Apostle Paul: Wikis


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Paul the Apostle
Ananias restoring the sight of Saint Paul by Pietro da Cortona
Apostle to the Gentiles
Born c. 10 AD,  in Tarsus[Acts 22:3]
Died c 67 AD[1],  in Rome[1]
Venerated in All Christianity
Major shrine Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Feast January 25 (The Conversion of Paul)
February 10 (Feast of Saint Paul's Shipwreck in Malta)
June 29 (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul)
November 18 (Feast of the dedication of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul)
Attributes sword
Patronage Missions; Theologians; Gentile Christians;

Paul of Tarsus, also called Saint Paul, Paul the Apostle, or the Apostle Paul, (Ancient GreekΣαούλ (Saul), Σαῦλος (Saulos), and Παῦλος (Paulos); Latin: Paulus or Paullus; Hebrew: שאול התרסיŠaʾul HaTarsi (Saul of Tarsus)[2] (c.5 BC - c.67 AD),[1] was a Jew[3] who called himself the "Apostle to the Gentiles". According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion to Christianity took place in a profound life-changing experience on the road to Damascus. Together with Simon Peter and James the Just, he is among the most notable of early Christian missionaries.[4]

He was a Roman citizen, a fact which afforded him a somewhat privileged social status with respect to laws, property, and governance.[Acts 22:24-29]

Thirteen epistles in the New Testament are attributed to Paul, though authorship of six of the thirteen is questioned by some scholars.[5] According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author.[5]

Paul's belief in Jesus as the Christ dramatically changed the course of his life. Through his activity and writings, his beliefs eventually changed religious thought throughout the Mediterranean. This leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by gentile groups that adhered to the Judaic "moral code" but relaxed or abandoned the "ritual" obligations of the Mosaic law on the basis of the life and works of Jesus Christ. These communities eventually formed Christianity, see also Biblical law in Christianity.


Sources of information

Conversion of Saint Paul, fresco by Michelangelo

The Book of Acts contains an account of Paul's travels and deeds, his conflicts with pagans and Jews, and his interactions with the other apostles. It was written from a perspective of reconciliation between Pauline Christians and their opponents, and portrays Paul as a law-abiding Jewish Christian and omits his dispute with Peter. A primary source for historical information about Paul's life is the material found in his seven letters. However, these letters contain comparatively little information about Paul's past. It is worth noting that Acts leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his execution in Rome.[6]

Scholars such as Hans Conzelmann and 20th century theologian John Knox (not the 16th century John Knox) dispute the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles.[7][8] Paul's own account of his background is found particularly in Galatians. According to some scholars, the account in Acts of Paul visiting Jerusalem[Acts 11:27-30] contradicts the account in Paul's letters.[6] (Please see the full discussion in the Acts of the Apostles article). Some scholars consider Paul's accounts more reliable than those found in Acts.[9]

Prior to conversion

Paul, whose earlier Hebrew name was Saul,[10] was "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.”[Phil. 3:5] Acts identifies Paul as from Mediterranean city of Tarsus (in present-day south-central Turkey), well-known for its intellectual environment. Acts also claims Paul said he was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee".[Acts 23:6]

According to his own testimony, Paul “violently persecuted” the “church of God” (followers of Jesus) prior to his conversion to Christianity.[11] and was advancing in stature within Judaism's Jerusalem temple leadership before he came to believe that the crucified Jesus, of the line of David, was actually Lord. [Rom. 1:3] Paul's writings give some insight into his thinking regarding his former place in Judaism. He is strongly critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority [2:16-26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9-11] His aggressive and authoritative writing style, even when addressing the supposed "super-apostles", [1 Cor. 11] some of whom certainly had more persuasive claims to apostleship, having known Jesus during his lifetime, suggests that Paul's stature in Judaism and the temple leadership must have been quite high. Paul persistently relied on the persecutions he endured as his claim to proximity to Jesus.

Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by a personal revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:11–16] Paul claimed independence from the "mother church" in Jerusalem[9] (possibly in the Cenacle), but was just as quick to claim agreement with it on the nature and content of the gospel.[Gal. 1:22-24]

Conversion and mission

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

Paul's conversion can be dated to AD 33 - AD 36[12][13][14] by his reference to it in one of his letters.[6] According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion (or metanoia) took place on the road to Damascus where he experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus after which he was temporarily blinded.[Acts 9:1-31] [22:1-22] [26:9-24] This event is the source of the phrase Pauline conversion.


Early ministry

Following his stay in Damascus after his conversion, where Acts states he was healed of his blindness and baptized by Ananias of Damascus,[15] Paul says that he first went to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[Gal. 1:17] 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]

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

There is no explicit written record that Paul had known Jesus personally prior to the Crucifixion. Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:11–12] Paul claimed almost total independence from the "mother church" in Jerusalem.[9]

Paul's narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem.[Gal. 2:1–10] It is not completely known what happened during these so-called "unknown years," but both Acts and Galatians provide some partial details.[16] 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,[17] Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community.[18] According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative centre 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."[Ac. 11:26]

First missionary journey

The writer of the Acts[19] arranges Paul's travels into three separate journeys. The first journey,[Ac 13-14] led initially by Barnabas, takes Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and back to Antioch. On Cyprus, Paul rebukes Elymas the magician[Ac 13:8-12] who was criticizing their teachings. From this point on, Paul is described as the leader of the group.[20] Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul's evangelizing.[21]

Council of Jerusalem

Icon of James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19-29, c. 50 AD.

