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Paul the Apostle

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Paul the Apostle

Apostle of the Gentiles
Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna
Personal details
Birth name Saul of Tarsus[1][2][3]
Born c. AD 5[4]
in Tarsus in Cilicia[5]
(south-central Turkey)
Died c. AD 67[6]
probably in Rome[6]
Feast day January 25 (The Conversion of Paul)
February 10 (Feast of Saint Paul's Shipwreck in Malta)
June 29 (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul)
June 30 (former solo feast day, still celebrated by some religious orders)
November 18 (Feast of the dedication of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul)
Canonized by Pre-Congregation
Attributes Sword
Patronage Missions; Theologians; Gentile Christians

Paul the Apostle (Greek: Παῦλος Paulos; c. 5 – c. 67), original name Saul of Tarsus (Greek: Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς Saulos Tarseus),[1][2] was an apostle (though not one of the Twelve Apostles) who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world.[7] He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age.[8][9] In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.

According to writings in the New Testament Paul, who was known as Saul early on, was dedicated to the persecution of the early disciples of Jesus in the area of Jerusalem.[10] In the narrative of the book of Acts, while Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem", the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light. He was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus, and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God.[11] Approximately half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.

Fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. Seven of the epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. The Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries[12] but almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries,[13] is now almost universally rejected by scholars.[14] The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive.[7][8][15] Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.[16]

Today, Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship, and pastoral life in the Roman and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East.[17] Among that of many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith,[7] Paul's influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive". Augustine of Hippo developed Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law". Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide.


  • Available sources 1
  • Names 2
  • Life 3
    • Summary 3.1
    • Early life 3.2
    • Conversion 3.3
    • Post-conversion 3.4
    • Early ministry 3.5
    • First missionary journey 3.6
    • Council of Jerusalem 3.7
    • Incident at Antioch 3.8
    • Second missionary journey 3.9
    • Third missionary journey 3.10
    • Journey to Rome and beyond 3.11
    • Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles 3.12
    • Last visit to Jerusalem and arrest 3.13
    • His final days spent in Rome 3.14
    • Hardships 3.15
  • Writings 4
    • Basic message 4.1
    • Authorship 4.2
    • Atonement 4.3
    • Relationship with Judaism 4.4
    • World to come 4.5
    • Role of women 4.6
    • Views on homosexuality 4.7
  • Influence on Christianity 5
    • Lord's Supper 5.1
    • Eastern tradition 5.2
    • Western tradition 5.3
    • Modern theology 5.4
  • Church tradition 6
  • Islamic view 7
  • Jewish views 8
  • Literary analysis 9
    • Writing styles 9.1
    • Gnosticism 9.2
  • In Art 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
    • Citations 12.1
    • Bibliography 12.2
  • Further reading 13
  • External links 14

Available sources

The Conversion of Saul, a fresco by Michelangelo, 1542–45

The main source for information about Paul's life is the material found in his epistles and in the book of Acts. However, these epistles contain little information about Paul's past. The book of Acts also recounts Paul's career but leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome.[18]

Sources outside the New Testament that mention Paul include:


Although it has been popularly assumed that his name was changed when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, that is not the case.[19][20] His Jewish name was "Saul" (Hebrew: שָׁאוּל, Modern Sha'ul Tiberian Šāʼûl ; "asked for, prayed for, borrowed"), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. According to the Book of Acts, he inherited Roman citizenship from his father. As a Roman citizen, he also bore the Latin name of "Paul" —in biblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos),[21] and in Latin: Paulus.[22] It was quite usual for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.[23]

In the book of Acts, when he had the vision that led to his conversion on the Road to Damascus, Jesus called him "Saul, Saul",[24] in "the Hebrew tongue".[25] Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus".[26] When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".[27]

In Acts 13:9, Saul is called Paul for the first time on the island of Cyprus — much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates the names were interchangeable: "...Saul, who also is called Paul...". He thereafter refers to him as Paul, apparently Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul's missionary style. His method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style to which they could relate.[20]



A native of Tarsus, the capital city in the Roman province of Cilicia,[5] Paul wrote that he was "a Hebrew born of Hebrews", a Pharisee,[28] and one who advanced in Judaism beyond many of his peers. He also wrote that he was "unmarried", at least as early as his writing of I Corinthians 7:8, however some hold that he may have been married prior to that, due to certain textual analyses of his writings,[29] and other similar rationale. His initial reaction to the newly formed Christian movement was to zealously persecute its early followers and to violently attempt to destroy the movement. Paul's dramatic conversion while on the road to Damascus was clearly a life-altering event for him, changing him from being one of the early movement's most ardent persecutors to being one of its most fervent supporters.[7]

After his conversion, Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.[30] His leadership, influence, and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped Jesus, adhered to the "Judaic moral code", but relaxed or abandoned the ritual and dietary teachings of the Law of Moses. He taught that these laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ, though the exact relationship between Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still disputed. Paul taught of the life and works of Jesus Christ and his teaching of a New Covenant established through Jesus' death and resurrection. The New Testament does not record Paul's death.

Early life

Geography relevant to Paul's life, stretching from Jerusalem to Rome

The two main sources of information by which we have access to the earliest segments of Paul's career are the Bible's Book of Acts and the autobiographical elements of Paul's letters to the early church communities. Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD.[31] The Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, more affirmatively describing his father as such, but some scholars have taken issue with the evidence presented by the text.[32]

His was a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus—one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast.[33] It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university, one in which students could receive a superior education. During the time of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor.[34]

In his letters, Paul reflected heavily from his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the revealed word of God.[35]

He would also rely heavily on the training he received concerning the law and the prophets, utilizing this knowledge to convince his Jewish countrymen of the unity of past Old Testament prophecy and covenants with the fulfilling of these in Jesus Christ. His wide spectrum of experiences and education gave the "Apostle to the Gentiles" the tools which he later would use to effectively spread the Gospel and to establish the church solidly in many[36] parts of the Roman Empire.[37]

Paul referred to himself as being "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee".

The Bible reveals very little about Paul's family. Paul's nephew, his sister's son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16. Acts also quotes Paul indirectly referring to his father by saying he, Paul, was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee". Paul refers to his mother in Romans 16:13 as among those at Rome. In Romans 16:7 he states that his relatives, Andronicus and Junia, were Christians before he was and were prominent among the apostles.

The family had a history of religious piety.[38] Apparently the family lineage had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations. Young Saul learned how to make the mohair with which tents were made. Later as a Christian missionary, that trade became a means of support for him, one that he could practice anywhere. It also was to become an initial connection with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he would partner in tentmaking and later become very important teammates as fellow missionaries.

While he was still fairly young, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis in history. The Hillel school was noted for giving its students a balanced education, likely giving Paul broad exposure to classical literature, philosophy, and ethics.[37] Some of his family may have resided in Jerusalem since later the son of one of his sisters saved his life there. Nothing more is known of his background until he takes an active part in the martyrdom of Stephen. Paul confesses that "beyond measure" he persecuted the church of God prior to his conversion. Although we know from his biography and from Acts that Paul could speak Hebrew, modern scholarship suggests that Koine Greek was his first language.[39][40]


Paul's conversion can be dated to 31–36[41][42][43] by his reference to it in one of his letters. In Galatians 1:16 Paul writes that God "was pleased to reveal his son to me." In 1 Corinthians 15:8, as he lists the order in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Paul writes, "last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also."

According to the account in Acts, Saul's conversion took place in the city Damascus three days following his vision of the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. The account says that "he [Saul] fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul replied, "Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks." (Acts 9:4-5) According to the Biblical account, he was blinded for three days and had to be led into Damascus by the hand. During these three days, Saul took no food or water and spent his time in prayer to God. It was not until the arrival of Ananias of Damascus that Saul regained his sight, and only when Saul obeyed the command of Ananias to be baptized did he cease his praying and were his sins washed away. (Acts 22:16) (Acts 9:18).

