Was ST. Paul married at one time?

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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?

(1Co 7:8) To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.
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.

I gave my voice against them; not that he sat in council, or was a member of the Jewish sanhedrim, and voted for the execution of the Christians, but he was pleased with the sentence they passed, and approved of it; or he joined the zealots, who, without any form of law, seized on the Christians, and put them to death wherever they found them; and this he assented to, and encouraged: some render the words, "I carried the sentence"; as the Vulgate Latin version; that is, the sentence of condemnation, which the Jewish sanhedrim passed upon the disciples and followers of Christ: this Saul took, and carried, it may be, both to the Roman governor, to be signed by him, and to the officers to put it in execution; so industrious and forward was he in persecuting the saints.
Geneva note
(d) I consented to and allowed their actions: for he was not a judge.
Barnes Notes
I gave my voice - Paul was not a member of the Sanhedrin, and this does not mean that he voted, but simply that he joined in the persecution; he approved it; he assented to the putting of the saints to death. Compare Act_22:20. The Syriac renders it, “I joined with those who condemned them.” It is evident, also, that Paul instigated them in this persecution, and urged them on to deeds of blood and cruelty.
Vincent's Word Studies.
Gave my voice (κατήνεγκα ψῆφον)
Lit., laid down my vote. See on counteth, Luk_14:28. Some suppose that Paul here refers to casting his vote as a member of the Sanhedrim; in which case he must have been married and the father of a family. But this there is no reason for believing (compare 1Co_7:7, 1Co_7:8); and the phrase may be taken as expressing merely moral assent and approval.
Pulpit Commentary
(Act_8:1) The phrase kataferein yhfon is unusual; ferein yhfon is the more common phrase, both in Josephus and in classical writers. I gave my vote, etc. Not, as Meyer and others take it, "I assented to it, at the moment of their being killed," equivalent to suneudokwn of Act_22:20; but rather," when the Christians were being punished with death, I was one of those who in the Sanhedrim voted for their death."
Matthew Poole
I gave my voice against them: Paul was not one of the council, nor, that we read of, in any office or place to judge any person; besides, the Jews are thought to have had no power of life and death; and that St. Stephen was slain rather in a popular tumult, than legally: but Paul may be said to do this, by carrying the suffrages or sentence to the Roman man president, or any others, to get it executed (for so the words will bear); and howsoever, by his approving, rejoicing at, and delighting in their condemnation, (which was indeed giving his voice, as much as he could, against them), this was verified.
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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.


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.


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.

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.

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?"


Puritanboard Commissioner
I Cor. 7:7-8

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
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.

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.


Puritan Board Senior

When St Stephen, protomartyr, was stoned to death...
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...
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 ----------

All of this is mere specultation. If God wanted us to know this, He would have put it in His Word.
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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