The Life And Ministry Of The Apostle Paul
The beginnings of my life are an interesting jumble, and they highlight the cosmopolitan world that was the Roman Empire. I was born in an Asian city now located on the southern coast of Turkey called Tarsus in about the year 10. My parents were Jewish, presumably strict Pharisees. They were also Roman citizens.
It is important to note that even though Judea was within the Roman Empire most Jews were not Roman citizens. Citizenship outside of Italy was an honor reserved for people who made great contributions to the Empire. Thus, we may presume that my mother and father were people of influence and perhaps even moderate wealth.
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However, on the way, I had a vision. This vision is described several times in the Bible, three times in the book of Acts. I remember it clear as day. I saw Jesus who asked, "Why Paul, do you persist in persecuting Me?" He then commissioned me to preach His message to the Gentiles.
This meeting with Jesus is what I consider my formal conversion', if you will, to Christianity. Even so, I always insisted that i remain both a Jew and a Roman. But before I was able to fully accept this message from Jesus, I spent some time in Arabia and then Damascus. Searching my soul, I undertook the mission I believed had been given to me directly by Jesus. I began preaching in Demascus for three years. My enemies were determined to kill me so I had to slip out of the city by night.
I traveled on to Jerusalem and there gained official sanction from the elders of the Church, including Peter and James, to bring the message of Jesus to the Gentiles. Along with Barnabas, he then went on his first Missionary Journey to Cyprus, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. During this journey we encountered many hardships. I was even stoned, though not killed, in Lystra. It was an ironic twist that Paul underwent the same gruesome punishment he had sanctioned for Stephen and for the very cause Stephen had suffered.
Around 50 A.D I returned to Jerusalem to report to the church elders. My visit provoked a dispute over whether Christians had to first become Jews. I said no. The controversy was temporarily resolved in my favor and I went on my second and third missionary journeys to Galatia, Phrygia, Macedonia and Greece. I was even able to visit Athens. There, I argued with philosophers as well as pagans.
It was during this period that I met Luke, a doctor who would become a close adherent and would eventually write one of the gospels as well as the book of Acts. After my third missionary journey, I returned to Jerusalem where I ran into a dispute with the Sanhedrin. Unfortunately I was the object of a huge civil disturbance. For this I was arrested and eventually brought to Caesarea.
While there, they questioned me and I was tried several times. Thankfully my enemies could not seem to make their charges stick. Even so, they continued to hold me by the governor, Felix, who was afraid I might again create problems in Jerusalem. The next governor, Festus, was not in a big hurry to come to a decision on his case, so after over two years of house arrest, I finally invoked his right as a Roman citizen to demand a trial before the Emperor.
I was sent on the next ship to Rome. However, the ship met heavy seas and wrecked on the Island of Malta. A miracle happened. I prayed and was visited by an Angel and the entire crew was saved. I eventually took another boat and reached Italy. There I was met by supporters and eventually made it to Rome.
The Acts of the Apostles is an original source that largely chronicles my life up to this point. It is thought...