Just as Paul was intense in his persecution of the church as he describes it himself in Gal 1:13 and as Luke depicts it in the book of Acts, he was intense in his practice of Judaism. In Gal 1:14 Paul describes himself vis-à-vis his contemporaries, and I believe this expression is actually stronger than most understand it to be. Paul first positions himself as more advanced in Judaism than his contemporaries; even though ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς συνηλικιώτας ("beyond many [of my] contemporaries") is not totally exclusive, as it uses a form of πολύς ("many") instead of πᾶς ("all"), Paul clearly intends to set himself above and beyond any other Jew of his age in terms of his devotion to Judaism. He then qualifies this statement further in an intriguing way with the prepositional phrase ἐν τῷ γένει μου ("in my nation/people"). Paul felt it necessary to clarify further his reference to his contemporaries with this statement about ethnicity. Perhaps he means to clarify for the Galatians that both in terms of age and race he was exceptional in his practice of Judaism, but it could also imply that within Judaism that Paul had a different group of peers than the average Jew. This becomes clear when the normally understood sense of the phrase is back-translated, namely, ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς ἐν τῷ γένει μου without the word for "contemporaries." By describing συνηλικιώτας with ἐν τῷ γένει μου, Paul implies that he had his own distinct group of contemporaries. In other words, Paul was not just better than the average Jew. He considered himself better than even his select group of contemporaries who were zealous for Judaism.