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History of Jesus' Words Only Canon Movement 

 

Preface to Volume 1: Earliest Christian Canon

 

A. Metzger's View of Earliest Canon.

It has long been exposed that 2 Tim. 3:16 only says "all scriptures inspired of God are profitable for doctrine," etc. Hence, the New Covenant canon must depend on more than we simply call something scripture or a writing. The commonly heard misinformation that Paul supposedly said that "every Scripture is inspired of God" has finally been exposed as depending upon adding "is" where it did not belong. See Misimpression of Canon from 2 Tim. 3:16

Thus, to know what is our true inspired canon requires an historical review of what the early church originally believed  was inspired New Covenant writings, and why. The flip-side also helps, namely reviewing what the early church rejected as inspired, and why.

To that end, we will start with Bruce Metzger. He is considered the top Protestant authority on the genesis of the current New Testament canon. He is trying to explain when and how the current books achieved acceptance as inspired.

In his explanation quoted next, please pay attention to what is the inspired-canon outlook of those Christians who knew Christ as well as their immediate heirs during the first 150 years of Christianity.

Then please realize that Metzger did not articulate the most important significance of his finds: we must recognize that earliest Christianity up through 180 AD had necessarily the purest and most unadulterated version of the concept of canon.

Why does this matter? Because Metzger acknowledges that by the last half of the second century A.D. that the Christian canon begins to accept a creeping pagan -- Hellenistic -- change. This portended a material change from what Biblically was the true previous canon of a New Covenant: the words of Jesus alone. Thus, when looking at the first 150 years of Christianity,  Metzger aknowledges that the earliest period of the church had a completely different view of canon than does the church at present. But at the same time, he concedes the earliest church's focus was exclusively upon Jesus' words as the sole inspired authority for the New Covenant.

Here is the Metzger quote to consider at the very outset of our study: 

 

For early Jewish Christians the Bible consisted of the Old Testament and some Jewish apocryphal literature [i.e., Enoch]. Along with this written authority went traditions, chiefly oral, of sayings attributed to Jesus. On the other hand, authors who belonged to the 'Hellenistic Wing' of the Church refer more frequently to writings that later came to be included in the New Testament. At the same time, however, they very rarely regarded such documents as 'Scripture'.

Furthermore, there was as yet no conception of the duty of exact quotation from books that were not yet in the full sense canonical. Consequently, it is sometimes exceedingly difficult to ascertain which New Testament books were known to early Christian writers; our evidence does not become clear until the end of second century.

.... On the other hand, we see that the words of Jesus are taken as the Supreme Authority. Sometimes these quotations are similar to what we find in the four Gospels; at other times they differ. 

(Metzger, The Canon Of The New Testament: Its Origin, Significance & Development (1997) at 72-73.)

 

B. What Are Examples of Metzger's First Point?

Thus, Metzger acknowledges that Jesus' words -- his sayings -- were the supreme authority in the earliest church. Jesus  was exclusively regarded as inspired among the earliest church at Jerusalem for a long period. This changed by the last half of the 100s outside of the home church at Jerusalem. Metzger does not conceal that the change in the latter part of the second century was affected by the pagan-minded concepts of Hellenistic thinking.

What did Metzger mean?

Metzger was alluding to the Hellenistic pagan idea that merely poets or wise-writers, apostolic or not, with fine-sounding exhortations were recognized as inspired by God. In other words, inspiration outside Jerusalem was measured by a faulty non-Biblical loose standard. This explains the expansion of the concept of inspiration many decades after the original apostles were gone. This change was exclusively among the Hellenistic pagans who became Christians.

To deflect any modern concern on this point, Christians long ago were influenced to not accept the Jewish-division of canon which excluded wisdom literature such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes from being considered prophetic. The Jews at the time of Christ regarded these wisdom books initially as simply "other books" of interest, and later collected them as a third section of the Bible known as the Writings -- the equivalent of the word Scripture.

At the time of Jesus, the Writings were a single section among three divisions of the Bible: The Law, the Prophets and the Writings -- Torah, Nev'im and Ketuvim. The temple authorities whose job was to maintain the Bible specifically said the Writings merely "were prized and read as edifying books." (John Haralson Hayes, Introduction to the Bible (1971) at 22.) Wisdom literature was not inspired by God. Torah and Prophets trump them in authority.

Jesus was in accord. While He or Yahweh could lift a verse out of the Writings section and give it prophetic value, this did not mean that the Writings, including the Psalms, had immediate prophetic value.

For example, Jesus specifically rejected as uninspired the precatory Psalms in the Writings section where David endorses hatred of enemies. See Psalm 69:24. Jesus said "you have heard 'hate your enemies' -- obviously quoting David, but Jesus said those words are in conflict with God's will to love your enemies. (Matt 5:43) Jesus' command to love your enemies was paraphrasing the import of the Torah-Law in the following passage -- Jesus implying this Law trumps David's words to hate your enemies:  

 

If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him. (Exodus 23:4-5).

  

However, since Constantine's Bible of 331 AD which Constantine "gave" the church, these three categories to the Hebrew Bible were removed. The Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts from the 300s are obvious examples of Constantine's Bible as their dating match. These Bibles totally depart from the Hebrew Bible order of the past. See "Constantine's Bible," Wikipedia. 

Instead, in 331 AD the church, acting compliant to Constantine's orders because he was legally its Pontifex Maximus, for the first time "officially" mixed the Law, Prophets and Writings together so that no distinction was being made any further. Our Bibles of today continue to follow this misleading pattern which was officially set up to follow a pagan ruler who we now know clearly lied in 324 AD that he became a Christian in 315 AD. (The latter realization is now conclusively well-established. See Constantine's Damage to Christianity. See also Council of Nicea of 325 AD. )

As a result, we were erroneously taught by implication that there is no significant difference. Our church under Constantine's authority destructively gave a Hellenistic impression that wisdom literature is just as inspired as the Law or Prophets, and do no harm being intermixed.

This pagan inspired re-ordering created the misimpression today that if Peter says Paul wrote with the "wisdom that God gave him" (2 Peter 3:15) which "is sometimes dys-noetas" -- literallly meaning "destructive of good sense" / nonsensical which causes some to "lose their steadfastness" in Christ and fall into "lawless" and "destructive lives of error" (see link) -- that this meant Peter believed Paul spoke with inspiration. Rather, in Peter's non-pagan mind, saying Paul spoke with wisdom but in an unclear manner that proved harmful to the "ignorant and unstable," meant exactly the opposite: Paul was not inspired. Paul could be edifying when he was not unclear or unintentionally misleading -- that is Peter's point. 

In fact, in the Jewish mind, God made clear that no prophet (other than The Prophet of Deut 18:14-19) is on the same level of inspiration as the Torah-Law. For God in Numbers 12 explains that He deliberately communicates with prophets differently than with Moses. God explained He speaks with ordinary prophets solely by visions, and deliberately in a less clear manner. God further explained that this means any words of even true prophets may never be taken of equal value to that of the words God gave to Moses. This is clearly set forth in Numbers 12:1-14 in reproof to the prophetess Miriam and prophet Aaron -- sister and brother to Moses -- who try to claim equality of authority with Moses' revelations. However, God Yahweh severly reproves them for their false understanding of what it means to be a prophet after Moses. Yahweh-God says He alone speaks clearly to Moses and not in riddles. God's only other exception is obviously for The Prophet - a singular figure in the future whom Father-God says to Moses that He will hold all men to account to accept and obey The Prophet's words because they will all come from God. (Deut. 18:15-19.) As we shall see, John and Peter identify Jesus, not Paul, as The Prophet. For a full discussion, see JWO Principle from Numbers 12 and Deut 18.

 

Even though pagan concepts later modified the original concept of canon by the era of Constantine (especially by 325 AD),  Metzger admits that the adoption of Hellenistic thinking that wisdom literature / letters are equally inspired was slow in coming as well. They only popped up in minor appearances by the end of the second century A.D. 

So what energized the first century of true Christianity to make Jesus' words exclusively Supreme, as Metzger put it?

First, Jesus says repeatedly that he is the "sole teacher" and "sole master." See Matt 23:-11 DLT. Sole Cristus! The true meaning of the term is that Jesus is the sole source of moral teachings on salvation or rewards for His followers.   

Clarke, the famous commentator, explains what this means: 

"To him [Jesus] alone it belongs to guide and lead his Church....Jesus is the sole teacher of righteousness. It is he alone...that can illuminate every created mind." [See Clarke Commentary 1844 on verses 8 & 10.] 

Thus, Jesus' words are the sole source of NT teachings of any type. No one else can share this honor. 

Second, Jesus's words had supremacy because Jesus also clearly said "the apostolos is not more important than the one who sent him." (John 13:16 YLT.) Thus, any teaching of an apostle had to be consistent with Jesus; if not, then such apostle was drawing importance away from Jesus' teachings.  Jesus prohibited such altered focus. Hence, an apostle could not teach anything that would dismiss or render irrelevant Jesus' words. Jesus in fact said "heaven and earth will disappear but my words will never pass away." (Matt 24:35.) This is why an  apostle's words can never be equal to or greater than Jesus' words.

We have many examples of the early adherents to Christianity teaching that their own message could not go beyond or contradict Jesus' teachings, nor create divisions away from strictly following Jesus.

Let's listen first and foremost to Apostle John. 

Apostle John explains that if we go "beyond" Jesus' teachings, we do not have God when so speaking. John writes in 2 John 1:8-11 (Websters' Bible):

(8) Watch yourselves, that we [i.e., the twelve apostles] don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. (9) Whoever transgresses [or goes beyond] 14 and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching [of Jesus Christ], the same has both the Father and the Son.

 

Paul similarly says "any man" (thus including himself) whose words contradict those of Jesus in his teaching is to be rejected as a man of pride. Thus, Paul endorses the Jesus' Words Only test of orthodoxy. Paul states:

If any man gives different teaching, not in agreement with the true words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the teaching which is in agreement with true religion, He has an over-high opinion of himself; being without knowledge, having only an unhealthy love of questionings and wars of words, from which come envy, fighting, cruel words, evil thoughts, (I Tim. 6:3-4, Basic Bible in English.)

The verse begins by saying if "anyone preaches differently" -- the Greek is heterodidaskalei  --- and "does not assent" /agree (proserchetai) to the "sound teachings of the Master Messiah Jesus," then such a person has pride and understands nothing. In Greek, the phrase "and to godly teaching" is not distinct from Jesus's teaching previously mentioned, but is "a more especial explanation of the preceding" reference to Jesus' teaching. (Hermann Olshausen, Biblical Commentary (Sheldon: 1866) Vol. 6 at 150.)  

 

 In fact, Paul went further than this. Paul said that if he himself or anyone else preached a different gospel than what was received from Christ would be cursed:

Though we, or an angel from heaven, —if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8-9.)

Hence, Paul taught that no one’s teachings, including even Paul’s own teachings (viz., “if we,”), were above Jesus’ teachings on the Gospel. That means Paul taught Jesus’ words as recollected by the apostles under inspiration were greater than James’ words, or Peter’s words, or even Paul’s own words. In fact, Paul put a curse on anyone who followed any apostle’s words above the words of Jesus.

In fact, later in Galatians, Paul states the obvious principle even stronger, saying in Gal. 5:19-21 that a Christian will "not inherit the kingdom" if they are guilty of creating "rivalries, dissensions or sects." (Gal. 5:19-21.) In the same vein, Paul in 1 Cor. 1:13-16 revulses agains those claiming importance of individual apostles, including himself, over Jesus. Paul angrily states some are saying "I am of Paul," while another says "I am of Christ," thereby "dividing Christ," but Paul says "Was Paul crucified for you?" Clearly, the damning division would be if even Paul himself made his teachings more important than those delivered by Jesus Himself. 

Paul's effort to not appear to create a sect of his own by advancing his teachings which are not based upon quotes from Jesus can be seen in the Book  of Acts. Whenever Paul talked in front of Luke, Paul was very careful to comport with the Jesus presented in Luke's Gospel.

First, Luke quotes Paul in Acts 17:30 saying: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." Paul was referring to idolatry in the prior verse -- not the lack of faith. Paul was calling people to give up the sin of idolatry condemned in the First Commandment of the Ten. This hardly sounds like the fellow who wrote the Book of Romans or Galatians.

Yet the Paul who focuses on repentance from breaking the Law is perfectly in sync with the Jesus Luke discovered in his investigations, such as Jesus saying: "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." (Luke 16:16-17 NIV.)

Paul' teaching repentance on the First Commandment principle comports also with the Jesus found in Luke 18:18-29 NIV. In that passage, Jesus is asked by a rich young ruler how to have eternal life, and Jesus tells him to obey the Law - citing some of the ten commandments and provisions in Leviticus. The young rich man responds that he has done all that. Jesus then gives the man a work worthy of repentance, i.e., give his money to the poor, and the man walked away upset at the high sacrifice for salvation Jesus required. 

Paul again shows in Acts 26:20 an extreme desire to match such passages in Luke's Gospel. This verse has Paul expressly endorse Jesus' core doctrine on works worthy of repentance for salvation in Luke ch. 19. In that passage, Jesus announces "salvation has come to this house" after Zachias repents and promises to return four-fold what he stole from the poor -- a Torah-Law requirement of a work worthy of repentance when the victim of one's theft cannot be located.  (See Luke 19:9 & Num. 5:5-8). Comporting with this lesson of Jesus, Luke witnessed Paul say in court (hence under oath) in Acts 26:20 (ASV) that he, Paul, "declared [his message to the Gentiles] both to them of Damascus first and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance."

Thus the Paul who talked in front of Luke in Acts 26 said faith and repentance, in particular doing works worthy of repentance, is the gospel he brought to the Gentiles. And thus Paul in front of Luke does not teach the Law is merely a schoolmaster that mankind has outgrown. Paul had a short while earlier than Acts 26 taught the Law has faded away to the Galatians on that basis in chapter four of his epistle to them. This epistle to the Galatians was written soon after the events of Acts 15, as Paul alludes to that recent event in Gal. 2:1-10. See link. Hence, Paul's explanation 11 chapters after Acts 15 starkly contrasts with each other.

There are more examples where Paul bows to Jesus' gospel in front of Luke, thereby acknowledging to Luke what is the true authority of Christianity. For example, in Acts 24:14, Luke also heard Paul say in court (hence under oath) in line with Matt 5:17-19 and Luke 16:16-17 that "I worship the God of my fathers, and believing in all things written in the Law and in the prophets." (Acts 24:14.) 

At this stage, as far as Luke or any Berean could discern, Paul was not an apostate from Jesus or the Law. Paul affirmed correctly that Jesus' words and gospel were supreme. It just appears that for some reason Paul was hiding it from Luke that Paul did not agree with what was coming out of his own mouth in court. But what this underscores is that Paul's bowing to the early church's beliefs, hiding his contrary views, clearly reflects Paul knew Jesus' words were the exclusive authority and gospel. Paul knew his words had to match the Jesus' of the twelve. Paul knew that Jesus did not agree with Paul's Jesus.

Paul outside Luke's presence would simply try to imply that he received "revelations" from Jesus which he heard in the third heaven "that were not lawful to utter" which conveyed different truths.  See 2 Cor. 12:1-9. How then did Paul justify keeping Luke on the hook, and cow-towing to those principles of canon that looked only to Jesus' words delivered in the flesh?

Well, Paul elsewhere described his gospel as a

"mystery [mysterio] that has been hidden...which none of the powers / rulers of this age has known...But God revealed it to us through the Spirit...." (1 Cor. 2:7-10 MTB.)

Hence, Paul's gospel was hidden from others, but only revealed to Paul, and to others who had the same spirit as Paul had.  Thus, unless the spirit imparted this truth to someone, Paul justified keeping them in the dark. In fact, Paul said it was "unlawful" for him to deliver the words he heard in these revelations in the third-heaven from Jesus. (In line with this restriction, Paul never quotes this third-heaven Jesus in his epistles with the sole exception of the problematic 2 Cor. 12:7.)

What was the countour of this mystery? Paul, as we will see below, apparently came to conclude that he knew a "different Jesus" than the twelve, and rejected their Jesus's words, implying the "super apostles" -- the 12 -- were "false apostles." 

Hints of this are present when Paul impliedly explains in essence why he circumcised Timothy in the book of Acts. Paul justifies in 1 Cor. 9:19-22 and 1 Cor. 10:31-33 using hypocrisy to keep off guard those like Luke and the 12 at Jerusalem who accepted the exclusive authority of Jesus's words delivered in the flesh. Paul would around such adherents of the Jesus "in the flesh" pretend to be subject to the Law as taught by their Jesus although Paul says he is "not under the Law."

What was the dividing line between the two Jesuses?

Paul elsewhere said we once knew Jesus "in the flesh," but we "no longer" know Jesus that way. See 2 Cor. 5:16 Paul there says: "even though we once knew Christ by means of the flesh [ kata sarka], we know him thus no longer."

Pro-Paul modern and very influential Christian scholars, e.g. Bultman, Albert Schweitzer, said this means we rightfully can ignore, as Paul's epistles do, anything Jesus spoke in the flesh, e.g., the Sermon on the Mount (invisible in Paul's epistles), etc. See Bultman on Paul.

 

Besides Paul and Apostle John knowing that the Jesus of the 12 claimed a Supreme Exclusivity for his words, we have Ignatius and Papias as similar examples.

Ignatius, a major church figure, around 150 AD said the only person whom Christians listen to is "Jesus Christ." He wrote:

 

"all live according to the truth, and that no sect has any dwelling-place among you. Nor, indeed, do you hearken to any one rather than to Jesus Christ speaking in truth." (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, quoted in "Apostasy in Christianity," Wikipedia.)

 

Similarly, in approximately 130 AD, Papias wrote how he tracked down what the 12 apostles taught were commandments from Jesus himself, and ignored any commandments belonging to any other: 

 

nor [did I take pleasure] in those who related commandments belonging to others [Roberts trans.] / "who recall someone else's commandments'" [Lightfoot trans.] but [I took pleasure] in those who rehearsed / remembered the commandments given by the Lord to the faith, and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,—what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. 

 

(Papias ca. 130 AD quoted in Eusebius, 3.39.3-4 excerpted in Roberts, Donaldson & Crombie, "Fragments of Papias," The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers (T&T Clark, 1867) at 441-42. Cf. translation of J.B. Lightfoot, Hammer, & Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers (Leicester: Appollos, 1990) at 314; cf. earlier translation J.B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers (Macmillan, 1898) at 527.)

  

C. Jesus' Gospels vs Apostolic Writings vs Old Covenant.

Metzger's next point in the quote above was that Jesus' words were being quoted orally and in writings such as in the gospels. When apostles were cited or quoted, Metzger says it was never treated as Holy Scripture until very late in the first two centuries AD, and then still rarely so.

Metzger continues in the quote above saying that other than Jesus' words as inspired authority, there was the Law and Prophets.

Beyond that, Metzger alludes to one apocryphal text which was being cited as canon for the pre-Christ period: Enoch. Metzger is alluding to Jude's citation of this text in his epistle. Twenty centuries later, Enoch remains authoritative canon from pre-Christ writings among Orthodox churches, primarily in Ethiopia. There is nothing suprising in that allusion by Metzger.

Lastly, our quote from Metzger above reflects that the present four gospels were the primary source of Jesus' words. Metzger impliedly admits that some of these four gospel's words were changed later and thus he says the earliest written  records of Jesus' words "differ" from what we see now. Metzger is implicitly acknowledging corruptions were introduced.

Let's deduce the following well-known example of corrupton that Metzger may have had in mind, and which is relevant to our JWO-Canon historical review. This notorious corruption is the removal of the Father speaking over Jesus at His Baptism "This Day I have begotten thee." It is present in all codices prior to the late 300s. See the Original Baptism Account.  Why was this removed?

This was removed after Faustus in the mid-300s quoted from both Matthew and Luke to shred the "eternal" son of God doctrine which was circulating at that time. See Faustus-Augustine exchange in Schaff’s AugustinThe Writings Against the Manicheans and Against the Donatists (1890)(CCEL 2020) Book XXIII at 313.

As Faustus said to Augustine: "The Catholic doctrine is well-known, and it is as unlike Matthew's representation as it is unlike the truth." Id., Para. 2. As to Luke, Faustus quotes him too saying the same: "when about thirty-years old, according to Luke, when also the voice was heard saying to him: 'Thou art my son, this Day I have begotten thee." Id.

 

Obviously, with Constantine and other successor pagan emperors remaining Pontifex Maximus over the Christian church at Rome for decades, such passages would not survive when counter to the new pagan-inspired orthodoxy. Both passages were erased as a result of Augustine's debate, even though Augustine conceded no present manuscript did not support Faustus.  For more background, see The Hebrew Matthew Baptismal Account.

Incidentally, after 50 years of tyranical reform of the Roman church by the emperors, from 374 forward the emperors allowed the Roman Bishop to exercise what previously was the imperial pontiff authority over all religions at Rome. See Constantine's Damage to Christianity.)

Thus, these two passages with "this day I have begotten thee" were removed in the late 300s rather than to allow them to negate emerging doctrine.

So let's summarize the key points about the earliest canon from the quote of Metzger above: 

  • Jesus' Words were the Supreme Authority in Christian canon. 
  • No other writing, apostolic or otherwise, were on the same level as Jesus, and were not recognized as Holy Scripture.
  • The Law & Prophets were Holy Scripture.

 

In light of these facts, this book will try to fill in more details why the earliest church's New Covenant canon was the words of Jesus. We shall see the Biblical reasons why the earliest church for over a century was a Jesus' Words Only canon movement.

We will also see later why the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in the Fourth Century sought to include and elevate Paul. As the example of corruption already cited shows, the RCC's goals to change canon in the 4th century was to serve emerging doctrines. Specifically, its corrupting intent included a necessity to justify barring Sabbath rest, and convince Christians to comply with draconian orders to rest on the Day of the Sun rather than the day prior. These changes were to serve the pagan objectives of Emperor Constantine. He was the legal Pontifex Maximus over Roman Catholicism, and had authority to compel paganizing changes. See Constantine's Damage to Christianity.

As explained in that article, Constantine at all material moments was an ardent supporter of the Cult of Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") as the primary God. Not coincidentally, Sol Invictus was the son of a father-god known as Horus, but the son Sol Invictus was supreme over the father-god. (Doesn't that Biblically-heretical view of a Son of God feel familiar somehow?)

Constantine decreed in 321 AD that all Romans must worship the "venerable sun" by resting on Sun-Day -- a new name he made up.  Constantine did this even though in 324 AD he claimed he was a convert of Christ in 312 AD. Such fraud in 324 AD was also to win changes a year later -- in 325 AD -- as to the date to celebrate Jesus' resurrection -- moving it from Passover to the traditional day to celebrate the Mother of the Sun-God, Isis, whose name in Saxon is Easter. See J. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology (4th ed. Bell & Sons, 1882) Vol. 1 at 289-90 ("This Ostard [in Germany], like Eostre [in Saxon-speaking lands] ... in the heathen religion denoted a higher being whose worship was so firmly rooted that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to its grandest anniversaries.") 

Constantine's perpetuation of fraud upon Christianity benefited from Paul's epistles because they undermined adherence to the Law such as Sabbath and Passover. The words of Paul not those of Jesus were the one's that were most suitable to Rome. Paul's words were now elevated over those of Jesus for the next 1600 years, as we shall see. The Dark Shadow cast by Roman Catholicism's focus upon Paul has not yet been cleared away.

Thus, it is hoped history will show in clear light why the original inspired portion of canon was Jesus' Words Only (JWO) for at least 150 years. That history will also show precisely why the words of Paul were repulsed by the Bible-based principles that supported JWO.

 

1. The First JWO Movement Began With Jesus's Own Words

The greatest misunderstanding of Christianity is that when Jesus said he was the "sole teacher" (Matthew 23:8-11and "sole pastor" (John 10:16) that this supposedly implied nothing about what was the New Covenant canon. However, Jesus was pointing directly toward the only words which should form what Christians would say is the sole New Covenant canon: the words of Jesus.

Jesus' view that He was the only teacher and only pastor matched the prophecies which He fulfilled. For example, the term "Messiah" means an annointed prince which prophecy says such person will rule as King over God's people. Daniel and John in Revelation portray Messiah-Christ as physically reigning as king on earth. Prior to that, Jesus is supposed to reign as king in our hearts. Thus, a King means someone whose words you obey. This obedience-obligation in this new covenant does not belong to words from others -- whether wise or not -- who are individuals speaking but not quoting Jesus.

 

2. How Prophecy Confirms What Is New Covenant Canon.

Moreover, the Messiah in prophecy was directly connected to Jesus by Yahweh's own voice from heaven. At the transfiguration, Yahweh quoted a portion of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 about The Prophet -- saying "listen to him. " (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7.) Yahweh alluded thereby to that passage of Deuteronomy, besides literally telling us to "listen to Him" (Jesus). That is, 'obey Him.'

Those words are important on the issue of canon. This passage of Deuteronomy 18 about The Prophet depicts a future human "like you" (Moses) whom all humans, Yahweh says, will be "accountable to" obey.  The passage is Deut 18:15-19: 

 

15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. (Deut 18:15-19 NIV.)

 

Unsurprisingly, because Peter was present when the Father spoke from heaven "listen to him" at the transfiguration - quoting this passage on The Prophet, Peter told a crowd in Acts 3:22 that Jesus was The Prophet foretold in that same Deuteronomy passage. Peter quoted several of the verses from Deut 18:15-19 about The Prophet. He quoted the "listen to him" portion -- not an insignificant detail. Peter directly told the crowd that Jesus was The Prophet who fulfilled that special role who would be just like the burning bush - whom God would directly speak through. Yet, the Prophet would do so in a manner that was less freigtening because Moses explained that God would raise up  "a man like me -- an Israelite" to serve this unique role.  See our Video on the JWO Principle in Deuteronomy.

 

3. How Apostle John Points To These Prophecies.

Apostle John in his Gospel makes reference multiple times to the "beliefs" about Jesus which matter. The first is that Jesus is The Prophet of Deuteronomy 18. This is reflected in John 6:14-15 ESV: 

14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:14-15 ESV.)

The people's reaction reveals they knew the meaning of the prophecies cited above. They believed Jesus' status as The Prophet meant Jesus is their ruler -- in effect their king -- a person they must obey ("listen to"), as stated in Deuteronomy.

How did this awareness about The Prophet reach the people? 

Besides that passage itself, the rabbis of that era regularly taught that the Prophet was the same as the Messiah. See The Prophet was the same as  the prophesied "Messiah." (Click to read a third-party Shalom.org's proofs.)

How else was the term Messiah used in the Jewish canon other than to depict The Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:14-19?

The first major  reference to a Messiah is in Psalm 2 when you see mention of the "Anointed One." Those words are a literal translation into English of the Hebrew word for "Messiah." This Anointed One is depicted in Psalm 2 as a special Son of God whom Yahweh appoints to judge all mankind. In Psalm 2, this Son of God and Messiah holds Yahweh's royal authority in his hands to punish the guilty. The Psalmist says in chapter two we are to "kiss" the Son-of-God-Messiah's hand (show him homage as a king), lest this Anointed One (Messiah) and Son of God be angry with us.

God Yahweh quoted this passage of Psalm 2 at Jesus' Baptism in the original Matthew and Luke -- "This day I have begotten you" -- thereby giving it prophetic meaning. See our link.

God thereby underscored to a large audience that Jesus was also the unique Son of God depicted in Psalm 2. 

 

Where again do we find this Psalm 2 "Begotten-Son-of-God" sense of "Messiah" as a prophesied king in the pre-Christian era? 

In Daniel.

Daniel speaks of Messiah (Annointed One) in precisely this same way. Daniel prophesies of a Messiah who will arrive in a period that "atonement will be made for iniquity," and then righteousness shall be ushered in, but the Messiah "will be cut off, but not for himself" (not guilty himself). After this, the "people of a prince" - Rome fits the bill in 70 AD -- will come, destroy the Temple, and put an end to the sacrifices. Daniel 9:24-27 ESV. 

Earlier in the same book, Daniel similarly speaks of a "Son of Man" who presents himself to the Ancient of Days while seated on his "throne" on a day of judgment of mankind. Then Daniel sees this Son of Man coming "on clouds of glory" in the heavens to present himself to the Ancient of Days. At that time, the Ancient of Days gives this Son of Man eternal "dominion" that "all nations will serve him." Daniel 7, especially verses 9-14. The Almighty thus makes this "Son of Man" - literally meaning Son of Adam -- in effect a king over humanity.

Why then is this person able to be equated with the Messiah?

Because Yahweh would only make someone a king if the figure previously had been annointed with oil. That explains why Daniel uses the term "Messiah" for the one who ushers in atonement and righteousness but is "cut off" in Daniel 9. This figure points back to the Son of Man in Daniel 7 who before judgment day will assume his physical kingship over all mankind appearing on the clouds of heaven to come down to earth. The Son of Man is a king, and hence an annointed one by necessity: a Messiah. Hence, Daniel's 9's messiah who is "cut off" -- "but not for himelf" (he is guiltless) and who ushers in "atonement" -- fits perfectly the king-Son-of-Man of Daniel 7.  

