Paul the Christian Pharisee

paul-the-phariseeNow when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees.

-Acts 23:6

Paul used the present tense, “I am a Pharisee,” not “I was a Pharisee.” Christian commentaries are uncomfortable with the statement, and they usually try to dodge the implications by explaining that he used to be a Pharisee prior to becoming a Christian.

Did Paul perjure himself before the Sanhedrin (a grave sin) by saying, “I am a Pharisee” instead of saying, “I was a Pharisee”? If so, none of his accusers had the wherewithal to challenge him on it. If he was no longer a Pharisee at the time of the trial, his testimony would be easy enough to discredit.

-D. Thomas Lancaster
Torah Club, Volume 6: Chronicles of the Apostles
from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ)
Torah Portion Tazria (pg 711), Commentary on Acts 23:1-24:27

I suppose you could say this is a continuation of my previous “meditation,” Paul the Apostle, Liar, and Hypocrite and earlier commentaries. As I continue to read through Lancaster’s “Chronicles of the Apostles” Torah Club study, I continue to follow Paul through his various “legal problems” and his journey that will eventually lead to Rome, Caesar, and death. I also continue to watch as Paul repeatedly defends himself against the charges brought against him by the Jewish authorities of the Sanhedrin. From Paul’s point of view, he did nothing wrong to the Jewish people, to the Torah, to the Temple, or even to Rome.

Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”

-Acts 25:8

In verse 7 of the same chapter, Luke records that “…the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him that they could not prove.”

As we’ve seen in earlier chapters of Acts and in my earlier commentaries on those chapters (thanks to Lancaster and the Torah Club), there simply was no evidence to support the wild accusations that had been made against Paul. He should have been set free, and except for various political reasons, finally including Paul’s appeal to Caesar and Rome, he never was.

Not only do I want to pursue the scriptures and commentaries that support Paul’s innocence, but I want to continue to illustrate how Paul never imagined that being an apostle of Jesus required in any sense, surrendering observance of the Torah mitzvot and the lifestyle of a Jewish Pharisee, nor did he expect this of other believing Jews.

All believers could claim to adhere to Pharisaic doctrine, but not all of them could claim to actually be Pharisees. Paul concluded his testimony with the declaration, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” (Acts 23:6).

-Lancaster, ibid

That statement might come as a shock to you if you’ve been taught that all Pharisees were horrible, legalistic monsters and hypocrites. After all, Jesus had some pretty rough things to say to the Pharisees.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

-Matthew 23:27-28

On the other hand, Jesus also said this:

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do.

-Matthew 23:2-3

Do what they say but not what they do. What do they say?

And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.

-Acts 23:7-8

For Paul, the Pharisaic belief in the resurrection of the dead and a life in the world to come was lived out by his faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the risen Messiah King.

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

-Romans 4:22-25

The doctrine of “the Way” was generally Pharisaic and in believing in the resurrection, so is modern Christianity.

I know, that’s probably a stretch for most of you, but if you follow the logic of Paul’s defense as recorded by Luke, it is very compelling. Lancaster comments further on this point.

The teaching and beliefs of Yeshua, Paul, and all the apostles echo the theology of the Pharisees. A Pharisee could become a disciple of Yeshua and still be a Pharisee…

-Lancaster, pg 713

Not so the Sadducees or any other branch of Judaism that did not believe in resurrection.

Even though the Master sometimes disagreed with the specific priorities of the oral law, He and the apostles practiced and transmitted Pharisaic, rabbinic tradition and interpretation. Their teachings and methods of biblical exegesis mirror those of the Pharisees. The Sadducees, on the other hand, were the first-century equivalents of Karaite Jews and sola-scriptura Protestants. They rejected most Jewish tradition, oral law, and rabbinic exegesis.

