Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
Through his evangelistic activity, church leadership, theological insights and extensive writings, Paul had an immeasurable influence on the development of Christianity. He spread the gospel and planted churches regardless of national or racial barriers, and in so doing he changed the traditional views of God-fearing people. He interpreted Christ’s life and developed Christ’s teachings in a way that provided a firm theological framework for Christian faith and practice.
Background and conversion
Paul’s original name was Saul. He was a full-blooded Jew, born in Tarsus in south-east Asia Minor ( Acts 9:11; Acts 22:3; Philippians 3:5). He inherited from birth the privilege of Roman citizenship ( Acts 16:37; Acts 22:26-28; see Rome ), and he grew up to speak, read and write Greek and Hebrew fluently ( Acts 21:37; Acts 21:40). The Greek influence in his education gave him the ability to think clearly and systematically, and the Hebrew influence helped to create in him a character of moral uprightness ( Philippians 3:6).
As a religiously zealous young man, Paul moved to Jerusalem, where he received instruction in the Jewish law according to the strict traditions of the Pharisees. His teacher was the prominent rabbi, Gamaliel ( Acts 22:3; Acts 23:6; Acts 26:5). Like all Jewish young men he learnt a trade, in his case, tent-making ( Acts 18:3).
Zeal for the Jewish law stirred up Paul against the Christians. He considered that Stephen was a rebel against the law and that therefore he deserved execution ( Acts 6:13; Acts 7:58; Acts 8:1; Philippians 3:6). With the support of the Jewish Council (the Sanhedrin), Paul then led the persecution against the Christians, imprisoning men and women alike ( Acts 8:3; Acts 9:1-2; Acts 26:10-11; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:13).
Paul considered the Christians to be guilty of blasphemy in believing in a Messiah who died on a cross; for a person who died on a cross was under God’s curse ( Acts 26:11; Galatians 3:13). But while on the way to Damascus to capture Christians, Paul had a dramatic experience that changed him completely. Jesus’ personal revelation to Paul convinced him that Jesus was alive ( Acts 9:3-5; Acts 22:14; Acts 26:8; Acts 26:15; 1 Corinthians 9:1). This meant that Jesus was no longer under God’s curse. He had died, not because he was a lawbreaker, but because he willingly bore the curse on behalf of those who were. Jesus’ resurrection was now the unmistakable evidence of God’s approval of him ( Romans 1:4; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 6:14).
Linked with Paul’s conversion was the Lord’s revelation that he intended to use Paul as his messenger to the Gentiles ( Acts 9:15; Acts 26:15-18; Galatians 1:11-16). From that time on, Paul never ceased to wonder at the work of God in saving the opponent of Christianity and turning him into an ambassador for Christianity. It gave Paul an appreciation of the grace of God that affected every aspect of his life ( 1 Corinthians 15:8-10; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:12-17). (The date of Paul’s conversion was about AD 32.)
Preparation for future ministry
After his conversion, Paul remained for a while in Damascus, trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was Lord and Messiah. Part of the next three years Paul spent in Arabia, after which he returned to Damascus. When violent opposition from the Jews threatened his life, he escaped to Jerusalem ( Acts 9:22-26; Galatians 1:17-18). Most of the Christians in Jerusalem doubted whether Paul’s conversion was genuine. Not so Barnabas. After he introduced Paul to Peter and James the Lord’s brother, the tension eased ( Acts 9:26-28; Galatians 1:19-20). But attempts by the Jews on his life again forced him to flee. He sailed from Caesarea to northern Syria, from where he went overland through Cilicia to Tarsus ( Acts 9:29-30; Acts 22:17-21; Galatians 1:21).
Paul’s next visit to Jerusalem was eleven years later (cf. Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:1). Little is known of those eleven years, though they must have been important years of preparation for Paul’s future work. Paul spent the final year of this preparation period at Antioch in Syria. In response to an invitation from Barnabas, he had come from Tarsus to help the newly formed Antioch church ( Acts 11:25-26). At the end of the year, Paul and Barnabas took a gift of money from Antioch to Jerusalem to help the poor Christians there ( Acts 11:29-30; Galatians 2:1).
Peter, John and James the Lord’s brother, as representatives of the Jerusalem church, received the gift from the Antioch church and expressed their complete fellowship with the mission of Paul and Barnabas to the Gentiles ( Galatians 2:9-10). Paul and Barnabas then returned to Antioch, taking with them the young man John Mark ( Acts 12:25).
Breaking into new territory
Having a desire to spread the gospel into the unevangelized areas to the west, the Antioch church sent off Paul and Barnabas as its missionaries ( Acts 13:1-2; about AD 46). Accompanied by John Mark (who had gone with them as their assistant), Paul and Barnabas went first to Cyprus, where they proclaimed the message from one end of the island to the other ( Acts 13:4-6).
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
1. Sources.-The documents of the life of St. Paul are the Book of Acts, of which his biography occupies nearly two-thirds, and his own Epistles. To these, however, the student has to add all he can of the history of the Jews and their sacred books, as well as of the state of the world in the time of St. Paul. New sources of information are constantly being opened up, as, e.g., by travel and exploration in the countries and cities in which St. Paul laboured, or by fresh knowledge of Roman law, either in general or in special application to the Jews.
i. The Book of Acts.-A first glance into the Book of Acts reveals that it is a continuation of a previous treatise, which is without difficulty identified as the Gospel according to St. Luke. From several passages in the book where the author writes in the first person plural ( Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-15; Acts 21:1-18; Acts 27:1 to Acts 28:15 -frequently referred to as the ‘we’ passages), it is manifest that he must, at certain stages, have been a companion of St. Paul on his missionary journeys; and a comparison of these with the references to St. Luke as a companion in the Epistles points to the conclusion that he was the man. This is also the testimony of tradition, and it is generally, though not universally, accepted.
(a) Purpose.-The Tübingen School conceived Acts to be a work written for a purpose-that of reconciling the rivalry between the Petrine and the Pauline elements in the primitive Church, and criticism has discovered in it, as in nearly every other biblical book, various separable documents, which were reduced by various editors and revisers to the form we now possess. But of late the current has been flowing strongly in an opposite direction. W. M. Ramsay, who began himself with the Tübingen views, found that the book answered better to the realities he was bringing to light with the spade in Asia Minor when it was assumed to be the work of one author, who was doing his best to tell the truth; and he has vindicated the claim of St. Luke to be one of the great historians of the world, possessed of the true historical insight, grasp, and accuracy; and Harnack, starting from prejudices equally pronounced, has arrived at practically the same conclusions. The latter, indeed, in summing up his investigations into the writings of St. Luke (Die Apostelgeschichte [= Beiträge zur Einleitung in das NT, iii.], 1908, p. 224 f.), charges conservative scholars, who have reached the same conclusions before him, with causing the truth to be suspected through their prejudices; and there is no doubt that interest attaches to the fact that he has reached the goal from so distant a starting-point. There are not wanting, indeed, scholars to support less conservative opinions. Even English-writing ones are found in J. Moffatt (LNT_, 1911) and B. W. Bacon (The Story of St. Paul, 1905), though the former at least has humour enough to laugh at certain critical views not very unlike his own. C. Clemen, the author of the latest important German book on the subject (Paulus. Sein Leben und Wirken, 1904), has no humour at all, but ploughs his way stolidly through the Book of Acts, accepting as fact whatever is natural and rejecting whatever is supernatural. Anyone may realize for himself what such a procedure will make of the book by reading on this principle the account of what happened on St. Paul’s first visit to Philippi, though, one would suppose, St. Luke must have had his eyes and ears specially on the alert there, as it was the first time he had seen his new master at work.
It is not so much a religious or a theological as a literary instinct that makes the present writer distrust the critical method of handling this book. He does not believe that books worth preserving were ever made in this way. Nor does he believe that they were so easily altered. There is a reverence which a completed book inspires; and the idea that there was no conscience about this in ancient times or in the land of Judaea is one with nothing to justify it; on the contrary, as regards the Jews, cf. Josephus, c. Apion. i. 8. Besides, the Acts must very soon have begun to be read in the assemblies of the Christians, and this would be a protection. It may, indeed, be said that this book is an unfortunate one about which to make such a stand, seeing that it has undoubtedly experienced considerable alteration in the Bezan text. But the explanation of this phenomenon may be the simple one that the author had made two copies of his own book, and permitted himself a natural liberty in writing the second of them.
(b) Plan.-The plan of Acts is indicated in Acts 1:8 : ‘But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth’; and the book divides itself as follows:- Acts 1:1 to Acts 6:6, in Jerusalem; ACTS Acts 6:8 to Acts 9:30, in Palestine (including Samaria); ACTS Acts 9:32 to Acts 12:23, from Judaea to Antioch; ACTS Acts 12:25 to Acts 16:4, in Asia Minor; ACTS Acts 16:6 to Acts 19:19, in Europe; ACTS Acts 19:21 to Acts 28:30, from Achaia to Rome. The author is fond of summarizing a period, before setting out on a new stage, and such resting-places will be found at the end of the above divisions, viz. in Acts 6:7, Acts 9:31, Acts 12:24, Acts 16:5, Acts 19:20, Acts 28:31. St. Paul first makes his appearance in Acts 7:58, but it is not till Acts 13:1 that he becomes the hero of the book, the story thenceforward being merely an account of his missionary travels and other fortunes. The author narrates with extraordinary conciseness, a striking instance being where the name ‘Saul’ is exchanged for ‘Paul’ without a word of explanation ( Acts 13:13); and, when the traveller duplicates a journey, the second notice is of the briefest possible description. Yet the style is marked by ease and freedom, scene following scene with the variety and lifelikeness of painting. Indeed, there is a tradition that the author was a painter as well as a physician, this being at least a tribute to the picturesqueness of his narrative. The speeches attributed to St. Paul are often said to be free compositions of St. Luke; because ancient historians, especially Thucydides, took this liberty. But why should St. Luke have done so, when he had the speaker himself to consult, not to mention his own recollection or the conversations of those about St. Paul, which most often have turned on the great sermons of their hero? Ramsay is of opinion that the first verse of the book implies that the writer intended to pen a third volume, similar in bulk to the Gospel and the Acts; and this would account for the narrative breaking off where it does, with a brief notice of the two years of imprisonment which followed the arrival at Rome. This would, however, be still more naturally accounted for if the book was written about the date to which it brings the history down; and the present writer knows nothing which renders this impossible. The chief objection to this early date for Acts is that it must have been written before the Gospel of St. Luke, which, it is assumed, was not written till after the destruction of Jerusalem. The reasons, however, for assuming this date for the Gospel are less cogent than those for believing the Acts to have been penned before the trial at Rome; so that the alternative is between allowing a highly argumentative dating of the Gospel to fix a late date for the Acts and making a clearly indicated date of the Acts determine for the Gospel an earlier date than it has been usual to assign to it. Cf. A. Harnack, The Date of the Acts and of the Synoptic Gospels, Eng. tr._, 1911, Luke the Physician, Eng. tr._, 1911, and The Acts of the Apostles, Eng. tr._, 1909.
Moffatt’s explanation of the sudden breaking off of the narrative in the Acts is that the purpose of the book was to relate the progress of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome; J. Weiss, in Das Urchristenthum, 1914, makes the suggestion that Acts was written for Roman Christians, who did not require to be informed of what had become of the hero; and Clemen actually brings in as an explanation Horace’s rule, in Ars Poetica, 185 f., about not slaughtering the characters of a tragedy in the sight of the audience, forgetting that, in the beginning of this book, an immortal scene is constructed out of the martyrdom of St. Stephen. If, as many now assume, St. Paul’s trial ended in condemnation and execution, it is easy to understand with what effect St. Luke could have used this as the winding-up of his story; and it is incredible that, knowing so pathetic and significant an event to have immediately followed the point to which he had brought his narrative down, he could have omitted to mention it. (On a supposed dependence on Josephus, throwing the composition of Acts late, see the remarks of J. Vernon Bartlet in Century Bible, ‘Acts,’ 1901, pp. 19, 181, 251, 340; also R. J. Knowling, EGT_, ‘Acts,’ 1900, p. 30 f.
The narrative, from the point of St. Paul’s arrest onwards, abandons its conciseness and gives an extraordinary amount of space to the incidents of his appearance before different tribunals. Bacon notes this in a tone of disapproval; but he falls too easily a victim to the temptation besetting critics who ascribe the form of biblical books to more or less incompetent editors, of attributing difficulties to these lay-figures, instead of exerting himself to find out the true explanation. Ramsay ascribes this amplitude to a deliberate plan, kept in view all through the book, by which St. Paul, the representative of Christianity, is made to appear a personage of consideration to Roman officials, who are nearly always favourable to him, not infrequently defending him not only from the violence of the mob but from officials who are not Roman; and from this he infers that the book was written at a date when persecution had been going on for a considerable time. It would be, however, a simpler explanation if the composition of the book had had in some way to do with St. Paul’s trial; for, in that case, it would have been important to dwell on the events since the date when he fell into the custody of Roman officials; J. Weiss (op. cit. p. 106 f.) leaves room for this possibility, assuming that the principal source stopped here, though insisting on later editorial operations.
(c) Chronology.-The chronology is an extremely difficult question, because the fixed points that seem to be obtained by the sacred history touching on profane history (Aretas, 2 Corinthians 11:32; Herod, Acts 12:20-23; Claudius, Acts 11:27-30, Acts 12:25; Felix and Festus, Acts 24:27) fail, when closely scrutinized, to remain fixed. The nearest to an absolutely certain date seems at present to be the consulship of Gallio ( Acts 18:12), which is fixed by an inscription found at Delphi, of which A. Deissmann has given a detailed account in St. Paul, 1912, App_. I., p. 244 ff. From this it would seem that St. Paul must have been at Corinth, during his second missionary journey, in a.d. 50; and from this point the chronology can be traced both backwards and forwards. St. Paul cannot have been born very long after Jesus; and it is wonderful to think of any race having the fecundity to produce, within a few years or perhaps months, three such figures as John the Baptist, Jesus, and St. Paul. It is generally supposed that Jesus was three-and-thirty years of age at the time of His death; and we cannot be far wrong in thinking of St. Paul as about five-and-thirty at the time of his conversion. Few perhaps realize that between his conversion and the commencement of his missionary journeys there was an interval of not less than fourteen or fifteen years. To the three great missionary journeys may be assigned some ten years; whence it follows that, when he reached Rome, he must have been about sixty. In the last Epistle which proceeded from his pen he called himself ‘Paul the aged’; and, although this is a phrase elastic enough to have different meanings in the mouths of different men, the probability is that he was not far from the threescore years and ten at which the Psalmist placed the term of human life.
The dates of three recent chronologists (Lightfoot, Ramsay, Harnack, quoted in A. E. Garvie, Life and Teaching of Paul, 1910, p. 181) do not vary much-for the conversion, 34, 33, 30; for the first missionary journey, 48, 47, 45; for the second missionary journey, 51, 50, 47; for the third missionary journey, 54, 53, 50; for the arrival at Rome, 61, 60, 57.
ii. The Epistles.-Whereas an ordinary letter among us begins with a title of courtesy, addressed to the receiver, and ends with the signature of the writer, preceded by some phrase of courtesy or affection, while place and date stand either above or beneath the whole, an ancient letter commenced with the name of the sender, followed by the name of the recipient, together with a word of greeting, and it ended with the date and the place of writing. St. Paul developed the greeting into an elaborate form of his own, in which he described both himself and his correspondents in their relations to God and Christ, and wished them, instead of the goodwill of an ordinary letter, the primary blessings of the gospel. Sometimes he went on to express his thankfulness to God for their steadfastness in the faith and their progress in grape, and to pray for their further development. In one or two cases all this was not completed within fewer than a score of verses. If, at the end, he added date and place, these have been lost, with the exception perhaps of fragments; and the loss is to us a serious one, as it implies much research to fill up the blanks, and the results are more or less conjectural. As a rule the writer dictated to an amanuensis, who might be named in the superscription, as well as other comrades present when the Epistle was sent away. In one case ( Romans 16:22) the amanuensis sent a greeting on his own account. The greetings at the close form a striking feature of the Apostle’s epistolary style, betraying as they do the width of his sympathies and the warmth of his heart. Sometimes he would take the pen from the amanuensis at the close and add a few weighty words in autograph, to which, we need not doubt, extraordinary interest would be attached by the first readers. From the close of Galatians we gather that his own penmanship was large and sprawling: read, in Romans 6:11, ‘See with how large letters I have written unto you with mine own hand.’
It is frequently repeated that the Epistles of St. Paul were just ordinary letters, Deissmann going furthest of late in this direction. But this is not the case. Ordinary letters are addressed to individuals, and much of their charm consists in the intimacies which they disclose. But the majority of St. Paul’s Epistles were composed for churches. Inevitably, therefore, they had edification in view; and some of them are little different from sermons. Indeed, some of them obviously reproduce the essence of his preaching, while the rhythmic and periodic flow of the more eloquent passages may be ascribed with confidence to the frequent repetitions of the wandering evangelist. As at all periods of his life their author was not only the propagandist of a definite faith but an opponent of contrary doctrines, a doctrinal or dogmatic character could not help appearing in what he wrote. The one bearing most resemblance to an ordinary letter is the brief Epistle to Philemon; but Philemon was not a very intimate friend, and this letter, though confidential, keeps a certain distance, as of one addressing a social superior. With Timothy and Titus St. Paul was on terms of much closer intimacy; but, in writing to them as youthful pastors, he could not help thinking of the churches over which they presided, and much of what he wrote was obviously intended for the general benefit. Still it remains true that St. Paul’s Epistles are neither sermons nor theological treatises, but are written with the freedom and realism of actual correspondence. They afford occasion for displaying the height and the variety of their author’s personality; for in them he is always himself-affectionate, irascible, passionate, radiant, and optimistic as long as his converts are faithful and his churches expanding, but ready to perish with vexation and foreboding should they be the reverse. His style adapts itself without constraint to the mood he is in and the situation to which he is addressing himself. It can be abrupt, headlong, abounding with interrogations and anacolutha, or it can follow closely the windings of an intricate argument and break out into a rapture of doxology at the close. It is always copious, filling the channel from bank to bank, yet only at rare intervals strikingly sublime or beautiful. Evidently the author is not straining after effect or aiming at excellency; yet here and there, through the sheer quality of the matter, his speech becomes a cascade, breaking in foam over the rocks, or it widens into a lake where plants of every hue dip into the water and birds of every note sing among the branches.
