Paul the Apostle


This study is compiled from information posted in http://www.biblestudy.org

Paul is born in Tarsus c. 12 to 15 A.D.

In the city of Tarsus the apostle Paul (Saul) is born to an Israelite family

of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). He is circumcised on the eighth day, in compliance with the law of God (Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3, Philippians 3:5).

Religious training in Jerusalem

Paul is sent to Jerusalem to be taught in a Pharisaic Rabbinical school. The school is headed up by the well-known Rabbi Gamaliel (see Acts 5:34) who personally teaches Paul (Acts 22:3).

Who are the Pharisees?

The word Pharisee means "to separate" or "separated." Pharisaism was a major school of thought or sect of the Jews. Popular at the time of Jesus (John 7:48) they were known for their rigid adherence to the letter of the law (Acts 26:5, Matthew 23:3, Luke 11:39, etc.).

Jesus frequently rebuked the Pharisees for their self-righteous, unmerciful, hypocritical way of life (Matthew 9:11, 23:14; John 8:7, Luke 18:11, etc.).

Martyrdom of Stephen c. 32 A.D.

Stephen, whose Grecian name means "crown," becomes the first martyr for Jesus (Acts 6-7).

Stephen was one of the first servants or leaders in the early New Testament church (Acts 6:1-6).

Saul (Paul) is an official witnesses of Stephen's death, after which he leads persecution against believers of Christ (Acts 8:1-4).

Apostle Paul's Travels after Conversion

Map location #1 - 33 A.D.

Saul receives written permission from the High Priest to search in Damascus' synagogues for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah. His mission is to arrest Christians then bring them to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:1-2). Accompanied by a few others he travels to the city of Damascus. As he draws near the city a bright light appears (Acts 9:3-4). Jesus' booming voice then asks WHY Saul is persecuting him! (Acts 9:4).

Saul, who has now be made blind, is taken to Damascus by those traveling with him. After a three-day period Jesus inspires Ananias to visit Saul, heal his blindness, and lay hands on him so he is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:4-18). He stays in Damascus and powerfully preaches the gospel. After learning of the plot against his life he flees the city at night by having Christians lower him down a gate wall using a basket! Once out of the city he travels to Arabia.

Map location #2 - Spring 33 A.D. to Spring 36 A.D.

In Arabia, apostle Paul is personally taught by Jesus Christ for the span of 3 years. Paul does not discuss this event until he writes the book of Galatians in late Spring of 53 A.D.

Map location #3 - Spring 36 A.D.

Paul goes back to Damascus in the Spring of the year (Galatians 1:17).

Map locations #4, #5, #6 - Spring to Summer 36 A.D.

Paul travels to Jerusalem and stays fifteen days. Although he tries to get to know other converted people in Jerusalem, the brethren are suspicious of him and stay away (Acts 9:26). Barnabas, a disciple known for encouraging others, takes Paul to the apostles and personally vouches for his converted character (Acts 9:27).

Paul's preaching to Greek-speaking Jews infuriates some of them to the point where they seek to kill him (Acts 9:29). When the brethren learn about the threat they escort him to Caesarea and then send him back to his hometown of Tarsus (Acts 9:30).

Paul Returns to Tarsus, Summer 36 A.D. to Summer 40 A.D.

He returns to his home town (Acts 9:30) to escape being killed, where he remains until he is summons by Barnabas to help him in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:25-26).

Map location #7 - Summer 40 A.D. to Summer 41 A.D.

Brethren scattered because of Paul's persecution (before his conversion) preach the Word of God to Jews as far away as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch (Acts 11:19).

Some believers from Cyrene and Cyprus go to Syrian Antioch and begin talking to Grecians (non-Jews) about Jesus Christ. Their efforts are blessed and many become converted (Acts 11:20-21). Word of the gospel's success reaches Jerusalem. The church sends Barnabas to aid in ministering to the new converts. When he arrives in Antioch he encourages the brethren to continue to grow as believers (Acts 11:22-24).

