The Center for
Messianic Learning 

Unapologetically Pro-Torah
Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!

Like this page? Share it. MeWe Logo ParlerLogo WimKin Logo CloutHub Others:Bookmark and Share

Mobile Users: The page will display properly if you hold your device in “landscape”
position and use your touch gesture to resize the page to fit your screen.

Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

My short comments on the text are notated in “maroon pop-up text tipsMy comment is displayed like this.” which are accessed by “hovering” your mouse over the text or tapping your touch screen. [A few short comments look like this.] Longer comments are included in footnotes or links to other pages. Sometimes my paraphrase provides all the commentary needed to clarify the passage. I have added emphasis to some phrases simply to call them to your attention. Explanations of Greek and Hebrew words are from the NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved In order to get the most from these pages, please follow all the hyperlinks, nearly all of which will open in a new tab or window.

Sections of the Apostolic Writings
The Gospels and Acts • The “Pauline” Letters • General Letters • End Times

Rav Sha'ul
The Letter Writer

About the Letter-Writer

Please note that I did not say “Author.” I firmly believe that Ruach HaKodeshthe Holy Spirit was the author of these letters and that He guided Rav Sha'ul's hand in their composition.

 It is almost universally taught in the Church that when Rav Sha'ul “converted to Christianity” he changed his name to Paul. There are two errors in that statement. First, he never “converted” to anything. “Christianity” did not even exist until it was created by Constantine in the early fourth century. After his personal encounter with the resurrected Yeshua, he became a follower of the Jewish sect known as “HaDerek” (“the Way”). Near the end of his life, Sha'ul said, “I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees,” (Acts 23:6) not “I was a Pharisee.”

Rav Sha'ul (“Rav” is a short term for “Rabbi”) never taught anything that was against or contradictory to the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible, including Torah). Sha'ul was born, lived his entire life, and died a Torah-pursuant Jew. He was a Roman citizen, born in Tarsus, a prominent city in Cilicia, Asia Minor (now Turkey). It is common practice for Jews living in the Diaspora (that is, anywhere outside of Israel) to have two names, one name in the vernacular of their country of residence, and another Hebrew name. At his b'ris (covenant of circumcision) his parents named him Sha'ul, but his Roman name was always Paul.

Of major concern to the Messianic Community is that the Gentile Church has grossly misinterpreted his letters, to the exclusion of everything Jewish from their religion:

Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2Pet 3:15-16)
Not because Paul tried to be obscure or tricky, but because the issues that are being discussed are complex. Paul was writing of God and of life—these are not simple topics. …, the Bible, like any literature, is open to being twisted. This is the very nature of language. Writers can obscure their meaning while using words that appear to express their message. Readers can twist the message to mean whatever they want. It is of course a silly vain thing to do—either to write in order not to be understood or to read in order to think your own thoughts. Why bother! But it can be done and people are silly enough to do it—both in Peter’s day and in our day. This is not to say that we can ignore the author’s intended meaning. Nor is it to say that we are unable to discover the author’s intention. Communication by words is one of the great wonders of God in creation. We are able to communicate with each other with quite amazing accuracy. But some things are hard to understand and sometimes people twist words. …, Peter observes that the twisters of words are “ignorant and unstable”. The ignorant in this passage are the untaught or uninstructed. It refers to those without learning. Paul referred to such people in 1 Timothy 1:7, “desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” The unstable are those who are easily enticed into sin (2 Peter 2:14). Their life’s choices affect their misunderstanding of the truth just as their misunderstanding of the truth affects their life’s choices. ( accessed 07/23/20)

Early Life

At a very young age, and at significant expense to his parents, he was selected from among thousands of applicants in the Diaspora to be admitted to the most exclusive Beit MidrashTorah school in Israel, the School of Gamli'el in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). Gamli'el was a leader of the Sanhedrin and one of the most respected Rabbis in all of Judaism (e.g., Acts 5:34); to this day he remains one of Israel’s greatest Sages. By the time we meet Sha'ul in the Book of Acts, he was one of Gamli'el’s brightest and most dedicated talmidimdisciples. We do not know for certain, but he was most likely being groomed to take Gamli'el’s seat as a Teacher of Israel. What we do know with certainty is that he was on fire for the Torah (Acts 22:3; Gal 1:14) and for the God of the Torah.

