Friday, January 8, 2010
"The Pauline Conspiracy" by A. Victor Garaffa (Part 2 of 4)
This letter dates approximately 54-55 A.D., and is written in the city of Ephesus. Peake's Commentary, dates it slightly later. ("If time is allowed for his journeys since he left Corinth, Paul's letter may be dated c. A.D. 55-6, its place of origin being Ephesus." Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 954: 829a)
It was a city which had fostered a society of 'loose moral character', and even having accepted Paul's teachings, saw no reason why they should have to give up their sexual practices.
Obviously this problem would be accentuated in Paul's mind since he took a stand on the opposite side of the scale, absolute abstinence. How then might he consider himself an authority on marriage, and the social and marital differences between husband and wife? Your guess is as good as mine, but he does.
The meat of this writing, however, begins in another direction. As we have already noted, Paul used the title of, apostle, with the pronoun, 'we'. Now he uses it of himself.
" Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus..." (I Corinthians 1:1; RSV)
Keep in mind that the meanings of the terms, apostle, Christ Jesus, and saints, are inventions of Paul's mind. The name Jesus, and the title, Christ, are used extensively in this letter, and most improperly as the Interpreter's Bible notes. In the first ten verses, the name appears ten times. Christ is no longer used as a title, but a proper name. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 19)
In this letter, the first known challenge to the use of the self-proclaimed title appears. Paul must make a defense and so begins with the use of a commission, which correctly belonging to only twelve men, by the will of God through the direct proclamation of the living Jesus. Taking the tone of his letter into account, and the character of the man, Paul makes certain that he answers the challenge by claiming the commission to himself, "...by the will of God." (I Corinthians 1:1; RSV)
Paul's thinking is empirical as he tries to defend his self-proclaimed apostleship. He claims that his calling is by Christ Jesus himself. This, therefore, would be in accord with the will of God. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 14) This type of claim is beyond argument and cannot be questioned by man. One may accept, or reject, the claim but it cannot be argued. Unfortunately, Paul's congregations chose to remain silent.
Other than the mention of this commission in I Thessalonians, Paul has made no claim that the 'living' Jesus had appointed him as an apostle. It had no part in any of three renditions of his conversion vision, but might be explained due to the work of others and the respect they were given by the 'church' in general.
Barnabas, Timothy, Apollos, and even Cephas were agreed by all to have authority in the cities which housed the new church. Cephas especially since he was an Apostle appointed by the living Jesus. These men had labored far and wide in organizing and establishing congregations in the various cities, now it would seem that Paul must have a 'badge' in order to carry on his work.
Is this then, a sign of jealousy? Perhaps it was Paul's way of saying, "I am as good as you, see what I am doing in Jesus' name?" Later, he does make this claim, but time will tell. T here is more that we must make note of at this point.
Paul's use of the word, 'called'. Paul is 'called'; the congregation is, "... called to be saints..." (I Corinthians 1:2; RSV)
Though it will be discussed later, we repeat the fact that Paul was a Jew, and a Pharisee. In the letter to the Romans, Paul also expounds on this word, which becomes a theology of 'election', which will be fully explained at that time. The Chosen are 'called', 'predestined' by God. This becomes a major theme in the life of the modern church and its most gifted theologians, including Luther. Keep in mind that 'predestination' was a major theme of the Pharisees, Paul's Jewish sect.
It is also proper to call one's attention to the guile with which the man operated, even at a distance from the various congregations. First, he applauds them.
"I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge - even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you - so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift..." (I Corinthians 1:4-7; RSV)
When they have been taken in by this apparent compliment, he turns on the congregation and denounces the very matters on which he had just congratulated them.
The letters in general, began with a 'thanksgiving', and were followed by a salutation. In this letter, it is slightly ironic. Paul gives thanks for some of these 'spiritual' gifts, but he becomes very critical of them in the body of the letter. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 18-19)
Paul criticizes the Corinthians and their claims about speaking in tongues (chapters 12-14). (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 19; Para. 5-9)
Paul immediately addresses an urgent problem in the Corinthian brotherhood, there are those who have taught there beside himself; Apollos and Cephas (Peter). Evidently they have taken novel approaches to the gospel, or have been so accomplished in their teaching that members of the congregation are attracted by the magnetic personalities of these two men.
Paul immediately takes exception to this natural reaction. But rather than facing it on the basis of his own envy, he makes it appear as though the two men are attempting to lead the congregation away from Jesus.
"What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas..." (I Corinthians 1:12 RSV)
But Paul adds another, "...I belong to..." in an effort to keep the gathering his own. It is a pretense pure and simple.
"...or "I belong to Christ." (I Corinthians 1:12; RSV)
One would seriously doubt that a congregation called together in the name of The Christ, would suddenly cast him aside. Neither Apollos or Cephas would ever preach in a manner detrimental to Jesus. What seems to have happened is that members were attracted to one or the other teacher, a simple, human reaction. Paul, however, must take it to the extreme.
Obviously, since Cephas' and Apollos' taught the Gospel of Jesus, and their teaching was so enjoyable and attractive, it would lead the Corinthians directly to a closer life in the Christ. They certainly did not preach for personal gain, nor did they preach a gospel other than Jesus as Messiah. Paul's true purpose is clear. The actual problem that Paul sees in their idolizing one or another person as a teacher, is the fact that it takes away from his authority.
Even professional theologians have enough insight to recognize what is going on. As they state, Paul's complaining was not, "...primarily theological but personal," and "...the real cause of dissension lay in allegiance to individual teachers." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 20-21)
Paul explains that he is happy that he did not baptize many lest they begin to say, "...they were baptized in my name." (I Corinthians 1:15; RSV)
Of course, he must immediately list all those whom he has baptized since his egoistic nature will permit nothing less. Never lacking for words, Paul continually gives himself away. He has also revealed something which he might better have kept secret. Disclosing his agents does away with their ability serve him in the future.
"For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren." (I Corinthians 1:11 RSV)
Whether in the congregations themselves, or within the parties that Paul sent out to them, there were those loyal to Paul who were ready to report to him on everything that took place within the 'church'.
His dialogue then goes into a discussion of 'power' and 'wisdom' as things of the world.. To him, they are useless in coming to know God. At this point, his writing leaves even the learned theologians and translators in the dark as to his meaning. If he considered these congregations as simple and lowly, they would certainly have been lost in Paul's, 'technically philosophical phrases'. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 33)
"...but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are..." (I Corinthians 1:27-28; RSV)
The bravest of theologians can only surmise that this statement was possibly a, "... technical philosophical phrase." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 33)
Paul makes little of wisdom and knowledge, they have become of no account to know God's will or His way in this world.
"For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (I Corinthians 1:17; RSV)
How Paul could consider that his preaching of the gospel, in any manner, could lessen the cross is beyond my understanding and the understanding of others. It is enough to realize that at this point, having congratulated the Corinthians on their knowledge, he now deflates all that he has built up in them.
If the gospels tell the truth, the 'rulers of this age' did not crucify Jesus, (I Corinthians 1:17; RSV), but used a path of deception through Pilate, to save Jesus. This must be considered on behalf of a billion and a half souls who do not believe that he died on the cross. In truth, Paul knows nothing of Jesus' trial or his apparent crucifixion. He certainly could not have heard it from the Apostles, for they were not there either.
Paul has laid claim to several things at this point; a vision that marked him for a service that he had attempted to destroy, a "Nazarite" calling, predestined as a 'chosen one' of God, an apostolic commission, the sole founder of several groups of believers, and now the full power of the Spirit of God so that he and the 'saved' might, "...interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit... The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." (I Corinthians 1:17; RSV)
Beware, for Paul makes this an innocent statement in order to reprove the Corinthians, but in his mind Paul considers himself to be that spiritual-minded being who is above judgment. Worse, Paul here takes aim and openly attacks another in anger, broaching his slander by telling the readers that he cannot speak to them as a spiritual being as long as they are divided.
"For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?" (I Corinthians 3:3; RSV)
The point of Paul's displeasure finally makes itself plain.
"According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it." (I Corinthians 3:10; RSV)
Realize that all of this furor because two other men, one of whom is his own disciple, Apollos, and the other a chosen Apostle of the living Jesus, Peter, had taught within the Corinthian congregation. And at that with greater popularity than Paul was able to muster, for he admits later that he was no equal of these other men when forced into public speaking.
"...a weighty letter writer but an ineffectual and contemptible speaker." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 966: 844e)
But even now, Paul must prove himself master above all other men, he must be the only one in authority, the only one approved above all others. Paul must assert in absolute terms, that which he has done cannot be improved upon by any man.
"Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 3:11 RSV)
From the lips of those who would deify Paul, we have the following. Despite any facts to the contrary, the basic concepts of the 'church' must be protected. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 47)
They also insinuate that Paul did not build on the work of others, despite the fact s that speak of Barnabas' work, and that of Peter and the disciples. And as if to justify an outright lie, they quote Paul's writing to the church in Rome, in which he had no part in founding. Yet he had the audacity to write to them announcing that he was coming to them, as their 'leader', to set them straight.
However, with his disclosure, Paul announces the penalty.
"...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." ( Corinthians 3:13-15; RSV)
Paul has become the voice of the destroyer, and we will shortly see what he means by being saved, "...as through the fire." It brings us clear insight into the workings of the man's mind, which has just begun to hint at his jealousy of the Twelve, and his inordinate need for unquestioned authority.
As important, is the influence that Paul had on the infant church, the Papal authority during the dark ages, and even on the church as it exists today. This growing picture of the missionary is also exhibited in the works of good Christian theologians, so this thesis cannot be far afield in its statements.
The statement is made that God commissioned Paul, by grace, which made him an apostle. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 47)
Of course, even the professionals have no evidence of this except Paul's own written word, and their conjecture at this point is as dark and meaningless as Paul's statements. But to go on.
The theologians wonder if the 'Cephas' faction considered Peter their leader because of Matthew 16:18? (Upon this rock I build my church.) They think it is possible, and they even consider that Paul might have had such a tradition in mind. Obviously, he would have resisted such an idea. They refer to (Gal. 2:11), where he openly embarrasses Cephas to his face. He would not allow any opposition to his authority, and would not lose an opportunity to make little of the disciples.
This certainly must have been an oral tradition, obviously the Gospel of Matthew was unknown at this time. Then, is this a valid argument on the part of professional theologians?
Paul was in absolute conflict with the Twelve, especially Peter and his calling by the living Christ. Later we will see that the same attitude, if not hatred, was exhibited against Jesus' brother, James. And as is already evidenced, Paul's self-appointed dominion was not to be challenged by any one. If Jesus' choosing of Peter was even known to Paul, he most assuredly would have acted to oppose and ignore it.
And at this point we must face the fact that the church is absolutely aware of Jesus' word in this matter, yet the church is totally Pauline. Paul's teachings, Paul's tradition, and Paul's authorship are the modern church. Peter is only a figurehead to the Catholic Church, and to all Christendom; Jesus is the godhead, the object of their worship. The very thing that he warned us against.
"...Oti Ego Eimi...", I Am, (The New Testament: Mark 13:6: The interlinear Greek-English New Testament).
If we were to admit that Peter was to be the 'head' of the church, the foundation upon which it was to be built, then we would have to look to the Jerusalem Church for the basis of our religious practices and our traditional beliefs. But the church that he and the Twelve gave birth to no longer exists, it was inevitably destroyed by the work of Paul, or was it?
"And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it."(The New Testament: Revised Standard Version: Matthew 16:17-18)
Was Jesus in error, was his edict not to be followed by those who claim to be his disciples? Or, as others infer, have we all translated the Greek text in error. Paul totally changed the destiny of Christ's intended congregation, and the church has obviously ignored Jesus' pronouncement. For certain they, at the least, put another translation on his words.
And there is also the chance that rather than allowing others to destroy the true Church, the Lord God hid His house from those who were to prove unworthy of His judgment. Let us continue to examine how this came to pass.
