Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Was Paul a false apostle?

If you have not read a comment made on my previous post by a reader, let me summarize it for you. A blogger seemed to copy and paste much of a very long article entitled “Paul was a false apostle: Paul Vs. Jesus” where he makes the argument that scripture affirms that Paul was a false apostle because he didn’t qualify to be an apostle, his doctrine is proven false, he apparently lied about his conversion, Paul’s doctrine contradicts Christ’s, to name a few.

Normally, with a line of reasoning like this that would call Christ into question or that would call the Bible itself into question, I might use historical facts in my defense of the Bible or the conscience in my defense of the my Savior, but this attack upon Paul is a different animal all together. Honestly, this idea that Paul is a false apostle as well as arguing it from scripture seems dangerously similar to people who believe that Jesus was not a real person in history and that he was just concocted out of thin air.

I have not decided how or if I will respond to any, many, or all of the specific allegations that the blogger made, but I do want to respond quickly, at least. Also, I feel that this battle, over Paul and the doctrines that he articulates, is one that will be going on in the forefront of the “internal” battle in Christianity. Why? Well, you need not look farther than pro-homosexual lifestyle “Christian” groups when they say things like, “Jesus never condemned homosexuality, only Paul.” Jesus also never condemned rape, but do we think that he gave His stamp of approval to rape? Of course not, that would be absurd. The wolves among us will want to change the gospel, and why not start with the single most prolific writer in the New Testament. If you can discredit Paul, then it is easier to make Jesus’ sayings so esoteric that any conclusion drawn from them is ok.

Now that I have set the stage (somewhat)...where to begin. Leaving aside the fact that taking a stance like this, against the Pauline epistles and His apostleship, goes against everyone who has preached Christ from the beginning of the Christian faith, including the apostles themselves, if we are to throw out the Pauline scriptures, we must cast off Luke's gospel and Acts as well. It was because Luke was a student of Paul that he possessed the necessary “credentials” for even having his writings considered to be in the scriptures. Luke was not an apostle, nor do we know much about him from, but he seems to be inseparable from Paul (as evidenced by his descriptions of Paul’s journeys from a first hand standpoint). Also, Luke would have heard, many times, Paul’s claim to apostleship and if he was a disciple of Paul, and if Paul was a false apostle with false doctrine (as the blogger argues), then could we take the writings of an unbeliever or a believer who was duped by this man?

Not only would we need to call into question all of Luke’s writings if we didn’t just discard them right away, but because one of the writings of Peter specifically references the letters of Paul (with a clear hint of the validity of his writings), we then must call into question Peter's writings. And if Peter could be so flawed as to refer to Paul as "our beloved brother Paul" (2 Peter 3:15) instead of as the "false apostle Paul" as well as make the undeniable statement that Paul's writings were scripture (as the context demands in 2 Peter 3:16), then Peter's writings, if not the apostle himself, must be called into question and thrown out. For if Peter, in the very letter where he is addressing false teachers, doesn't mention that Paul is a false apostle but states that "letters" of Paul are scripture, then the Bible loses its stance as being inherent and infallible.

But it doesn't stop there. We'd not only through out Paul (of course, if he were a false apostle), the writings of Luke (Acts and the gospel of Luke), and now Peter because he was obviously flawed in his understanding of who and what Paul was...but we'd also have to through out the gospel of Mark. Because, again, Mark was not an apostle, but he was a disciple of Peter (I believe) and, in the same manner as Luke had authority/credibility because he was Paul’s student, Luke had credibility because he was Paul's disciple. And if Peter, being the teacher, was not coherent enough to denounce this false apostle, then his students were less likely to be able to do this or to be able to discern truth from error.1

So now, we are left with the gospels of Matthew and John; James, the 3 Epistles of John, Jude, Revelation, and maybe Hebrews. I say “maybe” regarding Hebrews because we do not know who the author is. It is a common belief held that it was actually a writing by Paul, but it is not confirmed as a fact. So, do we dare leave this in the Bible if the content is so close and in seeming lock-step with Paul?

