Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Romans: The Life and Labors of Paul

2. Saint Paul’s description. Paul’s name and epithets. The blessing of Jacob to Benjamin accommodated to him by the Holy Fathers. Paul’s last things disputed. Released from his chains at Rome, he appears to have preached the Gospel again in the East, and, having been conducted again to Rome, to have been crowned with martyrdom.



Since all the former has Saint Paul as their author, as the ἐπιγραφαί/ inscriptions of almost all and other things argue, something should be said concerning him in advance. It is evident that He was a Hebrew, descended from the tribe of Benjamin,[1] born at Tarsus in Cilica,[2] a colony of the Romans, educated at the feet of Gamaliel, and so not at all ἀγράμματον/unlettered, but learned, prudent, painstakingly instructed in the laws of the Fathers, zealous for God, Acts 21:29; 22:3: so carried away with this zeal, which was not according to knowledge,[3] that he laid waste the Church of God, and seethed, having pledge to its destruction, Acts 7:58; 8:1; 9:1; Galatians 1:13, 23. But God had separated him from his mother’s womb, and called him by His grace, and through a miraculous conversion, that He might reveal His Son in him, to be preached among the Gentiles, Acts 9:3-6; 22:7, 8; Galatians 1:15, 16. In what year after the Passion of the Lord his conversion happened, the opinions of the ancients and of the more recent men are not in harmony. That it happened during the rule of Gaius Caligula,[4] not of Tiberius,[5] somewhat after the passion of Christ, and at least a year, or more probably two, after the martyrdom of Stephen, the Celebrated Spanheim demonstrates in his Dissertatione de Æra conversionis Pauli, who also, in an appendix of his Diatribe, following Gomarus and others, tries to overthrow the several reasons of Paul’s name change, diverse from that which the majority hold out of Jerome. The opinion of Origen is not displeasing to us, who thinks that he seized upon that name, as more illustrious and pleasing among the Gentiles, after he was sent to them. But he is in a singular manner called σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, a chosen vessel, Acts 9:15; ἐθνῶν Ἀπόστολος, the Apostle of the Gentiles, Romans 11:13; κήρυξ καὶ ἀπόστολος—διδάσκαλος ἐθνῶν, a preacher and an apostle…a teacher of the Gentiles, 1 Timothy 2:7; who, having been carried off to the third heaven, heard ἄρρητα ῥήματα, unspeakable words, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4; not inferior to the chief Apostles, 2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11; even laboring more than all the other Apostles, Romans 15:18-20; 1 Corinthians 15:10. Nevertheless, being mindful that he persecuted the Church, he demoted himself in such a way that professes himself the least of the Apostles, abortive, unworthy to be called an Apostle, the chief of sinners, 1 Corinthians 15:8, 9; 1 Timothy 1:15. Moreover, in the epitome of the Acts of the Apostles above we drew out his preaching, his journeys undertaken especially, and his chains. I add one thing, the blessing of the Patriarch Jacob upon Benjamin, his youngest and dearest Son, accommodated to Saul and Paul by a great many of the Holy Fathers, delivered in Genesis 49:27, where it is said of Benjamin,זאֵ֣ב יִטְרָ֔ף בַּבֹּ֖קֶר יֹ֣אכַל עַ֑ד וְלָעֶ֖רֶב יְחַלֵּ֥ק שָׁלָֽל׃, he shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. For thus also Paul the Benjamite, still Saul in the morning, or yet young, as a wolf ravaged the Church: but now Paul, converted in the evening, or in declining age, and so older, divided the spoil of the Gentiles, wrested from the Devil, to Christ and the Church. But concerning the last things of Paul, nothing pure is able to be had from the Sacred books. Having been taken to Rome, when he had appealed to Cæsar,[6] he is said to have lived there for two years in confinement, but with much liberty, and to have preached the Gospel there μετὰ πάσης παρρησίας, ἀκωλύτως, with all confidence, no man forbidding him, Acts 28:30, 31. What happened to him thereafter is not clearly related. Nevertheless, that he, having been loosed from those bonds after that two year period, departed from Rome, and preached the Gospel for another ten years, and that he, having been taken to Rome again, met his martyrdom, Eulalius in his Peregrinatione Pauli recounts, and from 2 Timothy 4:13, 16-18 the ancients gathered, Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica, book II, section II, and the learned gather not incorrectly today. And Jerome does indeed write in his Catalogo Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, that Paul, having been loosed from his chains, travelled through the West, especially Spain, teaching and preaching the Gospel. But others think that, since there are no vestiges or certain monuments of Pauline preaching in the West, if you exclude Rome, Paul returned to the East; and that, while he diligently labored in confirming the Churches that he had formerly founded, he, again taken bound to Rome, was crown with martyrdom there, as Eusebius relates, Historia Ecclesiastica, book II, section II. And indeed, in the fourteenth year of Nero,[7] on the same day on which Peter was crowned with martyrdom, Jerome in the passage cited asserts that Paul was also beheaded, and buried in the Ostian Way,[8] in the thirty-seventh year after the passion of the Lord.

[1] Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5. [2] Acts 9:11; 21:39; Acts 22:3. [3] Romans 10:2. [4] Caligula reigned from 37 to 41. [5] Tiberias was Roman Emperor from 14 to 37. [6] Acts 25:11, 12. [7] Nero reigned from 54 to 68. [8] The Ostian Way ran westward from Rome to the port of Ostia.

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