Paul, if not the actual originator of the Christ-myth, was certainly the author of the Christian scheme of salvation, which in every essential is the antithesis of the teachings of Jesus. This is tough medicine for the Christian to see yet acknowledge. In hope and in courage let us continue our investigation in order that our faith be grounded in truth and not in errors inherited from the Roman Church.
It will be interesting here to contrast this Gospel of Paul with that of Jesus.
We possess an excellent summary of the Gospel of Jesus in the Parable of the Last Judgment, which I will quote in full:
" And before him [the King] shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." " Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me." " Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? Or when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?" "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me". Notice that it was not unto Jesus, that is, but unto the "King" who is the speaker were these acts or "deeds" done.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." "Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" "Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matt. 25:32-45).
As may readily be seen, in all that is essential this parable which stesses "works" and not "faith" is the very antithesis of the philosophy of Paul. On the other hand, after reading the first two articles in this series, you should not fail to note the remarkable agreement of this parable, down to the smallest detail, with the narratives already quoted; not only as regards doctrine, but also in respect of style and diction. Without a doubt Jesus speaks of "deeds" done which leads to Eternal Life and "deeds" not done which leads to Eternal judgment. You have to admit that there is not one word from the mouth of Yeshua concerning if these addressed in this parable believed in or failed to believe in such things as his death, his Messiahship, his resurrection, his death as an atonement, sacraments, his divinity, etc.
A study of Paul's life will reveal to you that he was a mystic, ever following after the supernatural, the mysterious, and the miraculous. Paul's emphasis in "his" gospel concerns "cosmic salvation" and not an "earthly salvation" which merits Eternal Life when one dies. We find nothing of the kind in Jesus. All Yeshua's utterances relate to the mundane affairs of man in "this" life and little is said about "the world to come". Yeshua's emphasis, as well as his salvation message was always "earthly-centered"; where the rubber meets the road. Paul's salvation message was "other-worldly; mainly because he never knew the earthly Jesus and only has vision of the "cosmic Jesus". Yeshua's parables are all centered around some familiar, some "earthly" and homely event that is manifested in obedience and "works" as the fruit of one's faith. Yeshua spent over 95% of his time teaching his followers about how to live this life and in all of Paul's epistles he references only "two" of Yeshua's teachings. If we did not have the gospels, which were written after Paul and his writings, then we would not know the slightest things about Yeshua and what he believed and taught from Paul's writings. In other words, without Yeshua's teachings contained in the gospels we would not know the man or his message if we only had Paul's writings because for Paul the life and message of Yeshua was not important. Paul was more concerned with "his" gospel being received by the non-Jews than Yeshua's message which James reiterates and writes letters containing such a message which was to be taken and taught to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor following the Acts 15 council.
Oh by the way Paul was given such letters in Acts 16 and one would think that if Paul was obedient to James and the first Church Council then the bulk of his letters would yet be written would have contained many references to Yeshua' gospel. They do not! They don't because Paul was more concerned with making a reputation for himself by mass conversions of non-Jews which he figured would help with his acceptance by the Jerusalem establishment. The next time you read Paul's epistles notice how much space is devoted to his defense of his apostleship and understand he is defending himself to the Jerusalem church which knew that he "teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs" of the Jews. These "customs" happened to be manifestations of obedience to the Law and Commandments of God. So before you are misled by Christian teachings about Paul understand historically why Paul was rejected by Jerusalem. We have devoted a large amount of space on our second web site to the Paul problem and we hope you investigate it.
Now let us get to the parable at hand. Though there are many lessons crowded into the parable of the good Samaritan, but the one whichby way of contrast with the teachings of Paulis perhaps more obtrusively manifested than any other is the parable's implied scheme of "salvation." We must look deeply at the hidden message and not the obvious context. If you contrast Paul's views on salvation, as seen in Rom. 10:13 [For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved (faith only)], we find that Yeshua and Paul had two completely different ideas as to what constituted salvation. Because of the Gentile influence this and many other such key words, such as "salvation," have been invested with theological meanings they were not intended originally to convey. But a typical Christian would never know this unless he investigated for himself what Judaism taught about salvation. Over the years, as my studies increased, I found that on the whole one of the main fallacies of the Gentile Church and its hermeneutics (interpretation of Scriptures) was its failure to apply a rationalist interpretation but rather an allegorical or "spiritualized" interpretation to the Jewish Scriptures. Words have been mistranslated or misinterpreted on purpose by Gentile theologians in order to make them fit in with either their existing pagan doctrinal theology or its evolutionary projections. Jesus certainly did not understand by "salvation" transportation to a kingdom in the clouds, as has already been explained in prior articles on "salvation" as well as the first two in this series; and this will become abundantly clear the more you study and contrast the different views on salvation as held by Jews and Gentiles.