-ibid

paul-in-chainsFrom a modern Christian’s point of view, we almost want to make the Sadducees the heroes of the story because they rejected Jewish oral law and traditions, and Jesus heavily criticized the Pharisees for some of their traditions. But while many of the Pharisees far exceeded the Torah’s intent by creating enormous burdens from their rulings that weighed heavily on the Jewish people, Jesus did not criticize their core teachings. Being a Pharisee wasn’t the problem. Being a hypocrite and a liar was. Paul was the former but never the latter.

But Paul had a “confession” to make.

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

-Acts 24:14-16

Paul admitted to the charge of belonging “to the sect of the Nazarenes,” but he rejected any implication that the teachings of the Way deviated from normative Jewish expression. To Paul, faith in Yeshua was not simply one more sect of Judaism, it was “the Way of the LORD,” a spiritual restoration and redemption of all Israel that transcended sectarian divides. He admitted to “believing everything that is in accordance with the Torah and that is written in the Prophets.” He declared his hope in God, a hope which his accusers also cherished.

-Lancaster, pg 723

There’s one sentence in my last quote from Lancaster that I hope you caught. Here is is again:

To Paul, faith in Yeshua was not simply one more sect of Judaism, it was “the Way of the LORD,” a spiritual restoration and redemption of all Israel that transcended sectarian divides.

This is as true today as it was the moment Paul said it. Faith in Yeshua the Messianic King is not just a way for the world to be saved (which, of course, is no small thing) but it is the way to spiritual restoration and redemption of all Israel. That is the critical piece of knowledge both Jews and Christians must understand. Jesus doesn’t stand in opposition to the Jewish people, he stands for their redemption as a people and their restoration as a nation.

The good news of forgiveness from sins, salvation, and a life in the world to come is what we focus on as Christians, but most of the time, we miss why Jesus is uniquely special to the Jewish people. He doesn’t just save the individual Jewish soul as he does the individual Gentile soul, he saves Israel, he restores their nation to the head of all nations, he gathers his people back to him and to their Land, and he is their King, the King of the Jews, even as he is also the King of the World.

Paul, the “Christian” Pharisee knew all that, and the evidence of his innocence is also a shining lamp for every Jew and Gentile who turns away from darkness and to the light. To turn toward the light, we Gentiles must surrender a life of disobedience and learn to love, listen, and obey God. For a Jew to turn toward the light of the world in Messiah, they also must learn to obey, but Torah observance for the Jew is part of that obedience. We in the church are obedient, not only when we refrain from sin, but when we act to encourage our Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith to continue to live wholly Jewish lives in accordance with the commandments.

Paul lived his life enthusiastically as a disciple of Jesus Christ…and as a Pharisee.

162 days.

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15 thoughts on “Paul the Christian Pharisee”

  1. In your previous “meditation” about Paul the Apostle, Liar, and Hypocrite, you managed to clarify that you do view him as an apostle, but not as a liar or a hypocrite. In this topic, you demonstrate that he unambiguously identified himself as a Pharisee, but you didn’t mention that he was also not a Christian (for even greater shock value, ). The term Christian appears exactly three times in the messianic writings: twice in Acts (11:26, 26:28) and once in a letter from Peter (1Pet.4:16). The first instance identifies a city (in a highly non-Jewish locale) where the term was first used, the second is where Agrippa mistakenly believes it applies to Rav Shaul and would apply to himself if he were to be persuaded to believe Rav Shaul’s statements. Rav Shaul deftly sidesteps the term, saying only that he would sincerely wish for Agrippa and many others to become believers in the resurrection like himself. He avoided the entire issue of sectarian labels and the differences between non-Jews and Jews, most likely because such details woud only confuse someone at Agrippa’s rudimentary level of understanding. The third mention of the Christian label, by Peter, is simply a consolation for anyone being persecuted because of that pejorative label. It was not an encouragement to accept the label as if it were some sort of badge of honor, but an encouragement to be an exemplary witness for HaShem despite such a label and thus to demonstrate that it could not possibly mean any of the unpleasant implications that were associated with it. Only later was the term adopted by non-Jewish Yeshua followers, so it can never rightly be applied to Rav Shaul, and hardly even to the non-Jewish assemblies he established or encouraged.

