From last week
So Paul had no interest in Gentiles back then. They might as well all die when the Messiah defeated the Romans or else take their proper place as servants of the Jews. Or so he said with his mouth. Those were his conscious thoughts and words.
But there was this gnawing at him somewhere deep inside. As a child, despite the mocking of his family, somewhere down deep, he admired these "poor" Gentile God-fearers. "How sad," he felt somewhere inside, "that these non-Jews loved the one true God so much and yet were not born, by God's choice, as Jews." He had never said those words. It was the passing, unarticulated feeling of a young boy.
Now this sect of Jesus-followers had arisen. The Pharisee in him wanted to shut them up as enemies of God, although not all Pharisees felt this way. There were a few Pharisees that he suspected were sympathetic to the movement. These Pharisees believed that Jesus was the coming king. They believed that he had risen from the dead and was soon coming back with ten thousand angels to redeem Jerusalem from the Romans.
One of them named Nicodemus was quite open about joining the movement. He still followed the traditions of the elders and ate according to Pharisaic standards of purity. But he had been ostracized from eating with the haberim of Jerusalem. This was a group of Pharisees that only ate together according to the highest kosher standard.
What had really alarmed Saul was when the movement caught fire among the Greek-speaking Jews of Jerusalem. The first followers had boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the anointed one, the Messiah, but they were more of a nuisance than anything. It annoyed Saul that they seemed to have the power to heal the sick. Why didn't he have that power? The people were flocking to these Jesus-followers. Why didn't they flock to him? Deep down, he was jealous.
And how absurd, the idea that the anointed one would die on a cross, the consummate tool of Roman humiliation! It was scandalous! It was abhorrent!
But when the movement spread to Greek-speaking Jews, it seemed even more dangerous. Many of these individuals were born out in the Diaspora, like Paul was. These were the people Paul wanted to distance himself from. This was the part of Paul he wanted to deny existed. He despised them because they reminded him of himself.
And now they too were flocking to this Jesus. They were louder about it than the Aramaic speaking followers of Jesus from Galilee. Uncouth, he thought. They were making such ground in the Synagogue of the Freedmen that the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin, sent Saul to serve as a spy of sorts, to see if he could subvert the movement...