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Paul expresses his intention to go to Spain in Romans 15:

24I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. ESV

Is it confirmed one way or the other in biblical or extra-biblical texts whether Paul's intention was fulfilled?

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  • I brought this question format up on meta.
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 17:50
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    G.Rassovsky - after the meta question linked above and some discussion in chat, it seems that there is an interesting and on-topic question here, but we needed to broaden it to include extra-biblical texts. The answer to your question about whether the bible says that he went to Spain is simply "no." However, the bible does not say that he didn't go to Spain either, and it seems there are other available texts that have more to say on the topic.
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 21:10
  • Yes, i know it is not stated in plain text that he has been to Spain, however I just wanted to make sure I am not missing something out, when I am reading. As there is a doctrine in that in itself. Not all the Apostle's plans came to pass, nevertheless he had such and they weren't bad. That's why I asked because I thought there might be a hint to him being there. As his thorn in the flesh also isn't mentioned however there are definitely hints in the text to do with the fact that it could have been something with his eyes. But we should never be dogmatic on things which are not clearly stated. Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 21:38
  • One interesting article: Otto F. A. Meinardus, "Paul's Missionary Journey to Spain: Tradition and Folklore", The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 61-63. He outlines the Spanish traditions about this, and doesn't the explore "manifold arguments for and against the apostle's journey to Spain". However, he does in passing mention that both Chrysostom and Jerome believed Paul went to Spain. FWIW.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 17:56
  • Also of note to me at least, at least in KJV (haven't looked into the original words), he says "I WILL come by you unto Spain" It's words of a man, but also one who is careful in wording, and wants authentic teachings. I guess it's James who pushes "if the Lord wills, I will do such and such" and the tongue, but given it's preserved in the Word, seems favorable to lean towards it happening. That said it's not a focal point, so it seems danger to conflate such a journey to something monumental and major to Spain (like so many mytholgies of where Jesus\Paul\etc went that are obsessively revered) Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 21:25

4 Answers 4

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Great question. The short answer is that there is nothing explicit in the text of Scripture that proves without question that Paul reached Spain, but there is some evidence (both in and out of Scripture) which suggests that he did (at least to some scholars.)

A couple of sources which you might find helpful are Homer A. Kent, The Pastoral Epistles, (Moody Press, 1958) and Harold Hoehner, Chronology of the Apostolic Age, (Dallas: Th.D. dissertation, 1965).

Here is one plausible reconstruction of Paul's journeys after his first Roman imprisonment:

  • Colossae in Asia Minor (Philemon 22)

  • Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3)

  • Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3)

  • Philippi (Php. 1:25, 2:24)

  • Ephesus (1 Tim. 3:14)

  • Spain (Romans 15:24)

  • Crete (Titus 1:5)

  • Asia Minor (2 Tim 4:13; 4:20)

  • Greece (Titus 3:12; 2 Tim. 4:20)

  • Rome (2 Tim. 1:16,17)

In this scenario Paul was imprisoned in Rome more than once, under very different circumstances, and he did reach Spain.

The conclusion that he did in fact reach Spain is also supported by extra-biblical sources:

  • 1 Clement 5:7 says he reached "the extreme limit of the west"

  • The Muratorian Canon refers to "the journey of St. Paul to Spain"

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    There is some interesting literature speculating as to whether or not Paul had the fulfillment of Isaiah 66:18-19 in mind. If Tarshish is Spain (there is some controversy on this identification), then at the time Paul wrote Romans, he and other believers had taken the gospel to every region in Isaiah 66 except for Tarshish. Perhaps he thought reaching Spain meant the "fullness of the Gentiles" would be reached. This is just fun food for thought.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 16:52
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To the above, I'd add that Clement 1, if taken as early to mid second century A.D seems to be a very reliable source. Some scholars situate this Clement earlier, the same as one mentioned in Romans and Catholic tradition ordained by Peter. The later dating seems more reasonable to many from critical studies. The letter itself is a masterpiece of exegetics written by an author extraordinarily well versed in the scripture as a reading will handily show, he quotes from all over the Bible without even mentioning the book he's quoting as if expecting careful contemplation of his theme.

He says he was asked by some in Corinth to weigh in on a dispute over leadership there, the context perhaps suggesting that his exegetical skills were known and considered helpful. As a seemingly prominent Roman citizen, which is implied by a hard to come by (in that either a compendium in either schools or codex would be neither common or inexpensive) literacy in writings that were not Roman at all and by his considerable composition skills, (suggesting an above average education) in a church wealthy enough to have been regularly sending funds to churches throughout the empire (as mentioned in the letter), the author's statement that Paul did preach in the far west has credibility.

Paul converted praetorians and members of Caesar's household, very prominent Romans indeed, and it is believable that people from such high-status families would have knowledge of the well-known Apostle who may have personally converted their own direct ancestors but a generation before. One cannot find him suggesting that Peter himself ever even visited the Roman Capitol. The writer here clearly familiar with contemporary churches and mentions an earlier generation than his as having grown up as children already in the Christian faith. His familiarity with these happenings suggests his statements about Paul going further west are entirely believable.

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  • +1 Good answer so far, especially since it's your first! To improve it, I would recommend adding paragraph breaks to make it easier to read, and also citing some evidence (i.e. either quote Clement directly or at least refer the reader to what paragraph in his letter you are referring to) Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 23:10
  • Very good points, thank you. Actually, I had no idea that stack was what it is, expecting my comment to gather dust for ages. Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 23:16
  • +1 I like your answer as well. I think, however, it could be a bit more readable. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 4:49
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    "One cannot find him suggesting that Peter himself ever even visited the Roman Capitol." Because he wasn't there yet. Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 12:38
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Working only from scriptural sources we know that Paul claims at least twice that the witness of the apostles had already gone to the ends of the empire:

[Rom 10:18 KJV] 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

[Col 1:23 KJV] 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Also, in his mission for the truth he might be described as a "bull fighter". :_)

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it is not for us to say yes or no whether The Apostle Paul arrived to Hispania. Only those who saw or accompanied Paul where ever he went can say so. Primarily GOD. Historian say he went such as Clement, and others. But if you go to Spain in city called Tarragona formerly Tarraco by the Romans there is a old cathedral there that believed by locals that Paul reached as far as Spain it is called St Pauls Cathedral you can google or go there. https://www.tarragonaturisme.cat/es/monumento/capilla-de-sant-pau

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Archdiocese_of_Tarragona

so it should not be a debate to whether he has gone there but time will be our judge and GOD. Let us pursue then to do and obey GOD'S WILL so that once we got to heaven we will ask GOD personally or Paul personally if ever he went to Spain.

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