One of the biggest and most controversial questions in NT studies continues to be that of the origin and nature of the Gospels: Two centuries of critical study have clarified some matters, but there is still very wide disagreement as to whether the Gospel accounts are broadly or only marginally historical. Paul is potentially a most important witness in this case.
One view of Paul, as we have seen, is that he was not interested in the historical traditions of Jesus. Jesus "according to the flesh" - to quote a phrase from 2 Cor 5:16 - was unimportant to him, and he apparently knew little of Jesus' ministry (S. Wilson, Jesus and Paul, pp. 114-115).
We have drawn to your attention the fact that Paul mentions little if anything concerning the teachings of Jesus in his epistles and again his writings amount to 2/3 of the volume of the New Testament. Again this speaks of the gnostic influence upon Paul and the gnostic threat to "Jewish Christianity" and the true faith of God. This failure on Paul's part to emphasize Jesus' teachings stems from his Gnostic leanings in certain areas. But it is not as simple as that. Let me explain.
Gnosticism is not a simple subject to tackle. Religions agree that man and the world are imperfect. Where they differ is in explaining why they are so, and in what they propose should be done about it. Generally speaking, man is held to blame for the situation. There is, however, an alternate view, namely that the world was imperfect from the start, that the blame lies not with man, but with God, the Creator (Gnosticism). The process of creation by this imperfect Creator produced a world full of errors, sufferings, sickness, death, sin, etc. Within this imperfect world are imperfect men and women. Yet within mankind we find not only a perishable physical component but a spiritual component which is a fragment of the divine substance, or, to extend the light of symbolism, a "divine spark." Within mankind the "physical flesh" fights against the "spirit man" for mastery. Man is generally ignorant of the spark of divinity that resides in him, and the lower powers of creation seek to keep him ignorant by encouraging and gratifying the physical appetites and passions of the "natural" man. Unawareness and ignorance keeps mankind in the subjection to the lower evil powers of creation and it is only through knowledge (gnosis) alone that mankind can liberate himself; knowledge of the way to combat or outwit these evil powers and enable the soul to achieve reunion with God as it desires. This saving knowledge cannot be discovered in the world, the realm of darkness. This "saving knowledge" must come from the realm of light, granted either by revelation (illumination) or brought by a messenger, a transcendent savior (in this case Jesus as taught by Paul). Here is where we find the gnostic Paul.
Paul's gnostic Christ departs from Judaism in that he does not bring salvation from sin through faith and obedience to the Word of God as found in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings; rather, the gnostic Christ brings salvation through special knowledge which is available only to the "elect" who accept and believe certain things pertaining to him (divine gnosis/special knowledge).
This gnostic Christ comes not to save by example where mankind sees his example of faith and obedience to the Commandments of God but rather salvation comes through secret knowledge and religious doctrines which redeem those who accept and believe such "religious truths." Such gnostic salvation demands not contrition, obedience, and confession of sin with a life containing the fruits of repentance. Gnostic salvations comes in "what you know" and in this instance what was needed for the nations to "know" was Paul's gospel message of the saving event found in the identity of Jesus, his death, burial, and resurrection as a "semi-divine man." This provides the impetus for evangelization of the world in hopes of spreading this "secret knowledge" about this gnostic Christ of Paul's making because they have not been told yet this "special revelation of knowledge" necessary for this salvation from this evil world. In such teaching of this gnostic Christ we find that which is central to the "salvation message" was not the Torah, the Commandments of God, obedience, confession of sin, repentance, etc. Ascent to a set of mental beliefs and religious doctrines concerning this gnostic Christ was all that was necessary for salvation and Eternal life.One just has to have "faith" in this Jesus and the salvation story of this "resurrected" divine man. As you can see with such a "gospel" as taught by Paul the human Jesus and his teaching intended for this world is relatively not important besides all things "physical" and of the "flesh" are fruits of an imperfect God. It is best to preach and teach the "Christ of Faith" (the risen spirit man) instead of the "Historical Jesus." Because this God of the Jews failed to make a perfect world then many held God in contempt and this resulted in the repudiation of all thing "fleshly;" thus one can see that it naturally follows that in a world where "flesh" is imperfect that it cannot become "perfect" so why fight it. Contempt for the Creator resulted in repudiation of moral principles and prohibitions and the assumption of a status above the Law, where anything is permissible.
Answer for yourself: Now do you understand why Paul teaches that the Law has passed away?
Thus we find the real reason for Paul attaching to the death of Jesus that men are no longer bound by the Law is because of Paul the flesh is of no importance; the spirit man is. All of these conclusions stem from gnosticism and Paul was gnostic to the core. Jesus, in opposition to what Paul taught, continually taught repentance and submission of one's flesh to the will of God where the Commandments of God were to be loved and obeyed. Jesus, being a good Jew, understood that it was only in such a way that this world would be changed. Again, in this regard both Jesus and Paul stand at opposite ends of the theological spectrum.
Because of this "gnostic" thought in the religious beliefs of Paul he would write in a manner concerning this Jesus where he reveals his preoccupation with the spiritual Jesus and not the human Jesus by not sharing with his reading audience the life or teachings of Jesus. If all we had available to us were the writings of Paul then we would not know almost anything about Jesus at all since Paul only related two sentences regarding what Jesus taught. This lack of importance of the "flesh" and the "human" Jesus is seen as the fruit of this particular religious belief system and, as said, Paul's gnosticism is confirmed by his almost complete silence upon the "human" Jesus and what he stood for and believed. Again what Jesus believed and taught was secondary for Paul as he was concerned only with the "spiritual Jesus" who had appeared to him according to Paul, and who, according to Paul, offered salvation to those who "knew" him and the "secret and esoteric" knowledge concerning him and his "secret salvation" which would be available only to those who understood his death in that particular way. You need to understand that this "salvation" was exclusive only to those who came to the knowledge of this "saving act" of Jesus and accepted such notions by faith. This is Paul's gospel. This "mental ascent" to this Christian religious doctrine saves according to this "gnostic" religious beliefs system.
