1 Paul, a servant[a] of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 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, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The name "Saul" is a Jewish name, the Hebrew being (Hebrew: שָׁאוּל, Modern: Sha'ûl, Tiberian: Šāʼûl), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, the first king of Israel and like Paul a member of the Tribe of Benjamin; the Latin name Paul, meaning small, was not a result of his conversion but a second name for use in communicating with a Greco-Roman audience.
Saul is depicted in the Acts of the Apostles as a persecutor of the early Jesus movement that began in Jerusalem.
In Acts 7.58-8.1, he is named as among those who approved of the stoning of Stephen. Then in Acts 9 we have the story of Paul encountering the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road, where Jesus says, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (9:4).
Of course, this incident leads Paul to trust that Jesus is actually the Messiah, and he devotes all of his energy from then on to proclaiming the message of Jesus to fellow Jews and especially the nations (often called “Gentiles”). The idea of persecution is corroborated in Paul’s letters in Galatians 1.13-14 and Philippians 3:6.
Jesus called him "Saul, Saul" in "the Hebrew tongue" in the Book of Acts, when he had the vision which led to his conversion on the road to Damascus. Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus". When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".
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.
According to the Book of Acts, he was a Roman citizen. As such, he also bore the Latin name of "Paul" (essentially a Latin approximation of Saul) – in biblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos), and in Latin: Paulus. It was typical for the Jews of that time to have two names: one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.
The author of Luke–Acts indicates that the names were interchangeable: "Saul, who also is called Paul." He refers to him as Paul through the remainder of Luke–Acts. This was apparently Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those that 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, as in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
Features of Paul's life
Paul as a Tentmaker
Acts also describes that Paul was a tent-maker as his primary vocation (18 vs 1-3). He worked with Priscilla and Aquila who are also mentioned in Romans 16:3-4 as “co-workers” (likely both metaphorically in regards to the message of Jesus and literally regarding a shared trade).
Paul as a Pharisee
Acts 23 vs 6 describes Paul as a Pharisee (and the son of a Pharisee) which corroborates with his own words in Philippians Chapter 3 vs 5-6. In Acts, it explicitly names this identity as a family link, since his father also had such an identity.
At some early point in Paul’s life, Acts 22 vs 3 claims that Paul studied under the great Pharisaic teacher, Gamaliel, who may have been the grandson of Hillel the Elder (sometimes noted as one of the great proto-rabbis [often called “sages” or “teachers”] of the first century BCE).
If this connection is true, which based on Paul’s interpretive grid throughout his letters as a wise Pharisee seems more than plausible, Paul studied under one of the most respected teaching lineages in the late Second Temple period. He seems to have been educated beyond Torah expertise, to include a deep understanding of the Prophets and classical literature and philosophy.
Paul's Life as a Missionary
Paul, if we jump back into Acts, started in Antioch as his launching point (the place of the controversy) and eventually took several trips to various regions of the Mediterranean. These travels are how Paul was able to start so many churches, many of whom for which we have letters in the New Testament.
" Paul departed to Arabia, eventually returning to Damascus. Fleeing an assassination plot in that city, he headed to Jerusalem, where two events of great importance for his future life occurred. First, he met a Fellow-Christian and future companion, Barnabas. He also saw a vision in the temple that commanded him to take the gospel to the gentiles. Another assassination plot sent him fleeing to Caesarea, then back to Tarsus. Eventually, ending up in Syrian Antioch, he partnered with Barnabas and took a short journey down to Jerusalem to bring relief to that church, after which time he returned to Antioch."
According to the narrative of Acts, Paul’s “missionary journeys” included:
Acts 13 vs 4-15 vs 35 (begins and ends in Syrian Antioch)
Acts 15 vs 36-18 vs 22 (also begins and ends in Syrian Antioch)
Acts 18 vs 23-21 vs 17 (begins in Syrian Antioch and ends in Jerusalem)
Acts 27 vs 1-28 vs 16 (journey to Rome)
Paul's first Missionary Journey
" While in Antioch, both Paul and Barnabas were clearly called to the Lord’s service. They soon set sail for Cyprus, where they met two men. Paul preached to Sergius Paulus, a Roman deputy who believed the gospel, despite the efforts of Barjesus, who was blinded for trying to hinder Paul. Setting sail, the evangelists continued on to Perga, Pisidian Antioch (where Paul delivered his first evangelistic sermon to the Jews), Iconium, and Lystra – all cities of Asia Minor. While in Lystra Paul healed a cripple, which almost caused the city to worship him; when Jews arrived, the citizens changed their mind and stoned him, leaving him for dead. After recovering, Paul and Barnabas returned to Syrian Antioch."
