Pt. 4# The Jerusalem Council (Acts 9:1-6) (‘A LIGHT AND A DEAFENING VOICE FROM HEAVEN!) (8-7-21)
(PAUL/SHA’UL OF TARSUS, THE JEWISH RABBI!: ‘IT’S HARD TO KICK AGAINST THE GOAD’!)
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to thehigh priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of ‘The Way’, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a Light Shone Around Him From Heaven.’ 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, Why Are You Persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to ‘Kick Ggainst The GOADS." 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will betold what you must do."…
Christian teaching emphasizes the story of ‘The Conversion of Saul The Jew’, a persecutor of the early church, into ‘Paul The Christian’, as a pattern for Jewish believers to follow. Just as Saul renounced Judaism and even changed his name to Paul, so too, Jewish believers should renounce their old allegiances and embrace their new identity in Christ. But a careful reading of the story of Saul’s Damascus Road Encounter, does not indicate a ‘Conversion From Judaism To Christianity’, nor does it indicate a change in name from Saul to Paul.
While Saul did undergo a drastic chance of the heart, soul, and mind, and that he experienced a spiritual transformation equated to what Jesus called: ‘Being Born Again.’ His life would never be the same. Therefore, with the “Revelation of knowing Jesus,” Saul counted all his former achievements in his religious past as mere dung (Philippians 3:8). Yet that change in priority Did Not indicate a change inreligious affiliation. Saul encountered the Messiah on the way to Damascus, but he Did Not abandon his Jewish identity or his loyalty to the Torah, the Jewish people, or Jewish practice.
While God sent Paul to the Gentiles, he never wavered from sharing the core concepts of the Hebrew Scriptures with them. The Jewishness of Paul’s teaching can easily be missed, unless one is looking for it.
One day, Paul was invited to speak to the scholars in Athens who enjoyed listening to new and challenging ideas. Paul challenges them with the idea that their faith in gods of stone and silver is futile.
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold orsilver or stone — an image made by human design and skill.”
Of course, this idea of not worshiping idols is one of the foundational commandments that God gave to Moses, but it was new to the Greeks.
Although Paul was preaching to Gentiles, he still spoke like a solid Jewish Rabbi, when he toldthem:
“Now He [God of Israel] commands all people everywhere to repent.”
If a Jewish person heard this message, the words would have evoked the warnings of the Hebrew prophets, such as Ezekiel who told the Israelites:
“Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!”
As a Jewish Rabbi,Sha’ul (Paul) was so well-versed in Judaism and well-educated in reasoning the Hebrew Scriptures, that he could fascinate the Gentiles and his fellow Jews enough to keep their attention, win souls, and be asked to return to teach them more (Acts 13:42, 14:1, 18:19–20, 19:8).
(PAUL/SHA’UL OFTARSUS, THE JEWISH RABBI!: ‘IT’S HARD TO KICK AGAINST THE GOAD’!)