to deliver the collection for the poor

Last visit to Jerusalem and arrest

Saint Paul arrested, early 1900s Bible illustration
Saint Paul arrested, early 1900s Bible illustration

In 57, upon completion of his third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Jerusalem for his fifth and final visit with a collection of money for the local community. Acts reports that he initially was warmly received. However, Acts goes on to recount how Paul was warned by James and the elders that he was gaining a reputation for being against the Law, saying "they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs". Paul underwent a purification ritual in order to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law.[Acts 21:17–26]

After seven days in Jerusalem, some "Jews from Asia" (most likely from Roman Asia) accused Paul of defiling the temple by bringing gentiles into it. He was seized and dragged out of the temple by an angry mob. He narrowly escaped being killed by surrendering to a group of Roman centurions, who arrested him, put him in chains and took him to the tribune.[Acts 21:27–36]

When a plot to kill Paul on his way to an appearance before the Jews was discovered, he was transported by night to Caesarea Maritima. He was held as a prisoner there for two years by Marcus Antonius Felix, until a new governor, Porcius Festus, reopened his case in 59. When Festus suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to "appeal unto Caesar".[32] Finally, Paul and his companions sailed for Rome where Paul was to stand trial for his alleged crimes.[87]

Acts recounts that on the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita" (Malta),[Acts 27:39–44] where the islanders showed him "unusual kindness" and where he was met by Publius.[Acts 28:1–10] From Malta, he travelled to Rome via Syracuse, Rhegium and Puteoli.[Acts 28:11–14]

Two years in Rome

Paul Arrives in Rome, from Die Bibel in Bildern
Paul Arrives in Rome, from Die Bibel in Bildern

He finally arrived in Rome around 60, where he spent another two years under house arrest.[87] The narrative of Acts ends with Paul preaching in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial.[Acts 28:30–31]

Irenaeus wrote in the 2nd century that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.[88] Paul was not a bishop of Rome, nor did he bring Christianity to Rome since there were already Christians in Rome when he arrived there.[Acts 28:14–15] Also, Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome before he had visited Rome.[Romans 1:1,7,11–13;15:23–29] Paul only played a supporting part in the life of the church in Rome.[89]


The Beheading of Saint Paul by Enrique Simonet, 1887
The Beheading of Saint Paul by Enrique Simonet, 1887

The date of Paul's death is believed to have occurred after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64, but before the last year of Nero's reign, in 68.[3]

It is described in a number of sources:

A legend later[when?] developed that his martyrdom occurred at the Aquae Salviae, on the Via Laurentina. According to this legend, after Paul was decapitated, his severed head rebounded three times, giving rise to a source of water each time that it touched the ground, which is how the place earned the name "San Paolo alle Tre Fontane" ("St Paul at the Three Fountains").[101][102] Also according to legend, Paul's body was buried outside the walls of Rome, at the second mile on the Via Ostiensis, on the estate owned by a Christian woman named Lucina. It was here, in the fourth century, that the Emperor Constantine the Great built a first church. Then, between the fourth and fifth centuries it was considerably enlarged by the Emperors Valentinian I, Valentinian II, Theodosius I, and Arcadius. The present-day Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls was built there in 1800.[101]


Caius in his Disputation Against Proclus (198 AD) mentions this of the places in which the remains of the apostles Peter and Paul were deposited: "I can point out the trophies of the apostles. For if you are willing to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way, you will find the trophies of those who founded this Church".[103]

Jerome in his De Viris Illustribus (392 AD) writing on Paul's biography, mentions that "Paul was buried in the Ostian Way at Rome".[98]

In 2002, an 8-foot (2.4 m)-long marble sarcophagus, inscribed with the words "PAULO APOSTOLO MART" ("Paul apostle martyr") was discovered during excavations around the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on the Via Ostiensis. Vatican archaeologists declared this to be the tomb of Paul the Apostle in 2005.[104] In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon-dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings support the conclusion that the tomb is Paul's.[105][106]


Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 14 have been attributed to Paul; 7 of these are widely considered authentic and Paul's own, while the authorship of the other 7 is disputed.[107][108][109] The undisputed letters are considered the most important sources since they contain what everyone agrees to be Paul's own statements about his life and thoughts. Theologian Mark Powell writes that Paul directed these 7 letters to specific occasions at particular churches. As an example, if the Corinthian church had not experienced problems concerning its celebration of the Lord's Supper,[1 Cor. 11:17–34] today we would not know that Paul even believed in that observance or had any opinions about it one way or the other. Powell asks if we might be ignorant of other matters simply because no crises arose that prompted Paul to comment on them.[10]:234

Although approximately half of Acts deals with Paul's life and works, the Book of Acts does not refer to Paul writing letters. Historians believe that the author of Acts did not have access to any of Paul's letters. One piece of evidence suggesting this is that Acts never directly quotes from the Pauline epistles. Discrepancies between the Pauline epistles and Acts would further support the conclusion that the author of Acts did not have access to those epistles when composing Acts.[110][111]

In Paul's writings, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus a description of Christian spirituality. His letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John.[11]

Paul ... only occasionally had the opportunity to revisit his churches. He tried to keep up his converts' spirit, answer their questions, and resolve their problems by letter and by sending one or more of his assistants (especially Timothy and Titus).

Paul's letters reveal a remarkable human being: dedicated, compassionate, emotional, sometimes harsh and angry, clever and quick-witted, supple in argumentation, and above all possessing a soaring, passionate commitment to God, Jesus Christ, and his own mission. Fortunately, after his death one of his followers collected some of the letters, edited them very slightly, and published them. They constitute one of history's most remarkable personal contributions to religious thought and practice.[11]

Basic message

Paul's writings emphasized the crucifixion, Christ's resurrection and the Parousia or second coming of Christ.[112] E. P. Sanders finds three major emphases in Paul's writings:[11]

  • His strongest emphasis was on the death, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus Christ. He preached that one's faith in Jesus assures that person a share in Jesus' life (salvation). He saw Jesus' death as being for the believers' benefit, not a defeat. Jesus died so that believers' sins would be forgiven.
  • The resurrection of Jesus was of primary importance to Paul, as may be seen in his first letter to the Thessalonians,[1 Thes. 1:9–10] which is the earliest surviving account of conversion to Christianity.[11]
  • The resurrection brought the promise of salvation to believers. Paul taught that, when Christ returned, those who had died believing in Christ as the saviour of mankind would be brought back to life, while those still alive would be "caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air".[1 Thes. 4:14–18]

