Paul born about 3-4 in Tarsus, died about 64-65 when he was executed by the sword in Rome, was an apostle, missionary, theologian and one of the New Testament writers considered to have played a very large role in the preparation and dissemination of early Christianity. The major sources of Paul’s beliefs and lifestyles are the letters in the New Testament attributed to him and Acts of the Apostles. Paul was a Jew and descended, as well as Israel’s first king, from the patriarch Jacob’s youngest son Benjamin.
Paul’s influence on Christian thinking has been argued to be more significant than any other writer of the New Testament. Christianity is considered by many to be dependent on Paul as much as on Jesus. According to the Christians, Paul taught that faith in Christ made the Torah (Law) became unnecessary to reach salvation. Paul’s feast day is celebrated on June 29, which should have been his death.
It was common to Jewish parents in the Diaspora gave their children both Hebrew and Greek names. His Hebrew name was Saul (Saul in the 1917 Bible translation). Sometime after his conversion to Christianity at the time of his trip to Cyprus, he chooses instead to use the Greek name Paul (actually Paulos). The name Saul and the Greek name Paul used both in the New Testament. The name Paul used more frequently when the New Testament because language is Greek.
The main sources of knowledge about Paul’s life and ministry is partly his own letters and the book of Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. According to Acts of the Apostles, Paul was born in Tarsus in Cilicia. He held Roman citizenship, was jew by birth and belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Pharisee and educated in Jewish law, according to the Acts of the Jewish teacher Gamaliel in Jerusalem.
As a Pharisee, Paul was very zealous and pursued eagerly the early Christian church. He attended as a spectator when Stephen was stoned and Paul himself acquired a license to go to Damascus to monitor the Christians there. On the way there, he met, according to the book of Acts of the Apostles, Jesus in a vision and converted to Christianity. In his letters, Paul provided only sparse information about this.
From Year 45, Paul undertook three great missionary journeys around the Mediterranean and it was during this period when the letters were written. In each city, he preached first in the synagogue, and then he turned to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish. After twelve years, Paul traveled back to Jerusalem, where he was imprisoned by the Roman commandant. As a Roman citizen, he could appeal and after two years, he was sent to Rome. On the way to Rome, he suffered shipwreck in Malta, according to tradition, on the Maltese island of Saint Paul’s Islet. In Malta, he was bitten by a poisonous snake without damage and he is the patron saint of ormbitna.
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