Paul of TarsusBiblical Figure / Saint
Born: c. 5 A.D.
Died: c. 62 A.D.
Birthplace: Tarsus, Cilicia (now Turkey)
Best known as: Author of the biblical letters to Romans and Corinthians
The apostle Paul wrote the Christian religion's earliest texts while crisscrossing the Mediterranean and preaching about the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul's letters to other believers -- declaring that Jesus had risen from the dead and was the Christ, the anointed one, foretold by Jewish prophets -- are now a vital part of the New Testament of the Bible, and his words have strongly influenced Christian thinking and worship. Paul himself did not start out as a Christian believer. According to the biblical book The Acts of the Apostles, he was originally known as Saul and was an authorized persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He suddenly converted, Acts says, after being temporarily blinded by a flash of light and hearing the voice of the risen Jesus while on the road to Damascus. Taking his new name of Paul, he became a traveling Christian leader, explaining the movement to the Greeks, starting new churches, and settling conflicts in existing ones. He was jailed or run out of town many times for angering local religious and civic leaders. Scholars say Paul was the actual writer, in Greek, of seven biblical epistles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon.
Extra credit: Paul is considered a saint in Roman Catholic, Orthodox and some other Christian traditions... His hometown, Tarsus, is in modern-day Turkey, in a region then known as Cilicia... Unlike other famous Christian disciples, Paul never met Jesus before his death. Like them, however, he took the title "apostle" (Greek: apostolos), meaning "one sent forth"... Most scholars question Paul's authorship of six more biblical letters attributed to him: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. They differ from his other epistles in style, viewpoint and vocabulary. Their unknown authors may have identified with Paul's school of thought or hoped to invoke his authority... Among Paul's most famous passages is the discourse on love in 1 Corinthians 13. It begins, "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal," and ends, "Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
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