Paul
 

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The Apostle Paul

 

1.      Paulís background and training before he became a believer.

1.1.      Paul was born in Tarsus, an important city within the Roman world. He was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and a Roman citizen by birth. We do not know for sure how his family first acquired Roman citizenship, but ďPresumably Paulís father, grandfather or even great-grandfather had rendered some outstanding service to the Roman causeÖ one thing is certain, however: among the citizens and other residents of Tarsus the few Roman citizens, whether Greeks or Jews by birth, would constitute a social elite.Ē {F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 38-39}
(Acts 16:37; 21:39; 22:3, 25-29; Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5).

1.2.      Paul was a Pharisee and Gamaliel, the leading Pharisee of the day, had taught him (Acts 23:6; Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5).

1.3.      Paul had a wonderful heritage, intellect, ability, and training. He succeeded at whatever he did (Philippians 3:4-6).

1.4.      Paul was hostile to Christ and Christians. He was present at the stoning of Stephen. While there he must have heard the message which Stephen delivered. Later on he had written authority to seek out and persecute believers (Acts 7:58-60 {probably where Paul heard the gospel}, Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-2; 22:4-8; 26:9-12; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6).

2.      Paulís salvation and early training {about AD 35-48} (Ephesians 3:1-13; 2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 9:15-16).

2.1.   The Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to Paul while he was traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus to harass and arrest believers. Paul believed in Christ as Savior at that time. The Lord immediately sent him to Ananias, a believer in Damascus. God removed Paulís temporary blindness and instructed him through Ananias (Acts 9:1-19; 22:3-16; 26:12-18).

2.2.   Soon after Paul met Ananias he went into Arabia where the Lord taught him and prepared him for his ministry. F. F. Bruce says (The Book of the Acts, NIC series, p. 202) that this Arabia was not the great desert between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. It was the ďNabataean kingdom, whose north-western limit was in the neighborhood of Damascus.Ē The Nabataean kingdom was a strip which ran north south on the east side of the Jordan River. The northern limit was around Damascus and the southern limit around Petra. Following this training he returned to Damascus to witness and teach Bible doctrine (Acts 9:20-22; Galatians 1:16-18).

2.3.   After Paul served in Damascus awhile, some Jews conspired to kill him. Believers helped him escape to Jerusalem (Acts 9:23-26).

2.4.   At Jerusalem Barnabas introduced Paul to James and Peter. Paul continued his new ministry in Jerusalem, but another group of Jews conspired to kill him so believers took Paul to Caesarea, then sent him home to Tarsus where he remained for about ten years (Acts 9:26-30; 22:17-21; 26:20; Galatians 1:19-24).

2.5.   Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Paul. He brought him back to Antioch. Both men stayed at Antioch for a year and taught Godís Word (Acts 11:22-27).

2.6.   While they were in Antioch famine struck Judea (about AD 44-48). The believers in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem with emergency famine relief money for the believers there. When they went back to Antioch they brought John Mark with them (Acts 11:27-30; 12:25).

3.      Paulís missionary trips and imprisonments {about AD 48-68} (Acts 9:15-16; Ephesians 3:1).

3.1.   Paulís first three missionary trips are recorded in Acts.

3.1.1.      Paul and Barnabas began the first missionary trip {about AD 48-49} from Syrian Antioch. They sailed to Salamis and Paphos on the island of Cyprus, and then went on to Perga, Pisidian, Antioch, Iconium, Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe. They returned through Lystra, Iconium, Syrian Antioch, Perga Attalia, Seleucia, and back to Syrian Antioch
(Acts 13-14).

3.1.2.      On the second trip {about AD 50-52} Paul and Silas left Syrian Antioch and traveled to Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Pisidian Antioch, Mysia, Troas, Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Appollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Cenchrea, Ephesus, and Caesarea. They returned to Syrian Antioch (Acts 15:36-18:22).

3.1.3.      Paulís third trip {about AD 53-57} also began from Syrian Antioch. He visited Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Ephesus, Troas, Philippi, Amphipolis, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, and Cenchrea. He retraced his steps back through Berea, Thessalonica, Appollonia, Amphipolis, Philippi, and Neapolis, to Troas, Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, and Ephesus. Then after a stop in Miletus, he hurried on to Jerusalem by way of Cos, Rhodes, and Patara (Acts 18:23-21:16).

3.2.   Toward the end of his third missionary trip Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem even though he was aware of the Jewsí rampant religions pride and self-righteousness which made them violently opposed to him and his message. He was arrested in Jerusalem. He lost his freedom (Acts 21:27-40). He gave his defense before the Jewish population (Acts (22:1-21) and before the Sanhedrin (Acts 22:30-23:10). Another conspiracy formed against Paul (Acts 23:12-22) so the authorities sent him to Caesarea where he was confined for two years (Acts 23:23 Ė Acts 26, about summer 57 to summer 59). He appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11), so Roman authorities sent him to Rome where he was confined for two more years (Acts 27-28; 28:30, about winter 60 to winter 62). While in Rome he was chained by the hand to a Praetorian guardsman day and night. He was under great pressure, but he continued to live within the daily plan of God and so applied Bible doctrine to life. In the middle of great pressure, testing, and suffering Paul was an effective servant of Christ, was stable, content, and happy (Ephesians 3:1; Philippians 1:12-16; 4:11-14; Philemon 1, 22).