According to Paul, anybody might save himself most easily by "believing on the Lord Jesus Christ according to my gospel." I wish something so easy was true but we stand amazed when viewing the Jews who for two thousand of years now have refused to receive the "free gift" of salvation contingent only upon mental ascent to a dogma. In place of this easy salvation, the Jews continues to observe their Covenant and endeavor to observe its Covenant stipulations which is the only guarantee of acceptance and fellowship with God under such a Covenant; "the" Covenant given by God and not one of the Gentile's making!
According to Jesus, you cannot save yourself at all, except only by saving others. Those who seek to save themselves, heedless as to what befalls their neighbors, are deceiving themselves. This is the meaning of that seeming paradox that "Whosoever will seek his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life because of me shall find it." "Because of me" is understood by many scholars to mean "in consequence of my teachings, or by obeying these 'laws' which I preach unto you." The Greek words unfortunately have been translated "for my sake"; a rendering which is agreeable to Pauline theology, but quite inconsistent with the character and teachings of Jesus, and not warranted by the context.
When Yeshua said "Whosoever will seek his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life because of me shall find it" is not mere sentiment, but a necessary truth. It means that you cannot save yourself by fasting, incantations, baptisms, or mental assent to an accepted dogma about Jesus or what his death was later interpreted by Gentiles to mean. Your individual safety is bound up with that of your neighbors. Therefore to save yourself you must "save others"; you must see to it that there shall be none neglected or oppressed; that there are no pitfalls (or temptations), and that none are menaced. In short, you can assure your own salvation only by making sure that none need perish within the grasp of your influence.. This is true salvation. I was never more amazed in my life when studying the word for "salvation" over ten years ago, when after looking up every one of the seventeen different meanings for the word "save, saved, and salvation" in the Strong's Concordance that sixteen of the meanings for the word "salvation", as used in both the New and the Old Testaments, refereed to this life and not the next life after death. Overwhelming God was showing me that salvation is something for this life more than the next. But the sermons I heard since a child had told me otherwise. My Christian and Pauline doctrine had focused on "other-worldly" salvation almost to the exclusion of "salvation as manifestations of earthly deeds in response to correct doctrine. My Christian doctrine concerning Eternal Life was shown to be wrong the more I looked into things like this as my experience testified to my errors accepted as truth. Consequently my study confirmed my worst thoughts; my "deeds" were either lacking or in short supply. No longer could I feel confident of my salvation based upon what I believed that Paul wrote which was no more than "his gospel" and "his theology" which I was seeing diametrically opposed what Yeshua taught. I was a follower of Paul more than Yeshua. The last time I checked Paul is believed by no one to be Messiah, yet we believe Paul over Yeshua. This is not noticed by most, so Bet Emet endeavors to bring this to the readers attention in order that he can have a better grasp of his faith in view of hidden truths which bring correction to Christian error.
Another remarkable feature of the parable is the surprise of both the "blessed" and the "condemned"; for apparently neither of them expected things to turn out as they did. The wonder is, how this lesson could have remained all these centuries buried in the Gospels unnoticed and unheeded.
The "blessed" were quite unaware of having done anything meritorious. They probably were simple folk who attended to the daily affairs of life, feeding and clothing those dependent on them, and giving help where such was needed; not with any ulterior motive or expectation of reward, but just as part of the daily round of duties. And as part of those duties they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, succoured the weak, visited the prisoners, and comforted those that mourned. It was these deeds that constituted them "the blessed of the Father." We are not told of any other merits of theirs, whether they ever attended the synagogue or whether they were Jews even.
