Q&A: Physical Description of Paul

Physical Description of Paul

Question

Where can I find a physical description of the Apostle Paul? Due to the largness of his written letters, did he have problems with his eyes? If so, what?

Answer

The Bible does not provide a description of Paul, though many have speculated that he had problems with his eyes. These speculations have been based on his apparently large handwriting (Gal. 6:11), as well as on his statements that seem specifically to indicate eye trouble (Gal. 4:13-15).

There is a somewhat famous description of Paul, but it does not come from the Bible. It is found in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla. This work is uninspired, unauthoritative, and contains teaching that contradicts teaching found in Scripture. It is impossible to know whether or not this description is simply a complete fiction, or if it is based in part of some other unknown and unpreserved tradition. The description in the Acts of Paul and Thecla is as follows: "A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace. For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the countenance of an angel" (ANF, vol. 8, p. 487).


Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.