Paul the Apostle

Paul the Apostle

[Bauer lexicon; ] (ca 5 - 67 AD) was, together with Saint Peter and James the Just, ["The Canon Debate," McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, page 577, by James D. G. Dunn: "For "Peter was probably in fact and effect the bridge-man" (pontifex maximus!) "who did more than any other to hold together the diversity of first-century Christianity." James the brother of Jesus and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures in first-century Christianity, were too much identified with their respective "brands" of Christianity, at least in the eyes of Christians at the opposite ends of this particular spectrum. But Peter, as shown particularly by the Antioch episode in Gal 2, had both a care to hold firm to his Jewish heritage, which Paul lacked, and an openness to the demands of developing Christianity, which James lacked. John might have served as such a figure of the center holding together the extremes, but if the writings linked with his name are at all indicative of his own stance he was too much of an individualist to provide such a rallying point. Others could link the developing new religion more firmly to its founding events and to Jesus himself. But none of them, including the rest of the twelve, seem to have played any role of continuing significance for the whole sweep of Christianity—though James the brother of John might have proved an exception had he been spared." [Italics original] ] the most notable of early Christian missionaries. Unlike the Twelve Apostles, there is no indication that Paul ever met Jesus before the latter's crucifixion. ["The Complete Gospels", Robert J. Miller ed., notes on , , , ; ). According to Acts, he apparently attempted to join the disciples and was accepted only after the intercession of Barnabas — they were all understandably afraid of him as one who had been a persecutor of the Church ().

When a famine occurred in Judaea, around 45–46, [ Ogg, George, "Chronology of the New Testament" in Peake's Commentary on the Bible (Nelson) 1963)] Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community. [Barnett [ p. 83] ] According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative centre for Christians, following the dispersion after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch, Acts reports, that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians." [, identifies Barnabas and Saul to be appointed “for the work which I have called them to.” The group then releases the pair from the church to spread the Gospel into the predominantly Gentile mission field. The significance of the Holy Spirit selecting him can be seen in . The two then set about strategically preaching to major cities as they make their way across the provinces of Asia Minor. Traveling on to Lystra where no mention is made of any God fearing gentiles, it can be assumed that there was most likely no synagogue here. [ [Kistemaker, S.J, Acts (New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990)] ] With no formal place to preach in they come across a man who has been crippled from birth. Seeing that the man has faith enough to be healed at Paul's instruction, he gets up and walks. In spite of this the Lystrians are now convinced that the two are the human incarnation of Zeus and Hermes and proceed to sacrifice oxen before them. Paul and Barnabas are so distraught at this that they tear off their clothes and cry out to the people. Pleading with the crowd, the style of preaching becomes more basic as Lystra has no knowledge of God. Paul starts from the basics by stating that God is a living God who made the heavens, earth and seas (, Paul attended a meeting of the apostles and elders held in Jerusalem where they discussed the question of circumcision of Gentile Christians and whether Christians should follow the Mosaic law. Traditionally, this meeting is called the Council of Jerusalem, [for example see the title in corresponds to the "first visit" (to Cephas and James only) narrated in think that Paul is referring here to the meeting in ff). Paul states that he had attended "in response to a revelation and to lay before them the gospel that I preached among the Gentiles" (), echoing an earlier statement: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (), which some consider related to Noahide Law [For example, Augustine's [ Contra Faustum 32] .13, see also Council of Jerusalem] while others instead see a connection to ] (see also Pauline Christianity). Acts does not record this event, saying only that "some time later," Paul decided to leave Antioch (usually considered the beginning of his "Second Missionary Journey," (, Paul and Silas go to Derbe and then Lystra. They are joined by Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek man. According to )

Thereafter Paul travelled to Corinth, where he settled for three years and where he may have written 1 Thessalonians which is estimated to have been written in 50 or 51. At Corinth, () and his companions. Later, as Paul was passing near Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem, Paul chose not to stop, since he was in haste to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. [ [ of Paul's Third Missionary Journey] ] The church here, however, was so highly regarded by Paul that he called the elders to Miletus to meet with him (, Paul spent another two years in Rome under house arrest, where he continued to preach the gospel and teach about Jesus being the Christ.

Of his detention in Rome, Philippians provides some additional support. It was clearly written from prison and references to the "praetorian guard" and "Caesar's household," which may suggest that it was written from Rome.

