Sha'ul's Training in Judaism
By David M Rogers
Published: January 2008
Table of Contents
For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the assembly of Elohim, and ravaged it. And I progressed in Judaism beyond many of my age in my race, being more exceedingly ardent for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His favor, to reveal His Son in me, that I might bring Him, the Good News, to the gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, neither did I go up to Yerushalayim, to those who were emissaries before me. But I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Yerushalayim to learn from Kepha, and remained with him for fifteen days. And I saw no other of the emissaries except Ya'aqov, the brother of the Master. And what I write to you, see, before Elohim, I do not lie. Then I went into the districts of Syria and of Kilikia. And I was still not known by sight to the assemblies of Yehudah which were in Messiah, but they were hearing only that, “The one who once persecuted us now brings as Good News the belief which he once ravaged.” So they were praising Elohim in me.
The transformation of Sha'ul's life and outlook was so dramatic after meeting the risen Messiah, that Sha'ul is compelled to dwell on the point a little longer. It is important to him that he explains his background - where he came from and what he believed before he met Messiah - so that his gospel message to the Galatians can be clearly understood. In fact, the contrast between what Sha'ul believed as a Pharisee and what he now holds fast to as a follower of Messiah is at the very core of his message throughout his letter to the Galatians.
For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the assembly of Elohim, and ravaged it. And I progressed in Judaism beyond many of my age in my race, being more exceedingly ardent for the traditions of my fathers.
Before he met the Messiah, the apostle Paul had a reputation. He was consenting unto Steven's death. He approved of it and assisted by holding the cloaks of those who were whipping the stones. He was zealous for his beliefs and the lifestyle which he was taught as a Pharisee from his youth and upward. This zeal led him to persecute the followers of Messiah and imprison them.
Sha'ul describes his upbringing and his training in a number of places. First, he identifies with the Hebrew people and with Avraham's descendants:
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they sons of Yisrael? So am I. Are they Avraham's descendants? So am I. (2 Corinthians 11:22).
Next, he identifies his tribal affiliation:
I ask then: Did Elohim reject his people? By no means! I am an Yisraeli myself, a descendant of Avraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 11:1)
And he admits proudly to his upbringing as a Pharisee:
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." (Acts 23:6)
While in Yerushalayim under arrest, Sha'ul answered the crowds regarding the accusations made against him. In these remarks, he describes his own upbringing:
"I am a Yehudi, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city (Yerushalayim). Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for Elohim as any of you are today. (Acts 22:3)
Who was Gamaliel, the teacher who trained Sha'ul? Gamaliel was one of the most famous of all the Pharisees throughout history. It was under Gamaliel that Sha'ul learned about the Oral Torah with all its man made enactments and traditions.
Sha'ul was a devout Jewish Pharisee whose custom was to enter the synagogue on Sabbath and teach Torah:
It happened in Iconium that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed. (Acts 14:1)
He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18:4).
He entered into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for a period of three months, reasoning and persuading about the things concerning the Kingdom of Elohim. (Acts 19:8).
When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Yehudiish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures (Acts 17:1-2).
In his letter to the Philippians, He gives testimony of his zeal when he was among the Pharisees, whom he now refers to as "dogs":
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of Elohim, exult in Messiah Yahusha, and do not rely on human credentials --though mine too are significant (3:2-4).
He is calling the Pharisees "dogs" because of their infatuation with performing their circumcision on men ("mutilating the flesh"). But the true "Circumcision" are those who "worship by the Spirit of Elohim" and "exalt in Messiah." Such who depend on Elohim and remain loyal to the Covenant by keeping His commandments have no need to "rely on human credentials" because human achievement is meaningless in Elohim's sight. What He wants is our fidelity and love to Him.
