Paul the Apostle (b. 5 AD (Tarsus, Cilicia (South-Central Turkey); d. 67 AD (prob. Rome)

Paul the Apostle

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“Saint Paul” redirects here. For other uses, see Saint Paul (disambiguation).
Bartolomeo Montagna - Saint Paul - Google Art Project.jpg

Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna
Personal details
Birth name Saul of Tarsus
Born c. AD 5[1]
in Tarsus in Cilicia[2]
(south-central Turkey)
Died c. AD 67[3]
probably in Rome[3]

Paul the Apostle (GreekΠαῦλος Paulos; c. 5 – c. 67), original name Saul of Tarsus (GreekΣαῦλος Ταρσεύς Saulos Tarseus),[4] was anapostle (though not one of the Twelve Apostles) who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world.[5] He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age.[6][7] In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.[5]

Fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul, and approximately half of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul’s life and works. Seven of the epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. The Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries [8] but almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries,[9] is now almost universally rejected by scholars.[10] The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul’s surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive.[5][6][11] Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.[12]

Today, his epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship, and pastoral life in the Roman and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East.[13] Among the many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith,[5] his influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as “profound as it is pervasive”.[13] Augustine of Hippo developed Paul’s idea that salvation is based on faith and not “works of the law“.[14] Martin Luther‘s interpretation of Paul’s writings influenced Luther’s doctrine of sola fide.



Available sources[edit]

The Conversion of Saul, a fresco byMichelangelo, 1542–45

The main source for information about Paul’s life is the material found in his epistles and in the book of Acts. However, these epistles contain little information about Paul’s past. The book of Acts also recounts Paul’s career but leaves several parts of Paul’s life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome.[15]

Sources outside the New Testament that mention Paul include:


Although it has been popularly assumed that his name was changed when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, that is not the case.[16] His Jewish name was “Saul” (HebrewשָׁאוּלModern Sha’ul Tiberian Šāʼûl ; “asked for, prayed for, borrowed”), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. The testimony of the book of Acts is that he inherited Roman citizenship from his father. As a Roman citizen, he also bore the Latin name of “Paul”[17]—in biblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos),[18] and in Latin: Paulus.[19][Acts 16:37] [22:25-28] It was quite usual for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.[17]

In the book of Acts, when he had the vision that led to his conversion on the Road to DamascusJesus called him “Saul, Saul”,[20] in Aramaic.[21]Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, “the Lord” referred to him as “Saul, of Tarsus”.[22] When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him “Brother Saul”.[23]

In Acts 13:9, Saul is called Paul for the first time on the island of Cyprus — much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates the names were interchangeable: “…Saul, who also is called Paul…”. He thereafter refers to him as Paul, apparently Paul’s preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul’s missionary style. His method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style to which they could relate.[16]



A native of Tarsus, the capital city in the Roman province of Cilicia,[2] Paul wrote that he was “a Hebrew born of Hebrews”, a Pharisee,[24] and one who advanced in Judaism beyond many of his peers. He also wrote that he was “unmarried”, at least as early as his writing of I Corinthians 7:8, however some hold that he may have been married prior to that, due to certain textual analyses of his writings,[25] and other similar rationale. His initial reaction to the newly formed Christian movement was to zealously persecute its early followers and to violently attempt to destroy the movement. Paul’s dramatic conversion while on the road to Damascus was clearly a life-altering event for him, changing him from being one of the early movement’s most ardent persecutors to being one of its most fervent supporters.[5]

After his conversion, Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.[26] His leadership, influence, and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped Jesus, adhered to the “Judaic moral code”, but relaxed or abandoned the ritual and dietary teachings of the Law of Moses. He taught that these laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ, though the exact relationship between Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still disputed. Paul taught of the life and works of Jesus Christ and his teaching of a New Covenant established through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Bible does not record Paul’s death.

Early life[edit]

Geography relevant to Paul’s life, stretching from Jerusalem to Rome

The two main sources of information by which we have access to the earliest segments of Paul’s career are the Bible’s Book of Acts and the autobiographical elements of Paul’s letters to the early church communities. Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD.[27] The Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, more affirmatively describing his father as such, but some scholars have taken issue with the evidence presented by the text.[28][Acts 16:37][Acts 22:25-29]

His was a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus—one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast.[29] It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university, one in which students could receive a superior education. During the time of Alexander the Great, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor.[30]

In his letters, Paul reflected heavily from his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the revealed word of God.[31]

He would also rely heavily on the training he received concerning the law and the prophets, utilizing this knowledge to convince his Jewish countrymen of the unity of past Old Testament prophecy and covenants with the fulfilling of these in Jesus Christ.[32] His wide spectrum of experiences and education gave the “Apostle to the Gentiles”[Rom. 1:5] [11:13] [Gal. 2:8] the tools which he later would use to effectively spread the Gospel and to establish the church solidly in many[33] parts of the Roman Empire.[32]

Paul referred to himself as being “of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee“.[Phil. 3:5]

The Bible reveals very little about Paul’s family. Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16. Acts also quotes Paul indirectly referring to his father by saying he, Paul, was “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee”.[Acts 23:6] Paul refers to his mother in Romans 16:13 as among those at Rome. In Romans 16:7 he states that his relatives, Andronicus and Junia, were Christians before he was and were prominent among the apostles.

The family had a history of religious piety.[2 Timothy 1:3][34] Apparently the family lineage had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations.[Philippians 3:5-6]Young Saul learned how to make the mohair with which tents were made.[Acts 18:1-3] Later as a Christian missionary, that trade became a means of support for him, one that he could practice anywhere. It also was to become an initial connection with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he would partner in tentmaking[Acts 18:3] and later become very important teammates as fellow missionaries.[Rom. 16:4]

While he was still fairly young, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel,[Acts 22:3] one of the most noted rabbis in history. The Hillel school was noted for giving their students a balanced education, likely giving Paul broad exposure to classical literature, philosophy, and ethics.[32] Some of his family may have resided in Jerusalem since later the son of one of his sisters saved his life there.[Acts 23:16] Nothing more is known of his background until he takes an active part in the martyrdom of Stephen.[Acts 7:58-60;22:20] Paul confesses that “beyond measure” he persecuted the church of God prior to his conversion.[Gal. 1:13-14] [Phil. 3:6] [Acts 8:1-3] Although Acts claims Paul could speak Hebrew, modern scholarship indicates that Koine Greek was his first language, and in his own letters Paul makes no claims to knowing Hebrew.[35]


Main article: Conversion of Paul

Paul’s conversion can be dated to 31–36[36][37][38] by his reference to it in one of his letters.[15] There are three accounts of his conversion (Greek:μετάνοια metanoia) in the Acts of the ApostlesActs 9:1-3122:1-22, and 26:9-24.

It took place on the road to Damascus where he reported having experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus. The account in Acts 9:4 says that “he [Saul] fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul replied in 9:5, “Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (The account in Acts 22:9 says his companions saw the light, but did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to Saul.)[39]

From that experience he was blinded for three days and had to be led into Damascus by the hand. His sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus. This life-changing experience and revelation convinced Paul that God indeed had chosen Jesus to be the promised messiah. Luke, the author of Acts of the Apostles, likely learned of his conversion from Paul, from the church in Jerusalem, or from the church in Antioch.[39]

There remain skeptics who dispute that Paul ever received such a revelation. Religious scholar Reza Aslan states, “The story of Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus is a bit of propagandistic legend created by the evangelist Luke; Paul himself never recounts the story of being blinded by the sight of Jesus.”[40] In Galatians 1:16 he writes that God “was pleased to reveal his son to me.” In 1 Corinthians 15:8, in listing the order in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Paul says “last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”(NASB) These passages from his epistles, coupled with the two separate accounts he is reported to have given to both Jewish and Roman authorities in Acts, have been interpreted to refer to his road-to-Damascus conversion experience which he elsewhere had described as the resurrected Jesus appearing to him.


