indicating in his writings the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Historically, one could make a convincing argument that without Paul, Christianity does not become the religious force it did. Paul or Saul, as he was originally named, was born to a Jewish family in Tarsus of Asia Minor. He was well educated in both Judaism and Hellenism (Greek culture). He trained under a famed Jewish rabbi named Gamaliel and, prior to his conversion experience, was advancing in the leadership of Jerusalem. His knowledge of Greek would serve him well in his missionary journeys for Christianity because although Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire, Greek was the more common language in Paul’s part of the empire. Consequently, knowing how to speak Greek enabled Paul to be understood wherever he traveled. As a Jew, he could visit Jewish synagogues (Jewish communities) and, at least
R. Maurice Barineau, An Introduction to the Major Religions of the World, Christianity, 14 Copyright, 6/18/2015, Tallahassee Community College. All rights reserved for a while, preach to them about the coming of the long awaited messiah, the Christ. Or, with his Greek education, he could stand at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece and deliver a sermon on “The Unknown God” to Gentiles or non-Jews. Saul first appears in the New Testament as part of a Jewish anti-Christian group in Jerusalem, holding the cloaks of those who are stoning a Christian martyr. He had been involved for some time in the zealous persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem. On his way to Damascus to persecute Christians there, Saul underwent a dramatic conversion experience that caused him to become an ardent spokesperson for Christianity rather than an enemy.
R. Maurice Barineau, An Introduction to the Major Religions of the World, Christianity, 15 Copyright, 6/18/2015, Tallahassee Community College. All rights reserved Meanwhile Saul was still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and applied for letters to the synagogues at Damascus authorizing him to arrest anyone he found, men or women, who followed the new way, and bring them to Jerusalem.
R. Maurice Barineau, An Introduction to the Major Religions of the World, Christianity, 16 Copyright, 6/18/2015, Tallahassee Community College. All rights reserved While he was still on the road and nearing Damascus, suddenly a light flashed from the sky all around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Tell me, Lord,' he said, 'who are you.' The voice answered, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.' Meanwhile the men who were traveling with him stood speechless: they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could not see; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. He was blind for three days, and took no food or drink. (Acts 9:1-9) Saul, in commemoration of his conversion, changed his name to Paul