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Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna
|Born||c. AD 5|
in Tarsus in Cilicia
|Died||c. AD 67|
probably in Rome
Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna
|Born||c. AD 5|
in Tarsus in Cilicia
|Died||c. AD 67|
probably in Rome
|Part of a series on|
Paul the Apostle (Greek: Παῦλος Paulos, c.5 – c. 67), original name Saul of Tarsus (Greek: Σαῦλος Saulos), was an apostle who took the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age.  In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.
A native of Tarsus, the capital city in the Roman province of Cilicia, Paul wrote that he was "a Hebrew born of Hebrews", a Pharisee, and one who advanced in Judaism beyond many of his peers. He zealously persecuted the early followers of Jesus of Nazareth and violently tried to destroy the newly forming Christian church. Paul's dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus radically changed the course of his life.
After his conversion, Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. His leadership, influence, and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped Jesus, adhered to the "Judaic moral code", but relaxed or abandoned the ritual and dietary teachings of the Law of Moses. He taught that these laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ, though the exact relationship between Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still disputed. Paul taught of the life and works of Jesus Christ and his teaching of a new testament, established through Jesus' death and resurrection.
Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament (Romans through Philemon) have been attributed to Paul, and approximately half of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul's life and works. However, only seven of the epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. The authorship of Hebrews has the most doubt cast against it. Even in the 2nd century there was doubt in some regions that Paul was the author and since the Protestant Reformation, most scholars have not believed it to have been written by Paul. The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive. More conservative scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles itself raises many problems. 
Today, his epistles continue to be deeply rooted in the theology, worship, and pastoral life in the Roman and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East. Among the many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith, his influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive". Augustine of Hippo developed Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law". Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings heavily influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide. The Bible does not record Paul's death.
The main source for information about Paul's life is the material found in his epistles and in the book of Acts. However, these epistles contain little information about Paul's past. The book of Acts also recounts Paul's career but leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome.
Sources outside of the New Testament that mention Paul include:
Although it has been popularly assumed that his name was changed when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, which happened during his encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus, , Modern Sha'ul Tiberian Šāʼûl ; "asked for, prayed for, borrowed"), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. The testimony of the book of Acts is that he inherited Roman citizenship from his father. As a Roman citizen he also bore the Latin name of "Paul"—in biblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos), and in Latin: Paulus.
In the book of Acts, when he had the vision that led to his conversion on the Road to Damascus, Jesus called him "Saul, Saul", in the Hebrew tongue, Aramaic. Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus". When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".
In Acts 13:9, Saul is called Paul for the first time on the island of Cyprus — much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates the names were interchangeable: "...Saul, who also is called Paul...". He thereafter refers to him as Paul, apparently Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul's missionary style. His method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style they could relate to.
The two main sources of information by which we have access to the earliest segments of Paul's career are the Bible's Book of Acts and the autobiographical elements of Paul's letters to the early church communities. Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD. The Book of Acts implies that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, more affirmatively describing his father as such, but some scholars have taken issue with the evidence presented by the text.
His was a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus—one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university, one in which students could receive a superior education. During the time of Alexander the Great, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor.
Stoicism was the dominant philosophy there. In addition to his becoming steeped in Orthodox Pharisaic Judaism, his early life in Tarsus allowed him to learn "Classic Greek", Greek philosophy, and Koine Greek which was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire, spoken by the common people. In his letters, Paul reflected heavily from his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the revealed word of God.
He would also rely heavily on the training he received concerning the law and the prophets, utilizing this knowledge to convince his Jewish countrymen of the unity of past Old Testament prophecy and covenants with the fulfilling of these in Jesus Christ. His wide spectrum of experiences and education gave the "Apostle to the Gentiles"
Paul referred to himself as being "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee".
The Bible reveals very little about Paul's family. Paul's nephew, his sister's son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16. Acts also quotes Paul indirectly referring to his father by saying he, Paul, was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee".
The family had a history of religious piety.
While he was still fairly young, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel,
Paul's conversion can be dated to 31–36 by his reference to it in one of his letters. There are three accounts of his conversion (Greek: μετάνοια metanoia) in the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 9:1-31, , and .
