Are Paul's Writings Faultless?
Jesus of Nazareth says, "For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." & "But it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever of you desires to become first, he shall be servant of all." & "I am the Good Shepherd…and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd. (Luke 18:14, Mark 10:43-44, John 10:11,16)
There is only One Man who deserves to be exalted, and that Man is the Man Messiah Jesus, the Son of the Living God (John 17:5). There is only One Man we are to follow, Messiah Jesus (or Joshua) (Matt. 16:24; John 21:22). There is only One Shepherd of our souls, the Man Jesus, the Son of the Living God (John 3:16-18; 10:16). There is only One in Whom is Life everlasting, and that One is Jesus of Nazareth (John 14:6). Any other person who says you must listen to him - or who says God says you ought to listen to him in order to properly understand or follow Jesus - is deceived, a liar or both.
This author had spent much of his walk (really bumbling) with the Lord looking up to various men and aspiring after their religious status and achievements - prominent men in the circles of today's churchianity. Sadly, my past error and confusion is very common today, as the "protestant" organizations have their versions of the pope. Men who are "great scholars", or who have started the most organizations, or who "pastor" the largest organizations, or who can sell the most books, or "evangelists" who can pack the largest stadiums. I have realized that trying to follow after these men was and is foolishness - I was badly missing the mark.
But perhaps this author's greatest hero of the faith was the man who wrote most of what is termed the new testament - the man who claimed the title "the apostle" Paul. Paul is highly regarded by most of organized christian religion, and is regularly spoken of as the "Great Apostle Paul". Just today this author heard Paul referred to as “the greatest Christian the church has ever had”. Indeed, as we read Paul's writings - and the writings of Paul's disciple and close friend Luke in the book of Acts - a picture is painted before us in the new testament of a very important man who worked exceedingly great works in the name of the Lord Jesus, and who labored tirelessly for Jesus.
But is Paul, "the great apostle" as he claims? I know this question is unthinkable for many to contemplate, but please at least ask yourself why this question is so uncomfortable for you to consider? Does contemplating it bring reproach upon God the Father or His Son, Jesus the Messiah? No, it does not.
So why are so many offended at probing this question? Why, perhaps, are you, dear reader, offended at examining Paul's teachings in light of Jesus' teachings? Perhaps Paul has too high a place in your heart? Perhaps there are some traditions of men that Paul teaches which you are comfortable in, and that you are unwilling to give up in order to truly follow Jesus? Perhaps you have as your standard of truth "the bible", instead of the One who plainly says, he is the Truth? (Is the doctrine of the "inspiration of the bible" as proffered by the churchmen taught by Jesus? For an examination of that question in light of the Jesus' Words, please see the article, “The Doctrine of Inspiration as Taught in Churchianity”.)
The purpose of this article is to examine some of Paul's teachings in the light of Jesus' teachings, and to thus seek out the truth. I pray the reader will not be afraid to do this, and let the truth be known. If any man's teachings contradict Jesus' teachings, we ought to throw out those teachings that contradict Jesus' teachings. If we don't, then we betray the fact that we don't really believe that Jesus is the best, highest, most perfect representation of God the Father, or that his Words were successfully captured and preserved in the four gospels. We also reject Jesus' own Words where he claims to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except through HIM ALONE (John 14:6). He says, he is the Door, and we must come through him, and NO other man or way (John 10:9). And if this is true, then Paul is excluded as well.
So, have spiritual courage, dear reader, and seek the Lord with all your heart...
Who Should We Follow or Be Like?
Jesus says, "Follow Me." (Matt. 10:38)
Paul says, "Imitate Me." (1 Cor. 4:16; Phil. 3:17)
Who should we "imitate"? Jesus or Paul? In the above citations of Paul's commands, he did not qualify that command anywhere in the context with a statement like, "as I follow Jesus". If Paul did not walk or teach exactly like Jesus, and we follow Paul, where will that lead us? Could Paul have walked or spoken exactly like the sinless one? If we are walking in the humility Jesus teaches, then how can we - who are evil, no good, and unprofitable servants according to Jesus (Matt. 7:11, 19:17, Luke 17:10) - urge others to imitate us? Should we not only point others to Jesus, without whom we can do nothing good? (John 15:4-5) Should we not simply follow Jesus and leave it to others to judge whether they ought to imitate us in as much as we are faithfully following and imitating Jesus? If we are truly humble, then how could we point other adult brethren to ourselves and say, "imitate me”?
If Jesus is reaching out to you and asking you to "follow him", and then another voice comes along and says you ought to "imitate him", isn't that going to be very confusing? How could you listen to both voices at the same time? Could not those new believers who don’t know the Master well yet, be easily mislead by another voice? If that other voice is truly repeating Jesus' voice, then it won't contradict Jesus' Words in any way and it would point to Jesus only, right?
Should We Boast or Brag About Ourselves?
"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed within himself in this way: God, I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice on the Sabbath, I give tithes of all that I possess. And standing afar off, the tax-collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but struck on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18:10-14)
Here, Jesus makes it plain that the truly humble are justified before the Father, and not those who boast about themselves and their good deeds.
"But which of you who has a servant plowing or feeding will say to him immediately after he has come from the field, 'Come, recline'? Will he not say to him, 'Prepare something so that I may eat, and gird yourself and serve me until I eat and drink'. And afterward you shall eat and drink. Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable servants, for we have done what we ought to do'." (Luke 17:7-10)
Here, Jesus plainly teaches that even if we perfectly obey God - which we do not - we still did nothing more than what He requires us to do, and thus we are still "unprofitable servants". To profit means to exceed that which one started with. How can we do more (profit) than what God requires? We cannot. God requires perfection, and that is something none of us attain to. Believing and practicing this teaching of Jesus is utterly incompatible with boasting about one's self or one's works, for Jesus says the best we can utter is that we are "unprofitable servants".
“But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you.” (Matt. 6:3-4)
Jesus teaches us to not promote our deeds done for God to other men, but to do them in secret being satisfied that our Father in heaven sees and will compensate us appropriately.
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:11)
"And He said to him, Why do you call Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17)
"I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
In these verses, Jesus teaches that in comparison to God, we are "evil", "not good", and that without him, we can do nothing of value to God. If these things be so - and Jesus says they are so - then what do we have to boast about? Absolutely nothing, and he commands that we do not exalt ourselves, which would clearly include boasting - one of the most obvious and outward forms and expressions of self exaltation.
What Does Paul Teach and Do Regarding Boasting?
"For who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Paul parallels Jesus' teachings on the matter in the verse above (the bait to draw a person in).
"But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14)
Paul promised to never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. Of course he quickly adds that he has been crucified to the world, which is a form of boasting! But Paul has said, as Jesus taught, that boasting is sinful, and that he would "never" boast about himself.
"What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast." (2 Cor. 11:17-18)
Paul promises that he would never boast about himself, and then admits boasting is foolish and sinful, but then goes ahead and boasts! So, for those of you who believe the doctrines of inerrancy and infallibility of the bible - is this passage inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus inerrant and infallible!?
It appears Paul is vigorously contending for authority over those in Corinth - so hard, in fact, that he disobeys the Lord's teachings on humility, and seeks to win then to himself. As part of Paul's attempts to be the main authority over the disciples in Corinth, he uses bitter sarcasm, such as, "For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!" (2 Cor. 11:19) In using this type of speech, Paul also plays the hypocrite and contradicts himself, since he calls them wise, yet he plainly says elsewhere they are foolish. Did Jesus speak this way to his disciples, using bitter sarcasm or double-speak? No he did not. Did Jesus teach that there are appropriate situations to use bitter sarcasm amidst the brethren? No, he did not, and in fact he taught we should be humble and loving towards one another in all circumstances, even in our corrections and rebukes.
Paul also contradicts himself here with his other teachings, as in his second letter to Timothy, where he teaches, "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition…" (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Was Paul "gentle to all", "patient", "in humility correcting" the people in Corinth? How about in his first letter to the Corinthians, where he says, "You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us - and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!" (1 Cor. 4:8) Those words are gentle and humble?
Paul elsewhere says this:
"For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity; not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God; we have had our conduct in the world, and more abundantly toward you." (2 Corinthians 1:12)
Paul testifies that his conduct in the world is "in simplicity and godly sincerity". How does that testimony line up with his words in 1 Cor. 4:8 and 2 Cor. 11:19? Could those words of bitter sarcasm possibly be made to fit into the description of "godly sincerity"?
"For I know your eagerness, of which I boast to Macedonia on your behalf, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has aroused the greater number." (2 Corinthians 9:2)
Paul says he boasts about others, while teaching that we ought not to boast.
"For even if I also should boast somewhat more fully of our authority (which the Lord has given us for building up, and not for pulling you down) I will not be put to shame…" (2 Corinthians 10:8)
Paul boasts of his and his comrades authority over the people in Corinth. Thus, he contradicts Jesus' teachings on two points. First, he boasts about himself. Second, he claims authority over other people trying to follow Jesus, while Jesus teaches that he is the only authority over his disciples. (Matt. 23:8-12) [We will look at this second point more closely a bit later.]
"But we will not boast beyond measure, but according to the measure of the rule which the God of measure distributed to us, to reach even to you." (2 Corinthians 10:13)
Paul says he will boast, but not beyond measure. Where does Jesus teach such a thing…a level of boasting about oneself approved by God? And then who does Paul blame for his boasting? God! If you read the surrounding verses of the passage above, you will see a very good example of Paul's confusing double-speak. He sadly sets the example of many clergymen today. Jesus taught in simple language, so that the simple could understand and receive. Paul, on the other hand, waxes into complex and often contradictory language that the sincere and simple of heart have a difficult time understanding [No doubt some reading this will aim 2 Pet. 3:16 at this author. So be it. This author lets his lot rest with Jesus and not Paul or words attributed to Peter.]
"Indeed, it is not profitable for me to boast. For I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ fourteen years before (whether in the body, I do not know; or outside of the body, I do not know; God knows) such a one was caught up to the third Heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body, or outside of the body, I do not know; God knows), that he was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not allowed for a man to utter. I will glory of such a one, yet I will not boast on my behalf, except in my weaknesses. For if I desire to boast, I shall not be foolish. For I will speak the truth. But I spare, lest anyone should think of me as being beyond what he sees me, or hears of me; and by the surpassing revelations, lest I be made haughty, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be made haughty." (2 Corinthians 12:1-6)
Most agree that Paul is speaking about himself in this tortured passage, which makes perfect sense given the context of his boasting in his works in the latter verses of chapter 11; his trying to impress those in Corinth with himself; and the confession as much in verse 7. Truly, these are the words of a man who knows the concept of humility, but is unable to control his pride, and thus the gibberish that is uttered.
So, let us take a look at this simply, clearly and logically. Paul starts by saying it is not profitable for him to boast, yet he just boasted previously, and will now continue in a thinly veiled, guised manner. He boasts about his vision of being in the presence of the Father, the third heaven. Then he says that he will glory in this man, which in fact is himself. Yet he says that he will not boast on his own behalf, which is exactly what he is doing! Then he tries to justify his sinful, prideful boasting by saying that he is speaking the truth, as opposed to, I guess, others whom he calls liars. Finally, in verse 7, he tells his readers that he is the one with "surpassing revelations", but that God supposedly gave him something to humble himself. Given Paul's own contradictions, boasting and sinful words, I think it is reasonable to question whether this alleged "messenger" sent of God was successful in humbling Paul.
