A lot of people didn’t like the Apostle Paul.
Interestingly, a lot of people don’t seem to like Paul today, either. In fact, there is a large degree of attempt at marginalizing, and re-interpreting the teachings of Paul.
Paul was despised in his day by pagan idolaters, and Greek Philosophers who sought to cling to their ancient traditions and practices because Paul, in the face of their opposition, made thousands of converts and established Christian churches throughout the known world.
But the people who disliked Paul the most were the Jews.
Paul had been an extremely devout Pharisee (Orthodox Jew) who, upon conversion to Christianity began to teach that Gentiles who accepted the Messiah were spiritually equal to the Jews.
If you read some of Paul’s writings, its not difficult to see why the Jews especially disliked him. Even the Messianic Jews didn’t get along well with Paul, because Paul clearly warned his converts against any degree of reversion to the law of Moses, whereas the Messianic Jews (those who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah) were teaching the Christian Gentiles to follow the Law of Moses. In fact, Paul wrote the book of Galatians as a response to this teaching of Messianic Jews.
Paul clearly, and unambiguously taught that keeping in step with the Spirit of God was the key to righteous living, and that a reversion to the Jewish law was to fall from grace, and make the salvation of Christ in our lives ineffective.
Gal 5:4 – ‘Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.’
As a former orthodox Jew who had followed the law of Moses to the letter, and had been zealous enough for it that he’d gone about assisting in the arrest, and murder of Christians, as the Apostle who had been the most devouted to Judaism before conversion to faith in Jesus the Messiah – Paul understood well the trappings of the Law. And he understood (as quoted above) that continuing in the law during the New Covenant era would actually cause even the Messianic Jews to lose their salvation – because their faith was in the works of the Law, and not in Christ.
As the Apostle to the gentiles – and as the Apostle who had been most devoted to the law of Moses before his conversion, Paul taught on the topic incessantly, and disputed sharply with those who continued to recomend lifestyle adherance to the law of Moses. No wonder he was most hated by the Jews!
In fact, if you think about it, the Jews hated Paul for the same reason that the pagan idolaters, and the Greek Philosophers hated him: he was changing their ancient traditions, and customs.
In fact the Jews started trying to kill Paul almost as soon as he had converted, and began preaching Christ (Acts 9:19-23). The other Apostles, whose church was established in Jerusalem, and who continued more-or-less in the culture and traditions of the Jews were less despised by the Jews than Paul. In fact, Acts 9:31 records that churches in Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria (three regions which Jesus had personally ministered in) had rest from persecution after Paul left the area.
Paul knew very well that the greater persecution came on him due to his teachings about the law. He declared in Galatians 5:11 – And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision [that is the Old Covenanant, whose sign was circumcision, and whose obligation was to follow the law (see post: ‘The Basis of Christianity‘)], why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
Paul acknowledged there that the portion of the Gospel which the Jews were offended by was specifically the doctrine of the New Covenant. To paraphrase, Paul said: ‘Look, if I was preaching the Old Covenant, the Jews wouldn’t persecute me; if the cross didn’t establish a New Covenant, i.e. a change to the traditions and customs of the Jews, then it wouldn’t offend them at all.’
Paul describes this offense of the cross in Ephesians 2, explaining that since a New Covenant has been set in place by Christ’s death on the cross, the GENTILES who put their trust in Christ BECOME THE TRUE ISRAEL (along with the Jews who believe in Christ) – the fulfillment of God’s chosen people – WITHOUT THE LAW:
Paul wrote a book to the Jews called Hebrews in which he explains clearly that the Old Covenant of circumcision, of adherance to the law, and of the Levitical priesthood is superceded by the reign of Christ (see also post ‘WHERE is the Israel of God‘). In Hebrews Paul states clearly that the Old Covenant is passed away (Heb 8:13).
According to Paul, the passing away of the Old Testament Law, and covenant was one of the primary elements of the Gospel – and the controversy of it. In the days of Paul, he was rejected, despised, and persecuted for teaching the full rammifications of the Gospel – which mean that Christians (not genetic, or religious Jews) are the True Israel of God.
The time is coming, and now is, that they will not endure sound doctrine, but are even now heaping to themselves teachers who affirm that a secular (or theocratic, as it shall become) nation called Israel by name is the fulfillment of biblical Israel.
Beware of wolves who come to you in sheep’s clothing, and deny the Gospel for reversion to the law, and the expired covenant.
Christ is sufficient – God bless!