Biography of St. Paul


St. Paul. This eminent apostle, originally named Saul, was a Jew of pure Hebrew descent, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and was by birth a free Roman citizen. The marvelous circumstances that led to and attended his conversion, and his apostolic travels are, doubtless, familiar to our readers, and need not be given here. Much diversity of opinion, however, prevails among the learned about the dates of the principal events of his life. About A.D. 59, having visited Jerusalem for the fifth time since his conversion, the populace there assailed him, and would have killed him, but an officer took him into custody and sent him to the Roman Governor Felix, at Caesarea, where he was detained a prisoner for two years. Having finally appealed to the Roman Emperor, according to the privilege of a Roman citizen, he was sent to Rome. On the voyage thither, he suffered shipwreck at Melita (probably Malta), in the spring of 61. At Rome, he was treated with respect, being allowed to dwell "for two whole years in his own hired house." Whether he ever left the city or not cannot be positively demonstrated, but it is believed by many critics, from a variety of considerations, that he did obtain his liberty about A.D. 64, and that he made journeys both to the East and to the West, revisiting Asia Minor, and carrying out his long-cherished wish of preaching the gospel in Spain, then thought to be the western limit of the world. Meanwhile, the great and mysterious burning of Rome occurred, generally attributed to Nero. The latter threw the blame on the Christians who were, in consequence, subjected to a severe persecution. Among the victims may have been Paul who, according to traditions, suffered death in A.D. 67.