Top 15 Facts about St. Paul


Originally published by Christine M on March 2020 and updated by Charity k on August 2022

Also known as Paul the Apostle, St. Paul is one of the greatest writers and teachers of God’s word in the history of Christianity. The Irony is, he used to persecute Christians. St. Paul was called Saul or Sh’aul, and was born to Roman Parents in Tarsus town Cicilia. He attended Bible School in Jerusalem from an early age, then studied under a famous rabbi, and became an expert of the law.

St. Paul became famous and he worked with the Jewish authorities who had him actively pursue and persecute members of a news sect that confessed Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the messiah. The sect also proclaimed that God’s kingdom was at hand.

It is on one such trip to persecute this sect on the road to Damascus that St. Paul had a supernatural encounter and was converted to the same Christian sect he was persecuting! Paul was struck blind and was to fast for three days. He regained his sight after a Christian, Ananias prayed for him. He then got baptized.

St. Paul is credited with writing 13 out of the 27 books in the New Testament.

Here are some top 10 facts about St. Paul.

1. St. Paul was the most popular apostle in the early church

St. Paul the Apostle- Wikimedia Commons

St. Paul moved from persecuting Christians to converting non- Christians to Christianity. The ultimate 180-degree change. He had been educated in Jerusalem under the famous Jewish teacher Gamaliel. He, therefore, could connect with both Jews and Christians and be known by many.

2. St. Paul was both a Jew and Roman Citizen

Ancient Romans- byAlbert Kretschmer- Wikimedia Commons

St. Paul was born in Tarsus. His birthplace was a major city in eastern Cilicia, a region that was turned over to be part of the Roman province of Syria. On the other hand, he had Greek-speaking Jewish roots.

St. Paul’s peculiar position helped him address both the Jews and Romans, who accepted him as one of their own. He, therefore, was able to penetrate areas with the gospel, which might have been difficult for other people otherwise.

3. St. Paul was not a disciple of Jesus

Jesus and his disciples- by Dorotheum- Wikimedia Commons

With his fervor with the Christian gospel, it may be assumed that St. Paul was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. St. Paul, however, was not a disciple nor did he meet Jesus. He, however, interacted with many of Jesus’ disciples particularly while in Jerusalem. St. Paul is said to have persecuted some of these very disciples!

4. He encountered an assassination attempt

Wall in Damascus- by Heretiq- Wikimedia Commons

Soon after his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul became quite a sensation. He became more powerful and baffled the Jews in Damascus by proving that Jesus was Christ. This made the Jews conspire to kill him. They waited to execute their evil plan day and night.

However, Paul had learned of this plan- his followers and Jesus’ disciples helped him escape through the wall in a large basket.

5. St. Paul was seen as a messiah to his people

Jews and Gentiles had many differences and each stuck to their ‘side’. Paul was believed to be a Messiah to his chosen people when he started preaching, especially by the Jewish followers. Paul however preached to the non-Jews as well, also known as Gentiles.

He wanted to show that God meant salvation for everyone, including Gentiles. He attempted to break the divide.

6. St. Paul was a practical teacher and writer

St. Paul preaching in Athens- Wikimedia Commons

A good teacher gives an example which students can relate to. St. Paul used his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, even in his letters to bring understanding. He used Stoic terms and metaphors to help new Gentile Christians to understand Gods word.

Stoic philosophy maximizes positive emotions, reduces negative emotions and helps individuals to hone their virtues of character.

7. St. Paul preached salvation through Jesus

St. John Statue at the Vatican- by AngMoKio- Wikimedia Commons

St. Paul, like many Christian teachers was a proponent of Jesus being the redemption of people from their sin, by dying on the cross. Jesus made peace with God, on behalf of a man who would have otherwise been punished for their sin by God.

Jesus was a new ‘phenomenon’ to the Jews and Gentiles alike. The law was supreme in St. Paul’s era.

8. St. Paul was a tentmaker

St. Paul learned and enjoyed working with his own hands. He learned how to make and sell tents from the time he was a child and into his Youth. He still practiced this even after converting to Christianity and starting to teach.

St. Paul kept his leather-working tools with him as he traveled and set up shop anywhere.

Modern-day preachers with no source of alternative income besides the church have sometimes been asked to emulate St. Paul; Paul’s ability to make tents and also preach has come up in discourses about full-time Christian ministry.

9. St. Paul’s epistles transcended denominations

../ St. Paul writing his epistles- by Wikimedia Commons

You will find St. Paul’s epistles or letters referred to in the Catholic Church, Protestant denominations, and Orthodox Church. They give the basis for many issues that Christians face in their faith, no matter the denomination- they are vital roots of the theology, worship, and pastoral life in these churches.

10. St. Paul influenced Martin Luther

Throughout St. Paul’s teachings in his epistles, he emphasizes that people are saved by faith and not by works- no one can ‘buy’ salvation by any good works that they do.

Martin Luther also borrows from this when he puts forward his Sola Fide doctrine that emphasizes that it’s only through faith that the Church stands or falls.

The Sola Fide doctrine underlines that God’s forgiveness for guilty sinners is given and received through faith alone, not because of any good deeds.

St. Paul was one of the first generation leaders of the Christian faith. He is considered of utmost importance right after Jesus- he enabled and accelerated the growth of Christianity among the Gentiles. His epistles explain and simplify aspects of Christianity such as the relationship between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the relationship between the human and holy nature.

He died in Rome Italy, by decapitation, martyred for his faith. This happened in Rome where he had been imprisoned.

11. He participated in the persecution of early disciples of Jesus

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

According to the New Testament book Acts of the Apostles, Paul was a Pharisee. He participated in the persecution of early disciples of Jesus, possibly Hellenised diaspora Jews who converted to Christianity, in the area of Jerusalem, prior to his conversion.

Sometimes after having approved of the execution of Stephen, Paul was traveling on the road to Damascus so that he might find any Christians there and bring them “bound to Jerusalem” (ESV). 

At midday, a light brighter than the sun shone around both him and those with him, causing all to fall to the ground, with the risen Christ verbally addressing Paul regarding his persecution. 

Having been made blind, along with being commanded to enter the city, his sight was restored three days later by Ananias of Damascus.

After these events, Paul was baptized, beginning immediately to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth was the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. Approximately half of the content in the book of Acts details the life and works of Paul.

12. New Testament has 27 books attributed to Paul

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

Fourteen of the 27 books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. Seven of Paul’s epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder.

13. Epistle to the Hebrews not asserted

Paul’s authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is not asserted in the Epistle itself and was already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. 

It was almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews, but that view is now almost universally rejected by scholars.

The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul’s surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive. Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.

14. St. Paul’s source of information

The main source of information about Paul’s life is the material found in his epistles and in the Acts of the Apostles. However, the epistles contain little information about Paul’s pre-conversion past.

15. Some information about St. Paul’s life is not recorded

The Acts of the Apostles recounts more information but leaves several parts of Paul’s life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome. 

The Acts of the Apostles also contradict Paul’s epistles on multiple accounts, in particular concerning the frequency of Paul’s visits to the church in Jerusalem.