Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul, was an eventual follower of Jesus (though not one of the Twelve Apostles) who professed the gospel of Christ to the first-century world.
Paul is commonly regarded as one of the most influential figures of the Apostolic Age. He founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his standing as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to counsel to both Jewish and Roman audiences.
According to records in the New Testament and before his conversion, Paul was committed to persecuting the early followers of Jesus in the region of Jerusalem. In the account of the Acts of the Apostles (often indicated simply as Acts), Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus with the purpose 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 renewed by Ananias of Damascus and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. Approximately half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.
Paul's birthplace was not the land Christ walked but the Hellenistic city of Tarsus, the chief city of the Roman province of Cilicia. Tarsus, modern-day Tersous in southeastern Turkey, has never been systematically excavated to first-century levels, so extensive archaeological data are lacking. Literary sources confirm that Paul's native city was a hotbed of Roman imperial activity and Hellenistic culture. Yet his writings show no conscious imitation, and scarcely any significant influence, of the pagan leading lights of the era. Instead, as Paul himself suggests, he was a Jew in terms of his circumcision, Benjaminite lineage, Hebrew ancestry, and Pharisaic training.
Paul, in the New Testament known by his Hebrew name Saul until Acts 13:9, was apparently educated from boyhood in Jerusalem, not Tarsus. It is not clear whether his family moved to Jerusalem (where both Greek and Jewish schooling was offered) while he was young, or whether Paul was simply sent there for his education. He studied under the ranking rabbi of the era, Gamaliel. His exegesis of the Old Testament bears testimony to his rabbinic training. Paul was at least trilingual. His letters attest to an excellent command of Greek, while life and studies in Palestine presuppose knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic. Facility in Latin cannot be ruled out. His writings show an intimate knowledge of the Greek Old Testament, though there is no reason to suppose that he was ignorant of or unskilled in Hebrew.
At the center of Paul's theology is God. Several doxological statements capture Paul's majestic vision. God's wisdom and knowledge transcend human ken; he is infinitely wise and all-knowing; all things are "from him and through him and to him". "To him be the glory forever" might well be the best summary of Paul's theology yet suggested.
"By the command of the eternal God", the gospel of Jesus Christ is made known "so that all nations might believe and obey him". God comforts the afflicted and raises the dead. He is faithful; his "solid foundation stands firm". He grants believers his own Spirit as a downpayment of greater glory in the coming age. The "living God who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them" is, quite simply, "the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God". Or again, he is "the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see". No wonder Paul, like his master Jesus before him, lays such great stresses on hearing, obeying, and proclaiming the Lord God.
Discover the most popular Bible Verses attributed to Paul and about Paul’s life from this collection of scripture quotes!
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9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem,
16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: "Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen.
43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.
9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,
11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"
12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,
19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.
12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,
25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are."
38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.