Much attention has of late been devoted to the language of St. Paul. It had long been known that it differed materially from the Greek of the classical age, and that it had been modified largely by the ideas of the Hebrew Scriptures and the language of the LXX_. But through the unearthing of the remains of the literature and correspondence of the time, in the rubbish-heaps of ancient cities or in the recesses of Egyptian tombs, it has been demonstrated that there prevailed over all the Greek-speaking world a development of Greek speech, common to all peoples and therefore now known as Koine, and that to this the language of the NT in general, and of St. Paul in particular, is so closely related that a knowledge of the one is the key to the other; and St. Paul takes his place as a master of this language. ‘He thinks in Greek, and it is the vernacular of a brilliant and well-educated man in touch with the Greek culture of his time, though remaining thoroughly Jewish in his mental fibre’ (A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of NT Greek in the Light of Historical Research, 1914, p. 2). See, in addition, Weiss, op. cit. ch. 13; also T. Nägeli, Der Wortschatz des Apostels Paulus, 1905.
(a) Galatians.-The Epistle to the Galatians, both in subject and treatment, bears so strong a resemblance to the Epistle to the Romans that it used to be assumed that the composition of both must be assigned to about the same time; and, as the latter indubitably belongs to the residence in Corinth at the close of the third missionary journey, it was taken for granted that Galatians must be placed there too. But, if its recipients were the churches of Antioch-in-Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, evangelized during the first missionary journey, and if the visit to Jerusalem mentioned in Galatians 2 be identified with a visit to Jerusalem preceding the Council held there-these two being the conclusions of what is called the South Galatian theory (see below)-it seems a natural inference that the Epistle was written before the commencement of the second missionary journey and before the Council of Jerusalem. This inference was not, indeed, drawn by Ramsay himself, when he was developing the South Galatian theory; he still held to the old view that Galatians must be placed side by side with Romans. But it was perceived to be inevitable by others who had accepted the South Galatian theory (J. V. Bartlet, The Apostolic Age, 1900, p. 84 f., and Garvie, Studies of Paul and his Gospel, p. 23); and Ramsay, in his latest publications, has come round to it (e.g. The Teaching of Paul, 1913, p. 372 ff.), holding Galatians to be the earliest of all the Epistles. The brevity of the introduction and the absence therein of the courtesies which abound in the later Epistles used to be attributed to the excitement in which the Epistle was written; but, if this was the earliest of the Epistles, it may be that the complimentary style of address had not yet been developed. Certainly the author was writing in haste and in indignation; and there is more of what may be called the natural man, as well as of the Rabbi, in this than in any other of his writings. This was the commencement of the most heated and painful of all his controversies, and he enters the fray without the gloves. The Judaists had captured his churches, denied his apostolic authority, and overturned his gospel; and it is with the passion of a mother bereaved of her young that he throws himself at the feet of his converts, entreating them not to render his labour vain or allow themselves to be robbed of salvation; while he turns on the enemy to defy and to blast. The theme is the contrast between law and gospel. In the strongest language he can find, he repeats, in every variety of expression, that the former is abortive and abolished, but that the latter is the glorious revelation which is the end of all the ways of God with men. It is not difficult ‘to find in Galatians 1:5 to Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:1 to Galatians 4:11; Galatians 4:12 to Galatians 6:10 three successive arguments upon (a) the divine origin of Paul’s gospel, (b) the complete right of Gentile Christians to the messianic inheritance, and (c) the vital connection between the Christian Spirit and the moral life’ (Moffatt, LNT_, p. 88, quoting Holsten, etc.).
(b) 1 and 2 Thessalonians.-At the time when Galatians was, on account of similarity in temper and ideas, kept beside Romans , 1 and 2 Thess. used to be treated as the first-fruits of the Apostle’s epistolary activity; and these two Epistles seemed to fit this position very well, being marked by extraordinary freshness and simplicity. They were written soon after the missionary left Thessalonica after his first visit. Their style is more like that of a lover to the object of his affection, from whom he has been unavoidably separated but to whom he longs to return. Indeed, he compares his own affection for his converts to that of a mother for her children; he declares that the newly made Christians are his glory and joy; and he tells them that he lives if they stand fast in the faith. He recalls his first meeting with them and their subsequent intercourse together; again and again has he tried to return to see them, and he still cherishes the same ardent desire. There are not a few indications of the amplitude of the gospel preached by him amongst them-as, for instance, in the very first lines of the Epistle, a reference to the trinity of Christian graces, faith, love, and hope. But he does not enlarge on doctrinal matters. Taking it for granted that the substance of his recent preaching amongst them must still be well remembered, he contents himself with the plainest exhortations to a life in harmony with the gospel of Christ-as, for instance, to abstain from the peculiarly pagan sin of fornication and to love one another. Special stress is laid on the duty of those who called themselves by the name of Christ to perform their ordinary daily work in such a way as to commend the gospel to those that are without; and this duty was not to be set aside by the fact that the time was short, and that Christ would soon return to judgment. He drew a vivid picture of the Second Advent, as he conceived it; but this appears to have acted on the minds of his correspondents in a way different from his intention. And this became the occasion for the Second Epistle, which succeeded the First after a brief interval and is occupied with the same themes, except that it gives a forecast of the history of the world, intended to calm the minds of those who had allowed themselves to become so excited about the Lord’s coming that they were neglecting their business and bringing scandal thereby on the new religion. This passage is among the most difficult in the whole compass of St. Paul’s writings, and has tested the competency of exegetes; but the drift of it is plain: the return of the Lord was not to take place as soon as had been expected; and, therefore, Christians, while always ready to meet Him, whenscever He might appear, must be prepared also for the other alternative-to perform the duties of their earthly callings with fidelity, if the coming was postponed. The Christians at Thessalonica were exposed to severe persecution, and the accounts in the Acts of St. Paul’s own experience in that city and at BerCEa make it easy to surmise from what quarter this came. Not only, therefore, does their spiritual father make use of every consideration fitted to comfort them, but he breaks out against the race to which he himself belonged in a style which reminds us of the manner in which even the loving St. John in his Gospel speaks of ‘the Jews.’
(c) 1 and 2 Corinthians.-1 Cor. was written from Ephesus during the author’s prolonged sojourn in that city in the third missionary journey. It would, however, appear that it was not the first letter sent by the Apostle to the same church. He had sent one which has not come down to us (see 1 Corinthians 5:9); and this raises the question whether he may not have written other Epistles which have shared the same fate. The sacredness now attaching to his writings might a priori be thought to render it impossible that anything as precious as a letter written by him to a church should perish; but it may be no more astonishing that writings of his should have been lost than that words of Jesus should have been carried irrecoverably down the wind. After receiving the Epistle now lost, the Corinthians had written to the founder of their church, describing their own condition and asking his opinion and advice about a number of problems and difficulties that had arisen among them. And this was not the only case in which a Pauline Epistle was evoked by a communication from those to whom it was addressed. Besides, St. Paul had heard of the condition of the Corinthians from ‘them of the household of Chlce’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:11), and he was far from being satisfied that all was well with his spiritual children. There is a tone of strain and anxiety in the Epistle from first to last; at the same time, the impression is conveyed that the author feels himself to be dealing with a church holding a great place in the world and destined for a great future. The intimate nature of the questions propounded in the letter received from the Corinthians leads him to enter into minute details; accordingly, this Epistle exhibits by far the fullest picture in existence of the interior of an apostolic church. We learn the different ranks and conditions of which the membership is composed; we see the gifts of the Spirit in full operation; we are made aware of the flaws and inconsistencies which, had we not been informed on such good authority, could hardly be believed to have disfigured the period of the Church’s first love; the rival parties and their wrangles, the backsliders and the sowers of tares among the wheat, all pass before our eyes. Yet it is this church and its affairs that draw forth from the Apostle the panegyric on love in ch. 13, the praise of unity in ch. 14, and the demonstration of the resurrection of the body in ch. 15. Such was the letter-writer’s power of illustrating great principles in small duties. Several passages (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 8:1-4; 1 Corinthians 10:33; 1 Corinthians 15:12; 1 Corinthians 15:35) become more intelligible if it be assumed that St. Paul is quoting the sentiments of the Corinthians, before replying to their queries.
Between 1 and 2 Cor., it is thought by some scholars, St. Paul paid a visit to Corinth not mentioned in Acts, and, returning to Ephesus after a stormy interview, wrote a tempestuous letter, part of which is preserved in 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10. The bearer of this missive was Titus, who, on his way back to Ephesus, was met by St. Paul in Macedonia, and was able to give so cheering an account of the effect produced at Corinth that at once he was sent back with another letter, conceived in a totally different tone, which has come down to us under the title of 2 Corinthians. This new Epistle has all the appearance of having been written in a recoil from painful excitement and in the exultation caused by the receipt of good news. In it the author lays bare his innermost feelings more fully than in any other production of his pen. If anyone wishes to know the real St. Paul, this is the opportunity. It has been called the Ich-epistel, also St. Paul’s Apologia pro Vita Sua. A portion of it ( 2 Corinthians 2:12 to 2 Corinthians 6:10) has been taken by A. T. Robertson as a text for a treatise entitled. The Glory of the Ministry: Paul’s Exultation in Preaching, n.d.; and certainly it can hardly be fully understood except by those who have devoted their life to the salvation of others, and have felt what St. Paul calls the pangs of labour in bringing souls to the birth through the gospel. The mood throughout is one of triumph, but at the beginning of ch. 10 there is a sudden change to a tone of intense sharpness and even bitterness. By some this is accounted for by the supposition mentioned above; but others are satisfied with supposing an alteration in the mood of the writer, accompanied perhaps by some delay between the composition of the earlier and the latter halves of the Epistle. Happily, though the tone is changed, the autobiographical revelations still continue, and St. Paul completes the portrait of himself.
(d) Romans.-The Epistle to the Romans is, in not a few respects, the greatest of all the productions of St. Paul’s pen. It lacks, indeed, the personal and affectionate note so characteristic of his writings; for it is the only Epistle of his sent to a church not founded or as yet visited by himself. To this fact, however, is due in some degree its greatness; because, while in writing to churches already visited he could take it for granted that his correspondents knew his gospel so well that he did not require to repeat it, he was compelled, when writing to those who had never seen his face in the flesh, to state his gospel at full length. Of this opportunity advantage is taken to the full in the present case; and there is no question that in Rom. we have the essence of what he preached in every city which he evangelized. As at Miletus he declared to the elders from Ephesus that for three years he had preached in the capital of Asia ‘repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’ ( Acts 20:21), so in Romans the need which all men, whether Gentiles or Jews, have of repentance is first fully unfolded, and this is followed by an equally ample and convincing exhibition of the happy effects due to faith in the Saviour. Here we have illustrations from Hebrew history, and especially from the Father of the Faithful, such as would be welcome in every synagogue, as well as a philosophy of the history of mankind such as would be more likely to captivate Gentile hearers. Although, as has been mentioned, the personal note is absent, yet, after his demonstration is complete, at the close of ch. 8, he turns to discuss the tragic fact that the Jewish race had missed its destiny and allowed the gospel intended for them to pass over to the Gentiles. How was this to be reconciled with the election of God, in which St. Paul was a firm believer? The answer occupies no less than three chapters, and it permits us to see into the very heart of the writer, who, though with the indignation of a Christian he could speak as he had done in Thess. of the chosen people, yet was a Jew to the marrow of his bones, and was ready, he declares, to be himself ‘accursed from Christ,’ if by so being he could save his brethren according to the flesh. The same noble unselfishness pervades the discussion of ‘meats’ in the chapters that follow, though his ethical genius would be considered by many to rise to its culminating point in ch. 12. In the book as it now stands there is, at the close, an unusually long list of greetings to friends; and the question arises how he could have known so many in a city which he had never visited. It may be replied that Rome was, in that age, such a centre that visitors might be present in it from many of the cities and towns visited by him in other lands. But this will hardly suffice, and a different explanation seems to be at least possible. An Epistle like this, so impersonal and didactic, was well fitted to be sent to various churches, and several copies might be executed and dispatched to different communities. The greetings, then, which now stand in Rom. may have been intended for one of these. It may have been Ephesus, and a close scrutiny of the names is said to point to Ephesus rather than to Rome.
(e) Epistles of the Imprisonment.-The Epistles written up to this point belong to the years during which the Apostle was engaged in his missionary travels. There follow four to which has been given the common title of the Epistles of the Imprisonment, because they were written during the years, subsequent to his arrest at Jerusalem, when he was in the custody of the Roman authorities. In those years he was moved from prison to prison, but at two places-Caesarea and Rome-he experienced periods of imprisonment, lasting in each case about two years. Some of these letters may have been composed at the one place, some at the other; but the usual opinion has been that they were all written at Rome.
In one of his prisons St. Paul was visited by Epaphras, a minister from Colossae, a town in the Lycus Valley not far from Ephesus, who had come to consult him about the condition of the church over which he presided and to solicit from him a letter to the members, in order that these might be persuaded by the authority of an apostle to abandon errors into which they were falling and return to the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus. The new heresy was not that already so thoroughly confuted by St. Paul in Gal. and Rom., but a kind of speculation such as he had already encountered in some degree among the Corinthians, and which was destined to spread through the churches till it came to be known in history, after the Apostolic Age, under the sinister name of Gnosticism. It had its principal hold in the Gentile, as the earlier heresy had had in the Jewish, section of the Church. As yet, indeed, it was only incipient; but Epaphras was afraid of it, and he had little difficulty in communicating his fears to the Apostle; so that he secured and carried back to his flock what is now known as the Epistle to the Colossians.
The anxieties awakened in the mind of the prisoner by what he had heard from Colossae may easily have extended to other churches in the same quarter, and impelled him to write in the same strain to them also. Indeed, in the Epistle to the Colossians itself reference is made ( Colossians 4:16) to a letter he had written to the Laodiceans, the significant request being added that the Colossian Epistle be read also at Laodicea, and the Laodicean one at Colossae. This may have suggested the idea of a circular letter to all the churches in that portion of Asia Minor; and the opinion has been held by not a few that what is now known as the Epistle to the Ephesians was originally a document of this description. This would account for the absence from it of the usual greetings at the end, which might have been expected to be more than usually profuse when he was writing to a church in the founding of which he had spent three years of his life. It might account also for an abstract and impersonal tone which undoubtedly clings to this Epistle. It is written at a great height above the common earth, and it may easily embody the ruminations of one who had long been in the solitude of a prison. It comes down, indeed, before it ends, to practical things, giving a more complete sketch of what may be called the ethics of Christianity than any other of the Epistles; but even in this portion of it there is something of the same abstract and distant tone, the author being less concerned with the duties themselves than with the motives out of which the discharge of these is to spring. To him the whole cosmical history of Christ is a source of motives, which he is constantly seeking to evoke in those whose spiritual welfare is his care. There is not much to commend the procedure of Moffatt (LNT_, p. 375) when he accepts Colossians as from St. Paul but rejects Ephesians; Bacon, though also prone to negative criticism, is here led by a truer instinct, feeling the spiritual power of the text with which he is dealing (op. cit. p. 298 ff.). It is obvious that both the thought and the phraseology of Colossians and Ephesians are largely alike; but every writer of letters is aware that he sometimes puts the same facts, thoughts, and even words into letters written about the same time; and this was specially liable to happen when one of the letters had the general character belonging to Ephesians. The estimate of this Epistle by S. T. Coleridge as ‘one of the divinest compositions of man’ (Table Talk, 25th May 1830) has commended itself to multitudes not unworthy to hold an opinion on such matters; and this raises the question, by whom the Epistle could have been written, if it be not to St. Paul we owe it. Coleridge considered the Epistle to the Colossians to be the overflowing of St. Paul’s mind upon the subjects already treated in Ephesians; but the present writer inclines to conceive the relation between them as the reverse. It is impossible, however, to do more than guess.
In Colossians there is a reference to one Onesimus ( Colossians 4:9), who is described as a faithful and beloved brother and a member of the Colossian Church: and the same is the name of an escaped slave who is the subject of the Epistle to Philemon. It would appear that he had defrauded his master and run away to the capital of the world, where, through some providence to us unknown, he was thrown into the company of St. Paul, through whom he was converted. St. Paul would willingly have retained him, since he appeared to be a handy man such as the prisoner was at the time in need of; but he considered it his duty to send him back to his owner; and the Epistle to Philemon is the letter of introduction and excuse sent with him. In spite of its brevity, it is a perfect gem of tact and courtesy; and it is fitted to awaken many reflexions on the relations of employers and employed.
The last Epistle of this group is that to the Philippians; and, if in Colossians and Ephesians there be a lack of the personal element, this is amply made up for in this new Epistle, which assures us that imprisonment had in no way soured or damped the spirit of the writer, who was still as emotional and as optimistic as he had always been. In tone it bears a close resemblance to 1 Thess., and it is worthy of note that it was directed to the same quarter of the world, Philippi and Thessalonica being neighbouring cities. Though penned in a prison, it has joy for its keynote; and, though addressed to a persecuted church, it expects its recipients to be glorying in the Cross. It is of special value as a document of St. Paul’s prison-life. We can see with the mind’s eye the Roman soldier to whom he is chained, with the various articles of the panoply mentioned in the last chapter of Ephesians. As his guard would be changed every few hours, numbers of soldiers would be brought in contact with him; and among these there had broken out a work of grace, which had become a theme amongst the praetorian guards and had spread from them to the household of the Emperor, from the members of which the author is able to send greetings to his correspondents. (Cf. separate notes on ‘praetorium’ and ‘Caesar’s household’ in Lightfoot, Ph 4, 1878, pp. 99 ff., 171 ff.) Besides, his trial, certain stages of which were already past, was turning out favourably, and he was able to believe that he would soon be at large again, when he would use his freedom to revisit his beloved Macedonians. Because the Epistle seems about to end at the close of ch. 2, Bacon fancies there may be two letters united into one (op. cit. p. 368).
