"Prove to Me Why You Don't Follow Paul, and Only Follow Jesus"
Mike Email To Me July 24, 2016
Ok, you want to zero in on one self-purported Apostle and try to discredit him. If you are incorrect you could be under the judgement of a false teacher, and therefore committing blasphemy against the word of God, if you are incorrect, that is. And you are taking a big chance as it is a pretty big claim or stance you are undertaking, in which you wish to convince me that nearly 2000 years worth of thousands or maybe millions of theologians did not have the knowledge, wisdom and revelation that you now in the 20th century seem to possess and in a superior fashion to all those who have come before you. Now I am not discrediting you or your intellect. I merely am debating your notions.
1. Was Paul accepted into Biblical Canon? Yes. - When? Since Completion of canon A.D. 397.
2. Who refers to Paul? Peter - 2 Peter 3:13-18, Acts: 9, Acts 22:26, Acts 15:1-2.
3. How long have the Pauline epistles been in circulation?
4. A Lot of people accept the epistles of Paul, but why don't you? Please elaborate.
SHOW ME SOME GOOD PROOF OF YOUR CONCEPTS.
My Reply of 7/24/2016
Thank you for your letter, and its gracious willingness to ask for proof.
First, I examine the issue of Paul’s canonicity by the Bible’s standards. Is Paul a prophet? Is Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ? Does Paul contradict Jesus? And does Paul seduce us from following the law given Moses – the criteria the Bible uses to assess a false prophet despite true prophecy and true signs and wonders. Deuteronomy 13:1-5.
Succinctly: In Acts, if Paul is always inspired, then Paul gave a failed prophecy that death would happen to some in a shipwreck on a journey (Acts 27:10 "bring loss of our lives"), but then no death happened, per Luke. Acts 27:22-24. On this later point, Paul subsequently said an angel told him that "not one of you will be lost." So Paul is not constantly inspired in the initial prophecy to the contrary. Only if Paul quotes in advance an angel, God or Jesus should we take Paul as inspired (whom Paul never quotes giving a revelation in any of his epistles except one quote in 2 Cor 12:7, but is not prophetic anyway), or Paul is always inspired and his first words of prediction in Acts 27:10 failed. Either way, it is strike one.
Next, in Acts, Paul is called by a voice who says “I am Jesus” in the wilderness. This voice supposedly tells Ananias separately that Paul will be a “witness” (martus in Greek). Never in each of the 3 vision accounts does this “Jesus” call Paul to be an “apostolos.” The only proof Paul is an apostle of Jesus is Paul’s words. Jesus said if he claimed he was the Son of God, without confirmation by 2 witnesses, his claim would be untrue. (God from heaven spoke at Jesus’ baptism before numerous witnesses, and again at the transfiguration before Moses and Elijah, and two apostles.) Why is Paul given a pass then? Strike two. See Were There 12 or 13 Apostles?
Next, Paul clearly teaches us not to follow the Law given Moses, while Jesus clearly teaches us to follow it in Matt 5:17-19 which will not expire "until heaven and earth pass away" (JWO ch. 5). Jesus does so again in his 2 messages on how to have eternal life. See Jesus' Answer to Direct Question on How to Have Eternal Life. Strike three.
Finally, I also document 25 clear cut contradictions by Paul of Jesus. See Paul's Contradictions of Jesus.
You wish to examine the issue of Paul by when Paul ended up in canon. That is asking about human opinion, and thus of secondary importance. Regardless, you find no early support here for Paul. The earliest leaders of the church at Jerusalem were called the Poor – EBION in Hebrew, and they rejected Paul. See Early Church Views of Paul.
Second, no official canon was ever determined until the Council of Trent in the 1500s – by the Roman Catholic church. See JWO ch. one.
The only basis for the canon at that time was a letter of inquiry from North Africa bishops who proposed in 397 AD to the church at Rome a list to approve. No answer is recorded. However, then this proposed list from an ancient letter was adopted at the Council of Trent in the 1500s as the official list. Yet no council until the 1500s ever did make this decision. See JWO Appendix on Canon. Protestantism has never held a general council to determine canon. I urge we do so.
