There is a significant amount of evidence for the truth of Christianity. One piece of evidence I have found powerful is the Apostle Paul’s life. 

Paul lived his life as a Christian, chasing after the lost with the message of the Gospel. During this time, he endured incredible hardships, dangers, and torture. He wrote more of the New Testament, nearly 1/3, than any other author, which is incredible considering there were nine authors. Furthermore, Paul was so sure of his mission, his life’s purpose, and what awaited him beyond the grave that he went to his death because of the very message he was preaching.

Yet, we see many people zealous in their religious beliefs and willing to sacrifice their lives for those beliefs throughout history.

What makes Paul unique? 

Two things:

  • Paul gave up everything the culture of his time told him was significant for the most meaningful pursuit in life.
  • Paul’s pursuit of living the most meaningful life was grounded in what he knew awaited him in the afterlife.

But this is how he lived as a Christian. If we place these two facts about Paul in the context of his entire life, the evidence for Christianity’s truth becomes clear. Paul’s life radically changed not because of something he believed second-hand.

Paul’s life radically changed because of a first-hand, eyewitness encounter with the resurrected Lord!


Who was Saul of Tarsus

We are first introduced to Paul under a different name. Paul was a devout Jewish leader and part of the Pharisees, the leading religious and political party of the first-century Jews. Saul was Paul’s Jewish name that he frequently used as a Jewish leader, as it was more relatable within the cultural context.

Later, as an Apostle and a missionary to the Roman world, it would make more sense for him to use his Roman name, Paul. Furthermore, this aligns well with Paul’s desire to surrender all things, that he may be all things to all people. In other words, Paul wanted to sacrificially remove any barriers one might have in hearing the message of the Gospel. Thus, to be more Roman, he used the name, Paul. However, he would be more Jewish if he needed to be more Jewish, like having Timothy circumcised [Acts 16:3].


Zealous in Devotion to Judaism

Additionally, we learn that Paul was trained by one of the most respected Jewish rabbis of that time, Gamaliel. Comparing his education to today’s standards, you could argue that Paul received an education equivalent to attending a Seminary like Biola!

As a Pharisee, Paul would have been highly regarded in society. Pharisees were the leading Jewish political and religious party of the day. Not only did the Pharisees enforce Jewish laws and traditions, but they were also the overseers of the religious practices of the day. In that culture, Pharisees were higher in society than the common people.

And, Paul was more than committed to his beliefs. He was Zealous. As a Jewish leader, he hunted down and persecuted the early church. Paul personally approved and oversaw the execution of the first Christian martyr, Stephen [Acts 22:20]. He received letters from the Jewish governing council, the Sanhedrin, the pursue the Christians to Damascus.

But, it was on the way to Damascus that everything changed for Paul.


A Divine Encounter

Three times in Acts, Paul’s encounter with Jesus Christ is told. One moment Paul is headed to Damascus with all authority to hunt and arrest Christians to be imprisoned and tried under Jewish law.

Then in a single event, Paul’s life is instantly changed.

Paul goes from being the most ruthless persecutor of the church to the most prolific writer of New Testament Scripture and the greatest Christian missionary of all time. The same person that relentlessly pursued Christians became a relentless pursuer of Christ!


A Relentless Pursuit of Christ

Encountering Christ on the road to Damascus changed almost everything about Paul. However, Paul’s zeal in serving God and his deep knowledge of Jewish Scriptures remained and became a valuable trait that God would eventually use. Ultimately, it was his understanding of the Scriptures that drastically changed.

Paul was enlightened to the truth of Christ’s fulfillment of those Scriptures. He realized that Christ was the promised Messiah, the promised Savior that Jews had longed for from the beginning of time.

This realization set Paul on a relentless pursuit of Christ as an incredible example of how Christians are to be Christ-followers.


The Sacrificial Suffering Servant

For Paul becoming a Christian was a high cost by society’s standards. He gave up the power and social status he enjoyed as a religious leader. Furthermore, Paul spoke against the cultural norms and prevalent false teachings. Yet, he counted all he lost as trash compared to what he gained in Christ.

But, these weren’t just words. Paul’s life paralleled his beliefs in that he was willing to suffer and sacrifice, unto death, that a lost world would hear the Gospel and be saved. Paul was mocked, beaten, arrested, suffered stoning, shipwrecked, exposed to harsh weather conditions, dangerous animals, and criminals. He was hated by the Romans and by the Jews.

Ultimately, Paul was executed for his beliefs by Roman authorities.


The Good Life 

Humans seek a life of significance. We do the things we do because we believe those things matter. Ultimately, humans want to leave this life knowing our life was worth something and made the world a better place. While humanity throughout history and to this day have differing ideas on what that kind of life looks like, the desire is one of humanity’s deepest longings.

Paul was no different. He lived his life pursuing not just what he believed to be significant but what he knew to be of maximal significance. Remember, Paul was an eyewitness to the resurrected Jesus Christ. He didn’t get his information second-hand. Furthermore, he was trained by one of the most respected Jewish scholars of the first century.

For one to accuse Paul of being mistaken is beyond reasonable. For Paul, the stakes were too high. Paul wasn’t giving up just the comforts of this world, for if he were mistaken, he would be forfeiting everything he expected about eternity and the afterlife.

Paul gave up temporary pleasures to gain an eternal relationship. A relationship of infinite significance and fulfillment.

It is a relationship that doesn’t begin after physical death but begins upon trusting and following Christ.