Paul, the evangelist, was known as Saul before he became a Christian. He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia in Asia Minor. His family was of the line of Benjamin. He grew up in Jerusalem and studied Jewish tradition under the elder Gamaliel, becoming a zealous Pharisee. Paul was at first an active opponent of the Christian movement. He took care of the cloaks of those who threw stones at Stephen (Acts 7:58, 22:20).
On his way to Damascus to persecute Christian believers, he was stopped by a blinding light:
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
- Acts 9:4-6
Paul then converted to Christianity. And his zeal to persecute the early Christians was re-channeled into preaching the Gospel.
Paul made three missionary journeys around Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia. He is the author of thirteen New Testament letters - Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. It is also possible he might have wrote Hebrews. With the exception of Romans, all of Paul's letters were written to churches or individuals whom he knew personally.
The focus of Paul's writings is Jesus, through whom God has effected redemption for all people regardless of ethnic or social background.
Paul was willing to evangelize about Jesus despite great risk to himself. He was threatened, beaten, flogged, stoned and imprisoned on various occasions, but never gave up his preaching of Christ. He might have been the most zealous and hardest working Apostle of all time. It is believed that Paul was beheaded in Rome under Nero in about AD 67.
There is another famous person in the Bible with the name of Saul. Saul was the name of the first king of Israel. He lived about 1,000 years before Paul the evangelist lived.
Click here for an interactive Google map showing Paul's mission journeys.
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