Chapter Twenty Five

                 SAUL/PAUL THE APOSTLE  (VII).

       Paul arrived in Jerusalem (59 CE) with a party of some of his
gentile converts. On the second day there, he brought them with him to see
James and the other Nazarene elders, not forgetting to bring the collection
money with him. He reported to them on the gathering of converts among the
gentiles and the elders appeared to congratulate him on his success in
gaining adherents from among the people of the nations, increasing the
number of the faithfull. Then, probably to Paul's surprise (or not), James
and his collegues declared to him the following:

     "And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto
      him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are
      which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are
      informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among
      the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to
      circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What
      is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they
      will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to
      thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and
      purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they
      may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof
      they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou
      thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the
      Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they
      observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from
      things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and
      from fornication."
                           Acts 21:20-25

       One is immediately struck by the glaring cynicism of this speach.
There is no doubt but that this test of "Jewish loyalty" was meant to
embarrass Paul in from of his own converts, and humble (if not humiliate)
him in from of the Jerusalem Nazarenes.

       In reuqiring him to offer a sacrifice in the Temple (the main
gathering place of Nazarenes in Jerusalem), they would thereby force him to
give the lie to his pronouncements that since the final sacrifice of Jesus
on the cross, all subsequent sacrifices were nullified and abolished, along
with the rest of the Torah obligations. In going to the Temple, he would
indeed be BLATANTLY and PUBLICLY involved in one of Torah commandments he
had so blatantly and publicly proscribed for others.

       By reiterating the terms of the original Council of Jerusalem
regarding minimal obligations  of gentile initiates, in front of his very
own party of converts, knowing full well that he had never lived up to this
mutual agreement, they indicated to him, not so subtly, that since the very
basis of his admitting gentiles into the Church had NOT been adhered to by
him, they could now, with impugnity, nullify that agreement with him, and
feel free to undo his long work of "forsaking Moses and not walking after
the customs".

       In all of this, they could show him up to be the consumate
HYPOCRITE, a charge he himself had early on thrown at Peter, one of the
"so-called pillars of the church" according to Paul.

       Additionally, a not very pleasant surprise awaited Paul at the
Temple, probably arranged by the elders, which would once and for all rid
them of this man who had once openly been their enemy and persecutor, and
was now their troubler. This was the opportunity they had been waiting for
all these years, ands they boldly seized it.

       Paul went to the Temple along with several other Nazarenes who had
come there to offer sacrifice for vows they had taken. Suddenly, he was
recognized by certain Jews from cities in which he had preached as the one
who had declared the Torah abrogated. They cried out against him for that,
and also for the fact that he had brought with him an uncircumcized Greek
into the Temple Court of the Israelites when there was an explicit Jewish
law forbidding gentiles to enter into the Temple beyond the Court of the
Gentiles. The Romans themselves strictly enforced this law, being at least
sensative to the Jewish reverence for the Temple.

       A crowd gathered, dragged Paul outside the Temple, and beat him. The
Romans quickly became aware of the disturbance, and the commanding officer
of the Roman detatchment sent to investigate, ascertained what Paul had
done, and arrested him. Paul was placed in jail and questioned by the
Romans as to whether he considered himself some sort of messiah or prophet.
Paul vehemently denied this, and told the Roman officer that he himself was
a loyal Roman, and asked permission to address the people. He was allowed
to step outside of the building where he was being held.

       Paul faced the crowd and indicated that he wished to speak to them.
They quieted down and allowed him to begin speaking. He reviewed with them
the major points of his religious oddessy, from having been a student of
Gamliel, to having persecuted the Nazarenes, to having received the
heavenly revelation from Jesus, to having obtained the commission and
permission to preach to the gentiles. He stressed that he was only
interested in wooing gentiles to the Assembly of the Faithfull, but without
asking them to convert to Judaism. The crowd however was not impressed with
this speech. Many of them had known him in the various cities of their
origin, and had heard him preach what they considered to be treason against
the Jewish people, things such as:

     "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that
   circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which
   is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the
   spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of
                           Romans 2:28-29

       They began to cry out to the Romans, demanding his death. The
soldiers moved him back inside the building, angry at the fact that he had
been the cause of a public disturbance which they could do without. The
officer in charge was so infuriated that he wanted to have Paul whipped,
and only refrained when Paul pointed out that he too was a Roman citizen.
The next day, the Romans brought Paul in front of the Sanhedrin to make a
determination as to whether Paul would be charged with a religious offense,
probably that of bringing a gentile into the Temple area forbidden to
non-Jews. During their interrogation of him, there arose a heated argument
between the Pharisee and Sadducee members of the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees
apparently of a mind to dismiss the case, not only, as Luke reports,
because he cleverly espoused Pharisaic eschatology in his own defense, but
more probably because they were unable to find reliable witnesses to
testify that he had indeed encouraged a gentile to enter the forbidden
Temple area. Seeing the argument among the judges turning violent, and
fearing for Paul's safety, the Romans interrupted the proceedings and
returned Paul to confinement until a decision might be reached as to how to
best handle this situation of a Roman citizen accused by his fellow Jews of
a religious crime.