Persecuting HaDerek

When the Jewish sect that called themselves HaDerekthe Way began spreading what Sha'ul was convinced was gross heresy, that a man who dared call himself God was the long-awaited Messiah, he determined to totally obliterate them and their heresy. He easily obtained a warrant from the Sanhedrin (Acts 9:1-2) — of which he was probably a prominent member (he may have been one of those screaming for Yeshua’s execution, 1Tim 1:15) — to arrest or kill all the “heretics” he could find. He personally supervised the execution of the Messianic movement’s first martyr (Acts 7:54-60), and went on to terrorize many others.

He Encounters Yeshua

In Acts 9 we find Sha'ul traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to “arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem” when the ascended Yeshua appeared to him in a great light. He was struck blind (Acts 9:3-9), but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus (Acts 9:17-18). He “immediately went away into Arabia” (Gal 1:17) where the Yeshua, through the Ruach HaKodesh, revealed to him what he would often refer to as “my Gospel.”

Early Ministry Damascus

After his return to Damascus he began to preach in their synagogues that Yeshua of Nazareth is Israel’s Messiah and the Son of God (Acts 9:20). After three years (Gal 1:18) the Jewish leaders in Damascus grew weary of him and hatched a plot to assassinate him. He discovered their plot and escaped by being lowered in a basket from the top of the city wall (Acts 9:23-25).

Ministry in Jerusalem

He says: “It wasn’t until three years later that I went up to Jerusalem to meet Kefa, and I stayed with him fifteen days. But I didn’t see any of the other Emissaries except Ya'akovJacob [falsely called “James”], the Lord’s brother.” (Gal 1:18:19).

“When Sha'ul arrived at Yerushalayim, he tried to join the talmidimdisciples but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a talmid. But BarNabaSon of Encouragement took him, and brought him to the Sh'liachim, and told them how he had seen the Lord on the way to Dammesek, and that He had spoken to him, and how at Dammesek he had preached boldly in the name of Yeshua” (Acts 9:26-27).

For a while he went through Jerusalem and the neighboring communities,

“proclaiming boldly in the name of the Lord Yeshua. He spoke and disputed against the Hellenists, but they were seeking to kill him. When the brothers found out, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him off to Tarsus” (Acts 9:29-30).

The Gospel Spreads to the Diaspora

It was shortly after Sha'ul left Jerusalem for Tarsus that the first recorded Gentile, Cornelius, came to faith in Yeshua (Acts 10). After Stephen’s execution, the believers who had been associated with him had taken the Gospel into Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch and established Messianic Communities there (Acts 11:19-21). When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard of this, they sent BarNabbaBarnabus to Antioch to see about it (Acts 11:22).

“When he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced, and began to encourage them all, that with a resolute of heart they should remain true to the Lord, for he was a good man, full of Ruach HaKodesh and of faith, and many people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24).

Ministry in Syrian Antioch

So “BarNabba went to Tarsus to look for Sha'ul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For an entire year they fellowshipped with the Holy Community there, and taught many people” (Acts 11:25-26).
“Now at that time, some prophets came down from Yerushalayim to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up, and indicated by the Spirit that there would be a great famine all over the world. (This was fulfilled while Claudius was still emperor.) As many of the talmidim had the means to do so, they determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Y'hudah; which they did by sending it with of BarNabba and Sha'ul to the elders” (Acts 11:27-28)

Herod began persecuting he Messianic Community in Jerusalem, and had Ya'akovJacob, deliberately mistranslated as “James” BarZevdai, YochananJohn’s brother, executed. He also arrested Kefa, but Kefa was rescued by an angel and escaped. After BarNabba and Sha'ul had finished with their relief mission in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch, taking Kefa’s cousin John Mark with them (Acts 12:25).

First Missionary Journey

“In the Messianic Community in Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: BarNabbaSon of Encouragement, Shim`onSimon (known as NigerBlack), Lucius (from Cyrene), MenachemManaen (the foster brother of Herod the governor), and Sha'ulPaul. Once as they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, Ruach HaKodeshthe Holy Spirit told them, ‘Set aside Bar-Nabba and Sha'ul for me, for the work to which I have called them.’ After they had fasted and prayed, they and placed their hands on them and sent them off. So, having being sent by Ruach HaKodesh, they went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus” (Acts 13:1-4).

Map of Sha'ul’s Missionary JourneyLeaving from Antioch in northern Syria and sailing from the port of Seleucia, Sha'ul and his companions set sail from the port of Seleucia and landed at Salamis on the Island of Cyprus. They crossed the island to Paphos and from there sailed to the region of Pamphylia on the southern coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey) and spent some time in Perga. From there, John Mark (who would later write the Gospel of Mark) left and returned to Jerusalem.

