- The apostle Paul -
"A MAN OF LIKE PASSIONS"
Did Paul teach that
the Law has been annulled?
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It is hard for anyone to admit the possible error of one's most cherished theories.
To many Roman Catholics, Mary (Hebrew mother of the Jewish-born Messiah - who's Hebrew name, by the way - was Miriam) has virtually displaced the Messiah. Similarly, in the minds of most Protestants, the apostle Paul's instructions seem to have taken precedence over the instructions of God. Satan, the arch enemy of the True Original Faith, is a great artist of substitution, and his sly and ingenious lies must be exposed. It is not the fault of Miriam nor of Paul, that their names, positions or teachings, have been improperly employed and their work subtly misconstrued in the commonly accepted Christian dogmas of our time.
If the reader will withhold judgment until having carefully perused and considered the content of this matter, this study will clearly prove to be not only an expose of the prevailing misconceptions concerning Paul, but also a vindication of the man as a chosen vessel of God. The author of the thirteen Pauline epistles plainly admitted that he had not reached perfection; and it is a gross injustice to his character to present him to the world as infallible and the author of a "new gospel".
To the end that we might exonerate both the Messiah and Paul - since both receive such flagrant misrepresentation in certain ecclesiastical circles - we have diligently and meticulously searched through all thirteen of these epistles for the proof to show that this writer was every whit as subject to the weaknesses and prejudices of mankind, as is any other human being in this old world : NOT because we have any desire to belittle this apostle; but rather that the false overrated image of this man might crumple and fall and the Messiah might be exalted to His rightful superior position.
Messiah is our Saviour - Paul is not. It is regrettable that "the powers of darkness" have so wrested the words of a man of God, that he has become a substitute for the true Messiah in the eyes of such untold numbers of professing believers, and that his instructions, when colliding head-on with the clear Command of God in the ‘Old Testament’, is taken above that of God! For this purpose, many Christian teachings have openly done away with the Old Testament, in defense of Paul’s reasoning's!
Surely it is high time that the authority of the words of the Messiah be restored, and the inflated image of this admittedly "carnal" man (according to his own admission in Romans 7:14) be deposed from the minds of God-fearing individuals. Let the faithful and true Jeremiah's dare "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy" this mistaken impression of the apostle Paul, and ”build and plant" again in the hearts of God's people a true picture of the Saviour whose every Word was the “Word of God”.
At the outset of this study, let us realize, that what we have today in the ‘New Testament’ and which is attributed to the Hebrew apostle Paul, may well never have been written by him! Sections no doubt have been inserted and tampered with - and subsequently removed (like 1 John 5:20). Other sections are very “un-Jewish” for a learned orthodox Messianic Jew, the likes of Paul, to proclaim - like the whole Church leadership system of “elders and deacons” - a pagan concept unknown to Judaism (which was the initial Messianic Faith). Sections like this may well have been inserted by the Roman Catholic establishment which had almost exclusive rights over the original new Testament Scriptures (which are “lost” to this day) and during a time when there were no printing presses or means of copying outside of the powerful hold of the Church.
A MAN OF LIKE PASSIONS
The utterances and Commands of YHVH never change or become obsolete - His admonitions and precepts are everlasting - they shall endure forever, The Scriptures have this to say concerning them:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35)
In order to impress upon men the vital importance - the absoluteness - of YHVH's every revelation, warning, and pronouncement, Messiah made this declaration: “Till heaven and earth disappear, not one yud (the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet) not one little stroke shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved” (Matt. 5:18).
The Bible is a remarkable record of the "Word of God". It is also a record of many of the words of men.
Ministers of the Gospel are frequently asked the question: "Do you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?" Superficially this appears to be an uncomplicated query which one might easily answer with a simple "yes," or "no"; but it is oddly misleading! Upon closer examination, this "uncomplicated query” proves to be a thoroughly complex question requiring intricate thought and clarification: - for we certainly do find some statements recorded upon the sacred pages, which God would undoubtedly never have inspired anyone to utter! Yet these things have been included in the divine account in order to make the record historically complete.
Consider, for example, the classic advice offered to Job, by his wife, when she saw him sitting "down among the ashes", covered with boils, and scraping himself with a chunk of broken pottery: her cheerful recommendation was that he should "curse God and die” (Job 2:9) - obviously not a God-inspired utterance!
Or, to cite an instance from the New Testament, study the vehement protestations of the apostle Peter (recounted in Matthew 26:74) at the trial of the Messiah, when he "began ... to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man". Again, the very nature of the words themselves unquestionably precludes divine inspiration. Therefore, we must conclude that the Scriptures contain an account of many of man's words, as well as a record of the Words of God.
RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD
No believer would dispute the fact that God's Words are perfect. If the record of His words bears any imperfections, they result solely from man's clumsy handling of the material. This is made evident in the many conflicting translations of and commentaries on the Bible, which are widely circulated at the present time.
1n the days of the Babylonian Captivity, an angelic being visited Daniel, a man well-learned in the knowledge of God, and told him certain things that were written in “the Scripture of Truth” (Daniel 10:21). Those who do not stop to consider the matter may very well ask, "is not all Scripture Truth?" And the answer to this must be "No”, for although all Scripture does give a true account of what took place, there are actually numbers of statements and quotations in ‘The Book’ which are merely a record of what someone has thought or said - and many of these, while accurate quotations of man’s remarks or reflections, are actually in their content and meaning, Untruths: "You shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4), the serpent breathed beguilingly to the woman - but she did die! "All is vanity and vexation of spirit", reflects an apparently disillusioned Solomon (Eccl. 1:14), and (chapter 2, verse 11), he adds: "and there was no profit under the sun". Now it is impossible to give credence to such assertions as these, for we know that "our labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
Solomon also remarked that, "A man has no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity" (Eccl. 3:1); but here, again, we find that Solomon's allegation is contrary to the teachings of other Scriptures, for we are definitely told that man was made in the "Image of God'” (Genesis 1:27); and God is not a beast - He is a Spirit:
The discrepancies noted in the above-cited Words of man are glaringly evident - but there are many instances where the inconsistency is not so obvious. Oftentimes we come across statements which can be interpreted in any one of several different ways: the author, of course, has made his observations from one particular viewpoint, or angle of truth; but such a statement is truth only when it is viewed from the very same standpoint that the writer had in mind: as, for example, "The Revelation which God sent and signified by His angel unto His servant John" (Revelation 1:1). If the word "signified" is disregarded, the entire message of this book becomes confusion. The book of Revelation is Truth, from a certain angle. Many of the "dark sayings" of the prophets are truths which are veiled in the aura of metaphor and symbol. When these are taken out of their place or context, they create no end of confusion. Peter said, concerning the writings of Paul, that there were some things hard to be understood, “which uneducated and unbalanced people distort, in the same way as they distort the rest of Scripture” (2 Peter 3:16).
"Rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim.2:15), is an exact science. The apostle here advises that believers should study to show themselves "approved unto God"; workmen "that need not to be ashamed". In such a study, one of the first things to determine concerning the Scriptures is: “Was this Scripture inspired of God, or is it God’s record of man's statements?"
UNDERLYING INSPIRATION OF THE WRITTEN WORD
Let us now carefully examine one of the most often misquoted verses in the Bible: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" (the word "is" has been put in italics because it is not found in the original Greek text, but was added to our Bible text by the translators. The American standard version of 1901 drops the "is, " and the scholar George Ricker Berry, in his interlinear New Testament, says, "Every Scripture God inspired, is profitable". Today, it is a recognized alternative rendering.
It should not be difficult for anyone to believe that only God's words are the infallible standards: His Word is always Truth. Neither should it be confusing for any one to accept the fact that the words of man are often one-sided and obscure. The fact that God has preserved a divine account of certain acts, words, and even some of the thoughts of men, does not sanctify their deeds nor lend veracity to their speech.
We have tried to magnify the importance of obeying the Plain Words of God. As a matter of fact, we believe this to be the Message of this hour. Much of the darkness and error rife among many professing believers today, is largely due to unstable doctrinal foundations, a great number of which are unwittingly based upon distorted views and misconstruction of statements found in the epistles of Paul.
There is a vast difference between the absolute authority incorporated in the very structure of the four Gospels, and that contained in the Pauline epistles. No searching believer should be offended by the declaration that the Words of God are superior to the words of Paul. Yet, some may contend that God was the Author of every word which Paul wrote. But by studying Paul's own words, such a position can be disproved "I speak not by Commandment ... and herein I give my advice" (2 Cor. 8: 8-10). Paul's "advice" undoubtedly was good, but it certainly was not always the Word of God.
Now notice the two different sources of the commands which Paul has written: "Unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord .., but the rest is from me, not from the Lord” (I Cor. 7:10-12). The apostle here makes it plain that he sometimes wrote what God commanded; and sometimes he wrote his own advice. The apostle himself is showing that these "Words from the Lord" are superior to his own remarks.
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord" (Eph.4:17) Here also, the apostle is explaining that the Lord is his authority for this particular statement. It all of his words were to be considered as verbal inspiration from God, there would be no need for him to use the qualifying phrases: "of the Lord " and "in the Lord”
"We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching" (1Thess. 4:15): again the writer uses a phrase that places the endorsement of Divine authority upon what he is saying.