The Conversion of Saint Paul, a 1600 painting by Italian artistCaravaggio (1571–1610)

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more influential and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

— Acts 9:20-22

Paul said that he received the Gospel not from any man, but by “the revelation of Jesus Christ”.[Gal 1:11-16] Paul declared his independence from the Jerusalem community[3]:pp.316–320 (possibly in the Cenacle), but agreed with it on the nature and content of the gospel.[Gal 1:22-24]

In the opening verses of Romans 1, Paul provides a litany of his own apostolic appointment to preach among the Gentiles[Gal. 1:16] and his post-conversion convictions about the risen Christ.[6]

  • Paul described himself as
    • a servant of Jesus Christ;
    • having experienced an unforeseen, sudden, startling change, due to all-powerful grace—not the fruit of his reasoning or thoughts;[Gal. 1:12-15][1 Cor. 15:10]
    • having seen Christ as did the other apostles when Christ appeared to him[1 Cor. 15:8] as he appeared to Peter, to James, to the Twelve, after his Resurrection;[1 Cor. 9:1]
    • called to be an apostle;
    • set apart for the gospel of God.
  • Paul described Jesus as
    • having been promised by God beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures;
    • being the true messiah and the Son of God;
    • having biological lineage from David (“according to the flesh”);[41]
    • having been declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead;
    • being Jesus Christ our Lord;
    • the One through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, “including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ”.
  • Jesus
    • lives in heaven;
    • is God’s Son;
    • would soon return.[6]
  • The Cross
  • The Law
    • he had believed the law (Jewish Torah) kept people in a right relationship with God;[Gal. 2:16] [Gal. 3:12]
    • he now believed the law only reveals the extent of people’s enslavement to the power of sin—a power that must be broken by Christ.[Rom. 3:20b] [7:7-12]
  • Gentiles
    • he had believed Gentiles were outside the covenant that God made with Israel;
    • he now believed Gentiles and Jews were united as the people of God in Christ Jesus.[Gal. 3:28]
  • Circumcision
    • had believed circumcision was the rite through which males became part of Israel, an exclusive community of God’s chosen people;[Phil. 3:3-5]
    • he now believed that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but that the new creation is what counts in the sight of God,[Gal. 6:15] and that this new creation is a work of Christ in the life of believers, making them part of the church, an inclusive community of Jews and Gentiles reconciled with God through faith.[Rom. 6:4]
  • Persecution
    • had believed his violent persecution of the church to be an indication of his zeal for his religion;[Phil. 3:6]
    • he now believed Jewish hostility toward the church was sinful opposition that would incur God’s wrath;[1 Thess. 2:14-16] [5]:p.236 he believed he was halted by Christ when his fury was at its height;[Acts 9:1-2] It was “through zeal” that he persecuted the Church,[Philippians 3:6] and he obtained mercy because he had “acted ignorantly in unbelief”.[1 Tim. 1:13][34]
  • The Last Days
    • had believed God’s messiah would put an end to the old age of evil and initiate a new age of righteousness;
    • he now believed this would happen in stages that had begun with the resurrection of Jesus, but the old age would continue until Jesus returns.[Rom. 16:25] [1 Cor. 10:11] [Gal. 1:4] [5]:p.236

Paul’s writings give some insight into his thinking regarding his relationship with Judaism. He is strongly critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority[Rom. 2:16-26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9-11]

What is remarkable about such a conversion is the changes in the thinking that had to take place. He had to change his concept of who the messiah was, particularly what he had perceived as the absurdity of accepting a crucified messiah.[1 Cor. 1:21-25] Perhaps more challenging was changing his conception of the ethnic superiority of the Jewish people. There are debates as to whether Paul understood himself as commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles at the moment of his conversion.[42]

Early ministry[edit]

The house believed to be of Ananias of Damascus in Damascus

Bab Kisan, believed to be where Paul escaped from persecution in Damascus

After his conversion, Paul went to Damascus, where Acts states he was healed of his blindness and baptized by Ananias of Damascus.[43] Paul says that it was in Damascus that he barely escaped death.[2 Cor. 11:32] Paul also says that he then went first to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[Gal. 1:17][44] Paul’s trip to Arabia is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and some suppose he actually traveled to Mt. Sinai for meditations in the desert.[45][46][47] He describes in Galatians how three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem. There he met James and stayed with Simon Peter for 15 days.[Gal. 1:13-24] Afterwards, Paul proclaims that Mount Sinai is located in Arabia.[Gal. 4:24-25]

Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from an apostle, but directly by the revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:11-12] Paul said he was almost totally independent from the Jerusalem community.[3]:pp.316–320 He appeared eager to bring material support to Jerusalem from the various budding Gentile churches that he planted. In his writings, Paul used the persecutions he endured, in terms of physical beatings and verbal assaults, to avow proximity and union with Jesus and as a validation of his teaching.

Paul’s narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem.[Gal. 2:1-10] It is not completely known what happened during these ‘unknown years’, but both Acts and Galatians provide some partial details.[48] At the end of this time, Barnabas went to find Paul and brought him back to Antioch[Acts 11:26]

When a famine occurred in Judea, around 45–46,[49] Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community.[50] According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative center for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians”.[Acts 11:26]

First missionary journey[edit]

The author of the Acts arranges Paul’s travels into three separate journeys. The first journey,[Acts 13-14] led initially by Barnabas,[51] takes Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and back to Antioch. In Cyprus, Paul rebukes and blinds Elymas the magician[Acts 13:8-12] who was criticizing their teachings. From this point on, Paul is described as the leader of the group.[52]

They sail to Perga in Pamphylia. John Mark leaves them and returns to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas go on to Pisidian Antioch. On Sabbath they go to the synagogue. The leaders invite them to speak. Paul reviews Israelite history from life in Egypt to King David. He introduces Jesus as a descendant of David brought to Israel by God. He said that his team came to town to bring the message of salvation. He recounts the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He quotes from the Septuagint[53] to assert that Jesus was the promised Christos who brought them forgiveness for their sins. Both the Jews and the ‘God-fearing‘ Gentiles invited them to talk more next Sabbath. At that time almost the whole city gathered. This upset some influential Jews who spoke against them. Paul used the occasion to announce a change in his mission which from then on would be to the Gentiles.[Acts 13:13-48]

Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul’s evangelizing.[3]

Council of Jerusalem[edit]

Main article: Council of Jerusalem

Most scholars agree that a vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place some time in the years 48 to 50,[15] described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1.[15] The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised.[54] At this meeting, Paul states in his letter to the Galatians that Peter, James, and John accepted Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.

Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, in Paul’s letters, and some appear in both.[55] For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief[Acts 11:27-30] apparently corresponds to the “first visit” (to Cephas and James only).[Gal. 1:18-20][55] F. F. Bruce suggested that the “fourteen years” could be from Paul’s conversion rather than from his first visit to Jerusalem.[56]

Incident at Antioch[edit]

Main article: Incident at Antioch

Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem, as understood by Paul, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter in a dispute sometimes called the “Incident at Antioch”, over Peter’s reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch because they did not strictly adhere to Jewish customs.[57]

Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts, “I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong”, and says he told Peter, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”[Gal. 2:11-14] Paul also mentions that even Barnabas, his traveling companion and fellow apostle until that time, sided with Peter.[58]

The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia[59] suggests that Paul won the argument, because “Paul’s account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw the justice of the rebuke”. However Paul himself never mentions a victory and L. Michael White‘s From Jesus to Christianity draws the opposite conclusion: “The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return”.[60]

The primary source account of the Incident at Antioch is Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Second missionary journey[edit]

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. This sermon addressed early issues inChristology.[61][62]

Paul left for his second missionary journey from Jerusalem, in late Autumn 49,[63] after the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem where the circumcision question was debated. On their trip around the Mediterranean sea, Paul and his companion Barnabas stopped in Antioch where they had a sharp argument about taking John Mark with them on their trips. The book of Acts said that John Mark had left them in a previous trip and gone home. Unable to resolve the dispute, Paul and Barnabas decided to separate; Barnabas took John Mark with him, while Silas joined Paul.

Paul and Silas initially visited Tarsus (Paul’s birthplace), Derbe and Lystra. In Lystra, they met Timothy, a disciple who was spoken well of, and decided to take him with them. The Church kept growing, adding believers, and strengthening in faith daily.[Acts 16:5]

In Philippi, Paul cast a spirit of divination out of a servant girl, whose masters were then unhappy about the loss of income her soothsaying provided. (Acts 16:16–24) They turned the city against the missionaries, and Paul and Silas were put in jail. After a miraculous earthquake, the gates of the prison fell apart and Paul and Silas could have escaped but remained; this event led to the conversion of the jailor.(Acts 16:25–40) They continued traveling, going by Berea and then to Athens where Paul preached to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the Greek intellectuals in the Areopagus.