Paul now introduces the concept that God dwells in each of us, in the mortal confines of man, and therefore, we are holy. To destroy that 'temple' is to be guilty of sacrilege. Of course, the innocent have no idea of what the act that condemns them might be except for Paul's teachings. Once again Paul sets up a condition of punishment through which men might become fearful, and through fear Paul can manipulate his congregations.
The statement: If God's temple is holy, and we are the temple, man must be holy. Thus Paul opens the way, in ch.. 5, for a tirade on the moral degradation within the church." (The interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 49) (Peake's Commentary on the Bible does comment on this verse.)
"If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him." (I Corinthians 3:17; RSV)
Without question, Paul was a master of words and achieved far more from his letters and memorandums than he probably did in his personal appearances. We may draw that conclusion from his own words about the immense popularity of Apollos, Barnabas, and Cephas. And being a genius of literary manipulation, Paul renders his designs as the true virtuoso, even though he may contradict himself in order to draw all men to his web.
"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself... Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes." (I Corinthians 4:3-5; RSV)
This said, Paul is about to make a judgment which must draw our attention and our understanding. First however, Paul once again insists on his commission as an 'apostle' in matter of fact terms, as though the title has been approved and understood.
"For I think that God has exhibited us apostles..." (I Corinthians 4:9; RSV)
And he adjures the congregation to see him as their father and to imitate him.
"For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you then, to be imitators of me." (I Corinthians 4:15-16; RSV)
The implications are plain, no explanation is necessary. The gospel Paul refers to is his own.
Paul then exhibits what this student can only understand as a threat, and at this point in time with the organization he had at hand, Paul could enforce it.
"Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church." (I Corinthians 4:17; RSV)
By the list of his staff, the student should be aware that Paul had a large number of individuals that he could send to the various 'churches' to 'enforce' his teachings, to check on the activities of the congregations, and to oversee that his rules were adhered to. Later we will see the sinister overtones of this system when we discuss Paul's letter concerning the 'donation' to the church in Jerusalem, and his pronounced punishment of the congregational leader at Corinth.
Also keep in mind though Paul may name a single emissary, such as Timothy, he never sent them alone.
"Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power." (I Corinthians 4:18-19; RSV)
If anyone believes that this student is alone in understanding Paul's methods, take note of what good Christian scholars have to say. "...Paul ends with a threat..." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 58)
If one were to substitute the modern idiom, Paul might well be saying, "You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?" This student cannot but imagine the great consternation with which the church anticipated Paul's arrival. They must surely have been afraid of him. In all, this sounds a great deal like a religious sect that holds its 'family' together by threat of punishment and fear, one that is subject to the anxiety of constant surveillance.
Chapter five gives us the opportunity to see Paul's character in action. Withholding judgment; love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness dissipate in a moment.
"It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among the pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife.... Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (I Corinthians 5:1-5; RSV)
First, it is obvious that Paul's authority has grown beyond human bounds. Paul judges, not by his own power, but in the name of Jesus! He asserts that even if he is not with them, when the congregation assembles, his spirit is present with them with the power of Jesus. The missionary appears to have reached the point of paranoia. Delusions of grandeur flower his thoughts and speech, and his power is most assuredly evidenced by his 'judgment', although it is purely a physical power.
The first horror is that he judges the person without even being present, which means he never even faced the party. He did not speak with the person, nor did he give that individual the opportunity to defend himself, or to deny the accusation. The second horror is even more terrifying.
His decision to, "...deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh..." could only be accomplished by putting him to death. And to what purpose? "...that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Did Paul actually believe that a sinner's soul could be saved in the day of the Lord, by condemning him to death? Destroy the physical body and the sin would be put away. Then the 'cleansed' soul could still reach salvation? This is far beyond any concept held by the Jewish faith, or the Pharisees' religious philosophy, but it was most certainly a revered understanding within, Mythranism, a pagan religion of Paul's time.
And if one is put off by the suggestion that Paul wanted this 'sinner' put to death, then I refer you to professional scholars and interpreters.
Some individuals believe that Paul's reference, "To deliver...to Satan", meant excommunication. But to the theologian, and interpreter of this text, "...Satan for the destruction of the flesh", can only mean death. Paul calls for the man to be put to death." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 62)
"The Corinthian church had tolerated one of its members living with his stepmother." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 956:832a)
Though Peake's Commentary links Paul's statement with excommunication, they also admit that physical death, as well as spiritual death, is expected. (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 956: 832b)
Paul condemns himself by his own words, and they have been set in granite for two thousand years. Where is mercy? Where is patience? Where is the love that Paul writes about? And where is the forgiveness of the Christ? Evidently that Spirit and Power were not in Paul, for Jesus' life experience and actions were foreign to him.
Where did Jesus condemn rather than exhorting the evil to, 'come out' of the sinner? Where did Jesus condemn rather than tell the sinner to, "...go and sin no more." Where did Jesus condemn rather than embrace the sufferer and bring that one into his being through a healing? Where did Jesus condemn without facing those accused?
"The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?... he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."... and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." (John 8:1-11; RSV)
But Paul judges without even being present, and condemns the man to death! This is the 'fatherly' figure he wishes 'his' children to imitate.
It is unfortunate that for centuries, the 'church' put into practice Paul's tradition of excommunication and the execution of sinners, those who did not fit the measure of the 'church'. Hundreds of thousands met an agonizing end as a result of Paul's 'gospel'.
Even the learned question Paul's course of action? They ask if Jesus would have done this, or would he have been more merciful? A bitter question is asked by the theologians. "Is this the love which Paul is later to commend which "bears all things... hopes all things?" (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 63)
Paul was a master of words, and words come easily to a hypocrite. It now appears that he might also have been a master of contradiction and deception, for as he himself has stated, he was all things to all men, a Jew to Jews, a Gentile to Gentiles, a Greek to Greeks. Even Jesus never accomplished that feat.
Surely, the convicted and the congregation would have been better served had the man been assigned to them for instruction, his membership being paroled until he satisfied the governing body that he had repented of wrong doing. He might have been saved and a worthy member reinstated into the body of believers. At the worst, they would have proven the true nature of Jesus within themselves.
Paul then reflects on those whom he would judge, those within the church. He admonishes his followers not to associate with any one who, "...is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber - not even to eat with such a one... is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Drive the wicked person from among you." (I Corinthians 5:11-12; RSV)
No more foul, oppressive atmosphere could have been created for those who wished to exist within the body of believers. Not to speak of its dangers, for it manifested itself in spying, accusations, and excommunication over the centuries to come. And if one is quick of mind, the aspect of judging seems an absolute contradiction to the teachings of Jesus, and Paul's earlier statements.
"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:11-13)
One must wonder if The Christ would have been accepted in Paul's congregation. He has done, and said, what Paul forbids.
Nothing could be a more grievous stroke against Paul's character. What is revealed is the fact that Paul wanted absolute authority within his 'saved' congregations. He wanted nothing to do with the 'world', and by his influence, now relegates the rest of the world to God.
"...Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?" (I Corinthians 5:12-13)
And one further note adds to the complex workings of the man's mind. Paul's unconditional belief that Jesus died as a human sacrifice is stated without fear of contradiction.
"For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed." (I Corinthians 5:7; RSV)
It must be understood that in his preaching to the Gentiles in the Corinthian church, Paul continually falls back on his knowledge of Jewish law and the Holy Scriptures. (The Old Testament, but probably not the Masoretic text. Paul most likely, as a Hellenist, used the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Holy Scriptures.)
Excommunication, abstention, and the belief that the saints would judge the angels, are all based in Judaism. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 70 (in reference to I Corinthians 6:3)
In this case, however, the 'saints' are all those who are to comprise the new church. To them, he institutes his rule of disassociation with the world. But this is only the beginning. Paul is to set many regulations for his followers, which today, most of us find heinous.
Within the scope of criminality, Paul's list grows, and it is Paul who will decide who fits into which category.
"Be not deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10; RSV) The Interpreter's Bible: See Volume 10; Page 76 (Paul writes not from the Greek point of view but from the Hebraic...)
Paul not only comments about marriage, but makes it a living rule within the church, and the life he imposes upon women is monstrous. This is a matter which we must take one step at a time. We are dealing with a person who has no first hand knowledge of women, let alone marriage. We are dealing with a person who looks upon the female of the species as sub-standard, some sort of bond slave, even by Jewish standards.
Gen. 2:18, "It is not good that the man should be alone." Paul believed the opposite, thereby setting himself at variance with the usual Jewish point of view." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 76)
Celibacy was not a Jewish practice. Paul was unmarried and may have decided that being single was best in view of his Messianic expectations. (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 957: 834b)
For the most part, it would appear that Paul approved of marriage for one purpose only, so that believers would not fall into the trap of sexual immorality. This we will look at in detail since it discloses, even more deeply, Paul's increasingly irrational thought patterns.
"It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband." (I Corinthians 7:1-2; RSV)
Paul states it plainly. In order to avoid sexual misconduct, marriage is allowed as a concession, a concession of Paul's. He reiterates the same purpose for marriage involving the unmarried and widows.
"To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (I Corinthians 7:8-9; RSV)
Are we speaking of a narrow-minded bigot? The only reason that Paul sees for marriage is, sex. To his mind there was no other reason for marriage.
Paul also insists that the husband, and wife, should give each other their conjugal rights. (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: Conjugal rights; the sexual rights or privileges implied by and involved in the marriage relationship; the right of sexual intercourse between husband and wife. (See I Corinthians 7:3; RSV)
He admonishes man and woman not to refuse each other except by agreement in order to devote themselves to prayer, "...lest Satan temp you through lack of self-control." (I Corinthians 7:5; RSV)
It is obvious that Paul's singular view of marriage concerned itself with sex.
Paul speaks of divorce in the sense that it is best not to divorce, but if it becomes the case, the individual should remain single. The Interpreter's Bible, makes a grievous error here in an inexcusable attempt to parallel Paul's treatment of this subject with Jesus. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 79)
Mark 10:12 is explicit in a wife's right to divorce her husband. Her right to divorce is not rejected here or in the Law. But if she uses that right, then she must remain single, or it bears the penalty of sin.
"...and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
On the contrary, this statement of the Law by Jesus affirms the woman's right to divorce. The difference here is that Paul does not give any reason for the wife to remain single. He absolutely defies Jesus' teaching on the subject.
From that precipice, Paul leaps into believers and unbelievers being married. Jesus never even contemplated this event, but Paul considers that the believer consecrates the unbeliever. (I Corinthians 7:12-16; RSV)
In Judaism, in a Jewish state, the question would never be broached. They married within their own society and faith, even going so far as to command an absolute prohibition on marriage to Samaritan Jews.
Once again, we must contend with Paul's generalization of religious terminology. God's calling to individuals is a very specific, personal experience which involves a 'real' communion with the Lord God. Paul uses it as an everyday, common occurrence.
"Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him." (I Corinthians 7:17; RSV)
Apparently, in Paul's view, a calling was based on the individuals' decision rather than an actual 'calling' by the Lord God. This gives away the reality of Paul's 'conversion' vision. And how can we take this position? Because after all is said and done, Paul gives himself away.
"This is my rule in all the churches."
"And so ordain I in all churches." (I Corinthians 7:17; KJV)
Paul rules, Paul commands, Paul orders. At the least, he compromises, gives permission by concession, but he is the standard by which all things are set. And if any one dare to think that we have escaped these dictatorial circumstances after two thousand years, they are sadly mistaken, for Paul rules the church to this very day.
In his 'advice' concerning the state of marriage, Paul shows us that he was ill informed on the basis for marriage and its irreconcilable consequences in being devoted to God.
The Interpreter's Bible, possibly tired of attempting to defend an indefensible position, finally makes a valid statement that this student can agree with. And in the end, declare what should be obvious to everyone. "Paul is here rationalizing his prejudices." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 86)
The theologian is being kind, for there is another good reason that Paul did not simply come out and demand abstinence. Injecting himself into every facet of the congregation's private lives, he is obviously attempting to strengthen his rule over the community. But he does not yet have sufficient control to demand an end to marriage and sexual intercourse among the believers. As previously noted, the further we go into the organization that this man devised, the more it rings familiar as a sect under rigorous scrutiny and strict regulation.
