Was ST. Paul married at one time?

Discussion in 'Exegetical Forum' started by PuritanCovenanter, Apr 15, 2012.

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  1. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Was St. Paul married at one time? It is assumed that he was a member of the Sanhedrin since he cast his vote against Christians (Acts 26:10)? Can this passage just indicate that he agreed with the Sanhedrin even though he might not have been a member? It appears that one of the requirements for membership of the Sanhedrin was marriage. If Paul was a member he was married at one time. At least that appears to be one of the requirements.

    So, either he was a widower, divorced, or abandoned.

    I always thought there was a lot of assumption on all sides of this debate. What do you guys think?

    I just heard a sermon that espoused that St. Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin. I have heard this for years but can't put my finger on why I totally disagree with it.

    Geneva note
    Barnes Notes
    Vincent's Word Studies.
    Pulpit Commentary
    Matthew Poole
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  2. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    If he was it never mattered enough to him to mention it, but know that you mention it, I really want to know what has been said.
  3. O'GodHowGreatThouArt

    O'GodHowGreatThouArt Puritan Board Sophomore

    One possibility is that Paul was married prior to being saved. As a result, one of the aforementioned reasons may have caused him to become single again.

    I dare not dive too much into this angle though, as Scripture is silent on it.
  4. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    When St Stephen, protomartyr, was stoned to death, Acts 7:58 tells us "And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul." In Acts 8:1 we read "And Saul was consenting unto his death." In Acts 8:3 we read "As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison."
    It would be very unlikely that Saul would have had this level of authority in the Jewish community if he were single. The likelihood is that he was married or a widower.
  5. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Evidence as to whether or not Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin is very thin at best. This belief is based mostly on assumption. We do know that he was a Pharisee based on his own statements in Acts. As to whether or not marriage was required to be a Pharisee, that is doubtful. All of this is mere specultation. If God wanted us to know this, He would have put it in His Word.
  6. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I ran across the argument while doing a study of 1 Corinthians a few years ago. There are some reasons for thinking that he was married, and I believe these are covered in the Hendricksen/Kistemacher NT Commentary series on 1 Corinthians.

    If he was married, it sheds some interesting light on Paul's comments about abandonment, as well as the statement from 1 Corinthians 9:5 -- "Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?"
  7. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    As has been pointed out, we need to be careful to not go beyond what Scripture tells us.

    We might say there is some basis to believe the Apostle was married, but was unmarried at the time he wrote the cannon. We cannot determine, and I'm not aware of church history on this point that might supplement this, whether the Apostle would have been so by abandonment, unbiblical action as an unbeliever, or widowed.

    We don't know.
  8. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Admittedly, I've never researched the topic. But just thinking through Bible passages, the idea the Paul was on the council doesn't feel to me like it fits:

    1. Acts 7 calls him a "young man." Is that the way one would introduce a council member?

    2. In all the talk in Acts of his persecution of the church and the controversy surrounding his conversion, there's no hint that he has any special recoognition as a council member, only as an well-known and active opponent of the church. If he were also on the council, it seems like that'd be something to mention.

    3. It seems likely that Paul himself would have mentioned it (1) in his talk at the Temple in Acts 22 where he mentions his credentials like being educated by Gamaliel, or (2) in Philippians 3 where he speaks again of his credentials. If he's talking about being a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, blameless according to the law, etc., wouldn't it make sense to mention a council membership had it existed? It would make "I count it all loss for the sake of Christ" that much stronger.

    4. The "I cast my vote against them" line could be explained by Paul being a prominent member of one of the synagogues that instigated the charges against Stephen in Acts 6. Or it could merely be referring to his approval of Stephen's death, which Luke mentions at the start of chapter 8. If we're going to try to make sense out of a line in chapter 26, the first place to look is at events already referred to earlier in the book.
  9. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Since Stephen was stoned to death, how come he doesn't get to be a full-fledged martyr? "Proto-martyr" seems, well, kind of disappointing...
  10. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior


    Protomartyr is the term for the first Christian martyr in a country or culture or language group. Stephen, Deacon, was the first protomartyr. Maybe we should say protoprotomartyr.

    ---------- Post added at 10:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:08 PM ----------

    One reason we should say that it is possible, and indeed likely, that St. Paul was once married; is that St. Paul is held out by some Romish as an example of someone who was a lifelong celibate. The sodomites also claim him as one of their own.
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