Paul the Zealot
As a young man, the zeal of Phinehas, the priest in Moses’ time, was something Paul would have wanted to emulate. Phinehas was a national “hero!” And he had been promised a perpetual covenant with God because of his zeal. Paul, like Phinehas, was eager to rid the nation of the lawbreakers. He hoped this would usher in the Messianic age. Like zealots of his time, Paul wanted to see the return of the Messiah and the end of Roman rule. So, when a group of Jews began preaching about a “crucified Messiah” this did not fit into Paul’s worldview! And though he had been taught by Gamaliel, Paul did not have Gamaliel’s “live and let live” attitude. When it came to dealing with the sect of the Nazarenes Paul was a formidable adversary.
A Profound Shift — Adversary to Ambassador for Christ
In his loyalty to God, Paul had been persecuting those who believed Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. Paul’s vision of Messiah as a powerful King returning to restore Israel had kept him from seeing any other possibilities. But this came to an abrupt end when he met the Lord face-to-face! In a few short days he was transformed from adversary to ambassador of Christ. Paul embraced the hope of eternal life through Christ, and began his ministry of reconciliation. He would be sent to teach Jew and Gentile God’s ways and how to have a relationship with the Father through the Messiah.
Faith and Obedience
Paul would teach faith in Jesus as the Saviour who had made forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father possible. So now, believers could walk in obedience to the Father as ambassadors of the Kingdom of light, understanding more fully the purpose of God’s law. Paul had come to learn that the physical weapons and tactics he had used previously were useless, for he was now engaged in spiritual warfare. Paul still looked forward to the time of the restoration of Israel. But now he had come to understand that the ultimate salvation offered by God to all men was eternal life. He had turned from adversary to ambassador for Christ, being obedient to Christ and serving the Kingdom of God.
Paul and the Law