Essay on Paul: The Apostle To The Gentiles

The apostle Paul, also known as “Saul of Tarsus,”, is the apostle to the Gentiles. (Romans 11:131 and Galatians 2:8). 2 (You can use parenthetical citation for Scripture, as you did here, without having to also cite them in the endnotes. ) In order for us to understand how God ordained his apostleship to the Gentiles, we must first understand his background. The name “Paul” is a Greek spelling of the Latin word Paulus. To Aramaic – speaking Jews, his Hebrew name was “Saul” (from Saoul)3.

Paul’s lineage was from the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5)4, and the name “Saul” was a famous name in that tribe going back to Israel’s first King. 5 Paul was born approximately between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD in Tarsus which was the capital city in the Roman province of Cilicia6. The population of Tarsus in Paul’s day was approximately over a half a million people. People came to Tarsus from all over the Roman Empire to live and work in this prosperous city. Tarsus is found in the southeast part of Asia Minor and the city became known for its wealth of the people living there7.

Paul tells us” | am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city (insignificant city)” (Acts 21:39)8. “No mean city” (insignificant city) tells us that Tarsus is no average or ordinary city, and is not a city to be looked down upon. Tarsus had become a rich city because of trade. Merchants from Tarsus were well known throughout the Roman Empire. The merchants there were noted for their love of their craft and their almost fanatic zeal in their monetary investments in the city’s infrastructure.

The merchants of Tarsus invested in good roads, education, public health, and city beautification projects9. One of the largest sources of income for merchants was the Tarsus Mountain about 25 miles north of the city. There, the mountains were rich in minerals and lumbaer. The slopes were populated by huge herds of black goats. It is from the hair of these goats that a strong cloth was woven, called cilicium. Cilicium was used for many purposes, such as cloaks, floor coverings, house partitions, bags to transport corpses, and tents 10.

Throughout the Roman world, Tarsians were known for the quality of their Black tents. It is this reason that Paul most likely entered the tent – making profession. (Acts 18:1-3)11. Paul’s profession was also an important reason that he connected with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he would partner and make tents (Acts 18:3) and later become very important teammates as fellow missionaries. (Romans 16:3-4)12. Paul’s upbringing was as a Jew growing up in Cilicia which was controlled by Rome. Paul’s father was a Pharisee and Paul was raised as a Pharisee himself (Acts 23:6)13.

He was a Roman citizen and a “Hebrew of Hebrews”. Philippians 3:5 testifies that he was indeed a Pharisee. Pharisees were the strictest sect of Judaism and “Hebrew” here refers to the language spoken at home and at the synagogue. Paul would have spent the first years of his life becoming familiar with the sea and ships that unloaded cargo. This is most likely where he would have learned the Greek language (Acts 21:37)14. Paul was a Jew that was part of the Greco – Roman world; Greek in language and culture, Roman government and he was a Roman citizen. 5 Paul’s education included training to be a rabbi (acts 22:3)16. Paul attended the rabbinic school taught by Gamaliel, who was the grandson of Rabbi Hillel. Gamaliel was an outstanding rabbi and headmaster. There were only two main schools for rabbis during Paul’s life, and they were both in Jerusalem.

There was Rabbi Gamaliel and the other was Rabbi Shammai. 17 Thus, Paul tells us which school he attended, and he would have received an excellent education as Gamaliel was held in great respect (acts 5:34). 8 Paul’s family had a history of religious piety (second Timothy 1:3). 19 The Bible reveals very little about Paul’s family. Paul mentions his sister’s son in Acts 23:16. 20 Paul also tells us that his father was a Pharisee, and he refers to his mother in Romans 16:1321 as “among those at Rome. ” In Romans 16:7, he states that his relatives, Andronicus and Junia, were Christians before he was, and were prominent among the apostles. 22 As we have seen in Paul’s background, he would be able to identify with not only Jews but also to the Romans.

It is no wonder that Paul was God’s chosen vessel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15)23, while Peter was primarily to the Jews (Galatians: 2:8)24. God prepared Paul from birth (Galatians 1:15)25 to make him the man to spread His message. Paul was perfectly prepared as his background was Jewish, Roman, and Greek. He was heavily trained in the law, and prophets could utilize that knowledge to convince his Jewish countrymen to unify the Old Testament and the new message of Jesus Christ. His Roman heritage allowed him to effectively spread the gospel and establish the church in the Roman Empire.