But Sha'ul goes on to expound upon his "human credentials," because if they mean anything at all, then Sha'ul feels as though he is the best of men:
If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more: I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Yisrael and the tribe of Binyamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. In my zeal for Elohim I persecuted the congregation. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Messiah. More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Messiah Yahusha my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things--indeed, I regard them as dung!--that I may gain Messiah, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law (i.e. man's law codes), but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Messiah's faithfulness--a righteousness from Elohim that is in fact based on Messiah's faithfulness (Philippians 3:4-9).
As a Pharisee, Sha'ul lived according to the law - their law - the law of the Pharisees. Not according to Elohim's Law. (Do not be mistaken about what he is saying here.) Paul is talking about human credentials. As living by human law, he was blameless. (But according to Elohim's Law, he was a murderer! because he participated in the unlawful execution of Steven.)
As for living according to the law as a Pharisee, he was the best. But he came to understand that there is no value in living according to even the best of human standards and man's very best law code. In Messiah, he considers all of that "rubbish" or "dung" or in today's vernacular, all man's achievement based on man's laws is "a pile of crap" or "hogwash"! Now that he belongs to Messiah, he has discovered that the righteousness that comes from Elohim is based on Messiah's faithfulness. Thus, the faithfulness to the written Scriptures which Messiah modeled in his life for his disciples is the only true way to live for Elohim. This is Elohim's righteousness - walking as Messiah did in obedience to the written Law of Mosheh.
Yet, all of Sha'ul's own human achievement accomplished for him nothing. All of his Pharisee commandment keeping amounted to nothing. Human credentials are worthless in the sight of Yahuwah. It is only in living in faithfulness to Yahuwah's commandments that Paul finds contentment.
Sha'ul testifies of himself that he "progressed in Judaism" because he was more zealous than his peers. The life of a Pharisee was a stark contrast to the walk of the Messiah and the walk of faith which he taught his disciples. Sha'ul claims in verse 14 that he was "more exceedingly ardent for the traditions of my fathers." What are these "traditions of the fathers" he is speaking of?
For centuries now, Christianity has misunderstood and has been misrepresenting what Sha'ul is teaching here in Galatians. Sha'ul was comparing and contrasting the Torah (the Law of Elohim as stated in Scripture) with the torah of the Pharisees (the man-made laws, traditions, customs and practices which men made up!) The Pharisees' torah came to be called "the Oral Law." So Sha'ul is drawing from his own experience of being taught Pharisaic Law to show the stark differences between Pharisaic law and Scripture Law.
The "traditions of the fathers" which Sha'ul is referring to here, are not the teachings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as many Christians think. The "traditions of the fathers" were the teachings and laws of the Pharisees, the concoctions of men's imaginations. The "traditions of the fathers" are man-made laws known as the "Oral Torah", not what Mosheh wrote down in the five books of the Torah. Thus, Sha'ul is not teaching that the Torah of Scripture is worthless and done away with in Messiah. Sha'ul's point is that the Oral Torah (man-made laws) of the Pharisees is being done away with in Messiah.
The fact that there are actually two Torahs - the written Torah and the oral Torah - is well known by the Jewish Rabbis, but not understood at all by most Christians. The famous Pharisee Shammai said so:
A Certain gentile came to Shammai: The Gentile said to him, How many Torah’s do you have? (Shammai) answered: TWO. The written Torah and the ORAL TORAH (Torah She-Be’al Peh) (Babylonian Talmud, Sabbath 31a).
Thus, to understand what Sha'ul is speaking of when he talks about the "law", we must discern between the two Torahs which Sha'ul was trained in.
But in his former life as a Pharisee, Sha'ul was zealous (exceedingly ardent) for the man-made laws and traditions of the religion of Pharisaic Judaism. And the righteousness that he had then, which he calls, "my own righteousness derived from the law" is the righteousness of following the commandments of men (Pharisaic Judaism)! In Messiah, all of men's own righteousness based on the keeping of their own made-up commandments, amounts to nothing at all. The righteousness of Elohim on the other hand, is based on doing what Elohim has commanded. And he said, "do not add to what I have commanded, and do not take away from it" (cf. Devarim 4:2 and Devarim 12:32).
