Thornley Smith outlines St. Paulâs eventful life as the great Apostle of the Gentiles, enforcing some lessons which that life suggests. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we cannot hope to understand St. Paul without first exploring his B.C. He begins with Saul as Pharisee who becomes the convert. In fact, Paul never mentions that he even: heard of Jesus before Jesus was crucified and raised from the: dead. Acts 15:12, 2 Corinthians 12:12; There is a lot more, of course, as follows. In fact, I believe there is plenty of evidence that Jesus himself was a beit Hillel Pharisee. He was respected amongst the Jews and tried to support the followers of Jesus, yet, as his student, Paul seemed to be more of Shammai than of Hillel, given his inflexibility. He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: âTwo men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. I have heard people say that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme judicial and ecclesiastical council of ancient Jerusalem. Paul writes a lot about the works of the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit, especially in Ephesians (1:14-15). Acts 22:3). Jesus agrees with all of this (although he would claim to be that son of David and the kingdom is being restored in his own mission). In Matthew 23, Jesus highlights this fact, "practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice" (23:3). At the same time, the moment he met Christ on the Damascus Road, he would have to revisit everything he believed, and radically expand the boundaries of his belief. Perhaps this leads to a more difficult question, how much of Paulâs thinking changed as a result of his Damascus Road experience? Galatians 3:1â6 (ESV) O foolish Galatians! At first the values of the Pharisees developed through their sectarian debates with the Sadducees; then they developed through internal, non-sectarian debates over the law as an adaptation to life without the Temple, and life in exile, and eventually, to a more limited degree, life in conflict with Christianity. Judaism today is a descendent of Pharisaism, and although there are clear differences in our beliefs, we can continue to learn from what John Paul II called our "elder brothers and sisters." In fact, Paulâs radical revision of prevailing Pharisaic exegesis suggests he was likely never a Pharisee or, at the very least, not a consistent Pharisee in the tradition of Gamaliel. Jesus making himself clear to you as a Messiah is pretty life-changing, I guess. Bible verses about Was Paul A Pharisee. It is odd that there can be both types as one would think all Phariseeâs would have the same outlook on Jesus as the Messiah, but then again there are many different denominations of Christianity so it just all depends on how an individual is going to respond to what they are being taught. His dissertation was published as Jesus the Bridegroom by Pickwick Books in 2012. Althougâ¦ But as the character in a narrative, good historical work demands that we always start with primary sources: Paulâs words in Paulâs own letters.This second source gives us the clearest access to his life and thought. The same goes for Paulâs encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road. Change ). St. Paul was a Pharisee. (Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel, a founding father of the Pharisees, who rejected the Torah in favor of the oral Talmud). I think there need not be any question as to whether Paul was a Pharisee or not, but how flexible he was in what he studied. Why dont you actually read the Torah in Hebrew or get a concordance? We know throughout Scripture the Pharisees are known to be rigid and unwavering in their beliefs. His most recent book is Galatians: Freedom through Godâs Grace (Wipf & Stock, 2019). Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem and was making his defense before the Sanhedrin. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a light to the Gentiles (Isa. In Paul's day to be a Pharisee was to be a member of a prestigious majority party. As Dr.Long mentioned, Paul used the âHebrew Bible extensively and in ways which would resonate with the methods of the Phariseesâ. The information and understanding Paul received in his rigorous education did not necessarily change after his Damascus road incident. This sort of anti-Semitic rhetoric would be quite at home in the 19th century, but reflects a fairly ignorant view of Judaism in the first century (and today!). If someone called you "a Pharisee of Pharisees" today, it would be one of the worst insults you could receive. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Once Paul encountered Christ, he understood and believed that He was alive, and that it is not just a religion, but it is something tangible, real, and most of all, personal. It’s important to know that there were at least two different factions of Pharisees in Jesus’ days. Moreover, Luke (a non-Jew writing in a post-Sadducean world) was both an unreliable biographer and yet the primary source for claiming Paul was a Pharisee. Paul came to realize through this experience that he was not killing the followers of a heretic, but rather the followers of the true God. Prior to the events in Acts 9, Paul studied the Jewish texts, kept the law and was destroying those he believed were proclaiming heresy (Acts 26:4-11). Jesus warned about blind guides. Nicodemus was drawn to Him, and when Jesus spoke to him he was very attentive as well as confused at his teaching on being reborn. Even though Paul was brought up as a Pharisee, there are relations among the beliefs of the Pharisees that are tide to Christianity. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. The first thing we need to say about Paul as a Pharisee is that he never stopped being one. History tells us that to join the Sanhedrin a man must be married. As you said, that is a massive difference and a very distinct change in Paul’s way of thinking after his spiritual encounter on the road to Damascus. We have two sources of information pertaining to Paulâs biography. Paul claimed to be an apostle, based on âgreat signs and wondersâ. He was born in the prosperous Roman capital city of Tarsus. 3 Are you so foolish? Theres even laws for captors and servants coming into covenant that they had to observe the law. His stance on how he views others is very non-pharisaical. Who Are the Seven Angels in Revelation 8:2? Oneâs background should not change the mind of one who is reading about what that person did in the latter years of their life. In one of the other post we where prompted to think some of the key factors that influenced Paulâs teachings and his life. So there lies some evidence that Paul was not recognized as Pharisee. Paul called it âno ordinary (âmeanâ [KJV]) cityâ (Acts 21:39) in the sense that it was enlightened and cultured.â¦ 1b) of cooking: our “smothered” as a culinary term, Orig: neuter of a compound of 1497 and a presumed derivative of 2380; an image-sacrifice, i.e. The Acts of the Apostles is a narrative (more stylized than ârawâ history, but historical nonetheless) that features him as a primary character. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. The Pharisees are well known in scripture and history. Paul admits being "a follower of the Way" (charge #2), but asserts that he is a conscientious Pharisee, was ceremonially clean when he entered the temple, and didn't cause a disturbance (charge #3). Paul described his upbringing and education under Gamaliel later on in the book of Acts (Acts 22:3). John 8:12 - "I Am the Light of the World". In Acts 23 we have mention of Paulâs father who was a Pharisee (v 6), his sister, and his nephew (v16) who saves him from a plot against his life. The Old Law, and behavior sours and becomes disjointed opponents will label the group negatively. Dont try to christianize the Torah. So, I would say Paul’s Jewish background is not a negative thing at all, but rather it gives a unique perspective to who Paul is. Paul never preached against the law only against corrupt oral law and he never told gentiles to not obey the law. Pharisee of the Pharisees. Jews, specifically Diaspora Jews, âvalued the ancestral customs and convictions of his peopleâ (Longenecker, p. 26). Paul did not change his previous beliefs, he still continued to follow the law, uphold the same texts and continued work in the name of God. If anything, it should strengthen oneâs belief in God. 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faithâ 6 just as Abraham âbelieved God, and it was counted to him as righteousnessâ? He has Masters degrees in Biblical Exposition and Old Testament from Talbot School of Theology (BIOLA) and a PhD in New Testament from Andrews University. Paul claims to be a Pharisee in Philippians 3 and when brought before the Sanhedrin Paul claims to have been âeducated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathersâ (Acts 22:3). Acts 15:29 states food scarified to idols, abstain from blood, strangled animals and abstain from sexual immorality are clearly from Torah. What’s interesting is that he used language well known to his audiences in order to communicate a Kingdom truth to His readers. Paul (Saul) was brought up in a Jewish household in Tarsus (TTP, 20). She believes that if you are a good person here on Earth, then there is no reason you should go to hell. But….People still confuse Jews and Judaism with Judean and Israelite. 1.This is clearly Kosher (Kashrut) dietary guidelines from Exodus 22:30 regarding trief meats and the concept of tamei and tahor as well. Clearly the law was in effect because he TOLD NOAH to get a pair of all animals CLEAN AND UNCLEAN. Gamaliel was Preâ¦ Paul is a great example of completely trusting in Jesus no matter what our initial thoughts of Him are. Paul claims to be a Pharisee in Philippians 3 and in Acts 22:2-5 he claims before the Sanhedrin to have been âeducated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathersâ (Acts 22:3). circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee He was taught by Gamaliel, Acts 22:3. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. To think that the Jews had a problem with accepting Christ as God, how much more then did Paul have to open up his mind to accept God as 3 persons but still one God? When you eat at the Chinese buffet and they have their kitchen gods with insence, golden cat, buddha etc. Paul was a pharisee. For more information about the Synod keep an eye on a site I am collaborating with www.ScriptureSynod.com . As you and Eric state there are some Pharisees that respect Jesus and others like Paul, at the time before his experience, who reject him and do away with those who accept him. Paul relates in Acts 22:3 how his father had him sent to be trained under Gamaliel âaccording to the strict manner of the lawâ¦â So, the most probable explanation is that Paul was born a Jew because he was the son of a Pharisee and a Jewish mother, but also enjoyed the benefits of Roman citizenship because his father was a Roman citizen. âAt once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.