From Perga they traveled to Pisidian Antioch. Dr. Luke kept a record Sha'ul's sermon there (Acts 13:14-25), which presumably would be the basic introductory message he would preach throughout Asia Minor. It is principally aimed at the Jews who attended the synagogues every Shabbat. It recites a history of God’s dealing with Israel, notes the many prophecies about the coming Messiah, and presents the fact that the resurrected Yeshua is that Messiah. Then he is quick to add that even the Gentiles are now invited to participate as equal citizens in the Community of Faith. He will later refer to the content of this message as “My Gospel.”[1]

Sha'ul Turns to the Gentiles

Thereafter in Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, many Gentiles came to faith in Yeshua. But certain of those among the Jews became jealous of Sha'ul’s success, particularly among the Gentiles, stirred up the people and instigated persecution against him. After being mistaken for a god, stoned and left for dead in, Lystra, Sha'ul recovered and began the return trip to Syria. Along the way he visited the newly established Messianic synagogues and appointed elders for each community.

The “Trouble-makers”

The tour of Asia Minor ended around 47 CE, and Sha'ul and BarNabba settled down to teaching in local congregations around Syrian Antioch. By 48 CE trouble arose among the Messianic Community when a group from what Sha'ul calls “the Circumcision Party”[2] came from Judea to Antioch and began teaching the Messianic Gentiles there that in order to be saved they must formally convert to Judaism.[3] Dr. Luke doesn’t tell us for certain who these “some men” were, and he does not specifically identify them as either natural-born Jews or proselytes. However, according the “Church father” and historian Epiphanius,[14] one of these men was a heretic named Cerinthus[15] who was a circumcised Egyptian, and who apparently felt that since he had been circumcised in order to be accepted into the synagogue, then everyone else should also have to be circumcised. Sha'ul was absolutely convinced that the provisions of “his” Gospel were accurate, since he had received them directly from Yeshua, but he needed agreement from the “Messianic Sanhedrin”[4] so fourteen years after his last visit to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1).

“It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain”[5] (Gal 2:2).

He submitted “his Gospel” to them not because he needed their approval, but in order to submit to their authority as required by Torah. Had they disagreed with his position, he would have submitted to them and returned to all those Communities with a retraction.

The Jerusalem Council

Going up to Jerusalem with BarNabba, Titus, and some others he presented “his” Gospel to Ya'akov, Kefa, and Yochanan, who didn’t change a word of it, but asked Sha'ul to also remember the poor (Gal 2:6-10; Acts 15:4-12). The Beit Din made a written record of their decision in a letter (Acts 15:23-29) and sent it with Sha'ul, BarNabba, Y'hudah BarSabba, and SilaSilas to deliver it to the Messianic Community in Antioch.

“The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the group together and delivered the letter. After reading it, the people were delighted by its encouragement. Y'hudah and Sila, who were also prophets,[6] said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. After they had spent some time there, they were sent off with a greeting of ‘Shalom!’ from the brothers to those who had sent them. But Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba stayed in Antioch, where they and many others taught and proclaimed the Good News of the message about the Lord.” (Acts 15:30-35)

Second Missionary Journey

Some time later Sha'ul suggested to BarNabba that they go to all the Communities where they had preached "his” Gospel and check to see how they were getting along. (Acts 15:36).

Now Bar-Nabba wanted to take with them Yochanan, the one called Mark. But Sha'ul thought it would be unwise to take this man with them, since he had gone off and left them in Pamphylia to do the work by themselves. There was such sharp disagreement over this that they separated from each other, with Bar-Nabba taking Mark and sailing off to Cyprus. However, Sha'ul chose Sila and left, after the brothers had committed him to the love and kindness of the Lord. And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the Messianic Communities. (Acts 15:37-41)

What could have been a disaster for the Gospel message, God turned into a benefit. Because of this disagreement, there were now two missionary teams working through Asia Minor; Sila was with Sha'ul, and Yochanan Markus was with BarNabba.

… we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose; (Rom 8:28, CJB)

When Sha'ul and Sila arrived in Lystra from Derbe they were joined by Timothy, who was to become like a son to Sha'ul. After taking the Jerusalem Council’s letter to the regions of Phrygia and Galatia, Ruach HaKodesh turned them from Asia Minor. They went through Mysia and Troas, where Sha'ul received a vision of a man from Macedonia (just north of Greece)  asking him to come there (Acts 16:9).

