Ebionites "thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of [Paul], whom they called an apostate from the Law." Eusebius, Church Hist 3:27 325 AD


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What Did Jesus Say? (2012) - 7 topics 

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Scott - God's Breath

Scott Schifferd Jr. is a pastor at a Church of Christ. He has a blog entitled "So you reject Apostle Paul but accept Jesus?" Scott tries to prove that if you reject Paul, you must necessarily reject the inspired gospels that support Jesus. Thus, Scott contends you cannot reject Paul without also rejecting Jesus. His main arguments appear on his blog's main page at this link

My Responses to Scott's Contentions

I wrote a blog response which Scott never responded to, and then I make below point-by-point responses to this article:

A My General Blog Response

Posting 9-21-2011 at Scott Schiffred's Blog:

This is the author of Jesus’ Words Only. If you read my book, you unfortunately skimmed over the preface which led you to wrongly interpret that I have a Reformed and Baptist perception that we cannot fall from Grace. To the contrary, it was because I realized the error of the Reformed and Baptist positions on those issues in light of Jesus’ words in many places, e.g., Mark 9:42-47, that I rejected these Reformed / Baptist doctrines. But in the Preface I explain that then I had to deal with the fact that Paul gives contradictory lessons that do affirm eternal security and unalterable perservance. (You are right that Paul speaks of falling from grace, but (a) that proves a contradiction with his Eternal Security verses; or (b) is explained away by his Reformed / Baptist admirers.)

So I agree with you that ES / Perseverance doctrine is wrong -- but I do so because it contradicts Jesus. Which led me to ask the question: did Jesus ever call Paul an apostle, and thus we are bound to follow Paul who I could not refute says salvation is without works in Romans 4:3-5? And we shall be saved if we ever once (aorist tense) call on the name of the Lord and believe Jesus resurrected? (Romans 10:9.)

The answer is no. Jesus never called Paul an apostle. In the 3 accounts of Paul’s encounter with the light-and-voice (Acts 9, 22, and 26) that said “I am Jesus,” the light-and-voice said Paul would be a MARTUS — Greek for witness. Not “apostolos” – which means messenger.

And Jesus did not make James an apostle either, as you contend. Rather, that was Paul misunderstanding that James was an apostle; James was not. (See Galatians 2.) Jesus said there was only 12 apostles — Rev. 21 — into eternity who sit as the 12 judges over the 12 tribes. So the idea of adding a 13th (after the 11 unanimously chose Matthias to replace Judas in Acts ch. 1 with a joint request Jesus make the lot fall on the right person) is contradictory of JESUS.

Thus, in fact, as the preface to Jesus Words Only points out, my problems with Reformed theology / Baptist eternal security, etc., are what led me to question Paul’s authority. So you have completely misunderstood where I am coming from and why. Please read the preface — free at http://www.jesuswordsonly.com — and look at “books” tab.

And my position on Paul is consistent with (a) the early reformation — Carlstadt (see my site) – who co-led the Reformation with Luther in 1517 — who wrote in 1520 that Jesus has priority over Paul in formulating doctrine. (Luther disagreed and kicked out his partner); (b) the early church prior to 300 — Tertullian’s work of 207 AD Against Marcion saying Paul’s claim to being an apostle is self-serving and dubious (see link to my discussion; and (c) most importantly, by Jesus.

Let’s look at what Jesus clearly says about Paul for those who have ears to hear. I found this only recently so you will have to read my website to find it.

In Matt 5:17-19 Jesus says those in the kingdom of heaven will call the one who loosens the Law and teaches others not to follow the Law the “Least Man” — elicthos. (Those who teach to the contrary, Jesus calls the greatest in the kingdom.)

Did you know Paul’s name — transliterated into Greek as Paulos from the Latin Paulus — is a shortened version (like Joe is for Joseph) of the name Pauxillulus. And Paul’s true name of Pauxillilus in Latin means, per Jamison Faucett, Augustine and other scholars cited at the page following — “LEAST.” Yes, that means Jesus warns us about Paul, saying for eternity the one who teaches us to loosen the Law and tells us not to obey it will be called by those in heaven “THE LEAST.” It was a prophecy. And in context of 5:17-20, it is a condemnation, not a praise.

So I ask: will we follow Jesus or Paul? Their messages are not only not the same, but they also oppose each other. Paul does so mostly in a self-contradictory way so you can find some things that agree with your anti-ES / Perseverance doctrine and in agreement with Jesus, but if you are being honest, there are a host of contrary verses that support ES / Perseverance.

So I did not come to this position because I held Reformed or Baptist views, as you contend. Rather, I had to give those views up to follow Jesus, and face condemnation and attacks. (I am sure they are meant in love by well-meaning brothers and sisters). I, like most Christians of the dominant Pauline persuasion, loved the easy way, the no-works gospel with no damnation for sin! Who would not wish that was the true Gospel? But alas, Jesus says you go to heaven “maimed” or hell “whole.” (Mark 9:42-47.) There is no other ‘way’ but Jesus’ way.

Paul offers a dangerous alternative that comes up by a different path — a non-apostolic path.

Hence, we each have a decision — whether we will be loyal to Jesus’ or Paul’s gospel. I choose Jesus, and I hope you will do so too. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Modern Christianity has turned that into a trite saying but it contains an important direction from our Lord. So here is the link to the “Least ” discussion. God bless. D

B. A Point-by-Point Reply to Scott By Me


Scott's article bears scrutiny for accuracy.


1. Paul did not start the church of Syria.

A church at Antioch (Syria) already existed when Paul joined the church. Peter is the founder of the church of Antioch. Scott suffers from assumptions gleaned from Paulinism that just assumes Paul was a major figure of the church's early evangelism. But on critical careful historical analysis, it is not true as to all major centers of Christianity, including Antioch and Italy. Please see "Paul or James's Church: Greatest Evangelist?" at our website.


2. Paul's words are supposedly "foundational to Christian theology," Scott says.

But this was only true for the early Lutheran phase from 1517-1530. Otherwise, Christ's words preceded those of Paul. Thus, Jesus was foundational to the early church, even for centuries after Paul. See again "Paul or James' Church: Greatest Evangelism" at our website.

From 1530 onward, Luther himself, and Melancthon his successor, tried to evade their early Paulinism. They changed from faith alone to double justification, but after Melancthon died, the sola fidists took back control, and in 1580 turned back Lutheranism to Pauline faith-alone doctrine. This turned all later evangelical Christianity to Pauline faith alone doctrine with minor skirmishes to retain Jesus' doctrine of obedience. See Preface to Jesus' Words on Salvation.

Interestingly, Scott comes from one of the dissenter churches - the Church of Christ -- that say Paul insisted upon loss of salvation for disobedience, and Scott cites this as his view of Paul's teaching. But it does not predominate among evangelicals. Scott is a heretic among 90% of evangelicals. Yet, here Scott and I agree. Paul does sometimes teach obedience. But I unlike Scott cannot dispute Paul teaches faith alone in Romans 4:3-5, Romans 8:1, 1 Cor. 15:1-5 and a few other verses -- thus I see contradiction within Paul's own "difficult to understand" writings when I assume Scott does not see it.


3. Was Paul sexist?

This is a kind of off-tangent issue. Scott may be thinking of someone other than me. I do say that if Paul is inspired, we would have to accept his commands on the fairer's sex's duties as from God. But Paul tells the single not to marry; he tells women not to pray without a head covering; he says widows under 60 are not entitled to the widow charity; and women must not speak or ask questions in Church but ask questions of their husbands at home. I only point out these commands do not sound much like the Master's approach. See my article "Paul on Women and Sex."

There is not much more to be said. Scott responds to such criticism by himself not saying much: "Yet, he [Paul] is supposedly sexist for revealing God’s birthright for men to be spiritual leaders (1 Tim. 2:11ff)."

Given God made Deborah a leader and judge over Israel, one must simply ask whether Scott chose the right point to defend. Paul contradicts an example from the Original Testament where we have a woman in leadership: Deborah was prophet (hence a spiritual leader) and judge (thus national spiritual ruler). The notion women can never lead is found nowhere else in the Bible other than in Paul's epistles.


4. Scott next says if you reject Paul, you reject Christ. Why? Because

Jesus said that He would give His words to His Apostles (John 17:8), and if they listened to Him, then they would listen to His Apostles (John 15:20).

Well, this is true, but is Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ to which these words apply? As I have pointed out, but Scott does not address, Paul does not have 2 witnesses to confirm he was an apostle of Jesus Christ. In the three vision accounts in Acts, the "Jesus" whom Paul meets only says Paul will be a MARTUS -- a witness, and never says Paul will be an apostle of Jesus Christ.

Incidentally, the word apostle in Greek means messenger. So Paul may be a messenger from the church at Antioch in Acts 14:4 but scholars agree this does not imply Paul was an "Apostle of Jesus Christ." This is especially because Luke prior to that point makes it clear who the 12th was -- Matthias -- in Acts 1.

And Jesus elsewhere said there are 12 apostles and no more. First, Jesus made this clear during His earthly ministry. Jesus said the role of the twelve apostles was to "sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. 19:28.) After Matthias replaced Judas, John, the Apostle, wrote:

The city was built on twelve foundation stones. On each of the stones was written the name of one of the Lamb's twelve apostles. (Rev. 21:14 CEV.)

So after Judas fell away and was lost, they added Matthias to bring their number back to twelve. (Acts 1:22-26.) When apostles were martyred later, such as Apostle James (the brother of John), mentioned in Acts 12:2, the apostles did not replace him. Had they done so, this would bring their number to thirteen in the resurrection ruling over the New Jerusalem. The apostles must have seen the mis-match which a thirteenth apostle would represent in fulfilling their role as twelve judges over the twelve tribes into eternity.

Thus, the commands to which Scott refers are not applicable to Paul. A self-serving claim by Paul that he was an apostle, if he meant it with a capital "A," does not qualify.

First, Jesus said that if He alone claimed He was son of God, His witness would not be true. Jesus' insisted upon the 2 witness principle, and that self-serving claims do not suffice.

Second, Paul used the term "Apostle" loosely to refer to James and Junia (see "Paul's Loose Use of the Term Apostle"), and thus using it upon himself was not intended to include himself in the 12. Thus, when Jesus said the 12 would remember His words with inspiration, this did not include Paul. So, when Jesus said you were in danger if you reject the message of the 12 who actually quoted Jesus (but Paul never does except Paul repeats Luke's version of the liturgy), this warning does not mean we must fear disobeying Paul at all, let alone a Paul who does not even quote Jesus beyond the liturgy.

Rather, as to Paul, it means that Paul must not reject the 12, which Paul brazenly does. Paul says they "imparted nothing to me," and he scorned them as "reputed" voices in the church. Paul also scorned them as "super apostles" and brazenly once implied they were "false apostles" due to their rejection of faith alone.  Luther himself exposed these passages as anti-the-12 when Luther was committed to Paul, using these passages to prove the 12 supposedly were out-of-touch with Jesus. See Did Paul Know He preached another Jesus than the 12 preached?  

Hence, the very verse that Scott says that we must listen to the "apostles" -- the 12 and only apostles -- backfires, because Paul's own words prove he refused to listen to the 12. Hence, Jesus' warning falls on Paul's neck, not ours.

5. Scott Says Paul is Inspired to Say He is Inspired

Incidentally, Scott's relies upon inadmissible evidence that we must accept Paul speaking for Jesus. It rests upon a self-serving claim which does not match the 2 witness principle that Jesus said applied to himself. (Jesus at His baptism had the voice of Yahweh and Holy Spirit descend in front of multiple witnesses, and at the transfigurtion, Moses and Elijah were further witnesses in front of two witnesses -- Peter and John). Scott does not realize this and cites such self-serving evidence from Paul:

Because of this, Paul wrote by Christ’s Spirit, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).

There is an obvious fallascious claim that "Paul wrote by Christ's spirit" in this statement. For that is the issue to be proven, and not assumed, as Scott is doing. Scott is well-meaning, but Scott shows examples of not following logical argument. This again is the bootstrap fallacy -- assuming as a premise of your argument -- Paul wrote by Christ's Spirit -- what is your conclusion which you are attempting to prove -- "Paul wrote by Christ's spirit." 

Also, this quote in 1 Corinthians 14:37 is referring to the commandments Paul had given in that context. Paul is not saying all his teachings are from God. 


6. Second Peter Says Paul is Inspired.

Second Peter does not say Paul is inspired. Rather, it says Paul is misconstrued as "other writings" are misconstrued.

This is only as strong as the premise (a) that Second Peter is truly Peter writing; and (b) that "writings" translated as "scripture' has the meaning of the Holy Scripture. Certainly the word graphe in context does not mean inspired writings. And there is serious scholarly doubt -- mostly from Paul fans -- that Second Peter is not truly written by Peter. I detail this elsewhere.

