ToBeLikeHim.com                                                                             Return to Timothy Series

 

Timothy Series

Lesson 1

John Baugh

August, 2008

 

Background Material

 

Saul of Tarsus - The Apostle Paul

 

Saul was Born, with no agreement on date, in maybe 5 AD in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia a Roman province in southeast of Asia Minor (Southern Turkey).

 

Tarsus lies on the banks of the river Cydnus. It was a shipping city and was known for the wealth of its inhabitants.

 

Tarsus was the seat of a major (famous) university - higher in reputation than even the Universities of Athens and Alexandria, which were the only others that existed at that time.

 

Saul's father was of the tribe of Benjamin of pure and unmixed Jewish blood (Acts 23:6, Phil 3:5). For whatever reason, Saul's father was a Roman Citizen. Tarsus was a free city under Roman Rule, and as a child born there to a Roman Citizen, Saul was also a Roman Citizen.

 

Paul had a sister, who had a son (Acts 23:16) and other relatives (Romans 16:7, 11, 12), There is no indication that he ever married.

 

He was guided toward the life of a rabbi - minister/teacher/lawyer all in one. As was the custom, he was required to have another trade before entering his rabbinical schooling, and so, he was trained as a tent maker.

 

At about the age of thirteen, Saul was sent to the great school of Jewish learning at Jerusalem to study the law. There, he became a student of the celebrated Rabbi Gamaliel. Under Gamaliel, he would have spent many years in an elaborate study of the scriptures and the many questions regarding compliance with the law.

 

After his studies were completed, he would have remained in Jerusalem, or (most likely) returned to Tarsus. Regardless, after the Death of Jesus, he was back in Jerusalem, developing a reputation with his dealings with the Religious sect known as "The Nazarenes" or followers of "The Way".

 

For about two years after Pentecost, followers of "The Way" were quietly spreading in influence in Jerusalem. At that point, the Deacon Stephen presented his public testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, creating uproar in the "Synagogue of the Freemen". Persecution arose against Stephen, leading to his stoning. Saul of Tarsus is introduced in the Book of Acts as one of those present at that stoning.

 

At that point, if he was not already active in the persecution of those who followed Jesus, the Pharisee, Saul became a leading agent against them.

 

Acts (Acts 8:4) tells us that the followers were "scattered abroad" with the persecution. Hearing that the followers were active in Damascus, Saul obtained, letters from the chief priest authorizing him to travel to Damascus and arrest and imprison these men and women.

 

Damascus is a long journey from Jerusalem, about 130 miles - a long six day journey.

 

On the road to Damascus, Saul encountered Jesus in a bright flash of light that threw him to the ground. While he was laid prostrate on the ground a voice spoke into his ear, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" At that point Saul beheld Jesus. In answer to the anxious inquiry of the stricken persecutor, "Who are you, Lord"? He said "I am Jesus, who you Persecute." (Acts 9:5, 22:8, 26:15).

 

After he was struck to the ground, blinded, (Acts 9:8), Saul was led to a house in Damascus, on the Street called Straight, owned by Judas. For three days, he lay on a bed there, neither eating nor drinking.

 

At that point, the lord came to "A certain Disciple at Damascus, named Ananias" and sent him to the house of Judas, "for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."

 

(As I would have) Ananias questioned the Lord.   

 

"Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to bear my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the sons of Israel: For I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

 

And Ananias went and placed his hands on him and said, "Brother Saul…"

 

Saul remained for several days with the disciples in Damascus. Until a plot to kill him was discovered. He escaped Damascus, lowered down the wall of the city in a basket. (Acts 9:25, 2 Corinthians 11:30-33)

 

At this point, he went to Arabia for three years (Galatians 1:17). Absolutely noting is known about this period of Saul's life. Evidently the entire focus of the rest of his life was brought into being while he was there.

 

After three years in Arabia, he returned to Tarsus (Gal 1:21) for about three years.

 

(Note, The paragraph concerning the plot to kill Saul and his lowering down the wall in the basket may occur here instead of where I placed it - three paragraphs previous)

 

By this time, Antioch, the capital of Syria had become the scene of great Christian activity. Barnabas had been sent there from Jerusalem to shepherd the work there, was overwhelmed and remembering Saul in Tarsus, went there to find him. Saul accompanied Barnabas back to Antioch and labored there.