Daniel in 600 BC thus prophesies in chapters seven through nine of a "Son of Man" figure who will come to "rule" over mankind in the future. Daniel calls him "Messiah" in 9:25. This Son of Man-Messiah in Daniel's depiction rules as a regent king for the Ancient of Days, an obvious reference to Yahweh. 

 

4.  Messiah Means A King -- One You Must Obey.

Why did David and  Daniel use the term "Messiah" for this future judge, regent, son of Man and Son of God? Because the term "Messiah" can be applied to any king of Israel once he was "annointed" with oil when taking office.

This explains why John makes plain a second time what beliefs about Jesus matter in John 20:31 NIV: 

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Thus, by believing Jesus is your Messiah / God's Regent, The Prophet of Deuteronomy, and the Son of God of Psalm 2, such convictions emphasize you accept their implication: you must follow and obey Jesus.

This means that no one else's words or thoughts are your mandatory guide. Jesus is your "sole teacher" and "sole pastor," as we quoted from Jesus' own explanation at the outset.

This is why John the Baptist says, in John's Gospel, that all who "disobey the son still have the wrath of God on them." (John 3:36.) (For correct translation of apeitho as disobey, see discussion of 3:36 at this link re: Book of Acts; and Christian Courier discussion at this link; correct translation in Titus 1:16 as disobedient at this link;  and full discussion in JWOS ch. 26 at this link.) 

God has given Jesus the exclusive authority over human-kind. Anyone flounting Jesus' commands is defying God's Annointed and their appointed-King.

 

4A. The Messiah-as-King Prophecy Assumes A Law Precedent.

Just like our President gets elected every four years, the coming of a King to Israel in 34 AD does not do away with the Law precedent. The prophecy of Messiah-King in Ezekial 37:24 fits this perfectly. When the Messianic figure -- called David in the passage -- comes, God brings a new covenant -- "I will make a covenant of peace," and they will have "one shepherd" (cf. John 10:16 "sole pastor") and as a result, they will "also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes and do them." Ezek. 37:24, 26.

FYI NOTE: Observant Jewish rabbis acknowledge this Ezekiel passage refers to Messiah where David-the-king to rule in the future is intended as a reference to a descendant of David as promised in the book of Samuel to do so. See Rabbi Skobac's Analysis at 9:23-12:16 of this YouTube link.) END OF NOTE.

In that passage of Ezekiel, the Messiah-King's role is to enforce the antecedent Law. The people's duty is thus to obey the King who is trying to execute that Law.

Thus, we need to ask the following question in light of confusion on this issue: is Jesus' relationship to the preceding Law like our relationship to the Law when we elect a president?

Or does Jesus' arrival by itself do away with all the Law as something only needed when one is a child? Are we now  free from the Law just like we are free from our schoolmaster when we grow up? (These are Paul's claims against the Law in Galatians 3 & 4.)

The answer is obvious. Jesus in His ministry upheld the Law given Moses, declaring twice it would continue "until the heaven and earth pass away." See Matthew 5:17-19.

In fact, Jesus twice said that salvation -- eternal life -- depended upon obeying the Commandments, quoting several of them from the Law -- Exodus and Leviticus -- as illustrations of the point. The first time is found in Matthew 19:26 and Luke 18:18-29 (same but adding that sacrifice in this life will result in eternal life).

The second time is found involving a scribe in Luke 10: 25-28.

Where is Jesus' finding this principle?

Jesus is paraphrasing what appears right after the first of the Ten Commandments: "[Yahweh says I] extend mercy to those who love me and obey my commandments." (Exodus 20:6.

Why did Jesus thus endorse the Law's continuity -- which included its principle of salvation-mercy? Why did Jesus reject the idea the Law was a temporary schoolmaster as Paul insists in Galatians 3:19, 23; 4:2,7-10? (Please note that Paul cites no one and nothing as proof.)

Because Yahweh in that same Law said twelve times these commands are "everlasting for all generations.

See Ex. 27:2130:21Lev. 6:187:3610:917:7

23:14214124:3Num. 10:8.

There is no point in the Law emphasized more than this point: it endures for all generations of humanity.

 

If Jesus contradicts this heavily emphasized point, Jesus cannot be any kind of prophet or Messiah, but would be guilty of apostasy. (Deut 13:1-5) viz. 13:5 (apostasy in YLT translation.) 

Jesus clearly quotes this passage in Matthew 7:21-23 when he denounces those who believe he is Lord, and even do miracles and signs and wonders in his name, and prophesy in His name, but work ANOMIA -- a Greek synonymn for "apostasy" against the Law in Deut 13:5. See link.

For this Deuteronomy passage likewise defines apostasy as one who comes with signs and wonders and even true prophecy but who also tries to seduce any of us from God's Commandments given at Sinai. This Deuteronomy passage is known as the Punishment of Apostates provision. It says such person must be publicly denounced as a "false prophet." The passage says God allows this because God is "testing" your love for Him. You must "not listen to" such an apostate.

Please note that this command to not "listen to" the apostate is the direct antithesis of the command in the nearby Deuteronomy provision about the Prophet to come to whom "you must listen." 

Second, the Messianic prophecy recognized by Jews in Ezekiel 37:24 specifically prophesies that a descendent of David -- and thereby David by agency -- shall be the eternal king of Israel one day; he shall be the "sole pastor" (cf. John 14:10) and he will cause the people "to keep all my statutes and to do them." See Ezekiel 37:21-28, viz. v. 24.

In that prophecy, the one demanding following those laws is the King. Because the King serves the creator of the Law, Jesus as the Davidic-heir King necessarily will command obedience to that Law to honor the one Above which He serves. At the same time, Jesus will act benificently and with kindness as our sole pastor -- a loving leader over the sheep assigned to His charge. He follows his own command to do "unto others what you would want done unto yourself." (Matt 7:12.) 

 

A. John's Meaning of "Believing" vs. Paul's Usage of Same Greek Word.

Based upon this, anyone can see that the usage by Apostle John of the verb typically rendered as "believing" is different than Paul's usage. John uses the same verb "pisteuo" with "eis" (unto) 34 times, meaning it is directed toward  -- unto -- Jesus. What importance does that have? 

Marvin Vincent was one of the most respected Protestant Greek-to-English lexographers of our era. He was also the first to shout loudly about the mistranslation rampant of John's Gospel, and the 34 times pisteuo + eis is rendered incorrectly as "believes in." This mistranslation starts with the very first usage in John 1:11-12. It should read:

For all that received Him, He gave them the RIGHT (exousian) to become sons of God -- to the ones OBEYING UNTO (pisteuosin eis) His name. 

This echoed John's hand in the exact parallel of Revelation 22:14: 

Happy [are] the ones doing His commandments, so that their right (exousia) will be to the tree of life, and they shall enter by the gates into the city. (Rev 22:14)(ALT)

This Revelation passage uses a synonym of pisteuo eis -- "doing his commandments."

Vincent explains in iron clad unmistakeable words what pisteuo eis really means in John 1:11-12 -- so it reflects the same point as Revelation 22:14.  Marvin Vincent explains regarding John 1:12: 

“‘believe on’ (pisteuosin eis) is more than mere acceptance of a statement. It is so to accept them practically....Hence, to believe on the Lord Jesus is not merely to believe the facts of His historic life or His saving energy as facts, but to accept Him as Savior, Teacher, Sympathizer, Judge; to rest the soul upon Him for present and future salvation; and to accept and adopt His precepts and example and binding upon the life.” (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (C. Scribner’s: 1905) Vol. 2 at 49-50.)

Marvin Vincent sees it is foreign to the Greek of John in 1:12 and repeated 33 more times in his Gospel versus Paul's view that you "shall be saved" if you "hold steadfastly in mind" that "Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead" set forth in 1 Cor. 15:1-5.

As Lexicons quoted below will likewise prove, when "pisteuo" -- a Greek verb -- is directed at a person, it means obedience conjoined with knowing who that person is, e.g., Jesus is the Messiah, etc.  Thus, Apostle John quotes Jesus' own words to have this meaning - pisteuo eis / obey unto - when speaking about our salvation / eternal life, e.g., John 3:16, "obey unto the (Son)."

 

(FOOTNOTE: This is detailed next, and is also thoroughly discussed in Jesus' Words on Salvation, chapter 26. See link. END FOOTNOTE.)

 

Apostle John never quotes Jesus talking about a faith in some facts about Jesus that do not relate to a characteristic that necessarily points towards obeying Jesus' words. John wants us to accept Jesus is "sole pastor" (John 10:16), the "Prophet," the "Messiah" and "Son of God." (John 6:14-15; 20:31). Thus, John uses Pisteuo to signify obedience to Jesus' words is the critical step. 

Thus, Jesus was translated under the inspiration of Apostle John to mean something wholly different than what Paul's usage of Pisteuo meant which bears on our salvation. 

For unlike John, Paul often uses "pisteuo" to say salvation turns on belief in facts about Jesus' death and resurrection. Thus, in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 Paul clearly says we must only "believe" -- "hold steadfastly in mind" - that Jesus "died for your sins and rose from the dead," and "you shall be saved." (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

This is not true for Apostle John who is relaying under true apostolic inspired recollection what Jesus meant by using the same verb for a different direction: enjoining on us an ethical moral obedience toward Jesus' words. Jesus was not pointing to an amoral belief in a mere fact about Himself that has no moral implication to obey him. 

Specifically, the famous lexographer Carl Grimm in his 1894 A Greek-English Lexicon at 511 (viewable page) states that "pisteuo" when used by John about Jesus -- such as in John 20:21 and the 34 times it is "pisteuo+ eis" in John's gospel -- meant two co-existing meanings: [1] you must have a trust that Jesus was Messiah and [2] this must be "conjoined with obedience to Christ."

Even the The NIV Theological Dictionary (2000) at 1027 echoes this, explaining "With reference to people, pisteuo means to obey." (Link with view of that page.)

Importantly, later at page 512 of Grimm's Lexicon, Grimm contrasts specifically how "Paul's conception" of pisteuo uses this verb to be "predominantly about grace" by laying one's faith in Jesus, "particularly in his death and resurrection" (citing passages in Paul similar to 1 Cor. 15:1-5) -- which Grimm then contrasts to how Jesus speaks about "pisteuo" in John's Gospel: 

"but in John's conception [i.e., truly Jesus' conception], it is the metaphysical relationship of Christ with God and close ethical intimacy with him, as well as the true life to be derived from Christ as its source. [Cites omitted.]" (For our Airtable link on Grimm, see this link

Hence, Jesus in Apostle John's Gospel is focused upon a faith that cannot lack ethical action -- works, as that is the very meaning of the believing-ethical action word as used by John.

Thus, we must notice Paul is not quoting Jesus when Paul talks about PISTEUO in a manner contrary to how Jesus uses the same Greek word. Rather, Apostle John alone quotes Jesus on the topic that uses the word PISTEUO. In John, Jesus over 30 times is rendered to be talking about the verb PISTEUO followed by the preposition EIS -- meaning "unto" -- the person of Jesus himself.  This means OBEYING UNTO Jesus (as king, Son of God, Messiah, etc.)

This usage points directly toward a contrary conception of pisteuo when Paul uses the same verb but in its theologically opposite sense: Paul focused on faith-in-facts-about-the-Death-and-Resurrection of Jesus. See 1 Cor. 15:1-4 ("hold steadfastly in mind that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead," and "you shall be saved....") This is one usage of the verb pisteuo.

However, Jesus uses it differently, as Grimm states, in John's Gospel. There Jesus expresses the second meaning of PISTEUO -- one that theologically excludes that salvation is derived in any way by merely believing in facts about Christ's death and resurrection.

Rather, as Grimm stated, Jesus' true usage is not to signify believing in facts about Jesus, but instead signifies obedience unto Jesus. It is the latter -- obedience, not the former -- believing -- that "may" give you eternal life. Paul's fact-beliefs usage of pisteuo has absolutely nothing that causes your salvation according to Jesus. Why? Because even the demons believe in the facts about Jesus' death and resurrection, but they are not saved because they don't obey the Christ.

B. Why Jesus Called Them Apostles, i.e. Messengers.

 

Thus, the words of Apostles John or Peter in their epistles may be wise, even unquestionably true or possibly brilliantly worded, yet Jesus is the test -- the WAY -- of life. No one else's words in the New Covenant are part of that New Covenant. You must follow Jesus' words. The words of no one else is necessary for life once Jesus -- The Prophet -- arrived.

This is why Jesus obviously named his aids "messengers" -- the meaning of the Greek word apostolos. This title was like calling his aids "post-men" -- persons who have no independent message from the one sending the message - their  Master. Only his message is treated as part of the New Covenant canon. This explains why Jesus said the "apostolos (messenger) is not more important than the one who sent him." (John 13:16.)

This explains why John the Baptist stopped prophesying once Jesus began preaching and teaching. The Baptist even explained that "I must decrease so he may increase." (John 3:30-31.) Jesus was to have no competitor for what is preserved as canon for His followers to follow.

Thus, John logically says his hope is that "by believing [these facts that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God] you may have life." John necessarily means that by obeying Jesus due to these acknowledgments, Apostle John's hope is you "may have life" -- a life produced not by "faith alone" in these facts, but by living by these truths. If Jesus is your king, your boss, you have no right to assume you have life without obeying Jesus' words.

 

5. Beliefs That "May" Save You Are Not What We Think.

Are the beliefs about Jesus as Messiah and Son of God which John underscores in his gospel "may" lead you to life the same as the beliefs about Jesus which we are told today to follow for salvation? No. The beliefs John focused upon are never insisted upon as key to salvation. Nor do our pastors today ever truly focus upon their meaning. 

Instead, Christianity today in large part has erroneously adopted a different gospel truth than what Apostle John taught --  a different truth which John never said "may" give us life. We are most often told instead that we "shall" have life (not "may" possibly have life) if we believe Jesus "died for our sins" and "rose from the dead." (1 Cor. 15:1-5.) 

This means we in large part have fallen from our steadfastness in Christ. We have been repititiously given absolute assurance, with no fear of failure, for "holding in mind" the facts of the Death and Resurrection Gospel of Paul. Thereby, we have lost the centrality of what truths about Jesus truly matter. We have become ignorant of what those truths signify about our relationship to Jesus. This is because our "pastors" never explain why those beliefs that Jesus is The Prophet, the Messiah, etc., are crucial so that we "may have life." We have instead been assured 100% of  salvation by "holding in mind" facts about Jesus which have nothing in fact to do with who He is, and what our connection to Him is supposed to be so that we "may have life."

