1st century AD
Apostle to the Gentilesby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
"Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Philippians 3:5-6)
Saul (Paul) was born around the same time as Christ. His given name was Saul and later he would be called Paul. Paul was a citizen of the capital city of Cilicia, Tarsus. This country was a Roman land located along the river Cydnus. Tarsus was home to a university and Saul while young received the best education possible. Saul's father was of the tribe of Benjamin, pure and unmixed was his Jewish blood and he was molded it what one would interpret from his youth to adulthood in a staunch and upright character.
Paul was sent to the Jewish school of learning at Jerusalem to study law. He was around 13 when he began his studies under the well-known Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a rabbi and very educated. After his studies he returned to Tarsus but soon after the death of Christ he returned to Jerusalem where Christianity was becoming wide-spread. It seemed that throughout Jerusalem and the outskirt areas Christianity was becoming very popular. Saul was a key player in what was to take place in the life of the Christians and he became very active in the part of persecuting the Christians. Although Paul had never met Jesus he became first a vital part of the persecution of the Christians and then became a very vital player in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ to the nations. Paul was on the Damascus road to carrying a list of suspected Christians when something happened to him. On the Damascus road Saul was converted and this conversion changed the course of his life and the Christian faith. The journey that Saul was on with the list of names of Christians was a long journey and would take Saul around 7 days.
Saul was on the road with his attendants when he was struck blind on the road and fell before the living Lord. A brilliant light shone bright and Saul heard a voice saying, ". Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:4) Saul, now baptized Paul by Ananais was taken from the city for his safety to Arabia where he lived for a short time. Soon though Paul visited Jerusalem staying with Peter and James, Jesus' brother. Paul was approached by Barnabas a friend from Jerusalem to help the church of Antioch. Paul and Barnabas began traveling together preaching the Gospel of Christ.
Paul's preaching aroused the tempers of the Jewish leaders and he was quickly opposed by both the Jews "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." (Acts 23:6) Paul insisted that the only requirement to be a Christian was to be saved through Jesus Christ, and not saved by keeping the law of man. Paul against the warnings of others insisted on going to Jerusalem where he was captured and put in prison. Paul spent a little more than two years in prison without a trial and was finally granted a hearing before the Emperor of Rome. At this hearing Paul was finally released but soon arrested again. It is believed that it was shortly after this arrest that Paul was beheaded. It is thought that the beheading took place most probably around 66 A.D. four years before Jerusalem fell. Most all of Paul's writings were done during his times of imprisonment. His true love for the Christ he never physically met is a shining example for all believers today.