THE LIFE OF THE ASPOSTLE PAUL
Attacked by murderous mobs.
Beaten. Starved. Imprisoned. Betrayed by friends...
All to serve the one thing he sought to destroy...
Who was Paul?
Paul was an arch-enemy of Christianity, who amazingly became the
greatest Christian missionary of all time. He authored more books
of the Bible than anyone else and is called the "Apostle to the
Born an Israelite, from the tribe of Benjamin, a Roman citizen in
Tarsus of Celicia, given the Hebrew name of Saul (Acts 7:58;
Receives the best of Roman education in Tarsus; studies under the
Jewish scholar Gamaliel.
Paul came from a well-respected family in Asia Minor (Turkey
today) where his father was an official. He excelled in his
studies and became a devout Pharisee. As a young man Paul - whose
Jewish name was Saul - was sent to Jerusalem to study under the
great teacher Gamaliel. He hated Christians and participated in
the first execution of a Christian leader, a man named Stephen.
Paul was determined to murder all those who followed Jesus, not
just in Jerusalem, but elsewhere (Acts 7:54-8:3).
Persecution of Christians. AD 30-35
Watches with approval the stoning of Stephen
(Acts 7:57-60). AD 32 or 33
What was a Pharisee?
The Pharisees were a group of Jewish religious leaders who
believed a person must keep every one of the traditions of
Judaism, as well as the biblical commandments. The Pharisees were
respected, but were legalistic. Jesus condemned them for being
self-righteous and hypocritical (Matthew 23). Pharisees plotted
to kill Jesus because of his popularity and claim to be God.
How did Paul become a Christian?
Paul asked the chief priest in Jerusalem to give him
authorization to arrest any follower of Jesus in Damascus (about
100 miles away). On his way from Judea to Damascus, a light from
heaven blinded him. He fell to the ground and a voice said,
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" He answered, "Who are
you?" The voice said, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.
Get up! Go into the city, and you will be told what to do." Paul
was told to go to a house and wait or a Christian man named
Ananias to come restore his sight (Acts 9:1-12).
What did other Christians think?
The Lord spoke to Ananias, and Ananias was afraid. He knew Paul's
reputation, but went to the house anyway. The Lord said that Paul
was chosen to take the Lord's name to Gentiles, their kings, and
to the Jews. Ananias placed his hands on Paul and his sight was
restored. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and was baptized.
He started speaking in synagogues and convincing people that
Jesus was the Messiah. People were amazed and confused. The
believers back in Jerusalem refused to believe he had changed.
until one of their leaders, Barnabas, vouched for him (Acts
What did the Pharisees think?
Because the Lord, had spoken to him, Paul kept preaching in the
synagogues in Damascus, saying that Jesus was the Son of God. He
gave proofs from the Scriptures to show that Jesus was the
fulfillment of the Bible prophecies. To the Jews, this was
blasphemy and they were outraged. They plotted to kill Paul as he
walked out of the city gates. Paul learned of the plot. His
friends put him in a basket and lowered him down the city wall to
escape (Acts 9:20-25).
Life as a Fugitive?
Instead of hiding out, Paul went to Jerusalem and boldly preached
in the synagogues. He tried to convince people about Jesus. He
preached fearlessly and debated at every opportunity. He received
death threats and the Christians brought him out of Jerusalem. He
went back home to Tarsus (Acts 9:28-30).
Persecuted for Jesus Christ:
Stoned and left for dead
Beaten with rods three times
Whipped with 39 lashes five times
Attacked by angry mob
Is Jesus for the Jews Only?
During the early years of Christianity, most of the converts were
Jewish. Jesus' disciples preached only to Jews. Yet as Jewish
people scattered throughout the Roman Empire, they told their
neighbors about Jesus. Many of these Gentiles (non-Jews) became
followers of Jesus too (Acts 11:19-21).