As though to accentuate this very premise, Paul himself makes the point.
"A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I have the Spirit of God." (I Corinthians 7:39-40; RSV)
In his egotism, Paul reduces a woman beyond subservient level. By 'bound', does Paul see women as 'bond servants'? Possibly, for his opinion of women is also about to be espoused, and it is prominent in certain Baptist churches today, with all its conditions of servitude.
But the final straw is his blatant, swollen opinion of himself. "And I think that I have the Spirit of God." In other words, 'I am speaking as the Almighty, and my word is law.' (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 89)
One might believe that he was totally unqualified to make suggestions on the subject, but that, of course, did not stop Paul. From there he goes on to instruct the church on food offered to idols. This is interesting because it involves Moses Law, and in denouncing the Law of God, Paul is forced to do some serious double-talking.
Paul has already stated that, "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything." (I Corinthians 6:12; RSV)
Paul dares to insinuate that he accedes to nothing except by his own choice. After all, he has stated that he has the Spirit of God, therefore he is not even subject to That One. If Paul were knowledgeable enough to be referring to Mark 7:15, where Jesus says that, "...there is nothing outside a man by which going into him can defile him...", he is off the mark! Jesus' statement had nothing to do with God's dietary Laws.
Mark 7:19; "Thus he declared all foods clean."
Christian theologians and scholars agree that Jesus would never have advocated eating any foods forbidden in the Law, to his followers. And that his statement was meant to show the importance of moral cleanliness over the ceremonial. One must connect the context of the statement with goes before and after it. They consider that verse 19 is only found in later manuscripts and appears to be an addition to the original text. This is a common practice throughout the later centuries. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 7: Page 752-753)
Jesus statement would not appear to include a spirit entering into a man, for were not the demoniac and the possessed child both defiled?
And here we have another example of Paul's refusal to admit to any authority other than his own, for we have been told that these edicts, concerning the dietary laws, came down from a decree of the Jerusalem Church.
"As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the Apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem." (Acts 16:4; RSV)
In this letter Paul takes up these issues as though they were his decrees. The authorities in Jerusalem are not mentioned, as though all of this were Paul's decision.
Paul gives the impression that these issues had not yet been decided in an authoritative way. Therefore, he brings Luke's writing, Acts 16:4, into question again. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 89)
It is not so much that Acts is incorrect, but the fact that Paul keeps changing events to lean in his direction. He lies! Did the twelve and the elders issue an edict concerning such things, or is it all Paul's 'superior' knowledge? Rather than discrediting other authors, it would be best for Christian theologians to consider the true nature of Paul rather than trying to justify him.
Paul begins, "Now concerning food offered to idols..." and he immediately embarks on, "...we know that all of us possess knowledge." "Knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know." (I Corinthians 8:1-2; RSV)
Then Paul goes back to, "Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols..." (I Corinthians 8:4; RSV)
The entire statement is nonsensical, it means nothing and his line of thought is irrational. He has already 'stoned' wisdom, and now he is 'bashing' knowledge. Paul tries to rationalize his statement by saying, "...we know that "an idol has no real existence,"..." (I Corinthians 8:4; RSV)
We may also take this verse as it exists in the King James Version, and in this instance, perhaps it is more to the point.
"...we know that an idol is nothing in the world..." (I Corinthians 8:4; KJV)
We are in total disagreement with this idea, and so are God's Holy Scriptures. If idols were 'nothing', or had no 'real existence', the Lord God would not have struck down the Jews that followed Aaron to worship the molten calf made of gold, while Moses was on the mountain. The 'golden calf', and its adherents were done away with because of the power it possessed through the minds of its worshipers. (Exodus 32; RSV)
If idols held no power and had no real existence in the world, why did the Lord God furnish Aaron with a staff which was a bronze serpent, and through this 'idol', heal the ills of the people in the desert?
"And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." (Numbers 21:8; RSV)
And did not Paul himself make an idol out of Jesus' cross? You see, an idol of itself is not evil, it is merely a graven image (though they are banned by the First Commandment). Even as Joshua, before crossing the river Jordan, counseled the tribes to leave the gods of their fathers and join him in the worship of the One God. The gods were not spoken of as 'evil', for they most certainly existed in the world and had power.
"Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel... And Joshua said to all the people... now therefore fear the lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the river, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:1-18; RSV)
There is no connotation that these gods were evil, or that they were powerless in the earth. It was a question of one nation serving the One God who had led them out of Egypt and through the desert, rather than remaining divided in their spiritual loyalty. The people who worshiped these gods were not considered evil either, nor were they chastised.
So by the example of God's Word, Paul is wrong, but then he is not preaching God's word, but Gods' word as Paul perceives it. In doing so, Paul flaunts the command of God and ordains a path that the church has followed to this day in denying God's dietary Laws as being superficial and meaningless.
The truth stands aloof, for even if God's rule was meaningless, do we not uphold it simply because God commanded it? This was the basic reasoning of Jesus when he upheld the Law, we obey because God ordained it, not because we understand His wisdom. Paul denies all.
"But some, through being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do." (I Corinthians 8:7-8; RSV)
On the basis of this student's previous statement, Paul is in error, and in teaching his followers to disobey a simple command of the Lord God, denied the teachings of Jesus, and has misled the church. In its place, Paul substitutes his own ordinance. 'The condition of sin is not breaking God's commandment, but leading others astray by your actions'.
"For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died." (I Corinthians 8:10-11; RSV)
Peake's Commentary agrees with this suggestion, and brings it to a head. They define Paul's words as saying what we eat or do not eat won't be questioned on judgment day. Our sin would be in leading others astray by our actions. (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 958: 835a)
It does not matter how one tries to justify Paul's beliefs, on the day of judgment we will be judged by the things we have done. That includes how we have followed, or tried to follow, the ordinances set down for us by the Lord God. And if He sent His son to guide us in these things, we have an obligation to honor him.
Then which will have been better for us, to break God's commandment for the sake of men, or suffer in the eyes of men in order to follow God's will. Ignoring the God of Creation just because it insults another, would seem a willful disobedience, even at Paul's demand.
You see, 'All things are lawful for me,' has brought Paul to this conclusion, that, "...sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is the cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall." (I Corinthians 8:12-13; RSV)
Jesus said many times, 'If you have ears to hear, then hear; if you have eyes to see, then see.' If the character of the man named, Paul, is not becoming clear by this time, wait, for the best is yet to come.
It is now obvious that Paul's claim to apostleship has been challenged, and by the highest authority. He makes it clear that the objection has come from the Twelve, and his venom is released against them in defiance. His dislike for the Twelve, including James, Jesus' brother, is never hidden. Perhaps we should not use the word, 'dislike', envious or jealous, would be far more appropriate.
He has already disagreed with Luke's account of his first visit to Jerusalem where Luke states that he met the disciples. Paul says he did not! He disagrees with Luke where that writer, Paul's companion and friend, states that the decree concerning food came from the Jerusalem authorities, i.e.; the Apostles. He claims that it is his own and ignores any connection with the Twelve! And now that Paul has used the title 'apostle' publicly, the word has obviously been received by the Apostles in Jerusalem, who must have objected strenuously.
"Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" (I Corinthians 9:1; RSV)
What does Paul mean by 'free'? Free to use the title of apostle? Free to use whatever designation he chooses whether it be true or not? Free to choose any commission he needs in order to establish his authority?
Paul was most assuredly not an apostle. He was not chosen by the Living Jesus, he was not numbered among the Twelve, whom he despised. Theologians offer an explanation to this claim which is as ridiculous as Paul's, but we spare nothing to continue man's tradition though it has no substance.
These learned men want us to believe that Paul's claim was valid because he introduced himself in his letter that way. I pray they are being sarcastic. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 98)
This insidious dribble opens a door which would allow anyone who addressed a letter as an 'apostle', to be worthy of that title. This sort of professional bantering is a poor excuse on which to base Paul's claim, and he agrees, for in the next breath he admits his chicanery, for someone has obviously challenged him.
"If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you..." (I Corinthians 9:2; RSV)
To paraphrase this statement would be ludicrous. 'Well, I may not be an apostle like them, but at least I am as far as you are concerned.' He is challenged, and he backs down, but not before he uses the church to convince them that they are the proof of this fraudulent title.
"Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?" I Corinthians 9:1; RSV
"...for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord." (I Corinthians 9:2)
Paul has generalized a specific commission, one that was appointed by Jesus with the full consent of his Heavenly Father. Now anyone, especially Paul, could appropriate that designation on the basis of his works. It is as if he is saying, 'If Jesus did not choose me, then let my works speak for my right to claim my apostleship'.
Paul's theology is that works do not justify the individual, nor do they elevate the person. Faith alone is sufficient, but here it is convenient for him to change ships in mid-stream, a common tool of the expert impostor who is attempting to justify an untenable position.
And as far as his claim to have seen Jesus, it is another of Paul's un-witnessed assertions that changes in the telling of the story.
Revisit Galatians 1:16. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 98)
This student refutes this statement for Paul never saw the 'living' Jesus, nor did he receive his ordination from Jesus. Like Paul, the writers of that text have forgotten, Ananias, who was chosen to instruct Paul after his 'vision. And in like manner, they have forgotten Barnabas who led Paul to Jerusalem and his future vocation.
The verse that the theologians have chosen to prove their text is one that tells us just the opposite, and in fact, admits Paul's contradiction of Luke's version of the story. Remember his claims to Nazarite calling, that he is the living rendition of Jesus, and that he did not confer with Jesus' disciples in Jerusalem.
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood; neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were (A)apostles before me..." (Galatians 1:15-17; The Authorized KJV)
Poor Luke. But having made a poor defense of his position with no help from our modern translators, Paul does not give up. His attack narrows and allows us to see his target quite plainly.
"This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by [a sister], a wife, as the other Apostles and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?" (I Corinthians 9:3-6; RSV)
The Twelve followed Jesus' command and received their daily bread from those into whose homes they were invited. They carried no purses but received compensation from those they served in Jesus name. They did not go hungry. If Paul wished to mimic the Twelve and bow to Jesus' behest, then he had the freedom to do so even though it still would not have made him an apostle.
Again, it is convenient for Paul to change positions once more, complaining bitterly because he does not have the comfort of a wife, or sister, to accompany Barnabas and himself on their journey. This from the same person who just belabored the church at Corinth about remaining celibate! Who wished that all the church would remain single as he has done!
And then Paul uses the Law of Moses, which he claims over and over again is of no value and of no avail to man, in trying to assert his rightful claim to a share of the profits of the church.
"For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop... If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits?" (I Corinthians 9:9-11; RSV)
The point is met, for if we preach the Gospel in hope of benefit of any kind, then we are judged by the Gospel. It is as Rabi'a prayed to God, a lesson for us all in seeking God's kingdom with a sight toward reward of any kind.
"Perhaps her most famous saying was that in which she prayed to God that, if she worshiped Him out of fear of Hell, then He should consign her there; and if she worshiped Him hoping for Paradise, then He should exclude her from there; but if she worshiped Him for His own sake alone, then He should not keep His eternal beauty from her." (A Popular Dictionary of Islam; Billing & Sons Ltd; 1992: Page 209)
According to Jesus, the reward of the disciple must be offered, not demanded or sought after. Paul does not have Jesus in mind, but rather his enmity against the Twelve. He has changed from shifting ground to shifting ground until even theologians must turn against him on this point.
They state that the Law here does deal with domestic animals who work for men. Paul could not believe that God would care for oxen. He thinks that (Deut. 25:4), deals with ministers of the gospel and their right to be paid. They insist that he is wrong. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 101)
Paul then leaves an argument which has suddenly turned from the disciples to the very church at Corinth.
