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Equipped_4_Love
Nov 4th 2009, 08:40 PM
Phil. 3:6 -- Paul says the following concerning himself:

concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless

Well, according to this, Paul was blameless and righteous according to the law, yet we all know that he had a huge part in the imprisonment and killing of Christians. Also, in another passage, he calles himself chief of sinners.

I guess I am a little confused....was it possible for a person to obey the law and sin at the same time? For example, when Paul imprisoned and killed those Christians, was he following the law? I know that he said that he was chief of sinners, but I always took this to mean that his heart wasn't in the right place with God, and he was depending on his works of righteousness, like the rest of the Pharisees.

But then, it says here that concerning the righteousness in the law, he was blameless. Was his imprisonment/murder of Christians something that was approved of in the law? If so, where? If he was killing Christians because the law told him to, but it was really sin, because he was murdering them, then it would appear that the law was actually causeing him to sin.

Which law was Paul following when he was persecuting the church? Is there a specific law that supported his mission, or was this just his interpretation?

Vhayes
Nov 4th 2009, 08:43 PM
Following the law never made one "blameless" - only belief in the promised Messiah.

VerticalReality
Nov 4th 2009, 08:56 PM
Following the law for purposes of being justified before the Lord as righteous is very prideful. So, yes, in that sense it is a sin.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 4th 2009, 09:20 PM
Hey, you guys...Good thoughts, but I was actually talking about a person who follows the law, and one of the laws actually causing the person to sin. Was there a specific law that justified Paul's persecution of the early church?

BroRog
Nov 4th 2009, 09:43 PM
. . . was it possible for a person to obey the law and sin at the same time?

When Paul and Luke talk about being "righteous" and "blameless" with respect to the Law, the issue is whether a man was keeping the covenant according to Moses. Consequently, if a man was to sin and he gave the prescribed offering, then he was rendered "blameless."


For example, when Paul imprisoned and killed those Christians, was he following the law?Yes, in modern terminology we would call this an execution. When Paul imprisoned and killed Christians, he was doing it as an agent of the state. He was arresting them according to the law and they were being imprisoned and put to death under the direction of the High Priest. In Acts we read that Saul was working under the authority of the High Priest. What Luke calls "letters" we would call arrest warrants.


Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2

I know that he said that he was chief of sinners, but I always took this to mean that his heart wasn't in the right place with God, and he was depending on his works of righteousness, like the rest of the Pharisees.
I believe that's right. However, I think Paul eventually understood the words of Jesus who made a distinction between sins of deed and sins of intent. While the Pharisees might pride themselves on not committing adultery, Jesus reminds them that although they didn't actually go through with the deed, it isn't as if they didn't want to.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 4th 2009, 11:27 PM
Yes, in modern terminology we would call this an execution. When Paul imprisoned and killed Christians, he was doing it as an agent of the state. He was arresting them according to the law and they were being imprisoned and put to death under the direction of the High Priest. In Acts we read that Saul was working under the authority of the High Priest. What Luke calls "letters" we would call arrest warrants.


Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2


So, Paul was sinning but didn't actually realize that he was, because he believed himself to be following the Law? I'm still curious to know which part of the Law Paul used to justify this. Did he think Christians were committing blasphemy? heresy? turning from Judaism?

Can anyone point out which laws Paul thought he was enforcing?

Intersting that a combination of blindness and zealousness under the law can actually lead one to lawlessness.

Did the imprisonment of the early church stop as a result of Paul's conversion? You don't hear anymore stories about people taking Christians to jail after Paul's conversion.

BroRog
Nov 4th 2009, 11:34 PM
So, Paul was sinning but didn't actually realize that he was, because he believed himself to be following the Law? I'm still curious to know which part of the Law Paul used to justify this. Did he think Christians were committing blasphemy? heresy? turning from Judaism?

Can anyone point out which laws Paul thought he was enforcing?

Intersting that a combination of blindness and zealousness under the law can actually lead one to lawlessness.

Did the imprisonment of the early church stop as a result of Paul's conversion? You don't hear anymore stories about people taking Christians to jail after Paul's conversion.

The Bible doesn't reveal the actual charges Paul brought against the Christians. If I were to speculate, I suspect that he brought the same charges against Christians that the Jewish authorities brought against Jesus, i.e. blaspheme.

