Actually, Paul was both a Roman and a Jew. He said of himself in Philippians 3:4-5, “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.” “Of the stock of Israel” indicates that Paul was born a Jew and could prove the tribe he was born into. He tells us that he was “of the tribe of Benjamin.” Benjamin was the youngest son of Israel. His mother died after birthing him, as we read in Genesis 35:17-19, “And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.” So, we have no doubt about Paul’s heritage. He was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul was also a Roman. When he was about to be scourged by a chief captain of soldiers, Paul spoke of his Roman citizenship. We read in Acts 22:25-27, “And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, TELL ME, ART THOU A ROMAN? HE SAID, YEA.”

Now let’s consider what he have in verse 28, “And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.” The chief captain was obviously a Jew, and with ‘great sum’, he was able to purchase the freedom and privileges of a Roman citizen. Paul, however, was “free born.” The rights of Roman citizenship were obtained in various ways. It could be purchased as the chief captain had done. Citizenship could be given to someone for the loyalty or faithful duty to the nation of Rome. Since Paul was “free born”, his father or an earlier ancestor had somehow gained Roman citizenship and it had been passed on to Paul so that he was a Roman citizen at birth.

Paul also speaks of his Roman citizenship in Acts 16:37-38, “But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.”

Paul was born a Jew, but he was also born with all the rights and privileges of a Roman citizen, of which he was one! (302.1)