Birth and Training
Paul was born as Saul in
He must have been an independent thinker as well because he differed with Gamaliel on how to deal with the members of “The Way.” He felt justified in zealously persecuting the members of “The Way” by stoning them to death because of the account of Phinehas in Num 25:6-11.
6 And indeed, one of the children of
10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of
Gamaliel took a different approach.
34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. 38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God."
Indeed, that is exactly what Paul found himself doing on the road to
Paul wrote 14 books of the New Testement from Romans to Philemon. Paul’s message is spelled out in the theme verses of Romans. Rom 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes — Jews first and also Gentiles. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."
This salvation by faith is a great deviation from what the Pharisees believed. They felt that they were assured salvation because “Abraham was their father.” Matt 3:9.
Paul’s message is sometimes thought to be contradicted by James’ message.
8 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Sounds contradictory doesn’t it. James is not putting forth a faith plus works theology. James is defining what kind of faith one must have. There is a faith that has head knowledge of a truth and then there is a faith that causes one to change his ways.
When Paul first began to teach, he would go to the synagogues and talk with the Jews. But after being rejected so much, he felt it was his place to take the message to the gentiles. This is when the name change came about. It is not the same kind of change like Abram to Abraham or Jacob to
Romans 9-11 gives a full discourse on the fate of