In the previous article I provoked you thoughts by showing you that the New Testament consists of competing and conflicting Gospels .one from Yeshua which stresses "deed" over "creed" to inherit Eternal Life and one from Paul which stresses "creed" over "deed" for Eternal Life. One is wrong and one is right!
It is not difficult to trace Paul's conversion and the genesis of his philosophy out of his own writings. His mind at the time when he journeyed to Damascus was obsessed by two sets of ideas: the heresy of the Nazarenes and the Scriptures. Paul would later come to find out he was wrong and the Nazarenes, instead of being a heresy, was indeed orthodoxy. That was not the only thing Paul is wrong about as we are seeing. We have deal with Paul extensively at many of our websites; in particular the most important of them all: http://paulproblem.faithweb.com. Yet in fairness to Paul, there is a great chance that much of his writings and thoughts were "reworked" by Rome in the production of the New Testament as many of his beliefs have a closer affinity to paganism than Judaism. The "re-working" of Paul and the continued theological writing in "Paul's name" is undeniable when one if confronted with the facts but yet this does not remove Paul from his synthesis of Gnosticism and Pagan Mysteries in his own presentation of Yeshua to the Gentile nations.
As his zeal drove him from place to place hunting for heretics, his restless brain must have been actively searching the Scriptures for arguments to confound these dissenters from orthodoxy, with the result-as happens so often in like circumstances-that suddenly the other side of the proverbial "coin" flashed into view and gave a new direction to his thoughts. This is what I hope happens to our readers when provoked to deeper thought than usual when confronted with undeniable facts which expose the fallacy of faith in fiction.
Paul was present at the stoning of Stephen, and heard the latter's defense of his belief. He must have listened to many such speeches and arguments (based on Scripture texts) from those of the sect whom he hunted down and dragged before the priestly tribunals. Their arguments are bound to have left impressions on his mind, which gradually would create doubts as to his own beliefs.
If at any time such a doubt arose in Paul's mind and we know that it did arisethere was but one way of settling it; namely by the Scriptures.
We have seen what were Paul's conclusions and the kind of arguments on which these were based. The Messiah, it occurred to him, had been promised; therefore that promise "needs must have been fulfilled." There was no getting over that " fact." Not only had Paul nothing more substantial to start with or to build upon, but it would have been quite impossible to suggest to him anything more convincing or reliable than Scripture prophecy. For himat that time--there was, and there could be, no more solid fact. In later years Paul would substitute his own gospel for the Scriptures (Ignatius Singer, The Rival Philosophies of Jesus and of Paul, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., p. 26)
Once such a thought has taken root in a mind like Paul's, all the rest is bound to follow as mere matter of logic. There is no objection that cannot be met, nor contradiction that cannot be explained-according to the scriptures. The Messiah had been promised, so that promise must have been fulfilled.
But who was the Messiah for Paul? There seems to have been some doubt at first whether this distinction belonged to John the Baptist or to Jesus. It was settled, if not by Paul then by someone before him, in the only way in which everything relating to Christ has been settled from the days of Paul down to our own time: "It is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee" (Mark 1:2) That settled it. John came first, so he was the messenger and therefore Jesus was the Messiah.
But no sooner had one such difficulty been solved than others cropped up, which kept Paul busy all his life-and others after him to the present day. It was satisfactorily settled that Jesus was Christ the Saviour. But, being Saviour, he should have saved. Yeshua died, however, and left things pretty much as he found them. Shall it be said then that Christ has failed in his mission? " God forbid," says Paul; let us search the Scriptures.
Paul never went to that oracle in vain. He discovered what till then had been hidden from all the wise, Jesus included, that in and through Adam all have sinned: and so he argued that "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. 15:21-22).
Therefore, according to Paul, Jesus saved us by dying for our sins. His death was the act of salvation: he gave himself as a ransom. Notice however, according to Paul, Jesus died not, however, for everybody, but for those ONLY who believed in him. I sure would not have wanted to live in the first century, say in Iceland, because if I had, according to Paul, the chance of the news of Yeshua's death for my sin surely most likely would not have arrived in Iceland in time for my consideration. Most likely, not having radio or television in the first century, I would have died in Iceland never hearing such a "gospel" and the inability of Jesus to make sure such a "necessary" message we be taken to me would have surely doomed me. Somehow the "necessary" part of this is such a stretch to the serious thinker that the capriciousness of Yeshua is at stake.
As if that was not enough, as stated in the first article when one investigates Gentile pagan religions one finds that such "necessary" tenants in Pauline theology for Eternal Life were lifted straight out of pagan religions. It was this clever synthesis on Paul's doctrines patterned after pagan religious doctrines throughout the world that guaranteed the ease of the spread of Gentile Christianity as well as the easy of the Catholic Church's world-wide acceptance of Paul's Gospel since it had a little bit of something from everywhere which almost everyone who heard it was somewhat familiar. For Paul it was easy to get the Gentile nations to "accept" what they already believed in; the names of their gods and godmen were changed and Paul presented Yeshua in the "pattern" of which the Gentile nations were already familiar. Ironically the Gentile "believers" of the Pauline Gospel had to give nothing up to accept this "Jesus" as he was just another in a long line of godmen of which they were already familiar. The quotes of the early Church Fathers is startling as they admit that the Christian faith is little more than rehashed paganism!
Paul limits "salvation" to his "gospel" and to only those who "believed in it". This limitation was obviously necessary, or there would have been no further need for Paul or his gospel. Salvation, therefore, was made conditional on belief in the gospel of Paul. The true and conflicting Gospel of Yeshua, the Jew, was not taught by Paul. This is astounding but in all of Paul's writings he mentions only 2 of Yeshua's teachings (one sentence each), and after doing that, Paul is quick to bring his own interpretation on the matter as if we needed it. According to Paul, mankind were still in their sins, notwithstanding the ransom; but by "believing" and by "baptism" anybody could bring himself within the operation of this "new dispensation." This is where "faith" came in, and explains the necessity for the strangest of all doctrines, that faith counts for more than works ["creed" counts more than "deed"]. If you remember we proved in the first article in this series that this is not what Yeshua taught on the matter. The questions remains: "who will you trust for Eternal Life" Paul or Yeshua?
Following such reasoning it follows almost as a logical necessity that "he who believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be damned." There you have it in a nutshell. Case closed!
In this way Paul solved difficulty after difficulty, built up by successive stages his theory of salvation, and established his own authority above all else, in the end even over the Jewish Scriptures.
There were disappointments which, in the case of a less resourceful dialectician, might have proved fatal to such reasoning. His deductions did not always work out in fact as logic led him to anticipate. "Salvation," he taught, meant exemption from death. But nevertheless some of his "saints" died just like other folks. Such contrariness did not perturb Paul's faith in his own deductions any more than it would affect a theologian of today. The incident merely required explaining; and Paul "proved," quite satisfactorily it seems, to his misled followers, that in their case death was only a quickening process to prepare them for the new kingdom.
"Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (I. Cor. 15:51-54).
Thus what to most men would have meant a crushing defeat, Paul turned into a victory which enabled him to comfort his doubting followers. "For this we say unto youby the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (I. Thess. 4:15-17).
Paul wants us to believe that his "gospel" is the word of the Lord. The Greek word is Strong's # 3056 Logos:
Notice that Paul is referencing his "vision" as the "word of the Lord". There is only one problem. This same Paul says in 2 Cor 13:1:
1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (KJV)
We have Paul's own admonition that every Word from God must pass the test of being verified in the mouth of two or three witnesses. We simply do not find such a doctrine as espoused by Paul in the New Testament in the Old Testament or in the writings of the Prophets of the Old Testament. It is just not there; thus our problem. In fact just the opposite of what Paul taught is found in almost every book of the Old Testament and the Jewish Scriptures. Verification of Paul's doctrines, by two or three other witnesses as taught by Paul himself, are simply wanting. This brings into question the veracity of such a doctrine as taught by Paul.
According to Paul those who "are fallen asleep in the Lord" actually had a slight advantage over those who remained; for they, being already in possession of their new and incorruptible bodies, will have precedence over the others." Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (I Thess. 4:15-17).
The "comfort of these words " seems still necessary after about eighteen centuries of waiting! The comfort is necessary because the "teaching is wrong!"
Many other such difficulties cropped up, one after the other, but they all had to yield to Paul's irresistible logic. Whenever the facts were against his conclusions, so much the worse for the facts. And the Scriptures, the source of his inspiration and his sole authority, fared no better. When one has a through understanding of he Jewish Scriptures in the Hebrew, and these committed to memory, then when one approaches the Pauline corpus of literature in the New Testament, one finds hundreds of misquotations, mistranslation, verses taken completely out of context, as well as the lifting of parts of two or three Jewish passages and combining them in order that they say something completely different than what the original authors intended. This escapes most Christians who have not dedicated themselves to such intense study as I and others. When, for instance, he was spurned by the Jews (among whom he had only a scant following) and had to turn to the "heathen" to get a hearingthough still insisting on " the Jew first"he had neither difficulty nor scruples in "proving" that "uncircumcision was no bar to salvation," since the Law no longer applied. For, he argued, "if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of none effect" (Rom. 4:14).
Answer for yourself: What "promise"? One made by Jesus?
Far from it. Jesus is never so much as quoted by this self-appointed apostle of "Christ." In Acts 20::35 Paul is represented as quoting from Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." But nowhere in his epistles does he quote him.
It is another Scripture text which Paul had unearthed-a "prophecy"that had not the slightest bearing on the matter he was discussing, and the sole office of which was to lend support to his fanciful theories. Here is the "promise" as quoted by Paul: "its it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations" (Rom. 4:17). Therefore, argues Paul, "if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void and the promise to Abraham of none effect."
In this wise Paul argued difficulties out of his way, showing from the Scriptures how this or that proposition of his must needs be so, until, by a master-stroke, he proved from the Scripturesthat the Scriptures were no longer of any account at all:
This is the way Paul met the objections of the Jews when they opposed Paul and used the Jewish Scriptures to counter his teachings. Not being able to meet their arguments, Paul got rid of the Scriptures themselves. According to Paul or the pro-Pauline author of the book of Hebrews as well as the pro-Pauline author of the third chapter of Galatians which was not in the original Galatians but added to the book well after 150A.D. and most likely after 180 A.D. by Irenaeus: The old "covenant" has lapsed and a new one has taken it's place.
Answer for yourself: What is the problem with the verse as taken from Heb. 8:13?
The word "covenant" is not present in the Greek manuscripts available to us today; in fact the context of the whole passage refers to the "priesthood" which disappeared after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Many scholars understand and attest that Hebrews was written long after the 70 A.D. destruction of the Temple and priesthood and is not prophecy but back-written history that addressed the absence of the priesthood in the wake of the Temple's destruction. The "theology" of the Gentile church necessitated the insertion of the word "covenant" in order to complete it's replacement religion and the nullification of the Jews and their eternally valid covenant with HaShem. The Gentiles to whom this was taught knew no better quite like the Gentile church of today.
So for sake of argument and since "covenant" has been added to the passages in our Christian Bible in the book of Hebrews (although in italics which indicate it's addition) then we must ask: What has taken its place? I will let Paul himself answer this question: " Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel" (2 Tim. 2:8). No longer, be it noted, "according to the Scriptures," but "according to my gospel." " In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel" (Rom. 2:16). "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). How clever of Paul to pull it over the eyes of unsuspecting and Biblically illiterate Gentiles who knew little if anything of the Jewish Scriptures or less the teachings within them regarding God and His Covenants.
Answer for yourself: Whence had Paul his gospel, for which he claimed such authority that he would tolerate no interference with its decrees even by an angel from heaven?
I will again let Paul give his own answer: "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12).
In a trance, that is; for, as we shall presently see, Paul never had any communication with Jesus himself either directly or indirectly; never even troubled to inform himself what Jesus taught by consulting those who might have known. After his conversion he waited 3 years before he went and spoke to the Apostles, and then after a short visit where he saw Peter and James, it would be another 14 years before he would see the Apostles again. Indeed, it is his boast that his knowledge is all derived by "inspiration." Here are his own words: "I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me" (Gal. 1:16-17). Again, "It pleased God . . . to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen" (Gal. 1:15-16). Notice if you will Paul's comment that the Son was "revealed in me " and not "to me."
We cannot know, of course, what communications Paul had with God; but we can prove for certain that he had none with Jesus; for his conversion did not take place until after the death of Jesus. How long after may be surmised from a statement of Paul's to the Corinthians: "He (Jesus) 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" (I Cor. 15:5-6).
All these are cited as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, so they are witnesses of the resurrected Christ only. There is no mention of any one of them having known Jesus when still living. Now, whatever may be the value of their testimony in this connection, it is good evidence that Jesus had been dead at the time when there was a sect in existence of "above five hundred brethren" whom Paul had persecuted (Gal. 1:13); I which again is good evidence that Paul did not join them until years after, when "some had fallen asleep."
These believers evidently were among those who believed in the resurrection of the body, a doctrine which, according to Josephus, was held by some of the Jewish sects. Some of these evidently believed that Jesus had risen. The disappearance of his bodythought by many to have been removed probably by his friends so as to protect it against desecration by his enemiesmay have given rise to this belief. The memory of Jesus was held in reverence by many of the Essenes, and particularly by the "Nazarenes," as the sect was called when Paul joined it. "For we have found this man (Paul) . . . a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24: 5). But he was not known to them as "Christ," and they were not known as "Christians," until after Paul had become a convert and succeeded in convincing some of them of his theories, as is plainly set forth in Acts 6:25-26).
"Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Paul: and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church [of the Nazarenes], and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11:25-26). The "disciples" were those of Paul, of course.
It is as plainly established, therefore, as any fact in history can be established, that it was Paul who conceived the idea of the "Christ," and that this must have happened many years after the death of Jesus.
When, therefore, Paul claims to have received his apostleship directly from "Jesus Christ," it must be understood that he refers to the Christ of his hallucinations, and not to the real Jesus, whom he had never met. Indeed, it is highly doubtful whether Jesus and Paul were contemporaries.
I base this statement on the following considerations The stoning of Stephen must have taken place some years after the death of Jesus, for at that time already there was "a church which was at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1). Paul, who was present at this stoning, was then "a youth," who looked after the garments of those who performed the stoning. Much laterthat is, when he arrived at manhood's estatePaul persecuted the Nazarenes, and must have been fairly advanced in age when he became a convert himself; for he says of himself (I Cor. 15: 8) that he "was born out of due time"i.e. late in age. (Cf. also Philemon 5:9, "Paul the aged"). Now, the "youth" could scarcely have been described as such had he been older than say twenty years; and Paul could hardly have been less than forty years at the time of his conversion. This makes twenty years between the stoning of Stephen and the conversion of Paul. To this would have to be added the years which elapsed between the crucifixion of Jesus and the stoning of Stephen.
We will conclude this series of articles in the 3rd in this series.