By Ali Ataie
The apostle Paul is the single most influential person in all of Christian history. Many scholars have even gone so far as to say that HE is the true founder of the religion that bears the title of Jesus. In fact, Paul freely admits this when he says: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the FOUNDATION, and another buildeth thereon” (1 Cor. 3:10). Many scholars will surely agree that if it weren't for Paul, Christianity would still have been a sect of Judaism today.
Paul's revolutionary view of Jesus' crucifixion and its redemptive value as well as his doctrine of original and inherent sin, salvation, and justification through faith alone superseded all Mosaic obedience and established a new covenant between mankind and the divine.
Paul asserts, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Hebrews 8:7).
Go into a church at random and you may or may not hear the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, but rest assured, you could bank on hearing Pauline teaching 100% of the time.
While Jesus terrified demons from afar and exorcised power over them, the Apostle Paul tells us that “a messenger of Satan” regularly beats him over the head from time to time (2 Cor. 12:7). This stunning admission lends us a vital clue as to where exactly Paul was receiving his “revelations” from. Even Paul himself is not sure as to the source of his teaching.
He says hesitantly, “I THINK that I have the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 7:40). Think again.
Christians believe that Paul wrote while inspired by the Holy Ghost--the third person of the triune god. Therefore, they have no qualms about calling his various letters and epistles “Holy Scripture” and the “Word of God.”
In his second epistle to Timothy 3:16, Paul asserts: “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
The Book of Deuteronomy tells us: “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die” (Deut. 18:20).
In other words: “A true Prophet or vessel of God can never speak on his own authority. But rather, God inspires him.”
Jesus said: “I can of my own self do NOTHING” (John 5:30); “the words that I speak unto you I speak NOT of myself” (John 14:10).
Paul seems to mimic his so-called “Master” when he says, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me” (Rom. 15:18).
Yet in a different epistle he tells us regarding Christian men who are married to non-believing women: “But to the rest speak I, NOT the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:10).
Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 8:10, Paul decides to give his “own advice” on matters of religious significance. Does this constitute divine inspiration? This evidence is damning enough for us to reject Paul's mission as an “apostle of Jesus Christ.”
Paul admits that he employs the use of deception to catch fish for Christ--becoming a Jew for Jews and a Gentile for Gentiles, that he “may gain the more” (1 Cor. 9:19-22).
The despicability of such treachery is something Christians have practiced for over 2,000 years and in many cases have even condoned. When it comes to clinching a convert, anything goes.
Such immorality is demonstrated as Paul describes to the Corinthians how he stole money from other churches in order to bribe them to believe -- “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (2 Cor. 11:7-8).
Yes Paul, you have committed an offense--remember, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15; Matthew 19:18)?!
Most astonishing of all is how Paul tells the Romans that as long as people continue to believe in his doctrine, he cannot be labeled as a sinner for LYING (Rom 3:6-7)?! Lying about what? The fact that he saw Jesus?
Paul has managed to contradict Jesus in almost every single area of faith and practice. Jesus says that there is no original sin (Mark 9:13-14) while Paul says there is (Rom. 5:12-14).
Jesus says that not ALL of us are unrighteous people (Mark 2:16-17; Matt. 15:24) while Paul says that no one is righteous (Rom. 3:10, 23).
Jesus says that our good works are necessary and meaningful (Matt. 5:16; John 10:24-25) while Paul says they are worthless and unnecessary (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:6-14).
Jesus exhorts his followers to strictly adhere to the laws and commandments (Mark 10:18-19; Matt. 19:17; Luke 18:20) while Paul calls the law and commandments a “curse” and “bondage” (Gal. 2:16, 3:11, 24; Rom. 2:13).
Jesus says that atonement through sacrifice in not necessary (Mark 12:28-29; Matt. 9:13) while Paul believes that only Jesus' atonement blood sacrifice can save us (Eph 5:2; Gal 3:13; Heb. 9:26).
Yet after all of this, Paul still has the audacity to claim: “Be my followers, as I am a follower of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1)!
Paul is believed by Christians to be the author of fourteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament and the only historical author of the New Testament who is also a major character WITHIN the New Testament. Paul bridged the gap between Jew and Gentile by abrogating the sacred Torah of Moses and demanding from Christians absolute faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
However, unlike Jesus, Paul almost never mentions the impending Kingdom of God and seems to know next to nothing about the historical Jesus' ministry experiences in Galilee and Jerusalem.