Whether Paul died in Rome, or was able to go to Spain as he had hoped, as noted in his letter to the Romans (]
Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the fourth 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. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, may reflect the day of his martyrdom, other sources have articulated the tradition that Peter and Paul died on the same day (and possibly the same year). [Lactanius, John Chrysostom, Sulpicius Severus all agree with Eusebius' claim that Peter and Paul died under Nero. Lactantius, "Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died" II; John Chrysostom, "Concerning Lowliness of Mind" 4; Sulpicius Severus, "Chronica" II.28–29] Some hold the view that he 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 (, ] The undisputed Pauline epistles contain the earliest systematic account of Christian doctrine, and provide information on the life of the infant Church. They are arguably the oldest part of the New Testament. Paul also appears in the pages of the Acts of the Apostles, attributed to Luke, so that it is possible to compare the account of his life in the Acts with his own account in his various letters. His letters are largely written to churches which he had founded or visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Macedonia, mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome bringing the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth with him. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. He does not tell his correspondents (or the modern reader) much about the life of Jesus; his most explicit references are to the Last Supper () who was betrayed ().

Justification derives from the law courts. [ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian church (Oxford 1958) article on Justification ] Those who are justified are acquitted of an offence. Since the sinner is guilty, he or she can only be acquitted by someone else, Jesus, standing in for them, which has led many Christians to believe in the teaching known as the doctrine of penal substitution. The sinner is, in Paul's words "justified by faith" (); this is in line with Paul's belief in the pre-existence of Christ (cf. and ). He writes also of our being "in Christ Jesus" and alternately, of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Thus, the objection that one person cannot be punished on behalf of another is met with the idea of the identification of the Christian with Christ through baptism.

These expressions, some of which are to be found in the course of the same exposition, have been interpreted by some scholars, such as the mediaeval teacher Peter Abelard and, much more recently, Hastings Rashdall,Rashdall, Hastings, "The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology" (1919).] as metaphors for the effects of Christ's death upon those who followed him. This is known as the "subjective theory of the atonement." On this view, rather than writing a systematic theology, Paul is trying to express something inexpressible. According to Ian Markham, on the other hand, the letter to the Romans is "muddled."Markham I.S., in "Theological Liberalism: Creative and Critical" ed. J'annine Jobling & Ian Markham]

But others, ancient and modern, Protestant and Catholic, have sought to elaborate from his writing objective theories of the Atonement on which they have, however, disagreed. The doctrine of justification by faith alone was the major source of the division of western Christianity known as the Protestant Reformation which took place in the sixteenth century. Justification by faith was set against salvation by works of the law — in this case, the acquiring of indulgences from the Church and even such good works as the corporal works of mercy. The result of the dispute, which undermined the system of endowed prayers and the doctrine of purgatory, contributed to the creation of Protestant churches in Western Europe, set against the Roman Catholic Church. Solifidianism (from "sola fide", the Latin for "faith alone"), the name often given to these views, is associated with the works of Martin Luther (1483 — 1546) and his followers.

The various doctrines of the atonement have been associated with such theologians as Anselm; [ "Cur Deus Homo'; Dillistone (ibid.) p. 190 ff] John Calvin; [ (ibid.) p. 195ff ] and more recently Gustaf Aulén; [ (ibid.) p. 102 ] none found their way into the Creeds. The substitutionary theory (above), in particular, has fiercely divided Christendom; some pronouncing it essential and others repugnant. [ (see penal substitution] (In law, no one can be punished instead of another and the punishment of the innocent is a prime example of injustice — which tells against too precise an interpretation of the atonement as a legal act.) [ (ibid.) p. 214 ]

Further, because salvation could not be achieved by merit, Paul lays some stress on the notion of its being a free gift, a matter of Grace. Whereas grace is most often associated specifically with the Holy Spirit, in St. Paul's writing, grace is received through Jesus (). On the other hand, the Spirit he describes is the Spirit of Christ (see below). The notion of free gift, not the subject of entitlement, has been associated with belief in predestination and, more controversially, double predestination: that God has chosen whom He wills to have mercy on and those whose will He has hardened ().

Holy Spirit

In considering the manifestations of the Spirit, Paul is varied in his instructions. Thus, when discussing the gift of tongues in his first letter to the Corinthians ().

Relationship with Judaism

Paul, himself a circumcised Jew, appeared to praise Jewish circumcision in , was of a similar nature, although the shaving of his head in Cenchræ, outside of Palestine, was not in conformiity with the rules laid down in the sixth chapter of Numbers, nor with the interpretation of them by the Rabbinical schools of that period. (See Eaton in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, s. v. Nazarites.) If we are to believe the legend of Hegesippus quoted by Eusebius ("Hist. Eccl.", II, xxiii), St. James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem, was a Nazarite, and performed with rigorous exactness all the ascetic practices enjoined by that rule of life."] and earlier to having had Timothy circumcised to placate "certain Jews." [ [ McGarvey] : "Yet we see him in the case before us, circumcising Timothy with his own hand, and this "on account of certain Jews who were in those quarters."] He also wrote that among the Jews he became as a Jew in order to win Jews (), the just (, conclusions that I and others continue to draw are:::# that Paul wrote the bulk of what was in 1 Corinthians but that he did not write 1 Timothy, and::# that around 115 AD, the writer of 1 Timothy or a group associated with him added the and probably stem from the same circle. Some mss. place these verses after 40. ["New Jerome Biblical Commentary," edited by Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J, and Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990, pages 811-812)]

Talmudic scholar Hyam Maccoby contends 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. Additionally, the speeches of Paul, as recorded in Acts, have been argued to show a different turn of mind. 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.

