<< Previous | Index | Next >>
                    "A HARMONY OF THE LIFE OF PAUL"

                    Paul's Life Prior To Conversion

INTRODUCTION

1. One cannot deny the powerful impact the apostle Paul had on the
   growth and development of the early church...
   a. His conversion provided powerful testimony to the resurrection of
      Christ
   b. His missionary journeys led to the establishment of churches
      throughout the Mediterranean world
   -- As "the apostle to the Gentiles", he helped widen the door to the
      church first opened by the apostle Peter

2. He left a large imprint on the scriptures of the early church...
   a. Authoring thirteen (fourteen, counting Hebrews) books of the New
      Testament
   b. In the only available history of the early church, Luke devotes
      the majority of his book to the life and journeys of Paul
   -- Evidently the Holy Spirit saw fit to emphasize the life and
      teachings of Paul as an example and source for learning about
      true discipleship to Jesus Christ

3. In this study, we shall harmonize Paul's writings with Luke's record
   of his life and travels... 
   a. Examining Paul's life in chronological order
   b. Collating various scriptural references relating to each period
      of Paul's life
   c. Noting at which points in his life Paul wrote his different
      epistles
   d. Briefly outlining and noticing the theme or highlights of each
      epistle in its historical setting
   e. Putting together a possible itinerary and events leading up to
      his final years and martyrdom

4. The objective of this study will be to...
   a. Gain a better understanding of the growth and nature of the early
      church
   b. Note the influence of Paul's life and journeys on his epistles
   c. Acquire insight into Paul as a servant of the Lord, that his life
      and work might inspire our own service to Jesus Christ

[In this lesson, we begin by noting "Paul's Life Prior To His
Conversion", when he was better known as "Saul of Tarsus"...]

I. EARLY LIFE AND TRAINING

   A. HIS ANCESTRY AND YOUTH...
      1. Born in Tarsus of Cilicia - Ac 21:39; 22:3; 23:34
         a. Cilicia was a Roman province in SE Asia Minor (modern
            Turkey)
         b. Tarsus was the capital ("no mean city"), known for its
            school of literature and philosophy (said to exceed even
            those of Athens and Alexandria)
      2. Born of Jewish ancestry
         a. A Hebrew, or Israelite, of the seed of Abraham - 2Co 11:22
         b. Of the tribe of Benjamin - Ro 11:1
         c. A Hebrew of the Hebrews (both parents Hebrews?) - Php 3:3-4
      3. Born a Roman citizen - Ac 22:25-29
         a. Some think because Tarsus was a free city, but such a
            designation did not automatically impart citizenship
         b. Evidently one of Paul's ancestors either purchased or was
            rewarded citizenship
      -- We do not know the date of his birth, some place it around the
         time of Jesus' birth

   B. HIS EDUCATION...
      1. Taught in Jerusalem by Gamaliel, a Pharisee and respected
         teacher of the Law - Ac 22:3; cf. 5:34-40
      2. A son of a Pharisee, he became a strict Pharisee - Ac 23:6;
         26:4-5; Php 3:5
      3. He excelled above his contemporaries in Judaism - Ga 1:13-14
      4. Was also trained as tent-maker - Ac 18:1-3

   C. HIS CHARACTER...
      1. He was zealous in persecuting the church, concerning the Law
         blameless - Php 3:6
      2. He served God with a pure conscience - 2Ti 1:3; Ac 23:1
      3. Thus he was ignorant of his blasphemy and persecution - 1 Ti
         1:12-13

[His early life and training certainly put Saul of Tarsus on the "fast
track" when it came to his religious faith.  It was zeal in defending
his faith that led to his brief but fervent career as...]

II. PERSECUTOR OF THE CHURCH

   A. AT THE DEATH OF STEPHEN...
      1. Saul was present at the death of the first Christian martyr 
         - Ac 7:57-58
      2. He consented to the death of Stephen - Ac 8:1; 22:20

   B. MAKING HAVOC OF THE CHURCH...
      1. Entering homes, dragging men and women to prison - Ac 8:3;
         22:4
      2. Entering synagogues, imprisoning and beating those who
         believed in Jesus - Ac 22:19
      3. He believed it necessary to do things contrary to the name of
         Jesus - Ac 26:9-11
         a. Imprisoning believers by the authority of the chief priests
         b. Casting his vote against them as they were put to death
         c. Compelling them to blaspheme
         d. Pursuing them to foreign cities (such as Damascus) - cf. 
            Ac 9:1-2

   C. HIS LATER CONFESSION...
      1. Admits he persecuted the church "beyond measure" in an attempt
         to destroy it - Ga 1:13
      2. It was due to his great zeal - Php 3:6
      3. Though ignorant, he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent
         man - 1Ti 1:13
      4. For such reasons, he considered himself the least of the
         apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle - 1Co 15:9

CONCLUSION

1. From being the worst foe of the church, he was about to become one
   of its best friends...
   a. Saul the persecutor would soon become Paul the preacher - Ga
      1:22-24
   b. Paul attributed it to the grace and mercy of God - 1Co 15:9-10;
      1Ti 1:12-14

2. Every aspect of Paul's life prior to his conversion prepared him for
   the task the Lord would give him...
   a. His Jewish heritage and Roman citizenship suited him for
      preaching to both Jews and Gentiles
   b. His training by Gamaliel would serve him well in his writings on
      the Law
   c. His skill as a tent-maker would assist him in his travels

And of course, his conversion would serve as a wonderful example of
God's mercy:

   "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that
   Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am
   chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me
   first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern 
   to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life."
   
                                                   (1Ti 1:15-16)

In our next study we shall focus our attention on the conversion of
Paul.  In the meantime, have you obtained the mercy offered in Jesus
Christ (cf. Tit 3:4-7)?

No matter how you have lived in the past, you can be justified by His
grace! - Ac 22:16
<< Previous | Index | Next >>


Home Page
Have A Bible Question? | Want A Free Bible Study Course? | Looking For A Church Near You?
Want To Talk With Someone By Phone? | Want To Discuss The Bible By Email?
Search The Outlines

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

eXTReMe Tracker