Was Paul Really A "Jew"?

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

OPEN YOUR EYES TO PAUL'S TRUE NATIONALITY Paulus (aka Saulus) claimed in his letters in the Greek New Testament that he was of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil 3:5), but the historian Josephus exposes this as not being true. This article will demonstrate that Paulus/Saulus was in fact a member of the Herodian royal family. The Herodians were Idumean (Edomites) who converted to Judaism and embraced the identity of the tribe of Benjamin.

Josephus had to have known about Paulus/Saulus given that he was from the same generation of Josephus's father, and that he was familiar with two Roman procurators of Judea and at least two high priests, and he was the at the center of an uproar in Jerusalem, the kind that would have been of major concern and interest to Josephus as the chronicler of that city's history up until the day of its destruction in 70 AD. So the idea that Josephus had absolutely nothing whatsoever to say about Paulus/Saulus is simply ridiculous. He did have something to say about him: "Costobarus also, and Saulus, did themselves get together a multitude of wicked wretches, and this because they were of the royal family; and so they obtained favor among them, because of their kindred to Agrippa; but still they used violence with the people, and were very ready to plunder those that were weaker than themselves. And from that time it principally came to pass that our city was greatly disordered, and that all things grew worse and worse among us" (Antiquities, 20.9.4).

Granted, this picture seems to conflict with the image of the "Saul of Tarsus" most of you were taught to love. It's a very different picture. So how can we be sure Josephus was really talking about Paulus/Saulus of the Greek New Testament when mentioning Saulus of the Herodian Edomite royal family? First, because the date Josephus puts this Saulus in Jerusalem, and the commotion that took place in the city on his account on that particular date, fits perfectly with what we read in the Book of Acts when Paulus/Saulus was in Jerusalem and was supposedly arrested at that time. I will show you in this article that he was not really arrested at all. That whole story in the Book of Acts is a fabrication designed to make sure you do not put two-and-two together and figure out who Josephus was really talking about. Second, because the Greek New Testament exposes Paulus/Saulus, and third because Paulus/Saulus exposes himself in his own words.

Consider carefully the following 10 points:

1. Paulus/Saulus was highly educated in Greek philosophy. During his famous address at the Areopagus in Athens, he quoted a verse from Epimenides and one from Aratus’ poem "Phainomena" (Acts 17:28). These two Greek philosophers were way less famous than Plato. So if Paulus/Saulus was that well-read in Greek philosophy to know about very obscure Greek authors named Epimenides and Aratus, then surely he knew the writings of Plato inside and out. The only "Jews" of that period who would have been remotely interested in learning Greek philosophy were Hellenized Jewish converts, especially the Herodian Edomite Jewish elite. 2. Paulus/Saulus says he was born a Roman citizen (Acts 22:27-28). But the only "Jews" in the 1st century AD who had Roman citizenship by birth were the Herodian Edomites who gained this privilege from their forefather Antipater when Caesar rewarded him with Roman citizenship in 47 BC (Josephus, Antiquities 14.8.3).

Merely being born in Tarsus did not automatically grant one Roman citizenship. It is true that in the 40s BC, Marc Antony set the city of Tarsus free from having to pay taxes to Rome when he promoted the city to the status of a provincial capital of Rome. Here is the source for that:

"he [Antony] made Laodicea and Tarsus free cities and released them from taxes entirely, and those inhabitants of Tarsus who had been sold into slavery he liberated by an order" (Appian 5.7.1). But this promotion did not mean anyone born in Tarsus from that point on would be a Roman citizen. Modern scholarship has not found any evidence of this. "there is no record of citizenship being granted to the people of Tarsus upon the promotion of that city to the provincial capital" (Sean A. Adams, "Paul the Roman Citizen: Roman Citizenship in the Ancient World and its Importance for Understanding Acts 22:22-29" [2008], p. 320).

It was not until Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD), and Hadrian's modification of Latin Rights in 123 AD, that citizenship was automatically conferred upon a provincial centre. Before that time it did not matter if you were born in a provincial capital freed from taxes. You were not a Roman citizen by birth simply because you were born in Tarsus. So how was Paulus/Saulus a Roman citizen by birth? Because his father was an Herodian Edomite. Every member of that family was born a Roman citizen thanks to Antipater.

3. Paulus/Saulus had the authority from the high priest Theophilus ( to whom Luke wrote both his books ) to go and capture and execute people from city to city, even as far away as Damascus (Acts 9:1-2). Time out! The Roman Empire had laws. You could not just go from city to city and capture and kill people without a trial unless you had royal authority. The high priest in Jerusalem could not have given Paulus/Saulus that kind of authority. The high priest had no authority in Damascus at all. So Paulus/Saulus could only have obtained that kind of authority from the civil power that was standing behind the high priest, and that power was none other than Herod Antipas of the Herodian dynasty. That's who Paulus/Saulus was connected with and that's the man who gave Paulus/Saulus his authority. 4. Herod Antipas and Paulus/Saulus grew up together according to Acts 13:1. Josephus says Herod Antipas was raised and educated in Rome (Antiquities, 17.20-21). Thus, Paulus/Saulus was raised and educated in Rome too. When Paulus says he was raised and educated in Jerusalem in Acts 22:3 this is a lie. You cannot be raised with Herod Antipas (in Rome) according to Acts 13:1 and Antiquities 17.20-21 and also be raised in Jerusalem according to Acts 22:3. You could also never become an expert in Greek philosophy the way Paulus/Saulus was if you were brought up in Jerusalem! There were no schools of Greek philosophy in Jerusalem. You could only become an expert in the deep nonsense of Greek philosophy by being educated where there where schools for this, such as at Rome where the Herodian elite frequented. That's where Paulus/Saulus was educated in Greek philosophy. 5. Paulus/Saulus writes that he had to flee Damascus after his conversion to Christianity because of King Aretas IV of Nabatea in Arabia (2 Corinthians 11:32). Aretas IV was the former father-in-law of Herod Antipas. They fell out when Herod Antipas divorced the daughter of Aretas IV. So what Paulus/Saulus is not telling you is that when Aretas IV learned that a family member of Herod Antipas was in Damascus he went after him. Paulus/Saulus tells us he went "to Arabia" (Galatians 1:17) shortly after his conversion to Christianity. This detail is not found anywhere in the Book of Acts. What was Paulus/Saulus doing in Arabia of all places? The answer is that Herod Antipas went to war against Aretas IV in Arabia and Paulus/Saulus was evidently summoned to join the family war effort. 6. When Paulus/Saulus was supposedly arrested, and when the Romans learned he was born a Roman citizen, the Roman commander assigned him - listen to this - a total of 470(!) men as Paulus's personal body guard (Acts 23:23). That's 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen! No private Roman citizen under arrest would ever have received that kind of special treatment. Only someone very well connected would. Paulus/Saulus was not just anyone. He was a member of the Herodian royal family and that explains why he was protected like that. 7. But let's expose this arrest story in the Book of Acts for what it really is. A lie.

"But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound" (Acts 24:27). How? This verse says Paulus/Saulus was in the custody of Felix for two years and then Festus replaced Felix as governor and Paulus/Saulus was still bound. These two years would have to be 59-60 AD. So how does Paul stand before the high priest Ananias in Acts 24:1 in the time of Felix when Ananias was sent to Rome as a prisoner in 52 AD BEFORE Felix became governor?

Source: Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the time of Jesus (Schocken Books: New York, 1961), p. 228.

Look at the chronology below. Felix left office in 60 AD. The high priest Ananias was sent to Rome and replaced with Jonathan in 52 AD. It was Jonathan who requested from Caesar that Felix be sent to replace Cumanus in 52 AD (Josephus, Antiquities, 20.8.5). So there is no way Paulus/Saulus could have been arrested and taken into the custody as the Book of Acts relates. Ananias was not even the high priest at the time when Felix became governor! The whole arrest story in the Book of Acts is a total fabrication to cover over what Josephus says really happened in Jerusalem during the time of Festus. If you cannot see this your cognitive dissonance has more muscles than Lou Ferrigno ever did in the prime of his career.

The account that Josephus gives of Saulus in Antiquites 20.9.4 belongs to the year 61 AD, which is exactly when the Book of Acts claims that Paulus was in the custody of Festus! You can choose to believe the Book of Acts, which deliberately has misinformation about who the high priest was during the time of Festus, or you can listen to Josephus, who had no axe to grind and no dog in this fight, tell you the objective truth about the identity and the true activities of Paulus/Saulus in Jerusalem when Festus was the governor of Judea.

8. Paulus/Saulus had a blood kinsmen who lived in Rome and whose name was Herodion (Romans 16:11). This kind of name was only borne by members of the Herodian royal family. The only Herod who is known to have been in Rome at the time Paulus's letter to the Romans was written was Herod II, the son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II.

In what way could Herod II be related by blood to Paulus/Saulus? There is only one plausible answer: Herod II was the paternal uncle of Paulus/Saulus.

9. Paulus's father, the Pharisee, who Paulus never once explicitly names in any of his letters, was none other than Phasael III, son of Herod the Great and Pallas. This was the only Herodian with a relative who Paulus/Saulus could plausibly be named for. Paulus was named after his paternal grandmother Pallas. Pallas is a Greco-Roman name meaning "young, small maiden". The name Paulus, which means "small," is just the masculine version of the name Pallas. Herodian Jews typically were given two names at birth, one Hebrew and one Greco-Roman. Paulus's Hebrew birth name was Saulus (Sha'ol), but he preferred his Roman birth name because, like all Herodians, Paulus was a Roman loyalist first and foremost.

The Herodians were also devout Pharisees. They are always coupled with Pharisees in the Greek New Testament (Mark 3:6; 8:15; 12:13; Luke 13:31-32; Matthew 22:15-16; and Acts 4:27). So the fact that Paulus called himself and his father Pharisees only substantiates that they were Herodian Edomites. 10. Lastly, we know the Herodian royal family fully embraced the identity of being "Jews" because Drusilla, the daughter of Agrippa I, is explicitly referred to as a "Jew" (Ἰουδαίᾳ) by Luke in Acts 24:24. So it was not strange at all for Paulus/Saulus to swear up and down that he was a "Jew" (Acts 21:39; 22:3) and a "Hebrew of Hebrews" from the tribe of Benjamin. That was the identity officially adopted by his family. The truth of the matter, however, was that Paulus/Saulus was a member of the Herodian Edomite dynasty who were "Jews" by conversion and not by blood. The abayonaym (ebionites) of the 1st century AD absolutely detested Paulus/Saulus and every single book in the Greek New Testament that wreaked of Paulus, and now we know more as to the reasons why they did so.

Paulus/Saulus was not against the Thorah for purely theological reasons. He was out to protect the interests and the status quo of his family, and to ensure the survival of the dynasty against any perceived threats. He feigned his conversion to Christianity, which is told three different and contradictory ways in the Greek New Testament, in order to use it as a tool to promote the interests of the Roman Empire and of his Herodian family all of whom were staunch Roman loyalists. The modern-day abayonaym will continue to detest Paulus/Saulus just as the first generation did. We will also continue to serve and obey YA'OH and uphold His Thorah just as they did.

His name is YA'OH Always has been. Always will be.

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