Everything Paul was and did he attributed to the sight of the risen Christ
I’ve decided to start a series on the Apostle Paul. Paul was from Tarsus. In his day, it was a booming city with an educational system that rivaled Rome. No wonder he was so proud of his home town. Paul said, “…I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city…” (Acts 21: 39) Mark Anthony granted the city ‘free city’ status in 42 AD. That means they didn’t have to pay taxes, and they could be self-governed. Paul (then known as Saul) would have been well educated. He was a tentmaker. (Acts 18: 3). Today, all that remains in Tarsus is tent making. He was a free born citizen of Rome. (Acts 22: 28) This means his father was a Roman citizen, but we are never told what his father did to achieve that status. We also know that Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11: 1), and he was named after the first king of the Hebrews who was also a Benjaminite. Saul was a Pharisee, taught by Gamaliel (Acts 22: 3). Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel, one of the greatest of Jewish rabbis, and very well respected.
As a young Pharisee from Tarsus, Saul traveled to Jerusalem where he took on the task of persecuting Jews who accepted the teachings of Jesus. Saul felt he was defending his Jewish faith and the law. After his conversion, he will look back on his days of persecuting the followers of Jesus, and will never be able to forgive himself. He wrote, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (I Corinthians 15: 9)
After the persecution of followers of The Way had been going on for quite some time in Jerusalem, Saul got permission from the high priest to travel to Damascus to seek out other followers of Jesus. It was on this trip that Jesus came to Saul, and he was converted.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, before his conversion, Saul was intolerant, bitter, persecuting, a religious bigot, proud and temperamental. After his conversion he is pictured as patient, kind, enduring and self-sacrificing. A professor from Oxford disputed the Biblical claims of Saul’s conversion and sat out to challenge it. He ended up reaching the opposite conclusion. He wrote, “The conversion and apostleship of Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a Divine revelation. If Paul’s twenty-five years of suffering and service for Christ were a reality, then his conversion is true, for everything he did began with a sudden change. And if his conversion was true, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for everything Paul was and did he attributed to the sight of the risen Christ.” (Part two on the Apostle Paul, next blog.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.