When I was kid, scholars would say that Jesus probably did not exist and was just a legend invented 100’s years after Jesus died. They felt Paul the Apostle just a legend. That day is past. For example, virtually all historians accept that Jesus was condemned by Pilate about 30 AD and baptized by John the Baptist.
Proving events is never easy and proving events 2000 years ago is not easy at all. Paul wrote 1/3rd of the New Testament. Let’s say it would be good to prove he is real.
Fortunately, in Acts, Paul appears before Proconsul Gallio and the case against him is dismissed with disdain by Gallio. Gallio’s manner of not caring about this Jewish dispute is very authentic. Therefore, no historian disputes that Gallio said that. This is especially proven valuable as The Delphi Inscription names Gallio as the one-year prefect in 51-52AD. Archeologists discovered the inscription in 1905.
Therefore, virtually no one doubts that the Apostle Paul stood before Gallio in 52AD. Furthermore, this detail gives proof that Luke used specific personal knowledge to write Acts. Otherwise, he could not have named this so accurately. No Christian could or would have accessed this classified government message about Gallio to falsely change it.
Scholars already knew a likely date around AD50 as Acts mentions the Jews got expelled from Rome and that is 50 AD. So, these two things in Acts 18 taken together give historians and us a lot of confidence that Paul really existed in these early years.
The Apostle Paul Just a Legend? Impossible
This Gallio meeting is a proven fact. Given this one fact placing Paul there, gradually historians looked more at Paul’s writings and could accept that 7 books were authentically from him. We, as Christians accept all of Paul’s books but in reaching the broader culture they already accept the 7 books. Paul is the most accepted historical figure in the New Testament with Jesus and John the Baptist following.
Some of the creed’s Paul mentions show that within 5 years of the Resurrection there was thus clear belief. The legend plan is impossible for Paul and the Resurrection. Something happened in AD 30 when Jesus died under Pilate. The average intellectual can accept Paul’s writings as true, and his writings attest solidly to the Resurrection. None of us will ever be the same because of that empty tomb.