Barnabas Finds Paul
Barnabas went to Tarsus and together he and Paul preached to
non-Jewish people. At the city of Antioch, these believers were
first called Christians. A famine hit Jerusalem and the
Christians wanted to send relief to their fellow believers. They
sent Barnabas and Paul back to Jerusalem with gifts. When their
mission was accomplished, Barnabas and Paul, along with a young
man named John Mark, headed back north to start a missionary
journey throughout Asia Minor (Acts 11:22-30).
Paul's First Missionary Journey AD 47-49
Travelers: Paul, Barnabas, John Mark
Main route: Cyprus and Turkey Cities/places: (1400 miles)
1. Antioch In Syria: The Holy Spirit sets apart Paul and Barnabas
for the missionary ministry. John Mark goes along as their
2. Sailed from Seleucia to Salamis and Paphos (on Cyprus): Paul
confronts a sorcerer named Elymas and blinds him. (From this
point the Bible calls him Paul, rather than Saul.)
3. Perga in Pamphylia: John Mark deserts the group and returns to
4. Antioch of Pisidia (Turkey today): Paul preaches his longest
recorded sermon, and many respond. Jewish leaders drive them out
of the city. The Lord calls Paul to focus his ministry on
Gentiles. The Gentiles are glad and many become believers.
5. Iconium: More plots force them to flee.
6. Lystra: When Paul heals a lame man, the townspeople think he
and Barnabas are Greek gods. Jews from Antioch stir up the crowd,
and Paul is stoned and left for dead.
7. Derbe: Paul preaches and many disciples are added to the
8. Lystra, Iconium, Antioch of Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga,
Attalia: On the return trip, Paul and Barnabas appoint elders in
the churches they had planted.
9. Antioch (Syria): Paul remains there for a while, reporting
what God had done. Paul writes Galatians.
10. Jerusalem, via Phoenicia and Samaria: In AD 49, Paul and
Barnabas report to the leaders of the Jerusalem church. This
meeting is known as the Jerusalem Council
Paul's Second Missionary Journey AD 49-51
Travelers: Paul, Silas, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquilla, Luke
Main route,: Syria, Turkey, Greece, Jerusalem
Cities/places: (2800 miles)
1. Antioch in Syria: Paul and Barnabas decide to visit the
churches again, but disagree about who should go with them. Paul
doesn't want to take John Mark because he left them on their
first trip. Barnabas takes John Mark with him to Cyprus; Paul
2: Syria and Cilicia: Paul and Silas take a letter from the
Jerusalem church for the churches in this region.
3. Derbe, Lystra, Iconium: While visiting these churches, Timothy
4. Troas: While in this seaport, Paul has a vision of a man from
Macedonia calling him to come help them. Acts 16:10 uses the word
"we," - indicating that Luke was with Paul.
5. Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi: Lydia, a wealthy
businesswoman, is converted in the Macedonian city of Philippi,
and the group stays in her house. When a fortune-telling slave
girl is converted, her owners start a riot, and Paul and Silas
are thrown in jail: In the middle of the night, as they are
singing, there is an earthquake and their chains fall off. The
jailer is converted. When the magistrate discovers Paul and Silas
are Roman citizens, he apologizes and they are escorted out of
6. Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica: Jews in Thessalonica try
to have Paul and Silas arrested after they gain some converts.
7. Berea: The people in the synagogue receive the message
eagerly. Silas and Timothy stay here while Paul goes on.
8. Athens (Mars Hill, or Areopagus): Paul sees an altar to an
unknown god, and preaches to the thinkers of Athens. A number of
9. Corinth: Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla, who join him. People
try to get Paul arrested, but the authorities refuse. He writes 1
and 2 Thessalonians here.
10. Cenchrea: He gets his hair cut because he had taken a vow
(Acts 18:18). No more details are given.
