|Table of Contents|
|Paul’s Philosophy, God and the Messiah|
|Concerning the Law|
|Paul’s Authority and Trustworthiness|
|Paul Quoting Old Testament Scripture|
|Was Paul Even an Apostle?|
Imagine yourself back in the time of Jesus, before anything was considered legit scripture or not. You know about Jesus. He had a close following of twelve men, one of whom just committed suicide by hanging himself after the guilt of letting his rabbi, or teacher, into the hands of those meant to kill his teacher. Now, it is the day on which Jesus said he would rise from the dead. Before Jesus was crucified, remember his warning to you, found in Matthew Chapter 24, Verses 4: “Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many.”
Later on in this chapter, in verses 24-25, Jesus warns us again: “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.”
Jesus gave his warnings to his inner circle, the twelve about the false Christs. Could this not be what happened to Saul (Paul) when he was traveling? He was blinded by a light, and when asked who it was, he was told it was Jesus the Christ. Could it be possible that this “Jesus” Paul came across was not the actual Savior, but a false Christ? It is more than possible. Surely a man who breathed murderous threats upon the Disciples would be a prime person to venture out a means to twist what Jesus preached into something horribly different.
During the time of preaching the good word, the eleven of the original twelve asked the Lord which man - either Joseph (called Barsabbas) or Matthias - should be the one to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot. It came to it that Matthias, not Barsabbas would be the one to be among the twelve. Amongst the original twelve disciples, John warned us in this letter to an undetermined church of what to look out for in 1 John Chapter 2, Verse 24: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you will also remain in the Son and in the Father.”
It is that which God has spoken, all of the Prophets, and of course Jesus the Christ himself. That is what must be consistent.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of the truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” [2 Pt 2:1-3]
The account in Acts of Paul's meeting with the self-proclaimed Jesus give away lack of details. The first two accounts found in Chapter 9, Verses 1-19 and Chapter 22, Verses 1-21 have virtually sound corroboration. Basically, he was on his way to Damascus when a bright light “from heaven” surrounded him and a voice resonated saying “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute you me.” This voice also claimed to be Jesus. He was then instructed to go into Damascus where he will be told of what his assignment would be. However, it is in the testimony to King Agrippa in Chapter 26 that Paul says he received his mission on the road itself as shown in verses 15-18. And not only that, he was to be delivered from the Jews.
Could Paul, either knowingly or unknowingly, have been one of them? Did Paul perform any signs and miracles? Surely he did as Acts Chapter 15, Verse 12 shows us: “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” However so, the Messiah did warn us of those who would perform miracles but would be false Christs and Prophets.
“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” [Gal 1:15-17]
What exactly did he mean by saying God revealing “his Son in me”? Was he proclaiming that he was God’s son? Or was he saying something else? And not only did he learn all about Christ through the self-proclaimed Jesus on the road, he was kept blind and also refrained from drink or eat. He did not seek to check the truth with those who actually knew Jesus on a personal basis for the three years he preached to the Gentiles. Quite frequently, Paul reminds us that he is in no way inferior to these “super apostles.”
Is this a mockery of them? Meditate on this. Jesus warned us of a future after he ascended to the Father when falsehoods would be preached through false Christs and false prophets who would use miraculous signs and wonders to deceive even those in the elect, those with the power.
Paul’s Philosophy, God and the Messiah
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” [Mt 12:25]
Concerning the Laws Given Unto Moses by God
As a Jew, it should be noted that Jesus observed all of the Laws, faithfully, there were handed down to Moses by Lord God Himself. When referring to the Law, let us see what Jesus the Christ said about the nature of his Mission on earth to the Israelites. In Matthew, Chapter 5, Verses 17-19, the Savior states: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
The only thing misinterpreted here by most, is the line “but to fulfill them.” Jesus fulfilled what was prophesied about him. Thus, this is what he meant by “but to fulfill them,” referring to the prophecies, not the Law. Jesus stated twice that it was not his intention to do away with the Law. And seeing that heaven and the earth haven’t disappeared, the Laws given unto Moses should still be adhered to. Unfortunately, the followers of Jesus today, do not follow all of the Laws, but merely the Ten Commandments, which were merely supposed to be a sign given to the Israelites referring to the Laws. Jesus clearly warned us against the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16:5-12. Paul, who was formerly known as Saul, was a Jewish Pharisee; and, what did we know about the Pharisees of that day? From Christ’s criticism, their teachings shouldn’t hold much ground. In John Chapter 7, Verse 19, as Jesus was in the temple, he states “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. …”
Why would one who does not follow the law, want to be bound or follow the law?
