The Apostles: Paul

We’ve studied the 12 Disciples of Jesus, the women who followed Jesus, and the Seven Deacons. We are going to wrap up the series with the apostles.

Luke 10 tells us “And after these things, the Lord did appoint also other seventy, and sent them by twos before his face, to every city and place whither he himself was about to come, then said he unto them, ‘The harvest indeed [is] abundant, but the workmen few.”

We’re not going to discuss all seventy, but we are going to study some of the better known disciples or apostles. An apostle is defined as an early Christian teacher. Often the words disciple and apostle are interchangeable.

The best known apostle is Saul, who became better known as Paul. The name Saul is Jewish and means to question or ask, while the name Paul is Latin and means humble, scarce, rare or small.

We first meet Saul at the stoning of Stephen. “And the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul..”  {Acts 7:58}  From this we know Saul is present when Stephen is stones, the witnesses laid their coats at his feet and he is a young man, although we don’t know how young.

Saul/Paul has to be lowered in a basket to escape

Saul was out for blood and the persecute the Christians.  “But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.”  {Acts 8:3}

Acts 9 begins telling of Saul’s persecution of the church. While on his way to Damascus to persecute the church, he is blinded by light and the voice of Jesus speaks to him asking “why are you persecuting me”. {Acts 9:3-4} For three days he is blind until the Lord sends an apostle, Ananias, to give him vision.

We also discover in this passage that Saul is from Tarsus, which is in modern day Turkey. Although born in Tarsus, he was raised in Jerusalem and a Roman citizen. {Acts 21-22}. After his conversion, and meeting the disciples, he returned to Tarsus. {Acts 9:30}

Barnabas joined Paul on his missionary travels

Barnabas headed to Tarsus to retrieve Saul after he’d been in Tarsus about eight years. {Acts 11:25}

Acts 13:9 tells us “Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit…”.  Saul is now referred to as Paul. The two men went to Antioch to preach, which is where the mission to the Gentiles began. The exact length of his time there is unknown, but Antioch served as home base as the two men undertook their first missionary journey. {Acts 13-14}

Paul then visited Jerusalem and the council there. {Acts 15; Galatians 1-2}. He later returned to Antioch and later wrote of an “incident at Antioch” where he had a disagreement with Peter over the Gentiles. {Galatians 2}

As Paul and Barnabas prepared for their second missionary journey, a sharp argument arose about taking John Mark with them. The men separated with Barnabas taking John Mark and Silas joining Paul. {Acts 16}

Paul was shipwrecked

After his journey, he stayed in Corinth for a while to visit with Priscilla and Aquila and assisted them as a tentmaker. {Acts 18}

He then undertook his third missionary journey, this time with Silas. During his trips he wrote letters to the church at Corinth and the Romans. {Acts 20}

Paul undertook his fifth and final visit to Jerusalem and arrested. He was moved when a plan to kill him was uncovered and then held in prison for two years.  {Acts 21-25} Paul then exercised his right to “appeal to Caesar” as a Roman citizen. On the way to Rome, he was shipwrecked on Malta before finally arriving at his destination, where he lived another two years under house arrest. {Acts 26-28}

He wrote many of his letters from prison

The book of Acts ends with Paul awaiting trial and preaching in Rome. {Acts 28:30-31}

Early Bible historians wrote of Paul’s death after the Great Fire of Rome {July 64AD} and before the last year of Nero’s reign in 68AD. It is described that Nero “condemned Paul to death by decapitation at Rome”.

However, Paul’s contribution to the early church cannot be denied. He went from hunting and killing Christians to a defender of the faith, suffering greatly before dying as a martyr. Over half of the New Testament is written by Paul and includes his letters to various churches. Paul serves as a reminder that Christ can completely change and reform anyone for his honor and glory.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.