(367) – SAUL’S CONVERSION

Saul of Tarsus, circumcised on the eighth day, belonged to the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, he was a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the Church, as to the righteousness which is in the Law, he was found blameless (Phil. 3:5-6). Therefore Saul was faithful to Jehovah, the god of Israel and author of the Law (Is. 51:7). The princes and priests of the temple condemned Jesus to death as an impostor (Matt. 26:63-68). The priests constituted Saul, a Jew of great importance, faithful to Jehovah and the Law, to persecute and kill the followers of the false Messiah who were growing in number. This was the story: Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned in front of Saul, who was filled with hatred (Acts 7:58-59). And Saul, uttering threats of death against Jesus’ disciples, went to the high priest and asked him to give him letters to bring the members of that sect to prison (Acts 9:1-2; 22:4-5). And Saul declares that he did this for his zeal for Jehovah (Acts 22:3). Saul, the believer in Jehovah, persecuted and killed the believers in Jesus.

When Saul was on the way to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him in a flash of light and said to him: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Saul asked, falling off the horse: Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said: I am Jesus, whom you persecute. And Paul, persuaded, said: Lord, what do you want me to do? We said, Paul, because his name had been changed from Saul to Paul. Saul comes from Shaul (which means sepulcher). Paul means small, for he judged himself to be the smallest of the apostles. Right after his conversion, Paul abandoned the complete religious system of Jehovah. To Paul, now, the Sabbath was a shadow, and a shadow does not have a real shape (Col. 2:16-17). The text says that the Sabbath is a shadow of future things. The true rest of the people wandering across the desert was Canaan. The Sabbath was a shadow of this rest. The people have never reached this rest, to this present day.

Paul said that the Sabbath is a shadow of a future thing, that is, the glorious reign of the Messiah, which never happened. Christ is the body because he is real. Paul, then, belonging to Christ, turned against Judaism, against the law, and against Jehovah; against the Old Testament and against Moses, the mediator of Jehovah; against circumcision. Let us look at this:

  1. Paul, who was a Pharisee according to the Law, after his conversion, preached against the law of Jehovah. The Jews testified to this fact, saying: “And they have had news of you, how you have been teaching all the Jews among the Gentiles to give up the law of Moses, and not to give circumcision to their children, and not to keep the old rules” (Acts 21:21). Later they saw him in the temple and arrested him, calling out: “Men of Israel, come to our help: this is the man who is teaching all men everywhere against the people and the law and this place: and in addition, he has taken Greeks into the Temple, and made this holy place unclean” (Acts 21:27,28).
  2. Circumcision is the basis for the Jewish religion, together with the Sabbath. And Paul made the following declarations: “Because in Christ Jesus, having circumcision or not having circumcision are equally of no profit; but only faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). A little ahead in the text he says: “For having circumcision is nothing, and not having circumcision is nothing, but only a new order of existence” (Gal. 6:15). And for Jehovah, those who were not circumcised were killed (Gal. 17:10-14). It was a perpetual covenant (Gen. 17:13). Paul canceled the covenant of Jehovah, what proves that those of Christ have to leave Jehovah.
  3. Paul, in Judaism, was blind, and after the conversion to Christ, his eyes were opened (Acts 9:8-18). He worshipped Jehovah as the god who had given the law (Deut. 4:10-14; 5:22-24). When his eyes were opened, he noticed that the law had been given by the angels, and not by God. He said: “What then is the law? It was an addition made because of sin, till the coming of the seed to whom the undertaking had been given; and it was ordered through angels by the hand of a go-between (Moses)” (Gal. 3:19). Stephen declares the same in Acts 7:53. Now, Jehovah gave the law; therefore, Jehovah is also an angel. And Paul affirms, boldly, that the Christians are going to judge the angels, and they will therefore judge Jehovah! (1 Cor. 6:2-3).
  4. Paul, who was so faithful to the law of Jehovah, changed so much with his conversion to Christ, that he declared clearly that the one who keeps the law becomes divorced from Christ: “Christ has truly made us free: then keep your free condition and let no man put a yoke on you again. See, I Paul say to you, that if you undergo circumcision, Christ will be of no use to you. Yes, I give witness again to every man who undergoes circumcision, that he will have to keep all the law. You are cut off from Christ, you who would have righteousness by the law; you are turned away from grace” (Gal. 5:1-4). First he says that Christ delivers from the law; therefore the law only produces slaves. Then he compares the law to “yoke and slavery.” Peter declares the same in Acts 15:5-10. To go against the law of Jehovah is rebellion. Well, Paul rebelled against Jehovah.
  5. Jehovah, the potter, made two vessels: one for honor, and another for dishonor. One for salvation, and another for shame (Rom. 9:21-22). And Paul declares that the vessels for honor, that kept the law in detail, did not achieve the righteousness of God, because they stumbled in Jesus Christ (Rom. 9:30-33).
  6. Paul declares also that Christ gave him boldness to be a minister of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit, because the letter kills, but the Spirit vivifies. The Paul who, when he was of Jehovah, was a Pharisee of the law (Phil. 3:5), and now, belonging to Jesus, is not a minister of the law any longer.
  7. “For if the operation of the law, giving death, recorded in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the eyes of the children of Israel had to be turned away from the face of Moses because of its glory, a glory which was only for a time: Will not the operation of the Spirit have a much greater glory?” (2 Cor. 3:7-8). Paul found that the ministry of Jehovah to Moses was the ministry of death. He was called the ministry of death, because every time someone made a mistake or sinned, would die (Ex. 32:25-29; Lev. 10:1-2; 20:10-11; 21:9; Num. 11:1; 14:28-29,37; 16:30-33,35,49; 25:9, etc.). It is registered that it came in glory because the face of Moses shone. Passing glory.
  8. Paul called the ministry of the Old Testament as ministry of condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9). And why? That is because it condemned the offender. The glory of the law is to condemn the criminal. Paul found it difficult to explain this. He says: “For the glory of the first no longer seems to be glory, because of the greater glory of that which comes after” (2 Cor. 3:10). Now, all the nations with its human laws have always condemned the offender. The true glory that is not transitory, but permanent and eternal, consists in the restoration of the offender, not in condemning and killing as Jehovah’s law did. The great work of Jesus, which put an end to the law, was to save thieves, prostitutes, sodomites and effeminates, homicides and corrupt, making them people as godly and good as Jesus himself. This glory is truly glory (Eph. 4:13).
  9. When he declared that the Christians are not ministries of the Old Testament, or of the law of the old covenant, Paul positions himself against Jehovah, its very author (2 Cor. 3:6-7).
  10. The apostle was so sure of what he taught, that he declared that Christ had abolished the Old Testament. The text says: “And are not like Moses, who put a veil on his face, so that the children of Israel might not see clearly to the end of the present order of things: But their minds were made hard: for to this very day at the reading of the old agreement the same veil is still unlifted; though it is taken away in Christ” (2 Cor. 3:13-14).

By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira

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