Someone recently wrote to The Refiner's Fire lamenting that there isn't much known about the Apostle Paul. Here is what we do know about him:
Paul is, in all honesty, the most misunderstood person in the Bible. Christianity based their entire religion upon their MISUNDERSTOOD writings of Paul, who was a Torah observant Jew attempting to convey complex Hebrew ideas to the Gentiles in their own language. Somehow, his writings were twisted into being anti-Torah; but nothing could be further from the truth because Paul was caught being Torah observant 29 years after Y’shua’s death (Acts 21:23-24)! And, contrary to popular belief, he never suggested that "Jesus" came to bring a new religion that was to veer from YHWH’s Divine Instructions in Righteousness.
Paul’s extensive training under Rabbi Gamliel prepared him to serve the Jewish people as an itinerant rabbi and teacher, and he would also have learned the skills of a mohel to perform brit milah (the covenant of circumcision), because he performed the circumcision for Timothy so Timothy would be recognized and honored as shomer mitzvoth (observe the Commandments).
From the time Paul first began his ministry (circa 37 CE) until he was beheaded in 67 CE, it was his custom to attend synagogues wherever he traveled. Many came to know Y’shua and entered into the Kingdom of Heaven because of his boldness.
Yet many people accuse Paul of not being a Jew. Someone wrote to us once suggesting Paul was not a Jew, but a Benjaminite – and our response was, "So, why, then, did he call himself a Jew?"
Let's do a little study:
Esther 2:5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,
So is Mordechai not a Jew because he is of this tribe? Please think about this real hard. Maybe the fact that only Judah was left after the Assyrians scattered the Northern Tribes MIGHT be relevant....
Do you think Y'shua knew who his own people were and are, and if Rav Shaul (Paul) had an inkling too? Meanwhile:
John 4: 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, BUT YOU JEWS claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." 21 Y'shua declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; WE (THE JEWS) worship what we do know, for SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS.
So does the Samaritan woman not know her traditional enemies when she sees them, or is Y'shua not a Jew either? Or what about Pilate who personally knew Y'shua?
John 18: 35 -"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was YOUR PEOPLE and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
Paul/Rav Sha’ul – who never, ever called himself a Christian! - wrote:
Romans 1: 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of Elohim for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 3: 1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of Elohim. 3 What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify Elohim's faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let Elohim be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."
Romans 3: 29 Is Elohim the Elohim of Jews only? Is he not the Elohim of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one Elohim, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the Torah by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we UPHOLD THE TORAH!
Acts 21: 39 Paul answered, "I AM a Jew (PRESENT TENSE!!!), from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people." 40 Having received the commander's permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them IN ARAMAIC:
Acts 22: 1 "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense." 2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said: 3 "I AM A JEW (PRESENT TENSE AGAIN!), born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for Elohim as any of you are today.