(f) Pastoral Epistles.-There remains another group, known by the name of the Pastoral Epistles and consisting of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. They owe this title to the fact that they are addressed to youthful pastors by the aged pastor St. Paul, who, out of his own rich and prolonged experience, instructs then how it is necessary to comport themselves in the house of God. From their internal structure and contents it can be easily seen that all the members of this group are of one piece and originated at the same time; but it is so difficult to find a place for them in the portion of St. Paul’s life covered by Acts that they have been assigned to a portion of it subsequent to this, when, it is supposed, being released from prison, he resumed his apostolic wanderings, till he was rearrested. In 2 Tim. he is seen in prison at Rome, not, as when he wrote Philippians, expecting release, but looking forward to immediate martyrdom. But in 1 Tim. and Tit. he is at large and in motion, having, when he wrote the one, just left Timothy in Ephesus, and, when he wrote the other, left Titus in Crete, an island which he visited on his way to Rome but could not have evangelized whilst he was a prisoner. About no other portion of St. Paul’s writings, however, has there been so much doubt as to whether he was really the author. In certain quarters it is at present taken for granted that these Epistles did not come from his pen. Thus, the latest book published in Germany on the subject (H. H. Mayer, Ueber die Pastoralbriefe, 1913) assumes this without discussion. But on such a subject votes require to be weighed as well as counted; and the completest and ablest discussion, by Zahn, the Nestor of NT criticism, takes the opposite view (Introduction to the NT, 3 vols., 1909, ii. 1-133), which is the prevalent one in England and America, though some recent scholars, like Moffatt (LNT_, p. 395 ff.), Bacon (op. cit., p. 375), and Garvie (Studies of Paul and his Gospel, p. 30 n._), have gone over to the other side. It cannot be denied that anyone passing from Col. and Eph. into these Epistles would feel himself in a different intellectual atmosphere, though he would feel this much less if he made the transition from 1 and 2 Cor., the subjects handled in which are more akin to those taken up here. The question is, whether the change can be sufficiently accounted for by the fact that the author is writing to individuals instead of churches, his correspondents being disciples intimately acquainted with his doctrine, so that he does not require to repeat what they already know. Much is made by opponents of the Pauline authorship of the number of words in these Epistles used by St. Paul only once, the number of these being stated by Moffatt at 180. This sounds fatal; but on reflexion the discerning reader will perceive that such a figure has no value unless we know what is the writer’s habit in this respect. Whatever may be the reason for it, St. Paul employs more of these ἅπαξ λεγόμενα, as they are called, the longer he writes, the proportion to the chapter being, roughly speaking, 5 in Thess., 7 in Romans , 8 in Eph. and Col., 10 in Phil., and 13 in the Pastoral Epistles; so that actually a convincing argument against the Pauline authorship could have been fashioned out of the number had it been small. There are frequent coincidences of thought such as would not easily have occurred to an imitator; note, e.g., the lists of sins in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and cf. Romans 1:24, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-20; and there are passages which may be said to contain the very essence of Paulinism, such as 1 Timothy 2:4-6, 2 Timothy 1:9-10, Titus 2:12-14; Titus 3:4-7. Against the Pauline authorship it is contended that ecclesiastical development is more advanced than in the Epistles which are certainly St. Paul’s. But, with the exception of what is said about female officials-and what is said about them is the reverse of distinct-the office-bearers are the same as are found in Acts and Phil., and it is highly significant of an early date that not the slightest hint is given of any distinction between bishops and elders, Titus 1:5-7 clearly proving these to be identical; whereas in the Ignatian Epistles, at no great distance in time, the distinction has become very marked, if indeed the passages are genuine, as they are held to be by both Lightfoot (The Apostolic Fathers, pt. ii., ‘Ignatius,’ i.2 ) and Zahn (Ignatius von Antiochien, 1873). The principal consideration is, however, the moral one. Let anyone read the references to St. Paul himself in these Epistles ( 1 Timothy 1:11-20; 1 Timothy 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:14-15, 2 Timothy 1:3-18; 2 Timothy 2:9-10; 2 Timothy 3:10-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-21, Titus 1:1-5; Titus 3:12-15), and say whether anyone but St. Paul could have written these words without knowing himself to be guilty of misrepresentation and falsehood. It is obvious that the author is a good man, and that he writes for a holy purpose. Could such a person be guilty of such deceit? It is said that the ideas of literary property which we now recognize did not then prevail. But what proof of this is there? The nearest approach that Moffatt can think of to this pseudonymous authorship is the composition of the romance entitled Paul and Thecla; but the author of that foolish and lying production was deposed for his pains. Gnostics, it is true, composed abundance of pseudonymous literature, and weak adherents of orthodoxy sometimes imitated them; but in the Pastoral Epistles we have to do with a personage and an enterprise of a totally different character. As Ramsay has remarked, there are not a few traits of St. Paul’s genius which we should miss were it not for these unique writings.
The Epistle to the Hebrews has sometimes been attributed to St. Paul. But there is no superscription making this claim, and the language and ideas are so different from St. Paul’s that scholarship has long since, with practical unanimity, decided against the Pauline authorship.
(a) Early influences.-St. Paul was a Jew; he was born at Tarsus, in Cilicia; and he inherited the Roman citizenship. In these three clauses is indicated his connexion with the three great influences of the ancient world-the religion of Palestine, the language and culture of Greece, and the government of Rome.
In his case the first of these was the oldest and the deepest influence. We hear little or nothing of his parents; a sister’s son intervened at one point with good effect in his earthly fortunes; but all the indications suggest that he was reared in a religious home. He speaks of himself as ‘circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee’ ( Philippians 3:5); and these terms betoken an intensely Jewish atmosphere. Still, he was born not in the land of the Jews, but in the territory of the heathen. Cilicia was not very far from Palestine; but any heathen country was ‘far off’ in a sense other than local. This distance St. Paul was sure to feel; yet he could boast of his birthplace as being ‘no mean city’ ( Acts 21:39). It was beautifully situated at the foot of the Cilician hills and at the mouth of the Catarrhactes; it was a place of cosmopolitan trade; and it was a university city-the very place in which the man should be born whose destiny it was to be to break down ‘the middle wall of partition’ ( Ephesians 2:14) and become the Apostle of the Gentiles. A freer air blew round his head from the first than if he had been born at Jerusalem. There were several ways in which the Roman citizenship could be acquired, and it is not known through which of these it came into St. Paul’s family; but he was ‘freeborn’ ( Acts 22:28). Even to a Jewish boy of sensitive nature this would impart a certain self-consciousness; but it was to become of enormous consequence in his subsequent career, probably even saving his life.
In youth St. Paul learned the trade of tent-making, this being, it would appear, the characteristic industry of Cilicia, where a coarse haircloth was manufactured on a large scale, to be used for tents and other purposes. This circumstance might be supposed to indicate that he belonged to the lower class of the population. But it is said that among the Jews it was the custom at that time for even the sons of the wealthy to acquire skill in some manual art, as a resource against the possible caprices of fortune; and, in the sequel, the possession of this handicraft proved of eminent service to St. Paul, enabling him to earn his bread by the labour of his hands, when it was not expedient to accept support from those to whom he preached the gospel. Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, p. 311 ff.) has accumulated evidence to prove that St. Paul’s relatives were persons of substance and social standing, and he considers himself able to show that, in later life, he came into possession of an inheritance, by which he was enabled to defray the heavy expenses of his trials before the Roman courts. Evidence more convincing of social standing is supplied by the fact that St. Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, if this can be inferred with certainty from the statement in Acts 26:10 that, when the followers of Jesus were put to death, he gave his ‘vote’ against them. It is frequently stated that members of the Sanhedrin had to be married men, and from this the inference has been drawn that he was married in youth. If so, his wife must have died early, as there is no hint of a wife in the records of his life, the fancy that he married Lydia and addressed her in the Epistle to the Philippians as ‘true yokefellow’ being ridiculous, though it goes back as far as Eusebius (HE_ iii. 30) and has been revived in recent times by E. Renan (Saint Paul, 1869, p. 115).
So comparatively near to Jerusalem was Tarsus that, as a boy, St. Paul may have been taken by his parents to one of the annual feasts, as Jesus was at the age of twelve; and from the experience of the boy from Nazareth we may infer what were the feelings of this other Jewish boy at the first sight of the Holy City. It cannot have been very long afterwards that he was sent thither, to reside in the place, learning to be a Rabbi. Along with other aspirants to the same office he sat ‘at the feet of Gamaliel’ ( Acts 22:3), whose intervention in the Book of Acts on the side of clemency and common sense is probably intended to be looked upon as a characteristic act. But, whatever else the disciple may have learned from this master in Israel, he did not copy this trait of his character; for the first thing we hear of him after the termination of his education is his persecution of the Christians.
There seems little doubt that Jesus and St. Paul were treading the soil of Palestine at the same time; and it is an old question whether they ever crossed each other’s path. Though Weiss (Paulus und Jesus, 1910) and Ramsay (The Teaching of Paul, p. 21 ff.) have recently attempted to make it probable that they did, there is little to be said for this view of the case. It is argued, indeed, that on the way to Damascus St. Paul could not have recognized Jesus, if he had not been already familiar with His appearance. But he did not recognize Him by sight: he had to ask, ‘Who art thou, Lord?,’ and it was only through the hearing of the ear that he ascertained who was speaking. It is true that, in one place, St. Paul demands, ‘Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?’ ( 1 Corinthians 9:1), but the sight referred to was that on the way to Damascus.
(b) Persecution.-The whole situation creates the impression that St. Paul’s first collision was not with Christ in the flesh, but with Christianity in the hands of its first representatives and apostles, and it is not difficult to understand the violence with which he opposed it. As a man of logic, he considered the case against Christianity complete. Jesus had died the cursed death of the Cross. This the Messiah could not have done. It was the destiny of the Messiah to live and to reign. A Messiah who dies and is buried must have been a pretender; and an exposed pretender is no very respectable figure. As a Pharisee and a patriot, Saul cherished Messianic hopes; indeed, these formed the most sacred part of his religion; but they had been turned to shame by One who died upon a tree. No doubt it was this resentment at the despite done to that which to him was so sacred that led to his taking up the rôle of grand inquisitor; and he fulfilled in his own person the prediction, made by Jesus to His disciples, that a day was coming when whosoever killed them would think he was doing God service ( John 16:2). His zeal was winning for him golden opinions in the minds of the authorities of the nation, and he was confident that it was, at the same time, accumulating merit in the hands of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It may be presumed that, in the course of the persecution, he became well acquainted with the state of mind of those whom he was subjecting to every kind of examination. Did it ever occur to him to think what would be the result if he ever came to have as clear proof as they believed they had that He for whose sake they were suffering was not dead but alive? St. Stephen was a singularly clear and forcible reasoner, who went far on the very pathway of revolution which St. Paul was afterwards to travel himself. Did Saul perceive the cogency of the logic, if it were not for one great assumption? But to him this assumption was not only an impossibility but a blasphemy; and so he emerges for the first time into history as the keeper of the clothes of the men who stoned Stephen.
(c) Conversion.-For a time, which was not very brief, the persecutor raged like a wolf in the fold of the followers of the Nazarene; and it was because there were no more victims left, as he supposed, in Jerusalem and Judaea that he begged for instructions from the authorities to go in quest of fresh victims as far as Damascus. Of what took place on the way thither the author of the Acts has given a most graphic account, and, as St. Paul turned out subsequently to be one of those religious persons who are not indisposed to narrate their most intimate experiences, there are in Acts no fewer than three accounts of the conversion, the other two being from the mouth of the subject himself ( Acts 9:1-19; Acts 22:1-21; Acts 26:1-23). These accounts are not painfully alike. On the contrary, they might almost be said to be so constructed as to give the caviller a chance. Indeed, the event itself is exposed to obvious objections, for the persecutor was posting forward in the heat of midday, when he ought to have been taking a siesta, and what he saw might all have been the effect on an overstrained brain of the unnatural experiences through which he had been passing. Full advantage has, of course, been taken of these circumstances; but both St. Luke and St. Paul go forward with the utmost freedom, and there can be no question what they believed the event to be. St. Paul classes the vision vouchsafed to himself with the appearances of the Risen Saviour to the disciples after His resurrection, and those who regard the latter experiences as only subjective infer that his was only subjective also. But it is certain that he himself reasoned the opposite way: he believed the appearances to the Twelve and to the other disciples to be not visionary but actual, and he was convinced, at the time and ever afterwards, that he had himself seen the living Lord. This was the datum on which his entire subsequent life was based.
Accordingly, he appeared immediately after his conversion in the synagogue at Damascus, bearing the testimony of the Apostolic Church, that Jesus is the Messiah ( Acts 9:20). Happily for us, however, he was not content with this simple statement, but, under the overpowering impression of what had happened to him, went away to Arabia, in order to think out all that it implied, and he did not consider the theme exhausted till he had pondered on it for three years ( Galatians 1:17). Where was this retreat? No exact information is supplied, but the probability is that he betook himself to the scenes of the earlier revelations made to his forefathers. As Elijah the prophet, in a period of mental crisis, wandered southwards to Mount Sinai, feeling it congenial to be where the thunders and lightnings had gi
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Paul. (Small, Little). Nearly all the original materials for the life St. Paul are contained, in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Pauline Epistles. Paul was born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia. (It is not improbable tha, t he was born between A.D. 0 and A.D. 5). Up to the time of his going forth as an avowed preacher of Christ to the Gentiles, the apostle was known by the name of Saul. This was the Jewish name, which he received from his Jewish parents. But, though a Hebrew of the Hebrews, he was born in a Gentile city. Of his parents, we know nothing, except that his father was of the tribe of Benjamin, Philippians 3:5, and a Pharisee, Acts 23:6, that Paul had acquired, by some means, the Roman franchise, ("I was free born,"), Acts 22:23, and that he was settled in Tarsus.
At Tarsus, he must have learned to use the Greek language, with freedom and mastery, in both speaking and writing. At Tarsus, also, he learned that trade of "tent-maker," Acts 18:3, at which he, afterward, occasionally wrought with his own hands. There was a goat's-hair cloth called cilicium manufactured in Cilicia, and largely used for tents: Saul's trade was probably that of making tents of this hair cloth.
When St. Paul makes his defence before his countrymen at Jerusalem, Acts 22:1, he tells them that, though born in Tarsus, he had been "brought up" in Jerusalem. He must therefore, have been yet a boy when was removed, in all probability, for the sake of his education, to the Holy City of his fathers. He learned, he says, "at the feet of Gamaliel." He who was to resist so stoutly the usurpations of the law had, for his teacher, one of the most eminent of all the doctors of the law.
Saul was yet "a young man," Acts 7:58, when the Church experienced that sudden expansion, which was connected with the ordaining of the seven, appointed to serve tables, and with the special power and inspiration of Stephen. Among those who disputed with Stephen were some "of them of Cilicia." We naturally think of Saul as having been one of these, when we find him, afterward, keeping the clothes of those suborned witnesses who, according to the law, Deuteronomy 17:7, were the first to cast stones at Stephen. "Saul," says the sacred writer significantly, "was consenting unto his death."
Saul's conversion. A.D. 37. - The persecutor was to be converted. Having undertaken to follow up the believers, "unto strange cities," Saul naturally turned his thoughts to Damascus. What befell him as he journeyed thither, is related in detail three times in the Acts, first by the historian in his own person, then in the two addresses made by St. Paul at Jerusalem, and before Agrippa.
St. Luke's statement is to be read in Acts 9:3-19, where, however, the words, "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks," included in the English version, ought to be omitted, (as is done in the Revised Version). The sudden light from heaven; the voice of Jesus speaking with authority to his persecutor; Saul struck to the ground, blinded, overcome; the three-days suspense; the coming of Ananias as a messenger of the Lord and Saul's baptism, - these were the leading features at the great event, and in these, we must look for the chief significance of the conversion.
It was in Damascus that he was received into the church by Ananias, and here, to the astonishment of all his hearers, he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, declaring him to be the Son of God. The narrative in the Acts tells us simply that he was occupied in this work, with increasing vigor, for "many days," up to the time when imminent danger drove him from Damascus.
From the Epistle to the Galatians, Galatians 1:17-18, we learn that the many days were at least a good part of "three years," A.D. 37-40, and that Saul, not thinking it necessary to procure authority to teach from the apostles that were before him, went, after his conversion, to Arabia, and returned from thence to us. We know nothing whatever of this visit to Arabia; but, upon his departure from Damascus, we are again on a historical ground, and have the double evidence of St. Luke in the Acts of the apostle, and in his Second Epistle the Corinthians.
According to the former, the Jews lay in wait for Saul, intending to kill him, and watched the gates of the city, that he might not escape from them. Knowing this, the disciples took him by night and let him down in a basket from the wall. Having escaped from Damascus, Saul betook himself to Jerusalem, (A.D. 40), and there "assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not he was a disciple."
Barnabas' introduction, removed the fears of the apostles, and Saul "was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem." But it is not strange that the former persecutor was soon singled out from the other believers, as the object of a murderous hostility. He was, therefore, again urged to flee; and by way of Caesarea betook himself to his native city, Tarsus. Barnabas was sent on a special mission to Antioch.
As the work grew under his hands, he felt the need of help, went himself to Tarsus to seek Saul, and succeeded in bringing him to Antioch. There, they labored together unremittingly for a whole year." All this time, Saul was subordinate to Barnabas. Antioch was in constant communication with Cilicia, with Cyprus, with all the neighboring countries. The Church was pregnant with a great movement, and time of her delivery was at hand.
Something of direct expectation seems to be implied, in what is said of the leaders of the Church at Antioch, that they were "ministering to the Lord and fasting," when the Holy Ghost spoke to them: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Everything was done with orderly gravity, in the sending forth of the two missionaries. Their brethren, after fasting and prayer, laid their hands on them, and so they departed.
The first missionary journey. A.D. 45-49. - As soon as Barnabas and Saul reached Cyprus, they began to "announce the word of God," but at first, they delivered their message in the synagogues of the Jews only. When they had gone through the island, from Salamis to Paphos, they were called upon to explain their doctrine to an eminent Gentile, Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, who was converted.
Saul's name was now changed to Paul, and he began to take precedence of Barnabas. From Paphos "Paul and his company" set sail for the mainland, and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia. Here the heart of their companion, John, failed him, and he returned to Jerusalem. From Perga, they travelled on to a place obscure in secular history, but most memorable in the history of the Kingdom of Christ - Antioch in Pisidia.
Rejected by the Jews, they became bold and outspoken, and turned from them to the Gentiles. At Antioch now, as in every city afterward, the unbelieving Jews used their influence, with their own adherents among the Gentiles, to persuade the authorities, or the populace to persecute the apostles, and to drive them from the place. Paul and Barnabas now travelled on to Iconium, where the occurrences at Antioch were repeated, and from thence, to the Lycaonian country, which contained the cities Lystra and Derbe. Here they had to deal with uncivilized heathen.
