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Saint Paul the ApostleAntique silver reliquary holding a1st class relic inside
Officialsilver hallmarks on the sides
Interior frame made of silver filigree
The official cardinal wax seal and the threads are intact.
cm 2.7x2 - in 1x0.8
Much nicer in hand!Saint PaulApostle to the GentilesSaint Paul Writing His EpistlesbyValentin de BoulogneNative nameSha'ul ha-Tarsi(Saul of Tarsus)Personal detailsBornc.5 EmpireDiedc. 64 or c. 67 AD (aged 61–62 or 64–65)
probably inRome, Roman EmpireSainthoodFeast day
- January 25–Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
- February 10–Feast of Saint Paul's Shipwreck inMalta
- June 29–Feast of Saints Peter and Paul,Epip5 (Coptic Orthodox)
- June 30–Former solo feast day, still celebrated by some religious orders)
- November 18–Feast of the dedication of thebasilicasof Saints Peter and Paul)
Venerated inAllChristian denominationsthat martyrdom,SwordPatronageMissions, Theologians, Evangelists, and Gentile ChristiansPhilosophy careerAlmamaterSchool ofGamalielNotable workEpistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Galatians
1st Epistle to the Corinthians
2nd Epistle to the Corinthians
1st Epistle to the Thessalonians
Epistle to Philemon
Epistle to the PhilippiansEraApostolic AgeRegionChristian philosophySchoolPauline Christianity
Middle ideasPauline privilege,Law of Christ
Holy Spirit,Unknown God
Divinity of Jesus,Thorn in the flesh
Pauline the ofa seriesonChristianity
[show]Related topics[show]Christianity portal
Paul the c. 5– c. 64 or 67),commonly known asSaint Pauland also known by his Jewish nameSaul of Tarsus(Hebrew:שאול Tarseús),was anapostle(although not one of theTwelve Apostles) who taughtthe gospelofChristto thefirst-century world.Paul is generally considered one of the most important figures of theApostolic Ageand in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches inAsia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his status as both aJewand aRoman citizento minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences.
According to theNew TestamentbookActs of the Apostles(often simply calledActs), Paul was dedicated topersecutingtheearly disciplesof Jesus in the area ofJerusalemprior tohis conversion.[note 1]In the narrative ofActs, Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem toDamascuson a mission to "arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem" when theresurrected Jesusappeared to him in a great light. He was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored byAnanias of Damascusand Paul began to preach thatJesus of Nazarethis theJewish Messiahand theSon of God.Approximately half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.
Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul.Seven of thePauline epistlesare undisputed by scholars as beingauthentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. Paulineauthorship of the Epistle to the Hebrewsis not asserted in the Epistle itself and was already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.It was almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews,but that view is now almost universally rejected by scholars.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.Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.
Today, Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship and pastoral life in theLatinand Protestant traditionsof the West, as well as the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditionsof the East.Paul's influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive", among that of many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith.Martin Luther's interpretation ofPaul's writingsinfluenced Luther's doctrine ofsola fide.Names
It has been popularly assumed that Saul's name was changed when he became a follower of Jesus Christ, but that is not the case.His Jewish name was "Saul" perhaps after the biblicalKing Saul, a fellowBenjamiteand the first king of Israel. According to the Book of Acts, he was aRoman citizen.[Acts 22:25–29]As a Roman citizen, he also bore theLatin nameof "Paul" (essentially a LatinTransliterationof Saul)—inbiblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos),and in Latin: Paulus.[Acts 16:37][22:25–28]It was typical for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.
Jesuscalled him "Saul, Saul"in "the Hebrew tongue" in the book of Acts, when he had the vision which led to his conversion on theRoad to Damascus.Later, in a vision toAnanias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus".When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".
InActs 13:9, Saul is called "Paul" for the first time on the island ofCyprus—much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates that 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 that 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, as in1 Cor 9:19–23.
BiographyAvailable sourcesFurther information:Historical reliability of the Acts of the ApostlesThe Conversion of 1542–1545
The main source for information about Paul's life is the material found in his epistles and inActs. However, the epistles contain little information about Paul's pre-conversion past. The book of Acts recounts more information but leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome.Some scholars believe Acts also contradicts Paul's epistles on multiple accounts, in particular concerning the frequency of Paul's visits to thechurch in Jerusalem.