Around 50–52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth.[15] The reference in Acts to Proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date (cf. Gallio inscription).[15]In Corinth, Paul met Priscilla and Aquila who became faithful believers and helped Paul through his other missionary journeys. The couple followed Paul and his companions to Ephesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and most faithful churches at that time. In 52, the missionaries sailed to Caesarea to greet the Church there and then traveled north to Antioch where they stayed for about a year before leaving again on their third missionary journey.[64]

Third missionary journey[edit]

Paul began his third missionary journey by traveling all around the region of Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen, teach and rebuke the believers. Paul then traveled to Ephesus, an importantcenter of early Christianity, and stayed there for almost three years. He performed numerous miracles, healing people and casting out demons, and he apparently organized missionary activity in other regions.[65] Paul left Ephesus after an attack from a local silversmith resulted in a pro-Artemis riot involving most of the city.[15] During his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth admonishing them for their pagan behavior.[39]

Paul went through Macedonia into Achaea and made ready to continue on to Syria, but he changed his plans and traveled back through Macedonia because of Jews who had made a plot against him. At this time (56–57), it is likely that Paul visited Corinth for three months.[15] In Romans 15:19 Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, but he may have meant what would now be called Illyria Graeca,[66] which lay in the northern part of modern Albania, but was at that time a division of the Roman province of Macedonia.[67]

Paul and his companions visited other cities on their way back to Jerusalem such as Philippi, Troas, Miletus, Rhodes, and Tyre. Paul finished his trip with a stop in Caesarea where he and his companions stayed with Philip the Evangelist before finally arriving at Jerusalem.[68] [Acts 21:8-10] [21:15]

Journey to Rome and beyond[edit]

After Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey, he became involved in a serious conflict with some “Asian Jews” (most likely from Roman Asia). The conflict eventually led to Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in Caesarea for two years. Finally, Paul and his companions sailed for Rome where Paul was to stand trial for his alleged crimes. Acts states that Paul preached in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial. It does not state what happened after this time, but some sources state that Paul was freed by Nero and continued to preach in Rome, even though that seems unlikely based on Nero’s historical cruelty to Early Christians. It is possible that Paul also traveled to other countries like Spain and Britain.[69] See His final days spent in Rome section below.

Among the writings of the early Christians, Clement of Rome said that Paul was “Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West”, and that “he had gone to the extremity of the west”.[70][71]Chrysostom indicated that Paul preached in Spain: “For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not”.[72] Cyril of Jerusalem said that Paul, “fully preached the Gospel, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing Signs and wonders”.[73] The Muratorian fragment mentions “the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] [5a] (39) when he journeyed to Spain”.[74]

Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles[edit]

This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity.[55] Note that the matching of Paul’s travels in the Acts and the travels in his Epistles is done for the reader’s convenience and is not approved of by all scholars.

Acts Epistles
  • First visit to Jerusalem[Acts 9:26-27]
    • “after many days” of Damascus conversion
    • preaches openly in Jerusalem with Barnabas
    • meets apostles
  • There is debate over whether Paul’s visit in Galatians 2 refers to the visit for famine relief[Acts 11:30, 12:25] or the Jerusalem Council.[Acts 15] If it refers to the former, then this was the trip made “after an interval of fourteen years”.[Gal. 2:1]
  • Third visit to Jerusalem[Acts 15:1-19]
    • with Barnabas
    • “Council of Jerusalem”
    • followed by confrontation with Barnabas in Antioch[Acts 15:36-40]
  • Another[75] visit to Jerusalem[Gal. 2:1-10]
    • 14 years later (after Damascus conversion?)
    • with Barnabas and Titus
    • possibly the “Council of Jerusalem”
    • Paul agrees to “remember the poor”
    • followed by confrontation with Peter and Barnabas in Antioch[Gal. 2:11-14]
  • Apparently unmentioned.
  • Fifth visit to Jerusalem[Acts 21:17ff]
    • after an absence of several years[Acts 24:17]
    • to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings
    • Paul arrested
  • Another[76] visit to Jerusalem[77]
    • to deliver the collection for the poor

Saint Paul arrested, early 1900s Bible illustration

Last visit to Jerusalem and arrest[edit]

Paul arrived in Jerusalem on his fifth and final visit to Jerusalem [Acts 21:17ff] in 57 with a collection of money for the community there.[15] Acts reports that he was warmly received. But Acts goes on to recount how Paul was warned by James and the elders that he was gaining a reputation for beingagainst the Law, “teaching all the Jews living among the gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs”.[Acts 21:21] Paul underwent a purification ritual in order to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law. Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by voluntarily being taken into Roman custody. When a plot to kill Paul on his way to an appearance before the Jews was discovered, he was transported by night to Caesarea. He was held as a prisoner there for two years, until a new governor reopened his case in 59. When the governor suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to “appeal unto Caesar”.[15]

Selmunett off the coast of Malta, known as “St Paul’s Island” and reputed to be the scene of his shipwreck

His final days spent in Rome[edit]

Acts recounts that on the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, Paul was shipwrecked on “Melita” (Malta),[Acts 28:1] where he was met by Publius[Acts 28:7] and the islanders who showed him “unusual kindness”.[Acts 28:2] He arrived in Rome c. 60 and spent another two years under house arrest (beyond his two years in prison in Caesarea).[15][Acts 28:16]

Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.[78] Paul was not a bishop of Rome, nor did he bring Christianity to Rome since there were already Christians in Rome when he arrived there.[Acts 28:14-15] Also, Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome before he had visited Rome.[Romans 1:1,7,11-13;15:23-29] However, Paul would have played an important role in the life of the early church at Rome.[79]

The Beheading of Saint Paul byEnrique Simonet, 1887

Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, writes that Paul was martyred.[80] Christian tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey).[81] By comparison, tradition states that Peter, who was not a Roman citizen, was given the more painful death of being crucified upside-down.[82]

In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings are consistent with the tradition that the tomb is Paul’s.[83] The sarcophagus was inscribed in Latin saying, “Paul apostle martyr”.[84]


In 2 Corinthians 11:20-32 Paul provided a sampling of some of his adversities as a missionary. In comparing his experiences to those of some of the “most eminent apostles”, he wrote that he:

  • worked much harder.
  • was in prison more frequently.
  • was flogged more severely.
  • had been exposed to death again and again (five times he received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one, three times was beaten with rods, once he was pelted with stones).
  • was shipwrecked three times, spending a night and a day in the open sea.
  • was constantly on the move.
  • had been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from his fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers
  • had labored and toiled and had often gone without sleep
  • had known hunger and thirst and had often gone without food
  • had been cold and naked
  • to escape arrest by the governor of Damascus, he was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and got away

He concluded: “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches”.[2 Cor. 11:28]


Main article: Pauline Epistles

Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 14 have been attributed to Paul; 7 of these are widely considered authentic and Paul’s own, while the authorship of the other seven is disputed.[85][86][87] The undisputed letters are considered the most important sources since they contain what everyone agrees to be Paul’s own statements about his life and thoughts. Theologian Mark Powell writes that Paul directed these 7 letters to specific occasions at particular churches. As an example, if the Corinthian church had not experienced problems concerning its celebration of the Lord’s Supper,[1 Cor. 11:17-34] today we would not know that Paul even believed in that observance or had any opinions about it one way or the other. He asks if we might be ignorant of other matters simply because no crises arose that promoted Paul to comment on them.[5]:p.234

Although approximately half of the Book of Acts deals with Paul’s life and works, the Book of Acts does not refer to Paul writing letters. Historians believe that the author of Acts did not have access to any of Paul’s letters. One piece of evidence suggesting this is that Acts never directly quotes from the Pauline epistles. Discrepancies between the Pauline epistles and Acts would further support the conclusion that the author of Acts did not have access to those epistles when composing Acts.[88][89]

In Paul’s writings, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus a description of Christian spirituality. His letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John.[6]

Paul…only occasionally had the opportunity to revisit his churches. He tried to keep up his converts’ spirit, answer their questions, and resolve their problems by letter and by sending one or more of his assistants (especially Timothy and Titus).

Paul’s letters reveal a remarkable human being: dedicated, compassionate, emotional, sometimes harsh and angry, clever and quick-witted, supple in argumentation, and above all possessing a soaring, passionate commitment to God, Jesus Christ, and his own mission. Fortunately, after his death one of his followers collected some of the letters, edited them very slightly, and published them. They constitute one of history’s most remarkable personal contributions to religious thought and practice.[6]

Basic message[edit]

E.P. Sanders finds three major emphases in Paul’s writings:[6]

  • His strongest emphasis was on the death, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus Christ. He preached that one’s faith in Jesus assures that person a share in Jesus’ life (salvation). He saw Jesus’ death as being for the believers’ benefit, not a defeat. Jesus died so that believers’ sins would be forgiven.
  • The resurrection of Jesus was of primary importance to Paul as may be seen in his first letter to the Thessalonians[1 Thes. 1:9-10] which is the earliest surviving account of Paul’s conversion.
  • The resurrection brought the promise of salvation to believers. Paul taught that those who died in Christ would be raised when Christ returned, while those still alive would be “caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air”.[1 Thes. 4:14-18]

Sanders concludes that Paul’s writings reveal what he calls the essence of the Christian message:

  1. God sent his Son.
  2. The Son was crucified for the sins of humanity.
  3. After being dead three days, the Son was raised from the dead defeating death.
  4. The Son would soon return.
  5. Those in Christ will live with him forever.
  6. Followers are urged to live by a set apart (sanctified) standard—”And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.[1 Thes. 5:23]