Most scholars agree that a vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place in AD 49 or 50,[6] described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1.[6] The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised.[22] At this meeting, Peter, James, and John accepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles. See also Circumcision controversy in early Christianity.

Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, in Paul's letters, and some appear in both.[23] For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief[Acts 11:27–30] apparently corresponds to the "first visit" (to Cephas and James only).[Gal. 1:18–20][23] F. F. Bruce suggested that the "fourteen years" could be from Paul's conversion rather than the first visit to Jerusalem.[24]

Incident at Antioch

Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem as understood by Paul, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter, also called the "Incident at Antioch" over Peter's reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch.[25]

Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts: "I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong". Paul reports that 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.[26]

The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "St. Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that St. Peter saw the justice of the rebuke." In contrast, L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity claims: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return."[27]

The primary source for the Incident at Antioch is Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles

This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity.[23] 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
  • Apparently unmentioned.
  • Another[28] 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[29] visit to Jerusalem[30]
    • to deliver the collection for the poor

Resumed mission

Around AD 50-52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth.[6] The reference in Acts to proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date.[6] Here he worked with Silas and Timothy.[6]

After Corinth, the next major center for Paul's activities was Ephesus.[6] Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity from the AD 50s, see also Early centers of Christianity#Western Anatolia. From AD 52 to AD 54, Paul lived here, working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands.[31] Paul's time here was marked by disturbances and possibly imprisonment. Finally, he was forced to leave.[6]

Next, he traveled to Macedonia[32] before going probably to Corinth for three months (AD 56-57) before his final visit to Jerusalem.[6] Though Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, he meant Illyria Graeca[33] that was part of the Roman province of Macedonia.

Arrest and death

Saint Paul's beheading. Painting by Jacopo Tintoretto

Paul arrived in Jerusalem AD 57 with a collection of money for the congregation there.[6] Acts reports that the church welcomed Paul gladly, but it was apparently a proposal of James that led to his arrest.[6] Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by being taken into custody.[6] He was held as a prisoner for two years in Caesarea until a new governor reopened his case in AD 59.[6] When accused of treason, he appealed to Caesar, claiming his right as a citizen of Rome to appear there before a proper court and to defend himself of the charges.[6] Acts reports that he was shipwrecked on an island which some scholars have identified as Malta[6] [Acts 28:1] where he was met by Publius[Acts 28:7] and the islanders, who showed him "unusual kindness".[Acts 28:2] He arrived in Rome c AD 60 and spent two years under house arrest.[6][Acts 28:16] All told, during his ministry the Apostle Paul spent roughly 5 1/2 to 6 years as a prisoner or in prison.

Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.[34] Though not considered a bishop of Rome, Paul is considered highly responsible for bringing Christianity to Rome.

Neither the Bible nor other history says how or when Paul died. According to Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s AD at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey). By comparison, tradition has Peter being crucified upside-down. Paul's Roman citizenship accorded him the more merciful death by beheading.[35]

In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Saint Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus itself was not opened but was examined by means of a probe. It revealed pieces of incense and purple and blue linen as well as small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st to 2nd century. According to the Vatican, this seems to confirm the tradition of the tomb being Saint Paul's.[36]


Thirteen epistles in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to Paul, of which seven are almost universally accepted, three are considered in some academic circles as other than Pauline for textual and grammatical reasons, and the other three are in dispute in those same circles.[37] Paul apparently dictated all his epistles through a secretary (or amanuensis), who would usually paraphrase the gist of his message, as was the practice among first-century scribes.[38][39] These epistles were circulated within the Christian community, where they were read aloud by members of the church along with other works. Paul's epistles were accepted early as scripture and later established as Canon of Scripture. Critical scholars regard Paul's epistles (written 50-62)[21] to be the earliest-written books of the New Testament. They are referenced as early as c. 96 by Clement of Rome.[40]


Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, 16th century (Blaffer Foundation Collection, Houston, Texas).

Paul's letters are largely written to churches which he had visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. He does not tell his correspondents (or the modern reader) much about the life of Jesus; his most explicit references are to the Last Supper[1 Cor. 11:17-34] and the crucifixion and resurrection.[1 Cor. 15] His specific references to Jesus' teaching are likewise sparse,[1 Cor. 7:10-11] [9:14] raising the question, still disputed, as to how consistent his account of the faith is with that of the four canonical Gospels, Acts, and the Epistle of James. The view that Paul's Christ is very different from the historical Jesus has been expounded by Adolf Harnack among many others. Nevertheless, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus of Christian spirituality.

Of the thirteen letters traditionally attributed to Paul and included in the Western New Testament canon, there is little or no dispute that Paul actually wrote at least seven, those being Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, First Thessalonians, and Philemon. Hebrews, which was ascribed to him in antiquity, was questioned even then, never having an ancient attribution, and in modern times is considered by most experts as not by Paul (see also Antilegomena). The authorship of the remaining six Pauline epistles is disputed to varying degrees.

The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned[citation needed] 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. On the other hand, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Ephesians is a very similar letter 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.[41] 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 of Tarsus's thinking.

Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle Paul, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia).
Saint Paul, Byzantine ivory relief, 6th - early 7th century (Musée de Cluny)

The Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus have likewise been put in question as Pauline works. Three main reasons are advanced: first, their difference in vocabulary, style and theology from Paul's acknowledged writings; secondly, the difficulty in fitting them into Paul's biography as we have it.[42] They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul's release and travel thereafter. Finally, the concerns expressed are very much the practical ones as to how a church should function. They are more about maintenance than about mission.

2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned on stylistic grounds, with some[citation needed] noting, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus.


For its theology of atonement, the Christian church owes a unique debt to the writings of Paul.[43] Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from the Law (see Supersessionism) and from sin by Jesus' death and resurrection.[43] His death was an expiation; as well as a propitiation, and by Christ's blood, peace is made between God and man.[43] By baptism, a Christian shares in Jesus' death and in his victory over death, gaining, as a free gift, a new, justified status of sonship.[43]

Relationship with Judaism

Some scholars see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with first-century Judaism (a "Pharisee"), others see him as opposed to first-century Judaism (see Antinomianism in the New Testament and Marcionism), while still others see him as somewhere in between these two extremes, opposed to "Ritual Laws" (see for example 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. See also Expounding of the Law versus Antithesis of the Law.

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.[6] He wrote that the faith of 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.[6] He successfully argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic Law.[6] Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.

E. P. Sanders' publications[44] have since been taken up by Professor James Dunn who coined the phrase "The New Perspective on Paul"[45] and N.T. Wright,[46] the Anglican Bishop of Durham. Wright, noting a difference between Romans and Galatians, the latter being much more positive about the continuing covenant between God and his ancient people than the former, contends that works are not insignificant but rather proof of attaining the redemption of Jesus Christ by grace (free gift received by faith)[Rom. 2:13ff] and that Paul distinguishes between works which are signs of ethnic identity and those which are a sign of obedience to Christ.

World to come

Paul believed that Jesus would return within his lifetime.[10] He 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.[10]

Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. Paul regarded the age as passing and, in such difficult times, he therefore encouraged marriage as a means of happiness.[citation needed] He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive.[1 Thes. 4:16ff] This suggests an imminence of the end but he is unspecific about times and seasons, and encourages his hearers to expect a delay.[47] The form of the end will be a battle between Jesus and the man of lawlessness[2 Thess. 2:3] whose conclusion is the triumph of Christ.

Role of women

A verse in Paul's letter to Timothy[1 Tim 2:12 KJV] is often used as the main biblical authority for prohibiting women from becoming ordained clergy and or holding certain other positions of ministry and leadership in Christianity, though Paul's authorship of this letter is debated. The Letter to Timothy is also often 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.[48] The apparent message of this verse is certainly strange and seemingly anachronistic to 21st century mentality with its emphasis on egalitarianism and non-discrimination.

11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

When the KJV translation of this passage is understood literally, the passage seems to be saying that women are second-class citizens at every level.[49] However, any interpretation of this portion of Scripture must wrestle with the theological, contextual, syntactical, and lexical difficulties embedded within these few words.[50] Fuller Seminary theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk 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 deacon and Junia who was an apostle. Kirk points to recent studies that have led "many scholars" to conclude that the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 excluding women’s participation in worship was a later addition, apparently by a different author, and not part of Paul’s original letter to Corinth. His third example is Galatians 3:28, “in Christ Jesus there is no longer Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female.” 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 "despite what 1 Timothy commands, 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."[51]

The conversion on the way to Damascus, by Caravaggio.

Influence on Christianity

Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author.[5] Paul declared that faith in Christ made the Torah unnecessary for salvation, exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.[6]

Lord's Supper

Paul's writings include the earliest reference to the supper of the Lord, a rite traditionally identified as the Christian Eucharist, as instituted by Christ at the Last Supper.

Some postulate that the Last Supper was actually a Jewish Passover meal, known as a seder.[52][53]

Eastern tradition

In the East, church fathers reduced the element of election in Romans 9 to divine foreknowledge.[6] The themes of predestination found in Western Christianity do not appear in Eastern theology.

Western tradition

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.[6]

In the Reformation, Martin Luther expressed Paul's doctrine of faith most strongly as justification by faith alone.[6] John Calvin developed Augustine's predestination into double predestination.[6]

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. Many theologians believe this work to be the most important theological treatise since Friedrich Schleiermacher's On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers.

As in the Eastern tradition in general, Western humanists interpret the reference to election in Romans 9 as reflecting divine foreknowledge.[6]

Church tradition

The image of Saint Paul in a parish dedicated to him in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubao.

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

1 Clement reports this about Paul:[54]

"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."[55]

Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the fourth century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. The San Paolo alle Tre Fontane church was built on the location where the execution was believed to have taken place. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, may reflect the day of his martyrdom, other sources have articulated the tradition that Peter and Paul died on the same day (and possibly the same year).[56] A number of other sources including Clement of Rome, say that Paul survived Rome and went to "the limits of the west."[57] Some hold the view that he 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] 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. However, Bede's use of the word "relic" was not limited to corporal remains.

Paul, who was quite possibly martyred in Rome, has long been associated with that city and its church. Paul is the patron saint of London.