"But let each one prove his own work, and then he alone will have a boast in himself, and not in another." (Galatians 6:4)
Paul writes to those in Galatia that it is good for a man to "boast in himself". Does Jesus teach that is all right for a man to exalt himself, as long as he doesn't express it to anyone else? No, in fact Jesus plainly teaches that sin starts in the heart, as does James (Matt. 5:28; Mark 7:14-23, James 1:14-16)
“Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jew five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep…in fastings often…
Seems Paul is trying real hard to show to those in Corinth that he is “great” through openly proclaiming to them many of his good deeds. Yet how does this action and attitude and Paul’s words square up against Messiah’s words in Matt. 6:3-4? Unfortunately, they contradict the spirit of Messiah’s teachings on humility, and instead promote the man Paul.
Jesus' Teachings on Humility Among the Brethren:
"And when the ten heard, they began to be indignant with James and John. But Jesus called them and said to them, You know that they who are accounted rulers over the nations exercise lordship over them. And their great ones exercise authority on them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever of you desires to become first, he shall be servant of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:41-45)
"He rose up from supper and laid aside His garments. And He took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded….So after He had washed their feet and had taken His garments and had reclined again, He said to them, Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me the Teacher, and Lord, and you say well, for I am. If then I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, neither is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." (John 13: 4-5,12-17)
The word translated "humble" is the Greek transliterated word, "tapeinoo", which is defined as, "to depress; figuratively to humiliate (in condition or heart): - abase, bring low, humble (self)".
Jesus of Nazareth, the very begotten and only Son of the living God, often told his disciples and people that he healed to not tell anyone who he was (Messiah) or the works he did for them. If anyone is truly "wonderful" than that would be God's Messiah to this perishing world. But Jesus never boasted about himself or his works. Rather, he pointed people to his Father, and called men to follow him in order to be made right with his Father. Jesus never boasted about his works, or how wonderful they were. He simply spoke the truth in true humility, and went about his mission. He did not go around trumpeting who he was, even though if there was anyone who ever could be justified in doing this, it is he. He is the Good Shepherd, who meekly and humbly calls men to himself. And he says in regard to gentleness or meekness:
"Blessed are the gentle (or meek), for they shall inherit the earth." (Mat 5:5)
Please here Messiah as he says, "blessed are the gentle or meek". Should those who follow him then seek that quality?
Let us look at some of Paul's words in this context.
"Already you are full! Already you are rich! You have reigned as kings without us! And oh that indeed you did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God has set forth us last, the apostles, as it were appointed to death; for we have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men. We are fools for Messiah's sake, but you are wise in Messiah. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honorable, but we are despised. Even until this present hour we both hunger and thirst and are naked and are buffeted and have no certain dwelling place. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children (see Matt. 23:8 regarding calling or submitting to a man as a spiritual father) I warn you. For though you have ten thousand instructors in Messiah, yet you do not have many fathers (see Matt. 23:8 regarding calling or submitting to a man as a spiritual father); for I have begotten you in Messiah Jesus through the gospel. Therefore I beseech you, be imitators of me. For this cause I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved son (see Matt. 23:8 regarding calling or submitting to a man as a spiritual father) and faithful in the Lord, who shall remind you of my ways which are in Messiah, as I teach everywhere in every church. As to my not coming to you now, some are puffed up. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills. And I will not know the speech of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and the spirit of meekness?" (1 Corinthians 4:8-21)
In this passage, Paul is attempting to bring the saints into submission to himself, instead of under Jesus. He starts with bitter sarcasm (verses 8 - 10). He also boasts of his good deeds in verses 11 - 13. Then he exalts himself above the brethren at Corinth by calling them "my beloved children" as well as their spiritual "father". This is in direct contradiction to Jesus' words in Matt. 23:9-10 where Jesus says, "And call no one your father on the earth, for One is your Father in Heaven." He culminates his lording it over the brethren in verse 16, where he plainly says, "be imitators of me". Why not, "be imitators of Jesus, the One Lord, Teacher and Leader"?
Paul then goes on to call Timothy his "son", again making himself Timothy's spiritual "father". Grievously, he closes his lord-it-over words with an open threat, when he says, "What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and the spirit of meekness?". Paul plainly threatens to come and beat them "with a rod", and he makes this plain with the contrast of "spirit of meekness". Even if you insist on reading his language about the rod figuratively, what kind of an attitude is associated with the threat of a figurative beating? Meekness?
Can you possibly reconcile Paul's words with Jesus' above, regarding how brothers and sisters are to interact with on another? Here are Jesus' words again, "And their great ones exercise authority on them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever of you desires to become first, he shall be servant of all."
Aren't you glad, reader, that Jesus says of himself, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) Praise the Lord, Jesus is "meek and lowly in heart" to those willing to submit themselves to him, his disciples! In contrast, Paul, in writing to Jesus' disciples in Corinth, uses bitter sarcasm, self-aggrandizement, disobeys Jesus' commands about humility, and uses out-right threats in order to get the people to submit to him. The contrast could not be clearer for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.
Paul's Own "Honor Men" Teachings Exclude the Sent Ones (apostles) of Jesus
What was Paul's attitude towards the chosen sent one's of Jesus - those closest to Jesus himself? Does he give proper honor, as he preaches, to the three closest disciples of Jesus - John, James and Peter?
Rom. 12:10, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."
This is a sound teaching of Paul that parallel's Jesus' teachings on holding others in higher esteem than we hold ourselves. This is an important foundational block to love and humility.
Phil. 2:29, "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;"
Paul sent a man named Epaphroditus back to the Philippians, after Epaphroditus had been very ill. He instructs the brethren at Philippi to "hold such men in esteem", since he helped Paul when Paul was in need, and because "for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me." (Phil. 2:30). Paul added a back-handed rebuke at the end of this, saying the brethren's service towards Paul was inadequate.
