‟I, Paul: The Life of the Great Apostle”

Raised in the most strict Jewish family, educated by the leading rabbi of the day, and well connected with the Sanhedrin leadership, Saul of Tarsus seemed incapable of being touched by the gospel message. . . until that fateful day outside Damascus! This is an extended study of this man who became the most prominent, and perhaps most effective, spokesman for Jesus the world has ever known. Click on the links to listen to the lessons.

January 30, 2011: “I, Paul” – Introduction to our study, looking at the influence the Apostle Paul has had on the progress of Christianity.

February 6, 2011: “Growing Up Jewish” – What we can know directly and indirectly about Saul’s early life and education.

February 13, 2011: “Zealous for God” – The motivating force for Saul’s life was a deep-seated, but misdirected, desire to please God.

February 20, 2011: “Stephen – A Man Full of God’s Grace” – Saul’s contact with and opposition to Stephen is a turning point.

February 27, 2011: “Like the Face of an Angel” – Saul rejects Stephen’s message and contributes to his murder.

March 6, 2011: “A Blasphemer and a Persecutor” – Paul will later look back on this period in his life and refer to himself in very unflattering terms!

March 20, 2011: “Counting It All as Loss” – When Saul became convinced that Jesus really was risen from the dead, he gives up everything to become His disciple.

March 27, 2011: “From Damascus to Jerusalem” – Saul’s new-found zeal for Jesus and the gospel brings on him the same persecution he previously had dealt to others.

April 3, 2011: “Set Apart for Me” – After a number of years of undocumented ministry in Tarsus and Antioch, the Holy Spirit singles out Saul and Barnabas for a new endeavor.

April 10, 2011: “We Turn to the Gentiles” – Following the success of the gospel in Antioch and the rejection of the message about Jesus by many in the synagogues, Saul and Barnabas see a great response among the Gentiles in each city they evangelize.

April 17, 2011: “Where Christ Was Not Known” – This describes the route taken by Paul and Barnabas on this first “missionary journey.”

April 24, 2011: “Preaching Christ’s Resurrection” – No surprise that the central fact that changed Paul from persecutor to disciple became the core of his preaching and teaching.

May 1, 2011: “Sharing in His Sufferings” – Paul and Barnabas paid a high price for their missionary efforts… rejection, persecution, and abuse!

May 8, 2011: “Controversy about God’s Grace” – Paul and Barnabas lead the opposition to imposing Jewish practices on Gentile Christians.

May 15, 2011: “Back to the Mission Fields” – After several years of exciting, but stationary, ministry back in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas feel the pull of mission work once again.

May 22, 2011: “The Macedonian Call: Come Over and Help Us!” – The Second Missionary Journey begins with new traveling companions and closed doors.

May 29 2011: “Paul’s Joy and Crown” – In Philippi the gospel finds a ready audience – and opposition – among the city’s Roman citizens.

June 5, 2011: “Receiving the Message with Joy” – Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica was both brief and incredibly productive as a large church begins there.

June 12, 2011: “The Bereans Were More Noble” – An enthusiastic reception of the gospel in Berea is followed by a lukewarm result in Athens.

June 19 2011: “Preaching about the Unknown God” – Paul’s preaching in Athens has only modest positive results.

June 26, 2011: “I Have Many People in This City” – Paul preaches for 18 months in Corinth and establishes a significant church there.

July 3, 2011: “I Will Return If God Wills” – Paul briefly visits Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem and sees an open door for the gospel!

July 10, 2011: “All in Asia Heard the Word” – Returning to Ephesus on his third missionary journey, Paul spends over 2 years evangelizing Asia.

July 17, 2011: “Fighting with Beasts in Ephesus” – In I Corinthians 15:32 Paul describes his trials in Ephesus in graphic terms.

July 24, 2011: “The Collection for the Saints” – Before returning to Jerusalem, Paul organizes a widespread collection of monies for the poor in the Jerusalem church.

July 31, 2011: “I Paul, Write This – Part I” – Following up on last week’s lesson, we discover today that Paul was not only organizing a brotherhood collection while on his missionary journeys – he was also becoming an accomplished writer. During this period he penned the letters to the Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Romans.

