Growing up in the blazing, pagan, merchant metropolis, Tarsus, didn’t keep him from wanting to learn the faith of his people. As a matter of fact, the ancient Hittite town that he lived in carried with it bits and pieces of history of the empires, past and present – Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and now Roman, that had risen and eventually toppled, while the synagogue that his family worshipped at told of a God Whose kingdom had never fallen.
From a young age, he was convinced that there was no better future than serving the God that was this powerful and this fearful. So, following in his father’s footsteps, he made his life’s pursuit theology and religious study. Eventually, he relocated to the heart of his Judaist faith, Jerusalem, the seed-bed of all the greatest men of the people of Jehovah. Jerusalem was glorious. The great temple with its ongoing sacrifices and worship services was like nothing that the synagogues in Cilicia had offered. Soon he enrolled in the school of the great Gamaliel, probably the greatest theologian of his day.
Life was going terrific, a son of a Pharisee, now himself studied and ready to live life as a Pharisee. Perhaps he would be able to get a wife in a few years and raise his sons to become Pharisees as well. Nothing could be more perfect. Saul, the Benjamite, the Pharisee, would be the next Gamaliel, and Jehovah would use him greatly to accomplish His great purposes.
And those purposes were incredibly clear. Moses had delivered very clearly the desires of Jehovah. God had said, “The Lord thy God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord…” It was clear to anyone with common sense that mankind was created to serve and worship God alone. Saul learned that and it became his passion.
The word “zeal” comes from the root-word for “jealousy”, and Saul was very zealous and jealous for the glory of Jehovah. And it was that zealous passion that earned Saul his new job in the Judaist hierarchy. You see, a new religious sect had popped up over the previous several years. It was a group of followers of a backwoods Galilean named Jesus. He was the cousin of the prophet John. And between those two, there was quite a bit of new-sounding theology that was going around. Saul was tasked with fixing it, and he was not going to let up on these “liars” until they were all in prison or dead.
Food For Thought: Read Acts 23:6-16 and Romans 16:7-13 and list any details given about Paul’s (Saul’s) parents or siblings.