History of the Christian Church: Vol. 1, Ch. 05, § 029-030

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History of the Christian Church: Vol. 1, Ch. 05, § 029-030


Subjects in this Topic:

Chapter V. St. Paul and the Conversion of the Gentiles

'd7'e1́'f1'e9'f4'e9 'e8'e5'ef'f5͂ 'e5'e9́'ec'e9̀ 'ef̔́ 'e5'e9̓'ec'e9, 'ea'e1'e9̀ 'e7̔ 'f7'e1́'f1'e9'f2 'e1'f5́'f4'ef'f5͂ 'e7̔ 'e5'e9̓'f2 'e5̓'ec'e5̀ 'ef'f5̓ 'ea'e5'ed'e7̀ 'e5̓'e3'e5'ed'e7́'e8'e7, 'e1̓'eb'eb'e1̀ 'f0'e5'f1'e9'f3'f3'ef́'f4'e5'f1'ef'ed 'e1'f5̓'f4'f9͂'ed 'f0'e1́'ed'f4'f9'ed 'e5̓'ea'ef'f0'e9́'e1'f3'e1, 'ef̓'f5'ea 'e5̓'e3'f9̀ 'e4'e5̀, 'e1̓'eb'eb'e1̀ 'e7̔ 'f7'e1́'f1'e9'f2 'f4'ef'f5͂ 'e8'e5'ef'f5͂ 'f3'f5̀'ed 'e5̓'ec'ef'e9́. - 1Co_15:10.

'd7'f1'e9'f3'f4'ef̀'f2 'c9̓'e7'f3'ef'f5͂'f2 'e7̓͂'eb'e8'e5'ed 'e5'e9̓'f2 'f4'ef̀'ed 'ea'ef́'f3'ec'ef'ed 'e1̔'ec'e1'f1'f4'f9'eb'ef'f5̀'f2 'f3'f9͂'f3'e1'e9, 'f9̔̀'ed 'f0'f1'f9͂'f4'ef́'f2 'e5'e9̓'ec'e9 'e5̓'e3'f9́. - 1Ti_1:15.

“Paul’s mind was naturally and perfectly adapted to take up into itself and to develop the free, universal, and absolute principle of Christianity.” - Dr. Baur (Paul, II. 281, English translation).

“Did St. Paul’s life end with his own life? May we not rather believe that in a sense higher than Chrysostom ever dreamt of [when he gave him the glorious name of ‘the Heart of the world’], the pulses of that mighty heart are still the pulses of the world’s life, still beat in these later ages with even greater force than ever?” - Dean Stanley (Sermons and Essays on the Apostolic Age. p. 166).

29. Sources and Literature on St. Paul and His Work

I. Sources

1. The Authentic Sources

The Epistles of Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles Act_9:1-30 and Act_13:1-52 to Act_28:1-31. Of the Epistles of Paul the four most important Galatians, Romans, two Corinthians - are universally acknowledged as genuine even by the most exacting critics; the Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians are admitted by nearly all critics; the Pastoral Epistles, especially First Timothy, and Titus, are more or less disputed, but even they bear the stamp of Paul’s genius.

On the coincidences between the Acts and the Epistles see the section on the Acts. Comp. also 'a7 22.

2. The Legendary and Apocryphal Sources

Acta Pauli et Theclae, edition in Greek by E. Grabe (from a Bodleian MS. in Spicileg. SS. PP., Oxon. 1698, tom. I. pp. 95-128; republished by Jones, 1726), and by Tischendorf (from three Paris MSS, in Acta Apost. Apocrypha, Lips. 1851); in Syriac, with an English version by W. Wright (in Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, Lond. 1871); Engl. transl. by Alex. Walker (in Clark’s “Ante-Nicene Christian Library,” vol. XVI. 279 sqq.). Comp. C. Schlau: Die Acten des Paulus und der Thecla und die 'e4ltere Thecla-Legende, Leipz. 1877.