Speculative views

Facial composite of Saint Paul the Apostle by experts of the LKA NRW, Germany

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton and an authority on Gnosticism, argues that Paul was a Gnostic [58] and that the anti-Gnostic Pastoral Epistles were "pseudo-Pauline" forgeries written to rebut this.

British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contends 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 points 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, some have argued that the speeches of Peter and Paul are too much alike, and that especially Paul's are too distinct from his letters to reflect a true Pauline source.[59] Despite these suspicions, historian-attorney Christopher Price concludes that Luke's style in Acts is representative of those ancient historians known for accurately recording speeches in their works. Examination of several of the major speeches in Acts reveals that while the author smoothed out the Greek in some cases, he clearly relied on preexisting material to reconstruct his speeches. He did not believe himself at liberty to invent material, but attempted to accurately record the reality of the speeches in Acts.[59]

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.

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

Maccoby theorizes that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Paul and claims that Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.[60]

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[61] Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa."[62] 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." This is a minority view in the academic community.

Perhaps the most speculative argument is made by British author Ralph Ellis, whose recent book King Jesus identifies Saul with Flavius Josephus, the first-century historian. In order to achieve this, Ellis has to make Saul very young (14 yrs) on his first evangelical tour of the Mediterranean. [63]

Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."[64] Howard Brenton's 2005 play Paul takes a skeptical view of his conversion.

F.F. Powell argues that Paul made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato in his epistles, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language.[65] For example, in Phaedrus, Socrates says that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though "through a glass dimly."[66] These words are echoed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12.

See also



  1. ^ a b c Harris, p. 411
  2. ^ Bauer lexicon; Acts 13:9, from "The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: According to the Received Greek Text" (University Press, Cambridge 1876)
  3. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, Saint Paul the Apostle, 2008, O.Ed.
  4. ^ "The Canon Debate," McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, page 577, by James D. G. Dunn: "For Peter was probably in fact and effect the bridge-man (pontifex maximus!) who did more than any other to hold together the diversity of first-century Christianity. James the brother of Jesus and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures in first-century Christianity" [Italics original]
  5. ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on St. Paul
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Paul, St" Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  7. ^ Walton, Steve (2000). Leadership and Lifestyle: The Portrait of Paul in the Miletus Speech and 1 Thessalonians. Cambridge University Press. pp. 3. ISBN 0521780063. http://books.google.com/books?id=P9NznB__-E0C&pg=PA3&vq=%22these+scholars+see+the+paul%22&dq=conzelmann+paul+acts&as_brr=3&sig=QanFBxTbjopfPhsPqcWm1PG3lLw. 
  8. ^ Hare, Douglas R. A. (1987), "Introduction", in Knox, John, Chapters in a Life of Paul (Revised ed.), Mercer University Press, pp. xxii, 135 p., ISBN 086554266X, http://books.google.com/books?id=g_42mQjLOVsC&pg=PR10&vq=%22proper+historical+method+requires+us%22&dq=paul+primary+sources+acts+epistles&as_brr=3&sig=RvCwlMrXfqLVQ91D-2OTOOwRWm8 
  9. ^ a b c Harris, p. 316-320
  10. ^ a b c Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
  11. ^ Galatians 1:13-14, Philippians 3:6, and Acts 8:1-3
  12. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey William (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A-D (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Wbeerdmans)). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 689. ISBN 0-8028-3781-6. 
  13. ^ Barnett, Paul (2002). Jesus the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. pp. 21. ISBN 0-8308-2699-8. 
  14. ^ L. Niswonger, Richard (1993). New Testament History. Zondervan Publishing Company. pp. 200. ISBN 0-310-31201-9. 
  15. ^ Hengel, Martin and Anna Maria Schwemer, trans. John Bowden. [Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=PRIKVslqctkC&pg=PA43&vq=%22the+baptism+of+Saul/Paul+in+Damascus%22&dq=paul+baptized+damascus&as_brr=3&sig=DLbwPWBw-HL4JYp6MmR3ZsIxoqg Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years] Westminster John Knox Press, 1997. ISBN 0664257364
  16. ^ Barnett, Paul The Birth Of Christianity: The First Twenty Years (Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005) ISBN 0802827810 p. 200
  17. ^ Ogg, George, Chronology of the New Testament in Peake's Commentary on the Bible (Nelson) 1963)
  18. ^ Barnett p. 83
  19. ^ Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1
  20. ^ Map of first missionary journey
  21. ^ a b Harris
  22. ^ Acts 15:2ff; Galatians 2:1ff
  23. ^ a b c White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins. pp. 148–149. ISBN 0060526556. http://books.google.com/books?id=w4ehxXoIxCUC&pg=PA149&vq=%22Two+more+of+Paul%27s+visits+to+Jerusalem%22&dq=paul+%22visits+to+jerusalem%22+acts+letters&as_brr=3&sig=Lir18QcyIN5vGQhjG0W8m8KwIqI. 
  24. ^ Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit, F. F. Bruce, Paternoster 1980, p.151
  25. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers see section titled: "The Incident At Antioch"
  26. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers: "On their arrival Peter, who up to this had eaten with the Gentiles, "withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision," and by his example drew with him not only the other Jews, but even Barnabas, Paul's fellow-labourer."
  27. ^ White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 170. ISBN 0060526556. http://books.google.com/books?id=w4ehxXoIxCUC&pg=PA170&vq=%22total+failure+of+political+bravado%22&dq=paul+%22visits+to+jerusalem%22+acts+letters&as_brr=3&sig=EZ2xNofTh3Rw11WHiHXs-iVqhR8. 
  28. ^ 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 claim that he did not visit Jerusalem in between this and his first visit.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Romans 15:25,8-9; 2Corinthians 8–9, 1 Corinthians 16:1–3
  31. ^ "Paul, St." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  32. ^ Paul: His Story by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor,page 247
  33. ^ A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
  34. ^ Ireneaus 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."
  35. ^ Lashway, Calvin. "HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?" Web: HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?
  36. ^ St Paul's tomb unearthed in Rome from BBC News (2006–12–08); http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4442169,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf
  37. ^ p. 316-320
  38. ^ Harris, p. 316-320. Harris cites Galatians 6:11, Romans 16:22, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 19
  39. ^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: "At this point[Gal. 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name([2 Thes. 2:2]; 2 Thes. 3:17 it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries... In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
  40. ^ Clement 47:1
  41. ^ Brown, R.E., The Churches the Apostles left behind p.48.
  42. ^ Barrett, C.K. the Pastoral Epistles p.4ff.
  43. ^ a b c d "Atonement." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  44. ^ Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977; Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People in 1983
  45. ^ J.D.G. Dunn's Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): 'The New Perspective on Paul' BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.
  46. ^ New Perspectives on Paul
  47. ^ Rowlands, Christopher. Christian Origins (SPCK 1985) p.113
  48. ^ Kroeger, Richard C. and Catherine C. I Suffer Not a Woman. Baker Book House, 1992. ISBN 0801052505
  49. ^ Wright, N.T. "The Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church." Web: <www2.cbeinternational.org/CBE_InfoPack/pdf/wright_biblical_basis.pdf Biblical Basis for Women’s Service> 16 Dec. 2009
  50. ^ Moore, Terri D. "Chapter Six: Conclusions on 1 Timothy 2:15." bible.org Aug. 30, 2009:
  51. ^ Kirk, J.R. Daniel. "Was Paul a Misogynist?" Web:
  52. ^ Was the Last Supper a Seder? Jews for Judaism FAQ
  53. ^ The Illustrated Guide to the Bible J. R. Porter pg.192
  54. ^ 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. pp. 274. OCLC 54248207. http://earlychristianwritings.com/text/1clement-lightfoot.html. 
  55. ^ Brown, Raymond Edward; John Paul Meier (1983). Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. pp. 124. ISBN 0809125323. http://books.google.com/books?id=_6H3XKLXGvYC&pg=PA124&vq=%22such+a+martyrdom+is+the+most+reasonable+interpretation%22&dq=paul+clement+death&as_brr=3&sig=CcsRPhc3hLHN-RKGuHtE1mVQsyk. 
  56. ^ Lactanius, John Chrysostom, Sulpicius Severus all agree with Eusebius' claim that Peter and Paul died under Nero. Lactantius, Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died II; John Chrysostom, Concerning Lowliness of Mind 4; Sulpicius Severus, Chronica II.28–29
  57. ^ The apocryphal Acts of Paul, the apocryphal Acts of Peter, the Muratorian Fragment and First Epistle of Clement 5:6 all say Paul survived Rome and traveled west
  58. ^ Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. Vintage Publishers, 1989, p.62
  59. ^ a b Price, Christopher. "The Speeches in Acts." Christian Colligation of Apologetics Debate Research & Evangelism, 2003. Web: The Speeches in Acts
  60. ^ Maccoby,Ch. 1
  61. ^ See Paul as Herodian, JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110-122. http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/eisenman.html
  62. ^ Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4. http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-20.htm
  63. ^ Ellis, Ralph Ralph Ellis Homage .
  64. ^ 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 Nites, 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.
  65. ^ Powell, F. F.Saint Paul's Homage to Plato, worldandi.com retrieved on Nov. 16, 2008.
  66. ^ Plato Phaedrus translated by Benjamin Jowett