Sources outside the New Testament that mention Paul include:
Clement of Rome'sepistle to the Corinthians(late 1st/early 2nd century);
- Ignatius of Antioch's lettersTo the Romansand to the Ephesians(early 2nd century);
- Polycarp'sletter to the Philippians(early 2nd century);
Biblical narrativeEarly lifeGeography relevant to Paul's life, stretching fromJerusalemtoRome
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.The Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, butHelmut Koestertakes issue with the evidence presented by the text.[Acts 16:37][Acts 22:25–29]
He was from a devout Jewish familyin the city ofTarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast.It had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university. During the time ofAlexander the Great, who died in 323 BC, Tarsus was the most influential city inAsia Minor.
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, aPharisee".[Phil. 3:5]
The Bible reveals very little about Paul's family. Paul's nephew, his sister's son, is mentioned inActs 23:16. Acts also quotes Paul referring to his father by saying he, Paul, was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6). InRomans 16:7he states that his were Christians before he was and were prominent among the apostles.
The family had a history of religious piety (2 Timothy 1:3).Apparently the family lineage had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations.[Philippians 3:5–6]Acts says that he was in the tent-making profession.[Acts 18:1–3]This was to become an initial connection withPriscilla and Aquilawith whom he would partner in tentmaking[Acts 18:3]and later become very important teammates as fellow missionaries.[Rom. 16:4]
ProfessorRobert EisenmanofCalifornia State University, Long Beachargues that Paul was a member of thefamily of Herod the Great.Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus", a "kinsman ofAgrippa".Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found inRomans 16:11where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman".
While he was still fairly young, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school ofGamaliel,[Acts 22:3]one of the most noted rabbis in history. TheHillelschool was noted for giving its students a balanced education, likely giving Paul broad exposure to classical literature, philosophy, and ethics.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 ofStephen.[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 we know from his biography and from Acts that Paul could speak Hebrew, modern scholarship suggests thatKoine Greekwas his first language.
In his letters, Paul drew heavily on his knowledge ofStoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of the revealed word of God.
He also owed much to his training in 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. 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 spreadthe Gospeland to establish the church in the Roman Empire.
ConversionMain article:Conversion of Paul the ApostleConversion on the Way to Damascus(1601), byCaravaggio
Paul's conversioncan be dated to 31–36by his reference to it in one of hisletters. InGalatians 1:16Paul writes that God "was pleased to reveal his son to me." In1 Corinthians 15:8, as he lists the order in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Paul writes, "last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also."
According to the account inActs, it took place on the road to Damascus, where he reported having experienced avisionof the resurrected Jesus. The account says that "he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul replied, "Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:[it is]hard for thee to kick against the pricks (goads)."[Acts 9:4–5]
According to the account inActs 9:1–22, he was blinded for three days and had to be led into Damascus by the hand. During these three days, Saul took no food or water and spent his time in prayer to God. WhenAnanias of Damascusarrived, he laid his hands on him and said: "Brother Saul, the Lord,[even]Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."[Acts 9:17]His sight was restored, he got up and was baptized.[Acts 9:18]This story occurs only in Acts, not in the Pauline epistles.
The author of Acts of the Apostles may have learned of Paul's conversion from thechurch in Jerusalem, or from thechurch in Antioch, or possibly from Paul himself.
According to Timo Eskola, early Christian theology and discourse was influenced by the SegalandDaniel Boyarinregard 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 Conversion of Saint Paul, 1600Paul the Apostle, byRembrandt Harmensz van Rijnc. 1657
And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
— Acts 9:20–22Early ministryThe house believed to be ofAnanias of DamascusinDamascusBab Kisan, believed to be where Paul escaped from persecution in Damascus
After his conversion, Paul went toDamascus, whereActs 9states he was healed of his blindness andbaptizedbyAnanias of Damascus.Paul says that it was in Damascus that he barely escaped also says that he then went first to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[Gal. 1:17]Paul's trip to Arabia is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and some suppose he actually traveled toMount Sinaifor meditations in the desert.He describes inGalatianshow three years after his conversion he went toJerusalem. There he met James and stayed withSimon Peterfor 15 days.[Gal. 1:13–24]Paul located Mount Sinai in Arabia inGalatians 4:24–25.
Paul asserted that he received theGospelnot from man, but directly by "the revelation of Jesus Christ".[Gal 1:11–16]He claimed almost total independence from the Jerusalem community:316–20(possibly in theCenacle), but agreed with it on the nature and content of the gospel.[Gal 1:22–24]He appeared eager to bring material support to Jerusalem from the various growingGentilechurches that he started. In his writings, Paul used thepersecutionshe endured 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 known what happened during this time, but both Acts and Galatians provide some details.At the end of this time,Barnabaswent to find Paul and brought him back toAntioch.Acts 11:26
When a famine occurred inJudea, around 45–46,Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community.According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative center for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death ofStephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians".Acts 11:26
First missionary journey
The author of Acts arranges Paul's travels into three separate journeys. The first journey,[Acts 13–14][when?]led initially by Barnabas,took Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then into southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and finally returning to Antioch. In Cyprus, Paul rebukes and blindsElymasthe magician[Acts 13:8–12]who was criticizing their teachings.