Sanders concludes that Paul's writings reveal what he calls the essence of the Christian message:

  1. God sent his Son.
  2. The Son was crucified for the sins of humanity.
  3. After being dead three days, the Son was raised from the dead, defeating death.
  4. The Son would soon return.
  5. Those in Christ will live with him forever.
  6. Followers are urged to live by a set apart (sanctified) standard – "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".[1 Thes. 5:23]


Paul Writing His Epistles, painting attributed to Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century
Paul Writing His Epistles, painting attributed to Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century

Seven of the 13 letters that bear Paul's name – Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon – are almost universally accepted as being entirely authentic (dictated by Paul himself).[11][107][108][109] They are considered the best source of information on Paul's life and especially his thought.[11]

Four of the letters (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are widely considered pseudepigraphical, while the authorship of the other two is subject to debate.[107] Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are possibly "Deutero-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by Paul's followers after his death. Similarly, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus may be "Trito-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death. According to their theories, these disputed letters may have come from followers writing in Paul's name, often using material from his surviving letters. These scribes also may have had access to letters written by Paul that no longer survive.[11]

The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as "the image of the invisible God", a Christology found elsewhere only in John's gospel.[113] However, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Internal evidence shows close connection with Philippians.[114]

Ephesians is a letter that is very similar to Colossians, but is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique. It lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in 1 Cor. 7:8–9. Finally, according to R.E. Brown, it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets" now past.[115]

The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Paul's thinking. It has been said, too, that the moral portion of the Epistle, consisting of the last two chapters, has the closest affinity with similar portions of other Epistles, while the whole admirably fits in with the known details of Paul's life, and throws considerable light upon them.[114]

Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle Paul, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia)
Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle Paul, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia)

Three main reasons have been advanced by those who question Paul's authorship of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus – also known as the Pastoral Epistles.

  • First, they have found a difference in these letters' vocabulary, style, and theology from Paul's acknowledged writings. Defenders of the authenticity say that they were probably written in the name and with the authority of the Apostle by one of his companions, to whom he distinctly explained what had to be written, or to whom he gave a written summary of the points to be developed, and that when the letters were finished, Paul read them through, approved them, and signed them.[114]
  • Second, there is a difficulty in fitting them into Paul's biography as we have it.[116] They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul's release and travel thereafter.[114]
  • Third, 2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned on stylistic grounds with, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians – yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus. This, again, is explainable by the possibility that Paul requested one of his companions to write the letter for him under his dictation.[114]


Paul wrote down much of the theology of atonement.[117] Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from sin by Jesus' death and resurrection. His death was an expiation as well as a propitiation, and by Christ's blood peace is made between God and man.[117] By grace, through faith,[118] a Christian shares in Jesus' death and in his victory over death, gaining as a free gift a new, justified status of sonship.[119]

Relationship with Judaism

Some scholars see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with 1st-century Judaism (a Pharisee and student of Gamaliel as presented by Acts),[120] others see him as opposed to 1st-century Judaism (see Marcionism), while the majority see him as somewhere in between these two extremes, opposed to "Ritual Laws" (for example the circumcision controversy in early Christianity) but in full agreement on "Divine Law". These views of Paul are paralleled by the views of Biblical law in Christianity.

Paul redefined the people of Israel, those he calls the "true Israel" and the "true circumcision" as those who had faith in the heavenly Christ, thus excluding those he called "Israel after the flesh" from his new covenant (Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:3). He also held the view that the Torah given to Moses was valid "until Christ came," so that even Jews are no longer "under the Torah," nor obligated to follow the commandments or mitzvot as given to Moses (Galatians 3–4).

— Professor James D. Tabor for the Huffington Post [121]

Paul's theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul's own intent. He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved.[32] Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.

E. P. Sanders' publications[122] have since been taken up by Professor James Dunn who coined the phrase "The New Perspective on Paul".[123] N.T. Wright,[124] the Anglican Bishop of Durham, notes a difference in emphasis between Galatians and Romans, the latter being much more positive about the continuing covenant between God and his ancient people than the former. Wright also contends that performing Christian works is not insignificant but rather proof of having attained the redemption of Jesus Christ by grace (free gift received by faith).[Rom. 2:13ff] He concludes that Paul distinguishes between performing Christian works which are signs of ethnic identity and others which are a sign of obedience to Christ.[124]

World to come

According to Bart Ehrman, Paul believed that Jesus would return within his lifetime.[125] Paul expected that Christians who had died in the mean time would be resurrected to share in God's kingdom, and he believed that the saved would be transformed, assuming supernatural bodies.[citation needed]

Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive.[1 Thes. 4:16ff] This suggests an imminent end but he is unspecific about times and seasons, and encourages his hearers to expect a delay.[126] The form of the end will be a battle between Jesus and the man of lawlessness[2 Thess. 2:3][39] whose conclusion is the triumph of Christ.

Role of women

Paul the Apostle, (16th-century) attributed to Lucas van Leyden
Paul the Apostle, (16th-century) attributed to Lucas van Leyden

The second chapter of the first letter to Timothy – one of the six disputed letters – is used by many churches to deny women a vote in church affairs, reject women from serving as teachers of adult Bible classes, prevent them from serving as missionaries, and generally disenfranchise women from the duties and privileges of church leadership.[127]

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

The KJV translation of this passage taken literally says that women in the churches are to have no leadership roles vis-à-vis men.[128]

Fuller Seminary theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk[129] finds evidence in Paul's letters of a much more inclusive view of women. He writes that Romans 16 is a tremendously important witness to the important role of women in the early church. Paul praises Phoebe for her work as a deaconess and Junia who is described by Paul in Scripture as being respected among the Apostles.[Romans 16:7] It is Kirk's observation that recent studies have led many scholars to conclude that the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 ordering women to "be silent" during worship was a later addition, apparently by a different author, and not part of Paul's original letter to the Corinthians.

