Are These Commands / Lessons by Paul Evil or Immoral?
It is one thing if Paul simply contradicts the Word of God and of our Master... the Lord Jesus Christ. See our article Paul's Contradictions of Jesus.
But does Paul ever actually affirmatively teach us obviously evil and immoral commands / principles? Even if they don't clearly contradict the inspired word of God, are these commands / teachings so obviously evil and immoral that we must be repulsed by what Paul says? And if so, is this the Holy Spirit teaching us in our spirit to avoid Paul? And should we apply to Paul Jesus' warning about the false prophets to come who teach us ANOMIA -- principles that negate God's Law (nomos is Law in Greek) -- here His moral precepts written in our hearts? For "by their fruits you will know them" -- the false prophets. (Matthew 7: 15-20.)
Nothing Is Unlawful; Expediency Is The Sole Test of Right and Wrong
Paul does not merely say the Law given Moses is defunct, nailed to a cross, done away with, etc. Paul gives us a new moral guideline.
Paul teaches a new morality based on what is "obvious" as wrong to a person led by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19.) The general moral test is: "All things are lawful but not all things are necessarily expedient." (First Corinthians 6:12, ASV). "All things are lawful for me." (First Corinthians 10:23.) "Happy is he who does not condemn himself in that thing which he allows." (Romans 14:22.) Issues of whether to observe Sabbath at all are reduced to sentiment of what feels best to you: "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (Roman 14:5.)
It is as Bob George--a modern Christian radio personality and author of numerous books--said one day in response to whether illicit sexual acts in the Bible (which theologians call fornication) were prohibited:
And as Paul said, "All things are permissible, but not all things are profitable." So is committing fornication permissible? Yes. Is it profitable? No, it is not. (Bob George, People to People (Radio Talk Show) November 16, 1993.)
The proof that this is Paul's viewpoint is how Paul analyzed actual issues. He repeatedly used an expediency test to resolve what is right and wrong.
For example, this expediency principle had its clearest application in Paul's reinterpretation of the command not to eat meat sacrificed to idols. He says he is free from that command. Paul knows an idol is nothing. However, it is not necessarily expedient to eat such meat if someone else you are with thinks it is wrong. So when in the company of this "weaker" brother, Paul will not eat meat sacrificed to idols. The test depends upon whom may be benefited or harmed by your behavior. In a word, the test is its expediency. See 1 Corinthians 8:4-13, and 1 Corinthians 10:19-29. See also, Romans 14:1-23.
As mentioned elsewhere, Paul's authorization to eat such unholy meat contradicts Jesus' prohibition of eating such meat in the Book of Revelation in messages to three churches: (Revelation 2:6, 14 (Ephesus); Revelation 2:14-15 (Pergamum); Revelation 2:20 (Thyatira).)
But the point this time is not to prove a contradiction. Rather, it is to prove the immorality of Paul's notion that nothing is unlawful in itself, but the only reason not to do something is based upon whether it is inexpedient. This means you don't do anything where the costs exceed the benefits. But if lying, murder, cheating, etc., benefit you, such a moral principle of expediency cannot explain why one would not do those things. Hence, Paul's moral principle of expediency can allow him such errors as eating idol meat which was an offense to God, and excoriated by our Lord Jesus as immoral.
Paul's expediency test is evident again in his lack of concern for the letter of the original Law of the Sabbath. This was God's command to rest on the "seventh day" of the week--which in our calendar is Saturday. (Ex. 20:10.) On this point, Paul says in Romans 14:5: "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." It's all relative to how you feel about it.
Again, this illustration is not to prove that Paul simply contradicts Scripture. It proves Paul's rationale for doing so is immoral. Paul justifies his reasoning not on a new revelation from God about Sabbath. No! Paul appeals to a new moral law divorced from the written precepts of the Law. Paul made the new morality depend on what made you feel uncomfortable. If you had no moral qualm about something, such as working on the Sabbath day, you could do it. Just be sure you are "fully persuaded in your own mind," and do not doubt what you are doing is wrong, and this makes it right. Uggh!
Such a principle itself deadens one's moral compass, and is thus an inherently immoral teaching.
And do you think the same Jesus of the Gospels is talking to Paul, and taught Paul "all things are lawful, but not everything is necessarily expedient," or if you want to violate Sabbath and work that day, just make sure you are "fully persuaded," and it is hence ok?
Can we with a straight face insist when Paul talks that it is as if Jesus is talking?
But let's continue...It gets a lot worse.
Is God Going To Cause the Lost To Remain Lost by Means of Deceptive Delusions?