Luke, the author of Acts of the Apostles, likely learned of his conversion from Paul, from the church in Jerusalem, or from the church in Antioch.[44]

Reza Aslan denies the account of Paul's conversion as presented in the Book of Acts. He writes, "The story of Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus is a bit of propagandistic legend created by the evangelist Luke; Paul himself never recounts the story of being blinded by the sight of Jesus."[45]


The Conversion of Saint Paul, a 1600 painting by Italian artist Caravaggio (1571–1610)
At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" Yet Saul grew more and more influential and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 9:20-22

In the opening verses of Romans 1, Paul provides a litany of his own apostolic appointment to preach among the Gentiles and his post-conversion convictions about the risen Christ.[8]

  • Paul described himself as
    • a servant of Jesus Christ;
    • having experienced an unforeseen, sudden, startling change, due to all-powerful grace—not the fruit of his reasoning or thoughts;
    • having seen Christ as did the other apostles when Christ appeared to him as he appeared to Peter, to James, to the Twelve, after his Resurrection;
    • called to be an apostle;
    • set apart for the gospel of God.
  • Paul described Jesus as
    • having been promised by God beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures;
    • being the true messiah and the Son of God;
    • having biological lineage from David ("according to the flesh");[46]
    • having been declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead;
    • being Jesus Christ our Lord;
    • the One through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, "including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ".
  • Jesus
    • lives in heaven;
    • is God's Son;
    • would soon return.[8]
  • The Cross
    • he now believed Jesus' death was a voluntary sacrifice that reconciled sinners with God.
  • The Law
    • he had believed the law (Jewish Torah) kept people in a right relationship with God;
    • he now believed the law only reveals the extent of people's enslavement to the power of sin—a power that must be broken by Christ.
  • Gentiles
    • he had believed Gentiles were outside the covenant that God made with Israel;
    • he now believed Gentiles and Jews were united as the people of God in Christ Jesus.
  • Circumcision
    • had believed circumcision was the rite through which males became part of Israel, an exclusive community of God's chosen people;
    • he now believed that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but that the new creation is what counts in the sight of God, and that this new creation is a work of Christ in the life of believers, making them part of the church, an inclusive community of Jews and Gentiles reconciled with God through faith.
  • Persecution
    • had believed his violent persecution of the church to be an indication of his zeal for his religion;
    • he now believed Jewish hostility toward the church was sinful opposition that would incur God's wrath; [7]:p.236 he believed he was halted by Christ when his fury was at its height; It was "through zeal" that he persecuted the Church, and he obtained mercy because he had "acted ignorantly in unbelief".[38]
  • The Last Days
    • had believed God's messiah would put an end to the old age of evil and initiate a new age of righteousness;
    • he now believed this would happen in stages that had begun with the resurrection of Jesus, but the old age would continue until Jesus returns. [7]:p.236

Paul's writings give some insight into his thinking regarding his relationship with Judaism. He is strongly critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.

What is remarkable about such a conversion is the changes in the thinking that had to take place. He had to change his concept of who the messiah was, particularly what he had perceived as the absurdity of accepting a crucified messiah. Perhaps more challenging was changing his conception of the ethnic superiority of the Jewish people. There are debates as to whether Paul understood himself as commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles at the moment of his conversion.[47]

Early ministry

The house believed to be of Ananias of Damascus in Damascus
Bab Kisan, believed to be where Paul escaped from persecution in Damascus

After his conversion, Paul went to Damascus, where Acts 9 states he was healed of his blindness and baptized by Ananias of Damascus.[48] Paul says that it was in Damascus that he barely escaped death. Paul also says that he then went first to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[49] Paul's trip to Arabia is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and some suppose he actually traveled to Mt. Sinai for meditations in the desert.[50][51] He describes in Galatians how three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem. There he met James and stayed with Simon Peter for 15 days. Paul located Mount Sinai in Arabia in Galatians 4:24-25.

Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from man, but directly by "the revelation of Jesus Christ". He claimed almost total independence from the Jerusalem community,[6]:pp.316–320 (possibly in the Cenacle), but agreed with it on the nature and content of the gospel. He appeared eager to bring material support to Jerusalem from the various budding Gentile churches that he planted. In his writings, Paul used the persecutions he endured, in terms of physical beatings and verbal assaults, to avow proximity and union with Jesus and as a validation of his teaching.

Paul's narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem. It is not completely known what happened during these 'unknown years', but both Acts and Galatians provide some partial details.[52] At the end of this time, Barnabas went to find Paul and brought him back to Antioch.

When a famine occurred in Judea, around 45–46,[53] Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community.[54] According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative center for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians".

First missionary journey

The author of the Acts arranges Paul's travels into three separate journeys. The first journey, led initially by Barnabas,[55] takes Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and back to Antioch. In Cyprus, Paul rebukes and blinds Elymas the magician who was criticizing their teachings. From this point on, Paul is described as the leader of the group.[56]

They sail to God-fearing' Gentiles invited them to talk more next Sabbath. At that time almost the whole city gathered. This upset some influential Jews who spoke against them. Paul used the occasion to announce a change in his mission which from then on would be to the Gentiles.

Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul's evangelizing.[6]

Council of Jerusalem

Most scholars agree that a vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place some time in the years 48 to 50, described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1.[18] The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised.[58] At this meeting, Paul states in his letter to the Galatians that Peter, James, and John accepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles.

Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, in Paul's letters, and some appear in both.[59] For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief apparently corresponds to the "first visit" (to Cephas and James only).[59] F. F. Bruce suggested that the "fourteen years" could be from Paul's conversion rather than from his first visit to Jerusalem.[60]

Incident at Antioch

Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem, as understood by Paul, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter in a dispute sometimes called the "Incident at Antioch", over Peter's reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch because they did not strictly adhere to Jewish customs.[61]

Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts, "I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong", and says he told Peter, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" Paul also mentions that even Barnabas, his traveling companion and fellow apostle until that time, sided with Peter.[62]

The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia[61] suggests that Paul won the argument, because "Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw the justice of the rebuke". However Paul himself never mentions a victory and L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity draws the opposite conclusion: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return".[63]

The primary source account of the Incident at Antioch is Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Second missionary journey

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. This sermon addressed early issues in Christology.[64][65]

Paul left for his second missionary journey from Jerusalem, in late Autumn 49,[66] after the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem where the circumcision question was debated. On their trip around the Mediterranean sea, Paul and his companion Barnabas stopped in Antioch where they had a sharp argument about taking John Mark with them on their trips. The book of Acts said that John Mark had left them in a previous trip and gone home. Unable to resolve the dispute, Paul and Barnabas decided to separate; Barnabas took John Mark with him, while Silas joined Paul.

Paul and Silas initially visited Tarsus (Paul's birthplace), Derbe and Lystra. In Lystra, they met Timothy, a disciple who was spoken well of, and decided to take him with them. The Church kept growing, adding believers, and strengthening in faith daily.

In Philippi, Paul cast a spirit of divination out of a servant girl, whose masters were then unhappy about the loss of income her soothsaying provided. (Acts 16:16–24) They turned the city against the missionaries, and Paul and Silas were put in jail. After a miraculous earthquake, the gates of the prison fell apart and Paul and Silas could have escaped but remained; this event led to the conversion of the jailor.(Acts 16:25–40) They continued traveling, going by Berea and then to Athens where Paul preached to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the Greek intellectuals in the Areopagus.

