The distinguished "apostle of the Gentiles;" also called SAUL, a Hebrew name. He is first called Paul in Ac 13:12; and as some think, assumed this Roman name according to a common custom of Jews in foreign lands, or in honor of Sergius Paulus, Ac 13:7, his friend and an early convert. Both names however may have belonged to him in childhood. He was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and inherited from his father the privileges of a Roman citizen. His parents belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, and brought up their son as "a Hebrew of the Hebrews," Php 3:5. Tarsus was highly distinguished for learning and culture, and the opportunities for improvement it afforded were no doubt diligently improved by Paul. At a suitable age he was sent to Jerusalem to complete his education in the school of Gamaliel, the most distinguished and right-minded of the Rabbis of that age. It does not appear that he was in Jerusalem during the ministry of Christ; and it was perhaps after his return to Tarsus that he learned the art of tent-making, in accordance with a general practice among the Jews, and their maxim, "He that does not teach his son a useful handicraft, teaches him to steal," Ac 18:3; 20:34; 2Th 3:8.
We next find him at Jerusalem, apparently about thirty years of age, high in the confidence of the leading men of the nation. He had profited by the instructions of Gamaliel, and became learned in the law; yielding himself to the strictest discipline of the sect of the Pharisees, he had become a fierce defender of Judaism and a bitter enemy of Christianity, Ac 8:3; 26:9-11. After his miraculous conversion, of which we have three accounts, Ac 9:22,26, Christ was all in all to him. It was Christ who revealed himself to his soul at Damascus, Ac 26:15; 1Co 15:8; to Christ he gave his whole heart, and soul, mind, might, and strength; and thenceforth, living or dying, he was "the servant of Jesus Christ." He devoted all the powers of his ardent and energetic mind to the defense and propagation of the gospel of Christ, more particularly among the Gentiles. His views of the pure and lofty spirit of Christianity, in its worship and in its practical influence, appear to have been peculiarly clear and strong; and the opposition which he was thus led to make to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish worship, exposed him everywhere to the hatred and malice of his countrymen. On their accusation, he was at length put in confinement by the Roman officers and after being detained for two years or more at Caesarea, he was sent to Rome for trial, having himself appealed to the emperor. There is less certainty in respect to the accounts, which are given of Paul afterwards by the early ecclesiastical writers. Still it was a very generally received opinion in the earlier centuries, that the apostle was acquitted and discharged from his imprisonment at the end of two years; and that he afterwards returned to Rome, where he was again imprisoned and put to death by Nero.
Paul appears to have possessed all the learning which was then current among the Jews, and also to have been acquainted with Greek literature; as appears from his mastery of the Greek language, his frequent discussions with their philosophers, and his quotations from their poets-Aratus, Ac 17:28; Meander, 1Co 15:33; and Epimenides, Tit 1:12. Probably, however a learned Greek education cannot with propriety be ascribed to him. But the most striking trait in his character is his enlarged view of the universal design and the spiritual nature of the religion of Christ, and of its purifying and ennobling influence upon the heart and character of those who sincerely profess it. From the Savior himself he had caught the flame of universal love, and the idea of salvation for all mankind, Ga 1:12. Most of the other apostles and teachers appear to have clung to Judaism, to the rites, ceremonies, and dogmas of the religion in which they had been educated, and to have regarded Christianity as intended to be engrafted upon the ancient stock, which was yet to remain as the trunk to support the new branches. Paul seems to have been among the first to rise above this narrow view, and to regard Christianity in its light, as a universal religion. While others were for Judaizing all those who embraced the new religion by imposing on them the yoke of Mosaic observances, it was Paul's endeavor to break down the middle wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, and show them that they were all "one in Christ." To this end all his labors tended; and, ardent in the pursuit of this great object, he did not hesitate to censure the time-serving Peter, and to expose his own life in resisting the prejudices of is countrymen. Indeed, his five years' imprisonment as Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome arose chiefly from this cause.
These various journeys of St. Paul, many of them made on foot, should be studied through on a map; in connection with the inspired narrative, in Acts, and with his own pathetic description of his labors, 2Co 11:23-29, wherein nevertheless the half is not told. When we review the many regions he traversed and evangelized, the converts he gathered, and the churches he founded, the toils, perils, and trials he endured, the miracles he wrought, and the revelations he received, the discourses, orations, and letters in which he so ably defends and unfolds Christianity, the immeasurable good which God by him accomplished, his heroic life, and his martyr death, he appears to us the most extraordinary of men.
The character of Paul is most fully portrayed in his epistles, by which, as Chrysostom says he, "still lives in the mouths of men throughout the whole world. By them, not only is own converts, but all the faithful even unto this day, yea, and all the saints who are yet to be born until Christ's coming again, both have been and shall be blessed." In them we observe the transforming and elevating power of grace in one originally turbulent and passionate-making him a model of many and Christian excellence; fearless and firm, yet considerate, courteous, and gentle; magnanimous, patriotic, and self-sacrificing; rich in all noble sentiments and affections.
