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in the footsteps of paul
 Jerusalem
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 Home | History | Series
 Introduction
 Tarsus (Birth - 30CE)
 Jerusalem (30-34)
 Antioch (34-43)
 Spreading the Word (43-48)
 The Wider World (49-50)
 Corinth (50-52)
 Ephesus (52-56)
 Into the Fire (56-70)
Jerusalem: Pilgramage and Patrimony
2
 Pages
1234

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Paul as Persecutor

If anyone claims authority based birth or experience, I myself claim even more -- circumcised on my eighth day, from the tribe of Israel, the line of Benjamin, a Hebrew from Hebrews, following the law of the Pharisees, in my zeal a persecutor of the church, in righteousness to law I am blameless.
–Philippians 3.4-6

Old City Jerusalem
Old City Jerusalem
(photo courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)

Persecution of early Jesus movement
Persecution of early Jesus movement
(historical re-creation)

Stephen, full of grace and power, performed miracles. Some came forward in the synagogue to argue with him: they put forward men to say they had heard him speaking blasphemy against Moses and their God...Then they chased him out of the city and began to stone him. The witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. That day, a great persecution began against the assembly in Jerusalem.
–Acts 6.8-13,7.58, 8.1-3

You have heard how, when I was a practicing Jew, I excessively persecuted the church and tried to destroy it, and how in the practice of our national religion I surpassed most of my peers in my devotion to the traditions of our ancestors.
–Galatians 1,13-14


t
he young Saul was educated in Jerusalem, the holiest city for Jews worldwide. In his later letters, he recalls a youth spent as a devout and accomplished Pharisee. The Pharisees were a party or school within Judaism composed of both priests and laity. They were known for rigorous study and interpretation of the law. They believed in resurrection of the dead. In his later letters, Saul recalls how his zeal for the law led him to participate in the suppression of a new and growing Jewish movement -- the followers of a crucified Jewish man named Jesus. Sometimes called "The Way," many had left Jerusalem in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion. They soon returned to the city and began attracting new members. Jerusalem was a hub from which to spread their message, as well as the site of Jesus' anticipated return: for if God's kingdom was coming to Earth, it would come first to Jerusalem. But the Jesus movement was not allowed to remain peacefully, and violence erupted.

The Book of Acts places Saul at the stoning of Stephen, a member of the Jesus movement accused of blasphemy against Moses and God. After leading purges to drive the new sect out of Jerusalem, Saul soon decided that to prevent "the Way" from taking hold in other cities. He would extend his persecutions. First on his list was the city of Damascus.

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