He only quotes Jesus once in his fourteen letters and knows nothing about the virgin birth. Can you imagine a Christian missionary of today going into the Middle East and NEVER uttering the Lord's Prayer, or one of the Beatitudes, or even a SINGLE parable that Christ gave?
Rather than assimilating himself into the first century Jesus tradition, Paul instead invents a religion ABOUT Jesus and declares himself the “Apostle of the Lord”.
His main sales pitch: Jesus died for yours sins so it's okay to act irresponsibly.
Paul's obvious unfamiliarity about the Gospel tradition is further seen when he describes Jesus post-resurrection appearances:
“And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the TWELVE: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15 4:8).
If Cephas (Peter), James, and Judas (since he is dead) are not included in “the twelve,” then who are the other three disciples that are taking their places amongst the twelve?
After his life-changing vision of Christ while traveling to Damascus, Paul does not go into Jerusalem to consult with the chosen disciples of Jesus, but rather goes to Arabia for about three years (according to the Book of Galatians) to basically formulate his revolutionary doctrine pertaining to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Scholars agree that Paul most likely did not author the book of II Timothy. The pseudonymous author, however, is schooled enough in Pauline doctrine to declare: “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead ACCORDING TO MY GOSPEL” (II Timothy 2:8).
Paul does eventually travel to the Holy Land but only meets with Cephas and James, the Lord's brother. Paul makes it very evident that the Jerusalem leadership not in any way influences his teaching and feels strong enough about his convictions to take an oath:
“What I write is plain truth; before God I am not lying” (Galatians 1:16-20).
After his meeting with Peter, Paul goes north into Syria and does not return to Jerusalem until fourteen years later accompanied by Titus and Barnabas for the church conference described in Acts 15.
Luke gives us a description of Paul's early career in Acts that is significantly different with respect to the extent of Paul's relationship to the Jerusalem apostles. According to Luke, shortly after his conversion Paul travels to Jerusalem to try to “join the body of disciples” but is rejected as a deceiver. It was only after the careful convincing of Barnabas that the disciples accepted Paul as a member of the church (Acts 9:27).
Surely Paul could have fabricated his so-called vision of Jesus and it was very apparent that the disciples had serious reservations about his sincerity.
Interestingly, scholars debate whether or not Paul would have ever been known to the world at large if it wasn't for the vouching of Barnabas. However Paul unabashedly mentions nothing of Baranabas' pledge for him but rather credits the “three pillars” for accepting as legitimate not only himself, but Barnabas as well!
He tells us in Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, PERCEIVED THE GRACE THAT WAS GIVEN UNTO ME, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
Luke also tells us that Paul agrees with James' notion that Gentile Christians should follow at least four Torah prohibitions: “that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.”
Apparently James was concerned about what the “thousands” of zealous Jewish Christians might perceive of Paul if he spoke out against the observance of the Law. James orders Paul to “Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, and pay for them to have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that the RUMORS are all false and that you yourself OBSERVE THE JEWISH LAWS” (New Living Translation, Acts 21:24).
Although Paul submits to James' requirements in the book of Acts, he vehemently opposes all Torah restrictions in Galatians, calling the Law “bondage,” a “curse” and “nailed to the cross.”
Thus Paul's hypocrisy is manifested in his apparent allegiance to the Mosaic laws by action and subsequent renunciation of them by words.
We are also told in Acts 9:17 that Paul did not receive the Holy Spirit until after he was baptized by Ananias and hands were laid on him. Paul, however, is obstinate that he owes his apostolic commission to no one, and never refers to his baptism in any of his letters. Paul also rescinds his verbal agreement with James concerning meat sacrificed to idols and regards eating such meat as undefiling (I Corinthians 10:27 & Romans 14:13-15:6).
Pauline influence on the four evangelist accounts is quite obvious. All of Paul's letters were written and widely circulated before a single Gospel was even put down on parchment. It is unfortunate that no Gospel of Jesus composed prior to or concurrent with Paul's writings has survived long enough to be handed down to us for research.