The Macedonian Visit

So they sailed from Troas,  to Samothrace, Neapolis, and arrived in Philippi, where they stayed for some time (Acts 16:11-12). In Philippi they cast a fortune-telling demon out of a slave girl. Her owners became irate at their loss of revenue and had Sha'ul and Sila beaten and jailed. At midnight an earthquake opened the doors of the jail and they escaped, bringing their jailer into the Kingdom in the process (Acts 16:15-40).

In Thessalonica and Berea

After staying in the home of a God-fearer named Lydia for a while (who became the first Messianic Believer in Europe), they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and arrived in Thessalonica. Once again, those who opposed the Gospel message rioted, so Sha'ul and Sila left for Berea. When the anti-Kingdom Jews from Thessalonica learned they were in Berea, they came there and created even more trouble.

In Athens and Corinth

Sha'ul left Sila and Timothy and went away to Athens, where he created several talmidimdisciples for Yeshua. He went from there to Corinth, where he met Aquila and Priscilla who had fled there when Claudius had expelled all Jews from Rome. While he stayed there he worked with them in their tent-making[7] business. (Acts 18:1-4)

When Sila and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Sha'ul stopped making “tents” and concentrated solely on the Gospel message. The Jews there were so resistant to his message they became blasphemous towards him and his message. At that point he determined to take the Kingdom solely to the Gentiles (Acts 18:5-7).

However, a man named Titius Justice, a God-fearer, lived next door to one of the synagogues in Corinth and invited Sha'ul and his party to lodge with him. One of the elders of the synagogue, Crispus, and all his household received the Kingdom message and became talmidim. At the Lord’s direction, Sha'ul stayed in Corinth and taught there for a year and six months (Acts 19:7-11). Then the unbelieving Jews rose up against Sha'ul and brought him to Gallio, the proconsul of the province of Achaia, with charges that Sha'ul was teaching against Torah (which he absolutely was not). Gallio shrugged them off and sent them away, so the mob turned on Sosthenes, the president of the synagogue, and began beating him in the courtroom. But Gallio wasn’t at all concerned.

Sometime later Sha'ul Priscilla and Aquila joined Sha'ul’s party and they left for Cenchrea. There Sha'ul took a Nazirite vow and cut his hair off. He left his companions in Ephesus and went to Caesarea, then back to Antioch.

Third Missionary Journey

After spending some time there he left again and went back through the Galatian region and Phrygia. When he arrived in Ephesus he found about a dozen talmidim of Yeshua. He stayed there and taught for three months. When the unbelieving Jews became disorderly and blasphemous against HaDerek, he took those talmidim to the school of Tyrannus, where he stayed and taught every day for two years. (Acts 19:1-10)

At Ephesus

From there he went to Ephesus, and after a while there he was led by the Spirit to return to Jerusalem, but he stayed there for a while longer. It is interesting that while he was there, he had a major confrontation with the worshippers of “Artemis of the Ephesians,” who is called Diana by the Romans and Ishtar by the Babylonians, all of whom worshiped her as “the Queen of Heaven.” (She has been replaced in the Roman tradition by “Mary, the mother of God.”)

At Macedonia and Greece

After that uproar settled down, he left back to Macedonia, Troas, Miletus, and Ephesus. (Acts 20) From there he want to Cos, Rhodes, and Patara. They sailed past Cyprus and landed in Tyre. After a week there they went to Ptolemais, then on to Caesarea, where the party stayed with Philip the evangelist. There a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea and warned him to not go to Jerusalem or he would be arrested.

Back in Jerusalem

Taking some of the talmidim from Caesarea with them they went on to Jerusalem where Sha'ul met with Ya'akov, leader of HaDerek, and the other Apostles. There they told him that they had received false reports that he was teaching the Gentiles to forsake Moses and the Torah and suggested that he put the rumor to rest by completing his Nazirite vow in the Temple. He did so, and also paid for the required offering for four others who were also completing their vows. This was a seven-day process.

Sha'ul Arrested

At the end of those seven days, the same unbelieving Jews arrived from Asia Minor and started a riot against him in the Temple. They formed a lynch mob and were dragging him from the Temple to stone his, when the commander of the Roman cohort heard about it and came to take him into “protective custody.” In Greek he asked the commander for permission to address the mob. Impressed that he spoke Greek, the commander gave permission.

