Thought it would be fun to post a pop quiz… I have a couple more topics in the wings.
I’m going to put up 10 questions and then the answers at the very end. DO NOT scroll to the bottom unless you want the answers. Try to answer first, then scroll. Leave a comment on how you did and what surprised you…
1. When did the Apostle Paul stop being a Pharisee?
2. When was Saul’s name changed to Paul?
3. What was the new religion Paul was teaching? (I.e. how did he refer to himself?)
4. Did Paul offer sacrifices in the temple after his Damascus road vision?
5. After his Damascus road vision, did Paul continue to keep the Law?
6. What day of the week did Paul consistently teach and preach on?
7. Did Paul think the Law was an authoritative guide to Christian living?
8. Did Paul keep and recommend keeping the Feasts?
9. Did Paul teach that believing Gentiles replace Israel?
10. Is Paul hard to understand?
(Short answer is in bold. The rest is a longer explanation where necessary.)
1. Paul never stopped being a Pharisee. While there were many branches (denominations?) of Pharisees, the general term refers to learned men who took a very literal (Sola Scriptura?) approach to the ancient Scriptures. Paul was of the House of Gamaliel and by his own testimony, never stopped being a Pharisees. Acts 23:6ff, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees…” Jesus/Yeshua dressed down many Pharisees for adding to the law, but He never said that being a Pharisees was a sin. In fact, at points, He praised their righteousness.
A favorite blog has a current series exploring Paul from a Biblical and Hebrew context. She reveals much that is contrary to ‘tradition.’ See the third part in the series as it speaks directly to Rav Shaul/Apostle Paul’s status as a Pharisees.
2. Trick question that assumes his name was changed. In fact, Saul/Paul had dual citizenship and used his Hebrew name when in Jerusalem or on court business. Later, as his ministry was more to Gentiles or into Gentile regions, he relied much more on the Roman name he had had since birth. We see the transition in Luke’s writings at Acts 13:9. So, in short, Saul’s name was never changed to Paul.
3. Again, trick question, Paul, by his own testimony was NOT converted to anything. He called himself a follower of ‘the Way‘ which other Jews called a ‘sect.’ In short, both Paul and the Jews believed he was still a Jew… He just believed Yeshua was the promised Messiah.
4. Yes. By his own testimony, “…after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings…” Here he is recounting for Governor Felix the events of Acts 21:20-26 wherein James advised him to pay for four men to join him (Paul) in Nazarite vows of purification in the Temple to prove that he (Paul) “… walked orderly, keeping the Law.” Further, Hebrews 8:4, written decades after Messiah’s death and resurrection, states that sacrifices in the Temple were being offered Lawfully. And, Ezekiel 44 details some types of future blood sacrifices in the new Temple… I hardly believe the last five chapters of Ezekiel are all figurative. Certainly, this challenges the traditional Christian doctrines I was raised with.
6. The Sabbath. There are dozens of verses in Acts that point to this fact. In fact, there is not a single verse in the entire Bible pointing to preaching on any day BUT the Sabbath. You may ask about Acts 20:7, so let’s take a look at that verse.
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
First, the phrase ‘first day of the week’ is the following in the Greek manuscript: μια των σαββατων or, transliterated, ‘mia ton sabbaton.’ That might answer your question right there without going any farther. The literal translation is ‘one of the sabbaths.’ I kid you not, there is NO equivalent of this phrase anywhere in Greek literature that means ‘first day of the week.’
In fact, the phrase only appears nine time in all of Greek literature. Seven appear in the Gospels, once here and in 1 Corinthians 16:2. All references are in relation to the Feast of First fruits and the counting of the omer. Every one. All point to ‘one of the Sabbaths.’ See Acts 20:6 and 16 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 & 8 to demonstrate that every occurrence in Scripture is related to counting the seven Sabbaths after Passover. NO reference in Scripture EVER points to Sunday. A detailed study is available here.
So, back to the verse I quoted, our Western Greek mind tries to make this event happen on Sunday night when in fact, it occurred Saturday evening after the weekly Sabbath worship and a shared meal when Rav Shaul gets cranked up teaching some more and talks late into the night.
A further study into Constantine reveals that he, in 325 a.d., outlawed Sabbath worship as well as feasts and anything else Jewish among Christians on pain of death. This, then, begs the question. What were Christians, as late as 325 a.d. doing worshiping on the Sabbath and celebrating the feasts if the Law had been done away with?? One source.
7. Yes! Avram Yehoshua, in The Lifting of the Veil, pg 6, quotes Christian scholar David Williams saying ‘for Paul, the Law remained the authoritative guide to Christian living.’ Quote taken from New International Biblical Commentary: Acts, p. 261. Yehoshua further cites the following passages: Romans 3:31; 7:7, 12, 14; 1st Corinthians 7:19. I would add 1 Corinthians 11:1 in light of 1 John 2:3-6.
9. Absolutely NOT!! In fact, he taught that believing Gentiles are grafted INTO and become a part of the commonwealth of Israel. As such, that means the Father’s expectations of both Jew and grafted-in Gentile are the same….
10. Actually, the Apostle Peter indeed says,
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
Peter specifically warns against Paul being twisted into the error of Lawlessness!!! Ever heard Law versus Grace? Yep… Paul gets twisted by ignorant and unprincipled men in order to produce a lawless grace only gospel.
If any of these questions have challenged your perspective of Paul and you want to learn more about what the Scriptures really say, I recommend the Pauline Paradox Series by 119 Ministries.
I pray this pop quiz has blessed you. Be sure to test everything against Scripture!