On the other hand, according to Maccoby, there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, but Paul mentions him several times in the Book of Acts. F.C.Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany and founder of the so-called Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the apostle to the Gentiles, was in violent opposition to the older disciples. 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.

Maccoby theorizes 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 attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Paul and claims that Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects. [Maccoby, Hyam. "The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity." HarperCollins, 1987. Ch. 1]

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University at Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great. [See Paul as Herodian, JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110-122.] Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa." [Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4.] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in bibleref2|Romans|16:11 where Paul writes, "greet Herodion, my kinsman." This is a minority view in the academic community.

Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." ["The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being his Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private. Published by the Order of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library, from the Original Manuscripts, Deposited in the Department of State, With Explanatory Nites, Tables of Contents, and a Copious Index to Each Volume, as well as a General Index to the Whole", by the Editor H. A. Washington. Vol. VII. Published by Taylor Maury, Washington, D.C., 1854.] Howard Brenton's play "Paul" also takes a skeptical view of his conversion.

See also

* Achaichus
* Pauline Epistles
* Authorship of the Pauline Epistles
* Christian mystics
* New Covenant
* Persecution of Christians in the New Testament
* Pauline Christianity
* Persecution of religion in ancient Rome



* Aulén, Gustaf, "Christus Victor" (SPCK 1931)
* Brown Raymond E. "The Church the Apostles left behind"(Chapman 1984)
* Brown, Raymond E. "An Introduction to the New Testament." Anchor Bible Series, 1997. ISBN 0–385–24767–2.
* Bruce, F.F., "Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free" (ISBN 0–8028–4778–1)
* Bruce, F.F. 'Is the Paul of Acts the Real Paul?' "Bulletin John Rylands Library" 58 (1976) 283–305
* Conzelmann, Hans, "the Acts of the Apostles — a Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles" (Augsburg Fortress 1987)
* citation
first=W. D.
contribution=The Apostolic Age and the Life of Paul
title=Peake's Commentary on the Bible
publisher=T. Nelson

* cite book
first=W. D.
title=Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology
edition=third edition

* Dunn, James D.G., 1990, "Jesus, Paul and the Law" Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0664250955
* cite book
first=Anthony Tyrrell
title=Studies in Paul's Technique and Theology
location=Grand Rapids, MI

* Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," i.26.2
* Maccoby, Hyam. "The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity." New York: Harper & Row, 1986. ISBN 0–06–015582–5.
* MacDonald, Dennis Ronald, 1983. "The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon" Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
* citation
contribution=Chronology of the New Testament
title=Peake's Commentary on the Bible
publisher=T. Nelson

* Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, "Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills" (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1995) ISBN 0814658458
* Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, "Paul: A Critical Life" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) ISBN 0-19-826749-5
* Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, "Jesus and Paul: Parallel lives" (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2007) ISBN 0814651739
* Rashdall, Hastings, "The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology" (1919)
* John Ruef, "Paul's First letter to Corinth" (Penguin 1971)
* Sanders, E.P., "Paul and Palestinian Judaism" (1977)
* Segal, Alan F., "Paul, the Convert and Apostle" in "Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World" (Harvard University Press 1986).
* Segal, Alan F., "Paul, the Convert", (New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-300-04527-1.

External links

* [ Saint Paul of Tarsus: the true story]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Paul of Tarsus]
* [ Encyclopædia Britannica: Paul]
* [ Paul's mission and letters] From PBS Frontline series on the earliest Christians.
* [ St Paul's tomb unearthed in Rome] from BBC News (2006–12–08)
* [ The Apostle and the Poet: Paul and Aratus] Dr. Riemer Faber
* [ The Apostle Paul's Shipwreck: An Historical Examination of Acts 27 and 28]
* [ Vatican reports discovery of St.Paul's tomb] from (February 18, 2005). cf. Vatican Museum
* [ Vatican Unearths Apparent Tomb of Paul of Tarsus]
* [ 2008 saint paul year]
* [ Documentary film on Apostle Paul]
* []

NAME=Paul the Apostle
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Paul of Tarsus; Paul, Saint; Saul
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Apostle who spread Christianity
PLACE OF BIRTH=Tarsus, Turkey

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