Other scholars, such as Giancarlo Biguzzi, believe that Paul's restriction on women speaking in 1 Corinthians 14 is genuine to Paul but applies to a particular case where there were local problems of women – who were not allowed in that culture to become educated – asking questions or chatting during worship services. He does not believe it to be a general prohibition on any woman speaking in worship settings since in 1 Corinthians Paul affirms the right (responsibility) of women to prophesy.[1 Cor. 11][130]

Biblical prophecy is more than "fore-telling": two-thirds of its inscripturated form involves "forth-telling", that is, setting the truth, justice, mercy, and righteousness of God against the backdrop of every form of denial of the same. Thus, to speak prophetically was to speak boldly against every form of moral, ethical, political, economic, and religious disenfranchisement observed in a culture that was intent on building its own pyramid of values vis-a-vis God's established system of truth and ethics.[131]

There were women prophets in the highly patriarchal times throughout the Old Testament.[131] The most common term for prophet in the Old Testament is nabi in the masculine form, and nebiah in the Hebrew feminine form, is used six times of women who performed the same task of receiving and proclaiming the message given by God. These women include Miriam, Aaron and Moses' sister,[Exod 15:20] Deborah,[Judges 4:4] the prophet Isaiah's wife,[Isa. 8:3] and Huldah, the one who interpreted the Book of the Law discovered in the temple during the days of Josiah.[2 Kings 22:14] [2 Chron. 34:22] There were false prophetesses just as there were false prophets. The prophetess Noadiah was among those who tried to intimidate Nehemiah.[Neh 6:14] Apparently they held equal rank in prophesying right along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elisha, Aaron, and Samuel.[131]

Kirk's third example of a more inclusive view is Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

— Galatians 3:28

In pronouncing an end within the church to the divisions which are common in the world around it, he concludes by highlighting the fact that "there were New Testament women who taught and had authority in the early churches, that this teaching and authority was sanctioned by Paul, and that Paul himself offers a theological paradigm within which overcoming the subjugation of women is an anticipated outcome".[132]

Classicist Evelyn Stagg and theologian Frank Stagg believe that Paul was attempting to "Christianize" the societal household or domestic codes that significantly oppressed women and empowered men as the head of the household. The Staggs present a serious study of what has been termed the New Testament domestic code, also known as the Haustafel.[133] The two main passages that explain these "household duties" are Paul's letters to the Ephesians 5:22 – 6:5 and to the Colossians 3:18–4:1. An underlying Household Code is also reflected in four additional Pauline letters and 1 Peter: 1 Timothy 2:1ff., 8ff.; 3:1ff., 8ff.; 5:17ff.; 6:1f.; Titus 2:1–10 and 1 Peter 2:13–3:9. Biblical scholars have typically treated the Haustafel in Ephesians as a resource in the debate over the role of women in ministry and in the home.[134]

Margaret MacDonald argues that the Haustafel, particularly as it appears in Ephesians, was aimed at "reducing the tension between community members and outsiders".[135]

E. P. Sanders has labeled the Apostle's remark in 1 Cor. 14:34–36 about women not making any sound during worship as "Paul's intemperate outburst that women should be silent in the churches".[122] Women, in fact, played a very significant part in Paul's missionary endeavors:

  • He became a partner in ministry with the couple Priscilla and Aquila who are specifically named seven times in the New Testament – always by their couple name and never individually. Of the seven times they are named in the New Testament, Priscilla's name appears first in five of those instances, suggesting to some scholars that she was the head of the family unit.[136] They lived, worked, and traveled with the Apostle Paul, becoming his honored, much-loved friends and coworkers in Christ Jesus.[137] In Romans 16:3–4, thought to have been written in 56 or 57, Paul sends his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and proclaims that both of them "risked their necks" to save Paul's life.
  • Chloe was an important member of the church in Corinth[1 Cor. 1:11]
  • Phoebe was a "deacon" and a "benefactor" of Paul and others[Rom. 16:1–2]
  • Romans 16 names eight other women active in the Christian movement, including Junia ("prominent among the apostles"), Mary ("who has worked very hard among you"), and Julia
  • Women were frequently among the major supporters of the new Christian movement[11]

Views on homosexuality

Most Christian traditions[138][139][140] say Paul clearly portrays homosexuality as sinful in two specific locations: Romans 1:26–27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. Another passage addresses the topic more obliquely: 1 Timothy 1:8–11. Since the nineteenth century, however, most scholars have concluded that 1 Timothy, along with 2 Timothy and Titus, are not original to Paul, but rather an unknown Christian writing in Paul's name some time in the late-first-to-mid-2nd century.[141][142]

Influence on Christianity

Statue of St. Paul (1606) by Gregorio Fernández
Statue of St. Paul (1606) by Gregorio Fernández

Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author.[11] Paul declared that "Christ is the end of the law",[143] exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.[32] Paul's writings include the earliest reference to the "Lord's Supper",[144] a rite traditionally identified as the Christian communion or Eucharist. In the East, church fathers attributed the element of election in Romans 9 to divine foreknowledge.[32] The themes of predestination found in Western Christianity do not appear in Eastern theology. Augustine's foundational work on the gospel as a gift (grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination, and on original sin all derives from Paul, especially Romans.[32]

Modern theology

In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans (Ger. Der Römerbrief; particularly in the thoroughly re-written second edition of 1922) Karl Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions.

In addition to the many questions about the true origins of some of Paul's teachings posed by historical figures as noted above, some modern theologians also hold that the teachings of Paul differ markedly from those of Jesus as found in the Gospels.[145] Barrie Wilson states that Paul differs from Jesus in terms of the origin of his message, his teachings and his practices.[146] Some have even gone so far as to claim that, due to these apparent differences in teachings, that Paul was actually no less than the "second founder" of Christianity (Jesus being its first).[147][148]

Visit any church service, Roman Catholic, Protestant or Greek Orthodox, and it is the apostle Paul and his ideas that are central – in the hymns, the creeds, the sermons, the invocation and benediction, and of course, the rituals of baptism and the Holy Communion or Mass. Whether birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage or death, it is predominantly Paul who is evoked to express meaning and significance.

— Professor James D. Tabor for the Huffington post [149]

Robert M. Price, in his book The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul, says "the Pauline epistles reveal themselves to the discerning reader to have exactly the same sort of limitation as the Gospels do: both are collections of fragments and pericopae contributed and fabricated by authors and communities of very different theological leanings".[150]

As in the Eastern tradition in general, Western humanists interpret the reference to election in Romans 9 as reflecting divine foreknowledge.[32]

Church tradition

Various Christian writers have suggested more details about Paul's life.

1 Clement, a letter written by the Roman bishop Clement of Rome around the year 90, reports this about Paul:[151]

By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.

