I ended my last post with a question: Suppose Matthew really did think a person had to be a Jew in order to be a follower of Jesus. Would that indicate that he himself was born and raised a Jew? In this case I think there is a clear and certain answer. But it may not be the answer you’d expect. I think the answer is certainly No.

The reason is that we know of other Christians in the early church who insisted that to be a follower of Jesus, one had to adopt the ways of Judaism. And these other Christians were themselves born and raised pagan.

The clearest instance involves Paul’s opponents in Galatia. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is one of the most dense and difficult writings of the New Testament. There are verses and even passages that are, in my opinion, virtually impenetrable, statements that Paul makes that I still have difficulty figuring out after years of thinking and reading about it. But the basic situation that prompted the letter, in any event, is crystal clear – as seen from what Paul says in the letter itself. It is this:


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