    Of course, a blog-topic title like “Paul the non-Christian Pharisee” might have been more seriously misunderstood, particularly by those who don’t understand either why “Christian” was a pejorative term or why Pharisaism was such a good approach in general. Pharisees not only believed in the resurrection of the dead and other important scriptural perspectives, but their name derives from “pheirush” (interpretation) and the nature of their approach was to interpret and explain in all possible depth the meanings of the scriptures so that everyone could understand them thoroughly and apply them properly in actual living situations. In fact, if anyone would care to notice, this is the same approach that characterized Rav Yeshua’s teaching also. Even though no one is actually recorded in the messianic writings as applying to him the label Pharisee, that is what he was. That also is why he is recorded as arguing detailed halakhic perspectives with various groups of Pharisees, and why he essentially dismissed the Sadducees rather than arguing with them.

  2. I’m sure you realize I was identifying Paul as a “Christian” Pharisee for effect. In fact, one of the sentences I used near the end of the blog post is Paul, the “Christian” Pharisee knew all that… with the word “Christian” in quotes. My main point, which again I hoped was obvious, was that Paul could be both a Pharisee and a disciple of Yeshua the Messiah.

  3. @James – Sorry that I neglected to notice your use of quotes around the term “Christian” in your next-to-last paragraph, though you hadn’t explained anything in the body of the article which would have called attention to it or challenged the application of the term to Rav Shaul. Therefore I did call attention to it before offering an authentication of your main point by describing what it is about Pharisees (and about Rav Yeshua) that makes your point reasonable (even obvious).

  4. Thanks for an excellent article. Indeed, Rav Shaul is much maligned and misrepresented by ‘christendom.’

    “Paul, the “Christian” Pharisee knew all that, and the evidence of his innocence is also a shining lamp for every Jew and Gentile who turns away from darkness and to the light. To turn toward the light, we Gentiles must surrender a life of disobedience and learn to love, listen, and obey God. For a Jew to turn toward the light of the world in Messiah, they also must learn to obey, but Torah observance for the Jew is part of that obedience. We in the church are obedient, not only when we refrain from sin, but when we act to encourage our Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith to continue to live wholly Jewish lives in accordance with the commandments.”

    I know you get guff for it, but as a gentile who has come to Torah through Messiah, I would argue that Torah was and is for ‘all Israel’, not just the Jews. Simply, ‘The Way’ is the Living Torah and the Written Torah.

    Keep up the great posts.

    Shalom.

  5. Thanks, Pete. I don’t deny that the Torah has universal application. I only submit that there is an application that is unique to the Jewish people and can’t be shared with the rest of humanity.

  6. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

  7. My goodness, Matthew, you seem to have become overly excited by Rav Shaul’s reduction of the two greatest commandments into a single one, for which there is ample rabbinic precedent. Did you miss the implications in his doing so? Rav Shaul’s summation is not ignoring what Rav Yeshua said in re-iterating Rabbi Hillel’s summary of a century before. Rather, it includes the notion that HaShem is, in fact, to be perceived as our neighbor, who is to be loved even as we love ourselves. This implicit simile is not unlike Rav Yeshua’s continual reference to HaShem as “Father”, and it invokes a similar question to the one Rav Yeshua invoked when he asked “Who is my neighbor?” just before he told the Good Samaritan parable. I’m afraid you’ve over-reacted and proceeded to misperceive and misinterpret Rav Shaul as so many Christians (and Jews) have done before you. Antagonistic reactions against a superficial appearance of his statements only prevent a deeper examination of his intended meaning.

  8. Greetings, Matthew.

    I agree with PL that it’s not particularly unusual to reduce the commandments down to three, two, or even a single commandment to make a point. Paul isn’t disagreeing with Jesus and it’s not like he didn’t know how to teach the good news of Messiah.

