When he's 14, he is sent to Jerusalem to train under Gamaliel, a leading authority of the Sanhedrin, to become a Rabbi. While training to be a Rabbi, he also learns a trade to support himself, a tent-maker. Now, the stage is set. He is a fiery young man by temperament. He's well educated and knows the Torah as well as and better than most. He's devout and acts on his beliefs. He defends Judaism with fervor.
Christianity is an abomination in the eyes of Saul of Tarsus. That is, until he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Jesus said. (Acts 9:4) Jesus, this Jesus who was crucified and rose from the dead, has stopped Saul, changed his name to Paul, and turned his thinking completely around. Up until that moment, Saul believed that Jesus had not been the Christ, the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for.
Paul who was steeped in the Old Testament of the Jews had to know the prophecies of the coming Messiah. His parents had to know them, too. So, too, with Gamaliel. But his parents and Gamaliel hadn't experienced first-hand knowledge of a visit from Jesus Christ. What a difference it made in Paul's life!
Most everyone agrees that there's between 331 and 355 Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. Thanks to the modern age of laptops and tablets a quick Google search will list sites that give these prophecies. It's an impressive list. What it must have been like for Paul to sit and listen to Jesus and remember the training he received. The very training that schooled him in what to look for. What it must have been like to sit and marvel at Jesus and wonder how so many of his time got it wrong. Now it was up to Paul to set as many people straight as he could. And, so, begin the missionary trips spreading the gospel of Christ, the risen Savior.
It's not easy for Paul. He endures hardships, fear and hatred. Friends are few, the work is hard. But remember, too, that this is a fiery man who is devout in his beliefs. He has met the Master and knows the importance of his task.
While in Macedonia, Paul and Silas are jailed as a result of upsetting some schemers. They were making money off a girl who was a soothsayer and Paul called the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ. The story is in Acts 16. Were they unjustly jailed? Of course they were but that doesn't stop the cries against them. The judge releases them but runs them out of town also.
Chapter 17 of Acts and Paul and Silas are in Thessalonica. Paul first goes to the synagogue to preach before going to the Gentiles. Paul felt compelled to go to the chosen people first. He stated in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Many were converted while there; but, the Jews were angry and caused a riot in the area. They set up such a fuss that the brethren smuggled Paul and Silas out at night.
And so it goes. Christianity has taken it on the chin for centuries. The devil's handiwork is in it. All know that deep in their heart of hearts God has left his mark as the Creator. All have the same chance for redemption. Some will listen and believe the Pauls of this world and find God through Jesus Christ his Son. And some will be like the Jews, so intent on hardening themselves against a loving and caring God. Prayers go up daily for unbelievers. Churches and the ones who go to them wait anxiously for the lost to come and claim what is theirs to have--belief in Jesus Christ and eternity. Won't you come?