 

Why do we acept as the saving gospel instead the mere "holding in mind" of the truths that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead? 

Obviously because Paul said it in 1 Cor. 15:1-5.

However, this means we are relying upon those "difficult" to comprehend words of Paul, as Peter explained Paul's words "sometimes" suffer from. But such beliefs in Christ's death and resurrection are frankly totally irrelevant beliefs to salvation. Even if "held in your mind" - to use Paul's own expression -- such firm beliefs cannot result in any way in your salvation. Demons know Jesus died for sin, and rose from the dead. (James 2:22-24.) But they don't obey Jesus as king, Messiah, the Prophet, or fear Him as Son of God.

While Jesus' death paying for sins made salvation available for sinners, it does not save sinners who simply believe in the facts of Jesus' death and resurrection. Rather, Jesus' death for sinners only applies to those sinners who repent and follow Him. And this goes for Christians too, Jesus taught three separate times. See Chapter Three of JWOS ("believer in me" falling into sin must repent, cut off body part causing sin or go to "hell whole.") That means, those who obey His teachings may go to heaven by doing so.

John had the right idea of what beliefs about Jesus make a difference on salvation: Jesus was The Prophet, our King, the Messiah, and The Son of God. God-Yahweh appointed Jesus to reign over us through whom God-Yahweh says He will rule over us.

In fact, almost all Christians today have no idea Peter's first sermon (see Acts 3:12-24) insists Jesus is "the Prophet" and quotes God saying He would hold us "accountable" to have listened / obeyed The Prophet or be "ruined," quoting Deuteronomy 18:15-19. As the NIV reads in Acts 3:22, Peter concludes of Jesus "you must listen to everything he tells you."

But we don't listen to Jesus anymore. We put Paul in a unique dispensation that displaces Jesus' teachings on the gospel on faith-and-works. However, the 12 apostles did not know of such a unique dispension that did away with Jesus' teachings.

So imagine you don't live in the modern bubble that treats this foreign faith-alone gospel as the gospel. Imagine prior to Paul's influence what would be the true canon of the true church of Jesus Christ? 

Would you listen to Paul? No.

Let's explore next why this would be so, and later we will study the history of the earliest church's position on whether Paul's epistles belonged in canon.

 

6. Paul's Epistles Lack Any Message from Jesus' Words

 

First, the early church knew Paul never walked with Jesus.

Second, when Jesus was asked to appoint a replacement for Judas, Jesus did not alert the twelve to wait for Paul. Instead, in Acts 1, the eleven apostles called upon Jesus to help make the choice by lots of a replacement for Judas. The choice of Christ fell upon Matthias. This is recorded in Acts chapter one.

Third, when Paul arrives on the scene many years later, and recounts meeting the previously Ascended Jesus on a road outside Damascus, the Jesus in each of the three accounts in Acts never says Paul will be an "apostolos." Not once. See link.

Fourth and most crucially, Paul never recounts unique words of Jesus to him by visions in his epistles with one terrible exception. See link.

How can one be a messenger (an apostle) of another when the sender never delivers to you a message in audible or expressed terms even if only in a vision?  

Moreover, Paul's one quote in his epistles uniquely from the Lord speaking to him -- "Lord" presumably meaning Jesus -- is  so repulsive that all Paul-friendly scholars who acknowledge its contents revulse at it. Paul must have expressed himself incorrectly, etc., and every evasive technique possible is applied to this passage. Paul claims  in 2 Cor. 12:7 et seq. that he prayed three times to the Lord to release him from control of an "angel of Satan" (Philip's translation) but the Lord refused to do so, claiming that the grace he showed Paul thus far was enough. 

(Incidentally, "angelos" in this verse is typically mistranslated as "messenger" to downplay its impact on the reader. But it is clear that the Greek is "angelos satanas" at the Greek tab at Biblehub.com. The concordance  on that page shows that of the 48 occurrence in the NT, only once is it translated as "messenger" -- here in 2 Cor. 12:7.) 

As Dickason says, rather than this verse being inspiration for any of us from Jesus, instead it can be read so that Paul’s “mission [is cast] under suspicion.” (C. Fred Dickason, Demon Possession and the Christian (Crossway, 1989) at 120.)

It is such a notorious verse that could never apply to true Christians, other Christian scholars lament that “12:7 is notoriously difficult, prompting Barrett to write ‘it can hardly be in the form Paul intended it....’” (David L. Barr, The Reality of the Apocalypse (Society of Biblical Lit, 2006) at 105.)

Can any of us believe Jesus supposedly refused to cast out a demon's influence over Paul? Read the context of 2 Cor. 12:7 to examine this yourself. As you read, consider as we have shown that Paul-friendly scholars revulse at this passage. They insist we should believe Paul's words were poorly expressed. We should just supposedly ignore this.

But the early church did not live in our modern bubble. They knew what Messiah, The Prophet and Son of God truly meant. They would never have included Paul's epistles in a New Covenant canon for there is nothing from Jesus in them ever quoted. Or if 2 Cor. 12:7's reference to "Lord" meant Jesus, Paul's epistles still have no quote of Jesus which is consistent with the Jesus presented in the Gospels. The true Jesus always cast out demonic control when asked. Why would the true Jesus in 2 Cor. 12:7 leave Paul afflicted by an "angel of Satan"?

Thus, any evaluation whether Paul's epistles should be included because they had any quotations from Jesus --would lead to a conclusion that they did not belong. The lone possible quote in an epistle -- 2 Cor. 12:7 -- of some mysterious "Lord" could not possibly be the true Lord Jesus talking to Paul.

 

6. Early Church Excludes Paul.

A. James on Paul.

 

In fact, James specifically wrote an epistle to address the validity of Paul's gospel. James wisely and correctly rebutted any idea that faith-beliefs will save you without a response of obedience.  James says the demons believe in God and yet are not saved. The difference? Obviously demons don't obey God. Thus, Christians can believe the truth that Jesus died for sins and He rose from the dead, but the belief in those facts alone cannot save you any more than it saves a demon who knows these facts are true as well but who disobeys God. Instead,  as James says after exhorting works, "faith alone" in facts about Jesus without works cannot "save." (James 2:22.) 

Many pretend today that they don't see any contradiction between James and Paul, and hence they don't see there is any adversariness by James towards Paul.

However, Luther had it right. Paul and James are at complete loggerh-heads. Luther said you can see this by looking not just at the verse "faith alone does not justify" in James 2:24, but also by comparing James 2:24 to James 2:21 which likewise contradicted Paul's view that Abraham was supposedly justified by faith alone. As Luther correctly wrote: 

Many sweat hard at reconciling James with Paul, but unsuccessfully. ‘Faith justifies [Romans 3:28] stands in flat contradiction of ‘faith that does not justify’ [James 2:24.] If anyone can harmonize these sayings, I’ll put my doctor’s cap on him and let him call me a fool....Flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture, it [James] ascribes righteousness to works, and says Abraham was justified by his works, in that he offered his son Isaac [James 2:21], though St. Paul, on the contrary teaches in Romans 4 [vv. 2-3], that Abraham was justified without works, by faith alone, before he offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15 [v.6]. [Quoted in Jason Von Vliet, Living Waters from Ancient Springs: Essays in Honor of Cornelis Van Dam (Wipf & Stock Publishers 2011) at 103.]

Incidentally, Paul's error in Romans 4:2-3 was to rely upon the ambiguous part of the mistranslation of Genesis 15:6 by the Septuagint Greek translation from 257 BC. See Jesus' Words on Salvation, ch. 26, part 7 at this link. As explained at that link, in the original Hebrew, it merely says that Abraham regarded God's promise of a son in old age as justness / righteousness toward Abraham. It had nothing to do with salvific justification by faith, let alone by faith alone. 

Thus, those who attempt to deflect James' criticisms from Paul are unavailing. For even Luther recognized the importance of not isolating James 2:24 from 2:21. The latter verse makes James' point in 2:24 unmistakeably a criticism of Paul's doctrine of faith alone. James stood for the primacy of Jesus' teachings -- such as a believer "in me" can only go to "heaven maimed" (by stern repentance from sin) -- or not at all. (Mark 9:42-47.) Faith alone is dead on arrival if you just read that one of many other similar lessons on salvation from Jesus.

B. The Systemic Effort by Four Leaders to Combat Paul's Doctrines.

James was not alone among the earliest church leaders in writing such a work to dispel Paul's errors. James was joined first by Jude. Who was Jude? He was another brother of Jesus, just as James was, and he took James' office as Bishop of Jerusalem upon the death of James.

Then Peter joined James and Jude in their efforts to combat Christians falling from their knowledge of Jesus' words, and remaining steadfastness in them, drawn away by Paul's sometimes DYSNOETAS.  (More on what the means later.) 

Finally, John joined all three in the Book of Revelation and in his epistles to combat Paul's influence that many "ignorant and unstable" (as Peter put it) let undermine their "steadfastness" in Christ (as Peter also put it). You just have to peak under the covers to see what is in plain sight.

As explained by Augustine in 413 AD in Faith and Works,  Second Peter was part of a systematic effort of the early church to correct Paul's doctrine on faith alone as understood by many in the church. Augustine said the "Apostolic Epistles of [Second] Peter, John, James and Jude direct their aim chiefly against it" [i.e., faith alone doctrine from Paul's "difficult to understand" words] so as to maintain with vehemance that faith without works profits not."  (Augustine, Faith and Works (republished 1847) at 57.)

C. Jude's Blistering Epistle Aimed At Paul.

 

Let's continue to understand one-by-one the efforts by these four. After James, Augustine says there was Jude, Peter and John who tried to keep Paul's on-the-surface lawless principles away from Christians.

Starting with Jude, we need to know he is another brother of Jesus. He is also the second Bishop of Jerusalem. He wrote a single chapter epistle. It is bluntly referencing an "ungodly person" who has perverted God's "grace" to open a door for "licentiousness." Who could this be about? 

Jude provides context that clarifies: this one is a "wolf in sheep's" clothing who penetrated Christianity with a lawless doctrine that twists God's "grace" into "licentiousness," and who shares the lessons of Balaam. The latter aspect clearly refers to Paul because Paul taught Balaam's doctrine which Jesus references and then condemned, as discussed below, in Rev. 2:14 --- that it was inherently ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols although not expedient when around a brother who thinks it wrong. See 1 Cor. 10:28-29 and 1 Cor. 8:4-12

Thus, without any doubt, Jude is pointing right at Paul. Accordingly, George Reber, a Paul defender, in The Christ of Paul (1876) defensively said: "The Epistle of Jude is nothing but a bolt hurled at the head of Paul." (Link.) If you want to see how Jude's proofs apply to exclude Paul and his principles from canon, see this link.

D. Second Peter On Falling Prey to Dysnoetas in Paul's Writings.

Second Peter underscores our duty not to rely upon anyone else's confusing words which can lead us to pervert the truth taught by Jesus due to our ignorance of Jesus' teachings, and thereby fall from our steadfastness in Christ. Speaking of Paul -- but this is true for any competing voice:  

15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood [Greek, dysnoetas], which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked [i.e., the lawless] fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Peter 3:15-17 KJV.)

Peter in the next verse gives us the antidote to Paul's words that suffer from DYSNOETAS -- literally in Greek meaning "destroying good sense" -- by exhorting us to "grow in the...knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."(2 Peter 3:18 KJV. See also this link for discussion of meaning of DYS-NOETAS.)

Peter thus exhorts us not to lose our "stedfastness" in Christ, that caused the "ignorant" to fall into "lawlessness" by how they read Paul's DYSNOETAS to support that lawless path. How do we not lose our steadfastness in Christ? By a simple antidote: Peter says "grow in the...knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

The "knowledge" about Jesus at odds with DYSNOETAS is obviously the true sensible "facts" about Jesus which leads one to a law-abiding path. This means knowing Jesus' teachings, and knowing why Jesus is the only one we must obey in New Covenant canon. Jesus points us back to the Father's commands repeatedly, e.g., Matt 5:17-19; Matt 19. Thus our canon does not exclude the canon that came before. Jesus' principles in these passages are at total odds with many passages in Paul's epistles.

What did John say was the "knowledge" about Jesus which mattered? Apostle John said the beliefs to adopt are that Jesus is the Christ aka Messiah, the Son of God (judge over mankind) and the Prophet.

What did Yahweh-Father say from Heaven about Jesus? "Listen to him," thereby confirming Jesus was The Prophet whom God in Deut 18 said all humans will be "accountable" to obey.  This knowledge about Jesus, not belief in facts of a death and resurrection, are what keeps us steadfast in Christ, obeying him. These beliefs about Jesus give us 100% confidence to obey 100% of what Jesus teaches. By obeying Jesus, we exit the path of lawlessness.

  

E. Apostle John - Fourth Leader Augustine Cited - Crushes Paul in the Book of Revelation.

I wrote a book which exposed that Jesus in John's Revelation and Apostle John in his epistles both destroy Paul. This book  is entitled Jesus' Words Only. It is available online for free on our main page. See this link for Chapter One.

For simplicity sake here, I will simply quote leading Christian scholars who love Christ, and respect Paul, but how they see Revelation's target is Paul, just as I do. 

 

The Christian professor Ezra Palmer Gould in a book entitled The Biblical Theology of the New Testament (MacMillan 1900) unhappily admits: 

The Apocalypse [i.e., Revelation written by Apostle John] ... represents an unqualified opposition to Paul....The Apocalypse [is] anti-Pauline." [Page 125.] "[Revelation is] a writing distinctly anti-Pauline. [Page 131.] 

 

This acknowledgement derived from multiple admissions by Paul defenders setting forth indisputable proofs that John's Jesus calls Paul a false apostle in Revelation chapter two. The latest prior to Gould was Ernest Renan. An independent scholar writing in the mid-1800s. 

Ernest Renan, a Christian scholar and defender of Paul, in St. Paul (G.W. Carleton 1869) at 220 explains why Revelation is anti-Pauline -- which he ascribes to irrational hatred by Apostle John: 

The second and third chapters of the Apocalypse [i.e., Revelation written in 68 AD] are a cry of hatred against Paul and his friends. ...This church of Ephesus... is praised for having tried those who say they are apostles and are not, for having found them liars. [Cf. first, Acts 19 depicts an Ephesian synagogue that was adopting Paul's preaching over several months about Jesus but then suddenly expels him; and second, Renan recognizes Paul's claim to being an apostle of Jesus is a self-serving one, lacking any corroboration] .... "But I have a few things against you," the divine voice says to Pergamos, "because thou has there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam ... to eat things sacrificed to idols."

