“This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.” Romans 1:1
Saul’s parents were Pharisees, members of the party most fervent in Jewish nationalism and strict in obedience to the law of Moses. They sought to guard their offspring against contamination. Friendship with Gentile children were discouraged. This fact is amazing because Paul became the missionary to the Gentiles. Greek ideas were despised. Paul from infancy could speak Greek, he had a working knowledge of Latin, his family at home spoke Aramaic the language of Judea. They looked to Jerusalem as Islam looks to Mecca. Their privileges as freemen of Tarsus and Romans citizens were nothing to the high honor of being Israelites, the People of Promise, to whom the living God had revealed His glory and His plans. By Saul’s thirteenth birthday, Saul had mastered Jewish history, the poetry of the Psalms, and the majestic literature of the prophets. Saul was sent to Jerusalem to learn under the teaching of the great Gamaliel. Saul learned to dissect a text until scores of possible meaning were disclosed according to the generations of rabbis. Saul learned to debate in question and answer style known in the ancient world as diatribe, and to expound, for a rabbi was not only part preacher but part lawyer, who prosecuted or defended those who broke the sacred law. Saul outstripped his contemporaries. He had a powerful mind which lead to a seat on the Sanhedrin in the Hall of Polish Stones, and made him a ruler of the Jews.
Saul lived for the day he would become a member of the Jewish Supreme Court. Together these seventy-one men ruled over Jewish life and religion, seated on a curved bench in a courtroom. It was the place where they heard Stephen deliver his brave yet fateful confession of faith. Saul was now a successful lawyer in the courts of Jerusalem. Little did he realize then that God would use the events leading up to and following Stephen’s death to change his life forever.