22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
Now we see the subjects whereby Paul boasted. He said that he was a “fool” in doing so (2 Co 11:17). In the following verses, he compared the qualifications he had against the Judaizers who challenged his eligibility as an apostle. First, he spoke about his lineage in verse 22. The apostle was an authentic Jew. He was more than a Jew raised in Hellenized or Gentile culture. He was indeed born in Tarsus, Asia Minor, but from Jewish heritage.
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I.
Paul was a Jew. He knew Old Testament Scriptures. The term “Hebrews” is an ancestral term. It references Semitic-speaking Jews. He spoke not only Greek but Hebrew. He was born in Gentile Tarsus but reared by Jewish parents.
Are they Israelites? So am I.
Paul was an Israelite, just like the Judaizers. He traced his lineage through the tribe of Benjamin (Ro 11:1; Php 3:4-5). He was a member of God’s chosen people. False apostles had no greater claim than the true apostle.
Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
As a “seed of Abraham,” he was circumcised on the eighth day (Php 3:5). Paul’s credentials as a Jew were impeccable. He belonged to God’s chosen people and inherited Abraham’s promises. The Judaizers had nothing on him about being a Jew (Ac 22:3; 26:4-5).
The opponents of Paul adopted Jewish culture as part of their theology. This was a doctrinal error. Nevertheless, the apostle passed three of the background criteria that they trumpeted. He was in no sense less qualified than they were. He was of no less descent than other Jews. The issue was not physical but spiritual assets that counted with God. The Judaizers’ erroneous doctrine carried a legalistic theology, a concept that emphasized what man does rather than what Christ did. Paul counted his Jewish advantages as “loss” (Php 3:3-11).
There are times when we need to present our credentials to our critics.
True character indicts artificial claims. Many people in ministry posture themselves as something special, but they are empty suits. They promise a lot but deliver little. Christians today need discernment to distinguish between the real and the fake.