It took place on the road to Damascus where he reported to have experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus. The account in Acts 9 says that both Saul/Paul and the men that were with him heard the voice asking, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?" (The account in Acts 22:9 says his companions saw the light, but did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to Saul.) Saul asked, "Who are you, lord?", to which the voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do".
From that experience he was blinded for three days and had to be led into Damascus by the hand. His sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus. This life-changing experience and revelation convinced Paul that God indeed had chosen Jesus to be the promised messiah. Luke, the author of Acts of the Apostles, likely learned of his conversion from Paul, from the church in Jerusalem, or from the church in Antioch.
Paul's letters do not refer directly to this experience on the Damascus road. In Galatians 1:16 he writes that God "was pleased to reveal his son to me". In 1 Corinthians 15:8, in listing the order in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Paul says "last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also".(NASB) These two passages have been interpreted to refer to his road to Damascus conversion experience which he elsewhere had described as the resurrected Jesus appearing to him, but in none of his own epistles does he mention that profound epiphany.
At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" Yet Saul grew more and more influential and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Paul said that he received the Gospel not from any man, but by "the revelation of Jesus Christ".
In the opening verses of Romans 1, Paul provides a litany of his own apostolic appointment to preach among the Gentiles
Paul's writings give some insight into his thinking regarding his relationship with Judaism. He is strongly critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority
What is remarkable about such a conversion is the changes in the thinking that had to take place. He had to change his concept of who the messiah was, particularly what he had perceived as the absurdity of accepting a crucified messiah. Perhaps more challenging was changing his conception of the ethnic superiority of the Jewish people. There are debates as to whether Paul understood himself as commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles at the moment of his conversion.
Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from an apostle, but directly by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul's narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem.
When a famine occurred in Judea, around 45–46, Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community. According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative center for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians".
The author of the Acts arranges Paul's travels into three separate journeys. The first journey,
They sail to Perga in Pamphylia. John Mark leaves them and returns to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas go on to Pisidian Antioch. On Sabbath they go to the synagogue. The leaders invite them to speak. Paul reviews Israelite history from life in Egypt to King David. He introduces Jesus as a descendant of David brought to Israel by God. He said that his team came to town to bring the message of salvation. He recounts the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. He quotes from the Septuagint to assert that Jesus was the promised Christos who brought them forgiveness for their sins. Both the Jews and the 'God-fearing' Gentiles invited them to talk more next Sabbath. At that time almost the whole city gathered. This upset some influential Jews who spoke against them. Paul used the occasion to announce a change in his mission which from then on would be to the Gentiles.
Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul's evangelizing.
Paul leaves for his second missionary journey from Jerusalem, in late Autumn 49, after the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem where the circumcision question was debated. On their trip around the Mediterranean sea, Paul and his companion Barnabas stopped in Antioch where they had a sharp argument about taking John Mark with them on their trips. The book of Acts said that John Mark had left them in a previous trip and gone home. Unable to resolve the dispute, Paul and Barnabas decided to separate; Barnabas took John Mark with him, while Silas joined Paul.
Paul and Silas initially visited Tarsus (Paul's birthplace), Derbe and Lystra. In Lystra, they met Timothy, a disciple who was spoken well of, and decided to take him with them. The Church kept growing, adding believers, and strengthening in faith daily.
In Philippi, Paul cast a spirit of divination out of a servant girl, whose masters were then unhappy about the loss of income her soothsaying provided. (Acts 16:16–24) They turned the city against the missionaries, and Paul and Silas were put in jail. After a miraculous earthquake, the gates of the prison fell apart and Paul and Silas could have escaped but remained; this event led to the conversion of the jailor.(Acts 16:25–40) They continued traveling, going by Berea and then to Athens where Paul preached to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the Greek intellectuals in the Areopagus.
Around 50–52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. The reference in Acts to Proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date (cf. Gallio inscription). In Corinth, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla who became faithful believers and helped Paul through his other missionary journeys. The couple followed Paul and his companions to Ephesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and most faithful churches at that time. In 52, the missionaries sailed to Caesarea to greet the Church there and then traveled north to Antioch where they stayed for about a year before leaving again on their third missionary journey.