 

Renan recognizes that Jesus in Revelation ch. 2 criticizes an uncorroborated claim that one is an apostle. This points right at Paul because he is the only source to prove Paul is an apostle on par with the twelve. Neither Paul nor Luke ever quote Jesus making Paul an apostle. Luke recounts Paul's story that a light and voice said "I am Jesus" on a road, but nowhere is there any appointment of Paul by Jesus as an apostle. Rather, in Acts chapter one, the 12th and final apostle to replace Judas was chosen by the 11 praying Jesus would make the choice, which was done via lots -- a Biblical method for doing so. 

What else does Jesus in Revelation say about a false teacher at Ephesus that points at Paul? Jesus alludes clearly to the fact Paul multiple times says there is nothing wrong inherently in eating meat sacrificed to idols (link). Thus the target of Apostle John (quoting Jesus) about a false teacher at Ephesus saying it is ok to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols is obvious. In fact, Jesus' comments to the church at Thyatira in Revelation even quotes Paul from 1 Corinthians 2:10, Jesus directly disparaging Paul's "deeper" thoughts to justify eating meat sacrificed to idols. See "Revelation & Paul."

As a Paul defender, Renan attributed the anti-Paul aspect of John's Revelation to hate by apostle John -- an old smear tactic by defenders of Paul who cannot grapple with the theological issues raised by true Christians or even by Christ himself.   

Now let's see how these four efforts tie perfectly into what history records about the following topics:

 

1. How to treat even reading Paul's writings;

 

2. Whether to focus upon only one authoritative gospel: the one written by Matthew in Hebrew kept at a library in Caesarea; and

 

3. How to use Luke's Gospel as a Greek translation of that same Hebrew gospel which was accepted as such by the early Church.  

 

E. The Jerusalem Apostles Exclude Paul from Canon. 

 

i) The Early Church Are Known As Ebionites 

The earliest Christians at Jerusalem and wherever it spread were commonly called Ebionites, meaning "the Poor." In G. Uhlhorn, "Ebionites," A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology (3rd ed.) (edited by Philip Schaff) Vol. II at pages 684–685 [see PDF at this link], we read: 

Ebionites. This designation was at first like 'Nazarenes,' a common name for all Christians, as Epiphanius (d. 403) testifies (Adv. Har. ix.1) It is derived from the Hebrew Ebion, "poor," and was not given, as Origen supposes, for their low view of Christ." Id. at 684. 

How close to the orthodox center of Christianity were they? 

Paul once says the Jerusalem apostles under James asked Paul to remember the "poor" at Jerusalem. (Gal. 2:10.) If you translated Paul's word "poor" back into Hebrew that the apostles spoke, the word is EBION. Paul apparently meant the Christians at Jerusalem were the EBION -- meaning the name by which they went. Paul said he did intend to remember the EBION at Jerusalem by gifts. 

Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate in the last 300s, concurs that the apostles' instruction to Paul to remember The Poor in Galatians 2:10 did not mean to remember the economically poor. Jerome said it obviously meant the Jerusalem church that operated under that name:

"Jerome's more historically correct reading for whom the 'poor' here [is meant to refer to] are the Jewish believers of Acts 2:44-5...." (Stephen Cooper, Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians (Oxford: 2005) at 277.)

 

ii. The Ebionites Exclude Paul's Writings from Canon 

 

 Eusebius, bishop and early church historian, wrote in 325 AD  in his famous Ecclesiastical History 3.27 about the Ebionites: 

"These men [i.e., the Ebionites], moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle [Paul], whom they called an apostate from the law; and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews [by Apostle Matthew] and made small account of the rest."

Likewise, in 180 AD, Irenaeus -- Bishop of Gaul / France -- said about the Ebionites: 

Those who are called Ebionites .... use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law.  (Against Heresies 1.26.) 

These two quotes tell us a lot.

First, there was a canon - solely the Gospel of Matthew "According to the Hebrews" -- meaning written by Matthew in Hebrew. Indeed, this was the first work quoted outside the Christian community of our gospel -- by a Hebrew source, and traces only to Matthew. For the Jewish educator Gamaliel by around 72 AD, as recorded by the Jewish Talmud, quoted  Jesus's words in Matthew 5:16 to a Christian judge so the judge would follow the Torah-Law to divide an estate. See First Publication of the Gospel to the Hebrews by Matthew.

 

This same Gospel was the Gospel that Jerome -- the Vulgate translator from Greek to Latin in the late 300s -- said was necessary to use to repair discrepancies in the Greek Matthew. He specifically referred to the Hebrew original which he had reviewed in Caesarea as the"fountain  head" from which the Greek Matthew derived by translation. Jerome was led to the Hebrew Matthew at the Library in Caesarea in Israel by the non-Roman Catholic church operating in that region. Jerome is the source of 22 of the 48 early church quotes from the Hebrew Matthew which he references in his Commentary on Matthew. His commentary is where Jerome recorded his discoveries of discrepancies between the Hebrew Matthew and the Greek Mattew, to explain the true meaning of the text. (See James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Eerdman's 2006) at 286.)

 

However, the Ebionites also used Luke's Gospel as a secondary authority as a valid Greek translation of the Hebrew Matthew.

How do we know this?

First, James Edward shows that the Gospel of Luke is primarily a Greek translation of the Hebrew Matthew. His proof was to assemble the 48 quotes of the Hebrew Matthew by the early church commentators. Then he compared these 48 quotes to the  synoptic gospels. Among all of them, Luke had far more unique matches to these 48 quotes over either the Greek Matthew or the Greek Mark. See James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2009) at xxi (Luke has high degree of repititions from original Hebrew Gospel); xxi (48 quotes from Hebrew Gospel of Matthew in early church literature)(stronger correlation with Luke than any other gospel); xxx (La Garge in 1892 said Hebrew Gospel was the original, and can be associated with parts of Luke); xxxii (Lessing said in 1778 that Hebrew Gospel was the genuine first gospel); 126 (Luke has abormally high number of sentences repeating Hebrew Gospel); 333 (Luke 6:5 is from Hebrew Gospel preserved in Beza D manuscript).

As Edwards succinctly explains:

 

Moreover, the remnant tradition is agreed that the Hebrew Gospel, which was widely attested and honored in early Christianity, shows distinct similarities with Luke and provides a plausible explanation for Lukan Semitisms. (Edwards, id., at xxxiii.)

 

And this matches perfectly with Irenaeus' statement in 180 AD that the Ebionites "make use" of the Greek Gospel of Luke in addition to relying primarily upon the Hebrew Matthew. (Irenaeus 3.15.1.) Edwards' proofs show why -- Luke was the closest text to the original Hebrew Matthew initially in existence in the common language of Greek.

It also turns out that the Greek Matthew has a direct lineage to a Hebrew original as well, and thus is a valid second source of the Hebrew Matthew. We know this due to Professor George Howard, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (Macon Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1995). The Jews preserved from an early period a copy of the Hebrew Matthew known in the 1500s as the Shem-Tob. Prior to Professor Howard, it was thought to be a translation made from the Vulgate of the 400s. However, Professor Howard demonstrates its "independence from the Vulgate." (Id., at 233.) In fact, it was independent of the Greek Matthew of the Byzantine (eastern) church as well. (Id. at 234.)

Instead, Professor Howard explains that the Hebrew Matthew "Shem Tob" -- while overlaid with later rabinnic vocabulary -- traces quite often to texts that were "lost in antiquity" - and only discovered AFTER the Shem Tob was written. The Shem Tob  reflects language in the Q, Codex Sinaiticus (found in the 1890s), the Old Syriac and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. Most crucially, Professor Howard says the original text was "Biblical Hebrew," not Greek, as one can see that the Greek tMatthew's text lacks the underlying Hebrew puns, word connections and alliteration that "belong to the structure of the Hebrew" which the Greek translation -- although literal -- does not capture. (Id. at 234.)

 

Thus, other than secondary sources such as Luke's Gospel and obviously the Greek Matthew, the Ebionites made canon be the Hebrew Matthew. Thus, anything beyond that, Irenaeus clearly says the Ebionites gave "small acount." 

Irenaeus then adds that as to Paul's epistles, they were entirely rejected as the work of an "apostate."

What does that mean? We discuss that next.

 

iii. When Did the Ebionite Investigation Begin on Paul's Apostasy? 

 

In Acts 21:21, Paul is asked a question by James. This bishop of Jerusalem tells Paul that he has heard that Paul is "guilty of apostasia." That is the Greek word. However, it is never translated in its proper transliterated form in English -- the word apostasy except in Young's Literal Translation(Acts 21:21 YLT.)

 The related word apostate means one is suspected of being guilty of violating Deut 13:1-5 - known as the PUNISHMENT OF APOSTATES passage. Please note again that Young's Literal is virtually alone among Protestant Bibles that properly translates Deut 13:5 using the term "apostasy." (Deut 13:5 YLT.)

What does this mean? In this passage, Yahweh demands we ignore anyone who has true prophecy, and miraculous signs and wonders if they also try to "seduce" you from following the "Law" given at Sinai, e.g., the Ten Commandments and the commands Moses received at the mountain. They are labelled apostates -- those who turn you away from the true Yahweh into a false version of God.

Jesus too condemns apostasy by claimants to being prophets. Jesus quotes almost verbatim the key elements of the apostasy principle in Deuteronomey. Jesus does so with evident awareness that the Septuagint Greek of Deut 13 uses interchangeably the word ANOMIA (anti-Law) with APOSTASIA (defection) to translate the same Hebrew terminology. See Theo A.W. van der Louw, Transformations in the Septuagint (Peeters Publishers 2007) at 173-174.

Jesus in Matthew 7:15, 21-23 clearly quotes from Deuteronomy using ANOMIA to mean apostasy, as does the Septuagint translation from 247 BC of Deuteronomy. Jesus also conjoins ANOMIA with the same elements of apostasy in Deuteronomy of a self-styled prophet - [1] "signs and wonders" and [2] prophecy that comes to pass.

Jesus also makes the link clear by referring to a "wolf in sheep's clothing" -- a pseudo-Christian. Then Jesus condemns in one snap Paul's teaching in Romans 8:9-10 that one is saved merely by calling on Jesus as Lord and believing in his resurrection. Here is the key passage from Jesus that explains why the Ebionites relied upon this apostasy principle to exclude Paul as a false prophet: 

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 

(Matt 7:15, 212-23 KJV.)

Thus, Jesus skewered as a false prophet one who enters the flock claiming to be a sheep, but instead is a ravening wolf. And this person will call Jesus "Lord Lord" but disobeys / contradicts Jesus. Finally, this figure will do signs and wonders in Jesus' name (i.e., do miracles using Jesus' name). This will include prophecy and casting out demons. However, Jesus says on judgment day he will tell this one, "I never knew you," you "worker of ANOMIA"  -- apostasy. (This is poorly translated as "lawlessness" by the KJV and most English Bibles.)

Jesus' words in Matthew 7, however, track very closely Deuteronomy 12:32-13:5 - the passage known as Punishment for Apostates. Here now is it in full, and compare this passage to what Jesus says:

Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it. If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, `Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. (ASV.) 2

Thus, if some would-be prophet seeks to "seduce" us "from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk," you must reject him. His god cannot be the true God. His god must be an idol even if he calls on Yahweh or Jesus. This is true even if he comes with signs and wonders. God tells us to ignore such a prophet's words or otherwise we are joining his rebellion.

Isaiah instructs us to apply a similar content-oriented test to determine a true prophet.

[Compare teachers] [t]o the Law and the Testimony [and], if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them. ( Isaiah 8:20).

Norman Geisler, a conservative Christian scholar and President of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, concurs on the essential meaning of this passage of Deuteronomy. He agrees that if Paul seduces us from following what God already commanded in previous Scripture, he must be rejected:

[A]ny teaching about God contrary to what the people already knew to be true was to be rejected....If the teaching of the apostle [Paul] did not accord with the teaching of the Old Testament, it could not be of God. (Norman Geisler, "The Canonicity of the Bible, Part One," Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Baker Book House: 1999).)[reprint at 5, hosted at Ankerberg.com]

Thus, if any New Covenant figure tries to seduce us from the way in which God commanded us to walk in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Bible brands him a false prophet. Geisler, a conservative defender of Scripture, agrees that Paul must be measured by whether his words accord with what God commanded in the original Hebrew Scripture.

As noted above, Jesus says so likewise in Matthew 7:15-23. 

Finally, of special note, is the response of the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia (1912) vol. 2 at 13 when they put these facts together. You can hear the shock when they found this in the pages of the Christian Bible. In their article entitled Apostasy, we read:

It is a remarkable fact in the history of Christianity that according to Acts 21:21 Paul was accused before the council of James of apostasy from the Law of Moses; for which reason the early Christians -- the Ebionites "repudiated the Apostle Paul, maintaining he was an apostate from the Law" (Ireneaus, Against Heresies i 36).

  

This truth that the earliest apostolic church rejected Paul is kept from us. Our translators change James' question to Paul about "apostasia" in Acts 21:21 into whether Paul "forsakes" traditions.

Why not use the obvious English cognate term -- "apostasy" rather than the word "forsake"?  

See Acts 21:21 KJV ("forsake") See Acts 21:21 Bible Hub - Greek Tab - word is apostasian which Bible Hub says is defined in English by Strong's as "apostasy."

 

The fact remains that mainstream translators of today use  deliberate filters so we cannot see the truth. They do not want you to ever spot the true Biblical problem about Paul: whether his words match the well-defined legal term of apostasy in the Bible.

Nor do our mainstream translators want any of us to make the shocking discovery that the Encyclopedia of Judaism spotted. Our earliest church in the book of Acts was concerned whether Paul was an "apostate" (Acts 21:21). This matches the historical statements by Eusebius / Irenaeus that the Ebionites --  the name of the earliest Christian church -- had the identical concern about Paul: apostasy. And for this reason, the Ebionites excluded Paul's writings from even being read. This is what only a Jewish Encyclopedia dare talk about while our Christian mainstream encyclopedias ignore and repress this history.

The Book of Acts proves how Paul delayed this discovery. In Acts 21, James tests Paul, asking Paul to disprove this charge of apostasy to all by Paul performing the public acts of keeping for a few weeks the Mosaic Law from the book of Numbers chapter six. This is a voluntary Nazarite vow. Paul submitted never refusing on the basis that the Law has no place any longer in the life of a follower of Jesus or Yahweh. James was satisfied therefore for the time being. James was unaware that Paul had a principle that allowed him to act hypocritically to obey the Law when he says elsewhere he is "no longer under the Law." 