Paul Writing His Epistles, painting probably by Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century

Seven of the 13 letters that bear Paul’s name – Romans1st Corinthians2nd CorinthiansGalatiansPhilippians1st Thessalonians andPhilemon – are almost universally accepted as being entirely authentic (dictated by Paul himself).[6][85][86][87] They are considered the best source of information on Paul’s life and especially his thought.[6]

Four of the letters (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are widely considered pseudepigraphical, while the authorship of the other two is subject to debate.[85] Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians are thought by some to be “Deutero-Pauline” meaning they may have been written by Paul’s followers after his death. Similarly, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be “Trito-Pauline” meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death. According to their theories, these disputed letters may have come from followers writing in Paul’s name, often using material from his surviving letters. These scribes also may have had access to letters written by Paul that no longer survive.[6]

Paul’s letters were largely written to churches which he had visited; he was a great traveler, visiting CyprusAsia Minor (modern Turkey), mainlandGreeceCrete, and Rome. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. His most explicit references to the life of Jesus are of the Last Supper[1 Cor. 11:17-34] and the crucifixion and resurrection.[1 Cor. 15]

He provides few references to Jesus’ teachings,[1 Cor. 7:10-11] [9:14] leading some theologians to question how consistent was his account of the faith with that of the four canonical Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Epistle of James.

The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as “the image of the invisible God”, a Christology found elsewhere only in John’s gospel.[90] However, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Internal evidence shows close connection with Philippians.[91]

Ephesians is a letter that is very similar to Colossians, but is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique. It lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Finally, according to R.E. Brown, it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ now past.[92] The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Paul’s thinking. It has been said, too, that the moral portion of the Epistle, consisting of the last two chapters, has the closest affinity with similar portions of other Epistles, while the whole admirably fits in with the known details of Paul’s life, and throws considerable light upon them.[91]

Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle Paul, 18th century (Iconostasis ofTransfiguration Church, KizhiMonastery, KareliaRussia)

Saint Paul, Byzantine ivory relief, 6th – early 7th century (Musée de Cluny)

Three main reasons have been advanced by those who question Paul’s authorship of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus—also known as the Pastoral Epistles.

  • First, they have found a difference in these letters’ vocabulary, style, and theology from Paul’s acknowledged writings. Defenders of the authenticity say that they were probably written in the name and with the authority of the Apostle by one of his companions, to whom he distinctly explained what had to be written, or to whom he gave a written summary of the points to be developed, and that when the letters were finished, Paul read them through, approved them, and signed them.[91]
  • Second, some believe there is a difficulty in fitting them into Paul’s biography as we have it.[93] They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul’s release and travel thereafter.[91]
  • Third, 2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned by some on stylistic grounds, with some noting, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians—yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus. This, again, is explainable by the possibility that Paul requested one of his companions to write the letter for him under his dictation.[91]


Paul wrote down much of the theology of atonement.[94] Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from the Law (see Supersessionism) and from sin by Jesus’ death and resurrection.[94] His death was an expiation as well as a propitiation, and by Christ’s blood peace is made between God and man.[94] By baptism, a Christian shares in Jesus’ death and in his victory over death, gaining as a free gift a new, justified status of sonship.[94]

Relationship with Judaism[edit]

Some scholars see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with 1st-century Judaism (a Pharisee and student of Gamaliel as presented by Acts),[95] others see him as opposed to 1st-century Judaism (notably Marcionism), while the majority see him as somewhere in between these two extremes, opposed to “Ritual Laws” (for example the circumcision controversy in early Christianity) but in full agreement on “Divine Law“. These views of Paul are paralleled by the views of Biblical law in Christianity.

Paul’s theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul’s own intent.[15] He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent.[15] He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved.[15] Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.

E.P. Sanders‘ publications[96] have since been taken up by Professor James Dunn who coined the phrase “The New Perspective on Paul“.[97] N.T. Wright,[98]the Anglican Bishop of Durham, notes a difference in emphasis between Galatians and Romans, the latter being much more positive about the continuing covenant between God and his ancient people than the former. Wright also contends that performing Christian works is not insignificant but rather proof of having attained the redemption of Jesus Christ by grace (free gift received by faith).[Rom. 2:13ff] He concludes that Paul distinguishes between performing Christian works which are signs of ethnic identity and others which are a sign of obedience to Christ.[98]

World to come[edit]

According to Ehrman, Paul believed that Jesus would return within his lifetime.[99] He states that Paul expected that Christians who had died in the mean time would be resurrected to share in God’s kingdom, and he believed that the saved would be transformed, assuming supernatural bodies.[99]

Paul’s teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. He assures them that the dead will rise firstand be followed by those left alive.[1 Thes. 4:16ff] This suggests an imminence of the end but he is unspecific about times and seasons, and encourages his hearers to expect a delay.[100] The form of the end will be a battle between Jesus and the man of lawlessness[2 Thess. 2:3][34] whose conclusion is the triumph of Christ.

Role of women[edit]

The second chapter of the first letter to Timothy—one of the six disputed letters—is used by many churches to deny women a vote in church affairs, reject women from serving as teachers of adult Bible classes, prevent them from serving as missionaries, and generally disenfranchise women from the duties and privileges of church leadership.[101]

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

The KJV translation of this passage taken literally says that women in the churches are to have no leadership roles vis-à-vis men.[102] Whether it also forbids women from teaching children and women is dubious as even those Catholic churches that prohibit female priests permit female abbesses to teach and exercise authority over other females.

Fuller Seminary theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk[103] finds evidence in Paul’s letters of a much more inclusive view of women. He writes that Romans 16 is a tremendously important witness to the important role of women in the early church. Paul praises Phoebe for her work as a deaconess and Junia who is described by Paul in Scripture as being respected among the Apostles.[Romans 16:7] It is Kirk’s observation that recent studies have led many scholars to conclude that the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 ordering women to “be silent” during worship was a later addition, apparently by a different author, and not part of Paul’s original letter to the Corinthians.

Other scholars, such as Giancarlo Biguzzi, believe that Paul’s restriction on women speaking in 1 Corinthians 14 is genuine to Paul but applies to a particular case where there were local problems of women—who were not allowed in that culture to become educated—asking questions or chatting during worship services. He does not believe it to be a general prohibition on any woman speaking in worship settings since in 1 Corinthians Paul affirms the right (responsibility) of women to prophesy.[1 Cor. 11] [104]

Biblical prophecy is more than “fore-telling”: two-thirds of its inscripturated form involves “forth-telling”, that is, setting the truth, justice, mercy, and righteousness of God against the backdrop of every form of denial of the same. Thus, to speak prophetically was to speak boldly against every form of moral, ethical, political, economic, and religious disenfranchisement observed in a culture that was intent on building its own pyramid of values vis-a-vis God’s established system of truth and ethics.[105]

There were women prophets in the highly patriarchal times throughout the Old Testament.[105] The most common term for prophet in the Old Testament is nabi [ayib”n] in the masculine form, and nab””a(h) [h’ayibn] in the Hebrew feminine form, is used six times of women who performed the same task of receiving and proclaiming the message given by God. These women include Miriam, Aaron and Moses’ sister,[Exod 15:20] Deborah,[Judges 4:4] the prophet Isaiah’s wife,[Isa. 8:3] and Huldah, the one who interpreted the Book of the Law discovered in the temple during the days of Josiah.[2 Kings 22:14] [2 Chron. 34:22] There were false prophetesses just as there were false prophets. The prophetess Noadiah was among those who tried to intimidate Nehemiah.[Neh 6:14] Apparently they held equal rank in prophesying right along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elisha, Aaron, and Samuel.[105]

Kirk’s third example of a more inclusive view is Galatians 3:28:

There is neither…
…Jew nor Greek,
…slave nor free,
…male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

— Galatians 3:28 (ital. added)

In pronouncing an end within the church to the divisions which are common in the world around it, he concludes by highlighting the fact that “…there were New Testament women who taught and had authority in the early churches, that this teaching and authority was sanctioned by Paul, and that Paul himself offers a theological paradigm within which overcoming the subjugation of women is an anticipated outcome”.[106]

Classicist Evelyn Stagg and theologian Frank Stagg believe that Paul was attempting to “Christianize” the societal household or domestic codes that significantly oppressed women and empowered men as the head of the household. The Staggs present a serious study of what has been termed the New Testament domestic code, also known as the Haustafel.[107] The two main passages that explain these “household duties” are Paul’s letters to the Ephesians 5:22-6:5 and to the Colossians 3:18-4:1. An underlying Household Code is also reflected in four additional Pauline letters and 1 Peter: 1 Timothy 2:1ff., 8ff.; 3:1ff., 8ff.; 5:17ff.; 6:1f.; Titus 2:1-10 and 1 Peter 2:13-3:9. Biblical scholars have typically treated the Haustafel in Ephesians as a resource in the debate over the role of women in ministry and in the home.[108]

