99 Facts About St Paul


Paul, commonly known as Paul the Apostle and Saint Paul, was a Christian apostle who spread the teachings of Jesus in the first-century world.

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Some time after having approved of the execution of Stephen, St Paul was traveling on the road to Damascus so that he might find any Christians there and bring them "bound to Jerusalem" .

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The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from St Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive.

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Today, St Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship and pastoral life in the Latin and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions of the East.

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Main source for information about St Paul's life is the material found in his epistles and in the Acts of the Apostles.

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Two main sources of information that give access to the earliest segments of St Paul's career are the Acts of the Apostles and the autobiographical elements of St Paul's letters to the early Christian communities.

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St Paul was likely born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD.

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The Acts of the Apostles indicates that St Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, but Helmut Koester takes issue with the evidence presented by the text.

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St Paul was from a devout Jewish family based in the city of Tarsus.

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St 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".

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Acts quotes St Paul referring to his family by saying he was "a Pharisee, born of Pharisees".

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St Paul says that prior to his conversion, he persecuted early Christians "beyond measure", more specifically Hellenised diaspora Jewish members who had returned to the area of Jerusalem.

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St Paul says that it was in Damascus that he barely escaped death.

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St Paul says that he then went first to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.

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St Paul describes in Galatians how three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem.

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St Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from man, but directly by "the revelation of Jesus Christ".

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St Paul claimed almost total independence from the Jerusalem community, but agreed with it on the nature and content of the gospel.

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St Paul appeared eager to bring material support to Jerusalem from the various growing Gentile churches that he started.

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St Paul reviewed Israelite history from life in Egypt to King David.

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St Paul introduced Jesus as a descendant of David brought to Israel by God.

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St Paul said that his team came to town to bring the message of salvation.

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St Paul recounted the story of Jesus' death and resurrection.

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St Paul quoted from the Septuagint to assert that Jesus was the promised Christos who brought them forgiveness for their sins.

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St Paul used the occasion to announce a change in his mission which from then on would be to the Gentiles.

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The exact duration of St Paul's stay in Antioch is unknown, with estimates ranging from nine months to as long as eight years.

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In Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, a chronology of events in St Paul's life is presented, illustrated from later 20th-century writings of biblical scholars.

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The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that St Paul won the argument, because "St Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw the justice of the rebuke".

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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".

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St Paul left for his second missionary journey from Jerusalem, in late Autumn 49 AD, after the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem where the circumcision question was debated.

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In Philippi, St Paul cast a spirit of divination out of a servant girl, whose masters were then unhappy about the loss of income her soothsaying provided.

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In Corinth, St Paul met Priscilla and Aquila, who became faithful believers and helped St Paul through his other missionary journeys.

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In 52, departing from Corinth, St Paul stopped at the nearby village of Cenchreae to have his hair cut off, because of a vow he had earlier taken.

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St Paul then traveled north to Antioch, where he stayed for some time, before leaving again on a third missionary journey.

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St Paul then traveled to Ephesus, an important center of early Christianity, and stayed there for almost three years, probably working there as a tentmaker, as he had done when he stayed in Corinth.

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St Paul is claimed to have performed numerous miracles, healing people and casting out demons, and he apparently organized missionary activity in other regions.

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St Paul left Ephesus after an attack from a local silversmith resulted in a pro-Artemis riot involving most of the city.

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Commentators generally agree that St Paul dictated his Epistle to the Romans during this period.

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St Paul then made ready to continue on to Syria, but he changed his plans and traveled back through Macedonia because of some Jews who had made a plot against him.

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St Paul finished his trip with a stop in Caesarea, where he and his companions stayed with Philip the Evangelist before finally arriving at Jerusalem.

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John Chrysostom indicated that St 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".

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Cyril of Jerusalem said that St 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".

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In 57 AD, upon completion of his third missionary journey, St Paul arrived in Jerusalem for his fifth and final visit with a collection of money for the local community.

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St Paul was seized and dragged out of the temple by an angry mob.

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St Paul was about to be taken into the barracks when he asked to speak to the people.

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St Paul was given permission by the Romans and proceeded to tell his story.

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St Paul asserted his Roman citizenship, which would prevent his flogging.

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The tribune "wanted to find out what St Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet".

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St Paul spoke before the council and caused a disagreement between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

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St Paul was taken to Caesarea, where the governor ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod's headquarters.

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Acts recounts that on the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, St Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita", where the islanders showed him "unusual kindness" and where he was met by Publius.

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St Paul finally arrived in Rome around 60 AD, where he spent another two years under house arrest.

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The narrative of Acts ends with St Paul preaching in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial.

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Irenaeus wrote in the 2nd century that Peter and St Paul had been the founders of the church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.

