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In Damascus, after many days:

Acts 9:23
After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him

In just 15 days in Jerusalem:

Acts 9:29
He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him

After years have passed by:

Acts 23:12
The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.

I assumed that the same Jews (who want to kill Paul) have no urge to kill the others - because I read the verse below right after the verse telling that the believers took Paul down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus...

Acts 9:23
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened

So I wonder why the Jews wants to kill Paul but not the others ?

I mean if the answer : it's because Paul breaks the Torah Law,
but then raise the question : Didn't the others also break the Torah Law ?
(for example, Paul said to Peter that Peter lives like a Gentile).


After some answers, I'm sorry as I can't make myself clear.

The question is not about how they all died
So I'm not assuming that only Paul is killed, while the others die normally.

I understand that people can answer like this:
Because the Bible doesn't mention it, it doesn't mean those Jews (who want to kill Paul) don't want to kill Peter, James, etc.

But I'm sorry, that's not the kind of answer I'm expected. So, at least maybe there is another outside source to support that kind of answer. Besides, the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened (at least to me) becomes don't make sense. How come it is said that the church enjoy a time of peace while there is a group plotting to kill all the leaders ?

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  • ALL the apostles were killed except for John who was miraculously saved by the divine intervention. Paul was no different. Therefore, the question assumes the wrong starting point.
    – Dottard
    Sep 26 at 22:41
  • @Dottard, sorry I didn't know that all the apostles were killed by the Jews.
    – karma
    Sep 27 at 8:35
  • Not all were killed by Jews; eg, Paul and Peter were killed by Romans. However, most like Peter and Paul were killed at the instigation of Jews.
    – Dottard
    Sep 27 at 8:43
  • @Dottard, sorry if I'm mistaken to get what you mean ... : did you mean that when the Jews want to kill Paul (mentioned in the verse), actually at the same time they also want to kill Peter, James, etc ?
    – karma
    Sep 27 at 8:49
  • Peter and Paul were not killed at the same time. However, both were executed by the Romans within a year of each other. See below.
    – Dottard
    Sep 27 at 11:19
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Many Jews (both from Jerusalem and those who lived in Damascus) considered Paul to be a traitor to Judaism. While he was on their side as Saul of Tarsus, they all equally hated Christianity. They applauded him then. That hatred of Christianity was shown when they stoned Stephen to death, and Saul was standing guard over their cloaks which they threw off to start hurling stones at Stephen - Acts 8:1-3.

Now pick up the story from chapter 9 verse 1 and read right through to 31. It details how Saul was on his way to Damascus to continue persecuting the Christians, but Christ appeared to him and he was converted to faith in Christ. He then invoked the anger of Jews there by showing from the scriptures how Jesus was the Christ. That's why they considered him to be a traitor to Judaism. And he was an incredible threat to Judaism, far more so than all of the other Christians in Damascus, because of his great learning and former high position in Judaism. The Jews who could not refute him knew that if they could take him out, they would have got rid of an immense threat to their anti-Christ stance. But he was able to sneak out at night and escaped to Jerusalem.

Over the years his reputation as the most formidable advocate for Christianity had grown. Many times his life was in danger from the Jews who continued to hate him, and who sought any excuse to charge him as being a law-breaker. But none of their charges could stick, as the account in Acts chapter 21 to the end shows. Their hatred was due to their former leader in Judaism now having become a Christian who could use the prophets and the writings to prove that Jesus was the Christ. That's why these anti-Christian Jews wanted to kill Paul.

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  • +1 Good answer :)
    – Tony Chan
    Sep 27 at 16:57
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Here is an extract from https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/whatever-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-11629558.html showing all the apostles were killed except for John.

Peter and Paul

Both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.

Andrew

went to the "land of the man-eaters," in what is now the Soviet Union. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.

Thomas

was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.

Philip

possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.

Matthew

the tax collector and writer of a Gospel ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.

Bartholomew

had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.

James

the son of Alpheus is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.

Simon the Zealot

so the story goes, ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.

Matthias

The apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.

John

The only one of the apostles generally thought to have died a natural death from old age. He was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. During Domitian's persecution in the middle '90s, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament--the Revelation. An early Latin tradition has him escaping unhurt after being cast into boiling oil at Rome.