They sail Markleaves them and returns to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas go on toPisidian Antioch. OnSabbaththey 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 theSeptuagintto assert that Jesus was the promisedChristoswho 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]
Interval at Antioch
Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul's evangelism,and he remained there for "a long time with the disciples"at the conclusion of his first journey. The exact duration of Paul's stay in Antioch is unknown, with estimates ranging from nine months to as long as eight years.
Council of JerusalemMain article:Council of JerusalemSee also:Circumcision controversy in early Christianity
A vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place some time in the years 50–51,described inActs 15:2and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul inGalatians 2:1.The key question raised was whetherGentileconverts needed to be circumcised.At this meeting, Paul states in his letter to the Galatians,Peter,James, andJohnaccepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles.
The Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, and also in Paul's letters.For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief[Acts 11:27–30]apparently corresponds to the "first visit" (to Peter and James only).[Gal. 1:18–20]F. F. Brucesuggested that the "fourteen years" could be from Paul's conversion rather than from his first visit to Jerusalem.
Incident at AntiochMain article:Incident at Antioch
Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem, 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.
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 youlive like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that youforce 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.
The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. TheCatholic Encyclopediasuggests 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 andL. Michael White'sFrom Jesus to Christianitydraws the opposite conclusion: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch aspersona non grata, never again to return".
The primary source account of the Incident at Antioch is Paul'sletter to the Galatians.[Gal. 2:11–14]
Second missionary journeySaint Paul delivering theAreopagus sermoninAthens, byRaphael, 1515. This sermon addressed early issues inChristology.
Paul left for his second missionary journey from Jerusalem, in late Autumn 49,after the meeting of theCouncil of Jerusalemwhere 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 takingJohn Markwith 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, whileSilasjoined Paul.
Paul and Silas initially visitedTarsus(Paul's In Lystra, they metTimothy, a disciple who was spoken well of, and decided to take him with them. Paul and his companions, Silas and Timothy, had plans to journey to the southwest portion of Asia Minor to preach the gospel but during the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him to go to Macedonia to help them. After seeing the vision, Paul and his companions left for Macedonia to preach the gospel to them.[Acts 16:6–10]The Church kept growing, adding believers, and strengthening in faith daily.[Acts 16:5]
InPhilippi, 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 byBereaand then to Athens, where Paul preached to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the Greek intellectuals in theAreopagus. Paul continued from Athens toCorinth.
Interval in Corinth
Around 50–52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. The reference in Acts to ProconsulGalliohelps ascertain this date (cf.Gallio Inscription).In Corinth, Paul metPriscilla and Aquila(Acts 18:2), who became faithful believers and helped Paul through his other missionary journeys. The couple followed Paul and his companions toEphesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and most faithful churches at that time (Acts 18:18–21).
In 52, departing from Corinth, Paul stopped at the nearby village ofCenchreaeto have his hair cut off, because of a vow he had earlier taken.It is possible this was to be a final haircut prior to fulfilling his vow to become aNaziritefor a defined period of time.With Priscilla and Aquila, the missionaries then sailed to Ephesusand then Paul alone went on toCaesareato greet the Church there. He then traveled north to Antioch, where he stayed for some time (Greek:ποιησας χρονον, perhaps about a year), before leaving again on a third missionary journey.Some New Testament textssuggest that he also visited Jerusalem during this period for one of the Jewish feasts, criticHenry Alfordand others consider the reference to a Jerusalem visit to be genuineand it accords withActs 21:29, according to which Paul andTrophimus the Ephesianhad previously been seen in Jerusalem.
Third missionary journeyThe Preaching of Saint Paul atEphesusbyEustache Le Sueur(1649)
According to Acts, Paul began his third missionary journey by travelling all around the region strengthen, teach and rebuke the believers. Paul then traveled toEphesus, an importantcenter of early Christianity, and stayed there for almost three years, probably working there as a tentmaker,as he had done when he stayed inCorinth. He is claimed to have performed numerousmiracles, healing people and casting out demons, and he apparently organized missionary activity in other regions.Paul left Ephesus after an attack from a local silversmith resulted in a pro-Artemisriot involving most of the city.During his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth.
