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If you Google Apostle Paul you will find website after website chronicling his, "Conversion" Wikipedia offers great detail about the occurrence and the circumstance surrounding Paul's conversion to becoming a follower of Jesus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_of_Paul_the_Apostle
According to the information presented, Paul converted to that of a New Testament believer and then wrote the Christian Bible.
Let's suppose this statement is true for a moment an ask a few rhetorical questions.
- What was he converting to? (Our mindset today is from Jewish to Christian)
- What was he converting from? (He had to become better than Jewish, they were all lost?)
- What did he believe prior to his encounter on the road to Damascus? (He had no salvation yet, God chose him to do a gigantic work long before his experience heading down to Damascus)
- Why did he believe what he believed? (He could have been a drunk on a bar stool yet, he studied the Holy Scrolls)
- How was what God told to Moses different from what Paul heard? (God's word never changed)
- What part of his Jewish identity, heritage, was now, "Replaced, done away with, obsolete, fulfilled?"
Some of us are so use to moving through our homes that even in the pitch, black, darkness we are familiar enough to maneuver through our home. We do the same thing with the Bible. We are so familiar with what we have been taught that we read the Bible with a familiar concept supplanted into our minds. Consider Paul's reason for going to Damascus, what had he misconstrued, misinterpreted? How was he missing the mark?
I was listening to Christian music station yesterday. One of two host made the following statement:
"When the Disciples became Christians their lives became more difficult. Not only did they have to pick up their cross but they had to do so where much of what was believed, rejected Christ."
This statement is so very far from the truth. Many were waiting, believing that what Moses foretold concerning a prophet being raised up among the Jewish people had happened, was happening.
Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.
They believed this because the Jewish people had experienced most of the miracles concerning God's revelation of who, why and what he is doing in the world. These people were not strangers to the hand of God but rather a direct result of the hand of God. Most of the practicing Jews knew the Scriptures. They were all waiting for the Kingdom of God to be established in all the earth...not a "Born Again" theological debate
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
[Aramaic] Every writing which is written by The Spirit is profitable for teaching, for correction, for direction and for a course in righteousness, That the man of God will be perfect and perfected for every good work.
The Scriptures were what every practicing Jew would have been reading since the time of the Exodus, not the time of Oral Roberts.
Paul is making a statement concerning the writings of the Old Testament other wise known as the Holy Scriptures to every Jew that was breathing during the time Paul was writing his commentary. He is writing his commentary because he is one of the most notable religious Rabbi's of his day. Most Christian have never read the writings of Hillel or Shammai Paul was part of this discussion and debate as a direct result of his belief in Yahweh.
Who was Gamaliel
Read what his Jewish relatives write about him http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6494-gamaliel-i
Acts 5:34 And one of The Pharisees there stood up whose name was Gamaliel. He taught The Law, and he was honored by all the people, and he commanded to take the Apostles out for a short time.
We define a Christian as one who follows Christ, as a result of accepting him and becoming born again. We are baptized into the faith renouncing our sin. When Jesus was baptized none of this applied. Jesus was following the instructions of God...perfectly. I would suggest to you that Paul was following the instructions of God, imperfectly!
Here is how Paul defines who he is
Acts 22:3 "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict tradition of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as you all are this day.
"You all are this day" implies that many of those Paul is addressing believed God and believed the Holy Scriptures. So, for a Christian to emphasize Paul's conversion the mental image is one who converted from believing in God to one who now believes the son of God. The number one Rabbi in all of the land now believed in God.....This statement is ludicrous and moronic, yet and according to Google Paul converted from believing in God to believing in God.
Hillel, Shammai, & Gamaliel taught the Law.....
God spoke of Abraham, according to Moses the following:
"Because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my requirements, my commandments, my statutes, and my Laws." Genesis 26:5
Even Moses himself understood the Law before he went up to Mt Sinai
Exodus 18:16 When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws."
