1. PAUL – BACKGROUND
PAUL THE MISSIONARY PAR EXCELLANCE
It was a profound moment in my visit to Turkey, to visit the City of Tarsus.
Why? It was here that one of the greatest geniuses of his time was born.
He was a missionary that visited Turkey on three different occasions.
He is regarded as one of the greatest theologians of all time.
Join me in an experience of a life time as we follow him from birth to death.
Paul Gr. Paulos, from the Latin Paulus, a Roman surname meaning “little,” or “small.”
The great apostle to the Gentiles.
He is introduced in the Bible as Saul, Greek “asked [of God],” or “lent [to God]”;
Lets read what the book of Acts write about him:
Acts 7:58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
He is referred to by that name in the narrative of the book of Acts until chapter 13:9.
Acts 13:9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul,
There has been considerable speculation as to why, halfway through the book of Acts, Saul is abruptly referred to as Paul.
From this verse onward he is called Paul exclusively, except when he himself relates the story of his conversion (chs 22:7, 13; 26:14).
His Hebrew name was probably commonly used in his home and in his intercourse with Jews. His Greco-Roman name would be in keeping with the Hellenistic influence and environment of the city where he was born, and with his enviable status as a Roman citizen.
Later, when he began his work among the Gentiles, it was to his advantage to be known as Paul.
It is worthy of note that up to Acts 13 Paul is mentioned only in reference to his contact with the Jews. But in that chapter the record of his activities among the Gentiles begins, as does also the use of his Gentile name, Paul.
PAUL , THE MAN.
By birth, religion, education, and sentiment Paul was a Hebrew; so much so that in spite of his early contacts with Greek and Roman culture and philosophy he could call himself a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Php 3:5).
Let’s ask him to speak for himself:
Philippians 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee.
The modern name is ancient Gibeah is called tell el Full.
This is where Saul had is capital. From which tribe was he? And Paul?
Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Maybe his father wanted to give him a royal name from his own tribe.
In those days Citizenship was highly prized with many choice favours. Listen to what Paul writes:
Acts 22:27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”
Acts 22:28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.“
During my visit to Tarsus I was wondering how Paul got this citizenship?
There were certain procedures whereby a prominent Jew in a city such as Tarsus could become a Roman citizen.
Let me share some facts about Tarsus where Paul was born.
The chief city of Cilicia, founded by Phoenicians, situated on both banks of the Cydnus River about 19 km from the sea. Because it was on the ancient trade route, it became a famous and wealthy city.
BLACK OBELISK OF SHALMANESER III
I was surprised when I discovered its name on the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III. (859–824 b.c.).
Later it became the capital of a Persian province. Paul was acquainted with its rich history.
During the period of the Seleucids it lost much of its Oriental character, because many Greeks settled there.
In this period was founded the philosophical school of Tarsus, which in Paul’s time was rivaled only by those of Athens and Alexandria.
NEXT TIME WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT PAUL’S EDUCATION