Paul went 20:1–2) and stayed in Greece, probably Corinth, for three months (Acts 20:1–2) during 56–57 AD.Commentators generally agree that Paul dictated hisEpistle to the Romansduring this period.He then made ready to continue on toSyria, but he changed his plans and traveled back through Macedonia because of some Jews who had made a plot against him. InRomans 15:19Paul wrote that he visitedIllyricum, but he may have meant what would now be calledIllyria Graeca,which was at that time a division of the Roman province of Macedonia.On their way back to Jerusalem, Paul and his companions visited other cities such andTyre. Paul finished his trip with a stop inCaesarea, where he and his companions stayed withPhilip the Evangelistbefore finally arriving at Jerusalem.[Acts 21:8–10][21:15]
Journey from Rome to Spain
Among the writings of the early Christians,Pope Clement Isaid that Paul was "Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West", and that "he had gone to the extremity of the west".John Chrysostomindicated 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".Cyril of Jerusalemsaid 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".TheMuratorian fragmentmentions "the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] [5a] (39) when he journeyed to Spain".
Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles
This table is adapted from White,From Jesus to Christianity.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.
First visit to Jerusalem[Acts 9:26–27]
"after many days" of Damascus conversion
- preaches openly in Jerusalem with Barnabas
- meets apostles
First visit to Jerusalem[Gal. 1:18–20]
three years after Damascus conversion[Gal. 1:17–18]
- sees only Cephas (Peter) and James
Second visit to Jerusalem[Acts 11:29–30][12:25]
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]
- "Council of Jerusalem"
- followed by confrontation with Barnabas in Antioch[Acts 15:36–40]
Anothervisit 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]
Fourth visit to Jerusalem[Acts 18:21–22]
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
Anothervisit to Jerusalem
to deliver the collection for the poor
Last visit to Jerusalem and arrestSaint Paul arrested, early 1900s Bible illustration
In 57, upon completion of his third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Jerusalem for his fifth and final visit with a collection of money for the local community. Acts reports that he initially was warmly received. However, Acts goes on to recount how Paul was warned by James and the elders that he was gaining a reputation for beingagainst the Law, saying "they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs". Paul underwent a purification ritual in order to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law.[Acts 21:17–26]
After seven days in Jerusalem, some "Jews from Asia" (most likely fromRoman Asia) accused Paul of defiling the temple by bringing gentiles into it. He was seized and dragged out of the temple by an angry mob. He narrowly escaped being killed by surrendering to a group of Romancenturions, who arrested him, put him in chains and took him to thetribune.[Acts 21:27–36]
When a plot to kill Paul on his way to an appearance before the Jews was discovered, he was transported by night toCaesarea Maritima. He was held as a prisoner there for two years byMarcus Antonius Felix, until a new governor,Porcius Festus, reopened his case in 59. When Festus suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to "appeal unto Caesar".Finally, Paul and his companions sailed for Rome where Paul was to stand trial for his alleged crimes.
Acts recounts that on the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita" (Malta),[Acts 27:39–44]where the islanders showed him "unusual kindness" and where he was met byPublius.[Acts 28:1–10]From Malta, he travelled to Rome 28:11–14]
Two years in RomePaul Arrives in Rome, fromDie Bibel in Bildern
He finally arrived in Rome around 60, where he spent another two years under house arrest.The narrative of Acts ends with Paul preaching in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial.[Acts 28:30–31]
Irenaeuswrote in the2nd centurythat Peter and Paul had been the founders of the church in Rome and had appointedLinusas succeedingbishop.Paul was not a bishop of Rome, nor did he bringChristianity to Romesince 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]Paul only played a supporting part in the life of the church in Rome.
DeathThe Beheading of Saint PaulbyEnrique Simonet, 1887
The date of Paul's death is believed to have occurred after theGreat Fire of Romein July 64, but before the last year of Nero's reign, in 68.According to severalChurch Fathersandapocryphal books, Paul was beheaded in Rome by orders of Nero.[note 2]
A legend later[when?]developed that his martyrdom occurred at the Aquae Salviae, on theVia Laurentina. According to this legend, after Paul was decapitated, his severed head rebounded three times, giving rise to a source of water each time that it touched the ground, which is how the place earned the name "San Paolo alle Tre Fontane" ("St Paul at the Three Fountains").Also according to legend, Paul's body was buried outside the walls of Rome, at the second mile on theVia Ostiensis, on the estate owned by a Christian woman named Lucina. It was here, in the fourth century, that the EmperorConstantine the Greatbuilt a first church. Then, between the fourth and fifth centuries it was considerably enlarged by the EmperorsValentinian I,Valentinian II,Theodosius I, andArcadius. The present-dayBasilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wallswas built there in 1800.