 

"At Antioch, the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26)

 

After a year, the church in Antioch proposed to send out missionaries to the Gentiles and Barnabas and Saul, with John Mark as their attendant were chosen for the work. At this point, the disciples began to give effect to the Master's command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature

 

1st Missionary journey

 

The three sailed from Seleucia the seaport of Antioch, across to Cyprus, 80 miles to the southwest. At Paphos, Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul was converted. At this point Saul took the lead for the team and for ever after that point was called Paul.

 

At this point, the team crossed over to the mainland and proceeded several miles up the river Cestrus to Perga (Acts 13:13) where John Mark deserted the work and returned to Jerusalem.

 

Paul and Barnabas traveled 100 miles inland, passing through Pamphylia, Pisidia and Laconia. At the Pisidian town of Antioch Paul preached hi first recorded sermon (Acts 13:16-51 - Compare with Peter's Sermon Acts10: 30-43). Other towns mentioned are Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. They returned by the same route to see and encourage any converts they had made, and to ordain elders in those churches.

 

From Perga, they sailed back to Antioch.

 

After remaining in Antioch until probably AD 50 or 51, a great controversy broke out regarding the Gentiles responsibility to Jewish Mosaic law. To help settle the questions, Paul and Barnabas set out for Jerusalem as deputies to consult with the Church there. (Acts 15). The council ruled in favor of the Gentiles and Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas returned to Antioch.

 

After a short rest, Paul said to Barnabas "Let us go again and visit our Brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they do" (Acts 15:36).

 

Barnabas proposed John Mark again to accompany them, but Paul refused to allow him to go. Barnabas insisted that the young disciple be allowed to go and a sharp dispute resulted between Barnabas and Paul. The result was that they separated and went separate ways. Barnabas with John Mark and Paul with Silas. They may have never again met or journeyed together.

 

Paul afterwards speaks of Barnabas with honor and sends for John Mark to come to him when he is in prison in Rome (Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11).

 

2nd Missionary Journey

 

Paul and Silas departed Antioch in about AD 51, this time by land. They revisited the churches Paul had founded in Asia. 

 

They go to Derbe and Lystra (Acts 16:1-5) where Paul meets a Jewess woman Eunice and Her Mother, Lois (2 Timothy1:5) and the son of Eunice, a young man named Timothy. Luke tells us his mother was a Je7 and his fatheb a GReek./o:p>

 /p>

When P`ul left Lystra, Ha invited young 16-19 year old Timothy to come with the missionary team.

 

There are 29 references to Timothy in acts and the NT letters written by Paul.

 

But Paul longed to enter into "regions beyond" so they journeyed into Phrygia and Galatia (Acts 16:6). Because of some "Bodily Affliction" (Galatians 4:13, 14). He wanted to go to Bithynia, but the way was shut off by the Holy Spirit, guiding him in another direction, and so he came down the shores of the Aegean sea to Troas, on the Northwestern coast of Asia Minor (Acts 16:8). The only references we have of the journey are in Galatians 4:13.

 

While in Troas, Paul writes of a medical condition he has that required treatment. It is possible that he had an ophthalmic condition - some disease of the eyes. It is also possible that the physician he sought out for his medical problems was Dr. Luke.

 

As he waited in Troas, Paul saw a vision of a man in Macedonia crying "Come over here and help us" (Acts 16:9). The next day, he departed Troas, by ship, across the Hellespont separating Asia from Europe, to Neapolis (Acts16:11)

 

This marks the spread of the Gospel into Europe.

 

At this point (Acts 16:10) in Acts, the "They" references become "We" and "Us" references, indicating the inclusion of Dr. Luke in the missionary team.

 

In Macedonia, Paul founded churches at Philippi (Acts 16), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10) and Berea, (In Berea he leaves Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:10-14) before passing over into Achaia.

 

He eventually made it to Athens, but stayed only a brief period of time (Acts 17:17-31). He was not well received there and never went back.

 

He then passed over into Corinth, the seat of the Roman Government in Acacia and remained there for a year and a half, with much success to show for his work with the Corinthians.

