Jewish Antiquity Household: Marriage and Progeny of the Apostle Paul

Tommy J. Cattey

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the marriage and progeny status of the Pharisee Saul/Apostle Paul. In the New Testament Scripture, Paul claimed that during his Pharisee life he was a zealot for the oral and writlfrom which he had obtained righteousness, and followed Jewish customs.  

The Torah, Mishna, customs and zealotry of the first century were studied to discern their marriage stipulations for a Jewish male. The premise of this paper is what Saul, as a zealot, would have done concerning marriage and progeny. A probability syllogism was constructed: Saul, most likely was married with children.
I.          Modern Church Tradition


       Tradition is operationally defined as what one calls something when they have forgotten or never knew the reason for which they do or say the specified thing of question. Christians who espouse Scriptural interpretation with limited self-study of the Scripture perpetrate such tradition of the Scripture. These traditionalists attend Sunday school and participate in Bible studies for years with limited scholastic Scriptural matriculation. Their most arduous Scriptural research is accomplished by the method of ‘go ask the pastor.’ Within this consternating method lies the assumption the pastor has a consummate knowledge of the Scripture. The accumulation of years will solidify their doctrine, with little intrinsic knowledge of the doctrines origin, which was derived from the ‘go ask the pastor’ method. Modern Church tradition is augmented by a Church Scriptural educational system which may require little from its participants.  

     The Scripture must be the authority for Christian research of divine thought. There is no conflict of His thought within Scripture. Scripture should always be the first choice for one who wishes to unfold His truths through correlation with other Scripture. God, in His wisdom, may open the palms of His cupped hands only a short distance and for limited duration to give us but a glimpse of His thought. Often this glimpse is only a synopsis, not a treatise, of His thought. The research of divine thought may be accomplished through a systematic inductive study. The purpose of an inductive study is to discover the intent of His thought and to prevent over interpretation and under interpretation.

      It is difficult, if not impossible, to study divine thought without presuppositions and pre-understandings of the Scripture (Klein and Hubbard 1993: 7). The student of Scripture must be constantly aware of this struggle.  However, God has promised the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit to clarify His thought (1 Cor. 2:12). The Holy Spirit, as promised, will spiritually appraise the unfolding of His thought. This illumination for interpretation does not occur by merely placing the Bible on ones head and hoping osmosis does the work. The student must provide the discernment, time and work.

 Modern Church tradition states the Apostle Paul was not married. A few may concede the possibility that he was married during his pre Christian Pharisaic life. However, even these purport he was a widower whose wife died prior to his conversion. Almost no one espouses that he may have been married during his Christian Apostolic life and into the time of his writing of divine thought.


Marriage and Progeny of Saul


            This research will investigate Paul’s marital status during his Pharisaic life and his life as an Apostle. A marital hypothesis which is established for the Pharisee Saul/Apostle Paul from the following Scriptural passages in which Paul espouses his zealotry status: Galatians 1:14 and Acts 22:3.

The following probability syllogism expresses this marital hypothesis:

The law stipulates that every Jewish man of age should be married and have children.
The Pharisee Saul was a Jewish man of age who claimed to have obtained righteousness through blameless obedience to the works of the law.
Therefore the Pharisee Saul was most likely married and had children.


The written law (Torah), Jewish oral law (Mishneh) and Jewish customs from antiquity will be investigated to determine their possible influence on the mind set of the Pharisee Saul.

The Scripture is the authority for establishing this hypothesis. However, one must approach investigation of the law with understanding of the Jewish male mind set from antiquity. Of preeminent understanding is the mind set of the Pharisee Saul. The metamorphic mind set change from the Pharisee Saul into the Apostle Paul did not negate his Jewish heritage. A duty incumbent upon this understanding is the setting aside of the mind set of a modern day gentile Christian. 


III.       Saul: A Zealot of the Law


The Apostle Paul (Saul) was a self proclaimed zealot of Judaism. His enthusiastic proclamation denoted a fervent passion for both the written law (Torah) and the oral law (Mishnah Torah). This passion for the law, from the Apostle’s Pharisaic life, is recorded twice in the New Testament Scripture: Acts 22:3 (written law) and Galatians 1: 14 (oral law). It is these two verses, written by Luke and Paul respectively that will provide the Scriptural basis of the marital hypothesis for Saul/Paul.  

Luke writes in the Book of Acts: …”educated under Gamaliel strictly according to the law of our fathers … being zealous for God.” (Acts 22:3).  Paul is stating a defense (for his previous actions) to a group of men to whom he relates the sharing of a common Jewish heritage. An education within the school of Gamaliel afforded Saul impeccable Jewish scholastic credentials. The word ‘according’ (Gk. kata) expresses metaphorically a standard of comparison, which is modified by the word ‘strictly’ (Gk. akribeia), meaning an accuracy to the point of exactness. The phrase ‘strictly according to’ means conformity to a standard without error. The word

‘law (Gk. nomos) means Mosaic statutes (Torah). The phrase ‘of our [(fathers)’ (Gk. patroos)]’ means possession which is transmitted from father to son.  The word ‘zealous’ (Gk. zelotes) denotes a state of being, a person (zealot) who is eagerly desirous of Jewish law. Saul’s devotion to the Torah constituted a state of being. This state of being was derived from a superior Torah education within which there was no error. Saul observed and applied the works of the written law within Pharisaic Judaism without error.