Caiusin hisDisputation Against Proclus(198 AD) mentions this of the places in which the remains of the apostles Peter and Paul were deposited: "I can point out the trophies of the apostles. For if you are willing to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way, you will find the trophies of those who founded this Church".
Jeromein hisDe Viris Illustribus(392 AD) writing on Paul's biography, mentions that "Paul was buried in the Ostian Way at Rome".
In 2002, an 8-foot (2.4m)-long marble sarcophagus, inscribed with the words "PAULO APOSTOLO MART" ("Paul apostle martyr") was discovered during excavations around theBasilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wallson theVia Ostiensis. Vatican archaeologists declared this to be the tomb of Paul the Apostle in 2005.In June 2009,Pope Benedict XVIannounced excavation results concerning the tomb. 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 support the conclusion that the tomb is Paul's.
Church traditionGreek Orthodoxmural painting of Saint Paul
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:
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".Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the 4th century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman EmperorNero.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 ofSan Paolo alle Tre Fontanemarks the place of Paul's execution. ARoman Catholicliturgicalsolemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, commemorates hismartyrdom, and reflects a tradition (preserved by Eusebius) that Peter and Paul were martyred at the same time.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.Persons or religious orders with special affinity for St. Paul can still celebrate their patron on June 30.
Statue of St. Paul, Community Mausoleum ofAll Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois
The apocryphalActs of Pauland the apocryphalActs of Petersuggest 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.[2Tim. 4:13]A tradition holds that Paul was interred with Saint Peterad Catacumbasby thevia Appiauntil moved to what is now theBasilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wallsin Rome.Bede, in hisEcclesiastical History, writes thatPope Vitalianin 665 gave Paul's relics (including a cross made from his prison chains) from thecrypts of Lucinato KingOswy of Northumbria, northern Britain. Paul is considered the patron saint ofLondon.
TheFeast of the Conversion of Saint Paulis celebrated on January 25.
The New Testament offers little if any information about the physical appearance of Paul, but several descriptions can be found inapocryphaltexts. In theActs of Paulhe is described as "A man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked".In the Latin version of theActs of Paul and Theclait is added that he had a red, florid face.
InThe History of the Contending of Saint Paulhis countenance is described as "ruddy with the ruddiness of the skin of the pomegranate".The Acts of Saint Peterconfirms that Paul had a bald and shining head, with red hair.As summarised by that Paul's stature was low, his body crooked and his head bald.Lucian, in hisPhilopatris, describes Paul as "corpore erat parvo (he was small), contracto (contracted), incurvo (crooked), tricubitali (of threecubits, or four feet six)".
Nicephorusclaims that Paul was a little man, crooked, and almost bent like a bow, with a pale countenance, long and wrinkled, and a bald Lucian's height of Paul, referring to him as "the man of three cubits".
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Main article:Pauline epistlesStatue of St. Paul in theArchbasilica of Saint John LateranbyPierre-Étienne Monnot
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 7 is disputed.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 theLord'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. Powell asks if we might be ignorant of other matters simply because no crises arose that prompted Paul to comment on them.:234
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.[note 3]
AuthorshipPaul Writing His Epistles, painting attributed toValentin de Boulogne, 17th centuryMain article:Authorship of the Pauline epistles
Seven of the 13 letters that bear Paul's name –Romans,1 Corinthians,2 are almost universally accepted as being entirely authentic (dictated by Paul himself).They are considered the best source of information on Paul's life and especially his thought.
Four of the letters (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are widely consideredpseudepigraphical, while the authorship of the other two is subject to debate.Colossians and 2Thessalonians are possibly "Deutero-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by Paul's followers after his death. Similarly, 1Timothy, 2Timothy, 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.
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.However, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Internal evidence shows close connection with Philippians.
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 theSecond Comingis missing, andChristian marriageis exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in1Cor. 7:8–9. Finally, according toR.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.
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.
Russian Orthodoxiconof the Apostle Paul, 18th century style="margin: 0.5em 0px;">Three main reasons have been advanced by those who question Paul's authorship of 1Timothy, 2Timothy, and Titus– also known as thePastoral Epistles.
First, they have found a difference in these letters' vocabulary, style, andtheologyfrom 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.
- Second, there is a difficulty in fitting them into Paul's biography as we have it.They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul's release and travel thereafter.
- Third, 2Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned on stylistic grounds with, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1Thessalonians– 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.
Although approximately half ofActsdeals 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 ofPaul'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.
British Jewish scholarHyam Maccobycontended 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 toJohn the Baptistin thePauline 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.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.
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 Schoolof 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, withAdolf Deissmann(1866–1937) andRichard Reitzenstein(1861–1931) emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance andAlbert Schweitzerstressing his dependence on Judaism.