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Apostle Paul's timeline by age

What was he doing at your age?

Failures, then successes

No one has had a greater impact in bringing the gospel ('good news' of Jesus Christ) into the secular world than the Apostle Paul. He is the greatest missionary all time.

His life and times

Presented here about how his life changed ... what we learned ... how he presented.

The world has become modern, but people themselves have not changed much.

Bringing one God into pagan world of many gods.

How the world looked to the Apostle paul at various points in his life, and how he responded to the new understandings and finally Hall.

Caution: Not Pauline Christianity

Some have developed a Pauline-type of Christianity. Jesus always first.

Hall of Tyrannus

We see Apostle Paul growing in his understanding and his ministry.

On this site, leads up to Hall of Tyrannus, because brings us up to date on where we are

See Bible study here on Hall of Tyrannus.

SPECIAL PAGE SUMMARY

Create a special summary page condensing all and incorporating Hall of Tyrannus

HOW KNOW?

In writing sometimes start new paragraph with: How do we know this? Then talk about scripture or lack of, about when learn from Paul in other portions, common sense, history, etc.

Note about ages and events

[In ancient history, most dates are approximations. Dates and ages stated in this study are approximate within +-3 years.]

LOCATOR MAP

Life of Apostle Paul

Paul's first century world

Paul's world was the land surrounding the northeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Jewish part of that world is in the lower right-hand corner of the map with Jerusalem as the hub.

Wars had caused diaspora, so Jews scattered throughout the whole area pictured here.

Greek culture, no part of the Roman Empire. Rome it's power base.

Pagan world with pantheons of Gods, and Caesar.

Jewish people always clannish and feisty. Strange group. Rome unable to control. Generally a pure race and not proselytizing. Rome gave exemption for worship.

World population about 2,500,000; Jewish about 3,000,000. 99% of world Gentile, knew little or nothing about either Judism or Jesus. World of many gods.

Jesus chose Paul. Unique.

BIRTH TO AGE 15

Family in Tarsus

Birth | Born into a privileged Jewish family

He was born in the approximate year 1 AD into a Jewish family of high standing – Roman citizenship – in the city of Tarsus, a city still in existence in modern-day Turkey (map 24J). 

Tarsus was a very prosperous city of about 100,000 people ???? known for its fertile soil, excellent harbor, and gateway to the only major pass south through the Tarsus mountains. It was Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, etc.

Not know how family got to Tarsus, or Citizenship, or business.

Paul said: 'I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city' (Acts 21:39).

[NOTE: In ancient history, most dates are approximations. Dates and ages stated in this study are approximate within +-4 years.]

As a teen, his family sent him to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel, the most prestigious Jewish teacher of that time, similar to a Harvard education today.

This status gave him special privileges, and in some cases saved him from abuse (Acts 22:25–29). As a Roman citizen, Paul possessed a coveted status

Scholars believe Paul was born sometime between 5 BC and 5 AD, and that he died around 64 or 67 AD. While he was a contemporary of Jesus, they never crossed paths—at least, not before Jesus died.

Age 1-12 | Devout Jewish upbringing

'circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; (Philippians 3:5-6)

Paul was a prime example of a “righteous” Jew. He came from a God-fearing family (2 Timothy 1:3), he was a Pharisee like his father (Acts 23:6), and he was educated by a respected rabbi named Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). His Jewish credentials included his heritage, discipline, and zeal.

Paul’s identity used to be rooted in his Jewishness, but after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus (more on that later) his identity as a Jew became secondary to his identity as a follower of Christ. He spent much of his ministry dismantling the idea that in order to have a saving faith in Jesus, Gentiles must first “become Jewish” by adopting the Mosaic Law. Being a “Hebrew of Hebrews” lent him credibility and expertise when speaking to Jewish audiences, and helped him speak into the Law’s inability to make people righteous.

Age 13-15 | Helped in family business

Probably helped in business. Wealthy. Knew skill. Family only place to learn.

