Did St. Paul Kill Christians?

While in dialogue with a couple Muslim friends, they keep reminding me that Paul killed Christians and that it’s crazy to think that we refer to his writings etc. Now I know he persecuted Christians, but I don’t think I have ever read that he personally killed them or sentenced them to death. What’s the real deal here?

Whether he actually killed Christians himself we do not know but we do know that he headed up the group that hunted, persecuted and killed Christians. St Stephen was their first victim.

Acts 7:57-59

57 And casting him out the city, they stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.

58 And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying; Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

59 And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, saying; Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And** Saul was consenting to his death.**

Acts 8:1-3

1 Now** Saul was consenting to his execution** .On that day, there broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

2 Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.

3 Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.

Thanks Thisle… wow that is eye opening. How do you think we reconcile this in discussion with non-Christians? I reconcile it based on the fact that our salvation history has a history of delinquent prophets and kings that God used as instruments of his divine plan for us. But I have to admit, its hard to defend St. Paul after reading about the atrocities he committed.

Tell your Muslim friends that they are missing out on the gift of redemption that we Christians have been given!

**Jesus taught us;

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (MT 9:13)

Praise Jesus, for we are all sinners!!**

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


Yes, he did, when he was Saul. Mark77 was correct to point out our redemption. Saul’s life is witness to that ~ he was redeemed and, by Christ, his sins were forgiven and by his repentance and faith he was renamed by Jesus to Paul.

He stopped and repented. This is a truly false argument from a group that at times extols today, and fails to condemn this action in others, what St. Paul did before his conversion. Silly.

I doubt a man in Saul’s high position in the Jew hierarchy would have physically executed a sentence. He may have been one of many to stone St Stephen: more likely, he told others to do the stoning, but, the murder is just as much on his hands, just as it would be if one hired a hit-man.

He still became a great Saint, converted in both heart and religion.

Tell your Muslim friends that, though Saint Paul was, in fact, a vigilante
religious-based MURDERER, when Christ confronted him personally, he humbly repented.
While a religious zealot murderer, Paul did what he did because he THOUGHT he was pleasing God by killing Jewish HERETICS AND APOSTATES (Christians).
But vigilante killing was even then against the law, regarded as murder, and he would today be regarded as a repeat-offender felon guilty not only of murders but of “hate crimes.”
Even IF repentant, that is how society would deal with him today.
They would be WRONG, but that IS how the system would deal with him today.

I love Saint Paul dearly, by the way, but facts are facts (and he would freely admit it).
But this is the same Saint Paul who told Christians that the state is God’s minister to use the sword against malefactors. Some Christians use that statement of Paul’s to urge very, very harsh sentences even upon repentant people who have done wrong, forgetting that our Saintly Hero was a religiously-motivated Cold-Blooded Killer who was forgiven by Christ after he sincerely repented and was not subjected by God to punishment by the State for his crimes, which WERE crimes. Paul WAS arrested at times for OTHER THINGS (such as the noble cause of preaching Christ and the Gospel), but never for his crimes of persecution, murder, and the lives of the victim’s families which he destroyed in his murderous rampage against innocent Christians.
By the way, as much as it goes against my grain to pray for Osama Bin Laden,
he, too, was a repeat offender killer of innocent people because of his religious beliefs which led him to believe that it was noble and necessary to kill those whom God (allah) regarded as “infidels,” namely us westerners. He was no worse than Saint Paul was before Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus road and straightened him out.
Some may want to ignore that fact, but it is absolute fact. Both willful killers were motivated by their religious zeal against infidels and apostates.
** Holy St. Paul the Apostle, repentant persecutor and repentant killer of Christians,
and faithful Apostle of God and Christ, pray for all who have done wrong, that they be
converted to God and Christ, and spared, too, as you were. AMEN.**

Thank you all for your replies. I hope to get better at explaining and defending the faith to others… its often quite challenging when they do not grasp the overall story if you know what I mean. Often times I can get sucked into an argument and loose track of the point. In this case with St. Paul its truly a great example of redemption and conversion… thanks for clarifying.

The thing that bugs me about St. Paul is that he didn’t make a choice to not persecute heretics or to follow Christ. Christ came to St. Paul and blinded him.
This cannot be said to be a free will choice of Pauls.

This story is a little suspicious to me because ordinarily, this is not how God works. There are any number of people today who are persecuting and killing Christians and God doesn’t appear to them and MAKE them understand what they are doing is wrong.

God never does that does he? Except with Paul. Can you think of another time were a disbeliever was confronted directly by God and told to knock it off?

We have to undersand who Saul was prior to becomming Paul. We have to understand who the Pharisees were and what Jews who operated under the Mosaic law believed in order to understand Saul’s actions correctly.