The Pharisees had so many of their own made-up laws that it is easiest for us to understand them by separating them into several categories. The first is the "halacha" or the Pharisaic law based upon their twisted interpretation of Scripture law. The second is "minhagim" or Pharisaic customs that have become law. The third is "takanot and gezerot" or enactments and decrees of the Pharisees that take on the authority of law. And the fourth is the "ma'asim" which are deeds or works of the Pharisees which through their repeated exercise become law for all Yisrael.
The word halacha (halachot in the plural) comes from the Hebrew $lh which means "to go, to walk". It is a common metaphor for the "way one conducts himself" or "the manner in which one lives his life". The metaphor of walking transcends many languages and is understood in many tongues as referring to one's lifestyle. The halacha, then, are the commandments and instructions of Scripture which Elohim has commanded us to do. Thus, when Yochanan tells us
The one who says he resides in Elohim ought himself to walk just as Yahusha walked (1 Yochanan 2:6).
we understand that he means we who belong to the Mighty One should live our lives as Messiah lived his, doing the very things that Messiah did. Our walk or behavior should be the same as Messiah's walk and behavior. For example, if Messiah kept the Sabbath day (and he did!), then we should also keep the Sabbath day.
It is one thing to "walk" according to the Scripture commandments, and quite another to "walk" according to Pharisaic commandments. The Pharisees then, and the Rabbis of Judaism since then and to this day, establish their own halachot based on their own (private) interpretations of Scripture. The Pharisees and Rabbis, and even Christian theologians throughout "Church history", have made a habit of taking a simple Scripture commandment or statement and twist, distort, re-interpret or outright change or add to the plain meaning of a statement of writ.
An example of Pharisaic halacha: The Scripture commands us that no work (occupational labor, chores, everyday busy-ness tasks) is to be done on the Sabbath. The Rabbis break "work" down into 39 different categories and additional subcategories which one is not allowed to do on the Sabbath, to the point of being absurd. From the re-interpretive twisting of the intended meaning of "do no work", they regard flipping a light switch as building (because you are connecting a circuit), and forbid it on the Sabbath.
Another example of taking Shemot 35:3, "do not kindle a fire on Shabbat", and reinterpret it to mean that one should not start a fire on Shabbath - but as long as you start the fire before Shabbat, the burning of a fire is okay. (For our interpretation of "kindle a fire" which makes much better sense of the context and of related commandments, see the section entitled Kindling a Fire on Shabbat on http://bibletruth.cc/KeepingSabbath.htm).
A classic example of a Rabbinic halacha is where they take Shemot 23:2,
You must not incline after the majority into evil things; in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice.
which is clearly an instruction not to pervert justice just because the majority of others pervert it, and snatch out the phrase "incline after the majority". They ignore all else, including the context in which these words were spoken, and they rip out that single phrase, "incline after the majority." They interpret this phrase to be a halacha which instructs men to do what the majority of the Rabbis consent on. Thus, if the majority of Rabbis agree that one should change his underwear twice a day, then it is law in Israel. (This is an absurd example, but this accurately illustrates the thinking of the Rabbis).
There are many hundreds of other such halachot of the Pharisees and Rabbis which are derived from the twisting, distorting, adding to or taking away from the written Word of Elohim. Even though Yahuwah emphatically commands us, "do not add to what I have commanded, and do not take away from it" (cf. Devarim 4:2 and Devarim 12:32), this is precisely what Oral Rabbinic Law does. Is it any wonder why Sha'ul, who came out of this religious system, says that all of that is "rubbish" or "a pile of crap" (see again Philippians 3:7)?
The word minhag (plural is minhagim) comes from the Hebrew ghnm which means "custom". Customs, while not commanded by Scripture, are the common way of life and the accepted practice of people based on the repeating of a behavior induced by some circumstance. The historical record of Scripture references some customs.
