He, who is called “the Apostle to the Gentiles”, that is, to the Nations, never actually met Jesus during his life in Jerusalem or along the roads of Galilee, like the Twelve Apostles. He is the first apostle to have the experience of only the Risen Christ, as all Christians will continue to have through the centuries. This man, who was both a Jew and a Roman citizen, was born in Tarsus (currently Eastern Turkey). After having received a rigorous teaching in the Law from Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder, he was given a specific mission to go and preach the Word of God to all human beings: first to Antioch and Asia Minor, later to Greece and Rome. With Paul, the words of the Prophet Micah, “…from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:2), were fulfilled in just a few years and in an ardent manner. The words “go forth” have a double meaning here. Paul will go forth to witness to the teaching received from his Fathers and his personal experience: Christ is Risen!
Paul is the most well-known figure of the first Christian generation, both for his Letters (seven were undoubtedly recognized to be authentic in the strict sense of the term) and for the story of his life described by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. His Letters represent an extraordinary source of information for us. Nonetheless the figure of Paul remains mysterious. On the one hand, the Letters cover only fifteen years of his life, while on the other hand, the Acts, which chronicle his journeys, were written twenty years after his death in the apologetic tone of the day. Therefore, we will give preference to the data contained in Paul’s Letters and their chronology, which greatly coincide with the duration of his travels (for example, the date of the “Council of Jerusalem”).
It is very likely that Paul was about ten years younger than Jesus.
Here below, one can find maps illustrating the journeys Paul made and the tale of the life of the Apostle depicted in twenty paintings.