The Life of St. Paul


Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles, was born a Jew at Tarsus and studied under the respected Rabbi Gamaliel as a strict Pharisee at Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). St. Paul went on to become one of the greatest of the Apostles, zealously bringing the Light of Christ to the Gentiles.

At a young age he learned the trade of a tent-maker (Acts 18:1-3) and inherited Roman citizenship from his father (Acts 22:28). The young Saul (as he was known before his conversion of Christianity) was zealous for Judaism and consented to the stoning of St. Stephen, later actively joining in the persecution of the Christians (Acts 8:3). While on the way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there, he had a sudden vision of the Lord, Who rebuked him for his persecution. He was then baptized, retired to Arabia for about three years of prayer and solitude, and returned to Damascus. There his enemies were so hostile that he escaped by night, lowered in a basket over the city wall, and went to Jerusalem where he was received with some hesitation until Barnabas quelled the doubts of the community. Some years later he worked at Antioch and its vicinity, where he reproved Peter for appearing to compromise with the Jews.

Three missionary journeys followed: first to Cyprus; then to Asia Minor and eastern Greece; lastly, to Ephesus, where he made a prolonged stay and wrote 1 Corinthians. Next he journeyed to Macedonia and Achaia, where he wrote Romans, before returning to Jerusalem. There he was attacked and beaten by a mob for preaching against the enactments of the Jewish Law, but Paul invoked his privileges as a Roman citizen and eventually appealed to Caesar for a trial at Rome, as his life was in danger.

On the voyage to Rome he suffered shipwreck at Malta. When he reached it, he was under house arrest for two years, during which time he wrote the four 'captivity' epistles. Presumably he was acquitted at his trial, for he probably revisited Ephesus and may even have gone to Spain. He received martyrdom by beheading at Rome during the persecution of Nero and was buried where the basilica of St. Paul 'outside the wall' now stands.

During his missionary journeys, amply attested to in the book of Acts, he wrote letters of encouragement to various congregations and individuals along the way and fourteen of them have been accepted as part of the New Testament. Together with St. Peter, he is commemorated on June 29.

Troparion to Ss. Peter and Paul
O First enthroned of the Apostles
Teachers of the whole world
Entreat the Master of all
To grant peace to the world
And great mercy to our souls.