I don't think Paul was sinning when he did this. He testified that he didn't know better. That is, he didn't know that Jesus was the messiah, and so to charge other Jews of blaspheme when they asserted that Jesus was the Messiah, was a matter of duty. When he learned the truth that Jesus was, in fact, the messiah. He stopped arresting people.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 5th 2009, 12:23 AM
I don't think Paul was sinning when he did this. He testified that he didn't know better. That is, he didn't know that Jesus was the messiah, and so to charge other Jews of blaspheme when they asserted that Jesus was the Messiah, was a matter of duty. When he learned the truth that Jesus was, in fact, the messiah. He stopped arresting people.

Yes, but just because Paul didn't know better doesn't mean that he wasn't sinning. He even called himself chief of sinners. He may not have been transgressing the law, but I do believe that he was sinning.

He was committing murder, which is sin. He may not have known he was sinning, but he was if he was murdering Christians, or accusing them falsely.

The OT even talks about making sacrifices for those sins that you committed in ignorance. Ignorance doesn't make them any less sin....just not transgression.

BroRog
Nov 5th 2009, 01:01 AM
Yes, but just because Paul didn't know better doesn't mean that he wasn't sinning. He even called himself chief of sinners. He may not have been transgressing the law, but I do believe that he was sinning.

He was committing murder, which is sin. He may not have known he was sinning, but he was if he was murdering Christians, or accusing them falsely.

The OT even talks about making sacrifices for those sins that you committed in ignorance. Ignorance doesn't make them any less sin....just not transgression.

I don't think he murdered Christians, did he? I think it says that he brought them up on charges in a court. As he says, he went to the high priest to get "letters" to bring them into court.

If you recall, he was at the trial of Stephen in which Stephen was facing criminal charges. And the stoning of Stephen was a state execution.

I suppose it's possible that Paul knew these were trumped up charges brought by a corrupt government. But I don't think he says whether this is the case or not.

How does it appear to you? Does it sound as if Paul was acting sinfully, even as he was acting lawfully?

calidog
Nov 5th 2009, 01:15 AM
Paul likely thought he was carrying out the law against blaspheming

Lev 24:16 And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 5th 2009, 01:48 AM
I don't think he murdered Christians, did he? I think it says that he brought them up on charges in a court. As he says, he went to the high priest to get "letters" to bring them into court.

If you recall, he was at the trial of Stephen in which Stephen was facing criminal charges. And the stoning of Stephen was a state execution.

I suppose it's possible that Paul knew these were trumped up charges brought by a corrupt government. But I don't think he says whether this is the case or not.

How does it appear to you? Does it sound as if Paul was acting sinfully, even as he was acting lawfully?

I'm not sure. I suppose if he were accusing the Christians falsely, then technically, it would be sin, even if he didn't realize he was doing it. I am pretty sure that he had to seek forgiveness for His persecutions, so if it weren't sin, why would he have to ask forgiveness?

I hope I'm making sense here.

VerticalReality
Nov 5th 2009, 03:04 AM
Hey, you guys...Good thoughts, but I was actually talking about a person who follows the law, and one of the laws actually causing the person to sin. Was there a specific law that justified Paul's persecution of the early church?

The law doesn't "cause" someone to sin. The law arouses sin, but it doesn't cause it.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 5th 2009, 04:01 AM
The law doesn't "cause" someone to sin. The law arouses sin, but it doesn't cause it.

Then what would you call Paul's persecution of the early church? I guess that was a bad choice of words that the law "caused" him to sin, but wasn't he zealous for the law.....and didn't that zeal cause him to persecute God's people?

I suppose you could say that the law "stirred up" this zeal in Paul, and this zeal caused him to sin

My heart's Desire
Nov 5th 2009, 04:12 AM
I'm not sure if this answers the question and even helps, but we have to remember that in the Law it says The Lord your God is One. Even today, when one is calling Jesus God, to a Jewish person that is like idolatry. The way I understand it, they believe in ONE. In persecuting those Saul felt were breaking the commandment of serving the One True God and there is no other, after coming to the truth, he realized his sin was in actually persecuting God thru persercuting His people even though he at the time thought he was following the Law.