God is good. God told us in the Law He "is not a man that he should lie." (Numbers 23:19.) However, if God revealed to Paul that nothing is anymore unlawful for man, as Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 6:12, is it now possible for God to lie too and deceive people -- particularly lost sheep -- to make sure they never find their way back to Him for salvation? If you believe Paul is inspired, God is going to do that very evil immoral act:
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,12 that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-13 KJV-21st)
Thus, according to Paul, God does not merely send evil prophets or evil messengers as a test, but he actually sends delusions...or lies with the intention that these delusions be believed so people do not come to salvation.
In a Christian Intelligencer article "Things Hard to be Understood Illustrated" (1821), it says Second Thessalonians 2:10-13 reads that God the Father is the "sender of strong and damning delusions," and one "cannot become an accessor to deception" by "sliding off by equivocations, and say God permitted the delusions." (Christian Intelligencer (1821) at 59.)
No, Christian Intelligencer says the text is too direct for Paul says God "sends" the delusion that men should believe a damning lie. So Christian Intelligencer correctly asks:
If they are damned for believing a lie, and believe the lie, because God sent the delusion, and sufficiently strong to produce its effects, in what character does it present the God of truth and love?" Id., at 59. "[I]f the God we adore, send strong delusions, where, beneath these heavens, shall we look for safety?" Id., at 60
Paul thus clearly is presenting God as an EVIL CHARACTER. Uggh.
The Intelligencer says the solution is to believe Paul meant Satan when Paul used the word God -- theos. That's how bad this verse reads.
But there is no basis to think Paul meant Satan when Paul said theos, God. First, Paul knows how to use the word Satanas when that is whom He meant. Second, this immoral claim about God is repeated by Paul when he says God has hardened Israel in unbelief -- a lost condition. Romans 9:6b; 11:1-36. Paul's proof texts relied upon God "numbing" people in the Original Testament (see Judith M. Gundry Volf, Paul and Perserverance (John Knox Press, 1990) at 171). Paul misused the prior verse because it is not proof God makes people become lost and stay lost. Yet, the point is that Paul elsewhere makes a similar immoral statement about God deliberately causing people to remain lost as Paul does in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-13.
Hence, again, in this Thessalonians passage we have a blatantly immoral statement by Paul about the same God whom Jesus taught would seek out a single lost sheep to bring it to salvation. (Luke 15:4-7.)
Is It Ok To Deceive People To Bring Them to Christ?
A good introductory point to this next example is Proverbs 12:10 (NIV) which says "the LORD [Yahweh] condemns a crafty man." We read similarly in Psalm 5:6: "deceitful men the LORD [Yahweh] abhors." And finally, "Cursed is he who doeth the work of the Lord [Yahweh] deceitfully." Jeremiah 48:10 (KJV / Holman). Guile in God's servants would be sin, taught in Revelation 14:5 (KJV): "And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."
Then consider Paul says in Second Corinthians 12:16:
But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with guile. (Second Corinthians 12:16, ASV.)
Paul elsewhere speaks of lies being a means of spreading the gospel: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:18. A similar cavalier attitude toward lying for the gospel is found here: “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Romans 3:7
Does it sound moral to anyone to use lies and deception to gain people to Christ? Only if you believe in what Paul teaches as the sole morality: "All things are lawful but not all things are necessarily expedient." (First Corinthians 6:12, ASV). "All things are lawful for me." (First Corinthians 10:23.)
This proves that the most corrosive principle is that morality is measured solely by expediency. Nothing is supposedly wrong unless it offends someone or your conscience cannot bear it.
Here, such a principle destroyed Paul's values as a young Jew to not lie or use deception in Yahweh's service. But in Second Corinthians -- the same community Paul in First Corinthians taught his immoral principle that 'all things are lawful but ... are not necessarily expedient' -- Paul shows what he is capable of doing with such an immoral principle. Paul boasts that he can lie and deceive them to try to make them 'Christians.'
What verse of Jesus comes to your minds? That after the Pharisees were done with their pupils, they made them "twice the sons of hell than they were." Paul, sorry, but this was an evil deed you boasted committing, and yet you held it up for praise in a Christian congregation. Uggh.
Christian Young Widows Who Desire To Marry Are Supposedly Damned
This passage in 1 Timothy 5:9-12 KJV is what prompted me to collect above the immoral evil principles in Paul's writings even if they don't contradict anything specifically in Scripture. In this passage, if you read attentively Paul's implication about younger Christian widows, i.e., widows under 60, Paul says when they suffer from a "wantonness against Christ" they will suffer a "desire to [re]marry" which Paul says brings the Christian widows under 60 years of age "damnation" as this desire to remarry means they have "thrown off their first faith" toward Christ:
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number [for charity] under threescore years old [i.e., 60 years old],... 11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry (sic: "desire to marry" ASV); 12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
There is no basis to believe that this immoral principle was somehow garbled in translation. For Paul repeats a similar notion in First Corinthians 7:32-34 that somehow, by marriage to another human, we necessarily take our eyes off Christ, our spiritual husband. See our article Paul on Women and Sex. Paul there teaches: "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:32-34 KJV.)