Here is a quotation which definitely tells us that some of the apostle Paul's utterances and admonishments were of his own making: “Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my own opinion” (1 Cor . 7 : 25 ). Is the apostle's "opinion" to be considered on a par with the Word and Law of God? Surely not! The Messiah did not offer His "own judgment," neither did He speak His own words: "He ... spoke the Words of God" (Jo. 3:34). In another place, Messiah said: "I do nothing of Myself (how different He was from Paul in this respect!); but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things" (John 8:28).
One other verse from Paul's epistles should settle forever that some of his writings were not verbatim Inspiration of God: "What I am going to say now, is not prompted by the Lord, but said as if in a fit of folly, in the certainty that I have something to boast about” (2 Cor, 11:17) Our Saviour certainly never spoke "in folly" and neither did He ever boast about His abilities or achievements. The apostle's vanity often seemed to get the upper hand of his reason, even as he here stated: "so many others have been boasting about their worldly achievements, that I will boast myself" (verse 18). He then proceeded to boast about his pedigree and exult over his tribulations. (Without a doubt this apostle was the champion sufferer; but certainly no man could call him the "meekest person" upon the face of the earth!).
The wonderful thing about the Bible is that it does not hide the frailties of the men who were "subject to like passions as we are". We read of Noah's drunkenness, of Abraham's cowardice, of Jacob's scheming, of Moses' fits of anger, of David's carnality, and of the failings of many others. "Now all these things . . . are written for our admonition" (l Cor. 10:11). None of these great men were angelic. They all were what they were by the Grace of God. What He did for them He will also surely do for us. We are thus encouraged by the record of the weaknesses of men who were especially used of God - and Paul was no exception.
It would be well for people everywhere to examine the writings of Paul with unbiased minds, taking into consideration what they were, and realizing also what he was. Paul was God's man; but he was not man's God, as many have tried to make him out.
PAULINISM - BASED ON TRUTH OR HERESY?
Paulinism with its many implications have become a real heresy. The natural result of this warped system will undoubtedly be to discount the Words of God, abolish the underlying true essence of the Message of the Kingdom for this age, and present seeking believers with another Gospel, which is called the "Gospel of Grace". No greater lie has ever been foisted upon the people of God than this terrible misrepresentation of the True Purpose and Plan of the Creator God for man - as embodied in the so-called "New Gospel of Grace", which is accredited to the apostle Paul according to his interpretation.
Without question there is a definite, distinct style in the composition of the writings of the great scribes of Holy Writ. The four Gospels are a vivid example of the four vastly different men who wrote them - yet, they were each one inspired by the same Holy Spirit! This fact has stumbled many an agnostic and has made unbelievers out of many doubters.
The knowledge of the infinite and the clever planning of the Most High are manifest in the styles of the four different viewpoints of the ministry of Messiah as recorder in the four versions of the Gospels. In these four books we see the pictures of the men who wrote them, yet, not once do they mention their own names. In all four of these accounts there is a complete absence of the use of the personal pronoun by the author - (there are two exceptions to this: Luke said, "It seemed good to me also ... to write". (chapter I, verse 3). This was not a boast - rather an apology from a heart of humility. He was only doing what he felt was his duty. The other exception is recorded in John 21:25. This author deliberately avoided using his own name; in four places he referred to himself as the "disciple whom Messiah loved."
What a contrast this is to the epistles of Paul! He wrote 13 letters, and each one of them started with his own name! He used the personal pronoun “I, me, or my”, 949 times! In the twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians, the big personal pronoun was used seven times in the sixth verse alone; 60 times in the same chapter of 21 verses!
Paul seems to have been quite a boaster, and at times it appears as though he may have overdone some of his boasting: "I am proud of being sent" (to the Gentiles as their apostle) (Rom.11:13) - could it be possible that he magnified his office above what he should have done? Messiah gave this solemn admonition, "When a man's doctrine is his own, he is hoping to get honour for himself" (Jo. 7:18), which the author of the Pauline epistles might well have heeded to advantage. Certainly no other scribe in all Scripture has displayed so much egotism, in so many different ways, as the apostle Paul has exhibited throughout all of his writings.
There are many warnings in the Bible against self-exaltation: "I am YHVH; that is My Name: and My Glory will I not give to another" (Isa.42:8). And James reminds us (chapter 3, verse 5), "the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things”.
