It is interesting that the environment of Second Temple Judaism there are very similar parallels to the beliefs of salvation prevalent in much of mainstream evangelical life today. The common notion among that Jewish community; that right standing with God was not necessarily based upon perfect obedience to the Law of God. Instead, an approximation of righteousness was all that was required. Although obedience to the Law of God was certainly seen as a mandate given by God, it was also admitted that very few, if any, had or even could fulfill this mandate perfectly. In response to this reality, it was asserted that for His beloved covenant people, God graded on a curve as it were. Absolute perfect obedience was not necessary as long as one had claim to being within the covenant community of the nation of Israel. That is, for the nation of Israel, one only had to be mostly righteous or to put it another way, one must only demonstrate a tendency toward attempted righteousness without necessarily achieving perfect obedience. It does seem; however, that this notion was not transferable to those outside the national entity of Israel and that God would inflict eternal punishment upon the pagan nations for their failure to keep the Law in perfect obedience. Notwithstanding the obvious double standard, this way of thinking made God the Rewarder of the mostly righteous while at the same time asserting for those outside the covenant community that there was literally no hope of salvation due to the severity of judgment that would befall any imperfection to the Law no matter how trivial or slight. Upon this backdrop the apostle Paul declares his â€śblamelessnessâ€ť under the Law as he describes his religious life prior to conversion. It was not that Paul believed he was perfectly obedient at every point, but that he could demonstrate by his external actions a tendency toward doing what was seen as righteous. One should bear in mind that the definitions of righteousness had taken on a very legalistic and man-centered flavor that were more in line with external rites and rituals than the genuine transformative nature of righteousness depicted by Godâ€™s covenantal relationship with His chosen people. Despite the continued call in the Old Testament manuscripts for genuine transformative righteousness, Paul as well as many of his contemporaries saw right standing with God bound up in the external observances so defined by the prevailing ruling party of Israelâ€™s religious leadership. Although perfect obedience was not achievable under this stratum either, it none the less was more achievable than the transformative perfection sought by a stricter interpretation of Godâ€™s Law. In short, many Jews including Paul held that it was possible for those of the nation of Israel to contribute to their salvation through external rites and observances. The question did not seem to be whether this idea was erroneous but rather to what degree must one conform to the external observances to achieve a minimum righteousness to be pleasing to God. In both cases (Paulâ€™s day and modern times) the basis for these erroneous notions of saving righteousness can be traced back to a separation between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Simply put, the Jews of the Second Temple Period and believers of mainstream evangelical life today were not and are not consistent in practicing what they say they believe. The idea of â€śrighteous enoughâ€ť highlights this point as many believers claim the sovereignty of God to prescribe what the necessary requirements of true salvation are; that is, they will gladly affirm that God does in fact require perfect obedience to His Law for right standing before Him. This affirmation however is seen as applying mostly to others and not the individual holding the assertion. In the case of the Jews, they saw God as holding the Gentiles to this very high standard while making exceptions to this mandate when it came to evaluating their place before God. Not much has changed in modern faith life. Most all evangelicals affirm Godâ€™s very high standard of perfection for others but seek to deflect or minimize this standard when applied to the Christian community. It would seem that entrance into the Christian community somehow changes the rules or perhaps God deals with the Christian community differently than He does with the world in general. This line of thinking naturally leads one to believe that entrance into one particular community or another must have saving merit.