Around 50–52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. The reference in Acts to Proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date (cf. Gallio inscription).[18] In Corinth, Paul met Priscilla and Aquila who became faithful believers and helped Paul through his other missionary journeys. The couple followed Paul and his companions to Ephesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and most faithful churches at that time. In 52, the missionaries sailed to Caesarea to greet the Church there and then traveled north to Antioch where they stayed for about a year before leaving again on their third missionary journey.[67]

Third missionary journey

Paul began his third missionary journey by traveling all around the region of Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen, teach and rebuke the believers. Paul then traveled to Ephesus, an important

  • St Paul on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
  • Lecture on Paul of Tarsus s by Dr. Henry Abramson
  • Jewish Encyclopedia: Saul of Tarsus (known as Paul, the Apostle of the Heathen)
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: Paul of Tarsus
  • Documentary film on Apostle Paul
  • Encyclopædia Britannica: Paul, 1911
  • Maps of Paul's three missionary journeys and final captive journey
  • Novena to Saint Paul Apostle
  • Paul's mission and letters From PBS Frontline series on the earliest Christians.
  • Representations of Saint Paul
  • "Saint Paul, the Apostle". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009.
  • The Apostle and the Poet: Paul and Aratus Dr. Riemer Faber
  • The Apostle Paul's Shipwreck: An Historical Examination of Acts 27 and 28
  • Works by or about Paul the Apostle in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Why Paul Went West: The Differences Between the Jewish Diaspora Biblical Archaeology Review
  • Santiebeati: Saint Paul]
  • Catholic Online: Saint Paul

External links

  • Bart D Ehrman. Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend; 304 pages, Oxford University Press (March, 2008)
  • Bart D. Ehrman. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings; 608 pages, Oxford University Press (July, 2011); ISBN 978-0-19-975753-4
  • Hyam MacCoby. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity; 238 pages, Barnes & Noble Books (1998); ISBN 978-0-7607-0787-6
  • Hans Joachim Schoeps. Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (Library of Theological Translations); 34 pages, Lutterworth Press (July, 2002); ISBN 978-0-227-17013-7
  • Pinchas Lapide, Peter Stuhlmacher. Paul: Rabbi and Apostle; 77 pages, Augsburg Publishing House; (December 1984)
  • Pinchas Lapide, Leonard Swidler, Jurgen Moltmann. Jewish Monotheism and Christian Trinitarian Doctrine; 94 pages, Wipf & Stock Publishers (May, 2002)

Further reading

  • Aulén, Gustaf. Christus Victor (SPCK 1931)
  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Series, 1997. ISBN 0-385-24767-2
  • Brown, Raymond E. The Church the Apostles left behind(Chapman 1984)
  • Bruce, F.F. "Is the Paul of Acts the Real Paul?" Bulletin John Rylands Library 58 (1976) 283–305
  • Bruce, F.F., Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (ISBN 0-8028-4778-1)
  • Carson, D.A.;Moo, D.J. An Introduction to the New Testament ISBN 978-1-84474-089-5
  • Conzelmann, Hans, The Acts of the Apostles—a Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Augsburg Fortress 1987)
  • Davies, W.D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. S.P.C.K., 3rd ed., 1970. ISBN 0-281-02449-9
  • Davies, W.D. "The Apostolic Age and the Life of Paul" in Matthew Black, ed. Peake's Commentary on the Bible. London: T. Nelson, 1962. ISBN 0-8407-5019-6
  • Dunn, James D.G., Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels (Grand Rapids (MI), Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011)
  • Dunn, James D.G., Jesus, Paul and the Law Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1990. ISBN 0-664-25095-5
  • Hanson, Anthony T. Studies in Paul's Technique and Theology. Eerdmans, 1974. ISBN 0-8028-3452-3
  • Holzbach, Mathis Christian, Die textpragmat. Bedeutung d. Kündereinsetzungen d. Simon Petrus u.d. Saulus Paulus im lukan. Doppelwerk, in: Jesus als Bote d. Heils. Stuttgart 2008, 166–172.
  • Horrell, David G. "An Introduction to the Study of Paul". T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies. 2nd edition. London: T&T Clark, 2006
  • Irenaeus, Against Heresies, i.26.2
  • Kim, Yung Suk. A Theological Introduction to Paul's Letters. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60899-793-0
  • Langton, Daniel R. The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-51740-9
  • Maccoby, Hyam. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity. New York: Harper & Row, 1986. ISBN 0-06-015582-5
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald, 1983. The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0664244644
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Jesus and Paul: Parallel lives (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2007) ISBN 0-8146-5173-9
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1995) ISBN 0-8146-5845-8
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) ISBN 0-19-826749-5
  • Ogg, George. "Chronology of the New Testament". Matthew Black, ed. Peake's Commentary on the Bible. Nelson, 1962. ISBN 0-8407-5019-6
  • Rashdall, Hastings, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (1919)
  • Ruef, John, Paul's First letter to Corinth (Penguin 1971)
  • Sanders, E.P., Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977)
  • Segal, Alan F. Paul, the Convert, (New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-300-04527-1
  • Segal, Alan F., "Paul, the Convert and Apostle" in Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World (Harvard University Press 1986) ISBN 978-0674750760
  • Spong, John Shelby, "The Man From Tarsus", in Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism, reprint ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).