EPISTLES OF PAUL. -There are fourteen epistles in the New Testament usually ascribed to Paul, beginning with that to the Romans, and ending with that to the Hebrews. Of these the first thirteen have never been contested; as to the latter, many good men have doubted whether Paul was the author, although the current of criticism is in favor of this opinion. These epistles, in which the principles of Christianity are developed for all periods, characters, and circumstances, are among the most important of the primitive documents of the Christian religion, even apart from their inspired character; and although they seem to have been written without special premeditation, and have reference mostly to transient circumstances and temporary relations, yet they everywhere bear the stamp of the great and original mind of the apostle, as purified, elevated, and sustained by the influences of the Holy Spirit.
It is worthy of mention here, that an expression of Peter respecting "our beloved brother Paul" is often a little misunderstood. The words "in which" in 2Pe 3:16, are erroneously applied to the "epistles" of Paul; and not to "these things" immediately preceding, that is, the subjects of which Peter was writing, as the Greek shows they should be. Peter finds no fault, either with Paul, or with the doctrines of revelation.
The arrangement of Hug is somewhat different; and some critics who find evidence that Paul was released from his first imprisonment and lived until the spring of A. D. 68, assign the epistles Hebrews, 1Timothy, Titus, and 2Timothy to the last year of his life. See TIMOTHY.
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Saul (q.v.) was born about the same time as our Lord. His circumcision-name was Saul, and probably the name Paul was also given to him in infancy "for use in the Gentile world," as "Saul" would be his Hebrew home-name. He was a native of Tarsus, the capi
Tarsus was also the seat of a famous university, higher in reputation even than the universities of Athens and Alexandria, the only others that then existed. Here Saul was born, and here he spent his youth, doubtless enjoying the best education his native city could afford. His father was of the straitest sect of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and unmixed Jewish blood (Ac 23:6; Php 3:5). We learn nothing regarding his mother; but there is reason to conclude that she was a pious woman, and that, like-minded with her husband, she exercised all a mother influence in moulding the character of her son, so that he could afterwards speak of himself as being, from his youth up, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Php 3:6).
We read of his sister and his sister's son (Ac 23:16), and of other relatives (Ro 16:7,11-12). Though a Jew, his father was a Roman citizen. How he obtained this privilege we are not informed. "It might be bought, or won by distinguished service to the state, or acquired in several other ways; at all events, his son was freeborn. It was a valuable privilege, and one that was to prove of great use to Paul, although not in the way in which his father might have been expected to desire him to make use of it." Perhaps the most natural career for the youth to follow was that of a merchant. "But it was decided that...he should go to college and become a rabbi, that is, a minister, a teacher, and a lawyer all in one."
According to Jewish custom, however, he learned a trade before entering on the more direct preparation for the sacred profession. The trade he acquired was the making of tents from goats' hair cloth, a trade which was one of the commonest in Tarsus.
His preliminary education having been completed, Saul was sent, when about thirteen years of age probably, to the great Jewish school of sacred learning at Jerusalem as a student of the law. Here he became a pupil of the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel, and here he spent many years in an elaborate study of the Scriptures and of the many questions concerning them with which the rabbis exercised themselves. During these years of diligent study he lived "in all good conscience," unstained by the vices of that great city.
After the period of his student-life expired, he probably left Jerusalem for Tarsus, where he may have been engaged in connection with some synagogue for some years. But we find him back again at Jerusalem very soon after the death of our Lord. Here he now learned the particulars regarding the crucifixion, and the rise of the new sect of the "Nazarenes."
For some two years after Pentecost, Christianity was quietly spreading its influence in Jerusalem. At length Stephen, one of the seven deacons, gave forth more public and aggressive testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, and this led to much excitement among the Jews and much disputation in their synagogues. Persecution arose against Stephen and the followers of Christ generally, in which Saul of Tarsus took a prominent part. He was at this time probably a member of the great Sanhedrin, and became the active leader in the furious persecution by which the rulers then sought to exterminate Christianity.
But the object of this persecution also failed. "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." The anger of the persecutor was thereby kindled into a fiercer flame. Hearing that fugitives had taken refuge in Damascus, he obtained from the chief priest letters authorizing him to proceed thither on his persecuting career. This was a long journey of about 130 miles, which would occupy perhaps six days, during which, with his few attendants, he steadily went onward, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." But the crisis of his life was at hand. He had reached the last stage of his journey, and was within sight of Damascus. As he and his companions rode on, suddenly at mid-day a brilliant light shone round them, and Saul was laid prostrate in terror on the ground, a voice sounding in his ears, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The risen Saviour was there, clothed in the vesture of his glorified humanity. In answer to the anxious inquiry of the stricken persecutor, "Who art thou, Lord?" he said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest" (Ac 9:5; 22:8; 26:15).