    Also, the events we see in Matthew 22 and Mark 12 could have been the same incident, and again, it wasn’t as if these two (or one) commandments were taking the place of the larger body of Torah, they were two containers, so to speak, that hold all of the other commandments of Torah, two ways of understanding our obligations to God and to other people.

    Jesus wasn’t teaching anything revolutionary and much of his teaching is actually in line with other Rabbinic sources of his time. There’s a well known story about the sage Hillel, who pre-dated Jesus by only a generation, taken from the Talmud (Shabbos 31) where a would be convert to Judaism approached Hillel and said he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could explain all of the Torah to him while standing on one foot (a task most people can’t do for very long, so this fellow obviously was looking for a quick lesson). Hillel responded, “What you dislike, do not do to your friend. That is the basis of the Torah. The rest is commentary; go and learn!”

    There’s a certain amount of subtlety in Rabbnic teachings and it helps to not always be too literal in reading them, especially in English.

    Hope some of this helps.

  9. Hi ProclaimLiberty & James,
    Yeshua is my Rabbi.
    I don’t need another rabbi, whether it be Paul the Pharisee, or Rabbi Hillel, to improve on the interpretation of Torah given by Yeshua. I understand there is “ample rabbinic precedent” and I have heard this quote before; Hillel responded, “What you dislike, do not do to your friend. That is the basis of the Torah. The rest is commentary; go and learn!”

    This rabbinic prescedent agrees with the teaching of Paul the Pharisee – and it is wrong.
    Yeshua (Jesus) has the correct interpretation of the Torah. We should listen to HIM first – wouldn’t you agree?

    The Evangelical “Mexican Hat Dance”

    Sin is always specific, not general.
    The “Hat” is, “What were Paul’s sins?”

    The music starts, with a cheery blast of trumpets in a melody that is familiar to most North Americans- the “Mexican Hat Dance.” (The national dance of Mexico, taught in Mexican public schools since 1921, and officially named “El Jarabe Tapatio.”)

    A couple in rather elaborate traditional costumes begins the dance. The man throws his huge sombrero hat on the floor, and the couple dances around it, but never steps on the hat. (The “Hat” is, “what were Paul’s sins?”) Here are the basic steps- (there may be one or two other basic steps, but they are very similar to these.)

    What were Paul’s sins?

    STEP 1) Paul said; “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
    (Response- Those were Saul’s sins, before Jesus called him. What were Paul’s sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 2) Paul said; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
    (Response- Sin is alwasy specific. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 3) Paul said; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
    (Response- Again the same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 4) Paul said; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” [Philippians 3:12-13]
    (Response- They say third time’s a charm. Same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 5) Paul said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” [Romans 7:15-19]
    (Response- One more time! This is getting boring. Same question; Specifically, what were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian based on specific verses of the Bible? )

    STEP 6) LOOP- REPEAT steps 1 through 5, until your dance partner gives up, the audience gets bored, or the music stops. The rule is- never step on the “Hat,” just keep dancing around it.

  10. Against my better judgment Matthew, I went ahead and approved your comment, but please keep in mind, I don’t always have to.

    It’s apparent you have issues with Paul and that’s fine. Apparently you have issues with the canonized Bible too or at least those parts of it that contain any mention of Paul. You address the apparent dissonance between Jesus and Paul, not by trying to understand Paul and Jesus better within the Rabbinic context of the late Second Temple period, but by throwing Paul out entirely and saying that the Gospels are the only portion of the Biblical canon you accept.

    That’s fine too, except of course I don’t agree with you. I also don’t think Paul owes you, me, or anyone else a specific list of any sins he committed after becoming a disciple of the Master and accepting his calling to be an emissary to the Gentiles.

    As a responsible manager of this blog, if all you want to do is use the comments section of my weblog to air your grievances against Paul, I will in all likelihood, delete or severely edit your future comments. While I welcome discussion and even debate, there’s a point where that degrades into arguments and theological ax-grinding, and I am not willing to spend my time on all that (which is why I wrote this comments policy).