Commenting on this passage, Raymond Brown writes that while it "does not explicitly say" that Paul was martyred in Rome, "such a martyrdom is the most reasonable interpretation".[152] Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the 4th century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero.[153] This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. According to one tradition, the church of San Paolo alle Tre Fontane marks the place of Paul's execution. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, commemorates his martyrdom, and reflects a tradition (preserved by Eusebius) that Peter and Paul were martyred at the same time.[154] The Roman liturgical calendar for the following day now remembers all Christians martyred in these early persecutions; formerly, June 30 was the feast day for St. Paul.[155] Persons or religious orders with special affinity for St. Paul can still celebrate their patron on June 30.[156]

Statue of St. Paul, Community Mausoleum of All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois
Statue of St. Paul, Community Mausoleum of All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois

The apocryphal Acts of Paul and the apocryphal Acts of Peter suggest that Paul survived Rome and traveled further west. Some think that Paul could have revisited Greece and Asia Minor after his trip to Spain, and might then have been arrested in Troas, and taken to Rome and executed.[2 Tim. 4:13][39] A tradition holds that Paul was interred with Saint Peter ad Catacumbas by the via Appia until moved to what is now the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, writes that Pope Vitalian in 665 gave Paul's relics (including a cross made from his prison chains) from the crypts of Lucina to King Oswy of Northumbria, northern Britain. Paul is considered the patron saint of London.

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul is celebrated on January 25.[157]

Muslim views

Muslims have long believed that Paul purposefully corrupted the original revealed teachings of Jesus,[158][159][160] through the introduction of such elements as paganism,[161] the making of Christianity into a theology of the cross,[162] and introducing original sin and the need for redemption.[163]

Sayf ibn Umar claimed that certain rabbis persuaded Paul to deliberately misguide early Christians by introducing what Ibn Hazm viewed as objectionable doctrines into Christianity.[164][165] Ibn Hazm repeated Sayf's claims.[166] Rabbi Jacob Qirqisani also believed that Paul created Christianity by introducing the doctrine of Trinity.[164] Paul has been criticized by some modern Muslim thinkers. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas wrote that Paul misrepresented the message of Jesus,[158] and Rashid Rida accused Paul of introducing shirk (polytheism) into Christianity.[167] Mohammad Ali Jouhar quoted Adolf von Harnack's critical writings of Paul.[168]

In Sunni Muslim polemics, Paul plays the same role (of deliberately corrupting the early teachings of Jesus) as a later Jew, Abdullah ibn Saba', would play in seeking to destroy the message of Islam from within (by introducing proto-Shi'ite beliefs).[169][170][165] Among those who supported this view were scholars Ibn Taymiyyah (who believed while Paul ultimately succeeded, Ibn Saba failed) and Ibn Hazm (who claimed that the Jews even admitted to Paul's sinister purpose).[171]

Jewish views

Jewish interest in Paul is a recent phenomenon. Before the positive historical reevaluations of Jesus by some Jewish thinkers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, he had hardly featured in the popular Jewish imagination and little had been written about him by the religious leaders and scholars. Arguably, he is absent from the Talmud and rabbinical literature, although he makes an appearance in some variants of the medieval polemic Toledot Yeshu (as a spy for the rabbis).[172]

However, with Jesus no longer regarded as the paradigm of gentile Christianity, Paul's position became more important in Jewish historical reconstructions of their religion's relationship with Christianity. He has featured as the key to building barriers (e.g. Heinrich Graetz and Martin Buber) or bridges (e.g. Isaac Mayer Wise and Claude G. Montefiore) in interfaith relations,[173] as part of an intra-Jewish debate about what constitutes Jewish authenticity (e.g. Joseph Klausner and Hans Joachim Schoeps),[174] and on occasion as a dialogical partner (e.g. Richard L. Rubenstein and Daniel Boyarin).[175]

He features in an oratorio (by Felix Mendelssohn), a painting (by Ludwig Meidner) and a play (by Franz Werfel),[176] and there have been several novels about Paul (by Shalom Asch and Samuel Sandmel).[177] Jewish philosophers (including Baruch Spinoza, Leo Shestov, and Jacob Taubes)[178] and Jewish psychoanalysts (including Sigmund Freud and Hanns Sachs)[179] have engaged with the apostle as one of the most influential figures in Western thought. Scholarly surveys of Jewish interest in Paul include those by Hagner (1980),[180] Meissner (1996),[181] and Langton (2010, 2011).[182][183][184]

Literary analysis

A statue of Paul holding a scroll (symbolising the Scriptures) and the sword (symbolising his martyrdom)
A statue of Paul holding a scroll (symbolising the Scriptures) and the sword (symbolising his martyrdom)

Writing styles

British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contended that the Paul as described in the book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also pointed out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the book of Acts.

Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else's words. Moreover, George Shillington writes that the author of Acts most likely created the speeches accordingly and they bear his literary and theological marks.[185] Conversely, Howard Marshall writes that the speeches were not entirely the inventions of the author and while they may not be accurate word-for-word, the author nevertheless records the general idea of them.[186]

F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of the Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the "Apostle to the Gentiles", was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.

Other views

Saint Paul, Byzantine ivory relief, 6th – early 7th century (Musée de Cluny)
Saint Paul, Byzantine ivory relief, 6th – early 7th century (Musée de Cluny)

In the second (and possibly late first) century, Gnosticism was a competing religious tradition to Christianity which shared some elements of theology.

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and an authority on Gnosticism, declined to judge (in her book The Gnostic Paul) whether Paul was actually a Gnostic. Instead, she concentrated on how the Gnostics interpreted Paul's letters and how evidence from gnostic sources may challenge the assumption that Paul wrote his letters to combat "gnostic opponents" and to repudiate their statement that they possess secret wisdom.[187]

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[188] Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus", a "kinsman of Agrippa".[189] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman".

According to Timo Eskola, early Christian theology and discourse was influenced by the Jewish Merkabah tradition.[190] Similarly, Alan Segal and Daniel Boyarin regard Paul's accounts of his conversion experience and his ascent to the heavens as the earliest first person accounts we have of a Merkabah mystic in Jewish or Christian literature. Conversely, Timothy Churchill has argued that Paul's Damascus road encounter does not fit the pattern of Merkabah.[191]

Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."[192] Christian anarchists Leo Tolstoy[193] and Ammon Hennacy[194] take a similar view.