Paul describes his Pharisaic life in his letter to the Church at Galatia: … “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my countrymen… being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” (Gal. 1:14). The phrase “…more extremely…” (Gk. perissos), is one word in Greek meaning abundance beyond measure.  The word ‘zealous’ (Gk. zelotes) has the same state of being connotation as the previous usage by Luke: a person (zealot) who is eagerly desirous of Jewish traditions.  The word ‘traditions’ (Gk. paradosis) means injunctions that are not recorded in the written law and which are orally communication from one to another, i.e. oral law. The word ‘ancestral’ (Gk. patrikos) means to receive from one’s father.  The phrase ‘ancestral traditions’ has an equivalent meaning to the phrase ‘of our fathers’ which was previously used by Luke to describe Saul’s devotion to the Torah. As with the written law, Saul observed and applied the works of the oral law within Pharisaic Judaism without error.

According to Acts 22:3 and Galatians 1:14, the Pharisee Saul was a zealot for both the written law and oral law.  In today’s vernacular, Saul was a zealot from the top one tenth of one percent of radical Judaism. We will look to the Scripture and Jewish writings to determine the meaning and implications of the phrase ‘zealot for the law’. We shall also investigate the extent to which he observed and applied the injunctions of the law to both his own life and the life of other Jews. Stated differently, we shall look for what a zealot of the law would say and do concerning marriage.


            Josephus described four schools of thought (philosophies) within Judaism: Pharisee, Sadducee, Essence and Zealot (Maier 1988: 260-262). Josephus indicated that the Pharisee and Zealot philosophies were in close agreement. However, the zealots processed an extreme desire for liberty with only God as their leader. The Pharisee and Zealot groups shared closely aligned ideology within Judaism. The Scripture describes these schools of thought as sects (Gk. hairesis): Sadducee, Pharisee, Nazarene, and Way. A sect represents a divergent view from the majority but are still members within the collective whole. The Greek word ‘schisma’ indicates a sect with a divergent view in which a permanent split occurs from the central core, which expels them from the collective whole. The followers of the Way sect (Christians) would be considered a schisma from Judaism. The Way (Gk. hados) means road or street. It is used metonymously as a figure of speech for Jesus. The ideology of the Way sect is that Jesus is the Way (Messiah) and is the only medium (road) to God and eternal life.

The Pharisee Saul was not a rogue mongrel with an affinity for indiscriminate persecutions of the Jewish populate. His mission was to discredit and eradicate a schisma (the Way) from Judaism through the use of violence. Luke used the following terminology in the book of Acts to describe this violence:

8:1       Saul was in hearty agreement with putting them to death.

8:3       … ravaging the Church … dragging of men and women … putting them in prison.

9:1       … breathing threats and murder … bring them bound to Jerusalem.

9:26     … they were afraid of him …

13:1     … how much harm he had done.

22:4     … persecuted the way to death … putting men and women into prison.

22:5     … to bring those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.

22:19   … imprison and beat.

26:9     … I had to do many things hostile.

26:11   … I punished them often … I tried to force them to blaspheme … being furiously       

                enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.


Paul used the following terminology to describe this violence:

           Galatians 1:13 … “I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to    

                                         destroy it.”

           Philippians 3:6 … “as to zeal, a persecutor of the Church.”


These were not self proclaimed acts of violence but Saul possessed written authorization from the Chief Priest and the Counsel (Sanhedrin) to enact this persecution of the Way.   (Acts 9:1, 9:14, 9:21, 22:5). Saul was secure in his persecution of the Way, he was abrogating a schisma from Judaism which had blasphemed and abridged the written and oral law. He was conducting his life with a perfectly good conscience before God, making Israel safe for Judaism through sanction by the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1).

The propensity for radical zealot ideology within Judaism originated from the hatred of sin by Phinehas (Num. 25:1-11). Phinehas, when he saw that an Israelite man had brought a Midianite prostitute from Baal of Peor into proximity of God’s Tabernacle, impaled both the man and women with a spear. His zeal in killing the flagrant sinners was considered by God to be atonement for Israel and the plague which had affected Israel abated. God rewarded Phinehas and his family with a perpetual priesthood.

The Phinehas account of godly zealotry was the prolusion for the progenitor of radical zealot ideology within Judaism from the Maccabean era. Mattathias, patriarch of the Maccabees family, led a revolt against King Antiochus of Syria Palestine (1 Macc 2:1-69). Antiochus had looted and desecrated the Temple with pagan sacrifice. Further, he issued an edict requiring pagan worship throughout Israel. Mattathias refused to abandon the Torah and returned from Jerusalem to his home in Modein. When Antiochus’s men came to Modein to enforce the edict, a Jewish man relented and offered sacrifice to a pagan god on the altar in compliance. When Mattathias wittiness the pagan worship: “ … he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the alter. At the same time he killed the King’s officer … and tore down the altar ”  (1 Macc. 2:24-25). The Maccabean war had begun; as Mattathias fled Modein he announced: “… Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me”  (1Macc. 2:27).

Mattathias radical zealot ideology which includes violence (death) is based on the sanction for capital punishment by the Dueteronomic law (Duet. 13: 6-11). Capital punishment of the idolater demonstrated allegiance to God and absolute rejection of pagan god worship. On his deathbed Mattathias told his sons, “… show zeal for the law and give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors. Remember the deeds of the ancestor (Phinehas) …  you will receive great honor and an everlasting name” (1 Macc 2:49-51). Mattathias pernicious willingness to righteously and summarily adjudicate Torah justice gave birth to radical zealot ideology within Judaism.                     