3.3.   When Paul was released from the first Roman imprisonment he went east to Macedonia and possibly Asia Minor (Philemon 22; 1 Timothy 1:3), about AD 62-64.

3.4.   He then went west to Spain (1 Clement 5:5-7), about AD 64-66).

3.5.   After the trip to the west, Paul revisited the eastern Mediterranean area (1 Timothy 3:14-15; 2 Timothy 4:13, 19, 20; Titus 1:5; 3:12), about AD 66-67.

3.6.   Paul was soon arrested and taken to Rome where he was executed, about spring AD 68 (2 Timothy 1:15-18; 2:9; 4:12, 16-17; 4:9, 13, and 21, with 1:2).

4.      Paulís personality and writings.

4.1.   Paul was a student of the Word of God. While he was an unbeliever he prepared to be a Pharisee
(Acts 22:3). Right after his salvation he began learning the Word of God correctly. He began through personal tutoring from the Lord in Arabia (Galatians 1:15-17) and continued to study for the rest of his life (2 Timothy 4:13). He learned and believed Godís plan and applied all parts of it.

4.2.   He possessed inner strength, inner drive, ability, confidence, and pursued excellence. He knew his job well and kept driving toward his divinely set goals. Paul did not do anything half way. Whatever he did he did the best possible job. When he failed he recovered and kept pressing forward (1 Corinthians 9:23-27; 15:10; Galatians 4:19; Philippians 2:17; 3:4, 13-14; Colossians 3:17-23; 2 Timothy 4:7).

4.3.   Even though Paul lived under intense pressure
(2 Corinthians 6:4-10) he was occupied with Christ, applied Bible doctrine, and continued spiritual growth (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:20-25; 3:7-14). Therefore, Paul was happy, contented, stable, and productive (Philippians 4:10-13; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18).

4.4.   Paul wrote Romans through Philemon in the New Testament. The books and approximate dates of writing are: Galatians, about AD 50-51;
1 Thessalonians, about AD 51; 2 Thessalonians, about AD 51; 1 Corinthians, about spring, AD 56;
2 Corinthians, about fall, AD 56; Romans, about AD 56-57; Ephesians, about AD 62; Philippians, about AD 62; Colossians, about AD 62; Philemon, about AD 62; 1 Timothy, about AD 66-67; Titus, about AD 66-67; 2 Timothy, about AD 68.

4.5.   Paul did not have a handsome physical appearance. ďAnd he went by the kingís highway that leadeth unto Lystra and stood expecting him, and looked upon them that came, according to the description of Titus. And he saw Paul coming, a man little of stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked, full of grace; for sometimes he appeared like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel.Ē (The Acts of Paul and Thecia 2.3, in The Apocryphal New Testament, written about AD 160, translated by M. R. James, Oxford, 1969 reprint; 2 Corinthians 10:10).

4.6.   Paul died a hero. He had done his job. He was ready to die. He was happy. He was anticipating being absent from his body and face to face with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).

5.      Principles for living the Christian Way of Life that Paulís life teaches believers.

5.1.   Believers need to be students of the Word of God. As students of the Word believers need to learn and constantly adjust to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to the plan of God.

5.2.   Believers need to learn and live grace toward God, toward themselves, and toward others.

5.3.   Believers need to keep advancing in their Christian Way of Life, not stagnate, not become complacent, not think they have arrived, and not give up.

5.4.   Believers need to be occupied with the Lord in every circumstance. This is the only source of contentment, happiness, and stability in life.

5.5.   Believers need to have long term commitments to the ministries that God has given to them. All believers face pressures and setbacks. They all endure unpleasant things and have periods of prosperity. But continual adjustment to God and His plan will enable each believer to have happiness, spiritual prosperity, and worthwhile ministry.

5.6.   Believers need to work together as a team under authority and with organization.

5.7.   Believers need to allow each other to live their own lives for the Lord without interference from each other. The Christian way of life provides this freedom for each believer to strive for excellence and to fail along the way.

5.8.   Believers need to take some risks in ministry. Paul took many for the sake of his ministry.

5.9.   Believers need to live their lives for the Lord and not for men and do the best possible job at whatever they do. Paul did not go into a venture half way. Whatever he did, he did knowing that the Lord was his authority, leader, and on the job supervisor.

6.      Paul exhibited good leadership characteristics. They include: high motivation, inner drive, purpose, goals, and the pursuit of excellence. He used Godís methods, and utilized his subordinates well. He kept learning and growing. He was flexible in non-essentials and inflexible in the essentials (such as purpose and doctrine). The Lord tested him and he passed. Paul recovered from failure, and did not allow success or failure to distract or stop him.