11. Ephesus: Paul leaves Priscilla and Aquila here.
12. Caesarea in Syria, Jerusalem, Antioch in Syria: After
visiting these churches, Paul returns to his home base of
When Bad Thing Happen to Good People
"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 2:3
Shipwrecked three times and floated 24 hours
Criticized by other Christians
Under arrest for two years without a trial
Bitten by a viper
Paul's Thorn in the Flesh:
The Apostle Paul endured great hardships to serve the Lord (2
Corinthians 11:23-29). Yet something tormented Paul and was an
incredible burden for him. Paul referred to this burden as "a
thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7).
No one knows exactly what this "thorn" represented. Some suggest
that Paul had a chronic physical weakness such as an eye problem
(Galatians 4:15), a speech problem (2 Corinthians 10:10), or a
disease. Others suggest that Paul was continuously battling
addiction, temptation, or regret for past sins (Romans 7:14-25;
see also Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13; Judges 2:3).
Several scholars say Paul's "thorn" was the, persecution he
endured from the Jews wherever he traveled.
(Acts 20:19; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).
He prayed three times that this problem would leave him (2
Corinthians 12:8), The Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for
you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians
Paul said his "thorn in his flesh" made him humble before God and
kept him from exalting himself. He was content with weakness,
insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities because when he
was weak, the Lord's strength and power were made evident (2
Paul's Third Missionary Journey AD 52-57
Travelers: Paul, Timothy, Luke, others
Main route: Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Israel
Cities/places: (2700 miles)
1. Region of Galatia and Phrygia: Paul decides to visit the
2. Ephesus: Paul stays here two years. He writes 1 Corinthians.
So many people convert that the silversmiths who manufacture
idols start a riot.
3. Macedonia and Greece (Achaia): Paul writes 2 Corinthians and
4. Philippi (Macedonia) and Troas: While Paul is preaching, a
young man falls asleep, falls from a third-story window, and
dies. Paul revives him.
5. Assos, Mitylene (near Chios), Samos, Miletus: Elders from
Ephesus meet the ship at Miletus; Paul tells them he expects to
be imprisoned in Jerusalem.
6. Cos, Rhodes, Patara, Tyre: Disciples warn Paul not to go to
7. Ptolemais and Caesarea: A prophet predicts that Paul will be
imprisoned and handed over to the Gentiles.
8. Jerusalem: The missionaries report to the church leaders, who
urge Paul to participate in a purification ritual at the temple
to counteract rumors that Christianity is anti-Jewish.
Paul's Journey to Rome AD 57-62,
Travelers: Paul, Roman guards, Luke, others
Main route: Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Crete, Malta, Sicily, Italy
Cities/places: (2250 miles)
1. Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-22:30): The Roman commander arrests Paul
to save him from a Jewish mob. When the commander learns of a
death threat against Paul, he orders an armed escort to take him
2. Antipatris and Caesarea
Paul is tried before Felix, the governor of Judea. Felix leaves
Paul in prison for two years, and he is tried again before
Festus, who was appointed governor after Felix. The Jews try to
get Paul transferred to Jerusalem where they plan to have him
killed. Paul demands his right as a Roman citizen and appeals his
case to Caesar. King Agrippa visits Festus, and Paul appears
before him as well.
3. Sidon: The centurion in charge of Paul lets him visit with
friends here. Then Paul boarded a ship, and set sail for Italy.
4. Myra, Cnidus, Fair Havens (Crete): Paul recommends that the
ship stay in safe harbor, but the centurion orders the ship to
5. Clauda and the Island of Malta (shipwrecked): After a two-week
storm, the ship is wrecked near the island of Malta. Everyone on
the ship makes it to shore after the shipwreck. While putting
wood on a campfire, Paul is bitten by a venomous snake, but it
does not harm him.
6. Syracuse (Sicily), Rhegium, Puteoli: Paul stays with believers
for seven days.
7. Appii Forum, Three Taverns: Paul is met by Christians from
8. Rome: Paul remains under house arrest for two years, where he
writes Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians.