1 Tim. 5:17, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine."
Here is Paul's clearest teaching on giving honor to men. He plainly says that those elders who rule well ought to be counted worthy of double honor, especially those men who teach the scripture and it's doctrine. Certainly this would include the very sent one's of Jesus, his apostles, would it not? And yet, for all of Paul's words in all of his letters, he says nothing about those personally chosen by Jesus except the following.
Paul's Tearing Down of those Closest to Jesus in Order to Build Himself Up
Paul was quick to exhort others to honor and esteem those who esteemed Paul (Phil. 2:29). What does Paul have to say about the three men whom Jesus chose, and who were closest to Jesus?
"But from those who seemed to be something - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man - for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me…and when James, Peter and John, who seemed to be pillars…Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed…and the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all…" (Gal. 2:6, 9, 11, 13, 14)
These words are hardly words of honor and esteem for the three disciples closest to Jesus of Nazareth. The words of sinful jealously and envy just well up out of Paul in this passage - they are the farthest thing from true humility. The envy and belittling is painfully obvious through his phrases of "who seemed to be something" and "added nothing to me" and "who seemed to be pillars". Can the reader imagine visiting some faithful disciples who have gone before you after Jesus for years, and then coming back to others and saying, 'well, these brothers added nothing to me…they shared nothing of value to me…I learned nothing from them' (you might as well just say, 'because I'm so great'). So, in Paul's view, those who walked most closely with Jesus - those personally chosen by Jesus to follow him personally for over three years - had NOTHING to edify Paul with???
He doesn't leave it there though. He now proceeds to tell everyone in Colossi how he publicly rebuked Peter "to his face". How Peter was a "hypocrite" and how Peter didn't know, or was ignorant of "the truth of the gospel". Pretty rough claims from a man who wasn't chosen as one of Jesus’ sent ones (apostles) by Jesus, and who didn't walk with Jesus - about someone who was those things. It seems to this author that at best, such difficult matters would be best left in the private realm, and to boast about such a hurtful matter - especially publicly - is the last thing that true love and humility would cause one to do. If this isn't a clear passage portraying a man fighting in the flesh to be "great" at the expense of other brethren, then I don't know what is.
I can hear all those still trapped by the voice of Paul trying to explain this away by saying…'oh, don't you see how Paul had to do that in order to …'. So, Paul had to break Jesus' commands and therefore sin in order to help those in Galatia? Pretty strange reasoning.
Unfortunately those exalting Paul will say that Paul was not breaking Jesus' commands in these verses, because they are unwilling to seek out Truth no matter what the cost. Just as a veil was over the eyes of Jews who exalted Moses above Messiah, another veil exists over those who exalt Paul above Messiah. Oh, those guilty of this would NEVER admit it because being deceived means that you honestly believe the lies of your own heart. But their words betray them as they preach and quote Paul ten times more than Messiah. And they build their little kingdoms on Paul’s words instead of obeying Jesus’ Words.
"For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles." (2 Cor. 11:5)
Here Paul plainly gives us his view of himself, and two things are of note. First, it contradicts another statement he made in 1 Cor. 15:9, where he said, "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called and apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." This statement by Paul also contradicts the scripture's teachings on how one became a sent one (apostle), which was by God's choosing, not by works (Luke 6:13). This is particularly interesting due to Paul's gospel of by grace through faith only, with works playing no part in one's salvation. In other words, Paul claims one is saved by grace, but that works played a role in God’s choosing Jesus’ apostles. This is inconsistent. Paul was not an apostle because he was not chosen by Messiah (Acts 1:21-22; Rev. 21:14) - not because of his sins against God's people.
Second, it is yet another self-glorifying statement where he is comparing himself against those actually chosen by Jesus. Read 2 Cor. 11:5 in different translations to get the full gist of his envy.
And what did Paul have to say elsewhere regarding envy and jealousies?
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are…selfish ambitions…envy…of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21)
Can the reader not see the problems with Paul's writings, as he himself commands not to envy, yet he himself envied? Are any of us exempt from hypocrisy at times? No…and neither was Paul, so let us not call his envy as expressed in his letters "inspired of God" as the churchmen define "inspired". God through His Spirit, does not inspire sin of the heart or of the mouth or pen.
Was the Work of Jesus Completed on the Cross, or Not?
What Jesus teaches:
"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled…He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit." (John 19:30)
How does Paul view the Son of Man's passion to love his friends? What does Paul think about Jesus' final act of love and of showing the Way Home on the cross? Does he agree with Jesus, when Jesus proclaims, "It is finished".
What Paul teaches:
Col. 1:24, 29, "I now rejoice in my suffering for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church…To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily."
It could not be more plainly stated by Paul. Paul states that he is suffering for the saints at Colossi (and according to verse 27, as you read his words in context, Paul states for the gentile believers in general). Paul says that he is filling up in his flesh, what is lacking in the afflictions of Jesus when Jesus was brutally mocked, beaten and crucified in order to lay down His life for His sheep. And Paul plainly says his - Paul's - atoning sufferings apply to "the ekklesia" (or church). Notice how he again boasts of himself and his works by saying God "works in me mightily". What about Jesus’ words, “whomever exalts himself will be humbled, and whomever humbles himself will be exalted.”?
The only reason that you won't read his words about his alleged atoning work plainly and literally - as Paul wrote them down - is because you are holding onto the lie of the doctrine of inspiration as proffered by the clergymen. Or because you elevate Paul to a place he ought not to be elevated to, and thus are unwilling to face the truth about Paul - that he was a man who at times was full of pride and not faithful to all of Jesus' teachings. I can promise the reader that if you will accede to this truth about Paul, you will be all the more free in Messiah Jesus!
