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Paul Of Turkey

Paul (known before his conversion as Saul) was chosen by Jesus Christ to be an apostle of The Messiah. In its original, true form, "apostle" simply meant someone sent, a definition that Paul surely fulfilled in his preaching of The Gospel of The Kingdom of God to people of many nations (and even more so today as the record of his ministry in the book of Acts and his Epistles are read by millions of people all around the world).

While Paul was a Jew and a Benjamite (see Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?), he was also a native-born citizen of what is today Turkey - which added further to his lifelong preparation for becoming an apostle. Paul was a Pharisee, and was therefore well versed in the Holy Scriptures (although he did not fully understand them until the Light of the Holy Spirit came upon and within him from the time of his conversion; see Paul's Blindness Lesson), but he was also well familiar with the land from and through which all of his journeys for the Gospel would be undertaken (see the Fact Finder question below for maps of all 3 journeys). Like Moses who spent 40 years in the Sinai (see Palace Prince To Sinai Shepherd) before the Exodus of the Israelites into the Sinai, Paul intimately knew the area throughout Turkey in which his work for the LORD would be accomplished.

"Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles"

Paul was born about the same time as Jesus Christ (i.e. around the time of Christ's crucifixion, Paul was an adult Pharisee, but still described as a young man i.e. Acts 7:58), in Tarsus, the primary city of Cilicia in Turkey. In the time of Paul, Tarsus was a wealthy city renowned as a center of learning on par with Athens in Greece and Alexandria in Egypt; hence Paul described it as "no mean city" ("mean" there meaning average or median).

Paul's First Missionary Journey

"21:39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city" (Acts 21:39 KJV)

Paul further explained his upbringing in Turkey, and his conversion as a young Pharisee, when he was brought before those with whom he had previously been anti-Christian:

"22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. 22:2 And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,

22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 22:5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 22:7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? [see Was Paul Among Them?]

22:8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord?

And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

22:10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord?

And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 22:11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 22:13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 22:15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:1-16 KJV)

Paul also recounted how his return to Jerusalem after his conversion marked the beginning of his life's mission - back "home" from which many nations would come to know Christ through the efforts and writings of Paul (note that Christ appeared to Paul in the Temple).

"22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 22:18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me [see From Persecutor To Persecuted].

22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 22:20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

22:21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." (Acts 22:17-21 KJV)

Fact Finder: Where did the apostle Paul go during his ministry through Turkey?
Paul's First Missionary Journey: Acts 13:1 to 15:35
Paul's Second Missionary Journey: Acts 15:36 to 18:22
Paul's Third Missionary Journey: Acts 18:23 to 21:17

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