We find that the apostle Paul, declared that he was "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Cor, 11:5); and again: "In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Cor,12:11). These are assertions which are rather hard to accept, for in comparing this claim of Paul to superiority, with Hebrews 3:1, where Messiah is also referred to as an “Apostle”, we find cause to wonder if Paul, the former "Saul of Tarsus", perhaps thought himself to be "not a whit behind" the Man of Galilee? Did he think he was equal with the Saviour of mankind? In any event, masses of Christians today regard him as just such - and even more, considering that they allow Paul to have authority over the Law of God, claiming it to have been replaced, done away with, nullified, “nailed to the Cross!” As such, they regard him as author of a “New Gospel”.
The writer of these epistles, in his constant reference to himself, has thrown an element of confusion into his message, which has blinded the eyes of many. He did, unquestionably, have a divine revelation - but not a new Gospel. He was instructed of the Lord; not of men; but he was not given a different Message! Paul consistently preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the very end of his ministry: "Preaching the Kingdom of God” (Acts 28 : 31); "The glorious Gospel of Messiah” (2 Cor.4:4); also 2 Thess. 1:8; Rom. 15:19 - all of these statements deny that this apostle was the chosen herald of a New Gospel
GRACE WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS OR RULE
Devotees of the heresy of "grace unlimited", find abundant support for their distorted teachings in the epistles of Paul. There are millions of present-day professing Christians who actually believe that this 'apostle was the founder of a “New Gospel of Grace”. It is this teaching that has opened the door of the church to the world: unrestricted license, freedom and liberty from all law to any who will accept and believe the new Gospel. It is this interpretation which has heralded these present times of lawlessness and crime without proper judgment in the world.
The thirteen epistles of this converted scholar from Tarsus are written in a style that is like an amazing obstacle course: Truth angled in such a fashion that it freely yields to the manipulations and devices of the triflers. There are three basic pillars which are used to support these erroneous deductions; and all three are derived from the written words recorded in the thirteen Pauline epistles:
(1) - "According to my Gospel" (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8). No other scribe ever spoke of the Gospel as "my” Gospel. Even Messiah Himself never referred to it as "My” Message. It is assumed by many modern scholars that if the apostle called his good news his own, in three different places, it most certainly indicated that he was the author of it!
(2) - "The Gospel of the uncircumcision" (Gal. 2:7). It is possible to infer from this verse that his message was different from the Gospel which Peter and the others taught. But the truth of the matter is that "the Good News" taught by all of the apostles was the same (“The Gospel of the Messiah"). The difference was not in the essence of the communication, but in the callings and manner of deliverance.
At the time of his conversion, this former "Pharisee of the Pharisees, was especially called to evangelize the Gentiles. The apostle Peter and all of the others who were especially called to minister to the Jews had an extremely difficult ministry: first they had to refresh the minds of their audiences concerning the fact that Moses and the prophets had predicted the coming of a Saviour.
(3) - The "mysteries" to which Paul refers, are played up as absolute proof (by the "Grace Gospel" teachers) that the Lord vested the "Grace Message' in this one man, alone. Those who are curious, often love to delve into mystery. Many cultists and sectarians feed upon the mental excitement derived from exploring "the secret things that belong unto God". Clever interpretations of "dark speeches" feed the egos of the proud in heart as they probe into the philosophical labyrinth of human speculation. The letters of Saul from Tarsus provide an inexhaustible source for those who like to delve in to the Word of God merely for personal entertainment. The word mystery is used 27 times in the New Testament: the author of the epistles has used it 20 times! And of course, the "Grace Gospelers" make much of these mysteries spoken of by this apostle. The promise of the revelation of a new mystery has somewhat the same effect upon people who turn away from the plain Commands of the Saviour in an attempt to find a philosophical sop in the writings of others.
Consider these declarations from Paul's letter to the Ephesians in comparison with the inspired writings of some of the other great men of God: "You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the Grace He meant for you and that it was by a Revelation that I was given the knowledge of the Mystery, as I have just described it very shortly. If you read my words, you will have some idea of the depths that I see in the Mystery of Messiah. This Mystery, which has now been revealed through the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets, was unknown to any men in past generations ... that gentiles now share the same inheritance” (Eph. 3:2-6). This sounds as though the writer of these words was the first and only man to have the understanding of this most mysterious work to be done among the Gentiles! At least, this is the conclusion of millions of professing Christians.
But the other Scriptures deny that this Mystery was a new thing. "There shall be a root of Jesse . .. to it shall the Gentiles seek" Isa. 11:10; "My servant (Messiah) ... to the Gentiles" Isa. 42:1; "A light of the Gentiles" (Isa. 42: 6); "My Name shall be great among the Gentiles" (Mal. 1:11); "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation ... A light to lighten the Gentiles" (Luke 2:30-32); "Teach all nations" (Matt.28:19); "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15); etc.