The Law was never Jewish however just like today, God's ways were misconstrued, misunderstood and taught contrary to the way God purposed them with Adam, Noah etc, etc. In today's Christian theology we have 36,000 differing concepts of God and his ways, his instructions. The Full Sanhedrin also was a council of differing interpretations of ONE GOD.....History repeats!
Our mindset today is that the practicing Christian and the practicing Jew are not believers in the one God of Israel. The Christine goes to church while the Jews go to synagogue. The Christians have the correct understanding because of the Gospel account of the virgin birth while the Jews have the Torah and deny the virgin birth. Imagine YESHUA standing before these two groups of followers of Abba, Father today....Would he feel like he did when he was standing before Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas?
Paul was able to bridge the difference and incorporate what was always planned into what he had studied most of his life. Keeping in mind that King David never accepted Jesus Christ renouncing his Jewish heritage, while repeating the sinners prayer. He never, not one time even suggested such a thing! This was demanded of Jews for nearly 12 centuries.
He, Paul was able to do this because on the road to Damascus The Lord, in accordance with the will of Yahweh accosted, correcting his misunderstanding by returning Paul back to God's ways, God's Law.
Yeshua answered and said: “My teaching is not Mine, but from him who sent Me.”
This is the same God that Paul studied most of his life under Gamiliel. Even Gamiliel had a problem with how Paul was interpreting what he had been taught. Paul being so zealous was incorporating his own concepts which contributed to the encounter on the road to Damascus
Acts 5:38-39 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this\
work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”
Paul is obviously disregarding this advice! He is on his way to kill a few more Jews who I would suggest, had returned to what Moses taught about a coming Messiah.
So, I have said for nearly seven years suppose I am Paul, a black man walking down to Damascus, The LORD arrests me and drops me to my knees. He imparts correction into my understanding suddenly, "SHAZAM" I stand up a white man teaching, "The Laws of God are fulfilled! We are now covered by grace!"
Did any of you just hear Abraham scream, "What, I kept God's Laws, that's why I had GRACE!"
What the radio host assumed is that these Jews became better when they knew Christ. Well, if Jesus was in the beginning before he was made flesh.....a host of Jews before this moment in time were following him as well! One of the reasons the Jews were struggling over the issue of Jesus is because they had so many interpretations of the plan of salvation. I am not sure however if they had attained over 36,000 of them in the fourth Millennium.
I would suggest too, that we stop maneuvering through what we have been taught and go back to what is unfamiliar. Rabbi Shaul was challenged with what he was familiar with. He quotes the Laws of God or instructions as he would have known them by more than any writer, of any text, in any book, found in what we call, The WORD of God. And the WORD has always been revealed through.....the Jews as a direct result of the plan of God, and the prompting of HIS Spirit!
And now, Israel is, "BORN AGAIN" Just like the Jewish writers told us would occur!
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Acts 1:11 And they were saying to them, “Galilean men, why are you standing and gazing into the sky? This Yeshua, who was taken up from you into Heaven shall come in this way, as when you saw him going up into Heaven.”
Notice how he won't be returning to the Crystal Cathedral or TBN?
I had a Jewish person say to me: "Jeff, you know that I love the LORD but, so too, did my parents, my grandparents, and great grandparents. In fact, I could go back for centuries because we Jews keep our history alive. Jeff, what you along with most of Christianity do not have the mental understanding of is that my family has always believed but we have never been Christians. We are Jewish and it is our writings that taught to you about the Lion of the tribe of Judah.....One day most Christians will appreciate more why you are grafted into this nation! God's plan has always been to establish a place for the nations to return to His ways!" My mindset continues to return to the beginning as opposed to the resurrection alone!
I am forever grateful of the Gospel Message and our Savior. I just have realized the proper context of what has always been planned! I can maneuver through the scriptures now with a great big, gigantic, light now turned on!
To not know the Jewishness of Rabbi Shaul purposely is to say that who he was, what he studied and how he believed is made better because he tossed all of that under the bus and became a Christian, just like the Disciples did.....this is ANTISEMITIC!