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Paul's Ministry

According to some secular records (there is no description of him in The Bible), the apostle Paul wouldn't have won any "beauty contests." One second-century account described him as "short of stature, bald head, crooked legs, a large hooked nose with eyebrows that met in the middle." This manner of description seems to be corroborated by Paul's own admission that he was "unimpressive" (e.g. 2 Corinthians 10:10) not only in physical appearance, but also, very surprisingly, in speaking ability - certainly not "stage fright" (Paul boldly spoke before large crowds, and to high government officials who literally had the power of life and death over him) or in knowledge or vocabulary (he was a highly-educated Pharisee, and later, personally inspired by Jesus Christ), but with something that people didn't like, perhaps a voice that, although powerful in volume (the Scriptures make plain that the crowds could hear him) was of an unusual pitch or rate (a problem that another great servant of God had - Moses stuttered). And yet, in the eyes of God, and of Christians who base their Christian beliefs on the Holy Bible (of which Paul was an author, or a subject, of much of the New Testament), Paul was one of the greatest Christians that the world would ever know, a man "full of friendliness" as though he had the "face of an angel."

Paul's Ministry

Apostle The first mention of Paul in Bible History was prior to his conversion when he was known as Saul, the Christian-hating Pharisee who fanatically took part in the persecution and killing of Christians, including Stephen:

"And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen ... And Saul was consenting unto his death" (Acts 7:58-59,8:1 KJV)

It was while on one of Paul's Christian hunts that Jesus Christ (after His resurrection and ascension) personally brought about his conversion on the road to Damascus:

"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."

"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?"

"And he said, Who art Thou, Lord?"

"And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest" (Acts 9:1-5 KJV)

Saul, then known as Paul, was slowly, at first, accepted by the people who he not long before sought to destroy, but when it became obvious to all that he truly was repentant and converted, they not only accepted him, but accepted him as a prominent teacher and servant of the Gospel.

Then followed his major missionary journeys, the first to Asia Minor (i.e. Turkey), the next two on to Europe as well. See Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey.

It was upon the return to Jerusalem that Paul was arrested by the Roman authorities, at the behest of those who were still as Christian-hating as Paul was earlier (no doubt, some of them were his former friends and associates). See Claudius Lysias

As a Roman citizen, Paul demanded and was granted by the local governors (Felix, Festus and Herod Agrippa II - see The Herods), after being held in prison for over 2 years by them, that his case be heard before Caesar. Paul was then placed on a ship bound for Rome, a journey that would be interrupted by a shipwreck on Malta (see Paul's Journey To Rome). The Book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome after sailing in another ship from Malta.

Many of the Biblical Epistles found in the New Testament after the book of Acts were written by Paul to churches that he founded, or people that he converted, while Paul was either on his missionary journeys or in prison in Rome.

The Bible does not record how Paul died, although it is almost certain that he was martyred (the word martyr originally meant witness - see Martyrs), and that, as the Scriptures below state, he saw it coming. But as he makes plain in his farewell address to Timothy, Paul didn't flinch, he didn't compromise, he didn't back down, he didn't lose his courage. And although they did eventually kill him, it was Paul who was the winner.

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge The Quick and The Dead at His appearing and His Kingdom; Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables." [see Is "Truth" What You Want To Hear?]

"But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day [see When Will You Be Judged?]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:1-8 KJV)

Fact Finder: Did the apostle Paul ever claim to be infallible? Or did he recognize and teach that flesh and blood humans, even with the help of the Holy Spirit, can only understand the depth of the Scriptures imperfectly, for now?
1 Corinthians 13:9-12


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