At Lystra, the healing of a cripple took place. Thereupon, these pagans took the apostles for gods, calling Barnabas, who was of the more imposing presence, Jupiter, and Paul, who was the chief speaker, Mercurius. Although the people of Lystra had been so ready to worship Paul and Barnabas, the repulse of their idolatrous instincts appears to have provoked them, and they allowed themselves to be persuaded into hostility by Jews, who came from Antioch and Iconium, so that they attacked Paul with stones, and thought they had killed him. He recovered, however, as the disciples were standing around him, and went again into the city.
The next day, he left it with Barnabas, and went to Derbe, and thence, they returned once more to Lystra, and so to Iconium and Antioch. In order to establish the churches after their departure, they solemnly appointed "elders" in every city. Then, they came down to the coast, and from Attalia, they sailed home to Antioch in Syria, where they related the successes which had been granted to them, and especially the opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles." And so the first missionary journey ended.
The council at Jerusalem. - Upon that missionary journey follows, most naturally, the next important scene which the historian sets before us - the council held at Jerusalem, to determine the relations of Gentile believers to the law of Moses. Acts 15:1-29; Galatians 2.
Second missionary journey. A.D. 50-54. - The most resolute courage, indeed, was required for the work to which St. Paul was now publicly pledged. He would not associate with himself in that work, one who had already shown a want of constancy. This was the occasion of what must have been a most painful difference, between him and his comrade in the faith and in past perils, Barnabas. Acts 15:35-40.
Silas, or Silvanus, becomes, now, a chief companion of the apostle. The two went together through Syria and Cilicia, visiting the churches, and so came to Derbe and Lystra. Here, they find Timotheus, who had become a disciple on the former visit of the apostle. Him, St. Paul took and cCircumcised. St. Luke now steps rapidly over a considerable space of the apostle's life and labors. "They went throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia." Luke 16:6.
At this time, St. Paul was founding "the churches of Galatia." Galatians 1:2. He himself gives some hints of the circumstances of his preaching in that region, of the reception he met with, and of the ardent, though unstable, character of the people. Galatians 4:13-15. Having gone through Phrygia and Galatia, he intended to visit, the western coast; but "they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word" there.
Then, being on the borders of Mysia, they thought of going back to the northeast into Bithynia; but again the Spirit of Jesus , "suffered them not," so they passed by Mysia and came down to Troas. St. Paul saw in a vision a man of Macedonia, who besought him, saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us." The vision was at once accepted as a heavenly intimation; the help wanted by the Macedonians, was believed to be the preaching of the gospel.
It is at this point that the historian, speaking of St. Paul's company, substitutes "we" for "they." He says nothing of himself: we can only infer that St. Luke, to whatever country he belonged, became a companion of St. Paul at Troas. The party thus reinforced, immediately set sail from Troas, touched at Samothrace, then landed on the continent at Neapolis, and thence, journeyed to Philippi. The first convert in Macedonia was Lydia, an Asiatic woman, at Philippi. Acts 18:13-14.
At Philippi, Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten and put in prison, having cast out the spirit of divination from a female slave, who had brought her masters much gain by her power. This cruel wrong was to be the occasion of a single appearance of the God of righteousness and deliverance.
The narrative tells of the earthquake, the jailer's terror, his conversion and baptism. Acts 16:26-34. In the morning, the magistrates sent word to the prison that the men might be let go; but Paul denounced plainly their unlawful acts, informing them, moreover that those whom they had beaten, and imprisoned without trial were Roman citizens. The magistrates, in great alarm, saw the necessity of humbling themselves. They came and begged them to leave the city. Paul and Silas consented to do so, and, after paying a visit to "the brethren" in the house of Lydia, they departed.
Leaving St. Luke, and perhaps Timothy, for a short time at Philippi, Paul and Silas travelled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and stopped again at Thessalonica. Here again, as in Pisidian Antioch, the envy of the Jews was excited, and the mob assaulted the house of Jason, with whom Paul and Silas were staying as guests, and, not finding them, dragged Jason himself and some other brethren before the magistrates.
After these signs of danger, the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night. They next came to Berea. Here they found the Jews more noble than those at Thessalonica had been. Accordingly, they gained many converts, both Jews and Greeks; but the Jews of Thessalonica, hearing of it, sent emissaries to stir up the people, and it was thought best that Paul should himself leave the city, whilst Silas and Timothy remained behind.
Some of the brethren went with St. Paul as far as Athens, where they left him carrying back a request to Silas and Timothy that they would speedily join him. Here the apostle delivered that wonderful discourse reported in Acts 17:22-31. He gained, but few converts at Athens, and soon took his departure and went to Corinth. He was testifying with unusual effort and anxiety, when Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia and joined him. Their arrival was the occasion of the writing of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. The two Epistles to the Thessalonians - and these alone - belong to the present missionary journey. They were written from Corinth A.D. 52, 53.
When Silas and Timotheus came to Corinth, St. Paul was testifying to the Jews with great earnestness, but with little success. Corinth was the chief city of the province of Achaia, and the residence of the proconsul. During St. Paul's stay, the proconsular office was held by Gallio, a brother of the philosopher Seneca. Before him, the apostle was summoned by his Jewish enemies, who hoped to bring the Roman authority to bear upon him as an innovator in religion. But Gallio perceived at once, before Paul could "open his mouth" to defend himself, that the movement was due to Jewish prejudice, and refused to go into the question.
Then a singular scene occurred. The Corinthian spectators, either favoring Paul, or actuated only by anger against the Jews, seized on the principal person of those, who had brought the charge, and beat him before the judgment-seat. Gallio left these religious quarrels to settle themselves. The apostle, therefore, was not allowed to be "hurt," and remained some time longer at Corinth unmolested.
Having been the instrument of accomplishing this work, Paul departed for Jerusalem, wishing to attend a festival there. Before leaving Greece, he cut off his hair at Cenchreae, in fulfillment of a vow. Acts 18:18. Paul paid a visit to the synagogue at Ephesus, but would not stay. Leaving Ephesus, he sailed to Caesarea, and from thence, went up to Jerusalem, spring, A.D. 54, and "saluted the church."
It is argued, from considerations founded on the suspension of navigation, during the winter months, that the festival was probably the Pentecost . From Jerusalem, the apostle went almost immediately down to Antioch, thus, returning to the same place from which he had started with Silas.
Third missionary journey, including the stay at Ephesus. A.D. 54-58. Acts 18:23; Acts 21:17. - The great Epistles which belong to this period, those to the Galatians, Corinthians and Romans, show how the "Judaizing" question exercised, at this time, the apostle's mind. St. Paul "spent some time" at Antioch, and during this stay as we are inclined to believe, his collision with St. Peter, Galatians 2:11-14, took place.
When he left Antioch, he "went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples," and giving orders concerning the collection for the saints. 1 Corinthians 18:1 . It is probable that the Epistle to the Galatians was written soon after this visit - A.D. 56-57. This letter was in all probability sent from Ephesus. This was the goal of the apostle's journeyings through Asia Minor.
He came down to Ephesus, from the upper districts of Phrygia. Here, he entered upon his usual work. He went into the synagogue, and, for three months, he spoke openly, disputing and persuading concerning "the kingdom of God." At the end of this time, the obstinacy and opposition of some of the Jews led him to give up frequenting the synagogue, and he established the believers as a separate society meeting, "in the school of Tyrannus." This continued for two years.
During this time, many things occurred of which the historian of the Acts chooses two examples, the triumph over magical arts, and the great disturbance raised by the silversmiths who made shrines Diana - among which we are to note further, the writing of the First Epistle to the Corinth - A.D. 57.
Before leaving Ephesus, Paul went into Macedonia, where he met Titus, who brought him news of the state of the Corinthian church. Thereupon, he wrote the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, A.D. 57, and sent it, by the hands of Titus and two other brethren, to Corinth. After writing this Epistle, St. Paul travelled throughout Macedonia, perhaps to the borders of Illyricum, Romans 15:19, and then went to Corinth. The narrative in the Acts tells us that "when he had gone over those parts (Macedonia), and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode three months." Acts 20:2-3.
There is only one incident which we can connect, with this visit to Greece, but that is a very important one - the writing of his Epistle to the Romans, A.D. 58. That this was written, at this time from Corinth, appears from passages in the Epistle itself, and has never been doubted. The letter is a substitute for the personal visit which he had longed, "for many years," to pay. Before his departure from Corinth, St. Paul was joined again by St. Luke, as we infer from the change in the narrative, from the third to the first person. He was bent on making a journey to Jerusalem, for a special purpose, and within a limited time. With this view, he was intending to go by sea to Syria. But he was made aware of some plot of the Jews for his destruction, to be carried out through this voyage; and he determined to evade their malice, by changing his route.
Several brethren were associated with him in this expedition, the bearers no doubt, of the collections made in all the churches, for the poor at Jerusalem. These were sent on by sea, and probably, the money with them, to Troas, where they were to await Paul. He, accompanied by Luke, went northward through Macedonia. Whilst the vessel which conveyed the rest of the party sailed from Troas to Assos, Paul gained some time by making the journey by land.
At Assos, he went on board again. Coasting along by Mitylene, Chios, Samos and Trogyllium, they arrived at Miletus. At Miletus, however, there was time to send to Ephesus, and the elders of the church were invited to come down to him there. This meeting is made the occasion for recording another characteristic and representative address of St. Paul. Acts 20:18-35. The course of the voyage from Miletas was by Coos and Rhodes to Patara, and from Patara, in another vessel, past Cyprus to Tyre.
Here Paul and his company spent seven days. From Tyre, they sailed to Ptolemais, where they spent one day, and from Ptolemais proceeded, apparently by land, to Caesarea. They now "tarried many days" at Caesarea. During this interval, the prophet Agabus, Acts 11:28, came down from Jerusalem, and crowned the previous intimations of danger with a prediction expressively delivered. At this stage, a final effort was made to dissuade Paul from going up to Jerusalem, by the Christians of Caesarea , and by his travelling companions. After a while, they went up to Jerusalem, and were gladly received by the brethren. This is St. Paul's fifth an last visit to Jerusalem.
St. Paul's imprisonment: Jerusalem. Spring, A.D. 58. - He who was thus conducted into Jerusalem by a company of anxious friends had become, by this time, a man of considerable fame among his countrymen. He was widely known as one who had taught with pre-eminent boldness, that a way into God's favor was opened to the Gentiles, and that this way did not lie through the door of the Jewish law. He had, thus, roused against himself the bitter enmity of that unfathomable Jewish pride, which was almost as strong in some of those, who had professed the faith of Jesus , as in their unconverted brethren.
He was now approaching a crisis in the long struggle, and the shadow of it has been made to rest upon his mind , throughout his journey to Jerusalem. He came "ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus ," but he came expressly to prove himself a faithful Jew, and this purpose is shown at every point of the history.
Certain Jews from "Asia," who had come up for the Pentecostal Feast , and who had a personal knowledge of Paul, saw him in the Temple. They set upon him at once, and stirred up the people against him. There was instantly a great commotion; Paul was dragged out of the Temple, the doors of which were immediately shut, and the people having him in their hands, were going to kill him.
Paul was rescued from the violence of the multitude by the Roman officer, who made him his own prisoner, causing him to be chained to two soldiers, and then proceeded to inquire who he was and what he had done. The inquiry only elicited confused outcries, and the "chief captain" seems to have imagined that the apostle might perhaps be a certain Egyptian pretender who recently stirred up a considerable rising of the people.
The account in Acts 21:34-40 tells us, with graphic touches, how St. Paul obtained leave and opportunity to address the people in a discourse which is related at length. Until the hated word of a mission to the Gentiles had been spoken, the Jews had listened to the speaker. "Away with such a fellow from the earth," the multitude now shouted; "it is not fit that he should live."
The Roman commander seeing the tumult that arose might well conclude that St. Paul had committed some heinous offence; and carrying him off, he gave orders that he should be forced by scourging to confess his crime. Again the apostle took advantage of his Roman citizenship to protect himself from such an outrage. The chief captain set him free from bonds, but, on the next day, called together the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, and brought Paul as a prisoner before them.
On the next day , a conspiracy was formed, which the historian relates, with a singular fullness of detail. More than forty of the Jews bound themselves under a curse, neither to eat nor drink, until they had killed Paul. The plot was discovered, and St. Paul was hurried away from Jerusalem. The chief captain, Claudius Lysias, determined to send him to Caesarea to Felix, the governor or procurator of Judea. He, therefore, put him in charge of a strong guard of soldiers, who took him by night as far as Antipatris. From thence, a smaller detachment conveyed him to Caesarea, where they delivered up their prisoner , into the hands of the governor.
Imprisonment at Caesarea. A.D. 58-60. - St. Paul was, henceforth, to the end of the period embraced in the Acts, if not to the end of his life, in Roman custody. This custody was, in fact, a protection to him, without which, he would have fallen a victim to the animosity of the Jews. He seems to have been treated throughout, with humanity and consideration. The governor before whom he was now to be tried, according to Tacitus and Josephus, was a mean and dissolute tyrant.
After hearing St, Paul's accusers and the apostle's defence, Felix made an excuse for putting off the matter, and gave orders that the prisoner should be treated with indulgence, and that his friends should be allowed free access to him. After a while, he heard him again. St. Paul remained in custody, until Felix left the province. The unprincipled governor had good reason to seek to ingratiate himself with the Jews; and to please them, he handed over Paul, as an untried prisoner, to his successor, Festus.
Upon his arrival in the province, Festus went up without delay from Caesarea to Jerusalem, and the leading Jews seized the opportunity of asking that Paul might be brought up there for trial, intending to assassinate him by the way. But Festus would not comply with their request, He invited them to follow him on his speedy return to Caesarea, and a trial took place there, closely resembling that before Felix.
"They had certain questions against him," Festus says to Agrippa, "of their own superstition, (or religion), and of one Jesus , who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And, being puzzled for my part, as to such inquiries, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem to be tried there."
This proposal, not a very likely one to be accepted, was the occasion of St. Paul's appeal to Caesar. The appeal having been allowed, Festus reflected that he must send with the prisoner, a report of "the crimes laid against him." He, therefore, took advantage of an opportunity, which offered itself in a few days to seek some help in the matter. The Jewish prince, Agrippa, arrived with his sister, Bernice, on a visit to the new governor. To him, Festus communicated his perplexity. Agrippa expressed a desire to hear Paul himself.
Accordingly, Paul conducted his defence before the king; and when it was concluded, Festus and Agrippa, and their companions, consulted together, and came to the conclusion that the accused was guilty of nothing that deserved death or imprisonment. Agrippa's final answer to the inquiry of Festus was, "This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar."
The voyage to Rome and shipwreck. Autumn, A.D. 60. - No formal trial of St. Paul had yet taken place. After a while, arrangements were made to carry "Paul and certain other prisoners," in the custody of a centurion named Julius, into Italy; and amongst the company, whether by favor or for any other reason, we find the historian of the Acts, who in chapters 27 and 28 gives a graphic description of the voyage to Rome and the shipwreck on the Island of Melita or Malta. After a three-months stay in Malta, the soldiers and their prisoners left in an Alexandria ship for Italy.
They touched at Syracuse, where they stayed three days, and at Rhegium, from which place, they were carried with a fair wind to Puteoli, where they left their ship and the sea. At Puteoli, they found "brethren," for it was an important place, and especially a chief port for the traffic, between Alexandria and Rome; and by these brethren, they were exhorted to stay a while with them. Permission seems to have been granted by the centurion; and whilst they were spending seven days at Puteoli, news of the apostle's arrival was sent to Rome. (Spring, A.D. 61).
First imprisonment of St. Paul at Rome. A.D. 61-63. - On their arrival at Rome, the centurion delivered up his prisoners into the proper custody: that of the praetorian prefect. Paul was at once treated with special consideration, and was allowed to dwell by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. He was now , therefore, free "to preach the gospel to them that were at Rome also;" and proceeded, without delay, to act upon his rule - "to the Jews first,"
But as of old, the reception of his message by the Jews was not favorable. He turned, therefore, again to the Gentiles, and for two years, he dwelt in his own hired house. These are the last words of the Acts. But St. Paul's career is not abruptly closed. Before he himself fades out of our sight, in the twilight of ecclesiastical tradition, we have letters written by himself which contribute some particulars to his biography.
Period of the later Epistles. - To that imprisonment to which St. Luke has introduced us - the imprisonment which lasted for such a tedious time, though tempered by much indulgence - belongs the noble group of letters to Philemon, to the Colossians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. The three former of these were written at one time, and sent by the same messengers. Whether that to the Philippians was written before or after these, we cannot determine; but the tone of it seems to imply that a crisis was approaching, and therefore, it is commonly regarded us the latest of the four.
In this Epistle, St. Paul twice expresses a confident hope that, before long, he may be able to visit the Philippians in person. Philippians 1:25; Philippians 2:24. Whether this hope was fulfilled or not, has been the occasion of much controversy. According to the general opinion, the apostle was liberated from imprisonment, at the end of two years, having been acquitted by Nero, A.D. 63, and left Rome soon after writing the letter to the Philippians. He spent some time in visits to Greece, Asia Minor and Spain, and during the latter part of this time, wrote the letters (first Epistles) to Timothy and Titus from Macedonia, A.D. 65. After these were written, he was apprehended again and sent to Rome.
Second imprisonment at Rome. A.D. 65-67. - The apostle appears now, to have been treated, not as an honorable state prisoner, but as a felon, 2 Timothy 2:9, but he was allowed to write the second letter to Timothy, A.D. 67. For what remains, we have the concurrent testimony of ecclesiastical antiquity, that he was beheaded at Rome, by Nero, in the great persecutions of the Christians, by that emperor, A.D. 67 or 68.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
was born at Tarsus, the principal city of Cilicia, and was by birth both a Jew and a citizen of Rome, Acts 21:39; Acts 22:25 . He was of the tribe of Benjamin, and of the sect of the Pharisees, Php_3:5 . In his youth he appears to have been taught the art of tent making, Acts 18:3; but we must remember that among the Jews of those days a liberal education was often, accompanied by instruction in some mechanical trade. It is probable that St. Paul laid the foundation of those literary attainments, for which he was so eminent in the future part of his life, at his native city of Tarsus; and he afterward studied the law of Moses, and the traditions of the elders, at Jerusalem, under Gamaliel, a celebrated rabbi, Acts 22:4 . St. Paul is not mentioned in the Gospels; nor is it known whether he ever heard our Saviour preach, or saw him perform any miracle. His name first occurs in the account given in the Acts of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, A.D. 34, to which he is said to have consented, Acts 8:1 : he is upon that occasion called a young man; but we are no where informed what was then his precise age. The death of St. Stephen was followed by a severe persecution of the church at Jerusalem, and St. Paul became distinguished among its enemies by his activity and violence, Acts 8:3 . Not contented with displaying his hatred to the Gospel in Judea, he obtained authority from the high priest to go to Damascus, and to bring back with him bound any Christians whom he might find in that city. As he was upon his journey thither, A.D. 35, his miraculous conversion took place, the circumstances of which are recorded in Acts ix, and are frequently alluded to in his epistles, 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:12-13 .