This was the moment of his conversion, the most solemn in all his life. Blinded by the dazzling light (Ac 9:8), his companions led him into the city, where, absorbed in deep thought for three days, he neither ate nor drank (Ac 9:11). Ananias, a disciple living in Damascus, was informed by a vision of the change that had happened to Saul, and was sent to him to open his eyes and admit him by baptism into the Christian church (Ac 9:11-16). The whole purpose of his life was now permanently changed.
Illustration: Scene of Paul's Journeys and of the Early Churches
Immediately after his conversion he retired into the solitudes of Arabia (Ga 1:17), perhaps of "Sinai in Arabia," for the purpose, probably, of devout study and meditation on the marvellous revelation that had been made to him. "A veil of thick darkness hangs over this visit to Arabia. Of the scenes among which he moved, of the thoughts and occupations which engaged him while there, of all the circumstances of a crisis which must have shaped the whole tenor of his after-life, absolutely nothing is known. 'Immediately,' says St. Paul, 'I went away into Arabia.' The historian passes over the incident (comp. Ac 9:23; 1Ki 11:38-39). It is a mysterious pause, a moment of suspense, in the apostle's history, a breathless calm, which ushers in the tumultuous storm of his active missionary life." Coming back, after three years, to Damascus, he began to preach the gospel "boldly in the name of Jesus" (Ac 9:27), but was soon obliged to flee (Ac 9:25; 2Co 11:33) from the Jews and betake himself to Jerusalem. Here he tarried for three weeks, but was again forced to flee (Ac 9:28-29) from persecution. He now returned to his native Tarsus (Ga 1:21), where, for probably about three years, we lose sight of him. The time had not yet come for his entering on his great life-work of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.
At length the city of Antioch, the capital of Syria, became the scene of great Christian activity. There the gospel gained a firm footing, and the cause of Christ prospered. Barnabas (q.v.), who had been sent from Jerusalem to superintend the work at Antioch, found it too much for him, and remembering Saul, he set out to Tarsus to seek for him. He readily responded to the call thus addressed to him, and came down to Antioch, which for "a whole year" became the scene of his labours, which were crowned with great success. The disciples now, for the first time, were called "Christians" (Ac 11:26).
The church at Antioch now proposed to send out missionaries to the Gentiles, and Saul and Barnabas, with John Mark as their attendant, were chosen for this work. This was a great epoch in the history of the church. Now the disciples began to give effect to the Master's command: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
The three missionaries went forth on the first missionary tour. They sailed from Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch, across to Cyprus, some 80 miles to the south-west. Here at Paphos, Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, was converted, and now Saul took the lead, and was ever afterwards called Paul. The missionaries now crossed to the mainland, and then proceeded 6 or 7 miles up the river Cestrus to Perga (Ac 13:13), where John Mark deserted the work and returned to Jerusalem. The two then proceeded about 100 miles inland, passing through Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia. The towns mentioned in this tour are the Pisidian Antioch, where Paul delivered his first address of which we have any record (Ac 13:16-51; comp. Ac 10:30-43), Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They returned by the same r
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(See ACTS.) The leading facts of his life which appear in that history, subsidiary to its design of sketching the great epochs in the commencement and development of Christ's kingdom, are: his conversion (Acts 9), his labours at Antioch (Acts 11), his first missionary journey (Acts 13; 14), the visit to Jerusalem at the council on circumcision (Acts 15), introduction of the gospel to Europe at Philippi (Acts 16),: visit to Athens (Acts 17), to Corinth (Acts 18), stay at Ephesus (Acts 19), parting address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20), apprehension at Jerusalem, imprisonment at Casesarea, and voyage to Rome (Acts 21-27). Though of purest Hebrew blood (Php 3:5), "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, (bearing the name of the eminent man of that tribe, king Saul), an Hebrew of the Hebrew," yet his birthplace was the Gentile Tarsus. (Ac 21:39, "I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city.") His father, as himself, was a Pharisee (Ac 23:6). Tarsus was celebrated as a school of Greek literature (Strabo, Geogr. 1:14).
Here he acquired that knowledge of Greek authors and philosophy which qualified him for dealing with learned Gentiles and appealing to their own writers (Ac 17:18-28. Aratus; 1Co 15:33, Menander; Tit 1:12, Epimenides). Here too he learned the Cilician trade of making tents of the goats' hair cloth called "cilicium" (Ac 18:3); not that his father was in straitened circumstances, but Jewish custom required each child, however wealthy the parents might be, to learn a trade. He possessed the Roman citizenship from birth (Ac 22:28), and hence, when he commenced ministering among Gentiles, he preferred to be known by his Roman name Paul rather than by his Hebrew name Saul. His main education (probably after passing his first 12 years at Tarsus, Ac 26:4-5, "among his own nation." Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus manuscripts read "and" before "at Jerusalem") was at Jerusalem "at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers" (Ac 22:3). (See GAMALIEL.)