The traditional Jewish interpretation had so blinded the eyes of the Jewish believers of apostolic days, that it was virtually impossible for them even to imagine the God of Abraham having anything to do with anyone of another nation. Of the apostles themselves, Peter was actually the first to receive the Revelation that the Gentiles were also called to have a part in the work of the Messiah, "the first and the last", the One Who presented all of the major doctrines Himself. His Gospel is the "everlasting Gospel": and it is the only Gospel.
It is nothing less than high treason against the Kingdom of God for anyone to attempt to introduce another Gospel, of which Paul is alleged to be the author. This is even contrary to Paul's own teaching; yet the "Grace Gospelers” have resorted to wresting the words of his epistles in an effort to provide a foundation for their latter-day heresy.
A careful student of the Word will note that these epistles are written in such a manner that they provide a vast amount of material which is readily adaptable to misinterpretation and misrepresentation. It pleased the Creator to let this apostle present his own views of certain things; and the all-wise One ... knew that His servant was providing stumbling stones and rocks of offense for those religious wiseacres who would not be above juggling the Words of Holy Scripture in an attempt to "climb up" into the Kingdom by "some other way" than the "door" which the Lord has provided. (See John 10:1-9).
WHY ARE DIVERSIONS ALLOWED
TO SURFACE AMIDST TRUTH?
Some of the rankest errors taught by many present-day professing believers, have their sole source and support in these Epistles of Paul. So powerfully, in fact, do the four Gospels and the book of Acts contradict certain diabolical interpretations of the letters of Paul, that a number of these schools of Paulinism have relegated all books of the Bible, except these epistles, to the (for them) unacceptable realms of the Jew.
Now consider this: what foundation would the following apostate teachings have, if the epistles of Paul were removed from our Bibles? "The postponement theory"; "The new gospel of Grace"; the idea of "once saved always saved"; "Baptism for the dead"; Disrespect for the ten Commandments; the so-called "Free Love" movement; Hatred for the Law and the Customs of God; etc.
No man should ever attempt to write Scripture. Of course, some may contend that when the apostle wrote to his "beloved son, " Timothy, and asked him to bring his cloak, his books, and his parchments (2-Tim. 4:16), he was not writing Scripture - and to this we heartily agree: Paul was merely writing a letter to his friend. But how can we know where to draw the line between his writings which were inspired, and those that were not?
It is probable that the apostle dictated all of his letters which were not written by his own hand. At least, he was aware of the subject matter, and must have approved of it, for they all begin with his own name. However we find that no less than six different men did the actual writing. Some of these were even included as authors of the epistle: "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus" (1 Thess, 1:1; and 2 Thess. 1:1); "Paul ... and Timothy our brother"
Let us be brave enough to face the facts: These epistles contain much Truth, but verbal inspiration (God-given, word-for-word dictation) is not always evident. Shall we then relegate these writings to the wastepaper basket? Absolutely not! Has not the Lord permitted them to be canonized for a purpose? For one thing, these epistles are excellent “Sifters”
Why has God allowed "rocks of offence” to become a part of the Bible? Here is the answer - "The reason why God is sending a power to delude them and make them believe what is untrue, is to condemn all who refused to believe in the Truth and chose wickedness (lawlessness) in stead ... those who are bound for destruction because they would not grasp the love of the Truth which could have saved them” (2 Theses. 3:11 and 10).
Countless "tares" are being sifted out of today's "wheat" by means of the misinterpretation of the writings of our good Brother Paul. Bear in mind that the man's words are good, but they are put in such a fashion that when they are not interpreted in the light of what Messiah has said in other writings, they can become a snare and a delusion. This is the secret for understanding these epistles which Peter called "things hard to be understood" (2 Peter 3:16).
There are many places in these writings where the apostle seems to contradict himself; other places where he seems to contradict Messiah or the other inspired writers. In such places it is most necessary that we "prove all things" (1 Theses. 5:2) by comparing his words "To the Law and the Testimony, if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).
Paul seemed to have been woefully ignorant of his own inconsistent errors as a scribe. Especially so, where he contradicted his own statements: "I please all men in all things ... that they may be saved" (1 Cor. 10:33). His intentions were commendable; but his method left much to be desired. We quote again from his own words: "Do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Messiah” (Gal.1:10). Had he forgotten his words to the Corinthians (see above: chapter 10, verse 33); or had he simply decided upon a different approach - a change in tactics?
In all Scripture, no other writer of Holy Writ has so confused the doctrines relative to the Law, as has Paul who boasted of being a "citizen of no mean city" (Acts 21:39). In a number of places he apparently debased the law by implication: "The curse of the Law” (Gal. 3:13); etc. In all of these statements, he failed to make a clear distinction between the sacrificial Laws and the rest of the Law of God.
Those who rebel against God, despise the Divine Commandments and rebel against God’s Law - so they eagerly grasp at these verses which apparently sanction lawlessness. But Paul did not abolish the Law. He said that by faith we "establish the Law” (Rom. 3:31); "Wherefore the Law is holy, and the Commandment is holy, and just and good" (Rom.7:12); ."The things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (I Cor.14:37); "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandments of God" (1 Cor. 7:19). Even Paul admitted, “I worship the God of my ancestors, retaining my belief in all points of the Law ...” (Acts 24:14). There is then, value in keeping the Commandments of God - even Paul says so! Let us test these last statements of the apostle, by the words of Messiah "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments" (Matthew 19:17).
Where Paul does not make things clear, we must go to the words of Messiah for clarification. The apostle wrote: "The whole Law is summarised in a single Command, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). Let us not presume that the apostle misspoke himself, for he went into much detail on this matter in the book of Romans: "If you love your fellow men, you have carried out your obligations ... All the Commandments ... are summed up in this single Command: you must love your neighbour as yourself” (Rom.13:8,9).
Let us now turn to Messiah Himself and compare statements : ". . , a lawyer, asked Him (Messiah) a question . . . saying, . , , 'Which is the Greatest Commandment of the Law?' Messiah said unto him: 'You must love YHVH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the First and Greatest Commandment. And the second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these TWO Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets'" (Matt. 22:35-40).
Certainly a great and a vital spiritual difference! How could we take Paul's version above that of the Lawmaker Himself?
CONFUSION OR HIGHER WISDOM?
Doctrines related to the Law seem to have been the most confusing issues in the mind of the author of these thirteen letters to the Messianic congregations. At times he wrote one thing to a congregation in one city, and then again, he would write just the opposite letter to another group : "A man is not justified by the works of the Law” (Gal. 2:16) he told the Galatians - but to the Romans he wrote; "For not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13). Surely the man was not double-minded? Could it have been that he was in confusion on this subject of Law?
Consider the following quotations, taken from two different epistles, written by this same man: "Once, when there was no Law, I was alive; but when the Commandment came, sin came to life, and I died. The Commandment was meant to lead me to life, but it turned out to mean death for me" (Rom.7:9,10); and, "... if the administering of death, in the written letters engraved on stones, was glorious ... if there was any splendour in administering condemnation, there must be very much greater splendour in administering justification ... if what was done away with was glorious, there must be much more in what is going to last for ever” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
If words mean anything, then the author of these epistles is saying that the ten Commandments were done away with, abolished, ended. At least, this is the meaning as it appears on the surface and as it has been accepted by most of Christianity: but remember, that the words of this scribe are tricky and they are especially designed to trap the carnal mind which rebels against the Truth.
The key to these ambiguous statements relating to the Law which was written on tables of stone, is to be found in 2 Corinthians 3:6 “(God) is the One Who has given us the qualifications to be the administrators of this New Covenant, which is not a Covenant of written letters but of the Spirit, the written letters being death, but the Spirit gives life”.
That which was "done away" with, was not the Message or the contents of the Law, but the manner in which it was delivered. The tables of stone and the face of Moses were merely reflectors of the glory contained in God's Commandments as the Keys to Life. Neither of these two reflecting mediums were able to convey God's Message to many hearts - the new ministry of the Spirit is a more accomplished carrier of that Message of the Law which "converts the soul" (Psa.19:7).
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH OR RIGHTEOUSNESS BY LAW
"This Is the Covenant that I will make with them . . . I will put My Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" (Jer. 31:31-34). It was by means of this new Covenant that Messiah made the Law honourable (Isa. 42;21). Paul in his epistle to the Romans wrote: "Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid, yes, we establish (give true value to) the Law” (Rom. 3:31).
The same writer, in the Corinthian epistle, declared , "If there was any splendour in the administering (ministry or work of delivering God's truth) of condemnation, there must be very much greater splendour in administering justification” (2 Cor. 3;9). The thing which he failed to include in this letter, was any mention of the fact that, instead of the Ten Commandment Law having been abolished, it was magnified! The "letter" only stated that one should not commit murder; but the magnified Law in the heart, required that one not even hate. The writing on the stones said: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" but the God-inscribed Law in the heart states that men shall not look and lust.
Surely all must agree that the Law in the hearts of men is greatly superior to the Law on the tables of stone. However, the author, in this Corinthian letter, has not made this matter clear, He has not stated an untruth - he has stated Truth in such a manner that it simply is not clear: a fog seems to enshroud it; it is veiled, and to many it is baffling and misleading. But when these statements are compared with other Scripture and with the explicit directives of God, the cloud is lifted and we see what Paul really meant. What he said is confusing; what he meant is Truth.