PAUL IN CANON
As to Paul’s presence in the canon -- a reading list that was continually changing, the next assessment of Paul’s writings came in 207 AD by Tertullian. Tertullian and the entire early church were battling a Paul-only movement started in 144 AD brought by Marcion. Marcion’s 2 key doctrines were the abrogation of the Mosaic Law and faith alone. See Marcionism.
In 207 AD, Tertullian represented orthodoxy, and responded to Marcionism as heresy. All other church-commentators of that era attacked Marcion as a heretic. I read Tertullian thoroughly, and found a passage only one other modern commentator (i.e., Edwin Johnson in Antiqua Mater in 1887) underscored before – where Tertullian says (1.) Paul is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, because Paul is his only witness to being one; (2.) Jesus did not abrogate the Law but reaffirmed it in multiple passages including Matthew 5:17-20; (3.) Paul had no inspired independent authority, and this is why Paul sought the approval from the 12 apostles on the issue of circumcision in Acts 15; (4.) Paul fits the prophecy of Jesus of a false prophet with signs and wonders, etc; and (5.) Tertullian calls Paul the “apostle of the heretics.” See JWO Chapter 16. Clearly, Tertullian did not believe Paul was to be treated equal to Jesus' speaking.
The surviving Bibles from that era also confirm a lesser view of Paul. Prior to 207 AD there were presumably various Bible collections in various forms. However, there is no extant complete Bible of any type prior to the 300s. Only isolated fragments of the present NT is found except a manuscript called P46 from about 200 AD. This is a near complete early version of Paul's letters. However, no other NT writing was attached. Consistent with P46, no collection of Paul’s writings are ever found in conjunction with any other NT writing prior to the 300s. Hence, this implies that Paul prior to the 300s was never thought of as more than just a separate writer with his separate thoughts. His letters were never connected to the Bible / other Bible works.
This overlaps into the 300s somewhat. In the 300s, we find Paul’s writings are 27% of the time wholly printed apart from the NT. Meaning, the NT has no writings of Paul 27% of the time, and Paul appears in a separate booklet of just his letters. Again, that supports even as of the early 300s that Paul was not considered part of the Bible.
In that same 300s era, 34% of the time Paul appears apart from any gospel, but connected to Acts and other epistles. This supports believing letters generally and Acts as history were not considered part of the inspired Bible either, and not just Paul's letters.
The other 40% of the time in the 300s, Paul does appear with other NT writings, including the Gospels. See Trobisch chapter link. This means some people felt a more strong link -- but it was lesser than 50% of the time.
Furthermore, history proves Paul's relative irrelevance - a topic we rarely are told about. The scholarly consensus even among Christian scholars (e.g., Renan) is that after Paul died, Apostle John took over his churches when John was released from Patmos into Ephesus. As a result, Paul was essentially forgotten in those churches until the era of Constantine in the 300s. None of Paul’s followers had any role any further. John’s followers instead dominated all the former Paul churches, and they preached the Law’s continuity, works of repentance, and Jesus’ words in the gospels were the gospel.
One of the key reasons for Paul’s demise is that when read carefully, Apostle John’s writings are all critical of Paul. Let's review in the order of their release. Revelation came first (highly critical). Then the Gospel of John came. It was highly critical in doctrine, if you knew pisteuos eis in John 3;16 and everywhere else in John means obey unto, not believe in. And then John’s letters talk negatively indirectly of Paul’s doctrine, especially where Paul in 2 passages says that Jesus only appeared to be a man, etc.
In sum, because all John’s writings underscore faith and works and the continuity of the Law, we can deduce Paul’s churches came under John’s sway. For those views predominated in what previously were Paul’s missionary churches. See Apostle John was Critical of Paul.
In the 300s, attention returned to Paul because his anti-Sabbath and anti-Law position was desirable to Emperor Constantine. The Emperor fought Jewish customs and particularly the Sabbath. Constantine was a Sun-Worshipper. In 321 AD he enacted as the day of rest SUN-DAY to honor the SUN even though he disengenuinously later claimed at Nicea to have been a ‘Christian’ long prior to 321 AD. As a result, Constantine fought hard at Nicea to stop Sabbath observance which then was the day prior to SUN-day. See Constantine's Damage to Christianity. Paul was an important voice that supported abolition of Sabbath in his Epistles to the Romans and Colossians. Paul also put a curse of "severance from Christ" on Sabbath keeping in his epistle to the Galatians. See Paul Abolished Sabbath.
