Chosen from birth. He utilized the passion first to uphold that which he understood and knew.
Passion for something: “And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” Acts 22:20
Paul, a servant of The LORD God; prayed ceaselessly without pause. In his acts, words and ministry. Do we speak with The LORD constantly? God Knows ALL! So, taking it to The Lord in prayer is our approaching The Throne of grace, Amen
The Apostle Paul’s Birth & Education
c. A.D. 6 Born a Roman citizen to Jewish parents in Tarsus (in modern eastern Turkey)
c. 20–30 Studies Torah in Jerusalem with Gamaliel; becomes a Pharisee
c. 30–33 Persecutes followers of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem and Judea
c. 33–36 Converted on the way to Damascus; spends three years in Arabia; returns to Damascus to preach Jesus as Messiah
c. 36 Flees Damascus because of persecution; visits Jerusalem and meets with the apostles
36–44 Preaches in Tarsus and surrounding region
44–46 Invited by Barnabas to teach in Antioch
46 With Barnabas visits Jerusalem to bring a famine relief offering
47–48 First missionary journey with Barnabas, to Cyprus and Galatia
49 At the Council of Jerusalem, Paul argues successfully that Gentile Christians need not follow Jewish law; returns to Antioch; confronts Peter over question of Jewish law
49–52 Second missionary journey with Silas, through Asia Minor and Greece; settles in Corinth; writes letters to Thessalonians
52 Visits Jerusalem and Antioch briefly; begins third missionary journey
52–55 Stays in Ephesus; writes the letters to Galatians and Corinthians
55–57 Travels through Greece and possibly Illyricum (modern Yugoslavia); writes letter to Romans
Paul’s Arrest & Death
57–59 Returns to Jerusalem and arrested; imprisoned at Caesarea
59–60 Appears before Festus and appeals to Caesar; voyage to Rome
60–62 Under house arrest at Rome; writes letters to Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon
62–64 Released; journeys to Spain?; writes letters to Timothy and Titus
64 Returns to Rome; martyred
It’s from the only physical description of Paul, in an early Christian document, the Acts of Paul. (Its author, a second-century church leader, was fired over the book because he attributed to Paul some unorthodox teachings such as sexual abstinence in marriage.)
A more literal translation of the description of Paul in Greek reads, “A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were far apart; he had large eyes, and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long.”
This may be little more than imaginative writing from a century after Paul died, but it does not clash with the way Paul’s critics described him: “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive” (2 Cor. 10:10).
2. Was Paul Married?
Probably not. But because Paul said almost nothing about this, there’s plenty of room to debate the matter.
When counseling singles and widows at Corinth, he wrote, “It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am” (1 Cor. 7:8).
But when listing the rights of an apostle and arguing on behalf of himself and Barnabas, he said, “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” (1 Cor. 9:5).
In interpreting this statement, some scholars say Paul’s question, taken with his statement that he was unmarried, suggests he was a widower who had at least occasionally traveled with his wife. Others see Paul using this question to emphasize …
During the closing years of Caesar Augustus’s reign, a boy was born to a Jewish family in Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey). The family traced its descent from the tribe of Benjamin, and they named their son after the most illustrious member in their family’s history: Saul, the first king of Israel. As a Roman citizen, the boy had three names, by one of which he became famous: Paulus.
Tarsus was ancient and prosperous; Saul described it as “no ordinary city.” Industries in Tarsus included weaving and tentmaking—a craft Saul would use later to subsidize his travels.
His Roman citizenship implied that his family owned property. It also carried with it privileges—the right to a fair trial, exemption from degrading punishments like whipping, and the right of appeal.
Early on Saul learned a trait that would stand him in good stead in later life: how to cross cultural boundaries. Though born in a center of Greek culture, Saul was sent to school in Jerusalem, where he studied the Jewish scriptures and religious law under renowned rabbi Gamaliel “the Elder.”
Gamaliel was a member of the Jewish ruling council (the Sanhedrin) and grandson of the famous rabbi Hillel. Gamaliel was gracious. When the Sanhedrin raged against members of a local sect who taught that Jesus of Nazareth, recently executed, was Messiah, he counseled forbearance. The council demanded the death penalty; Gamaliel convinced them to enforce a lesser punishment and let the cult members go.
Saul, however, did not adopt his teacher’s moderation, especially toward members of this messianic sect. Saul joined the growing number of Jewish leaders who steadily harassed and even killed followers of “The Way,” as it was called.
The first two centuries of the Christian era were great days for a traveler, writes historian Lionel Casson: “He could make his way from the shores of the Euphrates to the border between England and Scotland without crossing a foreign frontier.… He could sail through any waters without fear of pirates, thanks to the emperor’s patrol squadrons. A planned network of good roads gave him access to all major centers, and the through routes were policed well enough for him to ride them with relatively little fear of bandits.”
Because of the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) of Emperor Augustus (27 B.C. – A.D. 14), such conditions prevailed when Paul traveled the Roman world. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus (d. about 135) declared, “There are neither wars nor battles, nor great robberies nor piracies, but we may travel at all hours, and sail from east to west.”
New Testament archaeologist W.M. Ramsay concludes, “The Roman roads were probably at their best during the first century after Augustus had put an end to war and disorder.… Thus St. Paul traveled in the best and safest period.”
What would it have been like to travel with Paul during this unique era of ancient history?
Roads Built to Last
By the time of Emperor Diocletian (c. A.D. 300), the Romans had built a marvelous network of over 53,000 miles of roads throughout the Empire, primarily for military purposes. They were generally 10 to 12 feet wide and models of road construction. Plutarch writes about one official’s work:
“The roads were carried through the country in a perfectly straight line, and were paved with hewn stone and reinforced with banks of tight-rammed sand. Depressions were filled …
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. [Romans 10:1]
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. [Romans 12:12]
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Romans 15:5–6]
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13]
I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen. [Romans 15:30–33]
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way— in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. [1 Corinthians 1:4–9]
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. [1 Corinthians 16:23]
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. [2 Corinthians 1:3–7]
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? [2 Corinthians 2:14–16]
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has give you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! [2 Corinthians 9:12–15]
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Corinthians 12:7–9a]
Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. [2 Corinthians 13:7–9]
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. [Galatians 6:18]
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. . . . [Ephesians 1:3ff.]
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. [Ephesians 1:15–23]
For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Ephesians 3:14–21]
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. [Ephesians 6:19–20]
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. [Philippians 1:3–6]
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. [Philippians 1:9–11]
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Phil. 4:6–7]
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Philippians 4:23]
We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:3–14]
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. [Colossians 4:2–4]
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 1:2–3]
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. [1 Thessalonians 2:13–16]
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. [1 Thessalonians 3:9–13]
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. [1 Thessalonians 5:23–24]
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. [1 Thessalonians 5:28]
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. . . . [2 Thessalonians 1:3ff.]
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Thessalonians 1:11–12]
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. [2 Thessalonians 2:16–17]
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. [2 Thessalonians 3:2–5]
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. [2 Thessalonians 3:16]
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. [1 Timothy 1:12]
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. . . . [1 Timothy 2:1ff.]
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. [2 Timothy 1:3–7]
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. [2 Timothy 1:16–18]
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. [2 Timothy 4:22]
Grace be with you all. [Titus 3:15b]
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. [Philemon 4–7]
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. [Philemon 25]