Book: Mark A. Copeland–A Harmony Of The Life Of Paul
Submitted by: Hany Nabil Sadik (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Advisor: Dr. Samuel Galloza
Course: Life of Paul I (assignment A)
Submission date: 29/11/2008
Lesson 1: Paul’s Life Prior To Conversion
It is an important fact we can notice that the Holy Spirit had chosen to emphasize on the life of Apostle Paul and his writings as an example and source for learning about discipleship to Jesus Christ; this can be seen in the book of Acts, and Paul’s epistles in the New Testament. Therefore in this study we will harmonize the events, writings, teaching of Apostle Paul, using the book of Acts and the epistles.
The goals of the study are:
– Learning about the influence of his life, journeys, and his epistles.
– Understanding the nature of the early church, and the reasons of its rapid growth.
– We will surely be inspired by his example, teachings, and his life lessons in our Christian life.
- His early life and training
It is estimated that he was born near the time of Christ’s birth. He was born in Tarsus at Asia Minor. (Ac. 21:39; 22:3), He was a Hebrew, also he was a roman citizen and this citizenship affected his life and ministry afterwards. Paul was educated as a stern Pharisee according to the law, by a respectable law teacher in Jerusalem called ‘Gamaliel‘ (Ac. 22:3).
- Persecutor of the church
Prior to conversion Paul or better called Saul; which is his Jewish name was a zeal Pharisee that persecuted the church of Christ; we can notice this from reading (Act. 8:1-3; 22: 19-20).
Every side of Paul’s life prior conversion was to affect his later service to the Lord, and to accomplish God’s plan in his life: his Jewish education, roman citizenship and of course his conversion which is a wonderful example of God’s mercy. What about you did u received the mercy and grace offered in Jesus Christ as Paul did or not yet? If you didn’t, don’t hesitate; you can come to him now and be justified by his grace.
Lesson 2: The Conversion of Paul (36 A.D.)
Paul’s conversion was greatly astonishing, for the people who heard him preaching Jesus for the first time were astonished by his conversion (Ac. 9:21); because he was a famous persecutor of the church, and his conversion went like this:
- On the road to Damascus
Paul was on his way to the city of Damascus in order to arrest some Christian disciples, and during this journey the Lord Jesus appeared to him around noon with a very strong shinning light brighter than the sun, and spoke to him about his persecution of him (as Paul was persecuting the church which is the body of Jesus Christ); (Ephesians 1:22-23).
Paul had fallen to earth and was astonished at what was happening but finally he realized the authority and identity of Jesus, and submitted his life to him, the Lord then told him to enter the city of Damascus, where he will be told what to do.
- In the city of Damascus
Paul stayed in Damascus for three days praying and fasting; his sight was gone because of the strong light that he had seen. On the other hand, the Lord told Ananias (who was one of the Christian disciples at Damascus) to visit Paul where he was staying and to pray for him, so Ananias obeyed the Lord and visited Paul; laid his hand on him and prayed for him, then the sight of Paul was restored and he was baptized.
Paul stayed in the city for some days but soon he began preaching Jesus as the son of God, which caused a great astonishing effect among both the Jews and the Christians in Damascus.
The conversion of Paul is an event that had great effect both on the early church and on Paul himself. The effect on the church appeared in the great encouragement that the church had in the testimony of God’s glory in Paul’s conversion (Gal.1:22-24), while the effect on Paul is that he was motivated by God’s amazing grace to serve him fervently than any other minister (1Cor.15:10), as he knew that he didn’t deserve to be Christ’s apostle because he used to be the famous church persecutor. What about you? How the grace of God did affect your life and ministry?
Lesson 3: Paul’s Early Years Of Service (36-45 A.D.)
When it comes to ministry, Paul is famous of his missionary journeys, but that didn’t start until 45A.D, and this means there are 9-10 years after his conversion before his first missionary journey. What was Paul doing during this period of time? This is the issue to be discussed in this lesson of Paul’s early years of ministry; we can actually divide these years into five periods:
- Three years in Damascus and Arabia
Paul starts preaching Jesus in Damascus immediately after he had converted to Christ (Ac. 9:17-20) , but he didn’t stay there for a long time; he moved to Arabia (the desert area around Damascus), where as some estimate that he prayed and received revelation from God, or as others estimate that he preached the gospel in these parts. At the end of this period Paul returned again to Damascus and preached the gospel there, but soon he escaped from an attempted to kill him (Ac. 9:23-25).
- First visit to Jerusalem (39 A.D.)
After escaping from Damascus, Paul made his way to Jerusalem for the first time after his conversion, at first the church in there was suspicious of him, but Barnabas introduced him to the apostles and he met Peter and Jacob.
Soon Paul started preaching the message of Christ in Jerusalem boldly, and was exposed to another attempt to kill him, so he escaped by the helps of some Christian brothers to his birth land (Tarsus).
- Five years in Syria and Cilicia (39-43A.D.)
Paul returned to his home land, and he started ministry in the region of Syria and Cilicia.
Little is known about this period. At the end of this period, Paul moved from Tarsus to the growing church of Antioch by the encouragement of Barnabas.
- A Year in Antioch (44A.D.)
Barnabas and Paul taught in the church there together for one year, during that year, a prophet from Jerusalem predicted that a great famine would happen; therefore the church of Antioch decided to send a relief by the hands of Barnabas and Paul to the church at Jerusalem.
V. Second visit to Jerusalem (45A.D).
It was the second time for Paul to go to Jerusalem, he and Barnabas delivered the relief and after the death of Herod they took John Mark with them and returned to Antioch (Ac. 12:25).