She died a virgin. Her tragic death gave rise to a custom in Yisrael. Every year Yisraeli women commemorate the daughter of Yephthah the Gileadite for four days (Shoftim [Judges] 11:39,40).
Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants (Esther 9:26-28).
Even the pagans had their customs:
So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed (1 Melachim [Kings} 18:28).
Not to be outdone, and to further establish their own authority to make law and control all Yisrael, the Rabbis concocted their own customs for all Yisrael and made them binding upon all. The requirement upon all Jewish males to wear a kippah (also called a yarmulke or skull cap) is an accepted minhag. Males not wearing the kippah are considered to be transgressing the law. This law for Jewish males also stipulates that one may not walk four cubits without covering his head, nor can one make a blessing without donning a kippah.
Another example of a minhag is the conflicting custom of eating beans and rice during the feast of Unleavened Bread. The Ashkenazi Jews forbid the eating, while the Sephardic Jews permit the eating during the Feast. Members of each sect of Judaism are required to obey the custom of the sect they belong to. The absurdity of declaring this custom to be "Law in Israel" is self-evident.
Such customs gave rise to a common saying in among the rabbis in Israel, "minhag Yisrael torah hi" which translates as, "a custom of Israel is Torah". Even though the Tanach (Old Testament) lists the commandments and sayings of Elohim as "Torah", the Rabbis have added to "their torah" any of their own established customs!
The word takanah (plural is takanot) comes from the Hebrew hnqt (also spelled anqt) and means, "to become straight, to make right, to put in order, to fix, to repair, to arrange, to establish, to enact." The word gezerah (plural is gerzerot) comes from the Hebrew hrzg and means, "decree." Thus, the "takanot and gezerot" are the enactments and decrees of Pharisaic law. They are "the commandments of the Rabbis."
The scribes and Pharisees before the time of Messiah, and the rabbis afterward, saw a need to construct additional commandments. As they assumed the role of authoritarian leadership in Israel, the scribes and Pharisees enacted their own laws for all Israel, which were designed to enforce their own right of authority to interpret and apply law and even create new law for Israel. Under the guise of "guarding" the Torah, which the Scriptures command, they began to "guard" the Torah by enacting additional laws in an act which they termed, "making a fence around the Torah."
In an article entitled, Adding, Uprooting, and Rabbinic Authority, Rabbi Baruch Paz wrote:
Some rabbinical ordinances were enacted not for the purpose of protecting the laws of the Torah, but because the Rabbis saw an independent need to enact them; others, though, were enacted as preventative measures, safeguards to prevent people from violating actual commandments of the Torah. At times the Rabbis even saw fit to uproot a Torah law in order to erect one of these safeguards... (Cited from Galatians by Avi ben Mordecai, pg. 67)
These "commandments of the Rabbis" were often in conflict with the written word of Elohim. The Scripture commands us to guard the Torah:
Observe them carefully (Hebrew, literally, "Guard them"), for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people" (Devarim 4:6).
Guard his rules and commandments that I am setting forth today so that it may go well with you and your descendants and that you may enjoy longevity on the land that Yahuwah your Elohim is about to give you as a permanent possession (Devarim 4:40).
The meaning here is that one should guard the Torah by practicing it and by teaching it. The Pharisees, however, intentionally misinterpreted this by suggesting that it meant that they should construct additional laws around the Torah to insure that the Torah would not be transgressed. This they did in clear transgression of another instruction of Scripture:
Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may guard the commandments of Yahuwah your Elohim that I am delivering to you (Devarim 4:2)
Thus, the very act of "building a fence around the Torah" in order to "guard the Torah" was a transgression of the Torah. The takanot and gezerot, or "commandments of the Rabbis" are these transgressions of Elohim's Word.
