8. The Life Of Paul

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1. Saul was born in Tarsus. Paul was his Latin or Roman name—his father was a Roman citizen. He did not change his name from Saul to Paul because of his conversion.

2. Paul was a “Pharisee of the Pharisees”—he was familiar with the philosophy of the Stoics and the Cynics. He also understood the pagan religions. Acts 23:6.

3. Like most Jewish boys, he was taught a trade—tent-making, and he worked at it, on and off, much of his life. Acts 18:3. (He was an expert weaver of goat’s hair.)

4. His conversion took place around A.D. 32, when he was about 30 years old. His death—A.D. 64 or 65. He was an active missionary about 33 years.

5. Paul was present at Stephen’s death—the first martyr of the new religion.

6. Paul early became associated with Barnabas, from Cyprus.

7. There were many gentile believers even before Paul began his work—but no strong churches.

8. Paul means “small”—no doubt he was a small person.

9. Paul had been a pupil of the renowned Gamaliel at Jerusalem.

10. Paul leaned much toward Philo’s allegorical type of Scripture interpretation. I Cor 10:1-11. Gal 4:22-31.

11. On the road to Damascus, to arrest Christians, Paul says he met Jesus, and he became a believer on the spot.

12. At Damascus, Ananias, a believer, instructed Paul and helped him escape the Jews.

13. Perhaps the best account of Paul’s conversion is found in Acts 9:1-19.

14. His first public effort was to preach about Jesus in the Damascus synagogue.

15. After a sojourn in Arabia, Paul returns and preaches in Damascus.

16. Creating hostility in Damascus, he escaped, going to Jerusalem. He had a sister in that city.

17. About this time he seems to have done some preaching in his home town— Tarsus.

18. About eight years have elapsed when he establishes himself in Antioch. Barnabas is already located there.

19. Barnabas takes a “collection” for the Jerusalem believers from Antioch.

20. Paul and Barnabas, with John Mark, start their first missionary journey, going to Paphos, capital of Cyprus, where the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus, was converted.

21. John Mark was a cousin of Barnabas.

22. They go from Paphos to Perga, where for some unknown reason, John Mark leaves them, returning to Jerusalem.

23. Paul looked upon John’s conduct as desertion. Acts 15:38.

24. They taught in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, but the Jews rejected them.

25. They went to Iconium, where they had great success. But a great dissension arose in the city.

26. They went to Lystra, where the man born lame was healed, and the citizens thought two Greek gods had come among them.

27. But the Jews produced an attack on the missionaries, and they fled to Derbe. They made many converts.

28. They decided to stop here—to retrace their steps and build up the churches they had established.

29. New troubles developed. Jews came down to Antioch from Jerusalem, insisting that the only way to enter the Christian church was through Judaism.

30. Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to settle this dispute. This was their second, trip—14 years after the first.

31. Peter came to their defense. The Jerusalem council decided that the only requirement of gentiles would be to abstain from:

Food offered to idols.
Things strangled.

32. Peter visited Antioch and ate with gentiles, but, when confronted by the Jerusalem Jews, backed down.

33. Paul and Barnabas decided to undertake the second missionary tour. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark—Paul said no. So Barnabas and Mark left Paul to make the journey alone.

34. Paul then decided to take Silas from Jerusalem. They visited the churches established on their first trip. At Lystra they met Timothy, who joined them for the rest of the tour.

35. We know little about this trip until they reach Troas. Here Paul had a dream, hearing, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

36. They went at once to Philippi, where the gospel was first preached in Europe. Here they were beaten and thrown in prison. (The jailer and his family were converted.)

37. But they had been in Philippi long enough to found a strong church. Paul later wrote one of his epistles to them. Here, Lydia, a business woman, became the first European convert to Christianity.

38. Paul took ship to Athens; Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. Paul did not have much success at Athens, and soon went on to Corinth.

39. At Corinth they met with great success. Silas and Timothy joined Paul here. Timothy told Paul of trouble at Thessalonica and Paul sent his letter, I Thessalonians, to the church. This was the spring of A.D. 50. In a few weeks he sent his second letter.

40. They spent 18 months in Corinth and then went to Syria, stopping off at Ephesus. Paul then went to Antioch, stopping at Caesarea on the way.

41. This second journey covered over two years, A.D. 49-51. Paul had a good rest and sent his epistle to the Galatians.

42. Before long, Paul was ready to start his third journey. The first stop of any length was at Ephesus. He taught in the synagogue and at the school of Tyrannus for two years. (Apollos, a Hellenist of Alexandria, had already started the work here. This is where Aquila and Prisca were converted.)

43. Paul talked about “fighting with wild beasts.” Was it figurative, or was he arrested and put in the arena with wild animals?

44. There was trouble at Corinth. Paul sent Timothy, then went himself. Soon he went by ship to Tyre. He went down the coast and over to Jerusalem.

45. Some Jews stirred up trouble for Paul and in the uproar, the Romans arrested Paul. Being a Roman citizen, they sent him to Caesarea, where Felix kept him in custody for two years.

NOTE: Somewhere along here Luke joined Paul’s party, for he writes in Acts in the first person.

46. Festus was now the ruler. When Paul was brought before him for a second trial—he appealed to Caesar.

47. Paul spoke before Agrippa, and his sister from Jerusalem visited him.

48. Paul sailed for Rome. The ship, it being autumn, got into serious trouble off the coast of Crete. In Acts 27:1-28:13 Luke records one of the most famous shipwreck stories in all history.

49. The ship was storm-tossed for two weeks; finally the passengers were landed at Malta.

50. Paul, not being a criminal prisoner, was given much liberty and did much missionary work.

51. There is a legend that while here Paul contracted malaria—that this was his “thorn in the flesh.” Other traditions attributed his trouble to epilepsy or chronic eye trouble.

52. While in Rome awaiting his trial, Paul wrote Colossians, Philemon, and Philippeans.

53. The book of Acts ends abruptly. Paul had been a prisoner in Rome for two years. We really don’t know what happened to Paul. Following are the possibilities:

a. He may have been tried, convicted, and executed.
b. He may have been tried and acquitted.
c. The case may never have come to trial, because of the loss of papers at the time of the shipwreck.

54. The early church fathers all agree that Paul was tried and convicted.

55. Paul may have been acquitted and arrested the second time during the Nero persecutions of 64 and 65.

56. Paul had been a valiant warrior—everywhere he went he left loyal friends and fierce enemies. He was a man of conflict, but he was a stalwart Christian.

57. He was the master theologian of Christianity—its chief philosopher. He was something of a self-supporting missionary. He never “ate any man’s bread.” He was truly the “apostle to the gentiles.”

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