Who is Our Leader and Teacher and Who Has Authority Over Us?
"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)
Jesus says, "follow Me", not "follow Me and . . ." (Matt. 4:19, 8:22, 9:9)
"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, all authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18)
"…even as You have given Him authority over all flesh so that He should give eternal life to all You have given Him." (John 17:2)
"You call Me the Teacher (didaskalos), and Lord, and you say well, for I am. If then I, the Lord and the Teacher (didaskalos), have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:13-14)
"I am the Good Shepherd…and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd (poimen)." (John 10:11, 16)
"But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45)
If we receive these words of Messiah with child-like faith, He leaves no room for any one to be over us or leading us or teaching us - except himself. John, one who was chosen by Jesus and was with him personally for about three years, says as much as well - if you need more than Messiah's own words - in 1 John 2:20, 27. Wouldn't we be fools to place ourselves under any one's spiritual authority except The Master, the ONLY Worthy Teacher and Shepherd?
Even the old covenant gives us a preview of the new covenant and how that God's Spirit and His Messiah will be our only Teacher:
"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Paul's Teachings About Who is a Teacher and Who Has Authority Over the Brethren:
"Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." (1 Cor. 4:15)
Paul says that he is the saint's in Corinth's spiritual "father". Contrast this with Matt. 23:9 where Jesus says, "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:9).
"For even if I also should boast somewhat more fully of our authority (which the Lord has given us for building up, and not for pulling you down) I will not be put to shame;" (2 Corinthians 10:8)
Paul both boasts and he boasts about his authority over them - of course he throws in the double-speak about the Lord giving him this authority for their good. But Jesus says, "It shall not be so among you" regarding authority over one another, for He plainly says, "for you are all brothers".
"Therefore I write these things while absent, lest being present I may not deal sharply with you according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for pulling down." (2 Corinthians 13:10)
More of the same, but now including a threat.
"(not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example to you, to imitate us)." (2 Thessalonians 3:9)
Who gave Paul this authority that he pounds the saints with? Not Jesus, that is for sure, for Jesus teaches that he is the only authority, and our role is to encourage other's onto the narrow Way through example - through being the lowest servant of all - and those trying to be the lowest servants DO NOT exercise authority over anyone except themselves.
"And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors (poimen - see John 10:16 above) and teachers (didaskalos - see John 13:13 above), for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Here Paul essentially destroys God's intention for His Family/ekklesia. Instead of servant brothers following after their Master together as His Family, we now have all the titles and rulers and the resultant fiefdoms that make up christianity's religious system - in direct contradiction to Jesus' own Words! As is typical for a master deceiver (Satan), it is proffered as being 'for the good of the body of Christ' - a concept Jesus never taught. It should give the reader at least reason to pause that the same Greek word "poimen" is translated "Shepherd" when Jesus uses it in John 10, but as "pastor" when Paul uses it in Eph. 4. This fact strongly begs for an answer as to why. The only reasonable explanation is that the clergymen - and those who have deep allegiance to the religious systems of christianity, and who translated the scriptures - could see the clear contradiction if they translated the word poimen as "shepherd" in Eph. 4, and thus sought to avoid that contradiction by using the term 'pastor' instead. The fact remains clear that Paul (Eph. 4:11) flatly contradicts and thus nullifies Messiah's Words about his being his disciples ONE Shepherd (John 10:11, 16). This has the deepest and most radical implications. The fact is that christianity's religious system is built largely upon this one verse from Paul along with his ‘gospel’ of grace with works playing no role. The fact is that christianity is not shaped by the teachings of Jesus, but rather by the teachings of Paul.
"And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages." (1 Corinthians 12:28)
Paul’s back-up for Eph. 4:11.
But who does Jesus say He will send? Does Jesus say He will send evangelists, pastors and teachers? No, He does not. Rather, he says this:
“Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city…” (Matt. 23:34)
So Jesus names who He will send, and He says “prophets, wise men and scribes”. Notice two important things about this fact. First, Jesus’ words are virtually universally ignored on this important matter, and Paul’s words rule instead. That really should give the reader occasion to pause. Jesus plainly says who he will send, and it excludes “evangelists, pastors and teachers”. The reason he does not include these titles/functions is because he says he is our Leader, Teacher and Shepherd, and that ALL disciples of Jesus are to be 'evangelists' (which means good news bearers). An evangelist is one who proclaims the good news about Messiah Jesus, and Jesus plainly commands all his disciples to proclaim him to others (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). Jesus does not send teachers and shepherds (pastors) because he is those things to his sheep.
(A brief aside here about Jesus being our only Teacher. This does not deny that “teaching” occurs among the brethren, for we are to teach others about Jesus. What it does mean is that the teaching that occurs, occurs by example and NOT authority as "a teacher". All the brothers are to proclaim and repeat Jesus’ teachings and share their experiences of following Jesus, which enable others to learn more about following Jesus. There is also no doubt that some brothers are more articulate with words than other brothers, but Jesus makes it plain that fancy, articulate or ‘advanced’ speech have little to do with being devoted to the Lord. Jesus says that unless we all become as little children, we will not enter the Kingdom of God (Matt. 18:3). If those whom God has given a natural gift of a bright intellect with associated speech, are admired or held up by the brethren as 'a teacher', then those people have already turned away from the Teacher and are now following after a man. It also means that they are stuck in meeting-anity which nullifies Jesus' teachings about how we are to live our lives.)