The early years of service were a fruitful time in which many things were accomplished, as Paul preached the gospel, faced persecution, established churches and made disciples, cared about needy Christians. All these things were part of God’s plan for the preparation of the future of the ministry of Paul.
Lesson 4: First Missionary Journey, And Residence In Antioch (45-49 A.D.)
A new period of Paul’s life is surveyed here in this part of our study; it is the famous missionary Journeys period, for not until this time that Paul started going in his famous missions.
First; in this lesson we will survey the first missionary journey.
- The city of Antioch in Syria
While the church of Antioch was praying and fasting, the Holy Spirit asked the congregation to separate Barnabas and Paul for a special ministry, which is the missionary ministry. So the teachers and the prophets of the church of Antioch prayed for them, and laid their hands on them to send them on their way (see Act. 13) on the first missionary journey starting with the island of Cyprus, and accompanied by John Mark Barnabas’ cousin.
- The island of Cyprus
First they went to the Jews synagogue at Salamis and preached the gospel there; which later became a custom of Paul in every new city he enters.
After that Barnabas and Paul traveled through the island of Cyprus till they reached Paphos.
At Paphos they preached the gospel to the proconsul (Sergius Paulus), but they encountered a false prophet (a companion of the proconsul), and he tried to prevent Sergius Paulus from hearing the gospel. In this situation Paul appeared on the scene as the leader and the defender of faith, as he was filled with the Holy Spirit and miraculously blinded this false prophet, the proconsul was astonished to see the power of the gospel and was converted.
After what happened in Paphos, the Holy Spirit intended in the book of Acts to call Saul ‘Paul’ and to mention his name even before Barnabas, he started to take the lead (Ac.13:13).
- The regions of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia
Paul and his companions travelled to Perga a city of Pamphylia where John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.
They entered the city of Antioch of Pisidia in which Paul preached in the local synagogue.
The sermon of Paul can be briefly explained as a review of God’s dealings with Israel and the proclamation of Jesus as the promised savior that the scriptures predicted to come.
The Gentiles accepted the gospel more than the Jews who some of them led a persecution against Paul and Barnabas which forced them to leave the city and go to Iconium (Ac.13:51).
At Iconium, Paul and his companions preached in the local synagogue. They stayed for a long time there preaching the gospel boldly and the Lord worked with them with signs and wonders (Ac.14:3). The Jews stirred up many Gentiles against them; an attempted to stone them forced Paul and Barnabas to escape to Lystra and Derbe, although they had resistance from the Jews in Lystra, they preached the gospel with healing signs. They also made many disciples in Derbe (Ac. 14:8-21).
At that point the apostles began their returning journey; passing by every city they had preached the gospel in, sustaining the disciples, encouraging them to abide in Christ despite persecution and appointing elders for the new churches.
They finally sailed to Antioch in Syria, where they had started their mission.
- Residing in Antioch of Syria
The first missionary journey took about two years till the apostles returned back from where they started. Paul stayed in Antioch after returning from his first missionary journey for another two years reporting to the church of Antioch; how God had used them and how he opened the door to the Gentiles to come to faith in Jesus.
The same things connected with Paul’s early years of service continued with him in his first missionary journey, for he preached and faced persecution, established churches and taught disciples. Another fact appeared this time; it is preaching to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles.
God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles and he used Paul to open that door and to evangelize to them, what about us today? Did God open a door for us? And if yes do we use it?
Lesson 5: Conference In Jerusalem, And Return To Antioch (50 A.D.)
In his first missionary journey, Apostle Paul saw how God used him to open the door of faith to the Gentiles, but this was not a comforting idea to some brothers, especially from Jerusalem; they thought that Gentiles should first be circumcised, and keep the Law of Moses before they could be accepted in the church of Christ.
I. The problem in Antioch of Syria
The problem started when some of these brothers came from Judea to Antioch, and started teaching their ideas about the must of circumcision and keeping the Law to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas refused these teachings and opposed it, and as a result of that Paul, Barnabas and other companions from the church of Antioch decided to travel to Jerusalem; to discuss this issue with the church there.
- II. The meeting in Jerusalem
When Paul and his companions arrived to Jerusalem, a private meeting was held with some of the famous apostles and elders of the church there, in which Paul explained to them the gospel which he preached to the Gentiles (Ga.2:1-2).
James, Peter and John, who are the most regarded leaders among the church of Jerusalem approved Paul and the gospel that he preaches (Ga.2:7-10), after this private meeting was finished, the whole church gathered in a public meeting in Jerusalem, in which:
Peter gave a speech in which he explained; how God had chosen him first to preach to the Gentiles, and how they were given the Holy Spirit without any distinction between them and the Jews. Peter also reminded the Jews Christians that both, Jews and Gentiles are justified through only one way and it is the grace of the lord Jesus Christ (Ac.15:11).
After Peter’s speech, Paul and Barnabas witnessed to the church how God used them among the Gentiles with signs and wonders. Then James spoke to the meeting, he reminded them of what Peter had said. He gave his judgment not to trouble Christian Gentiles with the law and circumcision, but to ask them to abstain from food polluted by idols, sexual immortality, and some other evil customs.
The public meeting in Jerusalem ended with agreement on the ideas of James.
The church also decided to send two brothers (Judas & Silas) along with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch with an official letter from the meeting.
- III. The return to Antioch of Syria
Paul and his companions returned back to Antioch happily with the letter from Jerusalem, Judas soon returned back to Jerusalem, on the other hand Silas decided to stay with Paul and Barnabas in Antioch. After some time, Peter visited Antioch, and was rebuked publically by Paul for acting hypocritically; for he was eating with some brothers who are Gentiles, but when he saw some Jews brothers, he separated himself fearing that they see him eating with Gentiles (Ga.2:11-21).
