The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why Did the Jews Want to Kill Paul?

I was recently confronted with the question of which party of the Jews, Pharisee, Sadducee, or both, was trying to kill the apostle Paul, as recorded in Acts 23, and I replied that it was likely a bit of both, as both parties had a major problem with Jesus' Gospel going to the Gentiles, and their being redeemed along with the Jews.

Although this is no doubt true; I believe there is more to the story; more, especially, than what we can read within the confines of chapter 23. Paul was preaching this inclusive Gospel that Jesus had unleashed, this Gospel that told the Jews that it was not through blood, or birth, but through the promise, or the covenant of God's inestimable grace, that His Seed would be revealed. As Paul was brought up on these charges, trumped-up charges at that, he noticed that the counsel was divided; part were of the Sadducees, who 'say that there is no resurrection-and no angel or spirit' ( verse 8 ), and the other part of the Pharisees, who 'confess both'. Paul used this convenient truth to unsettle his adversaries for a bit. Although he had truthfully acclaimed the true reason that he was being persecuted by both parties, 'concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!', he reminded the more religious, or spiritually zealous, Pharisees, that he was one of them, or had been, anyway. He used his knowledge of the fact of the division in even the ruling class of the Jews to his benefit, in order to continue to spread the Good News of the grace of God in Jesus the Christ!

There are those in the Church today, who, like the Pharisees, believe and teach the hope of the resurrection of the dead, but they too, like the Pharisees, have greatly mistaken, both the nature and the hope of the resurrection. Another reason that these Jews wanted to kill Paul was the same reason that, not too long before ( decades ) they and their fathers had killed Jesus. Jesus was, in their eyes, anyway, changing the Law, or at least, the observance of the Law which they had grown accustomed to, and had not brought an end to the physical domination of Rome, as they had expected Him to. When Paul came along preaching the same message, and revealing that they, and their fathers before them, had gotten the wrong idea from God's Law; like they had with Jesus ( and succeeded ), they tried to kill the messenger. That he welcomed Gentiles to the Court only added fuel to the proverbial fire.

I believe that we can say, with utmost certainty, that Jews from both parties were involved in the plot to kill Paul, and likely more from the over-zealous party of the Pharisees, as they were the ones who would have had a bigger problem with his teachings, being the more religious sect of the Jews. Though Paul may have gained a slight reprieve, you might say, by calling to the forefront this sore point between the two factions, some must have seen through his subtle evasion, and decided, based upon the fact that he was disrupting their entire history as God's special people, that Paul must die!

The point, my friends, is that Paul WAS being persecuted for the hope he presented,as well as the teaching he gave of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees had a hope for, and a belief in the resurrection of the dead, like many Christians do today, but it was the nature of this resurrection, and maybe more importantly, the recipients of this resurrection, that really 'got their goat', so to speak! Paul taught, like Jesus had, that it was Israel herself that would be resurrected from the dead, from the death that Adam had incurred by his covenant-breaking action, or rather, inaction, in the Garden of Eden. The Pharisees, although they believed, as do most Christians today, that their physical bodies would be raised back to life ( anastasis ), they did not believe that they, as the leaders of Israel, needed to be raised from the spiritual stupor in which they had slumbered in relative comfort for years, even, almost, millenia! They were in fact, outright indignant at the very suggestion, and ready to kill anyone who threatened their national identity!

I pray this slight explanation clarifies, rather than blurs, why the Jews, both Phariseee and Sadducee sought to kill Paul, as they had killed his Lord not long before.

Charles Haddon Shank


Prabhu Das said...

Well written my friend, thanks a lot!

its interesting to note that, in Act 23:12 "And when it was day, the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul." in the very next verse, it numbers the Jewish conspirators (both Pharisees & Sadducees), more than forty.

so it's the Jews in general who plot to kill St.Paul, regarding the nature of resurrection (I believe this is what they differ, primarily with Paul view of resurrection).

Charles Shank said...

Yes; I believe that primarily, their wish to kill Paul stemmed from their refusal to accept the nature of the resurrection that he was presenting. I believe as well, as I wrote above, that we must take into account all of the factors which may have led to this death pact, one of which I forgot to mention, that Paul, as a Pharisee, would have been viewed as a traitor, by many of his fellows!

Thanks for the complimentary comment, and again, you are most welcome, my brother!:)

Anthony Curtis Beaver said...

Paul killed Jews in the 1st Apocalypse that is why the Jews wanted to kill him. It is all in the wicked thing that you call a Bible. Maybe, you should read it.

Charles Shank said...

Maybe YOU should read the article, Anthony! :D