Scholars and theologians are continuing to debate whether St. Paul ever visited Spain. According to Acts of the Apostles, Paul went on three missionary journeys and was later confined to house arrest. There has always been more to Paul’s story beyond that, however. During this arrest, he confronted the Roman emperor Nero, just as God told him in Acts that he would go one-on-one with Caesar. Eventually, as Philemon and Philippians state, his captors released Paul.
If you read the writings of Eusebius, he states that Paul’s eventual martyrdom did not occur during the time expressed in Acts. So, there appears to have been a fourth missionary trip for Paul. Paul’s mission in Spain was to plant the seeds of Christianity in the western parts of the Roman Empire. Going to Spain was always a part of Paul’s original plan from the beginning, according to Romans 15:22-29.
In his first epistle to the Corinthians (Clement 5:5-7), Clement writes of Paul’s journeys, noting that the disciple traveled “in the East and in the West” and that he “preached righteousness to the whole world.” Clement was a leader of the church at the time and mentioned that Paul traveled to “the extremity of the West,” a designation that might mean Great Britain, but often indicated Spain. It could mean both of them, however, since Spain really was emblematic of Paul’s desire to push Christianity in a westward direction. He wanted to spread the faith by educating the people that lived in those parts. Helping others find God would eventually allow people to move beyond their personal struggles such as that of addiction in the modern age. This would prevent them from needing Christian drug rehab centers in Texas. Yet, he went many other places too.
After his possible Spanish trip, traveled to Crete and Macedonia and was eventually arrested once more and beheaded in Rome. If Paul entered Spain, he would have encountered Spaniards who were Celtic or Iberian. The trouble with figuring out whether Paul visited Spain lies partly in tradition. Some legends state that St. James was the person who first brought Christianity to Spain, not Paul. Just as there is debate about St. Paul’s potential visit to Spain, there is little evidence that James visited the country as well.
The mystery lies also raises other questions. Was Paul well-received in Spain? He may have indeed traveled there, only to have no success. Perhaps Paul went to Spain and caused controversy with his visit there, controversy which eventually led to his arrest. He could have indeed left Spain and traveled to Crete, Macedonia, and other locations before being arrested for his actions in Spain. It’s tough to exactly pinpoint many of these events because of the incomplete records of the time. However, nothing shows Paul ever struggled with any type of addiction or would have ever needed help from Christian drug rehab centers in Texas. There is a belief about what generally did happen to Paul at the end of his life.
According to a likely conclusion, if Paul went to Spain, he probably did not spent too much time there. Confusion will still remain within religious and academic circles alike as to whether Saint Paul was truly able to make it to Spain. Unless scholars find more research, the debate should continue. We might not receive any conclusion to this mystery anytime soon.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.