This rebuke that Paul had done to Peter, although was unpleasant but was necessary for it deals with an issue that caused a great discussion and trouble in the early church, it is the issue of moving from an Old to a New Covenant, and to accept the Gentiles (who always considered as unclean) in the people of God. God had used Apostle Paul (who used to be a zeal Jew) greatly to solve this issue. Now do we Gentiles think how much we are blessed to be called to the fellowship of God, and his people?
Lesson 6: Second Missionary Journey (51-54 A.D.)
After Paul stayed preaching and teaching among the church in Antioch, he was concerned about the churches that he had planted in his first missionary journey.
He decided that he would go in a second missionary journey.
- The city of Antioch in Syria
The second missionary journey as the first one, started from Antioch, but an unpleasant disagreement took place between Paul and Barnabas, about taking John Mark with them or not.
This disagreement caused them to separate, but none of them stop his mission and ministry, so Barnabas took John Mark with him and travelled to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas; and travelled on his second missionary journey passing first through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
- The Regions of Asia Minor
Paul and Silas traveled then to Derbe and Lystra in the region of Asia Minor, where Paul took with him a new companion (Timothy), they moved through the region passing by Galatia and Iconium. The Holy Spirit then forbade them to continue preaching the gospel in Asia (Ac. 16:7).
When they reached Troas, Paul had a vision from God of a Macedonian man asking him to come and help them, they understood from Paul’s vision that the Holy Spirit is leading them in the direction of Europe to preach the gospel there, so Paul and his companions including Luke (the physician), obeyed the will of the Sprit so they travelled to Neapolis and then to Philippi.
- The Regions of Macedonia and Achaia
They arrived to Philippi, a chief city of Macedonia, where they converted Lydia and her family by a riverside (Ac.16:13-15). Paul and Silas were imprisoned, but suddenly there was an earthquake that opened the doors of the prison, and that event gave them a chance to convert the jailer and his family (Ac.16:25). After had been released, Paul and Silas went to the house of Lydia and encouraged the brothers then they left to Thessalonica, where Paul reasoned the Jews for three Sabbaths proclaiming Jesus as Christ. Some of them believed and also a notable number from the Greeks believed too, this caused the unbelieving Jews to be jealous and to cause them a lot of trouble. Paul and Silas therefore were sent away to Berea. Paul mentioned his stay in Thessalonica in his epistles (1Th.2:9), and (1Th.1:8).
Paul and his companions moved as mentioned to Berea, where the Jews were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, as they searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. Many of them became believers, but soon Jews from Thessalonica came to Berea and stirred up the crowds against Paul (Ac.17:13). Paul was sent away to Athens while Timothy went back to Thessalonica to encourage the Church, see (1Th.3:1-2).
While Paul was in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to come, he argued with the Jews in the synagogues every Sabbath, and with the Gentiles everyday in the market place, he was invited by some Greek philosophers in the city to speak at the Areopagus, which is the council of justice which met in open air on the hill Paul spoke at the Areopagus proclaiming the one and only God who will judge all humans, and his savoir Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead.
Some of them mocked at him and at what he said, while others believed in Jesus.
After some time, Paul moved from Athens and came to Corinth, where he lived and worked with a married couple Aquila and Priscilla, as he always did, Paul reasoned the Jews in the city synagogue every Sabbath (1Cor. 2:1-50) , but soon stopped to preach in the synagogue and moved next door to preach to the Gentiles. Finally Silas and Timothy came to Paul at Corinth with good news about the church at Thessalonica (1Th. 3:6-7), and this encouraged Paul to write his first epistle to the Thessalonians.
It was really a great success what Paul had achieved in Corinth, for many Corinthians were converted to Christ, and Paul remained there preaching the gospel and teaching for a year and half (Ac. 18:11). During this period of time Paul wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians (1Th 1:1), to encourage the church there to remain steadfast under persecution.
As expected the Jews at Corinth were angry because of the success of Paul in their city, so they took Paul to the proconsul of Achaia (Gallio); trying to bring him into judgment because of converting people, but Gallio refused to consider what they said and drove them out from his judgment seat, Paul was saved by the grace of God from another conspiracy which the Jews of Corinth planned against him, he stayed after that for many days in Corinth, then began his returning journey back to his home church at Antioch Syria.
- Return to Antioch in Syria
Accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, Paul started his returning journey by travelling from Corinth to Ephesus. He then travelled alone from Ephesus to Caesarea, and from there he went up to Jerusalem and visited the church there (Ac.18:21-22), and finally Paul returned again to his starting point at Antioch in Syria.
The second missionary journey was a very notable journey, for in it Paul was able to revisit and encourage the churches in Asia Minor, and to establish new churches in Europe for the first time. Paul also in this second journey established strong relationships with his new companions like Silas, Timothy and Luke. It was a journey of notable examples of conversion (Lydia, Jailer), and also we saw the good example of the devoted Bereans. May these examples be useful and inspiring to us today in our personal Christian life and ministry!
Lesson 7: Third Missionary Journey (54-58 A.D.)
After Paul had returned to Antioch, he did not stay there for a long time before he planned to go on a third missionary journey.
- The Regions of Asia Minor
For the third time Paul travel to the cities in these regions like Galatia and Phrygia, he visited the churches encouraged the brothers everywhere he travelled till he came to Ephesus, where he had visited before in his second journey and stayed for only a short time. This time Paul stayed for nearly two years in Ephesus, teaching daily in a school of a man named Tyrannus (Ac. 19:9-10), at that school Paul accomplished a great success; working great miracles, and teaching disciples who went out preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all parts of Asia Minor. During that period of time Paul wrote many epistles to the Churches; like his epistle to Galatians (55A.D.), in which he verify his apostleship and the gospel of justification by faith in Christ, another epistle he wrote is his first epistle to the Corinthians, in which he correct wrong practices and disapprove false doctrine.
