Extract – There are a few scholars that deny the historicity of Paul’s citizenship. He does not mention it in his letters, the only source is the book of Acts. Several questions have been raised. First, would a “tent-maker” be able to obtain citizenship? This question implies a link between social standing and citizenship which many not have existed. Since citizenship could be granted for a number of reasons, there were many “socially undesirable” people who were citizens. A citizen was not equivalent to the “social elite” of Rome. Paul generally visits provincial capitols, places were citizenship would have been more common especially among freed slaves and ex-soldiers. It is possible that Paul targeted this group of “fresh citizens” with the gospel (E. A. Judge, New Documents 2:106-107).
A second objection centers on Paul’s mistreatment as described in 2 Cor. 11:24ff. This type of abuse would not be possible if Paul were a Roman citizen. This argument compares the unlawful arrest in Acts 16 (in Philippi) to the list of abuse Paul suffered prior to writing 2 Cor. It is impossible, it is argued, for a Roman citizen to have been so abused as Paul claims. Stegmenn notes that Paul is either the worst case of torture of a Roman citizen in history, or a masochist. This objection fails to note that suffering for one’s fate is a mark of Christ. Paul suffers for the Gospel because his Lord suffered (Gal 6:17, Phil 3:10, 2 Cor 4:10, 6:4ff)
Paul will misrepresent himself and deceive others.
1 Corinthians 9:20-23: 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. NIV
Note the last verse where he says he is misrepresenting himself for his own gain. And, his saying “for the sake of the gospel” does not refer to the New Testament as it does not yet exist but rather his “announcement” which is a generally accepted interpretation of the Greek word commonly interpreted as gospel.
Paul disagrees with Jesus on various matters and in particular about the Law. See Paul’s position above. But here is what Jesus said.
Matthew 5:17-19, from the Sermon on the Mount – 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. NIV
Jesus ate with such people but Paul says no.
11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. NIV
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. NIV
New International Version
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
English Standard Version
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?