AGE 16 - 26

Devout Pharisee

Age 16 | Sent to school in Jerusalem

As a teen, his family sent him to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel, a very prestigious religious teacher, similar to a Harvard education today. When Saul was

Very well educated and connected to leaders of Sanheidren.

Age 25 | Trained as a devout Pharisee

Best education. What believed.

'I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.' (Galatians 1:14)

AGE 27-29

Persecuted Christians

Age 27 | Persecuted Christians

In the year or two after Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, group of believers call the 'way' troublesome. Saul passionate to put an end. Persecute, imprison and even death.

'And Saul approved of their killing him [stoning Stephen, a leader of the church]. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men dn women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went' (Acts 8:1-4).

One of biggest adversaries of Jesus. His own words:

'I persecuted the followers of this Way [Christians] to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison' (Acts 22:4).

'For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.' (Galatians 1:13)

'For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.' (1 Corinthians 15:9)

As a Pharisee, before his conversion to Christianity, Paul saw Christians (who were predominantly Jewish at the time) as a scourge against Judaism. From Paul’s perspective, these people were blaspheming about God and leading his people astray. He believed that Jesus was a mere man, and was therefore rightfully executed for claiming to be God.

And since Jesus’ followers kept spreading the idea that Jesus was God, Paul thought Christians were sinners of the worst sort.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Paul made his debut in the Bible as an intense persecutor of Christians. (Though he’s first mentioned by his Hebrew name, Saul—we’ll get to that soon.)

When Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the gospel, “the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul . . . And Saul approved of their killing him” (Acts 7:58–8:1).

Later, Paul asked the high priest for permission to take Christians (known as followers of “the Way”) as prisoners:

The first century was a tumultuous time for Christianity. The new religion was vulnerable, and it faced opposition everywhere from the Jews who believed it was blasphemy, and from the Romans who believed it challenged Caesar’s authority and created unrest. As a leader in the Jewish community, Paul saw the rapidly spreading Christian community as a threat, and he directly contributed to the persecution early Christians faced.

AGE 30-32

Conversion and Arabia

Age 30 | Dramatic conversion on road to Damascus

'Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats agains the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus [map P26], so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

'As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light fro heave flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'

''I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'

'The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by hand into Damascus' (Acts 9:1-8).

While Paul’s status as a Pharisee and his intense devotion to the Law might have made him well-suited to preach to the Jews, Paul had a different calling. Before Paul ever preached the gospel, Jesus said, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

On Paul’s way to round up some Christians as prisoners, Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks and crippled him with blindness.

But while Paul now knew the true identity and power of the one he had been persecuting, he had yet to learn Jesus’ grace and power to heal. And for that, he would need to meet a follower of Christ.

This encounter on the road to Damascus completely redefined who Paul was, and it changed the purpose of his journey from silencing Christians to speaking out in support of them. Instead of taking away from their number, he added to it. And once Jesus redirected him, Paul continued on this trajectory for the rest of his life.

Age 30 | Ananias

Paul’s notoriety as a persecutor of Christians made believers uncomfortable around him even after his baptism, and it took a while for them to believe that he’d really changed (Acts 9:26).

Age 30 | Exits Damascus for safety

After putting his faith in Jesus, Paul immediately began preaching publicly (Acts 9:20), and he quickly built a reputation as a formidable teacher (Acts 9:22).

Paul spent the next few days with the very Christians he had come to capture, and he immediately began preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ—to the confusion of Christians and Jews alike. It would take time for Paul’s reputation as a Christian preacher to outgrow his reputation as a persecutor of Christians.

Age 30 | Three years Arabia

'I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.' (Galatians 1:11- 12)

AGE 33

Return to Jerusalem

Age 33 | Returns to Damascus

'Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats agains the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus [map P26], so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Age 33 | Returns to Jerusalem

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Meets Barnabas

Age 33 | Flees to ancestral Tarsus for safety

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AGE 34-42

Tarsus

Age 34 | Settles into normal life in Tarsus

Time and place.