F.F. Powell argues that Paul, in his epistles, made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language.[195] For example, in Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates saying that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though "through a glass dimly",[196] Paul's language closely mirrors this phrase 1 Corinthians 13.

Physical appearance

The New Testament offers little if any information about the physical appearance of Paul, but several descriptions can be found in apocryphal texts. In the Acts of Paul[197] he is described as "A man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked".[198] In the Latin version of the Acts of Paul and Thecla it is added that he had a red, florid face.[198]

In The History of the Contending of Saint Paul his countenance is described as "ruddy with the ruddiness of the skin of the pomegranate".[199] The Acts of Saint Peter confirms that Paul had a bald and shining head, with red hair.[200] As summarised by Barnes,[201] Chrysostom records that Paul's stature was low, his body crooked and his head bald. Lucian, in his Philopatris, describes Paul as "corpore erat parvo (he was small), contracto (contracted), incurvo (crooked), tricubitali (of three cubits, or four feet six)".[202]

Nicephorus claims that Paul was a little man, crooked, and almost bent like a bow, with a pale countenance, long and wrinkled, and a bald head. Pseudo-Chrysostom echoes Lucian's height of Paul, referring to him as "the man of three cubits".[202] Paul at one point compares himself as one who is like "a miscarried/aborted child".[203][not in citation given] This however probably does not suggest some kind of deformity such as being crooked or hunch-backed, that tormented him,[204] but rather his view of his worthiness to become an apostle.

