Paul the Apostle (c. AD 5 – c. AD 67; variously referred to as the “Apostle Paul” or “Saint Paul”), also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament. The influence on Christian thinking of the epistles ascribed to him has been significant, due in part to his association as a prominent apostle of Christianity during the spreading of the Gospel through early Christian communities across the Roman Empire.
According to the writings in the New Testament, Paul was known as Saul prior to his conversion, and was dedicated to the persecution of the early disciples of Jesus in the area of Jerusalem. It is general scholarly opinion that Paul retained his name Saul even after his conversion; however Saul (probably somewhat reluctantly) went by the Greek name Paulos in order to effectively relate with the gentiles. While traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to “bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem”, the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light. Saul was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus, and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God.
Along with Simon Peter and James the Just he was one of the most prominent early Christian leaders. He was also a Roman citizen—a fact that afforded him a privileged legal status with respect to laws, property, and governance.
Fourteen epistles in the New Testament are attributed to Paul. His authorship of seven of the fourteen is questioned by modern scholars. Augustine of Hippo developed Paul’s idea that salvation is based on faith and not “works of the law”. Martin Luther’s interpretation of Paul’s writings heavily influenced Luther’s doctrine of sola fide.
Paul’s conversion dramatically changed the course of his life. Through his missionary activity and writings he eventually transformed religious belief and philosophy around the Mediterranean Basin. His leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped the God of Israel, adhered to the “Judaic moral code”, but relaxed or abandoned the ritual and dietary teachings of the Law of Moses, that these laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ, all on the basis of Paul’s teachings of the life and works of Jesus Christ and his teaching of a New Covenant (or “new testament”) established through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Bible does not record Paul’s death. – Courtesy: wikipedia.