Why did Paul call himself a Jew?

How was Paul a Jew? Most understand that one is a Jew if he descends from the tribe of Judah. Members of the tribe of Judah were first called Jews (it is a nickname) in II Kings 16:6. Certainly, we know that Paul was not from the tribe of Judah. Philippians 3:5 reveals that he was a Benjamite.

But the term “Jew” has another application. During the reign of Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam, the kingdom of Israel split. Ten tribes followed Jeroboam in rebellion, forming the northern kingdom—Israel. Only Judah, Levi and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam. They comprised the southern kingdom—Judah.

Anyone who refused to rebel with the other ten tribes was called a Jew and remained a citizen of the house of Judah. Read I Kings 12 to learn more about Israel’s schism and Benjamin’s loyalty to Judah.

Paul was a citizen of the kingdom of Judah. It was in this way that Paul was a Jew.

But Paul was not just a Jew. Nor was he merely a Benjamite. He was both. By birth, of the tribe of Benjamin—by national citizenship, a Jew.

To learn more about what happened to the northern kingdom of Israel and where it is today, read our free book America and Britain in Prophecy.

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