Paul sent two brothers to Macedonia (Timothy and Erastus); planning that he himself will go there and leave Ephesus, he also sent Titus to Corinth in order to encourage the church. While Paul was planning to leave Ephesus; to travel to Macedonia, an unexpected event happened and caused his departure to be very fast, this event was a great commotion that was brought by some silversmiths of Ephesus against Paul and his companions (Ac. 19:23-41), this commotion eventually caused Paul to leave Ephesus and to travel to Macedonia.
- The Regions of Macedonia and Greece
When Paul came to Macedonia he met with Titus, and he preached the gospel throughout the region, it is estimated that at this missionary journey he reached with gospel till the Illyricum (Ro.15:19). He also wrote his second epistle to the Corinthians (57A.D.); to defend his apostleship and ministry. Titus accompanied by two other brothers were sent to Corinth delivering the second epistle and also to assist the Corinthians in collecting a relief to the church in Jerusalem (2Co. 8:6-8; 9:1-5). Paul travelled to the region of Achaia (Greece), and spent three months there; in which he visited Corinth for the third time, this visit to Corinth was mentioned in his second epistle to Corinth (see 2Co 12:14).
While in Corinth, Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans (58 A.D.); see (Ro. 16:23); in which he explain the design of the gospel of salvation.
- From Corinth to Jerusalem
Paul traveled through Macedonia, and met his companions at Troas; who included Timothy and Gaius, and at Troas Paul spoke to the brothers and broke bread, then departed with his companions and came to Miletus; where he met the Ephesian elders, and he talked with them about his ministry and example, and also warned them from false teachers (Ac.20:28-32) .
After that he sailed with his companions to Cos, Rhodes, till they reached Syria (Ac.21:1-2).
They reached first at Tyre (Syria); where they stayed for only one week with the disciples then they departed and sailed to Ptolemais, then to Caesarea; where they stayed for a long time at the house of Philip the evangelist (Ac.21:8-9), and in that house a prophet told the brothers that the Jews in Jerusalem will arrest Paul. They left Caesarea accompanied by some disciples, and arrived at Jerusalem; where they were welcomed warmly.
Paul had accomplished a great of success during this third missionary journey, for he encouraged the Gentile churches in Asia and Europe to help their poor brothers in Jerusalem; he also had disciplined many disciples in the school of Tyrannus, who preached the word in all parts of Asia. He wrote many letters to the churches including Romans, Galatians. As we continue with our study of the life of Paul, we learn not only from Paul’s example but also from the early church and the early disciples, their devotion their dedication, and their love and hospitality. May the example of Paul and the early Church disciples be a guide for us today in our ministry to the Lord!
Lesson 8: Arrest In Jerusalem (58 A.D.)
As Paul entered Jerusalem this time, he was happy because he is obeying the will of God by going to Jerusalem, and also because he is meeting the brothers, but on the other hand he was sad because he knew that he will be bound in chains and deliver to the Gentiles.
- Paul Arrival In Jerusalem
As mentioned before he was received warmly from the brothers and elders. On the next day Paul and his companions went to visit James and the elders, where Paul and his companions told them all about what God has worked with them among the Gentiles, and they glorify God on hearing the details of these stories, but they warned Paul from thousands of Jewish Christians that although believed in Christ, but are still very Jealous to the Law of Moses and how they are so angry with Paul because they heard that he teaches the Jews in Asia and Europe to forsake the Law of Moses with all its customs. They estimated that they will cause great trouble to Paul, unless he follows their advice; which is to go to the Temple with four men who have taken a vow, and to purify with them and to pay their expenses so that the Jewish Christians and the Jews would know that what they had heard about Paul was not true, so Paul agreed to follow the elder’s advice and went with the men to the temple.
- Paul’s Arrest In Jerusalem
Some Jews from Asia saw Paul in the temple; and stirred up a mob to arrest him, they accused him of bringing Gentiles into the temple (which is not true). The mob beat Paul and they didn’t stop till the Romans interfered trying to stop the crowd and they arrested Paul
Paul asked the permission of the roman commander to speak to the mob, and the commander agreed, he then spoke to them and explained from the beginning how he was religiously trained, and how he used to persecute the church of Christ, he spoke after that about his conversion, and about how the Lord told him to go and preach the gospel to the Gentiles. On hearing this last thing about preaching to the Gentiles, the Jews became very angry; they call for Paul’s death. The Roman soldiers then took Paul to the barracks, and Paul told them that he is a roman citizen, and this saved him from being scourged (Ac.22:25).
On the next day Paul was brought before a council of Jews elders (by the order of the roman commander), in order that the commander would understand why the mob wanted Paul dead.
Paul identified himself as a Pharisees before the council, and this caused the Jews elders in the council to divide and struggle against each others. Paul was brought back again to the barracks, and on that night God told him that he will bear witness in Rome too (Ac.22:11).
Soon a plot formed among the Jews to kill Paul, caused the commander to send Paul with guards and a letter to the governor (Felix) at Caesarea (Ac. 23:23-30).
It was a hard time for Paul in Jerusalem, but he was saved from the Jews at the end, and he was also encouraged when God told him that he will bear witness in Rome too.
Witnessing in Rome was something that Paul wished and prayed for (Ro.1:9-11), the Lord would answer Paul’s prayer to go to Rome but in a different way from what expected.