Paul said that there was a veil upon the hearts of the Jews when they read Moses (2 Cor. 3:15); but that veil created upon the hearts of those Pharisees of old by the writings of the great patriarch is as nothing compared to the covering which the works of Paul have effected to envelop many hearts in our generation. The words of Moses never offered even any remote excuse for carnality; no way out for those who would try to dodge the Divine Command - but many of the things set forth in the epistles of Paul are loaded with bait to snare the hypocrite and the rebels against the Law!
If the following words are to be taken literally, consider the latitude they offer for licentiousness: “All things are lawful unto me ... all things are lawful for me" (I Cor.6:12); and again, "All things are lawful for me" (I Cor,10:23). Add to these the verse, "Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows" (Rom,14:22). If this combination does not offer a license to sin, then words have no meaning!
What shall we conclude from such statements? We know that Paul did not condone sin. No man ever preached holiness to a greater degree than he did. But his writings many times have a limited application. Unlike other Scripture, the works of this particular scribe must be handled with extreme care. His own words, in this same epistle, are proof that he did not mean that he was lawless, or without law. Did he not recognize the matter of law in regard to the man who had unlawful relations with his father's wife (l Cor. 5:1)? Did he not say that when he had been caught up to Paradise, he had heard words that were "not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor,12:4)? He also declared that we "do not make void the Law through faith", but instead we "establish the Law” (Rom. 3:31). And in chapter 7, verse 12, of the same book, he says that "the Law is holy".
Before we follow the reasoning of Paul indiscriminately, it would be well to ascertain, exactly, the correct meaning of what he has said!
If the author of these epistles had been a magician, he could have done a no more efficient job of garbling much of the Truth.
An example of truth which is presented in such a manner that it can quite readily be adapted for use as a basis for error, is set forth in the fourteenth chapter of Romans: "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (verse 5); "There is nothing unclean of itself” (verse 14); "All things indeed are pure" (verse 20); "Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows" (verse 22). What have we here; some sort of new philosophy? Yes, indeed! Here is a foundation for almost any "ism"! Apparently Paul is advocating here that as long as you believe a thing to be truth, it is truth! This is one of the most modern of philosophies: Truth is whatever you believe to be truth! How convenient! What a treasure for the heart of the self-willed worldling! Surely here is a "New Gospel" for those who desire to turn the Grace of God into loose living!
It would have been a great blessing to all, if the writer of these documents had humbly exalted the words of Messiah, instead of confusing and 'actually misstating them in the one and only quotation of the Saviour's own Words which he ever even attempted to bring into any of his thirteen epistles! We find this misquotation in his letter to the congregation at Corinth; "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That, in the same night in which He was betrayed, He took bread and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, ‘Take, eat: This is My Body, which is broken for you ..." (1 Cor, 11:23, 24). This is a total contradiction of Scripture in Exod. 12:46 and Ps. 34:20, John 19:36. The other Gospel writers have it correctly: “This is My body which is given for you" (Luke 22:19).
This would be one of the evidences of True Messiahship: that not a bone of His Body would be broken. We must accept this, unquestionably, for all of the Gospel writers confirm it.
Once again we have an example of the enigmatic style of the Pauline epistles: this author must very often be interpreted. Paul's message is excellent, but his words are frequently shrouded and hidden in amazing paradoxes and seeming contradictions.
If we insist that the New Testament is Divinely inspired, then we have to conclude that God allowed the above seeming misinformation to be in the Scriptures. Yes! The Most High has designed many snares and set numerous traps for the feet of the deceitful: "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess, 2:11).
The attitude of every sincere Believer should be one of prayerful caution with regard to searching out and extracting the true meaning from the writings of the apostle Paul. No one's explanation of the subject matter contained in his messages should ever be accepted as valid, unless such conclusions can be confirmed by the Words of Messiah and/or the rest of Scripture. Be wary of any doctrine based solely upon man's evaluation of the words of Paul: any humanly-devised deductions that cannot be clearly supported by the writings of other New Testament authors or the Old Testament, should be rejected as lacking documentary proof - for the letters of the man from Tarsus are so constructed that they may very easily lend themselves to speculation and to misinterpretation, which is most satisfactory and appealing to the natural carnal man!
How is it that this apostle so often appears to be misquoting, misinterpreting, and even misrepresenting the Truth in such a seemingly careless manner?
Consider, for example, the danger of insisting on the literal words from Paul's pen: "For to this end Messiah both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Rom.14:9). But let us compare this declaration with the Words of Messiah Himself, when He spoke of the God of Abraham. "He is not a God of the dead, but of the living" (Luke 20:37).
