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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Paul

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This apostle was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of pure descent, born at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a fact which gave to him the privilege of Roman citizenship. He was a disciple of Gamaliel and a strict Pharisee. He is first introduced to us as a young man, by name SAUL, at whose feet the witnesses who stoned Stephen laid their clothes. He became afterwards a violent persecutor of the saints, both of men and women, acting with great zeal, thinking he was doing God's service. His conversion as the effect of the Lord appearing to him was unique, and he was so completely changed that he became at once as bold for Christ as before he had been a persecutor of Christ in the persons of His saints. He immediately preached in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. This was the distinctive point of his testimony. As the Jews sought his life at Damascus, he departed into Arabia, where doubtless he had deep exercise of heart and learnt more of the Lord.

After three years he went up to see Peter at Jerusalem, where he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Jews again seeking his life, he was conducted to Caesarea, and sent to Tarsus, his native place. From thence he was fetched by Barnabas to go to Antioch, where the gospel had been effectual, and there they both laboured. After having, in company with Barnabas, taken supplies to Jerusalem (his second visit), on occasion of a dearth, he commenced his first missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor. He and Barnabas returned to Antioch, where he remained 'a long time.' On a dispute arising as to Gentile converts being circumcised, he went with Barnabas to Jerusalem concerning that question, and returned to Antioch. This city had become a sort of centre of the activity of the Spirit. Being far from Jerusalem it was less influenced by Judaising tendencies, though communion with the saints there was maintained.

Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece were the sphere of Paul's second missionary journey. Having differed from Barnabas, because the latter wished to take John with them (who had left them on the first journey), Paul selected Silas for his companion, and departed with the full fellowship of the brethren. During part of this journey Timothy was one of the company. He abode a year and a half at Corinth, where he wrote the two EPISTLES TO THE THESSALONIANS. He now visited Jerusalem at the feast, and returned to Antioch. He took his third missionary journey through Galatia and Phrygia.When he visited Ephesus he separated the disciples from the synagogue, and they met in the school of Tyrannus. At Ephesus he wrote theFIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, and probably the EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS. After the tumult raised by Demetrius he went to Macedonia, and there wrote the SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. He again visited Corinth and wrote the EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.

The Jews seeking his life, Paul went through Macedonia, sailed from Philippi, and preached at Troas. At Miletus he gave a solemn parting address to the elders of Ephesus, and took his leave of the disciples at Tyre, where he was cautioned not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea also he was warned of what awaited him at Jerusalem, but he avowed that he was ready not only to be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Paul arrived at Jerusalem just before Pentecost. In order to prove himself a good Jew he was advised by the brethren to associate himself with four men who had a vow on them, and to be at charges with them. But while carrying this out he was seized by some Asiatic Jews, and beaten, but was rescued by Lysias, the Roman chief captain. After appearing before the council, and again being rescued by him, he was for safety sent off by night to Caesarea. There his cause was heard by Felix, who kept him prisoner, hoping to be bribed to release him. Two years later, when superseded by Festus, Felix, to please the Jews, left Paul in bonds. On appearing before Festus, to save himself from being sent to Jerusalem, there being a plot to waylay and murder him, Paul appealed to the emperor. His case having been heard by Agrippa and Festus, he was finally remitted to Rome. The ship, however, was wrecked at Malta, where they wintered, all on board having been saved.

On his arrival at Rome, Paul sent for the chief men of the Jews and preached to them: some of them believed, though the majority rejected God's grace (thus fulfilling Isaiah 6:9,10 ), which should henceforth go to the Gentiles. He, though still a prisoner, abode two years in his own hired house. There he wrote the EPISTLES TO THE COLOSSIANS, the EPHESIANS, the PHILIPPIANS, and also to PHILEMON.

The history of Paul is thus far given in the Acts of the Apostles, but there are intimations in the later epistles that after the two years at Rome he was liberated. His movements from that time are not definitely recorded; apparently he visited Ephesus and Macedonia, 1 Timothy 1:3 ; wrote the FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY; visited Crete, Titus 1:5 ; and Nicopolis, Titus 3:12 ; wrote the EPISTLE TO TITUS (the early writers say that he went to Spain, which we know he desired to do, Romans 15:24,28 ); visited Troas and Miletus, 2 Timothy 4:13,20 ; wrote the EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS; and when a prisoner at Rome the second time, wrote the SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY, when expecting his death. Early writers say that he was beheaded with the sword, which is probable, as he was a Roman citizen.

Paul received his commission directly from Christ who appeared to him in glory, and this source of his apostleship he carefully insists on in the Epistle to the Galatians. New light as to the church in its heavenly character came out by Paul, who was God's special apostle for that purpose. To him was revealed the truth that the assembly was the body of Christ, and the doctrine of new creation in Christ Jesus, in which evidently there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. This caused great persecution from the Jews and from Judaising teachers, who could not readily give up the law, nor endure the thought of Gentiles having an equal place with themselves. This Paul insisted on: it was his mission as apostle to the Gentiles. To Paul also was committed what he calls "my gospel:" this was 'the gospel of the glory' (Christ in glory who put away the Christian's sins being presented in it as the last Adam, the Son of God). 2 Corinthians 4:4 . It not only brings salvation, great as that is, but it separates the believer from earth, and conforms him to Christ as He is in glory.

Paul was an eminent and faithful servant of Christ. As such he was content to be nothing, that Christ might be glorified. To the Thessalonians he was gentle 'as a nurse cherisheth her children.' 1 Thessalonians 2:7 . He was severe however to the Corinthians when they were allowing sin in their midst, and to them he had to assert his apostolic authority when traducers were seeking to nullify his influence among them. To the Galatians he was still more severe: they were in danger of being shipwrecked as to faith by false Judaising teachers, who were undermining the truth of the gospel.

In the epistles we get a few glimpses of the inner life of Paul. After having been caught up into the third heavens, he prayed for the removal of the thorn in the flesh which had been given him lest he should be puffed up, and was told that Christ's grace was sufficient for him, he could say, "most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.' 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 . He also could say, "To me to live is Christ;" and "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14 . As a martyr he reached that goal. The catalogue he gives of his privations and sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 discloses the fact that but a small part of his gigantic labours is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Paul '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/p/paul.html. 1897.

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