Where DID they get their ideas from?

Josephus reports on Saul, an avaricious Herodian aristocrat, during the Jewish rebellion of 66-74 AD. Did this nasty Saul help the author of Acts flesh out his story of the apostle?

Story element
Book of Acts
"So the men of power perceiving that the sedition was too hard for them to subdue, and that the danger which would arise from the Romans would come upon them first of all, endeavoured to save themselves, and sent ambassadors, some to Florus, the chief of which was Simon the son of Ananias; and others to Agrippa, among whom the most eminent were Saul, and Antipas, and Costobarus, who were of the king's kindred; and they desired of them both that they would come with an army to the city, and cut off the seditious before it should be too hard to be subdued. "
– WAR, 2, 17.

Saul is a powerful man.



Saul gains access to king Herod Agrippa.


Saul is a powerful man.
"Saul ... made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." (Acts 8.3)

Saul/Paul gains access to king Herod Agrippa:
"Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews." (Acts 26.1,2)

  Saul is a kinsman of Herod Agrippa.

Saul/Paul is related to the Herodians?

"Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers as Barnabas and Simeon that was called Niger and Lucius of Cyrene and Manaen which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch and Saul. (Acts 13.1)

Also note: "Greet Herodion, my relative." (Romans 16.11).

"Ananias was too hard for the rest, by his riches, which enabled him to gain those that were most ready to receive. Costobarus also, and Saulus, did themselves get together a multitude of wicked wretches, and this because they were of the royal family; and so they obtained favour among them, because of their kindred to Agrippa; but still they used violence with the people, and were very ready to plunder those that were weaker than themselves."


Saul uses violence.

He plunders those weaker than himself.

Saul uses violence against the meek and mild Christians:
"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9.1)

" AFTER this calamity had befallen Cestius, many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city, as from a ship when it was going to sink; Costobarus, therefore, and Saul, who were brethren, together with Philip, the son of Jacimus, who was the commander of king Agrippa's forces, ran away from the city, and went to Cestius."

– WAR, 2, 20.1

Saul, like other rich Jews, flees Jerusalem because of the dangers.




Saul/Paul flees Jerusalem because of the dangers:
"And he spake boldly ... and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus." (Acts 9.29,30)

"In the mean time, the people of Damascus, when they were informed of the destruction of the Romans, set about the slaughter of those Jews that were among them; and as they had them already cooped up together in the gymnasium, which they had done out of the suspicion they had of them, they thought they should meet with no difficulty in the attempt; yet did they distrust their own wives, which were almost all of them addicted to the Jewish religion; on which account it was that their greatest concern was, how they might conceal these things from them; so they came upon the Jews, and cut their throats, as being in a narrow place, in number ten thousand, and all of them unarmed, and this in one hour's time, without any body to disturb them."

– WAR, 2, 20.2

Proselytising in Damascus leads to murder:

The Jews have convinced local Syrian wives to practice Judaism. This causes resentment. The people turn on the Jews, trapping them in the gymnasium and killing them.

Proselytising in Damascus leads to murder:

"Saul ... confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus ... the Jews took counsel to kill him ... And they watched the gates day and night to kill him." (Acts 9.22,24)

"But then how Antipas, who had been besieged with them in the king's palace, but would not fly away with them, was afterward slain by the seditious, we shall relate hereafter. However, Cestius sent Saul and his friends, at their own desire, to Achaia, to Nero, to inform him of the great distress they were in, and to lay the blame of their kindling the war upon Florus, as hoping to alleviate his own danger, by provoking his indignation against Florus."

– WAR, 2, 20.1

Saul (and friends) are sent to Greece (Achaia).

Saul hopes to convince Caesar Nero of his innocence.


Paul (and friends!) are sent to Greece (Achaia) - Athens and Corinth:
"And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul ... And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens (Acts 17.14,15)

Paul hopes to convince Caesar Nero of his innocence.

" But when Albinus heard that Gessius Florus was coming to succeed him, he was desirous to appear to do somewhat that might be grateful to the people of Jerusalem; so he brought out all those prisoners who seemed to him to be most plainly worthy of death, and ordered them to be put to death accordingly.

But as to those who had been put into prison on some trifling occasions, he took money of them, and dismissed them; by which means the prisons were indeed emptied, but the country was filled with robbers."


The Procurator hopes for a bribe from those imprisoned on a trifling offence.


The Procurator hopes for a bribe from the innocent apostle:

"Felix ... sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ ... He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him." (Acts 24.24,26)

Copyright 2006 by Kenneth Humphreys.

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