Barnabas goes to Tarsus to get Paul's help with the new Antioch believers. They ultimately stay in the city for a year. It is in Antioch that believers in Jesus as the Messiah are called Christians (Acts 11:25-26).

Spring 42 A.D.

The prophet Agabus travels from Jerusalem to Antioch, where he predicts a famine will soon occur that will last 3 years (Acts 11:27-28). In response to the prophecy the disciples plant and prepare food and relief to send to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11:29).

Map locations #8, #9 - Spring 44 A.D.

Food and relief are sent to Jerusalem by the hands of apostle Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11:30). After delivering relief they, along with John Mark, return to Antioch (Acts 12:25).

Apostle Paul's First Missionary Journey

Late Spring 44 A.D. to Fall 46 A.D.

In the late Spring of 44 A.D. the brethren (Acts 13:1-3) ordain Paul and Barnabas as apostles. From Antioch, the two apostles and John (surnamed Mark) begin Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13:4-52, 14:1-25). Apostle Paul and company travel to Seleucia then sail to Salamis, the principle city and seaport of the island of Cyprus. Cyprus is where Barnabas was born and raised (Acts 4:36). In Salamis, they preach the gospel in several synagogues. They then cross the island by foot and arrive at Paphos.

While in Paphos, the island's Roman governor requests the two evangelists meet with him so that he can personally hear the word of God. Accompanying the governor to the meeting is a sorcerer and false prophet known as Elymas the magician. Elymas resists the gospel and tries to prevent the governor from accepting the truth of God (Acts 13:6-8). The apostle Paul perceives Elymas' intentions and responds immediately. Elymas immediately goes blind and is unable to see for a period. The governor, astonished at what he sees, believes the gospel (Acts 13:11-12).

Who founded Antioch and Seleucia?

Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great's four generals who helped him conquer most of the known world, founded Antioch and Seleucia.

In 311 B.C., twelve years after Alexander's death, Seleucus took control over the eastern part of the empire that included Babylon and Syria. Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and empire which lasted until 63 B.C.

Mark abruptly leaves the team.

Apostle Paul, Barnabas, and Mark soon board a ship and sail to Perga. Mark then abruptly leaves the group and returns to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). The issue of Mark suddenly abandoning the first missionary journey will be the catalyst for the separation of the evangelists before Paul's next journey (Acts 15:36-41). They leave Perga and travel to Antioch in Pisidia (also called Pisidian Antioch, to distinguish it from the Antioch located in Syria).

Thrown out of Antioch.

In Antioch, the evangelists visit a local synagogue where the apostle preaches a powerful message (Acts 13:16-41). After the Jews leave the synagogue, the Gentiles (proselytes) in the audience ask him to speak the next Sabbath day. Then, after the dismissal of the synagogue, many Jews and proselytes follow him and Barnabas in order to hear more about the gospel. On the next Sabbath, almost the entire city comes to hear the word of God (Acts 13:42-44).

Some Jews, however, envious of the large crowd drawn by apostle Paul, begin to speak against the gospel. Their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah means that he and Barnabas will now primarily preach only to Gentiles (Acts 13:45-47). As the word of the Lord spreads through the entire region, some Jews begin a campaign to convince important men and women of the city to be against him and Barnabas. Persecution soon sets in and culminates with both men expelled from the area.

Arriving in Iconium Paul speaks at a local synagogue. His preaching convinces many Jews and Greeks to become believers. Jews who do not believe in what he teaches, however, stir others up against the gospel. Although Paul performs signs and wonders to confirm what he says, the city still wonders whether he and Barnabas are true servants of God. In a short time, some Jewish leaders, along with other Jews and Gentiles, conspire to have the two apostles stoned to death. After discovering a threat against their lives, the evangelists flee the city to Lystra (Acts 14:1-6).

Worshipped like Greek gods.

