Faith on the Frontier

Sources: I. Howard Marshall et al., Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Letters and Revelation (IVP, 2002); Raymond E. Brown, The New Testament: an Introduction (Doubleday, 1997); Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3d ed. (Oxford, 2004).

Paul, His Letters, and His Churches
Saul/Paul (these are his Jewish and Roman names) is a towering figure in the New Testament Church.
Saul was trained as a rabbi and Pharisee under Gamaliel.
He persecuted the Church, then saw the risen Jesus (Acts 9, 1 Cor. 9:1, 15:8) and took on the vocation of "apostle to the nations."
Missionary journeys move ever westward.
Paul's teams continue to pastor older congregations (thus most of the letters).
Style and content of Paul's letters varies considerably.
Some letters' authorship (1/2 Tim., Titus, 2 Thess., Col., Eph.) is disputed.
Two possible chronologies:
Date Traditional (Brown, 428) R. Reisner (Marshall, 43)
30 Crucifixion of Jesus Crucifixion of Jesus
31-32   Death of Stephen
In Arabia and Tarsus
At Antioch
36 Conversion  
39 Visit to Jerusalem after Damascus  
40-44 In Cicilia  
45 At Antioch Visit to Jerusalem to bring famine relief
First missionary journey in Galatia (Acts 13-14)
Jerusalem conference (Acts 15)
Second missionary journey in Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 15:36-18:22)
46-49 First missionary journey from Antioch to Cypress and southern Asia Minor  
49 Jerusalem conference  
50   Arrival in Corinth
1 and 2 Thessalonians
Return to Antioch
Third missionary journey in Asia (Acts 18:23-21:17)
1 and 2 Corinthians
50-52 Second missionary journey from Antioch through southern Asia Minor to north Galatia, Macedonia, Corinth
1 Thessalonians
Return to Jerusalem and Antioch
54-58 Third missionary journey, from Antioch through north Galatia to Ephesus
Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, 1 Corinthians
Through Macedonia toward Corinth
2 Corinthians, Galatians?
Winter at Corinth
Return to Jerusalem
55   Departure from Ephesus
Visit to Macedonia and Achaia
Return to Jerusalem
Arrest and Imprisonments in Jerusalem and Caesarea
58-60 Arrested in Jerusalem
Imprisoned two years in Caesarea
59   Departure for Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16)
60 Sent to Rome
Long sea journey
Arrival in Rome
Two years in house arrest
Philemon, Colossians
1 and 2 Timothy, Titus
61-63 Two years in house arrest
Philippians? Philemon?
>64 Death in Rome under Nero  
Events and chronologies in Acts and Paul's letters are hard to reconcile.
Yet the broad pattern is consistent:
Paul is a passionate Jewish vehicle for "the good news of God" into the Greco-Roman social and intellectual world.
Paul is a brilliant missionary strategist in a treacherous multicultural context.
Paul is a creative, apocalyptic, messianic rabbi.
Paul is a tenacious pastor and mentor.
Rejection, persecution, hints at execution: Is Paul in Acts on a "way of the cross" from Jerusalem to Rome?