Summary: This sermon gives the history of Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee and his hate for Christians; then explains Saul's conversion to Jesus.
• Paul broke the mold.
• He was wild…crazy, zealous, lost, brilliant, passionate and super focused.
• If he was alive today he would be considered a terrorist for killing people for his cause.
• Yet he had more to do with the growth of Christianity than any other single person.
• He wrote thirteen or fourteen of the New Testament books. There are questions whether he wrote Hebrews?
• Born likely four to fourteen years after Jesus and became a believer in approximately 33-35 AD. Died around 63-65 AD. Thirty years of ministry.
• We will be in Acts 7, 9
• Book of Acts - First twenty chapters covered twenty-five years.
• Chapters 21-28, the last 8 chapters two and one half to five years. Some of it covers just a handful of days.
• All about getting the gospel to Rome. The next 300 years the church swept through the Roman culture even as they fed believers to lions.
I. SAUL OF TARSUS
• Saul was his Jewish name, Paul his Roman name. He was born in Turkey (today).
• The City of Tarsus, a place of thriving trade and intellectual focus.
• A thriving Jewish quarter where this boy lived, likely around 5 AD. Jesus was a boy.
• He had a very unique standing, that he was both a Jew and a Roman citizen. His parents were likely rich.
• Very well positioned in society or he wouldn’t have had the coveted Roman citizenship.
Acts 22:27-28, So the commander went over and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” “Yes, I certainly am,” Paul replied. “I am, too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!” Paul answered, “But I am a citizen by birth!”
• He was also born into a family of Pharisee’s, which were the Jewish teachers and leaders.
• Though we look down on Pharisees today, they were the noblest of all Jews.
• Home life was likely dominated by religious teaching and instruction with the goal of getting him the best education possible.
• By five Saul would have been reading Hebrew Scriptures, by six he would go to a nearby school. At ten he would memorize the Old Testament law and at thirteen he would have been through a type of bar mitzpha or confirmation.
• At thirteen to sixteen he would have been sent to Jerusalem to school to become a rabbi or teacher, which seems his father wanted him to.
• He lived with his married sister in Jerusalem.
• He was taught a trade that he would use the rest of his life, tent making.
• All Jews were taught a trade as a means to a living.
Acts 22:3-4 History, Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today. And I persecuted the followers of the way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison."