On the great day of Pentecost, Jews from throughout the Greco-Roman world traveled to Jerusalem to worship God (Acts 2:5-12). While Jews were found in every nation throughout the civilized world, anti-Semitism flourished. Among the nations of antiquity, no nation was ever hated as much as Israel. If Christianity were ever going conquer the world, then someone would have to bridge the gap between Jews and Gentiles. It would be hard to find such a remarkable man. In the providence of God, Saul of Tarsus was selected (Acts 9:15; 26:12-18).
This new book by David Padfield on "The Early Years of Saul of Tarsus" focuses on Saul's true Jewish roots, for he was "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee" (Phil. 3:5). If you searched the world over, you could not find a purer Jew than Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul!
Paul was born and raised in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 21:39). Tarsus was the capital in the province of Cilicia, and was one of the great centers at which the trade of the Mediterranean and of the hinterland of Asia Minor converged. Tarsus was also a "university town" and was famous for philosophers, and especially for those of the Stoic school. This book also explains what it would have been like to grow up as a devout Jew in Tarsus of Cilicia.
However, Paul was not only a devout Jew, he was a Pharisee, one of the "separated ones" (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Phil. 3:5). In this book, we explore how men like Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus providentially helped in forming the sect of the Pharisees, and how Antiochus Epiphanes helped unify the Jews during the Maccabean revolt.
In the final section of the book, we explain what it meant to "sit at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3). Gamaliel was one of only seven Rabbis in history to be called "Rabban." It is not an understatement to say he was the most distinguished and revered living rabbi during the early days of the New Testament church! The teachings of Rabban Gamaliel are still held in high regard by Jews today.
This free book is twenty pages long and contains numerous color photographs from Tarsus of Cilicia (modern day Turkey). This book can be used as an introduction the books of Acts in Bible classes, preached as a series of sermons, or used as a reference tool.
Download The Early Years of Saul of Tarsus (PDF file size: 1.3MB).