Paul's Second Missionary Journey
"The 'Jerusalem Council,' the great council of the early Church, conveined in Jerusalem to discuss the question of the law. After determining that Christians were not bound by the law of Moses, it sent Paul as a messenger to deliver the verdict. Paul traveled northwest through Anatolia before crossing into Macedonia. While in Philippi he cast out a spirit of divination but ended up in prison as a result. After the jailor was converted, he was free to travel to Thessalonica, where a great persecution against Christians soon broke out. Journeying south into the heartland of Greece, he delivered his famous Mar’s Hill Sermon at Athens. The journey concluded with time at Corinth before heading back to Jerusalem."
Paul's third Missionary Journey
"Paul’s intention after leaving Jerusalem was to strengthen the churches of Galatia and Phrygia in Anatolia. Weaving his way over the roads of Asia Minor, he eventually came to the bustling coastal city of Ephesus, where he lived for some time. As the church grew, the new Christians burned their occult books, but trouble was in the air. Demetrius, a silversmith who made idols, stirred up the whole city into an uproar, forcing Paul to leave Ephesus.
The apostle headed to Greece, where he stayed three months, then returned through Macedonia. Sailing along the coast of Anatolia toward Jerusalem, he revived a young man named Eutychus at a stop in Troas. At Miletus he met with the Ephesian elders and exhorted them in their noble work. He remained firm in his decision to visit Jerusalem even as he received a prophecy from Agabus about his imminent arrest."
Paul's letters to the Church
Depending on how one understands the dating and authorship of the Pauline letters, the writings we have that are attributed to Paul are often said to have been written during or in response to these various journeys. The letters of Paul can be broken into two basic categories: authentic letters (meaning they are universally accepted as from the Apostle), and disputed letters (meaning that scholars disagree about authorship). They are as follows:
The Firm 7 Letters of Paul
The Contested Letters of Paul
It should be noted that even Christians of various stripes contest certain letters of Paul as not being directly from his hand. However, in the ancient world it was the practice at times to write in honor of someone by taking the pen up in their name.
It is highly likely that if any of these letters (especially disputed are the pastoral letters of 1/2 Timothy and Titus) were not directly from Paul that they come out of Pauline schools. His disciples likely took his ideas and carried them forward after his death, in such a scenario. In the first century these would not be considered forgeries, since they were in continuity with his message and mission.
They should be seen as containing broadly Paul’s thought, although it is in the minor nuances that scholars question authorship. Those scholars who are Christians still affirm “inspiration” and “authority” of these writings.
But again, the point should be made that many scholars affirm all of the letters as genuinely Pauline (with the important exception of the sometimes wrongly attributed letter to the Hebrews).
Commonly Quoted Scriptures
Romans 10 vs 9
"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Philipians 1 vs 21
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Ephesians 1 vs 5
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
Colossians 3 vs 23
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;"
Romans 8 vs 31
"What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us!"
Colossians 1 vs 10
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Romans 6 vs 23
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8 vs 28
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Colossians 1 vs 15
"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"
Romans 12 vs 2
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Philipians 4 vs 13
"I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Ephesians 1 vs 11
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
Colossians 1 vs 16
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"
Romans 3 vs 23
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
Romans 12 vs 1
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."
Ephesians 4 vs 29
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 6 vs 10
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
1 Corinthians 13 vs 4
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
1 Corinthians 13 vs 13
"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love."
Ephesians 6 vs 12
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Romans 5 vs 8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
2 Corinthians 5 vs 17
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!"
Ephesians 6 vs 16
"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
Philippians 4 vs 8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ― if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ― think on these things."
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,"
Colossians 1 vs 18
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
Philipians 1 vs 6
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philipians 4 vs 19
"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
Romans 1 vs 16
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile."
Ephesians 2 vs 8
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
Romans 10 vs 13
"for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”"
Hebrews 1 vs 6
"And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all God’s angels worship Him."
James 5 vs 16
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail."
After Paul's Transformation
After his mystical encounter with the resurrected Jesus, Paul was blinded by the experience according to the Acts 9 account. Moving back into Paul’s own firsthand account in Galatians Chapters 1-2, after this experience he went to: Arabia, then Damascus, then Jerusalem for 15 days (3 years later to meet with Cephas / Peter and James), then to Syria and Cilicia.
