I have been arguing that most Jews rejected Christian claims about Jesus because Jesus was just the *opposite* of what the messiah was expected to be. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who would overthrow God’s enemies and set up a new kingdom on earth in which God’s will would prevail. Jesus was and did none of that. He was a lower-class peasant who was arrested, humiliated, tortured, and executed. He didn’t destroy God’s enemies. He was crushed by them.
Paul is the first Jewish persecutor of the Christians that we know by name; there is really no doubt that he was bent on wiping out the followers of Jesus – since he himself says so (and says so to his own shame [Gal 1:13); he did not gain any glory for this rather despicable past) (despicable in both his eyes and the eyes of the Christians). Presumably his reasons for hating and opposing the followers of Jesus were comparable to those of other Jewish persecutors.
But Paul gives us another even more specific hint of why Jesus, in particular, could not be the messiah – at least as he thought prior to becoming a follower of Jesus. The hint comes in his exposition of his gospel message in his letter to the Galatians.
Galatians is a short but very difficult letter, arguably the most…
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