36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. (Acts 20:36-38 (ESV)
Passages like this give an insight to Paul’s character that is often not seen in his letters.
He was loved, and you can tell he loved too. Paul himself draws attention to the fact that people thought he was forceful in print but weak in person. This was said of him in Corinth anyway. And in his letters he comes off strong, perhaps even harsh.
I think it is often lost though that he is writing to people he knows, he has a relationship with the people he writes too. They know him, they can hear his voice behind the written word.
People often write in a manner that doesn’t carry the same personality a person has face to face. It’s a problem completely exacerbated today with the internet, communicating with people you may have never met. It can be fun. It can also be a bit mindboggling. Sometimes you think you have an impression of someone’s personality but when you meet them they are a completely different person. It’s good to keep in mind both when reading and when writing.
This is something to keep in mind when reading Paul’s epistles too. If he seems hardnosed from time its in large part because he really loves the people he is writing to, and they love him.