In Lystra Paul meets a man born crippled and never able to walk. He perceives, after the man hears his message, that he has enough faith for God to heal him. When Paul commands the crippled man to stand, he miraculously leaps up and is able to walk (Acts 14:6-10)! The response to such a miracle was immediate and unexpected. The two evangelists tear their clothes in amazement! They are BARELY able to keep the crowd from sacrificing to them as if they were Greek gods (Acts 14:14-18)!

Who are Zeus and Hermes?

Zeus and Hermes are two of the twelve mythological Greek gods known as the Twelve Olympians. In Athens, the cult of the Twelve Olympians can be traced back to the 6th century B.C.

Surviving being stoned.

In a short time, Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium arrive in Lystra and succeed in turning people against the two evangelists. After being stoned, some people drag Paul's dead body out of the city. Some believers find his body and as they stand around it, he comes back to life! Amazingly, He re-enters the city. The next day he and Barnabas travel to Derbe (Acts 14:19-20). They preach the gospel in Derbe then retrace their steps through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in order to strengthen the brethren. From Pisidian Antioch they travel to Perga and then to Attalia, where they catch a ship to sail back to where their missionary journey started (Acts 14:21-26).

Fall 46 A.D. to Late Summer 49 A.D.

Paul and Barnabas stay in Antioch for almost three years - from the Fall of 46 A.D. to the late summer of 49 A.D. (Acts 14:26-28).

Apostle Paul's Second Missionary Journey

Late Summer 49 A.D. to Late Autumn 49 A.D.

Pharisaic Judaizers come down to Antioch (Acts 15:1, 5) in the late summer of 49 A.D. and teach that circumcision is necessary before a person can be saved. Paul, Barnabas, Titus and certain others (Galatians 2:1-2) are sent to Jerusalem to confer with other apostles, elders and brethren concerning the relationship between circumcision and salvation. This gathering is commonly referred to as the Jerusalem Conference. This conference occurs in the Fall of 49 A.D. around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Acts 15:2).

The evangelists have a private meeting with the apostles James, Peter and John about the circumcision question (Galatians 2:4-10). They agree that circumcision is not required for Gentiles to be saved. The ministry of Paul and Barnabas is confirmed.

The circumcision question is discussed further among the conference attendees. Peter offers his judgment then Paul and Barnabas tell the conference about the miracles and wonders God has wrought among the Gentiles through them (Acts 15:12). James then renders his judgment (Acts 15:13-21)

The apostles, elders and the whole church agree with James that the Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to become a believer and receive salvation. The conference has Judas (Barsabas) and Silas travel with the two evangelists to Antioch to deliver a letter, written by James, summarizing what was decided in Jerusalem regarding the circumcision question (Acts 15:30-32).

Paul and Barnabas Split Up, Late Autumn 49 A.D.

Paul and Barnabas stay in Antioch a certain number of days until they have a sharp disagreement over whether to take John Mark with them on another missionary journey. The argument becomes so heated that they separate (Acts 15:36-41).

Paul takes Silas, Late Autumn 49 A.D. to Late Summer 50 A.D.

Paul takes Silas with him to Tarsus. From there they travel to Derbe and Lystra. It is in Lystra that he meets Timothy, who would become his frequent traveling companion, fellow laborer in spreading the gospel and his best friend (Acts 16:1; 1Timothy 1:2, 4:14).

Timothy

When Paul met Timothy he was living in the city of Lystra. Timothy's father was a Greek (a Gentile) and his mother was a Jewess. Timothy accompanied Paul on most of his second missionary journey, served him in Ephesus, and was with him during his time in a Roman prison.

Paul expressed his love for Timothy, as well as praising the faith of his relatives, in the last epistle he would write before his death - 2Timothy

The apostle has Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3). He then takes him and Silas to churches in the regions of Galatia (Iconium) and Phrygia (Antioch) to deliver the decision rendered at the Jerusalem conference.

