Who Was Saul of Tarsus?

How Did He Become "Apostle Paul?"
by Nikki   

    First Some Facts:

The name, Saul, means "Asked For."  (Some say it means "borrowed")

SAUL   m   Biblical, Jewish
Pronounced: SAWL
From the Hebrew name Sha'ul which meant "asked for" or "prayed for". This was the name of the first king of Israel who ruled just before King David, as told in the Old Testament. Also, Saul was the original name of Saint Paul before his conversion to Christianity.

The name, Paul, means "Small."

PAUL m   English, French, German, Romanian, Biblical
Pronounced: PAWL, POL (French)
From the Roman family name Paulus, which meant "small" or "humble" in Latin. Saint Paul was an important leader of the early Christian church, his story told in Acts in the New Testament. He was originally named Saul, but changed his name after converting to Christianity. Most of the epistles in the New Testament were authored by him. This was also the name of six popes.

When Yah'shua was speaking to the Pharisees who didn't believe in Him, He told them:

John 5:43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

Saul was Jewish, of the house of Israel, free-born in Tarsus and was a Roman citizen. (His father acquired Roman citizenship). Saul was born a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin. He was born in Tarsus, two years before the birth of Christ.  At the age of 13, he was sent to the Great Jewish school of sacred learning in Jerusalem as a student of the laws. He was a tent-stitcher by trade, as every Jew had to teach his son a trade by which he could live.  Saul returned to Tarsus after graduation.

Acts 21:39- But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

Acts 22:27&28- Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

II Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Saul was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee.

Acts 23:6- But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin- the same bloodline as King Saul. (The tribes of Benjamin and Judah, remained loyal to the throne of David.)

Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Saul was raised in Jerusalem and taught by Gamaliel, a doctor of the law.  Gamaliel was well respected by the people and was considered the greatest teacher of the day.  Saul was taught the perfect manner of the law, by Gamaliel.

Acts 22:3- I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Acts 5:34- Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

Saul was a Hebrew of Hebrews. (Phil. 3:5) which meant that he had maintained his Jewish language- Hebrew, customs, and way of life.

He was a Pharisee which meant he was a member of the most strict and law-abiding sect of Judaism who stood firm by the traditions of the fathers and were held in high esteem by the people.  In other words, he was a member of the social elite.

Saul excelled in his Pharisee religion above most of his peers and was more zealous of the traditions of his fathers.

Gal. 1:14- And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Saul was above reproach in his way of life, conduct, ceremonial and moral keeping of the law.

Philippians 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

(I wonder if murder makes a man blameless under Yahweh's law?  Hmmm.)

As Saul puts it, he was just so zealous for the Jews' religion that he persecuted the church of Yahshua in order to protect Judaism from departing from the traditions of the fathers.

Saul considered himself to be the ideal Jew.

At the height of his zealousness, for the religion of the Pharisees, Saul was the greatest persecuter of the followers of Yah'shuah.

INTRODUCING SAUL OF TARSUS: (At the Stoning of Stephen)

Acts 7:57-60 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Yahshua, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Yahweh, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8:1- And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Saul wasted, imprisoned and punished the assembly at Jerusalem, and abroad 'beyond measure' sparing none and was responsible for countless deaths. He also compelled many believers to blaspheme. All this, he did to profit the Jews' religion, above his peers.

Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 26:10-11- Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 

Galatians 1:13-14 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of Elohim, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

So far, Saul is not sounding like a very trust-worthy character. First of all, he brags that he is blameless according to the law.  I guess the 'law' allowed murder, torture, deceit, robbery, hostage taking and mob rule.  I guess it also allowed bearing false witness against thy neighbor.

Not only was Saul a complete menace to believers in the Jewish Synogogues, but also abroad. It was not enough to scatter the believers away from Jerusalem.  He continued to breath threats of slaughter against them and pursued those who were trying to get away from him.  He was stark, raving mad.  He also demanded letters from the chief priests, to the synpogogue in Damascus, so he could arrest and slaughter some more.

Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

Acts 9:1-2- And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Yahshua, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Saul was a murderous, venomous snake who did all he did, because he truly thought it was good to do it.  He felt it was his job and obligation to go on a mad rampage against the saints of the Most High and he did it all with a clear conscience. 

Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Yahshua of Nazareth.

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before Elohim until this day.

Saul took great pleasure and pride in persecuting believers in Yah'shuah and considered it his moral obligation to do so.  He was a genius about using his birthright to his advantage whenever questioned by the council after his miraculous conversion.  This, I will show you, in detail, in subsequent essays. 

Saul, himself, declares, and any time he can, that he was a pretty shady character before his "Road to Damascus Experience." His llife was distinguished on account of his great wickedness. He, himself, declared that he was a persecutor, a blasphemer, the chief of sinners, and yet, in spite of all that, he claims to have lived in all good conscience before Yahweh.

Yah'shuah said to the Pharisees,

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Is Yah'shuah able to save even someone like Saul?

I have got to say, YES!!  Why couldn't He?  He IS the Saviour of the world.  He is able to save anyone who truly repents and receives His Words, which He says, are Spirit and life  They are not His own Words, but His Father's words. 

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Of course Yahweh, through His Son, can save anyone who truly seeks salvation and repents of their sins to do them no more.  Yahweh will never despise a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  So Saul of Tarsus, could definitely be reached, saved and sanctified by Yahweh Himself if he truly turned from his sins and followed the Good Shepherd.  Nobody is hopeless.

In the next essay, I'll compare some of Paul's teachings with the teachings of Yahweh and His Son, Yahshua.

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