  1. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition""Saint Paul, the Apostle, original name Saul of Tarsus from . Retrieved July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Acts 9:11
  3. ^ "Saul of Tarsus". Retrieved July 2014. 
  4. ^ Peter and Paul . In the Footsteps of Paul . Tarsus . 1. PBS. Retrieved 2010–11–19.
  5. ^ a b Acts 22:3
  6. ^ a b c d Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. ISBN 978-1-55934-655-9
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Powell, Mark A. Introducing the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8010-2868-7
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sanders, E.P. "Saint Paul, the Apostle". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.
  9. ^ "The Canon Debate", McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, page 577, by James D. G. Dunn: "James, the brother of Jesus, and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures (besides Peter) in first-century Christianity"
  10. ^ Acts 8:1 "at Jerusalem"; Acts 9:13 "at Jerusalem"; Acts 9:21 "in Jerusalem"; Acts 26:10 "in Jerusalem".
  11. ^ Acts 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
    Acts 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
  12. ^ Tertullian knew the Letter to the Hebrews as being "under the name of Barnabas" (De Pudicitia, chapter 20 where T. quotes Heb. 6:4-8); Origen, in his now lost Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews is reported by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 6, 25, 13f.) as having written ". . if any Church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Paul’s. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others, that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it
  13. ^ The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, publ. Geoffrey Chapman, 1989, chapter 60:2 (at p.920, col.2)
  14. ^  
  15. ^ Paul's undisputed epistles are 1st Thessalonians, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon. The six letters believed by some but not all to have been written by Paul are Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Paul and His Influence in Early Christianity (United Methodist Church)
  16. ^ Carson, D.A.;Moo, D.G. An Introduction to the New Testment. Nottingham: Apollos/Inter-Varsity Press. 2005 ISBN 978-1-84474-089-5
  17. ^ Aageson, James W. Paul, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Early Church. Hendrickson Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59856-041-1 p.1
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Paul, St", Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  19. ^ Marrow, Stanley B. (1 Jan 1986). Paul: His Letters and His Theology : an Introduction to Paul's Epistles. Paulist Press. pp. 5, 7.  
  20. ^ a b "Why did God change Saul's name to Paul?". Catholic Answers. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Greek lexicon G4569 Σαύλος (Saul)
    Greek lexicon G3972 Παύλος (Paul)
    Hebrew lexicon H7586 שׁאוּל (Shaul/Saul)
  22. ^ Paulus autem et Barnabas demorabantur Antiochiae docentes et evangelizantes cum aliis pluribus verbum Domini
  23. ^ Prat, Ferdinand. "St. Paul". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 2 Apr. 2013.
  24. ^ 9
  25. ^ Acts 26:14 Note: This is the only place in the Bible where the reader is told what language Jesus was speaking.
  26. ^ Acts 9:11 This is the place where the expression "Saul of Tarsus" comes from.
  27. ^ Acts 9:17; 22:13
  28. ^ Philippians 3:5
  29. ^ Was the Apostle Paul Married? Textual analysis points to possible earlier marriage of Paul.
  30. ^ Acts 9:20–21
  31. ^ White, L. Michael (2007). From Jesus to Christianity (3rd impr. ed.). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 145–147.  
  32. ^ Koester, Helmut (2000). Introduction to the New Testament (2 ed.). New York: de Gruyter. p. 107.  
  33. ^ Montague, George T. The Living Thought Of St. Paul. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co. 1966. AISN: B0006CRKIC
  34. ^ Wright, G. Ernest , Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, (Pleasantville, New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1974). ASIN: B000OEOKL2
  35. ^ Kee, Howard and Franklin W. Young, Understanding The New Testament, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, Inc. 1958, pg 208. ISBN 978-0139365911
  36. ^ The author's claim of Paul's becoming able to establish the church solidly in "all" parts of the Roman Empire has been changed to "many" in this article since "all" could not be substantiated by other credible sources.
  37. ^ a b Wallace, Quency E. "The Early Life and Background of Paul the Apostle". The American Journal of Biblical Theology.
  38. ^ a b c d 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be "Trito-Pauline", meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death.
  39. ^ Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1977), Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 43
  40. ^ Dale Martin 2009. Introduction to New Testament History and Literature, lecture 14 "Paul as Missionary". Yale University.
  41. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey William (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A – D (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Wbeerdmans)). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 689.  
  42. ^ Barnett, Paul (2002). Jesus, the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. p. 21.  
  43. ^ L. Niswonger, Richard (1993). New Testament History. Zondervan Publishing Company. p. 200.  
  44. ^ McRay, John (2007). Paul His Life and Teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. p. 66.  
  45. ^  
  46. ^ through his mother Mary;
  47. ^ Horrell, David G (2006). An Introduction to the Study of Paul. New York: T&T Clark. p. 30.  
  48. ^ Hengel, Martin and Anna Maria Schwemer, trans. John Bowden. Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years Westminster John Knox Press, 1997. ISBN 0-664-25736-4
  49. ^ Kirsopp Lake, The earlier Epistles of St. Paul, their motive and origin (London 1911), pp. 320–323.
  50. ^ N.T. Wright, "Paul, Arabia and Elijah" (PDF)
  51. ^ Martin Hengel, "Paul in Arabia" (PDF) Bulletin for Biblical Research 12.1 (2002) pp. 47–66.
  52. ^ Barnett, Paul The Birth Of Christianity: The First Twenty Years (Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005) ISBN 0-8028-2781-0 p. 200
  53. ^ Ogg, George, Chronology of the New Testament in Peake's Commentary on the Bible (Nelson, 1963)
  54. ^ Barnett p. 83
  55. ^ The only indication as to who is leading is in the order of names. At first, the two are referred to as Barnabas and Paul, in that order. Later in the same chapter the team is referred to as Paul and his companions.
  56. ^ "Map of first missionary journey". Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  57. ^ "His quotations from Scripture, which are all taken, directly or from memory, from the Greek version, betray no familiarity with the original Hebrew text (..) Nor is there any indication in Paul's writings or arguments that he had received the rabbinical training ascribed to him by Christian writers (..)""Paul, the Apostle of the Heathen". Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  58. ^ Acts 15:2ff; Galatians 2:1ff
  59. ^ a b c White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins. pp. 148–149.  
  60. ^ Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit, F. F. Bruce, Paternoster 1980, p.151
  61. ^ a b Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers see section titled: "The Incident At Antioch"
  62. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers: "On their arrival Peter, who up to this had eaten with the Gentiles, 'withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision,' and by his example drew with him not only the other Jews, but even Barnabas, Paul's fellow-labourer".
  63. ^ White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 170.  
  64. ^ Christianity: an introduction by Alister E. McGrath pages 2006 ISBN 1-4051-0901-7, pp. 137–141
  65. ^ Mercer Commentary on the New Testament by Watson E. Mills 2003 ISBN 0-86554-864-1 pages 1109–1110
  66. ^ Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville, Tennessee, B&H Publishing Group. p. 400
  67. ^ Apostle Paul's Second Missionary Journey Map
  68. ^ "Paul, St". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  69. ^ McRay, John (2007). Paul His Life and Teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. p. 185.  
  70. ^ Burton, Ernest De Witt (1977). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians.  
  71. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Durazzo (Albania). (1909–05–01). Retrieved 2010–11–19.
  72. ^ Apostle Paul's Third Missionary Journey Map
  73. ^ 4th missionary journey and 5th missionary journey
  74. ^ A study in scarlet (Judah sceptre – Joseph birthright)
  75. ^ 1st Clement – Lightfoot translation
    1 Clem 5:5 "By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, [5:6] having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance".
    Where Lightfoot has "had preached" above, the Hoole translation has "having become a herald".
    See also the endnote(#3) by Arthur Cleveland Coxe on the last page of wikisource 1st Clement regarding Paul's preaching in Britain.
  76. ^ Chrysostom on 2 Tim.4:20 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series I Volume XIII)
  77. ^ Cyril on Paul and gifts of the Holy Ghost (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II Volume VII, Lecture 17, para.26)
  78. ^ The Muratorian Fragment lines 38–39
  79. ^ Paul does not exactly say that this was his second visit. In Galatians, he lists three important meetings with Peter, and this was the second on his list. The third meeting took place in Antioch. He does not explicitly state that he did not visit Jerusalem in between this and his first visit.
  80. ^ Note that Paul only writes that he is on his way to Jerusalem, or just planning the visit. There might or might not have been additional visits before or after this visit, if he ever got to Jerusalem.
  81. ^ Romans 15:25,2 Corinthians 8-9, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
  82. ^ Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.3.2: the "...Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. ...The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate".
  83. ^ MaGee Greg. "The Origins of the Church at Rome". Accessed 18 Mar 2013.
  84. ^ , Chapter XIILetter to the EphesiansIgnatius of Antioch,
  85. ^ Serena De Leonardis and Stefano Masi (1999). Art and history: Rome and the Vatican. Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 21
  86. ^ Lashway, Calvin. "HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?" Web: HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?
  87. ^ St Paul's tomb unearthed in Rome from BBC News (2006–12–08); Vatican to open Apostle Paul's tomb
  88. ^ "Remains of St. Paul confirmed". Washington Times. June 29, 2009. 
  89. ^ a b c The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament by David E. Aune ISBN 1405108258 page 9 "While seven of the letters attributed to Paul are almost universally accepted as authentic (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), four are just as widely judged to be pseudepigraphical, i.e., written by unknown authors under Paul's name: Ephesians and the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).
  90. ^ a b Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible by James D. G. Dunn (Nov 19, 2003) ISBN 0802837115 page 1274 "There is general scholarly agreement that seven of the thirteen letters bearing Paul's name are authentic, but his authorship of the other six cannot be taken for granted... Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon are certainly Paul's own".
  91. ^ a b Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament: An Introduction (Paulist Press, 1988), ISBN 0809129396 pp. 4-7.
  92. ^ Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdelene: the followers of Jesus in history and legend By Bart Ehrman, p.98-100
  93. ^ A commentary on the Acts of the Apostles by Charles Stephan Conway Williams, pp. 22, 240
  94. ^ MacDonald, Margaret Y. Sacra Pagina: Colossians and Ephesians. Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8146-5819-2
  95. ^ a b c d e "Epistle to the Colossians – Catholic Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  96. ^ Brown, R.E., The Churches the Apostles left behind p.48.
  97. ^ Barrett, C.K. the Pastoral Epistles p.4ff.
  98. ^ a b "Atonement". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  99. ^ Ephesiahs 2:8-9
  100. ^ Galatians 4:4-7
  101. ^ The International standard Bible encyclopaedia (1915), Volume 4, page 2276 edited by James Orr
  102. ^ a b Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977; Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People in 1983
  103. ^ J.D.G. Dunn's Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): 'The New Perspective on Paul' BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.
  104. ^ a b "New Perspectives on Paul". 2003-08-28. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  105. ^ Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
  106. ^ Rowlands, Christopher. Christian Origins (SPCK 1985) p.113
  107. ^ Kroeger, Richard C. and Catherine C. I Suffer Not a Woman. Baker Book House, 1992. ISBN 0-8010-5250-5
  108. ^ Wright, N.T. "The Biblical Basis for Women's Service in the Church". Web: Dec. 16, 2009
  109. ^ Kirk, J. R. Daniel. Fuller Theological Seminary
  110. ^ Giguzzi, Giancarlo "Paolo, un apostolo contro le donne?" in Credere Oggi: in dialogo con San Paolo e le sue lettere no. 124, Edizioni Messaggero Padova, 2004, pp. 95–107. at
  111. ^ a b c "Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy". Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
  112. ^ Kirk, J.R. Daniel. "Jesus I Have Loved. But Paul?" Baker, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4412-3625-8
  113. ^ Stagg, Evelyn and Frank Stagg. Woman in the World of Jesus. Westminster Press, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  114. ^ Gombis, Timothy. " in EphesiansHaustafel(PDF) A Radically Different New Humanity: The Function of the ". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 48/2 (June 2005) 317–30. Accessed 14 February 2013.
  115. ^ MacDonald, Margaret. The Pauline Churches: A Socio-historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Writings. SNTSMS 60; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p109
  116. ^ Achtenmeier, P.J. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (revised ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 882. ISBN 0-06-060037-3.
  117. ^ Keller, Marie Noël. Priscilla and Aquila: Paul's Coworkers in Christ Jesus. Liturgical Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8146-5284-8.
  118. ^ Ehrman, Bart. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press. 2003. p. 393 ISBN 0-19-515462-2
    "when we come to the Pastoral epistles, there is greater scholarly unanimity. These three letters are widely regarded by scholars as non-Pauline."
  119. ^ Collins, Raymond F. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. p. 4 ISBN 0-664-22247-1
    "By the end of the twentieth century New Testament scholarship was virtually unanimous in affirming that the Pastoral Epistles were written some time after Paul's death. ... As always some scholars dissent from the consensus view."
  120. ^ 1 Corinthians 10:14-17,
  121. ^ Maccoby, Hyam, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity (Harpercollins, October 1987), pg. 14.
  122. ^  
  123. ^ Dwyer, John C., Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity (Paulist Press, July 1985 ), pg. 27.
  124. ^ Wrede, William, Paul (trans. Edward Lummis; London: Philip Green, 1907), pg. 179.
  125. ^ Robert M. Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle, (Signature books, 2012), pg. viii. ISBN 978-1-56085-216-2
  126. ^ The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 5:5–6, translated by J.B. Lightfoot in Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1890). The Apostolic Fathers: A Revised Text with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations, and Translations. Macmillan. p. 274.  
  127. ^ Brown, Raymond Edward; John Paul Meier (1983). Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. p. 124.  
  128. ^ Hist. Eccl., II.25 -
  129. ^ Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., II.25, where he quotes Dionysius of Corinth to this effect
  130. ^ Alban Butler's Lives of the saints, available at
  131. ^ Such as the Daughters of St. Paul, a women's missionary order at
  132. ^ "Chambers' The Book of Days". 1869. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  133. ^ Noor al-Thaqalain, vol 1, p 85; Bihar al-Anwar, vol 8, pp. 310, 311.
  134. ^ Encyclopedia of Quran, Tehran, vol 6, pp. 543 to 547.
  135. ^ Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, vol 11, p 260; Jami al-Tirmidhi,vol 4, p 236; Sunan al-Kubra, al-Nasa'i, vol 10, p 398. Scholars like al-Tirmidhi categorize the hadith as Hasan and Sahih.
  136. ^ Langton, Daniel R. (2010), "Contents", The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination: A Study in Modern Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge University Press, pp. 23–56,  
  137. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 57–96. 
  138. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 97–153. 
  139. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 154–176. 
  140. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 178–209. 
  141. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 210–230. 
  142. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 234–262. 
  143. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 263–278. 
  144. ^ Hagner, Donald (1980). Hagner, Donald, ed. 'Paul in Modern Jewish Thought' in Pauline Studies. Exeter: Paternoster Press. pp. 143–165. 
  145. ^ Meissner, Stefan (1996). Die Heimholung des Ketzers. Tübingen: Mohr. 
  146. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. 
  147. ^ Langton, Daniel (2011). Westerholm, Stephen, ed. 'Jewish Readings of Paul' in Blackwell Companion to Paul. Blackwell. pp. 55–72. 
  148. ^ Langton, Daniel (2011). Levine, Amy-Jill, ed. 'Paul in Jewish Thought' in The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Oxford University Press. pp. 585–587. 
  149. ^ Shillington, George (2007). Introduction to Luke-Acts. London: T & T Clark. p. 18.  
  150. ^ Marshall, I. Howard (1980). The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. p. 42.  
  151. ^ An Introduction to Gnosticism and The Nag Hammadi Library. nhlintro.html at
  152. ^ ANTITHESIS : Contradictions Between the Old Testament Deity and the New Testament God.antithes.htm at
  153. ^ Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters. Continuum International Publishing, 1992. ISBN 978-1563380396
  154. ^ Maccoby, Hyam (1998). "1". The Mythmaker. New York: Barnes & Noble.  
  155. ^ See "Paul as Herodian", JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110–122.
  156. ^ Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4. at
  157. ^ Timo Eskola. Messiah and the Throne: Jewish Merkabah Mysticism and Early Exaltation Discourse Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001.
  158. ^ Churchill, Timothy W. R. "Divine Initiative and the Christology of the Damascus Road Encounter", Eugene: Pickwick, 2010.
  159. ^ The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being his Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private. Published by the Order of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library, from the Original Manuscripts, Deposited in the Department of State, With Explanatory Notes, Tables of Contents, and a Copious Index to Each Volume, as well as a General Index to the Whole, by the Editor H. A. Washington. Vol. VII. Published by Taylor Maury, Washington, D.C., 1854.
  160. ^ Tolsoy, Leo (1882). Church and State. This deviation begins from the time of the Apostle and especially after that hankerer after mastership Paul 
  161. ^ Hennacy, Ammon (1970). The Book of Ammon. 
  162. ^ Powell, F. F. "Saint Paul's Homage to Plato". Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  163. ^ Plato; Benjamin Jowett, trans. Phaedrus. For there is no light of justice or temperance or any of the higher ideas which are precious to souls in the earthly copies of them: they are seen through a glass dimly. 



