Saul is born in Tarsus, a city in the province of Cilicia. Although raised in a Jewish family, he is a Roman citizen due to his birth in a free city. He goes early in life to a Pharisaic Rabbinical school in Jerusalem led by the well-known Rabbi Gamaliel. Many today consider Gamaliel one of the greatest teachers of Judaism. Paul's first appearance in the Bible is as a zealous young Pharisee who witnesses the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7). Apostle Paul (before his conversion) soon leads a major persecution against Christians in Jerusalem then travels to Damascus to find still more believers.
While traveling to Damascus Paul hears the voice of Jesus asking why he is fighting his conscience and persecuting believers. This miracle leads him to repent of his sins and, through baptism, become a Christian. He soon preaches the gospel so powerfully that, to avoid murder, he must flee to Arabia! He spends nearly three years, by himself, in Arabia. During this period, Jesus Christ personally teaches him the truth of God.
From Arabia, Paul returns to Damascus, the city that wanted him dead just a few years ago! After returning his dynamic thirty-five year evangelistic career begins! Traveling to Jerusalem, he tries to fellowship with others but they are fearful of him due to his past persecutions. Barnabas, a man known for being encouraging, takes him personally to the apostles and vouches for his character. The church then welcomes him with warmly.
Apostle Paul, during his ministry, writes 14 epistles (letters) that become part of the Bible - almost TRIPLE the number of books written by Moses. He also conducts at least FIVE missionary journeys (44 to 46, 49 to 52, 53 to 58, 60 to 63, and 63 to 67 A.D.) that take him to Asia Minor, Syria, Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain, and elsewhere. He evangelizes countless cities and helps train others to do so such as Timothy and John Mark. His intense dedication to the calling God gave him, however, comes at a price. He ends up spending at least five total years of his ministry in prison, is whipped five times and beaten three times with rods. He also survives a stoning and endures a shipwreck in the Mediterranean. He remained faithful to God to the very end of his life, where he experienced martyrdom at the hands of the Romans. Paul's impact on Christianity and Christian beliefs is truly enormous. He truly was a remarkable man used by God!