  • Aulén, Gustaf. Christus Victor (SPCK 1931)
  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Series, 1997. ISBN 0–385–24767–2.
  • Brown, Raymond E. The Church the Apostles left behind(Chapman 1984)
  • Bruce, F.F. 'Is the Paul of Acts the Real Paul?' Bulletin John Rylands Library 58 (1976) 283–305
  • Bruce, F.F., Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (ISBN 0–8028–4778–1)
  • Conzelmann, Hans, the Acts of the Apostles—a Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Augsburg Fortress 1987)
  • Davies, W. D. "The Apostolic Age and the Life of Paul" in Matthew Black, ed. Peake's Commentary on the Bible. London: T. Nelson, 1962. ISBN 0840750196
  • Davies, W. D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. S.P.C.K., 3rd ed., 1970. ISBN 0281024499
  • Dunn, James D.G., 1990, Jesus, Paul and the Law Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0664250955
  • Hanson, Anthony T. Studies in Paul's Technique and Theology. Eerdmans, 1974. ISBN 0802834523
  • Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. ISBN-13: 9781559346559
  • Holzbach, Mathis Christian, Die textpragmat. Bedeutung d. Kündereinsetzungen d. Simon Petrus u.d. Saulus Paulus im lukan. Doppelwerk, in: Jesus als Bote d. Heils. Stuttgart 2008, 166-172.
  • Irenaeus, Against Heresies, i.26.2
  • Maccoby, Hyam. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity. New York: Harper & Row, 1986. ISBN 0–06–015582–5.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald, 1983. The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Jesus and Paul: Parallel lives (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2007) ISBN 0814651739
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1995) ISBN 0814658458
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) ISBN 0-19-826749-5
  • Ogg, George. “Chronology of the New Testament.” Matthew Black, ed. ‘’Peake's Commentary on the Bible.’’ Nelson, 1962. ISBN 0840750196
  • Rashdall, Hastings, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (1919)
  • Ruef, John, Paul's First letter to Corinth (Penguin 1971)
  • Sanders, E.P., Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977)
  • Segal, Alan F. Paul, the Convert, (New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-300-04527-1.
  • Segal, Alan F., "Paul, the Convert and Apostle" in Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World (Harvard University Press 1986).

