Who was Paul?

Paul (Sha’ul) originally named Saul of Tarsus, is a central figure in both the New Testament and early Christian history. Born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia (modern-day Turkey), Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, a significant status at the time. Educated in Jerusalem under the esteemed Pharisee Gamaliel, Paul was well-versed in the Hebrew Scriptures and traditions. Before his conversion to Christianity, he was a zealous Pharisee who vehemently opposed the early Christian movement. He participated in the persecution of Christians, including the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Paul’s life changed dramatically on the road to Damascus, where he intended to arrest Christians. He experienced a vision of Jesus Christ, who asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Blinded by the vision, Paul was led to Damascus, where a disciple named Ananias restored his sight and baptized him. After this transformative experience, Paul became a devoted follower of Christ and began using his Roman name, Paul.

Paul undertook several missionary journeys across the Roman Empire, spreading the message of Christianity to both Jews and Gentiles. His travels are detailed in the Acts of the Apostles and his letters, or epistles, to various Christian communities. These letters, such as Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians, form a significant portion of the New Testament. They address theological issues, ethical living, and church organization, profoundly shaping Christian doctrine. Paul’s writings and missionary work played a crucial role in the spread of Christianity and the formation of early Christian theology, making him one of the most influential figures in Christian history.