As he journeys to the northwest of Antioch he desires to preach the gospel in western Asia. God's spirit, however, forbids him to do so (Acts 16:6). The group continues to travel north toward the region of Mysia. Paul wants to travel East to the province of Bithynia but again is forbidden to do so (Acts 16:7). The group instead travels to the port city of Troas on the Aegean Sea. It is in Troas that Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, joins them. God then gives him a vision of a man in Macedonia (Greece) begging him for help (Acts 16:8-9). Paul and his traveling companions immediately board a ship, sail near the island of Samothrace (Samothracia), then arrive at Neapolis (Acts 16:10-11).

From Neapolis the group goes to Philippi, where a woman named Lydia hears Paul's preaching. On Pentecost in 50 A.D. Lydia is baptized along with her entire household (Acts 16:12-15).

While in Philippi Paul casts a demon out of a female slave (Acts 16:16-18). Her masters, however, angry that they have lost the ability to make more money from the slave's demonic divination, stir up the city against him and Silas. The two evangelists are arrested, beaten and put in prison (Acts 16:19-24). Soon after arriving in jail a miraculous earthquake causes all the cell doors to open and the bonds of all prisoners to be loosed. This event leads to the conversion of the prison guard.

Road to Athens.

A freed Paul and Silas, along with Timothy and Luke, travel through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia and arrive in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1). In Thessalonica Paul visits a Jewish synagogue and for three consecutive Sabbaths (Saturdays) explains why Jesus is the Old Testament prophesied Savior of Mankind (Acts 17:2-4). Although many believe what is said certain Jews, envious of the Gospel's success, form a mob and start a riot (Acts 17:4-5). The riotous crowd go to the house of Jason seeking him and Silas. When they are not found, the crowd drags Jason and some brethren to the local civil magistrates and accuses them of wrongdoing (Acts 17:5-8). In a short time, however, Jason and the brethren are let go.

Paul and Silas preach in a synagogue in Berea. The Bereans are not only willing to listen to what they have to say they also verify what is preached against the Old Testament scriptures (Acts 17:11-12). Many Bereans come to believe the Gospel. Unfortunately, Jews from Thessalonica arrive in the city seeking to cause more trouble for him (Acts 17:13). He immediately leaves for the coast and sets sail for Athens while the rest of his party stay in Berea (Acts 17:14). In Athens he requests Timothy and Silas come to the city (Acts 17:15).

While waiting in Athens for his traveling companions Paul preaches the Gospel to any Athenian who would listen. Some who hear his message are Jews and devout people. Others are Epicureans (followers of Epicurus) who believe the highest aim of man is to seek a pleasant life. Stoics also listen to him. They believe that man's happiness consists of bringing himself into harmony with the universe. After hearing some of Paul's message the Epicureans and Stoics take him to the Areopagus (or Mars Hill as the Romans call it) to further explain what he teaches (Acts 17:16-19).

On Mars Hill Paul uses an altar he saw dedicated to "an unknown god" as a springboard for teaching the crowd about the REAL God that CAN be known (Acts 17:19, 22-23).

Priscilla and Aquila, Late Summer 50 A.D. to Autumn 52 A.D.

Paul leaves Athens and travels to Corinth. It is in Corinth that he first meets Priscilla and Aquila. Since both he and the couple make a living as tentmakers he stays at their house. He preaches the gospel every Sabbath in the synagogue. Silas and Timothy join him in Corinth. (Acts 18:1-5). The synagogue eventually splits and a new church is formed. After the split he stays and teaches in Corinth for a year and a half.

In the winter of 51 A.D. Paul is brought before the judgment seat of Gallio (Acts 18:12-18) and is released. He remains in Corinth until the Spring of 52 A.D. when he then travels to the port city of Cenchrea. In the city he has his head shaved due to a vow he took (Acts 18:18). He soon boards a ship and travels to Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila. In Ephesus he preaches in a synagogue but soon leaves the couple behind so that he can be in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Acts 18:19-21). He sails from Ephesus to Caesarea, then travels to Jerusalem. After keeping the Feast he returns to Antioch (Acts 18:21-22).