Paul began his third missionary journey by traveling all around the region of Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen, teach and rebuke the believers. Paul then traveled to Ephesus, an important center of early Christianity, and stayed there for almost three years. He performed numerous miracles, healing people and casting out demons, and he apparently organized missionary activity in other regions. Paul left Ephesus after an attack from a local silversmith resulted in a pro-Artemis riot involving most of the city. During his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth admonishing them for their pagan behavior.
Paul went through Macedonia into Achaea and made ready to continue on to Syria, but he changed his plans and traveled back through Macedonia because of Jews who had made a plot against him. At this time (56–57), it is likely that Paul visited Corinth for three months. In Romans 15:19 Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, but he may have meant what would now be called Illyria Graeca, which lay in the northern part of modern Albania, but was at that time a division of the Roman province of Macedonia.
Paul and his companions visited other cities on their way back to Jerusalem such as Philippi, Troas, Miletus, Rhodes, and Tyre. Paul finished his trip with a stop in Caesarea where he and his companions stayed with Philip the Evangelist before finally arriving at Jerusalem.
After Paul's arrival in Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey, he became involved in a serious conflict with some "Asian Jews" (most likely from Roman Asia). The conflict eventually led to Paul's arrest and imprisonment in Caesarea for two years. Finally, Paul and his companions sailed for Rome where Paul was to stand trial for his alleged crimes. Acts states that Paul preached in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial. It does not state what happened after this time, but some sources claim that Paul was freed by Nero and continued to preach in Rome, even though that seems unlikely based on Nero's historical cruelty to Early Christians. It is possible that Paul also traveled to other countries like Spain and Britain. See His final days spent in Rome section below.
Among the writings of the early Christians, Clement of Rome said that Paul was "Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West", and that "he had gone to the extremity of the west". Chrysostom indicated that Paul preached in Spain: "For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not". Cyril of Jerusalem said that Paul, "fully preached the Gospel, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing Signs and wonders". The Muratorian fragment mentions "the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] [5a] (39) when he journeyed to Spain".
Most scholars agree that a vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place some time in the years 48 to 50, described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1. The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised. At this meeting, Paul claims in his letter to the Galatians that Peter, James, and John accepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles.
Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem, as understood by Paul, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter in a dispute sometimes called the "Incident at Antioch", over Peter's reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch because they did not strictly adhere to Jewish customs.
Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts, "I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong", and says he told Peter, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"
The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that Paul won the argument, because "Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw the justice of the rebuke". L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity draws the opposite conclusion: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return".
The primary source account of the Incident at Antioch is Paul's letter to the Galatians.
This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity. Note that the matching of Paul's travels in the Acts and the travels in his Epistles is done for the reader's convenience and is not approved of by all scholars.
Paul arrived in Jerusalem on his fifth and final visit to Jerusalem
Acts recounts that on the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita" (Malta),
Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop. Paul was not a bishop of Rome, nor did he bring Christianity to Rome since there were already Christians in Rome when he arrived there.
Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, writes that Paul was martyred. Christian tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey). By comparison, tradition states that Peter, who was not a Roman citizen, was given the more painful death of being crucified upside-down.
In June 2009, Pope Benedict announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings are consistent with the traditional claim that the tomb is Paul's. The sarcophagus was inscribed in Latin saying, "Paul apostle martyr".
In 2 Corinthians 11:20-32 Paul provided a sampling of some of his adversities as a missionary. In comparing his experiences to those of some of the "most eminent apostles", he wrote that he:
He concluded: "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches".
Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 13 bear Paul's name; 7 of these are widely considered authentic and Paul's own, while the authorship of the other six is disputed. The undisputed letters are considered the most important sources since they contain what everyone agrees to be Paul's own statements about his life and thoughts. Theologian Mark Powell writes that Paul directed these 7 letters to specific occasions at particular churches. As an example, if the Corinthian church had not experienced problems concerning its celebration of the Lord's Supper,
Although approximately half of the Book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works, the Book of Acts does not refer to Paul writing letters. Historians believe that the author of Acts did not have access to any of Paul's letters. One piece of evidence suggesting this is that Acts never directly quotes from the Pauline epistles. Discrepancies between the Pauline epistles and Acts would further support the conclusion that the author of Acts did not have access to those epistles when composing Acts.
