--> ApologetiX- FAQs
Crowd shot masthead ApologetiX Logo Keith Haynie plays bassBill Hubauer plays lead guitarJ. Jackson sings leadJimmy Vegas Tanner plays drums

I love Apostle Paul too -- how can I learn more?

Let's ask the guy who wrote the song, our lead singer and lyricist J. Jackson:

Much of what we know of Paul's life comes from the personal things he says in this epistles, plus Acts 7:58, Acts 8:1-9:30, 11:25-30 and Acts 12:25-28:31.  The three most helpful autobiographical sections I have found are Acts 22:3-21 and 26:4-23, plus Galatians 1:11-24.

According to tradition and what we know from extrabiblical sources, Paul was beheaded under Nero's persecutions sometime between 66-68 A.D., about the same time as Peter, in Rome.  The first time Paul was in jail, as shown at the end of Acts, when he appealed to Caesar, he apparently was set free as he had expected (Philipp. 1:25; 2:24; Philem. 22).  However,  the great fire in Rome for which Nero used Christians as scapegoats occurred in A.D. 64, and Paul was later apparently apprehended as one of the ringleaders of Christianity, as was Peter.  Peter was crucified (tradition and extrabiblical sources say it was upside down at his own request, because he didn't think he was worthy to die the same way as his Lord), but Paul was a Roman citizen and therefore had to be beheaded rather than crucified.

The last of Paul's letters is 2 Timothy, which appears to have been written sometime between 64 and 68 A.D., after his fourth missionary journey, during his second Roman imprisonment (2 Timothy 1:8, 2:9)  Why he was under arrest, or even where he was arrested, is unknown.  Paul had received no support at his preliminary hearing (4:16).  His trial still awaited him, but he knew that it would end in his execution (4:6).  Most of his friends found it convenient to be elsewhere (4:10, 11).  Timothy was still in Ephesus (4:19), where Paul had left him previously (1 Tim. 1:3), but Paul desired to see Timothy one last time before his death (1:4).  

A great resource I would recommend is "The Search for the Twelve Apostles" by William Steuart McBirnie, Ph.D.  (You can probably even order it through Christianbook.com or amazon.com), which was an invaluable help to me when I was researching the song "People" on our "Ticked" CD, a song about the martyrdom of the apostles, which also appears on "New & Used Hits: The Best of ApologetiX Vol. 1 & 2."  The book lists what we know about each Apostle from the Bible (mainly the book of Acts and the Epistles), from tradition, from legend and from myth, and it distinguishes between each of these ... things like where they preached after the book of Acts, where they died, how they died.   It's a fascinating book, a small 300-page paperback that's easy to read.  It includes others besides the 12, like Paul, Luke, Barnabas, etc.

In regard to Paul's thorn in the side mentioned in 2 Cor. 12:7, I have heard many theories, although nobody knows for sure.  I'll let the New Geneva Study Bible's notes sum it up:

"Many possibilities have been suggested for this 'thorn,' such as a physical ailment of some sort ('in the flesh'), a harassing demon ('a messenger of Satan'), or the constant harassment of Jewish persecutors.  Through the history of the church no agreement has been reached among hundreds of commentators.  As it stands, the "thorn" of Paul's experiences is readily applied to a variety of trials faced in this life.  Few of God's servants have been free from at least some kind of hindrance, weakness or opposition."  

One thing I'll add though.  Galatians 4:13-15 does mention Paul having a physical ailment, although it does not specifically say what it is or whether it was in connection with the "thorn in the flesh."  My New Geneva Study Bible has these notes under that passage:  "It is not known what Paul suffered from. Eye difficulties (Gal. 4:15; 6:11), as well as malaria and epilepsy, have been suggested.  There may or may not be a connection with Paul's 'thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7).  Paul's illness apparently made him stay longer in Galatia, where head continuing opportunities to minister."

Hope this info helps!