See also

In Art

F.F. Powell argues that Paul, in his epistles, made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language.[162] For example, in Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates saying that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though "through a glass dimly",[163] closely mirroring Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 13.

Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."[159] Christian anarchists, such as Leo Tolstoy[160] and Ammon Hennacy,[161] take a similar view.

According to Timo Eskola, early Christian theology and discourse was influenced by the Jewish Merkabah tradition.[157] Similarly, Alan Segal and Daniel Boyarin regard Paul's accounts of his conversion experience and his ascent to the heavens as the earliest first person accounts we have of a Merkabah mystic in Jewish or Christian literature. Conversely, Timothy Churchill has argued that Paul's Damascus road encounter does not fit the pattern of Merkabah.[158]

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[155] Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus", a "kinsman of Agrippa".[156] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman".

Maccoby theorized that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributed the origins of Christian antisemitism to Paul and said that Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.[154]

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and an authority on Gnosticism, declined to judge (in her book The Gnostic Paul) whether Paul was actually a Gnostic. Instead, she concentrated on how the Gnostics interpreted Paul's letters and how evidence from gnostic sources may challenge the assumption that Paul wrote his letters to combat "gnostic opponents" and to repudiate their statement that they possess secret wisdom.[153]

Many subsequent Church Fathers and councils attacked the Gnostics. Yet, according to Powell, throughout the second, third, and fourth centuries Gnostic versions of Christianity constituted the primary alternatives to what is usually thought of as "mainstream" Christianity.

A significant second and, possibly, late first century impact on Christianity was the development of Gnosticism, a mystery religion, which among other things, rejected the god of the Jews as the Father of Jesus. Gnostics assert that the former is a lesser, creative being and stands in contrast to the supreme deity as taught by Jesus.[151][152] It was a religious movement that appealed to many of its time. Mark Powell says it became the bane of many prominent church leaders as they sought to defend, what they believed to be the orthodox faith, from what they labeled the "gnostic heresy". He compares the difficulty in describing it to trying to describe what is meant today by "new age" religion or thinking.[7]:pp.39–41

Saint Paul, Byzantine ivory relief, 6th – early 7th century (Musée de Cluny)


F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of the Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the "Apostle to the Gentiles", was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.

Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else's words. Moreover, George Shillington writes that the author of Acts most likely created the speeches accordingly and they bear his literary and theological marks.[149] Conversely, Howard Marshall writes that the speeches were not entirely the inventions of the author and while they may not be accurate word-for-word, the author nevertheless records the general idea of them.[150]

British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contended that the Paul as described in the book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also pointed out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the book of Acts.

Writing styles

A statue of Paul holding a scroll (symbolising the Scriptures) and the sword (symbolising his martyrdom)

Literary analysis

Jewish interest in Paul is a recent phenomenon. Before the so-called Jewish reclamation of Jesus (as a Jew) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, he had hardly featured in the popular Jewish imagination and little had been written about him by the religious leaders and scholars. Arguably, he is absent from the Talmud and rabbinical literature, although he makes an appearance in some variants of the medieval polemic Toledot Yeshu (as a spy for the rabbis).[136] But with Jesus no longer regarded as the paradigm of gentile Christianity, Paul's position became more important in Jewish historical reconstructions of their religion's relationship with Christianity. He has featured as the key to building barriers (e.g. Heinrich Graetz and Martin Buber) or bridges (e.g. Isaac Mayer Wise and Claude G. Montefiore) in interfaith relations,[137] as part of an intra-Jewish debate about what constitutes Jewish authenticity (e.g. Joseph Klausner and Hans Joachim Schoeps),[138] and, on occasion, as a dialogical partner (e.g. Richard L. Rubenstein and Daniel Boyarin).[139] He features in an oratorio (by Felix Mendelssohn), a painting (by Ludwig Meidner) and a play (by Franz Werfel),[140] and there have been several novels about Paul (by Shalom Asch and Samuel Sandmel).[141] Jewish philosophers (including Baruch Spinoza, Leo Shestov, and Jacob Taubes)[142] and Jewish psychoanalysts (including Sigmund Freud and Hanns Sachs)[143] have engaged with the apostle as one of the most influential figures in Western thought. Scholarly surveys of Jewish interest in Paul include those by Hagner (1980),[144] Meissner (1996),[145] and Langton (2010, 2011).[146][147][148]

Jewish views

Paul's name is mentioned in several Islamic hadiths as the deceiver of the Christians, and along with people like Cain, Nimrod, Fir'aun and Samiri, is punished in a stage of Hell called Saqar. Another Shiah hadith mentions demons that mislead people after prophets, and names Paul as the demon that misled people after Jesus.[133][134] Also, some hadiths narrated in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Jami al-Tirmidhi, among other books, mention that in the afterlife, autarch and arrogant people are imprisoned in a jail named "Paulus", which is the most painful location of hell.[135]

Islamic view

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul is celebrated on January 25.[132]

The apocryphal Acts of Paul and the apocryphal Acts of Peter suggest that Paul survived Rome and traveled further west. Some think that Paul could have revisited Greece and Asia Minor after his trip to Spain, and might then have been arrested in Troas, and taken to Rome and executed.[38] A tradition holds that Paul was interred with Saint Peter ad Catacumbas by the via Appia until moved to what is now the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, writes that Pope Vitalian in 665 gave Paul's relics (including a cross made from his prison chains) from the crypts of Lucina to King Oswy of Northumbria, northern Britain. Paul is considered the patron saint of London.

Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the 4th century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero.[128] This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. According to one tradition, the church of San Paolo alle Tre Fontane marks the place of Paul's execution. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, commemorates his martyrdom, and reflects a tradition (preserved by Eusebius) that Peter and Paul were martyred at the same time.[129] The Roman liturgical calendar for the following day now remembers all Christians martyred in these early persecutions; formerly, June 30 was the feast day for St. Paul.[130] Persons or religious orders with special affinity for St. Paul can still celebrate their patron on June 30.[131]

[127]Commenting on this passage, Raymond Brown writes that while it "does not explicitly say" that Paul was martyred in Rome, "such a martyrdom is the most reasonable interpretation".
"By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance".

1 Clement, a letter written by the Roman bishop Clement of Rome around the year 90, reports this about Paul:[126]

Various Christian writers have suggested more details about Paul's life.

Church tradition

As in the Eastern tradition in general, Western humanists interpret the reference to election in Romans 9 as reflecting divine foreknowledge.[18]

Robert M. Price, in his book The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul, says "the Pauline epistles reveal themselves to the discerning reader to have exactly the same sort of limitation as the Gospels do: both are collections of fragments and pericopae contributed and fabricated by authors and communities of very different theological leanings".[125]

In addition to the many questions about the true origins of some of Paul's teachings posed by historical figures as noted above, some modern theologians also hold that the teachings of Paul differ markedly from those of Jesus as found in the Gospels.[121] Barrie Wilson states that Paul differs from Jesus in terms of the origin of his message, his teachings and his practices.[122] Some have even gone so far as to claim that, due to these apparent differences in teachings, that Paul was actually no less than the "second founder" of Christianity (Jesus being its first).[123][124]

See also Pauline Christianity vs: Jesuism

In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans (Ger. Der Römerbrief; particularly in the thoroughly re-written second edition of 1922) Karl Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. Some theologians believe this work to be the most important theological treatise since Friedrich Schleiermacher's On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers.

Modern theology

In the Reformation, Martin Luther expressed Paul's doctrine of faith most strongly as justification by faith alone.[18] John Calvin developed Augustine's predestination into double predestination.[18]

Augustine's foundational work on the gospel as a gift (grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination, and on original sin all derives from Paul, especially Romans.[18]

Western tradition

In the East, church fathers attributed the element of election in Romans 9 to divine foreknowledge.[18] The themes of predestination found in Western Christianity do not appear in Eastern theology.

Eastern tradition

Paul's writings include the earliest reference to the "Lord's Supper",[120] a rite traditionally identified as the Christian communion or Eucharist.

Lord's Supper

Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author.[8] Paul declared that faith in Christ made the Torah unnecessary for salvation, exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.[18]

Influence on Christianity

Most Christian denominations say Paul clearly portrays homosexuality as sinful in two specific locations: Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Another well-known passage addresses the topic more obliquely: 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Since the nineteenth century, however, some scholars have concluded that First Timothy, along with Second Timothy and Titus, are not original to Paul, but rather an unknown Christian writing in Paul's name some time in the late-first-to-mid-2nd century.[118][119]

Views on homosexuality

  • He became a partner in ministry with the couple Priscilla and Aquila who are specifically named seven times in the New Testament—always by their couple name and never individually. Of the seven times they are named in the New Testament, Priscilla's name appears first in five of those instances, suggesting to some scholars that she was the head of the family unit.[116] They lived, worked, and traveled with the Apostle Paul, becoming his honored, much-loved friends and coworkers in Christ Jesus.[117] In Romans 16:3-4, thought to have been written in 56 or 57, Paul sends his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and proclaims that both of them "risked their necks" to save Paul's life.
  • Chloe was an important member of the church in Corinth
  • Phoebe was a "deacon" and a "benefactor" of Paul and others
  • Romans 16 names eight other women active in the Christian movement, including Junia ("prominent among the apostles"), Mary ("who has worked very hard among you"), and Julia
  • Women were frequently among the major supporters of the new Christian movement[8]

E.P. Sanders has labeled the Apostle's remark in 1 Cor. 14:34-36 about women not making any sound during worship as "Paul's intemperate outburst that women should be silent in the churches".[102] Women, in fact, played a very significant part in Paul's missionary endeavors:

Margaret MacDonald argues that the Haustafel, particularly as it appears in Ephesians, was aimed at “reducing the tension between community members and outsiders.”[115]