"But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing to secure any such provision..." (I Corinthians 9:15; RSV)
Then why did he bring it up! Of course, such an impassioned argument would bring the desired results, an offering of provision from the church. But Paul's gospel is, "...free of charge", or so he says. (I Corinthians 9:18; RSV)
Within the body of this letter, Paul began by defying the Twelve, by complaining about his right to be equal to them, wailing about his right to take his share of the 'harvest', to 'boasting' about his personal sacrifice for the 'unsaved'. What he does is to reveal himself as the chameleon, ever changing as the need and the opportunity arise.
"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law - though not being myself under the law - that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law - not being without law to God but under the law of Christ - that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (I Corinthians 9:20-22; RSV)
To Jews he is a Jew, to Gentiles he becomes a Gentile. He is within the law, but above it, he is outside the law yet has no need of it. He is the perfect hypocrite.
Not even Jesus himself accomplished this feat, nor did he try. To do so would have been to subvert the true message of his Heavenly Father. Jesus never tried to accommodate men, but rather challenged them to know the legitimate meaning of God's Law. Jew, Gentile, free or slave, Jesus did not bend to their will or their mannerisms, and for this he earned their hatred, their contempt, and their fear.
Paul forfeits the Law of God, leaves the path that Jesus set his disciples on, and proceeds to run a race. For what?
"...that I might by all means save some." (I Corinthians 9:22; RSV)
This is another of Paul's inventions that must be questioned, and no theologian or interpreter can assist us, for what does it mean to 'save' someone? Save them from death? We all die! Save them from eternal damnation? Who can know the state of another's soul? Who has the power to 'save' or 'condemn' other than That One who can give Life?
It is another 'spiritual' phrase that so easily flows off the lips. And to conclude this amazing statement, Paul gives us the reason for his endeavors.
"I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I might share in its blessings." (I Corinthians 9:23; RSV)
Not for the sake of helping others to understanding, not to satisfy God's Law, not for filling the empty heart, but to earn for himself a share of the 'profits'. The same discourse he followed in bringing up his right to share in the material profits of the church.
What did Jesus suffer for? Obeying the will of his Heavenly Father... obedience, not for his own sake but for love's sake, the love of his God.
"Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedeck." (Hebrews 5:8-10; RSV)
Paul did not know this and Paul would not have accepted it. To him, Jesus was not the source of salvation, but the sacrifice for salvation. He would not have Jesus living, but the tradition of Jesus dead and risen. And he continues to bring up his 'rights', and the 'free' gospel.
"...that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making use of my right in the gospel." (I Corinthians 9:18; RSV)
If one has studied the letters we have covered to this point, it is obvious that Paul's gospel is not free. To accept it, to become part of it, one must be subservient to Paul. One must follow Paul's rules and Paul's understanding of Jesus' purpose in the earth. One is not permitted to think for himself, only to obey. But more of this will be covered later, the point will be proven by the man himself.
And again we hear the constant banter about his 'right'. It is as if to impress his followers, to impress those captured in his 'spiritual' web, that he has 'rights' earned, deserved, as an 'apostle'. It is a constant, unending message that goes on through all his writings. If it is not openly stated, it is inferred, spoken with the consummate skill of the practiced contriver.
The proof is not long in coming, for in this same letter, Paul brings up the question of food again. This time, his words give him away without question. Paul speaks of shunning the, "...worship of idols." (I Corinthians 10:14; RSV)
Paul has already condemned idols as being of no account, of being unreal, so food offered to them may be eaten without fear of conscience. Of course, a man of good sense would not worship something that did not exist! But without thought of the consequences of his next statement, Paul offers us worse.
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?" (I Corinthians 10:16; RSV)
Moments later, a line is drawn between this 'participation', and eating food offered to idols.
"What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God... You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons." (I Corinthians 10:19-21; RSV)
This student asks one question, is partaking of the blood of a human sacrifice not demonic? Is it not partaking of the table of demons? And in a more sober vein, Paul agreed that circumcision would not be necessary, but abstaining from, blood, would be one of the four requirements for Gentile converts. Paul not only breaks his agreement with the Apostles, but also his oath as a Jew, a Pharisee, and a Nazarite!
But Paul asserts throughout that salvation lies within that act, and it leaves theologians and interpreter's totally confused.
Theologians ask a telling question. "Why does Paul, instead of speaking directly of sharing in Christ, use such a phrase as participation in the blood of Christ and in the body of Christ?" What was apparent to some before, should be obvious to all now. Cults, pagan rituals may well have influenced Paul's thinking. They finally suggest that perhaps Paul, "...had in mind such an interpretation of the Christian Eucharist." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 114) (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 960: 837e)
Where or why Paul conceived of this doctrine, his theology has come down to us through the Catholic Church. It is dogma which insists that in the cup and the loaf we partake of the actual flesh and blood of Jesus.
At this point, having blundered into an indefensible conundrum, Paul gets even deeper into trouble.
"If one of the unbelievers invited you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then out of consideration for the man who informed you, and for conscience' sake - I mean his conscience, not yours - do not eat it.) For why should my liberty be determined by another man's scruples?" (I Corinthians 10:27-29; RSV)
Obviously, Paul did not minister by example! To him, all things are lawful, so why worry. Ignore God's Law, ignore Jesus' absolute dedication to the Law, and for heavens sake, try not to offend anyone!
"Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please all men in everything I do..." (I Corinthians 10:32-33)
In what manner a human being could honor all three points of Paul's edict at the same time, this student could not begin to tell you. But this is plain, it is a mistake to incur God's wrath by trying to please men, rather than God. In pleasing God it is right to scold a man when his principals are in conflict with God's. This is Jesus' example. What did his disciples suggest to us by their works?
"So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:18-20; RSV)
Paul is speaking not only of God's Law, but of our moral standards. They are one in the same, for contaminating ourselves through our 'habits' deals with our 'ethics'. Paul ordains that the only consideration for our ethics should be whether or not we insult other men. Beyond this, I would offer an example of my own, and you judge what is right.
Suppose we accept an invitation to the house of a friend and the height of his hospitality, his moral conscience, is to offer us his wife for the night. In consideration of the man and for his conscience sake, should we not accept her? This was the practice of certain American natives and Asian countries, for many years, and not in the all too distant past. Should we respond by giving terrible offense to that man and his beliefs and refuse his offer, or should we compromise our God and his Ordinances? No, it is the same thing, for in either case we defile the body, and Paul has instructed us that the body is the Temple of God.
It would seem that to follow Paul's advice in these matters would be to invite calamity. But, he desires that we do so.
"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1; RSV)
This is extremely problematical since Paul's writings indicate that he appeared to have known little about Jesus, except to profit by his death. In any case, the statement is about as self-indulgent as one can get. It is the height of arrogance, since Paul claims; "For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting." (I Corinthians 9:16; RSV)
The King James is even more direct.
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe unto me, if I preach not the gospel." (I Corinthians 9:16; KJV)
Yet here, Paul boasts as being the 'perfect' example. Then he goes a step further, and it is important that he do so, for at this point if he does not impress everyone with his importance, what is to come next might end in complete revolt.
"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you." (I Corinthians 11:2; RSV)
What traditions? He certainly knew nothing of the orthodox view of Creation of man and woman. He has completely disregarded the Creation story in which God created man and woman at the same time and as equals.
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply..." (Genesis 1:26-28; RSV)
If this is not enough to convince everyone that man and woman stood on a level footing from the beginning, then God's word is for nothing. If we must take the second report of the creation, which is not the orthodox view, we still stand on granite, and opposed to Paul.
"Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Genesis 2:18; RSV)
The Hebrew is, 'help mate', and consigns neither to a lower position over the other. Most certainly woman was not to be a 'bond servant'.
"So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs... and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman..." (Genesis 2:21-22; RSV)
This is Paul's argument for the superiority of man over woman.
"The head of a woman is her husband." (I Corinthians 11:3)
"...since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.)" (I Corinthians 11:7-8; RSV)
Paul is in error. Paul is wrong according to God's word in Genesis, and according to orthodox theology and belief. The word 'rib' in the Hebrew is, Tsela. However, the very same word, Tsela, means, 'side'. As in, 'the other side of'.
The orthodox view as stated in the Rabbinical schools of the time, indicated that the first view of Genesis was correct, and that Genesis 2, exhibits an edited version which originally indicated that the 'female' was the 'other side' of man's nature, 'Tsela'. This student would accept this view since it comes from the highest authority, and its validity is indicated by the following scripture.
"...and they become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)
In the beginning God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And they were, 'Tsela', both sides of one nature, one being, and one flesh. Obviously Paul did not get this instruction from the school of Gamaliel, nor from the most learned Philo, nor from the historian Josephus, none of whom ever make mention of the itinerant missionary, Saul of Tarsus.
And in passing, the three volumes, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," offer a superb history of the Christian faith and its spread through the world. It includes all the congregations we have, and will, speak of. Paul's name is not mentioned once. It is as though he had never existed. But on to Philo.
"And he says that the world was made in six days... for of all the numbers, from the unit upwards, it is the first perfect one... so to say, it is formed so as to be both male and female, and is made up of the power of both natures; (tsela) for in existing things the odd number is the male, and the even number is the female; accordingly, of odd numbers the first is the number three, and of even numbers the first is two, and the two numbers multiplied together make six." (The Works of Philo; On The Creation; Page 4:III (13))
"And very beautifully after he called the whole race "man," did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that "they were created male and female;..." (The Works of Philo; On The Creation; Page 11: XXIV (76))
And so we are not alone in saying that Paul was in error, and upon this error, this lack of knowledge, howbeit, caused him to form the most discouraging and insulting view of women possible.
"For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man made for woman, but woman for man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9; RSV)
Paul completes this inaccurate statement with a perplexing bit of chicanery which baffles everyone. Double talk was his great ally.
"That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels." (I Corinthians 11:10; RSV)
With this out, Paul begins to make rules, and they are not insignificant but are totally contradictory. Paul uses the negative to state that it is improper for a woman to pray with her head uncovered, but then makes the astute observation that, "...but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering." (I Corinthians 11:13-15)
Then why does she need a veil for a covering when God has given her a natural one, as Paul has just stated? And why are these two ideas separated by the following rule.
"Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him..." (I Corinthians 11:14; RSV)
No, nature does not show me this for in nature the male is usually the most ornate. He has the most color, the longest feathers, the finest tail and manes, and the longest fur. And what men in his age did not wear long hair? Certainly Jesus and John the Baptizer did! Most assuredly, the Rabbi's did! And if Paul was truly 'Nazarite' as he said he was, he would not have been permitted to cut his hair. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 129)
In addition, one who has proclaimed the calling of, Nazarite, was forbidden to cut their hair, or to ingest blood. Yet Paul himself proudly proclaims that a man with long hair is an abomination to God. Worse, he institutes a so-called, sacrament which demands that his adherents, 'drink the blood of a human sacrifice.'
Peake's Commentary, needs to be added to the vote against Paul. They point out that anyone who objected to Paul's statements might well have stated that in Jesus, "...there is neither male nor female ..." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 960:838a)
Well, as Paul discloses to us it is not for righteousness sake, for appearance sake, nor for propriety, but so that Paul could enforce his authority and set down rules that the church had no choice but to follow. What is fitting is what Paul feels is fitting.
"If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God." (I Corinthians 11: 16; RSV)
There we have it in his own words.
Again, we have it from Christian scholars who question the wisdom of Paul's 'ordinances'. In the end, he must fall back on the declaration of his own authority. At best, he has confused everyone. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 129-130)
Contradictions and self proclaimed conclusions, evidence that Paul's teachings were not even drawn from the ecclesiastical background that he claimed, and they became a discrimination that colored the churches prejudices for centuries. All of this he did for the purpose of exerting his 'authority' over an unwitting congregation.