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Was born about the same time as Jesus. His circumcision-name was Saul, and probably the name Paul was also given to him in infancy "for use in the Gentile world," as "Saul" would be his Hebrew home-name. He was a native of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the south-east of Asia Minor. That city stood on the banks of the river Cydnus, which was navigable thus far; hence it became a centre of extensive commercial traffic with many countries along the shores of the Mediterranean, as well as with the countries of central Asia Minor. It thus became a city distinguished for the wealth of its inhabitants.

Tarsus was also the seat of a famous university, higher in reputation even than the universities of Athens and Alexandria, the only others that then existed. Here Saul was born, and here he spent his youth, doubtless enjoying the best education his native city could afford. His father was of the straitest sect of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and unmixed Jewish blood (Acts 23:6; Phil 3:5). We learn nothing regarding his mother; but there is reason to conclude that she was a pious woman, and that, like-minded with her husband, she exercised all a mother influence in moulding the character of her son, so that he could afterwards speak of himself as being, from his youth up, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phil 3:6).

We read of his sister and his sister's son (Acts 23:16), and of other relatives (Rom 16:7, 11, 12). Though a Jew, his father was a Roman citizen. How he obtained this privilege we are not informed. "It might be bought, or won by distinguished service to the state, or acquired in several other ways; at all events, his son was freeborn. It was a valuable privilege, and one that was to prove of great use to Paul, although not in the way in which his father might have been expected to desire him to make use of it." Perhaps the most natural career for the youth to follow was that of a merchant. "But it was decided that...he should go to college and become a rabbi, that is, a minister, a teacher, and a lawyer all in one."

According to Jewish custom, however, he learned a trade before entering on the more direct preparation for the sacred profession. The trade he acquired was the making of tents from goats' hair cloth, a trade which was one of the commonest in Tarsus.

His preliminary education having been completed, Saul was sent, when about thirteen years of age probably, to the great Jewish school of sacred learning at Jerusalem as a student of the law. Here he became a pupil of the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel, and here he spent many years in an elaborate study of the Scriptures and of the many questions concerning them with which the rabbis exercised themselves. During these years of diligent study he lived "in all good conscience," unstained by the vices of that great city.

After the period of his student-life expired, he probably left Jerusalem for Tarsus, where he may have been engaged in connection with some synagogue for some years. But we find him back again at Jerusalem very soon after the death of our Lord. Here he now learned the particulars regarding the crucifixion, and the rise of the new sect of the "Nazarenes."

For some two years after Pentecost, Christianity was quietly spreading its influence in Jerusalem. At length Stephen, one of the seven deacons, gave forth more public and aggressive testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, and this led to much excitement among the Jews and much disputation in their synagogues. Persecution arose against Stephen and the followers of Christ generally, in which Saul of Tarsus took a prominent part. He was at this time probably a member of the great Sanhedrin, and became the active leader in the furious persecution by which the rulers then sought to exterminate Christianity.

But the object of this persecution also failed. "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." The anger of the persecutor was thereby kindled into a fiercer flame. Hearing that fugitives had taken refuge in Damascus, he obtained from the chief priest letters authorizing him to proceed thither on his persecuting career. This was a long journey of about 130 miles, which would occupy perhaps six days, during which, with his few attendants, he steadily went onward, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." But the crisis of his life was at hand. He had reached the last stage of his journey, and was within sight of Damascus. As he and his companions rode on, suddenly at mid-day a brilliant light shone round them, and Saul was laid prostrate in terror on the ground, a voice sounding in his ears, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The risen Saviour was there, clothed in the vesture of his glorified humanity. In answer to the anxious inquiry of the stricken persecutor, "Who art thou, Lord?" he said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest" (Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15).

This was the moment of his conversion, the most solemn in all his life. Blinded by the dazzling light (Acts 9:8), his companions led him into the city, where, absorbed in deep thought for three days, he neither ate nor drank (9:11). Ananias, a disciple living in Damascus, was informed by a vision of the change that had happened to Saul, and was sent to him to open his eyes and admit him by baptism into the Christian church (9:11-16). The whole purpose of his life was now permanently changed.

