Why did Paul not honor the law and slight James regarding his diet? "as verification of his anti-Zealot philosophy in Rom 13 above (n.b. that following this in 14:1f. Paul characterizes as "weak" people - like James - who "eat only vegetables"). "
closed as primarily opinion-based by H3br3wHamm3r81, Daи♦, Jas 3.1, Monica Cellio, Soldarnal Jul 31 '13 at 3:04
Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.
Eisenman somewhat veiled seems to declare Jesus and after him his brother James to have been unsuccessful nationalistic sectarians against Rome and the Herodians, and Paul in favour of these powers betraying everyone. Eisenman fails to understand the scope and historic importance of announcing Israel's messiah to the nations and the call to all peoples to partake in the coming kingdom of God.
The situation in Judea was altogether very different from that for Paul among the nations. The Highpriest (and along with him the Sanhedrin with Saducees and Pharisees) acted as a legal power by Roman admission (to various and changing degree). The freedom Paul demanded and fought for disciples of non-Jewish descent was by no means anywhere near realistic in the vicinity of the Temple in Jerusalem. Out of this conflict the arguments sprang forth.
Paul did not dishonor the Law. On the contrary, he revered God's Law:
Imagine Paul's relief when, after his conversion to Christianity, he felt that God revealed to him that he could lay aside his own righteousness derived from Law and put on instead the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (Ph 3:9; 2 Co 5:21). Only then did Paul say
It is worthwhile remembering that in James' and Paul's day, the "Law," in addition to the 612 commandments of the Torah, had appended to it the accretion of several centuries of extra-biblical rules, regulations, and traditions (as if 612 commandments weren't enough!). No wonder Peter said in Acts 15,
The Law (again, in the first century of the Common Era) was seen by some as an onerous weight, from which Paul was more than happy to divest himself.
We must also remember that the apostle James had a history and a calling that were different from Paul's history and calling. James (along with Peter and John) was an apostle to the Jews, and as such he found it difficult to accept that God was calling out a people unto Himself from among the Gentiles, whereas Paul was set apart by God from birth to be the apostle to the Gentiles (see Ga 1:15,16).
Eventually, however, those three pillars of the church in Jerusalem gave Paul and Barnabus the right hand of fellowship in full recognition that they were to go to the Gentiles, and James, Peter, and Johnn were to go to the circumcised (Ga 2:9).
Personally, I cannot see Paul nitpicking James for being a vegetable eater (if in fact James was). From Paul's point of view--and more importantly for the sake of his calling, Paul was willing to become all things to all people, including Gentiles, that by all means he might win some. James on the other hand may have held on to customs with which both he and his fellow Jewish converts were comfortable, since his calling was to the circumcised, not the Gentiles.
Unlike the apostle James, Paul's primary ministry was among the Gentiles, and Paul knew how to be not only a Jew to the Jews, but also how to be, as it were, without the Law to those without the law (i.e., the Gentiles). Moreover, he knew how to be "weak to the weak" (1Co 9:20-22).
Of a truth you could say of a converted Jew in James' day who was an eater of only vegetables that he or she was weak in that one area (viz., diet). Paul on the other hand was "strong" in that one area, realizing that
Paul recognized that some believers' consciences were more sensitive than others'. Rather than condemn the "weak" brother with the more-sensitive conscience and praise the brother with the less-sensitive conscience, Paul encouraged believers, first, to be convinced in their own minds that their scruples were honoring to God; and second, to refrain from judging or being contemptuous of believers with differing scruples, realizing that God will one day judge all of us, fairly and without partiality.
Additionally, Paul had the unique ability and the freedom to become all things to all men that by all means he might win some (again, see 1 Co 9). Consequently, when Paul was with only veggie eaters, he too would be a veggie eater. If he was with only people who ate meat sacrificed to idols, he too would eat the same meat. If he was among only people who regarded one day above another, he too would observe that day as special. That "flexibility" stemmed directly from both his upbringing in Judaism and his calling by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles. In other words, he could adapt to either culture!
As for Paul's being an "anti-Zealot": He was not anti-Zealot, he was pro-Jesus. From his perspective, submitting to the powers that be is a Christian duty, even if in doing so he experiences persecution and suffering. For Paul, to suffer for the sake of Christ for submitting to authorities that were either anti-Semitic or anti-Christian or both, was simply to follow in the steps of Jesus, who submitted to the powers that be to the point of death on a Roman cross.
Both Paul and Jesus were both "anti-establishment," as were the Zealots, but Paul and Jesus differed from the Zealots in their modus operandi in that the latter advocated violence, whereas the former advocated love.