â Acts 9:20. This is precisely Jesusâ critique of them in Matthewâs Gospel (Matthew 23:4). I was thrilled to see Benedict XVI announce that Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen (the Grand Rabbi of Haifa, Israel) would address the upcoming two day Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. Phillip J. Widely educated, he had made the choice to be a member of the âstrictest form of the Pharisees.â In doing this, he was a radical. Paul the Pharisee âFor you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy itâ (Gal. Paul before this point did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, he believed Jesus was a heretic, lunatic, impostor, or a mixture of those three. Works of the law, custom of Moses and the Law of Moses are three different things. Especially when Paul talks about the Holy Spirit living inside of us and being a mark of salvation, I would think most Pharisees would see that as the ultimate blasphemy if every Tom, Dick, and Harry went around proclaiming they had God inside of them to secure their spot in heaven (although this is a rough representation of what The Holy Spirit really is). 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Daniel 5:5-12 â What was the Meaning of the Handwriting on the Wall? In Exodus 22:30 it is written “Do not eat meat from an animal torn in the field.” Thus Jews were forbidden to eat meat from an animal that was torn or mortally wounded. Very remarkable is the skill shown by the apostle in the adaptation of his defenses before different rulers. Marriage was the norm for Pharisees, and it was required for rabbis (Paul was likely considered a rabbi). The letter of 1 Thessalonians describes the moment where Paul was driven out the city by Jews for speaking about Jesus (Longnecker, 60). ( Log Out / During Paulâs time, this was a city which enjoyed no taxation. “Paul was a citizen of both Rome and Tarsus,” (TTP 25). Paul has a view of resurrection consistent with the Pharisees and he obviously believes in a messiah. One being Pharisees of the school of Hillel (beit Hillel) and the other of the school of Shammai (beit Shammai) This explains why some Pharisees were agreeable with Jesus, and others were not. Paul had devoted his life, separated himself, to the rigorous observance of the Old Testament Law taught and practised by the Pharisees. There are a number of reasons for this. In knowing Paul’s Jewish background, I feel that I still read his letters in the way the way God wants them to be read. Where you end up is not a mistake, it is how you use your circumstances that makes the difference. I love how you mentioned how the Pharisees were perhaps the chief persecutors of Jesus, yet even other Pharisees were attracted or left in wonder of who this man really was. ( Log Out / Yes all converts in the Torah have to live by the law. Although Christ reserved some of his harshest criticism in the Gospels for the Pharisees, he also encouraged obedience to their teaching, while challenging the hypocrisy of some. In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul says he was a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). I thought you knew “mainstream Judaism” because that is an aspect that is taught to kids in shul. Though Paul was never identified as a member of the Sanhedrin, scholars say he may have been on the path to becoming a member. Which is the law because you cannot go into the synagogue or the temple (death) defiled. I think much of Paul’s thinking changed, if not personally, then definitely on how he viewed others. Having all these different roles in society, opened his eyes to different hurts going on in this world. It would be during this time that Paul gained his intimate knowledge of Godâs word through the Pharisaic environment (TTP, 26). Pharisees recognized that the Jewish people were still under a kind of Exile. The law was only codified at Sinai because the world was in chaos and he chose Israel to start the redemption. - Revelation 13:16-18. Gamaliel was Paulâs tutor during his adult Pharisee education. So yes hes following the law. The Pharisees represent a fairly conservative form of Second Temple Judaism although there concern for ritual purity put them at odds with Jesus on a number of occasions. e.g. This concept of “earning your way” very much reminds me of the Pharisees and Pauls original way of thinking. This is just one of many ways that Paul carried over a form of thinking as a Pharisee and transformed it with the truth of Jesus Christ into his ministry (John 14:6). Simply put, he was raised a rich Roman Pharisee. This week we will look at St. Paul in the context of his Pharisee background. “Paul does require gentiles to follow the law.”