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Paul the Apostle

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A statue of Paul in Rome.

Paul of Tarsus, also known as Saint Paul the Apostle, (AD 9–67) was a jewish-Roman, writer and rabbi. He wrote the Pauline Epistles in the New Testament. It is believed that he wrote thirteen books of the Bible, all of which are letters to churches and Christians, encouraging them, helping them to understand Christian teaching and helping them to live Christian lives.

Paul's name was originally Saul. He was born in present-day Turkey, grew up learning both the Jewish law and the Greek ways of discussing things. When the Christian movement began, after the death of Jesus, he was strongly against it. He worked for the Roman Government and helped lead the arrests and killing of many Christians in Israel and the nearby area.

While he was on the road to Damascus in search of Christians there, he had a vision. In the vision Jesus Christ spoke to him, telling Saul that his persecution of Christians was a persecution of Jesus himself, and that it did not please God. Saul was blinded by the vision. A short time later he met Ananias, a disciple of Jesus, and his sight came back to him. (see Acts 22:12)

A painting of Paul of Tarsus by Rembrandt

Saul was baptised as a Christian. He spent the next three years studying the Jewish scriptures again to find explanations for the Christian teachings. His viewpoint completely changed by his experiences. He changed his name to Paul and he dedicated his life to serving Jesus Christ. He used his earlier education to explain his new faith to other people, and discuss things with people who had other beliefs. He traveled around the Roman Empire, teaching others about Christianity, and wrote letters back and forth with the churches he helped to begin. The letters contain many important parts of Christian teaching.

Paul was put to death by orders of the emperor Nero in Rome, in 67 AD. He had the rights of a Roman citizen, which meant that he could be put to death by having his head cut off with a sword, rather than by crucifixion.

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Facial composite of Paul the Apostle, made by experts of the state police of NRW, Germany

The following people were the twelve apostles of Jesus:

  • Paul became an apostle after Jesus' death and resurrection.

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