How Paul persecuted the Christians. I pointed out in the previous post that prior to his conversion Paul was a persecutor of the church, almost certainly because he objected to what their basic and fundamental message was, that Jesus was the messiah (despite the fact – or rather because of the fact – that he had been crucified). But how exactly did Paul engage in his persecution? He himself says that it was violent persecution. What could that mean?
We don’t know exactly how he proceeded. Paul never describes his persecuting activities. The book of Acts indicates that he ravaged the gatherings of Christians and dragged people off to prison (8:3). That’s inherently implausible: we don’t know of anything like Jewish prisons and we can assume that Roman authorities were not inclined to provide cell space for Jewish sectarians who happened to be proclaiming a rather strange message.
How Paul Persecuted the Christians
So what was he doing to Christians during his persecution of them? There is one intriguing and possibly helpful comment that Paul makes about his *own* persecution (that is, later, after he believed in Jesus, how he himself suffered at the hands of others), where he says that after his conversion, he received on five occasions the “forty lashes minus one” (2 Corinthians 11:24). That is a reference to …
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