Paul, as the writer of many of the books in the New Testament, has shaped the views of Christians today. It has been suggested that he is the father of Christian anti-Judaism through the idea that God has rejected his people, the Jews, and replaced them with the Christians. Although there are few who believe that Paul was against Judaism, scholars have found different ways to reconcile the theology. For example, John Gager sets out to prove in his essay entitled “Paul, the Apostle of Judaism” that Paul is not the father of Christian anti-Judaism, but rather understands that there are two separate paths to salvation, one for the Jews, and another for the Gentiles. In this way, all will be saved.
Most Biblical scholars instead insist that Paul believed there is only one path that all must use for salvation: faith in the significant death and resurrection of Jesus. When looking at Paul’s views on the relationship between Jews, Gentiles, and God, they suggest a different sort of “rejection-replacement theology” than that referred to by Gager. This theology is grounded in the idea that the Jews, through their lack of faith and their adherence to the law that has no power to save, rejected God, so God replaced the old faith required for salvation with a new faith: that in Jesus.
The rejection-replacement process was a fulfillment of his promises, and any Jew who was familiar with those promises and did not reject the Messiah would not be replaced, but would enter seamlessly into God’s people, who are now called Christians. Paul was the father of Christianity for the Gentiles, but that does not put him in opposition with the Jews or set the foundation for anti-Jewish sentiment. This view is much more in line with Paul’s writings in the New Testament. He simply argues that everybody, both Jew and Gentile, can only be made right with God through Christ.
Despite the fact that Paul’s letters were written to Gentile congregations, they support the idea that God intends to offer salvation to all through Christ. This offer is not a rejection of the Jewish people, and therefore, not cause for anti-Jewish sentiment. It is, instead, a fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jewish people. If they are willing to accept it through faith in the mysterious ways in which God works, sending a Messiah who was against all expectations, the Jewish people can enter into salvation through Christ. If, however, they reject Christ as the messiah and the path to salvation, Jews will not take part in God’s kingdom, but instead be replaced by those who do believe.