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Saul The Benjamite, Paul The Christian Jew
by Wayne Blank
"Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia" (Acts 21:39 KJV)
So, Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?
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."
When Paul became a Christian, he was not joining or starting "a new religion." Paul, like all others with him, was merely recognizing the long-awaited Messiah when He came. Amazingly, just as many of His own people, Jews, did not recognize Him at His first coming, so too will many of His own people, Christians, not recognize Him at His second coming - that's why many will try to make War With The Lamb.
Fact Finder: How did Saul/Paul, the Benjamite/Jew become one of the greatest Christians that the world will ever know, a man who was given to write, by means of the Holy Spirit, much of what is today the New Testament?