Lesson 9: Imprisonment In Caesarea (58-60 A.D.)
On arriving at Caesarea, Felix (the governor) received Paul and read the letter that was with him, Felix gave his orders that Paul will be kept in Herod palace until his accusers come and then a trial would be held.
- Paul Before Felix
Few days later some of the Jews leaders, including the high priest Ananias came from Jerusalem to Caesarea and a trial was held in which they accused Paul of profaning the temple, and of causing problems and disagreements between the Jews all over the world. Paul was permitted to defend himself; he made it clear in his short speech that there are no evidences or proves for all the accusations that they accused him of (Ac. 24:10-21). At the end of the trial, the case was still not solved as Felix delayed judgment.
Some days later Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla sent to Paul to hear him speaking about Jesus, and Paul spoke about the faith in Jesus, righteousness, and the Judgment of God, this caused Felix to be frightened (Ac. 24:25). Two years passed and Felix didn’t release Paul for the delight of the Jews, finally Felix was replaced by a new governor (Festus).
- Paul Before Festus
After few days from his arrival to Caesarea, Festus the new governor went to Jerusalem, where he met with Jewish leaders, who asked him to bring Paul to Jerusalem for trial, Festus preferred to set a trail for Paul at Caesarea and he told them so. That trial also went with no proves from the Jewish accusers for their accusations, and finally Festus, trying to please the Jews asked Paul if he is willing to be judged in Jerusalem. Paul (appealing to his roman citizenship) answered that he wants to be judged before Caesar at Rome (Ac.25: 10-12).
III. Paul Before Agrippa
Festus kept Paul in prison at Caesarea – after this last trial, for some time before sending him to Rome.
During this time king Agrippa II, the son of King Herod Agrippa, and Bernice who was an immoral princess; came to visit Festus. Festus told Agrippa about Paul and his case, Agrippa desired to hear Paul, so Festus arranged for a trial in which Paul will speak before Agrippa, Bernice and other important men of the city (Ac.25: 23). At the trial Paul was given the permission to speak. He started from his early life, his religious educations and his persecution to the church, he also reviewed his conversion, and the commission given to him from the Lord to preach the gospel to the Gentiles to save them from Satan to God through the faith in Jesus Christ. He also told Agrippa that he wished that all who heard him would be saved. After the trail had finished Agrippa told Festus that Paul had done nothing to worthy being put to death, and that he could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.
Paul had spent about two years in the prison at Caesarea, but he had the opportunity to witness before two governors, one king, and two immoral princesses, he also would be witnessing at Rome before Caesar as we’ll see, and as God told him before but in a different way. The irony is that all expenses of his trip to Rome will be provided by God through the Roman Empire we can learn from Paul’s life that God control all things to work as he desires.
Lesson 10: The Voyage to Rome (60-61)
Paul spent two years in prison at Caesarea, at the end of these two years; he is finally travelling to Rome by sea, which was a dangerous experience as we will see in this lesson.
- From Caesarea to Myra
Paul was placed under the care of a roman centurion during his voyage to Rome. He was joined by some other prisoners and two companions (Luke, Aristarchus). They took a ship of Adramyttium which sailed them to Sidon, and then- because of the winds- they sailed under Cyprus and the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia (Ac.27:4-5), till they arrived at Myra, where the roman centurion put them in an Alexandrian ship going to Italy probably a trade ship which was carrying corn from Egypt to Rome .
- From Myra to Malta
Because of the winds the ship sailed slowly till it arrived at Fair Havens on the south part of the island of Crete, (Ac.27:8), they spent much time there, and it was dangerous to sail during that time of the year (near September or October), so Paul advised the centurion to stay there all the winter. The centurion didn’t take Paul’s advice, because he and most of the others wanted to sail to Phoenix, where it is better to spend the winter than spending it at Fair Havens. They sailed along the coast of Crete, but soon they were caught by a hurricane called Euraquilo (Ac.27:14-15).
For many days they struggled with these strong winds, they even threw the tackles of the ship to be lighter, seeing no sun and stars for many days it seemed that all their hope to be saved had gone, so most of them gave up, but Paul spoke to them telling them that the angel of the God that he belong and serve appeared to him, and encouraged them by saying that they all will be saved, insuring that they will soon coast upon some sort of island. It actually happened as Paul said, after some days they arrived at the island of Malta. Although the ship was destroyed, all the passengers survived and came to the shore of the island safely. The natives of the island were good to them and honored them well, especially after Paul had amazed them when he hadn’t fallen dead when a snake bitten him. God was with Paul on his trip to Rome; he saved him and all his companions from real death in the sea.
- From Malta To Rome
Paul, his companions, and all the other passengers of the ship stayed at Malta for three months then they sailed on another Alexandrian ship to Italy. They arrived at Syracuse at Sicily, then to Pueoli, where they found Christian brothers and stayed for some days, after that from Puteoli they moved to Rome, where the centurion delivered Paul and the prisoners to the captain of the guards, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the guarding solders.
Paul had arrived to Rome as God had told him, and as he wished. Although he arrived there as a prisoner, but this didn’t prevent him from using this time, for it was a fruitful time in which he done many impact into the kingdom of God as we will see in the next lesson. Yet we can see and learn from the faith of Apostle Paul in his God, as an example for us today in our struggles in ministry.
Lesson 11: First Roman Captivity (61-63 A.D.)
Paul spent two more years in his new prison at Rome, it was a fruitful time to him and to the kingdom of God, as he received many visitors; including the Jewish leaders at Rome, he wrote epistles, and he preached the gospel to many visitors.
