This fellow named Paul? Who is this man? I have saw groups that called him a heretic, and groups that all but worshipped him. Both groups are misinformed, or just plain ignorant to the facts and the scriptures.
It seems many Christians today have a distorted opinion of the Apostle Paul, are misinformed, or have no clue at all about him, prompting this post.
While I do inject a bit of my own opinion in this post, t is based on a common sense inference of the scriptures and the historical record.
Most all of this information can be verified in Lukes account in Acts chapters 9, 22, and 26, and in Paul’s Epistles, Phillipians chapter 3, and others, as well as the historical record.
I pray it is a blessing to you in your study and understanding of the Scriptures.
This post needs revision and editing, which I will do, and add specific scriptural support later on.
Paul: Jewish apostle, of the tribe of Benjamin. (Philippians 3:5)
Paul was born Saul, in Tarsus, a free city of the Cilician province of Rome. (Acts 21:39-40) Tarsus is about 325 miles north of Jerusalem. Paul was A full Jew (Phillipians 3:5)and a free born Roman citizen (Acts 22:8). Paul was raised in Jerusalem. “From the first” (Acts 26:4).
Saul’s name was changed to Paul after he met our risen Lord on the road to Damascus. (Acts 13:9). Paul is the Greek equivalent of Saul.
Paul’s father was also a pharisee, (Acts 23:6) and Pharisees and priests begin their training at age 13, so it’s self evident that Paul’s father and family had been in Jerusalem for quite some time.
Paul had a sister and nephew in Jerusalem also. (Acts 23:16) They were not immigrants.
As a freeborn Roman citizen, with full privileges, Paul had unrestricted travel rights throughout the Roman Empire. He didn’t need a passport. This was a great asset to Paul’s ministry.
Saul was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. Since Paul’s father was a Pharisee, his family either moved to Jerusalem when he was a child, or may have lived there all his life. One must remember that Paul’s father also started HIS priestly training as a Pharisee at the age of 13, IN JERUSALEM, so not only was Paul raised in Jerusalem, his father had been in Jerusalem from his youth also.
There were several levels or degrees of Roman citizenship in Paul’s day, with varied previleges, and that level was passed down to the children. but being born in a free city gave one full Roman citizenship regardless of the citizenship status of the parents.
This infers Saul’s parents went to Tarsus from Jerusalem prior to his birth so he would be a free born Roman citizen with full rights and privileges, much like “anchor babies” today.
Paul was born around the same time as our Lord Jesus, between 5BC-5AD. (Eusebius).
Jewish males begin their priestly training at age 13. Assuming a 5 year age difference, This puts Saul in Jerusalem from the time Jesus was about 18, up to his death and Resurrection at age 33 1/2, 17-32 AD. (Jesus with an assumed birth during Succoth the mid to end of Sept, or first of October)
This is an overlap of at least 15 years. Jesus lived in Nazereth, (Luke 2:39) not far from Jerusalem, and was an accepted, confirmed prophet to Israel since his birth. (Luke 2:25-39).
Jesus was also a Rabbi and teacher in the Temple “as was his custom”. (Mark 12:35, Luke 19:47). All of the Pharisees were well aware of this, so its logical to presume Gameliel and his student Paul did also.
Paul was taught at the feet of Gamaliel, a Dr. of the law in Jerusalem. (Acts 22:3). (Acts 5:34).
Taking that into consideration, Paul would have had to have been living under a rock in Jerusalem to have not known or met Jesus before Calvary.
Again, since Paul’s father was a Pharisee, Gameliel had to have been a contemporary of Paul’s father also. Gameliel may have been his teacher, or they may have went to school together.
Paul was very zealous in his religion of Judaism. He excelled above his peers. He followed the strictest sect. (His group believed in a bodily resurrection).
Again, before the road to Damascus, Paul most likely had met, and knew Jesus from the Temple in Jerusalem. The lives of these two men overlap IN JERUSALEM by about 15-20 years. AT LEAST that long.
Now Imagine these two men attending the same Temple, every Saturday for 20 years. I have no doubt that Paul knew the carpenters son, the Rabbi whose custom was teaching in the Temple.
Paul was most likely at Pentecost when Peter preached Acts 2:38. As a Pharisee, Paul would have never missed the feast days in Jerusalem.
He did not miss Pentecost. I doubt he ever missed a Sabbath day either. Nor did Jesus.
Even after his salvation, Paul strived to be in Jerusalem on the Holy days, logically he had a dual purpose to visit family in Jerusalem during this time also.
Saul had heard the gospel preached at least twice after the resurrection. (At Pentecost and the death of Stephen)
Saul met the RESURRECTED Lord Jesus and was saved on the road to Damascus. And no, the Lord did not knock him off his horse.
Paul was healed and then baptized by Ananias to receive the Holy Ghost, (not for salvation) just as those at Pentecost were. (Acts 9:17,18).
Believers in Acts 10:40-44 received the gift of the Holy Ghost without baptism.
Paul did baptize Pentecost Jews (resurrection witnesses and those who saw Jesus ministry) He also baptised gentiles.
Grace through faith without seeing would have sounded silly to those who had met Jesus, hence the difference in Peter’s message in Acts 2:38, “of which ye are all witnesses”, and Paul’s message to the Gentiles, and the children of Israel who did not see Jesus ministry or The Resurrection. That is one primary difference between the kingdom gospel and the gospel of grace through faith. Both have the same theme, God’s love, mercy and grace. Kingdom saints knew Jesus after the flesh and believed, while, grace saints had only heard of Jesus and believed without seeing. Think Jacob, Rachel and Leah.But even for the Jew at Pentecost, Water baptism was NOT about salvation. It never has been, but for those at Pentecost it was the means to recieve the Holy Ghost after belief unto salvation. Those in Acts 10 received it without baptism, yet were baptised afterwards in obedience to the Lord.