This list is not exhaustive. We could add the story of Stephen in Acts 7 who was stoned to death. The above apauling list shows how antogonistic the Jews were to the message of Christianity - salvation by free grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Lord Messiah!

See also https://thirdhour.org/blog/faith/scripture/new-testament/original-apostles-deaths/

https://overviewbible.com/how-did-the-apostles-die/

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    Thank you for the answer, Dottard. But I'm sorry as I'm unable to make my question clear. Please see the edited version. Thanks.
    – karma
    Sep 27 at 8:52
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Saul had become the persecuted instead of the persecutor. He could no doubt see himself in his persecutors. This uniquely qualified him for the hardships that he would encounter.

ACTS 9:22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

ACTS 9:29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.

The term “Grecians” (Hellenistic) refers to Jews whose first language was Greek, as opposed to the Jews who spoke Hebrew. It is inconceivable that this would be referring to Gentiles. The New Testament church had not yet dealt with the issue of Gentiles becoming Christians, as can be seen by their reaction to the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:1-11:18). If these ‘Grecians’ were Gentile believers, the confrontation Paul had with the apostles in Acts 15 would have been pointless.

And as well the believers weren’t sure Saul had really been converted. They thought this might be a trick so that Saul could obtain names that would aid in his persecution of the saints. So the Jews mistrusted Paul - greatly! And had ‘bound’ together in order to ‘deal’ with Paul.

Importantly, now ‘bound’, the curse taken by this band of Jews would invoke a curse from God if they failed in their mission. That’s how sure they were that they were doing God a service by killing Paul. They felt completely justified in requesting the chief priests’ help with the plot, and the chief priests showed no reservations about participating.

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  • Thank you for the answer, Dave. Did you mean that those Jews who want to kill Paul (mentioned in the three verses I quote) are the Christian Jews ? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    – karma
    Sep 27 at 8:56
  • @karma Your using the word ‘Christian’, which has many different connotations - these Jews were disciples, they were followers of the (teachings of) the (original) disciples. So essentially accepted the ‘way’. Converted to the gospel of the Kingdom. But I personally wouldn’t call them ‘Christian’ (born again) - Paul hadn’t yet preached the Gospel of Grace.
    – Dave
    Sep 27 at 18:31
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Why did some Jews so bent on killing Paul?

Paul was one of their kind. Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, Philippians 3:

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

The Pharisaic party took it personally to eliminate Paul who betrayed the party.

Further, Paul betrayed the high priest and the Sanhedrin, Acts 22:

5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

They also took it personally.

Why did some Jews so bent on killing Paul?

These were the authoritative Jewish people who felt betrayed by Paul personally. Personal vengeance was involved.

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If you think Paul was being the most wanted to be killed among the rest, maybe it was for the reason, he was being more zealous for the Gospel, that he troubled the authorities too much than Peter and James did. Everyone is different in approach, though you know that all of them were killed eventually. Perhaps the elders like James, Peter remained a little restrained and diplomatic after they experienced the rejection and persecution in the first years, when Paul himself used to be one of the many persecutors of the Church. Also, the book of Acts is more focused on the history of Paul than the elders, as Luke was associated with him. So it is not surprising that we see more murder attempts on Paul, in the letter.

One main reason of your confusion could be your misunderstanding of Acts 9:31, where you see the phrase "they had peace", to mean that they enjoyed peace among the authorities. It could simply mean they were less persecuted for a short period of time. It doesn't mean that all the elders and their churches were in peace and harmony with the rulers.