Paul clearly does not want us to follow the law as proved in Galatians 5:4, “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”
“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” [Gal 3:23-25]
In this, Paul once again tries to prove to us that the law holds us prisoner. Paul would have you believe that “everything is permissible.” [1 Cor 10:23] If God’s law holds us as prisoner, what does the laws of men hold us as? This is a philosophy that any law holds us prisoner, even if it be a single law. And who is more just to give us law – men or God?
Also according to Paul, “all who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’” [Gal 3:10] God can tell you exactly what should be done in Jeremiah Chapter 11, Verse 4, “…I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
Ponder 1 John 5:3, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And His commands are not burdensome…” To Paul’s defense of what he thought, Romans 1:17 states: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” The verse he paraphrases is from Habakkuk 2:4. However, Paul does remind us by successive misquotes of Psalms 14, 10 and Isaiah 59:7 in Romans 3:9-19 that Jews and Gentiles alike are sinners and continues to tell us that nobody is righteous and gives you out of context misquotes to prove his point. (Refer to the section “Paul and Old Testament Scripture” for an elaboration on how they are out of context misquotes.) It should also be noted that in verse 20, Paul states that “Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin.” By Paul’s own logic, that, although the righteous will live by faith, nobody can be considered righteous. All of us are sinners, but only the law makes us aware of sin. How can this be reconciled?
The Sign of the Covenant between Abraham and God
The sign of the covenant with the patriarch Abraham was circumcision (of males, of course). And all who would come under his family, either by marriage or by adoption, would have to adhere to this sign. All the Israelites when the Laws were given to Moses were undoubtedly circumcised and all who were not, or those who wanted to be adopted into Judaism, would have to be circumcised.
What does Paul have to say on this matter? Let us turn our attention to Romans Chapter 2. Verses 25-27 clearly states what Paul thought about circumcision: “Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a law breaker.”
Clearly, Paul is stating that one who is under the covenant by physical circumcision can break the law, but even those who do not can still observe the law. To be under the law would mean to practice the observance of the Sabbath, worshiping God, et cetera. If you observe the law, it would be a necessity of all males to be circumcised. In this clever wording, Paul seeks to do away with a practice even Jesus observed, as found in Luke Chapter 2, Verse 21: “On the eight day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.”
The tradition of circumcision is much more than a mere tradition. It was a sign of a covenant between the patriarch Abraham and all of his descendants with the Lord God Almighty. Genesis Chapter 17, Verses 10-14 states the conditions of this covenant as stated by God to Abraham: “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or those bought with money from a foreigner- those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Notice how it said “everlasting covenant.” This means it must never be broken in time for all whom come under the household of Abraham. Let us not forget that all of the prophecies that the Savior Jesus fulfilled were Jewish prophecies and thus if he is our Messiah, if he is the Christ, than he is the Messiah within the Jewish religion. All Christians are to be Messianic Jews. Any change of practice must be emphasized by God, rather than any other for it to be true. Jesus did not mention anything either to do away with the circumcision or to keep the circumcision of all males. However, Jesus did say that he did not come to abolish the law. [Mt 5:17-20]
Early on, the twelve did not conclude much about what to do with the Gentiles, whether to circumcise them or not. It was only Paul who decided to state clearly what should be done. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 7, Verses 17-20, Paul states: “Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not become circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.” Paul also stated, “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again, I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” [Gal 5:2-4] Let us not forget, Paul, that one of the commands was that all males be circumcised if possible on the eighth day after birth, or when they come in the household. Circumcision was and is something, not nothing. As proven when God said that all who fail to be circumcise fall out of the covenant and should be cut off from his people. [Gen 17:14]
What is Paul’s rebuttal against those who did preach for the keeping of circumcision? Galatians Chapter 6, Verses 12-15 states from Paul, “Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”
So, Paul, are you telling us that you know what is in men’s hearts? That everyone who becomes circumcised is bound to break the law? That all men who wish to please God by keeping the covenant with Abraham are doing this for outward expression alone? You are not the judge, dear Paul. While we all may fall in to sin at some point, Paul, does that not keep us from obeying what God has commanded in other ways? And are you sure that those who wished for circumcision to still be observed wanted to boast?
In the words of the Lord to Jeremiah, “…Cursed is the man who does not obey the terms of this covenant…” [Jer 11:3] Paul’s hatred for the circumcision ritual, an apparent mutilation of the flesh [Php 3:2-3], became so severe that he wished for those who offended the cross would go so far as to “emasculate,” or castrate themselves. [Gal 511-12] Does this sound like somebody who has Christ-like intentions?