Under the Mosaic law, holiness was defined as how you acted. How you dressed, what you ate, ritual washings, etc., all defined personal holiness. And Jews at the time of Christ believed that if everyone in Israel were perfectly holy according to the Mosaic law, that the Messiah would come. Your personal holiness according to the law of Moses, was what was hastening or preveting the coming of the Messiah. This is why Jews cut people who did not obey the law of Moses - sinners - from the community. Sinners were shunned, outcast, no longer part of Israel, because sinners - those who did not obey the law of Moses - were, by their actions, personally preventing the Messaih from coming. This is the context under which we have to view Saul’s persecution of Christians.

Saul believed that the Christians, who were actually Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah, were blaspheming, and by their blasphemy, were personally responsible for preveting the coming of the Messiah. Christians were not a seperate race, but were Jews, and the law of Moses commanded that if they were actually blapheming, that they were to be rounded up, cast out of the community, and in some cases killed. Paul was zealous for the law, and his actions were based on his belief that the Christians were preventing the Messiah from coming. To put it bluntly, it was his love for God and his law, given through Moses, and his hope for the coming of the Messiah, which made him zealous. He loved God and wanted the Messiah to come. This is why he persecuted Jewish who believed Jesus to be the Messiah, because he loved God and wanted the Messiah to come. Jesus had to step in and show Saul that he was in fact the Messiah. Then Saul saw the error of his ways.

Saul loved God. And Saul was zealous for God’s. Saul wanted the messiah to come. He was just mistaken, thinking that Jesus was not the Messiah, and so he acted on his love for God and desire for the Messiah by rounding up and persecuting Christians. When he realized that Jesus was the Messiah, he stopped his persecution immediately, and became humble and meek - able to be taught, and his boldness and zeal was then used for God’s greater glory.


I can’t tell, was that intended as an insult to me? (I’m honestly asking, as there seems to be much venom in your post - not that mine are any better [well, in formatting and grammar, maybe:o] and I don’t see how it’s related to Islam, except that I have “Ex-Muslim” as part of my religion). Muslims hate St Paul to the nth degree viewing him as “the corrupter of the injil of Isa”.

We do know that he did NOT kill anyone:
Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. (Acts 20:26)

At what point did Christ remove St. Paul’s free will?

After he was healed of his blindness, Paul could have chosen to turn from Christ at any point, but chose to follow His will.

Some people need to be blinded and knocked off a horse, and others need a gentle whisper. Christ knows and gives us each the notice we need. We still must respond to Him.

Paul is an example of hope…that even though we may do the worst wicked deeds, we can be redeemed. This is an amazing display of God’s mercy for anyone to see, but it is an especially powerful message for atheists, or people of other faiths who previously ridiculed or doubted the christian faith…but later come to realize its truth. Sometimes these people are so overcome with grief, or sometimes they think they are unable to convert because of how inconsistent it would be with their former life. St. Paul’s amazing conversion says otherwise. If Saul, a terrible persecutor (possibly murderer!) of Christians can become a holy saint, the doors are open for anyone. I’ve seen this make a difference in at least one person’s life.

It can even be a message to your Muslim friends who seem to question the faith. :slight_smile:

In addition, Paul was the emissary to the gentiles…a people that were generally so far removed from God’s law and his people that it seemed silly to preach a message meant for Jews to the wider gentile community. St. Paul was the least likely to be a christian and he spread the gospel to the people least likely to accept it…and look what happened because of God’s grace!! The world was literally transformed.

See what they think of that! :wink:

I ridiculed it and ridiculed it effectively, I’m sorry to say. All too often good rhetoric is more important than truth: a sophistic rhetorician will beat a stuttering logician every time. Eventually, through a complex process (documented bits and pieces, for, I think, between them all, the fully story, here on the boards) I came back to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Edit: sorry about the above post. I never even read the original post and saw that it had anything to do with Muslims, I just answered the title: “Did St Paul Kill Christians?” without reading anything else. Apologies.

Yes, this happens all the time.
First of all, St. Paul could have said no. When he was blinded by the light and heard a voice, he could have said “get away, satan!” and rejected the message as a trick from the devil. He could have claimed that the false demon christian god blinded him, and sought a Jewish exorcism (if there is such a thing). :slight_smile: But, he accepted God’s grace and the rest is history.

When Jonah decided not to spread God’s message, God said “knock it off” by causing a storm to distress him, and the other passengers, until he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish. He was released when he repented and prayed.

When David committed adultery, God send his prophet, and spoke through him, telling David to knock it off. David then repented after realizing the error of his ways.

