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Paul the Apostle has been the most influential of the early members of the
church. His writings make up nearly one-third of the New Testament.
Unlike many of the other early figures, there is a relative abundance of information
regarding Paul. He was born a Jew and a Roman (ca. A.D. 10) and originally named
Saul of Tarsus. He was martyred in Rome about A.D. 67. Raised and trained as
a rabbi in the pharisaic tradition, he was originally a staunch opponent and
persecutor of Christians. The story of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus
is one of the most famous in the Christian tradition and marks the beginning
of his journey as a Christian.
Following his conversion, Paul contributed to the Christian church in two different
areas. First, he was active as an evangelist and preacher, founding numerous
churches and sustaining others. He extended the reach of the fledgling church
into Europe and was the main reason for its survival there. Second, Paul's role
as an apostle of the church gave him the opportunity to correspond with the
communities he shepherded. His letters to them, the Epistles of Paul,
form a major portion of the New Testament. Written in response to concerns
of Paul or the community, these letters were fundamental in establishing Christian
doctrine as Paul ruled on various issues, including whether or not to allow
Gentiles to join the church, and whether such Gentiles need conform to Jewish
law. It was Paul's position that Gentiles need not convert to Judaism (which
entailed circumcision and conformity to the Mosaic laws among other things)
to enjoy salvation. Salvation was to be found in the Gospels and the New Covenant
of Jesus Christ. Paul's triumph in the struggle to include Gentiles was instrumental
in the future success of the church. His guidance to the early Christian communities
on other matters would become church doctrine on baptism, Divine Grace, and
the life of the Spirit versus the flesh.
Works by the Author
Ballou, Robert A., Friedrich Spiegelberg, and Horace L. Friess, eds. The
Bible of The World. New York: The Viking Press, 1939.
The Dartmouth Bible. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1950.
Bates, Ernest Sutherland, ed. The Bible. New York: Simon and Schuster,
The Holy Bible. New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1914.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.