The Instigator
Con (against)
5 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
15 Points

The Apostle Paul: Shinning example of a Christian

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/23/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 786 times Debate No: 59423
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (4)




The Con position, (mine) is that Paul can be tried and found guilty of crimes against the Church before during and after his Christian ministry. The Pro position, (yours) is that of defending Paul. Con's main body of evidence will be the Bible but Pro can use sources outside the Bible if they want to.

Opening argument:

1 Saul of Tarsus hunted down Christians.
2 An eye for an eye is a law still enforce to this very day, (even if you change your name).


Thanks to my opponent for hosting this debate. As he has posted what seems to be an outline of his argument, I will do so as well in this first round. Though my opponent is con, he still has the BoP, as he is trying to argue a stance opposed to the view of the masses.

Paul is a Shining Example of Christianity (this was the resolution, and this is what we will be arguing)

1) Paul sinned in persecuting Christians
as "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23)


2) The Christian Church does not uphold an "eye for an eye" policy

"You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

3) Instead, it upholds a policy of forgiveness

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14)

Therefore, although Paul sinned against the church (as all people do), he repented and was forgiven. This is an example of what to do, as a Christian, if you have sinned. Furthermore,

"...If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
(1 John 1:7)

Therefore, by Paul's repentance and his decision to "walk in the light" of Christ (Not by a name change, he never actually did change his name...he had a Hebrew name, Saul, and a Greek name Paul. He preferred the Greek name when preaching [1]), his sin and actions against the church were erased. Therefore he is no longer guilty of crimes against the Church, according to Church principles.

4) Paul in several ways showed he was a true Christian

A) Paul was absolutely instrumental in creating the Christian Church. He set up churches, wrote 13 books of the New Testament, and was a guiding theological voice in the early ages of the church [2].

B) Paul showed himself to be a true Christian when he died for his faith by the hands of the Romans in somewhere around 65 A.D. [2].


Therefore, Paul is not guilty of crimes against the church, is a shining example of Christian conversion, and demonstrated great devotion to his faith.

Debate Round No. 1


The Herodian Kingdom in Palestine was a Client of Rome or a Province of Rome. Either way the government in Palestine Jerusalem was denied the power to exact capital punishment. Rome reserved the capital punishment thing for itself.

Example: The Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.

When the authorities in Jerusalem executed Steven by stoning him to death that was an act of the vigilante. In modern terms if a group other than the proper authorities kills someone as an execution that is a felony. There are many people right here in the U.S. who are incarcerated for committing just such crimes. Any Government that would excuse the crime of vigilantism and let the criminal walk the streets free just because they claim to have had a Christian experience, that Government would/should not be taken seriously. Rome was a serious Government.

The Roman Government clearly told the client state in Jerusalem not to execute anyone. Just look at the hoops the High Priest had to jump through in order to get Christ executed. We will never know if the High Priest and Paul could have talked Rome into executing Steven because Steven's life was taken without due process.

No Church forgives felonious acts in the way that Pro is presenting. Christ will forgive, this is true. We as Christians forgive, this is true. But the Government does not forgive felony murder. Even if the guilty party changes his identity. Even if he is a Pharisee turned Christian and then back to Pharisee. Even Roman citizens at the time of Steven's death did not have the right/authority to execute Steven.

If Pro wants to protect Saul/Paul he must give a law, Judean/Roman/Christian that would have allowed Saul/Paul to execute Steven. Steven was a good person who was innocent. Steven's only crime was that he believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.


Thanks go to my opponent for the argument.

My opponent bases their entire argument for Paul not being a shining example of Christianity based off of the fact that the Palestinian government was not allowed to perform capital punishment. This is a huge strawman. For Paul to be an example for Christians, he must hold up only to Christian standards, not Roman standards.

My opponent bases his entire argument off of a single point that is invalid. Though it is debatable whether Roman laws allowed Jewish authorities to kill Stephen, Saul actually did not partake in the stoning or sentencing, he rather just watched the cloaks of those who were stoning him [1]. Though Saul approved, it wasn't until after Stephen's death that he began persecuting Christians [1].