The Acts of Paul and Thecla strongly advocate celibacy. They are probably of Gnostic origin and based on some local tradition. They were originally written, according to Tertullian (De Bapt. cap. 17, comp. Jerome, Catal. cap. 7), by a presbyter in Asia “out of love to Paul,” and in support of the heretical opinion that women have the right to preach and to baptize after the example of Thecla; hence the author was deposed. The book was afterwards purged of its most obnoxious features and extensively used in the Catholic church. (See the patristic quotations in Tischendorf’s Prolegomena, p. xxiv.) Thecla is represented as a noble virgin of Iconium, in Lycaonia, who was betrothed to Thamyris, converted by Paul in her seventeenth year, consecrated herself to perpetual virginity, was persecuted, carried to the stake, and thrown before wild beasts, but miraculously delivered, and died 90 years old at Seleucia. In the Greek church she is celebrated as the first female martyr. Paul is described at the beginning of this book (Tischend. p. 41) as “little in stature, bald-headed, bow-legged, well-built (or vigorous), with knitted eye-brows, rather long-nosed, full of grace, appearing now as a man, and now having the face of an angel.” From this description Renan has borrowed in part his fancy-sketch of Paul’s personal appearance.

Acta Pauli ('d0'f1'e1́'ee'e5'e9'f2 'd0'e1'f5́'eb'ef'f5), used by Origen and ranked by Eusebius with the Antilegomena (or 'ed'ef́'e8'e1 rather). They are, like the Acta Petri ('d0'f1'e1́'ee'e5'e9'f2, or 'd0'e5'f1'e9́'ef'e4'ef'e9 'd0'e5́'f4'f1'ef'f5), a Gnostic reconstruction of the canonical Acts and ascribed to the authorship of St. Linus. Preserved only in fragments.

Acta Petri et Pauli. A Catholic adaptation of an Ebionite work. The Greek and Latin text was published first in a complete form by Thilo, Halle, 1837-’38, the Greek by Tischendorf (who collated six MSS.) in his Acta Apost. Apoc. 1851, 1-39; English transl. by Walker in “Ante-Nicene Libr.,” XVI. 256 sqq. This book records the arrival of Paul in Rome, his meeting with Peter and Simon Magus, their trial before the tribunal of Nero, and the martyrdom of Peter by crucifixion, and of Paul by decapitation. The legend of Domine quo vadis is here recorded of Peter, and the story of Perpetua is interwoven with the martyrdom of Paul.

The pseudo-Clementine Homilies, of the middle of the second century or later, give a malignant Judaizing caricature of Paul under the disguise of Simon Magus (in part at least), and misrepresent him as an antinomian arch-heretic; while Peter, the proper hero of this romance, is glorified as the apostle of pure, primitive Christianity.

The Correspondence of Paul and Seneca, mentioned by Jerome (De vir. ill. c. 12) and Augustin (Ep. ad Maced. 153, al. 54), and often copied, though with many variations, edited by Fabricius, Cod. Apocr. N. T., and in several editions of Seneca. It consists of eight letters of Seneca and six of Paul. They are very poor in thought and style, full of errors of chronology and history, and undoubtedly a forgery. They arose from the correspondence of the moral maxims of Seneca with those of Paul, which is more apparent than real, and from the desire to recommend the Stoic philosopher to the esteem of the Christians, or to recommend Christianity to the students of Seneca and the Stoic philosophy. Paul was protected at Corinth by Seneca’s brother, Gallio (Act_18:12-16), and might have become acquainted with the philosopher who committed suicide at Rome in 65, but there is no trace of such acquaintance. Comp. Am'e9d'e9e Fleury: Saint-Paul et S'e9n'e8que (Paris, 1853, 2 vols.); C. Aubertin: 'c9tude critique sur les rapports suppos'e9 entre S'e9n'e8que et Saint-Paul (Par. 1887); F. C. Baur: Seneca und Paulus, 1858 and 1876; Reuss: art. Seneca in Herzog, vol. XIV. 273 sqq.; Lightfoot: Excursus in Com. on Philippians, pp 268-331; art. Paul and Seneca, in “Westminster Review,” Lond. 1880, pp. 309 sqq.