And then, 14 years later, Paul went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to meet with the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church: James, Cephas, and John. In this meeting, these key leaders affirmed that Paul was indeed commissioned to be an apostle to the gentiles (which means “nations-people”). The only thing that the Jerusalem apostles urged was that Paul and his companions “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10)
3 RELATIONSHIPS SEEN IN THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
MINISTRY IS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
By Franklin Humber | October 16, 2019
"You cannot be a recluse and be effective as a pastor. If you are called to a shepherding role of ministry, you must be actively engaged in healthy relationship building you want to be eternally effective. Ministry, and life for that matter, is all about relationships. In our family, in our friendships, and in our churches, we are surrounded by people who God is calling us to engage with in purposeful relationships. These relationships are to be mutually building and sharpening as stated in Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
In the life of the Apostle Paul, we find three vital relationships that every servant of the Lord should engage in to be effective in ministry.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH MENTORS
When we first see Paul as a new convert, in Acts 9, one of the first people God brought into his life was Barnabas. It was Barnabas who reached out to this new believer with a past that had been vehemently opposed to Christians. The believers at the church in Jerusalem were understandably skeptical, but Barnabas bridged the gap and built relationships not only with Paul himself, but also between Paul and the church family. Barnabas became a mentor for Paul.
Later, in Acts 11, when Barnabas was sent out to check on reports of new believers in other regions, he found a thriving group of believers in Antioch who needed shepherding and a church planted for their support and ministry. Barnabas again reached out to young Paul and asked him to come and assist in this church planting ministry.
Every servant of the Lord needs a mentor in his life. They need someone that is older than themselves in years and in ministry who can be a resource of wisdom, knowledge, and experience. Youth is great for energy, but there is little replacement for years of walking with God and learning along the way. Barnabas wisely invested his years of experience into this young man while he benefited from the energy and enthusiasm of the young, zealous, new believer. In Acts 13, we see God calling this duo of servants out of the church at Antioch to send them to mission work in the regions beyond to reproduce what God had done with them in Antioch.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEERS
In Acts 15, we see Paul and Barnabas back in Antioch reporting to the church family about their missionary service while they had been gone. During that time, they were sent to Jerusalem to address concerns about some Jewish believers who had come to Antioch and caused some doubt among the Gentile believers in Antioch. Once those concerns were properly addressed and settled, not only did the church in Jerusalem send a letter of clarification on the church’s position, but they also sent two respected leaders as representatives of the church family to personally affirm their position and attitude toward their Gentile brothers in Christ.
Silas, also known as Silvanus, was one of those men, and he remained in Antioch to serve with the church when his traveling companion returned to Jerusalem. At the end of the chapter, Paul and Silas set out on a mission trip together.
We need people who are similar to us in our age and interests who can also sharpen us in life and in ministry. It is healthy to have people we trust and respect who understand our age and family dynamic that can keep our thoughts and attitudes in check.
Paul and Silas went through a lot together, and they helped each other get through many difficult times in the ministry together. Healthy peer relationships are valuable to everyone, because God made us relational beings. We need to spend time with people who can be a friend to us when life is going fine, so they are already in our life when life goes less than fine. Someone we can call and share our heart with who will not judge us nor condone things that are wrong, but will listen to us and try to encourage us in the right direction.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH MENTEES
The third relationship we all need to be engaged in as part of our life and ministry is someone younger than ourselves. A person we can invest ourselves in for the benefit of the next generation. Barnabas did this with Paul, and in Acts 16 we see Paul beginning this relationship dynamic with young Timothy.
This was a young man who had earned the respect of his church family, and Paul saw wonderful potential in him for the future. Timothy became a part of Paul’s traveling ministry team, and God used him later on to serve in churches planted by this team.
God did not create us to isolate ourselves and live unto ourselves. He intends for us to be relational and to build meaningful relationships with others. Remember that life and ministry is all about relationships, and we will be accountable to the Lord for our stewardship of those relationships."
The Arrest of Paul in Jerusalem
Paul would be arrested (according to Acts Chapter 21) for having an anti-Law agenda, which from his letters we know was not true. He affirmed the goodness of the Torah for the Jews, but simply didn’t hold that the whole Torah was to be obeyed by the gentiles. However, if Acts is accurate, he would be arrested upon being accused of debasing the Temple (Acts 21 vs 27ff) by a mob. His arrest saved his life as Roman guards put him in chains.
