79. The Pauline Letters will be considered in accordance with the most commonly accepted groupings: first, seven Letters generally recognised as authentic (Rm, 1-2 Co, Ga, Ph, I Th, Phm), then Ephesians and Colossians, the Pastorals (1-2 Tm, Tt). Finally, the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letters of Peter, James and Jude, and the Book of Revelation will be looked at.
Referring to the time preceding his conversion, he says: “I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors” (Ga 1:14). Having become an apostle of Christ, he says of his adversaries: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I” (2 Co ). Still, he can relativise all these advantages by saying: “These I have come to regard as loss because of Christ” (Ph 3:7).
Nonetheless, he continues to think and reason like a Jew. His thought is visibly permeated by Jewish ideas. In his writings, as was mentioned above, we find not only continual references to the Old Testament, but many traces of Jewish traditions as well. Furthermore, Paul often uses rabbinic techniques of escort sites Billings MT exegesis and argumentation (cf. I. D. 3, no. 14).
Paul’s ties to Judaism are also seen in his moral teaching. 332 Summing up the Law in one precept is typically Jewish, as the well-known anecdote about Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai, Jesus’ contemporaries, demonstrates. 333
In spite of his opposition to the pretentions of those who kept the Law, he himself includes a precept of the Law, Lv (“You shall love your neighbour as yourself”) to sum up the whole of the moral life
What attitude did the apostle adopt towards the Jews? In principle, a positive one. He calls them: “My brothers, my kindred according to the flesh” (Rm 9:3). Convinced that the Gospel of Christ is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who has faith, to the Jews first” (Rm 1:16), he desired to transmit the faith to them and spared no effort to that end. He could say: “To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews” (1 Co 9:20) and even: “To those under the Law I became as one under the Law – though I myself am not under the Law – so that I might win those under the Law” (1 Co 9:20). Likewise in his apostolate to the Gentiles, he endeavoured to be indirectly useful to his fellow Jews, “in the hope of saving some of them” (Rm ). For this, he relied on emulation (,14): that the sight of the marvellous spiritual enrichment that faith in Christ Jesus gave to pagan converts, would stir up the desire among the Jews not to be outdone, and would lead them also to be receptive to the faith.
Are they Israelites?
The resistance mounted by the majority of Jews to the Christian preaching produced in Paul’s heart “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” (Rm 9:2), clear evidence of his great affection for them. He said that he himself was willing to accept on their behalf the greatest and most inconceivable sacrifice, to be branded “accursed”, separated from Christ (9:3). His afflictions and suffering forced him to search for a solution: in three lengthy chapters (Rm 9-11), he goes to the heart of the problem, or rather the mystery, of Israel’s place in God’s plan, in the light of Christ and of the Scriptures, without giving up until he is able to conclude: “and so all Israel will be saved” (Rm ). These three chapters in the Letter to the Romans constitute the most profound reflection in the whole of the New Testament on Jews who do not believe in Jesus. Paul expressed there his most mature reflections.