Until his name was changed at age xx, he was known as Saul of Tarsus.

Age 42 | Barnabas finds Paul in Tarsus

Goes to Antioch

AGE 43-45

Barnabas / First Missionary Journey

Age 43 | Paul helps Barnabas in Antioch

He left the church with Barnabas and a man named John (also called Mark, believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark)

Age 44 | Paul and Barnabas do a missions trip

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Age 33, Paul returned briefly to Damascus, visited apostles in Jerusalem (map S25) for two weeks and then, still fleeing hostile Jews, went to Tarsus (map J25), his family home town. He lived in Tarsus for eight years before going to Antioch (map K25), where he began his first missionary journey.

The Bible tells little about what Paul said or did during those first eleven years of his Christian life. He didn't start out as a world-changing evangelist, but he had a clear understanding that he was called to be a missionary to the Gentiles (non-Jews). At that time, most people thought that Christianity was just a new sect with Judaism.

Age 41, first missionary journey (purple line), approximately 1,300 miles, nine cities, two years.

Age 45, second missionary journey (yellow line), approximately 2,700 miles, 26 cities, three years.

Age 48, third missionary journey (green line), approximately 2,500 miles, 21 cities, four years.

Age 54, fourth journey (red line), after spending two years in prison in Caesarea (map R24), now a prisoner on the way to Rome (map A2) for trial, approximately 1,900 miles, nearly two years.

Age 58, the book of Acts and biblical story of his life ends with Paul in Rome under guarded house arrest, but he was free to have visitors. Acts concludes with these words: 'For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hinderance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ' (Acts 28:30).

Age xx | Name change

Shortly after Saul converts to Christianity, Luke tells us he’s also called Paul (Acts 13:9), and for the most part the rest of the Bible refers to him as Paul. Cyprus.

AGE 46

Resolving conflicts

Age 46 | Goes to Jerusalem for important council meeting

As an apostle to the Gentiles, not only did Paul need to engage the cultures he was trying to reach, but he had to protect these new believers from the weight of obligation that Jewish Christians often tried to impose on them. He was constantly trying to prove that the Gentiles didn’t need to adopt Jewish customs like circumcision in order to place their faith in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit.

Of all the ways Paul affected Christianity, the biggest was arguably his role in spreading the gospel to non-Jewish communities. He certainly wasn’t the only apostle to do so, but he is known as the “apostle to the Gentiles” because that’s who Jesus specifically called him to minister to (Acts 9:15), he and the other apostles agreed that was his role (Galatians 2:7), and that was undeniably the focus of his ministry.

But Christianity was radically different from Judaism, and while many early Christians followed the Law, it wasn’t a prerequisite for believing in Jesus. The Law of Moses and the old covenant it bound them to had been replaced by Jesus’ new covenant, and the law of love (John 13:34-35).

For Paul, the apostles, and the early Christians, the Law (and specifically, circumcision) was one of the greatest theological issues of their day. First-century Jews had grown up believing the Law was central to their identity as God’s chosen people, and they struggled to fully grasp that Jesus rendered the Law obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).

Instead, they essentially instructed Gentiles be culturally sensitive to their Jewish brothers and sisters, because the Law was respected and observed by Jews everywhere.

But despite the apostles’ agreement that Gentiles didn’t have to adopt Jewish customs to be Christian, Jewish Christians still saw law-observing Christians as superior, and even Peter let himself get pressured into playing favorites.

Age xx | Confronting Peter

But as the Gentiles joined the church, Paul noticed that Peter still treated Gentile Christians differently in order to save face with those who still valued the law.

Age 46 | Relationship with Barnabas ruptures

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Age 46 | Meets Silas and Timothy

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AGE 47-48

Second missionary journey

Age 47 | Missionary trip with Silas, Timothy and Luke

Everywhere he went, Paul established new Christian communities and helped these fledgling believers develop their own leadership. He corresponded with these churches regularly and visited them as often as he could. Occasionally, they financially supported him so that he could continue his ministry elsewhere (Philippians 4:14–18, 2 Corinthians 11:8–9).