Thus the three elements of the world's culture met in him: Roman citizenship, Grecian culture, Hebrew religion. Gamaliel had counseled toleration (Ac 5:34-39); but his teaching of strict pharisaic legalism produced in Saul's ardent spirit persecuting zeal against opponents, "concerning zeal persecuting the church" (Php 3:6). Among the synagogue disputants with Stephen were men "of Cilcia" (Ac 6:9), probably including Saul; at all events it was at his feet, while be was yet "a young man," that the witnesses, stoning the martyr, laid down their clothes (Ac 6:9; 7:58; De 17:7). "Saul was consenting unto his death" (Acts 6; 7); but we can hardly doubt that his better feelings must have had some misgiving in witnessing Stephen's countenance beaming as an angel's, and in hearing his loving prayer for his murderers. But stern bigotry stifled all such doubts by increased zeal; "he made havock of (elumaineto, 'ravaged as a wild beast') the church, entering into the houses (severally, or worship rooms), and haling men and women committed them to prison" (Ac 8:3).
But God's grace arrested Paul in his career of blind fanaticism; "I obtained mercy upon, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1Ti 1:12-16). His ignorance was culpable, for he might have known if he had sought aright; but it was less guilty than sinning against light and knowledge. There is a wide difference between mistaken zeal for the law and willful striving against God's Spirit. His ignorance gave him no claim on, but put him within the range of, God's mercy (Lu 23:34; Ac 3:17; Ro 10:2). The positive ground of mercy is solely God's compassion (Tit 3:5). We have three accounts of his conversion, one by Luke (Acts 9), the others by himself (Acts 22; 26), mutually supplementing one another. Following the adherents of "the (Christian) way ... unto strange cities," and "breathing out threatenings and slaughter," he was on his journey to Damascus with authoritative letters from the high priest empowering him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem all such, trusting doubtless that the pagan governor would not interpose in their behalf.
At midday a light shone upon him and his company, exceeding the brightness of the sun; he and all with him fell to the earth (Ac 26:14; in Ac 9:7 "stood speechless," namely, they soon rose, and when he at length rose they were standing speechless with wonder), "hearing" the sound of a "voice," but not understanding (compare 1Co 14:2 margin) the articulate speech which Paul heard (Ac 22:9, "they heard not the voice of Him that spoke") in Hebrew (Ac 26:14), "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (in the person of My brethren, Mt 25:40). "It is hard for thee to kick against the goads" (not in Ac 9:5 the Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus manuscripts, but only in Ac 26:14), which, as in the case of oxen being driven, only makes the goad pierce the deeper (Mt 21:44; Pr 8:36). Saul trembling (as the jailer afterward before him, Ac 16:30-31) said, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" the usual question at first awakening (Lu 3:10), but here with the additional sense of unreserved surrender of himself to the Lord's guidance (Isa 6:1-8).
The Lord might act directly, but He chooses to employ ministerial instruments; such was Ananias whom He sent to Saul, after he had been three days without sight and neither eating nor drinking, in the house of Judas (probably a Christian to whose house he had himself led, rather than to his former co-religionists). Ananias, whom he would have seized for prison and death, is the instrument of giving him light and life. God had prepared Ananias for his visitor by announcing the one sure mark of his conversion, "behold he prayeth" (Ro 8:15). Ananias had heard of him as a notorious persecutor, but obeyed the Lord's direction. In Ac 26:16-18 Paul condenses in one account, and connects with Christ's first appearing, subsequent revelations of Jesus to him as to the purpose of his call;" to make thee a minister and witness of these things ... delivering thee from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee." Like Jonah, the outcast runaway, when penitent, was made the messenger of repentance to guilty Nineveh.
The time of his call was just when the gospel was being opened to the Gentiles by Peter (Acts 10). An apostle, severed from legalism, and determined unbelief by an extraordinary revulsion, was better fitted for carrying forward the work among unbelieving Gentiles, which had been begun by the apostle of the circumcision. He who was the most learned and at the same time humblest (Eph 3:8; 1Co 15:9) of the apostles was the one whose pen was most used in the New Testament Scriptures. He"saw" the Lord in actual person (Ac 9:17; 22:14; 23:11; 26:16; 1Co 15:8; 9:1), which was a necessary qualification for apostleship, so as to be witness of the resurrection. The light that flashed on his eyes was the sign of the spiritual light that broke in upon his soul; and Jesus' words to him (Ac 26:18), "to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light" (which commission was symbolized in the opening of his own eyes through Ananias, Ac 9:17-18), are by undesigned coincidence reproduced naturally in his epistles (Col 1:12-14; 2Co 4:4; Eph 1:18, contrast Eph 4:18; 6:12).