My opponent confuses the Church with government. Once again, he strawmans the argument, claiming that if Stephen, who Paul did not even execute, was not allowed to be executed under Roman Law, then Paul should be held guilty against a Church whose policy is forgiveness and not be seen as a role model for them. This makes a few assumptions and strawmans in several places:

1) The biggest problem: My opponent forgets what we are debating. This debate concerns Paul's effectiveness as a Christian example. If my opponent claims adherence to Roman Law is an effective way to determine the way a good Christian should act, then NONE of the members of the early church, including Stephen, would be good Christians, as Christianity itself was illegal in the Roman Empire until 313 A.D. [2].

2) The Church, which is the real entity that should be being debated, upholds a policy of forgiveness, as demonstrated in my last round. My opponent claims "it doesn't work like that" but then demonstrates that Christ and Christians will forgive, and suddenly switches his definition of "Church" to "Roman Government" in order to make his point seem valid. Keep in mind that this point of Stephen's stoning being illegal under Roman Law (not to mention that the Romans didn't care) "is irrelevant to the debate.

Lastly, my opponent asks me to give a law that allowed Stephen to be executed. Deuteronomy 13:6-11 clearly calls for the Jewish people to stone those who preach of a false god:

If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods," which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.

Since they believed Jesus was a blasphemer pretending to be a god, and Stephen was clearly a dynamic preacher of Christ's word, they acted according to Jewish Law and stoned him. Keep in mind that Saul only approved of, and did not participate, in this stoning. Although my opponent is correct in a description of Stephen's crime, the punishment also fits according to Jewish Law.


In conclusion, Paul simply followed Jewish Law in his persecution of Christians, though he did not stone Stephen. When he joined the Christian church on the road to Damascus, he converted and repented of his sins against Jesus, which gave an example to all Christians of how to admit one's guilt. According to New Testament teachings, he is no longer guilty of his sins. He later spread God's word across the world, establishing new churches, writing theological documents, etc., again inspiring Christians. My opponent fails to address these arguments that I presented last round, and instead brings up a strawman argument full of fallacies. Remember the resolution here, voters. Thanks for your time.

Debate Round No. 2


1) The High Priest and the Sanhedrin did not have the authority to execute Jesus of Nazareth because that power was reserved for Roman authority. Pro has not shown that this agreement between Rome and Jerusalem changed making it legal for Steven to be executed.

2) Just because Saul of Tarsus did not throw any stones at Steven doesn't mean a thing. Saul of Tarsus consented to the slaying and had charge of the clothes, (Acts 7:54-8:2).
a) Accomplice
b) Aiding and Abetting

3) Even though Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, Jesus let the law take its course and the forgiven thief died for crimes against Roman law.

4) Deuteronomy 13:6-11 is not applicable to the time frame. The Law of Moses was not effective during Roman occupation. Rome allowed for some religious practices but capital punishment was not one of them. The only law that applies is the Treaty between Rome and Jerusalem. Rome conquered Jerusalem and installed Herod as King an Edomite, Herod was not even Jewish. Herod died and Rome took direct control over Jerusalem. Jerusalem rebelled against Roman authority and Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD. What was Jerusalem doing that offended Rome. For one thing Jerusalem was executing people unlawfully. (Israel lost self rule when Babylon occupied Jerusalem. Except for a short time during the Maccabean Revolt Israel has never legally been able to stone people to death. Not even to this very day.)

Final Argument:
Nowhere can we find Saul/Paul making restitution for the death of Steven or for arresting and persecuting Christians.
Exodus 22:1-8
Leviticus 6:1-5
Leviticus 5:16
Numbers 5:5-8
Deuteronomy 22:13-19
Luke 19:1-9
Matthew 5:23-24

Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee. He was born a Pharisee. He died a Pharisee.
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead." (Acts 23:6)

Several times Jesus said the Pharisees were hypocrites.


Thanks to my opponent for the debate.