Messiah Yahusha rebuked the Pharisees for their commandments which contradicted the Word of Elohim. The commandment to wash one's hands before eating is a Pharisaic takanah. It is NOT a commandment of Scripture. They taught that one could cause food to become "unclean" by transference of substance from unwashed hands to the food. Thus, they required a ceremonial washing of hands before eating.
Then Pharisees and experts in the law came from Yerushalayim to Yahusha and said, "Why do your disciples disobey the tradition (Hebrew, takanot) of the elders? For they don't wash their hands when they eat." He answered them, "And why do you disobey the commandment of Elohim because of your tradition (Hebrew, takanot)?" (Mattityahu 15:1-3).
The word "tradition" used here, in the Shem Tov Hebrew gospel of Matthew, is takanot. Say what you will about the rabbinic influence on the manuscript of Shem Tov's Mattityahu, the Hebrew is takanot, and there is no reasonable explanation for why a rabbi would have changed the word here from something else to takanot.
So it is critical to the correct understand of Yahusha's message that we understand he is talking about the "commandments of the rabbis" here. This is a direct rebuke of the Pharisees who made up their own law, which in their view, superseded the Scriptures.
Mark's account of this saying cites an additional detail of interest:
"...Thus you nullify the word of Elohim by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this" (Mark 7:13).
Yahusha is suggesting here that the Pharisees commonly practiced this error of replacing the written word of Elohim with their own commandments. And we see over and over again how the Pharisees had laid a heavy burden upon Israel by requiring them to obey Pharisaic Law.
Yahusha concluded the matter of washing of hands by saying:
What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person" (Mattityahu 15:11).
Washing one's hands before eating may be a good suggestion. But it certainly is not a requirement of ethical proportion. It is NOT commanded by Elohim.
The word ma'aseh (plural is ma'asim) comes from the Hebrew hf[m and means, "work, do." This word is used in the Tanach to reference any work, action or deed done by Elohim or by man. For example,
Yahuwah your Elohim will make the work (Hebrew, hfeäm;) of your hands abundantly successful and multiply your children, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil (Devarim 30:9).
In the New Testament, it's Greek equivalent (e;rgon) has a similar usage. It could be used of man's works or of Elohim's works:
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (Ya'acov [James] 2:26).
They sang the song of Mosheh the servant of Elohim and the song of the Lamb: "Great and astounding are your deeds, Yahuwah Elohim, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! (Revelation 15:3)
However, the Pharisees (and after them, the rabbis) attributed to this term special nuance. Another Pharisaic invention - the ma'aseh - is a law created for all Yisrael based on the repeated actions of a Pharisee. The thinking goes something like this: if one so pious as a Pharisee (and later, a rabbi) consistently performs an action, said action must have great merit. Therefore, this action of the Pharisee becomes law for all in Israel.
A ma'aseh, in Pharisaic thinking, is an action, work or deed of a Pharisee which, by its repetition, has become law for all of Israel. These works were common among Pharisees and rabbis, as Nehemia Gordon explains, noting that
learning precedents from the action of the Rabbis is a standard method used to derive religious law. There is no need for biblical proof because Rabbinic precedent is even better! (from Mordecai, Galatians, pg.82).
In their thinking, Pharisaic authority (and rabbinic authority) does not need the agreement of Scripture, because Pharisaic authority supersedes the authority of Scripture.
There were many ma'asim in the oral law of the Pharisees. These ma'asim - the deeds, actions or works of the Pharisees which became law in Israel - became known as ma'asim hatorah or "works of the law." Not to be mistaken for the "works of Elohim," the phrase "works of the law" as used by the Pharisees and Rabbis today, and as used by Paul in his letters of the New Testament, are a reference to the made-up laws of the Pharisees.
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus explained the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees by the observance of man-made traditions:
What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the Torah of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers… (Book of Antiquities 13.10.6).
For all their failures, at least the Sadducees had it right about not being waylaid by the Oral traditions of the Pharisees!