Soon after St. Paul was baptized at Damascus, he went into Arabia; but we are not informed how long he remained there. He returned to Damascus; and being supernaturally qualified to be a preacher of the Gospel, he immediately entered upon his ministry in that city. The boldness and success with which he enforced the truths of Christianity so irritated the unbelieving Jews, that they resolved to put him to death, Acts 9:23; but, this design being known, the disciples conveyed him privately out of Damascus, and he went to Jerusalem, A.D. 38. The Christians of Jerusalem, remembering St. Paul's former hostility to the Gospel, and having no authentic account of any change in his sentiments or conduct, at first refused to receive him; but being assured by Barnabas of St. Paul's real conversion, and of his exertions at Damascus, they acknowledged him as a disciple, Acts 9:27 . He remained only fifteen days among them, Galatians 1:18; and he saw none of the Apostles except St. Peter and St. James. It is probable that the other Apostles were at this time absent from Jerusalem, exercising their ministry at different places. The zeal with which St. Paul preached at Jerusalem had the same effect as at Damascus: he became so obnoxious to the Hellenistic Jews, that they began to consider how they might kill him, Acts 9:29; which when the brethren knew, they thought it right that he should leave the city. They accompanied him to Caesarea, and thence he went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, where he preached the faith which once he destroyed, Galatians 1:21; Galatians 1:23 .
Hitherto the preaching of St. Paul, as well as of the other Apostles and teachers, had been confined to the Jews; but the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, A.D. 40, having convinced all the Apostles that "to the Gentiles, also, God had granted repentance unto life," St. Paul was soon after conducted by Barnabas from Tarsus, which had probably been the principal place of his residence since he left Jerusalem, and they both began to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles at Antioch, A.D. 42, Acts 11:25 . Their preaching was attended with great success. The first Gentile church was now established at Antioch; and in that city, and at this time, the disciples were first called Christians, Acts 11:26 . When these two Apostles had been thus employed about a year, a prophet called Agabus predicted an approaching famine, which would affect the whole land of Judea. Upon the prospect of this calamity, the Christians of Antioch made a contribution for their brethren in Judea, and sent the money to the elders at Jerusalem by St. Paul and Barnabas, A.D. 44, Acts 11:28 , &c. This famine happened soon after in the fourth or fifth year of the Emperor Claudius. It is supposed that St. Paul had the vision, mentioned in Acts 22:17 , while he was now at Jerusalem this second time after his conversion.
St. Paul and Barnabas, having executed their commission, returned to Antioch; and soon after their arrival in that city they were separated, by the express direction of the Holy Ghost, from the other Christian teachers and prophets, for the purpose of carrying the glad tidings of the Gospel to the Gentiles of various countries, Acts 13:1 . Thus divinely appointed to this important office, they set out from Antioch, A.D. 45, and preached the Gospel successively at Salamis and Paphos, two cities of the isle of Cyprus, at Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, and at Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, three cities of Lycaonia. They returned to Antioch in Syria, A.D. 47, nearly by the same route. This first apostolical journey of St. Paul, in which he was accompanied and assisted by Barnabas, is supposed to have occupied about two years; and in the course of it many, both Jews and Gentiles, were converted to the Gospel.
Paul and Barnabas continued at Antioch a considerable time; and while they were there, a dispute arose between them and some Jewish Christians of Judea. These men asserted, that the Gentile converts could not obtain salvation through the Gospel, unless they were circumcised; Paul and Barnabas maintained the contrary opinion, Acts 15:1-2 . This dispute was carried on for some time with great earnestness; and it being a question in which not only the present but all future Gentile converts were concerned, it was thought right that St. Paul and Barnabas, with some others, should go up to Jerusalem to consult the Apostles and elders concerning it. They passed through Phenicia and Samaria, and upon their arrival at Jerusalem, A.D. 49, a council was assembled for the purpose of discussing this important point, Galatians 2:1 . St. Peter and St. James the less were present, and delivered their sentiments, which coincided with those of St. Paul and Barnabas; and after much deliberation it was agreed, that neither circumcision, nor conformity to any part of the ritual law of Moses, was necessary in Gentile converts; but that it should be recommended to them to abstain from certain specified things prohibited by that law, lest their indulgence in them should give offence to their brethren of the circumcision, who were still very zealous for the observance of the ceremonial part of their ancient religion. This decision, which was declared to have the sanction of the Holy Ghost, was communicated to the Gentile Christians of Syria and Cilicia, by a letter written in the name of the Apostles, elders, and whole church at Jerusalem, and conveyed by Judas and Silas, who accompanied St. Paul and Barnabas to Antioch for that purpose.
St. Paul, having preached a short time at Antioch, proposed to Barnabas that they should visit the churches which they had founded in different cities, Acts 15:36 . Barnabas readily consented; but while they were preparing for the journey, there arose a disagreement between them, which ended in their separation. In consequence of this dispute with Barnabas, St. Paul chose Silas for his companion, and they set out together from Antioch, A.D. 50. They travelled through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches, and then came to Derbe and Lystra, Acts 16. Thence they went through Phrygia and Galatia; and, being desirous of going into Asia Propria, or the Proconsular Asia, they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost. They therefore went into Mysia; and, not being permitted by the Holy Ghost to go into Bithynia as they had intended, they went to Troas. While St. Paul was there, a vision appeared to him in the night: "There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help up." St. Paul knew this vision to be a command from Heaven, and in obedience to it immediately sailed from Troas to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis, a city of Thrace; and thence he went to Philippi, the principal city of that part of Macedonia. St. Paul remained some time at Philippi, preaching the Gospel; and several occurrences which took place in that city, are recorded in Acts 17. Thence he went through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, Acts xvii, where he preached in the synagogues of the Jews on three successive Sabbath days. Some of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles of both sexes, embraced the Gospel; but the unbelieving Jews, moved with envy and indignation at the success of St. Paul's preaching, excited a great disturbance in the city, and irritated the populace so much against him, that the brethren, anxious for his safety, thought it prudent to send him to Berea, where he met with a better reception than he had experienced at Thessalonica. The Bereans heard his instructions with attention and candour, and having compared his doctrines with the ancient Scriptures, and being satisfied that Jesus, whom he preached, was the promised Messiah, they embraced the Gospel; but his enemies at Thessalonica, being informed of his success at Berea, came thither, and, by their endeavours to stir up the people against him, compelled him to leave that city also. He went thence to Athens, where he delivered that discourse recorded in Acts 17. From Athens, Paul went to Corinth, Acts 18, A.D. 51, and lived in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, two Jews, who, being compelled to leave Rome in consequence of Claudius's edict against the Jews, had lately settled at Corinth. St. Paul was induced to take up his residence with them, because, like himself, they were tent makers. At first he preached to the Jews in their synagogue; but upon their violently opposing his doctrine, he declared that from that time he would preach to the Gentiles only; and, accordingly, he afterward delivered his instructions in the house of one Justus, who lived near the synagogue. Among the few Jews who embraced the Gospel, were Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, and his family; and many of the Gentile Corinthians "hearing believed, and were baptized." St. Paul was encouraged in a vision, to persevere in his exertions to convert the inhabitants of Corinth; and although he met with great opposition and disturbance from the unbelieving Jews, and was accused by them before Gallio, the Roman governor of Achaia, he continued there a year and six months, "teaching the word of God." During this time he supported himself by working at his trade of tent making, that he might not be burdensome to the disciples. From Corinth St. Paul sailed into Syria, and thence he went to Ephesus: thence to Caesarea; and is supposed to have arrived at Jerusalem just before the feast of pentecost. After the feast he went to Antioch, A.D. 53; and this was the conclusion of his second apostolical journey, in which he was accompanied by Silas; and in part of it, Luke and Timothy were also with him.
Having made a short stay at Antioch, St. Paul set out upon his third apostolical journey. He passed through Galatia, and Phrygia, A.D. 54, confirming the Christians of those countries; and thence, according to his promise, he went to Ephesus, Acts 19. He found there some disciples, who had only been baptized with John's baptism: he directed that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus, and then he communicated to them the Holy Ghost. He preached for the space of three months in the synagogue; but the Jews being hardened beyond conviction, and speaking reproachfully of the Christian religion before the multitude, he left them; and from that time he delivered his instructions in the school of a person called Tyrannus, who was probably a Gentile. St. Paul continued to preach in this place about two years, so that all the inhabitants of that part of Asia Minor "heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." He also performed many miracles at Ephesus; and not only great numbers of people were converted to Christianity, but many also of those who in this superstitious city used incantations and magical arts, professed their belief in the Gospel, and renounced their former practices by publicly burning their books. Previous to the disturbance raised by Demetrius, Paul had intended to continue at Ephesus till Titus should return, whom he had sent to inquire into the state of the church at Corinth, 2 Corinthians 12:18 . He now thought it prudent to go from Ephesus immediately, Acts 20, A.D. 56; and having taken an affectionate leave of the disciples, he set out for Troas, 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 , where he expected to meet Titus. Titus, however, from some cause which is not known, did not come to Troas; and Paul was encouraged to pass over into Macedonia, with the hope of making converts. St. Paul, after preaching in Macedonia, receiving from the Christians of that country liberal contributions for their poor brethren in Judea, 2 Corinthians 8:1 , went to Corinth, A.D. 57, and remained there about three months. The Christians also of Corinth, and of the rest of Achaia, contributed to the relief of their brethren in Judea. St. Paul's intention was to have sailed from Corinth into Syria; but being informed that some unbelieving Jews, who had discovered his intention, lay in wait for him, he changed his plan, passed through Macedonia, and sailed from Philippi to Troas in five days, A.D. 58. He stayed at Troas seven days, and preached to the Christians on the first day of the week, the day on which they were accustomed to meet for the purpose of religious worship. From Troas he went by land to Assos; and thence he sailed to Mitylene; and from Mitylene to Miletus. Being desirous of reaching Jerusalem before the feast of pentecost, he would not allow time to go to Ephesus, and therefore he sent for the elders of the Ephesian church to Miletus, and gave them instructions, and prayed with them. He told them that he should see them no more, which impressed them with the deepest sorrow. From Miletus he sailed by Cos, Rhodes, and Patara in Lycia, to Tyre, Acts 21. Finding some disciples at Tyre, he stayed with them several days, and then went to Ptolemais, and thence to Caesarea. While St. Paul was at Caesarea, the Prophet Agabus foretold by the Holy Ghost, that St. Paul, if he went to Jerusalem, would suffer much from the Jews. This prediction caused great uneasiness to St. Paul's friends, and they endeavoured to dissuade him from his intention of going thither. St. Paul, however, would not listen to their entreaties, but declared that he was ready to die at Jerusalem, if it were necessary, for the name of the Lord Jesus. Seeing him thus resolute, they desisted from their importunities, and accompanied him to Jerusalem, where he is supposed to have arrived just before the feast of pentecost, A.D. 58. This may be considered as the end of St. Paul's third apostolical journey.
St. Paul was received by the Apostles and other Christians at Jerusalem with great joy and affection; and his account of the success of his ministry, and of the collections which he had made among the Christians of Macedonia and Achaia, for the relief of their brethren in Judea, afforded them much satisfaction; but not long after his arrival at Jerusalem, some Jews of Asia, who had probably in their own country witnessed St. Paul's zeal in spreading Christianity among the Gentiles, seeing him one day in the temple, endeavoured to excite a tumult, by crying out that he was the man who was aiming to destroy all distinction between Jew and Gentile; who taught things contrary to the law of Moses; and who had polluted the holy temple, by bringing into it uncircumcised Heathens. This representation did not fail to enrage the multitude against St. Paul; they seized him, dragged him out of the temple, beat him, and were upon the point of putting him to death, when he was rescued out of their hands by Lysias, a Roman tribune, and the principal military officer then at Jerusalem. What followed,—his defence before Felix and Agrippa,—his long detention at Caesarea, and his appeal to the emperor, which occasioned his voyage to Rome, are all circumstantially stated in the latter chapters of the Acts. Upon his arrival at Rome, St. Paul was committed to the care of the captain of the guard, A.D. 61. The Scriptures do not inform us whether he was ever tried before Nero, who was at this time emperor of Rome; and the learned are much divided in their opinion upon that point. St. Luke only says, "Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." During his confinement he converted some Jews resident at Rome, and many Gentiles, and, among the rest, several persons belonging to the emperor's household, Php_4:22 .
The Scripture history ends with the release of St. Paul from his two years' imprisonment at Rome, A.D. 63; and no ancient author has left us any particulars of the remaining part of this Apostle's life. It seems probable, that, immediately after he recovered his liberty, he went to Jerusalem; and that afterward he travelled through Asia Minor, Crete, Macedonia, and Greece, confirming his converts, and regulating the affairs of the different churches which he had planted in those countries. Whether at this time he also preached the Gospel in Spain, as some have imagined, is very uncertain. It was the unanimous tradition of the church, that St. Paul returned to Rome, that he underwent a second imprisonment there, and at last was put to death by the Emperor Nero. Tacitus and Suetonius have mentioned a dreadful fire which happened at Rome in the time of Nero. It was believed, though probably without any reason, that the emperor himself was the author of that fire; but to remove the odium from himself, he chose to attribute it to the Christians; and, to give some colour to that unjust imputation, he persecuted them with the utmost cruelty. In this persecution St. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom, probably, A.D. 65; and if we may credit Sulpitius Severus, a writer of the fifth century, the former was crucified, and the latter beheaded.
St. Paul was a person of great natural abilities, of quick apprehension, strong feelings, firm resolution, and irreproachable life. He was conversant with Grecian and Jewish literature; and gave early proofs of an active and zealous disposition. If we may be allowed to consider his character independent of his supernatural endowments, we may pronounce that he was well qualified to have risen to distinction and eminence, and that he was by nature peculiarly adapted to the high office to which it pleased God to call him. As a minister of the Gospel, he displayed the most unwearied perseverance and undaunted courage. He was deterred by no difficulty or danger, and endured a great variety of persecutions with patience and cheerfulness. He gloried in being thought worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus, and continued with unabated zeal to maintain the truth of Christianity against its bitterest and most powerful enemies. He was the principal instrument under Providence of spreading the Gospel among the Gentiles; and we have seen that his labours lasted through many years, and reached over a considerable extent of country. Though emphatically styled the great Apostle of the Gentiles, he began his ministry, in almost every city, by preaching in the synagogue of the Jews, and though he owed by far the greater part of his persecutions to the opposition and malice of that proud and obstinate people, whose resentment he particularly incurred by maintaining that the Gentiles were to be admitted to an indiscriminate participation of the benefits of the new dispensation, yet it rarely happened in any place, that some of the Jews did not yield to his arguments, and embrace the Gospel. He watched with paternal care over the churches which he had founded; and was always ready to strengthen the faith, and regulate the conduct of his converts, by such directions and advice as their circumstances might require.
The exertions of St. Paul in the cause of Christianity were not confined to personal instruction: he also wrote fourteen epistles to individuals or churches which are now extant, and form a part of our canon. These letters furnish evidence of the soundness and sobriety of his judgment. His caution in distinguishing between the occasional suggestions of inspiration, and the ordinary exertions of his natural understanding, is without example in the history of enthusiasm. His morality is every where calm, pure, and rational; adapted to the condition, the activity, and the business of social life, and of its various relations; free from the overscrupulousness and austerities of superstition, and from, what was more perhaps to be apprehended, the abstractions of quietism, and the soarings or extravagancies of fanaticism. His judgment concerning a hesitating conscience, his opinion of the moral indifferency of many actions, yet of the prudence and even the duty of compliance, where non-compliance would produce evil effects upon the minds of the persons who observed it, are all in proof of the calm and discriminating character of his mind; and the universal applicability of his precepts affords strong presumption of his inspiration. What Lord Lyttleton has remarked of the preference ascribed by St. Paul to rectitude of principle above every other religious accomplishment, is weighty: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal," &c, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 . Did ever enthusiast prefer that universal benevolence, meant by charity here, (which, we may add, is attainable by every man,) to faith, and to miracles, to those religious opinions which he had embraced, and to those supernatural graces and gifts which he imagined he had acquired, nay, even to the merit of martyrdom? Is it not the genius of enthusiasm to set moral virtues infinitely below the merit of faith; and of all moral virtues to value that least which is most particularly enforced by St. Paul, a spirit of candour, moderation, and peace? Certainly, neither the temper nor the opinions of a man subject to fanatic delusions are to be found in this passage. His letters, indeed, every where discover great zeal and earnestness in the cause in which he was engaged; that is to say, he was convinced of the truth of what he taught; he was deeply impressed, but not more so than the occasion merited, with a sense of its importance. This produces a corresponding animation and solicitude in the exercise of his ministry. But would not these considerations, supposing them to have been well founded, have holden the same place, and produced the same effect, in a mind the strongest and the most sedate? Here, then, we have a man of liberal attainments, and in other respects of sound judgment, who had addicted his life to the service of the Gospel. We see him in the prosecution of his purpose, travelling from country to country, enduring every species of hardship, encountering every extremity of danger, assaulted by the populace, punished by the magistrates, scourged, beaten, stoned, left for dead; expecting, wherever he came, a renewal of the same treatment, and the same dangers; yet, when driven from one city, preaching in the next; spending his whole time in the employment; sacrificing to it his pleasures, his ease, his safety; persisting in this course to old age, unaltered by the experience of perverseness, ingratitude, prejudice, desertion; unsubdued by anxiety, want, labour, persecutions; unwearied by long confinement; undismayed by the prospect of death. Such was St. Paul; and such were "the proofs of Apostleship found in him."