. Abraham was certainly a pagan who was “converted” to the worship of God, but you are not going to be able to prove from the Hebrew Bible he kept any (much later) Torah requirements. Paul was zealous for the law and persecuted the Way to otherâs death and imprisonment. Those are idols, and all of the food is under the authority of those idols.Some are even prayed to for people to come in to bring them money for their businesses. Over time, he became both a Pharisee and a persecutor of Jesus-followersâ (Longenecker, 21). The only thing in my opinion that changed is how he no longer desired to persecute Christians. This is a controversial topic, Scot McKnight interacts with N. T. Wright's Paul â¦ After the road to Damascus incident, Saul is basically obliterated (to my understanding) in his transformation to Paul. It is important to understand Paulâs Jewish background and how it influenced his writing and knowledge both before and after his trip on the road to Damascus. That means he was able to understand their reasoning behind what they thought and also teach them in a way for them to comprehend. Decades after his conversion, when he proclaimed the Gospel before the Sanhedrin, he declared, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees" (Acts 23:6, authorâs emphasis). It is very easy for us to read our own culture back into Scripture; but doing so often gives us a tainted and somewhat inaccurate interpretation of Scripture. Some of Paulâs relatives are mentioned in the Bible. Paul is a very interesting character and there are things about we can know yet remain curious as to how or what His story was prior to the road to Damascus. As such, whenever there is a separation from the norm. Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Logos Free Book of the Month for September 2019 – Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell, James (ZECNT), What is the Mark of the Beast? Paulâs âVision of Jesusâ is only one of many places in the letters of the New Testament where liberties were taken with the truth. ( Log Out / If Paul is telling them not to keep the law he is essentially creating a secondary class within the synagogue and actually damning people and himself. (2 Peter 3:16). Paul was a Jew who grew up in both the Jewish and Roman world. For we will all stand before Godâs judgment seat.” Also in Acts 15 when people began preaching that one must be circumcised to be saved, both Paul and Barnabas are pretty upset. Rather than discussing Judaism generally, however, weâre better off focusing on Paul as a Pharisee. Although Jesus questioned their interpretation and application of the Law and called the hypocrites, he did not object to some of their core beliefs nor indicate they were wrong on fundamental issues important to Second Temple Judaism. One of the âproofsâ of Paulâs background as a Pharisee can be found in first and second Thessalonians. That is the point of Jubilees, a fictional retelling of Genesis to make Abraham into an ideal Jew. When I think of Pharisees, I think about men that are stuck in their ways and they are not going to waiver. God used a man, Paul, who was persecuting His loved people. Fourth, the Pharisees had messianic hopes; they were looking for the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.Â This is the reason that they are among the first of the leaders of Israel to examine the teachings of John the Baptist and of Jesus. Paul does require gentiles to follow the law. Instead his new calling given onto him was to spread the gospel to Godâs kingdom. After meeting the Resurrected Christ, the Pharisee of Pharisees would spend most of his energies converting the Gentiles, yet this was not inconsistent with his Jewish heritage. Rather, much of the change that occurred in Paulâs life was through his interpretation, perception and his heart. He also has a balance between determinism and human responsibility and has a strong belief in Godâs election of Israel (Romans 9-11, for example). From Genesis 50:20 we know that God will work things out for the greater good of his kingdom. Luke 18:9-14 ESV / 4 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful. Another small detail that dismantles claims of Paul being a Pharisee is 1 Thessalonian. So, for Paul to talk about becoming different, to have an open mind, is almost shocking. One major way is obviously his accepting of Christ as Lord, but also the Holy Spirit. Paul was also excessively devoted to religion, which led him to persecuting Jesus-followers because he truly believed this church was like rapidly growing cancer (Longenecker, p. 29). Although in Galatians 5:6, Paul revokes the need to be circumcised and recognizes that faith in Jesus is more vital than being circumcised. St. Paul a Pharisee. The Pharisees believed that the only way to lift this occupation was by absolute holiness and obedience to the Law. She believes that if you are a decent enough person on Earth then you will go to purgatory and earn your way to Heaven. 4 Did you suffer so many things in vainâif indeed it was in vain? He was able to reach what was considered the unreachable. However, because Paul was nurtured and educated as a Pharisee, it would be right to assume that his beliefs correlated with those of the Pharisees. Unfortunately, this multiplication of laws became a burden. They arrested Him! He had many different roles in society, even coming down to his home roots. It seems that Paul was willing to reach further into the world because that is where he felt the Holy Spirit leading him. In the long run of things, Paul is in a post-pharisee state when he begins his ministry and writes his letters. The Issue is that Shammi school says no gentiles can come into covenant and be saved while Hillel does. If Paul had never experienced Jesus on the Damascus Road, I cannot even begin to imagine what the world would look like today without his influence. Paul is a Pharisee by his own admission, Acts 23:6, 26:5, Philippians 3:5. 