Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 1, Ch. 5, “St. Paul and the conversion of the Gentiles.” Loc. 4319-5457
§29 “Sources and Literature on St. Paul and his Work” (Loc. 4325).
Schaff lists a variety of biblical and extrabiblical sources for Paul’s life, divided into more and less reliable sources, then various secondary histories.
§30 “Paul before his Conversion” (Loc. 4416).
“His youth as well as his closing years are involved in obscurity, save that he began a persecutor and ended a martyr, but the middle of his life is better known than that of any other apostle, and is replete with burning thoughts and noble deeds that can never die” (Loc. 4421). He was born a few years after Jesus in Tarsus, a respected cosmopolitan location. He was educated in Jerusalem by Gamaliel, grandson of the rabbi Hillel (Loc. 4426). “He had semitic fervor, Greek versatility, and Roman energy” (Loc. 4434). He shows himself familiar with the law and with Greek thought. He was a fanatical persecutor of Christians (Loc. 4477).
§31 “The Conversion of Paul” (Loc. 4504).
While on a mission to stop Christianity in damascus (Loc. 4518) Paul had a supernatural encounter in which Jesus appeared to him, striking him blind. He was met by a humle disciple in Damascus who baptized and healed him. Schaff notes several ways in which this experience left Paul not only trusting Jesus but also a very humble man.
Schaff comments that Paul was an apostle, not called to the Twelve, “but to the independet apostleship of the Gentiles” (Loc. 45989). Schaff then discusses various others in church history who had dramatic conversions. Various false explanations of Paul’s conversion are then detailed by Schaff (Loc. 4641ff).
§32 “The Work of Paul” (Loc. 4730).
Paul’s life, turned from himself to others, became that of a missionary, bringing Jesus to the synagogues and later to the Gentiles outside of Judaism (Loc. 4747). He often worked to earn his living apart from the Gospel (Loc. 4782). He visited many locations and faced many persecutions (Loc. 4791).
§33 “Paul’s Missionary Labors” (Loc. 4804).
Paul’s travels may be divided many ways. Schaff identifies “five or six periods.”
- AD 40-44 (Loc. 4809) Preparation in Syria and Cilicia
- AD 45-50 (Loc. 4827) First missionary journey, prior to conference in Jerusalem in AD 50.
- AD 51-54 (Loc. 4836) Second missionary journey - mostly to the Greek world.
- AD 54-58 (Loc. 4853) Third missionary tour - from Antioch to Ephesus and then Corinth.
- AD 58-63 (Loc. 4858) Two imprisonments and a journey to Rome.
- AD 63-64 (Loc. 4880) In Rome Paul preaches and teaches though under house arrest.
§34 “The Synod of Jerusalem, and the compromise between Jewish and Gentile Christianity” (Loc. 4965). Schaff reviews various sources pertaining to the Jerusalem council, particularly in regards to interpretive challenges of Acts 15 and Galatians 2. At issue was whether Gentile Christians must convert to Judaism as well as trusting Jesus (Loc. 4997). The conference in Jerusalem assembled (AD 50) to consider this question (Loc. 5049). The conclusion was that it was not necessary for Gentiles to become Jews in order to be Christians (Loc. 5105).
Schaff goes on to compare the account of Acts 15 and the account of Galatians 2 (Loc. 5159), also discussing the subsequent circumcision of Titus. The keeping of Jewish law, if it was done, was out of deference to weaker Jewish consciences.
§35 “The Conservative Reaction, and the Liberal Victory - Peter and Paul at Antioch” (Loc. 5198).
In Schaff’s opinion the Jerusalem decision was “an armistice rather than a final settlement” (Loc. 5198). The details still needed to be worked out. Some accepted full communion. Others guarded against too close a relation between Jewish and Gentile Christians. This sparked controversy wherever Paul went (Loc. 5281).
§36 “Christianity in Rome” (Loc. 5391).
After a brief bibliography, Schaff reminds the reader that Rome was the great cosmopolitan center of the time (Loc. 5320). There were a wide variety of languages, cultures, and economic and religious groups. There was a large population of Hellenistic Jews in Rome, possibly 20-30 thousand in the apostolic period (Loc. 5338). They lived in an enclave but many did well financially and socially (L. Schaff discusses theories of the origin of the Roman church (Loc. 5369 ff) but inconclusively. There was certainly a Christian presence by the year 52 (Loc. 5378). The work of Paul in Rome did not begin until 61 (Loc. 5396), with Peter likely arriving about two years later. The church may well have been evident in separate communities, at least at first. We know of consolidation under Clement, some years later (Loc. 5422). By the second century it was well established and unified.