August 7 2011: “I Paul, Write This – Part II” – Today we take a look at each of the six epistles Paul wrote during this 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys, and how each one relates to the situations and problems that existed with their recipients.

August 14, 2011: “Innocent of the Blood of All Men” – The finish of Paul’s third missionary journey is also his “farewell tour” of many of the churches among which he had worked. Both at Troas and with the elders from Ephesus he shows his great love for them and is confident he has done all possible to equip for the tumultuous times ahead. Dark clouds are on the horizon for him and for them.

August 21, 2011: “Hardship and Prison Await” – As Paul makes his way toward Jerusalem, the Spirit warns in every church that hardship and prison are awaiting him (Acts 20:23). Paul’s three missionary journeys were marked by great success! But they also were noted for the incredible hardships he endured, and for the fact that he “worked harder than everyone.” And now, more suffering lies ahead.

August 28, 2011: “Not Fit to Live!” – On his arrival in Jerusalem, Paul is recognized by Jews from Asia (and Ephesus). They stir up a mob and attempt to kill Paul. A contingent of Roman soldiers charged with maintaining the peace rescue him, though their commander believes Paul must be a terrorist!

September 4, 2011: “No Justice!” – First he is falsely accused in the Temple by enemies, then he has to use his Roman citizenship to escape a life-threatening flogging. The next day his “civil rights” are violated in a hearing before the Sanhedrin, then he has be smuggled off to Caesarea to avoid being assassinated. This was not about justice, but about murderous hatred by opponents of the gospel.

September 11, 2011: “Almost Persuaded” – Paul spends two years detained by the Roman governor in a state of legal limbo. Wishing to please the Jewish leadership and hoping for a bribe, Governor Felix never acts on Paul’s case. Finally he is replaced with a better man named Festus who moves quickly to bring this case to a conclusion. Unfortunately his unfamiliarity with the situation forces Paul to once again use his citizenship to demand a trial before the Emperor. His last hearing in Caesarea will be before King Agrippa.

September 18, 2011: “Shipwreck!” – Paul is now on his way to Rome, a trip he has wanted to make for several years. But he is going as a “guest” of the Roman government on board a commercial grain ship. He was no stranger to sea travel, mentioning some three years before that he had been in perils of the sea, and shipwrecked three times (II Corinthians 10). A fourth wreck awaits him now.

September 25, 2011: “Welcome to Rome!” – Following 3 months on the small island of Malta sharing God’s grace with its inhabitants, Paul and his companions finally complete their journey. No doubt, what thrilled Paul the most was the extremely warm reception by the brethren. Once in Rome, it is a productive two years of preaching and teaching – including teaching soldiers of the Praetorian Guard assigned to guard him.

October 2, 2011: “In Chains for Christ” – Confined to his quarters, chained to a member of the Praetorian guard, what is Paul to do? In Philippians 1:12 he says that this “turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” For two years he boldly preached the gospel and taught the believers. He had both a ministry IN Rome and a ministry FROM Rome. Click the title to listen.

October 9, 2011: “An Ambassador in Chains” – As Paul spends two years under house imprisonment in Rome awaiting the disposition of his trial, he heads up an impressive group of men dedicated to the spread of the gospel – from Dr. Luke to Demas to fellow-prisoner Aristarchus. During this time he speaks of himself in Ephesians 6 as being an “ambassador in chains!” He represented the King of Kings from the Kingdom of God before the greatest human ruler on earth at the time.

October 16, 2011: “Letters from Prison” – During his first imprisonment in Rome, Paul was busy! Along with teaching and preaching to all who came to him, he penned four of the letters found in our New Testament along with a “lost letter” – one which we have no copy of. What does the imprisoned apostle talk about? – his joy, God’s grace, the supremacy of his Lord, and plans to visit his readers.

October 23, 2011: “I Have Finished the Race” – After a short time of freedom, Paul is returned to Rome in chains. This time death on behalf of Christ awaits him. His final letter (2 Timothy) reflects his final concerns and confidence, just months before his execution.