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1 Chapter 1 Paul The earliest witness to the nascent Christian movement is the apostle Paul, who was called Saul when he was reared in a Hellenistic Jewish community in the city of Tarsus in Asia Minor. He is known to later generations through his letters that have been preserved , especially his masterpiece, the letter to the Romans, along with his letters to the Corinthians, a letter to the Galatians, a letter to the Philippians, a letter to the Thessalonians, and a brief letter to Philemon.1 In addition, the apostle is known to us through the Acts of the Apostles, whose second and longer “half” is devoted to Paul. Given his strong desire not to speak about himself,2 Paul’s letters contain few autobiographical details. Words found in the book of Jeremiah the prophet,3 encapsulated in Paul’s pithy, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord,”4 restrained him from speaking too much about himself. Luke’s Acts were written a couple of generations after 1 Scholars unanimously attribute these seven letters to Paul while they raise questions as to the authenticity of other New Testament letters attributed to Paul: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus. Cf. Raymond F. Collins, Letters That Paul Did Not Write: The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Pauline Pseudepigrapha, GNS 28 (Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1988; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005). 2 Cf. 1 Cor 1:28, 31; 2 Cor 10:14, 17; 11:16, 21. 3 Cf. Jer 9:23-24. 4 Cf. 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17. Cf. Kasper Ho-yee Wong, Boasting and Foolishness: A Study of 2 Cor 10,12-18 and 1,1a, JDDS 5; Bible and Literature 3 (Hong Kong: Alliance Bible Seminary, 1998), 172–82.  2 Wealth, Wages, and the Wealthy Paul’s death. Luke was a historian who made good use of his sources,5 but he may not have known the apostle personally.6 As a consequence of these two factors, the contemporary reader is somewhat limited in trying to write a biography of Paul. The apostle’s letters have nothing to say about his early life, but Luke quotes him as defending himself before a Roman with these words, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today.”7 This apologia pro vita sua suggests that Paul came from a reasonably well-to-do family, at least one sufficiently rich to send the young Saul off to Jerusalem for an education and provide for him during the time of his studies in the Holy City.8 Moreover, he seems not to have died in poverty. During his two-year house imprisonment in Rome, Paul lived in a rented apartment at his own expense.9 Writing to the Philippians, Paul acknowledges that he knows what it is to have a lot and be well fed.10 Paul was, moreover, willing to take on whatever financial obligations toward Philemon that Onesimus, his 5 Cf. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1. Since Luke himself describes Acts as a sequel to his gospel, it is to be presumed that he used the same methodology in composing the second half of his two-part work. 6 There is a passing reference to “Luke, the beloved physician” in Col 4:14, but that text is probably pseudonymous. The tradition that Luke knew Paul is, for the most part, based on the “we” passages in the Acts of the Apostles. A careful reading of the text shows that these are concentrated in passages that speak about Paul’s sea voyages. The first-person plural may have been found in one of the sources used by Luke. If so, they would not indicate that the compiler of Acts was with Paul as he journeyed by water. Cf. Jacques Dupont, The Sources of Acts (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1964), xxx. 7 Acts 22:3. 8 Justin Meggitt has attacked what he calls the myth of Paul’s relatively affluent background. He raises some legitimate points, but his statements need to be nuanced and sometimes critiqued. See Justin J. Meggitt, Paul, Poverty and Survival (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1998), 80–97. 9 Cf. Acts 28:30; Brian Rapske, The Book of Acts and Paul in Roman Custody, The Book of Acts in Its First Century...


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