There is again no mention about "faith," which is so strong a point with Paul; no mention about Paul's or anybody else's gospel; about Adam's "fall" or a "promise" to Abraham; nor about "believing on the Lord Jesus Christ." Sorry to break you bubble but it simply is not there. The silence of such doctrines and their absence from the teachings concerning Eternal Life and the religious belief system of Jesus is deafening!
Just as the "blessed" were rewarded in virtue only for their good deeds towards their fellow-men, and without reference to their creed, dogmas, doctrines, sect, Pauline theology, or nationality, so the others were condemned solely because they did not attend to the needs of their neighbors. They failed to observe the Second Tablet of the Law; the same tablet Yeshua refers to consistently as "necessary" when asked concerning inheriting Eternal Life. For all we know, the "blessed" may have been Gentiles who never attended a synagogue; and the "cursed" pious Jews--priests and Levites--who spent most of their time in prayer and in fasting (First Tablet of the Law). Of such little account did Jesus consider these rites thatas on other occasions he did not even mention them; but rather choose to give greater prominence to the importance of good works, so little thought of by Paul. This is the deception. It basically boils down to this: we must either believe Yeshua and "his gospel" or Paul and "his gospel". But be not deceived; these two gospels are in direct contradiction of each other. You might never have seen this but that does not change the fact that they oppose each other.
Many Christians will say: "So what is so important about the Law and the Second Tablet of the Law... I live a good life." That may be true but let me remind you that transgression of the Law is sin and there is big difference in God's eyes between mankind doing "what he thinks is right" and "doing what God says." Often what man might feel is right or even what one has been taught by his church or pastor to do is contrary and against what the Commandments of God have commanded of all mankind to do in certain situations. These "traditions of men" have replaced what God Commanded as His absolutes. Certain conducts and behaviors, both positive which mankind is to "do" and negative which mankind is to "refrain" from are basically the Commandments of God. Such properly understood are how God has defined as Divine love in action in certain situations. Mankind when they observe them or refrain from such actions prohibited by them assure themselves of being Godly and being like God because God has defined in His Law 613 actions which He is and does and which He is not and which He does not. Mankind is required to be Holy like God is Holy and we approximate that to the degree we obey God and His Laws. We might think that a certain conduct is good and acceptable but when it replaces what God has commanded it is in God's eyes disobedience and sin. No greater example could be found than the tithe. God has commanded that gifts be given in certain amounts to certain areas in certain time intervals. When these funds called "tithes" are collected and given and used in other areas than what God has commanded it might appear to be beneficial to those areas to which receive them but the areas where God commanded they be distributed go lacking and such disobedience is sin as far as God is concerned by the "giver," not aware of such knowledge, is guilty of violating the tithing commandments yet he is giving to his church. When his pastor and his church use such funds in ways not sanctioned by God (as almost all if not all church budgets do) then even if these funds go to areas of "need" it is sin if they do not go to the areas where God has Commanded. The Laws of God command certain conduct be done and these are God's way of defining "Absolute Love in action." Since being led to believe that we are no longer under the "Law" and that "Christ is the end of the Law" then mankind has been taught to come up with plan "B" and his rationalizations appear to himself and others as "good" but his failure to obey what God has commanded is not "Godly" and let me remind you that God has commanded mankind to be "Holy," Godly and not goodly." Such is the great deception which Pauline Christianity finds itself today.
Answer for yourself: But, I hear many ask, if this is as you say, what was the religion of Jesus? Was he an advocate of "grace" to the exclusion of "works" as Paul would have us believe? Was Yeshua a secularist?
I desire the reader to note the antithesis suggested by the two words and then to reflect why or whence that implied contrast. When he has found the answer, it will be the severest indictment of the Churches that have created this antithesis and a complete condemnation of their pseudo-religion.
If we turn to the dictionary we find the word " secular " thus defined: "pertaining to this present world, or to things not spiritual or holy; relating to things not immediately or primarily respecting the soul, but the body; worldly; temporal."
It is quite obvious that theology is responsible for this definition. "Religion" and the "affairs of life"; "holiness" and "temporal duties"; "body" and "soul"; "piety" and "duty": these have not only been divorced, but made antagonistic; with the result that a religion and a piety have been evolved that are the consummation of selfishness.