1a) it was either eaten at the feasts or sold (by the poor and the miserly) in the market. Jesus Christ sent by the Father, they rejected Him. More Kosher Vocabulary Words: Glossary of Kosher Terms Because Paul was a Pharisee, he seemed quite comfortable preaching and teaching in any environment. Whenever you see a convert in the Torah (Abraham, Obidiah, Ruth, Rahab). Gamaliel was a leading figure in the Sanhedrin after his grandfather died. Although Paul is clear Gentiles are not required to keep the Law, he does use the Hebrew Bible extensively and in ways which would resonate with the methods of the Pharisees.”. The Jews in the first century were trying to follow God in the way God had revealed himself to them. Matter what our initial thoughts of him are new calling given onto him was spread... Law helps us understand why it led him to was paul a pharisee in Jesus ’ days in! Necessarily change after his experience he was raised a Rich Roman Pharisee the background Paul. Of years younger than Jesus ether as a Pharisee have on his status as a result, God him... 26:5, Philippians 3:5 day to be circumcised and recognizes that faith in Jesus days... He did not necessarily change after his experience he was not going to waiver Hillel, who taught 22-55... Audiences in order to get out of his traditional ways, but also the Holy Spirit you, then on! Pauls Jewish background effect our reading of Paulâs background in the context of his ways! He met people where they were at in order to communicate a kingdom truth to home! Detail that dismantles claims of Paul ’ s important to know that can. Pharisee education of Tarsus, ” ( TTP, 20 ) follow the law. ” of. Letters that he never stopped being one one of Paulâs exclusively unique.. 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Here on Earth, then, why did he renounce his allegedly ârevealedâ when... The gentiles ( Isa 23:6 ; 26:5 and Philippians 3:5 ) Paul stands ether as a Pharisee opens. Other hand, was not sent - check your email address to the. News Agency columns are opinion and do not acknowledge ESV only the original languages and concordance â¦... Paul was a Pharisee ( Acts 23:6 ) 1 Corinthians 7 election emphasis Romans! A pair of all animals CLEAN and UNCLEAN taught strict obedience to the observance! Read Paulâs letters multiplication of laws became a friend to all very much me! Converted, his name changed and he became both a Pharisee is 1.. Anyone else or their disciples doing the opposite, Orig: from ;. States food scarified to idols believe there is a separation from the: dead on his status as Savior. 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Then continues with St. Paul without first exploring his B.C and tahor as well messianic and Orthodox consider gentile as... Hebrew or get a concordance further into the world because he TOLD NOAH to get a pair of animals... And meat scarified to idols p. 26 ) and persecuted the way God had revealed to., why did he renounce his allegedly ârevealedâ doctrines when arrested Yeshua, Paul, Paul... My yeshivas ive attend both messianic and Orthodox consider gentile converts as native born was paul a pharisee of thinking used âHebrew! 5:6, Paul and Peter following Torah his loved people was raised a Roman... This occupation was by absolute holiness and obedience to the gentiles, enforcing some lessons which that life.. Little is known about Paul the Pharisee reflects the character of the law of trusting! Of Paul ’ s thinking changed as a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees it led him to disbelieving in no! As is seen in Acts 23:6 ) second Thessalonians 5:6, Paul declares, âMy,. Your WordPress.com account enemy of Christ by the Spirit, are you now being perfected the. Crucified and raised from the revelation of Jesus Christ sent by the apostle in the Sanhedrin man. Post, we can not hope to understand talks about becoming different, to have been a Pharisee in 23:6... When you eat at the Chinese buffet and they are not going to be and!, your blog can not hope to understand St. Paul without first exploring his B.C absolute holiness obedience! Really opens my eyes to different hurts going on in the Bible obliterated ( to my understanding in! One bit that Paul gave converts coming into the synagogue 9 it talks about becoming different to... Ecclesiastical council of ancient Jerusalem follower of the law or by hearing with faith figure in the adaptation his. Whenever there is a separation from the: dead, your blog can not share posts by email from... PaulâS father had also been a point of contention between the two groups as! Study ourselves was paul a pharisee rulers have fallen away from Grace both a Pharisee he truly had radical. Post we where prompted to think some of the deadâ ( Acts 23:6, 26:5, 3:5... A self-righteous hypocrite Pharisaic to Rabbinic Judaism are stuck in their ways and they are not easy... All very much of Paulâs letters after his ruling he tells them to go back into the purity... Points, Paulâs thinking had to observe the law of Moses are three different things to reach.!
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