Classicist Evelyn Stagg and theologian Frank Stagg believe that Paul was attempting to "Christianize" the societal household or domestic codes that significantly oppressed women and empowered men as the head of the household. The Staggs present a serious study of what has been termed the New Testament domestic code, also known as the Haustafel.[113] The two main passages that explain these "household duties" are Paul's letters to the Ephesians 5:22-6:5 and to the Colossians 3:18-4:1. An underlying Household Code is also reflected in four additional Pauline letters and 1 Peter: 1 Timothy 2:1ff., 8ff.; 3:1ff., 8ff.; 5:17ff.; 6:1f.; Titus 2:1-10 and 1 Peter 2:13-3:9. Biblical scholars have typically treated the Haustafel in Ephesians as a resource in the debate over the role of women in ministry and in the home.[114]

In pronouncing an end within the church to the divisions which are common in the world around it, he concludes by highlighting the fact that "...there were New Testament women who taught and had authority in the early churches, that this teaching and authority was sanctioned by Paul, and that Paul himself offers a theological paradigm within which overcoming the subjugation of women is an anticipated outcome".[112]

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
—Galatians 3:28

Kirk's third example of a more inclusive view is Galatians 3:28:

There were women prophets in the highly patriarchal times throughout the Old Testament.[111] The most common term for prophet in the Old Testament is nabi [ayib"n] in the masculine form, and nab""a(h) [h'ayibn] in the Hebrew feminine form, is used six times of women who performed the same task of receiving and proclaiming the message given by God. These women include Miriam, Aaron and Moses' sister, Deborah, the prophet Isaiah's wife, and Huldah, the one who interpreted the Book of the Law discovered in the temple during the days of Josiah. There were false prophetesses just as there were false prophets. The prophetess Noadiah was among those who tried to intimidate Nehemiah. Apparently they held equal rank in prophesying right along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elisha, Aaron, and Samuel.[111]

Biblical prophecy is more than "fore-telling": two-thirds of its inscripturated form involves "forth-telling", that is, setting the truth, justice, mercy, and righteousness of God against the backdrop of every form of denial of the same. Thus, to speak prophetically was to speak boldly against every form of moral, ethical, political, economic, and religious disenfranchisement observed in a culture that was intent on building its own pyramid of values vis-a-vis God's established system of truth and ethics.[111]

Other scholars, such as Giancarlo Biguzzi, believe that Paul's restriction on women speaking in 1 Corinthians 14 is genuine to Paul but applies to a particular case where there were local problems of women—who were not allowed in that culture to become educated—asking questions or chatting during worship services. He does not believe it to be a general prohibition on any woman speaking in worship settings since in 1 Corinthians Paul affirms the right (responsibility) of women to prophesy. [110]

Fuller Seminary theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk[109] finds evidence in Paul's letters of a much more inclusive view of women. He writes that Romans 16 is a tremendously important witness to the important role of women in the early church. Paul praises Phoebe for her work as a deaconess and Junia who is described by Paul in Scripture as being respected among the Apostles. It is Kirk's observation that recent studies have led many scholars to conclude that the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 ordering women to "be silent" during worship was a later addition, apparently by a different author, and not part of Paul's original letter to the Corinthians.

The KJV translation of this passage taken literally says that women in the churches are to have no leadership roles vis-à-vis men.[108] Whether it also forbids women from teaching children and women is dubious as even those Catholic churches that prohibit female priests permit female abbesses to teach and exercise authority over other females.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

1 Timothy 2:9-15

The second chapter of the first letter to Timothy—one of the six disputed letters—is used by many churches to deny women a vote in church affairs, reject women from serving as teachers of adult Bible classes, prevent them from serving as missionaries, and generally disenfranchise women from the duties and privileges of church leadership.[107]

Paul the Apostle, attributed to Lucas van Leyden

Role of women

Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive. This suggests an imminence of the end but he is unspecific about times and seasons, and encourages his hearers to expect a delay.[106] The form of the end will be a battle between Jesus and the man of lawlessness[38] whose conclusion is the triumph of Christ.

According to Ehrman, Paul believed that Jesus would return within his lifetime.[105] He states that Paul expected that Christians who had died in the mean time would be resurrected to share in God's kingdom, and he believed that the saved would be transformed, assuming supernatural bodies.

World to come

E.P. Sanders' publications[102] have since been taken up by Professor James Dunn who coined the phrase "The New Perspective on Paul".[103] N.T. Wright,[104] the Anglican Bishop of Durham, notes a difference in emphasis between Galatians and Romans, the latter being much more positive about the continuing covenant between God and his ancient people than the former. Wright also contends that performing Christian works is not insignificant but rather proof of having attained the redemption of Jesus Christ by grace (free gift received by faith). He concludes that Paul distinguishes between performing Christian works which are signs of ethnic identity and others which are a sign of obedience to Christ.[104]

Paul's theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul's own intent. He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved.[18] Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.

Some scholars see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with 1st-century Judaism (a Pharisee and student of Gamaliel as presented by Acts),[101] others see him as opposed to 1st-century Judaism (notably Marcionism), while the majority see him as somewhere in between these two extremes, opposed to "Ritual Laws" (for example the circumcision controversy in early Christianity) but in full agreement on "Divine Law". These views of Paul are paralleled by the views of Biblical law in Christianity.

Relationship with Judaism

Paul wrote down much of the theology of atonement.[98] Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from the Law (see Supersessionism) and from sin by Jesus' death and resurrection. His death was an expiation as well as a propitiation, and by Christ's blood peace is made between God and man.[98] By grace, through faith,[99] a Christian shares in Jesus' death and in his victory over death, gaining as a free gift a new, justified status of sonship.[100]


  • First, they have found a difference in these letters' vocabulary, style, and theology from Paul's acknowledged writings. Defenders of the authenticity say that they were probably written in the name and with the authority of the Apostle by one of his companions, to whom he distinctly explained what had to be written, or to whom he gave a written summary of the points to be developed, and that when the letters were finished, Paul read them through, approved them, and signed them.[95]
  • Second, some believe there is a difficulty in fitting them into Paul's biography as we have it.[97] They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul's release and travel thereafter.[95]
  • Third, 2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned by some on stylistic grounds, with some noting, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians—yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus. This, again, is explainable by the possibility that Paul requested one of his companions to write the letter for him under his dictation.[95]

Three main reasons have been advanced by those who question Paul's authorship of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus—also known as the Pastoral Epistles.

Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle Paul, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia)

Ephesians is a letter that is very similar to Colossians, but is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique. It lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Finally, according to R.E. Brown, it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, 'built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets' now past.[96] The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Paul's thinking. It has been said, too, that the moral portion of the Epistle, consisting of the last two chapters, has the closest affinity with similar portions of other Epistles, while the whole admirably fits in with the known details of Paul's life, and throws considerable light upon them.[95]

The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as "the image of the invisible God", a Christology found elsewhere only in John's gospel.[94] However, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Internal evidence shows close connection with Philippians.[95]

He provides few references to Jesus' teachings, leading some theologians to question how consistent was his account of the faith with that of the four canonical Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Epistle of James.

Paul's letters were largely written to churches which he had visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. His most explicit references to the life of Jesus are of the Last Supper and the crucifixion and resurrection.

