Saint Paul (Hebrew: שאול Shaul "asked [of God]") Apostle of the Gentiles, also known as Saul of Tarsus. Never having seen or met Jesus himself in the flesh, he was suddenly visited by Jesus while on his way to persecute his followers at Damascus. Paul saw a blinding white light and fell to the ground as Jesus talked to him asking Saul why he was persecuting him, then telling him to go into the city where he would be told what to do. Paul got up, but when he opened his eyes, he found he was blind. Being led by the hand into the city by the men who were with him, for three days Paul could not see and would not eat or drink. But a stranger named Ananias came to see him, a follower of Christ, having been led by God in a vision to where Paul was staying. Placing his hands upon Paul as God told him to do, Paul was cured as he acquired faith in Christ, and something like scales fell from his eyes. Paul became baptized that very day. (Acts 9:1-19). This incident is called the Road to Damascus experience.
He later claimed to have been "a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless," (Philippians 3:5b-6) and a student of the esteemed rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) As such, he originally hated the Christians and took a lead in persecuting them: specifically, he was "in hearty agreement" with the stoning of saint Stephanus (Stephen). After conversion he undertook a series of missionary journeys to the gentiles. These were dedicated mainly to spreading his own particular version of Jesus' message - one that freed gentiles from the necessity of observing the Jewish Law, reportedly much to the scandal of the official Church at Jerusalem.
Paul had an historic conflict with Peter, who initially felt that Christianity was meant only for Jewish people. Their conflict was resolved by a convening of early Christians in Jerusalem, and Paul's approach prevailed: Christianity was to be spread to the entire world, both Jewish and Gentile.
Feastday: June 29.
Apostle of the Gentiles
Because the liberating effects of his message caused much unintended immorality and uncertainty among his gentile converts, many of whom promptly gave up their jobs and other commitments in expectation of the imminent Last Days, Paul wrote many letters to his various 'churches' on a wide variety of subjects, including the essential kerygma or preaching thrust of what was to become Christianity. He was also a proponent of the idea of agape, or universal, unconditional compassion, as referred to at 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Thirteen of these letters were subsequently incorporated into the New Testament: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.
Authorship of Epistles
According to most professional scholars and historians, Paul did write 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Philippians. All of the other letters (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians and Colossians) were not actually written by the Apostle Paul, but rather, were forged by people claiming to be Paul.
During the last years he intended to visit Spain (Romans 15:24), Lycus, Laodicea, Collusus and Hierapolis. He also went to Crete, Ephesus and Macedonia.
Saint Paul was arrested (Acts 21:27- 28:31); he was accused of bringing Gentiles into the temple. Paul appealed to Caesar (his right as a citizen) and he was sent to Rome for a Roman trial. The Biblical account leaves off before the trial takes place. St. Paul was brought to Rome, but Nero was the Emperor and after the Rome fire where he blamed the Christians to deflect attention from himself, he was an ardent persecutor of the Christians, killing many. St. Paul was martyred near Rome at the Aquae Silviae. St. Dionysios the Corinthian says that St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred at “about the same time.” It is believed that St. Paul died aged 68 having served the Lord for some 35 years.
St. Paul was a profound religious thinker; he has had an important formative influence in the development of Christianity.
In art, St Paul is traditionally depicted in red and green robes, wearing a beard and holding a sword. He often appears alongside St Peter.
- PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS (29 JUN 64)
- Historical Evidence and the Apostle Paul's Shipwreck
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