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Paul: Religious Zeal

About this article

This is a reflection on how religious zeal when guided by God's hand leads to love of others.
I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. (Galatians 1:14)
A tent maker by trade, Paul's Jewish name was Saul. But because Paul spent most of his life preaching in an area of the Roman Empire outside of Israel, he went by his Roman name. Paul was born in Tarsus, renowned as a center for education. However, Paul received his Jewish education in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, a leading teacher of the Law. Paul was a Pharisee who, out of zeal (passion) for his Jewish faith, persecuted Jesus' followers. After a dramatic conversion, Paul redirected his religious zeal and took the Gospel message to the world.

Conviction in following what we know to be true is at the heart of religious zeal. But, like Paul, our zeal can either lead us to persecute others or to love them.

On a scale of one to ten, how zealous are you about your faith?
God, I pray that my zeal for you will lead me to love and care for others.
  • To go deeper: Read Acts of the Apostles 7:54–60.

  • Acknowledgments

    (This activity is taken from Day by Day with People of the Bible: Reflections for Teens . Copyright © 2008 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at www.smp.org/catalog.cfm.)

    Published July 2, 2008.