- His meeting with Jewish Leaders
He arranged for a meeting in which he met the Jewish leaders in Rome, in which he explained to them why he appealed his case before Caesar, and how the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem forced him to do so, he also preached them the gospel of Jesus Christ as God’s only savoir and king from Moses and the Prophets. The reaction of the Jewish leaders was mixed; some of them believed and others did not.
- His Circumstances in Rome
Some of the dearest of Paul’s companions joined him in Rome, as Timothy, Epaphras and Onesimus, and many others including Luke and John Mark. During this time Paul also wrote some important epistles to the churches, for instance the epistle to Philemon (61-62 A.D.), and his epistle to Colossians (61-62 A.D.) and the famous epistle to the Philippians (63 A.D.).
Paul surly expected to be released from his imprisonment (Phe. 22), and (Ph.1:23-27; 2:24), it is estimated that he was eventually released and travelled after his release; we can rely on some evidence from his latter epistles, and the writing of the early church fathers. May we learn from Paul’s life how good things can get out from bad circumstances, and use all our circumstances whether good or bad for the glory of God.
Lesson 12: Between the First and second Roman Captivity (63-67 A.D.).
During the two years that Paul spent in prison at Rome, he expected to be released.
He was released and traveled, but the nature of his travels after his release is uncertain, because the scriptures said little concerning it. In his book “A Harmony of the Life of St. Paul“. Frank Goodwin suggested two possible streams of Paul’s travels:
- Conjectural Travels: which suggests that he traveled to visit Philemon at Colosse then he passed Laodicea and Hierapolis, then finally to Spain.
- Authentic Travels: which suggested that Paul traveled with Timothy to Ephesus, and then with Titus to Crete (Ti. 1:5). Paul then returned to Ephesus, then he travelled to Corinth, and as he wished he spent the winter at Nicopolis (Ti. 3:12), where probably he was arrested.
Paul, as usual, used his time well he wrote other epistles to his fellows and friends, such as his first epistle to Timothy (63-64): in which he provided counseling for Timothy regarding his spiritual growth, and instructions concerning the church matters at Ephesus.
Very rare knowledge, what we know about this period of the apostle’s life, it looks similar to the period of his early years of service (36-45A.D.), but as far as we know it was a fruitful and busy time. Paul was able to make it through this time, because of his faith, and the help of his friends and companions. May we be blessed as Paul by the same faith, and the same support from friends in Christ!
Lesson 13: The Second Roman Captivity (68 A.D.)
What is revealed about the last part of Paul’s life, and his execution is very rare.
Some suggested that he was arrested at Nicopolis, and brought to Rome, where he was executed for being a Christian leader. From the second epistle to Timothy, which estimated to be the last epistle Paul had written, we can figure out many facts about:
- His Imprisonment At Rome
This time was not as the previous imprisonment at Rome, it appeared to be more severe, and he was treated as a criminal (2Ti 2:8-9). Many of his old friends were not present with him, some forsaken him as Demas, while others were gone to other places like Titus.
Paul experienced one trial and was expecting other one.
- I. His Anticipation of Death
Obviously in that epistle Paul was expecting to die, he knew that these were his last days (2Ti. 4:6), and we can notice that he remained trusting in Christ as his savior, and that he will receive from him a crown of righteousness (2Ti. 4:7-8).
- II. Details Of His Death
The scriptures say nothing about that issue, but still we can figure out some facts from the tradition like the date of Paul’s execution was probably around 67 to 68A.D. He was executed probably on the Ostian Road, just outside Rome near what is now called the Basilica of Paul. Since Paul was a roman citizen, that prevented him from being crucified; he was then beheaded and some of his friends took his body and buried it.
Apostle Paul is a famous example from the early church; as he established many churches across the Roman Empire, he wrote also about half of the New Testament, and still till now the influence of this life and teachings continue to be felt in the whole world. Yet, he would credit everything to the grace of God (1Co. 15:9-10). May his example encourage us today to long for the grace of God all the time and in every circumstance!
Understanding the book
The author of the book used a systematic combining method, as he connected events depending mainly on the book of Acts as his main source, also some other details from other sources like Paul’s epistles, and also the tradition which the author used as a source to figure out some details about the last days of Paul’s life and his execution. I think the author was very clever in combining and contacting events and facts that are found in these sources but not systemized
The author used a very systematic way for designing his study; he divided his study to lessons and every lesson includes outlines or points to illustrate the thoughts and events, and at the end of every lesson he wrote a conclusion for the lesson which contains practicing ideas for us today.
The book is mainly a historical book, as it focuses on the events of the life of Paul starting from his early life and religious training and following the historical stream passing his three missionary journeys and then at the end illustrating his final years in prison and the circumstances of his martyrs, but also the book included some good teachings and lessons that are considered to be Christian principles for life and ministry which can be useful for every Christian today.
The author tried his best to be clear, understandable and simple in both his language and his illustration, he many times repeated some events or facts to remind the reader about a certain place or a person or even an important idea that he had mentioned in a previous lesson, like for instance what he mentioned at the end of lesson 11 (First Roman Captivity), about Paul expectation to be released (see Page 45), and he re-mentioned it at the beginning of lesson 12 (see P.46). It seems to me from these repeats that the author think that the reader will have long time intervals between reading the Lessons, and he will not go through the book in a short time.
The effect of the book on me
The book seemed to me simple and impressive, on the other hand it seems in some of its parts boring and even some things the author said provoked me.
So in this part of the research paper I will divide the effect f the book on me into two parts:
A. Agreements and Advantages.
B. Disagreements and Disadvantages.
A. Agreements and Advantages.
The book is understandable and simple in its language, and this caused me to go through it fast and to understand its points and get benefit from it.