Paul then sets his mind on the "Lord's Supper". Those in Jerusalem, Jesus' Apostles, practiced a communal meal that was more in the order of continuing the fellowship they had enjoyed with Jesus. It was not a 'remembrance' of Jesus' death, or the 'last supper' they had shared together at Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem common meal had no relationship to the Sacrament Paul devised. It was a fellowship celebrated with joy and happiness, a looking forward to their next meal with their Lord, such as in Acts 2:46. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 131)
But Paul was unhappy with this convention, for it apparently was making some headway into the congregation at Corinth. If this is true, it would have been a challenge to his authority as sole 'master' of the church.
The next is devastating, and was a complete surprise to this student. Paul's concept of the meal was a commemoration of the Last Supper. Paul was concerned about the event celebrated by the Jerusalem Church. It did not fit his somber nature, and it was a device of the Disciples. To enforce his view against that of the Apostles, he inserts the words, this do in remembrance of me. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 132) (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 961: 838f)
Mark this well, that he, Paul, inserted the words, 'this do in remembrance of me.' They are not a part of the original gospels, but are an addendum taken from this letter.
While the Apostle's meal was one of joy, brotherhood, and optimism, Paul's was a somber meeting that proclaimed the 'Lord's death'.
"Paul insists that it should be a solemn commemoration." (The Interpreter's Bible: Volume 10: Page 131) (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 961: 838f)
Thus we learn that the Communion, in its present form, is not something instituted by Jesus or his disciples, but by Paul. What more damning evidence do we need to convict? With what horror do we now see that which has been brought into the light, as Jesus promised? The entire principle upon which the modern church is founded, and its primary sacrament, is not from Jesus or the gospels, but from Paul.
His contentions with the Apostles goes on, his efforts to change that which the Jerusalem Church has practiced long before he began to introduce his personal theories, must continue. It is shocking to discover where our traditions come from, and unhappily, the ending here would eventually be the end of the Apostles faith and the Jerusalem Church.
Divisions have appeared, as Paul notes, and there can be many reasons but they are unimportant to our study. It is sufficient to note that which has already been stated, that one of the interruptions to Paul's edict may well have been the practice of the Jerusalem Church and the Apostles. This student does not doubt that. Paul insists that he received the tradition about the Last Supper directly from Jesus.
"For I received from the lord what I also delivered to you..." (I Corinthians 11:23; RSV)
As the Interpreter's Bible points out, Paul was not present at the supper.
Paul said, in writing, that he received the sacrament from "...the Lord." We know he wasn't part of the Passover meal celebrated in the upper room, so once again we are faced with another of Paul's 'visions.' (Gal. 1:12)... (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 135-136)
Peake's Commentary insists that Paul received the tradition from the Mother Church, and not from Jesus himself as he would have us believe. But within the structure of the Jerusalem Church, there is no mention of a meal used to celebrate Jesus death. Certainly not in the minds of any of the Apostles, since they were absolutely forbidden to eat blood, as were the Gentiles in Paul's congregations. This was something he agreed upon when the Church compromised on the subject of circumcision. (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 961: 838g)
Also, this statement is incompatible with the information these same theologians have just given us, i.e. that the Jerusalem church did not celebrate a meal in remembrance of Jesus' death. If this is true, then how could Paul have obtained his information from a source in which it did not exist?
The professionals have tripped themselves up here in attempting to avoid the truth, that Paul invented the 'communion meal' as the central sacrament of his newly created religious practice. It is that single device through which the congregation could partake of the blood offering of Paul's human sacrifice.
The character of the man is framed by his own words and his absolute refusal to credit to any man, for the basis of his work. Paul was dependent on many, but vanity refused to allow him the grace to acknowledge the truth. Happily, this student is far from being alone in this conclusion.
However, Paul goes further in his efforts by changing that which was original to the Gospels.
"...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)
As much as we dare object to this amazing revelation, theologians continue to press the matter. In Mark, there is a request to eat, but not of, "this is my body." The Greek of Mark's gospel does not permit it. The request to eat is lacking in Paul's writing, and here he adds the infamous order to repeat the act in remembrance of Christ. The Interpreter's Bible, insists that long version of Luke,(22:19b-20) is most assuredly an insertion based on this letter. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 137)
We must remark again, we are forced to repeat that, 'Do this in remembrance of me', is Paul's personal addition to the tradition. He had to change the main body of the proceeding or it certainly would have been obvious that he had received the tradition from the Jerusalem Apostles. With these changes, including the mood of the meal, it became Paul's and Paul's alone.
It is useless to continue banter on this subject. Paul lays exposed, instituting a practice that had no basis in Jesus' teachings or actions and which was intended to challenge, and even replace, the practice of Jesus' chosen disciples.
Once we are made aware of Paul's intent, and the fact that these words do not appear in any of the Gospels, we can hardly insist that Jesus spoke them. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 137)
The Apostle's view was one of comforting one another and looking forward until they would share the meal with Jesus himself in the Kingdom. Paul's view was one that proclaimed, "...the lord's death until he comes." (I Corinthians 11:26; RSV)
At this point it would be proper to raise a very important question concerning the 'communal' meal versus the 'last supper'. If the Jerusalem Church celebrated a Pauline 'last supper', it would have been at the time of the, Passover, since that was the final meal they shared with Jesus. There is nothing to indicate that they did, even at the Passover.
Paul, however, having had his way in forming a 'sacrament of death', is not satisfied with this new meal, but must add a threat to it. It is a threat of damnation which he must have felt would bind the 'captive' community to his will.
"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." (I Corinthians 11:27-29; RSV)
Of course, the King James Version, is far more expressive.
"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (I Corinthians 11:29)
To this, Paul adds what to him is proof of this intimidation.
"That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." (I Corinthians 11:30; RSV)
This student has no idea as to the state of another's soul; who takes Paul's 'communion' worthily or unworthily. However, since there has been no recent word of deaths or illnesses attributed to the taking of the 'communion meal', we must assume that everyone who has taken it has been worthy, or Paul is wrong.
No, Paul was only following his usual pattern of moving to disorient Jerusalem's ordinances and traditions, which they did receive from the Lord. He reinterpreted, changed the work of others, then instituted it as his own, and added a 'threat' of heavenly destruction if anyone dared to challenge his authority.
Paul's statement here does not go so far as to evidence those scriptures which deny a connection between sin and misfortune. (John 9:3; Luke 13:1-5). And of course, Paul would not dare to indicate that his affliction came from that same source. But this too, will soon change. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Pge 143)
In other words, even if his conclusions were not based on scripture or other theological evidence, Paul liked to threaten those over whom he had control. Fear is a massive weapon to use in order to hold others under one's sway.
Where Jesus saw sin and ill health as cause and effect, Paul saw it as a punishment for disbelief and unworthy participation in his newly created sacrament. It is easy to see why these theological presumptions caused the great horror that was to follow some thirteen hundred years later.
Paul then goes through a listing of gifts of the Holy Spirit, which becomes a general dispersing of such things as the utterance of wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. But did Paul mean that everyone in the church was given a gift?
His analogy is that any one who can say, "Jesus is Lord," (I Corinthians 12: 3; RSV) has the Holy Spirit. And so Paul generalizes something that is a 'very' special moment, realized by 'very' few, in 'very' special circumstances. Paul's 'generalization' continues in a manner that confuses the very interpreter's who seek to glorify the man. It is an appalling statement because he takes away any special meaning to commissions that the Lord God has chosen to be extraordinary.
"And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues." (I Corinthians 12:28; RSV)
Paul contradicts himself again, for having given relative importance to various gifts, he denies what he said earlier, that spiritual gifts came from the same source and were equal in importance. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Pge 163)
No sooner said than Paul contradicts himself, but worse, apostles are now a dime a dozen, they can no longer be distinguished from the Twelve. Paul does not have to assert his 'appointment', now God appoints apostles by Paul's choosing.
Did not God choose His prophets before their very birth, were they not, Nazarite? They worked miracles, healed, and taught. Then what were prophets to be? Numbered in the many, soothsayers, diviners, but unlike God's prophets, deprived of all the powers that proved their election.
The Interpreter's Bible reiterates its objection to Paul's changing values, and goes so far as to ask, "...how one may expect higher gifts simply by earnestly desiring them (vs. 31)." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 163)
Aside from the challenge Paul had met from Jerusalem, now the theologians question Paul's actions as an apostle.
They simply state that there is no evidence anywhere that the Apostles could delegate their authority to others. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 163)
Here, the same text gives an accurate definition of the twelve Apostles, and the manner in which that title has always been accepted. Paul is not included. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 163)
This would seem to validate the conclusions of this thesis, and to leave an open question as to Paul's authority. It is answered only when one admits that his apostleship and his supremacy were self-proclaimed and self-appointed. Thus, apostles rank first, the highest order of gifts. It is urgent that Paul be superseded by no one.
We have admitted that Paul was a master of words, a genius in literary communication. His poem of love has rarely been equaled by any human device and is often repeated, but by what sort of being? Love spoken of by one who has shown no compassion, love from one who will abide no usurpation of his power, love from one who will accept no contradiction, who will endure no criticism. Love from one who condemns, threatens, and rules by fear.
Jesus once taught us that if we love only those who love us, we do no better than the Gentiles. Paul insists that the members of the church, love one another, but he condemns unbelievers and those who break his 'ordinances'. In Paul, we have no apostle speaking, but a rogue.
Now Paul goes into a lengthy recitation concerning the relative values of speaking in tongues versus prophecy. Regardless of the reason for this discussion, he makes another statement in order to continue the elevation of his own position among the congregation.
"I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all..." (I Corinthians 14:18; RSV)
Once again, and oft repeated, we point out that Paul does more than anyone else no matter what the subject may be. Now he speaks in tongues more than anyone else, he has more gifts than anyone else, and most assuredly he would have us believe that he loves more than anyone else.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal..." (I Corinthians 13:1-13; RSV)
Indeed, his bell rang loud and long. And in the midst of his attempt to subordinate the value of speaking in tongues, Paul attempts to use Old Testament scripture to make his point.
"In the law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord." (I Corinthians 14:21; RSV)
Paul is either ignorant of Holy Scripture, or he is once again attempting to mislead his readers. Here, he misuses and misquotes Holy Scripture to serve his own purpose. It is not the first time, or the last.
The O.T. tells us that men will not listen to speech in strange tongues. This verse does not come from the law, but from Isa. 28:11-12. Paul changes the 'person' of the verb, changes the time, and uses the scripture in a context totally different than its original purpose. Then the theologians note, almost with amazed surprise, "What support he had for these changes we have no means of knowing." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 203-204)
Paul continues to show absolute contempt for God's word. Evidently Paul needed no support, for he shows no concern for man or God. He did things to satisfy his own needs regardless of their validity. He was willing to do anything to reach his own ends and to further his own cause.
Paul spends much time in berating the gift of "speaking in tongues", and then must go backward to insist that he is not forbidding it, and becomes so entangled in his own dissertation that a lengthy explanation of what he is trying to say, confuses everyone. But once again, the relative value, the superiority of one gift over another, confutes Paul's earlier words. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 199)
But greater troubles lie ahead.
"As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says." (I Corinthians 14:33-34; RSV)
Paul, his utter disdain for women revealed in no uncertain terms, contradicts what he has said previously in this same letter. There is no way he can extricate himself from this situation.
Paul doesn't bother to explain what unmarried women were supposed to do! Those who took his advice and remained unmarried. Following his master's line of thought in, I Timothy 2:11-12, a later Paulinist writes: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 212) and further contradictions... (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page212-213)
Consider that when Paul first started his mission, he was absolutely dependent on women, as their homes were the only places open to him for meetings. Once his power had grown, and Paul was able to minister to larger congregations in established meeting halls, synagogues, and civic buildings, he no longer needed their good will. As always, Paul discarded those who had once aided his 'ministry'.
No compromise could ever heal a wound that led to the servitude of 'women' for centuries, that bound her in a position of abject spiritual poverty for almost two thousand years. In many sects of Christianity, this subjugation goes on today. But even Jesus found this attitude insufferable.
"Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life. Jesus said: See, I shall lead her, so that I will make her male, that she too may become a living spirit (pneuma), resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven." (The Gospel According to Thomas; Page 57: Log. 114:19-26)
The sarcasm of this statement, this rebuke of Peter, might well have been leveled at Paul, as well as others in our Southern Baptist Convention.
Peake's Commentary takes up the same issue as a possible interpolation, yet goes on to say, "... yet this may not be so much a sign of interpolation as of the bewilderment of the Western scribe(s) at the apparent contradiction." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 963: 840g)
Paul absolutely believed in the subordination of women (Col. 3:18) He was convinced that releasing them from this 'slavery' would violate the divine order." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 213)
"If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church." (I Corinthians 14:35; RSV)
Again, widows, and those who remained single at his behest, what are they to do? Remain in ignorance? Become concubines?
There is little that can be said, yet much can be asked. Why didn't God fearing, intelligent individuals question this profane edict? By what reason were they forced to fall victim to Paul's domination? And by what madness do men and women today copy the ancient curse imposed on them by such a being?
Once more Paul illuminates the nature of his pious character by his own words.
"If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized." (I Corinthians 14:37-38; RSV)
Paul has become the voice of God! He is demanding, he is assertive, he is become an egomaniac. It is not enough for God to bestow his special calling on men, it must also be ordained by Paul or it is not authentic.
"To conclude, any claimant to a prophetic or spiritual gift must allow that Paul's message is on a par with God's command..." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 963: 840g)
Paul was making demands of others who already believed that their gifts were given to them by God. Now that is not enough, since Paul speaks with the voice of God, it must be commended by him also. And no one dared to stand up to this man? Surely, Festus was right! And the interpreter's ask the same question. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 213-214)
How does one justify the fact that this one individual has so influenced the 'church' that he bends like a threatening shadow over the congregation even today. No human being retains such power, and as such, power must have been bestowed by another. As Jesus was empowered by the Lord God and His Holy Spirit, Paul must also have been empowered in order to command such dominion. This student does not believe that it was the power of a benevolent creation. But it will prove itself out if we trust to God's guidance.
Even in admitting his position as measured against Jesus' chosen Apostles, Paul is not content to play a subordinate role.
"For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle... On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them..." ( Corinthians 15:9-10; RSV)
It is madness for us not to see the deception at hand. Paul prays more, travels more, speaks in tongues more, prophecies more, preaches more, works more, and suffers more, than any one else in the earth. It is egomania repeated again and again in his writing, uncovering the sickness that was devouring this individual.
His obvious jealousy also continues to be a prime factor in his writings, not only here but through his last letter. Such envy and hatred must have been a terrible sore for him to carry all his life, if not the, 'thorn in the flesh', that he complains about, most likely far more painful. But he was victorious in one instance, he managed to destroy the Jerusalem Church, and the knowledge and practices of Jesus' chosen disciples.
The true faith and the true worship lay with them. Only one power in heaven and earth could have destroyed it and hidden the remains for twenty centuries.
At this point we will not proclaim an issue concerning the resurrection of the body as developed by Paul. It is, of course, his 'theory' concerning the 'raising' of a spiritual body and not one of the flesh, as was the common belief in his time. A master of words and a keen analytical mind, which we have already conceded, bring Paul to his concept of a 'resurrection' at the judgment day. It also becomes that of the church, to be built upon, as was the 'communion', by those within the structure of the medieval church.
There is no doubt that when one embellishes on an erroneous concept, that which results is far from the truth and even more distant from that which is proper. When one bases their concepts of Jesus' sole purpose and ministry as a human sacrifice, the result becomes almost obscene.
It also results in confusion. Paul's instruction into the resurrection and the gospel that he preaches becomes so involved that this student doubts many today, let alone those poor souls in Corinth, would have the substance to understand him. Certainly we can theorize about his meaning, but the essential point to note is that the charlatan perfects his ruse by creating confusion, and then builds upon it. (1Corinthians 15:12-36; RSV)
That Paul freely changed God's Holy Scriptures, is not questioned. We have shown this to be a characteristic of his, but to affirm his continuing use of such fraudulent acts to prove his own point, we render the following.
"O death, where is they victory? O death, where is they sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." ( Corinthians 15:55-56; RSV)
"O death, where is they sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." ( 1 Corinthians 15:55-56; KJV)
Paul does not quote the original Hebrew text. The KJV follows the koine Greek and reads grave. Paul is in error. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 252)
"Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hid from my eye." (Hosea 13:14; RSV)
Then, of course, we have the original Hebrew text, which differs quite readily from the Greek translation of that text which we have just quoted.
"Shall I ransom them from the power of the nether world? Shall I redeem them from death? Ho, thy plagues, O death! Ho, they destruction, O nether world! Repentance be hid from Mine eyes!" (The Holy Scriptures; Masoretic Text: Hosea 13:14)
Obviously, no one could leave anything alone, certainly not in its original form. But so the practice is continued by Paul, and then by all of Christianity. (Mark 1:2 versus Malachi 3:1)
"Now concerning the contribution for the saints..." (I Corinthians 16:1; RSV)
Paul speaks of the Galatian church, and the order for their participation, as already having taken place. The two letters were dated very close together, and though one may have predated the other, it was not by much. As we will learn, the concerns that we have had in I Corinthians, are amplified in the letter to the Galatians.
Please understand that in generalizing terms, Paul shines once again. When he refers to the 'saints', he is referring to all Christians. In this case he is speaking of those in Jerusalem. More of the gathering of these funds will be discussed later, but at this point it is important to realize that Paul gives no reason for the contribution.
He also indicates that the Corinthians are to choose those who are to take the money to Jerusalem, with an addendum that if he sees necessary, Paul himself will accompany them.
"And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me." (I Corinthians 16:3-4; RSV)
His letter ends in admonitions to the church to continue as he has directed, and to look forward to his coming visit. This student would have viewed such a future event as terrifying. It would not be surprising to discover that many at Corinth felt the same way since it appears that Paul dealt with his congregations by threat and through fear.
At this point in time, he had already developed an organization strong enough to be an ominous force. Those he mentions to the church at Corinth are an imposing group who are dedicated to his service and sworn to his gospel. They include; Chloe, Timothy, Apollos, Stephanas, Fortunatas, Achaicus, Aquila, and Prisca.
Paul declared that his gospel was independent from men, free of dependence on all authority figures, institutions, and laws that interfere with "the direct communion between the individual and his God." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429)
Unfortunately this is not a true statement, for Paul's concept of, "...direct access of the individual to his God," was dependent on several strict regulations which he had instituted. One had to be a constituent of the Pauline Christian community. Without that membership you were excluded from this offer. One had to be part of the 'body of Christ', an invention of Paul's theology, which included a total acceptance of his gospel.
One had to conform to Paul's 'dress code', i.e., clothing, personal appearance, and proper posture and attire for prayer. If any of these standards were not met, Paul's solution was very simple. You could leave and be part of the heathen world where Satan ruled, bereft of salvation! In other words, excommunication.
"If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God." (I Corinthians 11: 16; RSV)
Aside from the 'small print,' in Paul's 'free gift of salvation,' it was also his declaration of freedom from every earthly institution that God had declared for mankind. It was a repudiation of all that he had learned, "...at the feet of Gamaliel..." (Acts 22:3; RSV) and every teaching that Jesus had ever given us concerning the Law and its Source. It was Paul's statement of freedom from any obligation he might have toward the disciples, the Jerusalem Church, or any other human being.
It was Paul's assertion to the unenlightened that the totality of Jesus' purpose on this earth was to give up his life as a human sacrifice whose offering of blood expiated the sins of all men. And that in his death, he wiped away all that God had established from the Creation on. The Law of Moses was the cradle of sin and its issue was eternal punishment and damnation, for no one could keep the Law in its sum total.
Paul sermonized Jesus at every chance, but always as Christ crucified. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429)
And to whom did he present this edifice of which he knew nothing else?
Some were Jews, but most were Gentiles who, he claimed, did not know the true God. Their religions consisted of holy days and seasons, which Paul considered slavery. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429) In this, he damned tradition and gave these same people special days, and seasons, and doctrine that were his own.
In doing this, Paul denied the ancient practice of sacrifices. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429)
In the place of their animal sacrifices, he gave them his one great, human sacrifice, Christ Jesus dead on a cross. And with it a proclamation that all were saved on the basis of faith alone, without works, without effort, without reason. It was the great 'free' gift of God to all men, and as a 'free gift of God' it required nothing but that one accept Paul's doctrines and regulations as gospel. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429)
We have already listed the several 'stipulations' that were necessary for one to accept this 'free' gift of salvation. It is amazing that the inherent hypocrisy of this line of reasoning has lasted into the twenty-first century.
And with this break from all things religious, Paul asserts his independence from the Jerusalem Church and the Apostles. From the opening statement of this letter Paul lets us know that he had broken away from everything decent that had managed to restrain him up to this point. Evidently he was grown strong enough to sustain his own ministry, no longer dependent upon the good will or approval of Jesus' disciples.
In attempting to justify Paul's stand of independence, theologians make a statement that hits the nail they are attempting to avoid, right on the head. What they accuse the Judiazers of trying to discredit Paul with, turns out to be the truth. And if the truth were known, the Judaizers were none other than Jesus' disciples and the elders of the Jerusalem Church.
And for proof, at a later date, Paul is summoned to Jerusalem by the Disciples to answer these exact charges. The accusations have been delivered through those empowered by the elders of the Jerusalem Church. They, at least, have the decency to face the accused and give him the chance to deny the charges, or to make amends. As we have seen, this sort of decency was not part of Paul's character. The charges were that:
(1) He used the title of apostle, but was not one of the original apostles. (2) He had distorted the gospel which the elders of the mother Church, and the Disciples, were preaching. (3) That he preached the abandonment of the Law of Moses and in doing so, was contradicting the teachings of Jesus. (4) They intimated that his, faith without works, was his way of pleasing all men by promising them a cheap admission to God's kingdom. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 430)
And they were absolutely correct!
Paul was no longer attempting to preach a gospel of God, but a gospel that was in total opposition to anyone who had known and heard the living Jesus. And if these theologians presume that the Apostles thought that through Paul's destruction of the church, "...men would believe and be baptized but keep on sinning", (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 430) they were forecasting a future for mankind that has proven completely accurate.
As we begin the study of Paul's letter, it is good to note that he may have had no other alternative but to sever relations with the Apostles and the Jerusalem Church. He was the perfect example of one who burns his bridges behind him. He was totally opposed to Christ's Apostles and to any gospel they might preach; he was envious of them to the point of hatred and disdained any practice that they instituted within the church.
It is obvious from the first line that his pretense toward apostleship had been challenged once again, and harshly so. In this event, he would have been able to do nothing but to turn his back on Jerusalem and present his own specious theology to the growing church. And to relieve himself of this persistent accusation, he took the only relief that man could not question rationally.
"Paul an apostle - not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father..." (Galatians 1:1; RSV)
Paul's commission came neither from a human source nor through man, but directly from and through God, and was therefore as valid as if he had been one of the twelve apostles." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 443)
Paul depends on this claim to validate his self-appointed title of apostle, emphasizes that it is now proclaimed by divine authority. His antagonists in Galatia denied the claim. Now his entire labor is set in vindicating his claim. (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 974: 851a)
It was not so much his 'opponents in Galatia' but his absolute envy of the Twelve. To those whom we have already mentioned as part of Paul's entourage, we must add Sosthenes, Titus, Silvanus (Silas), and at one time, Barnabas and John Mark. Mark, whom this student believes saw what was going on, left Paul and returned to Jerusalem.. For the most part, these formed a solid group sworn to his service, much as any sect today who follow the charisma of special religious leader rather than their alleged god-head.
As if to substantiate the selfishness of his 'missionary' work, we may quote from Peake's Commentary.