II. Biographical and Critical

Bishop Pearson (d. 1686): Annales Paulini. Lond. 1688. In the various editions of his works, and also separately: Annals of St. Paul, transl. with geographical and critical notes. Cambridge, 1825.

Lord Lyttleton (d. 1773): The Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul. 3d ed. Lond. 1747. Apologetic as an argument for the truth of Christianity from the personal experience of the author.

Archdeacon William Paley (d. 1805): Horae Paulinae: or The Truth of the Scripture History of Paul evinced by a comparison of the Epistles which bear his name, with the Acts of the Apostles and with one another. Lond. 1790 (and subsequent editions). Still valuable for apologetic purposes.

J. Hemsen: Der Apostel Paulus. G'f6tt. 1830.

Carl Schrader: Der Apostel Paulus. Leipz. 1830-’36. 5 Parts. Rationalistic.

F. Chr. Baur (d. 1860): Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi. T'fcb. 1845, second ed. by E. Zeller, Leipzig, 1866-’67, in 2 vols. Transl. into English by Allan Menzies. Lond. (Williams & Norgate) 1873 and ‘75, 2 vols. This work of the great leader of the philosophico-critical reconstruction of the Apostolic Age (we may call him the modern Marcion) was preceded by several special treatises on the Christ-Party in Corinth (1831), on the Pastoral Epistles (1835), on the Epistle to the Romans (1836), and a Latin programme on Stephen’s address before the Sanhedrin (1829). It marks an epoch in the literature on Paul and opened new avenues of research. It is the standard work of the T'fcbingen school of critics.

Conybeare and Howson: The Life and Epistles of St. Paul. Lond. 1853, 2 vols., and N. York, 1854; 2d ed. Lond. 1856, and later editions; also an abridgment in one vol. A very useful and popular work, especially on the geography of Paul’s travels. Comp. also Dean Howson: Character of St. Paul (Lond. 1862; 2d ed. 1864); Scenes from the Life of St. Paul (1867); Metaphors of St. Paul (1868); The Companions of St. Paul (1871). Most of these books were republished in America.

Ad. Monod (d. 1856): Saint Paul. Six sermons. See his Sermons, Paris, 1860, vol. II. 121-296. The same in German and English.

W. F. Besser: Paulus. Leipz. 1861. English transl. by F. Bultmann, with Introduction by J. S. Howson. Lond. and N. York, 1864.

F. Bungener: St. Paul, sa vie, son oeuvre et ses 'e9pitres. Paris, 1865.

A. Hausrath: Der Apostel Paulus. Heidelb. 1865; 2d ed. 1872. Comp. also his N. T.liche Zeitgeschichte, Part III.

M. Krenkel: Paulus, der Apostel der Heiden. Leipz. 1869.

Ernest Renan: Saint Paul. Paris, 1869. Transl. from the French by J. Lockwood, N. York, 1869. Very fresh and entertaining, but full ,of fancies and errors.

Thomas Lewin (author of “Fasti Sacri”) The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, new ed. Lond. and N. York, 1875, 2 vols. A magnificent work of many years’ labor, with 370 illustrations.

Canon F. W. Farrar: The Life and Work of St. Paul. Lond. and N. York, 1879, 2 vols. Learned and eloquent.

W. M. Taylor: Paul as a Missionary. N. York, 1881.

As biographies, the works of Conybeare and Howson, Lewin, and Farrar are the most complete and instructive.

Also the respective sections in the Histories of the Ap. Age by Neander, Lechler, Thiersch, Lange, Schaff (226-347 and 634-640), Pressens'e9.

III. Chronological

Thomas Lewin: Fasti Sacri, a Key to the Chronology of the New Testament. London, 1865. Chronological Tables from b.c. 70 to a.d. 70.

Wieseler: Chronologie des apostolischen Zeitalters. G'f6ttingen, 1848.