In Paul's writings, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus a description of Christian spirituality. His letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John.
Paul...only occasionally had the opportunity to revisit his churches. He tried to keep up his converts' spirit, answer their questions, and resolve their problems by letter and by sending one or more of his assistants (especially Timothy and Titus).
Paul's letters reveal a remarkable human being: dedicated, compassionate, emotional, sometimes harsh and angry, clever and quick-witted, supple in argumentation, and above all possessing a soaring, passionate commitment to God, Jesus Christ, and his own mission. Fortunately, after his death one of his followers collected some of the letters, edited them very slightly, and published them. They constitute one of history's most remarkable personal contributions to religious thought and practice.
Sanders concludes that Paul's writings reveal what he calls the essence of the Christian message:
Seven of the 13 books that are attributed to Paul – Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1st Thessalonians and Philemon – are almost universally accepted as being entirely authentic (dictated by Paul himself). They are considered the best source of information on Paul's life and especially his thought.
Four of the letters (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are widely considered pseudepigraphical, while the authorship of the other two is subject to debate. Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians are thought by some to be "Deutero-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by Paul's followers after his death. Similarly, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be "Trito-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death. According to their theories, these disputed letters may have come from followers writing in Paul's name, often using material from his surviving letters. These scribes also may have had access to letters written by Paul that no longer survive.
Paul's letters were largely written to churches which he had visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. His most explicit references to the life of Jesus are of the Last Supper
He provides few references to Jesus' teachings,
The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as "the image of the invisible God", a Christology found elsewhere only in John's gospel. However, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Internal evidence shows close connection with Philippians.
Ephesians is a letter that is very similar to Colossians, but is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique. It lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Finally, according to R.E. Brown, it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, 'built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets' now past. The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Paul's thinking. It has been said, too, that the moral portion of the Epistle, consisting of the last two chapters, has the closest affinity with similar portions of other Epistles, while the whole admirably fits in with the known details of Paul's life, and throws considerable light upon them.
Three main reasons have been advanced by those who question Paul's authorship of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus—also known as the Pastoral Epistles.
Paul wrote down much of the theology of atonement. Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from the Law (see Supersessionism) and from sin by Jesus' death and resurrection. His death was an expiation as well as a propitiation, and by Christ's blood peace is made between God and man. By baptism, a Christian shares in Jesus' death and in his victory over death, gaining as a free gift a new, justified status of sonship.
Some scholars[who?] see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with 1st-century Judaism (a Pharisee and student of Gamaliel as presented by Acts), others see him as opposed to 1st-century Judaism (notably Marcionism), while the majority see him as somewhere in between these two extremes, opposed to "Ritual Laws" (for example the circumcision controversy in early Christianity) but in full agreement on "Divine Law". These views of Paul are paralleled by the views of Biblical law in Christianity.
Paul's theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul's own intent. He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved. Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.
E.P. Sanders' publications have since been taken up by Professor James Dunn who coined the phrase "The New Perspective on Paul". N.T. Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, notes a difference in emphasis between Galatians and Romans, the latter being much more positive about the continuing covenant between God and his ancient people than the former. Wright also contends that performing Christian works is not insignificant but rather proof of having attained the redemption of Jesus Christ by grace (free gift received by faith).
According to Ehrman, Paul believed that Jesus would return within his lifetime. He states that Paul expected that Christians who had died in the mean time would be resurrected to share in God's kingdom, and he believed that the saved would be transformed, assuming supernatural bodies.
Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive.
The second chapter of the first letter to Timothy—one of the six disputed letters—is used by many churches to deny women a vote in church affairs, reject women from serving as teachers of adult Bible classes, prevent them from serving as missionaries, and generally disenfranchise women from the duties and privileges of church leadership.
9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
The KJV translation of this passage taken literally says that women in the churches are to have no leadership roles vis-à-vis men. Whether it also forbids women from teaching children and women is dubious as even those Catholic churches that prohibit female priests permit female abbesses to teach and exercise authority over other females.