And all the while you thought Paul's "gospel" was God's real message of salvation if you were a Christian. Now you know better.
Answer for yourself: I know every Christian looks to Romans 7 and 8 as a high-watermark of Pauline writing where he confesses the absolute failure of his "flesh" to do what he desires to do and what he desires to do he again fails because his "flesh" lets him down. Then in Romans 8 he praises the risen "spiritual Christ" who enables him to do what is right because he "lives in him" and "empowers him" to do right where before he could not do right. On the surface the non-informed sees this as a lovely testimony of what the spirit man can do if enabled by the power of the risen Christ who dwells within him.
Answer for yourself: If a Christian is to give Jesus credit for the good we do, then should he get the blame when we do wrong and sin? According to Paul's idea he should. I hope you see the ridiculousness of this doctrine. If anyone knew anything about Judaism he would laugh at such a statement by Paul in Romans 7 and 8. Any 5 year of Jewish child knows that the Torah and the Commandments of God are here to train us in Godliness by developing habits of conduct for our lives since these Commandments are expressions to mankind of what God is and does and what God is not and what He does not do. When we model ourselves after them through our free will then we choose to "be ye Holy because God is Holy." We are commanded to "choose" this day whom we will serve. The question of our service, either to God or evil is ours and not Jesus'. The Torah was given to show man the way, and when he fails, and God knew he would, then this same Torah give the remedy for our failure. It is not some mystical union with a risen "spirit man" but repentance, confession of sin, prayer, almsgiving, restitution, etc. The Torah teaches us how to achieve a state of Godliness and acceptability before God without the aid of intermediaries like the Gentile nations have. Paul, if a Pharisee of Pharisees, as he states, makes then the worse confession possible for any Jew; in fact he repudiates the whole essence of Biblical Judaism in Romans 7 and 8 and nullifies the religion of Jesus and his message for Jesus' message is Torah-centered where repentance is the first step toward the Kingdom of Heaven on earth (THINK).
Maybe it is time to start your own personal study of Biblical Judaism, the real religion of Jesus to see what exactly the historical Jesus really believed and then give serious consideration to be come a follower of the historical Jesus instead of the Jesus of "faith" which departs from Biblical Judaism.
If one understands Biblical Judaism then you understand that there is only one thing wrong with Paul's analysis of the spiritual condition of mankind. His teaching in Romans 7 and 8 is in error. If Paul was a good Jew then his testimony would be the surrender of his flesh to his spirit (the spirit of God within him) whereby he submits himself to the Commandments of God and choose to serve God by obedience to the Word of God. This is something that a person is responsible for and not another "ghost" living within him. What makes this so confusing is that in places Paul teaches Biblical Judaism and repentance and in other places in the New Testament he has abandoned it for the "mystical Christ." Since all of his writings came after his encounter with this "mystical Christ" then you would think that he would not be inconsistent in his writings, but he is. He seems to have not decided one way or the other because the New Testament reveals Paul's theological dementia where he oscillates between "the Christ of Faith" and the "historical Jesus;" between Biblical Judaism and his "unique Gospel" that replaces it. Understand that with each character, "the historical Jesus" and "the Christ of faith," Paul has a separate doctrine for each and again these conflict when compared. One minute the Law is good and the next it is evil. No Jew in Judaism ever believed that they were saved by keeping the Law; rather, once saved by faith in God, not Jesus, they were obligated to live by the Law as a guide in life because it was their Covenant stipulation before God which, when obeyed, guaranteed them right standing before God.
Answer for yourself: Now, did you know that the famous passages often used in sermons from Romans 7 and 8 is the testimony of Gnosticism and not Judaism, the religion of Jesus, and all along you thought it was Christianity and supported by Jesus?
Again in Romans 7 and 8 we have the total repudiation of the Torah and it's message of salvation to the world and Paul is behind it.
For Paul it was the living Christ who mattered, the Christ who died and rose and who would one day return. These ideas not only existed with Paul but were preached by him everywhere he went along with being propagated in his writings. And by best guess Paul's writings preceded the writing of the gospels by 50 years most likely. Thus we find that Paul had a demonstrable impact and influence upon the subsequent writers of the Gospels. Indeed, it is widely held that the early Gentile church generally shared Paul's outlook: Its members were fired by a consciousness of the resurrected-living Christ and by an eager expectation of his imminent return. If this picture of the early church is anywhere near the truth then it follows that the church was unlikely to have carefully preserved or transmitted the stories and sayings of the "human" Jesus; that was not their concern.Our Gospels, therefore, are not based on a historically reliable tradition but on a fluid and relatively haphazard tradition, in which stories of Jesus have become mixed up with all sorts of additional and interpretative material. Such is the conclusion of many scholars, and appeal is made to Paul as an important witness to this process (D. Wenham, Paul: Follower Of Jesus Or Founder Of Christianity, pp. 7-8)
This fact helps explain how pagan traditions and facets of solar and astral worship held by sun-worshipping Gentile nations are interjected into the New Testament accounts of Jesus where he is made to be a mixture of Judaism and sun-worship in his religious beliefs and teachings (both by him and others about him).
The Jesus of Judaism is mixed with the Jesus of Rome in the New Testament.
This "New Testament Jesus" and the "Jesus of Paul" never lived and such a depiction of him, both by Paul and the later Gentile writers of the Gospels who were influenced by Paul's "non-human Jesus" only lead us astray in our search for truth concerning the historical Jesus.