When a crowd was going to stone a woman they caught in adultery, Jesus (who came to tell humanity to knock it off, in a way) came to them and told them to knock it off.’

When Pharoh kept the Jews in slavery, God sent Moses to tell him to knock it off, and set them free. Not only did he send a prophet, but he spoke through plagues as well.

There are many, many more examples!

So, yes, God does work this way. Sometimes he appears or speaks directly (Paul, Jonah, Christ), sometimes he speak through others. Sometimes he corrects us through other means. I think most times he is gentle…His corrections just a whisper and easily ignored or drowned out. Sometimes He is stern…and still ignored. I can tell you, I was personally once in a state of iniquity and God told me to knock it off. It wasn’t pleasant!

This kind of thing still happens today. Ask recovered alcoholics, or atheists who converted, or reformed criminals. Ask then why they stopped what they were doing and what happened to turn them around and I bet a lot of them heard God’s voice (or his actions) and that prompted them to change. Some have their lives collapse, and they interpret this as God’s corrective action. Some dream dreams. Some hear his “voice”, and just know that God has called them to something greater. Not all of them will call it “God” if they don’t know Him, but you’ll recognize his handwriting. :slight_smile:

Catholicism teaches we’re all sinners and forgiveness is open to all; it better be or we’re all lost. What better person to use than one who was righteously zealous in his faith, upheld the Law perfectly, and then admitted, after conversion, that He still wasn’t good enough-mainly because he lacked love, the one-and only- thing, that makes a human truly just. This may well highlight significant differences between our faith and theirs. Change of heart, repentance, and forgiveness are absolutely central and essential to Christian teaching.

Of course there is. The Bible itself says that some Jews tried to perform exorcisms “in the name of Paul, and this Jesus that Paul preaches”, upon which the demon rebuked, “I have heard of Paul, and I know Jesus, but who the Hell are you?”.

Note: the Prophets in the Bible are all human, unlike the falsified and whitewashed portraits of the prophets, given as in a dirty mirror darkly, in the Koran.

As far as Islam: 1) If Muhammad was the final and ultimate messenger, why did Jesus have the greater miracles, and Muhammad had none, and claimed the Koran was his miracle (although it’s now been demonstrated the Koran wasn’t even written in pure Arabic like it claims, let alone all dictated by Muhammad, or during his lifetime).

  1. Islam says we have no original sin. Islam says Adam and Eve were created in a heavenly Paradise, where there was no suffering. Adam and Eve were kicked out of Paradise because of their sin. We, their descendants, live on earth, where there is suffering. Therefore, we are paying for Adam and Eve’s sin, or else every human being would be created in Paradise and fall and be kicked out individually.

  2. The Koran’s statements about the corruption of the Bible are demonstrably false, as we have now discovered manuscripts from 300 years before Muhammad’s birth. However, there is no evidence for an original, uncorrupted Koran, and any evidence that alternate Korans may be found is hushed. The Dome of the Rock is evidence of an alternate Koran, as are the writings of John of Damascus, and several of the Sana’a manuscripts: evidence for alternate Korans, that were unified by Uthman, not by Muhammad, is in the hagiographical traditions (ahadith) of orthodox Islam itself. The great mujtahidin such as Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Shafi’i (both founders of one of the four schools of law respectively - Hanafi and Shafi’i - comprising more than 60% of Muslims around the world together) believed that over 500 verses had been taken out of the Koran, by method of eradicatory abrogation.

4)The Koran also contains apocryphal stories and obvious heretical Christian influence, i.e. the Trinity of Jesus, Mary, and Allah of the Collyridians, the nativity story, the clay birds story, etc.

  1. The Koran contains apocryphal, legendary stories about Alexander the Great, a pagan, and calls him a prophet. This material (such as the building of the iron wall at the edge of the world to keep out the Gog and Magog) is taken from the Alexander romance.

  2. There are manifest errors in the Koran, on every scientific and historical matter it addresses.

  3. If the Bible actually foretold Muhammad by name, why did Muslims have to forge a gospel (the so-called “Gospel of Barnabas”) in order to help “unfalsify” one of the Koranic sayings?

Loving this thread. :slight_smile: Just had to say.

I just wanted to point out that the fact that Saul persecuted the Christians makes him MORE credible, not less. He wanted Christianity wiped off the face of the earth and then, suddenly, he’s in league with the apostles and teaching Christian values to the people? Holy moly! That’s amazing!

And to the person who said that Saul’s free will was removed from him - not at all. He could have said no, even after his experience. He could have told himself it was a trick… he chose to believe and he chose to listen.

I believe, personally, that God chose him because the first shall be last and the last shall be first. :slight_smile:

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