See also



  1. ^ In the Footsteps of Paul. PBS. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  2. ^ Acts 22:3
  3. ^ a b c d Brown, Raymond E. (1997). An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 436. Doubleday, Anchor Bible Reference Library.
  4. ^ a b c d Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. ISBN 978-1-55934-655-9
  5. ^ a b Harris, Stephen L. (2002). Understanding the Bible. McGraw-Hill. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7674-2916-0. He was probably martyred in Rome about 64 – 65 CE.
  6. ^ a b Harris, Stephen L. (2011). Understanding the Bible (eighth ed.). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill. p. G-33. ISBN 978-0-07-340744-9. OCLC 436028175.
  7. ^ "5 أبيب – اليوم الخامس من شهر أبيب – السنكسار".
  8. ^ "Saint Paul, the Apostle". Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Academic Edition. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b Acts 9:11 This is the place where the expression "Saul of Tarsus" comes from.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Powell, Mark A. Introducing the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8010-2868-7
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Sanders, E.P. "Saint Paul, the Apostle". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2013.
  12. ^ The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, p. 577, by James D.G. Dunn: "James, the brother of Jesus, and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures (besides Peter) in first-century Christianity"
  13. ^ Acts 8:1 "at Jerusalem"; Acts 9:13 "at Jerusalem"; Acts 9:21 "in Jerusalem"; Acts 26:10 "in Jerusalem".
  14. ^ Acts 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
    Acts 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
  15. ^ Brown, Raymond E. (1997), An Introduction to the New Testament, p. [407]. Doubleday
  16. ^ Tertullian knew the Letter to the Hebrews as being "under the name of Barnabas" (De Pudicitia, chapter 20 where T. quotes Heb. 6:4–8); Origen, in his now lost Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, is reported by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 6, 25, 13f.) as having written ". . if any Church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Paul's. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others, that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it
  17. ^ The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, publ. Geoffrey Chapman, 1989, chapter 60:2 (at p. 920, col.2)
  18. ^ Chapman, Geoffrey (1989). The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. p. 920 column 2 (Chapter 60). That Paul is neither directly nor indirectly the author is now the view of scholars almost without exception. For details, see Kümmel, I[ntroduction to the] N[ew] T[estament, Nashville, 1975] 392–94, 401–03
  19. ^ Paul's undisputed epistles are 1st Thessalonians, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon. The six letters believed by some but not all to have been written by Paul are Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Paul and His Influence in Early Christianity (United Methodist Church)
  20. ^ Carson, D.A.; Moo, D.G. An Introduction to the New Testament. Nottingham: Apollos/Inter-Varsity Press. 2005 ISBN 978-1-84474-089-5
  21. ^ Aageson, James W. Paul, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Early Church. Hendrickson Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59856-041-1 p. 1
  22. ^ a b "Why did God change Saul's name to Paul?". Catholic Answers. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  23. ^ Marrow, Stanley B. (1 Jan 1986). Paul: His Letters and His Theology: An Introduction to Paul's Epistles. Paulist Press. pp. 5, 7. ISBN 978-0809127443. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  24. ^ Greek lexicon G4569 Σαύλος (Saul)
    Greek lexicon G3972 Παύλος (Paul)
    Hebrew lexicon H7586 שׁאוּל (Shaul/Saul)
  25. ^ Paulus autem et Barnabas demorabantur Antiochiae docentes et evangelizantes cum aliis pluribus verbum Domini
  26. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1911). "St. Paul" . Catholic Encyclopedia. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  27. ^ Oxford University Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary, ISBN 0198642016, entry for Paulus: "a Roman surname (not a praenomen;)"
  28. ^ "The Letter of Paul to the Galatians: An Introduction". Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
  29. ^ Acts 9:4;22:7;26:14
  30. ^ Acts 26:14 Note: This is the only place in the Bible where the reader is told what language Jesus was speaking.
  31. ^ Acts 9:17; 22:13
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Paul, St", Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  33. ^ Martin, Dale B. (2009). "Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature – 5. The New Testament as History". Open Yale Courses. Yale University.
  34. ^ Ehrman, Bart (2000, 2nd ed.). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. pp. 262–265.
  35. ^ White (2007), pp. 145–47
  36. ^ Koester, Helmut (2000). Introduction to the New Testament (2 ed.). New York: de Gruyter. p. 107. ISBN 3110149702. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  37. ^ a b Wright, G. Ernest, Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, (Pleasantville, New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1974).
  38. ^ Montague, George T. The Living Thought of St. Paul, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co. 1966.
  39. ^ a b c d 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be "Trito-Pauline", meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death.
  40. ^ a b Wallace, Quency E. (2002). "The Early Life and Background of Paul the Apostle". The American Journal of Biblical Theology.
  41. ^ Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1977), Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 43
  42. ^ Dale Martin 2009. Introduction to New Testament History and Literature, lecture 14 "Paul as Missionary". Yale University.
  43. ^ Kee, Howard and Franklin W. Young, Understanding The New Testament, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, Inc. 1958, p. 208. ISBN 978-0139365911
  44. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey William (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A–D (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Wbeerdmans)). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 689. ISBN 0-8028-3781-6.
  45. ^ Barnett, Paul (2002). Jesus, the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-8308-2699-8.
  46. ^ L. Niswonger, Richard (1993). New Testament History. Zondervan Publishing Company. p. 200. ISBN 0-310-31201-9.
  47. ^ Aslan, Reza (2013). Zealot (Paperback ed.). New York: Random House. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-8129-8148-3.
  48. ^ McRay (2007), p. 66
  49. ^ Horrell, David G (2006). An Introduction to the Study of Paul. New York: T&T Clark. p. 30. ISBN 0-567-04083-6.
  50. ^ Hengel, Martin and Anna Maria Schwemer, trans. John Bowden. Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years Westminster John Knox Press, 1997. ISBN 0-664-25736-4
  51. ^ Kirsopp Lake, The earlier Epistles of St. Paul, their motive and origin (London 1911), pp. 320–23.
  52. ^ N.T. Wright, "Paul, Arabia and Elijah" (PDF) Archived 2011-04-29 at the Wayback Machine
  53. ^ Martin Hengel, "Paul in Arabia" (PDF) Bulletin for Biblical Research 12.1 (2002) pp. 47–66.
  54. ^ Barnett, Paul The Birth Of Christianity: The First Twenty Years (Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005) ISBN 0-8028-2781-0 p. 200
  55. ^ Ogg, George, Chronology of the New Testament in Peake's Commentary on the Bible (Nelson, 1963)
  56. ^ Barnett p. 83
  57. ^ The only indication as to who is leading is in the order of names. At first, the two are referred to as Barnabas and Paul, in that order. Later in the same chapter the team is referred to as Paul and his companions.
  58. ^ "His quotations from Scripture, which are all taken, directly or from memory, from the Greek version, betray no familiarity with the original Hebrew text (..) Nor is there any indication in Paul's writings or arguments that he had received the rabbinical training ascribed to him by Christian writers (..)""Paul, the Apostle of the Heathen". Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  59. ^ Acts 14:28
  60. ^ Spence Jones, Donald; Exell, Joseph S., eds. (2013). "Acts". The Complete Pulpit Commentary. Volume 8: Act to Philippians. Harrington, DE: Delmarva Publications.
  61. ^ a b c d e Herbermann, Charles George, ed. (1910). "Judaizers". The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church. 8: Infamy–Lapparent. New York: Robert Appleton Company. pp. 537–38.
  62. ^ Acts 15:2ff; Galatians 2:1ff
  63. ^ a b c White (2007), pp. 148–49
  64. ^ Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit, F. F. Bruce, Paternoster 1980, p. 151
  65. ^ White (2007), p. 170
  66. ^ Christianity: an introduction by Alister E. McGrath 2006 ISBN 1-4051-0901-7, pp. 137–41
  67. ^ Mercer Commentary on the New Testament by Watson E. Mills 2003 ISBN 0-86554-864-1 pp. 1109–10
  68. ^ Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville, Tennessee, B&H Publishing Group. p. 400
  69. ^ Acts 18:18