Paul's Final Missionary Journey, 63 A.D. to 67 A.D.

In the Spring of the year in Rome, the apostle Paul is acquitted of the charges against him and is set free. He sails from Rome to the island of Crete in order to meet with Titus (Titus 1:5). He then leaves Titus in Crete and sails to Nicopolis (Titus 1;5, 3:12). From Nicopolis he writes the New Testament books of 1Timothy and Titus.

Paul continues his mission of spreading the gospel by traveling to Spain. In the winter of 57 A.D. He writes to the church at Rome regarding his planned travel to this western part of the empire.

Paul reaches Spain.

Romans 15:22. For this reason also, I have been hindered many times from coming to you. 23. But now, there being no place in these regions that has not heard the gospel, and having a great desire to come to you for many years, 24. Whenever I may go to Spain, I will come to you because I hope to see you while passing through Rome, and from there to be sent forward by you after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

25. But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints 26. Because those in Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a certain contribution for the poor saints who are in Jerusalem. 27. Now, they took pleasure in doing this, and their debtors they are because if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they ought in turn to minister to them even in physical things. 28. Therefore, when I have finished this task, and have safely delivered into their hands the fruit that was collected, I will set off toward Spain and will come to you.

There is also evidence, though not conclusive, that Paul also preached the gospel in Britain (Britannia).

Emblem of an Roman Empire

The emblem of the Roman Empirie was a red banner with the letters S-P-Q-R in gold letters. The letters were surrounded by a gold wreath hung on a military standard topped by a Roman eagle or an image of the goddess Victoria made of silver or bronze.

The letters SPQR stood for 'Senatus Populusque Romanus' which means "The Senate and People of Rome."

67 A.D.

Paul is back in a prison in Rome. While prisoner he writes the book of 2Timothy, which will be his last.

68 A.D.

Paul is beheading, under Roman Emperor Nero, around May or June. His death occurs just before Nero's suicide on June 9, 68 A.D. in Greece. He is about 66 years old.

Nero is the first emperor of the Roman Empire to actively persecute and kill Christians. Rome will carry out at least TEN major efforts to exterminate Christians and expunge Christianity from the empire. The persecutions first start under Nero in 67 A.D. and continue until 313.

Paul's impact on Christianity will be ENORMOUS. During his ministry he wrote FOURTEEN books of the Bible and carried out no less than five missionary journeys. He paid a price, however, for his strong devotion to God and the truth by spending a total of FIVE of his ministry years in prison. He remained faithful to the very end of his life.

How did the Apostle Paul die?

How did the Apostle Paul die? When was apostle Paul's death? Did he die in Rome?

The Bible does not tell us the exact time or manner of the apostle Paul's death, and secular history has yet to provide us with any definitive information. However, evidence highly suggests the apostle Paul's death occurred after his fifth missionary journey ended in 67 A.D. Paul was likely beheaded by the Romans, under Emperor Nero, sometime around May or June of 68 A.D. Nero himself died by suicide on June 9th of the same year.

Christian tradition also has Paul being beheaded in Rome around the mid-60s A.D. during the reign of Nero. Most Bible dictionaries and some commentaries can give us details on the traditions surrounding Paul's death.

"Concerning the time, place, and manner of his death, we have little certainty. It is commonly believed that, when a general persecution was raised against the Christians by Nero, about A.D. 64, under pretense that they had set Rome on fire, both St. Paul and St. Peter then sealed the truth with their blood; the latter being crucified with his head downward; the former being beheaded, either in A.D. 64 or 65, and buried in the Via Ostiensis. EUSEBIUS, Hist, Eccles. lib. ii. cap. 25, intimates that the tombs of these two apostles, with their inscriptions, were extant in his time; and quotes as his authority a holy man of the name of Caius, who wrote against the sect of the Cataphrygians, who has asserted this, as from his personal knowledge. See Eusebius, by Reading, vol. i. p. 83; and see Dr. Lardner, in his life of this apostle, who examines this account with his usual perspicuity and candor.