He calls himself "the one untimely born" in the family of the apostles (1Co 15:8). Such a child, though born alive, is yet not of proper size and scarcely worthy of the name of man; so Paul calls himself" least of the apostles, not meet to be called an apostle" (compare 1Pe 1:3). He says, God's "choice" (Ac 9:15; 22:14), "separating me (in contrast to his having been once a "Pharisee", from pharash, i.e. a separatist, but now 'separated' unto something infinitely higher) from my mother's womb (therefore without any merit of mine), and calling me by His grace (which carried into effect His 'good pleasure,' eudokia), revealed His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the pagan," independent of Mosaic ceremonialism (Ga 1:11-20). Ananias, being "a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews there," was the suitable instrum
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This apostle was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of pure descent, born at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a fact which gave to him the privilege of Roman citizenship. He was a disciple of Gamaliel and a strict Pharisee. He is first introduced to us as a young man, by name SAUL, at whose feet the witnesses who stoned Stephen laid their clothes. He became afterwards a violent persecutor of the saints, both of men and women, acting with great zeal, thinking he was doing God's service. His conversion as the effect of the Lord appearing to him was unique, and he was so completely changed that he became at once as bold for Christ as before he had been a persecutor of Christ in the persons of His saints. He immediately preached in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. This was the distinctive point of his testimony. As the Jews sought his life at Damascus, he departed into Arabia, where doubtless he had deep exercise of heart and learnt more of the Lord.
After three years he went up to see Peter at Jerusalem, where he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Jews again seeking his life, he was conducted to Caesarea, and sent to Tarsus, his native place. From thence he was fetched by Barnabas to go to Antioch, where the gospel had been effectual, and there they both laboured. After having, in company with Barnabas, taken supplies to Jerusalem (his second visit), on occasion of a dearth, he commenced his first missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor. He and Barnabas returned to Antioch, where he remained 'a long time.' On a dispute arising as to Gentile converts being circumcised, he went with Barnabas to Jerusalem concerning that question, and returned to Antioch. This city had become a sort of centre of the activity of the Spirit. Being far from Jerusalem it was less influenced by Judaising tendencies, though communion with the saints there was maintained.
Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece were the sphere of Paul's second missionary journey. Having differed from Barnabas, because the latter wished to take John with them (who had left them on the first journey), Paul selected Silas for his companion, and departed with the full fellowship of the brethren. During part of this journey Timothy was one of the company. He abode a year and a half at Corinth, where he wrote the two EPISTLES TO THE THESSALONIANS. He now visited Jerusalem at the feast, and returned to Antioch. He took his third missionary journey through Galatia and Phrygia. When he visited Ephesus he separated the disciples from the synagogue, and they met in the school of Tyrannus. At Ephesus he wrote the FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, and probably the EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS. After the tumult raised by Demetrius he went to Macedonia, and there wrote the SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. He again visited Corinth and wrote the EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
The Jews seeking his life, Paul went through Macedonia, sailed from Philippi, and preached at Troas. At Miletus he gave a solemn parting address to the elders of Ephesus, and took his leave of the disciples at Tyre, where he was cautioned not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea also he was warned of what awaited him at Jerusalem, but he avowed that he was ready not only to be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Paul arrived at Jerusalem just before Pentecost. In order to prove himself a good Jew he was advised by the brethren to associate himself with four men who had a vow on them, and to be at charges with them. But while carrying this out he was seized by some Asiatic Jews, and beaten, but was rescued by Lysias, the Roman chief captain. After appearing before the council, and again being rescued by him, he was for safety sent off by night to Caesarea. There his cause was heard by Felix, who kept him prisoner, hoping to be bribed to release him. Two years later, when superseded by Festus, Felix, to please the Jews, left Paul in bonds. On appearing before Festus, to save himself from being sent to Jerusalem, there being a plot to waylay and murder him, Paul appealed to the emperor. His case having been heard by Agrippa and Festus, he was finally remitted to Rome. The ship, however, was wrecked at Malta, where they wintered, all on board having been saved.
On his arrival at Rome, Paul sent for the chief men of the Jews and preached to them: some of them believed, though the majority rejected God's grace (thus fulfilling Isa 6:9-10), which should henceforth go to the Gentiles. He, though still a prisoner, abode two years in his own hired house. There he wrote the EPISTLES TO THE COLOSSIANS, the EPHESIANS, the PHILIPPIANS, and also to PHILEMON.
The history of Paul is thus far given in the Acts of the Apostles, but there are intimations in the later epistles that after the two years at Rome he was liberated. His movements from that time are not definitely recorded; apparently he visited Ephesus and Macedonia, 1Ti 1:3; wrote the FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY; visited Crete, Tit 1:5; and Nicopolis, Tit 3:12; wrote the EPISTLE TO TITUS (the early writers say that he went to Spain, which we know he desired to do, Ro 15:24,28); visited Troas and Miletus, 2Ti 4:13,20; wrote the EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS; and when a prisoner at Rome the second time, wrote the SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY, when expecting his death. Early writers say that he was beheaded with the sword, which is probable, as he was a Roman citizen.
