Paul: Persecutor of Christians

About this article

This reflection talks about Jesus's teaching that living our faith goes beyond the letter of the law to the embracing of the spirit of the law.
Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women . . . To prison. (Acts of the Apostles 8:3)
Convinced that following the teachings of Jesus was wrong, Paul pursued the early Christians and put them in jail. He was even present at and approved the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Paul would not allow anything to get in the way of his convictions.

As a Pharisee, Paul lived his life by the letter of the law. He saw himself as a defender of the faith. We know from Jesus that living our faith goes beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. Having conviction in our religious beliefs and defending them when necessary is important, but in doing so we must not lose sight of God's love at the heart of those beliefs.

When has following the letter of the law caused you to ignore God's law of love?
God, help me to live my faith with conviction and to respect the beliefs of others.
  • To go deeper: Read Acts of the Apostles 8:1–4.
  • Acknowledgments

    (This activity is taken from Day by Day with People of the Bible: Reflections for Teens. Copyright © 2008 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at

    Published July 2, 2008.