This new series is also available on audio. To hear the audio version, go to The Life of Paul.
1. The Conversion of Saul the Pharisee
Acts 9:1-31–Everything in the young boy’s life was designed to turn him into a “Pharisee of Pharisees.” Saul’s entire life was devoted to rising to the top of the Jewish religious system of his day. But God had other plans. It took a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ and three anguish-filled days to devastate this proud man. When Saul returned to Jerusalem, he saw the city with new eyes. Hated as a traitor by his Jewish acquaintances and untrusted by the believers, Saul’s reappearance in the Golden City was certain to cause problems.
2. The First Missionary Journey
Acts 13:1-14:28–At the outset of the trip, Barnabas was the unmistakeable leader, but it wasn’t long before God openly displayed His full support for Paul’s leadership. This came about when they were confronted by a hostile magician who attempted to refute Paul’s message. God struck him down with blindness. Paul and Barnabas eventually made their way to the Galatian town of Lystra. It was here that they faced one of the greatest dangers ministers will ever face: not a rain of stones thrown by an unpredictable mob, but the attempt of people to idolize them.
3. Paul’s Disagreements
Acts 15:1-16:5–It was in Paul’s nature to be a fighter. It was this quality that made him such a champion for the faith. But it also made him unbending and intolerant at times. In Jerusalem, he had to contend with the Judaisers who were attempting to make Christianity into another sect of Judaism. But Paul no sooner made it through that conflict than he found himself at odds with no less than Peter and Barnabas! Even though he could be difficult, he was usually right.
4. Paul Arrives in Europe
Acts 16:6-17:14–Paul strikes into Europe! His first stop is the Roman colony of Philippi, where his many hours of prayer for God to move were met with a thorough beating and then imprisonment. But the Lord was at work and Paul’s trust for Him would not be disappointed. God was about to turn things around in a miraculous way. But things didn’t get much easier at their next stop, where they were hounded by hostile Jews. Nevertheless, revival broke out amongst the Thessalonians.
5. Greek Superstition & Debauchery
Acts 17:15-18:28–Athens was the philosophical capital of the world. If a traveling speaker could ingratiate himself in with the philosophers of the Areopagus, doors would open for him across the known world. Such would not be the case for the apostle Paul, whose message was mostly rejected. Having been violently driven out of Philippi and Thessalonica and laughed out of Athens, the irrepressible apostle arrived in Corinth. It was a lonely and painful time for Paul, but the Lord appeared to him with words of comfort. God mightily used him there, but more rejection lay ahead.
6. A Dark City
Acts 19–Ephesus was the commercial center of the province of Asia, but it was also a hotbed of demonic activity. For it was there that the occult formed a stronghold for the dark arts. Nevertheless, Paul’s 2 1/2 years in Ephesus was probably the most successful period of his entire ministry. Churches popped up throughout the province, including in the Seven Churches of Revelation. And yet, in the midst of a prospering ministry, the apostle also had to endure the most painful trials and agonizing situations of his life.
7. The Corinthians
1 & 2 Corinthians–For some reason Luke passes over much of the fascinating story of Paul’s dealings with the church of Corinth. But God made sure the story could be pieced together by comments the apostle made himself. During his stay in Ephesus, Paul discovered issues that had arisen in Corinth and addressed them in his first epistle to them. Meanwhile, a pernicious group of Judaisers had arrived there and were stirring up opposition to Paul’s apostolic authority. In his second epistle, Paul not only defends himself and warns his detractors, but he also bares his great heart to his beloved disciples.
8. Bound in the Spirit
Acts 20; Galatians–In late 57 A.D., Paul spent three months in Corinth. Whilst amongst those Christians who had been so affected by Judaisers, Paul wrote his epistle to the churches of Galatia, who were also under attack. He followed this up with a systematic presentation of the gospel known to us as the book of Romans. He hoped to see the believers of Rome soon, but first he was “bound in the Spirit” to the fate that awaited him in Jerusalem.
9. Onto Jerusalem
Acts 21-22–In spite of receiving warning after warning about what awaited him, Paul felt compelled to personally deliver his collection to the suffering believers of Jerusalem. After a short but gratifying visit with Philip in Caesarea, Paul went on to the Golden City. It wasn’t long before he was noticed by the Jews, who mobbed and attacked him. His reaction to this violent assault was nothing short of amazing.
10. Paul’s Shining Character
Acts 23-27–Seven incidents occurred during this phase of the apostle’s life that bring added light to who he was as a man. It is typical that adversity and danger brings out the best and worst in a man. In the various situations in which Paul finds himself during this period, he continually shows himself to be a man of character–a man who represents the character of God.
11. Into the Hands of Nero
Acts 28; Colossians; Ephesians; Philippians– “You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go!” There could hardly be a less likely man alive that could be counted on to offer Paul a rational and fair hearing than Caesar Nero. Nevertheless, Paul was delivered into his custody where he spent two years awaiting trial. But the irrepressible agent of God energetically used his time to advance Christianity right under the nose of the mad dictator.
12.Paul’s Final Years
1 & 2 Timothy; Titus–Nero went insane after Paul appeared before him and within a year of the apostle’s release, initiated one of the most shameful bloodbaths of saints the world has ever seen. It was in this hostile climate that Paul operated during his final years. Yet he relentlessly continued his efforts to further the cause of Christ within the Roman Empire. But it was inevitable that they would catch up with him, and before long, the aged apostle was ushered into the realm of glory.