Notice secondly how this does not fit very well into who Paul says Jesus will send. The only similarity is “prophet”, and most of christianity has no “office” of prophet, but only of “pastor”. In fact, most of christianity either fears or mocks those who might actually be real prophets, or they exalt the false prophets (who love to take that title or that of evangelist) who preach the ‘gospel’ that particular version of christianity wants to hear e.g. say these words and gain salvation, believe these set of facts and be saved, health and wealth, carnival ‘healing’ sessions, latest pop psychology, continuing to trust in mammon while calling it ‘stewardship’ or whatever. You see, a prophet is one who typically warns and exhorts, and that is just too judgmental and ‘intolerant’ in today’s christian religious environments. It is not very popular to tell the people that they are not obeying the Lord. Pretty tough to "build a ministry" doing that.
Then there are the “wise men” and “scribes”. Trying to make “wise man” a title in christianity’s religious system is difficult at best. In truth, a wise man is just what a man is or isn’t. Having the office of “wise man” instead of “pastor” just doesn’t fit with today’s false humility either. “Pastor” is just so much more deceitfully vague, because the people don’t see the contradiction with JESUS wanting to be their only Shepherd – even though “pastor” means shepherd! Yet the title “pastor” seems so tame and innocuous and nice.
How about “scribes”. Wow, that’s a tough one to make into a religious leader, since all they do is promote the words of Jesus through their writings. Not very glamorous or flashy and the people need that in their religious leaders. Those who might be labeled as “scribes” today are those selling the most books on the “prophesy circuit” or among the ‘evangelical book sellers association’. The real scribes are those distributing Jesus’ words in writing as best they can with the resources God has given them.
Finally, and most importantly, what does Jesus say will happen to those He sends? He says, “some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city…” Hardly what the contemporary “pastor” envisions as his reward for completing seminary! And tragically for he and his sheep, hardly what “pastor” will experience as he makes sure he offends as few people as possible and is thus ‘at peace with all men’ in order to enjoy his material benefits from his sheep (contrast with Joshua’s words in Luke 6:22-26).
Yes, the Son of God, in his Father's wisdom said who he would send, and yet his words are almost universally ignored and in their place are Paul’s words and his system of lording it over titles and fleshly authority. Does this fact prick your curiosity at all, or are you dead in this area of your religious traditions?
"For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles." (2 Cor. 11:5)
Thus - Paul is saying - you ought to submit to me and to my authority OVER you because I am among the greatest apostles. But doesn't Jesus say that the greatest will be servant of all? Do servants faithful to their master vie for authority over each other?
"Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…" (Ephesians 2:19-20)
I don't find Jesus teaching that His ekklesia will be "built upon the apostles". I see Jesus teaching that His ekklesia will be built - and remain - upon Him (Matt. 7:22-27; John 8:31-32, 36).
(Some will point to Matt. 16:18 as proof of Jesus teaching that He will build His ekklesia on the apostles. As you might know, Roman Catholicism uses this verse as their proof text for justifying their religious hierarchy all the way to the position of pope. What Jesus says in that passage is that He will build His ekklesia upon FAITH IN HIM, which Peter professed in verse 17. On “this rock” [the world “rock” here is the Greek transliterated “Petra” which means “great boulder”, in contrast to “petros” which is the Greek transliteration of “Peter”, and it means “little stone”] - faith in Yashua as God’s Messiah - Messiah will build His Family.)
"To this I am ordained a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie), a teacher (didaskalos) of the nations, in faith and truth." (1 Timothy 2:7)
Why did Paul feel the need to say, "I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie"? Doesn't Jesus say let your yes be yes and you no be no, and everything beyond that comes from the evil one? (Matt. 5:37) When Paul claims he is "a teacher of the nations", how does that line up with Jesus saying, "You call Me the Teacher (didaskalos), and Lord, and you say well, for I am. If then I, the Lord and the Teacher (didaskalos), have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:13-14) The same thought is clearly expressed in Jesus' words here, "...do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers."? (Matt. 23:8-12) Even if Paul did in function “teach” people from many nations about Jesus, does this mean he is justified in making statements about himself as a teacher, let alone the boast of "a teacher of the nations"? Is this just word equivocation, or is it a spirit of pride?
"…to which I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher (didaskalos) of the nations." (2 Timothy 1:11)
Once again, Paul making quite a claim, which claim is in direct opposition to Messiah's teaching that He alone is our "...Lord and Teacher”. Paul ought to have proclaimed Messiah’s message, but he ought not to have promoted himself in opposition to Jesus’ commands against such activity.
Was Paul’s Heart that of God’s in Regard to Those People who are Against Messiah?
If you look at the context of Titus 1, you will see that Paul is commanding other brethren to forcefully stop men who Paul deems as speaking lies and falsehoods contrary to the gospel (“whose mouth you must stop”). Was this Jesus’ way? Did Jesus teach his disciples to use force in stopping others from proclaiming things that contradicted or nullified his teachings? No, he did not, and in fact Jesus taught that we ought to be kind and merciful even to our enemies. Jesus plainly taught, "love your enemies".
Look at Jesus’ example. He did not use force of any kind in trying to stop the religious leaders and other proud people from slandering and maligning his Person and his Message. In fact, Jesus tried to avoid the religious leaders, and instead tread quietly and look for the lost sheep in their midst, in an effort to bring them to his Father. He did not teach his disciples to try to “stop the mouths” of the Pharisees to stop condemning Jesus with their words and actions. In fact, Paul's words, “whose mouth you must stop”, is of the same spirit of the religious leaders who killed Jesus and persecuted Jesus' followers! It is a spirit of insecurity and fear, of not trusting in God to handle things, but rather taking things into your own hands to force people to do what you think is right, or to force people to stop doing what you think is wrong. It cannot be reconciled in truth with "love your enemies".
Are the Qualifications of a "sent one" (apostle) given in the New Testament?