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However, St 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; St Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome before he had visited Rome.

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St Paul only played a supporting part in the life of the church in Rome.

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Eusebius states that St Paul was killed during the Neronian Persecution and, quoting from Dionysius of Corinth, argues that Peter and St Paul were martyred "at the same time".

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Tertullian writes that St Paul was beheaded like John the Baptist, a detail contained in Lactantius, Jerome, John Chrysostom and Sulpicius Severus.

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The apocryphal Acts of St Paul describe the martyrdom and the burial of St Paul, but their narrative is highly fanciful and largely unhistorical.

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Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the 4th century, states that St Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero.

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Some think that St 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.

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The skull of Saint St Paul is claimed to reside in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran since at least the ninth century, alongside the skull of Saint Peter.

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Nicephorus claims that St Paul was a little man, crooked, and almost bent like a bow, with a pale countenance, long and wrinkled, and a bald head.

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Theologian Mark Powell writes that St Paul directed these seven letters to specific occasions at particular churches.

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St Paul's letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John.

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St Paul'storians believe that the author of Acts did not have access to any of Paul's letters.

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British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contended that St Paul, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, is quite different from the view of St Paul gleaned from his own writings.

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St Paul as described in the Acts of the Apostles 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.

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St Paul pointed out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the Acts of the Apostles.

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St Paul described himself as set apart for the gospel of God and called to be an apostle and a servant of Jesus Christ.

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St Paul experienced this as an unforeseen, sudden, startling change, due to all-powerful grace, not as the fruit of his reasoning or thoughts.

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St Paul describes himself as afflicted with "a thorn in the flesh"; the nature of this "thorn" is unknown.

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St Paul believed he was halted by Christ, when his fury was at its height.

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St Paul's writings emphasized the crucifixion, Christ's resurrection and the Parousia or second coming of Christ.

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St Paul saw Jesus as Lord, the true messiah and the Son of God, who was promised by God beforehand, through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.

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St Paul taught that, when Christ returned, those who had died believing in Christ as the saviour of mankind would be brought back to life, while those still alive would be "caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air".

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For St Paul, Jesus receives prayer, the presence of Jesus is confessionally invoked by believers, people are baptized in Jesus' name, Jesus is the reference in Christian fellowship for a religious ritual meal, and Jesus is the source of continuing prophetic oracles to believers.

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St Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from sin by Jesus' death and resurrection.

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St Paul's death was an expiation as well as a propitiation, and by Christ's blood peace is made between God and man.

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St Paul believed Jesus' death was a voluntary sacrifice, that reconciled sinners with God.

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St Paul held the view that the Torah given to Moses was valid "until Christ came, " so that even Jews are no longer "under the Torah, " nor obligated to follow the commandments or mitzvot as given to Moses.

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St Paul is critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.

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St Paul 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.

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St Paul argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved.

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St Paul concludes that Paul distinguishes between performing Christian works which are signs of ethnic identity and others which are a sign of obedience to Christ.

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St Paul expected that Christians who had died in the meantime would be resurrected to share in God's kingdom, and he believed that the saved would be transformed, assuming heavenly, imperishable bodies.

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St Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his first and second letters to the Christian community of Thessalonica.

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St Paul assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive.

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St Paul writes that Romans 16 is a tremendously important witness to the important role of women in the early church.

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St Paul praises Phoebe for her work as a deaconess and Junia who is described by St Paul in Scripture as being respected among the Apostles.

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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 St Paul, and that St Paul himself offers a theological paradigm within which overcoming the subjugation of women is an anticipated outcome".

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Classicist Evelyn Stagg and theologian Frank Stagg believe that St Paul was attempting to "Christianize" the societal household or domestic codes that significantly oppressed women and empowered men as the head of the household.

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St Paul declared that "Christ is the end of the law", exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.

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St Paul's writings include the earliest reference to the "Lord's Supper", a rite traditionally identified as the Christian communion or Eucharist.

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Hurtado notes that St Paul regarded his own Christological views and those of his predecessors and that of the Jerusalem Church as essentially similar.

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Marcion asserted that St Paul was the only apostle who had rightly understood the new message of salvation as delivered by Christ.

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Some have even gone so far as to claim that, due to these apparent differences in teachings, that St Paul was actually no less than the "second founder" of Christianity .

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However, with Jesus no longer regarded as the paradigm of gentile Christianity, St Paul's position became more important in Jewish historical reconstructions of their religion's relationship with Christianity.

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The Karaite scholar Jacob Qirqisani believed that St Paul created Christianity by introducing the doctrine of Trinity.

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Discussions in Baha'i scholarship have focused on whether St Paul changed the original message of Christ or delivered the true Gospel, with proponents of both positions.

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