 

In Corinth, he joins back up with Silas and Timothy (Acts 18:1-17).  While at Corinth, He wrote his two epistles to the Church at Thessalonica, which were the earliest epistles.

 

Then he sailed for Syria and Jerusalem, hoping to make it there (Jerusalem) in time for the feast of Pentecost.

 

He was accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, who he left at Ephesus.

 

After attending the feast in Jerusalem he returned to Antioch, where he stayed "For some time" (Acts 18:20-23)

 

3rd Missionary Journey

 

Paul journeyed by land to the "upper coasts" more eastern parts of Asia Minor. And finally he made it to Ephesus (Acts19:1-41), where he labored for the Church for about three years.

 

Ephesus was a seaport cit of great wealth. During Paul's time there, his fellow laborers carried the Gospel message to Colossae, Laodicea and other cities in the region. Paul's letter to the Colossians is to a church he had never visited.

 

Shortly before leaving Ephesus, Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. Then after the "silversmiths riots", Paul left Ephesus and traveled to Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12) and then to Macedonia (Acts 20:1) to meet Titus.

 

Based on the reports brought to Macedon is by Titus, Paul wrote the second epistle to the Corinthians. Over that summer and fall, Paul visited the churches in Macedonia at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. Then he went into Greece for three months most of that time in Corinth (Acts 20:2).

 

While in Corinth, he wrote the epistle to the Galatians and the great epistle to the Romans.

 

After three months he left Acacia for Macedonia, then sailed for Tyre (Acts 21:3-6) and finally back to Jerusalem by spring of AD 58.

 

In Jerusalem for the feats of Pentecost, he was almost murdered by a Jewish mob in the temple (Acts 21:26-36). But was rescued by the Roman Commandant, (Acts 22: 22-29) taken as a prisoner to Caesarea, where he was detained for over two years in Herod's Praetorian (Acts 23:35).

 

During those two years, he wrote no epistles that survived.

 

(Acts 23: 23-35 Acts 24:1-17 Acts 25:1-12)  At the end of these two years, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, before whom the Apostle again stood in Judgment. At this point Paul claimed his Roman citizenship and appealed to the Emperor. He was sent there under the charge of Julius, a centurion of the "Augustan cohort".

 

After a long perilous voyage (Acts 27:1 - 28:16), he reached Rome in the early spring of probably AD 61.

 

1st Imprisonment

 

In Rome, he was permitted to occupy his own house, for two years, under constant military guard. (Acts 28)

 

Paul speaks of preaching to his guards and of conversions of those guards, even to Caesar's household (Philippians 1:13). Both Jews and Gentiles sought him out in Rome, (Acts 28:23 30, 31).

 

During this period, Paul wrote the epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon (and perhaps the Epistle to the Hebrews - the actual authorship of Hebrews is disputed).

 

This first imprisonment came to a close with Paul acquitted, probably due to a lack of witnesses willing to come to Rome to testify against him. At that time Paul and those who were with him left Rome and may have visited Western and Eastern Europe, and Asia Minor. In his travels, Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to minister to the young church there and left Timothy in Ephesus to minister to the troubled church there.

 

After leaving Ephesus, Paul journeyed to Macedonia and perhaps to the places already mentioned. During this period (AD 61-62), He wrote his first epistle to Timothy and his epistle to Titus.

 

The year of his probable release from the first imprisonment was also the year of the burning of Rome that Nero blamed on the Christians. It signaled the beginning of a fierce persecution of Christians. Eventually, Paul was arrested again and brought back to Rome. 

 

2nd Imprisonment

 

During this imprisonment, most probably in the Mamertine Prison, across from the Forum and the Tiber River in Rome, Paul wrote his 2nd epistle to Timothy. This epistle is the last writing we have from Paul.

 

(AD 62-66) There is little doubt that Paul appeared again before Nero. This time he was not released.

 

After the trail, perhaps within days, perhaps the day of the trial, Paul was led out of the city, tradition says, on the Apian Way. Tradition says that he was executed there, having his head severed by the Roman executioner's axe.   

 

By four years later, Nero had committed suicide, Vespian became Emperor and the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2008, by ToBeLikeHim Ministries

 

Return to Main Page                                                                                          Return to Timothy Series