whose Hebrew name was Saul, was a native of
Tarsus in Cilicia and a disciple of the famous
doctor of the Law, Gamaliel. He was a zealous
persecutor of the Christians until Christ appeared
to him while on his way to Damascus. Paul became
the great Apostle of the Nations, whose many
missionary journeys are recorded in the Acts
of the Apostles. Saint Paul was beheaded in
Rome under Nero.
Paul, the indefatigable Apostle of
the Gentiles, was converted from Judaism on the road
to Damascus. St. Paul’s
entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his
meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an
instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality
was being wasted.
Perhaps he had never seen Jesus,
who was only a few years older. But he had acquired
a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as
he began to harass the Church: “...entering
house after house and dragging out men and women,
he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts
8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed,
all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a
slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation,
an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.
One sentence determined his theology:
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”
(Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with
people—the loving group of people Saul had been
running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the
mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly
After His Conversion
He remained some days in Damascus
after his Baptism, and then went to Arabia, possibly
for a year or two to prepare himself for his future
missionary activity. Having returned to Damascus,
he stayed there for a time, preaching in the synagogues
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For this
he incurred the hatred of the Jews and had to flee
from the city. He then went to Jerusalem to see Peter
and pay his homage to the head of the Church.
Later he went back to his native
Tarsus, where he began to evangelize his own province
until called by Barnabus to Antioch. After one year,
on the occasion of a famine, both Barnabus and Paul
were sent with alms to the poor Christian community
at Jerusalem. Having fulfilled their mission they
returned to Antioch.
Soon after this, Paul and Barnabus
made the first missionary journey, visiting the island
of Cypress, then Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia,
all in Asia Minor, and establishing churches at Pisidian
Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
After the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem
Paul, accompanied by Silas and later also by Timothy
and Luke, made his second missionary journey, first
revisiting the churches previously established by
him in Asia Minor, and then passing through Galatia.
At Troas a vision of a Macedonian was had by Paul,
which impressed him as a call from God to evangelize
in Macedonia. He accordingly sailed for Europe, and
preached the Gospel in Philippi. Thessalonica, Beroea,
Athens, and Corinth. Then he returned to Antioch by
way of Ephesus and Jerusalem.
On his third missionary journey,
Paul visited nearly the same regions as on the second
trip, but made Ephesus where he remained nearly three
years, the center of his missionary activity. He laid
plans also for another missionary journey, intending
to leave Jerusalem for Rome and Spain. Persecutions
by the Jews hindered him from accomplishing his purpose.
After two years of imprisonment at Caesarea he finally
reached Rome, where he was kept another two years
The Acts of the Apostles gives us
no further information on the life of the Apostle.
We gather, however, from the Pastoral Epistles and
from tradition that at the end of the two years St.
Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, and
then traveled to Spain, later to the East again, and
then back to Rome, where he was imprisoned a second
time and in the year 67, was beheaded.
Work Of St. Paul
Paul was the first great Christian
theologian, establishing some of the building blocks
of the faith. St. Paul shows himself to be a profound
religious thinker and he has had an enduring formative
influence in the development of Christianity.
The true sign of Paul's importance
is that even nearly 2000 years after his death he
still inspires passion. The
centuries only make more apparent his greatness of
mind and spirit. His feast day is June 29th.
Honour Of St. Paul
O God of knowledge and giver of wisdom,
who bringest to light the hidden things of darkness,
and givest the word unto them that preach the gospel
with great power, who of Thy goodness didst call Paul,
who was sometime a persecutor, to be a chosen vessel,
and wast pleased in him, that he should become a chosen
apostle and preacher of the gospel of Thy kingdom,
O Christ our God. Thee also do we now entreat, O Thou
good and that lovest man.
Graciously grant unto us and unto
all Thy people a mind without wandering and a clear
understanding, that we may learn and understand how
profitable are Thy holy teachings, which are now come
unto us by him; and even as he was made like unto
Thee, the leader unto life, so make us to be like
unto him in deed and doctrine, the leader unto life,
so make us to be like unto him in deed and doctrine,
that we may glorify Thy holy Name and ever glory in
Thy Cross. And Thou art He unto whom we ascribe praise
and glory and worship, the Father and the Son and
the Holy Ghost, now and ever and unto the ages of
all ages. Amen.