You should've directed the question on this verse:

ESV Acts 9:31: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

John Gill commentary:

Then had the churches rest,.... Meaning not spiritual rest in Christ; this they had before, even in tribulation, but rest from persecution; not so much because of the conversion of Saul, the great persecutor of them, for his conversion had been three years before; but rather because of his removal to other parts, the sight of whose person, and especially his ministry, had afresh stirred up the Jews to wrath and fury. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, read in the singular number, "the church": but the several countries hereafter >mentioned shows that more are designed: for it follows,

throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria; for by means of the dispersion, on account of persecution, the Gospel was preached in these several places, and churches gathered, and which shared in the persecution until this time, when they began to have rest; Ga 1:22 1Th 2:14 and were edified; or built up on the foundation Christ, and their most holy faith, through the ministry of the word and ordinances, and their mutual love and holy conversation; and had an increase of members, and of grace, and of spiritual knowledge

Benson commentary says,

Then had the churches The whole body of Christian believers, with all their congregations, wherever they were dispersed; throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, rest Ειρηνην, peace; their bitterest persecutor being converted. So some. But the peace they now enjoyed, Dr. Doddridge, with many others, thinks, “is by no means to be ascribed merely or chiefly to Saul's conversion, who, though a great zealot, was but one young man, and whose personal danger proves the persecution, in some measure, to have continued, at least, three years after it. The period spoken of, therefore, seems to be that which commenced at, or quickly after, his setting out for Cilicia; and, as Dr. Lardner observes, this repose of the Christians might be occasioned by the general alarm which was given to the Jews, when Petronius, by the order of Caligula, attempted to bring the statue of that emperor among them, and set it up in the holy of holies; a horrid profanation, which the whole people deprecated with the greatest concern, in the most solicitous and affectionate manner. How long this peace, or rest, continued, we do not certainly know: probably till Herod interrupted it, as we shall see, chap. 12. And were edified In faith and holiness. The word οικοδομουμεναι, thus rendered, is a figurative expression, properly a term of architecture, signifying the erecting or constructing the whole superstructure of a building upon a foundation. In this place it must signify, by analogy, that the churches were further instructed in the great truths of the gospel, and advanced in all the branches of piety and virtue; and walking That is, speaking and acting; in the fear of the Lord That is, under the influence of that principle; and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost In the consolations afforded by his agency; were multiplied By an accession of new members, whereby the damage sustained in the late persecution was abundantly repaired

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    (+1) I think this answer is especially helpful - I like that you captured the possibility about the peace being for a shorter duration. Early church history is defined by the staccato pattern of intermittent peace and persecution, so it's no surprise that we should see periods of peace and unreset, nor that a document focusing largely on Paul's journeys doesn't dwell much on the joys or trials of the other Apostles.
    – Steve Taylor
    Sep 28 at 8:13
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Here's one of the main reasons there were some Jews who tried to kill Paul. They persecuted him wherever he went. He was speaking against circumcision. It was no longer needed because of the cross.

Now, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. Galatians 1:11<

Here he is breaking the tradition of Jewish people for thousands of years. He explains why.

Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39<

Being filled with jealousy seems to be the instigator of all the hatred towards Paul...

A lot of the Jews were also filled with jealousy because a lot of people are listening to him instead of to them their religious leaders.

Act 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.<

These religious leaders are again stating that the new converts needed to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. They are contradicting everything Paul just told them.

Act 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.<

He was upsetting whole tradition of the Jewish culture, Saying you don't need to be circumcised or follow the law anymore. He was showing them a new way that a man is justified by the faith of Jesus Christ.<

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16<

He is continuing to teach a new way of salvation apart from the law. And there is no difference now between Jew or Gentile.

And now apart from law hath the righteousness of God been manifested, testified to by the law and the prophets, 22and the righteousness of God [is] through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, — for there is no difference, <

Jews and Gentiles are now on the same footing and that does not go over well with religious Jews.

These are a few examples of why the Jews hated Paul And wanted to kill him.

The Greeks as well wanted to kill Paul for disrupting their livelihood of making idols that were used to worship the pagan gods. Money was being lost because of the power of God setting people free through Paul's ministry of Jesus Christ.

They was also an incident where he delivered a spirit from a girl who was possessed and made her masters much money. When she was set free the masters or extremely upset because she no longer could make money for them. Again he was disrupting customs to the worship of pagan gods.

Eventually Paul grew so aggravated that he turned and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And the spirit left her at that very moment. When the girl’s owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the marketplace. Acts16:19<

Jews hated him for changing their customs as well as the Greeks hated him for changing their customs. God was doing a new work on the earth.

Watch out, then, that what was spoken by the prophets does not happen to you: Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish! For I am doing a work in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you. acts 13:40<

Paul was just one of the messengers.

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