My opponent refuses to actually argue the resolution of the debate, instead continuing his strawman attack. I will rebut my opponent's points, but I take his refusal for two rounds to argue the debate's actual resolution as a concession of the debate. Voters are free to vote as they see fit, though I urge them to vote based on the actual debate and not what my opponent has tried to make the debate appear to be.

1) It is debatable if the Jews were allowed, under Roman Law, to execute lawbreakers. Many theorize that stoning was permitted but crucifixion needed extra authority [1]. Therefore, although Roman Laws have no relevance to this debate, my opponent cannot prove, and has not proven, that those who stoned Stephen (which Paul did not) were breaking Roman Law, though I have proven without a doubt that Jewish Law warranted stoning.

2) Though it was possibly illegal for the Jews to execute Stephen under Roman Law (but fully legal and warranted under Jewish Law), Paul did not participate nor exercise authority over those stoning Stephen. They merely laid their garments at his feet, and he watched them, like someone would take off their jacket while playing basketball and give it to a friend. Paul was not guilty of the stoning of Stephen [2].

3) This reinforces my point. The thief on the cross, though guilty of offenses against Rome, was cleansed of his sin by Christ. The other thief who did not accept Jesus died for his sins, and was not forgiven and therefore remained guilty. The "good thief" was another example of Christian conversion and was with Jesus in Paradise when he died [3].

4) My opponent asks for a Jewish, Christian or Roman Law that allowed the Jews to stone Stephen. When I gave it to him, he dismissed it, saying, "The only law that applies is the Treaty between Rome and Jerusalem." My opponent continually changes the terms of the debate in order to win, no longer accepting what he claimed would be required to defend Paul. Furthermore, historians aren't even sure this treaty existed, and even if it did, it has no relevance to the debate, or even my opponent's strawman case, as it does not at all reference execution, but rather was a military agreement between the Jewish people and the Romans [4]. The treaty is therefore inapplicable to anything this debate concerns.

Final Argument:

My opponent decides here to introduce completely new arguments into the debate, in the final round. I'll work with it.

1. My opponent gives a large number of Bible verses, most of which regard O.T. laws about theft and how the thief must pay back the person they stole from. Persecution and theft are different crimes. Paul was merely condemning those he thought were convincing others to worship false gods. This was not theft in the Jewish tradition, nor was it even a crime. Therefore, "restitution" is inapplicable. Furthermore, Paul died for the Christian faith, so even if he had killed Stephen, which he didn't, and "theft of life" counts as theft, which it doesn't, he paid his life for a life that was taken.

2. This last argument is a complete generalization. My opponent claims because Paul was a Pharisee, he was a hypocrite. Well, why did Jesus consider Pharisees hypocrites? This simple quote should do the trick:

Pharisee ~ (A) ~ one of a group of Jews who thought that they kept all God's rules. They did not like the things that Jesus taught. They thought that they did not do any wrong things. So, they thought that they were very important and clever [5].

However, Paul clearly repented of his sin, was baptized by Ananias [6] and began to like the things Jesus taught. Therefore, though he still holds the title "Pharisee" he does not comply with the definition of Pharisee that Jesus held to be hypocritical.

Arguments Dropped by My Opponent in this debate

-Church's teachings on forgiveness
-Paul in several ways showed he was a true Christian
-Paul is a shining example of Christianity (the entire resolution)


Paul was a shining example of Christianity. My opponent has refused to debate this topic, though it is the resolution. I, however, have shown without a doubt that the resolution is true. Paul repented of his sins and the Church no longer holds him accountable. He may or may not be guilty of crimes against Rome, but so were all early Christians. Paul spread the Christian message and was instrumental in writing the New Testament. Vote pro. Thanks to the voters for reading. Thanks to my opponent for debating.

Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Cold-Mind 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Con has shown evidence that points out that Paul was a Pharisee. Pro failed in rebutting this point. Pharisee can not be shining example of a Christian. It is in the eyes of Christianity, a heresy.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: pro upheld his arguments better than con rebutted them.
Vote Placed by Domr 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro refuted all of Cons points successfully
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro changed the debate.