Immediately after his conversion he retired into the solitudes of Arabia (Gal 1:17), perhaps of "Sinai in Arabia," for the purpose, probably, of devout study and meditation on the marvellous revelation that had been made to him. "A veil of thick darkness hangs over this visit to Arabia. Of the scenes among which he moved, of the thoughts and occupations which engaged him while there, of all the circumstances of a crisis which must have shaped the whole tenor of his after-life, absolutely nothing is known. 'Immediately,' says St. Paul, 'I went away into Arabia.' The historian passes over the incident [comp. Acts 9:23 and 1 Kg 11:38, 39]. It is a mysterious pause, a moment of suspense, in the apostle's history, a breathless calm, which ushers in the tumultuous storm of his active missionary life." Coming back, after three years, to Damascus, he began to preach the gospel "boldly in the name of Jesus" (Acts 9:27), but was soon obliged to flee (9:25; 2Cor 11:33) from the Jews and betake himself to Jerusalem. Here he tarried for three weeks, but was again forced to flee (Acts 9:28, 29) from persecution. He now returned to his native Tarsus (Gal 1:21), where, for probably about three years, we lose sight of him. The time had not yet come for his entering on his great life-work of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.

At length the city of Antioch, the capital of Syria, became the scene of great Christian activity. There the gospel gained a firm footing, and the cause of Christ prospered. Barnabas (q.v.), who had been sent from Jerusalem to superintend the work at Antioch, found it too much for him, and remembering Saul, he set out to Tarsus to seek for him. He readily responded to the call thus addressed to him, and came down to Antioch, which for "a whole year" became the scene of his labours, which were crowned with great success. The disciples now, for the first time, were called "Christians" (Acts 11:26).

The church at Antioch now proposed to send out missionaries to the Gentiles, and Saul and Barnabas, with John Mark as their attendant, were chosen for this work. This was a great epoch in the history of the church. Now the disciples began to give effect to the Master's command: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

The three missionaries went forth on the first missionary tour. They sailed from Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch, across to Cyprus, some 80 miles to the south-west. Here at Paphos, Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, was converted, and now Saul took the lead, and was ever afterwards called Paul. The missionaries now crossed to the mainland, and then proceeded 6 or 7 miles up the river Cestrus to Perga (Acts 13:13), where John Mark deserted the work and returned to Jerusalem. The two then proceeded about 100 miles inland, passing through Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia. The towns mentioned in this tour are the Pisidian Antioch, where Paul delivered his first address of which we have any record (13:16-51; comp. 10:30-43), Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They returned by the same route to see and encourage the converts they had made, and ordain elders in every city to watch over the churches which had been gathered. From Perga they sailed direct for Antioch, from which they had set out.

After remaining "a long time", probably till A.D. 50 or 51, in Antioch, a great controversy broke out in the church there regarding the relation of the Gentiles to the Mosaic law. For the purpose of obtaining a settlement of this question, Paul and Barnabas were sent as deputies to consult the church at Jerusalem. The council or synod which was there held (Acts 15) decided against the Judaizing party; and the deputies, accompanied by Judas and Silas, returned to Antioch, bringing with them the decree of the council.

After a short rest at Antioch, Paul said to Barnabas: "Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do." Mark proposed again to accompany them; but Paul refused to allow him to go. Barnabas was resolved to take Mark, and thus he and Paul had a sharp contention. They separated, and never again met. Paul, however, afterwards speaks with honour of Barnabas, and sends for Mark to come to him at Rome (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11).

Paul took with him Silas, instead of Barnabas, and began his second missionary journey about A.D. 51. This time he went by land, revisiting the churches he had already founded in Asia. But he longed to enter into "regions beyond," and still went forward through Phrygia and Galatia (16:6). Contrary to his intention, he was constrained to linger in Galatia (q.v.), on account of some bodily affliction (Gal 4:13, 14). Bithynia, a populous province on the shore of the Black Sea, lay now before him, and he wished to enter it; but the way was shut, the Spirit in some manner guiding him in another direction, till he came down to the shores of the AEgean and arrived at Troas, on the north-western coast of Asia Minor (Acts 16:8). Of this long journey from Antioch to Troas we have no account except some references to it in his Epistle to the Galatians (4:13).

As he waited at Troas for indications of the will of God as to his future movements, he saw, in the vision of the night, a man from the opposite shores of Macedonia standing before him, and heard him cry, "Come over, and help us" (Acts 16:9). Paul recognized in this vision a message from the Lord, and the very next day set sail across the Hellespont, which separated him from Europe, and carried the tidings of the gospel into the Western world. In Macedonia, churches were planted in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. Leaving this province, Paul passed into Achaia, "the paradise of genius and renown." He reached Athens, but quitted it after, probably, a brief sojourn (17:17-31). The Athenians had received him with cold disdain, and he never visited that city again. He passed over to Corinth, the seat of the Roman government of Achaia, and remained there a year and a half, labouring with much success. While at Corinth, he wrote his two epistles to the church of Thessalonica, his earliest apostolic letters, and then sailed for Syria, that he might be in time to keep the feast of Pentecost at Jerusalem. He was accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, whom he left at Ephesus, at which he touched, after a voyage of thirteen or fifteen days. He landed at Caesarea, and went up to Jerusalem, and having "saluted the church" there, and kept the feast, he left for Antioch, where he abode "some time" (Acts 18:20-23).