The mindset of the Pharisee Saul’s radical zealot ideology procured him righteousness with the Dueteronomic law as its progeny. This righteousness through works was obtained through scrupulous adherence down to the smallest letter and stroke of the law. The Dueteronomic law requires acute compliance to its commands: … “cursed is he who does not confirm the words of the law by doing them …” (Duet. 27: 26). The Hebrew Text is replete with passages supporting this divine accumulation. The writers of the New Testament also wrote of this command:  “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all”  (James 2:10). The post metamorphosis Saul (Paul the Apostle) wrote: … “every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole law.”

(Gal. 5:3).The law is a unit, there is no respite or grace for failure; one incidence of non compliance makes one a sinner and imposes condemnation.      

The Pharisee Saul adhered to the whole law: “… as to the righteous which is in the law, found blameless” (Phil. 3:6). The word ‘blameless’ (Gk. amemptos) means without fault. This premise is supported by the previously cited passage from Acts 23:1: “… I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” In Saul’s mindset there was nothing to condemn him; he had been faithful toward the law of God in every aspect. He had obtained righteousness from the law. We will now look at what this adherence to the oral and written law would entail as it relates to marriage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



IV. Marital Stipulations within the Oral Law


The Oral Law is known as the Mishnah Torah. The codification of the Mishnah Torah occurs in the Babyllonian Talmud.  The Talmud was written by Torah scholars; content includes the Mishnah Torah and its interpretation and comments. The Talmud is a rather rambling scholarly discussion (legal opinions and debate) of the oral tradition received by Moses on Mount Sinai from God (according to Judasim). This discussion is at times difficult to follow. A Mishnah is recorded along with its Gemara or commentary. This Gemara includes the recordings of many Rabbis and what they espouse concerning the particular point of discussion.  A subject division within the Talmud or Mishnah is called a tractate. The Mishnah is also divided by subject into seders (order). These divisions are denoted by number with a letter subscript. The Tulmud and Mishnah are somewhat difficult reading.

The Jewish male marriage responsibilities are recorded from 62a to 64b of the tractate Yebamont and seder Nashim of the Babylonian Talmud (Editor Rabbi Epsteir: 1994). The sequence order of the Talmud will be followed; the Mishnah, the Gemara and then the discussion by several Rabbis will be presented:

Mishnah (61b): “A man shall not abstain from the performance of the duty of the propagation of the race (Gen 1:28), unless he already has children (as to the number), Beth Shammai ruled: two males, and Beth Hillel rules: male and female. For it is stated in Scripture, male and female he created them (Gen 5:2).

Gemara: This implies, if he has children he may abstain from performing the duty of propagation, but not from living with his wife.  This supports the statement R. Nahman made in the name of Samuel who ruled that although a man may have many children he must not remain without a wife, for it is said in the Scriptures, it is not good that the man should be alone (Gen. 2:18).


The following summaries were made:  

A man should not give up having sexual relations unless he has children.
The House of Shammai says, two boys.
The House of Hillel says, a boy and a girl.
The man is required to be fruitful and multiply but not the woman.


The following Rabbis comments are recorded concerning the Jewish male marriage responsibilities:

R. Nahman: … a man must not remain without a wife, for is said in the Scriptures, It is not good that the man should be alone (Gen 2:18).
R. Eleazar: Any man who has no wife is no proper man. For it is said male and female created He them and called their name Adam.  
R. Eleazar: He who does not engage in propagation of the race is as though he sheds blood.
R. Hama b Hanina: As soon as a man takes a wife his sins are buried; for it is said, Whoso findeth a wife findeth a great good and obtained favor from the Lord.  
R. Tanhum: Any man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness.
R. Joshua b Levi: It is a man’s duty to pay a visit to his wife when he starts on a journey.


Rabbi Judah b Tema listed in Abot 5:21, the responsibilities which are incumbent upon the Jewish male during stages of his life:

five to Scripture,
ten to Mishnah,
thirteen to religious studies,
fifteen to Talmud,
eighteen to the wedding canopy,
twenty to responsibility for providing for a family,
thirty to fullness of strength,
forty to understanding,
fifty to counsel,
sixty to old age,
seventy to ripe old age,
eighty to remarkable strength,
ninety to a bowed back,
at a hundred –he is like a corpse who has already passed and gone from this world.


The general Rabbis’ consensus appeared to be that a Jewish male should have a wife with whom he establishes a family. With his wife he is expected to engage in regular sexual relations which produce children. No comments were found which inferred that a man should remain without a wife for any reason.

            The Mishnah [oral law, (ancestral traditions)] (Gal. 1:14), Gemara, with consensus Rabbis’ support, expects a Jewish male to have a wife and have at least two children. There does not appear to be an extenuating circumstance for which he may be excused from this responsibility. For the Jewish man of age not to comply with his marriage responsibilities would have placed him outside the general consensus of the Talmud.  Consequently, he would be disobedient to the oral tradition received by Moses on Mount Sinai from Yahweh.  


V. Marital Stipulations within the Written Law


The Taryag Mitzvot is a list of 613 Jewish divine commands given by God in the Torah. The singular case for each of the 613 commands is Mitzvah.  A Taryag Mitzvot is a type of commentary for each Mitzvah. There are numerous lists, which may vary in order and interpretation. The Mitzvot, which is the most widely accepted list of divine commands within the Torah, was composed by Rabbi Mashe ben Maimon. In order of listening, (using Rabbi Maimon’s numerical system) there are two Mitzvah that apply to marriage:

To be fruitful and multiply, as Genesis 9:7 states: “ … be fruitful and multiply …”
To have sexual relations, only within marriage, as Deuteronomy 24:1 states: If a man takes a women (as a wife) …”


Rabbi Maimon also composed the Mishneh Torah (Birnbaum: 1944), not to be confused with the Oral Law, which is basically a legal summary of Jewish teachings. It is noted as a body of Jewish religious laws that have been deducted from the Torah and are applicable for all ages (past, present and future) and places (. The Mishneh Torah is considered by Jewish scholars as an authority of the law.  There are 14 Books in the Mishneh Torah. Each book has several titled sections and each section has numerous chapters. The paragraphs of each chapter are individually numbered within the respective chapter.

Book IV: Women, chapters six through sixteen of the Mishneh Torah includes Sections entitled Marriage, Divorce and Levirate Marriage. The broad categories of betrothal/marriage, properties, maintenance and heirs are included in considerable detail within Book IV: Women. However, with the exception of Levirate marriage, there are no direct instructions to the Jewish man to marry. The emphasis of Book IV: Women, resides in the numerous factors which may influence a Jewish marriage. This book is more ‘how to marry’ rather then ‘whether or not to marry.’

Book I: Knowledge, includes Sections entitled Fundamentals of the Torah, Ethical Ideas, Torah Study, Idolatry and Heathenism, and Repentance.  Chapter five of the Section Ethical Ideas, indicates that a wise man is noted by his moral and ethical traits, which distinguishes him from other people. Paragraph 11 of Chapter five states:

“Men of intelligence first acquire a livelihood, then a home, and then they marry.

Fools, on the other hand, marry first, acquire a home if they can afford it, and

then seek a trade, or else they appeal to charity.”


It is not a consideration that a wise man will marry, but the temporal ascertainment of the marriage event occurrence which attest to his wisdom. 

             Chapter Three of the Section Ethical Ideas from Book I: Knowledge, encompasses man’s activity and physical needs with knowing God. Preemptively, nothing in man’s domain is outside of his pursuit of having a relationship with God. Paragraph 2 of Chapter three states:

            “A man should direct his mind and all his actions exclusively to knowing God. … all must be bent in this direction. … when engaged in business or in some wage earning, one’s aim should not be only to hoard money; instead one is to do these things in order to obtain his physical needs: food, drink, shelter and matrimony.”   


These physical needs of man should be practiced in order to maintain good health for his body. Man should control his desires and wants; he should focus on his physical needs in a manner which would be pleasing to God. One of these physical needs is marriage.

            The custom of Jewish inheritance emanates from God’s covenant with Abram. Abram’s righteousness was obtained through belief in God’s promise that he would have a male heir and that his descendents would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens (Gen. 15:4-5). This custom is augmented by the Law: “You may bequeath them (Gentile slaves) to your sons after you, to receive as a possession, …”. The verse is used to denote the importance of progeny: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” (Prov.13:22). From these verses Jewish thought deducts that a good man needs children to demonstrate his goodness through leaving them his wealth. The law stipulations concerning inheritance are conveyed in both the Mishneh and Mishneh Torah.

            Book XIII: Civil Laws, includes Sections entitled Hiring, Borrowing and Depositing; Creditor and Debtor; Plaintiff and Defendant; and Inheritance. Chapter One of the Section Inheritance establishes the line of succession for legal heirs. The succession of heirs is lengthy and involved. Chapter Two and Three discuss the privilege of the first born son.

            Succinctly stated, when a Jewish man dies his children are his first tier of heirs. If the man has no children, the inheritance would go to his father. If the father is not living the inheritance would go the father’s brothers. Without children the Jewish man does not establish a lineage for which he may provide material wealth to the heirs of his own household. Thus, the family name has diminished or possibly ended with his demise.

From outside the Jewish mindset, the Mishneh Torah does not directly command that a Jewish man of age should marry and have children. The commands which directly impinge  marriage address its inchoate status, inheritance venue, ethicalness and divorce. However, contained within the Mishneh Torah is the connotation continuum that a Jewish man will marry and have children. Metaphorically, the Jewish man is not commanded to breath. The intrinsic value of breathing (life) is however permeated throughout the Torah. Breathing is an autonomic function of the central nervous system; one does not require a command to participate in this activity. One understands that the lack of breathing would precipitate a pernicious effect upon his well being. The Mishneh Torah seems to assume the Jewish man of age does not need to be told that he must marry and have children; however, he may need instructions concerning the status quo of marriage.


VI.       Marital Stipulations within Jewish Customs


 The Apostle Paul, when he made his defense before Agrippa, proclaimed concerning Agrippa: “an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews”  (Acts 26:3). King Agrippa was most likely the last man ever, by anyone, to be bestowed this distinction.  The word ‘customs’ (Gk. ethos) means a usual practice or manner whether established by law or not. Michael Saltow (Satlow 2001: 162) defines custom as an “activity that is usual and expected but among other things, not legistrated.”  Saltow indicated that Jewish customs in antiquity were marked by considerable variance through a process he called selective ritualization by a given Rabbi. Generally, customs include some input from personal preference aside from the Law and have a relative informal atmosphere. Customs imply non-specificity; however, they are apparently true or right based on the environment in which they are in force. For example, when I was a boy I would question why I had to obey one of my father’s rules or his way of doing something. Now my father was a very large and powerful man; he would give me ‘the look’ and say “boy, because I said so.” To preserve my future state of being, this was good enough for me. Likewise, we often adhere to customs because someone or something said so and that is good enough for us.

