Does Acts 25-8 show that Paul kept the law?

A very common verse used to prove that Paul kept the law given through Moses is Acts 25-8

Acts 25-8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

It is asserted here that Paul was saying that he had not offended against the law and so Paul was actually saying he had not broken the law given through Moses and therefore he was saying he kept the law given through Moses.

However when we analyse this in more detail we will see that this is not what Paul was saying at all. In fact Paul himself makes it clear that he WAS a sinner.

1 Timothy 1-15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Those who assert the law say that sin is transgressing the law, so if we take this as truth Paul very clearly stated that he did break the law and therefore DID offend against the law . Therefore to assert that Paul was saying he did not offend (break) the law in Acts 25-8  would be shown incorrect by Paul’s own words and the assertion simply fails. 

So let’s have a look at the meaning of Paul’s statement in a little more detail.

We know that the Jews were accusing him , although we also know that they could not prove their claims. 

Acts 25-  7And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

But it is important to understand what things they had accused him of. For this we need to go back and see the context.

Acts 24-  5For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 6Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.7But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,8Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. 9And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.

The Jews were not accusing him of breaking the law or not keeping the law but being a pestilent fellow and a ringleader of the sect of the nazarenes.

In other words, they accused him of stirring up trouble.

Paul however defends himself against THESE claims

Acts 24- 10Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:11Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: 13Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. 14But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. 17Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.18Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. 19Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. 20Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, 21Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

The accusations that the Jews were making were unsubstantiated. A bit like the claims many people make today regarding Paul’s teachings.

Paul was preaching Jesus the Messiah. He was preaching that the Jews had crucified their Messiah and that he had risen.

In Acts 22 Paul makes a defence to the people of Jerusalem that he was met by the Lord.

Acts 22- 6And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

However this was rejected by the people who called for him to be killed.

Acts 22- 22And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.

Paul had a totally different meaning to his statement back in Acts 25-8. We need to go to Acts 26 to fully understand.

Acts 26-  22Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Paul was actually referring to his teaching regarding Jesus. Paul was saying that his teaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus were not contrary, or offending to the Law. In fact Paul declared that Christs suffering and resurrection were written in the prophets and in the writings of Moses. Paul’s claim is that his teaching that Jesus was the Messiah was true and that the scriptures taught this. It had nothing to do with Paul claiming he had kept the law.