  • He made a sorcerer go temporarily blind (Acts 13:11).
  • He healed a man who had been lame since birth (Acts 14:8–10).
  • He casted out a spirit that was annoying him (Acts 16:16-18).
  • He healed people and cast out spirits through items he touched (Acts 19:11–12).
  • He resurrected a young man named Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).
  • He was bit by a venomous snake and nothing happened to him (Acts 28:3-5).
  • He healed a man with fever and dysentery (Acts 28:8).

In some cases, Paul spent well over a year in the cities he preached to, living with the believers there and modeling a lifestyle of imitating Christ.

Age 47 | First recorded European convert

Lydia

Age 47 | Imprisoned in Phillipi

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Age 47 | Stoned and left for dead at ???

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Age 48 | Argues in Athens

At Berea leaves Silas and Timothy?

Mars Hill

Age 48 | Successful church in Corinth

Rejoined Silas and Timothy

Age 48 | With Pricilla and Aquilla, stops in Ephesus

Synagog asks him back

Age 48 | Returns to Antioch via Jerusalem

Port Caeserea

AGE 49-53

Third missionary journey / Hall of Tyrannus

Age 49 | Heads back to Ephesus

Begins trip from

Antioch ?? that will take him three years

Inland walk

Stops on way

Age 49 | Ministry in Ephesus

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he promised his followers they would receive power through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). The Book of Acts records that the apostles performed miracles, and Paul is no exception. He healed people, cast out spirits, and even brought someone back from the dead.

Temple rejection

Hall of Tyrannus

Paul spent more time in Ephesus – three years – than in any other city in all his missionary journeys.

The church in Corinth was soon expecting another visit from Paul, but he wrote and said that he needed to stay longer in Ephesus 'because a great door for effective work has opened to me, even though many oppose me' (I Corinthians 16:9). That's the Hall of Tyrannus, a two-year project that couldn't be rushed.

A new opportunity opened in the hall because Jews opposed him in the temple. Then, like now, problems can often be turned into opportunities!

Scholars haHall of Tyrannus. In Christian ministry, Paul spent more time in Ephesus (map I16, 3 years) than anywhere else. The Hall of Tyrannus was a two-year commitment – settling in and working in one place – his largest commitment for any project.

More like us. Put it all together.

Paul was almost always on the move because he had so many cities to visit and so many people to see. Usually he didn't have time to set up his business, conduct an on-going local ministry and live a some-what normal kind of life. Except in Ephesus.

Age 52 | Riot in Ephesus

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Age 52 | In Corinth for winter and collection

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Age 53 | Farewell to Ephesus church leaders

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Age 54 | Delivers collection in Jerusalem

added

AGE 55-56

Jerusalem trial and imprisonment

Age 55 | Arrested in Jerusalem

Time and place

Ploy backfires.

Age 55 | Appeals to Ceasar

In Acts 25, Paul was put on trial, and his accusers asked that he stand trial in Jerusalem, where they planned to ambush and kill him (Acts 25:3). Paul leveraged his Roman citizenship to demand Caesar himself hear his case (Acts 25:11), and procurator has no choice but to grant him this right.

Could have been free. Tactical?

Age 55 | Trial and imprisonment in Caeserea

xxxxx

AGE 57 TO DEATH

To Rome as a prisoner

Age 57 | Departs for Rome as prisoner

Time and place.

Age 57 | Shipwrecked on Malta

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Age 58 | House arrest in Rome

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Age 61 | ??

Bible ends. Tradition

Some scholars argue there was a fourth missionary journey as well.

GREATEST SUCCESS IN EPHESUS

Hall of Tyrannus strategy

Lifetime of learning

Looking back on his life.

Put it all together in Ephesus

Strategy in detail

See ...

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