The following remarks of Hug on the character of this Apostle are equally just and eloquent: This most violent man, having such terrible propensities, whose turbulent impulses rendered him of a most enterprising character, would have become nothing better than a John of Gishala, a blood- intoxicated zealot, εμπνεων απειλης και φονου , breathing out threatenings and slaughter, Acts 9:1 , had not his whole soul been changed. The harsh tone of his mind inclined him to the principles of Pharisaism, which had all the appearance of severity, and was the predominant party among the Jews. Nature had not withholden from him the external endowments of eloquence, although he afterward spoke very modestly of them. At Lystra he was deemed the tutelar god of eloquence. This character, qualified for great things, but, not master of himself from excess of internal power, was an extreme of human dispositions, and, according to the natural course, was prone to absolute extremities. His religion was a destructive zeal, his anger was fierceness, his fury required victims. A ferocity so boisterous did not psychologically qualify him for a Christian nor a philanthropist; but, least of all, for a quietly enduring man. He, nevertheless, became all this on his conversion to Christianity and each bursting emotion of his mind subsided directly into a well regulated and noble character. Formerly hasty and irritable, now only spirited and resolved; formerly violent, now full of energy and enterprising: once ungovernably refractory against every thing which obstructed him, now only persevering; once fanatical and morose, now only serious; once cruel, now only firm; once a harsh zealot, now fearing God; formerly unrelenting, deaf to sympathy and commiseration, now himself acquainted with tears, which he had seen without effect in others. Formerly the friend of none, now the brother of mankind, benevolent, compassionate, sympathizing; yet never weak, always great; in the midst of sadness and sorrow manly and noble; so he showed himself at his deeply moving departure from Miletus, Acts 20 : it is like the departure of Moses, like the resignation of Samuel, sincere and heart-felt, full of self-recollection, and in the midst of pain full of dignity. His writings are a true expression of this character, with regard to the tone predominant in them. Severity, manly seriousness, and sentiments which ennoble the heart, are interchanged with mildness, affability, and sympathy: and their transitions are such as nature begets in the heart of a man penetrated by his subject, noble and discerning. He exhorts, reproaches, and consoles again; he attacks with energy, urges with impetuosity, then again he speaks kindly to the soul; he displays his finer feelings for the welfare of others, his forbearance and his fear of afflicting any body: all as the subject, time, opposite dispositions, and circumstances require. There prevails throughout in them an importuning language, an earnest and lively communication. Romans 1:26-32 , is a comprehensive and vigorous description of morals. His antitheses, Romans 2:21-24; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; 2 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 9:29-30; his enumerations, 1 Corinthians 13:4-10; 2 Corinthians 6:4-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Ephesians 4:4-7; Ephesians 5:3-6; his gradations, Romans 8:29-30; Titus 3:3-4; the interrogations, exclamations, and comparisons, sometimes animate his language even so as to give a visible existence to it. That, however, which we principally perceive in Paul, and from which his whole actions and operations become intelligible, is the peculiar impression which the idea of a universal religion has wrought upon his mind. This idea of establishing a religion for the world had not so profoundly engrossed any soul, no where kindled so much vigour, and projected it into such a constant energy. In this he was no man's scholar; this he had immediately received from the Spirit of his Master; it was a spark of the divine light which enkindled him. It was this which never allowed him to remain in Palestine and in Syria, which so powerfully impelled him to foreign parts.
The portion of some others was Judea and its environs: but his mission was directed to the nations, and his allotment was the whole of the Heathen world. Thus he began his career among the different nations of Asia Minor, and when this limit became also too confined for him, he went with equal confidence to Europe, among other nations, ordinances, sciences, and customs; and here likewise he finally with the same indefatigable spirit circulated his plans, even to the pillars of Hercules. In this manner Paul prepared the overthrow of two religions, that of his ancestors, and that of the Heathens.
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Early Life and Training (A.D. 1-35) Paul's Jewish name was Saul, given at birth after his father or some near kin, or even after the famous Old Testament King Saul, who like Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin.
Being born in a Roman city and claiming Roman citizenship, Paul ( Paul os ) was his official Roman name. Normally, a citizen would have three names similar to our first, middle, and last names. The New Testament records only the name Paul which would have been the middle or last name, since the first name was usually indicated only by the initial. See Rome; Roman Empire; Roman Law .
Tarsus, the place of Paul's birth ( Acts 22:3 ), is still a bustling city a few miles inland from the Mediteranean on Turkey's southern shore. By Paul's day it was a self-governing city, loyal to the Roman Empire. We do not know how Paul's parents or forebearers came to live in Tarsus. Many Jewish families emigrated from their homeland willingly or as a result of foreign intervention in the centuries before Christ. A nonbiblical story says that Paul's parents migrated from a village in Galilee, but this cannot be verified. See Tarsus .
Growing up in a Jewish family meant that Paul was well trained in the Jewish Scriptures and tradition ( Acts 26:4-8; Philippians 3:5-6 ) beginning in the home with the celebration of the Jewish holy days: Passover, Yom kippur, Hanukkah, and others. At an early age he entered the synagogue day school. Here he learned to read and write by copying select passages of Scripture. He learned the ancient Hebrew language from Old Testament texts. At home his parents probably spoke the current dialect—Aramaic. As Paul related to the larger community, he learned the Greek language. Every Jewish boy also learned a trade. Paul learned the art of tentmaking which he later used as a means of sustenance ( Acts 18:3 ).
Paul eventually went to Jerusalem to study under the famous rabbi, Gamaliel. He was probably 13 to 18 years old. See Acts 22:3 ). Paul became very zealous for the traditions, that is teachings, of his people ( Galatians 1:14 ). He was a Pharisee ( Philippians 3:5 ).
This zealous commitment to the study of the Old Testament laws and traditions is the background of Paul's persecution of his Jewish brothers who believed Jesus was the Messiah. Luke introduced Paul in the Book of Acts at the execution of Stephen. Now Stephen was executed because he placed Jesus (1) superior to the law and (2) superior to the Temple. Furthermore he claimed (3) that the fathers of the Jewish nation had always been rebellious. Paul, from his training, vigorously disagreed with Stephen's point of view. Stephen opposed the very foundations of Judaism since the days of Moses. Stephen's sermon apparently stimulated Paul's persecution of the church ( Acts 8:1-3 , Acts 9:1-2; Acts 26:9-11; Philippians 3:6; Galatians 1:13 ). To be an effective persecutor, Paul would need to know as much as possible about Jesus and the church. He knew the message of Christianity: Jesus' resurrection, His messiahship, and His availability to all humankind. He simply rejected the gospel. See Acts of the Apostles; Stephen .
Paul's Conversion (A.D. 35) Three accounts tell of Paul's Damascus Road experience: Acts 9:3-19; Acts 22:6-21; Acts 26:13-23 . The variations in details are accounted for by recognizing that each story is told to a different audience on a different occasion. Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Jewish people who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah. This was legally possible since city governments were known to permit the Jewish sector of the city a reasonable degree of self-government. The journey would take at least a week using donkeys or mules to ride and carry provisions. See Damascus; Messiah .
As Paul neared Damascus, a startling light forced him to the ground. The voice asked: “Why persecutest thou me,” and identified the speaker as Jesus—the very one whom Stephen had seen at the right hand of God when Paul witnessed Stephen's stoning. Paul was struck blind and was led into the city. Ananias met Paul and told him that he had been chosen by God as a messenger for the Gentiles ( Acts 9:17 ). After Paul received his sight, like other believers before him, he was baptized.
In this conversion experience, Paul accepted the claims of Jesus and the church, the very thing he was seeking to destroy. Jesus was truly the Messiah and took priority over the Temple and the law. The experience was also Paul's call to carry the gospel to the Gentile world ( Acts 9:15; Acts 22:21 ).
Both his conversion and call are reflected in Paul's letters. He wrote that Jesus had appeared to him ( 1 Corinthians 15:8-10; 1 Corinthians 9:1 ); the gospel Paul preached had come by revelation ( Galatians 1:12 ); he had been called by God ( Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 3:2-12 ). His conversion brought a complete change in the inner controlling power of his life. It was like dying and receiving a new life ( Galatians 2:20 ) or being created anew ( 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ). This experience of radical change and call to the Gentiles provided the motivation to travel throughout the Roman world. See Conversion .
Paul's Missionary Journeys (A.D. 46-61) (1) The first missionary journey (A.D. 46-48) began at Antioch ( Acts 13-14 ). The church at Antioch had been founded by Hellenistic Christian believers like Stephen ( Acts 11:19-26 ). Barnabas became its prominent leader, and Paul was his associate. Acts makes it clear that the entire church was involved in the world mission project, and the church chose Paul and Barnabas to be their representatives. John Mark went along as an important assistant. Their itinerary took them from Antioch (Antakya of modern Turkey) to the seaport of Seleucia. By ship they traveled to Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and traveled the length of the island to Paphos, from whence they set sail to Perga on Turkey's southern shore. Entering the highlands, they came into the province of Galatia where they concentrated their efforts in the southern cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Their typical procedure was to enter a new town, seek out the synagogue, and share the gospel on the sabbath day. Usually Paul's message caused a division in the synagogue, and Paul and Barnabas would seek a Gentile audience. From Paul's earliest activities, it became evident that the gospel he preached caused tension between believers and the synagogue. This first journey produced results. In each city many turned to the new way ( Acts 13:44 ,Acts 13:44, 13:52; Acts 14:1-4 ,Acts 14:1-4, 14:20-28 ); and a minimal organization was established in each locality ( Acts 14:23 ). He later addressed an epistle to this district—Galatians. See Asia Minor.
(2) Paul's second journey (A.D. 49-52) departed from Antioch with Silas as his associate ( Acts 15:36-18:18 ). They traveled overland through what is now modern Turkey to the Aegean part of Troas. A vision directed Paul to go to Philippi in the province of Macedonia. Philippi was a Roman city with no synagogue and a minimal Jewish population. Paul established a church there as further attested by his letter to the Philippians. From there he traveled to Thessalonica and Berea. His preaching in Athens met with meager results. His work in Corinth (the province of —Achaia) was well received and even approved, in an oblique fashion, by the Roman governor, Gallio. From Corinth, Paul returned to Caesarea, visited Jerusalem, and then Antioch ( Acts 18:22 ).
(3) Paul's third missionary venture (A.D. 52-57) centered in the city of Ephesus from which the gospel probably spread into the surrounding cities such as the seven churches in Revelation ( Acts 18:23-20:6; Revelation 2-3 ). From Ephesus he carried on a correspondence with the Corinthian church and possibly other churches. While in Corinth at the end of this journey, he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. See Revelation 2-3; Revelation 2-3 .
When Paul returned to Jerusalem for his last visit ( Acts 21:17-26:32 ), he was soon arrested and imprisoned—first in Jerusalem and then later transferred to Caesarea (A.D. 57-59). At first the charges against him were that he had brought a Gentile into the restricted areas of the Temple. Later, he was accused of being a pestilent fellow. The real reasons for his arrest are noted: the crowd was enraged at his mentioning his call to the Gentiles ( Acts 22:21-22 ), and he stated to the Sanhedrin that he was arrested because of his belief in the resurrection. These two reasons, or beliefs, were the controlling motivation of Paul's life from conversion to arrest. See Resurrection; Sanhedrin .
Paul was eventually transferred to Rome (A.D. 60-61) as a prisoner of the emperor. His story in the New Testament ends there. The tradition outside the New Testament that tells of Paul's execution in Rome is reasonable. The tradition that he traveled to Spain is problematic.
Paul and the churches (1) Paul did not hesitate to remind the churches that he possessed apostolic authority from the Lord. Galatians 1-2 is his most intensive statement of this. He blatantly stated that his appointment was from God ( Galatians 1:1 ), and that he preached the authentic gospel ( Galatians 1:8 ) because he received it by revelation ( Galatians 1:12 ).
He had been called by God to carry the gospel to the Gentiles ( Galatians 1:16 ). This call was recognized by the leaders of the Jerusalem church ( Galatians 2:7-10 ), the very church in which the most distinguished of the apostles resided—Peter, James, and John. In most of his letters, Paul identified himself from the beginning as an apostle of Christ Jesus. His certainty of the gospel and his relationship to Christ was the grounds of his relation to the churches. The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians further expresses Paul's commitment to the Gentile mission. Again he insisted that by revelation ( Ephesians 3:3 ) he knew the mystery of Christ which is simply that the gospel is for the Gentiles without any restrictions ( Ephesians 3:6-9 ). He had been given the specific charge to carry the gospel to the Gentiles ( Acts 9:15 ). See Galatians, Epistle to; Gentiles .
(2) While Paul was intensely aware of his calling, he also recognized his dependency upon others. When he was criticized for his own willingness to accept Gentiles without their being circumcised, he was willing to enter into dialogue with the Christians in Jerusalem ( Acts 15:1 ) to resolve the question. Paul must have realized that he, as well as the young Gentile Christians, needed the approval and support of the Christian leaders in Jerusalem, the very place where the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus took place. During his travels, he often returned to Jerusalem to visit the church, and he brought gifts to it on more than one occasion ( Acts 11:29-30; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 ).
(3) We must not think of Paul as an established administrator over the churches he founded. His letters give evidence that he did not command or dictate to his churches; rather he persuaded them. The lengthy correspondence with the church at Corinth was Paul's effort to persuade them to adopt the correct attitude towards specific problems as well as toward himself. He could only admonish the churches through the gospel.
Paul's Theology Paul's writings are the major source of Christian theology both because of the amount of material and because of Paul's intensively theological writing style. (1) Human beings are alienated from God. They had the opportunity of recognizing God as Creator and themselves as dependent creatures, but instead they have rejected God and established themselves as the ultimate authority. God permitted humankind to make the choice. The results of such a choice is humankind's immorality, idolatry, and the suffering that human beings impose upon one another. In short, our declaring our independence from God has given sin an opportunity. While Gentiles have made their own abilities absolute, the Jews have made the law absolute. Each group has alienated themselves from God. This is the bondage of sin. Unfortunately, humans do not have the ability to solve this problem. We are hopelessly estranged from God. These ideas are especially described in Romans 1:18-3:8 . See Sin; Anthropology .
(2) Paul's answer to humankind's alienation was that “when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his son” ( Galatians 4:4 ). He further described the Son in Colossians 1:15-20 . First, Paul told his readers that Christ is the model for all humankind. He is the image of God ( Colossians 1:15 ). Christ represents what God would like all human beings to be. Second, Christ is bound up with the One who created the universe. Its design and purpose centers in Christ. Whatever our question about our place in the world might be, the ultimate answer is in Christ. Third, based on Christ's relation to God and His place in the universe, He is the appropriate one to reconcile us to God ( Colossians 1:20 ). Christ is able to reestablish the broken relationship between God and humankind. He shows us how we can realign our proper dependent relationship to God. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ). See Conversion; Reconciliation.
(3) The presentation of Christ as God's reconciling gift to humankind is graphically portrayed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus . This event is the focal point of all that Paul preached and wrote. “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” ( 1 Corinthians 2:2 ). The Death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus must be thought of as a unit. “If Christ be not risen, then your faith is also vain” ( 1 Corinthians 15:14 ). Paul could think of Christ's death as a Passover sacrifice ( 1 Corinthians 5:7 ), as a representative sacrifice ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 ), or as a ransom ( 1 Timothy 2:5-6 ). When Paul stressed the resurrection event, he thought in terms of the doctrine of the future which he had inherited from his Jewish background: (a) Human history has an end which will begin a new world. (b) This will begin with the coming of the Messiah. (c) An
intense encounter between good and evil will take place. (d) The dead will be resurrected. Jesus' resurrection is evidence that God has already begun the messianic era. It guarantees the hope that the complete resurrection and the new world is sure to come ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-24 ). Jesus' death and resurrection was God's way of verifying that Jesus is the One who brings about reconciliation between humankind and God. See [[Life And Ministry Of Jesus]]; Christology; Future Hope .
(4) When Paul thought about the person who accepts God's offer of reconciliation in Christ, he described persons of faith, using Abraham as a worthy example ( Romans 4:3 ). Abraham had a right relation to God because of his response of faith to God's offer. Paul further described Abraham as one who was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” ( Romans 4:21 NRSV). This is applied to Christians: “It [righteousness] will be reckoned to us who believe [have faith] in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” ( Romans 4:24 NRSV). Faith is simply accepting as certain the promise of salvation God has made through Christ. This response in faith is so dynamic and vital that it has transforming power and is like creating a new person ( Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ). The person of faith is a new creation with a new motivating, energizing force, the Holy Spirit ( Romans 8:9-11 ). The person of faith is truly “in Christ.” See Faith .
(5) The believer does not come into reconciliation in isolation. It happens in a community of faith. Paul began his missionary activities out of a congregation of believers. Wherever people became believers, a community existed known by the word church . Paul never advised a person of faith to live alone but rather to fellowship with the church. This believing community is intimately associated with Christ, who holds a position of dignity and authority over the church—He is its Head ( Ephesians 1:22-23 ). At the same time Christ loves the church, and He gave Himself for it; the church is subject to Christ in all matters ( Ephesians 5:21-33 ). This new community performs two functions: (a) It nurtures the person of faith so that he or she may mature “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” ( Ephesians 4:13 ). (b) It witnesses to God's power to reconcile humankind to Himself by its example of Christian fellowship within its walls and by evangelistic outreach beyond itself ( Ephesians 3:10 ). See Church .
(6) The reconciled person has a new life-style. Paul expressed a concern for ethics. He listed vices: Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-11; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 , and others. He also listed worthy qualities: Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-14; Philippians 4:8 . He gave advice to Christian households: Colossians 3:18-4:1; Ephesians 5:21-6:9 . He offered guidance in marriage matters: 1 Corinthians 7:1 . Although Paul expected worthy Christian conduct, he was not legalistic. Legalism means keeping rules for rule's sake. Rules are essential for Christian nurture. In an extended discussion about Christian conduct ( 1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1 ) he emphasized that a believer will be sensitive to the effect his conduct will have on a fellow believer ( 1 Corinthians 8:9-12 ). The ultimate standard of Christian conduct is Christ Himself. After exhorting believers to be concerned about their actions toward each other, Paul gave one of his most beautiful descriptions of the example of Jesus' giving Himself for others ( Philippians 2:1-11 ). So Christ gives Himself as God's reconciling agent to bring human beings into a right relation with God, living a life motivated by the Spirit. See Ethics .
Oscar S. Brooks
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
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; Philippians 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" ( Philippians 3:6 ).
We read of his sister and his sister's son ( Acts 23:16 ), and of other relatives ( Romans 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 ( Galatians 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 [Compare Acts 9:23 and 1 Kings 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; 2co. 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 ( Galatians 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 ( Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 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 ( Galatians 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 2 Corinthians 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 ( Romans 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 ) 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 ( Philippians 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.
