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  1. What is the story of Saul of Tarsus before he became the apostle Paul? |
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Our sources are sketchy, and there are big gaps. Paul was born in the city of Tarsus , capital of the province of Cilicia.

What is the story of Saul of Tarsus before he became the apostle Paul? |

It was a free city, and a place of culture and learning. The theologian Jerome, writing in the late fourth to early fifth century, indicates that Paul and his parents were brought to Tarsus from the region of Gischala in Judea.

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Although Jerome does not date their deportation, sometime between 5 BC to AD 5 would be a reasonable inference, when uprisings against Rome were not infrequent. But we do know they were Jews who were living outside of Israel. In the ancient world, there were roughly 6 million Jewish people, 5 million people living outside of the area we now know as Israel. The fact that Paul, born a Jew, was living outside Israel was not the exception, but the rule.

Unlike many of us in modern times who have a citizenship linked to our country, Roman citizenship was not automatic. It was not something you possessed simply because you lived within the Roman Empire.

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Instead, Paul received citizenship only because he was born into a family that had Roman citizenship, and his family received it because they lived in the province Cilicia. Pompey won Cilicia for the Romans in 67 BC. In turn, he named Tarsus the provincial capital. Still later, Augustus confirmed and extended these civic privileges. By the close of the first century BC, shortly before Paul was likely born, the residents of Tarsus were Roman citizens. He could think, write, and articulate himself in Koine Greek. This has led many scholars to conclude that Paul's education happened in Tarsus.

We are also aware Paul was a student of Scripture.

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He was steeped in it. He could turn to it to both ground and advance his arguments. It's likely Paul learned the Scripture from his family and from the local synagogue.

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