“And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:27)
"For it is written in the Book of Psalms, "Let his estate become forsaken, and he not be living in it." And, "Let another take his overseer ship." Therefore, it is right that one of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that same day that He was taken up from us, to become a witness with us of His resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barabus, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, You, Lord, knower of all hearts, show which one You chose from these two, to take the share of this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell, to go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots. And the lot fell upon Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles." (Acts 1:20-26)
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:14)
Jesus himself defines what it was to be directly sent by him (an apostle) in John 15:27, where He says, “And you (He was speaking to his disciples, certainly including the eleven, and probably just the eleven) will also bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning (of his earthly ministry, the baptism by John the Baptist). The only one’s who were given a special role of bearing witness to Jesus due to their being intimately familiar with him, where those who had been with Jesus over the three plus years of his public ministry, and thus those who were directly trained and sent by Jesus…who had “been with him from the beginning”. Remember, the word apostle means “sent one”, and it means sent directly by Jesus during his first coming.
Now, if John 15:27 and Acts 2 plainly gives the qualifications of an apostle…and the book of Revelation confirms that there will ever be only twelve apostles…then how could Paul have been an apostle? The word "apostle" (now a revered and sought after title of authority, with Paul as its first coveter - similar to pope, or bishop or senior pastor) actually means "sent one". Jesus plainly sends all his disciples into the world to preach his gospel and make disciples (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that the term "apostle" or "sent one", finds its unique meaning in the fact that Jesus personally chose and taught twelve men, whom he personally sent. Paul did not qualify to replace Judas, even if they knew Paul at that time. Jesus did not choose Paul as one of his twelve sent ones. Paul was alive and available all during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and yet Jesus did not seek him out or choose him as one of his sent ones. Conclusion is that Paul was not chosen by Jesus as one of the twelve apostles, and thus could not legitimately lay claim to being an apostle. Perhaps this is why Paul spent so much time defending his alleged apostleship?
(It is interesting to note that the book of revelation has Jesus - in speaking to the ekklesia in Asia in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 - saying this of the ekklesia of Ephesus, “And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars”. Why is this interesting? Paul says in 2 Tim. 1:15, “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” So, revelation has Jesus speaking to the ekklesia who have survived thus far, and those ekklesia are “in Asia” (Rev. 1:11). Paul himself testifies that “all in Asia” have turned away from him. Would this not include those in Ephesus since Ephesus was in Asia? The only ekklesia in Asia that we are aware of that had contact with Paul was the ekklesia in Ephesus. And that ekklesia was commended in revelation for having, “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars”. The implication is difficult to miss.)
Even if one wants to claim the Damascus road experience as Jesus sending Paul on a mission, those accounts never say that Jesus labeled Paul "an apostle". It is only Paul claiming to be an apostle in his letters (and one instance of Paul’s friend Luke in the book of Acts).
Jesus' Gospel, or Jesus on Eternal Life:
"…even as You have given Him authority over all flesh so that He should give eternal life to all You have given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:2-3)
"Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. For God the Father sealed Him. Then they said to Him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent." (John 6:27-29)
"And behold, one came and said to Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And He said to him, Why do you call Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to Him, Which? Jesus said, You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said to Him, I have kept all these things from my youth up; what do I lack yet? Jesus said to him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven. And come, follow Me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, Truly I say to you that a rich man will with great difficulty enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked on them and said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Then answering Peter said to Him, Behold, we have forsaken all and have followed You. Therefore what shall we have? And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many who are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." (Matthew 19:16-30)
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And answering, he said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. And He said to him, You have answered right; do this and you shall live. But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And answering, Jesus said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothing and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by coincidence a certain priest came down that way and seeing him, he passed by on the opposite side. And in the same way a Levite, also being at the place, coming and seeing him, he passed on the opposite side. But a certain traveling Samaritan came upon him, and seeing him, he was filled with pity. And coming near, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And going on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, Take care of him. And whatever more you spend, when I come again I will repay you. Then which of these three, do you think, was neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? And he said, The one doing the deed of mercy to him. And Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37)
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory. And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left. Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me. Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life." (Matthew 25:31-46)
“Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:28-29)
Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." (Luke 20:34-36)
What qualifications will those who partake in the “resurrection of life” have? Does Jesus say, ‘…and shall come forth, those who had faith to the resurrection of life, and those who did not believe to the resurrection of condemnation’? Jesus plainly says, “those who have done good” i.e. GOOD WORKS… And how is it possible to be "considered worthy to attain" something without works?
James on salvation and justification:
"But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Do you see how faith worked with his works, and from the works faith was made complete? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God." You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:20-26)
James preaches Jesus' gospel...faith AND works.
This teaching of James is in direct contradiction to Paul’s writings in Eph. 2:8-9, and for a person to deny there is a contradiction between the two teachings, is irrational (this author remembers trying to reconcile these two teaching when he first became a believer in Jesus. It took six pages of double speak to try to harmonize the two teachings.) To deny the contradiction just proves how we can be blinded by our intellectual stubbornness and clinging onto the doctrines of men instead of seeking the Truth with all our hearts. But don’t despair reader, there is a better way of less falsehood, and that way is to chuck out the churchmen’s doctrine of inspiration (Is Biblical Inerrancy Taught in the Scripture?), and to seek the living Messiah with all your heart! Also one might want to wonder who James has in view in chapter 2 verse 20, where he speaks about a vain or foolish man who is preaching faith without works as the path to salvation.
Sum of Jesus’ good news…trust in his Father and himself (faith) and follow him (works of obedience)…faith and works. None of us will make it to heaven without real faith in the Father and Jesus (faith). And none of us will make it to heaven without trying our best to obey the commands of Jesus (works). The works are not optional, they are a necessary outworking of real faith.
Before we look at Paul’s gospel, there are two noteworthy observations. First, Paul places a curse on all who don’t believe his gospel. Second, he does call it “his gospel” or “my gospel” on several occasions, as opposed Jesus’ gospel (Rom. 2:16, 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8). Why wouldn't he call it Jesus' gospel or at least "the gospel"?