Fuller Seminary theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk finds evidence in Paul's letters of a much more inclusive view of women. He writes that Romans 16 is a tremendously important witness to the important role of women in the early church. Paul praises Phoebe for her work as a deaconess and Junia who is described by Paul in Scripture as being respected among the Apostles.
Other scholars, such as Giancarlo Biguzzi, believe that Paul's restriction on women speaking in 1 Corinthians 14 is genuine to Paul but applies to a particular case where there were local problems of women—who were not allowed in that culture to become educated—asking questions or chatting during worship services. He does not believe it to be a general prohibition on any woman speaking in worship settings since in 1 Corinthians Paul affirms the right (responsibility) of women to prophesy.
Biblical prophecy is more than "fore-telling": two-thirds of its inscripturated form involves "forth-telling", that is, setting the truth, justice, mercy, and righteousness of God against the backdrop of every form of denial of the same. Thus, to speak prophetically was to speak boldly against every form of moral, ethical, political, economic, and religious disenfranchisement observed in a culture that was intent on building its own pyramid of values vis-a-vis God's established system of truth and ethics.
There were women prophets in the highly patriarchal times throughout the Old Testament. The most common term for prophet in the Old Testament is nabi [ayib"n] in the masculine form, and nab""a(h) [h'ayibn] in the Hebrew feminine form, is used six times of women who performed the same task of receiving and proclaiming the message given by God. These women include Miriam, Aaron and Moses' sister,
Kirk's third example of a more inclusive view is Galatians 3:28:
There is neither...
...Jew nor Greek,
...slave nor free,
...male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
— Galatians 3:28 (ital. added)
In pronouncing an end within the church to the divisions which are common in the world around it, he concludes by highlighting the fact that "...there were New Testament women who taught and had authority in the early churches, that this teaching and authority was sanctioned by Paul, and that Paul himself offers a theological paradigm within which overcoming the subjugation of women is an anticipated outcome".
Classicist Evelyn Stagg and theologian Frank Stagg believe that Paul was attempting to "Christianize" the societal household or domestic codes that significantly oppressed women and empowered men as the head of the household. The Staggs present a serious study of what has been termed the New Testament domestic code, also known as the Haustafel. The two main passages that explain these "household duties" are Paul's letters to the Ephesians 5:22-6:5 and to the Colossians 3:18-4:1. An underlying Household Code is also reflected in four additional Pauline letters and 1 Peter: 1 Timothy 2:1ff., 8ff.; 3:1ff., 8ff.; 5:17ff.; 6:1f.; Titus 2:1-10 and 1 Peter 2:13-3:9. Biblical scholars have typically treated the Haustafel in Ephesians as a resource in the debate over the role of women in ministry and in the home.
Margaret MacDonald argues that the Haustafel, particularly as it appears in Ephesians, was aimed at “reducing the tension between community members and outsiders.”
E.P. Sanders has labeled the Apostle's remark in 1 Cor. 14:34-36 about women not making any sound during worship as "Paul's intemperate outburst that women should be silent in the churches". Women, in fact, played a very significant part in Paul's missionary endeavors:
Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author. Paul declared that faith in Christ made the Torah unnecessary for salvation, exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.
Augustine's foundational work on the gospel as a gift (grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination, and on original sin all derives from Paul, especially Romans.
In the Reformation, Martin Luther expressed Paul's doctrine of faith most strongly as justification by faith alone. John Calvin developed Augustine's predestination into double predestination.
In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans (Ger. Der Römerbrief; particularly in the thoroughly re-written second edition of 1922) Karl Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. Some theologians believe this work to be the most important theological treatise since Friedrich Schleiermacher's On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers.
As in the Eastern tradition in general, Western humanists interpret the reference to election in Romans 9 as reflecting divine foreknowledge.
|Saint Paul the Apostle|
|Apostle to the Gentiles|
|Honored in||All Christianity|
|Major shrine||Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls|
|Feast||January 25 (The Conversion of Paul)|
February 10 (Feast of Saint Paul's Shipwreck in Malta)
June 29 (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul)
June 30 (former solo feast day, still celebrated by some religious orders)
November 18 (Feast of the dedication of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul)
|Patronage||Missions; Theologians; Gentile Christians|
Various Christian writers have suggested more details about Paul's life.