            Satlow (Satlow: 168) indicated that the Jewish wedding from antiquity was an anthropological life-style transition. He stated: “for men, especially in Palestine, a wedding allowed entrance into respectability and the body politic.”  He also indicated that Jewish teachings consider marriage as an ideal human state and as a basic social state which was established by God at the time of creation.

            According to Jewish customs marriage was an institute ordained by God. The Jewish male of age married in part to please Him. Risto Santala (Santala 2004: 87) indicated that according to the Talmud: “God is not pleased with a man who is already 20 years old and not yet married. If someone does not get married he is not a complete man.”   This statement reflects the origin of what Santala referred to as old Jewish traditions. It is a good representation of the Jewish mindset concerning marriage, acquiescing God’s divine will, from antiquity.

            Jewish marriage customs pertained not only to Palestine, but also to Jews thoughtout the Diaspora. Will Deming (Deming 2004: 87) quoted the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexander, who was a contemporary of the Apostle Paul, as stating: “ all true servants of God will fulfill the law of nature guarding the procreation of children.” Deming continued: “without a wife a man is imperfect and homeless …” Philo considered marriage as the mainstay of Jewish society through which the Mosaic Law was applicable. Basically, a good Jewish man of age would have a household, a wife and children, for the benefit and security of the state. Thus, he would fulfill the will of God.

            Ralph Gower (Gower 1987: 57) wrote the leader of the Jewish family from antiquity was the father. This family was an extended unit which was inclusive of all relatives. The leader of the extended family was the sheikh.   The family unit was considered the domain of the father over which he exercised considerable authority. Santala addressed the importance of this family unit: “… the significance of grandparents in their grandchildren’s life was decisive” (Santala: 30). A son would obey his father who in turn would obey the family unit father. Thus, the family heritage and training would pass from the father to the son. The disobedient son would be considered in violation of God’s will and would be ostracized from his family and the Jewish community. This would place him in danger of loosing his portion of God’s blessings for Israel.

            Hillel was from the tribe of Benjamin. This means that both Saul and his teacher Gamaliel (grandson of Hillel) were Benjaminites. The Apostle Paul also claimed a Pharisee lineage (similar to Gamaliel) for his Jewish heritage and training: “… I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees …”  (Acts 23:6). This lineage was based on the law: “ … as to the law a Pharisee.” (Phil. 3:5). Paul’s claim: “… I am a Pharisee …” is present tense. He is referring to the time for which he is presently addressing the Sanhedrin. Paul still considered himself a Pharisee, in that he maintained a love for the divine law of God (Torah). Paul further claims he is a son of Pharisees. The phrase ‘a son of” (Gk. huios) means descendent, which is in the genitive case indicating possession.  This possession is applied toward the plural (Pharisees). This lineage started with his father, most likely included his grandfather and possibly his great grandfather. Paul is saying that he possesses obedience to the law as did his father, his father’s father and beyond. There are two questions which must be asked. First, would this Pharisaic affinity expect Saul to establish a household; for which he could contribute (for the benefit of God) a male offspring?  Secondly, would Saul have complied with their expectations?  The answer to both questions would have most likely have been ‘yes’.


 VII:    1 Corinthians 7:7-8: Not Married or Self-Control


     Modern Church traditionalist purport from the context of 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 that the Apostle Paul was not married, at least during the time of his writing of this Epistle. The New International Version (NIV) Bible translates verse 8: “… It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” The NIV does not use the word unmarried for verse 7: “I wish that all men were as I am.” In verse 1 of chapter 7 the NIV translates the phrase touch a women (NASB: “… it is good for a man not to touch a woman”) as marry: “… it is good for a man not to marry.” Many traditionalists report that the context of this passage, chapter 7 verse 1 to 9, is a treatise on ones martial status in which Paul says he is unmarried and advised others not to marry. Those who concede the possibility of an earlier marriage indicate that he may have been a widower, whose spouse died before his transformation.

The passage of 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 is written within a common literality style of antiquity in which Paul implores readers to be like him.  Brian Dodd ( Dodd 1999: 15) refers to this style as Paul’s Paradigmatic I. In situational context, Paul encourages his readers to emulate his personal lifestyle examples. This imitation of him would best enable the Corinthians to endure trials within the world system in which they lived. This paradigmatic I, which he uses on numerous occasions, was not based on his own merits but those of Christ (1Cor 11:1).

            The testing of one’s marriage virtue through porneia is a demonically inspired endeavor (verse 5). This emphatic position of the Apostle Paul is a concession because marriage is not a requirement for those within the kingdom. The grammatical-lexical mode of the concession is written within and may be illustrated as a sandwich style:

Top piece of bread: self-control. (verse 5)
Condiments and meat: Paul’s paradigmatic I. (verses 7 and 8)
Bottom piece of bread: self-control. (verse 9)                                                     


Self-control is the premise upon which Paul’s paradigm to emulate him is constructed. This premise of self-control is applicable both to the married and the unmarried.

            The contextual antidote for the lustful lifestyle that perpetrates sexual immoralities (Gk. porneia) which also includes adultery (Gk. moicheuo), is sexual intercourse of marriage. Both the married and the unmarried Christians from the Corinth Church were but a short distant from the moral laxity of their former lives within the world system (verse 11). The human need for sexual contact and intercourse is very strong and directive for all men and women (anthropos) which includes the Christian husband (Gk.arner) and wife (Gk.gune).