He then began his third missionary tour. He journeyed by land in the "upper coasts" (the more eastern parts) of Asia Minor, and at length made his way to Ephesus, where he tarried for no less than three years, engaged in ceaseless Christian labour. "This city was at the time the Liverpool of the Mediterranean. It possessed a splendid harbour, in which was concentrated the traffic of the sea which was then the highway of the nations; and as Liverpool has behind her the great towns of Lancashire, so had Ephesus behind and around her such cities as those mentioned along with her in the epistles to the churches in the book of Revelation, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. It was a city of vast wealth, and it was given over to every kind of pleasure, the fame of its theatres and race-course being world-wide" (Stalker's Life of St. Paul). Here a "great door and effectual" was opened to the apostle. His fellow-labourers aided him in his work, carrying the gospel to Colosse and Laodicea and other places which they could reach.

Very shortly before his departure from Ephesus, the apostle wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians (q.v.). The silversmiths, whose traffic in the little images which they made was in danger (see DEMETRIUS �T0001013), organized a riot against Paul, and he left the city, and proceeded to Troas (2Cor 2:12), whence after some time he went to meet Titus in Macedonia. Here, in consequence of the report Titus brought from Corinth, he wrote his second epistle to that church. Having spent probably most of the summer and autumn in Macedonia, visiting the churches there, specially the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, probably penetrating into the interior, to the shores of the Adriatic (Rom 15:19), he then came into Greece, where he abode three month, spending probably the greater part of this time in Corinth (Acts 20:2). During his stay in this city he wrote his Epistle to the Galatians, and also the great Epistle to the Romans. At the end of the three months he left Achaia for Macedonia, thence crossed into Asia Minor, and touching at Miletus, there addressed the Ephesian presbyters, whom he had sent for to meet him (Acts 20:17), and then sailed for Tyre, finally reaching Jerusalem, probably in the spring of A.D. 58.

While at Jerusalem, at the feast of Pentecost, he was almost murdered by a Jewish mob in the temple. (See TEMPLE, HEROD'S �T0003611.) Rescued from their violence by the Roman commandant, he was conveyed as a prisoner to Caesarea, where, from various causes, he was detained a prisoner for two years in Herod's praetorium (Acts 23:35). "Paul was not kept in close confinement; he had at least the range of the barracks in which he was detained. There we can imagine him pacing the ramparts on the edge of the Mediterranean, and gazing wistfully across the blue waters in the direction of Macedonia, Achaia, and Ephesus, where his spiritual children were pining for him, or perhaps encountering dangers in which they sorely needed his presence. It was a mysterious providence which thus arrested his energies and condemned the ardent worker to inactivity; yet we can now see the reason for it. Paul was needing rest. After twenty years of incessant evangelization, he required leisure to garner the harvest of experience...During these two years he wrote nothing; it was a time of internal mental activity and silent progress" (Stalker's Life of St. Paul).

At the end of these two years Felix (q.v.) was succeeded in the governorship of Palestine by Porcius Festus, before whom the apostle was again heard. But judging it right at this crisis to claim the privilege of a Roman citizen, he appealed to the emperor (Acts 25:11). Such an appeal could not be disregarded, and Paul was at once sent on to Rome under the charge of one Julius, a centurion of the "Augustan cohort." After a long and perilous voyage, he at length reached the imperial city in the early spring, probably, of A.D. 61. Here he was permitted to occupy his own hired house, under constant military custody. This privilege was accorded to him, no doubt, because he was a Roman citizen, and as such could not be put into prison without a trial. The soldiers who kept guard over Paul were of course changed at frequent intervals, and thus he had the opportunity of preaching the gospel to many of them during these "two whole years," and with the blessed result of spreading among the imperial guards, and even in Caesar's household, an interest in the truth (Phil 1:13). His rooms were resorted to by many anxious inquirers, both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23, 30, 31), and thus his imprisonment "turned rather to the furtherance of the gospel," and his "hired house" became the centre of a gracious influence which spread over the whole city. According to a Jewish tradition, it was situated on the borders of the modern Ghetto, which has been the Jewish quarters in Rome from the time of Pompey to the present day. During this period the apostle wrote his epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon, and probably also to the Hebrews.

This first imprisonment came at length to a close, Paul having been acquitted, probably because no witnesses appeared against him. Once more he set out on his missionary labours, probably visiting western and eastern Europe and Asia Minor. During this period of freedom he wrote his First Epistle to Timothy and his Epistle to Titus. The year of his release was signalized by the burning of Rome, which Nero saw fit to attribute to the Christians. A fierce persecution now broke out against the Christians. Paul was siezed, and once more conveyed to Rome a prisoner. During this imprisonment he probably wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy, the last he ever wrote. "There can be little doubt that he appered again at Nero's bar, and this time the charge did not break down. In all history there is not a more startling illustration of the irony of human life than this scene of Paul at the bar of Nero. On the judgment-seat, clad in the imperial purple, sat a man who, in a bad world, had attained the eminence of being the very worst and meanest being in it, a man stained with every crime, a man whose whole being was so steeped in every nameable and unnameable vice, that body and soul of him were, as some one said at the time, nothing but a compound of mud and blood; and in the prisoner's dock stood the best man the world possessed, his hair whitened with labours for the good of men and the glory of God. The trial ended: Paul was condemned, and delivered over to the executioner. He was led out of the city, with a crowd of the lowest rabble at his heels. The fatal spot was reached; he knelt beside the block; the headsman's axe gleamed in the sun and fell; and the head of the apostle of the world rolled down in the dust" (probably A.D. 66), four years before the fall of Jerusalem.

Letters Commonly Ascribed to Paul

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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