VerticalReality
Nov 5th 2009, 05:06 AM
Then what would you call Paul's persecution of the early church? I guess that was a bad choice of words that the law "caused" him to sin, but wasn't he zealous for the law.....and didn't that zeal cause him to persecute God's people?

I suppose you could say that the law "stirred up" this zeal in Paul, and this zeal caused him to sin

I would say Paul's blind zeal and his pride caused him to persecute the church. Had he possessed those spiritual eyes he would have seen that the law never demanded his persecution of the church.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 5th 2009, 07:10 AM
I would say Paul's blind zeal and his pride caused him to persecute the church. Had he possessed those spiritual eyes he would have seen that the law never demanded his persecution of the church.

Ya, that makes sense, obeying the letter of the law but being blind to the true spirit of the law, which was revealed in Christ.

So, then, Paul did not have a true grasp of the law? Zealous to what he thought the law was about, and not the true reality of it.

I guess it would be sort of like when you think someone is breaking into your home, and in fear you shoot them, only to find out that it isn't an intruder, but a family member. Based upon your flawed perception, you killed. This was sin, even though it wasn't intentional.

Perhaps this isn't the best example, but it's the only one I can come up with right now.

VerticalReality
Nov 5th 2009, 02:08 PM
Ya, that makes sense, obeying the letter of the law but being blind to the true spirit of the law, which was revealed in Christ.

So, then, Paul did not have a true grasp of the law? Zealous to what he thought the law was about, and not the true reality of it.

I guess it would be sort of like when you think someone is breaking into your home, and in fear you shoot them, only to find out that it isn't an intruder, but a family member. Based upon your flawed perception, you killed. This was sin, even though it wasn't intentional.

Perhaps this isn't the best example, but it's the only one I can come up with right now.

Maybe consider the following as well . . .

Acts 3:11-21
Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

murrare
Nov 5th 2009, 03:05 PM
I don't think anybody has addressed the question of Paul saying he was the "chief of sinners" and he also called himself "blameless". These two statements are describing points in Paul's life that were decades apart from each other.

In Philippians, Paul says that when he was a persecutor of the church, he was "blameless" regarding the law... this was BEFORE his conversion experience.

In 1 Timothy, when Paul says he is the chief of sinners, he is writing this letter around AD 62-66, some 30 years after his conversion.

We all know that the more mature in the faith we become, the more of our sin we see and the more we realize we are sinners in need of God's forgiveness.

This is how you reconcile the two verses.

Equipped_4_Love
Nov 5th 2009, 04:22 PM
I don't think anybody has addressed the question of Paul saying he was the "chief of sinners" and he also called himself "blameless". These two statements are describing points in Paul's life that were decades apart from each other.

In Philippians, Paul says that when he was a persecutor of the church, he was "blameless" regarding the law... this was BEFORE his conversion experience.

In 1 Timothy, when Paul says he is the chief of sinners, he is writing this letter around AD 62-66, some 30 years after his conversion.

We all know that the more mature in the faith we become, the more of our sin we see and the more we realize we are sinners in need of God's forgiveness.

This is how you reconcile the two verses.

Oh, wow....Ya, I guess I overlooked that detail. Thanks for bringing it out.
So, then, I guess we can throw out the "chief of sinners" reference, because he was talking about his present condition.

Yes, when Paul was persecuting the church, he was "blameless." It's just interesting to me how blind zeal and legalism can actually cause one to commit lawlessness, even if he thinks he is enforcing the law.

VerticalReality
Nov 5th 2009, 04:32 PM
Oh, wow....Ya, I guess I overlooked that detail. Thanks for bringing it out.
So, then, I guess we can throw out the "chief of sinners" reference, because he was talking about his present condition.

Yes, when Paul was persecuting the church, he was "blameless." It's just interesting to me how blind zeal and legalism can actually cause one to commit lawlessness, even if he thinks he is enforcing the law.

Actually, I think it can be argued that when Paul referred to himself as the "chief of sinners" he was referring to the man he formerly was.

1 Timothy 1:12-17
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I think what Paul is saying here is that because of his past actions of being a blashemer, persecutor, etc., this made him the chief of sinners. However, because of our Lord's great mercy toward him he received His grace.