This attempt to discount and discredit Paul is not new. It seems that he had this thrown at him in his day and that is why he repeatedly makes his case for his apostleship (Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 9:1,2; 15:6-9; Galatians 1:1; 1 Timothy 2:7). Let us not throw away the doctrines and the letters of Paul because some who are among us or who claim to be from us are spreading lies. Let us look to the words of Peter, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,” (2 Peter 3:14-17)

1 See “Mark: Introduction, Argument, and Outline “ at and refer to the section on external evidence for the authorship of Mark to see the connection between Peter and Mark.


J Crew said...

Good post EJ. It is important for us to defend the scriptures that so many who profess to know God deny.

Ando said...

Great post. I've run into that fella as well.

return to righteousness said...

A glimpse into the future confirms (by Christ) that he only acknowledges 12, not 13 apostles.

In Revelation, Christ tells us that the new jerusalem has 12 foundations, one for each apostle.

Revelation 21:14:

14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

St. Michael the Archangel said...

what the devil are you talking about Return? There were only 12 official apostles.

After Judas was gone, the apostles elected Barnabas to take his place, hence they were the 12 again, a true 12, without a betrayer.

Where are you getting the idea of 13?

return to righteousness said...

You mentioned Luke and Paul.

I think we'll both agree that Luke wasn't an apostle, yes he was recording what happened, and he addressed it to someone he considered "most excellent" ...but That wasn't Christ, it was Theophilus. I've read that is how you adress Roman rulers.

Luke 1:3
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

This morning the scene from Acts, the one where God tells Peter to eat the unclean, came into my mind...this voice he heard could not be God because God tells us in Deuteronomy not to add to or dismiss from the law established.

Deut 12:32
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

That spirit talking to Peter told him to break the established law...
There is no way I would believe that spirit. God told us we couldn't diminish from it.

Deuteronomy 13
1If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

2And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

3Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

4Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

5And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Christ told Peter:

John 21:18

18Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

Satan can get to people. When Peter and Christ were together, Jesus talked to satan, directly at Peter:

Matthew 16:23
23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

You asked if I believe in being born again and I ask you to give me more time on that response. Today I would say no. A year ago yes. John 3:16 tells us if we believe we will not perish, but have everlasting life. DOes not the devil believe?

return to righteousness said...

St. Michael...

I agreee that Christ says there are only 12 apostles...but if Paul tells us he is an "apostle" that would make the count go up by 13.

That's one of the reasons that got be saying Paul was not an apostle.

return to righteousness said...

Hi EJ,

You mentioned 2nd Peter in defence of Paul...

Check this out:

EJ said...

Mr. Apostate (Return to Righteousness),

2nd Peter is not "highly suspect of being a psuedepigraph." (quote from link) Read any of the vast majority of any scholarly work done on textual criticism and you will find that. Also that link referring to "oneness" is a heresy that was condemned early on. Among many of the problems with oneness theology is John 1:1. The Greek language, words used, and word order make no other possible interpretation that the Word (logos) was God (having all the attributes of God) and was with God (being distinct from the person of God the Father). Read my article on Oneness theology for more on this.

The question still remains, my apostate (you have turned your back on Christ in whatever form of belief that you once had, and that’s why I call you Mr. Apostate) friend. The sacrifices practiced by Abraham and through the Mosaic covenant cannot atone for your sins. Moses and the people tried to keep the law, but couldn’t because it is impossible for sinful man to keep it. So, no matter what happens you have to stand before God with your sins on Judgment Day. Know that when you do, Jesus Christ, whom you have profaned for the whole world to see on your blog, will cast you into the lake of fire for eternal torment. Please, please, please, please, PLEASE repent of your sins and cast yourself on the mercy of one and only Law Keeper whose sacrificial offering on your behalf will present you blameless to the Father.

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