The Life And Writings Of St. Paul Essay, Research Paper
Paul, formerly a persecutor of Christians, was on the road to Damascus when suddenly God spoke to him. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4) God asked. Paul was then blinded and led by his friends to Damascus, where a disciple named Ananias was waiting for him. Ananias cured Paul’s blindness and baptized him. From then on, Paul was devoted to spreading the Good News all over the world.
Having returned to Damascus, he stayed there for a little while, preaching that Jesus is the Son of God. Because of this the Jews began to hate him and Paul had to flee from the city. Then he went to the city of Jerusalem to meet Paul, the head of the new Church.
After leaving Jerusalem he was called by Barnabus to come to Antioch. One year later there was a large famine and both Barnabus and Paul were sent to the poor Christian community at Jerusalem. Having fulfilled their goals they returned to Antioch. Soon after this, Paul and Barnabus made their first missionary journey, visiting the island of Cyprus. Then they took a trip to Asia Minor and established new churches in Iconium and Lystra.
After the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, Paul made his second missionary journey, first visiting churches that had already been established by him in Asia Minor. At Troas Paul had a vision, which he translated as a call from God to convert in Macedonia. To do this, Paul sailed for Europe, and preached the Gospel in Philippi. He also went to Thessalonica, where he had a lot of success. After that he went to Greece, specifically Athens, where he basically failed but saw how devoted the Athenians were to their gods, and Corinth. Then he returned to Antioch by way of Ephesus and Jerusalem.
On his third missionary journey, Paul visited nearly the same regions as on the second trip, but made Ephesus where he stayed nearly three years, the center of his missionary activity. He also made plans also for another missionary journey. Persecutions by the Jews stopped him from doing much converting. After two years of imprisonment at Caesarea he finally reached Rome, where he was held prisoner for another two years.
At the end of the two years, Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment and then traveled to Spain and then back to Rome. In Rome he was imprisoned again, and finally, in the year 67, he was executed.
Throughout the history of the Church, Paul was the most influential man, other than Jesus Christ himself, in the founding of the Church. He said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” (Romans 1:16) and he lived by those words. Paul spread the Good News to over twenty different places on three separate missionaries. He wrote thirteen letters, according to tradition, which constitutes about half of the Christian Scriptures. This all occurred in only thirty-three years of his life.
Modern scholars believe that Paul himself only wrote seven of the thirteen letters attributed to him. The likely writers of the other six letters were Paul’s students, known to scholars as the Pauline School. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 11:30). I think that from this quote we can infer that Paul didn’t mind what his students did. The reason that scholars believe that Paul didn’t write all of his letters is because some of them are different in both what they are written about and the way they are written. The letters that are indisputably Paul’s are: First Thessalonians, Galatians, First and Second Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon. Ephesians and Colossians, which according to tradition were written in a jail cell, and Second Thessalonians are doubted to be written by Paul. The pastoral letters, named that way because they discuss the qualifications of the ministry, are among the letters being questioned by scholars as well.
Paul’s letters were used by the infant churches as a means of boosting its members’ faith. By the early 100s CE, they were copied and distributed between churches. By 96 CE, the Roman Bishop Clement was clearly familiar with Paul’s letters. This shows how quickly the letters had spread.
Again, Paul was the most influential man in the founding of the Church. He converted from a persecutor to an Apostle and wrote half of the Christian Scriptures in only thirty-three years. He acquired many followers and established many churches along the way. Paul was truly one of the greatest saints that ever lived.