Saul (later to be known as the apostle Paul) was zealous in all that he did. He was from the Jewish tribe of Benjamin, and when describing himself, he said he was a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the Mosaic Law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the Christian Church, as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Philippians 3:4-6) Even so, he was to become one of the greatest evangelists of his day in spreading Christianity after his encounter with Christ Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Saul did everything he could to try and stop the growth of Christianity. In fact, when Stephen (the first recorded Christian martyr in the New Testament) was killed, Saul was there (watching the cloaks of those who were stoning Stephen.)
On the day Stephen was martyred, a great persecution broke out against the Christian Church in Jerusalem and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. At that time, Saul began to destroy the Church. Going from house to house , he dragged off Christian men and women and put them in prison. Eventually he obtained letters from the Jewish religious leaders to Jews in Damascus and he went there to bring the Christians (known as followers of the Way at that time) back to Jerusalem to be punished.
About noon, as he came near to Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute Me?' Who are you Lord?' He asked. I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' Next, Jesus instructed Saul to get up and go into Damascus.
Because of the brilliance of the bright light, Saul had been blinded. For three days he could not see (his companions had to lead him into Damascus by hand.)
While in Damascus, Jesus instructed a devout follower of the Way to pray for Saul in order that his sight be restored. When he did, immediately Saul could see. Saul was told that he would be Jesus' witness to all men of what he had seen and heard. At that time, Saul got up and was baptized a follower of Christ Jesus. Saul was to become known as the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews) whereas Peter was called the apostle to the Jews.
Saul's great abilities and earnest enthusiasm in spreading the gospel of Christ have made his name revered wherever the Christian religion is known. It is his writings which make up much of the New Testament of the Bible.
After his wonderful conversion, Saul went to Jerusalem where he saw Peter, James and John. Later, he went forth with Barnabas to preach (sent forth from the church in Antioch.)
Much can be read about the life and missionary journeys of Saul in the New Testament of the Bible. On his first missionary journey, while at Paphos on the island of Cyprus, we see Saul, also, referred to as Paul (the name we have known him by since.)
Paul suffered much in spreading the Gospel. Most of his missionary efforts were in what is modern day Greece and Turkey, and the surrounding areas.
After being released from imprisonment in Rome, as part of his further missionary journeys, it is believed that Paul, also, visited Gaul and Spain (there is, also, a belief that he visited England.)
When Paul returned to Rome, he was taken prisoner again and imprisoned for nine months with the apostle Peter in the Mamertine prison.
It was in Rome that the apostle Paul suffered martyrdom. By order of the Emperor Nero, Paul was beheaded with a sword.
The information above is compiled from the book "The Search for the Twelve Apostles" by William Steuart McBirnie Ph.D, Copyright 1973