Apostle Paul: The Apostle to the Gentiles

apostle paul

No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul. Even before he was a believer, his actions were significant. His frenzied persecution of Christians following Stephen’s death got the church started in obeying Christ’s final command to take the gospel worldwide. Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus changed his life. He never lost his fierce intensity, but from then on it was channeled for the gospel.

Paul was very religious. His training under Gamaliel was the finest available. His intentions and efforts were sincere. He was a good Pharisee, who knew the Bible and sincerely believed that this Christian movement was dangerous to Judaism. Thus Paul hated the Christian faith and persecuted Christians without mercy.

Paul got permission to travel to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem. But God stopped him in his hurried tracks on the Damascus road. Paul personally met Jesus Christ and his life was never again the same.

Until Paul’s conversion, little had been done about carrying the gospel to non-Jews. Philip had preached in Samaria and to an Ethiopian man; Cornelius, a Gentile, was converted under Peter; and in Antioch in Syria, some Greeks had joined the believers when Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to check on this situation, he went to Tarsus to find Paul to bring him to Antioch, and together they worked among the believers there. They were then sent on a missionary journey, the first of three Paul would take, that would carry the gospel across the Roman empire.


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The thorny issue of whether Gentile believers had to obey Jewish laws before they could become Christians caused many problems in the early church. Paul worked hard to convince the Jews that Gentiles were acceptable to God, but he spent even more time convincing the Gentiles that they were acceptable to God. The lives Paul touched were changed and challenged by meeting Christ through him.

God did not waste any part of Paul, his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses. Are you willing to let God do the same for you today? You will never know all he can do with you until you allow him to leave all that you are!

Strengths and Accomplishments

  • Transformed by God from a prosecutor of Christians to a preacher for Christ
  • Preached for Christ throughout the Roman empire on three missionary journeys
  • Wrote letters to various churches, which became part of the New Testament
  • Was never afraid to face an issue head-on and deal with it
  • Was sensitive to God’s leading and, despite his strong personality, always did as God directed
  • Is often called the apostle to the Gentiles

Weaknesses and Mistakes

  • Witnessed and approved of Stephen’s stoning
  • Set out to destroy Christianity by persecuting Christians

Lessons From His Life

  • The Good News is that forgiveness and eternal life are a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Christ and available to all people
  • Obedience results from a relationship with God, but obedience will never create or earn that relationship
  • Real freedom doesn’t come until we no longer have to prove our freedom
  • God does not was our time-he will use our past and present so we may serve him with our future

Vital Statistics for the Apostle Paul

  • Where: Born in Tarsus, but became a world traveler for Christ
  • Occupations: Trained as a Pharisee, learned the tent making trade, served as a missionary
  • Contemporaries: Gamaliel, Stephen, the apostles, Luke, Barnabas, Timothy

Key Verses for the Apostle Paul

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:21-24).

Paul’s story is told in Acts 7:58 – 28:31 and throughout his New Testament letters.

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.


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