There is a great deal of confusion among New Testament scholars, writers and preachers when it comes to Paul's usage of the term "law" and his usage of others phrases such as "works of the law" and "under the law." Most of those unlearned New Testament "scholars" haven't a clue that Paul uses the term "law" in at least three different ways in his letters. When he speaks of the "law" as righteous, spiritual, good and holy (set-apart), he is referring to the Law of Moses as written in Scripture. When he speaks of the "law of my members" and similar phrases, he is talking about the "law of sin" or the controlling effect of sin on mankind. But when he speaks of the "law" as something that has no merit and is worthless and contrary to the work of Messiah, he is talking about the Pharisaic oral law, which he was trained in and which when he came to know Messiah he came to realize is worthless.
So when Sha'ul writes that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse" (Galatians 3:10), he is speaking about the laws based upon the actions or deeds of a Pharisee which were a part of the oral tradition of the Pharisees. Thus, those who are placing their confidence for salvation in the works of man truly are "under a curse" because in doing so, they are rejecting the true righteousness which Elohim has revealed in the commandments which he has given. And when Paul write, "a man is not declared right by works of the law" (Galatians 2:16), he is speaking about the Pharisaic man-made commandments, not the Law of Elohim, because it is clear that man's law has no merit toward salvation.
Paul's training as a Pharisee taught him that doing the works, traditions, teachings and practices of the Pharisees, most of which they had made up themselves and were not in agreement with the commandments of Scripture, was the proper way to righteousness and salvation. But when he met Messiah Yahusha on the road to Damascus, his mind and his way of thinking were drastically changed. He realized, not only who the true Messiah is, but that all of his training in Judaism was worthless toward salvation, and worse yet, that the way of the Pharisees actually leads to bondage and loss of salvation, because their works have no value in Elohim's sight.
But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His favor, to reveal His Son in me, that I might bring Him, the Good News, to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, neither did I go up to Yerushalayim, to those who were emissaries before me. But I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Sha'ul describes his calling in terms similar to the prophet Yirmyahu, who was also chosen while in the womb:
Yahuwah said to me, "Before I formed you in your mother's womb I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations" (Yirmyahu [Jeremiah] 1:4,5).
The sovereign control of Yahuwah is alluded to here, who carries out his purposes through men he chooses.
The encounter Sha'ul had with the resurrected Messiah profoundly changed his thinking. But because of his intense and detailed training as a Pharisee, Sha'ul did not consult with the apostles of Messiah for guidance. They were not equipped to understand and handle all the issues with which Sha'ul had to then rethink. The "unlearned" followers of Messiah did not have the education and training background to understand and refute the false teachings of the Pharisees. So, Paul's response to the revelation was to go to Arabia.
Why Arabia? He realized that the only source of answers to his many questions was the Scriptures. It was at Sinai that the Instructions of Scripture were given to Israel through Mosheh. This, for Sha'ul, was the logical place to go to get clarity. Sinai would provide the setting and atmosphere where Sha'ul could petition the Almighty for understanding of the Scriptures, and then immerse himself in the written Word.
Then after three years I went up to Yerushalayim to learn from Kepha, and remained with him for fifteen days. And I saw no other of the emissaries except Ya'aqov, the brother of the Master. And what I write to you, see, before Elohim, I do not lie. Then I went into the districts of Syria and of Kilikia. And I was still not known by sight to the assemblies of Yehudah which were in Messiah, but they were hearing only that, “The one who once persecuted us now brings as Good News the belief which he once ravaged.” So they were praising Elohim in me.
Following his stay at Sinai, Sha'ul paid a visit to Yerushalayim to meet with Peter and the other emissaries of Messiah. The events as recorded in Acts 15 take place at this time. Sha'ul's understanding of the need for the gospel to be proclaimed to the Gentiles was already superior to Peter's and James and the others'.
As a result of Sha'ul limited exposure with the other emissaries for several years, the followers of Messiah still did not know him, but they had heard good things of him and were "praising Elohim" on account of his change of allegiance.