From Romans 7: 15-15, Paul speaks of a sin nature that dwells deep within him:  

“… but I am doing the very thing I hate. … So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. … For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. … I find then the principle that evil is present in me. …”


Throughout this dialogue, Paul speaks of a sin nature in the present tense. This personalizes the issue in that he is speaking from experience as a believer. This sin disposition is that which resides deep within the mortal existence of man (inner man) and is responsible for his sinful acts. The word sin (Gk. harmartia) means an offense, which implies guilt, in relation to God. In context it designates the seat of his carnal propensities. Man is responsible for his sin and its origin. Paul defines flesh (Gk.sarx) metaphorically as that location within him (Gk. enoikeo) where sin dwells (Gk. oikeo). Theologically, Paul is stating that sin, as an offense to God, indwells his flesh. As soma (body) and sarx (flesh) are nearly synonymous, one can reach out and touch his sin by touching his body. It is this sin nature which also controls the Christians (both the married and unmarried) at the Corinth Church.

The top piece of bread of the Corinthian sandwich represents the married Christians. 

  These respective Christian husbands and wives were abstaining from their godly conjugal intercourse and physical contact. For the sake of clarity to both the husband and wife, Paul emphatically commands: stop depriving (Gk. apostero) one another …” . This Greek word ‘apostero’ means to defraud, i.e. they were defrauding themselves of their godly appointed responsibilities of mutual sexual gratification. This abstention from conjugal intercourse presented a time during which demonically inspired temptation could attack their spiritual immaturity. These Christians did not have (lacked) Paul’s spiritual maturity of self-control (akrasia) to withstand Satan during his attacks against their marriage. The Greek word ‘akrasia’ means sexual incontinence or lack of power to control. If these Christians abstained for a prolonged period, they ultimately would fall to demonically inspired temptation and would participate in moral inequities. To paraphrase Paul stating with a loud voice, do not do this you lack the self control to withstand Satan’s attacks of temptation.

            Demonically inspired temptation is not a sin. Scripturally, sin is the end result of one’s duration of travel along a progressively muddy road (James 1:13-15):

“Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God can not be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”


Temptation is the product of evil (Gk. kakos). In the moral sense, evil is the vicinage of endogenous vice. In this context it is that which is within the person upon which evil can incite temptation. It is within their inner person. Likewise, lust (Gk. epithumia) is not a sin. James indicates that one is carried away and enticed by lust. Lust is an inordinate sensual desire along the long muddy road of temptation. Christ indicated in Matthew 5:28: “everyone who looks at a women with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This lustful desire within one’s heart can lead to a sinful act, i.e. lust becomes adultery. Within today’s vernacular, a man has two free looks (temptation) at a woman which is not lust. However, the third look is lust especially if he drools. Once the man drools he is at a point where he could accomplish sexual intercourse or sensual touch with the women. It is at this point where Christ said adultery has been committed (Matt. 5: 27-28).The pathway of this muddy world system road is first temptation, which leads to lust and ultimately sin with the finality of spiritual death upon touch.  

The bottom piece of bread of the Corinthian sandwich represents the unmarried Christians.  Paul is no less emphatic with his command of self control (Gk. egkrateuomai) to these unmarried Christians. This Greek word means to have sexual continence.  Paul uses the coordinating conjunction ‘but’ as a transition from his paradigmatic I (verse 8) to his command of self control. However, Paul is not saying that they lack self control (akrasia); the use of the Greek word egkrateuomai impales the implicit connotation that they are not exercising egkrateuomai (self control). This would imply that they are participating in sexual immoralities out of personal choice. The implication is strengthened by use of the phrase “burn with passion.” This phrase is one word in Greek (puroo). It demonstrates the metaphorical destructive imagery of fire. As burning has a large and destructive consequence on wood; non-connubial passion has a large and destructive consequence on one’s life. These Christians are being consumed by their sexual passions. The antidote to this destructive influence is marriage. 

The meat of the Corinth sandwich is Paul’s paradigmatic I. His self control of sexual gratification is the example which serves as a model for their sexual morality. This self control is a divine gift (Gk. charisma) (1 Cor. 7:7) departed from God to the recipient Christian. Not all Christians process this gift from God nor exercise it in a spiritually mature manner. The spiritual gift of self control for sexual gratification is identical for both the married and unmarried Christian. However, self control is spiritually adjudicated to the married and unmarried Corinthian Christian in a specifically variant manner. Paul tells the married not to abstain. He tells the unmarried not to fornicate. He commands that sexual gratification may only be mediated through conjugal intercourse for those of either group who may not emulate his self control. To paraphrase Paul, be like me and have sexual control over your body and mind so that you do not sin.

VIII.    Conclussion

            Most likely, the Pharisee Saul established a household which included a wife and progeny. His marriage would have most likely occurred at or shortly after he became of age for a Jewish man (18 years old). His progeny would have included at least two children one of whom would have been a male.

            The above martial hypothesis for the Pharisee Saul is founded in part on the following New Testament Scriptural Truths:

The Pharisee Saul lived his life with a perfectly good conscience before God. (Acts 23:1)
The Pharisee Saul considered that he had obtained righteousness through his blameless adherence to the works of the law. (Philippians 3:6)
The Pharisee Saul’s extreme zealotry espoused strict adherence to both the written law (Acts 22:6) and oral law (Galatians 1:14).
The Pharisee Saul adhered to Jewish customs as a Hebrew of Hebrews (Philippians 3: 6)
The Pharisee Saul was of lineal descent from Pharisee ancestry. (Acts 23:6) – This lineage included at least a father and a grandfather. A son would have allowed him to continue his Hebrew heritage.


