The Apostle Paul

from skeptic & persecutor of Christians
. . . to the greatest Christian missionary


Three logical guidelines support that Saul of Tarsus, supreme skeptic and persecutor of Christians, became the greatest Christian missionary as the Apostle Paul. Each guideline is discussed below. Each guideline is credible by itself, yet enhances the other two guidelines.

Guideline of Independent Attestation

The Guideline of Independent Attestation: requires us to have unique authors write about the Apostle Paul, independent of each other. Three independent authors are identified below:

  1. Independent Author of the book of Acts: Luke identifies Saul of Tarsus who becomes the Apostle Paul. More than half of the book of Acts is devoted to Paul's conversion and mission trips. In addition, Dr. Colin Hemer's scholarly work shows a correlation between what is written in the book of Acts to the archaeological records. The calculated probability of the book of Acts being an absolute myth is less than 4 chances in 10 billion, billion, billion, billion (4.13 x 10-37).

    Due to the credibility of the book of Acts, the probability for the Apostle Paul's story is very high. The archaeological discoveries related to the book of Acts also correlate to the Apostle Paul. This adds 162 items into the calculation that support the life of Paul.
  2. Independent Author of 2 Peter: Peter identifies the Apostle Paul and discusses Paul's writing. ". . . our dear brother 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" (2 Peter 3:15-16).
  3. Independent Author, the Apostle Paul: Due to Paul's mission work, he wrote 13 epistles. Nine of these were addressed to local churches Paul had helped to establish. Three epistles are referred to as Pastoral Epistles. And one is address to a fellow Christian (Philemon) about a runaway slave named Onesimus, who had become a Christian.

The written evidence recorded before the end of the 1st century gives us three independent sources that support the existence of the Apostle Paul. But the greatest contribution to establishing the biblical character known as the Apostle Paul are the archaeological discoveries that match the written text in the book of Acts.


Guideline of Dissimilarity

The Guideline of Dissimilarity: For the early Christians, Saul of Tarsus was a nemesis since an educated person went about persecuting Christians. Paul's esteemed position inferred that the Christians world view was based on error. However, this changed drastically to the positive side when Saul of Tarsus was confronted in a blinding spiritual experience on the road to Damascus and became a Christian.

The logical guideline of dissimilarity validates Saul of Tarsus as a skeptic that came to believe in Jesus despite his advanced education.


Guideline of Contextual Credibility

The Guideline of Contextual Credibility relates to authors who wrote about Jesus as close as possible to when Jesus lived. Did the author know Jesus in person? Or did the author know people that knew Jesus in person?

The case for the Apostle Paul is strengthened since he wrote 13 epistles due to his mission work. And scholars accept these epistles as being written between ~51 to 66 AD.

The book of Acts was written about AD 62 based on Dr. Hemer's work showing a correlation between the texts and archaeological records.

The Apostle Peter wrote 2 Peter sometime between 65 to 68 AD since Peter was martyred by 68 AD.


How Credible is the Apostle Paul?

Based on the evidence presented above, how certain can we be that the Apostle Paul actually existed as a skeptic of Jesus that became an outstanding Christian missionary and was eventually martyred for his faith in Christ?

To evaluate the probability of the Apostle Paul, I use a statistical tool referred to as a chi-square test of independence. This is the ideal tool since it is an enumeration statistical tool that simply adds up the number of items that would support the existence of the Apostle Paul.

To use this tool, we must state a hypothesis that can be evaluated with known data. Then we can test whether the data supports if the hypothesis is true or false at a calculated confidence level.

Chi-Square Test of Independence

Even the most liberal theologians will acknowledge the validity of the Apostle Paul. Theological perceptions about the Apostle Paul range from extremely negative to extremely positive. But they all agree that the Apostle Paul was a historic personality that spread the Christian faith across the Roman Empire. The primary reason for this acceptance is due to the fact that the archaeological records match the book of Acts so closely and the fact that Paul wrote so many epistles.

Due to the wide acceptance of the Apostle Paul, I will simply calculate a probability by assuming that someone may not believe that the Apostle Paul existed as a skeptic, then became a Christian and spread the Christian faith. Therefore, let's hypothesize by stating that "the Apostle Paul is a myth due to no supporting evidence." Having made that statement as the hypothesis, we simply calculate a level of confidence that the hypothesis is true or false.

Since the hypothesis is "the Apostle Paul is a myth due to no supporting evidence," we would expect to find zero evidence supporting that the Apostle Paul actually existed.

This leads to a math-based problem in the chi-square test of independence. Since we are expecting zero events, we must be able to divide by zero, which is impossible. How can this problem be solved?

There is a viable math-based answer. Anytime the chi-square test of independence expects zero to be the answer, the inverse calculation must be done. Of course, the answer will need to be reversed when applied to the hypothesis after the calculation is done.

Since this method most likely confuses most people, I will walk through this problem with you by example. We expect zero items since the hypothesis is that the Apostle Paul is a myth due to no supporting evidence. But the research cited above reveals there are 3 credible independent authors, the negativity that Saul of Tarsus as an educated man persecuted the early Christians, 162 archaeological discoveries that correlate Acts 13 - 28 to the Apostle Paul's mission trips, and the fact that Paul wrote 13 epistles before the year 66 AD. In addition, the authors wrote these books between 51 to 68 AD, which supports contextual credibility for a total of 15 items. Therefore, we have a total of 181 items that support the Apostle Paul existed.

The inverse calculation would be the same as expecting 181 items, but finding zero items. Therefore, let's do the calculation using 181 as the expected value and zero as observed value, which is done below:

Hypothesis
The Apostle Paul is a myth due to no supporting evidence

Chi-square
Value

Observed

0 true

Expected

value

(E O)

(Expected
minus
Observed)

(E O)2

(E O)2/E

0

181

181

32,761

181

The chart above shows that we expected 181 items and observed zero. This yields the following values of 0 (Bottom Left Corner Above). The difference between the expected (+181) and observed (0) is +181units (Middle Column Above). The number +181 is squared to equal 32,761. The value of 32,761 is divided by the expected value of +181 to yield a chi-square value of +181 (Bottom Right Corner Above). What does the value of +181 mean?

The analysis supports that the hypothesis (The Apostle Paul is a myth due to no supporting evidence) is false. We can conclude that the Apostle Paul was a real personality. The probability of the Apostle Paul being a mythical person is less than 3 chances in a 10,000 billion, billion, billion, billion (2.9 x 10-41). The primary reason for this conclusion is due to Paul's epistles and the archaeological records that correlate to the book of Acts.This leads us to a very important question.

Did the Apostle Paul's experience on the road to Damascus with a blinding light spiritual experience with the resurrected Jesus actually occur?

This is where faith is required.

We can state that the Apostle Paul was a real historic person at a high probability level. And it appears certain that the Apostle Paul met with other New Testament characters such as Peter, James, Luke, John and many other apostles.

But all this does not prove the spiritual stories to be true. The reason being that the spiritual experiences of the Apostle Paul are subjective and cannot be confirmed by archaeology.

Nevertheless, the probability levels infer that the Apostle Paul did in fact meet Jesus on the road to Damascus as the resurrected Messiah. The analysis done herein supports that biblical faith is credible. The Apostle Paul did exist with about 8 chances in 10,000 billion, billion, billion, billion, that this would be false.

This analysis leads to a very important conclusion: "Any biblical character referred to in the book of Acts did exist and did as Luke recorded. But the spiritual stories require a small amount of faith to accept."


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Based on the book:
"Gabriel's Faces: voice of the Archangel"
ISBN 0-9640404-2-5