"Paul, determined to justify his personal claim, now uses the basic message of the Gospel, to defend his own status as an apostle. He considered an assault upon one, as an assault on the other." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 974: 851a)
Paul has now changed boats again, for in insisting on his complete freedom from the authority of man, he has gone from tradition to personal experience. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 443)
It seems so difficult for those purporting to understand religious history to admit to the animosity which existed between Paul and the Apostles. But we must understand that the friction existed as a goad that inspired Paul to do his worst. The power through which he operated was most assuredly beyond the scope of human endeavor.
The reason for Paul's letter becomes apparent, his gospel is being distorted, actually being altered. It would seem that their 'desertion' from Paul's gospel was a turning toward another gospel, most likely the gospel of the mother church and the Apostles (possibly through their spokesmen). One must remember that both Mark and Barnabas, one of the finest teachers of the mother church, are back in Jerusalem working with the disciples.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel." (Galatians 1:6; RSV)
Now I must disagree with other theologians and interpreter's (note that I have just used a Pauline 'turn' by using 'other', indicating that I am a theologian and an interpreter.) To evidence the authority of these self-acclaimed titles, I need now only state that I was appointed to them by God's call and grace, and though you may say that I am an interloper, you cannot dispute it logically. Indeed, I am neither.)
The Interpreter's Bible, chooses to indicate the possibility of Paul's claim. I choose to oppose that view, but give the text note here, in attempting to be honest in my appraisals. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 450)
This student believes that Paul is referring to himself. It is his usual method to take all disappointments and setbacks as a personal insult. But now in another verbal blunder, Paul exposes his true colors and his authoritarian claim that his gospel and his alone is "the" gospel.
"For I would have you know, brethren. that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel..." (Galatians 1:11; RSV)
Paul indicates that he is the deliverer of the gospel spoken of in Galatians 1:6.
"...not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:7-8; RSV)
Well, there is only one power in heaven and earth that would dare to curse God's angels. Paul has not only unmasked himself, but the power that lies behind his mission. In one breath of the pen, he has cursed the Apostles, the Lord God, God's angels, and God's ministers.
"As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:9; RSV)
Paul believed, or at least intimated that Satan and his agents could appear as angels of light (II Cor. 11:14-15). The Interpreter's Bible, here notes that it was almost impossible to tell which side a minister supported, especially when he performed miracles (Acts 8:9-24; Acts 14:8-18). (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 451)
And who tells us of this deception? Not Paul's letters. There is not a single verse stated which does not come from Paul's own mouth. Are we totally blind? Paul is warning the congregation about Paul, for one of the specialties of confidence men is to tell their prey to beware of men who practice exactly what they themselves are practicing.
This student must consider that in speaking of an angel, Paul could not have been speaking about one of God's messengers, for the Evil One has not yet corrupted all of heaven itself. But Paul is not done, he has greater aspirations.
Of all the claims that Paul has made, including that of being an apostle, the greatest comes with the revelation that he is now, as has been mentioned previously, Nazarite! God's prophets were, Nazarite, Melchizedeck was Nazarite, John the Baptizer and Jesus were Nazarite, called and consecrated by God before their birth, while still within their mother's wombs. All were invested with the full power of the Holy Spirit before their births.
"But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace..." (Galatians 1:15; RSV)
So Paul grows even in his own mind, or is his mastery of words generalizing another of God's most high commissions? At that, even Webster's differs with Paul's hypocrisy.
"A Jew of biblical times consecrated to God by a vow to avoid drinking wine, cutting the hair, and being defiled by the presence of a corpse." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: A Merriam Webster; G. & C. Merriam Company)
Contradictions appear between the nature of Paul's calling and his imposed regulations for the church. It is Paul who forbids men to wear their hair long, breaking the first rule of the Nazarite oath. It is Paul who degrades and humiliates women, and it is Paul who defies the Lord's dietary Laws, eating that which is defiled by its offering as a sacrifice to alien gods (a corpse in itself).
It is Paul who openly states that one must be guided by 'pleasing' all men at all times rather than obeying God's commandments.
At this particular point the work in progress would be wasted in quoting further from the Interpreter's Bible, for their only concern is to justify Paul's claims and to persuade us to accept his authority. However, in fairness, I am footnoting the required pages for reading. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 460-461)
To this student, at this point in time, their assumptions are totally invalid. The Apostles did not recognize Paul's claim to apostleship as is evidenced by the continuing opposition from them on this point. His theology and his letters do not indicate that he had sufficient knowledge of Jesus' teachings and ministry or he would not have preached a gospel so contrary to them and that of the Twelve..
The persecution that he involved himself in had nothing to do with Jesus, his beliefs, or his indictment as a seditionist, but was rather an assault against Stephen and the Hellenists. He could have been no more successful in proving Jesus guilty of a religious crime than were the High Priest and the Pharisees.
He had no concept of Jesus' life or ministry, and fifteen days was hardly enough time for Paul to absorb what it had taken the Apostles more than three years to assimilate. Not to speak of Jesus' entire ministry, or even just the parables, and he could not have learned about the crucifixion or the trial from the Twelve since they were not there.
Beyond that, the trial and the crucifixion as described by the Gospels do not verify tradition or Paul's concept of those events. Having claimed that Luke is in error in every count where Paul denies what 'the beloved' Luke has written, are we now to discredit the Synoptic Gospels because they do not agree with Paul's accounts?
Paul details the first seventeen years from his conversion, and by his own admission, still has not begun a ministry. We are talking about seventeen to twenty years, possibly closer to twenty, before Paul begins his mission.
"And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they had only heard it said, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." (Galatians 1:22-23; RSV)
It was not until Barnabas took Paul to Jerusalem and persuaded him to begin a ministry, that Paul begins his journey through biblical history. ("It was Barnabas who at the critical moment had expressed faith in Paul and got him started in his lifework as an ambassador of Christ." The Interpreter's Bible; Vol. 10: Page 468)
Now, with an organization strong enough to defy the mother church, Paul relieves himself of the Apostles. He takes over congregations that others had once started, along with those he claims as original to himself. He departs on a theological rampage of his own creation which eventually overwhelms and relegates the Jerusalem church to certain destruction and which ultimately influences the Synoptic Gospels. (See footnote 1 Corinthians "This do in remembrance of me.")
Paul claims that his visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus was a matter of 'revelation', but in fact, it was by order of the Apostles. (Galatians 2:2; RSV)
"I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles... But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek." (Galatians 2:2-3; RSV)
See also: The King James Version, text on these verses. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 470-471)
Paul makes short work of an issue that was not decided quite so easily. This has created difficulty for theologians because of Paul's wording. Even Luke contradicts this statement.
"Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek." (Acts 16:3; RSV)
Once again, brother Luke contradicts Paul, and once again certain theologians state that Luke must be ignored in view of Paul's writing. Is Luke then to be denied his proper place in the Church's, New Testament? (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 472)
However, Peake's Commentary on the Bible, considers this apparent contradiction between Acts and Galatians as, "...one of the most complicated problems in New Testament criticism." and, "...one to which there is no generally accepted solution." (Peake's Commentary of the Bible; Page 974: 852a)
The solution is simple, Paul lied!
Paul deceived rather than let anyone think that he had been forced to yield to the authority of the Apostles or the elders of the Jerusalem Church. Paul's method of operation was one of deception, which he practiced whenever it was convenient to do so. He lied to King Agrippa, and he lied to the Apostles, as we shall shortly see.
So who are we to believe? If he had to have Timothy obey the law, why not Titus? There is an unresolved disparity here, and there are many in Paul's work. During this same time period, Luke gives us another contradiction to deal with. Paul said that he went up to Jerusalem because of a 'revelation.' There he discussed his gospel with them and received their approval.
"As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem." (Acts 16:4: RSV)
Luke indicates that Paul was instructed as to what message he should take to the churches. This indicates that he was summoned to Jerusalem, not by 'revelation' but by his superiors. Paul takes instant objection to this.
"And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) - those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me..." (Galatians 2:6; RSV)
"...those who were reputed to be something (RSV) "who were of repute..."refers to the Disciples. Their authority came from having been chosen by Jesus, and having been with the Master during his ministry. Most prominent were James the Lord's brother, Peter (Cephas), and John son of Zebedee. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 473)
Paul has little regard for the Apostles, but makes it clear that, "...(for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship..." (Galatians 2:8-9; RSV)
After the sarcastic remarks just made, in writing, concerning his contempt for the Apostles, Paul could not have taken his own words here seriously. And if any one else takes this to mean that the Twelve recognized Paul's right to claim apostleship, they are sadly mistaken. Paul never stood face to face with the Twelve and claimed apostleship, of that you may be assured.
If Paul, or any one else, takes it to mean that the Twelve approved of Paul's preaching a salvation through faith without works, they do not appreciate Jesus' message, and they are witless concerning the letter of James refuting Paul's gospel. If any one takes it to mean that the Twelve approved of Paul's total abandonment of God's law, they are hypocrites.
How far does the, 'right hand of fellowship', go with Paul? In absolute arrogance, he speaks openly of insulting Peter in public, humiliating Jesus' disciple without mercy. He, in fact, takes great pride in having publicly abused him, and on what basis?
"But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party." (Galatians 2:11-12l; RSV)
"But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the gentiles to live like Jews?" (Galatians 2:14; RSV)
What was it that Paul said?
"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law..." "To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some." "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please all men in everything I do..."
Was it not Paul who said that, 'I am a Jew to Jews, a Gentile to Gentiles, and a Greek to Greeks...' When with those outside the law, he eats and does what they practice, and to those within the law, he eats and does what they practice. Paul's offers as his excuse that he wanted to offend, 'no man'.
When Peter acts the same way, with the same intent, doing exactly what Paul recommended for his congregations, he uses it as an excuse to debase the Apostle in public and to applaud himself. What he does is to prove himself the great hypocrite, 'the one from whose mouth come lies" (The Dead Sea Scrolls; The Nag Hamadi Library: The Damascus Document), contradicting his own words and actions.
Peter, a good man, acted in a conservative manner. If Peter was being insincere only Peter and God will ever know. "Paul could not prove his charge..." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 481)
Whether Paul was right or not, his action was crude and absolutely an affront to the teachings of Jesus. This is the man who writes to us about love absolute, who is not civil in his manner, who is without compassion for others, let alone love.
We must also note that the question of circumcision had not been settled, as Paul would have us think from his words earlier in this letter. This must be kept in mind, later it is convenient for Paul to reverse this opinion.
But suddenly, with no explanation offered from theologians or interpreter's, Paul suddenly loses all contact with the subject of his story, Peter, and goes off on an extended dissertation concerning the uselessness of works under the law. (Galatians 2:15; RSV)
"His report of his words to Peter merges into an exposition of the Gospel, and by the end of the chapter he has lost sight of Peter and Antioch." (Peake's Commentary on the Bible; Page 975: 852j)
His 'raving and ranting' to dispel any validity to the law leaves us with much to consider about his mental state, and no explanation is forthcoming from his modern day 'disciples.' The very Gentiles he was 'protecting' against Peter, one line before, now become, "...gentile sinners." (Galatians 2:15; RSV)
The response to this heresy is James' letter, a retaliation against Paul and his irreverent treatment of God's Law. Jesus spoke constantly of fulfilling the Law, honoring the Law, and doing the greater part of the Law, even extending to the Law the fact that it prophesied about him.
In the delivery of this flaming oratory, Peter is forgotten, lost in the confusion of Paul's mind. Thankfully what we have in the end, is Jesus' promise that all men shall be judged for the things they have done. (Revelation 22:12)
But what Paul started goes on even today. For those in Rome who demanded proof of ones faith by action, while murdering hundreds of thousands for the lack of that proof, now wish to conciliate with other faiths in the discourse that Faith without works is sufficient for salvation, or shall we call it, 'redemption'.
"We ourselves, who are Jews by birth, and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified." (Galatians 2:15-16; RSV)
"I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose." (Galatians 2:21; RSV)
Paul uses Jesus on the cross constantly, offering nothing else to the congregations of the church than Jesus' death and his own interpretation as to the meaning of that death. As we have seen how he inaugurated his own definitions to a 'communion supper', and how he influenced the wording of the gospels, we have also been witness to Paul forming the basis of Christianity's means of salvation.