Paul received his commission directly from Christ who appeared to him in glory, and this source of his apostleship he carefully insists on in the Epistle to the Galatians. New light as to the church in its heavenly character came out by Paul, who was God's special apostle for that purpose. To him was revealed the truth that the assembly was the body of Christ, and the doctrine of new creation in Christ Jesus, in which evidently there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. This caused great persecution from the Jews and from Judaising teachers, who could not readily give up the law, nor endure the thought of Gentiles having an equal place with themselves. This Paul insisted on: it was his mission as apostle to the Gentiles. To Paul also was committed what he calls "my gospel:" this was 'the gospel of the glory' (Christ in glory who put away the Christian's sins being presented in it as the last Adam, the Son of God). 2Co 4:4. It not only brings salvation, great as that is, but it separates the believer from earth, and conforms him to Christ as He is in glory.
Paul was an eminent and faithful servant of Christ. As such he was content to be nothing, that Christ might be glorified. To the Thessalonians he was gentle 'as a nurse cherisheth her children.' 1Th 2:7. He was severe however to the Corinthians when they were allowing sin in their midst, and to them he had to assert his apostolic authority when traducers were seeking to nullify his influence among them. To the Galatians he was still more severe: they were in danger of being shipwrecked as to faith by false Judaising teachers, who were undermining the truth of the gospel.
In the epistles we get a few glimpses of the inner life of Paul. After having been caught up into the third heavens, he prayed for the removal of the thorn in the flesh which had been given him lest he should be puffed up, and was told that Christ's grace was sufficient for him, he could say, "most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.'' 2Co 12:9-10. He also could say, "To me to live is Christ;" and "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus." Php 3:13-14. As a martyr he reached that goal. The catalogue he gives of his privations and sufferings in 2Co 11:23-28 discloses the fact that but a small part of his gigantic labours is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.
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(small, little). Nearly all the original materials for the life St. Paul are contained in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Pauline epistles. Paul was born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia. (It is not improbable that he was born between A.D. 0 and A.D. 5.) Up to the time of his going forth as an avowed preacher of Christ to the Gentiles, the apostle was known by the name of Saul. This was the Jewish name which he received from his Jewish parents. But though a Hebrew of the Hebrews, he was born in a Gentile city. Of his parents we know nothing, except that his father was of the tribe of Benjamin,
and a Pharisee,
that Paul had acquired by some means the Roman franchise ("I was free born,")
and that he was settled in Tarsus. At Tarsus he must have learned to use the Greek language with freedom and mastery in both speaking and writing. At Tarsus also he learned that trade of "tent-maker,"
at which he afterward occasionally wrought with his own hands. There was a goat's-hair cloth called cilicium manufactured in Cilicia, and largely used for tents, Saul's trade was probably that of making tents of this hair cloth. When St. Paul makes his defence before his countrymen at Jerusalem,
... he tells them that, though born in Tarsus he had been "brought up" in Jerusalem. He must therefore, have been yet a boy when was removed, in all probability for the sake of his education, to the holy city of his fathers. He learned, he says, at the feet of Gamaliel." He who was to resist so stoutly the usurpations of the law had for his teacher one of the most eminent of all the doctors of the law. Saul was yet "a young man,"
when the Church experienced that sudden expansion which was connected with the ordaining of the seven appointed to serve tables, and with the special power and inspiration of Stephen. Among those who disputed with Stephen were some "of them of Cilicia." We naturally think of Saul as having been one of these, when we find him afterward keeping the clothes of those suborned witnesses who, according to the law,
were the first to cast stones at Stephen. "Saul," says the sacred writer significantly "was consenting unto his death." Saul's conversion. A.D. 37.--The persecutor was to be converted. Having undertaken to follow up the believers "unto strange cities." Saul naturally turned his thoughts to Damascus. What befell him as he journeyed thither is related in detail three times in the Acts, first by the historian in his own person, then in the two addresses made by St. Paul at Jerusalem and before Agrippa. St. Luke's statement is to be read in
where, however, the words "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks," included in the English version, ought to be omitted (as is done in the Revised Version). The sudden light from heaven; the voice of Jesus speaking with authority to his persecutor; Saul struck to the ground, blinded, overcome; the three-days suspense; the coming of Ananias as a messenger of the Lord and Saul's baptism, --these were the leading features at the great event, and in these we must look for the chief significance of the conversion. It was in Damascus that he was received into the church by Ananias, and here to the astonishment of all his hearers, he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, declaring him to be the Son of God. The narrative in the Acts tells us simply that he was occupied in this work, with increasing vigor, for "many days," up to the time when imminent danger drove him from Damascus. From the Epistle to the Galatians,