Margaret MacDonald argues that the Haustafel, particularly as it appears in Ephesians, was aimed at “reducing the tension between community members and outsiders.”[109]

E.P. Sanders has labeled the Apostle’s remark in 1 Cor. 14:34-36 about women not making any sound during worship as “Paul’s intemperate outburst that women should be silent in the churches”.[96] Women, in fact, played a very significant part in Paul’s missionary endeavors:

  • He became a partner in ministry with the couple Priscilla and Aquila who are specifically named seven times in the New Testament—always by their couple name and never individually. Of the seven times they are named in the New Testament, Priscilla’s name appears first in five of those instances, suggesting to some scholars that she was the head of the family unit.[110]They lived, worked, and traveled with the Apostle Paul, becoming his honored, much-loved friends and coworkers in Christ Jesus.[111] In Romans 16:3-4, thought to have been written in 56 or 57, Paul sends his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and proclaims that both of them “risked their necks” to save Paul’s life.
  • Chloe was an important member of the church in Corinth[1 Cor. 1:11]
  • Phoebe was a “deacon” and a “benefactor” of Paul and others[Rom. 16:1-2]
  • Romans 16 names eight other women active in the Christian movement, including Junia (“prominent among the apostles”), Mary (“who has worked very hard among you”), and Julia
  • Women were frequently among the major supporters of the new Christian movement[6]

Views on homosexuality[edit]

Most Christian denominations [112] say Paul clearly portrays homosexuality as sinful in two specific locations: Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Another well-known passage addresses the topic more obliquely: 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Since the nineteenth century, however, virtually all mainstream scholars have concluded that First Timothy, along with Second Timothy and Titus, are not original to Paul, but rather an unknown Christian writing in Paul’s name some time in the late-first-to-mid-2nd century.[113][114]

Influence on Christianity[edit]

Main article: Pauline Christianity

Paul’s influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author.[6][14] Paul declared that faith in Christ made the Torah unnecessary for salvation, exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.[15]

Lord’s Supper[edit]

Paul’s writings include the earliest reference to the “Lord’s Supper”,[115] a rite traditionally identified as the Christian communion or Eucharist.

Eastern tradition[edit]

In the East, church fathers attributed the element of election in Romans 9 to divine foreknowledge.[15] The themes of predestination found in Western Christianity do not appear in Eastern theology.

Western tradition[edit]

Augustine’s foundational work on the gospel as a gift (grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination, and on original sin all derives from Paul, especially Romans.[15]

In the Reformation, Martin Luther expressed Paul’s doctrine of faith most strongly as justification by faith alone.[15] John Calvin developed Augustine’s predestination into double predestination.[15]

Modern theology[edit]

In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans (Ger. Der Römerbrief; particularly in the thoroughly re-written second edition of 1922) Karl Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. Some theologians believe this work to be the most important theological treatise since Friedrich Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers.

As in the Eastern tradition in general, Western humanists interpret the reference to election in Romans 9 as reflecting divine foreknowledge.[15]

Church tradition[edit]

Saint Paul the Apostle
Apostle to the Gentiles
Honored in All Christianity
Majorshrine Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Feast January 25 (The Conversion of Paul)
February 10 (Feast of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta)
June 29 (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul)
June 30 (former solo feast day, still celebrated by some religious orders)
November 18 (Feast of the dedication of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul)
Attributes Sword
Patronage Missions; Theologians; Gentile Christians

Statue of Saint Paul in Damascus

Various Christian writers have suggested more details about Paul’s life.

1 Clement, a letter written by the Roman bishop Clement of Rome, around the year 90 reports this about Paul:[116]

“By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance”.

Commenting on this passage, Raymond Brown writes that while it “does not explicitly say” that Paul was martyred in Rome, “such a martyrdom is the most reasonable interpretation”.[117]

Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the 4th century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero.[118] This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. According to one tradition, the church of San Paolo alle Tre Fontane marks the place of Paul’s execution. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, commemorates his martyrdom, and reflects a tradition (preserved by Eusebius) that Peter and Paul were martyred at the same time.[119] The Roman liturgical calendar for the following day now remembers all Christians martyred in these early persecutions; formerly, June 30 was the feast day for St. Paul.[120] Persons or religious orders with special affinity for St. Paul can still celebrate their patron on June 30.[121]

The apocryphal Acts of Paul and the apocryphal Acts of Peter suggest that Paul survived Rome and traveled further west. Some think that Paul 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.[2 Tim. 4:13][34] A tradition holds that Paul was interred with Saint Peter ad Catacumbas by the via Appia until moved to what is now the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, writes that Pope Vitalian in 665 gave Paul’s relics (including a cross made from his prison chains) from the crypts of Lucina to King Oswy of Northumbria, northern Britain. Paul is considered the patron saint ofLondon.

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul is celebrated on January 25.[122]

Islamic view[edit]

Paul’s name is mentioned in several Islamic hadiths as the deceiver of the Christians, and along with people like CainNimrodFir’aun and Samiri, is punished in a stage of Hell called Saqar. Another hadith mentions demons that mislead people after prophets, and names Paul as the demon that misled people after Jesus.[123][124] Also, some hadiths narrated in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Jami al-Tirmidhi, among other books, mention that in the afterlife, autarch and arrogant people are imprisoned in a jail named “Paulus”, which is the most painful location of hell.[125][126]

Literary analysis[edit]

Writing styles[edit]

British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contended 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. 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, according to Maccoby. He also pointed out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the book of Acts.

Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else’s words. Moreover, George Shillington writes that the author of Acts most likely created the speeches accordingly and they bear his literary and theological marks.[127] Conversely, Howard Marshall writes that the speeches were not entirely the inventions of the author and while they may not be accurate word-for-word, the author nevertheless records the general idea of them.[128]

A statue of Paul holding a scroll (symbolising the Scriptures) and the sword (symbolising his martyrdom)

F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of theTübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. 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.


A significant second and, possibly, late first century impact on Christianity was the development of Gnosticism, a mystery religion, which among other things, rejected the god of the Jews as the Father of Jesus. Gnostics assert that the former is a lesser, creative being and stands in contrast to the supreme deity as taught by Jesus.[129][130] It was a religious movement that appealed to many of its time. Mark Powell says it became the bane of many prominent church leaders as they sought to defend, what they believed to be the orthodox faith, from what they labeled the “gnostic heresy”. He compares the difficulty in describing it to trying to describe what is meant today by “new age” religion or thinking.[5]:pp.39–41

Some[who?] believe the Apostle Paul attacked Gnosticism in Colossians. Many subsequent Church Fathers and councils attacked the Gnostics.[citation needed] Yet, according to Powell, throughout the second, third, and fourth centuries Gnostic versions of Christianity constituted the primary alternatives to what is usually thought of as “mainstream” Christianity.[citation needed]

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and an authority on Gnosticism, declined to judge (in her book The Gnostic Paul) whether Paul was actually a Gnostic. Instead, she concentrated on how the Gnostics interpreted Paul’s letters and how evidence from gnostic sources may challenge the assumption that Paul wrote his letters to combat “gnostic opponents” and to repudiate their statement that they possess secret wisdom.[131]

Maccoby theorized 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 attributed the origins of Christian antisemitism to Paul and said that Paul’s view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.[132]

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[133] Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as “Saulus”, a “kinsman of Agrippa“.[134] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod’s family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, “Greet Herodion, my kinsman”.

According to Timo Eskola, early Christian theology and discourse was influenced by the Jewish Merkabah tradition.[135] Similarly, Alan Segal and Daniel Boyarin regard Paul’s accounts of his conversion experience and his ascent to the heavens as the earliest first person accounts we have of a Merkabah mystic in Jewish or Christian literature. Conversely, Timothy Churchill has argued that Paul’s Damascus road encounter does not fit the pattern of Merkabah.[136]

Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, who wrote that Paul was the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.”[137] Christian anarchists, such as Leo Tolstoy[138]and Ammon Hennacy,[139] take a similar view.

F.F. Powell argues that Paul, in his epistles, made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language.[140] For example, inPhaedrus, Plato has Socrates saying that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though “through a glass dimly”,[141] closely mirroring Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 13.


See also Pauline Christianity vs: Jesuism

In addition to the many questions about the true origins of some of Paul’s teachings posed by historical figures as noted above, some modern theologians also hold that the teachings of Paul differ markedly from those of Jesus as found in the Gospels.[142] Barrie Wilson states that Paul differs from Jesus in terms of the origin of his message, his teachings and his practices.[143]Some have even gone so far as to claim that, due to these apparent differences in teachings, that Paul was actually no less than the “second founder” of Christianity (Jesus being its first).[144][145]

Robert M. Price, in his book The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul, says “the Pauline epistles reveal themselves to the discerning reader to have exactly the same sort of limitation as the Gospels do: both are collections of fragments and pericopae contributed and fabricated by authors and communities of very different theological leanings”.[146]

See also[edit]



  1. Jump up^ Peter and Paul . In the Footsteps of Paul . Tarsus . 1. PBS. Retrieved 2010–11–19.
  2. Jump up to:a b Acts 22:3
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible.Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. ISBN 978-1-55934-655-9
  4. Jump up^ Acts 9:11
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Powell, Mark A. Introducing the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8010-2868-7
  6. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l Sanders, E.P. “Saint Paul, the Apostle”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.
  7. Jump up^ “The Canon Debate”, McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, page 577, by James D. G. Dunn: “James, the brother of Jesus, and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures (besides Peter) in first-century Christianity”
  8. Jump up^ Tertullian knew the Letter to the Hebrews as being “under the name of Barnabas” (De Pudicitia, chapter 20 where T. quotes Heb. 6:4-8); Origen, in his now lost Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews is reported by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 6, 25, 13f.) as having written “. . if any Church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Paul’s. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others, that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it
  9. Jump up^ The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, publ. Geoffrey Chapman, 1989, chapter 60:2 (at p.920, col.2)
  10. Jump up^ Chapman, Geoffrey (1989). The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. pp. 920 column 2 (Chapter 60). “That Paul is neither directly nor indirectly the author is now the view of scholars almost without exception. For details, see Kümmel, I[ntroduction to the] N[ew] T[estament, Nashville, 1975] 392-94, 401-3”
  11. Jump up^ Paul’s undisputed epistles are 1st Thessalonians, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon. The six letters believed by some but not all to have been written by Paul are Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Paul and His Influence in Early Christianity (United Methodist Church)
  12. Jump up^ Carson, D.A.;Moo, D.G. An Introduction to the New Testment. Nottingham: Apollos/Inter-Varsity Press. 2005ISBN 978-1-84474-089-5
  13. Jump up to:a b Aageson, James W. Paul, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Early Church. Hendrickson Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59856-041-1 p.1
  14. Jump up to:a b Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on Paul
  15. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t “Paul, St” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  16. Jump up to:a b “Why did God change Saul’s name to Paul?” Catholic Answers[1] 2 Apr 2013
  17. Jump up to:a b Prat, Ferdinand. “St. Paul”. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 2 Apr. 2013 [2].
  18. Jump up^ Greek lexicon G4569 Σαύλος (Saul)
    Greek lexicon G3972 Παύλος (Paul)
    Hebrew lexicon H7586 שׁאוּל (Shaul/Saul)
  19. Jump up^ Paulus autem et Barnabas demorabantur Antiochiae docentes et evangelizantes cum aliis pluribus verbum Domini
  20. Jump up^ 9
  21. Jump up^ Acts 26:14 Note: This is the only place in the Bible where the reader is told what language Jesus was speaking.
  22. Jump up^ Acts 9:11
  23. Jump up^ Acts 9:17; 22:13
  24. Jump up^ Philippians 3:5
  25. Jump up^ Was the Apostle Paul Married? Textual analysis points to possible earlier marriage of Paul.
  26. Jump up^ Acts 9:20–21
  27. Jump up^ White, L. Michael (2007). From Jesus to Christianity (3rd impr. ed.). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 145–147. ISBN 0060816104.
  28. Jump up^ Koester, Helmut (2000). Introduction to the New Testament (2 ed.). New York: de Gruyter. p. 107.ISBN 3110149702. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  29. Jump up^ Montague, George T. The Living Thought Of St. Paul. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co. 1966. AISN: B0006CRKIC
  30. Jump up^ Wright, G. Ernest , Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, (Pleasantville, New York: The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1974. ASIN: B000OEOKL2
  31. Jump up^ Kee, Howard and Franklin W. Young, Understanding The New Testament, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, Inc. 1958, pg 208. ISBN 978-0139365911
  32. Jump up to:a b c Wallace, Quency E. “The Early Life and Background of Paul the Apostle”. The American Journal of Biblical Theology.
  33. Jump up^ The author’s claim of Paul’s becoming able to establish the church solidly in “all” parts of the Roman Empire has been changed to “many” in this article since “all” could not be substantiated by other credible sources.
  34. Jump up to:a b c d 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be “Trito-Pauline”, meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death.
  35. Jump up^ Dale Martin 2009. Introduction to New Testament History and Literature, lecture 14 “Paul as Missionary”Yale University.
  36. Jump up^ Bromiley, Geoffrey William (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A – D (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Wbeerdmans)). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 689. ISBN 0-8028-3781-6.
  37. Jump up^ Barnett, Paul (2002). Jesus, the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-8308-2699-8.
  38. Jump up^ L. Niswonger, Richard (1993). New Testament History. Zondervan Publishing Company. p. 200. ISBN 0-310-31201-9.
  39. Jump up to:a b c McRay, John (2007). Paul His Life and Teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. p. 54. ISBN 978-1441205742.
  40. Jump up^ Aslan, Reza (2013). Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Random House. pp. n.p. ISBN 978-0-679-60353-5.
  41. Jump up^ through his mother Mary;
  42. Jump up^ Horrell, David G (2006). An Introduction to the Study of Paul. New York: T&T Clark. p. 30. ISBN 0-567-04083-6.
  43. Jump up^ Hengel, Martin and Anna Maria Schwemer, trans. John Bowden. Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.ISBN 0-664-25736-4
  44. Jump up^ Kirsopp Lake, The earlier Epistles of St. Paul, their motive and origin (London 1911), pp. 320–323.
  45. Jump up^ (PDF) N.T. Wright, “Paul, Arabia and Elijah”
  46. Jump up^ Why did Paul go to Arabia?
  47. Jump up^ Martin Hengel, “Paul in Arabia” Bulletin for Biblical Research 12.1 (2002) pp. 47–66
  48. Jump up^ Barnett, Paul The Birth Of Christianity: The First Twenty Years (Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005) ISBN 0-8028-2781-0p. 200
  49. Jump up^ Ogg, George, Chronology of the New Testament inPeake’s Commentary on the Bible (Nelson, 1963)
  50. Jump up^ Barnett p. 83
  51. Jump up^ The only indication as to who is leading is in the order of names. At first, the two are referred to as Barnabas and Paul, in that order. Later in the same chapter the team is referred to a Paul and his companions.
  52. Jump up^ “Map of first missionary journey”. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  53. Jump up^ “His quotations from Scripture, which are all taken, directly or from memory, from the Greek version, betray no familiarity with the original Hebrew text (..) Nor is there any indication in Paul’s writings or arguments that he had received the rabbinical training ascribed to him by Christian writers (..)”“Paul, the Apostle of the Heathen”. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  54. Jump up^ Acts 15:2ff; Galatians 2:1ff
  55. Jump up to:a b c White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins. pp. 148–149. ISBN 0-06-052655-6.
  56. Jump up^ Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit, F. F. Bruce, Paternoster 1980, p.151
  57. Jump up^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers see section titled: “The Incident At Antioch”
  58. Jump up^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers: “On their arrival Peter, who up to this had eaten with the Gentiles, ‘withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision,’ and by his example drew with him not only the other Jews, but even Barnabas, Paul’s fellow-labourer”.
  59. Jump up^
  60. Jump up^ White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 170. ISBN 0-06-052655-6.
  61. Jump up^ Christianity: an introduction by Alister E. McGrath pages 2006 ISBN 1-4051-0901-7 137–141
  62. Jump up^ Mercer Commentary on the New Testament by Watson E. Mills 2003 ISBN 0-86554-864-1 pages 1109–1110
  63. Jump up^ Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville, Tennessee, B&H Publishing Group. p. 400
  64. Jump up^
  65. Jump up^ “Paul, St”. Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  66. Jump up^ Burton, Ernest De Witt (1977). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the GalatiansISBN 978-0-567-05029-8. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  67. Jump up^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Durazzo (Albania). (1909–05–01). Retrieved 2010–11–19.
  68. Jump up^
  69. Jump up^ 4th missionary journey and 5th missionary journey
  70. Jump up^ A study in scarlet (Judah sceptre – Joseph birthright)
  71. Jump up^ 1st Clement – Lightfoot translation
    1 Clem 5:5 “By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, [5:6] having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance”.
    Where Lightfoot has “had preached” above, the Hooletranslation has “having become a herald”.
    See also the endnote(#3) by Arthur Cleveland Coxe on the last page of wikisource 1st Clement regarding Paul’s preaching in Britain.
  72. Jump up^ Chrysostom on 2 Tim.4:20 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series I Volume XIII)
  73. Jump up^ Cyril on Paul and gifts of the Holy Ghost (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II Volume VII, Lecture 17, para.26)
  74. Jump up^ The Muratorian Fragment lines 38–39
  75. Jump up^ Paul does not exactly say that this was his second visit. In Galatians, he lists three important meetings with Peter, and this was the second on his list. The third meeting took place in Antioch. He does not explicitly state that he did not visit Jerusalem in between this and his first visit.
  76. Jump up^ Note that Paul only writes that he is on his way to Jerusalem, or just planning the visit. There might or might not have been additional visits before or after this visit, if he ever got to Jerusalem.
  77. Jump up^ Romans 15:25,2 Corinthians 8-91 Corinthians 16:1-3
  78. Jump up^ Ireneaus Against Heresies 3.3.2: the “…Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. …The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate”.
  79. Jump up^ MaGee Greg. “The Origins of the Church at Rome”. [3] Accessed 18 Mar 2013
  80. Jump up^ Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter XII
  81. Jump up^ Serena De Leonardis and Stefano Masi (1999). Art and history: Rome and the Vatican. Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 21
  82. Jump up^ Lashway, Calvin. “HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?” Web: HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?
  83. Jump up^ St Paul’s tomb unearthed in Rome from BBC News (2006–12–08);
  84. Jump up^ “Remains of St. Paul confirmed”Washington Times. June 29, 2009.
  85. Jump up to:a b c The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament by David E. Aune ISBN 1405108258 page 9 “While seven of the letters attributed to Paul are almost universally accepted as authentic (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), four are just as widely judged to be pseudepigraphical, i.e., written by unknown authors under Paul’s name: Ephesians and the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).
  86. Jump up to:a b Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible by James D. G. Dunn (Nov 19, 2003) ISBN 0802837115 page 1274 “There is general scholarly agreement that seven of the thirteen letters bearing Paul’s name are authentic, but his authorship of the other six cannot be taken for granted… Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon are certainly Paul’s own”.
  87. Jump up to:a b Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament: An Introduction (Paulist Press, 1988), ISBN 0809129396 pp. 4-7.
  88. Jump up^ Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdelene: the followers of Jesus in history and legend By Bart Ehrman, p.98-100
  89. Jump up^ A commentary on the Acts of the Apostles by Charles Stephan Conway Williams, pp. 22, 240
  90. Jump up^ MacDonald, Margaret Y. Sacra Pagina: Colossians and Ephesians. Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8146-5819-2
  91. Jump up to:a b c d e “Epistle to the Colossians – Catholic Encyclopedia”. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  92. Jump up^ Brown, R.E., The Churches the Apostles left behind p.48.
