Motive for Paul's persecution...

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rgprice
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Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by rgprice » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:00 am

I just realized this, and now a lot of stuff makes sense. Maybe I'm slow and others have realized this, I don't know.

Why was Paul persecuting the church? I've always assumed it was because they were worshiping Jesus. No, its because they were advocating against circumcision.
Gal 1:
13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. 14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.
Gal 1:
21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
Gal 5:
2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Gal 6:
12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
The persecutions wasn't for faith in Christ, the persecution was for opposition to circumcision. It is well known that Jews did persecute those who advocated against circumcision. But in Gal 2 Paul says that James was okay with his gospel. However, were talking about a split here between Gentile and Jewish.

The issue was that other Jewish officials, the Pharisees to which Paul belonged, were not okay with this. Gentiles lived in Judea, there were plenty of them. Apparently James' church wasn't including the Gentiles or was telling them to get circumcised, in order to avoid persecution. There was evidently other churches, not associated with James, who were also advocating against circumcision prior to Paul. It is those churches that Paul was persecuting prior to his conversion.

Paul is calling out James, saying, that he and his group, "try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ."

And Paul has been saying hey, I used to persecute people for not getting circumcised too, but now I'm standing up against circumcision. I don't care if I get persecuted for telling you that you don't need to be circumcised. I'm a better apostle than James and the others because I'm willing to suffer persecution to stand up against circumcision.

The persecution had nothing to with with Jesus.

rgprice
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Re: Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by rgprice » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:16 am

What Paul is saying in Gal 2, is that he went to the Jerusalem church to get approval on the issue of circumcision, and they approved at the time. But then, after telling Paul that it was okay for his converts not to get circumcised, they went back on their word. That's why Paul says:
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
He's now angry at Peter because he had approved the "no circumcision" Gospel, but now he's being a hypocrite. Apparently what had happened is they said they were okay with the no circumcision ministry, but then, facing pressure for the orthodoxy, they went back on their word and were now advocating circumcision again.

perseusomega9
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Re: Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by perseusomega9 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:25 am

I read that as dealing with table fellowship between gentile and jewish christians. The jewish christians may have been completely ok with gentiles not needing to be circumcised, but they still couldn't share table.

rgprice
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Re: Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by rgprice » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:36 am

Regardless, the main issue is that the Jewish authorities, the Pharisees, weren't okay with it. Paul, a Pharisee, was persecuting a religious movement that was advocating against circumcision. It appears that the Jerusalem church was in compliance with the authorities on this matter. But when Paul went to them and sought support for omitting circumcision for Gentiles, they initially said ok, but then later changed their position, presumably due to pressure from the authorities.

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Irish1975
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Re: Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by Irish1975 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:27 pm

It always bugs me when people say "Paul persecuted Christians" or Christ-worshippers. Because Paul never says that. What he says in Galatians, 1 Cor, and Philippians is that he persecuted the church of God out of zeal for Judaism and the fathers and traditions. That's all he tells us (unless I missed something).

So it's important to start from the fact that we have no concrete evidence about the basis for Paul's persecution. Maybe your conjecture about circumcision is a good one, I don't know.

davidmartin
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Re: Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by davidmartin » Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm

In Acts, it does say his persecution was for faith in Christ even if his letters don't say that

"Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme", as per the martyrdom of Stephen
The argument between Paul and Peter was over circumcision (and the other things) but that doesn't mean it was the one over-riding reason for his persecutions, yes for sure those who Paul persecuted may not have required physical circumcision for gentiles, whether they had the same Christology as Paul is another question, quite possibly not given Paul's seeming tendency to go from one extreme to another!

rgprice
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Re: Motive for Paul's persecution...

Post by rgprice » Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:24 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:27 pm
It always bugs me when people say "Paul persecuted Christians" or Christ-worshippers. Because Paul never says that. What he says in Galatians, 1 Cor, and Philippians is that he persecuted the church of God out of zeal for Judaism and the fathers and traditions. That's all he tells us (unless I missed something).

So it's important to start from the fact that we have no concrete evidence about the basis for Paul's persecution. Maybe your conjecture about circumcision is a good one, I don't know.
I agree with with that. But it still seems to be that motivation behind the the persecution was the enforcement of circumcision among a converted Gentiles.

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