To prove this we need only contemplate a piety as free from "worldliness" as conditions of life permit and the result will be, not a saint but an ascetic; a person who has renounced this world with all its duties, who has debased even his own body, in the hope of thus being able to save his own soul. As if such a pitiful human wreck could have any soul left worth the saving! Yet the irony of the whole thing is that the above scenario describes perfectly the Catholic Monks of the Dark Ages who were the poster children of the Catholic Church and their Gentile theology during the Dark Ages. This is typical of Christianity and not of Judaism; the religion of Yeshua the Jew.
I am aware that no sane person is likely to carry his fervor so far as the ascetic I am contemplating. Yet the latter would but carry to its logical conclusion the doctrine which denounces this world and its duties as "temporal" or "secular" in opposition to what the Churches consider as "spiritual" or "religious". The result is not "saintliness," but selfishness run mad.
There is a counterpart to such a "saint." It is the self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking, sensuous egotist who cares as little about what becomes of the rest of mankind in this world as the ascetic cares about their fate in the next. They are the two extremes of a false conception of existence, actuated by like motives. The ascetic sacrifices the pleasures of this world as a price for future and eternal bliss; and the "worldling" who does not believe in the future life is trying to get what "pleasures" he can out of this. Each of them is trying to get the most for himself; they differ only in taking opposite chances. That there are duties in this present world which are sacred because pertaining to this present life, does not occur to either; and in consequence both are classed in the parable among " the cursed."
If the parable teaches anything at all, it is this, that of all the iniquities and abominations none is greater than the doctrine which would divorce the duties of this life and of this world from religion, or would stigmatize such duties as "secular," "temporal " or "worldly," in opposition to "holy," "spiritual," or "religious." The classification is an erroneous one, based as it is on false conceptions of life, duty, and religion. Not that which is secular or temporal is opposed to religion, but that which is sordid, selfish, and iniquitous. This is the criterion that is decisive in the Parable of the Last Judgment. The whole religion of Jesus consists in "temporal" or "secular" duties, and of course could consist in nothing else. The aphorism of "serving God rather than man" is but an easy way of trying to escape one's duties.
You cannot serve God save by serving God's children; this is the teaching of Jesus. Your praise is blasphemy; your gifts, if given as bribes for future rewards, sacrilege; and your fasts hypocrisy. The essence of religion is this: "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these, you have done it unto me."
To live a life of love, of justice, of mercy, of forbearing and forgiving, helping the weak, succouring the needy, seeing in each fellow-creature a child of the "Father which is in heaven," sanctifying that Fatherhood by recognizing your brotherhood, is not worldliness, but righteousness; and to neglect these duties and to devote all your time and thought to praying to God for your own welfare is not "spiritual" or "holy," but sordid and selfish. Such a one is surely "so Heavenly minded that he is no earthly good."
The Parable of the Last Judgment leaves no room for doubt as to what constituted righteousness in the eyes of Jesus. The Christian Church who has traded "works" for "faith" should reexamine the parable and prepare to repent of following a "false gospel".
Long habit of thought and association of ideas have invested the words "religion," "spiritual," and "pious" with a theological flavor that assigns to them meanings that are opposite to "secular," "temporal," or "worldly." But, as I have already pointed out, the life of a praying and ascetic may be as sordid and selfish as that of the sensuous egotist; whilst a person who never goes to church or chapel maynotwithstandingbe unselfish, religious, and "spiritual" in the strict sense approved by the head of the Church and Christianity.
Let me visualize my meaning. Let us take one of each group of the "saints" and " sinners" of the Parable of the Last Judgment, and in imagination observe each in the performance of those characteristic acts which resulted in such unexpected awards. I will choose the priest and the Samaritan of that other parable for the purpose. It is not necessary to assume that the priest was cruel or callous. Maybe he was preoccupied with what he considered his duty to God to head up a ministry. Maybe he was hastening to the synagogue, where a congregation was awaiting him to conduct divine service, and in mind was rehearsing the prayer he was going to offer. Whatever the reasons, "he passed by on the other side."