After a group of Jews intended to murder Paul, he was transferred to Caearea Maritima. He would stay there as a prisoner for 2 years. When his case was finally revisited two years later (possibly in 59 CE), Paul took the opportunity to “appeal to Caesar” as a Roman Citizen (a fact unique to Acts). This led to Paul’s whole group being shipped out to Rome for his impending trial. After being ravaged by shipwreck (see Acts 27-28), he eventually made it to Rome (possibly in 60 CE).
The Death of Paul
The Beheading of Saint Paul
The date of Paul's death is believed to have occurred after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64, but before the last year of Nero's reign, in 68.
The Second Epistle to Timothy states that Paul was arrested in Troad and brought back to Rome, where he was imprisoned and put on trial; the Epistle was traditionally ascribed to Paul, but today many scholars considered it to be pseudepigrapha, perhaps written by one of Paul's disciples. Pope Clement I writes in his Epistle to the Corinthians that after Paul "had borne his testimony before the rulers", he "departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance." Ignatius of Antioch writes in his Epistle to the Ephesians that Paul was martyred, without giving any further information.
Eusebius states that Paul was killed during the Neronian Persecution and, quoting from Dionysius of Corinth, argues that Peter and Paul were martyred "at the same time". Tertullian writes that Paul was beheaded like John the Baptist, an information confirmed by Lactantius, Jerome, John Chrysostom and Sulpicius Severus.
Life lessons learned from the life of Paul
"He didn’t live to please man. (Galatians 1:10) When I first came across this verse, I chuckled at how sassy Paul sounded. Beneath the apparent sass is a certain boldness. Since it’s crucial to make a habit of reading singular bible verses in context with the passage in which they reside, let’s look at the verses that come before and after verse 10. Verses 8-9 read, “Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.” Verses 11-12 read, “Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.” From these verses, we can see that Paul did not mess around when it came to the Gospel. He (very bluntly) made it clear that he couldn’t care less what people thought of him. He never once sugar-coated the truth that God instructed him to preach. After I read Galatians 1:10, I wondered why I spent so much of my life worrying about what others thought about me."
"He was humble. (1st Corinthians 9:27) Despite his many missionary trips and letters to various churches, Paul did not think of himself as immune to sin. He admitted that he did the things he hated and couldn’t bring himself to do the things he actually wanted to do (Romans 7:15). He wasn’t some high and mighty man above correction. And 1st Corinthians chapter 9 in its entirety is evidence that he didn’t think so highly of himself that he couldn’t make sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. It’s not as if Paul didn’t have good reason to boast. In fact, he had absolutely no lack when it came to qualifications; he was Roman citizen who was brought up Jewish, studying under one of the most notable rabbis, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Whether his audience was Jew, Gentile, saved, or un-saved, he literally had the ability to be all things to all people, wherever he went. Even still, he maintained a lowly and humble attitude."
He was selfless. (Romans 9:3) I’m becoming convinced that humility and selflessness go hand in hand. Paul cared so much about his Jewish brothers that if it was possible, he was willing to give up his own salvation if it meant they could have the opportunity to be saved. That is another level of selflessness! I don’t know if I would say the same thing if I were in his position. Paul truly made John 15:13 come to life as he endured imprisonment, shipwreck, and beatings all for those who have not heard the Gospel.
He was focused on God’s calling in his life. (Philippians 1:20-22) Paul lived for the propagation of the Gospel. He ate, slept, and breathed evangelism. He knew what he was placed on this earth to do and he went after it with full force. Nothing could distract him from the assignment that God gave him. Whenever he wrote to a church, he usually mentioned how he desired to come and visit them again in the future – even if he was writing from prison (1st Thessalonians 2:17-18)! One doesn’t need to read too many of his letters before realizing that Paul was a man who was completely and utterly yielded to God and His purpose.
He lived with eternity in mind. (Philippians 3:14) Eternity is a concept that many of us either shy away from or forget altogether. But Paul knew better than to believe that this earth is our home. He eagerly awaited Christ’s return and so should we. As he said to the church at Corinth, “whether we are in this body or away from it, our goal is to please him…we must all stand before Christ to be judged” (2nd Corinthians 5:9-10) ."
There is a lot that can be learned from the epistles (books) written by Apostle Paul. From a persecutor to an Apostle. A life that was changed by one blessed encounter with Jesus Christ, To the furtherance of the Gospel! Today you and I are blessed to be able to walk in the word of God and obedience to his will for our lives. Amen.
The Bible KJV
Pastor of Summerville Baptist Church in Summerville, Oregon