Paul the Apostle; A.D. 37

The Chief Jewish Persecutor of the Jewish sect of the Nazarenes Encountered the Promised Messiah of God

Icon of Paul (Saul) of Tarsus

Saint Paul the Apostle (a.k.a.: Saul of Tarsus; A.D. 5 – 67): Saul was born in the city of Tarsus a large coastal trading city in southern Anatolia (modern day Turkey) south of the Provence of Galatia. Tarsus was a very cosmopolitan city. It had a well established and respected university in it. Paul was born a Roman citizen. His family was a devoutly Jewish family from the tribe of Benjamin.

The city of Tarsus was a prosperous commercial trading city in southern Anatolia

When Paul was around 12 or 14 years old (around A.D. 17 or 19) he was sent to Jerusalem and enrolled in the school of Rabbi (Professor) Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a moderate Pharisee (a student of the Jewish law) who had graduated from the House of Hillel a school of study and interpretation of the Hebrew Mishnah (or Mishna) and the Talmud (the central texts of Rabbinic Judaism) which Gamaliel’s mentor Hillel had founded in Jerusalem (see A.D. 70).

Paul was a very bright student and he became a very knowledgeable Pharisee.

By A.D. 33, when Saul about 28 years, old he was present at the stoning of Stephan the martyr, and he was working as a Pharisee and a persecutor (literally a murder) against the Jewish sect of the Nazarenes (i.e., the nascent Christian church).

Around A.D. 37, roughly 4 years after Jesus the Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven and was seat at God’s right hand, Saul of Tarsus, a tent maker by trade and a devout and zealous Jewish Pharisee was actively persecuting Christians.

Road from Jerusalem through Galilee to Damascus

Saul was on the road to Damascus. Saul was visited by Jesus the promised Messiah of God who asked Saul “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts9:4-5). Saul converted, right there, from Judaism to Christianity. The light of the glory of the Christ is so bright (“uncreated light”?) that Paul was blinded for three days and he had to be led to Damascus by the people he was traveling with. In Damascus Paul met Ananias of Damascus and Ananias said to Saul: “Brother Saul, the Lord, 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.” His sight was restored, he got up and was baptized (Acts 9:17-18). At his baptism/chrismation Saul’s name was changed to Paul.

Saint Paul was NOT one of the 12 apostles chosen and invested (ordained) by Jesus during his earthly ministry. After his conversion Paul “went first to Arabia” (Galatians 1:17-2:1). I.e., Paul went to Mount Sinai. Paul states that Mount Sinai is in “Arabia” (Galatians 4:24-25). The Jews understood Mount Sinai to be a place where God was. Moses had approached God at Mount Sinai and God had given Moses and the Jews His law there.

Paul apparently went to Mount Sinai to meditate. Presumably Paul went there be “near to God” to think/study about Jesus actually being the Messiah which was mentioned so often in the Hebrew scriptures. In Romans 2:15 Paul describes God writing His law on the hearts of Christians. So God gave Moses the stone tablets of His Law at Mount Sinai and God wrote His Law on Paul’s heart at Mount Sinai. How constistant.

After “some period of time” spent in contemplation and/or communion with the Trinity at Mount Sinai, Paul returned to Damascus.

Over the 31 years from his conversion to his martyrdom in Rome, Paul traveled around the Mediterranean world preaching (kerygma) Christ to gentiles (e.g., to Hellenistic Philosophers) in places like Athens (Acts 17:15-34) and Rome. During that time Paul wrote 14 of the 27 books which were later chosen to form the New Testament of the Bible (which was first “canonized” in A.D. 393). Paul’s 14 letters include: Romans (written around 58 A.D.), 1st & 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Hebrews. Saint Paul is, in effect the first theologian of the Christian church. He is believe to have been martyred (by being beheaded) by the order of the Emperor Nero in Rome.