I was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5)

“They have known

For a long time,

If they are willing

To testify,

That I belonged

To the strictest sect

Of our religion.

I have lived as a Pharisee.”

προγινώσκοντές με ἄνωθεν, ἐὰν θέλωσι μαρτυρεῖν, ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιν τῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας ἔζησα Φαρισαῖος.

The author of Acts indicated that Paul said that the Jews in Jerusalem have known for a long time (προγινώσκοντές με ἄνωθεν), if they are willing to testify (ἐὰν θέλωσι μαρτυρεῖν), that he belonged to the strictest sect (ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιν) of their religion (τῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας).  He had lived as a Pharisee (ἔζησα Φαρισαῖος).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word ἀκριβεστάτην, that means exact, precise, or strict.  Paul clearly admitted that he was a Pharisaical Jew.  In chapter 22:3, he said (καὶ φησίν) that he was a Jewish man (Ἐγώ εἰμι ἀνὴρ Ἰουδαῖος), born at Tarsus (γεγεννημένος ἐν Ταρσῷ) in Cilicia (τῆς Κιλικίας,), but he was brought up (ἀνατεθραμμένος) in this city (δὲ ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ) of Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel (παρὰ τοὺς πόδας Γαμαλιήλ).  He was educated (πεπαιδευμένος) strictly according (κατὰ ἀκρίβειαν) to their ancestral law (τοῦ πατρῴου νόμου).  He was zealous (ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων) for God (τοῦ Θεοῦ), just as all of them were today (καθὼς πάντες ὑμεῖς ἐστε σήμερον).  Paul was about to retell his conversion story from chapter 9:1-31, that he would repeat here in verses 9-18.  This time he emphasized his Jewish background, especially his role as a strict Pharisee.  Paul was not born in Jerusalem, but he did not mention here that he was born in Tarsus, in Asia Minor.  He would have been part of the diaspora Jews.  However, he studied in Jerusalem as a strict Pharisee.  Could he have been one of the Pharisees who argued with Jesus?

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