He offered his defense to the mob (Dr. Luke specifies twice that the address was made in Hebrew: Acts 21:40; Acts 22:2) in which he gives a short autobiography, stressing that he had not “converted” to anything else, but was still a Torah-following Jew. The mob responded violently to his address, not because He was preaching Yeshua, but because he was taking the Kingdom promise to the Gentiles. The commander took him away to be “examined” by flogging, but Sha'ul reminded him that it was illegal to flog a Roman citizen. So instead of being flogged, he was placed in changes to be brought before the Sanhedrin the following day. (Acts 22)

Before the Sanhedrin

The Sanhedrin was treating him violently, when he remembered that part were Pharisees (who believed in the resurrection) and Sadducees (who did not believe in the resurrection):

Sha'ul shouted, "Brothers, I myself am [not I was] a ParushPharisee and the son of P'rushimPharisees; and it is concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead that I am being tried!" When he said this, an argument arose between the P'rushim and the Tz'dukimSadducees, and the crowd was divided. For the Tz'dukim deny the resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits; whereas the P'rushim acknowledge both. So there was a great uproar, with some of the Torah-teachers who were on the side of the P'rushim standing up and joining in - "We don't find anything wrong with this man; and if a spirit or an angel spoke to him, what of it?" The dispute became so violent that the commander, fearing that Sha'ul would be torn apart by them, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force and bring him back into the barracks. (Acts 23:5-10)
The Conspiracy to Assassinate Sha'ul

The next morning the Jewish leadership made a vow that they would fast until they found a way to have him killed. Sha'ul’s nephew caught wind of the plot and warned him. Sha'ul called one of the centurions and had his nephew taken to the garrison commander. So the commander assigned two centuries (two hundred foot soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen) to take him to Governor Felix in Caesarea, with a letter outlining the charges against him. Upon receipt of the letter, Felix told Sha'ul that he would hold a trial when the accusers arrived in person to testify.

Sha'ul Before Felix

Five days later the high priest Ananias arrived with some elders and an attorney name Tertullus, and they brought the charges against Sha'ul to Felix. Sha'ul offered a brief defense and emphasized that the real reason he was being charged was because he was teaching the resurrection of the dead. Felix knew quite a bit about HaDerek, and told the accusers that he was going to hold off until Commander Lysias came down from Jerusalem. Sha'ul was held in loose arrest which allowed him to have his friends come visit.

A few days later Felix and his wife Drusilla, a Jew, called for Sha'ul and had him tell them his Gospel. Felix came under conviction and sent Sha'ul back to his imprisonment, hoping that he would be offered a bribe for his release.

Two years later, Sha'ul was still in jail and Felix was being replaced by Porcis Festus; wanting to earn favor with the Jews, he left Sha'ul in prison. Three days after Festus arrived he went up to Jerusalem, where the Jewish leaders brought their charges against Sha'ul to him. They petitioned for Sha'ul to be brought back to Jerusalem with the intent they would have him assassinated on the way. Festus declined their petition and said they should go back to Caesarea with him and present their case there.

Sha'ul Before Festus

Eight or ten days later, Festus returned to Caesarea and convened Sha'ul’s hearing. The Jewish leader presented all their charges, in detail, to Festus. Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, asked Sha'ul if he would be willing to go back to Jerusalem and stand trial by the Sanhedrin. Paul answered that he was already standing in front of Caesar’s court, and should be tried there. He told Festus, “You know that I have done nothing against the Jews. If I have done something that deserves the death penalty, then I would submit to that sentence; but since the accusation of these men is totally false, you cannot hand them over to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Once a Roman citizen has appealed to Caesar, there is no recourse but to send him to Caesar. So Festus conferred with his advisors then told Sha'ul, “You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go”

Several days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and visited Festus for a while. After several days there, Felix laid Sha'ul’s case out to the king, and told him that since Sha'ul had appealed to Caesar, he was being held in custody until he could be sent to Rome. Agrippa told Festus that he would like to hear what Sha'ul had to say, so Festus arranged it for the following day.

Sha'ul Before Agrippa

The next day they convened the hearing with great pomp and ceremony and had all the local politicians in attendance. As the hearing commenced, Festus told Agrippa that he found no cause for a death sentence, but since he had appealed to Caesar he had no choice but to send him to Rome. He told Agrippa that since he had no valid charges against him to present to Caesar, he asked that Agrippa examine him and advise what the charges should be.

