Some people cannot reconcile the Jewish Paul of the book of Acts with the opponent of the Law that they believe the Paul who wrote the letters to be. That is because they do not understand the context of Paul’s letters or the primary audience to whom they were addressed.

Paul was the apostle, i.e. ambassador, to the Gentiles. His God-given responsibility was to bring the Gentiles into a righteous relationship with the God of Israel through the New Covenant which Messiah brought. He makes this very clear throughout his letters. His primary audience is Gentile believers. Every time Paul refers to himself as an apostle, he is reminding his audience of his God- given authority to the Gentiles. He is very conscious of his particular calling.

"We received grace through him and appointment as an ambassador for obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for his name’s sake." Rom. 1:5

"Now I do not want you+ to be unaware, brothers, that I often planned to come to you+ so that I might have some fruit among you+ also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles." Rom. 1:13

"Nevertheless, because of the grace that was given to me by God that I should be a public servant of Messiah Yeshua to the Gentiles, serving the good news of God as a Kohen, I have written emphatically to you+ on some points, so as to remind you+, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Ruakh Kodesh. Therefore I have my boasting in Messiah Yeshua in things pertaining to God. For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Messiah worked through me by word and deed for the obedience of the Gentiles." Rom. 15:15-18

"Being Gentiles, you+ know that you+ were led away to voiceless idols, in whatever way you+ could be led." 1Cor. 12:2

"However, at that time, not knowing God, you+ were bound by those which by nature are not gods." Gal. 4:8 "they desire to have you+ circumcised, so that they may boast in your+ flesh." Gal. 6:13

"Therefore, remember that formerly you, who are Gentiles in flesh and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)..." Eph. 2:11

"For this cause I, Paulos, am the prisoner of Messiah Yeshua on behalf of you+, the Gentiles. Surely you+ have heard of the responsibility toward you+ which was given to me in the grace of God... To me, the least of all those who belong to God, this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Messiah..." Eph. 3:1-2,8

"So I say this, and bear witness in the Lord, that you+ no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind." Eph. 4:17

"God was pleased to make known to them what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah in you+, the hope of glory." Col. 1:27 "In him you+ were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. ...When you+ were dead in your+ transgressions and the uncircumcision of your+ flesh, He made you+ alive together with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" Col. 2:11,13

" ...For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had from you+; and how you+ turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God." 1Thes. 1:9

"And I was appointed a public messenger and an ambassador for it, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." 1Tim. 2:7

The good news had gone out from Jerusalem to the Gentiles, through Jewish believers like Paul. The Jewish believers in Jerusalem had given sacrificially in response to God’s goodness to them. They suffered great persecution, and a famine had come.

So Paul wrote to and went to the congregations he had established among the Gentiles to ask them to give back a measure of the immeasurable gift they had received. Some, like the congregations in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth, gave freely. Others did not. We have no record that the Gentiles in Rome gave anything, though Paul exhorted them to do so.

"But now, I say, I am going to Yerushala’im, serving those who belong to God. For it has been the good pleasure of Makedonia and Akhaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among those at Yerushala’im who belong to God. Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, the Gentiles also are obligated to serve them in physical needs." Rom. 15:25-27 Paul not only commanded Gentiles who believed in Yeshua not to boast against the Jews (Rom.11:18), but he also insisted that they recognize their ongoing debt for entering into the Jewish relationship with God.

Earlier, Paul had used the response of the Gentile believers in Macedonia to encourage the Corinthians in Achaia. "Moreover we make known to you+ brethren the grace of God which has been given in the communities of Makedonia. Because in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their generosity. For I testify that according to their ability — yes and beyond their ability — they gave willingly, fervently asking us to receive the favor and fellowship of this assistance to those who belong to God. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that, as he had begun, so he would also complete in you+ this kindness." 2Cor. 8:1-6

Chapters 8 & 9 of 2 Corinthians are entirely devoted to encouraging the Gentile believers to give for this need. Paul wanted the Gentiles themselves to be an acceptable offering to God.

Because the Gentiles could enter into God’s New Covenant with Israel without first becoming Jews, the message that Paul proclaimed to them was not exactly the same as that proclaimed to the Jews. Even though he knew that God had revealed that message to him in the Scriptures, Paul was somewhat uneasy about the difference, because he knew that "no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation." 2 Pet.1:20

So Paul went to the apostles in Jerusalem. "I went up concerning a revelation, and I laid before them the good news which I proclaim among the Gentiles, but privately before those who were respected, so that I might not be running, or had not run, in futility." Gal. 2:2

Paul thought they might reject the good news that he was proclaiming to the Gentiles. "But to the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the good news for the uncircumcision, even as Kefa/Peter with the good news for the circumcision. For the One who empowered Kefa to be an ambassador to the circumcision empowered me also to the Gentiles. And when they recognized the grace that was given to me, Jacob and Kefa and Yohanan — those who were considered to be pillars — they gave to me and Bar Nabba their right hands in fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision." Gal. 2:7-9 [Notice that both Jacob's letter and Peter's first letter are specifically addressed to the Diaspora, i.e. Jews living outside the land of Israel. Ja.1:1; 1Pet.1:1; cf. Jn.7:35]

They recognized Paul’s authority to teach the Gentiles. He recognized their authority to teach the Jews. Paul’s letters are quite understandable in this context. There was no conflict between how he lived as a Jew and what he taught as ambassador/apostle to the Gentiles.

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