Paul's Other Journeys AD 62-68
Paul was released after two years of house arrest and traveled
Cities/places: (order unknown)
Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3)
Troas and Miletus (2 Timothy 4:13, 20)
Crete (Titus 1:5)
Planned to go to Spain (Rom.15:28)
Nicopolis (Titus 3:12)
Historical writings record Paul went to Britain
Back to Rome: Execution
Paul was beheaded in Rome, in AD 68, while Nero was the emperor
God's Strength and Paul's Personality
Paul was a strong, driven person, even before he became a
Christian; yet when the Lord chose him to preach the Gospel
throughout the world, Paul knew he could not rely on his own
power to face the angry mobs, the miles of travel, and the other
Paul prayed for strength, courage, and boldness. He prayed that
people would listen to the Lord's message and be saved. He asked
the Lord for safety and for more opportunities to tell about
Jesus Christ. Paul asked others to join in the struggle by
praying for him. He was grateful for their faithful love and
support. He knew that he was weak and needed God's power (Acts
9:15, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 6:20, Philippians 1:19).
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have
kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to
me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have
longed for his appearing." - 2 Timothy 4:7-8
PAUL'S BASIC TEACHINGS
Sin: The universal human condition; no one can claim perfection
Law: It shows us our sin, but can't save us (Romans 3:20,27,28;
Righteousness: We can't make ourselves good
enough to be accepted by God; we must be given
His righteousness (Romans 3:21-26; 8:3,4; Philippians 3:9;
Mercy: God doesn't give us the punishment we deserve (Romans
Grace: God freely gives us the divine favor we don't deserve
Covenant: God has made a new agreement with us, declaring that we
are His people. The old covenant was written on tablets of stone;
the new one is written by the Spirit on our hearts (Jeremiah
31:33,34; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6-18).
Justification: God declares us righteous in His sight. We are
justified by grace through faith (Romans 3:28-30; 5:1,2).
Sanctification: The Holy Spirit works within us to make us more
like Christ (Romans 8:29;1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1
Trinity: Paul refers to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But he
did not teach the Holy Spirit was a "person" with a body separate
from the Father and the Son.
Holy Spirit: We are to live by the power of God's Spirit (Romans
8:1-17; Galatians 5:16-26; 2 Corinthians 5:5).
Messiah: Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecies (Galatians
Lordship of Christ: Jesus is Lord of all (Romans 10:9-17;
1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:15-20).
"In Christ": Paul's description of our relationship to Jesus. He
uses it over 80 times.
Crucifixion: We are saved by Jesus' death on the cross, because
He is the only perfect One who could die in our place to take the
punishment for our sins (Romans 5:8,15; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25;
2 Corinthians 5:14,19; Colossians 1:21,22).
Return of Christ: This future event gives us hope - to face today
(1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Romans
Gentiles (non-Jews): No longer excluded from the people of God
(Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 3:29).
Jews: Not abandoned by God, in spite of their unbelief (Romans
Spiritual gifts: The Holy Spirit has given us gifts to use in
Christ's service (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Cor.12; Ephesians 4:11-13).
Church: God has created a unique community of people who worship
Him, love each other, and witness to the world (Ephesians
2:11-22; 4:1-6; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11;
1 Timothy 3:15).
Church leaders: God has equipped them to help us in our spiritual
development. Paul spells out the requirements leaders must meet
(1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:11-13).
Marriage and singleness: Paul says singles can focus on serving
God; marriage is a calling. The main point is that whether we are
married or single, we are to be committed to Christ (1 Cor.7).
Family life: Our families are to reflect our loving relationship
to God (Ephesians 5:22-6:4; Colossians 3:18-21).
Masters and slaves: They are equal before God (Ephesians 6:5-9;
Husbands and wives: Christian marriages should exhibit submission
and love (Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18,19).
Parents and children: Parents are to treat their children with
gentleness and respect; children are to honor and obey their
parents (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20,21).