"By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance".
Commenting on this passage, Raymond Brown writes that while it "does not explicitly say" that Paul was martyred in Rome, "such a martyrdom is the most reasonable interpretation".
Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the 4th century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. According to one tradition, the San Paolo alle Tre Fontane church marks the spot of Paul's execution. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, commemorates his martyrdom, and now reflects a tradition that Peter and Paul died on the same day (and possibly the same year). The Roman liturgical calendar for the following day now remembers all Christians martyred in these early persecutions; formerly, June 30 was the feast day for St. Paul. Persons or religious orders with special affinity for St. Paul can still celebrate their patron or founder on June 30.
The apocryphal Acts of Paul and the apocryphal Acts of Peter suggest that Paul survived Rome and traveled further west. Some think that Paul could have revisited Greece and Asia Minor after his trip to Spain, and might then have been arrested in Troas, and taken to Rome and executed.
Paul's name has been mentioned in several Islamic hadiths of the Shia sect of Islam, and in some of them he is mentioned as the deceiver of the Christians, and along with people like Cain, Nimrod, Fir'aun and Samiri, and is punished in a stage of Hell called Saqar. Another hadith found in books of the Shia stream of Islam mentions demons that mislead people after prophets, and names Paul as the demon that mislead people after Jesus.  Also, some authentic hadiths narrated in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Jami al-Tirmidhi, among other books, mention that in the after life, autarch and arrogant people are imprisoned in a jail named "Paulus", that is the most painful location of the hell.
British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contended that the Paul as described in the book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also pointed out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the book of Acts.
Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else's words. Moreover, George Shillington writes that the author of Acts most likely created the speeches accordingly and they bear his literary and theological marks. Conversely, Howard Marshall writes that the speeches were not entirely the inventions of the author and while they may not be accurate word-for-word, the author nevertheless records the general idea of them.
F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of the Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the "Apostle to the Gentiles", was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.
A significant second and, possibly, late first century impact on Christianity was the development of Gnosticism, a mystery religion, which among other things, rejected the god of the Jews as the Father of Jesus. Gnostics assert that the former is a lesser, creative being and stands in contrast to the supreme deity as taught by Jesus. It was a religious movement that appealed to many of its time. Mark Powell says it became the bane of many prominent church leaders as they sought to defend, what they believed to be the orthodox faith, from what they labeled the "gnostic heresy". He compares the difficulty in describing it to trying to describe what is meant today by "new age" religion or thinking.:pp.39–41
Some[who?] believe the Apostle Paul attacked Gnosticism in Colossians. Many subsequent Church Fathers and councils attacked the Gnostics. Yet, according to Powell, throughout the second, third, and fourth centuries Gnostic versions of Christianity constituted the primary alternatives to what is usually thought of as "mainstream" Christianity.
Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and an authority on Gnosticism, declined to judge (in her book The Gnostic Paul) whether Paul was actually a Gnostic. Instead, she concentrated on how the Gnostics interpreted Paul's letters and how evidence from gnostic sources may challenge the assumption that Paul wrote his letters to combat "gnostic opponents" and to repudiate their claims to secret wisdom.
Maccoby theorized that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributed the origins of Christian antisemitism to Paul and claims that Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.
Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great. Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus", a "kinsman of Agrippa". Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman".
According to Timo Eskola, early Christian theology and discourse was influenced by the Jewish Merkabah tradition. Similarly, Alan Segal and Daniel Boyarin regard Paul's accounts of his conversion experience and his ascent to the heavens as the earliest first person accounts we have of a Merkabah mystic in Jewish or Christian literature. Conversely, Timothy Churchill has argued that Paul's Damascus road encounter does not fit the pattern of Merkabah.
Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." Christian anarchists, such as Leo Tolstoy and Ammon Hennacy, take a similar view.
F.F. Powell argues that Paul, in his epistles, made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language. For example, in Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates saying that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though "through a glass dimly", closely mirroring Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 13.
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