Whether this was deliberately done or not will never be known. Again, all of our information about Paul comes from only two sources, Paul himself, and Luke, Paul's student.
What we DO know is that there were undeniably different interpretations, oral traditions, and Gospels of Jesus proclaimed in Paul's time that did not agree with his teaching. Paul, realizing the danger in this, exhorts his church in Galatia to reject anyone who may preach to them “another gospel” unlike that which he has told them (Galatians 1:8).
Central to Paul's letters is the belief in Jesus' triumphant return to earth in the foreseeable future. Stephen Harris, author of “The New Testament” says:
“Paul's advice on marriage, divorce, slavery, celibacy, and human behavior in general is largely shaped by his expectation of an imminent Final Judgment. In his oldest surviving letter, he states that he expects to witness the Paraousia : “We who are left alive until the Lord comes…[will be] caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:15-17).
“In 1 Corinthians, his expectation to live until the End is equally certain; hence, he advises his correspondents that “the time we live in will not last long. While it lasts, married men should be as if they had no wives;…buyers must not count on keeping what they buy, nor those who use the world's wealth…For the whole frame of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:29-31).
“Eagerly awaiting the eschaton , he also tells the Corinthians, “Listen! I will unfold a mystery: we shall not all die, but we shall all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet-call. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will rise immortal, and we shall be changed” (I Cor. 15:51-52).
Hence, Paul nicely fits the description of a false prophet described in Deuteronomy 18:22: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow NOT, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath NOT spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
Joshua McDowell (“More than a Carpenter) quotes Kenneth Scott Latourette saying: “What integrated Paul's life, however, and lifted this almost NEUROTIC temperament out of obscurity into enduring influence was a profound and revolutionary religious experience” (page 83).
With no sign of Jesus on the horizon, Paul may have literally gone insane in his later years and died alone and in shame (or his insanity [neurosis] may have simply returned to him). Shades of this developing madness can be detected in Paul's notorious pronouncements concerning women (Romans 1:27; I Corinthians 11:3-9, 13; I Corinthians 14:34-35; Ephesians 5:20-24) and in his unorthodox admission to calling his message “foolishness:”
· “I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.” - I Corinthians 1:18 (NLT).
· “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe.” - I Corinthians 1:21 (NLT).
· “ This foolish plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.” - I Corinthians 1:25 (NLT).
· “Stop fooling yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world's standards, you will have to become a fool so you can become wise by God's standards.” – I Corinthians 3:18 (NLT).
Despite these statements being horrendously blasphemous, they also contradict Jesus who said: “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool , shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mathew 5:22). According to Jesus, calling someone a fool may make you worthy of Hell yet becoming a fool is a prerequisite of faith according to Paul! Also see Romans 1:22 where Paul calls the Romans “fools.”
Paul also seems to ignore Jesus' vital foremost instruction to his disciples forbidding them to enter into any Gentile land (Matthew 10:5). A Christian may bring up the verse at the end of Matthew where Jesus commissions his chosen eleven to “go into all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Remind him that this permission was only given to Jesus' immediate disciples who had learned the Gospel under their Master's tutelage for over three years. Paul was nowhere in the picture and was never authorized by the Jesus of the Gospels to admonish the Gentiles. If your Christian friend should cling to the so-called vision of Paul, tell him that such a vision would render arbitrary EVERYTHING that Jesus struggled to teach his disciples.
1. Paul admits that he is the founder of Christianity.
2. Paul admits that he is regularly tormented and beaten by a demon.
3. Paul admits that he speaks on his own authority, not on God's.
4. Paul admits that he uses deception and treachery to make converts.
5. Paul admits to stealing money in order to bribe people to believe.
6. Paul admits that he lies in order to make converts.
7. Paul contradicts Jesus in almost every single area of religious significance.
8. Paul never quotes the Lord's Prayer, a Beatitude, or even a single Parable of Christ.
9. Paul in Galatians contradicts Luke in Acts about his post-revelation travels and experiences.
10. Paul dishonors his word to James that he will follow the Kosher laws.
11. Paul made many false prophecies about the immediate 2nd coming of Christ.
12. Paul says that being “a fool” is a prerequisite of faith.
So can Paul be trusted? NEVER!