And as a teacher, Paul showed some of his own hypocrisy. While keeping in mind Paul’s attitude towards circumcision found in Rom 2:25-27, 1 Cor 7:17-20, Gal 5:2-4, and Gal 6:12-15, we can see that Paul himself circumcised Timothy [Acts 16:3], even though Christ would profit him nothing. [Gal 5:2]
Concerning the Dietary and Sexuality Laws
Through the teachings of Paul, we can find that he was “…fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. …” [Rom 14:14] and that “…all food is clean…” [Rom 14:20] Paul said it best himself in the first half of verse twenty, prior to his stating that all food is clean, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. …”
Paul continues to argue “…food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” [1 Cor 8:8]
The twelve disciples and all present in the council held in Jerusalem in Acts Chapter 15 came to a conclusion about what to do concerning the Gentiles and Jewish law. They wrote a letter to Gentile believers in Antioch which included a consensus on the deitary laws given to Moses by God: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You would do well to avoid these things.” [Acts 15:28-29] Notice how it says “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth and truth does not change. How can this council and Paul be in disagreement about this, while both being filled with the Holy Spirit. If everything is permissible when contemplating on your meal, then it is logical that food sacrificed to idols are more than okay. According to the revelation of Jesus Christ to John the apostle, a criticism came against the church in Pergamum, “…I have a few things against you: You people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.” [Rev 2:14]
Both in the revelation and the council agreement which stated the notion of the Holy Spirit’s consensus on the matter, both food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality are things to be scorned. In this matter, Paul is proven wrong, even by the Holy Spirit.
The Hair of Men
In the first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 11, Verses 14-16, Paul proposes a question: “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice – nor do the churches of God.”
In the Torah (or Pentateuch), God told Moses some instructions for those who wish to make a Nazirite vow to Him. Among these instructions in Numbers, Chapter 6, we can see in Verse 5 it clearly states: “During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the Lord is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long.”
Now if God said for a man’s head to grow long and to remain holy, and Paul is saying that it is a disgrace to a man to have long hair, which should you believe? Also, we must remember Samson. An angel of the Lord came to Samson’s mother, the wife of Manoah. The child we know to be Samson would have to be purely a Nazirite. The angel of the Lord continued in Judges, Chapter 13, Verses 4-5: “Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart from birth and he begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
If you remember later on in book, it is found that the source of Samson’s strength was his hair. It was not until the woman Delilah told the Philistines to cut his hair, that he lost his strength. Are we to believe that Samson’s source of strength also became his disgrace?
And let us also remember every image we have of Jesus the Christ, Son of God. In every picture, we have a man with long hair. Are we to say that Jesus had any disgrace?
Paul’s Authority and Trustworthiness
Before continuing, focus on the parable of the weeds in Matthew Chapter 13, Verses 24-30.
“…The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ’Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?
“ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“ ‘No,’ he answered. ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”
Instead of personally interpreting this, I am going to let Jesus the Christ do it for me as he did later on in verses 37 – 43.
“…The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Was Paul a weed or wheat?
Forgiving all his sins prior to his self-proclaimed conversion, let us ponder on the philosophy on which Paul preached. In Philippians Chapter 1, Verse 18: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Paul clearly does not care if you go by evil means to spread the message of Christ, so long as people hear of Christ. If Paul should even be trusted, let us ponder if he ever had any authority to do such amongst a time of false Christs and false prophets. After being healed of the blindness attained by the self-proclaimed Jesus, and without seeking out any aid in verifying facts with the twelve Disciples of Christ Jesus before Paul went off for three years to preach to the Gentiles in Damascus. [Gal 1:17-18]
In Matthew Chapter 25, Verses 40-45, Jesus talks about Judgment.
“Then he [the King] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
Paul’s philosophy was much different from that of Jesus, son of God as stated in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3, Verses 6-15: “In the name of Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’
“We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
“If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” While an interpretation of this passage could reveal that Paul simply did not like laziness, it also does imply that you must earn everything you are given. Thus, any charity would be eradicated, and all things given must be earned. The sick, the crippled, the blind, and the like would all suffer if they proved unable to work for anything given. This is not what Jesus intended when he spoke of with the Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46.
In Matthew Chapter 23, Verse 8, Jesus tells us, “And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” This father is the father of all creation, and of all that is related to faith. However, Paul tries to tell us in his first letter to the Corinthians Chapter 4, Verse 15 “…you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”
Paul Quoting Old Testament Scripture ...see more examples
As a teacher, Paul made a mistake in quoting scripture. In Ephesians 4:8, Paul attempted to faithfully recite Psalm 68:18.
First, this is Paul’s version: (Emphasis to show unfaithful quotation.)