The Pharisee Saul was most likely a zealot of the Maccabee order. This mindset of Saul was constructed from adherence to the smallest letter and stroke of the law. His practice of religion was that which Christ spoke of when He said, “… unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees …” (Matt. 5:20). Their paradigm of righteous, through scrupulous adherence to the law, was the works parameter of righteous for entrance into the Kingdom. The righteousness of the Pharisee Saul, within his mindset, superseded nearly all of the Pharisees within Judaism. This righteousness emanated from his adherence to the works of the law.

            Lack of obedience to the marriage and progeny stipulations of the written law, oral law and Jewish customs would have abrogated one’s claims of zealotry for the law. This would have precipitated denial of righteousness through works of the law. This man would be outside the mainstream of Jewish law and society through abdication of these laws and customs. The zealotry and righteousness of the Pharisee Saul without marriage and progeny are diametrically opposed. The Apostle Paul’s claims of zealotry and righteousness are of an affinity group structure with marriage and progeny.    





Birnbaum, Philip


1944    Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. New York: Hebrew Publishing Company.


Buxbaum, Yitzhak.


1994    The Life and Teachings of Hillel. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


Deming, Will


Paul on Marriage & Celibacy, The Hellenistic Background of 1 Corinthians 7.

Grand Rapids: William B. Eermans Publishing Company.


Dodd, Brian


Paul’s Paradigmatic I: Personal Example of Literary Strategy.  Scheffield:

             Scheffield Academis Press.


Epsteir (Rabbi).


            1994    Hebrew English Edition of the Babylonian Talmud. London: The Sonano Press.


Gower, Ralph


            1987    The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. Chicago: Moody Press.


Kee, Howard


1989                Cambridge Annotated Study Apocrypha. Cambridge: University Press.


Klein, William, Craig Hubbard


1993                Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Dallas: World Publishing.


Maier, Paul


1988                Josephus The Essential Writings. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.


Neusner, Jacob


1988                The Mishnah A New Translation. New Haven: Yale University Press.



Samuelson, Norbert


2003                Jewish Philosophy. London-New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.




Santala, Risto


1995                Paul: The Man and the Teacher in the Light of Jewish Sources.  Jerusalem: Keren Ahvah Meshihit.


Satlow, Michael.


2001                Jewish Marriage in Antiquity.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Traina, Robert.


1985                Methodical Bible Study. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.







 Romans 8:28: A Promise From God
By Tommy J. Cattey
May 25, 2012


The application of Romans 8: 28 is a stalwart of modern Church tradition: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”. The author has heard pastors and teachers cite the verse with limited study of the divine thought and context of the verse. The citation of Romans 8:28 has become a standard permutation and extension that God uses tragic events to ameliorate the spiritual maturity of a Christian.

The purpose of this research is to apply Inductive Scriptural Study (ISS) to Romans 8: 28. The goal is to write a literal interpretation with applicable theological and personal principles. The hope (Scriptural definition) is that Christians will accurately understand and apply the divine thought within this verse.

This research paper applies literal, sequential interpretation from the first word to the last word of Romans 8:28. The structure of this information is provided through ISS. Word study is an integral component of this ISS. This format structure may produce a somewhat difficult reading style. However, the intent of this paper is not entertainment but edification. The Holy Spirit will elucidate the divine thought within this verse. However, the believer must not think that He will do all the interpretation; it is called work via time and effort.  

Inductive Scriptural Study

The epistle of Romans is a formal statement of Christian doctrine by the Apostle Paul.  The theme of his epistle is the righteousness of God (1:16-17). The context of Romans chapter eight is sanctification. The immediate context (verses 18-30) is expectant living. The verse context of verse 28 is a promise from God. The epistle was written from Corinth and may have been delivered to the gentile Church of Rome by Phoebe.

The immediate context (verses 18-30) addresses those who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. This message establishes Christian hope (faith through salvation justification and salvation sanctification) as it affects the individual believer. This Christian hope is a life toward salvation glorification. The desire of the Apostle Paul is to identify himself with those believers within the Church at Rome. He establishes his authority with the nominative personal pronoun ‘I’. He then immediate switches to various forms of plural pronouns. Within the 13 verses of the immediate context he uses these plural pronouns on approximately 22 occasions. He only uses a noun [saints (Gk. hagios)] in verse 27 to refer to these believers. Paul used the Greek word ‘hagios’ (which means Holy) to directly connect these believers to God’s will through the intercession of the Holy Spirit. These believers are purified and sanctified through this work of the Holy Spirit.

General structural observation reveals the following from verse eight:

1. The verse contains a promise concerning the work of God.
2. This promise is made to those who love God.
3. The promise is the will (cause) of God.

Those who love God are further described as:

1. foreknew
2. predestined
3. called
4. justified
5. glorified

All five of the above are aorist tense verbs. This purports the absolute certainty of their occurrence. For God to foreknow is for man to be glorified. These listed aspects of salvation proceed from justified to glorified. Sanctified, the second aspect of salvation is not listed. This absence may indicate that man may have some regard concerning his sanctification.

Verse eight contains the second ‘we know’ statement of the immediate context. The word ‘know’ (Gk. oida) means to know intuitively or instinctively. Thus, this promise from God is general knowledge to the believers within the Church at Rome.

