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 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.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.
Last modified April 13, 2016