For Paul taught us the example to accommodate Gentiles when around Gentiles and to act like a Jew around Jews, i.e., Law obedient. 

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to 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 KJV  

"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 KJV 

Anyone reading Acts and knowing Paul's epistles can readily see Paul was playing James and Luke, making Luke think mentioning this obedient act to a vow to follow the Law was a good thing to share. But in terms of Paul's honesty of action versus his epistolic teachings, Acts 21 destroys trust in Paul's honesty for those who make obvious comparisons.

 

iv. The Jerusalem Apostles Likewise Oppose Paul's Message

Paul's writings identify his opponents, but it is clear that they are not sinful evil persons. Rather, Paul claims that they are "apostles" or "super apostles" who teach more than faith saves and hence are "false apostles" (2 Cor. 11:12-13). Paul says these same opponents preach a "different Jesus" than Paul does (2 Cor. 11:4, NIV). Elsewhere, these same opponents, Paul implies, deny he is an apostle but instead claim he is an "imposter" (2 Cor. 6:3-6 NIV). Further, Paul admits the 12 are not agreeing Paul is an apostle, saying he was not "appointed an apostle" by any man, and rather in 1 Corinthians 9:1-2, Paul acknowledges that he is rejected as any kind of apostle by others. Paul contrasts this rejection with his little Gentile congregation who accepts him as a true apostle. This implies awareness that the 12 reject himself as an apostle. This passage reads: 

Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? Even if I were not an Apostle to others, I should still be an Apostle to you, who are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my answer to those who would examine me. [Eisenman's translation.] 

 

Paul clearly thereby says his answer to those who would examine whether he is a true apostle -- not an imposter - is solely this congregation's support for him as an apostle. Thus, Paul concedes it cannot be proven by any support of the 12 apostles.

 

Most importantly, these opponents of Paul also refuse to give him "letters of commendation," as we next will review. This issue clearly points to the 12 apostles as Paul's opponents on the issue of his apostleship. 

Specifically, Paul obviously is resenting a lack of approval from the 12 apostles. There is no murkiness from whom commendation would be necessary to be accepted in the churches: the twelve apostles. This is likely what spurs Paul to attack them as "false" for undermining his faith-alone gospel. This spurs his resentment at being called an "imposter."

Thus, the upcoming review of the commendation issue is central to unravel to whom Paul was aiming his "super apostles," "false apostles" charge against those who preach a "different Jesus" and gospel than Paul taught. The commendation issue is the thread which emerges to clearly point at the actual 12 apostles at all times as the opponents of Paul as apostle and evangelist reflected in Paul's letters.

Incidentally, when one reads Luke's Acts as a legal brief to get Paul and Christianity off the hook at an upcoming trial of Paul before Caesar Nero at Rome, one will realize why Luke does not mention this religious disagreement between the leadership and Paul. Unity was key to keeping Rome from outlawing Christianity as a rebel faction that might aim to undermine Roman law. We will discuss the limited purpose of the Book of Acts which is ignored for the same reason the Ebionite story is ignored, as we will demonstrate in Part II of JWO Movements in History. 

 

       a. The Letters of Commendation Issue 

Luther and many pro-Paul scholars admit Paul's Epistle to the Galatians reflects (1) Paul's putting down the leading apostles, intending us to understand they are "false apostles" who teach "another Jesus" than Paul (see Paul Knew the 12 Taught Another Jesus); and (2) the 12 apostles had refused to give him a commendation in writing as Paul had hoped.

As to proof of #2, see Jason File, Letters of Recommendation in Early Church (2006) at pages 70-72 of PDF (refuting contrary views.)

Also as proof of #2, see Eisenman on Paul (detailing proofs that Paul did not receive apostolic letters of recommendation, based upon 2 Cor. 10:9-18; 2 and 1 Cor. 9:1-2 when read together with 2 Cor. 11:13-15 and 2 Cor. 3:1.)

Paul thus himself impliedly admits the 12 rejected supporting Paul's authority in the true church which Paul hoped to receive by a written commendation. Paul had a corresponding disdain, implying the 12 were false apostles.

This conflict boiled over in Paul writing that he did not need anyone else's commendation for he "commends" himself "in every way," by "great endurance,...hard work," and "through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report, genuine, yet regarded as impostors." (2 Cor. 6:3-6 NIV.)

Hence, the refusal by the 12 to commend Paul was evidently because they regarded Paul as an impostor apostle.

 

b. The Reflection in Paul's Writings of 12's Antagonism with Paul.  

The reflection of the 12 Apostles attitude to Paul is seen in the way Paul writes about the twelve. Numerous times, Paul speaks disparagingly about the 12 apostles, in particular about Peter. As J.K. Elliot explains in Essays and Studies in New Testament Textual Criticism (Bloomsbury Publishing 2015) at 132:

[Paul speaks] of the pillars of the Jerusalem church [in Galatians ch. 2]. Paul is against them -- see especially Gal. 2:11. Paul speaks against them with ill-concealed sarcasm in the repetitve words "reputed to be something," and "those of repute" (Gal. 2:2,6,9). Several commentators on I Corinthians argue that the Kephas [i.e., Peter] party (1 Cor. 1:12 [Cephas]; 3:22) are the judaising party in Corinth -- Paul disapproves of this faction. Similarly at 1 Cor. 9:5, Paul speaks disparagingly of Kephas [i.e., Peter] and the brothers of Jesus, i.e., the Jerusalem pillars....The rivalry between Paul and Peter is most strongly apparent in these chapters of Galatians and 1 Corinthians...."

Based upon Paul's put downs of the 12 apostles in Galatians 2, discussed in detail below with Luther's obvious concurrence, it is fair to infer that in 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul is aware that the 12 preach another Jesus than Paul teaches. Rather than believe the Jesus Paul met was an imposter, Paul was implying the twelve were following an imposter. It is self-evident Paul assumed the 12 were following the wrong Jesus because Paul boasts that he did not desire to learn about anything which their Jesus taught them.

Similarly, Paul speaks elsewhere of the "false apostles" (2 Cor. 11:12-13) who teach more than faith-in-facts about Jesus saves. Paul in Galatians says the apostles "imparted nothing" to him, referencing Peter, James, John, etc., for the same reason as Paul used to criticize the  "false apostles" in 2 Cor. 11 for preaching a conditional gospel. In the same sentence in Galatians, Paul snidely puts down Peter, John and James as "reputed" pillars. (Gal. 2:2,6,9.)

The apostles' doctrine obviously required more than just faith alone in facts about Jesus. In Galatians 3:1-9, Paul was adamant that one who has faith-in-saving-facts about Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-5) errs when they seek to add to such faith any obedience to "works of the law" as well. Paul insists they must rely entirely on "faith" in facts about Jesus for salvation. Therefore, because Matthew's Gospel clearly matches that so-called 'false gospel' per Galatians, there is little doubt Paul thought the true 12 were the "false apostles," and that they preached an "imposter" Jesus rather than Paul ever suspecting he, Paul, is the one who met the imposter Jesus on the Road to Damascus.

See 2 Cor. 10:9-18; 2 and 1 Cor. 9:1-2 when read together with 2 Cor. 11:13-15 and 2 Cor. 3:1.

 

c. Professor Dunn Cites Ebionite Clementine Homolies In Accord.

 

Astonishingly, there is a serious work of the Ebionites that Dettering says traces to the earliest church. It is known as the Clementine Homolies. It gives serious-minded accounts of Peter making criticism of Paul. For example, Homily 17 questions the appearance of Jesus on the Damascus Road account:

"And how did he [Messiah] appear to you when you entertain opinions contrary to his teachings? But if you were seen and taught by him, and became his apostle for a single hour, proclaim his utterances, interpret his sayings, and love his apostles."

You can hear in this the resonating truth of JWO: Jesus' Words Alone were to be the message of an apostle. At most an apostle can give an interpretation of them. The apostle was not free to reject them, change them, or subvert them.

 

Please also note that this attribution to Peter is a sensible one even if you wish to reject the Clementine Homolies for some reason. Even Pauline scholars use the obvious numerous contradictions by Paul of Jesus to justify their claim that we live in a Pauline Dispensation. The predominant view today since Bultman is that we can ignore the teachings of Jesus while in the flesh, and hence the relevance of all these contradictions disappear in one stroke. Instead, we must follow the "revelations" given to Paul from the "Lord" even though Paul never quotes them and even says it is "unlawful" for him to repeat any of the "Lord" revelations given in an out-of-body experience he had in the third-heaven. See Dispensationalism - Bultman on Paul.

For more inforamtion, we detail a minimum of 24 clear cut contradictions between Jesus and Paul at this page: Contradictions of Jesus by Paul.

 

Peter in the Clementines also has interchanges with Paul saying how dare Paul criticize Peter - yet Peter says Paul has never taken time to listen to the master's words that Peter could relate from Jesus. Peter asks Paul to take time to listen rather than condemn Peter, as Paul admits having done to Peter over his refusal to eat the food offered by Gentiles (which Peter in the Clementines explains was meat sacrificed to idols):

But if you say that I am condemned, you bring an accusation against God, who revealed the Christ to me, and you inveigh against Him who pronounced me blessed on account of the revelation. But if, indeed, you really wish to work in the cause of truth, learn first of all from us what we have learned from Him, and, becoming a disciple of the truth, become a fellow-worker with us. (Clementine Homilies 17,19.) 22 

 

Again, we hear the JWO refrain: "learn first of all from us what we have learned from Him...."

 

Professor Dunn alludes to and cites these passages, and says they reflect the earliest Jerusalem Church's view. Yet, Professor Dunn does not mention that this aligns perfectly with the earliest canon as Metzger describes the early church's first approach. Here is Professor Dunn on the issue:

 

“The most direct heirs of the Jewish-Christian group­ings within earliest Christianity [i.e., the early Jerusalem church] regarded Paul as the great apostate, an arch enemy,” citing Epistula Petri 2.3; Clem. Hom. 17:18-19. (James D. G. Dunn, The Cambridge Compansion to St. Paul (Cambridge University Press, 2003) at 2.)

 

Thus, the first generation after the apostles quoted Peter to prove Paul was an apostate and also rejector of the teachings of the true Jesus. The first generation was circulating materials quoting Peter to this effect. This directly ties back to Acts 21:21 where James says that he has been informed that Paul is guilty of "apostasy" -- the seduction of a false prophet criminalized in Deut 13:1-5.

But the true teachings of Paul did not get resolved by the end of Acts.

As mentioned before, in Acts 21, James gives Paul a test to perform to prove to James and everyone else that Paul does not renounce the Law's ongoing validity. Paul complies. James is assuaged for a time. However, we all know from Paul's epistles that his true heart on the issue was precisely in accepting the apostasy law was just as much abrogated as all the law. He could renounce it and not be a false prophet. Paul was afraid, obviously, to declare this openly to the Jerusalem church, but obviously they found out later. This explains the passages just quoted from the Clementine Homolies as well as the Ebionite ruling to exclude Paul from even being read, as a false apostate.

Incidentally, the Ebionites who authored the Ascents of James - a text connected to the Clementine Homolies -- taught in that text that Jesus is the "prophet like Moses" as prophesied in Deut. 18:18-29 and asserted by Peter in Acts 3 in a sermon. See John Painter, Just James (Fortress Press, 1997) at 196. Thus, the Ebionite reason to reject Paul was also to retain Jesus' authority as "the Prophet" who God said in Deuteronomy and in Ezekiel 37:24, 27 was the "sole pastor" whom all humanity must "listen to" when he emerges.

 

d. Prophecies of Jesus That Require Expelling Paul.

Our Lord did not leave us orphans. He was still being faithfully honored and acknowledged in the first 150 years after his Ascension. As already mentioned, the Revelation of John - written about 40 years prior to his Gospel - is targeted on Paul on the issue of his self-proclaimed apostleship, his teaching that it is not a sin to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and on Paul's claims that those with lukewarm or no works are saved by faith alone. But there are many more such example to consider.

First, let's start with another such revelation known as the Apocalypse of Peter - a clear foundation of the earliest canon. (See "Apocalypse of Peter," Wikipedia.) Only by the time of the pagan Constantine's influence over the church was this text not included in Constantine's canon which he assembled for us. Because Constantine relied upon Paul to expurgate Sabbath as the Christian day of rest which Constantine replaced with the Day of the venerable (worship-worthy) Sun (as Constantine's true god was SOL), anything clearly antagonistic to Paul had to go. Here is the obvious prophecy by Jesus against Paul which Constantine did not allow want any of use to read:

"And they will cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure. But they will become greatly defiled and they will fall into a name of error, and into the hand of an evil, cunning man and a manifold dogma, and they will be ruled without law."

 

In the same vein that would boil Constantine's blood, there is a very positive reference to the Law in this Apocalypse of Peter. Speaking of those seen in a vision in hell, Peter writes about certain rich ones in hell:

 

"And these were they that were rich and trusted in their riches, and had no pity upon orphans and widows but neglected the commandments of God." (The Apocryphal New Testament (M.R. James-Translation and Notes) Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924) excerpted at this link.)   

 

Besides its honoring the Law's rules to help widows, Constantine would also dislike the self-evident knock on Paul again. For Paul taught not to help any widow under 60, in particular those who wanted to remarry, waxing wanton thereby supposedly against Jesus, their new husband. See our article Paul's Command Not to Help Young Widows.

Next, as to the prophecy about those who come in Jesus' name in Matthew 24, Jesus repeats this in the Apocalypse of Peter. The prophecy of Jesus identifies one who is a feigned Christ who is not universally seen in a second coming -- a figure who still fits precisely the Jesus whom Paul met as Paul's Jesus outside Damascus. Peter's Apocalypse states:

And our Lord answered us, saying: Take heed that no man deceive you, and that ye be not doubters and serve other gods. Many shall come in my name, saying: I am the Christ. Believe them not, neither draw near unto them. For the coming of the Son of God shall not be plain [i.e., ordinary] but as the lightning that shineth from the east unto the west, so will I come upon the clouds of heaven with a great host in my majesty; with my cross going before my face will I come in my majesty, shining sevenfold more than the sun will I come in my majesty with all my saints, mine angels (mine holy angels). And my Father shall set a crown upon mine head, that I may judge the quick and the dead and recompense every man according to his works. (Id., M.R. James.)

****

Verily I say unto thee, when the twigs thereof have sprouted forth in the last days, then shall feigned Christs come and awake expectation saying: I am the Christ, that am now come into the world. And when they (Israel) shall perceive the wickedness of their deeds [i.e repent] they shall turn away after them and deny him, even [as they did to] the first Christ whom they crucified and therein sinned a great sin. But this deceiver is not the Christ. And when they reject him he shall slay with the sword, and there shall be many martyrs. Then shall the twigs of the fig-tree, that is, the house of Israel, shoot forth: many shall become martyrs at his hand. Enoch and Elias shall be sent to teach them that this is the deceiver which must come into the world and do signs and wonders to deceive. And therefore shall they that die by his hand be martyrs, and shall be reckoned among the good and righteous martyrs who have pleased God in their life. (Id., M.R.James.)

When you put these together, you can now see Paul was aware that a man of "lawlessness" would come first. Paul did not think this was himself, or the feigned Jesus he met. Paul likely was repeating what he had heard about such a man by discussions about the Apocalypse of Peter. Paul was a perfect dupe of signs and wonders that his Jesus gave him, never aware apparently of the universal appearance criteria to verify any new physical appearance of Jesus on earth in both Matthew 24 and the Apocalypse of Peter.

We will address later other prophecies upon which the Ebionites focused to address Paul's validity.

 

e. Rejecting or Ignoring Paul Becomes The Norm.

  

1. Justin, the Most Prolific Early Writer, Ignores Paul.

In sheer volume, Justin, a sincere early Christian, has numerous books for Christians which survive. He fills most of the space of post-apostolic writings prior to 165 A.D.

However, "Justin [103-165 A.D.] took no notice of Paul...." (Encyclopedia Biblica.) In Justin "Paul...is never quoted directly." (John Romanides, "Justin Martyr and the 4th Gospel," Greek Orthodox Theological Review (1958) Vol. IV  at 115 et seq.)  

In "Canon," Encyclopedia Brittanica (1903) Vol. 5 at page 8, it relates as to Justin Martyr:

"Paul's epistles are never mentioned, although he doubtless knew of them. Having little sympathy with Paulinism he attached his belief to the primitive apostles....[T]he epistle to the Hebrews and Acts he treated in the same way as the Pauline writings."

Hence, consistent with the last canon of the Ebionites, Justin appears to be obeying the Ebionite ruling to entirely exclude Paul from any attention as an apostate.

Incidentally, the Encyclopedia Brittanica in the same article points out that as to what is canon at the time, it is pretty clear Justin relied on the Matthew Gospel version in Hebrew that Jerome said was translated into Greek. And nothing else that Justin cited -- which was limited to three other works -- was regarded on the same level, but instead was treated as merely edifying. The Encyclopedia relates:

"It is pretty certain that he relied upon an extra-canonical gospel, perhaps the so-called Gospel to the Hebrews....The Apocalypse [i.e., John's Revelation], 1 Peter and 1 John he esteemed highly...."

Again, this underscores that the normative Christianity that Justin knew about followed the Ebionite principle that the Hebrew Matthew was the sole New Testament inspired canon. Otherwise, 1 Peter, 1 John and the book of Revelation were "esteemed" highly.

When Justin speaks of the apostles operating post-resurrection, Justin is also clear God sent "twelve," not "thirteen" which means he implicitly ignores Paul. (Justin, First Apology XLIX at 47.)

Proof this may be deliberate is that Justin later in the same First Apology denies Christians believe in "predestination," and "fatal destiny," (LIV) because the "prophetic Spirit instructed us in the doctrine of free-will by Moses, who introduces God speaking to man: 'Behold good and evil is before you; choose the good.'" (First Apology LVI, quoting Deut. 30:15,19. See Link at page 51.)

And quite importantly, based upon Justin's many books on topics that Paul likewise touched upon, the silence by Justin about Paul's writings on point has a deafeningly loud implication. For Edwin Johnson in 1887 noted:

"His [Justin Martyr, St. c. 100 - c. 165 C.E.] silence about Paul, when he had every reason to cite him...is a silence that speaks--a void that no iteration of unattested statements, no nebulous declamation, can ever fill." (Edwin Johnson [1842-1901] Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins (London: Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill, 1887) at 35.)

Hence, either Paul's epistles had quickly disappeared by 162 AD, or were purposefully ignored by the church at large. The latter actually makes the most sense, as the Ebionites did post-Acts 21 learn of the evidence for Paul's apostasy. In Acts 21 -- about 57 AD -- Paul's apostasy was merely a a rumor that James says has come to his attention. (Acts 21:21.) The Ebionite ruling excluding Paul's writings must have happened within a few years. Thus the contents of Justin's writings which ignore Paul certainly would be what we would expect if the Ebionites' ruling preservered by Eusebius and Irenaeus was an authoritative one at an earlier time than Justin's writings. 

 

2. Hegesippus Repudiate Paul's Reading of Isaiah.

 

If Paul is regarded as an inspired writer (rather than merely wise or edifying) by 150 AD, the following makes no sense.

 

For Hegesippus, a Christian commentator of renown and respect, wrote around 150 AD about 1 Cor. 2:9 in a writing preserved by Photius (Cod. 232). In this quote, Hegesippus repudiates Paul's quote from Isaiah in 1 Cor. 2:9 as a false translation by Paul. Hegesippus says it is futile and "utterly belies the Holy Scriptures and the Lord, who says, 'Blessed are your eyes which see, and your ears that hear." (Pulpit Commentary, quoted at Biblehub.com.)

Someone who is generally regarded as inspired should not be so easily handled, and dismissed that way. Hence, Hegesippus could not have regarded Paul as an inspired person.

There is in God's grace a way of proving this.

For generations later -- once Constantine and his Roman church instilled trust in Paul's verses abolishing Sabbath (so worship on SUN-day could replace it), we will see how a believer in Paul's inspiration will see things diametrically different from how Hegesippus saw it.

One who sees Paul as inspired, we shall prove, believed Paul should be recognized as a CORRECTOR of Isaiah.

Here thus is the indirect proof that shows Hegesippus' generation had no concept that Paul was inspired. For if they did, Hegesippus should sound like what we now show is the reaction of a true believer in Paul will resolve Paul contradicting Isaiah.

Who was this voice who will prove unintentionally that Paul was rejected in the era of Hegesippus s inspired? None other than Calvin.

For Calvin, one of the Reformers, and a big believer in Paul's nspiration, concurs that Paul 1 Cor. 2:9 contradicts Isaiah's meaning and purpose. Calvin first admits Paul appears to mangle a verse in Isaiah by taking it out of context, and then using it in a manner opposite of Isaiah's intention.

Calvin writes in his Commentary on 1 Cor. 2:9:

9. “As it is written, ‘What eye has not see.”All are agreed that this passage is taken from Isaiah 64:4, and as the meaning is at first view plain and easy, interpreters do not give themselves much trouble in expounding it. On looking, however, more narrowly into it, two very great difficulties present themselves. The first is, that the words that are here quoted by Paul do not correspond with the words of the Prophet. The second is, that it seems as though Paul had perverted the Prophet’s declaration to a purpose quite foreign to his design.

 Next, Calvin reconciles the passages by saying Paul's reading must be the correct one, and we are free to reject Isaiah's words because God supposedly sent Paul as the most "faithful interpreter" of the Bible. I kid you not!

Here is a most astounding passage in all of Calvin's writings. In saying this,Calvin is totally in line with the young Luther who held the validity of the words of Moses or Jesus had to be read through Paul's words like a filter. (See link.) Calvin had the same hermeneutic as Luther. Calvin continues his comments:

Paul’s meaning, on which we ought to place more dependence than on any other consideration [controls]. For where shall we find a surer or more faithful interpreter than the Spirit of God of this authoritative declaration, which He himself dictated to Isaiah — in the exposition which He has furnished by the mouth of Paul.

 

  Hence, Calvin put Paul above Isaiah, refuting Isaiah was inspired, proven by Isaiah contradicting Paul. Thus, Calvin insists that we must reject a Prophet whom Jesus quoted at Capernaum as inspired and giving a prophecy fulfilled in the hearing of all in the synagogue, and who gave us one of the most tender prophecies of Messiah in Isaiah 53 we must reject as truly inspired because Paul contradicts Isaiah!

Astonishing! In fact, truly sad and shocking at the same time!

But what is the most important take-away about this is that Hegesippus did not live in our modern Pauline Bubble that believes Paul is inspired. Hegesippus lived in an era where Justin can ignore Paul. Where Jesus' words are exclusively supreme. Where if Paul contradicts Isaiah, we don't dismiss Isaiah as inspired. Instead, we would be like Hegesippus. We would dismiss Paul's words as "utterly belying the Holy Scriptures and the Lord" who himself quotes Isaiah as inspired. Hence, Hegesippus did not accept or believe Paul was inspired, proven by this example. This was in line with the prior Ebionite ruling that Paul was an apostate.

Hence, Justin and Hegesippus are primary proofs of Metzger's outline of where the focus was on authoritative New Covenant canon. It certainly did not include Paul.   

f. Conclusion.

In sum, we saw above that the Ebionites were the name of the earliest church. It is recorded by Eusebius and Irenaeus that the Ebionites excluded Paul's epistles from being read by Christians. We saw both Eusebius and Irenaeus affirmed that the Ebionites found Paul guilty of apostasy -- a violation of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (viz., verse 5 which in the Greek was rendered as apostia) -- and hence Paul's writings must be rejected as any reading material for Christians. We saw that the concern which the Ebionites had about apostasy perfectly matches James' concern in Acts 21:11. In that passage, James confronts Paul about rumors of his "apostasia." James is given a misleading assurance that Paul has not entirely discarded the Law by Paul agreeing to take a Nazarite vow to indicate to all that Paul is not denying the validity of the Mosaic law. This is why Paul complains in his letters that the 12 refused him letters of commendations, that Paul was regarded as an imposter apostle, that Paul boasts he learned "nothing" from the apostles, and relied entirely upon 'revelations' from Jesus (which Paul never quotes). Hence, we can fairly conclude the 12 apostles rejected Paul's writings as any part of inspired canon, let alone even to be read. Finally, the writings from Justin and Hegessipus thereafter are entirely consistent with rejecting Paul as either inspired, or even any kind of citable authority among Christians who felt it is necessary to be obedient to the Ebionite ruling on Paul.

 

 

7. Why Jesus Said He Was Sole Teacher and Pastor.

Jesus knew where His authority stood: it was universal and exclusive. This is why he said He was the "sole teacher" and "sole pastor" over all humankind. Peter knew this too. This is why Peter declared this boldly in the very first sermon of Christianity. Jesus likewise knew, as He said, that His words would never disappear. He would have permanent authority for all mankind. His words -- and no followers' words -- set the standards for us to follow. Jesus bluntly told the apostles that they were not to "call yourself teacher," for there is only one "teacher" -- the Christ. (Matt 23:8-11.)

Hence, Jesus meant His words had an authority that excluded the apostles from enjoying any similar independent authority equal to or above Himself. Yahweh only spoke over Jesus saying "listen to him." 

 

8. The Canon Impact of Jesus as Messiah and The Prophet.

When the issue of canon comes up today, scholars and Christians ignore Jesus' own words and the prophecies upon which Jesus obviously relied. We make Jesus' words compete with one person's epistles which do not quote Jesus in any unique manner.  We are talking about Paul's epistles. 

Rather than simply respecting these Paul-epistles for any wisdom they may have, Christians have been told Paul's writings are canon. Paul's words are supposedly equal to Jesus' words.We are compelled to reconcile them. Because they do not reconcile many times, influential Paul-followers insist Paul's words are actually on a higher authority than the words of Jesus. Luther based the Reformation in 1517 on this premise -- expressly finding Paul was superior to Jesus in inspiration. See Luther Interpreted Moses and Jesus through a Paul Filter. (Luther later recanted when he joined what we later discuss was the Third JWO Canon Movement in 1536. For a preview, see this link to the Preface of Jesus' Words on Salvation at this link.)

Today, the Pauline domination continues, with most pastors accepting that Jesus' commands in the flesh need no longer be followed. Jesus supposedly addressed a different dispensation -- Jews. By contrast, Paul was supposedly God's sole messenger on the covenant terms with the Gentiles. This is called Dispensationalism -- a doctrine with extensive and dominating influence in the modern church. See our article Dispensationalism Revived by Bultman 1929. Also see our article Dispensationalism / Paulinism Defended Examples  at this link.

 

Dispensational-disobedience of Christ's authority is thereby rampant among church members despite sincere claims that they truly are following Jesus.  This is because the pews are filled with people who just listen to the pastors and are gullible -- "ignorant and unstable" as Peter put it. They do not read whether Jesus agrees with Paul on faith alone, or with Paul's view that disobedience does not matter for one's salvation once one believes Jesus "died for your sins and rose from the dead." (1 Cor. 15:1-4.) 

 

9. Did Christianity Never Have A Canon Prior to 140 AD?

Yet, Catholic and Protestant scholars (like John Knox) insist that there was no canon of Christianity before Marcion, the heretic. (Catholicism has its own Paulinism ingrained which prefers to believe it discovered canon first. More on that later.) These scholars relish fostering the misimpression that Jesus' words were not treated as of any canonical import even when reliably recorded by apostle Mathew in the earliest church.

Marcion supposedly proclaimed the first canon of authoritative writings in 140 AD. At that time, Marcion formed a canon from only 10 of Paul's Epistles and what many assume is a truncated Luke. Marcion taught Paul was the only Apostle. Marcion included Jesus' words in a gospel solely to show us how Jesus' emphasis on the continuity of the Law was replaced by Paul. Thus, these Paul-epistles and this supposedly superceded-gospel, we are told, was the very first effort to tell Christians what was authoritative canon for Gentiles. Marcion's canon deliberately gave lip-service that Jesus came with teachings, but then Marcion declared Jesus' words were subordinate to Paul's words, and no longer necessary to follow. Paul was supposedly our authoritative canon going forward. (Fn.1.)

The Roman Catholics go even further, insisting that there was no official decision on canon until 1543 AD at the Council of Trent.  In "The Canon," from the official New Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholicism contends Roman Catholicism finally decided canon in that year for the first time: 

According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. [See this link.]

 

However, both claims are inaccurate. 

 

10. Marcion Was Responding to a Prior JWO Canon Which Marcion Marginalized.

The Marcion-first-canon proponents prefer not to see that Marcion was reacting against a canon then recognized. His writings clearly imply a pre-existing canon of Jesus' words which Marcion sought to marginalize. For by Marcion saying Paul was the only apostle in a new covenant, he was admitting Jesus appointed 12 apostles in the Gospel which Marcion concurrently circulated as a defunct treatise. Marcion was assuming Paul's views on faith alone and eternal security were rejected at that time even if Paul was respected due to his profession of Christ as Lord. The canon Marcion pushed against obviously put the emphasis on Jesus' teachings, not Paul. Otherwise why would Marcion say Paul is to be followed, and the gospel of Jesus' life which Marcion provided was merely background on why the present canon should marginalize and now shelve Jesus' words permanently hereafter.