W. H. Ramsey (Professor of Humanity in the University of Aberdeen): The Church in the Roman Empire before a.d. 170. With Maps and Illustrations. London and New York, 1893 (494 pp.). An important work, for which the author received a gold medal from Pope Leo XIII. The first part (pp. 3-168) treats of the missionary journeys of Paul in Asia Minor, on the ground of careful topographical exploration and with a full knowledge of Roman history at that time. He comes to the conclusion that nearly all the books of the New Testament can no more be forgeries of the second century than the works of Horace and Virgil can be forgeries of the time of Nero. He assumes all “travel-document,” which was written down under the immediate influence of Paul, and underlies the account in The Acts of the Apostles (Acts. 13-21), which he calls “an authority of the highest character for an historian of Asia Minor” (p. 168). He affirms the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles, which suit the close of the Neronian period (246 sqq.), and combats Holtzmann. He puts 2 Peter to the age of “The Shepherd of Hermas” before 130 (p. 432). As to the First Epistle of Peter, he assumes that it was written about 80, soon after Vespasian’s resumption of the Neronian policy (279 sqq.). If this date is correct, it would follow either that Peter cannot have been the author, or that he must have long outlived the Neronian persecution. The tradition that he died a martyr in Rome is early and universal, but the exact date of his death is uncertain.

IV. Doctrinal and Exegetical

L. Usteri: Entwicklung des Paulinischen Lehrbegriffs. Z'fcrich, 1824, 6th ed. 1851.

A. P. D'e4hne: Entwicklung des Paulinischen Lehrbegriffs. Halle, 1835.

Baur: Paulus. See above.

R. A. Lipsius: Die Paulinische Rechtfertigungslehre. Leipz. 1853.

C. Holsten: Zum Evangelium des Paulus und des Petrus. Rostock, 1868. This book, contains: 1. An essay on the Christusvision des Paulus und die Genesis des paulinischen Evangeliums, which had previously appeared in Hilgenfeld’s “Zeitschrift,” 1861, but is here enlarged by a reply to Beyschlag; 2. Die Messiasvision des Petrus (new); 3. An analysis of the Epistle to the Galatians (1859); 4. A discussion of the meaning of in Paul’s system (1855). By the same: Das Evangelium des Paulus. Part I. Berlin, 1880.

Th. Simar (R. C.): Die Theologie des heil. Paulus. Freiberg, 1864.

Ernesti: Die Ethik des Ap. Paulus. Braunschweig, 1868; 3d ed. 1880.

R. Schmidt: Die Christologie des Ap. Paulus. G'f6tt., 1870.

Matthew Arnold: St. Paul and Protestantism. Lond. 1870; 3d ed. 1875.

William I. Irons (Episcop.): Christianity as taught by St. Paul. Eight Bampton Lectures for 1870. Oxf. and Lond. 1871; 2d ed. 1876.

A. Sabatier: L’ap'f4tre Paul. Esquisse d’une histoire de sa pens'e9e. Strasb. and Paris, 1870.

Otto Pfleiderer (Prof. in Berlin): Der Paulinismus. Leipzig, 1873. Follows Baur and Holsten in developing the doctrinal system of Paul from his conversion. English translation by E. Peters. Lond. 1877, 2 vols. Lectures on the Influence of the Apostle Paul on the Development of Christianity (The Hibbert Lectures). Trsl. by J. Fr. Smith. Lond. and N. Y. 1885. Also his Urchristenthum, 1887.

C. Weizs'e4cker: D. Apost. Zeitalter (1886), pp. 68-355.

Fr. Bethge: Die Paulinischen Reden der Apostelgesch. G'f6ttingen, 1887.

Of Weizs'e4cker’s Das Apostolische Zeitalter, which is chiefly devoted to Paul, a second edition has appeared in 1892, slightly revised and provided with an alphabetical index (770 pp.). It is the best critical history of the Apostolic age from the school of Dr. Baur, whom Dr. Weizs'e4cker succeeded as professor of Church history in T'fcbingen, but gives no references to literature and other opinions.

Charles Carroll Everett: The Gospel of Paul. New York, 1893.