Hence, when the Bible was assembled under Constantine’s orders, Paul’s letters for the first time appeared immediately after the gospels, instead of at the end, as they had last been often positioned. At the same time, the Ebionite early leaders of the church were now called heretics. This was true even though for the first 300 years, the Ebionite Hebrew version of Matthew was repeatedly quoted as a 5th Gospel. But the fact the Ebionites rejected Paul was too well known, and hence now in the era of Constantine the Ebionites had to be vilified as heretics. See Ebionites.
Long after Peter's death appears 2 Peter 3:17-18. I wish this were canonical. It calls Paul a “brother,” not an apostle. It says Paul spoke by “wisdom,” not inspiration. It says many fall from Christ by listening to “nonsense” – dysnoetas -- (softened in translation by changing this to “difficult to understand”) from Paul that is used to lead many Christians to “fall from Christ” into “lawless” practices. When this passage also says many twist Paul as other “graphe,” the word graphe means nothing more than the word ‘writing.’ It did not signify nor imply Paul was inspired. The word “Scripture” in English now implies it, but in Greek, graphe had no such significance unless the context clearly implied otherwise. Here no such context is inferable. I discuss this thoroughly at Second Peter Reference to Paul.
Many do accept Paul’s writings at this time. Perhaps because many assume Paul was accepted into canon by a legitimate source. Such a belief does not prove it is correct. In the Reformation, Carlstadt, the joint-founder of the reformation with Luther, agreed with me that Paul is not on par with Jesus, and he relegated Paul to writings inferior to Jesus and Moses. See Carlstadt Research. So opinions recently varied as well, from major figures.
But my main point is whether Jesus warns us about Paul. All the rest above simply prepares us to open our minds to listen to our Savior.
JESUS' PROPHECIES ABOUT PAUL
Here are proofs that Jesus directly warns you and me about Paul.
First, Jesus does so in Matthew 5:17-19 in his reference to a person Jesus says is called least. Paul is a Roman name, and in Latin it means “least.” Paul plays on his name’s meaning in Corinthians when Paul says he is the “least” (elichthos in Greek) of the apostles. (1 Cor. 15:9.) Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19 tells us to listen to those who teach the Law, and they will be called Greatest in the Kingdom of heaven, but warns us to not listen to the MAN who teaches you not to follow the Law. Jesus says this man will be called least (“elichthos”) by those in the kingdom of heaven – the name of Paul which means “least.” Next, Jesus in verse 5:20 intends us to understand that the “least” man and his followers are excluded from heaven absent repentance from such law-less teaching. See Jesus on Paul the Least.
Second, Jesus warns that after his Ascension many will come in his name (“Jesus”) in the wilderness or private places, and say they are Himself. Jesus says not to listen to them, for they are imposter Jesuses. Jesus says you will know it is truly himself only if he is seen from eastern to western sky, and every eye on earth sees him. (Matt 24:5-8, 24-27). Paul’s experience outside Damascus exactly matches the imposter Jesus of which Jesus warned. So does Constantine’s experience with “Jesus.” So does Joseph Smith’s experience with “Jesus.” See Jesus' Prophecy about Who Identified Himself to Paul Outside Damascus.
Jesus in Revelation has another statement obviously intended to alert discerning Christians that Jesus refers negatively to Paul's teachings. In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus compliments the Ephesians for determining someone who said he was an apostle was in fact not truthful about being his apostle. The Ephesians are also commended by Jesus for recognizing also not to listen to the one who says it is ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Paul both taught (1) that it was ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols -- that you refrain only when around a weaker brother who thinks it is wrong; and (2) and Paul taught the Ephesians that he was an apostle of Jesus. See JWO Chapter Six. Famous scholars such as Renan who are Paul-fans admit Revelation chapter 2 is an attack on Paul’s validity on both issues, but they contend it was not from Jesus. They contend Apostle John was filled with “hatred.” However, I believe it was truth inspired from our Lord Jesus. See Renan, St. Paul at 220.