  93. Jump up^ Barrett, C.K. the Pastoral Epistles p.4ff.
  94. Jump up to:a b c d “Atonement”. Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  95. Jump up^ The International standard Bible encyclopaedia (1915), Volume 4, page 2276 edited by James Orr
  96. Jump up to:a b Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977; Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People in 1983
  97. Jump up^ J.D.G. Dunn’s Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): ‘The New Perspective on Paul’ BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.
  98. Jump up to:a b New Perspectives on Paul. 2003-08-28. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  99. Jump up to:a b Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
  100. Jump up^ Rowlands, Christopher. Christian Origins (SPCK 1985) p.113
  101. Jump up^ Kroeger, Richard C. and Catherine C. I Suffer Not a Woman. Baker Book House, 1992. ISBN 0-8010-5250-5
  102. Jump up^ Wright, N.T. “The Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church”. Web: Dec. 16, 2009
  103. Jump up^ Kirk, J. R. Daniel. Fuller Theological Seminary
  104. Jump up^ Giguzzi, Giancarlo “Paolo, un apostolo contro le donne?” in Credere Oggi: in dialogo con San Paolo e le sue lettereno. 124, Edizioni Messaggero Padova, 2004, pp. 95–
  105. Jump up to:a b c “Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy”. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
  106. Jump up^ Kirk, J.R. Daniel. “Jesus I Have Loved. But Paul?” Baker, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4412-3625-8
  107. Jump up^ Stagg, Evelyn and Frank Stagg. Woman in the World of Jesus. Westminster Press, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  108. Jump up^ Gombis, Timothy. “A Radically Different New Humanity: The Function of the Haustafel in Ephesians“. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 48/2 (June 2005) 317–30. Accessed 14 February 2013.
  109. Jump up^ MacDonald, Margaret. The Pauline Churches: A Socio-historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Writings. SNTSMS 60; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p109
  110. Jump up^ Achtenmeier, P.J. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (revised ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 882. ISBN 0-06-060037-3.
  111. Jump up^ Keller, Marie Noël. Priscilla and Aquila: Paul’s Coworkers in Christ Jesus. Liturgical Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8146-5284-8.
  112. Jump up^ Robinson, B.A. “Christian denominations and homosexuality”Overview: Most Christian denominations, sects, and new religious movement have stated policies towards gays and lesbians: Whether to allow known, sexually active homosexuals to: become and remain church members with full privileges. be considered for ordination hold other positions of power. Whether to allow known celibate homosexuals to: become and remain church members with full privileges. be considered for ordination hold other positions of power. Whether to provide a formal religious ceremony for committed gay and lesbian couples. These are variously called union, civil union, commitment or marriage ceremonies, depending upon the laws of the individual state. Whether to have an active study program to reduce homophobia within the denomination. There is no consensus within Christianity about: The nature of homosexuality, What Bible passages that discuss same-sex sexual behavior actually mean, or What policies to enforce about gay and lesbian members, candidates for ordination. commitment rituals or study programs. The core reason for this lack of consensus is related to how an individual faith group defines truth. The main criteria are: What the six or so “clobber passages” about same-sex sexual behavior mean, according to historical interpretations. The policy that the faith group has taken towards homosexuality and homosexuals in the past. The individual members’ personal experience. The findings of scientific research into homosexuality. Conservative faith groups like the Roman Catholic Church, and Southern Baptist Convention tend to give criteria 1 & 2 much more weight than 3 & 4. Religious liberals and progressive Christians tend to stress 3 & 4 in comparison to 1 & 2. The response of Christian faith groups to homosexuality thus cover a wide range. An individual faith group’s stance, can be predicted, based on upon their position in the liberal – fundamentalist continuum: More liberal denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a civil rights matter; they generally believe it is fixed, unchosen, normal, natural, and morally neutral sexual orientation for a minority of adults. More conservative denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a profound evil; they generally believe it is changeable, chosen, abnormal, unnatural and immoral behavior, regardless of the nature of the relationship. Thus: The more liberal denominations, like the United Church of Christ, have changing their positions on homosexuality, in recent years, to adopt a more inclusive stance. Mainline denominations such as the Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians are actively debating the question. Denominational schisms may result., particularly in the case of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Episcopal Church. USA. Similar splits have occurred in the past over human slavery, whether women should be ordained, and certain theological debates. More conservative denominations are taking no significant action to change their beliefs and policies at this time. Fundamentalist denominations commit significant effort to prevent equal rights for homosexuals. For example, they: Opposed hate-crime laws that protect persons of all sexual orientation, Opposed laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, Opposed the elimination of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Occasionally expel congregations from their denominations over “the issue.” In the case of the Southern Baptist Convention three of their congregations were expelled. The latter had conducted a study of homosexuality, had concluded that the denomination’s beliefs were invalid, and had welcomed gays and lesbians as members. All movement appears to be towards greater inclusiveness towards homosexuality and homosexuals. This is reinforced by the more accepting stance of today’s youth. We are unaware of any religious groups becoming less inclusive. Sponsored link: Partial list of churches and their position on homosexuality: As we uncover statements about homosexuality by various Christian denominations, we include them in a new essay and link it to the following list. Over time, we hope to add to this list so that it represents all of the large Christian denominations, and some smaller ones. We encourage our visitors to help us add to this list by supplying us with information from their own denominations. We currently have essays available about homosexual policies and beliefs by the following denominations. : Alliance of Baptists Anglican Church of Canada Anglican Communion, worldwide American Baptist Association American Baptist Churches in the USA Assemblies of God Children of God (COG) Christian Reformed Church in North America The Church of Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Christian Science Church of England The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Church of Scotland Community of Christ: (Formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS): Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Coptic Orthodox Church (centered in Egypt) Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) Episcopal Church, USA Evangelical Christian Church (Christian Disciples) Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark The Family Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuality; Witnesses and same-sex marriages Lutheran Church of Australia Methodist Church in Britain Metropolitan Community Church Mennonites Presbyterian Church (USA): (3.4 million membership; mainline denomination) Presbyterian Church in America (0.3 million membership; conservative denomination) Presbyterian Church in Canada The Quakers Reformed Church in America Roman Catholic Church Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN) Russian Orthodox Church Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS): See Community of Christ Seventh Day Adventists: Part 1: Background. Events from 1977 to 1999 Part 2: Events year 2000 to now. SDA manual. Other gay-positive groups. Conclusions. Society of Friends (Quakers) Southern Baptist Convention Baptist State Convention of North Carolina An exchange of viewpoints on a Southern Baptist web site Unification Church Unitarian Universalist Association * United Church of Christ United Church of Canada United Methodist Church United Pentecostal Church International Uniting Church in Australia Unity Church The Way, International World Council of Churches Worldwide Church of God Other Christian groups * The Unitarian Universalist Association is not generally considered a Christian denomination. We have included it here because about 10% of its members consider themselves to be Christian.
  113. Jump up^ Ehrman, BartThe New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press. 2003. p. 393 ISBN 0-19-515462-2
    “when we come to the Pastoral epistles, there is greater scholarly unanimity. These three letters are widely regarded by scholars as non-Pauline.”
  114. Jump up^ Collins, Raymond F. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. p. 4ISBN 0-664-22247-1
    “By the end of the twentieth century New Testament scholarship was virtually unanimous in affirming that the Pastoral Epistles were written some time after Paul’s death. … As always some scholars dissent from the consensus view.”
  115. Jump up^ 1 Corinthians 10:14-1711:17-34
  116. Jump up^ The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 5:5–6, translated by J.B. Lightfoot in Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1890). The Apostolic Fathers: A Revised Text with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations, and Translations. Macmillan. p. 274. ISBN 0-8010-5612-8OCLC 54248207.
  117. Jump up^ Brown, Raymond Edward; John Paul Meier (1983).Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-8091-2532-3.
  118. Jump up^ Hist. Eccl., II.25 –
  119. Jump up^ Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., II.25, where he quotes Dionysius of Corinth to this effect
  120. Jump up^ Alban Butler’s Lives of the saints, available at
  121. Jump up^ Such as the Daughters of St. Paul, a women’s missionary order at
  122. Jump up^ “Chambers’ The Book of Days”. 1869. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  123. Jump up^ Noor al-Thaqalain, vol 1, p 85; Bihar al-Anwar, vol 8, pp. 310, 311.
  124. Jump up^ Encyclopedia of Quran, Tehran, vol 6, pp. 543 to 547.
  125. Jump up^ Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, vol 11, p 260; Jami al-Tirmidhi,vol 4, p 236; Sunan al-Kubra, al-Nasa’i, vol 10, p 398. Scholars like al-Tirmidhi categorize the hadith asHasan and Sahih.
  126. Jump up^ Christ(PBUH): a Salafi study, 2008, Rafa’ei Sorur, Chapter 3, Article 7.
  127. Jump up^ Shillington, George (2007). Introduction to Luke-Acts. London: T & T Clark. p. 18. ISBN 0-567-03053-9.
  128. Jump up^ Marshall, I. Howard (1980). The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. p. 42. ISBN 0-8028-1423-9.
  129. Jump up^ An Introduction to Gnosticism and The Nag Hammadi Library. nhlintro.html at
  130. Jump up^ ANTITHESIS : Contradictions Between the Old Testament Deity and the New Testament God.antithes.htm at
  131. Jump up^ Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters. Continuum International Publishing, 1992. ISBN 978-1563380396
  132. Jump up^ Maccoby, Hyam (1998). “1”. The Mythmaker. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-7607-0787-1.
  133. Jump up^ See “Paul as Herodian“, JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110–122.
  134. Jump up^ Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4.
  135. Jump up^ Timo Eskola. Messiah and the Throne: Jewish Merkabah Mysticism and Early Exaltation Discourse Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001.
  136. Jump up^ Churchill, Timothy W. R. “Divine Initiative and the Christology of the Damascus Road Encounter”, Eugene: Pickwick, 2010.
  137. Jump up^ 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 Notes, 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.
  138. Jump up^ Tolsoy, Leo (1882). Church and State. “This deviation begins from the time of the Apostle and especially after that hankerer after mastership Paul”
  139. Jump up^ Hennacy, Ammon (1970). The Book of Ammon.
  140. Jump up^ Powell, F. F. “Saint Paul’s Homage to Plato”. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  141. Jump up^ Plato; Benjamin Jowett, trans. Phaedrus. “For there is no light of justice or temperance or any of the higher ideas which are precious to souls in the earthly copies of them: they are seen through a glass dimly.”
  142. Jump up^ Maccoby, Hyam, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity (Harpercollins, October 1987), pg. 14.
  143. Jump up^ Wilson, Barrie A. (2008). How Jesus Became Christian. New York, Toronto: St. Martin’s Press. pp. chapters 9, 10, 12.
  144. Jump up^ Dwyer, John C., Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity (Paulist Press, July 1985 ), pg. 27.
  145. Jump up^ Wrede, WilliamPaul (trans. Edward Lummis; London: Philip Green, 1907), pg. 179.
  146. Jump up^ Robert M. Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle, (Signature books, 2012), pg. viii. ISBN 978-1-56085-216-2


