Apostle Paul's Accusers
No amount of low motive repetition of lies by people against the great Apostle Paul, can change the fact of Paul's Special Conversion, and Selection by our Lord, as "a chosen Vessel”, Acts 9:15.
The accusation that Paul was not a student of Gamaliel is shallow and even in logic, laughable, as King Agrippa was well aware of the special student Paul had been with Gamaliel; who as a Sanhedrin Member, and with the title "Rabban" (our master), put Paul, then Saul, in high standing and reputation with all in his society! Also, as a Roman Citizen, Saul was in the eye of the Ruling Elite of Rome, as a possible high ranking Sanhedrin Member, who could have been useful to their Rule. It has been stated by some, that Saul could even have been considered as a possible High Priest, however, that would have enraged the Jewish Elite, as he was not of Aaron's line. However, had the Roman Rule and corruption reached further into the Jewish heartland, such may have been possible, had he not converted dramatically to Christ, as a Special Messenger, and Interpreter to the Jewish Nation.
It has been reported that the Jewish Encyclopaedia kept in Jerusalem, (but not its copies), records the name of Saul in the above context. This is yet to be confirmed by impartial witness!
In Acts 26, Paul is given the privilege of defending himself before Agrippa and Festus, not just as a Roman Citizen, but because of his reputation as a Pharisee, and his earlier persecution of the Christians.
The Nobility had been following his career with interest, as he had stepped down from the “Elite”, with its many privileges and open doors, to the gutter grouping of the despised Christians!
Leaving aside the reason that he was a Roman Citizen, which many try to make play on, the fact is that Paul had committed social and career suicide, at the moment when he was the fastest rising star, both for the future leadership of Israel in the Sanhedrin (see above), and at the table of the Roman rulers!
These facts alone have/do greatly disturb the Jews. They have a concerted campaign of vilification against Paul, and have well formulated stories, and counter-arguments against what he did when converted! These are well tabulated in written form, both in books and internet, and their training routines and syllabus, also reflecting the methodology, when they must deal with “the problem of Paul”. The writer was on a long journey sitting next to a ranking Rabbi, and during our Biblical conversations the Apostle Paul was raised. His reaction was immediate, decrying Paul as a “turncoat”. When the Zech. 12:10 reference was broached by the writer, he froze, and refused to continue the conversation with the comment that “understanding is needed to discuss that reference”!
Paul is a major problem for the Jews because he followed John the Baptist, and Christ, in condemning them for their major departure from the Truth in the true Torah and the Prophets, that they had been given up to Ezra! (See: Changes Made To The Old Testament ).
They then wrote their own versions of how to interpret Scripture, which our Lord railed against. Paul, with his great learning was able to easily understand this, and was the MOST suited to explain to the Jews their great error, after the Lord struck him blind, and revealed Himself to him, to call him into His service as “a chosen vessel”! John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostle Paul berated the Jewish Hierarchy of the day for adhering to the Pharisaic writings, instead of the Originals given to Moses, known as "Biblical Judaism". It is recorded and well known by the Jews, that the Pharisees in particular were "very flexible" in their interpretations of Torah, and this is confirmed by the Qumran Scrolls. Of the main 'schools', or Groups of the day, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essens; the Pharisees became dominant, and at the time of the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, only the "Judaism of the Pharisees", known as "Rabbinic Judaism" prevailed! This grew, and by AD 300, all the Pharisaic Interpretations had been tabulated in the "Mishnah". This is the basis of "Modern (Orthodox) Judaism".
This is why the Truths of the Messiah of Almighty God, as depicted and prophesied in the "Biblical Judaism" of the Old Testament (OT), are not accepted by the Jews who adhere to the current "Rabbinical Judaism" which is derived from the Pharisees.
When Paul started his ministry, it was to the Jew first, that did not change until Acts 28:28, when the last Jewish Synagogue at Rome had rejected Christ! He encountered opposition from the Christians, until they understood and fell into line, accepting Paul’s authority, and his special selection by the Risen Jesus. The Jewish opposition since, try to use that transition period to justify their claims and arguments, but to no avail, as they are hopelessly divided amongst themselves, in a similar way that the erroneous “Christian” Sects are today!