  70. ^ Caldwell, Kenneth M. Catholic Encyclopedia: Nazarite. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  71. ^ Acts 18:19–21
  72. ^ This clause is not found in some major sources: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus or Codex Laudianus
  73. ^ Acts 18:21
  74. ^ Pulpit Commentary on Acts 18 accessed 4 October 2015
  75. ^ Acts 20:34
  76. ^ McRay (2007), p. 185
  77. ^ Ellicott's Commentary for Modern Readers on Romans 1, accessed 7 October 2016
  78. ^ Burton, Ernest De Witt (1977). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. ISBN 978-0-567-05029-8. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  79. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Durazzo (Albania). (1909–05–01). Retrieved 2010–11–19.
  80. ^ 1st Clement – Lightfoot translation
    1 Clem 5:5 "By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, [5:6] having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance".
    Where Lightfoot has "had preached" above, the Hoole translation has "having become a herald".
    See also the endnote(#3) by Arthur Cleveland Coxe on the last page of wikisource 1st Clement regarding Paul's preaching in Britain.
  81. ^ Chrysostom on 2 Tim.4:20 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series I Volume XIII)
  82. ^ Cyril on Paul and gifts of the Holy Ghost (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II Volume VII, Lecture 17, para.26)
  83. ^ The Muratorian Fragment lines 38–39
  84. ^ Paul does not exactly say that this was his second visit. In Galatians, he lists three important meetings with Peter, and this was the second on his list. The third meeting took place in Antioch. He does not explicitly state that he did not visit Jerusalem in between this and his first visit.
  85. ^ Note that Paul only writes that he is on his way to Jerusalem, or just planning the visit. There might or might not have been additional visits before or after this visit, if he ever got to Jerusalem.
  86. ^ Romans 15:25,2 Corinthians 8–9, 1 Corinthians 16:1–3
  87. ^ a b Capes, David B.; Reeves, Rodney; Richards, E. Randolph (2007). "The imprisoned Paul: letters to churches". Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-8308-3941-4.
  88. ^ Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.3.2: the "...Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. ... The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate".
  89. ^ MaGee Greg. "The Origins of the Church at Rome". Accessed 18 Mar 2013.
  90. ^ McDowell, Sean (2016-03-09). The Fate of the Apostles. pp. 67–70. ISBN 978-1317031901.
  91. ^ Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter XII
  92. ^ of Corinth, Dionysius. "Fragments from a Letter to the Roman Church Chapter III". Retrieved 1 June 2015. "Therefore you also have by such admonition joined in close union the churches that were planted by Peter and Paul, that of the Romans and that of the Corinthians: for both of them went to our Corinth, and taught us in the same way as they taught you when they went to Italy; and having taught you, they suffered martyrdom at the same time."
  93. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea. "Church History Book II Chapter 25:8". Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  94. ^ James, Montague Rhodes (1924). "The Acts of Paul". The Apocryphal New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  95. ^ Quintus Septimius Florens, Tertullian. "Prescription Against Heretics Chapter XXXVI". Retrieved 1 June 2015. "Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood; where Peter endures a passion like his Lord's; where Paul wins his crown in a death like John's[the Baptist]; where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile."
  96. ^ of Caesarea, Eusebius. "Church History Book II Chapter 25:5–6". Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  97. ^ Lactantius, Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died, addressed to Donatus Chapter II
  98. ^ a b saint, Jerome. "On Illustrious Men Chapter 5". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  99. ^ John Chrysostom. Concerning Lowliness of Mind 4
  100. ^ Sulpicius Severus, Chronica II.28–29.
  101. ^ a b Ratzinger, Joseph Aloisius (2009). General Audience of 4 February 2009: St Paul's martyrdom and heritage. Paul VI Audience Hall, Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  102. ^ Serena De Leonardis and Stefano Masi (1999). Art and history: Rome and the Vatican. Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 21
  103. ^ presbyter, Caius (Gaius). "Dialogue or Disputation Against Proclus (198 AD) in Eusebius, Church History Book II Chapter 25:6–7". Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  104. ^ Silver, Sandra Sweeny (2013). "Catacombs". Footprints in parchment: Rome versus Christianity 30–313 AD. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-4817-3373-1.[self-published source]
  105. ^ St Paul's tomb unearthed in Rome from BBC News (2006-12-08); Vatican to open Apostle Paul's tomb
  106. ^ "Remains of St. Paul confirmed". Washington Times. June 29, 2009.
  107. ^ a b c The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament by David E. Aune ISBN 1405108258 p. 9 "While seven of the letters attributed to Paul are almost universally accepted as authentic (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), four are just as widely judged to be pseudepigraphical, i.e., written by unknown authors under Paul's name: Ephesians and the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).
  108. ^ a b Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible by James D. G. Dunn (Nov 19, 2003) ISBN 0802837115 p. 1274 "There is general scholarly agreement that seven of the thirteen letters bearing Paul's name are authentic, but his authorship of the other six cannot be taken for granted ... Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon are certainly Paul's own".
  109. ^ a b Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament: An Introduction (Paulist Press, 1988), ISBN 0809129396 pp. 4–7.
  110. ^ Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdelene: the followers of Jesus in history and legend By Bart Ehrman, pp. 98–100
  111. ^ A commentary on the Acts of the Apostles by Charles Stephan Conway Williams, pp. 22, 240
  112. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey William (2009). "Paul the Apostle". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0802837844.
  113. ^ MacDonald, Margaret Y. Sacra Pagina: Colossians and Ephesians. Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8146-5819-2
  114. ^ a b c d e "Epistle to the Colossians – Catholic Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  115. ^ Brown, R.E., The Churches the Apostles Left Behind p. 48.
  116. ^ Barrett, C.K. the Pastoral Epistles pp. 4ff.
  117. ^ a b "Atonement". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  118. ^ Ephesiahs 2:8–9
  119. ^ Galatians 4:4–7
  120. ^ The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (1915), Volume 4, p. 2276 edited by James Orr
  121. ^ "Paul the Jew as Founder of Christianity?". Huffington post. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  122. ^ a b Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977; Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People in 1983
  123. ^ J.D.G. Dunn's Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): 'The New Perspective on Paul' BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.
  124. ^ a b "New Perspectives on Paul". 2003-08-28. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  125. ^ Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, US. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
  126. ^ Rowlands, Christopher. Christian Origins (SPCK 1985) p. 113
  127. ^ Kroeger, Richard C. and Catherine C. I Suffer Not a Woman. Baker Book House, 1992. ISBN 0-8010-5250-5
  128. ^ Wright, N.T. "The Biblical Basis for Women's Service in the Church". Web: Dec. 16, 2009
  129. ^ Kirk, J. R. Daniel. "Faculty – Fuller". Archived from the original on 2012-04-24.
  130. ^ Giguzzi, Giancarlo "Paolo, un apostolo contro le donne?" in Credere Oggi: in dialogo con San Paolo e le sue lettere no. 124, Edizioni Messaggero Padova, 2004, pp. 95–107. at
  131. ^ a b c "Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy". Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
  132. ^ Kirk, J.R. Daniel. Jesus I Have Loved. But Paul? Baker, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4412-3625-8
  133. ^ Stagg, Evelyn and Frank Stagg. Woman in the World of Jesus. Westminster Press, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  134. ^ Gombis, Timothy. "(PDF) A Radically Different New Humanity: The Function of the Haustafel in Ephesians". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 48/2 (June 2005) 317–30. Accessed 14 February 2013.
  135. ^ MacDonald, Margaret. The Pauline Churches: A Socio-historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Writings. SNTSMS 60; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p109
  136. ^ Achtenmeier, P.J. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (revised ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 882. ISBN 0-06-060037-3.
  137. ^ Keller, Marie Noël. Priscilla and Aquila: Paul's Coworkers in Christ Jesus. Liturgical Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8146-5284-8.
  138. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church – Article 6: The sixth commandment". January 10, 1951.
  139. ^ M. Mikhail. "The Coptic Orthodox Church's View on Homosexuality."
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  141. ^ Ehrman, Bart. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press. 2003. p. 393 ISBN 0-19-515462-2. "... when we come to the Pastoral epistles, there is greater scholarly unanimity. These three letters are widely regarded by scholars as non-Pauline."
  142. ^ Collins, Raymond F. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. p. 4 ISBN 0-664-22247-1. "By the end of the twentieth century New Testament scholarship was virtually unanimous in affirming that the Pastoral Epistles were written some time after Paul's death. ... As always some scholars dissent from the consensus view."
  143. ^ Romans 10:4
  144. ^ 1 Corinthians 10:14–17, 11:17–34
  145. ^ Maccoby, Hyam, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity (Harpercollins, October 1987), p. 14.
  146. ^ Wilson, Barrie A. (2008). How Jesus Became Christian. New York; Toronto: St. Martin's Press. pp. chapters 9, 10, 12.
  147. ^ Dwyer, John C., Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity (Paulist Press, July 1985 ), p. 27.
  148. ^ Wrede, William, Paul (trans. Edward Lummis; London: Philip Green, 1907), p. 179.
  149. ^ "Christianity Before Paul". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  150. ^ Robert M. Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle, (Signature books, 2012), p. viii. ISBN 978-1-56085-216-2
  151. ^ The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 5:5–6, translated by J.B. Lightfoot in Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1890). The Apostolic Fathers: A Revised Text with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations, and Translations. Macmillan. p. 274. ISBN 0-8010-5612-8. OCLC 54248207.
  152. ^ Brown, Raymond Edward; John Paul Meier (1983). Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-8091-2532-3.
  153. ^ Hist. Eccl., II.25 -
  154. ^ Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., II.25, where he quotes Dionysius of Corinth to this effect
  155. ^ "Saint Paul, the Apostle. June 30. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints".
  156. ^ "June 30 – St. Paul The Apostle".
  157. ^ "Chambers' The Book of Days". 1869. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  158. ^ a b Peter G. Riddell (2001). Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World: Transmission and Responses (illustrated ed.). University of Hawaii Press. p. 235. ISBN 978-0824824730.
  159. ^ Ed Hindson; Ergun Caner (1 May 2008). The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity. Harvest House Publishers. p. 280. ISBN 978-0736936354.
  160. ^ James De Young (9 Dec 2004). Terrorism, Islam, and Christian Hope: Reflections on 9–11 and Resurging Islam. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 60. ISBN 978-1597520058.
  161. ^ Waardenburg, Jacques, ed. (19 Aug 1999). Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions : A Historical Survey. Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 978-0195355765.
  162. ^ Waardenburg, Jacques, ed. (19 Aug 1999). Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions : A Historical Survey. Oxford University Press. p. 255. ISBN 978-0195355765.
  163. ^ James De Young (9 Dec 2004). Terrorism, Islam, and Christian Hope: Reflections on 9–11 and Resurging Islam. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 64. ISBN 978-1597520058. How did the original truth regarding God (Allah) come to be distorted? The culprit is the apostle Paul. Paul's concepts of original sin and the need for redemption are wrong because they contradict the teaching of the Old Testament (which denies that a son should suffer for the sins of his father; Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29–30; Ezek. 18:19–20); and they contradict the teaching of Jesus (John 9:1–3). Indeed, Paul's "revealed" version of Christianity was "fundamentally different from what the chosen disciples of Jesus knew to be the teaching of the Master, so that there was a serious conflict between Paul and the original followers of Christ" who never deviated from strict monotheism. [under 'Islam's Rejection of Christian Doctrine']
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  165. ^ a b Sean Anthony (25 Nov 2011). The Caliph and the Heretic: Ibn Saba and the Origins of Shi'ism (illustrated ed.). Brill. p. 68. ISBN 978-9004209305.
  166. ^ Ross Brann (21 Dec 2009). Power in the Portrayal: Representations of Jews and Muslims in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain. Princeton University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-1400825240.
  167. ^ Waardenburg (1999), p. 276
  168. ^ Waardenburg (1999), p. 255
  169. ^ Ross Brann (21 Dec 2009). Power in the Portrayal: Representations of Jews and Muslims in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain. Princeton University Press. pp. 65–6. ISBN 978-1400825240.
  170. ^ Zoltan Pall (2013). Lebanese Salafis Between the Gulf and Europe: Development, Fractionalization and Transnational Networks of Salafism in Lebanon. Amsterdam University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-9089644510.
  171. ^ Camilla Adang (1 Jan 1996). Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible: From Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm. Brill. pp. 105–6. ISBN 978-90-04-10034-3.
  172. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 23–56
  173. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 57–96
  174. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 97–153
  175. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 154–76
  176. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 178–209
  177. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 210–30
  178. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 234–62
  179. ^ Langton (2010), pp. 263–78
  180. ^ Hagner, Donald (1980). Hagner, Donald, ed. Paul in Modern Jewish Thought in Pauline Studies. Exeter: Paternoster Press. pp. 143–65.
  181. ^ Meissner, Stefan (1996). Die Heimholung des Ketzers. Tübingen: Mohr.
  182. ^ Langton (2010)
  183. ^ Langton, Daniel (2011). Westerholm, Stephen, ed. Jewish Readings of Paul in Blackwell Companion to Paul. Blackwell. pp. 55–72.
  184. ^ Langton, Daniel (2011). Levine, Amy-Jill, ed. Paul in Jewish Thought in The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Oxford University Press. pp. 585–87.
  185. ^ Shillington, George (2007). Introduction to Luke-Acts. London: T & T Clark. p. 18. ISBN 0-567-03053-9.
  186. ^ Marshall, I. Howard (1980). The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. p. 42. ISBN 0-8028-1423-9.
  187. ^ Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters. Continuum International Publishing, 1992. ISBN 978-1563380396
  188. ^ See "Paul as Herodian", JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110–22.
  189. ^ Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4. at
  190. ^ Timo Eskola. Messiah and the Throne: Jewish Merkabah Mysticism and Early Exaltation Discourse Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001.
  191. ^ Churchill, Timothy W. R. Divine Initiative and the Christology of the Damascus Road Encounter, Eugene: Pickwick, 2010.
  192. ^ The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being his Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private. Published by the Order of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library, from the Original Manuscripts, Deposited in the Department of State, With Explanatory Notes, Tables of Contents, and a Copious Index to Each Volume, as well as a General Index to the Whole, by the Editor H. A. Washington. Vol. VII. Published by Taylor Maury, Washington, D.C., 1854.
  193. ^ Tolsoy, Leo (1882). Church and State. This deviation begins from the time of the Apostle and especially after that hankerer after mastership Paul
  194. ^ Hennacy, Ammon (1970). The Book of Ammon.
  195. ^ Powell, F. F. "Saint Paul's Homage to Plato". Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  196. ^ Plato. Phaedrus 250b. Benjamin Jowett (trans.). For there is no light of justice or temperance or any of the higher ideas which are precious to souls in the earthly copies of them: they are seen through a glass dimly;
  197. ^ Barnstone, Willis. 'The Acts of Paul' in The Other Bible. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984, p. 447.
  198. ^ a b Eisler, Robert. The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1931, p. 448.
  199. ^ Budge, E.A. Wallis. 'The History of the Contending of Saint Paul' in The Contendings of the Twelve Apostles: Being the Histories and the Lives and Martyrdomes and Deaths of the Twelve Apostles and Evangelists. Vol. 2. The English Translation. London: Henry Frowde, 1901, p. 531.
  200. ^ 'The Acts of Saint Peter,' p. 501.[full citation needed]
  201. ^ Barnes, Albert. Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on The New Testament. Vol. 6. II. Corinthians and Galatians. Glasgow, Edinburgh and London: Blackie & Son, 1844, p. 212.
  202. ^ a b The Catholic Encyclopedia,, s.v. Paul, Saint.
  203. ^ 1 Corinthians 15:8.
  204. ^ 2 Corinthians 12:7.


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