The holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle Paul was not one of the Twelve Apostles. Paul was the 'Apostle to the Gentiles' (Romans 11:13, Galatians 2:8, 1 Timothy 2:7), being converted while on the road to Damascus by Jesus Himself. The Church remembers St. Paul together with St. Peter on June 29.
Named Saul at his birth in the city of Tarsus, the Holy Apostle was a son of the tribe of Benjamin. Saul became a Pharisee under Gamaliel, one of the chief Jewish Rabbis (Masters/Teachers) of the day. After his study under the great Rabbi, Saul became one of the chief persecutors of Christians. Present at the stoning of St Stephen (Acts 7: 58), Saul later found himself blinded by Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22). Sought out by the Apostle Ananias, Saul immediately repented and Ananias baptized him. Saul, soon after his conversion called Paul, was later named and numbered among the Apostles. The extent of Paul's preaching as he spread the Gospel went far and wide from Arabia to Spain, to both Jews and Gentiles. He was called the "Apostle to the Gentiles." Paul spent his new life in suffering and labor for Christ, establishing and organizing churches everywhere. He reached such a state of perfection that he was able to say to the Church at Galatia: not I, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). Like the Apostle Barnabas, Paul studied under Gamaliel.
The account of Paul's missionary journeys and the letters he wrote to the Churches he founded form an important part of the New Testament. St. Paul was martyred with the Apostle Peter under Nero by beheading.
The Church has canonized several of his epistles to the churches, including:
- I & II Corinthians
- I & II Thessalonians
- I & II Timothy
Modern scholarship has contested the authenticity of several of these letters. Hebrews in particular, whose authorship was disputed even in the early church, was most likely not written by St. Paul. However, the Church lectionary introduces readings from each of these epistles as "from the epistle of St. Paul to..." as the lessons and commentary by the Chuch Fathers edify the Faithful towards Salvation.
Feasts & Fasts
The life of St. Paul, his letters in particular, are celebrated in the Orthodox Church with annual feasts and fasts. Being one of the four seasonal fasts, the fast of Sts. Peter & Paul is the summer fast that begins nine days after Pentecost, and continues until their joint feast day of June 29th.
St. Paul is the intercessor for voyagers and sojurners....