Paul then in First Timothy 5:9-12 takes that First Corinthians 7:32-24 principle farther, and says a young Christian widow under 60 who had a "first faith" is damned for a desire to remarry. She is waxing wanton against Christ -- caring more for the "things of the world," and this will cause her damnation. Paul's principles are clearly immoral besides contradicting the Law given Moses that widows without exception are supported by the poor tithe paid every three years.
Efforts to Mitigate Paul's Immorality by Mistranslation of a Later Verse
Be aware that some translations try to rescue Paul by making it appear he makes an important exception later at First Timothy 5:14. The NIV for example has Paul appear to make an exception for a young Christian widow who could re-marry to have children (and not to just be a helpmate to a man.) That translation still contradicts Genesis 2:18 which says it is ok to marry to be a helpmate to a single man; it implies that a woman or widow does no wrong if that is all she desires, and she has no interest in having children ... at least with the man's consent. But the NIV translates "younger (ones)" as "younger widows" when it does not say that. It is obvious that the NIV does so in order for Paul to allow younger Christian widows to remarry solely to have children despite that contradicting that friendship is the proper basis for marriage in Genesis 2:18. This NIV mistranslation is obviously intended to lessen the depth of the immoral principle in First Timothy 5:9-12.
However, the King James Version has the correct translation, and has Paul only say it is ok for "younger women" (KJV) to marry to have children: "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." (First Timothy 5: 14 KJV.) But you can see the NIV has it speak about "younger widows" (not "younger women") in this quote:
13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. (First Timothy 5:13-15 NIV.)
So here the NIV has Paul supposedly counsel the younger Christian widows to remarry "to have children, to manage their homes...." So to reconcile this to what Paul earlier said would require us to say Paul means the supposedy damning aim to remarry for younger Christian widows is OK as long as the purpose is to have children. The NIV version implies it is only a damning wrong for a Christian widow under 60 to marry solely for the purpose of being a helpmate to a man -- even though that is a legitimate purpose behind God's institution of the first marriage. (Genesis 2:18 NIV.)
Hence, this NIV version has a small exception to Paul's earlier immoral principle, hoping we might ignore that itself would contradict the Genesis' foundation to marriage. Thus, the NIV version still does not repair our groan against Paul's general principle as immoral. In the NIV version of 1 Timothy 5, Paul teaches that Christian widows under 60 are damned for desiring to remarry unless they desire also to have children -- a still reprehensible idea which also undermines the foundation of marriage in Genesis 2:18.
But to repeat, the NIV form is an interpretation, not a translation, which is not revealed to the reader by means of italicizing widows as an addition. The Greek is simply "younger ones," not "younger widows" in First Timothy 5:14. See the Greek tab at this link.
Hence, Paul's principles in 1 Timothy 5 clearly work ANOMIA (lawless or immoral principles) when Paul not only denies Cristian widows under 60 any charity, but also damns them for their desire to remarry. If there is an exception to this, as the NIV claims by means of a mistranslation away from the KJV's accurate translation, it is only if a young Christian widow desires children in marriage rather than just friendship. However, if you accept the NIV's mistranslation, then Paul anyway thereby undermines the Law's allowance of marriage solely for companionship, as God instituted between Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:18, and not solely when children are in view.
Either way, Paul gives an immoral principle -- young Christian widows are supposedly damned for a desire to remarry at all or simply for friendship / love, and hence should not receive any charity by Christians! The fact this principle also contradicts the Bible prior to Paul should not surprise us.
Obey the Governing Authorities
James G. in May 2015 wrote an article that demonstrates the obvious immorality to Paul's command in Romans 13 to obey the governing authorities as if they were God Himself speaking:
To those I am sending this to, I would like you to answer one simple question: Do you believe Romans 13:1-2 is the Divinely inspired word of God?
"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves." (Romans 13:1,2 NKJV)
As you are forming your answer, consider my thoughts on this: If this is the Divinely inspired word of God, then every American G.I. that invaded Germany to overthrow Hitler, brought damnation on himself, for he was resisting the governing authority over Germany.
You may scoff at that and say, "But they were fighting to overthrow a tyrant that was oppressing the people of another country, and the G.I.s were not resisting their own government." Then consider George Washington, and the colonialist Founding Fathers of our country; they were resisting their own governing authority King George III. Do you believe George Washington is in Hell right now for resisting the authority that God put on the throne? Or do you think God made an exception for tyrannical rulers? Notice, Paul makes no such exception in Romans 13. ... Also consider whom was in authority over the Romans when Paul allegedly wrote his letter to the Romans; it was Caesar (specifically Nero). Caesar-Nero was a known tyrant, and Paul was telling the Roman people not to resist him.
