Paul's Missionary Journeys

Paul's Missionary Journeys

The Apostle Paul (10?-67? AD)

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St Paul: 14th-century mosaic from the
Kariye Camii, Istanbul. (Brownrigg:333)

Chart of Dates in Paul's Life

The Apocryphal book, "The Acts of Paul and Thecla," describes the mighty apostle as "A man rather small in size, bald-headed, bow-legged, with meeting eyebrows, a large, red and somewhat hooked nose." Yet the power of the man was unmistakeable. "Strongly-built," the account goes on, "he was full of grace, for at times he looked like a man, at times like an angel."

By the time he was martyred in Rome, Paul helped to form an almost globe-spanning distribution of the gospel. It is almost unbelievable when you consider that Paul was a Roman Citizen to begin with, and that his origional encounters with the cause of Christ was his persecution of it. Paul did not have the chance, as many of the apostles did, to know Christ first hand. He became a Christian only after an experience with the living Christ on the road to Damascus. It changed his life.

In the book of Acts, Paul is called by his Hebrew name, Saul, until his clash withe the wizard Bar-Jesus on the island of Cyprus. As a Roman citizen, he was probably called by both names, which was common for Jews during this time. The change from the Hebrew, "Saul," to the Greco-Roman, "Paul," was appropriate for his mission to the Gentiles. Paul's upbringing as a Jewish Pharisee made him respected among the Jews and his Roman citizenship, likewise, esteemed him among the Gentiles.

Grace is the key word for Paul. He writes in Ephesians 2:8, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from youselves, it is the gift of God." There is nothing you have to do and nothing you can do to earn it. He continues in Ephesians 2:9, "not by works, so that no one can boast." With his background, Paul certainly could have boasted, a Pharisee and Roman citizen, but it was only through the grace of God that he recieved salvation. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10) Paul encounters pain and hardships, floggings and imprisonments, ridicule, persecution and eventually death, yet he knows it is all within God's plan. To Paul, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)