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Paul ( Pawl ), Small. Originally named Saul; first called Paul in Acts 13:9. He was a Jew of pure Hebrew descent, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised according to the law when eight days old, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and by birth a free Roman citizen. Acts 22:28. He was taught, according to Jewish custom, a trade, that of tentmaker— I.E., the manufacturing of goats' hair cloth, commonly used for tents. But he was early sent to Jerusalem, where he was trained under the famous Gamaliel. Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3; Acts 22:27-28; Philippians 3:5. Of his family we know nothing, save that he had a nephew, who detected a conspiracy against his life. Acts 23:16-22. He was a fierce defender of Judaism and a bitter enemy of Christianity. Acts 8:3; Acts 26:9-11. Of his miraculous conversion, we have three accounts—Acts, chaps. 9, 22, 26. Christ revealed himself to him near and at Damascus. Acts 26:15; 1 Corinthians 15:8. His advocacy of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah exposed him everywhere to the hatred and malice of his countrymen. He made three missionary tours, preaching Christ and planting churches in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece, and making several visits to Jerusalem, narrated in the Acts. He was accused by the rulers of the Jews, arrested at Jerusalem by the Roman officers, and after being detained for two years or more at Cæsarea, he was sent to Rome for trial, baying himself appealed to Cæsar. It is quite probable, as Christians believed in the earlier centuries, that the apostle was acquitted and discharged from his first imprisonment in Rome at the end of two years, and that he afterwards returned to Rome, where be was again imprisoned and put to death by Nero. The following is a summary of the chief events in the life of Paul, taken from Schaff's Dictionary Of The Bible:
Sojourn in Arabia
First journey to Jerusalem after his conversion, Galatians 1:18; sojourn at Tarsus, ana afterward at Antioch, Acts 11:26
Second journey to Jerusalem, in company with Barnabas, to relieve the famine
Paul's first great missionary journey, with Barnabas and Mark; Cyprus, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe; return to Antioch in Syria.
Apostolic Council at Jerusalem; conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christianity; Paul's third journey to Jerusalem, with Barnabas and Titus; settlement of the difficulty: agreement between the Jewish and Gentile apostles; Paul's return to Antioch; his difference with Peter and Barnabas at Antioch, and temporary separation from the latter
Paul's second missionary journey from Antioch to Asia Minor, Cilicia, Lycaonia, Galatia, Troas, and Greece (Philippi, Thessalonica, Beræa, Athens, and Corinth). From this tour dates the Christianization of Europe
Paul at Corinth (a year and a half). First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians
Paul's fourth journey to Jerusalem (spring); short stay at Antioch. His third missionary tour (autumn)
Paul at Ephesus (three years); Epistle to the Galatians (56 or 57). Excursion to Macedonia, Corinth, and Crete (not mentioned in the Acts); First Epistle to Timothy (?). Return to Ephesus. First Epistle to the
Paul's departure from Ephesus (summer) to Macedonia. Second Epistle to the Corinthians
Paul's third sojourn at Corinth (three months). Epistle to the Romans
Paul's fifth and last journey to Jerusalem (spring), where he is arrested and sent to Cæsarea
Paul's captivity at Cæsarea. Testimony before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (the Gospel of Luke and the Acts commenced at Cæsarea, and concluded at Rome)
Paul's voyage to Rome (autumn); shipwreck at Malta; arrival at
Paul's first captivity at Rome, Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon
Conflagration at Rome (July); Neronian persecution of the Christians; martyrdom of Paul (?)
Hypothesis of a second Roman captivity and preceding missionary journeys to the East, and possibly to Spain. First Epistle to Timothy; Titus ( Hebrews 7:1-28), Second Timothy.
The epistles of Paul are 13, or, if we count the Hebrews 14 in number. They are inspired tracts for the times, and for all times. They may be arranged:
1 and 2 Thessalonians, written a.d. 52, 53, from Corinth.
Galatians, written a.d. 56-57, from Ephesus.
1 Corinthians, written a.d. 57, from Ephesus.
2 Corinthians, written a.d. 57, from Macedonia.
Romans, written a.d. 58, from Corinth.
Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon, written a.d. 61-63, from Rome.
Hebrews, written a.d. 64 (?), from Italy.
1 Timothy and Titus, written a.d. 65 or 57 (?) from Macedonia.
2 Timothy, written a.d. 67 or 64 (?) from Rome.
Romans and Galatians: doctrines of sin and grace.
1 and 2 Corinthians: moral and practical questions.
Colossians and Philippians: person of Christ.
Ephesians: the Church of Christ.
1 and 2 Thessalonians: the second advent.
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus: church government and pastoral care.
Hebrews: the eternal priesthood and sacrifice of Christ.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
This apostle was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of pure descent, born at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a fact which gave to him the privilege of Roman citizenship. He was a disciple of Gamaliel and a strict Pharisee. He is first introduced to us as a young man, by name SAUL, at whose feet the witnesses who stoned Stephen laid their clothes. He became afterwards a violent persecutor of the saints, both of men and women, acting with great zeal, thinking he was doing God's service. His conversion as the effect of the Lord appearing to him was unique, and he was so completely changed that he became at once as bold for Christ as before he had been a persecutor of Christ in the persons of His saints. He immediately preached in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. This was the distinctive point of his testimony. As the Jews sought his life at Damascus, he departed into Arabia, where doubtless he had deep exercise of heart and learnt more of the Lord.
After three years he went up to see Peter at Jerusalem, where he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Jews again seeking his life, he was conducted to Caesarea, and sent to Tarsus, his native place. From thence he was fetched by Barnabas to go to Antioch, where the gospel had been effectual, and there they both laboured. After having, in company with Barnabas, taken supplies to Jerusalem (his second visit), on occasion of a dearth, he commenced his first missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor. He and Barnabas returned to Antioch, where he remained 'a long time.' On a dispute arising as to Gentile converts being circumcised, he went with Barnabas to Jerusalem concerning that question, and returned to Antioch. This city had become a sort of centre of the activity of the Spirit. Being far from Jerusalem it was less influenced by Judaising tendencies, though communion with the saints there was maintained.
Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece were the sphere of Paul's second missionary journey. Having differed from Barnabas, because the latter wished to take John with them (who had left them on the first journey), Paul selected Silas for his companion, and departed with the full fellowship of the brethren. During part of this journey Timothy was one of the company. He abode a year and a half at Corinth, where he wrote the two Epistles To The Thessalonians He now visited Jerusalem at the feast, and returned to Antioch. He took his third missionary journey through Galatia and Phrygia.When he visited Ephesus he separated the disciples from the synagogue, and they met in the school of Tyrannus. At Ephesus he wrote theFIRST Epistle To The Corinthians and probably the Epistle To The Galatians After the tumult raised by Demetrius he went to Macedonia, and there wrote the Second Epistle To The Corinthians He again visited Corinth and wrote the Epistle To The Romans
The Jews seeking his life, Paul went through Macedonia, sailed from Philippi, and preached at Troas. At Miletus he gave a solemn parting address to the elders of Ephesus, and took his leave of the disciples at Tyre, where he was cautioned not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea also he was warned of what awaited him at Jerusalem, but he avowed that he was ready not only to be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Paul arrived at Jerusalem just before Pentecost. In order to prove himself a good Jew he was advised by the brethren to associate himself with four men who had a vow on them, and to be at charges with them. But while carrying this out he was seized by some Asiatic Jews, and beaten, but was rescued by Lysias, the Roman chief captain. After appearing before the council, and again being rescued by him, he was for safety sent off by night to Caesarea. There his cause was heard by Felix, who kept him prisoner, hoping to be bribed to release him. Two years later, when superseded by Festus, Felix, to please the Jews, left Paul in bonds. On appearing before Festus, to save himself from being sent to Jerusalem, there being a plot to waylay and murder him, Paul appealed to the emperor. His case having been heard by Agrippa and Festus, he was finally remitted to Rome. The ship, however, was wrecked at Malta, where they wintered, all on board having been saved.
On his arrival at Rome, Paul sent for the chief men of the Jews and preached to them: some of them believed, though the majority rejected God's grace (thus fulfilling Isaiah 6:9,10 ), which should henceforth go to the Gentiles. He, though still a prisoner, abode two years in his own hired house. There he wrote the Epistles To The Colossians the EPHESIANS, the PHILIPPIANS, and also to Philemon
The history of Paul is thus far given in the Acts of the Apostles, but there are intimations in the later epistles that after the two years at Rome he was liberated. His movements from that time are not definitely recorded; apparently he visited Ephesus and Macedonia, 1 Timothy 1:3; wrote the First Epistle To Timothy; visited Crete, Titus 1:5; and Nicopolis, Titus 3:12; wrote the Epistle To Titus (the early writers say that he went to Spain, which we know he desired to do, Romans 15:24,28 ); visited Troas and Miletus, 2 Timothy 4:13,20; wrote the Epistle To The Hebrews; and when a prisoner at Rome the second time, wrote the Second Epistle To Timothy when expecting his death. Early writers say that he was beheaded with the sword, which is probable, as he was a Roman citizen.
Paul received his commission directly from Christ who appeared to him in glory, and this source of his apostleship he carefully insists on in the Epistle to the Galatians. New light as to the church in its heavenly character came out by Paul, who was God's special apostle for that purpose. To him was revealed the truth that the assembly was the body of Christ, and the doctrine of new creation in Christ Jesus, in which evidently there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. This caused great persecution from the Jews and from Judaising teachers, who could not readily give up the law, nor endure the thought of Gentiles having an equal place with themselves. This Paul insisted on: it was his mission as apostle to the Gentiles. To Paul also was committed what he calls "my gospel:" this was 'the gospel of the glory' (Christ in glory who put away the Christian's sins being presented in it as the last Adam, the Son of God). 2 Corinthians 4:4 . It not only brings salvation, great as that is, but it separates the believer from earth, and conforms him to Christ as He is in glory.
Paul was an eminent and faithful servant of Christ. As such he was content to be nothing, that Christ might be glorified. To the Thessalonians he was gentle 'as a nurse cherisheth her children.' 1 Thessalonians 2:7 . He was severe however to the Corinthians when they were allowing sin in their midst, and to them he had to assert his apostolic authority when traducers were seeking to nullify his influence among them. To the Galatians he was still more severe: they were in danger of being shipwrecked as to faith by false Judaising teachers, who were undermining the truth of the gospel.
In the epistles we get a few glimpses of the inner life of Paul. After having been caught up into the third heavens, he prayed for the removal of the thorn in the flesh which had been given him lest he should be puffed up, and was told that Christ's grace was sufficient for him, he could say, "most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.' 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 . He also could say, "To me to live is Christ;" and "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14 . As a martyr he reached that goal. The catalogue he gives of his privations and sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 discloses the fact that but a small part of his gigantic labours is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
The distinguished "apostle of the Gentiles;" also called SAUL, a Hebrew name. He is first called Paul in Acts 13:12; and as some think, assumed this Roman name according to a common custom of Jews in foreign lands, or in honor of Sergius Paulus, Acts 13:7 , his friend and an early convert. Both names however may have belonged to him in childhood. He was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and inherited from his father the privileges of a Roman citizen. His parents belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, and brought up their son as "a Hebrew of the Hebrews," Philippians 3:5 . Tarsus was highly distinguished for learning and culture, and the opportunities for improvement it afforded were no doubt diligently improved by Paul. At a suitable age he was sent to Jerusalem to complete his education in the school of Gamaliel, the most distinguished and right-minded of the Rabbis of that age. It does not appear that he was in Jerusalem during the ministry of Christ; and it was perhaps after his return to Tarsus that he learned the art of tent-making, in accordance with a general practice among the Jews, and their maxim, "He that does not teach his son a useful handicraft, teaches him to steal," Acts 18:3 20:34 2 Thessalonians 3:8 .
We next find him at Jerusalem, apparently about thirty years of age, high in the confidence of the leading men of the nation. He had profited by the instructions of Gamaliel, and became learned in the law; yielding himself to the strictest discipline of the sect of the Pharisees, he had become a fierce defender of Judaism and a bitter enemy of Christianity, Acts 8:3 26:9-11 . After his miraculous conversion, of which we have three accounts, Acts 9:22,26 , Christ was all in all to him. It was Christ who revealed himself to his soul at Damascus, Acts 26:15 1 Corinthians 15:8; to Christ he gave his whole heart, and soul, mind, might, and strength; and thenceforth, living or dying, he was "the servant of Jesus Christ." He devoted all the powers of his ardent and energetic mind to the defense and propagation of the gospel of Christ, more particularly among the Gentiles. His views of the pure and lofty spirit of Christianity, in its worship and in its practical influence, appear to have been peculiarly clear and strong; and the opposition which he was thus led to make to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish worship, exposed him everywhere to the hatred and malice of his countrymen. On their accusation, he was at length put in confinement by the Roman officers and after being detained for two years or more at Caesarea, he was sent to Rome for trial, having himself appealed to the emperor.
There is less certainty in respect to the accounts, which are given of Paul afterwards by the early ecclesiastical writers. Still it was a very generally received opinion in the earlier centuries, that the apostle was acquitted and discharged from his imprisonment at the end of two years; and that he afterwards returned to Rome, where he was again imprisoned and put to death by Nero.
Paul appears to have possessed all the learning which was then current among the Jews, and also to have been acquainted with Greek literature; as appears from his mastery of the Greek language, his frequent discussions with their philosophers, and his quotations from their poets-Aratus, Acts 17:28; Meander, 1 Corinthians 15:33; and Epimenides, Titus 1:12 . Probably, however a learned Greek education cannot with propriety be ascribed to him. But the most striking trait in his character is his enlarged view of the universal design and the spiritual nature of the religion of Christ, and of its purifying and ennobling influence upon the heart and character of those who sincerely profess it. From the Savior himself he had caught the flame of universal love, and the idea of salvation for all mankind, Galatians 1:12 .
Most of the other apostles and teachers appear to have clung to Judaism, to the rites, ceremonies, and dogmas of the religion in which they had been educated, and to have regarded Christianity as intended to be engrafted upon the ancient stock, which was yet to remain as the trunk to support the new branches. Paul seems to have been among the first to rise above this narrow view, and to regard Christianity in its light, as a universal religion. While others were for Judaizing all those who embraced the new religion by imposing on them the yoke of Mosaic observances, it was Paul's endeavor to break down the middle wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, and show them that they were all "one in Christ." To this end all his labors tended; and, ardent in the pursuit of this great object, he did not hesitate to censure the time-serving Peter, and to expose his own life in resisting the prejudices of is countrymen. Indeed, his five years' imprisonment as Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome arose chiefly from this cause.
These various journeys of St. Paul, many of them made on foot, should be studied through on a map; in connection with the inspired narrative, in Acts, and with his own pathetic description of his labors, 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 , wherein nevertheless the half is not told. When we review the many regions he traversed and evangelized, the converts he gathered, and the churches he founded, the toils, perils, and trials he endured, the miracles he wrought, and the revelations he received, the discourses, orations, and letters in which he so ably defends and unfolds Christianity, the immeasurable good which God by him accomplished, his heroic life, and his martyr death, he appears to us the most extraordinary of men.
The character of Paul is most fully portrayed in his epistles, by which, as Chrysostom says he, "still lives in the mouths of men throughout the whole world. By them, not only is own converts, but all the faithful even unto this day, yea, and all the saints who are yet to be born until Christ's coming again, both have been and shall be blessed." In them we observe the transforming and elevating power of grace in one originally turbulent and passionate-making him a model of many and Christian excellence; fearless and firm, yet considerate, courteous, and gentle; magnanimous, patriotic, and selfsacrificing; rich in all noble sentiments and affections.
Epistles Of Paul -There are fourteen epistles in the New Testament usually ascribed to Paul, beginning with that to the Romans, and ending with that to the Hebrews. Of these the first thirteen have never been contested; as to the latter, many good men have doubted whether Paul was the author, although the current of criticism is in favor of this opinion. These epistles, in which the principles of Christianity are developed for all periods, characters, and circumstances, are among the most important of the primitive documents of the Christian religion, even apart from their inspired character; and although they seem to have been written without special premeditation, and have reference mostly to transient circumstances and temporary relations, yet they everywhere bear the stamp of the great and original mind of the apostle, as purified, elevated, and sustained by the influences of the Holy Spirit.
It is worthy of mention here, that an expression of Peter respecting "our beloved brother Paul" is often a little misunderstood. The words "in which" in 2 Peter 3:16 , are erroneously applied to the "epistles" of Paul; and not to "these things" immediately preceding, that is, the subjects of which Peter was writing, as the Greek shows they should be. Peter finds no fault, either with Paul, or with the doctrines of revelation.
The arrangement of Hug is somewhat different; and some critics who find evidence that Paul was released from his first imprisonment and lived until the spring of A. D. 68, assign the epistles Hebrews, 1Timothy, Titus, and 2Timothy to the last year of his life. See Timothy
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
The apostle. His name at the first was Saul; but, as is generally supposed, after his being made an instrument in the hand of God for the conversion of Sergius Paulus, the deputy of Paphos, (see Acts 13:7) he was called Paul. Some have indeed supposed that the change of name was made at his own conversion; but this doth not seem likely, as so long a space had taken place between that period and the time of Sergius Paulus's conversion, during all which the Holy Ghost still called him Saul. His own conversion was about the year of our Lord God 35; whereas the conversion of the deputy of Paphos did not happen until the year 45. See particularly Acts 13:2; where God the Holy Ghost called our apostle by name, Saul; and the manner of expression in which the name of Paul is first spoken of in the Scriptures, seems to imply that it was then only given to him, for afterwards we hear no more of the name of Saul. (See Acts 13:9) And some have gone so far as to say, that the Deputy himself called Paul by this name, as giving him one of his own names in token of his love for him, as Vespasian the emperor, it is well known, called Josephus Flavius, his own name, out of regard.
Concerning this great apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would form a place more suited for the separate volume of an history, than as an article of a mere explanatory memorandum in a Concordance, to enter into a detail of Paul's life and ministry. Pleasing as the subject in itself would be, I must suppress the gratification. Indeed a reference to the sacred word of God is much more suited for the obtaining information of Paul's history, because while attending to the memoirs of the apostle we may also gather instruction from his doctrine. It will answer all the purpose to be wished for, by way of information, concerning Paul, in a work of this kind, just to observe that from his conversion to his martyrdom we find in the apostle's history one uniform invariable course of faith and practice in the path of the gospel. And those fourteen blessed Epistles which God the Holy Ghost hath given to the church by him, will render his memory blessed to the latest ages. It should seem, from calculating the periods of Paul's life and ministry, that he was born about two years before Christ's incarnation, and suffered martyrdom under, the emperor Nero in the year 66.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
"Thorn" implies bodily pain; "buffet," shame (
Copyright Statement These files are public domain.
