Thursday, February 08, 2007

Paul the Apostle

Portrait of St. Paul by RembrandtSaul, also known as Paul, Paulus, and Paul the Apostle, (AD 3—67) is widely considered to be central to the early development and spread of Christianity, particularly westward from Judea. Many Christians view him as an important interpreter of the teachings of Jesus. Paul is described in the New Testament as a Hellenized Jew and Roman citizen from Tarsus (present-day Turkey), and as a persistent persecutor of early Christians, almost all of whom were Jewish, prior to his "Road to Damascus" experience, which brought about his conversion to faith in Jesus as Messiah, not only for Jews, but for all, regardless of ethnic background. Paul made the first great effort, through his Epistles to Gentile Christian communities, to show that the God of Abraham is for all people, rather than for Jews only, though he did not originate the idea, for example see Isaiah 56:6-8 or proselyte or Great Commission, or Simon Peter's vision of the sheet descending from Heaven in Acts 10:9-23a.

Due to his body of work and his undoubted influence on the development of Christianity, some modern scholars have considered Paul to be the founder of Christianity, who modified Jesus' teachings and added important new doctrines. However, this view remains controversial.


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