The promise of God within the verse: ‘God causes all things work together for good’ is applicable only to those who love Him. A word study will be conducted for the word/word groups:

1. causes
2. all things
3. work together
4. good
5. love

 A summary statement will be made from the studies of these words.

The word ‘causes’ (Gk. sunergeo) means an action, through mutual cooperation, which produces a specific result. God initiates an action which when acted upon by the believer results in His will being applied to the believer. God’s will is the reception of His good by the believer. God and the believer mutually cooperate for the believer to be within His will.

The word group ‘all things’ (Gk. pis) means oneness or whole. The Greek word ‘pis’ implies a connotation of the necessities and comforts of life. A definite number of things are implied when used with an article. When used without an article and indefinite number of things is implied. Without the use of the article ‘all things’ would indicate an indefinite number. There are and indefinite number of things which are necessary to provide comfort to the believer. However, this does not directly specify or define these ‘all things’. Verse 32 indicates God freely provides these ‘all things’ to the believer through His Son. These ‘all things’ process a divine nature. 

The word group ‘work together’ (Gk. sunergeo) means a mutual action which produces specific results. This is the same meaning of that of ‘causes’. The word ‘causes’ and ‘work together’ are terms of the Greek word ‘sunergeo’. The literal rendering would be ‘sunergeo’ (causes) --- ‘pis’ (all things) --- ‘sunergeo’ (work together) or mutual cooperation --- all things--- mutual cooperation. The mutual cooperation between God and the believer are emphasized.

The word ‘good’ (Gk. agathos) means that which is useful, profitable and beneficial. This good is the believer’s conformity to Christ (verse 29). The believer’s conformity to Christ testifies to His position as head of the Church. Conformity to Christ is useful, profitable and beneficial for the believer. 

The word love (Gk. agapao) means the direction of the will in which one esteems and serves a superior with astute fidelity. Within this service is where the person realizes their joy and satisfaction. The word ‘love’ is a present active participle which means the word is used with independent existence for those who love God. These people are faithful disciples of God.
This word study provides a literal interpretation of verse 28: God and the believer mutually cooperate for the believer to be within His will. His will is the conformity of the believer to Christ. This conformity to Christ is achieved through an indefinite number of good things which are provided by God and received by the believer.

 The Second Epistle of Peter 1: 3 is a correlation passage to Romans 8:28: “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” There are eight divine qualities listed in verses 5-7:

1. diligence of faith
2. moral excellence
3. knowledge
4. self-control
5. perseverance
6. godliness
7.brotherly kindness
8. love

If these divine qualities are present and increasing the believer will be useful and fruitful in their knowledge of Christ (verse 8). The believer who lacks these divine qualities are blind or short-sighted (verse 9); they will stumble. The first group of believers will never stumble. Their entrance into the eternal kingdom (salivation glorification) will be abundantly supplied (verse 11). The practice of these divine qualities verify the believers calling and choosing (salvation justification). 

The word stumble (Gk. patio) means figuratively to fall into the practice of sin. This person will not have the success and happiness of Christ. While their salvation justification and salvation glorification are secure their salvation sanctification is not proven. Salvation sanctification is established and proven by the practice of His divine qualities.

Galatians 5: 16-26 is a second correlation passage to Romans 8:28. This passage lists the fruit of the Spirit:

1. love
2. joy
3. peace
4. patience
5. kindness
6. goodness
7. faithfulness
8. gentleness
9. self-control

The fruit of the Spirit is singular. As a group they enable the believer to walk in dependence on Christ (verse 16). The Christian who exemplifies the fruit of the Spirit have been crucified with Christ (verse 24). The depict Christ and should be readily seen within the life of the believer. It is this believer who through the fruit of the Spirit process salvation sanctification. 

 Micah 6:8 is a Hebrew Text correlation passage to Romans 8:28: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.” Chapter six context is God’s indictment against Israel for their sin. In reply Israel proposes to offer sacrifices for their sins. The context of verse six is God’s reply to their offer of sacrifices. God states that He prefers Israel to do ‘good’. He then defines good as obedient people who are just and kind.  The word good (Heb. tob) is used in a number of literary expressions. It may be used as an adjective or a noun. The connotation of ‘tob’ is a benefit which is practical or economic. The word walk (Heb. mahalak) means various kinds of goings, in this context a spiritual journey. God’s view of good are those who are obedient to Him through a sustained relationship.

Principles (Theological and Personal) and Statement

Theological Principles:

1. God makes a promise to His disciples.
2. God initiates the call for discipleship.
3. “All things’ are godly qualities.
4. “Good” is conformity to Christ.
5. God imparts His qualities to His disciples for their conformity to Christ.
6. To love God is to be His disciple.

Respective Personal Principles:

1. I will receive the promise of God.
2. I will answer His call for discipleship.
3. I will seek godly qualities.
4. I will seek conformity to Christ.
5. I will apply Godly qualities to my Christian life.
6. I love God and will be His disciple.

Theological Statement:

Romans 8:28 is a verse which address salvation sanctification. Salvation sanctification is the believers’ progressive conformity to Christ. The ‘all things’ are godly qualities which are imparted by God to enable the believer to achieve this conformity to Christ. God makes this offer; however, the believer must accept His offer. These godly qualities take the believer from salvation justification through salvation sanctification and into salvation glorification. Conformity to Christ, salvation sanctification and discipleship are synonymous. Those who love God are His disciples.

Application Statement:

The premise that God will use a tragic  event to ameleorate the spiritual maturity of a Christian is not the intent of Romans 8: 28. Nor is that intent suggested from the context of the verse.