Bibliography Information Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Paul'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/p/paul.html. 1949.
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): ( n.) An Italian silver coin. See Paolo.
(2): ( n.) See Pawl.
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Paul, originally Saul, was a native of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia (, etc.), and was of Jewish descent, of the tribe of Benjamin . From his father he inherited the rights of Roman citizenship, which had probably been earned by some of his ancestry through services rendered to the Roman state. The supposition that he enjoyed them in virtue of being a native of Tarsus is not well founded.
At that time Tarsus was the rival of Athens and Alexandria as a place of learning and philosophical research; but to what extent the future 'Apostle of the Gentiles' enjoyed the advantage of its schools we have no means of accurately determining. It must be allowed, however, that the mere circumstance of having spent his early years in such a city as Tarsus could not but exert a very powerful influence on the mind of such a man as Paul, in the way of sharpening his faculties, refining his tastes, and enlarging the circle of his sympathies and affections.
But whatever uncertainty may hang over the early studies of the Apostle in the department of Greek learning, there can be no doubt that, being the son of a Pharisee, and destined, in all probability, from his infancy to the pursuits of a doctor of Jewish law, he would be carefully instructed from his earliest years in the elements of Rabbinical lore. It is probable also that at this time he acquired his skill in that handicraft trade by which in later years he frequently supported himself (; , etc.); for it was a maxim among the Jews, that 'he who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to steal.'
At the proper age (supposed to be after he was fourteen years old), the Apostle proceeded to Jerusalem, to prosecute his studies in the learning of the Jews. Here he became a student under Gamaliel, a distinguished teacher of the law, and who is supposed to be the person of that name who is celebrated in the writings of the Talmudists as one of the seven teachers to whom the title 'Rabban' was given. Besides acquaintance with the Jewish law, and a sincere conviction of the supreme excellence of Judaism, Gamaliel appears to have possessed a singularly calm and judicious mind, and to have exercised a freedom of thought as well as pursued a range of study very unlike what was common among the party to which he belonged . It cannot be doubted that the instructions and example of such a teacher must have exercised a powerful influence on the mind of the future Apostle.
We now approach the period in Paul's history when he becomes a prominent figure on the page of the sacred historian, and when, consequently, the facts of his life can be more confidently narrated. He is introduced to our notice by the sacred historian for the first time in connection with the martyrdom of Stephen, in which transaction he was, if not an assistant, something more than a mere spectator. Immediately after this event he is represented as sharing the counsels of the chief priests, and as entrusted by them with the entire responsibility of executing their designs against the followers of Jesus . For such a task he showed a painful aptitude, and discharged it with a zeal which spared neither age nor sex . But while thus, in his ignorance and unbelief, he was seeking to be 'injurious' to the cause of Christ, the great Author of Christianity was about to make him a distinguished trophy of its power, and one of the most devoted and successful of its advocates. While journeying to Damascus, with a commission from the high priest, to arrest and bring back as prisoners to Jerusalem the Christians who had escaped thither from the fury of their persecutors, and when he had almost completed his journey, he was suddenly arrested by a miraculous vision of Christ, who addressing him from heaven, demanded the reason of his furious zeal, in the remarkable words, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?' Struck to the ground by the suddenness and overwhelming splendor of the vision, and only able to ask by whom it was he was thus addressed, he received for answer, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest; but arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what to do.' This command the confounded and now humble zealot immediately rose to obey, but as the brilliancy of the light which had shone around him had dazzled him to blindness, he had to be led into the city by his attendants. Here he remained for three days and nights in a state of deep mental conflict and dejection, tasting neither meat nor drink, until a person of the name of Ananias appeared at the command of Christ to relieve his distress, and to admit him into the Christian fraternity by baptizing him into the name of the Lord .
Immediately on his conversion to Christianity Saul seems to have gone into Arabia, where he remained three years and where he, in all probability, was chiefly occupied by meditation and study, in preparing himself for the great work to which he had been called. Here also we may venture to suppose he received that Gospel which afterwards he preached 'by revelation' from Christ .
Returning from Arabia to Damascus the Apostle commenced his public efforts in the service of Christ, by boldly advocating in the synagogues of the Jews the claims of Jesus to be venerated as the Son of God. At first astonished, the Jews were afterwards furiously incensed at this change in the opinions and conduct of Saul, and in consequence of their attempts upon his liberty and life, he was obliged to make his escape from Damascus. This he effected with difficulty by the aid of the Christians, some of whom let him down in a basket from the window of a dwelling erected upon the outer wall of the city (, etc.; ). After this he went up to Jerusalem (for the first time after his conversion), where, on the testimony of Barnabas, he was acknowledged as a Christian brother, and admitted by the Apostles to that place in their fraternity which had been assigned to him by Christ. From Jerusalem he was soon driven by the hostility of the Jews; when, after visiting Cæsarea, he went to his native town Tarsus, where he abode several years . From this retreat he was summoned by Barnabas, who, having been appointed by the Apostles at Jerusalem to visit the church at Antioch, where accessions had been made to the number of the followers of Jesus from among the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and finding the need of counsel and cooperation in his work, went to Tarsus to procure the assistance of Saul . After residing and laboring for a year in Antioch, these two distinguished servants of Christ were sent up to Jerusalem with certain contributions which had been made among the Christians at Antioch, on behalf of their brethren in Judea, who were suffering from the effects of a dearth . This, as commonly received, was the Apostle's second visit to Jerusalem after his conversion.
Having discharged this commission, they returned to Antioch, accompanied by John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas, and were shortly afterwards dispatched by that church, in obedience to an injunction from heaven, on a general missionary tour. In the course of this tour, during the earlier part only of which they were accompanied by Mark, in consequence of his shrinking from the toils and dangers of the journey and returning to Jerusalem, they visited Seleucia, Cyprus, Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia (in the former of which the fickle populace, though at first they had with difficulty been prevented from offering them Divine honors, were almost immediately afterwards, at the instigation of the Jews, led to stone the Apostle until he was left for dead); and then they returned by way of Attalia, a city of Pamphylia, by sea to Antioch, where they rehearsed to the church all that God had done by them (Acts 13-14). This formed the Apostle's first great missionary tour.
In the narrative of this journey, given by Luke, the historian, without assigning any reason for so doing, drops the name Saul, and adopts that of Paul, in designating the Apostle. It is probable from this, that it was during this journey that the Apostle's change of name actually took place. What led to that change we can only conjecture; and of conjectures on this point there has been no lack. The most probable opinion is, that as the Romans and Greeks were in the habit of softening the Hebrew names in pronunciation, and accommodating their form to that of the Latin or Greek, they substituted Paul for Saul, and the Apostle henceforward adopted the substituted name as his usual designation.
Not long after Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch, they were deputed by the church there again to visit Jerusalem, to consult the Apostles and elders upon the question, which certain members of the church at Jerusalem had raised in that at Antioch, whether converts from heathenism required to be circumcised, and so become Jews before they could be saved? The Apostle on this occasion visited Jerusalem for the third time after his conversion; and after the question had been settled by the parties in that city with whom the power to do so lay, he and his companion returned to Antioch. After restoring peace to the church there, Paul proposed to Barnabas to undertake another missionary tour, to which the latter cordially assented; but, unhappily, on the very eve of their departure a contention arose between them, in consequence of Barnabas being determined to take with them his nephew John Mark; and Paul being equally determined that one, who had on a former occasion ingloriously deserted them, should not again be employed in the work. Unable to come to an agreement on this point, they separated; and Paul, accompanied by Silas, commenced his second missionary journey, in the course of which, after passing through Syria and Cilicia, he revisited Lystra and Derbe. At the former of these places he found Timothy, whom he associated with Silas, as the companion of his further travels, after he had been ordained by the Apostle and the presbytery of the church of which he was a member . Paul then passed through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia, and avoiding Asia, strictly so called, and Bithynia, he came with his companions by way of Mysia to Troas, on the borders of the Hellespont. Hence they crossed to Samothracia, and thence to Neapolis, and so to Philippi, whither he had been summoned in a vision by a man of Macedonia saying, 'Come over and help us.' After some time spent in this city, they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, cities of Macedonia, and came to Thessalonica, where, though they abode only a short time, they preached the Gospel with no small success. Driven from that city by the malice of the Jews, they came by night to Berea, another city of Macedonia, where at first they were favorably received by the Jews, until a party from Thessalonica, which had followed them incited the Bereans against them. Paul, as especially obnoxious to the Jews, deemed it prudent to leave the place, and accordingly retired to Athens, where he determined to await the arrival of Silas and Timothy. While residing in this city, and observing the manners and religious customs of its inhabitants, his spirit was stirred within him, when he saw how entirely they were immersed in idolatry; and, unable to refrain, he commenced in the synagogues of the Jews and in the market-place to hold discussions with all whom he encountered. This led to his being taken to the Areopagus, where, surrounded by perhaps the shrewdest, most polished, most acute, most witty, and most scornful assemblage that ever surrounded a preacher of Christianity, he, with exquisite tact and ability, exposed the folly of their superstitions, and unfolded the character and claims of the living and true God. For the purpose of more effectually arresting the attention of his audience, he commenced by referring to an altar in their city, on which he had read the inscription, to an unknown God; and, applying this to Jehovah, he proposed to declare to them that Deity whom thus, without knowing him, they were worshipping.
On being rejoined by Timothy , and perhaps also by Silas, the Apostle sent them both back to Macedonia, and went alone to visit Corinth, whither they soon after followed him . Here he abode for a year and a half preaching the Gospel, and supporting himself by his trade as a tent-maker, in which he was joined by a converted Jew of the name of Aquila, who, with his wife Priscilla, had been expelled from Rome by an edict of the emperor, forbidding Jews to remain in that city. Driven from Corinth by the enmity of the Jews, he, along with Aquila and Priscilla, betook himself to Ephesus, whence, after a residence of only a few days, he went up to Jerusalem, being commanded by God to visit that city, at the time of the approaching Passover. His visit on this occasion—the fourth since his conversion—was very brief; and at the close of it he went down to Antioch, thereby completing his second great apostolic tour.
At Antioch he abode for some time, and then, accompanied, as is supposed, by Titus, he commenced another extensive tour, in the course of which, after passing through Phrygia and Galatia, he visited Ephesus. The importance of this city, in relation to the region of Hither Asia, determined him to remain in it for a considerable time; and he accordingly continued preaching the Gospel there for three years, with occasional brief periods of absence, for the purpose of visiting places in the vicinity. With such success were his efforts crowned, that the gains of those who were interested in supporting the worship of Diana, the tutelar goddess of the city, began to be seriously affected; and at the instigation of one of these, by name Demetrius, a silversmith, who had enjoyed a lucrative traffic by the manufacture of what appear to have been miniature representations of the famous temple of Diana, a popular tumult was excited against the Apostle, from the fury of which he was with difficulty rescued by the sagacity and tact of the town-clerk, aided by others of the chief men of the place, who appear to have been friendly towards Paul. By this occurrence the Apostle's removal from Ephesus, on which, however, he had already determined , was in all probability expedited; and, accordingly, he very soon after the tumult went by way of Troas to Philippi, where he appears to have resided some time, and from which, as his head-quarters, he made extensive excursions into the surrounding districts, penetrating even to Illyricum, on the eastern shore of the Adriatic . From Philippi he went to Corinth, where he resided three months, and then returned to Philippi, having been frustrated in his design of proceeding through Syria to Jerusalem by the malice of the Jews. Sailing from Philippi, he came to Troas, where he abode seven days; thence he journeyed on foot to Assos; thence he proceeded by sea to Miletus, where he had an affecting interview with the elders of the church at Ephesus (, sq.); thence he sailed for Syria, and, after visiting several intermediate ports, landed at Tyre; and thence, after a residence of seven days, he traveled by way of Ptolemais and Cesarea to Jerusalem. This constituted his fifth visit to that city after his conversion.
On his arrival at Jerusalem he had the mortification to find that, while the malice of his enemies the Jews was unabated, the minds of many of his brother Christians were alienated from him on account of what they deemed his too lax and liberal notions of the obligations of the Mosaic ritual. To obviate these feelings on their part, he, at the suggestion of the Apostle James, joined himself to four persons who had taken on them the vows of a Nazarite, and engaged to pay the cost of the sacrifices by which the Mosaic ritual required that such should be absolved from their vows. But this somewhat questionable act of the Apostle had no effect whatever in securing for him any mitigation of the hatred with which he was regarded by the unconverted Jews; on the contrary, his appearance in the temple so much exasperated them, that, before his vow was accomplished, they seized him, and would have put him to death had not Lysias, the commander of the Roman cohort in the adjoining citadel, brought soldiers to his rescue. Under the protection of Lysias, the Apostle addressed the angry mob, setting forth the main circumstances of his life, and especially his conversion to Christianity, and his appointment to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Up to this point they heard him patiently; but no sooner had he insinuated that the Gentiles were viewed by him as placed on a par with the Jews, than all their feelings of national bigotry burst forth in a tempest of execration and fury against the Apostle. Lysias, ignorant of what Paul had been saying, from his having addressed the people in Hebrew, and suspecting from these vehement demonstrations of the detestation in which he was held by the Jews that something flagrantly vicious must have been committed by him, gave orders that he should be examined, and forced by scourging to confess his crime. From this indignity Paul delivered himself by asserting his privileges as a Roman citizen, whom it was not lawful to bind or scourge. Next day, in the presence of the Sanhedrim, he entered into a defense of his conduct, in the course of which, having avowed himself a believer in the doctrine of a bodily resurrection, he awakened so fierce a controversy on this point between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the council, that Lysias, fearing he might be torn to pieces among them, gave orders to remove him into the fort. From a conspiracy into which above forty of the Jews had entered to assassinate him he was delivered by the timely interposition of his nephew, who, having acquired intelligence of the plot, intimated it first to Paul, and then to Lysias. Alarmed at the serious appearance which the matter was assuming, Lysias determined to send Paul to Cesarea, where Felix the procurator was residing, and to leave the affair to his decision. At Cesarea Paul and his accusers were heard by Felix; but though the Apostle's defense was unanswerable, the procurator, fearful of giving the Jews offence, declined pronouncing any decision, and still retained Paul in bonds. Sometime after he was again summoned to appear before Felix, who, along with his wife Drusilla, expressed a desire to hear him 'concerning the faith in Christ;' and on this occasion the faithful and fearless Apostle discoursed so pointedly on certain branches of good morals, in which the parties he was addressing were notoriously deficient, that Felix trembled, and hastily sent him from his presence. Shortly after this Felix was succeeded in his government by Porcius Festus, before whom the Jews again brought their charges against Paul; and who, when the cause came to be heard, showed so much of a disposition to favor the Jews, that the Apostle felt himself constrained to appeal to Caesar. To gratify King Agrippa and his wife Bernice, who had come to Cesarea to visit Festus, and whose curiosity was excited by what they had heard of Paul, he was again called before the governor, and 'permitted to speak for himself.' On this occasion he recapitulated the leading points of his history, and gave such an account of his views and designs, that a deep impression was made on the mind of Agrippa favorable to Christianity and to the Apostle; so much so that, but for his having appealed to Caesar, it is probable he would have been set at liberty. His cause, however, having by that appeal been placed in the hands of the emperor, it was necessary that he should go to Rome, and thither accordingly Festus sent him. His voyage was long and disastrous. Leaving Cesarea when the season was already considerably advanced, they coasted along Syria as far as Sidon, and then crossed to Myra, a port of Lycia; thence they sailed slowly to Cnidus; and thence, in consequence of unfavorable winds, they struck across to Crete, and with difficulty reached a port on the southern part of that island called 'The Fair Haven,' near the town of Lasea. There Paul urged the centurion, under whose charge he and his fellow-prisoners had been placed, to winter; but the place not being very suitable for this purpose, and the weather promising favorably, this advice was not followed, and they again set sail, intending to reach Phœnice, a port in the same island, and there to winter. Scarcely had they set sail, however, when a tempest arose, at the mercy of which they were driven for fourteen days in a westerly direction, until they were cast upon the coast of Malta, where they suffered shipwreck, but without any loss of life. Hospitably received by the natives, they abode there three months, during which time Paul had a favorable opportunity of preaching the Gospel, and of showing the power with which he was endued for the authentication of his message by performing many miracles for the advantage of the people. On the approach of spring they availed themselves of a ship of Alexandria which had wintered in the island, and set sail for Syracuse, where they remained three days; thence they crossed to Rhegium, in Italy; and thence to Puteoli, from which place Paul and his companions journeyed to Rome. Here he was delivered by the centurion to the captain of the guard, who permitted him to dwell in his own hired house under the surveillance of a soldier. And thus he continued for two years, 'receiving all that came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him' .
At this point the evangelist abruptly closes his narrative, leaving us to glean our information regarding the subsequent history of the Apostle from less certain sources. Tradition stedfastly affirms that he suffered martyrdom at Rome, and that the manner of his death was by beheading; but whether this took place at the close of the imprisonment mentioned by Luke, or after a second imprisonment incurred subsequent to an intervening period of freedom and active exertion in the cause of Christianity, has been much discussed by modern writers.
If, on the evidence furnished by the allusions in the Second Epistle to Timothy, we adopt the latter hypothesis, it will follow that Paul, during the interval between his first and second imprisonments, undertook an extensive apostolic tour, in the course of which he visited his former scenes of labor in Asia and Greece, and perhaps also fulfilled his purpose of going into Spain . He probably also visited Crete and Dalmatia.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
The name of five Popes:
ope from 757 to 797;
ope from 1464 to 1471;
ope from 1534 to 1549, was zealous against the Protestant cause, excommunicated Henry VIII. in 1536, sanctioned the Jesuit order in 1540, convened and convoked the Council of Trent in 1545;
ope from 1555 to 1559, originally an ascetic, was zealous for the best interests of the Church and public morality, established the Inquisition at Rome, and issued the first Index Expurgatorius ;
ope from 1605 to 1621, his pontificate distinguished by protracted strife with the Venetian republic, arising out of the claim of the clergy for immunity from the civil tribunals, and which was brought to an end through the intervention of Henry IV. of France in 1607; it need not be added that he was zealous for orthodoxy, like his predecessors.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Paul'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/paul.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
- ↑ Paul from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- ↑ Paul from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Holman Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Paul from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Webster's Dictionary
- ↑ Paul from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- ↑ Paul from The Nuttall Encyclopedia
- ↑ Paul from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature