Why one gets the feeling that we are in the midst of a trial is obvious. This student has ventured to accuse Paul, to the best of his knowledge, as no other scholar has done before. He has many defenders, thus it is that his lone prosecutor begins the final summation. In this case, 'I have not come to praise Caesar, but to bury him.'
Certain New Testament letters have not been covered in this thesis due to the question of authorship. The Catholic epistles are not included since it is generally agreed that they are pseudonymous. Philemon, is not a letter addressed to any congregation, but to a friend on the subject of his runaway slave. It is, however, among the Pauline codex.
We must note that it takes no long winded dissertation to discuss the issues Paul has brought up in his theology, unless one wishes to entangle themselves in endless debate over unresolved, philosophical trivia. It is sufficient to note that Paul's terminology is quoted almost verbatim in the modern Church, and the augmentation of his dogma is what governs the Christian faith today. That fact is not contested.
It is also a given fact that the religion practiced as Christianity is Pauline Christianity and not the faith or religion of Jesus' disciples. That is the Church that Jesus ordained, not Paul's.
When Saul is first mentioned we know only that he was a student in the Rabbinical school of Gameleil, a Jew of the Pharisaic persuasion, possibly a member of the Cilician synagogue, and a Roman citizen. He was a young man sitting at the edge of a riotous crowd, and that is all! Paul was a nobody... a bystander.
That Saul of Tarsus became more widely traveled than anyone of his day does not come into question either. Not to make small of Paul's journeys, it must also be remembered that the associates who traveled with him compiled the same record. These things are agreed. Again, they are not what we have been attempting to ascertain through this study, as has been previously stated. Certainly a complete work based on Paul's letters would take volumes, but that has not been our goal. Countless books have been written on the epistles by those far more worthy than this student. The message of love, compassion, and salvation portrayed by his genius have been autobiographed, quoted, copied, and sermonized throughout the ages.
This student would underline that which has already been said. In his writing, his poetic movement, and literary abilities, Paul was a genius. His command of words was overwhelming, complex yet moving.
His philosophical reasoning was exemplary, mentally he was agile and able to formulate his religious suppositions with courage. And yet, in the end, the complexity and the nature of his theological meandering was too much even for him.
But there is one thing in which he excelled beyond this that few have taken into consideration.
In 50 AD, there was no postal service as we know it today, no overnight mail, no telegraph, no telephone, no radio or television, no railway system, no airplanes, and no automobiles. Yet Paul and his entourage managed to travel with letters to and from congregations in enormous volume for that period in history. They were able to transport money offerings, send delegates to minister spiritual needs, and to mend broken promises and congregations that had become factional.
He was able to send members of his 'inner circle' to take care of problems almost at once, and to return with responses and reports from any place in the middle east to which he dispatched them. He could fire some and hire others without difficulty, and if he was forced to travel to a distant city to 'take the heat' from Jesus' disciples, he managed it without ever having to take his eye off 'his' children.
What Paul did was to establish one of the most efficient and well regulated organizations known to man. And every member of his 'personal' staff was loyal to a fault. They were not few in number even though most are never named. And if certain pressure was necessary to bring a congregation into line, he had the organization to accomplish it.
Some were so diligent, so expert in their ways, that they captivated congregations to such a degree that Paul was forced, more than once, to re-establish his own popularity in those churches. But the names that resound from his inner circle are loud in the history of the Church.
John Mark, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, Apollos, Silas, and Luke.
These facts are not disputed, for they are the means with which he was able to capture the future of the Christian movement. They were the means through which he managed victory over another list of names which should have been even more prominent in religious history.
Peter, James the Lord's brother, John the son of Zebedee, and the living Jesus who was called the Christ.
The depth of Paul's organization made it possible for him to take his gospel into the world and thus, to dominate the very essence of the Church as it exists today.
We stipulate to these things because they are fact, but the other side of the coin is a different story. We could, as others have done, draw assumptions concerning the man and his activities. We might make conjectures about the meaning of his statements just to place Paul in the best light possible. Then we would be as guilty as those who constantly applaud him.
But we have Paul's words, his own testimony, to answer most of our questions. It is not necessary to speculate about his 'meaning' or his intentions, with the exception of a very few instances.
What have been covered in this thesis are points which few, if any, have dared to editorialize. They are certainly not the object of sermons within the Christian community. How did Paul arrive at his theological conclusions, were they based on life experiences, or on pure conjecture. The assistance of noted theologians and interpreter's has come from their writings, and on most points, they agree with this paper.
Paul drew from hearsay information, the myriad cult myths that abounded in his world, his Jewish education, his understanding of Hellenistic philosophies, and his consummate creative imagination.
What support did he have on which to base his hypothesis? Certainly, by his own exhortation, none from the Apostles or the Jerusalem Church. Assuredly not from a life experience with Jesus or his disciples. And that which he drew upon from God's Holy Scriptures, he manipulated and misquoted.
How did he persuade people to accept his Hellenistic philosophies, and once the network of congregations had been formed, how did he enforce his doctrine and his regulations. Through the excellence of his personal staff and their willingness to carry out his orders even when they required an 'indelicate' touch, so to speak.
Beyond this, by works and by his own word, what is the nature of Paul's personality and integrity? That we left to Paul, and he was not silent on these points. There is an axiom indicating that, 'actions speak louder than words.' From Saul of Tarsus, we have both.
What Paul actually knew about Jesus' life, no one can say. He never refers to the living Jesus. He never refers to Jesus' teachings. The only aspect that is mentioned out of Jesus' entire life is the crucifixion and his assumed death on the cross. On this one detail alone, Paul draws his theological conclusions.
What he learned in fifteen days with the Apostles, no one knows. Had he learned anything of Jesus' works and teachings, especially since Paul called him Lord, they would seem to have been important enough to recall at least once in his writings. The one assumption this student will draw is that there was one single determining reason he did not, had he held that knowledge.
If Jesus' word contradicted Paul's gospel and his Hellenistic theology he would have disregarded Jesus' words at once. If that spirit jeopardized Paul's standing and authority with his congregations he would have ignored it. But to act in direct conflict with those teachings would have taken an individual with such conceit, with such rigidity of mind and heart that it is almost impossible to imagine.
In behalf of our subject, this student would prefer to believe that Paul's knowledge of Jesus was minimal. That the Apostles withheld much of their information out of a justifiable mistrust of Paul. So we report Paul's actions again. In Galatians Paul swears that he only saw Peter and James the Lord's brother, and that he was only in Jerusalem for fifteen days... (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 9: Page 125)
Here, he contradicts Luke's account of the meeting. Luke is discredited by professional Christian theologians. They tell us that where Paul contradicts writing, such as Luke, Paul is to be taken as correct. This is to say that the Bible is something less than inspired by God. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 9: Page 126)
For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus..." (Acts 9:19-20; RSV)
"...I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were (A)postles before me, but I went into Arabia..." (Galatians 1:16-17; RSV)
We have shown Paul's theology, repeating it time and again. His basic concept of redemption hinges on one act. And upon the blood offering of a human sacrifice, depends salvation for the entire human race.
The balance of Paul's doctrine concerning 'calling,' 'chosen,' 'predestined,' 'pre-existence,' and 'election' are concepts that have kept the world's philosophers and scholars debating for thousands of years. When compared to the one act of 'salvation' which Paul dwelt on, they are senseless children's arguments that only serve to break down Paul's basic doctrine.
If we are 'predestined,' 'chosen before hand,' then it would not matter what Jesus suffered, those who are 'saved,' have already been 'selected.' If this is true, then there is no free will. If it is not true, though we are 'chosen before all things,' and we can fall from that 'selection,' then God is imperfect. Which would you have?
The nature of Paul's theology is speculative. It is based on conjecture. Dogma such as 'faith without works,' becomes a game of words. One cannot exhibit faith, no matter what is sworn to, without the works to prove it. Works becomes the product of faith. But if faith is unmentioned and the works of an individual cause their faith to be obvious to others, then faith becomes a product of works.
Jesus speaks of this very subject, and in direct contradiction to Paul's philosophy.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (The Authorized Version of King James: Matthew 5:16)
Honestly, we cannot have one without the other, and we cannot have one come before the other. God demands proof of what we say, think, and feel. In spiritual realms, these things that manifest may well be both! Paul's doctrines are argumentative theories, not positive truths.
Paul's organization became the tool with which he molded his congregations. The manipulators were his 'staff,' and if force or persuasion was necessary, it was asserted. Paul's words have shown us that his use of the members in his organization could range from preaching, to overseeing, to enforcing his regulations and edicts. The word used at one point was, 'extortion.'
"...So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren to go on to you before me, and arrange in advance for this gift you have promised, so that it may be ready not as an exaction but as a willing gift." (II Corinthians 9:2-5; RSV)
In bringing disputing congregations back into line the word used was 'malevolent.' He demanded, contradictory to his 'Christ-like' teachings, that they punish the dissenter who was leading those opposed to him. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 266)
If you recall, when the 'rebel' could not be punished, he demanded that the leader of the congregation be punished as an example. One might use a modern idiom, noting that if Paul found it necessary, he could use 'muscle' to get what he wanted.
He was an extremely vindictive individual.
Examples have been provided throughout the study of the letters we covered, not in the explanations of translators or theologians, but in Paul's own words. When you have it in black and white there is no need for other witnesses. What other than a sadistic nature would pray thus.
"I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves." (Galatians 5:12; RSV)
He was covetous and jealous.
He attempted to take control of congregations that he did not personally found (i.e., Rome and Antioch, for example), and tighten his grip on those that he did create. He was constantly boasting of his authority, the giver of the only 'true gospel.' And any who would dare to challenge his authority or to preach another gospel had better take great care, the 'eyes' and 'ears' of the organization were everywhere, ready to report any breach of loyalty to Paul.
He was domineering.
He made rules for men and women, even down to their hair styles and clothing. He set standards of conduct within the church that were dictatorial and stifling for those who were forced to endure them. He even reached into the private lives of husbands and wives within the congregation, though he knew absolutely nothing of the proper conduct for married men and women.
Paul thought that the effort to please one's wife or husband would interfere with being holy in body and spirit. If this were, theologians tell us, shouldn't Paul have stated that marriage was a sin?... It seems odd that anyone would claim that marriage interferes with servicing God. Paul seems to be rationalizing his prejudices. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 86)
These he based on his own constricted opinions. And if one did not appreciate his 'standards' they were reminded quickly that, "If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God." (I Corinthians 11: 16; RSV )
They were free to leave, subject to death outside the protection of the Church.
He practiced deceit.
The vision that Paul speaks of, and certainly narrated to Luke, has four different versions. No witnesses are named, but far more important, it had no consistent witnesses. They hear the voice but do not see the light; they see the light but do not hear the voice, in the third they see and hear nothing, and in the fourth, there is no one else save Paul.
Ananias is referred to, then he is not.. Paul is blinded and healed, but never experiences the healing, and then is neither blinded nor healed. Yet he has an affliction which he constantly complains about, considers himself unsightly, and claims that his eyes are practically useless, which makes the first two visions highly suspicious.
As for the fourth, one must not forget, "...I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know... And I do know that this man was caught up into Paradise..." (II Corinthians 12:2-3; RSV)
On the basis of this 'vision' Paul takes for himself the commission of 'apostle,' and when he is challenged he pouts, "...If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you..." (I Corinthians 9:2; RSV)
His claims escalate; he has seen the living Jesus, which even theologians hear with great trepidation and doubt. He becomes, Nazarite, yet openly breaks the vow of one who has attained that commission. And then is proud owner of a 'divine title.' And if there were outspoken critics, they could be dealt with swiftly. But who would dare to contend with Paul? Jesus' disciples.
He defied the Jerusalem Church no matter which way it turned, no matter what compromise they stooped to in order to placate Paul and his demands. He preached a gospel that was totally opposed to the Apostles, he brought a message that was irrevocably inconsistent with Jesus' teachings, and he denied God's Commandments (i.e., the Law).
Let us consider this charge in a complete manner. Paul insinuated that man was saved by grace alone. Yet Jesus taught that every man, in that last day, would be judged for their actions. What we do under the Law is specifically tied to our salvation, but not with Paul.
"...yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ..." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Galatians 2:16)
"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law..." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Galatians 3: 10 & 13)
"Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Romans 3:27-28)
It is apparent that Paul was absolute on this theology, a dogma that completely denied Jewish thought and teaching. It would have denied the instruction of Gamaliel and contradicted the teachings and practice of Jesus.
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, til heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Matthew 4:17-18)
"...and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Matthew 23:23)
"But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Luke 16:17)
In the end of it all, I give you a theology of law that saves. If it does not, then all things are worthy of condemnation. Since Christianity today insists that even the Holy Scriptures as revealed to Judaism speak of Jesus, let us openly pursue that reference in denial of Paul's Hellenistic theology.
"Then he said to them, 'These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. '" (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Luke 24:44)
"Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Not only does the evangelist of John contradict his own opening statement as to Jesus' sonship, here indicating the he is the, "...son of Joseph...", but he insists that it is the law through which Jesus comes to us. Jesus himself indicates that the law and the prophets give us a knowledge of him.
Therefore I remark that if the law gives us a knowledge and understanding of the Christ, then how can the law be denied? To deny the law is to deny Jesus. And if the Living Christ comes to us through the law, who is to be our salvation, then how can the law be corrupt? For if the law is corrupt, so is Messiah, and there is no redemption.
In truth, the way of our salvation is through the law, and in the words of scripture which men consider 'holy', those things on which we will be judged are of the law. Does not James, Jesus' brother, agree with this logic?
"Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith... Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?... You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead."
"Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; and from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, and by what they had done... Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Revelation 20:11-14)
"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to pay every one for what he has done." (The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Revelations 22:12)
Yet, Saul of Tarsus, had grown so powerful that even Jesus' disciples were not enough to overcome him. Today, no one in the Church dares to challenge the awesome, willful, spirit of Paul.
He was deceitful.
He purposely lied to the Elders of the Church and the Apostles about what he was preaching concerning the Law. On top of this, he went through a sacred religious ritual of purification, on false pretenses. He had purposely lied, and when at a distance from Jerusalem, he openly scorned the Twelve and went on preaching 'his' message.
Jesus is very distinct when it comes to validating the Law, and pronouncing the punishment for those who teach others to ignore God's commandments.
"For verily I say unto you, Til heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven..." (The Authorized Version of King James: Matthew 5:18-19)
And then Paul had the audacity, the impudence, to teach that, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord... For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."
This student has come to believe that it was all done out of Paul's contempt, his hatred, for the Apostles, the Twelve.
Perhaps the title he was searching for was not 'apostle,' but 'apostate.'
Why go on with the torment. This student has not supplied the charges of himself, but of Paul's written word, they are in black and white. Our problem lies in the fact that it is too late to erase the false path upon which the Church has been led. To do so now would mean the total collapse of Christianity as we have known it for two thousand years, for every doctrine the religion holds to is from Paul.
The sacrament of Communion is from Paul.
Paul would have us believe that he received the custom from the Lord. It is agreed that he had not been present at the Last Supper. Professional theologians insist that if we take Paul's words literally, we would have to believe with that Paul received his instructions in a vision from the risen Lord. For a more pointed statement one must read the following notations from professional theologians.
"...and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (I Corinthians 11:25; RSV)
Mark's Gospel has no way to verbalize this is my body, but he does have the invitation to eat. That is lacking in Paul, and in its place there stands an order to repeat the act in remembrance of Christ. Professional interpreter's and theologians tell us that no Gospel contains this; the text of Luke (22:19b-20) is believed to be a later insertion based on I Corinthians. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 137)
The body of Christ, the body of believers, God incarnate, the pre-existence of Jesus, that Jesus is human yet divine, that his spilled blood is the means of our salvation, all of this is from Paul. To admit to this fraud at such a late date would be disastrous. So in order to defend its indefensible position, the ministry, the priesthood, does not teach those portions of Paul's letters that we have critiqued. Their inept response is that if Paul wrote a letter addressed as an apostle, then he was an apostle.
Has any Christian ever heard a sermon preached on any of the subjects we have mentioned herein? Has any Christian ever heard a position taken by the clergy which would openly force a decision between, Jesus and Paul? Paul and the Apostles? Paul or God?
The results of Paul's activities on this earth have caused the disappearance of the Jerusalem Church and the religion practiced by Jesus' chosen Apostles. It has led to a religion based on false precepts and a faulty doctrine. It is a house built on sand.
It seemed strange to this student that even the gospels could be corrupted by Paul's touch, as indeed they have. But to see two thousand years of the generations of mankind who have suffered due to the results of his work, is devastating.
His desire for power, authoritative dominion, and his decisions under the pretense of that absolute control, have led the Church to practice excommunication, genocide, imprisonment, and death for unbelievers.
"...each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.... If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through the fire." (I Corinthians 2:13-15; RSV)
The 'fire' that he lit burned innocents at the stake; they were hanged, strangled, impaled, beheaded, and stoned to death... so easily misled, so many died, all for the desires of one man.
And of the power that led him? It must be considered Satan's greatest victory since Adam and Eve were banished from the garden.
The test is in the doing of the work, and in the doing of the work a decision has been made. For this student, he chooses the faith of the Twelve and Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Living Christ!