"Other writers have been more particular concerning his death: they say that it was not by the command of Nero that he was martyred, but by that of the prefects of the city, Nero being then absent; that he was beheaded at Aquae Salviae, about three miles from Rome, on February 22; that he could not be crucified, as Peter was, because he was a freeman of the city of Rome.

"But there is great uncertainty on these subjects, so that we cannot positively rely on any account that even the ancients have transmitted to us concerning the death of this apostle; and much less on the accounts given by the moderns; and least of all on those which are to be found in the Martyrologists. Whether Paul ever returned after this to Rome has not yet been satisfactorily proved. It is probable that he did, and suffered death there, as stated above; but still we have no certainty" (Commentary on the Bible by Adam Clarke, commenting on Acts 28:31).

The following excerpt is from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, First Edition, article Paul the Apostle.

"When Paul writes again to Timothy he has had a winter in prison, and has suffered greatly from the cold and does not wish to spend another winter in the Mamertine (probably) prison (2Timothy 4:13, 21). We do not know what the charges now are. They may have been connected with the burning of Rome. There were plenty of informers eager to win favor with Nero. Proof was not now necessary.

"Christianity is no longer a religion under the shelter of Judaism. It is now a crime to be a Christian. It is dangerous to be seen with Paul now, and he feels the desertion keenly (2Timothy 1:15ff; 4:10). Only Luke, the beloved physician, is with Paul (2Timothy 4:11), and such faithful ones as live in Rome still in hiding (2Timothy 4:21).

"Paul hopes that Timothy may come and bring Mark also (2Timothy 4:11). Apparently Timothy did come and was put into prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul is not afraid. He knows that he will die. He has escaped the mouth of the lion (2Timothy 4:17), but he will die (2Timothy 4:18). The Lord Jesus stood by him, perhaps in visible presence (2Timothy 4:17).

How Long was the Apostle Paul in Prison?

"The tradition is, for now Paul fails us, that Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded on the Ostian Road just outside of Rome. Nero died June, 68 A.D., so that Paul was executed before that date, perhaps in the late spring of that year (or 67). Perhaps Luke and Timothy were with him. It is fitting, as Findlay suggests, to let Paul's words in 2Timothy 4:6-8 serve for his own epitaph. He was ready to go to be with Jesus, as he had long wished to be (Philippians 1:23)"

Lastly, the following quote regarding the death of Paul was taken from the Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith, article entitled Paul.

"This epistle, [2Timothy] surely no unworthy utterance at such an age and in such an hour even of a St. Paul, brings us, it may well be presumed, close to the end of his life. For what remains, we have the concurrent testimony of ecclesiastical antiquity, that he was beheaded at Rome, about the same time that St. Peter was crucified there. The earliest allusion to the death of St. Paul is in that sentence from Clemens Romanus, . . . which just fails of giving us any particulars upon which we can conclusively rely. The next authorities are those quoted by Eusebius in his H. E. ii. 25. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth (A. D. 170), says that Peter and Paul went to Italy and taught there together, and suffered martyrdom about the same time. This, like most of the statements relating to the death of St. Paul, is mixed up with the tradition, with which we are not here immediately concerned, of the work of St. Peter at Rome.

"Caius of Rome, supposed to be writing within the 2nd century, names the grave of St. Peter on the Vatican, and that of St. Paul on the Ostian way. Eusebius himself entirely adopts the tradition that St. Paul was beheaded under Nero at Rome. Amongst other early testimonies, we have that of Tertullian, who says (De Praescr. Haeret. 36) that at Rome:

"Petrus passioni Dominicae adaequatur, Paulus Johannis [the Baptist] exitu coronatur;"

"and that of Jerome (Cat. Sc. Paulus):

"Hic ergo 14 to Neronis anno (eodem die quo Petrus) Romae pro Christo capite truncatus sepultusque est, in via Ostiensi."

"It would be useless to enumerate further testimonies of what is undisputed."

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