V. Commentaries

The Commentators on Paul’s Epistles (in whole or in part) are so numerous that we can only mention some of the most important:

1. On all the Pauline Epp.: Calvin, Beza, Estius (b.c.), Corn. A Lapide (R. C.), Grotius, Wetstein, Bengel, Olshausen, De Wette, Meyer, Lange (Am. ed. enlarged), Ewald, Von Hofmann, Reuss (French), Alford, Wordsworth, Speaker’s Com., Ellicott (Pop. Com.), Schaff (Pop. Com., vol. III. 1882). Compare also P. J. Gloag: Introduction to the Pauline Epistles. Edinburgh, 1874.

2. On single Epp.: Romans by Tholuck (5th ed. 1856), Fritzsche (3 vols. in Latin), Reiche, R'fcckert, Philippi (3d ed. 1866, English transl. by Banks, 1878-’79, 2 vols.), Mos. Stuart, Turner, Hodge, Forbes, Jowett, Shedd (1879), Godet (L’'e9pitre aux Romains, 1879 and 1880, 2 vols). - Corinthians by Neander, Osiander, Hodge, Stanley, Heinrici, Edwards, Godet, Ellicott. - Galatians by Luther, Winer, Wieseler, Hilgenfeld, Holsten, Jowett, Eadie, Ellicott, Lightfoot. - Ephesians by Harless, Matthies, Stier, Hodge, Eadie, Ellicott, J. L. Davies. - Other minor Epp. explained by Bleek (Col., Philemon, and Eph.), Koch (Thess.), van Hengel (Phil.), Eadie (Col.), Ellicott (Phil., Col., Thess., Philem.), Lightfoot (Phil, Col., Philemon). - Pastoral Epp. by Matthies, Mack (R. C.), Beck (ed. Lindenmeyer, 1879), Holtzmann (1880), Fairbairn, Ellicott, Weiss (1886), Knoke (1887), K'f6lling (1887).

3. The Commentaries on the second part of Acts by De Wette, Meyer, Baumgarten, Alexander, Hackett, Lechler, Gloag, Plumptre, Jacobson, Lumby, Howson and Spence.

30. Paul before His Conversion

His Natural Outfit

Map, The World of Paul.

We now approach the apostle of the Gentiles who decided the victory of Christianity as a universal religion, who labored more, both in word and deed, than all his colleagues, and who stands out, in lonely grandeur, the most remarkable and influential character in history. His youth as well as his closing years are involved in obscurity, save that he began a persecutor and ended a martyr, but the midday of his life is better known than that of any other apostle, and is replete with burning thoughts and noble deeds that can never die, and gather strength with the progress of the gospel from age to age and country to country.

Saul or Paul was of strictly Jewish parentage, but was born, a few years after Christ, in the renowned Grecian commercial and literary city of Tarsus, in the province of Cilicia, and inherited the rights of a Roman citizen. He received a learned Jewish education at Jerusalem in the school of the Pharisean Rabbi, Gamaliel, a grandson of Hillel, not remaining an entire stranger to Greek literature, as his style, his dialectic method, his allusions to heathen religion and philosophy, and his occasional quotations from heathen poets show. Thus, a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” yet at the same time a native Hellenist, and a Roman citizen, he combined in himself, so to speak, the three great nationalities of the ancient world, and was endowed with all the natural qualifications for a universal apostleship. He could argue with the Pharisees as a son of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, and as a disciple of the renowned Gamaliel, surnamed “the Glory of the Law.” He could address the Greeks in their own beautiful tongue and with the convincing force of their logic. Clothed with the dignity and majesty of the Roman people, he could travel safely over the whole empire with the proud watchword: Civis Romanus sum.

This providential outfit for his future work made him for a while the most dangerous enemy of Christianity, but after his conversion its most useful promoter. The weapons of destruction were turned into weapons of construction. The engine was reversed, and the direction changed; but it remained the same engine, and its power was increased under the new inspiration.