       While Paul was thus confined, a group of some 40 odd men took a vow
upon themselves to assassinate Paul. Who these men were is not specified by
Luke. Some have speculated that they were Zealots, but if so, why did Luke
not explicitly identify them as members of this group of
ultra-nationalists? By the time Luke wrote, Jerusalem had already been
destroyed in the war against Rome, a war by the way which had largely been
instigated and initiated by the Zealots. Had the assassins been Zealots, a
revelation of this fact on Luke's part could have been used by him to
bolster the argument that Jesus had been a universal saviour rather than a
nationalistic messiah, and that here was one more example of how Jewish
nationalists had persecuted the apostles of Jesus. One must therefore
wonder why he keeps their identity a secret unless he knew them to have
been Nazarene "hit-men". When we consider that it was the Nazarene elders,
with James at their head, who had forced Paul to go into the Temple in the
first place, and that MOST CONVENIENTLY there were men present there who
immediately cried out for his destruction, we have tro wonder if perhaps
this whole episode had not been a set-up on the part of the Nazarenes to be
rid of him. I, for one, believe this to be the case, and that the 40 men
who had "bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat
nor drink till they had killed Paul" (23:12) were also Nazarenes.

       It happened that Paul had a nephew living in Jerusalem who heard
about the plot on his life. He came to to the place where Paul was being
held in custody, and apprised the captian of the guard that Paul's life was
in danger, and that an attempt would be made on his life when the Romans
brought him back to the Sanhedrin for a second hearing. The Romans, wishing
to avoid any incident involving a citizen of the Empire, decided to remove
Paul from Jerusalem by night, and bring him to Caesarea in order to present
the situation to the Roman governor Felix.

       The Romans felt that Paul's case could be judged by Felix at
Caesarea where Paul would be safe from physical attack, and since the case
was to be heard by the governor, Paul's accusers journeyed to Caesarea as
well. Among them was the High Priest Ananias, certain elders of the
Sanhedrin and a certain Tertullus who acted as their attorney. The argument
given by Terullus was that Paul had committed crimes against the Torah and
should therefore be tried by the Sanhedrin rather than the Roman governor.

     "For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of
sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of
the sect of the Nazarenes: Who also hath gone about to profane the
temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. But
the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took
him away out of our hands, Commanding his accusers to come unto thee:
by examining of whom these things, whereof we accuse him. And the Jews
also assented, saying that these things were so."
                        Acts 24:5-9

       Paul denied all these charges and said that he had come to Jerusalem
to give alms contribution to certain ones of his "nation" and to offer
sacrifice in the Temple. (He omitted the fact that he had been virtually
forced to go to the Temple by James and his collegues who, by the way, did
not come to his defense and, as a matter of fact, abandoned him after his
arrest). Further, he demanded to know  why the "Jews of Asia" who had
attacked him in the Temple were not present to confront him with charges.
He also disimulated with Felix by stating that the entire controversy
between him and his accusers was that he preached the resurrection of the
dead while they did not. Paul purposely omitted having preached about Jesus
for fear that Felix might consider him just another Jewish messianist

       Felix listened to both Paul and his accusers and finally stated that
he would suspend judgment until sometime later when he could speak to the
captain of the guard who had originally arrested Paul. However, the truth
of the matter is that Felix never had any intention of calling on the
arresting officer. Felix continued to keep Paul a prisoner in Caesarea for
two years without addressing the matter further, his intent being to
receive a bribe from Paul or his friends in order to let him go. Other
ontemporary sources outside the New Testament also attest to the fact that
Felix was a capricious and mercenary man ill-suited to the job of governing
people. In any event, Paul was either unable or unwilling to pay the ransom
demanded by Felix and remained a prisoner in Caesarea for two years until
Felix was replaced as governor by Porcius Festus in 61 CE.