  11. Hi James,
    I appreciate your thoughtful comment. We are supposed to reason together and discuss the Scriptures, so I’m glad you welcome this.

    Jesus spoke of The Law, the Prophets & the Psalms. This is an allusion to the 3-tier authority levels of the Hebrew Scriptures, Torah, Nabi’im & Kethuvim. (Psalms are the first and most prominent book of the Kethuvim.) The Jews make their “Bible” into a book they call the “Tanakh”, which is an acronym of the first letters of these 3 divisions.

    If you want more details, you can see this link.
    http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/recommendedreading/56-marcionism.html

    However, I submit to you that God did not give us the Scriptures as “One Book” which is all somehow equal in authority and importance, and is all equally The Word of God. Yes, Paul wrote “All Scripture is God-breathed” – In the middle of one personal letter. No one else in the New Testament agreed with Paul on this point. Not Jesus, not any other author of Scripture.

    My view of the New Testament is literally Orthodox – the 4 Gospels are above everything else. I “accept” all the 66 Book of the Bible, generally within 3 authority levels established by the ancient Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, which is how Jesus saw Scripture. In the New Testament, I would put Paul’s writings on the bottom, since he was wrong about so many things.

    Blessings,
    Matthew

  12. All I can say Matthew is that once we say that one part of the Bible is in error, then it opens up the box for believing other parts can or perhaps must be in error or at least not divinely inspired (see Richard Elliott Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible). Beyond a certain point, we have a Bible that is simply a bunch of different books written by a bunch of different guys across thousands of years of history, full of internal inconsistencies and God is removed altogether. It’s just another “holy” book by just another of our world’s religions. I know this is a popular opinion, but it isn’t mine.

    Peace.

  13. James,
    Jesus often spoke of The Law or The Law and the Prophets.
    A couple of times he mentioned the Psalms. In Luke after his resurrection he spoke “of The Law, the Prophets & the Psalms.” Jesus never spoke of All Scripture as One Book. Why should we?

  14. James,
    Here is a parable to spark your thinking into what IS Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

    Letter to the Angelenos
    Setting and context: Los Angeles California, Summer 2009. Due to lack of rain, there is a water shortage.

    The Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, preached that homeowners should only water their lawns 2 days a week, not every day, in order to save water. But after that, a TV news crew camped out 24/7 at the mayor’s house, and found that the mayor’s own lawn was being watered every day. Now, it has come to the mayor’s attention that some other homeowners are also watering their lawns every day again.

    The mayor could write a letter to the homeowners of Los Angeles about the need for water rationing. If he decided to use the life of the Paul the Pharisee as his example, and he wanted to “be like Paul,” he could write the letter below, using Paul’s letter to the Galatians as his pattern.

    TEXT OF LETTER TO THE ANGELENOS

    Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles,
    To the homeowners of Los Angeles:

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the 2-day-a-week plan for watering your lawns. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion. But even if we or an angel from heaven should tell you to stop the 2-day-a-week water-rationing plan, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody should tell you a different message, let him be eternally condemned! Not even my personal staff members at City Hall are watering their own lawns every day.

    You foolish Angelenos! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes I clearly explained the need for water rationing. I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. What has happened to all your joy? Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? How I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

    Mark my words! I, Antonio Villaraigosa, tell you that if you water your lawn every day, your life in Los Angeles will be of no value at all. You have fallen away from grace. For in Los Angeles, neither a green lawn nor a brown lawn has any value. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the 2-day-a-week water-rationing plan? A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty whoever he may be. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and turn their lawns into swamps!

    Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to water your lawn every day. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for having a brown lawn. In Los Angeles, neither a green lawn nor a brown lawn means anything.

    Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I’ve suffered a lot for the City of Los Angeles. Do as I say, not as I did. How dare you ask me why I was watering my own lawn every day?
    Regards,
    The Mayor of Los Angeles – Antonio Villaraigosa

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