Paul M. Zehr was born in Croghan, NY where he grew up on a farm and attended local public schools. He later graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 1962 and from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 1965. After seminary, Paul pastored the First Mennonite Church of St. Petersburg, Florida from 1965 to 1973. Follwing this eight-year experience of pastoring an urban church, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary where he earned a Th.M. degree in Biblical Studies in 1975. He then pastored a small church and began teaching biblical and theological courses in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area. His teaching ministry reached several in-service pastors which led to his appointment as director of External Programs for Eastern Mennonite Seminary. It also created within him a greater awareness of the person, role, and function of the pastor. In 1980 he was ordained bishop and supervised pastors in five congregations for 25 years. In 1987 he graduated from The Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree. A major part of this doctoral study was the preparation of a philosophy of Mennonite pastoral education and a curriculum guide for Mennonite conference-based Pastoral Education. For more than 20 years he worked in Supervised Pastoral Education. His interest in biblical studies continued in teaching classes and in chairing the Editorial Council for the Believers Church Bible Commentary series.