If you read our article Marcionism, you will see quotes from top experts on Marcion that Marcion marginalized the 12 as legalist missionaries for a by-gone God called Yahweh. In place of that supposedly moot gospel, Marcion turned to Paul. He said Paul teaches us salvation by faith alone and eternal security. Marcion openly relied solely upon Paul, and rejected the 12's gospel of Jesus. Marcion was saying the gospel which the 12 were teaching about works worthy of repentance -- which he provided a version of that reads similar to Luke -- was not relevant to Gentiles. That Lucan-type gospel which he circulated was only relevant to Jews, he said. See our article Marcionism.Thus, by dismissing the 12 this way, Marcion did away with the relevance of any of Jesus' words for the rest of the world -- the Gentiles.

The Marcion-first-canon crowd of Christian scholars do not openly embrace today all Marcion taught. They agree Marcion was a heretic for teaching the Father is a different second God who is superior to Yahweh God. However, they betray the similar thought about Yahweh when popular preachers today say "Yahweh was the God of the Old Testament," implying a new God has somehow replaced him. See Romans 7 Says God of Sinai Died at Cross and Did not Resurrect with Jesus.)

  

But the heresy of Marcion means that Marcion was looking at both the Law and Prophets, and the words of Jesus in his version of Jesus' Gospel.

Marcion's effort is thus a clear push-back against a canon that preceded his own. There was indeed a canon before Marcion.

 

11. Marcion's Life-of-Jesus Gospel Reflects His Translation Was Done at  Caesarea Where the Hebrew Matthew Was Protected.

What was the source gospel recognized prior to 144 AD that Marcion was using as the Gospel?

 

The answer is: the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew ("HGM"), as will be explained.

 

Doing a translation from Hebrew to Greek of the only recognized gospel of that time -- the HGM -- suited Marcion's purpose. For Marcion was able by means of translation to slightly modify the gospel account of Jesus' life to fit better with Paul. Marcion could only be attacked for error by those more knowledgeable of the Hebrew language and could travel to review the Hebrew Matthew kept at the Library of Caesarea. (For background on HGM, see our Original Gospel of Matthew page.)

Why can we say that Marcion was using the Hebrew Matthew to translate from Hebrew to Greek?

You will hear that many think Marcion's source was Luke's Gospel, but this is first of all not necessarily the case. It is clear now in light of James Edwards' analysis of Luke's source as the Hebrew Matthew that Marcion could have been likewise translating from Luke's source. This explains why there are paralellisms between Marcion's "Gospel" and Luke's "Gospel." They shared a common source: the Hebrew Matthew.

Marcion himself never says he was using Luke's Gospel, so it is an issue that is open for re-consideration in light of advances in scholarship.

As John Knox says in Marcion and the New Testament (1942) at 3, any tracing of Marcion's Gospel to Luke is simply due to parallelisms which could be explained by a common source text for both Luke's and Marcion's Gospel.

Let's drill down in more depth.

As we shall see, many scholars beginning more than 100 years ago traced Marcion's Gospel to the  Hebrew Gospel of Matthew kept in a library at Caesarea in the early era. Now, recently, James Edwards proves that of the over 48 early church quotes from this Hebrew Gospel, at least 5 uniquely only appear in Luke. They are not even in the Greek Matthew. Hence, Luke was translating that Hebrew Matthew. This is why Marcion could re-translate the same document and have much in common with Luke. However, at the same time Marcion was hoping his translation would not be easily proven inaccurate and could supplant any Greek Matthew or Luke that was circulating in small circles. 

For example, when Jesus answers about how to have eternal life in Luke (and likewise in Matthew 19), and Jesus says the way to "eternal life" is to obey the Law, Marcion translates it as just "life," not "eternal life." (See Tertullian, Against Marcion (207 AD), Book I, ch. XXI.) Marcion created by translation an ambiguity that allowed Jesus to have a point that did not contradict Paul. Marcion insisted he was quoting the "Apostles' Gospel" (plural of apostle), and others had corrupted the text such as adding "eternal" supposedly, rather than Marcion removing it. (Marcus Vinzent, Why Are the Gospels Anonymous (2016). 

Thus, Marcion and Luke used the same source. Marcion was simply following the Hebrew Matthew, knowing that the Christian church would take it seriously. It would be pointless to provide a life-of-Jesus gospel unfamiliar to the Christians to whom Marcion directed his appeal.

 

12. Other Proof Marcion Did Not Use Luke But Another Gospel.

As noted above, Knox says one proof Marcion did not simply use Luke as a direct source for Marcion's gospel is that Marcion never mentions Luke. Also Marcion's Gospel "differed from [Luke] in important aspects," such as being "less than three-fourths as long," etc. Id. (downloadable page link). 

 

Instead, Marcion's source most likely was the original Hebrew Gospel of Matthew [i.e., the HGM]. This implies that HGM was the true canon up to that time. There was strong consensus on HGM as Marcion's source by numerous Christian scholars from the 1700s to 1800s. They all recognized that the Hebrew Matthew (aka Gospel of the Hebrews) was the only gospel that preceded Marcion.  Hence it was this gospel upon which Marcion relied.  Here is an 1869 recap of the scholarship from that prior time period:

 

Here again, Semler governed by belief in the priority of Matthew, Semler (1783), fixed upon Syro-Chaldaic documents, others as Lessing (1784), Niemeyer (1790), Weber (1791), and Thiess (1804), upon the Gospel of the Hebrews [of the Ebionites / Nazarenes]; still others as Corrodi (1791) and Schmidt, upon the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew [i.e., another name for the Gospel of the Hebrews]. as the common source. ("Origin of the First Three Gospels," Biblica Sacra, Vol. 26 (Jan. 1869) at 3-4.)

Thereafter the Paulinists rushed in to claim there was doubt. They tried to push Mark to priority, insisting at the same time that there could be no Hebrew Gospel because everyone supposedly spoke Aramaic in Jesus' Israel at the time.

But in 1946 and up to the 1990s, this premise of these rebuttals to a Hebrew Matthew were gradually destroyed. The Dead Sea Scrolls uncovered since 1945 prove Hebrew was a living language in the era of the apostles and Christ, and especially was used in religious writings. This destroyed the commonly-heard claim of the late 1800s that Aramaic had completely  displaced Hebrew by the time of Christ, rendering a "Hebrew Matthew" a myth. 

Hence, the Dead Sea Scrolls embarassed this frequently heard rebuttal to the truth that Marcion relied upon a Hebrew Matthew. As previously mentioned, the HGM was arrogantly snubbed by mainstream scholars as not the true first canon because it was supposedly impossible to even exist, because supposedly Aramaic was the only means to verbally communicate or even write a Gospel about Jesus. On its face, it was an absurd rebuttal. Many people even write in Latin today even though not spoken. Also, these scholars overlooked Jerome made a translation directly from the Hebrew Matthew in the Caesarea Library, In doing so, Jerome repeatedly identified multiple words which are only in Hebrew, and not present in Aramaic. The most important reference is set forth in S. Rives, Original Gospel of Matthew (2014) Vol. II at 174-75. As explained there, Jerome in his Letter 50 quotes the HGM at Matt 19:24 to read "osianna barrama" in Hebrew. Jerome explained that this  means the crowd shouted in Hebrew "Salvation on high" -- and not the Greek Matthew's unspecific meaning.  Jerome continued, and said how important HGM was to correct the Greek Mathew: "Let us leave the streamlets of conjecture and return to the fountainhead [for the Greek Matthew - the HGM]," adding "It is from the Hebrew writings that the truth is to be drawn."

See also Rives, Original Gospel of Matthew Vol. 2 at 159-160 (at Matt 6:11 Jerome said in Hebrew Matthew the Hebrew reading is tomorrow's bread," at odds with the then present Latin translation of "daily bread" while the Greek epiousin meant "coming" bread which could stand a clarification as "daily" from the HGM.) 

For further discussion of Jerome's use of HGM for Matt 19:24, see further discussion in Albertus F. Klijn, Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition (Brill: 1992) at 120-21.

 

Finally, thanks to Professor Howard's 1995 book The Hebrew Matthew, we now know that Matthew 3:4 -- the passage on locust -- proves conclusively that the Hebrew Matthew came first, and that the Greek Matthew of today is a translation -- a second generation removed from the Hebrew. See our article: How Locusts in the Greek Matthew Proves the Hebrew Matthew was the Original.

 

Therefore, the dismissive scholars' opinion that it was impossible to have a Hebrew Matthew was baseless even back in the 1900s before the Dead Sea Scrolls emerged to refute them. With the latest discoveries by Professor Howard, it is no longer possible to dispute the Hebrew Matthew came first. And it was the origin of our Greek translations of Matthew.

In sum, the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew is not a fiction, as was first claimed in the early part of he 1900s. 

Moreover, the evidence of the priority of this Hebrew Gospel was proven again by evangelical Protestant James Edwards in his very recent scholarly work. 

Hence, Jesus' Words Only was canon. No one else's words were being treated on par with the Bible of that time which was the Law and Prophets.

 

James Edwards explained recently in his book The Synoptic Tradition that Luke's Gospel has more in common with the 48 early quotes from the HGM than even the Greek Matthew. Marcion surely would use as his base a gospel more recognized than Luke's Gospel -- the HGM. Any parallel is simply because Luke is in large part a translation of the same HGM.

Thus, Marcion knew of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. He knew its great authority. Marcion's use of a gospel with Jesus' words shows Marcion knew who was the authority he had to confront: Jesus' words. He had to use the current source -- a Hebrew text -- as his source of Christian canon for the non-Gentile / the Jews. The reason a translation was useful is that it gave him latitude to translate it in such a way that it would not have as much impact to negate Paul. 

 

This "Marcion Gospel" proves all by itself that there was a canon prior to Marcion. Its very existence required that Marcion make a fresh translation that would more easily defeat doctrines by the true Jesus which ran counter to Paul.   

Thus, the true first recognized canon of the New Covenant was first simply  Jesus' Words Alone. As we shall see, Jesus' words were written down in approximately 38 AD in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. This work explains what scholars often call Q - the ultimate source text for the Greek Mark, Matthew, Luke, Didache and Thomas.

 

13. Marcion Was Trying to Erase The Bible's Apostasy Principle.

What was Marcion trying to do?

The custodian of the only canon -- the HGM -- the Ebionites -- had already rejected all Paul's writings as not even edifying - as the work of an apostate.

This meant Paul's epistles were written by someone who fit within the meaning of apostasy which is found in Deuteronomy 13:1-10. As explained previously, this provision is known as the Apostasy Provision. It says anyone who has true prophecy and signs and wonders must be rejected as not from the true God despite such amazing works if they teach you to not follow the Law God gave at Sinai -- the Ten Commandments in context. (As noted above, Jesus quotes this provision in Matthew 7:21-23, warning of those with true prophecy and signs and wonders who we must reject because they work ANOMIA - they negate, minimize or deny the Law given at Sinai.  (See Anomia.) )

Thus, such an apostate person is a false prophet because they seduce you away from the true God of the Bible by seducing you from His Law, even though they profess love for the same God as Israel knew as God. Jesus calls these workers of anomia among Christians "ravening wolves" in sheep's clothing. That depiction meant apostates would appear outwardly ("sheep's clothing") to be Christians ("sheep"), but are not true followers of Jesus. Our Lord says their spirit does not truly belong to the true Jesus Christ.

 

Why was Paul an apostate in Ebionite eyes? Within the Ten Commandments was a promise of mercy for breaking them -- stuck between rule #1 and #2. For Yahweh says "I grant mercy to those who love me and obey my commandments." (Exodus 20:6 KJV.) 

Paul's doctrine of faith alone says contrarily that mercy comes by another means - specifically a non-ethical one: "you shall be saved if you keep in memory that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead...." (1 Cor. 15:1-6 KJV.) Thus, Paul in this passage clearly contradicts the ethical-based rule of Mercy in the Ten Commandments itself.

Paul also violated the Apostasy Provision in Deuteronomy by saying any Christian who obeyed the Sabbath command any longer as a condition of mercy was acursed, lost, and Christ would profit him or her nothing. Jesus said the opposite: obeying the Law, including its command to love God with all your heart, was a condition of salvation. (See Paul Abolished Sabbath.) 

Thus, Marcion's goal was to supplant the Law with Paul's teachings entirely. Marcion thereby made Paul the arbiter of the validity of the Law. Unless Marcion could succeed at that, the Law judged Paul an apostate. Hence, Marcion's main argument was to claim Yahweh was the demiurge ruling in Sheol (hell), and His law only applies to Israelites. (Marcion, Antitheses 144 AD, Paragraphs 18, 19, 29. See also excerpts in our article Marcionism.) 

What about Paul being a son of Benjamin? one of the tribes of Israel? Marcion side-stepped that problem, making Paul an honorary Gentile. Hence, Marcionism was the first push-back movement to the JWO-Canon movement of the earliest church's first 150 years of existence.

 

FOOTNOTE: Ironically, Paul multiple times stated (e.g., Ephesians) that any Christian could commit any moral sin, and was promised they were "sealed" with the Holy Spirit to an inheritance guaranteed in heaven, but in other places, Paul made an exception and said cursed and "severed from Christ" are  Christians who obeyed Sabbath even though they had the Biblically-correct understanding that it was one of the 10 conditions of Mercy in the Ten Commandments. Hence, Paul's words in one place say immoral sin does not cause loss of salvation for a Christian, but says multiple times moral behavior ordained by God will damn you forever. Uggh!

FOOTNOTE CONTINUED. Incidentally, one of Paul's other self-contradictions is when Paul said four times that immorally sinning Christians will not "inherit the kingdom." Paulinists ditch these four lessons by every contortion imaginable. How does Paul square this with his 'sealed-in-heaven' claims? That is not my problem. That's on the Paulinist to explain which they don't do a good job doing so. For more on this, see Paul's Four Inheritance Warnings.) END OF FOOTNOTE.

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO.

 

 

 

Footnotes 

1. "[Marcion] was the first Christian to form a canon of Scripture." (Floyd Filson, "Review of Marcion and the New Testament by John Knox," The Jewish Quarterly (Univ. of Pa. Press, 1945) Vol. 34 No. 3 at 385, summarizing John Knox' work.