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Was Paul A Dupe, A Deceiver or Tampered With?

Hi Doug,

I pray your efforts will be blessed as you strive to glorify YHWH through Yahshua.

I may have asked this before, but please indulge me again...Do you think Paul flipped later in his ministry, or was he calculating his moves from the beginning, or do you think it's possible that through the years his writings were manipulated to introduce the false gospel you are illuminating?


Bless YHWH!

My Response July 30, 2015


I suspect Paul genuinely believed he met Yahshua / Jesus on the road to Damascus. Hence, I don’t believe he calculated his moves from the beginning. Paul was a dupe. The Jesus whom Paul met fits Jesus’ warning that someone would come in His name – claiming to be “Jesus” (Yahshua) – in the wilderness. Paul accepted a person who said "I am Jesus" in the wildnerness outside Damascus as the real deal. So it began genuine, which means Paul was a genuine dupe.

As to whether Paul’s writings were manipulated,  I do find that it is possible (but not likely) that Paul’s writings were altered later to embody the doctrine we hear today.  For the Paul of Acts is so at variance with the Paul of his epistles that Paul would have to be an amazing chameleon to fool Luke, and espouse views in front of Luke which are diametrically opposed to Paul's views in Paul's epistles. Here is what Paul appears to be in Luke’s Acts as seen by Luke:

1. Paul told a court inActs 26:20 (ASV) that he "declared [his gospel] both to them of Damascus first and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, thatthey should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance."

2. Paul inActs 17:30says: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but nowhe commands all people everywhere to repent." Paul was referring to idolatry in the prior verse -- not the lack of faith.

3. Paul in Acts endorses all the Law: "However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets...." (Acts24:14NIV.)

Paul's epistles, of course, are famous for the opposite position -- an anti-Law and anti-works (of repentance) Gospel.

To believe Paul carried this off, and truly wrote the epistles too, means Paul would have to be extremely successful at profound guile with Luke to keep him from learning Paul's true beliefs.  Could this be truly possible? Could that be the true explanation of the major discrepancy? Or is tampering the better explanation?

At this time, it is not likely that tampering is the correct explanation. For there is no clearly probable evidence of tampering that I have found.  

First, Paul's epistles can first be traced back the earliest to Marcion who in 144 AD created a canon of 10 epistles (not the final 13) with minor differences from the same today. In these ten, Paul espoused faith-alone and the abrogation of the Law. In fact, these were Marcion's two key doctrines he derived from Paul's writings. See our article Marcionism. Hence, this supports that Paul from the earliest documentary-point espoused the same doctrine found in Paul's later writings.

Second, and lastly, eight of Paul's epistles appear in 200 A.D. in papyrus 46 in its own volume. The epistles include Romans (except most of the first five chapters), 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philemon, Colossians and 1 Thessalonians. They were collected in one volume with no other present books of the new Testament except the Epistle to the Hebrews. This later episte was included evidently because it was thought Paul wrote it.

Because these earlist works after Marcion are similar to those ten earlier epistles of Marcion, it appears reasonable to infer that the Pauline epistles in the NT are accurate depictions of how they read originally unless they vary from both the Marcionite version of 144 AD and Papyrus 46 of about 200 AD.

Between these two sources - Marcion and Papyrus 46, the most authentical must be the earliest - the ones preserved by Marcion. As Martin Larson writes:

“Marcion [c. 100 – c. 165 C.E.] accepted only ten Pauline epistles and that his version did not contain many of the passages found in our canonical. There can be no reasonable doubt that this was the actual corpus of Pauline literature as it existed late in the first century.” 

See, Martin A. Larson, The Story of Christian Origins or The Sources and Establishment of Western Religion (Village Press, 1977) at 529).

On other hand, it is easier to believe Paul used guile on Luke. For Paul boasted of exactly the kind of guile necessary to explain how Luke only saw a law-endorsing and works-worthy-of-repentance-Gospel version of Paul. Such a boast can explain the necessary behavior Paul would have to pull off -- act one way in front of Luke but write epistles behind Luke's back that speak very differently. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that he did use such behavior with the Corinthians:

But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, beingcrafty, Icaught you with guile. (2 Cor.12:16, ASV.)

Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 9 and 10, Paul says he plays the chameleon as an evangelical tactic:

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; andto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law as without law... that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." 1Corinthians 9:19-22

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." 1Corinthians 10:31-33

Hence, I believe the better explanation at present of the discrepancy betwen the Paul depicted in Acts and the one present in Paul's epistles is due to Paul behaving as a tactician of self-admitted deception -- here misleading Luke as to Paul's true opinions and values to Paul's advantage. Paul thereby duped Luke.

Even so, one must acknowledge that to believe this, one must also believe that Luke would have been extremely gullible to never see through Paul's actor's mask. We would have to believe Luke trusted Paul despite rumors and tell-tale signs that Luke even mentions, e.g., see Acts 21:20-22 where James raises the question of rumors of "apostasy" that Paul was departing from Moses.

So naturally we would ask: didn't Luke instead investigate the rumor mentioned in Acts 21 that Paul taught the Law given Moses no longer even applied to Jews? If so, did Luke truly find no proof of what we now see riddles all of the principal Pauline letters, i.e., an anti-Law theory repeated numerous times and in numerous ways? That Paul taught faith alone without repentance from sin, like Abraham whom Paul says was "justified while ungodly" by faith alone (Romans 4:3-5)? Or were these ideas added later, and that is why Luke did not find any of these theories in Paul's extant writings of that era that contradicts Paul's views expressed in quotes #1, #2, and #3 above from Acts?

It is inviting to think tampering is the best explanation. Yet, there is no other serious evidence other than this discrepancy itself that Paul's writings were written by another. 

This leaves us at present with only two likely conclusions that explains all these facts: (a) Paul was a consummate guileful deceiver (as he himself twice boasts) to present himself to Luke as endorsing the Law and repentance as works-worthy-of-repentance as the quotes from Acts above prove -- quotes #1, #2 and #3 from Acts above; and (b) Luke was willing to give Paul the benefit of the doubt, and did no investigation on the rumors discussed in Acts 21 that would conflict with quotes #1, #2 and #3 above.