Returning to Paul’s veracity, (Apostle Paul:) as mentioned Paul was in Acts 26, allowed to give account of himself to Agrippa and Festus, a permission not common.
In v3 Paul highlights the FACT that Agrippa is an “expert” in all things Jewish, and that he therefore was certainly up to date on all the events affecting Paul!
For him not to be would have affected his standing amongst his peers, and the Jewish hierarchy would not have wanted to “manipulate” a dolt!
In v5, Paul states that “I lived a Pharisee”. Had he been lying, he would not have been allowed to continue! This confirms the point!
V6 shows the reason he has been/is victimised by the Jews. “The hope of the promise made of God to our fathers”! That promise was/is the Messiah of Israel!
In v7, he underlines his identification with his people the Jews, “our twelve Tribes”! He goes on to show that the Jews are persecuting him, for his TRUTHFUL explanation re. Jesus Christ the Messiah!
He goes on to give the events leading up to the Damascus road encounter with Christ; and in v16 explaining that the Risen Jesus showed him that things would be given to him, and instructions given at different times during his work!
V18 clearly gives his mission; to open the eyes, to turn people from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God Himself, by FAITH in HIM who was speaking, CHRIST!
The reason Paul gave up his very bright earthly career, in v19, “I was not disobedient unto the Heavenly vision”!
V21 again underlines the extreme anger of the Jews, and the fact that they had the power to kill him.
V22 confirms the message and work as the same as Moses and the prophets, which confirms the Jewish corruption and writings!
V23 confirms the Jew first, and then the Gentiles.
In v24, Festus confirms Paul’s great learning, and by implication and association, the truth of his learning at the feet of Gamaliel. The Pharisees believed and taught resurrection, and Gamaliel was the Head of that School. As is well known, the Sadducees did not, and taught such. Had it not been so, they and the Jews of the time would have had an easy task in debunking Paul, BUT THEY COULD NOT, as he spoke the truth, as they all knew!
In v25, Paul states his sanity, and it is implicit that he is highly regarded by the ruling elite.
V26 confirms King Agrippa’s knowledge of all the events Paul is listing, and of Paul’s claim of special messenger and interpreter for the Risen Christ!
V27 shows the deep knowledge of Agrippa of the Bible Old Testament, and the prophecies of Messiah Christ therein!
V28 is the moving statement by the King to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian”, showed that Agrippa was aware of the events of Antioch, (Acts 11:26), when the term “Christian” was first used. It also underlines the respect Paul was held in by him, and the ruling elite, and the truth of all he said!
V29 showed the large number of people listening, who, if he was lying, would have stated such!
In v32, Agrippa would have freed Paul, as he BELIEVED him (and regarded him), which speaks irrefutably of the veracity and truthfulness of the great Apostle Paul, which leaves the Jews with a major problem, of having to “misconstrue” to try to invalidate Paul, who constantly worldwide, witnesses to their corruption, and falsity!
They will not yet admit it, but they have a greater problem than Paul.
In a yet future event; in Zech. 12:10, “and they shall look upon Me Whom they pierced”, the Speaker is Christ the Risen Lord, He has liberated Jerusalem and the Jewish people, and they have just recognised Him!...........
In conclusion, Paul was a "chosen vessel," (Acts 9:15), to give Israel guidance and understanding, the understanding they needed of the "New Covenant" (Jer. 31:31- 37) had they accepted Christ as Messiah, to guide them into the "Kingdom Age". Had they accepted Paul's message and Christ as Messiah, John the Baptist would have "been as Elijah" (Matt.11:14 and 17:9-13), as Jesus stated. When they rejected, he became 100% "the Apostle to the Gentile" (Romans 11:13). This statement refutes the oft made comment by some Church leaders and teachers, that "Paul's teaching, and Christ's teaching contradict". It is a profound truth, that Paul was the mouthpiece of Christ after His resurrection, and therefore the words of Paul are the words of Christ Himself! To understand that, is to see that Paul's words must be revered and used for understanding of the complex events following Pentecost, and the events that Peter was describing! When it is realised that Paul's words are Christ's Words, a new impetuous and accuracy is added to the interpretation of the Bible, in the sense that instead of Christ's and Paul's teachings appearing to conflict, as so many Churches teach, they are interwoven in the Truth of the Word! The onus is on us to see the real meanings!
For further study see: