Apostle Paul as Roman Soldier


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    hamsterbait posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 20:47:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    It was brought up in another thread that Paul got his Roman citizenship by serving as a soldier for at least 20 years. This was the only way a non-italian non-Roman born could do it.

    I remember an illustration - in one of the big books, like "things in which it is impossible for God to lie" or "life everlasting" where Saul of Tarsus is pictured holding the robes of those who are stoning christians to death.

    He is dressed as a Roman soldier with a metal breast plate. Anybody have a scan of this?

    I am also convinced that his illustration of spiritual armor is based on his training as a Roman soldier. That is where he would have been trained to make and mend tents of course.


    M sir82 posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 21:04:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    This was the only way a non-italian non-Roman born could do it.

    Isn't there a scripture somewhere in Acts saying he was a Roman citizen since birth?

    I.e., maybe his father was a soldier, or purchased citizenship rights, or whatever. Surely children of Roman citizens would also be Roman citizens, from birth, wouldn't they?

    M XJW4EVR posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 21:07:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    According to Acts 22:28, Paul states to a Roman commander, that he was born a Roman citizen. Whether or not Paul was a Roman soldier is never stated in any Scripture of the New Testament nor by any Patristic writer that I am familiar with. How Paul's father got Roman citizenship is simply speculation. Now if you have some proof, other than your conviction, that Paul was a Roman soldier I would love to see it. Until then, I will stick with Luke's biography of Paul.

    My recollection from My Book of Bible Stories showed Paul in traditional garb for a 1st century AD civilian. I don't have one in possesion any longer (nor do I want one), so I will leave that where it lies.

    Nearly every commentary I have read on Ephesians, ranging from conservative to liberal, seems to be of the opinion that Paul got his idea regarding the spiritual armor from the Roman soldiers that were guarding him.

    hamsterbait posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 21:15:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    I had forgotten that he said he was born Roman. Yet I still remember the illustration.


    F reniaa posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 21:40:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    Acts 23:6 (New International Version)

    6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."

    Acts 22:28
    Then the commander said, "I had to pay a big price for my citizenship." "But I was born a citizen," Paul replied.

    Acts 16:37
    But Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out."

    The bible shows paul was a trained pharasee under a famous teacher also his dad was one too but Paul was also born a Roman citizen which means his dad will have done something to attain roman citizenship which is then passed onto the children. In the scripture above the commander talks of having bought his citizenship. In those times there were a few ways to get the desired Roman citizenship not least of which is buying it with anough money but the scriptures do not mention how Pauls dad acquired it.

    Jewish tradition talks of Paul being a tentmaker before he studied to be a rabbi pharasee.


    hamsterbait posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 21:58:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    Thanks Ren -

    Can you check for the pic I spoke of - am sure it is not a phantom memory.


    Megachusen posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 22:12:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    I'm fairly certain that buying your citizenship was only open to those who were apart of nations who were incredebly loyal to Rome. A pure blood Jew becoming a citizen is unlikely.

    Also, since the Jews were famous for their hatred of Rome, it would be odd for any Jewish person to attempt to join the Auxilium(even if they were allowed to do so).

    F reniaa posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 22:27:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    The second way by which Roman citizenship could be gained was slavery. It was known that during the two centuries preceding St Paul's time, thousands of people were deported from the eastern Levant to Italy and made slaves. In the course of time some of these were able to distinguish themselves by their skill and profession and were either freed by their masters or bought their freedom and thus were given Roman citizenship. A remote ancestor of St Paul, after obtaining this citizenship, seems to have returned to his native city Tarsus and re-established the family business. Neither Acts nor his letters give enough information about St Paul's ancestors or parents. He is known to have had a married sister in Jerusalem and a nephew (Acts 23: 16). From one of his letters we learn that he had some distant relatives (Rom 16:7, 11, 21).

    In spite of the gifts he seems to have received from Christian communities for which he expresses his gratitude, most of the time he relied on his own resources, a fact which is often hinted at in his letters and clearly expressed in the one addressed to the Philippians. 'I find myself, to be self-sufficient...still, it was kind of you to share in my distress' (Phil 4: 11,16).
    It is possible that St Paul's family had made their money equipping the Roman legionaries, who used very large tents, made of leather panels stretched together so that rain water would run off. The Roman legions stationed in Syria may not have required leather tents but used the traditional goat-hair tents similar to those of the present day nomads. These are made of the rough cloth manufactured from goat's hair, which in the past was known as cilicium-, and took its name from Cilicia. Tent making might well have embraced not only the manufacture and the repair of these large, military tents, but also a range of related leather and woven goods. Apart from military tents, there would have been considerable demand for awnings, booths and canopies from vendors at market places and elsewhere.


    hi hamster

    I have not the library to find the piccy you want maybe someone else can?


    Megachusen posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 22:39:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    Just some speculation here, but I imagine that the name change from the Hebrew "Saul" to the latin "Paullus" might have been an attempt to appear less Jewish to the non-Jewish people he preached to.

    It wouldn't surprise me if Paul faked his citizenship so that he could move about Rome and its provinces preaching unhindered.

    M Narkissos posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 23:00:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    Well, another possibility is that Roman citizenship was simply granted to Paul (and Silas, 16:37f!) by the author(s) of Acts... never mentioned in the Pauline epistles ("authentic" or not), it suits so well the political aspect of the book's agenda: portraying Christianity as a politically harmless, philosophically respectable and in every way reasonable religio to a Roman audience (notice how almost all Roman officers are pictured as intelligent and tolerant men, fair and sympathetic to Christianity, inasmuch as they do not allow themselves to be influenced by 'fanatic Jews' for some unavowable reasons). Having Christianity's main representative to the Roman world pictured as a highly educated law-abiding Roman citizen, who is brought to Rome because he appealed to Caesar, could certainly not harm the cause. And would be completely unverifiable a few decades after the alleged facts.

    M Narkissos posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 23:08:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    Megachusen: notice how the shift from Saul to Paul (13:9) follows the encounter with Elymas bar-Jesus, a "Jewish false prophet" (which parallels the encounter of Peter and Simon Magus in chapter 8), before the proconsul of Cyprus Sergius Paulus (identical to "Paul" in the Greek text), "an intelligent man" (v. 7)...

    M XJW4EVR posted Thu, 20 Aug 2009 23:22:00 GMT(8/20/2009)

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    Well, another possibility is that Roman citizenship was simply granted to Paul (and Silas, 16:37f!) by the author(s) of Acts.

    I hope that I am mistaken, but it sounds like you are calling Luke a liar.

    Just because Paul does not mention his citizenship, it does not mean that he was not a citizen. Mentioning his citizenship simply did not fit the ends of his letters. When I write letters, I don't generally talk about my American citizenship, do you?

    M Narkissos posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 00:45:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    Let's say I am quite wary about the 'historical' claims of the book of Acts generally, especially (1) when they cannot be confirmed by any other source (because when they can they are often not, e.g. Gamaliel referring to Judas the Galilean after Theudas while Theudas came after Judas... and Gamaliel, by Josephus' account!) and (2) when they seem to fit all too well into its agenda. Of course I cannot prove that Paul was never a Roman citizen, but I believe it's a definite possibility which should be taken into account in the present discussion. As to the epistles, the mention of Paul's alleged Roman citizenship could have been helpful in the epistle to the Romans (where Paul tries to gain the trust of a Roman community he obviously doesn't know), or to the Philippians (cf. the mention of the heavenly citizenship, and the list of Paul's assets which he counts as losses in chapter 3). This certainly doesn't add up to a 'proof', but leaves room for doubt.

    Atlantis posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 02:10:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    Is this the picture you need?

    Things In Which It Is Impossible For God To Lie, p.97 scan10001.tif http://img14.imageshack.us/i/scan10001.tif/ N.

    F reniaa posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 08:10:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    hi narkissus

    From the fact Paul only mentions his roman status well after capture already submitting to punishments that telling his status earlier would have stopped, it looks rather like he was not overly wanting to advertise the fact. So why make up a lie that will make him suffer in the eyes of Jews who would see Roman citizenship as being part of the enemy?

    We know that people could acquire roman citizenship in various ways in that time so it is a historically acccurate in that sense. There is no reason to suppose he is lying. The dubious benefits of appealing to roman citizens with a hope to convert them by saying he is a roman citizen. This really is an incompatible thought with Paul teachings of openly rejecting Roman gods and idols, if he was wanting to curry favour he would have taken a less strictor line like christendom today when appeasing other faiths preaching a general "all roads lead to God" doctrine.


    M Narkissos posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 10:34:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    You are sort of making my point I feel. From a "realistic" angle, concealing his Roman citizenship when it could have changed something, then showing it off "just for the principle" doesn't make much sense if he really didn't want it to be known. Otoh it fits the portrait of the dignified Stoic hero perfectly. The important thing is that the (overwhelmingly Gentile) audience of the story "understands the misunderstanding," and perceives the difference between the outward humiliation and the inner dignity (and sovereign freedom) of the character.

    Iow, had Paul not been a Roman citizen it would have been a good idea to make him one...

    F reniaa posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 12:23:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    hi narkissos

    If he wanted to make himself appealing and so fictionalised a few facts for the letters he wrote why tell how evil he was in the first place? Why not make himself a guy who was nice and not done terrible evil acts against the christians? when you read his constant humility always talking about fighting the sin in him. You don't get the impression of a man trying to be anything more than just honest. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction he would know a roman citizen pharisee would not have been common and hard for readers to believe but he doesn't elucidate he keeps it very plain and factual which smacks more of the truth rather thank an elaborate lie full of explanation to justify it.


    M Narkissos posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 12:55:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    Roman citizenship belongs exclusively to the portray of Paul in the book of Acts (including what the book says he says), which differs considerably from the (self-)portrait(s) in the epistles on a number of issues, not just that one -- unless you have been used to read one into the other(s) of course.

    Contrary to the picture in Galatians, Paul in Acts is introduced to the apostles right after his conversion, remains obedient to them and second to Barnabas until he gets front stage, carries the apostolic decree (which is at odds with the Pauline view of "food sacrificed to idols" in 1 Corinthians), observes the Torah (shaving for a vow, Passover, pays for sacrifices) and leaves the role of questioning its efficiency in justification to Peter (!); he argues his doctrine philosophically in Athens (contrary to the cross-only stance in 1 Corinthiens), and so on.

    Now the "how evil I was" part of the epistles (which interestingly increases with time and pseudepigraphy as the portraits merge) suits the rhetoric of the latter pretty well, since Pauline theology is all about grace and justification by faith.

    But I certainly agree that there are many ways to assess the same data, provided we consider it closely enough.

    F reniaa posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 13:08:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    hi narkissos

    You are right there are many ways to assess the same data, we all have our own viewpoint. I personally have a simpathy for Paul he must have lived with the thought that but for Jesus's intervention he may have stayed the bad way he was. He certainly appears to me as a man constantly trying to wipe out past sins, it makes him very human and approachable.


    PSacramento posted Fri, 21 Aug 2009 14:14:00 GMT(8/21/2009)

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    I doubt we will ever have a complete picture of Paul.

    As it is, we may speculate that when Luke wrote Acts he wrote it from his viewpoint of what he saw or was told, as such,it a sa second and 3rd party account.

    The letters that Paul wrote were aimed at particular groups with particular issues and whiel we can get a preyy good view of his beliefs, it is still not the complete picture, even more so with the question of him being the author of ALL his letters.

    I think that its best in the cases of uncertainly to focus on the parts of certainty as carry "more weight".

    Paul was a converted pharisse, converted by a vision of Jesus, he viewed Hope, Faith and Love as the "pillars" of his Faith, Love being greater than all.

    He viewed faith in Jesus and the New Covenant as the crucial for salvation because itw as from there that good deeds come from, the knowledge that we don't HAVE to do good to be saved, allows us to do good out of love, sans conditions.


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