But then, Paul blunders again and opens up a, Pandora's Box, filled with contention and debate. In this student's eyes, and the eyes of professional theologians, his own words destroy his argument.
"Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-7; RSV)
Paul uses the example of Abraham as one justified by faith alone, but Paul's argument is flawed. He never gives thought to the fact that Abraham's act of obeying God and offering up his son as a sacrifice was a work of faith without which his faith alone would have been empty. But this student's contention is not enough to disprove the words of Paul. God speaks with power and proves Himself!
"Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for NOW I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Genesis 2:10-12; RSV)
Paul goes on even with, The Holy Scriptures, speaking against him and his reasoning falls apart. A logical human being would soon realize that he has tripped himself up, but the power that has corrupted God's word through Paul continues to curse the very Law that God has ordained for man.
"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." (Galatians 3:10; RSV)
Those who follow Paul and his reasoning are like the blind following a blind leader. They have no choice but to try to validate his thinking because the entire realm of the church is built upon Paul and his theology, Paul and his contentious character, Paul and his contradictions. For in doing that which God asked of him, Abraham was not attempting to follow any of the Law. It was not a matter of the Law, but of obedience.
In this manner, theologians produce an argument built on Genesis 15:6. ("And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness." RSV)
Unfortunately, this comes years after Abraham has been found righteous in God's eyes, years after his act of faith. Still, the attempt goes on, and goes so far as to question Paul's originality.
The curse Paul is speaks about is Deut. 27-30... But the context to which Paul applies it, does not exist in this time frame. Paul has used God's word again to his own advantage, and in fact, conceives of an image which comes from Greek and Persian mythology. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 505)
The Interpreter's Bible, is correct when they state that, "Great care is needed to understand Paul here." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 505)
It has to be plain as the nose on your face. Who ordained the Law, the Law itself? No, God commanded the Law through his mighty prophet, Moses. But Paul, 'instructed by the mind of Christ,' knows better than God. The Christ who never defied the Law, who never spoke against the Law, who never prohibited one iota of the Law, instructed Paul to smite the Law of God?
It is the same today when millions of so-called Christians defy God's dietary Laws. Why? "It wasn't meant for us, but for the Jews... It was proper for those who lived centuries ago, but we know better now." And the most heinous of all heresies, "Jesus proclaimed a new law!" That Power, spawned in Paul, now comes down to us full force.
If God made these things Law, why are they not Law now? If God did not change the Law, even if we know better today, why do we not obey it simply because it is God's will? Because we have been taught, and hold as tradition, the right to disobedience. On the basis of a false teacher we have forsaken what God built up, not to condemn or confound us, but to protect us.
Be reasonable in your assessment, for not every man comes into contact with every facet of the Law. How ridiculous to even imagine that every person must perfect every facet of the Law, for we come into contact with such a small part of it in our lifetimes, that we would have to go 'looking for trouble' to find it. And in truth, only those who break the Law need fear it!
But matters of obeying God, the Dietary Laws, the Laws of fair conduct in business, the basic concepts of civilization that it outlines for us, the prayer and meditation that it guides us to, are major points in our life that we are responsible to follow. And as Jesus taught us, the most important part of the Law is God's love for us. We return love by obeying our Master, and sharing that life with others. It is not that the Law is above all things, God alone is. And for that reason, His ordinances for us should be obeyed.
Paul now makes the leap from the ludicrous to the unimaginable. Abraham's seed, (the plural being 'seed') suddenly becomes 'singular' in the mind of Paul. Abraham's offspring (the plural being 'offspring') suddenly becomes singular in Paul's vocabulary.
"It does not say, "And to offspring," referring to many; but referring to one, "And your offspring," which is Christ." (Galatians 3:16; RSV)
Another innovation of Paul's now claims that the very one he stated was with God in forming the creation has suddenly become the offspring of Abraham. But the greatest contradiction is yet to come. As Paul moves on through his chastisement of the law, he makes an awe-inspiring statement.
"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus..." (Galatians 3:28; RSV)
Is Paul now making women the equal of men? Are women free to express themselves now? May they speak in the church? Are the rules of silence and bond servitude forgotten in this baptism? I think not!
Theologians immediately try to justify Paul's original claim that a wife was the property of her husband, and her status ranked with slaves and children. They agree that Paul was not promoting a social revolution. The slave still had to obey his master, and "male" and "female" remained in their normal situations. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 519)
The hypocrisy reaches down to this very age, where Baptist conventions follow the decree of a man now dead for two thousand years. Women are subject to their husbands. The proper term is 'subjugated' by their husbands, and this sect is not alone in its cruel and illicit treatment of women.
Paul never mentions Jesus' historical life, Paul never mentions Jesus' 'equal treatment' of women. Paul never mentions Jesus' healing power extended to women, Paul never mentions Jesus' compassion and understanding extended to women. Paul never mentions the women who were alone with Jesus at his trial and crucifixion, Paul never mentions the women who were the first to see the 'risen Christ'. Paul never mentions Jesus' mother in a historical sense, or by name, for he is a hater of women.
Trouble in Galatia, and Paul tries to soothe them, the honey is thick on his tongue.
"Brethren, I beseech you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong; you know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first; and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus." (Galatians 4:12-14; RSV)
Obviously, Paul's blindness had not been healed as he and Luke claimed. He continues to mention his eyes all the way through his missionary journeys. He must write in large letters ("See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." Galatians 6:11; Revised Standard Version), he speaks of his eyes being a painful experience, and here...
"If possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." (Galatians 4:15; RSV)
Not only does the Interpreter's Bible, agree, but they comment on his ailment as being, "...a repulsive physical weakness. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429)
But to go on with Paul's dissertation, he then makes reference to Abraham's sons. Ishmael, his first born, and Isaac. But here, Paul falls into error again. Hagar was not a slave, she was known as the 'woman of Egypt', a concubine, or, second wife of Abraham's. Where the word "slave" is used in the Septuagint the word in the Hebrew is "handmaiden", and as Abraham's concubine, Hagar may well have been subordinate to, Sarah.
"But his family life was marred by favoritism and friction of polygamy and concubinage, which were to poison the future with feuds between Israel and his neighbors." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 539)
This statement is meant for nothing other than to instruct us as to Abraham's marital situation, and implies nothing about Paul or his condition. Abraham had many wives, but for now, two things must be considered, just for common knowledge. If Hagar had been a slave of Sarah, the giving of that slave to her husband would have been, under Jewish Law, the same as giving herself to her husband. Even Jesus taught that in a matter of servitude, the slave was the same as his master.
Ishmael, his first born, would still have been heir to all that was Abraham's, including God's promise.
Second, Sarah was not deemed righteous by her faith, for she had no faith in God's promise, and for that reason, Isaac's name means, 'one who laughs,' for Sarah laughed at the promise of God believing it to be impossible. ("So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?" The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the lord?" Genesis 18:12-15 RSV)
And with Hagar a legitimate wife of Abraham, though not the principle wife, Ishmael was first born and heir to all that Abraham had, including God's promise.
So why is Isaac prominent? Because the Holy Bible is written by Jews and not by Moslems, and if we think that Isaac is prominent, we need read Genesis again.
"As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation." (Genesis 17:20; RSV)
"And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman (hand maiden) also, because he is your offspring." (Genesis 21:13; RSV)
"And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation." (Genesis 21:17-18; RSV)
So Paul is in error once again! By the way, Ishmael was either twelve or thirteen years old when Isaac was born, and though the story sees Ishmael sent off to the desert, the victim of an inner-family conspiracy, the two are strangely together again in the life of Abraham. They are also together at his death, where both are said to have attended to his burial.
"Isaac and Ishmael his sons, buried him in the cave of Machpelah..." (Genesis 25:9; RSV)
There is more to this story than meets the eye.
But what does the scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." (Galatians 4:30; RSV)
Paul also freely embellished on God's word here, without authority, for the Bible does not say this! And the words are not God's but Sarah's. Paul is in error.
"So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman (handmaiden) shall not be heir with my son Isaac." (Genesis 21:10; RSV)
The blunder here is that Sarah knows that Ishmael is heir to Abraham, he is Abraham's seed begotten from a second, or, lesser wife. Ishmael is Abraham's progeny and for that reason Sarah wants him put away. Like a good 'murder' mystery, with the apparent heir out of the way, the secondary heir will inherit.
Sarah speaks these words, and she exhibits her fury against Hagar and Ishmael." (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 543)
Paul uses indefensible examples that are filled with error and freely retranslated scripture, traits that are prevalent in Christian ministry today.
As if to continue to abandon the law and Judaism, Paul attacks an old, festering sore, circumcision. He not only attacks it, but condemns those who become subject to it.
"I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ..." (Galatians 5:3-4; RSV)
Christ, who himself, was circumcised!
"And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called, Jesus..." (Luke 2:21; RSV)
In addition to this, and much to Paul's detriment, Mary and Joseph obeyed the, "... Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord... and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:22-24; RSV)
Paul is off on his own agenda, in his ignorance using the very epitome of that which he his arguing against. As always, Paul demands that no other opinion, no other gospel, be accepted but his own.
"I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine..." (Galatians 5:10; RSV)
Is Luke wrong again? Is Paul to be taken as gospel because he contradicts Luke by asserting his own word? And in the love that he preaches for others to follow, he concludes this section with his usual practiced charm.
"I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves." (Galatians 5:12; RSV)
And then has the audacity to say, "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14; RSV)
In this period of Jewish history, your 'neighbor' was your fellow Jew. If Paul was taking this statement beyond Jesus' understanding of it, it was a poor showing of love to want others, no matter how offensive, to mutilate themselves. (The strict translation of 'mutilate' is to, 'castrate.) If he was only including other Christians (believers), then Jesus' words speak against him.
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" (Matthew 5:46-47; RSV)
As if further proof were needed to underline the contradictions that abound in Paul's character, we need only look to this same letter to find them.
"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness." (Galatians 6:1; RSV)
WHAT? I beg your pardon? His solemn wish is for those who 'unsettle' his congregation to mutilate themselves. Also bring to memory, Philippi and Corinth."
"When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (I Corinthians 5:1-5; RSV)
And now we have, "...restore him in a spirit of gentleness..."? Paul contradicts himself, and so we go on with our investigation.
"Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." (Galatians 6:17; RSV)
Was Paul speaking of stigmata? Or is this another dramatic exposition by the practiced confidence man? No explanation is forthcoming, but there is no evidence whatsoever that Paul had a factual knowledge of the crucifixion. If so, he would have known that there were no marks except the spear wound in Jesus' side. The gospel according to John wasn't even a dream in the author's head, and it was one hundred and thirty years away in the future.
From those who still attempt to glorify Paul's' character, we have the following.
Everything goes by the boards when Paul's sworn, 21st century disciples try to validate his credentials. Those who remain unnamed who "...stir up difficulties for him..." are the Disciples and the elders of the Jerusalem Church. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 591-592)
From the history of the man, it is obvious that Paul created animosity and discord everywhere he went. It is far more likely that he created his own problems by preaching a gospel that was completely alien to the Twelve and the Jerusalem Church. He preached a gospel that condemned, and that was foreign even to Judaism. Worse, it was totally out of place with anything that Jesus ever taught.
To conclude the criticism of this letter, nothing better could be added other than Jesus' own words of caution.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 6:15; RSV)
The harvest of Paul's theology resulted in the persecution and deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims. It perpetuated a history of dishonesty, apostasy, greed, avarice and murder.
It caused the 'faithful' to follow a path of deception that has led to a world drowning in wanton activities and a church without God's Spirit and power. And now the religion he so deeply influenced is fading in the light of the truth.
It is time for us to examine a direct response to Paul's 'faith without acts' theology from one who had authority.
Part 3 of 4