we learn that the many days were at least a good part of "three years," A.D. 37-40, and that Saul, not thinking it necessary to procure authority to teach from the apostles that were before him, went after his conversion to Arabia, and returned from thence to us. We know nothing whatever of this visit to Arabia; but upon his departure from Damascus we are again on a historical ground, and have the double evidence of St. Luke in the Acts of the apostle in his Second Epistle the Corinthians. According to the former, the Jews lay in wait for Saul, intending to kill him, and watched the gates of the city that he might not escape from them. Knowing this, the disciples took him by night and let him down in a basket from the wall. Having escaped from Damascus, Saul betook himself to Jerusalem (A.D. 40), and there "assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not he was a disciple." Barnabas' introduction removed the fears of the apostles, and Saul "was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem." But it is not strange that the former persecutor was soon singled out from the other believers as the object of a murderous hostility. He was,therefore, again urged to flee; and by way of Caesarea betook himself to his native city, Tarsus. Barnabas was sent on a special mission to Antioch. As the work grew under his hands, he felt the need of help, went himself to Tarsus to seek Saul, and succeeded in bringing him to Antioch. There they labored together unremittingly for a whole year." All this time Saul was subordinate to Barnabas. Antioch was in constant communication with Cilicia, with Cyprus, with all the neighboring countries. The Church was pregnant with a great movement, and time of her delivery was at hand. Something of direct expectation seems to be implied in what is said of the leaders of the Church at Antioch, that they were "ministering to the Lord and fasting," when the Holy Ghost spoke to them: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Everything was done with orderly gravity in the sending forth of the two missionaries. Their brethren after fasting and prayer, laid their hands on them, and so they departed. The first missionary journey. A.D. 45-49. --As soon as Barnabas and Saul reached Cyprus they began to "announce the word of God," but at first they delivered their message in the synagogues of the Jews only. When they had gone through the island, from Salamis to Paphos, they were called upon to explain their doctrine to an eminent Gentile, Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, who was converted. Saul's name was now changed to Paul, and he began to take precedence of Barnabas. From Paphos "Paul and his company" set sail for the mainland, and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia. Here the heart of their companion John failed him, and he returned to Jerusalem. From Perga they travelled on to a place obscure in secular history, but most memorable in the history of the Kingdom of Christ --Antioch in Pisidia. Rejected by the Jews, they became bold and outspoken, and turned from them to the Gentiles. At Antioch now, as in every city afterward, the unbelieving Jews used their influence with their own adherents among the Gentiles to persuade the authorities or the populace to persecute the apostles and to drive them from the place. Paul and Barnabas now travelled on to Iconium where the occurrences at Antioch were repeated, and from thence to the Lycaonian country which contained the cities Lystra and Derbe. Here they had to deal with uncivilized heathen. At Lystra the healing of a cripple took place. Thereupon these pagans took the apostles for gods, calling Barnabas, who was of the more imposing presence, Jupiter, and Paul, who was the chief speaker, Mercurius. Although the people of Lystra had been so ready to worship Paul and Barnabas, the repulse of their idolatrous instincts appears to have provoked them, and they allowed themselves to be persuaded into hostility be Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium, so that they attacked Paul with stones, and thought they had killed him. He recovered, however as the disciples were standing around him, and went again into the city. The next day he left it with Barnabas, and went to Derbe, and thence they returned once more to Lystra, and so to Iconium and Antioch. In order to establish the churches after their departure they solemnly appointed "elders" in every city. Then they came down to the coast, and from Attalia, they sailed; home to Antioch in Syria, where they related the successes which had been granted to them, and
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PAUL was born at Tarsus, the principal city of Cilicia, and was by birth both a Jew and a citizen of Rome, Ac 21:39; 22:25. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, and of the sect of the Pharisees, Php 3:5. In his youth he appears to have been taught the art of tent making, Ac 18:3; but we must remember that among the Jews of those days a liberal education was often, accompanied by instruction in some mechanical trade. It is probable that St. Paul laid the foundation of those literary attainments, for which he was so eminent in the future part of his life, at his native city of Tarsus; and he afterward studied the law of Moses, and the traditions of the elders, at Jerusalem, under Gamaliel, a celebrated rabbi, Ac 22:4. St. Paul is not mentioned in the Gospels; nor is it known whether he ever heard our Saviour preach, or saw him perform any miracle. His name first occurs in the account given in the Acts of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, A.D. 34, to which he is said to have consented, Ac 8:1: he is upon that occasion called a young man; but we are no where informed what was then his precise age. The death of St. Stephen was followed by a severe persecution of the church at Jerusalem, and St. Paul became distinguished among its enemies by his activity and violence, Ac 8:3. Not contented with displaying his hatred to the Gospel in Judea, he obtained authority from the high priest to go to Damascus, and to bring back with him bound any Christians whom he might find in that city. As he was upon his journey thither, A.D. 35, his miraculous conversion took place, the circumstances of which are recorded in Acts ix, and are frequently alluded to in his epistles, 1Co 15:9; Ga 1:13; 1Ti 1:12-13.
