Bible Studies

The Apostle Paul

The life of Paul is mostly described in the book of Acts, while Paul’s epistles form most of the New Testament, next to the gospels.

BEGINNINGS
Paul was a Jew born in Tarus, capital of Cilicia .
Acts 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel, (Acts 5:34-39) and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

His given name was Saul, and we know him as such till the 13th chapter of Acts, where he is renamed Paul.
Acts 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

He was of the tribe of Benjamin.
Rom 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

He was circumcised on the eight day.
Phil 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

He kept the laws of Moses perfectly
Phil. 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

He was born a Roman citizen of the Jewish dispersion.
Acts 22:25-28 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Paul’s parents were Roman citizens. They must have had much money as they evidently bought their Roman citizenship.

He was a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee.
Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

He lived as a Pharisee and kept the law according to the strictest sect of the religion, Hebrew of Hebrews, faultless in legalistic righteousness (See Phil 3:5 again)

The Pharisees were a major Jewish sect whose insistence on ritual observance of the letter rather than the spirit of the law provoked strong denunciation by Jesus; he called them "white washed tombs" (Matt. 23:27) and self-righteous lovers of display (Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18). In the New Testament the Pharisees appear as Jesus' most outspoken critics

He learned tent making and made his keep by tentmaking.
Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

He studied under Gamaliel and was fervant and zealous (See Acts 22:3 again)

Saul wanted to preserve the way of the Pharisees and he did not accept that Jesus was the Messiah.

PERSECUTOR
Saul, the Pharisee, persecuted the followers of "The Way "to their death.
Acts 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

We are first hear of him at the martydom of Stephen, silently supporting if not actively participating in the stoning.
Acts 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

Acts 22:20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

Saul breathed out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples and often converted these threats into murderous action.
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

His wicked notoriety led Ananias to proclaim:
Acts 9:13-14 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

This is not the Ananias of Acts 5:1-4 who lied to the Holy Ghost and died immediately. The Bible also speaks of two other men by that name.

SAW THE LIGHT
God in his wisdom chose to use this intelligent, sharp zealous deadly persecutor for the promotion of His Kingdom. But first this Pharisee of darkness had to see the light. Acts 9:1-6 records the showdown between Saul and the Christ he persecuted.

Saul is on his way to Damscus and sees a great light.
Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Acts 22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.

Saul is blinded.
Acts 9:8-9 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Jesus rebukes him.
Acts 9:4-5 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

It was hard for Saul to kick or battle and fight against the pricks, or goads, which is to reject the drive and the force behind the new teachings.

More on Jesus rebuking Paul
Acts 22:7-8 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

Jesus instructs him to proceed to Damascus.
Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

In Damascus Saul fasts.and prays.
Acts 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 9:11 And the Lord said unto him,( Ananias) Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Ananias is used to restore Saul's sight.
Acts 9:17-18 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

From Persecutor to Preacher:
Having his sight restored, Saul is baptized, recovers, and at once begins to preach!
Acts 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

Saul grows more and more powerful and bewilders the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

He goes to Arabia
Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

He visits Jerusalem.
Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

He goes to Tarsus.
Acts 9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

He goes to Antioch.
Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Three great missionary journeys follow next

First
Acts 13:5 And when they (Paul & Barnabas) were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

Acts 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

Second
Acts 15:41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

Acts 18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.

Third
Acts 18:23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Acts 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

By studying the book of Acts we find that these where three missionary journeys happening over three different time periods. Luke, the physician knew much about the apostle Paul and probably journeyed much of the time with Paul to keep so good a record.

Here Luke is with Paul
Col 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

Here Luke is the ONLY one with Paul.
2 Tim 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Paul is a friend again of Mark, after an earlier dislike.
Acts 15:36-39 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

In order of time elapsed, the last information we have of Paul is in Acts 28:30-31, with preaching boldly while under house arrest. From extra-biblical sources we learn Paul was released in AD 63 and visited Spain and The Agean. He was again arrested and executed by Nero in AD 67.

WRITER
Not only did Saul travel extensively to build up the local church, but he continued to write abundantly to the churches in the regions, to edify them, to chastise them, to encourage them.

Paul wrote to the congregations of believers of the gospel of Christ in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Phillipi, Collose and Thessalonica. The epistle to Laodicia is lost to us.

Col 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Epistle means letter. Paul says when THIS letter, the letter he is now writing to the Colossians is read among you there in Collose, make sure the believers in Laodicia read it too, and you read the letter I wrote to the believers in Laodicia.

Paul also wrote personal letters addressed to Timothy, Titus & Philemon. The epistle to the Hebrews does not bear his name and has been credited to Barnabas, Luke, Appolos and various others. But the characteristics of the apostle Paul are evident in this letter. Especially Heb 13:22-25. Some of his letters were written while he was in prison (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).

WHO WRITES?
The actual writing of most of Paul's epistles was done by a scribe. Tertius identifies himself as the scribe for Romans
Rom 16:22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

At the end of 1 Cor 16, Paul takes the pen from his scribe and writes the final greeting in his own handwriting.
1 Cor 16:21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.

Paul is identifying himself AND Timothy as the writers of this letter. Paul is dictating and Timothy is writing.
2 Cor 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Gal 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
The apostle is not speaking of the length of the letter, for Galatians is not a long letter, but to the size of the letters he used as he took the pen from the hand of the scribe and wrote these closing words himself to impart greater impact speaking of the error of the Jews that teach that Gentiles must be circumcised. You could say he ended the letter in his own hand in Bold Type

Col 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
Again Paul writes the salutation (the greetings- the first three verses) and the scribe writes the rest. The scribe is Timothy again.

Col 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

II Thess 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token (sign) in every epistle: so I write. (that I write)

Paul writes the WHOLE letter in his own hand. Notice that this is the shortest letter of all.

Phile 1:19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.

A Lesson to be Learned.
The lesson is how "greatly"Paul is used by God. This shows how God can take such a complete disastrous situation and turn it to good. God can take a Pharisee hell-bent on destroying the early church, and use him to become an important advocator of the church.

No matter to what depths of depravity, that is evil or corruption, we have descended, if we are convicted of our sin and repent, God can use us to further the cause of the kingdom. God does this in His Own time according to His Own will.

He will use some as preacher, and some as teacher, and some as writer, or a combination of all three. He will use some as an angel of mercy and whatever He wills.

God wants us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:6).

God wants us to have care and compassion.

A cup of cold water to a little one (Matt 10:42).

God wants us to stop doing wrong. And learn to do right. To seek justice and encourage the oppressed. He wants us to defend the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

He wants us to administer true justice, and show mercy and compassion to one another. He doesn’t want us to oppress the widow or the fatherless, the stranger or the poor. In our hearts we are not to think evil of each other (Zechariah 9-10)

He wants us to see the Light.