“When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”
This is what is actually Psalm 68:18: (Emphasis to show unfaithful quotation.)
“When you ascended on high,
you led captives in your train
you received gifts from men,”
There is more to the verse but quoting do not necessarily mean giving the whole passage.
Was Paul Even an Apostle?
By Paul’s own admission, not all viewed him as an apostle. [1 Cor 9:1-2]
What makes one an apostle at this point? Peter, one of the original twelve, set up a clear test for apostleship in Acts Chapter 1, Verses 21-22, in order that the vacant seat, left open by Judas Iscariot, would be filled. To fill this seat, Peter proposed, “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. …” This is clear proof that Peter thought it necessary for all apostles be witnesses to the life of Christ Jesus and his ministry. This test clearly shows that Paul failed Peter’s qualifications of becoming an apostle.
In Acts Chapter 9, Verse 9, when Paul “…came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.” These disciples that in the second chapter of Acts were filled with the Holy Spirit, did not believe that Paul was really a disciple. Paul even tried to prove it at a council held in Jerusalem by testifying about his “miraculous signs and wonders.” [Acts 15:12]
The passage that we are to believe that, after fourteen years, Paul was given authority by the twelve apostles, Paul states in Galatians Chapter 2, Verses 7-8 “…they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.” Wait, wait. Let’s back up here. In Acts Chapter 15, Verses 7, Peter stated in a discussion to a council held in Jerusalem: “…Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.” At this same council, Paul and his companion Barnabas came in after this speech to proclaim their miracles and wonders. [Acts 15:12]
Peter and Paul both claim the right by God to preach to the Gentiles. Paul claims, of course, that he is right. Let’s see on what grounds Paul is right. “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” [Gal 2:11-3]
This claim by Paul states that Peter, who himself claimed that he was to preach to the Gentiles, would not associate with them. Do we know about this group from James and who they were? Or do we know how well the Gentiles received the gospel? Seeing as James was one of the twelve, could they have been dear friends who came with him, being that it is implied they were Jews that James brought? In any case, it is hard to preach the gospel to the Gentiles while separating yourself from them. In any case, we do not even have Peter’s defense, but only the accusation of Paul. To Peter’s defense, setting your bible towards John 21:15-18 could raise more validity in the Messiah’s trust in Peter than Paul. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Three times Peter reminded Jesus that he knows that he loves him. Every time Peter responded as such, Jesus would tell him to tend to his sheep. Now seeing that he was a carpenter, we must remember what Jesus stated earlier in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep me…”
“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, ’You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
“We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” [Gal 2:14-16]
Paul certainly had his critics, as you can see in Acts 21:17-26. In this passage, it is clear that “…thousands of Jews have believed [about Jesus], and all of them are zealous for the law.” The very next verse condemns Paul against the majority due to his teaching to “all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses…” and the law given to him. Paul is reminded about the consensus with law and then purified under the law.
In this continuation, we have more evidence of Paul’s distaste for Jewish law, which we must remember that Jesus said he did not come to abolish. [Mt 5:17-20] And this also points out that Paul believes that, in his ministry to the Gentiles, and while Peter believes that all Gentiles should be under the law, Peter forces them to obey the law. It is not a force, but a requirement, at this point, in Peter’s eyes that all converts obey the Law given unto Moses and all customs God wished upon those within the house of Abraham. It is also proper to note that the view of Paul is that all Gentiles are sinners and Jews are better. As a Pharisee, Jesus charged them all with lawlessness. [John 7:19]
Which is it Paul? Should we trust you? Or the only teacher we have, the Christ? [Mt 23:10]
Maybe you had it right in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but a with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
In this we can conclude that the words that Paul spoke with were both of the Holy Spirit and unwise. Can the Spirit of Truth speak that which is unwise? Can the mysteries surrounding God and Jesus the Christ be spoken with anything but wisdom? Something is in conflict; and, it is not the Holy Spirit within itself.
On the day Paul goes to stand in front of Jesus in Heaven, could this exchange, spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23, be likely to happen between the two? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
But, we do have to keep in mind that Paul had extreme faith in what he preached once he converted after seeing what could very well have been the authentic Messiah. In his letters, which, in the majority, predates any other text in the New Testament canon with dates in the first century AD. Also, authorities such as Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth and Origen tell us quite frankly that Paul suffered and became a martyr for his beliefs. Anybody that would intentionally make up a lie, surely would not suffer so greatly as Paul is said to have done or even persist in the face of certain death, but Paul did so. This leaves us with these conclusions: Paul did in fact encounter the authentic Jesus or Paul encountered a false Christ, but believed it to be the authentic Messiah.
New International Version Life Application Study Bible Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1995 & Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.