THE APOSTLE PAUL
January 7, 2018
BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of The Holy Spirit as you read this booklet (EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will spend eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).
At this point in the study of Paul’s life, he has finished a three-year study period under the tutelage of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Can you imagine what that was like? What an honor!!
A short time after, he went back to his home territory of Tarsus and stayed for somewhere between three and ten years; scholars differ on the amount of time he remained alone there. In any case, little is known of his activities while there. Then Barnabas, who had been sent to Antioch to oversee the ministry there, remembered Paul and sought him out in Tarsus to bring him to Antioch to assist in the ministry there. About a year later, they were sent out on their first missionary journey together: Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (ACTS 13:1-3)
Paul had three missionary journeys that are noted in the book of Acts. Each was larger than the previous ones. It is believed that he went on a fourth that is not documented in Scripture.
In the late 40’s AD, Paul founded churches in the southern Galatian cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. These cities, although within the Roman province of Galatia, were not in the ethnic Galatian region. There is no record of Paul’s founding churches in that northern, less populated region. There are two uses of the word Galatia, one for political or geographic use, and the other for ethnic use, which make it difficult to determine who the original recipients of his teaching were. Some interpret Galatia in its strict racial sense and argue that Paul addressed this Epistle Galatians to churches in the northern Galatian region, inhabited by the ethnic descendants of the Gauls. The apostle apparently crossed the border into the fringes of ethnic Galatia on at least two occasions; however, The Book of Acts does not record that he founded any churches or engaged in any evangelistic ministry there.
In 63‑64 AD, Paul traveled east to Asia Minor by way of Macedonia. This means that in 58 AD, when he wrote the Book of Romans, the believers there were eager for God’s Word. But four years later, they had lost their vigor and could not send Paul west to teach. He had to go back to the churches which could still send out missionaries. Sometimes you have to go backward in order to go forward. You have to be disciplined before you can advance. Paul went to Colossi where he had never been before. He also went to Philippi and Ephesus. Paul had not previously visited the Lycus valley, but felt it necessary to do so, because he had never seen the results of what could take place totally without his influence.
During 64 AD, towards the end of the year, Paul traveled west to Spain. He embarked from Ephesus to Marseille, France. He did not stop at Rome because Nero had burned Rome and blamed the Christians. This was another reason why Paul had to go east first – because Nero was hunting for him in the west. From Marseille, where Paul established a mission station, he crossed to Cadis, Spain and served two years in tkere, 64‑66 AD.
From Spain, he returned to Ephesus where he had left Timothy. From there, he went to Macedonia and wrote back to Timothy in 1 TIMOTHY. At this time, Paul also wrote to TITUS in Crete. Then trouble broke out all over the empire. So, Paul started leaving people at the hot spots. Trophemus was left at Miletus and Erastus at Corinth.
Paul then went to Nicopolis of Epirus (a province on the western coast of Greece) and spent the winter there (67‑68 AD).
As we have learned in our study of The Apostles, all them, including Paul, were beaten, hauled off to jail, and almost all (with the exception of John) were killed for their beliefs. Christ told them “no man is greater than his master” (JOH 13:16) and He also said, to paraphrase, “they would drink out of His cup.” In both statements, He was telling them they would be persecuted and killed as He was. But He also assured them that they would receive their rewards in God’s Kingdom. And they did!!
For his safety, Paul was eventually taken at night by 200 Roman soldiers to Caesarea where Governor Felix governed and where the trial against the apostle would be heard. Although Felix believed that Paul was innocent, he kept him as a prisoner of Rome for more than TWO YEARS in the hopes that Paul would offer him a bribe for his freedom. Paul was eventually sent to Rome by ship in order to have Caesar hear his case.
After spending two plus years in Caesarea, the apostle was escorted to Rome by a Centurion. He eventually arrived in the city and, again, spent time in prison until his trial before Emperor Caesar. Paul appeals to Caesar and is set free. At the end of his fifth and last journey, in 67 A.D., he was again arrested and sent to Rome. He stayed in jail until he was beheaded by the Romans around May or June 68 A.D. During his ministry, the apostle Paul spent about a total of 5 1/2 to 6 years in jail.
Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy in June, 68 AD. A few days later he was killed. Except for Luke, Paul was alone at this time. Paul knew he was condemned before the trial. BUT, he knew he would die painlessly under dying grace.
Dying grace is defined as the death of the mature believer who anticipates seeing his Lord face to face. Because of this, dying is the dessert of life. Dying grace is the experience of physical death under special provision of grace. In Dying grace, the believer involved experiences both great blessing and happiness during the dying process. Dying grace can occur regardless of the amount of pain and suffering while dying. There could be maximum pain or a minimum of pain, but in either case there is maximum happiness and soul stimulation. As Paul wrote: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (PHI 1:21)
The following excerpt is from “Fox’s Book of Martyrs” concerning Paul. “Paul, the Apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that under his execution, Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.”
All of this is what led Paul to proclaim in 1TIM 1:12-17: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Paul lived an amazing life – changing the lives of many. Interestingly, the name “Paul” comes from the Latin and means, “small or little.” But you could never describe him or his life that way!!