Incidentally, Paul indeed is misconstrued as other writings, but the author of 2d Peter says it is Paul's fault because Paul writes with words "difficult to understand." Hence, in full context, 2d Peter is a criticism of taking Paul's written words as an authority rather than any implication that Paul is inspired.


7. Domino Effect.

Scott then says because Peter accepted Mark and John, citing 2 Peter 3:16-17 (which says no such thing), then supposedly if Paul is not Holy Scripture, we are compelled to conclude that neither is Mark nor John. [I found later that Scott lifted this argument from an article entitled Paul: False Prophet or True Apostle?]

But 2 Peter 3:16-17 does not mention Mark or John. It mentions "writings." It does not mention any gospel writing specifically. Thus, the premise to support Scott's conclusion is missing. It is unproven. Scott's argument, to be clear is:

and then certainly not the Gospel of Mark or the writings of John, which Peter accepted (2 Pet. 1:16-21). With Paul’s writings also would go the Gospel of Luke since Luke was with Paul, agreed with Paul, and Paul quoted Luke as scripture (1 Tim. 5:18, Luke 10:7). Setting aside Luke also means setting aside Luke’s book of Acts and the Gospels mentioned in Luke 1:1-3. This leaves only 2 books, James and Jude.

This is one chain of unproven premise leading to the next, and to the next.

For example, Scott starts by saying if we lose Paul, we lose Mark's gospel, but does not explain why.

And we would supposedly lose John's Gospel because Peter accepted them, but Scott does not explain why.

And then Scott says "since Luke was with Paul," we lose Luke's Gospel. But Scott never explains again why this mean we must throw out Luke's Gospel. I don't see any connection.

Scott seems to tie the point together by saying Paul quoted Luke as scripture -- Luke 10:7. That only proves that Luke's gospel was an authority. It does not prove that if Paul is rejected as an authority that Luke's Gospel necessarily falls as having no authority.

Then from the ridiculous conclusion that Luke is to be excluded because "Luke was with Paul," Scott says this means we must remove Acts, if that is correct. Why I cannot fathom.

And if we remove Acts, we only have 2 books left of the Bible -- James and Jude. Umm.. What happened to Matthew? The book of Revelation? These are books of Jesus talking.

Even if that were the result (which Scott does not acknowledge by only mentioning 2 epistles are left), what would indeed be so bad about that -- a Bible of only Jesus' words with James and Jude to boot?

We might pay attention to Jesus' teachings from now on. But Scott's endeavor is just one series of unsubstantiated claim leading to another with a ridiculous effort to reduce JWO into a movement to only have James and Jude as epistles. This was extraordinarly weak argumentation.

And JWO has nothing in common with such a conclusion. JWO says that the inspired Gospels are the apostolic gospels of Matthew and John. Jesus' words extend also to the Book of Revelation where Jesus speaks at the beginning and end, with the vision of the future John saw in heaven being confirmed by Jesus. Other than that, all the epistles are edifying worthwhile material, with the exception that Paul's writings must be either separate or footnoted on doctrine that actually is blasphemous. See Paul and Blasphemy.


8. Scott Does Not Address The Real Issues.  

The issues about Paul are not about whether Second Peter calls Paul "scripture." Even if Peter wrote it, the apostles were not 100% inspired unless quoting Jesus's earthly ministry (so Jesus said), or else how can Paul say Peter erred in 2d Galatians about eating with Gentiles? (So Paul said.) Or how did Peter not realize an angel released him from prison until it was all over in Acts? Nor are the real issues about Paul whether he is sexist. Scott has raised a series of irrelevant red herrings to divert the reader from the real issues.

What are the proper questions whether someone is a true prophet / spokeperson for God? If you want to understand the correct Berean-testing questions about Paul, I suggest you read Chapter One to Jesus' Words Only. We must start with whether Paul unwittingly was a false prophet by teaching us not to follow the Law. This is the Bible's test for inspiration in Deut. 13:1-5 (as well as Isaiah 8:20) -- which states specifically that signs and wonders are not sufficient to prove one is inspired. See Jesus Words Only - chapter one.

I wish to emphasize I regard Scott highly, and think he is on a good road spiritually. I think he can study how to make logical claims better. I want the best challenges that can be found. This is not about me being right. This is about finding God's truth with all of us working together to find it diligently asking the aid of the Holy Spirit in prayer! Our Lord Jesus too wants us to be unified in mind, and to do that, we must be kind and thoughtful toward one another.

Blessings, D.