The intellectual and moral endowment of Saul was of the highest order. The sharpest thinking was blended with the tenderest feeling, the deepest mind with the strongest will. He had Semitic fervor, Greek versatility, and Roman energy. Whatever he was, he was with his whole soul. He was totus in illis, a man of one idea and of one purpose, first as a Jew, then as a Christian. His nature was martial and heroic. Fear was unknown to him - except the fear of God, which made him fearless of man. When yet a youth, he had risen to high eminence; and had he remained a Jew, he might have become a greater Rabbi than even Hillel or Gamaliel, as he surpassed them both in original genius and fertility of thought.

Paul was the only scholar among the apostles. He never displays his learning, considering it of no account as compared with the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, for whom he suffered the loss of all things, but he could not conceal it, and turned it to the best use after his conversion. Peter and John had natural genius, but no scholastic education; Paul had both, and thus became the founder of Christian theology and philosophy.

His Education

His training was thoroughly Jewish, rooted and grounded in the Scriptures of the Old Covenant, and those traditions of the elders which culminated in the Talmud. He knew the Hebrew and Greek Bible almost by heart. In his argumentative epistles, when addressing Jewish converts, he quotes from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Psalms, now literally, now freely, sometimes ingeniously combining several passages or verbal reminiscences, or reading between the lines in a manner which betrays the profound student and master of the hidden depths of the word of God, and throws a flood of light on obscure passages. He was quite familiar with the typical and allegorical methods of interpretation; and he occasionally and incidentally uses Scriptural arguments, or illustrations rather, which strike a sober scholar as far-fetched and fanciful, though they were quite conclusive to a Jewish reader. But he never bases a truth on such an illustration without an independent argument; he never indulges in the exegetical impositions and frivolities of those “letter-worshipping Rabbis who prided themselves on suspending dogmatic mountains by textual hairs.” Through the revelation of Christ, the Old Testament, instead of losing itself in the desert of the Talmud or the labyrinth of the Kabbala, became to him a book of life, full of types and promises of the great facts and truths of the gospel salvation. In Abraham he saw the father of the faithful, in Habakkuk a preacher of justification by faith, in the paschal lamb a type of Christ slain for the sins of the world, in the passage of Israel through the Red Sea a prefigurement of Christian baptism, and in the manna of the wilderness a type of the bread of life in the Lord’s Supper.

The Hellenic culture of Paul is a matter of dispute, denied by some, unduly exalted by others. He no doubt acquired in the home of his boyhood and early manhood (Comp. Gal_1:21; Act_9:30; Act_11:25) a knowledge of the Greek language, for Tarsus was at that time the seat of one of the three universities of the Roman empire, surpassing in some respects even Athens and Alexandria, and furnished tutors to the imperial family. His teacher, Gamaliel, was comparatively free from the rabbinical abhorrence and contempt of heathen literature. After his conversion he devoted his life to the salvation of the heathen, and lived for years at Tarsus, Ephesus, Corinth, and other cities of Greece, and became a Greek to the Greeks in order to save them. It is scarcely conceivable that a man of universal human sympathies, and so wide awake to the deepest problems of thought, as he, should have under such circumstances taken no notice of the vast treasures of Greek philosophy, poetry, and history. He would certainly do what we expect every missionary to China or India to do from love to the race which he is to benefit, and from a desire to extend his usefulness. Paul very aptly, though only incidentally, quotes three times from Greek poets, not only a proverbial maxim from Menander, and a hexameter from Epimenides, which may have passed into common use, but also a half-hexameter with a connecting particle, which he must have read in the tedious astronomical poem of his countryman, Aratus (about b.c. 270), or in the sublime hymn of Cleanthes to Jupiter, in both of which the passage occurs. He borrows some of his favorite metaphors from the Grecian games; he disputed with Greek philosophers of different schools and addressed them from the Areopagus with consummate wisdom and adaptation to the situation; some suppose that he alludes even to the terminology of the Stoic philosophy when he speaks of the “rudiments” or “elements of the world.” He handles the Greek language, not indeed with classical purity and elegance, yet with an almost creative vigor, transforming it into an obedient organ of new ideas, and pressing into his service the oxymoron, the paronomasia, the litotes, and other rhetorical figures. Yet all this does by no means prove a regular study or extensive knowledge of Greek literature, but is due in part to native genius. His more than Attic urbanity and gentlemanly refinement which breathe in his Epistles to Philemon and the Philippians, must be traced to the influence of Christianity rather than his intercourse with accomplished Greeks. His Hellenic learning seems to have been only casual, incidental, and altogether subordinate to his great aim. In this respect he differed widely from the learned Josephus, who affected Attic purity of style, and from Philo, who allowed the revealed truth of the Mosaic religion to be controlled, obscured, and perverted by Hellenic philosophy. Philo idealized and explained away the Old Testament by allegorical impositions which he substituted for grammatical expositions; Paul spiritualized the Old Testament and drew out its deepest meaning. Philo’s Judaism evaporated in speculative abstractions, Paul’s Judaism was elevated and transformed into Christian realities.

