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Was Paul a Jew or a Benjamite?

Statements made by the apostle Paul (see also Paul's Ministry):

"Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia" (Acts 21:39 KJV)

"I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." (Romans 11:1 KJV)

So, Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?

Apostle Paul clearly states in the verses above that he was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin. But he also said that he was a Jew, that is, of Judah, which like Benjamin was one of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Children of Jacob).

Did Paul contradict himself?

Or what was he talking about? Family, or religion? Or family, and religion?

The answer, according to Bible History?

Paul was, by ancestry, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was religiously a Jew (and a Pharisee - see Pharisees), of Judah. Judah had two meanings. It meant ancestry, people descended from Judah, but it also meant those of the Kingdom of Judah, which was composed of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (and part of Levi). The religion of the Kingdom of Judah was "Jewish."

In summary (to understand how the points below came about, see the Fact Finder question below):

  • Paul's ancestry was of Benjamin

  • Paul's religion was of Judah, that is, he was, by religion, a Jew.

  • Paul's nationality was of the Kingdom of Judah, which was politically composed of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and part of Levi

Fact Finder: How is it that while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews?
See When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah"


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