Soon after St. Paul was baptized at Damascus, he went into Arabia; but we are not informed how long he remained there. He returned to Damascus; and being supernaturally qualified to be a preacher of the Gospel, he immediately entered upon his ministry in that city. The boldness and success with which he enforced the truths of Christianity so irritated the unbelieving Jews, that they resolved to put him to death, Ac 9:23; but, this design being known, the disciples conveyed him privately out of Damascus, and he went to Jerusalem, A.D. 38. The Christians of Jerusalem, remembering St. Paul's former hostility to the Gospel, and having no authentic account of any change in his sentiments or conduct, at first refused to receive him; but being assured by Barnabas of St. Paul's real conversion, and of his exertions at Damascus, they acknowledged him as a disciple, Ac 9:27. He remained only fifteen days among them, Ga 1:18; and he saw none of the Apostles except St. Peter and St. James. It is probable that the other Apostles were at this time absent from Jerusalem, exercising their ministry at different places. The zeal with which St. Paul preached at Jerusalem had the same effect as at Damascus: he became so obnoxious to the Hellenistic Jews, that they began to consider how they might kill him, Ac 9:29; which when the brethren knew, they thought it right that he should leave the city. They accompanied him to Caesarea, and thence he went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, where he preached the faith which once he destroyed, Ga 1:21,23.
Hitherto the preaching of St. Paul, as well as of the other Apostles and teachers, had been confined to the Jews; but the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, A.D. 40, having convinced all the Apostles that "to the Gentiles, also, God had granted repentance unto life," St. Paul was soon after conducted by Barnabas from Tarsus, which had probably been the principal place of his residence since he left Jerusalem, and they both began to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles at Antioch, A.D. 42, Ac 11:25. Their preaching was attended with great success. The first Gentile church was now established at Antioch; and in that city, and at this time, the disciples were first called Christians, Ac 11:26. When these two Apostles had been thus employed about a year, a prophet called Agabus predicted an approaching famine, which would affect the whole land of Judea. Upon the prospect of this calamity, the Christians of Antioch made a contribution for their brethren in Judea, and sent the money to the elders at Jerusalem by St. Paul and Barnabas, A.D. 44, Ac 11:28, &c. This famine happened soon after in the fourth or fifth year of the Emperor Claudius. It is supposed that St. Paul had the vision, mentioned in Ac 22:17, while he was now at Jerusalem this second time after his conversion.
St. Paul and Barnabas, having executed their commission, returned to Antioch; and soon after their arrival in that city they were separated, by the express direction of the Holy Ghost, from the other Christian teachers and prophets, for the purpose of carrying the glad tidings of the Gospel to the Gentiles of various countries, Ac 13:1. Thus divinely appointed to this important office, they set out from Antioch, A.D. 45, and preached the Gospel successively at Salamis and Paphos, two cities of the isle of Cyprus, at Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, and at Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, three cities of Lycaonia. They returned to Antioch in Syria, A.D. 47, nearly by the same route. This first apostolical journey of St. Paul, in which he was accompanied and assisted by Barnabas, is supposed to have occupied about two years; and in the course of it many, both Jews and Gentiles, were converted to the Gospel.
Paul and Barnabas continued at Antioch a considerable time; and while they were there, a dispute arose between them and some Jewish Christians of Judea. These men asserted, that the Gentile converts could not obtain salvation through the Gospel, unless they were circumcised; Paul and Barnabas maintained the contrary opinion, Ac 15:1-2. This dispute was carried on for some time with great earnestness; and it being a question in which not only the present but all future Gentile converts were concerned, it was thought right that St. Paul and Barnabas, with some others, should go up to Jerusalem to consult the Apostles and elders concerning it. They passed through Phenicia and Samaria, and upon their arrival at Jerusalem, A.D. 49, a council was assembled for the purpose of discussing this important point, Ga 2:1. St. Peter and St. James the less were present, and delivered their sentiments, which coincided with those of St. Paul and Barnabas; and after much deliberation it was agreed, that neither circumcision, nor conformity to any part of the ritual law of Moses, was necessary in Gentile converts; but that it should be recommended to them to abstain from certain specified things prohibited by that law, lest their indulgence in them should give offence to their brethren of the circumcision, who were still very zealous for the observance of the ceremonial part of their ancient religion. This decision, which was declared to have the sanction of the Holy Ghost, was communicated to the Gentile Christians of Syria and Cilicia, by a letter written in the name of the Apostles, elders, and whole church at Jerusalem, and conveyed by Judas and Silas, who accompanied St. Paul and Barnabas to Antioch for that purpose.
St. Paul, having preached a short time at Antioch, proposed to Barnabas that they should visit the churches which they had founded in different cities, Ac 15:36. Barnabas readily consented; but while they were preparing for the journey, there arose a disagreement between them, which ended in their separation. In consequence of this dispute with Barnabas, St. Paul chose Silas for his companion, and they set out together from Antioch, A.D. 50. They travelled through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches, and then came to Derbe and Lystra, Acts 16. Thence they went through Phrygia and Galatia; and, being desirous of going into Asia Propria, or the Proconsular Asia, they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost. They therefore went into Mysia; and, not being permitted by the Holy Ghost to go into Bithynia as they had intended, they went to Troas. While St. Paul was there, a vision appeared to him in the night: "There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Ma