One of the ladies in Bible study recently asked me via email some tough questions about Paul. Although we know what we can from Scripture, we don’t often know all the details of someone’s life. Yet, we have questions.
So, to help her out and to also provide a post topic, I decided to answer her questions on the blog.
Question 1: Was Paul wealthy? How did he pay for all of his travel expenses? I know he worked once he got somewhere, but prior to getting there, he had to incur travel expenses-just curious.
Answer: I do not have a direct yes or no to that first question. I know that he was born to devout Jewish parents and was also a Roman citizen (born in Tarsus). At the appropriate age, he went into rabbinical training to become a teacher, a minister, and a lawyer all in one. Before entering this, however, he learned a trade which was also typical. His trade of choice was that of tent-making out of goats’ hair. This was a common choice. As we see in Acts, he used this trade to support himself as a disciple after his conversion to Christianity. After his conversion and God’s mellowing him toward maturity for a period of time, he went to Antioch. It was that church that commissioned him and Barnabas (“son of encouragement”) to be missionaries. John Mark would go along as their attendant. As fact from Acts 18 and 20 I see where he supports himself with the tent-making on his missionary journeys. I also cite his letter to the Philippians in which he says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12) That leads me to assume he was not a rich man that could support himself independent of a trade in ministry. I assume he was a good planner and frugal. He was not a beggar. I feel confident that people must have contributed along the way. For the sake of time, I have not enough to do thorough research at this point. If any of you have other resources and have checked them as accurate, please feel free to leave the information in the “comments” for posting.
Question 2: Did others travel with Paul besides Timothy and Silas? Who else would go? Jesus had the twelve and also some women followers who went from place to place. What about Paul?
My answer is really a suggestion that you look at a good Bible dictionary, under “Paul” and you’ll see names of others who traveled with him at different times. He began with Barnabas and John Mark. Luke joined in. Then he and Barnabas and John Mark divided. Silas joined him followed by Timothy. There were others, too. Although I have not checked the accuracy of the following, there is a link here that may offer you a good list of those who traveled with him and/or supported him in some capacity in ministry. By checking a reliable Bible dictionary that may confirm these names.
Beth Moore has written a study on the life of Paul, entitled, To Live is Christ. If you want more information on that 11-week study, click here. Toward the bottom of the page there is information about purchasing the video through your computer for each session and for individual use only. Although I have not done this study, I have done several others by Beth and I know that she does thorough research and brings God pleasure through her commitment to handle His Word accurately and with honor.
You may be more inclined to read a novel on his life. Although I have not read it (yes it is on my bookshelf), I understand that Walter Wangerin, Jr. has written a biography on the life of Paul that has reviews and is available on Amazon, if you’re interested. Click here for more information.
Might I suggest you support your local Christian bookstore if you’re going to invest in either the study or the novel? My son has worked at Sanctuary. His girlfriend works at the LifeWay Store here and my sister works in their corporate office in Nashville.