The author impressed me by contacting events, places and persons from the book of Acts and the different epistles, which cleared many unclear things and events for me especially while reading the epistles, for instance before reading the book when I used to read verses like (2Corinthians 1:8-10), I used to ask myself what suffering Paul was talking about?, a question with no answer for me. But now after reading the book I know that Paul was talking about his suffering in Ephesus.
One issue the author explained very well in my opinion is the issue of the disagreement that occurred between Paul and Barnabas on taking John Mark with them.
The author mentioned in page 22 that this disagreement did not keep any of both ministers from doing his service to God, and that disagreement was an opportunity for others to enter to the missionary field of ministry, and I think this is a very good understanding and explanation for that disagreement.
There is an idea which the author caught from Paul’s life and it is very inspiring to me, and that is the idea of Paul going through hardship (persecution, prison, etc…) then he make good use of this hard situation to witness or convert others or write epistles, this happened many times while he was imprisoned or arrested.
The last portion of Paul’s life was completely not clear to me, I always thought that he went one time to Rome and stayed there for years then he was trialed and executed, and from the book I knew that he had probably been released as he expected and then caught again after traveling.
The practical conclusions at the end of each lesson benefit me a lot; it gives the book sprit and life. I was personally affected with some of these conclusions and I would like to mention the most effective conclusions on me.
Both the conclusion of the first lesson which talk about the different aspects of Paul’s life prior his conversion and the conclusion of the third lesson which talk about his early years of ministry, and how all these aspects played a rule afterwards in his ministry to the Lord, and how these aspects were a part in God’s plan for his life and ministry.
This affected me as I used to wonder many times, and ask myself, why did God put me in these situations? Or why was I raised in that non Christian country? And, why I face these hardships in ministry and things do not go easy? And after reading the book I realized that all these aspects in my life are a part of God’s plan for me to accomplish what he is preparing me to do in the coming years of ministry.
The third conclusion that impressed me is the conclusion of lesson 12 which speaks about the faithful friends that helped Paul through his ministry especially during his darkest hours, I know how can faithful friends deliver and encourage in this dark times they could be like a candle light in a dark night.
B. Disagreements and Disadvantages.
In page 4 in the book, considering Paul’s early life, the author mentioned that Paul was a” Hebrew of Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5) and he estimated that this means that both his parents are Hebrews. I am not convinced by this estimation, and I agree with the explanation of W. M. Ramsay which say that this expression ” Hebrew of Hebrews “is of a Greek Origin not familiar to Jews ear and it is ‘similar to a familiar expression among the Greeks: “a priest sprung from priests” is a term commonly applied to members of the great sacerdotal families”, and this could mean that he was not an ordinary Hebrew but from an important and religious family.
The author mentioned in page 8, considering Paul’s conversion that Paul was still in his sins although he had accepted Jesus, and that he needed to be baptized in order to be washed away from his sins (see the book Page 8), I was provoked by this, as the bible is clear in the New Testament that we are justified and made clean from our sins only by faith, by accepting the grace of God through believing in Jesus as our Lord and savior, for instance in (Eph. 2: 8) ” for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”, and also in (Rom. 3: 24) “being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”.
If baptism was our way of justification then why the Holy Spirit didn’t mention it instead of faith or grace in the previous verses!! but baptism is mentioned as a command which considered as a visible and outer sign of real faith that wash sins by the work of the Holy Spirit, (see Titus 3: 5) “…but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit”, so baptism do not wash sins but is acting as a water sign of what the Holy Spirit do in the soul of a person when he believes and be justified by faith in Jesus. For that reason it is mentioned in many parts as an act that is conditioned by the existence of a real faith first (see Act. 8: 36), and (Act. 10: 47). I felt from what the author mentioned about that issue that he is affected by the teachings of the Roman church about justification and redemption
One last issue in which I don’t agree with the writer that is the issue of Act 21: the action of Paul towards the counsel of the elders of the church of Jerusalem, (see the book page31- 32). For I think that Paul was acting here hypocritically as Peter did in Antioch, for Paul always taught in his epistles that no authority or bound to the Law of Moses to a Christian whether he was before a Jew or a Gentile (see Gal. 2:16), he even blamed Peter for this, and we cannot say that he acted as a Jewish Christian as mentioned in (Act. 18:18) for in this mentioned vow was between Paul and God (godly goal) which any Christian can do, but in that situation he acted as Peter did and followed the advice of the elders for one goal -not godly one, which is : not to be harmed by the Jews Christians, and as Wesley said he yielded his own judgment and took their judgment which seemed to follow not from a spiritual but carnal wisdom
Apostle Paul is not an ordinary apostle he is the apostle of the Gentiles, the main hero of the book of Acts, and the only person who the Holy Spirit inspired to write nearly half of the New Testament of the gospel of Jesus Christ, on the other hand he was before conversion a fierce persecutor of the church. By this study of his life and teachings we could surely be inspired and learn a lot of lessons which will benefit us in our Christian life and ministry.
In this conclusion I would like to state the practical lessons that we could learn from this study, and I will illustrate them under four titles and these are:
How could this be that a firm Pharisee like Saul, an enemy of Christ who used to persecute the church turns to be a friend of that same church? Not only he became a friend but also he became Paul a firm apostle of Jesus Christ, whom he had persecuted. It is the grace and mercy of God that is offered to him when he believed and accepted his only son as his savior, redeemer and lord. Not only Paul was a persecutor of Christ and an enemy of God, but we all before our conversion were sort of Christ persecutors and enemies, may be with a more polite degree than Paul, but the bible says this about us as we read in (Rom. 5:10-11 ) “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation”.