His Zeal for Judaism

Saul was a Pharisee of the strictest sect, not indeed of the hypocritical type, so witheringly rebuked by our Saviour, but of the honest, truth-loving and truth-seeking sort, like that of Nicodemus and Gamaliel. His very fanaticism in persecution arose from the intensity of his conviction and his zeal for the religion of his fathers. He persecuted in ignorance, and that diminished, though it did not abolish, his guilt. He probably never saw or heard Jesus until he appeared to him at Damascus. He may have been at Tarsus at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection. But with his Pharisaic education he regarded Jesus of Nazareth, like his teachers, as a false Messiah, a rebel, a blasphemer, who was justly condemned to death. And he acted according to his conviction. He took the most prominent part in the persecution of Stephen and delighted in his death. Not satisfied with this, he procured from the Sanhedrin, which had the oversight of all the synagogues and disciplinary punishments for offences against the law, full power to persecute and arrest the scattered disciples. Thus armed, he set out for Damascus, the capital of Syria, which numbered many synagogues. He was determined to exterminate the dangerous sect from the face of the earth, for the glory of God. But the height of his opposition was the beginning of his devotion to Christianity.

His External Relations and Personal Appearance

On the subordinate questions of Paul’s external condition and relations we have no certain information. Being a Roman citizen, he belonged to the respectable class of society, but must have been poor; for he depended for support on a trade which he learned in accordance with rabbinical custom; it was the trade of tent-making, very common in Cilicia, and not profitable except in large cities.

He had a sister living at Jerusalem whose son was instrumental in saving his life. (Act_23:16.)

He was probably never married. Some suppose that he was a widower. Jewish and rabbinical custom, the completeness of his moral character, his ideal conception of marriage as reflecting the mystical union of Christ with his church, his exhortations to conjugal, parental, and filial duties, seem to point to experimental knowledge of domestic life. But as a Christian missionary moving from place to place, and exposed to all sorts of hardship and persecution, he felt it his duty to abide alone. He sacrificed the blessings of home and family to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

His “bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible” (of no value), in the superficial judgment of the Corinthians, who missed the rhetorical ornaments, yet could not help admitting that his “letters were weighty and strong.” Some of the greatest men have been small in size, and some of the purest souls forbidding in body. Socrates was the homeliest, and yet the wisest of Greeks. Neander, a converted Jew, like Paul, was short, feeble, and strikingly odd in his whole appearance, but a rare humility, benignity, and heavenly aspiration beamed from his face beneath his dark and bushy eyebrows. So we may well imagine that the expression of Paul’s countenance was highly intellectual and spiritual, and that he looked “sometimes like a man and sometimes like an angel.”

He was afflicted with a mysterious, painful, recurrent, and repulsive physical infirmity, which he calls a “thorn in the flesh, “ and which acted as a check upon spiritual pride and self-exultation over his abundance of revelations. He bore the heavenly treasure in an earthly vessel and his strength was made perfect in weakness. (2Co_4:7; 2Co_12:9, 2Co_12:10) But all the more must we admire the moral heroism which turned weakness itself into an element of strength, and despite pain and trouble and persecution carried the gospel salvation triumphantly from Damascus to Rome.