The apostle Paul was the author of 13 of the New Testament books, which founded several churches in early Christianity. He did not follow Jesus during his ministry, but he saw a vision of Jesus later. Paul’s ministry focused on everyone who was not a Jew.
Young Saul, persecutor of Christians
In his youth, Paul was better known as Saul. He was a Jew from the city of Tarsus and was of the Pharisees, like his parents. Saul studied in Jerusalem under Gamaliel , one of the most famous Jewish teachers and theologians. Saulo had a privileged education!
While still young, Saulo saw the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Afterwards, he became an active persecutor of the church. In his campaign against Christians, Saul threw many people into prison. He had the support of the high priest and became famous for being a great persecutor ( Acts 9: 1-2 ).
See here: who was Gamaliel?
One day, while on his way to Damascus to arrest more Christians, a light shone and blinded him and Saul heard a voice asking him why he was chasing Him. That voice was Jesus ( Acts 9: 4-6 ).
Saul went blind and waited in Damascus, as Jesus had commanded. So Jesus sent a man named Ananias to speak to Saul. Ananias laid his hands on Saul and he saw and was baptized ( Acts 9: 17-19 ). From that moment on, Saul was a different man.
Soon Saul began to preach about Jesus. Saul went to Jerusalem, but the Christians there were afraid of him! Only one man stood by him – Barnabas. He convinced them that Saul really had been converted. But some Jews wanted to kill Paul because of his conversion. Therefore, the church sent Saul to his city of Tarsus.
This statement is faithful and worthy of all acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But for this very reason, I achieved mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus would demonstrate all the greatness of his patience, using me as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life.
– 1 Timothy 1: 15-16
Paulo, the writer
After he was converted, Paul became one of the great theologians of Christianity. He wrote 13 letters , which entered the New Testament ( Romans to Philemon ). Some of these letters were sent to specific locations or served as circular letters addressed to different congregations. His teachings explained about salvation in Jesus and what the Christian life should be like. Paul was used by God to encourage and teach everyone who reads the Bible!
See also: who wrote the book of Hebrews?
For a time, Paul stayed in Tarsus. Later, Barnabas decided to take Paul to Antioch, where for a year the two did a great job ( Acts 11: 25-26 ). Then the Holy Spirit chose Paul and Barnabas for a missionary journey …
Paul’s first trip
On their first trip, Paul and Barnabas went to Cyprus, where they preached and Paul rebuked a magician named Elimas, for trying to hinder his mission. As Paul said, Elimas went blind ( Acts 13: 9-11 ). Then they went to Perge and went to another Antioch, in Pisidia.
The Jews expelled Paul and Barnabas from Antioch and they went to Iconium. Then they went to Derbe, where the people thought they were gods and tried to offer sacrifices to them ( Acts 14: 11-13 ). When they preached the worship of God, the people changed their minds and stoned Paul, but he survived. Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe, then returned to Antioch, passing through some cities they had already visited.
Some time later, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss Jewish ceremonies. The church decided that it was not necessary to obey the Law of Moses. Paul and Silas returned to Antioch with this message, which rejoiced the Gentiles. Later, Peter visited Antioch and Paul rebuked him for his hypocrisy of keeping up appearances only when other Jews were around ( Galatians 2: 11-13 ).
Read here: what are missions?
Paul’s second trip
When preparing for the second trip, Paul fell out with Barnabas. So they went their separate ways and Paul traveled with Silas and Timothy.
At Troas, Paul received a vision to go to the Macedonian region ( Acts 16: 9-10 ). There, they were arrested and then miraculously released by an angel, converting the jailer. Then they went to Thessalonica, then they went to Berea, where people analyzed everything that Paul said and many believed.
Later, Paul went to Athens, where he preached against idolatry in the city. From Athens, he went to Corinth, where he spent some time with Priscilla and Aquila. Paul was arrested by the Jews but the governor released Paul. Passing through Caesarea, Paul returned to Antioch.
Paul’s third trip
Paul decided to go to Ephesus, where he stayed for two years, teaching. Many people were converted and abandoned witchcraft. He also traveled the region, preaching and strengthening believers ( Acts 19: 10-12 ). Then he decided to go to Jerusalem.
On the way to Jerusalem, Paul was warned of the danger that awaited him ( Acts 21: 10-11 ). The Christians in Jerusalem were very encouraged by the success of his ministry, but the Jews revolted and tried to kill him. To protect him, Paul was imprisoned by the Romans for two years. When he was tried again, he appealed to Caesar not to fall into the hands of the Jews.
On the way to the trial in Rome, Paul’s ship was shipwrecked. But God assured Paul that neither he nor anyone else on the boat would die ( Acts 27: 24-25 ). They managed to save themselves on the island of Malta, then went on to Rome.
In Rome, Paul was allowed to stay under house arrest, where he preached openly for two years. The Bible does not tell how the trial with Caesar went. According to tradition, Paul ended up being killed by the Romans a few years later, leaving behind a great legacy.
I’m already being poured out as a drink offer. The time for my departure is near. I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith. Now the crown of justice is reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me that day; and not only to me, but also to all who love his coming.
– 2 Timothy 4: 6-8
Paul, an example for all Christians
Paul stands out as a man who was completely transformed by God and who was obedient to his call. He loved the Lord above all things and was completely willing to serve and love the cause of the Gospel. That is why the apostle Paul is a model of faith, service and resilience for all Christians today. His message brought hope to all who hear it.