Yes we were all enemies by our sins and stubborn will, that refused to submit to the Lord and King Jesus Christ the only lord and savior of God, and as we believe and accept Jesus we are reconciled and saved from everlasting hell -by the mercy and the grace of God, to everlasting life of God and with God.
This same grace is offered for me and you, if you hadn’t benefit from it, you are losing your life and hope, and that means too that you are not taking God’s side but the enemy’s. No matter what you think of yourself Jesus died for your sins and faults and raised to give you everlasting life, you can receive him now and be converted from Saul to Paul by the power of the grace of God.
After we accept the grace of God offered in Jesus Christ and are converted to Christians, what do Christ expect from his new followers is not always the same as we expect to do.
I remember myself as a new believer full of emotions and great expectations. I thought that I will immediately change the world, but as the time passes I figure out that I have to be trained and learn many things before God’s plan in my life is accomplished, as we read about the early years of Apostle Paul’s ministry to God, surely these years were fruitful years full of praying in the Arabia desert and preaching the gospel in many cities like Damascus, Jerusalem, Tarsus, facing hardships and persecutions, and teaching disciples at the church of Antioch.
All these years that passed from the life of Paul were years of ministry that is true, but not his ministry proper, as he had through these years been prepared and trained by God for the great missions that he was chosen to do afterwards. Do we realize that God may be preparing us for a greater ministry, and that all we are facing today in our current ministry might be for the glory of God in our future service to him, so we must thank God for everything, and we must continue as Paul continued in the ministry faithfully, for if the apostle had quitted when he faces hardships and struggles he wouldn’t have reached to his missionary journeys that was designed to him by God, and we may not remember him as apostle as we do today.
Apostle Paul is famous of two things: his missionary journeys, and his epistles to the churches of the first century. As we read the lessons stated in this book about his three missionary journeys we can realize many facts and learn many lessons, which could help and inspire us in our life and ministry today.
We can learn from the first mission of Paul, from the example of the church of Antioch how it was aware of the will of the Holy Spirit to send Paul and Barnabas in their mission, how they supported them and prayed for them and sent them on their way to the missionary field.
Are we aware of the will of the Holy Spirit to us or not? Or we are satisfied with a prepared comfortable program. We should follow the example of the church of Antioch as a church seeking to hear and obey the will of the Holy Spirit whatever it is.
We can learn from the second missionary two lessons, the first from the disagreement that took place between Paul and Barnabas on taking John Mark with them, this disagreement- although was not the best thing to happen, did not keep any of both ministers from doing his service to God or to quit missionary journeys, but this disagreement was an opportunity for others to enter to the missionary field of ministry, or by other words they didn’t let their disagreement stop their ministries. What about us, do we have disagreements in the ministry! Of course yes, and do we let these disagreements stop our ministry! I guess in most cases today yes. We should better follow the example of the apostolic disagreement and not to let our disagreements stop our ministries and service to God.
The other lesson or principle that we can learn from the second missionary journey is how Paul cared about the churches that he had already established in his first journey. for he didn’t only think of establishing new churches (actually the Holy Spirit led him to preach in Europe), but his main concern in this second mission was to go and visit the churches that he and his fellows had established in the first missionary journey, to encourage the Christians, to teach them and to see how they are doing in their new life with God. We see also how Paul still cares about these churches by writing his famous teaching epistles to them. We can learn this important principle from the apostle in our ministry, as we follow his example in this mission we should think not only of preaching the gospel and holding evangelical meetings which are held to convert sinners, but also we should care about encouraging the newly converted Christians in our ministry or church, also we should care of teaching them and see how they are doing in their new life with God.
In the third missionary journey we can see how Paul visited some churches for the third time, and we see also his persistence for doing the will of God despite dangerous and risks in his insistence to go to Jerusalem to witness there as God wish. May the example of the apostle inspire us in our ministry as we insist on obeying God will despite the consequences!
Paul’s final years of life
As we read about the final years of the apostle’s life we notice many things that can be considered as principles for life and ministry.
First as Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years, and in Rome for another two years we notice that these years were not wasted years as Paul witnessed before governors and kings and may be Caesar himself-he surly converted some of his visitors, and he wrote many epistles to the churches which are today considered as a portion of the Holy scriptures.
May as we read about that great minister we learn to make good use of our time and opportunities, and not to let hardships or persecutions or anything stop us from making good use of our time to the glory of God.
Paul during his last years remained steadfastly trustful in Jesus, and strong in his faith, he even wrote his last epistle to his fellow Timothy( second epistle to Timothy), encouraging him to keep the faith, not to be ashamed of the gospel and to bear hardship of ministry. May we learn from Paul to remain faithful and strong in faith despite hardship, we can- by having the same grace of God which Paul had in his last hard days, keep our trust and be encouraged, and even encourage others to remain strong and faithful while we are passing our darkest hour.
Anonymous. The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible, www.ccel.org/ccel/bible/asv.htm ,1901.
Easton M. G., Eastons Bible Dictionary USA: AGES Software, 1996, 1997.
Hodge, Charles, Systematic Theology- Volume I, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/theology1.html, 2005.
Mc Gravey, J.W., A Commentary on Acts of the Apostles, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/mcgarvey/acts.html , 1872.
Ramsay, W. M., St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, Aberdeen: King’s college, 1895, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ramsay/paul_roman.html, 2000.
Smith, William, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/smith_w/bibledict.html, 2002.
Wesley, John. Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.html.
 J. W. Mc Gravey, A Commentary on Acts of The Apostles, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/mcgarvey/acts.html , (1872), P127.
 M.G. Easton, Eastons Bible Dictionary (USA: AGES Software, 1996,1997), p92
 Ibid, p1675
 Ibid, p1770