Fourth, Jesus has another prophecy meant to invoke the Benjamite Wolf Prophecy of Deuteronomy 49:10. Jesus does so by referring to false prophets as “ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Matt 7:15. They claim to speak for God, and that they are Christians, but inside they are “ravening wolves.” This term “ravening wolves” only appears in 2 other places in all of the Holy Scripture. It begins with a prophecy about the tribe of Benjamin in the later days… in Genesis 49:10. From Benjamin’s tribe will arise one at the same time a prince of peace arises from the tribe of Judah. The Benjamite figure is called a “ravening wolf” who will kill in the morning, and divide the spoils in the evening.
Paul, a Benjamite (Romans 11:1; Philip 3:5), killed Christians in the morning of his career. In the evening of his career, Paul claimed the 12 apostles divided up Gentiles and Jews so Paul would alone only go to the Gentiles, and the 12 to the Jews. Galatians 2:9. (That’s Paul’s view. However, it is contrary to the Holy Spirit’s direction in Acts 10 on Cornelius to Peter, and then Acts 15 where Peter affirmed the Holy Spirit chose Peter "long ago" to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. But it shows Paul’s intentions.)
The only other time “ravening wolves” is used in all of the Bible other than Jesus’s 1x in Matt 7:15 and Gen 49:10 1x is in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel, "ravening wolves" is used to describe religious leaders that draw believers away from following the Law including the keeping of the Sabbath. Ezek 22:26-32. See Benjamite Wolf.
Thus, the Benjamite Wolf Prophecy of Genesis 49:10 is reiterated by our savior, and modified so we know the ravening wolf will appear in “sheep’s clothing” – he will appear to be a Christian but is not truly one.
I thus contend our Lord means Paul was a sincere dupe of the voice and light Jesus outside Damascus. This still means that Paul only appeared to be a Christian, but was not truly one because Paul had the wrong Jesus all along.
Finally, there are many more references by Jesus to Paul. See Matthew 7:21-23 (“call me Lord,” but work “anomia” – negation of Law given Moses – NOMOS in Greek); Matthew 10:8 (do not take wages for preaching v Paul who says is ok in 2 Cor 11:8, 1 Tim 5:7-18); Matt 23:28 (Pharisees behave outwardly to appear Law-compliant but inwardly filled with ‘lawlessness’ v Paul 1 Cor. 9:20-21 where Paul advises he acts law-compliant around those who believe the Law continues, but he knows he is not under the Law / Nomos inwardly). Etc. See Anti-Pauline Passages in Matthew's Gospel.
Incidentally, you may wish to see that Paul in Acts exposed Luke to a very different set of doctrines than you find in Paul’s letters. Luke records Paul says “I believe in all things that are according to the Law and prophets” (Acts 24:14); Paul declared in court that he taught Jews and Gentiles the following Gospel: “they should repent, and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.” (Acts 26:20); Paul taught that God now “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30); etc. Luke’s gospel of what Jesus taught is completely in accord with those doctrines Paul taught in Acts in Luke’s hearing. However, the Paul of Acts is extremely contrary to the Paul that appears only in Paul’s epistles – see Luke is a Legitimate Non-Pauline Gospel. Paul explained how this came about to the Corinthians: “being crafty, I caught you with guile.” 2 Cor. 12:16.
I trust this has answered your questions. I pray you will examine these issues, asking yourself what does Jesus say … not what do I say. For you and I both must answer to our Lord, not church councils, canon committees, or to each other. I obey only what Jesus teaches. I don’t see any danger doing so. But I always listen to anyone who can cite something Jesus says that mandates I listen to Paul. No one has ever tried. I have re-read Holy Scripture over and over, and find no positive command to listen to Paul anywhere in there. Paul never even quotes Jesus in some revelation as supposedly giving Paul that singular authority.
But if I am wrong, I welcome you showing it to me.
Blessings of Christ