  • Aulén, GustafChristus Victor (SPCK 1931)
  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Series, 1997. ISBN 0-385-24767-2
  • Brown, Raymond E. The Church the Apostles left behind(Chapman 1984)
  • Bruce, F.F. “Is the Paul of Acts the Real Paul?” Bulletin John Rylands Library 58 (1976) 283–305
  • Bruce, F.F.Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (ISBN 0-8028-4778-1)
  • Carson, D.A.;Moo, D.J. An Introduction to the New Testament ISBN 978-1-84474-089-5
  • Conzelmann, Hans, The Acts of the Apostles—a Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Augsburg Fortress 1987)
  • Davies, W.D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. S.P.C.K., 3rd ed., 1970. ISBN 0-281-02449-9
  • Davies, W.D. “The Apostolic Age and the Life of Paul” in Matthew Black, ed. Peake’s Commentary on the Bible. London: T. Nelson, 1962. ISBN 0-8407-5019-6
  • Dunn, James D.G., Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels (Grand Rapids (MI), Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011)
  • Dunn, James D.G., Jesus, Paul and the Law Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1990. ISBN 0-664-25095-5
  • Hanson, Anthony T. Studies in Paul’s Technique and Theology. Eerdmans, 1974. ISBN 0-8028-3452-3
  • Holzbach, Mathis Christian, Die textpragmat. Bedeutung d. Kündereinsetzungen d. Simon Petrus u.d. Saulus Paulus im lukan. Doppelwerk, in: Jesus als Bote d. Heils. Stuttgart 2008, 166–172.
  • Horrell, David G. “An Introduction to the Study of Paul”. T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies. 2nd edition. London: T&T Clark, 2006
  • IrenaeusAgainst Heresies, i.26.2
  • Kim, Yung Suk. A Theological Introduction to Paul’s Letters. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60899-793-0
  • 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, 1983. ISBN 978-0664244644
  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome, Jesus and Paul: Parallel lives (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2007) ISBN 0-8146-5173-9
  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome, Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1995) ISBN 0-8146-5845-8
  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome, Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) ISBN 0-19-826749-5
  • Ogg, George. “Chronology of the New Testament”. Matthew Black, ed. Peake’s Commentary on the Bible. Nelson, 1962. ISBN 0-8407-5019-6
  • Rashdall, Hastings, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (1919)
  • Ruef, John, Paul’s First letter to Corinth (Penguin 1971)
  • Sanders, E.P.Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977)
  • Segal, Alan F. Paul, the Convert, (New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-300-04527-1
  • Segal, Alan F., “Paul, the Convert and Apostle” in Rebecca’s Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World (Harvard University Press 1986) ISBN 978-0674750760

Further reading[edit]

  • Bart D Ehrman. Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend; 304 pages, Oxford University Press (March, 2008)
  • Bart D. Ehrman. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings; 608 pages, Oxford University Press (July, 2011); ISBN 978-0-19-975753-4
  • Hyam MacCoby. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity; 238 pages, Barnes & Noble Books (1998); ISBN 978-0-7607-0787-6
  • Hans Joachim Schoeps. Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (Library of Theological Translations); 34 pages, Lutterworth Press (July, 2002); ISBN 978-0-227-17013-7
  • Pinchas Lapide, Peter Stuhlmacher. Paul: Rabbi and Apostle; 77 pages, Augsburg Publishing House; (December 1984)
  • Pinchas Lapide, Leonard Swidler, Jurgen Moltmann. Jewish Monotheism and Christian Trinitarian Doctrine; 94 pages, Wipf & Stock Publishers (May, 2002)

External links[edit]


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