HISTORY OF PAUL’S LIFE.
ACTS 10, 1-8.
the great missionary of the Gentiles, was born in Tarsus, the ancient,
capital of Cilicia in Asia Minor, on the Cydnus River, twelve miles
sea. in the midst of a productive plain, Acts 22, 3. The city was
its culture as well as its learning, one historian placing it above
and Alexandria in this respect. In this seat of Greek learning the boy,
the son of a Pharisee and therefore a strict Jew, acquired a knowledge
Greek language and of the manners and customs of the Greeks, which
stood him in
good stead in after-life. Incidentally, it should be noted that the
of Tarsus, having shown themselves friendly to the Romans at the time
Caesar, mere given the privileges of Roman citizens (or Paul’s father
obtained the right as a reward of merit), and it was on this account
a Roman citizen by birth, claimed the rights of such a citizen on
occasions, thus rendering the cause in which he was engaged
service. Paul was of pure Jewish descent, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of
of Benjamin, and descended from pious ancestors, Phil. 3, 4. 5; 2 Tim.
1, 3. The
instruction in the Law of Moses which he received at home and in the
synagog was as thorough as that of any Jewish boy in Palestine.
According to Jewish custom some form of manual training was a necessary part of every boy’s education. The young boy Saul also learned a trade, that of a tent-maker, Acts 18, 3; 20, 34. The goats’ hair which was used for the manufacture of rude garments and tent cloth, was produced in great quantities in the mountains of Cilicia, whence the finished cloth acquired the name cilicium. This trade was of great service, to Paul in some of the dark days of after-years, Acts 18, 3; 20, 34; 1 Thess. 2, 9. As soon as little Saul was ready for the great high school of the Jews At Jerusalem, he was sent there by his father, and was thus brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most learned doctors of the Jews, whose prudence and calmness made him conspicuous among the members of the Sanhedrin, Acts 22, 3. His advance in the religion of the Jews was beyond that of many of his own age, since he was more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of the fathers, Gal. 1, 14. He lived up to the demands of the Jewish Law and of all the traditions of the elders with all strictness, so that he could, in after-years, appeal to those that knew to testify to his having lived the life of a strict Pharisee, Acts 26, 4. 5; Phil. 3, 6.
Very likely Saul left. Jerusalem before John the Baptist began his work, and was absent during the years of Christ’s ministry; for there is no indication in Paul’s writings of a personal knowledge of events in the life of Jesus. It seems that he returned to Jerusalem about the time that Stephen began his debates in the interest of the Christian religion and took part in at least one of these discussions as a member of the synagog of Cilicia. Paul’s later life is largely described in the Book of Acts and in his epistles, and the probable facts as to his last years will be discussed in connection with some of his last letters.