Wayne A. Meeks Paul's Mission and Letters




Paul,(4) formerly called Saul, an apostle outside the number of the twelve apostles, was of the tribe of Benjamin and the town of Giscalis(6) in Judea. When this was taken by the Romans he removed with his parents to Tarsus in Cilicia. Sent by them to Jerusalem to study law he was educated by Gamaliel a most learned man whom Luke mentions. But after he had been present at the death of the martyr Stephen and had received letters from the high priest of the temple for the persecution of those who believed in Christ, he proceeded to Damascus, where constrained to faith by a revelation, as it is written in the Acts of the apostles, he was transformed from a persecutor into an elect vessel. As Sergius Paulus Proconsul of Cyprus was the first to believe on his preaching, he took his name from him because he had subdued him to faith in Christ, and having been joined by Barnabas, after traversing many cities, he returned to Jerusalem and was ordained apostle to the Gentiles by Peter, James and John. And because a full account of his life is given in the Acts of the Apostles, I only say this, that the twenty-fifth year after our Lord's passion, that is the second of Nero, at the time when Fetus Procurator of Judea succeeded Felix, he was sent bound to Rome, and remaining for two years in free cu stody, disputed daily with the Jews


concerning the advent of Christ. It ought to be said that at the first defence, the power of Nero having not yet been confirmed, nor his wickedness broken forth to such a degree as the histories relate concerning him, Paul was dismissed by Nero, that the gospel of ChriSt might be preached also in the West. As he himself writes in the second epistle to Timothy, at the time when he was about to be put to death dictating his epistle as he did while in chains; "At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. But the Lord stood by(1) me and strengthened me; that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and that all the Gentiles might hear, and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion"(2)-- clearly indicating Nero as lion on account of his cruelty. And directly following he says "The Lord delivered me from the month of the lion" and again shortly "The Lord delivered me(3) from every evil work and saved me unto his heavenly kingdom,"(4) for indeed he felt within himself that his martyrdom was near at hand, for in the same epistle he announced "for I am already being offered and the time of my departure is at hand."(5) He then, in the fourteenth year of Nero on the same day with Peter, was beheaded at Rome for Christ's sake and was buried in the Ostian way, the twenty-seventh year after our Lord's passion. He wrote nine epistles to seven churches: To the Romans one, To the Corinthians two, To the Galatians one, To the Ephesians one, To the Philippians one, To the Colossians one, To the Thessalonians two; and besides these to his disciples, To Timothy two, To Titus one, To Philemon one. The epistle which is called the Epistle to the Hebrews is not considered his, on account of its difference from the others in style and language, but it is reckoned, either according to Tertullian to be the work of Barnabas, or according to others, to be by Luke the Evangelist or Clement afterwards bishop of the church at Rome, who, they say, arranged and adorned the ideas of Paul in his own language, though to be sure, since Paul was writing to Hebrews and was in disrepute among them he may have omitted his name from the salvation on this account. He being a Hebrew wrote Hebrew, that is his own tongue and most fluently while the things which were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek @ and this is the reason why it seems to differ from other epistles of Paul. Some read one also to(2) the Laodiceans but it is rejected by everyone.

The Apostle Paul http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics/paul.html

(The following are word for wordexcerpts from the above source.)

--educated by his mother until the age of five.

--From age five to ten he studied with his father in the Hebrew scriptures and traditional writings.

--At the same time, being a Roman citizen and living in a Greek and Roman environment, he received a thorough education in the Greek language, history, and culture.

--sent to Jerusalem at about the age of ten to attend the rabbinical school of Gamaliel, who was the son of Simeon the son of Hillel. Gamaliel was a most eminent rabbi who was mentioned both in the Talmud and in the New Testament (Acts 5:24-40; 22:3). Gamaliel was called Rabban - one of only seven teachers so called. He was a Pharisee, but he rose above party prejudice. He composed a prayer against the Christian "heretics". He lived and died a Jew.

-- Herod was dead, and the Romans had complete control of Judea, hence, there was Roman money, language, and culture. The Jews, therefore, were inclined to cling more closely to their religion as the center of unity. [Refer to the topic: Judean History]

-- as a Roman, Tarsian, Hebrew, and culturally Greek, he knew of the many distortions of the life of his society. As a nation becomes unhealthy, development is halted. Societies errors as to the nature of God and the true relation of God to man prevented nations from getting rid of their besetting evil.

--After a considerable stay at Antioch after his second missionary journey, Paul departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order to strengthen the disciples (Acts 18:23). During this time, he also gave directions for the collection for the poor in Jerusalem.

-- came to Ephesus, probably in about 53 A.D. He found there twelve disciples of Apollos who had only received John's baptism and were not aware of the Holy Spirit and Church Age mysteries.

--He taught three months in the synagogue in Ephesus. In the face of opposition, he took his classes to the school of one, Tyrannus, where he taught daily for two years. Exorcists were converted and books of magic were burned by the new converts. He paid a visit to Corinth, then returned to Ephesus where he wrote 1 Corinthians.

--Paul left for Troas and Macedonia because of the danger in Ephesus from the silversmiths and craftsmen who made articles for the worship of Diana. (See Topic: Ephesus) He sailed to Macedonia to meet Titus, landed at Neapolis and went to Philippi where he was "comforted by Titus." He sent Titus to Corinth with the second Corinthian letter and instructions for completing the collection there for needy Christians.

--Paul traveled through Macedonia and finally arrived at Corinth himself, staying there about three months and writing Romans. He took ship for Miletus where he met for a few days with Ephesian elders. He then sailed (island hopping to Coos, Rhodes, and Patara) to Tyre. From Tyre he wailed to Ptolemais and reached Caesarea.

--Paul was warned not to visit Jerusalem. He went anyway and was warmly received by the brethren. He had an interview with James and the elders. A charge was brought against him by the Sanhedrin that "he taught all the Jews among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their sons, neither to walk after their customs."

--Jews from Asia stirred up the people against him, charging him with bringing Greeks into the Temple.
--Roman soldiers took Paul to the governor's castle for interrogation by scourging, at which time Paul claimed his Roman citizenship.

--There arose a conspiracy among forty Jews to assassinate Paul, but Paul's nephew brought him a warning of the plot. The Romans decided to send him to Caesarea to Felix, the procurator (governor) of Judea (Acts 22:21ff).

--Felix kept Paul a prisoner in Caesarea (under loose house arrest) for two years until the arrival of Festus, the new governor. Festus wanted Paul taken back to Jerusalem, but Paul was aware of the danger there and uttered the Latin word Caesarem apello! -- "I appeal to Caesar!" Festus was thus obliged to make arrangements for Paul to travel to Rome under escort.

--King Agrippa II, with his sister, Berenice, came to visit Festus, the new governor. Festus pleaded ignorance of Jewish law, so Paul made his testimony before Agrippa, with the greatest of pomp and ceremony. This episode was one of the greatest defenses of the gospel ever recorded. Agrippa said, "Almost you persuade me ..."

--Festus decided then that Paul was innocent or wrongdoing, and he would have let him go free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

--Paul's escort on the trip to Rome was a platoon of Roman soldiers under Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Cohort. They sailed in a coasting vessel to Adramyttium and Sidon. Paul was given liberty. The next port was Myra, from which they took ship to Italy.

--They sailed to Crete, stayed at the port of Fair Havens for one month, sailed for Phoenix, and were driven on the rocks at Malta where they stayed for three months. From Malta they sailed in the vessel "Castor and Pollux" to Syracuse (Sicily) and Rhegium, the port city of the Italian province of Puteoli. From there they went to Rome on the Appian Way.

--In Rome Paul dwelled in his own hired house under the supervision of a Prefect of the Praetorian Guard. He was permitted t o hold meetings, and he met with Jewish elders, winning some of them to Christ. This period lasted two years, during which he wrote Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.

--He was acquitted by Nero, so he was free to travel and did so. His visits were to Crete and to Asia Minor; and it is widely thought that he traveled in Spain on a missionary journey. He is thought to have been arrested again in Ephesus and taken again to Rome from there, but this time treated as a malefactor, with his friends deserting him (except for Luke and Onesiphorus). There was persecution in Rome at this time, and a campaign of terror by Nero against the Christians. Paul was condemned and executed in Rome.

Archeology and Paul

A Synoptic Life of  Paul Philip Pendleton

Jeffrey Sheler Reassessing Apostle Paul

A scholarly quest. Today, in a batch of recent books and articles, critics and admirers alike have sought to penetrate what some contend are flawed interpretations and deliberate distortions of Paul's teachings. Just as some have tried for centuries to uncover a "Jesus of history" unadorned by church tradition, many scholars now have taken up a Quest for the Historical Paul. Among the more provocative theories that have emerged from these studies:
As a Christian missionary and theologian, Paul knew little and cared less about the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. More important in Paul's mind was the death and Resurrection of the exalted Christ who appeared to him in a mystical vision.
Paul was intensely apocalyptic and believed that Christ's Second Coming was imminent. Consequently, he did not intend his sometimes stern judgments on doctrinal matters and on issues of gender and sexuality to become church dogma applied, as it has been, for nearly 2,000 years.
Although an apostle to the gentiles, Paul remained thoroughly Jewish in his outlook and saw the Christian movement as a means of expanding and reforming traditional Judaism. He had no thought of starting a new religion.
For all of his energy and influence, Paul wrote only a fraction of the New Testament letters that tradition ascribes to him, and even some of those were subsequently altered by others to reflect later developments in church theology.

As might be expected, these claims are passionately debated. In some quarters, the quest for a new and improved Paul is denounced as an ideological attack on the Bible and Christian tradition. "Paul in the 20th century has been used and abused as much as in the first," says N. T. Wright, a New Testament scholar and dean of the Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire, England. Yet there is wide recognition among scholars of every stripe that to discover fresh insights into the life of the Apostle is to draw closer to the roots of Christianity.

A Chart of Paul's Life

Paul's Contribution James Tabor

Beyond this there is little one can say.  I think the texts I examined in the previous chapter can shed light on Paul's experience.  Broadly speaking he presents a Hellenistic way of salvation--a particular scheme of apotheosis, or "immortalization,'' with certain apocalyptic peculiarities.  The broad contours of his religious experiences--epiphany, the reception of oracles, visions, the journey to heaven, secret revelations--these are all well known to us, especially from the Greek magical papyri, the Hermetic texts and various forms of esoteric Judaism of the period.  Add to that his specific expectations regarding his mission to the Gentiles, the conversion of Israel, and the imminent parousia of Jesus as cosmic Lord, and you have it--his own particular vision and version of that most general Hellenistic (and human) hope--escape from mortality.  And yet it is those very apocalyptic "particulars'' that make Paul really Paul.  His was not a scheme of salvation for any place or for all time.  Although he has endured and been appropriated in many different ways over the centuries, from the standpoint of the history of Judaism, he belongs in those crucial years of hope and promise, before the terrible days of August, 70 C.E., when many such dreams came to an end.  For Paul the "appointed time'' of the End had drawn very near (1 Cor. 7:26, 29, 31).  How near, it is difficult to say, but he wrote that in the early 50's C.E..  If he, like others in the movement before 70 C.E., expected the fulfillment of Daniel 11 and 12, with the "desolating sacrilege'' set up in the Temple at Jerusalem, then events such as Gaius' attempt to have his statue placed there (41 C.E.) would have fueled his apocalyptic speculations.   Apparently his plans to go to Spain never worked out, due to his arrest under Nero (Rom. 15:28), so his grand hope of bringing the bulk of Israel to accept Jesus as Messiah through his Gentile mission became more and more hopeless.  By 70 C.E. it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain any immediate hope for the "redemption of Israel.''   Others could pick up the pieces in various ways, as Jacob Neusner and his students have demonstrated so clearly, but Paul was gone and what emerged in his name, even in the short decades after 70 C.E., was the beginning of a new and very different story.

B.W. Johnson Introduction to the Epistles of Paul

Good introduction to life ending with chronology of life and of epistles.

Conversion A. D. 37.
First Visit to Jerusalem after Conversion " 40.
Second Visit to Jerusalem " 44.
Beginning of First Missionary Journey " 45.
Council at Jerusalem (Third Visit) " 50.
Second Missionary Journey Begun " 51.
Fourth Visit to Jerusalem " 54.
Third Missionary Journey Begun " 54.
Fifth and Last Visit to Jerusalem " 58.
Imprisonment at Cæsarea " 58-60.
Voyage to Rome " 60, 61.
First Imprisonment in Rome " 61-63.
Release from Imprisonment " 63.
Second Imprisonment. Date Uncertain, from " 65 to 67.
Martyrdom.                     "           "         " " 65 to 68.


Robert Eisenman Paul as Herodian

Though these matters are hardly capable of proof, and we have, in fact, proved nothing, still no other explanations better explain the combination of points we raise. One thing cannot be denied, Paul's Herodian connections make the manner of his sudden appearances and disappearances, his various miraculous escapes, his early power in Jerusalem, his Roman citizenship, his easy relations with kings and governors, and the venue and terms of his primary missionary activities comprehensible in a manner no other reconstruction even approaches. When it comes to linking the thrust of these testimonies and allusions to the political Sitz im Leben of later Qumran sectarian texts and that Lying Spouter so prominent in them, much good sense can be achieved, but such a discussion is perforce beyond the scope of this study.

The Apostle Paul  by Alfred Firmin Loisy

But the main interest of his career is to be sought elsewhere. Thanks to the meagre information preserved for us in the Book of Acts and completed by authentic elements in the Epistles, we are able to form some idea of the way Christianity spread itself between the years 30 and 60, from the East to the West; we see it rejected at its birth by Judaism, and yet making headway everywhere by the help of Judaism, in spite of Judaism and at the expense of Judaism. We may think of it as a train of powder winding into every part of the Roman empire where Judaism had found a footing. Most assuredly the career of Paul is a remarkable sample of this astonishing propaganda. But no more than a sample, and very far from epitomizing or representing the whole movement. Official Judaism, which supported the Sadducees side by side with the Pharisees, and tolerated the Essenes, repudiated Christianity, with violence and from the very first, as treason, as apostasy. It did so because the Christians in claiming Jesus as the Lord Christ and making him an object of worship, with salvation depending on faith in Jesus alone, insulted the Law and destroyed it. Of this new religion Paul was one of the initiators but by no means the only one, nor the first. The Christian propaganda had other agents, some known to us and many more unknown, who laboured in the pagan world under the same conditions as Paul, undeterred by the minor differences among them, all of them more than suspect in the eyes of Judaism, all destined to speedy condemnation by the imperial authority of Rome.

Paul at Ephesus


His work m Corinth nearly done, Paul, in company with Aquila and Priscilla, embarked for Ephesus, probably in the fall of the year 52, but immediately left his two companions in that city, being anxious to revisit the communities he had founded in Galatia. [23] Perhaps he had been warned that a great effort was


in preparation to detach them from his Gospel. While he was absent on this business there arrived at Ephesus a disciple named Apollos, native of Alexandria, a learned and eloquent man well versed in the Scriptures, who got a hearing in the synagogue. [24] The editor of Acts seems much concerned to prevent Apollos from being regarded as the original founder of Ephesian Christianity which, in point of fact, he seems to have been. For the anecdote about the twelve disciples, found by Paul at Ephesus on his return, [25] who were unacquainted with the baptism of the Spirit must refer — if it has any historical reality — to converts made by Apollos, here fictitiously presented, along with Apollos himself, as Christians insufficiently taught and in need of further instruction — Apollos by Aquila and Priscilla and the twelve disciples by Paul himself. This distinction has probably no greater weight than the similar story by the same editor about the converts made by Philip in Samaria who, though baptized, had not received the Holy Spirit, of which we are invited to think the Jerusalem apostles were the depositaries. [26] To transform Apollos and the twelve disciples into disciples of John converted at Ephesus into disciples of the Christ, as most critics and some mythologues are eager to do, is a somewhat risky procedure. The facts are simply that Apollos, having set the evangelization of Ephesus well on foot, decided to go on to Corinth, and that "the brethren," among whom doubtless were chiefly Aquila and Priscilla, furnished him with a letter of recommendation to the community (xviii, zy). [27] At Corinth his success was as brilliant as at Ephesus and his reputation soon began to outshine that of Paul.

There may be significance in the fact that Apollos, who has had such good success at Ephesus in the absence of Paul, disappears before Paul's arrival there; and the same will happen at Corinth, whence Apollos will again depart before Paul comes back. We may suspect, but without committing ourselves to risky conclusions, that the two teachers thought it wiser not to meet on the field of their missionary activity, and that their friends encouraged them, or at least encouraged Apollos, in that precaution. On returning to Ephesus as soon as Paul was ready to quit that city for Corinth, Apollos appears to have been extremely reserved (i Cor. xvi, 12). He cannot be represented


as holding entirely with the Judaizers, but neither was he exactly on the line of Paul from the hellenic-Christian point of view. We should regard him as a teacher less jealous for his own doctrines and apostolic privilege than Paul was, and ready, like Paul and the others, to go wherever he could find an open door. His position may have been similar to that of Barnabas, inclining to hellenism, but in good relations with the old believers in Palestine; in Corinth we shall find his partisans associating with Peter's on lines somewhat opposed to Paul. He was probably urged to go to Corinth by friends he had made in Ephesus, perhaps even by Aquila and Priscilla, who knew the many advantages of the Corinthian field. Moreover, notwithstanding their relations with Paul, Aquila and Priscilla were of the same way of thinking as Apollos in regard to the common Christianity.

In this connexion it should be noted that Silas (Sylvanus), who was still with Paul at Corinth, having borne him company all the way from Antioch, is now no longer at his side. As a companion of Paul he makes no further appearance and tradition puts him later at the side of Peter (i Peter v, 12). It was at Corinth that the two apostolic labourers took their separate ways, perhaps in consequence of some personal coolness. The source of Acts can hardly have failed to leave a record of their separation, which the editor would be very careful to omit. To remain for long the companion of Paul a docile temper was necessary, like that of the good Timothy. Luke was not always at his side; however deeply he may have been attached to his person he does not seem to have been as closely associated with his ministry.

Meanwhile Paul returned to Ephesus and preached in the synagogue for three months on end. But a lively opposition declaring itself and the Jews scoffing openly at the faith he was offering them, he carried his teaching elsewhere, and continued it for two years [28] in a room he had hired from a certain Tyrranus, where he taught daily, thus exchanging, so to say, the pulpit of the preacher for the platform of the public lecturer. From all of which we may infer that a wide currency attended this teaching, to us so extraordinary in its contents and yet indisputably successful to a degree which baffles our reason. The angry opposition


it awakened, of which the detailed manifestations escape us, [29] was commensurate with the success. But, as happened in the case of Corinth, the Ephesus mission was fraught with consequence not only for the development of the Ephesian community, which owed its beginnings to Apollos, but for the evangelization of other towns in that region.

Having taught at Ephesus for two years under these conditions, Paul formed a project which, with his past achievements in view, should not strike us as too ambitious, that of carrying the Gospel to Rome, but not until he had gone to Jerusalem with the collection he would first take up from the groups of believers in Macedonia and Achaia, as well as from those he was now forming in Asia. [30] These collections were to some extent imitated from those regularly made among the Jews for the support of the temple worship; and that no doubt is the reason why the editor of Acts is perseveringly silent on the subject. [31]

Manifred Davidmann The Origin of Christianity


Copyright ... © ... Manfred Davidmann ... 1994
ISBN 0 85192 051 9 ..... Second Edition 1994
All rights reserved

In ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM, Manfred Davidmann proves what Jesus really taught: The social laws of the Torah have to be followed. These social laws guarantee equality, social justice and security, and a good life for all members of the community. These laws protect people from exploitation, oppression and enslavement through need. Early Christians, being mostly Jews, followed these laws.

Manfred Davidmann then proves how these essential social laws of the Torah were bypassed and ceased to be observed, in Judaism and in Christianity at the same time.

He describes and proves how Paul changed what Jesus had taught, how Paul's ideology serves the establishment instead of the people, and how this became Christianity's official doctrine. On the other hand Manfred Davidmann shows that the Talmud (especially the Mishnah) tells how Hillel changed Judaism in the same way, to what it is today.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, within the context of the findings reported here, become much more meaningful. In turn, the knowledge gained from them is part of the pattern of events recorded here for the first time.

What you find here is scientific analysis of facts established by the methods of biblical archaeology.

Outstanding are the sections on Paul and the Gospels: Manfred Davidmann shows that Paul's ideology was first opposed and that successive gospel writers then changed the record in Paul's favour, and how they did it.

This is What Actually Happened

1. The Jewish people are taught to observe, and observe, the laws of the Torah (Pentateuch, the five books of Moses).

The Torah's social laws and its social system provide the only known basis for a fair and equitable society: for the existence of communities in which people trust one another, co-operate with each other for the common good, have freedom from oppression, have spiritual and material independence, have a good life.

2. Subjection of the people by foreign (Hellenistic, Seleucid) dictatorship which believes in and supports slavery, oppression through need, exploitation of the working population by their masters (rulers).

It aims to wipe out belief in and application of the social laws of the Torah. Brutal persecution of the people.

The Maccabean uprising frees the people and re-establishes observance of the social laws of the Torah.

One of the Maccabean brothers leads the uprising. On his death the next brother assumes command. Simeon, the third brother to command, is appointed Ethnarch (Ruler), High Priest, Commander. All power thus centred in one person.

3. During the five generations after that of Simeon, that is during the Maccabean dynasty, the secular rulers gained control of the religious hierarchy and of what was being taught. There was discontent and opposition, but what was taught became increasingly establishment-orientated, serving an oppressing and exploiting establishment. The social laws ceased to be applied as a comprehensive system, as a way of life.

4. A remnant of Jews kept alive the knowledge of the law of Moses. They gained motivation, numbers and strength by rallying round and following the teachings of Jesus (Teacher of Righteousness) - Qumran community, Early Church - in spite of opposition from the religious establishment.

5. Paul (The Liar) infiltrates the movement and changes its teachings into a new religion, into a new establishment-orientated religion "which came to have less and less to do with its supposed founder (Jesus)." {27}

6. The Talmud records the confrontation between Paul's and Jesus' teachings as a confrontation between the teachings of Hillel (Paul) and Shammai (Jesus).

7. The establishment later misrepresented what is there, subtly changing its meaning much as was done by subsequent gospel writers.

For example the Talmud shows that the law never did follow Hillel, that the law was not as taught by the establishment. Yet the establishment today still presents Hillel as one of the wisest of the sages and maintains that the law follows his teachings.