Four of the letters (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are widely considered pseudepigraphical, while the authorship of the other two is subject to debate.[89] Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians are thought by some to be "Deutero-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by Paul's followers after his death. Similarly, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be "Trito-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death. According to their theories, these disputed letters may have come from followers writing in Paul's name, often using material from his surviving letters. These scribes also may have had access to letters written by Paul that no longer survive.[8]

Seven of the 13 letters that bear Paul's name – Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1st Thessalonians and Philemon – are almost universally accepted as being entirely authentic (dictated by Paul himself).[8][89][90][91] They are considered the best source of information on Paul's life and especially his thought.[8]

Paul Writing His Epistles, painting probably by Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century


  1. God sent his Son.
  2. The Son was crucified for the sins of humanity.
  3. After being dead three days, the Son was raised from the dead, defeating death.
  4. The Son would soon return.
  5. Those in Christ will live with him forever.
  6. Followers are urged to live by a set apart (sanctified) standard—"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Sanders concludes that Paul's writings reveal what he calls the essence of the Christian message:

  • His strongest emphasis was on the death, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus Christ. He preached that one's faith in Jesus assures that person a share in Jesus' life (salvation). He saw Jesus' death as being for the believers' benefit, not a defeat. Jesus died so that believers' sins would be forgiven.
  • The resurrection of Jesus was of primary importance to Paul, as may be seen in his first letter to the Thessalonians which is the earliest surviving account of Paul's conversion.
  • The resurrection brought the promise of salvation to believers. Paul taught that, when Christ returned, those who had died believing in Christ as the saviour of mankind would be brought back to life, while those still alive would be "caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air".

E.P. Sanders finds three major emphases in Paul's writings:[8]

Basic message

Paul...only occasionally had the opportunity to revisit his churches. He tried to keep up his converts' spirit, answer their questions, and resolve their problems by letter and by sending one or more of his assistants (especially Timothy and Titus). Paul's letters reveal a remarkable human being: dedicated, compassionate, emotional, sometimes harsh and angry, clever and quick-witted, supple in argumentation, and above all possessing a soaring, passionate commitment to God, Jesus Christ, and his own mission. Fortunately, after his death one of his followers collected some of the letters, edited them very slightly, and published them. They constitute one of history's most remarkable personal contributions to religious thought and practice.[8]

In Paul's writings, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus a description of Christian spirituality. His letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John.[8]

Although approximately half of the Book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works, the Book of Acts does not refer to Paul writing letters. Historians believe that the author of Acts did not have access to any of Paul's letters. One piece of evidence suggesting this is that Acts never directly quotes from the Pauline epistles. Discrepancies between the Pauline epistles and Acts would further support the conclusion that the author of Acts did not have access to those epistles when composing Acts.[92][93]

Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 14 have been attributed to Paul; 7 of these are widely considered authentic and Paul's own, while the authorship of the other seven is disputed.[89][90][91] The undisputed letters are considered the most important sources since they contain what everyone agrees to be Paul's own statements about his life and thoughts. Theologian Mark Powell writes that Paul directed these 7 letters to specific occasions at particular churches. As an example, if the Corinthian church had not experienced problems concerning its celebration of the Lord's Supper, today we would not know that Paul even believed in that observance or had any opinions about it one way or the other. He asks if we might be ignorant of other matters simply because no crises arose that prompted Paul to comment on them.[7]:p.234


He concluded: "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches".

  • worked much harder.
  • was in prison more frequently.
  • was flogged more severely.
  • had been exposed to death again and again (five times he received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one, three times was beaten with rods, once he was pelted with stones).
  • was shipwrecked three times, spending a night and a day in the open sea.
  • was constantly on the move.
  • had been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from his fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers
  • had labored and toiled and had often gone without sleep
  • had known hunger and thirst and had often gone without food
  • had been cold and naked
  • to escape arrest by the governor of Damascus, he was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and got away

In 2 Corinthians 11:20-32 Paul provided a sampling of some of his adversities as a missionary. In comparing his experiences to those of some of the "most eminent apostles", he wrote that he:


In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings are consistent with the tradition that the tomb is Paul's.[87] The sarcophagus was inscribed in Latin saying, "Paul apostle martyr".[88]

Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, writes that Paul was martyred.[84] Christian tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey).[85] By comparison, tradition states that Peter, who was not a Roman citizen, was given the more painful death of being crucified upside-down.[86]

The Beheading of Saint Paul by Enrique Simonet, 1887

Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.[82] Paul was not a bishop of Rome, nor did he bring Christianity to Rome since there were already Christians in Rome when he arrived there. Also, Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome before he had visited Rome. Paul only played a supporting part in the life of the church in Rome.[83]

Acts recounts that on the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita" (Malta), where he was met by Publius and the islanders who showed him "unusual kindness". He arrived in Rome c. 60 and spent another two years under house arrest (beyond his two years in prison in Caesarea).[18]

His final days spent in Rome

Paul arrived in Jerusalem on his fifth and final visit to Jerusalem in 57 with a collection of money for the community there. Acts reports that he was warmly received. But Acts goes on to recount how Paul was warned by James and the elders that he was gaining a reputation for being against the Law, "teaching all the Jews living among the gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs". Paul underwent a purification ritual in order to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law. Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by voluntarily being taken into Roman custody. When a plot to kill Paul on his way to an appearance before the Jews was discovered, he was transported by night to Caesarea. He was held as a prisoner there for two years, until a new governor reopened his case in 59. When the governor suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to "appeal unto Caesar".[18]

Last visit to Jerusalem and arrest

Saint Paul arrested, early 1900s Bible illustration
Acts Epistles
  • First visit to Jerusalem
    • "after many days" of Damascus conversion
    • preaches openly in Jerusalem with Barnabas
    • meets apostles
  • First visit to Jerusalem
    • three years after Damascus conversion
    • sees only Cephas (Peter) and James
  • Second visit to Jerusalem
    • for famine relief
  • There is debate over whether Paul's visit in Galatians 2 refers to the visit for famine relief or the Jerusalem Council. If it refers to the former, then this was the trip made "after an interval of fourteen years".
  • Third visit to Jerusalem
    • with Barnabas
    • "Council of Jerusalem"
    • followed by confrontation with Barnabas in Antioch
  • Another[79] visit to Jerusalem
    • 14 years later (after Damascus conversion?)
    • with Barnabas and Titus
    • possibly the "Council of Jerusalem"
    • Paul agrees to "remember the poor"
    • followed by confrontation with Peter and Barnabas in Antioch
  • Fourth visit to Jerusalem
    • to "greet the church"
  • Apparently unmentioned.
  • Fifth visit to Jerusalem
    • after an absence of several years
    • to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings
    • Paul arrested
  • Another[80] visit to Jerusalem[81]
    • to deliver the collection for the poor

This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity.[59] Note that the matching of Paul's travels in the Acts and the travels in his Epistles is done for the reader's convenience and is not approved of by all scholars.

Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles

Among the writings of the early Christians, Clement of Rome said that Paul was "Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West", and that "he had gone to the extremity of the west".[74][75] Chrysostom indicated that Paul preached in Spain: "For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not".[76] Cyril of Jerusalem said that Paul, "fully preached the Gospel, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing Signs and wonders".[77] The Muratorian fragment mentions "the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] [5a] (39) when he journeyed to Spain".[78]

After Paul's arrival in Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey, he became involved in a serious conflict with some "Asian Jews" (most likely from Roman Asia). The conflict eventually led to Paul's arrest and imprisonment in Caesarea for two years. Finally, Paul and his companions sailed for Rome where Paul was to stand trial for his alleged crimes. Acts states that Paul preached in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial. It does not state what happened after this time, but some sources state that Paul was freed by Nero and continued to preach in Rome, even though that seems unlikely based on Nero's historical cruelty to Early Christians. It is possible that Paul also traveled to other countries like Spain and Britain.[73] See His final days spent in Rome section below.

Journey to Rome and beyond

Paul and his companions visited other cities on their way back to Jerusalem such as Philippi, Troas, Miletus, Rhodes, and Tyre. Paul finished his trip with a stop in Caesarea where he and his companions stayed with Philip the Evangelist before finally arriving at Jerusalem.[72]

Paul went through Macedonia into Achaea and made ready to continue on to Syria, but he changed his plans and traveled back through Macedonia because of Jews who had made a plot against him. At this time (56–57), it is likely that Paul visited Corinth for three months.[18] In Romans 15:19 Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, but he may have meant what would now be called Illyria Graeca,[70] which lay in the northern part of modern Albania, but was at that time a division of the Roman province of Macedonia.[71]

[69] During his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth.[18] riot involving most of the city.Artemis Paul left Ephesus after an attack from a local silversmith resulted in a pro-[68]

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