"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
By grace through faith, no works…
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law." (Romans 3:28)
Faith without works…
"…knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ; even we believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law. For all flesh will not be justified by works of law." (Galatians 2:16)
Grace and faith as the whole of salvation with work's playing no contributing role.
This author would like to give Paul the benefit of the doubt and say that he was just confused a bit on Jesus' teachings about salvation. However, Paul is very dogmatic about his teachings and he added a very important concept to Jesus' message on salvation...he introduced grace, which Jesus NEVER spoke about. Jesus never uses the word "grace" even once in the context of salvation, and thus "grace" was NOT part of Jesus' good news regarding salvation. This is an irrefutable fact. Thus, by his concept of grace, Paul essentially nullifies Jesus' teachings on the responsibility of works contributing to our salvation. This author believes that we enter into salvation by faith and a receiving of God's mercy, but that this is just the beginning of "following Jesus". Paul's words in Eph. 2 regarding salvation are almost universally interpreted by those in christianity as being the whole of the salvation experience, or the whole of the act of justification by God.
What is the result of this ‘grace only’ gospel? People who live for the world and the things of the world and their flesh, and who will only obey those teachings of Jesus that fit their religion and/or lifestyle. Since they have head knowledge about Jesus (what is passed off as “faith”); and since they do the Word-nullifying rituals their christian religion and leaders tell them to do (what is sold as obedience to the bible's teachings); then they are sure they are justified before the Father. After all, if salvation is truly by Paul's definition of "grace", then truly there is nothing that one can contribute to one's salvation - including obedience to Jesus' commands. Those who follow Paul's gospel of 'grace only' argue that obeying Jesus is a fruit of faith only, not a necessity. But this is NOT what Jesus teaches...see the quotes above. God the Father and His Son certainly have gracious characters, but they have not decreed that salvation is by grace. Rather, they have decreed that salvation is by faith AND faithfulness.
This article focuses on some of Paul’s faults and teaching that contradict Jesus' teachings, that can be gleaned from reading his letters to others. Since popular christian religion exalts Paul as the greatest saint to have ever graced the ‘church’, this article is not likely to be received very well. Paul seemed to be very sincere in his beliefs, but sincerity is no substitute for truth. Paul's sincerity does not preclude our rejecting those aspects of Paul’s teachings which interfere with our knowing or following Messiah Jesus better.
The vast majority of Paul's writings seem to be very sound and harmonize with Jesus' teachings. However, Paul is a regular man, just like the rest of us. Paul had problems with his flesh, just like the rest of us. Unfortunately, one of Paul’s struggles was with pride - as is amply documented in this article - and this sin is perhaps the worst sin that any of us can struggle with. Perhaps most unfortunately, people are encouraged to exalt Paul, and equally unfortunately, Paul gives them plenty of justification to elevate him above the brethren of yesterday and today. Paul had a very high view of himself and his works, and he clearly spent much of his time and energy promoting himself and arguing why he should be elevated above the brethren as what he considered the highest position with the most power the new faith offered - an "apostle". Is it any wonder then that the error in his writings serve as the model for the clergymen who have followed in his footsteps?
Paul clearly had many things right about Jesus, as we look at Paul’s writings in light of The Light’s utterances. Paul also tried very hard to make himself look good in other people’s eyes, so perhaps the most important thing he apparently never fully grasped was Messiah’s teachings on true humility and what it means to strive to be the lowest servant of all. These faults of Paul’s – which faults are evident in his writings - coupled with christianity’s doctrine of inspiration, makes for much opportunity for the nullification of Jesus’ foundational teachings as documented in this article. Since people are told by their religious leaders that they need to believe every word/concept/teachings in the bible, this means many people will believe every word that Paul teaches – even the sinful ones that contradict Jesus’ Words. This is especially true since some of Paul’s teachings pander to our flesh and nullify the Way’s Words. The fact is that his sinful words are used to justify the powerbase of the clergy. I remember using his sinful words to justify my sinful words and ambitions in the past.
Sadly, Paul's words nullify two of the most important beliefs that Jesus teaches. First, he offers a different way to heaven than what Jesus taught and lived - grace instead of faith and obedience. Second, he nullifies Jesus' teachings on his (Jesus) being the only spiritual leader that his followers are to have. Paul teaches all kinds of intermediaries between men and Jesus - apostles (especially himself), prophets, pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, ministers, etc. ad nausea.
When people run into the passages documented in this article, they will turn to their clergymen who will use many words to attempt to harmonize the plain contradictions. The clergymen do this because they teach their version of the inspiration of the scripture, which teachings says that there are NO contradictions in the scripture. For some strange reason, they believe that holding this teaching is somehow noble among men or honoring to God – even in spite of the truth. The churchmen teach that every word in the bible is directly from the mouth of God, and that we should accept all of Paul’s words as a pattern for us to imitate. For a brief article showing the fallacy of the churchmen’s version of the doctrine of the inerrancy of the bible, please read my article “The Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy”.
So you, reader, must choose who you are going to believe…whose good news…Jesus’ or Paul’s? Make no mistake, they are different. You must search your heart and see who you are primarily following. Is it truly just Jesus, or is Paul misleading you much, most or all of the time?
According to Jesus, we ought to follow Jesus alone, and no other man. Let us see Paul for what he was and not turn a blind eye to his faults. Let us lose our lives for the Son of God, and continue pressing forward in the faith and looking to forsake all this world has to offer. Let us love back the One who loved us and gave his life for us that we might Live forever with him and His glorious Father! Let us get our eyes off of Paul, and onto the only One who is worthy of our deepest affections, and which One can grant us life eternal.
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