       As soon as Festus came to the governorship, accusers from Jerusalem
came to Caesarea to press theie case against Paul. Festus, having heard
them out, decided that thiswas after all a religious matter and that he
would send Paul back to Jerusalem to stand trial there by the Sanhedrin.
But Paul was not about to return to Jerusalem where he knew himself to be
persona non gratia both to jews and to Nazarenes. He then took a decisive
step which once and for all separated him from the people he called his
own. He appealed to Roman justice to save him from the Jewish justice he
feared and deserved.

     "Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought
     to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well
     knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing
     worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these
     things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I
     appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the
     council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar
     shalt thou go."
                          Acts 25:10-12

       And so it was in the early winter of 61 CE that Paul was brought
still a prisoner to Rome, to appear before Caesar to present his case and
plead for his freedom. Interestingly enough, we know that it was at the
begining of the cold season that he came to Rome since Paul himself in the
report given in Acts informs us that YOM KIPPUR had recently passed (27:9).
Paul had left Palestine and would never return there again. The Nazarenes
were free of him at last.

       The group with which Paul was among landed on the Italian coast at a
town called Puteoli where certain "brethren" came to meet him. Who these
brethren were is not clear. There is no defininitive statement that they
were Christians. More likely they were some commitee of Jews who met
arriving ships carrying Jewish prisoners to Rome, and offered them what
confort they could. This meeting with fellow Jews gave him the courage he
needed to continue to Rome to plead his case.

       Finally Paul came to Rome and was placed under a minimum security
house arrest where he maintained his own dwelling and was guarded by Roman
soldiers. He could not leave the house while his trial was pending but he
could receive friends. There were in Rome at that time two Jewish
communities, one the long standing Jewish community of Rome since the days
of Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, and the other a newer Jewish Nazarene
community,probably established by Peter. It is interesting to note that
after Paul came to Rome under arrest, members of the old established Jewish
community came to visit him, yet no member of the Nazarene community of
Rome expressed any interest in him nor offered himn any assistance. Those
Jews that DID come to speak with him merely came out of curiosity to
interview him regarding the belief in Jesus as the messiah. They told him
that they knew of the existence of Nazarenes in Rome, and since he was
recently arrived from the Holy Land where the sect had its headquarters,
perhaps he could fill them in about the sect in more detail. They also
indictated to him that they were aware that the Romans were ill-disposed to
the Nazarenes much as they were ill-disposed to Jewish messianism in
general. Paul attempted to prove to them that Jesus was the long awaited
messiah by means of Biblical teachings but those Jews remained largely
unimpressed by these teachings, which frustrated Paul so much that, as
before, he excoriated them by saying that salvation would be given not to
them, but to the non-Jews.

     "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent
      unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had
      said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among
      themselves. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house,
      and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of
      God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus
      Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."
                        Acts 28:28-31

       Here Luke ended his account of the Acts of the Apostles which in
large part is really the story of the Acts of Paul and the impact he had on
the spread and Christologizing of Nazarenism. In all, Paul had to endure
four years of imprisonment, two years at Caesarea and an additional two at
Rome, waiting for the judgment of Caesar. The most ironic thing about this
entire episode of Paul's near brush with death and his subsequent
imprisonment was that once he was removed from the Land of Israel, neither
Jew nor Nazarene bothered about him any longer. The accusers of Jerusalem
did not follow up their persecution of him. They sent no delegation to Rome
to appeal to Caesar about Paul. Therefore he merely sat in his jail-house
for two years waiting for Caesar to become aware of him. But as Caesar was
not pressed about his case by anyone, Caesar simply attended to more
immediate cases, thereby effectively ignoring Paul. In the meanwhile, with
Paul in a state of check, the Judaizing Nazarenes had the opportunity to
travel throughout the communities Paul had planted in the east and in
Macedonia and to undo the "gentilization" of Jesus and Christianity that he
had brought about. One by one, they brought over each of these originally
Pauline communities to the true original form of belief in Jesus as the
messiah of the Jews who demanded full Jewish involvement, including
circumcision, to become followers of the Nazarene Jesus. Paul, receiving
reports of this from various of his coverts who remained loyal to him, knew
that his Judaizing opponents were going throughout his mission field
teaching "another Jesus, that I have not taught" and that from his place of
confinement, he was powerless to do anything about it. He felt he had
planted and others were eating up the fruits of his labors. His life was
nearing its end and he sat in Rome abandoned. The tenor of his mind is
revealed by the words he wrote to his friend Timothy, "This thou knowest,
that all the believers in Asia have turned away from me" (2 Timothy 1:15).
It appeared to him, and to all, that the world would accept a Jewish Jesus
as its messiah, and that very shortly the gentiles would be gathered to the
Torah of Moses by throwing in their lot with Israel and its king-messiah in
the soon to come Kingdom of G-d on earth.

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