After Sha'ul had presented a lengthy defense, Festus told him that he was crazy and Agrippa quipped that Sha'ul might shortly convince him to become a believer. After Sha'ul had been dismissed, Agrippa and Festus had a lengthy conversation about him, after which “Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’” (Acts 26:32)

Sha'ul Sent to Rome

They arranged for Sha'ul to be taken to Rome along with some other prisoners under the guard of a centurion named Julius. They set said and arrived at Sidon, where Julius allowed Sha'ul to go visit some friends. Then they sailed along the leeward side of Cyprus because of contrary winds. They sailed past the coastline of Cilicia and Pamphylia, and landed on Myra in Lycia. There they boarded and Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy. After several days of fighting adverse weather they passed Cnidus, then again on the leeward side of Crete, and finally made it to Fair Havens, near the city of Lassea.

After quite some time, Yom Kippur had passed[8] and the trip was becoming very dangerous. Sha'ul warned them that if they continued, the ship, its cargo, and their lives would be in jeopardy. But the centurion listed to the ship’s pilot and captain instead, and they put out to sea, hoping to make to Phoenix, in Crete, and spend the winter there in a sheltered port.

The Perilous Voyage

A violent wind caught them and drove them completely across the Mediterranean to the south shore where they feared running aground in the sandbars of Syrtis.[9] They let down their sea anchor and let the current and winds carry them along. The next day they began jettisoning the cargo, and on the third day they even threw the ship’s tackle overboard. The weather was so bad they could see neither sun nor stars,[10] And they were losing all hope of survival.

After they had been without food for several days, Sha'ul told them that he had a vision of an angel who had told him, “Do not be afraid, Sha'ul; it’s necessary for you to stand before Caesar; so God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.” He told them that the ship would be lost, but they would all survive. The fourteenth night whey were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea.[11] The sailors sensed they were nearing land, so  they began taking sounding, and the water was getting gradually shallower. Afraid of being dashed against the rocks, the dropped four anchors from the stern of the ship. Some of the sailors, pretending to lay out anchors from the bow, started to get into a lifeboat. But Sha'ul told the centurion and his soldiers that unless those men stayed in the ship, not even the soldiers would be saved. So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away.


Sha'ul kept encouraging them until dawn, when they say a beach that they didn’t recognize, but they decided to drive the ship aground there. But they struck a reef instead and the ship began to break up. The soldiers planned to kill all the prisoners so they couldn’t escape by swimming away, but the centurion wanted to save Sha'ul so he told everyone who knew how to swim to jump in and swim to shore, and everyone else to grab planks or anything else that floated to get to shore.

They soon discovered that they were on Malta, where the residents helped them build fires to dry themselves and keep warm. While Sha'ul was gathering firewood, a viper came out and bit him on the hand. Everyone assumed that Sha'ul was saved from the sea just to die of snakebite, but he shook off the viper into the fire. Since he had survived they started saying that he was a god.

The leading man of the island, Publius, invited them in and hosted them for three days. His father was sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Sha'ul went in to see him, prayed, laid hands on him, and he was cured. After that, all the sick people on the island came to him to be healed. When they were again ready to set sail, the people provided them with all the supplies they would need for the trip.

On to Rome

After three months they boarded an Alexandrian ship that had wintered there, and they sailed to Syracuse, where they stayed three days. Then they sailed past Rhegium and two days later arrived at Puteoli, where they stayed for seven days before arriving at Rome.

Sha'ul in Rome

When they arrived in Rome Sha'ul was allowed to stay alone with only one guard. Three days later he summoned the leaders of the Jewish community there and told them that he was going to be put on trial “for the sake of the Hope of Israel.” They told him that they had received no bad report of any kind about him, but they said they had heard a lot about HaDerek and wanted him to tell them about it. As usual. some believed but many rejected the Gospel.

 25Disagreeing among themselves, they began leaving after Sha'ul had said this, “Ruach HaKodesh spoke correctly through Isaiah, the prophet, to our fathers, 26saying,

‘Go to this people, and say,
in hearing, you will hear,
but will in no way understand.
In seeing, you will see,
but will in no way perceive.
27For this people’s heart has grown callous.
Their ears are dull of hearing.
Their eyes they have closed.
Lest they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and would turn again,
and I would heal them.’ (Isaiah 6:9-10)

28“So let it be known to you that HaShem’s salvation is being offered to the Goyim;[12] they will listen!”

29When he had said these words, the Y’hudim departed, having a great dispute among themselves.