Yes, Paul did baptise Jews early in his ministry, but even then it was not concerning salvation.
A believer today recieves the Holy Ghost at the moment he believes. (Acts 10)
Today, we baptise in obedience to the Lord’s command as a mikvah, or bridal baptism. It has nothing to do with salvation.
There is a lot of debate concerning baptism, suffice to say that today, for us, water baptism is an outward sign of an inner work of God, and obedience to the Lord’s command AFTER salvation. It has nothing to do with our standing in Christ. Salvation is purely by God’s unmerited grace, and it always has been.
Paul was blinded for three days, then healed after Ananias found him. His healing was a sign in keeping with Peter’s gospel at Pentecost.
After Paul was saved, he immediately began to preach “repentance unto God, and works meet for repentance” in the Synagogues. (Acts 9:20) Compare John’s Kingdom message “bring forth fruits meet for repentance”.
Paul was said to have been of “contemptable speech.” Paul was not an eloquent speaker. He was very blunt.
Paul was a “chosen vessel” unto the Lord, “set apart from my mothers womb”, and commissioned personally by the Lord Jesus to carry the gospel to the children of Israel, kings, and to the Gentiles. Acts 9:10-16,.
Performed great signs, healings, and miracles, including raising a man from the dead. Paul lost these powers as time went on and his ministry to the Gentiles progressed.
Killed by Nero Ceaser, death by decapitation June 29, 64-67 AD. As a Roman citizen, Paul was exempt from crucifixion. Paul never married, and probably died a virgin.
His life in Jerusalem overlaps Jesus life by about 15-20 years. Paul would have been “a young man” of about 23-28 when Jesus died at Calvary. I have no doubt Paul witnessed, or was fully aware of the goings on the Passover week of Jesus’s death at Calvary, AND his resurrection.
As a Pharisee, Saul was most likely sitting in one of “the chief seats” at Pentecost when Peter delivered his Acts 2 message. Paul rejected this message. He also rejected Stephen’s message for salvation. Hence Jesus words to Paul “it is hard to kick against the pricks”.
Taught by Gamaliel, a PHD “doctor of the law.” Pharisees were considered lawyers. Gamaliel was fully involved in the death of Jesus. (yes, they had colleges and universities back then too. Even Moses, who lived 1450 years prior had a university education.)
Paul held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen. As a Pharisee, he would have had defiled himself to cast stones, so he held the coats of the ones who did.
“I was consenting unto his death” indicates that Paul had some authority, or a vote concerning Stephen’s martyrdom. Acts 8:1.
Persecuted the church “beyond measure” before his salvation.
Was saved on the road to Damascus after meeting the risen Christ and receiving his commission to the children of Israel, Kings, and the Gentiles.
After meeting the risen Lord, and salvation, Paul was blind for three days. Received his sight after Ananias found him. Was then baptized to receive the Holy Ghost. Paul, like the other apostles, fell under Peter’s gospel of repentance unto baptism, which applied to resurrection witnesses and witnesses of Jesus earthly ministry. John the Baptist had preached that same message.
Grace through faith alone would have made no sense to Paul. He’d met the Lord in person.
Since Paul has “betrothed us,” the Bride of Christ to Jesus, it’s pretty obvious Paul will be “a friend of the Bridegroom,” like John the Baptist at the marriage of the Lamb.
Paul had poor eyesight. Most likely the result of extensive study and reading.
Paul made at least 3 missionary journeys. Paul was a tent maker by trade. He never took a salary from a church more than what he had need of at the moment.
Paul was not a good sailor. Every boat he set foot on sank or shipwrecked.
Paul couldn’t stay on a horse very well either, falling off his horse when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Paul immediately began to preach “repentance unto God, and good works meet for repentance” in the Synagogues, to the Jews after his salvation. He would preach grace through faith alone to the children of Israel, and to the Gentiles later on.
Paul upset the authorities most everywhere he went. He was beaten with rods, stoned, imprisoned, scourged, left for dead tortured and shipwrecked for his testimony of the risen Christ.
Wrote 14 Epistles of the New Testament, including Hebrews. Paul’s salutation can be found in all fourteen books. 14 in a row. (See my other post “Paul’s salutation” for more detailed information). And yes, Paul did write Hebrews by the hand of Timothy. See my other posts concerning this.
Paul obviously liked sports, and used many athletic analogies in his letters, including Hebrews.
Paul spoke at least three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
Paul was NOT the first to preach grace through faith alone.”faith without seeing” is what saved Abraham and many others, and Peter also preached it before Paul began his ministry to the children of Israel and the Gentiles. Its the only gospel.
See Acts 26:22-23 “I preached nothing more than what Moses and the prophets said should come:that Christ would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead.”
The “revelation of the mystery” given to Paul was not grace through faith alone. The “mystery” was that NOW the Gentiles would be fellow heirs and joint heirs to the promises of Abraham. Eph 3:6-8. See “our future, kings and priests unto God”
Abraham was a gentile by the way.
The Apostles also preached grace through faith alone, and not just to Israel. Simply look at the places they were martyred. Johns book of Revelation was to the Gentiles, not the Jews, Israel had been scattered 25 years prior. The internal proof being Jesus reference to Antipas, who was martyred in 92AD. (rev 2;13)
Also, in reading Revelation, note John uses Paul’s
salutation “grace and peace be unto you” in the opening and closing chapter of revelation, an indication of Pauline doctrine
Paul was a tentmaker, and worked everywhere he went, never asking the church for more than he had need of at the time. And he turned the world upside down.