Prayer: Paul teaches about prayer and describes his own prayers
(Ephesians 1:15-19; 3:14-21; 6:19,20; Philippians 1:3-6; 4:6;
Colossians 1:3-14; 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 1:2,3; 5:17;
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 4).
by Devon A. Blackwood
When Paul, who became the greatest apostle of all time, set
out on his journey to Damascus, he was confronted by raw truth in
the person of Jesus Christ. No longer would he persecute the
saints. God stopped him in his tracks and appointed him a chosen
vessel to bear His name to the Gentile nations and also to great
kings and rulers. Paul's boldness and zeal for ministry took him
through dire circumstances that would strip the rest of us of
every ounce of pride, respect, or dignity. Here are some things
he faced by way of trials:
He faced continual confrontation and trouble from the Jews.
He was expelled or banned from entering certain cities.
He was stoned, flogged. and openly humiliated.
He faced contention even with his own fellow workers in ministry.
He was accused of unlawful and blasphemous teachings.
He was imprisoned and kept in jailhouses for preaching and
He faced persistent hunger and thirst.
He risked being robbed or attacked.
He suffered shipwrecks and had to swim his way to shore.
He suffered through inclement and cold weather.
He was forced to defend himself before many councils and
He was often deserted, without family or friends.
He had to sort out church related conflicts and infightings,
barely catering to his own personal needs.
Buffeted by problems on all sides, and sometimes discouraged
in the struggle, Paul focused on God and blocked out the
negativity that surrounded him. He saw God's miraculous workings
before his very eyes, healing the sick and bringing deliverance
to the poor. He could personally attest to the power of God! This
confidence in his Lord and in his calling kept him motivated and
he fixed his eyes on Jesus in his trials. In moments of anxiety,
weakness or fear, God reassured him that He would not desert him.
When Paul sailed to Italy just before the devastating shipwreck,
he remembered God telling him that he would suffer shipwreck but
that he was to be of "good cheer." Every time that Paul became
discouraged. God strengthened him with a word of reassurance.
Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my
strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly
I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of
Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in
infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in
distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am
strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Paul projected a positive spiritual attitude and succeeded
in his ministry. Many souls have come to know the Lord because of
his commitment to spread the gospel message, regardless of
epidemics, tumults, and even giving up his own life. When his
trials were over, and he had come to the end of his ministry,
Paul resigned himself to the fact that his life rested completely
in the hands of God, and that he was just a mortal man, a vessel
God had called upon to do His work on earth. Paul looked to
eternity, for a greater reward than he could gain on earth.
Toward the end of his ministry on earth, Paul wrote a very
personal letter to Timothy:
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do
the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am
already being poured out as a drink offering. and the time
of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I
have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally,
there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which
the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day;
and not to me only but also to all who have loved His
appearing. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work
and pre serve me (2 Timothy 4:5-8,18).
We are not always privy to see what God sees; He only wants
us to follow him along the paths He takes us on and trust Him
completely along the way. He led Moses, Hannah, Job, Joseph, and
Paul. He will lead us too. But we must be willing to wait on Him,
knowing His purposes will be fulfilled in us and for us.
Devon A. Blackwood is the author of the book "Planted By Water:
Deepening Your Spiritual Connectedness to God." He and his wife,
RoseMarie, are members of the Shiloh Church of God 7th day in
Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
THE WRITINGS OF PAUL
I believe there is enough evidence to show that Paul was the
author of the book called "Hebrews." See the introduction to that
book under "The New Testament Bible Story" on this Website. Hence
Paul wrote 14 - FOURTEEN - books of the New Testament. The number
"fourteen" is used by God in His word to denote SALVATION. It was
on the 14th day of the 1st month that the children of Israel were
delivered from Egypt. There is much more to the number 14. See
the studies under "The Numbers of God" section on this Website.
It is right and fitting that Paul wrote 14 books of the New