30Sha'ul stayed two whole years in his own rented house, welcoming everyone who came to see him, 31proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Yeshua the Messiah with all boldness, without hindrance. (Acts 28:25-31)

Later Ministry

It is possible that Rav Sha'ul was released from his imprisonment described in the closing verses of The Acts and conducted one more missionary journey into Spain.

Among the writings of the early Christians, Pope Clement I said that Paul was "Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West", and that "he had gone to the extremity of the west". John Chrysostom indicated that Paul preached in Spain: "For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not". Cyril of Jerusalem said that Paul, "fully preached the Gospel, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing Signs and wonders". The Muratorian fragment mentions "the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] when he journeyed to Spain". [Wikipedia]

Some think that he may actually have gotten as far as what are now the British Isles before being again arrested by Rome. Church tradition holds that he was executed by beheading in Rome under Nero “after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64, but before the last year of Nero’s reign, in 68.” (Brown, Raymond Edward (1997). An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24767-2.)

See Important “Pauline” Vocabulary

His Letters

Date Recipient(s) Written From Theme
c. 49-52 Community in Galatia Syrian Antioch
(Acts 15:30)
Countering the “Troublemakers”
(See note on Acts 15:30)
c 51 Community in Thessalonica Corinth Mashiach’s return
c 51 Community in Thessalonica Corinth? The Coming Day of ADONAI
c 56 Community in Corinth Ephesus Instructions on Halakah
c 57 Community in Corinth Ephesus? Defense of his Apostolic authority
c 57-58 Community in Rome Corinth A treatise on Sha'ul’s Theology
c 60 Community in Ephesus Roman  Prison Unity of the Body
c 60 Communty in Philippi Roman Prison Acknowledgement of a monitary gift and encouragement of the Believers
c 60 Community in Colosse Roman Prison Pre-eminence of Mashiach
c 60 Philemon Roman Prison Appeal to accept a run-away slave as a Brother
c 64 Timothy Roman Prison Conduct and order in the Messianic Community
c 65 Titus Roman Prison Conduct and order in the Messianic Community
c 67 Timothy Roman Prison Holding to Truth, especially in the End Times
c 68 Messianic Jews* Roman Prison? The Priesthood of Mashiach and encouragement of Jewish Believers
*Authorship of the letter to the Messianic Jews is uncertain. The letter itself is anonymous, but the theology is that of Sha'ul, and contains a personal reference to Timothy (Heb 13:23). Of course it is possible that the writer was a different acquaintance of Timothy. Some attribute the letter to Apollos (Acts 18:24, 1Cor 1:12; 1Cor 3:6; 1Cor 4:6; Titus 3:13, et al) or others.[13]


  1. Prior to the ruling of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), not more than a few weeks before Sha'ul’s letter to the Galatians was written, any Gentile coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua was required to formally convert to Judaism before being admitted into the Messianic Community. But Rav Sha'ul reasoned that 13 years before he was circumcised, Abraham (who was a Gentile) was considered righteous by God simply because he believed God. If that’s good enough for Abraham, according to Sha'ul, that’s good enough for Gentiles who believe God. So what Sha'ul taught — what he always taught — was that if a Gentile comes to true faith in Israel’s Messiah, that faith alone makes him or her a son or daughter of Abraham, and therefore a citizen of the Commonwealth of Israel, without formally converting to Judaism. This is what Sha'ul referred to as “My Gospel” or “My Good News.” [RETURN]

 2. The “circumcision party” were those who felt very strongly that Gentiles who came to faith in Messiah must first formally convert to Judaism (“become circumcised”) before they could be saved and become members of the Messianic Community. They were, in fact, primarily former-Gentiles themselves who had undergone formal conversion before the ruling of the Jerusalem Council, and they felt that if they had to convert, so should every other Gentile. It wasn't really a matter of belief, but of jealousy. [RETURN]

 3. Before the Jerusalem Council’s decision, most of the Jewish Believers assumed that Yeshua’s sacrifice provided salvation only for natural-born Jews and Prostelites. For a Goy (Gentile) to become a Jewish prostelite one would have to undergo a formal “conversion” process which involved:

  1. foreswaring all prior religious affiliation or conviction,
  2. being circumcised for men,
  3. taking a Hebrew name,
  4. undergoing tevilah (immersion),
  5. observing halakha concerning diet and holy days
  6. and entering a process of Torah study to learn to “walk” the rest of Torah.