I look forward to your thoughts.
Baptizing for the Dead
Paul clearly supposes it is necessary and proper to baptize for the dead. Paul, to rebut those who claim there is no resurrection, rhetorically asks that if the dead do not rise, then why do we baptize for the dead? Here are a couple versions:
Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? (1 Corinthians 15:29 NIV)
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (1 Cor 15:29 KJV.)
The implication was Paul believed his audience knew baptizing for the dead was proper, and thus if true, then the dead must rise or otherwise it is pointless to baptize for the dead. Paul contended that this practice proves resurrection is true.
In my view, baptizing for people who are dead already -- to give them the benefits of baptism after death -- borders on an evil and immoral practice. It implies that after your death, human benefactors who still live can influence your ability to resurrect. It implies a communication with the dead somewhow for their benefit. Paul says the baptism aids their resurrection somehow, but this does not make it holy and right. It is clearly misleading and false.
Paul-defenders realize this, and try contorted explanations. Supposedly, Paul's saying why are "they" (people) baptized for the dead is significant because it does not say "we" baptize for the dead. Hence, this supposedly proves it was not a Christian practice. See link. This is weak and illogical.
First, whether "we" or "they" makes no difference. Paul's statement means a living person is baptized for the dead -- to benefit the dead person. The point is clear that if resurrection of the dead is untrue, then why are "people" baptized for the dead? This is a rhetorical question that assumes it is proper to baptize a person for the dead.
Second, whether it was a Christian practice or not turns on construing accurately this verse. It appears it was a practice among the Corinthian Christians. The author at this link tries to suggest otherwise by claiming Paul is referring to ocean baptisms practiced near Eleusis for a good afterlife, but the Paul defender never connects the dots: he never says or proves this errant pagan group performed baptism for those already dead. Belief in an afterlife was common in pagan religions. Baptism for a good afterlife does not imply anything about baptism for those already dead. Hence, there is no implication by Paul that this practice was in error. Rather, the fact of such an accepted practice is how Paul proved his point that there is an afterlife.
Hence, 1 Corinthians 15:29 proves there was a baptism practice that Paul used as proof that we rise from the dead. Paul contended that
- because 'we all know persons are properly baptized for the dead' --
- that necessarily this practice implies that the dead will rise.
- Hence, resurrection from the dead is true.
In my opinion, doing this is communicating with the dead somehow -- just like psychics do, and passing spiritual benefits to them somehow. Such divination practice is evil and imoral even if we did not have a Bible verse to prove it. But we do. See Deut 18:10-13 prohibits "medium or necromancer who inquires of the dead."
For further efforts to dispel this verse as 'misunderstood,' and ascribing it to an errant practice at Corinth, see this link.
Ironically, the author David T. Brattson's argument implodes as he claims that the Marcionites (founded 144 AD) were regarded as close to the Gnostics, and they practiced baptism for the dead, and thus it must supposedly have been a gnostic idea. Hence, he tries to suggest that Paul was talking negatively about a Gnostic group at Corinth. The words betray that is not Paul's purpose. But Brattson makes a greater mistake than just a textual one.
The truth is that the Marcionites were not Gnostics, but Paul-only Christians. They believed Paul was the only apostle to follow. This means that if Paul taught 'baptism for the dead,' then it was correct to do, and they would implement it. What about some thinking they were gnostics? Well, only in the sense that they were "sole fide" were they Gnostic. Marcionites believed in all the modern dispensational doctrines of modern evangelical Christianity. The only main differences are that Marcionites believed Yahweh was an old God of the OT, and Jesus was the new God of the NT, and thus they believed in at least two Gods. Tertullian skewered them as Polytheists for this. The Marcionites also believed the 12 apostles followed a different Jesus - one who believed the Law still applied and whose mission is exclusively to Jews, but the true apostle and only apostle to follow was Paul who taught a different Jesus who was a Son of a good God known as the Father, and this Jesus taught us through Paul that obedience no longer was necessary for salvation. See our article on Marcionism.
Jesus told us we would recognize the false prophets, i.e., those who claimed to speak on behalf of God but who do not, when they teach ANOMIA - lawlessness or negation of the Law. (Matthew 7:15 et seq.)
Paul's immoral principles are lawless in the extreme.
Hence, in obedience to Jesus, when you can see Paul teaches immoral lawless doctrine, you must reject Paul as a false prophet if anyone insists we must treat Paul's words as God's words.
And when we discover this problem, and if we thought Paul's teachings were otherwise inspired, how do we explain such evil fruit other than that the tree is evil at its core, as Jesus taught us?