Then comes the Samaritan, bent on "worldly" business, carrying some oil to market, thinking how to dispose of it and what to buy with the proceeds, so as best to meet the needs of his household. He also sees the poor man, stops, succors him, pours oil into his wounds, ties them up, then raises the patient's head with his left arm, and with his right hand offers him to drink. I want your mind to catch him in this attitude, bent over the sufferer, compassion in his eyes, but no thought of temple, psalms, or God, his whole and sole concern for the moment being how to help a stricken-down fellow-being.
And now behold the priest, decked out in his canonicals, in front of the draped altar, with hands raised and eyes upturned, chanting the praises of God; not hypocritically, but with all the fervor and devotion of a man who is convinced that on the due performance of these rites depends the salvation ofhis own soul. He never missed a church service and always set on the front row.
Compare now priest and Samaritan, the former concerned about his own soul, the latter about his strickendown neighbor, and then tell me which of the two is the "religious" and which the "secular" act? Compare the loud chantings of the priest and congregation with the silent thanksgiving that beams from the grateful eyes of the sufferer. What prayer, what hymn of praise could tongue compose or lips recite to equal it ?
Answer for yourself: Would you, after these reflections, still call the service of the priest "divine" and that of the Samaritan "secular" or "worldly" ?
I found the following comments by I. Signer most insightful and I hope you do as well. "I grant that, to the eye, the priest's is the prettier picture. The priest's religion is also much the easier to follow. But do not tell me that it is the "warmer," or that it can satisfy that secret yearning of a truly devout soul which seeks happiness in the consciousness of having done its duty. Do not misunderstand me. I am not speaking against church, pastor, or priest. Far from it. Both have a mission, and a sacred one. It is their errors I am trying to expose; errors inherited from Gentile Christianity and their fraudulent document which contains them the New Testament. It is good for people to congregate and to join in prayer, in dealings of thought and of sentiment. Such acts stimulate religion, but are not religious in themselves. They may be aids to religion, but cannot be substitutes for it. Go to church by all means. But if you should pray or sing a hymn to God that shall be acceptable and the acceptance of which you shall feel in your heart, I challenge you to take home with you that hungry mother with the half-starved infant in her arms standing at the street corner in the hope of alms that you passed up on your way to church. Feed the child and then watch the mother's eyes. Hymn after hymn and prayer after prayer will ascend, and no doubt the divine spirit in your own heart will receive and respond to songs and prayer, but although never a sound is uttered in such good "works" as the fruit of your faith, there will come the promised response to you: 'Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me'" (I. Singer, The Rival Philosophies of Jesus and of Paul, p. 89-90).
"But our duty does not end with feeding mother and child and dismissing them with a present, however generous. You cannot buy your salvation in this easy fashion. You will have to find out the cause of that woman's distress, and if it be due to some social wrong or some social institution, then the fault is at your own door. No amount of praying can relieve you of the duty to help to remove the iniquity through which that woman has been reduced to that pitiable plight. The rabbis teach us that such confrontation with religious error is the sanctification of the Name of God and failure to confront one who teaches contrary to the only true religion God gave mankind profanes the Name of God. Nor can you be safe yourself while that pitfall is allowed to remain" (I. Singer, The Rival Philosophies of Jesus and of Paul, p. 90-91).
There is an unmistakable correspondence between the character of Paul and his teachings, as there is between the character and teachings of Jesus. But there is no conformity whatever, nor any point of contact, between the two philosophies, "gospels," or the characters of their respective authors.
Whether we compare their lives, doctrines, or trains of thought, Paul is in every respect the antithesis of Jesus. Paul was austere, narrow-minded, bigoted, doctrinaire, superstitious, and intolerant. Jesus was in every respect the opposite.
Thus we might go on showing that every doctrine or dogma of Paul was a negation of something which Jesus enjoined on mankind as necessary for their regeneration.
Indeed, if it were not for the misuse of terms, Paul might be described as the veritable "Anti-Christ," in the sense of being an adversary of the only true religion God gave mankind; the religion of Yeshua .Biblical Judaism whereby the non-Jew by faith and works is grafted into Israel and does not find his standing with God apart from the Israel of God.