St Paul

St. Paul the Apostle (c. AD 5 – c. AD 67); also known as Saul of Tarsus, is one of the most influential early Christian missionary and leader of the first generation of Christians. Among the many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith, St. Paul is often considered to be one of the two most important people in the history of Christianity, and one of the greatest religious leaders of all time. Almost half of the books of the New Testament are credited to his authorship. He was responsible for spreading the gospel of Christianity through early Christian communities across the Roman Empire. From the mid-30s to the mid-50s he established several churches in Asia Minor and at least three in Europe, including the church at Corinth.

According to the New Testament and Christian tradition, before becoming a follower of Christianity, Saul zealously persecuted the newly-forming Church, trying to destroy it. St. Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus dramatically changed the course of his life. He began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. (Acts 9:20-21) Through his missionary activities and writings he eventually transformed religious belief and philosophy around the Mediterranean Basin. His leadership, influence, and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped the "God of Israel", adhered to the "Judaic moral code", but relaxed or abandoned the ritual and dietary teachings of the Law of Moses. He taught that these laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ. St. Paul taught of the life and works of Jesus Christ and his teaching of a New Covenant established through Jesus' death and resurrection.(Heb. 9:15)

Along with St. Peter and St. James the Just he was one of the most prominent early Christian leaders. He was also a Roman citizen a fact that afforded him a privileged legal status with respect to laws, property, and governance.(Acts 22:24-29) Thirteen epistles in the New Testament are attributed to St. Paul. Augustine of Hippo developed St. Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law". The influence of St. Paul's writings on Christian thinking has been profound, due in part to his association as a prominent apostle of Christianity during the spreading of the Christian Gospel through early Christian communities across the Roman Empire. He never claimed to be innovative in his doctrine or ideas. Instead, he saw himself as an ambassador for Jesus who carried out the directives and teachings of his religious mentor (2 Cor. 5:18-20). St. Paul was compelled to struggle to validate his own worth and authority. His contemporaries probably did not hold him in as high esteem as they held St. Peter and St. James.

St. Paul shows himself to be a profound religious thinker and he has had an enduring formative influence in the development of Christianity. The centuries only make more apparent his greatness of mind and spirit. His feast day is June 29th along with St. Peter who was considered the rock of the church. Both these saints lay the foundation for our church.