The Apostle Paul wrote about a quarter of the New Testament and is the subject of
about half of the book of the Acts of the Apostles. He took the message of the Gospel
into Southern Turkey and Greece and founded many congregations there. He is also
the most attacked figure in the New Testament, mainly because some of his writings
are not considered politically correct, but also because he is such an important
figure in early Christianity and is a much easier target than Jesus. However, the
evidence to support the Apostleship of Paul is overwhelming.
Reliability of the Accounts
There are two sources for the life and work of Paul. These are the Acts of the Apostles
and Paul’s own letters. It is clear that the Acts of the Apostles fits the archaeology
of the area very well indeed.
Paul - Witness to the Gospel
During his travels Paul visited a many different cities. These were often governed
in traditional ways left over from before they had been brought into the Roman Empire.
Each city had different offices and titles; little record was kept of this in Rome,
and the modes of government and titles changed from time to time. In some of these
cities archaeologists have found inscriptions which give the titles of the governors
and chief men. These agree exactly with Luke’s account in Acts.
The accuracy of the accounts in Acts and the letters of Paul are also seen in the
existence of many undesigned coincidences. Together these are extremely good evidence
The “We” Passages
One of the features of Acts is that some parts of it are written in the firs person
- these passages include the word “We”, which implies that the writer accompanied
the Apostle through this part of his travels. The “We” passages are:-
Acts 16:11-16 - Paul travels from Troas to Philippi.
Acts 20:5-21:18 - Paul travels from Philippi to Jerusalem
Acts 27:1-28:16 - Paul travels from Caesarea to Rome.
The existence of these passages indicates that Luke was an eyewitness to at least
some of the events that are recorded in Acts.
Paul’s Change of Direction
Immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, Paul was opposed to Christianity and
the message of the Apostles, along with many others of the Jerusalem religious establishment.
The consequence was a persecution of the church, and Paul was one of the main actors
in the persecution. Paul confirms this in his own writings:-
For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God
violently and tried to destroy it. (Galatians 1:13)
However, by the end of 33AD Paul had changed his direction and began to proclaim
the Gospel. The reason for this was also written by Paul:-
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:8)
Paul’s life was changed by an encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.
It is this that caused him to proclaim the Good News of the resurrection to people
throughout the Roman World and to overcome considerable hardship to do it. Paul’s
letters provide the evidence of an eyewitness, written in his own words.
The Writings of Paul
Paul’s letters deal with problems in the congregations that Paul founded and continued
to support for the rest of his life. They present answers to the problems of these
congregations, but many of these are problems in the modern day as well. We also
can learn from Paul.