St Paul Biography

(Religious Preacher)
St Paul
15

Born: 5

Born In: Tarsus, Turkey

St Paul, also known as Paul the Apostle, was a Christian apostle considered one of the leaders of the first generation of Christians. He spread the teachings of Jesus in the first century and is counted amongst the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. Despite being a major figure in the Christian movement, he also had many detractors and enemies and didn’t receive as much respect as apostles Peter and James did. According to the New Testament book, Acts of the Apostles, he was a Pharisee. Before his conversion, he is believed to have participated in the persecution of early Christians and was even present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen. However, following a miraculous experience and a powerful vision, he was forced to renounce his anti-Christianity stance and became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Following this, he was duly baptized and spent several years traveling the world, preaching that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. In the ensuing years, he founded many Christian communities in Asia Minor and Europe. Fourteen books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to him. His epistles continue to influence the Protestant and Catholic traditions in many parts of the world. 

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Paul the Apostle, Saul of Tarsus

Died At Age: 60

Born Country: Turkey

Apostles Preachers

Died on: 65

place of death: Rome, Italy

Grouping of People: Christians

Cause of Death: Decapitation

Early Life

St. Paul is believed to have been born between around 5 AD to a devout Jewish family based in the city of Tarsus. His birthplace was one of the most influential cities in Asia Minor at the time of his birth. According to The Book of Acts, he was a Roman citizen by birth. Paul's Jewish name was "Saul."

Very little information is available about his family. In some of his surviving letters, Paul has referred to himself as belonging to “the stock of Israel.” He was probably a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.

Some sources state that he was a “Pharisee, born of Pharisees.” His family apparently had a history of religious piety and was attached to Pharisaic traditions.

As a young man, he went to Jerusalem to receive his education. He attended the school of Gamaliel, one of the most prominent teachers of Jewish law in history. However, historians believe that he never aspired to become a scholar of Jewish law despite studying under Gamaliel.

While Paul could speak Aramaic (then known as "Hebrew"), his first language was Koine Greek. He had a strong foundation in Stoic philosophy.

The Book of Acts states that he was an artisan. He was probably involved in leather crafting or tent-making as a profession. He is believed to have connected with future Christian disciples, Priscilla and Aquila, in a professional setting and even partnered with them in tent-making.

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Persecuting Early Christians

Paul spent many years of his life persecuting early converts to Christianity. He himself stated this fact many times in his letters. He specifically targeted Hellenised diaspora Jewish members who converted to Christianity.

It is believed that his initial persecution of Christians was directed against the Greek-speaking "Hellenists" owing to their anti-Temple attitude. He was even present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

Conversion

According to the New Testamentonce while traveling to Damascus, Paul was struck by blindness and had to be led by the hand through the journey. For three days, he consumed no food or water and engaged himself in intense prayer to God.

Ananias of Damascus, a disciple of Jesus, heard of Paul’s predicament and came to him. Ananias placed his hands on Paul and conveyed to him Jesus Christ’s message and blessings. Paul immediately recovered his sight and converted to Christianity. He was then duly baptized.

Missionary Works

Following his conversion, Paul was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and God’s Son and took it upon himself as a divine duty to travel around the world and spread the message.

With another Christian disciple Barnabas, Paul traveled from Antioch to Cyprus and then into southern Asia Minor. After preaching to people throughout the trip, they finally returned to Antioch.

They then sailed to Perga in Pamphylia and proceeded to Pisidian Antioch from there. On Sabbath, he preached the life story of Jesus in the synagogue. He stayed in Antioch for a long time.

An Apostolic Age dispute between Paul and apostle Peter occurred in Antioch due to Peter's reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians. Even Barnabas, Paul’s traveling companion, sided with Peter. The final outcome of the incident is not known.

In late autumn 49, Paul began another missionary journey from Jerusalem. He and his companions, Silas and Timothy, went to Macedonia to preach to the people there. They had a miraculous experience while traveling through Philippi.

Paul spent 18 months in Corinth around the years 50-52. There, he met Priscilla and Aquila, who converted to Christianity and helped Paul in his missionary work. Paul alone traveled on to Caesarea before proceeding to Antioch.

Paul then undertook a missionary journey traveling all over the region of Galatia and Phrygia. He also went to Ephesus, an important center of early Christianity. He stayed there for three years and probably worked as a tent-maker as he had back in Corinth. During his stay, he also performed many religious miracles.

Continuing on his missionary journey, he traveled through Macedonia into Achaea during 56-57 AD. He stayed in Greece for a few months and it is believed he dictated his Epistle to the Romans during this time.

He visited Philippi, Rhodes, Troas, Miletus, and Tyre on his way back to Jerusalem. He stopped in Caesarea, where he stayed with Philip the Evangelist for some time before arriving at Jerusalem.

Arrest & Death

Paul was warmly received at Jerusalem. However, he soon realized that he had made some enemies who believed he was going against the law. He was eventually taken into custody by the Roman procurator Marcus Antonius Felix and held for two years. 

Along with his companions, Paul was sent to Rome, where he was to stand trial for his alleged crimes. He was kept under house arrest for two years in Rome. He continued to preach from his home while awaiting trial. 

Different sources give varying accounts of his death. According to Greek historian Eusebius, Paul was killed during the Neronian Persecution. Christian author Tertullian states that Paul was beheaded. According to a later legend, his martyrdom occurred at the Aquae Salviae.

See the events in life of St Paul in Chronological Order

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