This was called being “born again” (as a Jew). Following this “conversion” they were considered Jews, no longer Gentiles. Before Cornelius, no Gentile had come to faith in Messiah and it was assumed this would always be the case. [RETURN]

 4. “Messianic Sanhedrin” or “Messianic Beit Din (House of Judgment)” are my personal terms for the body of Emissaries (Apostles) who stayed in Jerusalem to oversee the early years of HaDerek. Just prior to His execution, Yeshua said that He would take oversight authority away from the Sanhedrin and install His Apostles in their place (Matt 21:43). This gave them the authority to make decisions for all of HaDerek in matters of “doctrine and practice.” [RETURN]

 5. He was not concerned that he was wrong, because He had received his revelation directly from Yeshua. His concern was that the Beit Din would not agree with his position, which would have required him to submit to their authority and undo everything that he had accomplished, particulary in Asia Minor. [RETURN]

 6. The word “prophet” means “one who speaks for another.” It does not mean someone who predicts future events, though sometimes God will use prophets in that manner. Any person who accurately speaks the Word of God at His direction is by definition a prophet. Thus, every pastor, rabbi, and Bible teacher should be considered a prophet as long as God has called them and they are accurately interpreting and teaching the Scriptures. [RETURN]

 7. My personal opinion was that they were making large talitot (prayer shawls), not camping equipment. The Hebrew word carries both meanings. [RETURN]

 8. Here (Acts 27:9) Luke is simply giving a calendar reference so his readers would understand the weather conditions. Yom Kippur occurs in late autumn (September/October), when the weather on the Medeterranian Sea becomes quite treacherous. This would be like a North American saying it was December in Fargo, North Dakota, and the roads were bad. [RETURN]

 9. The Syrtus sand bars lie just off the coast of modern Lybia in northern Africa, just southeast of Tripoli. They had been blown halfway across the Mediterranian Sea. [RETURN]

10. With neither sun nor stars visible, they had no way of navigating, or of even determining their location. [RETURN]

11. The Adriatic Sea lies between Italy and Greece. In fourteen days they had been driven northward from Lybia across the entire Mediterranian Sea to the east of Italy. [RETURN]

12. The literal translation of Goyim (myywg) is “nations.” It is generally used to refer to all of the nations of the world and their inhabitants, outside of Israel. It is also sometimes used to refer to the nation of Israel. In ancient Israel (and sometimes today) there were only two classes of people, “us” and ”them.” Since only Israel had been granted to know anything at all about the one true God, all other groups of humanity were totally pagan, worshipping idols that were actually demons (Deut. 32:17). The very idea of wasting the treasures of HaShem with demon-worshipping pagans was totally repugnant to the Jews. [RETURN]

13. See [RETURN]

14. Contra Haeres. l. 1. Haeres. 28. [RETURN]

15. Cerinthus taught that Yeshua was only a man, and that at His immersion the Messiah (called the Christ-consciousness by modern New-Age cults) entered Him, and taught Him things about the “unknown God” that even the angels don’t know. During His execution the Messiah left Yeshua and returned to heaven. Yeshua, just a man, died and was buried, and will be resurrected from the dead at the last day. Cerinthus became the leader of a Gnostic cult in Ephesus, and was the “arch-heretic” against whom the Shliach Yochanan (the Apostle John the Beloved) fought so strongly. It may well have been Cerinthus against whose teachings Yochanan’s first epistle was written (see 1 John 2:22-26).

     “The fullest description which we have of Cerinthus and his followers is that of Epiphanius (Hær. XXVIII.), who records a great many traditions as to his life (e.g. that he was one of the false apostles who opposed Paul, and one of the circumcision who rebuked Peter for eating with Cornelius, &c.), and also many details as to his system, some of which are quite contradictory. It is clear, however, that he was Jewish in his training and sympathies, while at the same time possessed of Gnostic tendencies. He represents a position of transition from Judaistic Ebionism to Gnosticism, and may be regarded as the earliest Judaizing Gnostic.” (Eusebius, Church History, Book III, Chapter XXVII, Footnote 272) [ eusebius_03.shtml, accessed August 14, 2019] [RETURN]

Originally posted Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Added the list of his letters on Friday, 31 July 2020
Added a possible fourth missionary journey, Thursday, 17 June 2021
Added  “Important ‘Pauline’ Vocabulary” on Sunday, 24 October 2021
Revised on Sunday, 22 May 2022

Page last updated on Monday, 22 August 2022 04:11 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return

Blue Letter Bible Search Tool

Range Options:

e.g. Gen;Psa-Mal;Rom 3-9