Was Paul then misquoting the Messiah? No - not if we interpret his remark correctly, in relation to the rest of Scripture. But if it is taken literally, then the answer is, yes! Paul, here, was speaking of the "dead in Messiah”. He knew that Messiah was “Lord of the righteous dead”; "He that believetb in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).
By studying these verses we know that Paul's version of Truth must be interpreted by the plain Words of Messiah.
Again we wish to stress the fact that Paul cannot be taken literally in isolation, as an authority. Undoubtedly, he meant well by what he said; but many times the student who does not consult the rest of Scripture for corroboration, will become wound up in a most confusing web of Paulinism.
Many of the statements in Paul's letters are extremely misleading, if they are not fully explained by other Scriptures and added revelation. Examine this apparent contradiction concerning those who died in the plague of Midian. In Numbers 25:9 we read: “And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand." Now compare the above statement, made by Moses, with that of Paul’s in (1 Cor. 10:8), “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day twenty three thousand". Did Paul miss the number by one thousand? Paul said that 23,000 fell in one day. The other thousand may have had a slow death. It is quite possible that it took a week or more for some of them to die. Moses was right; and Paul was right. Moses' account needs no explanation; but Paul's depiction of the event is misleading outside of the context of other Scripture.
This gives us a vivid example of the peculiar fashion in which these epistles were written. The mysteries of divine inspiration are many - but some of the most enigmatic and perplexing of such puzzles are to be found in these bewilderingly ambiguous works of this former student of Gamaliel.
In Romans chapters 4 - 7, Paul presents another of his ‘hard to understand’ reasonings on ‘Justification without works’ as opposed to ‘Law keeping’. “We are justified by Faith and not by doing something the Law tells us to do” Rom. 3:28. He refers to Abraham, who, initially as a gentile, was justified by God because of his Faith. The Law, by then, had not been ‘given’ yet. “Abraham put his faith in God, and this faith was considered as justifying him” (Rom. 4:3). It was before Abraham had been circumcised.
He then continues with several direct statements intimating that the Law no longer exists:
- “We are now dead to the Law”
In his contradictory way he then continues in the next few paragraphs (Rom. 7:7-25) to uphold the Law with statements like:
- “The Law is sacred”
The alert searcher after Truth, will notice though, from Paul’s reference to Abraham, that he was justified because of his faith, “before he (Abraham) had been circumcised, not after” (Rom. 4:10). Why then was Abraham circumcised (according to Jewish Law requirement) after he had been “justified by Faith”? Paul answers this himself, stating “it was as a sign (seal) and guarantee that the faith he had before his circumcision, justified him” (Rom 4:11).
Here we have a firm confirmation and wonderful revelation, that “Law keeping” follows justification by Faith; that it comes as a ‘spiritual result or fruit’ of justification. Paul unfortunately fails to expound on this revelation and necessary requirement for righteousness and holiness. In stead, he sets off in pages of reasoning, to stress the “abandonment of the Law”!
This revelation is further confirmed by the fact that the All-Wise Ruler of the universe thought it well and good to give the Law to Moses in thunder and lightning, long after Abraham’s justification and, surely, after Moses had also been ‘justified by Faith’?
In reaching his conclusion that “we are dead to the Law through the Body of Messiah” (Rom. 7:1-6), Paul offers a contorted reasoning of how a married woman’s legal obligations to her husband comes to an end at his death, and she “can marry another husband without becoming an adulteress”. He concludes: “That is why ... we can now give ourselves to another husband, to Him Who rose from the dead”. The conclusion that many believers draw from Paul’s inference here, is that “our new Husband” has got no Laws and, being “dead to the Law” ... we are now “free to serve in the new spiritual way and not the old way of a written Law”. Common sense should rule that, as “Bride of our new Husband”, we are back at our legal obligations to Him!
There is one thing however, of which we can be certain in regard to Paul’s reasonings on "justification without works": the Pauline epistles stand alone in offering such “freedom of the Law by Grace”.
Salvation, coupled with the privilege of living in sin, seems to be the substance of this "new gospel of grace”. The propagators of this so-called "new truth" maintain that this doctrine was set forth for modern man by none other than the author of the thirteen epistles to the Messianic Congregations.
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CONGREGATION
Paul’s teaching regarding the treatment of women in the congregation, puts a question mark over his own degree of ‘new dispensation’ spirituality. One has to recognize his orthodox Jewish background to understand this. Typically to Jewish tradition in the worship services, he advises the new dispensation Messianic congregations: “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection" (I Tim. 2:11). The ladies clearly had no voice in the general discussion in this apostle's meetings - they were just to accept what was told them. "Women are to remain quiet at meetings, since they have no permission to speak. They must keep in the background as the Law itself lays it down. If they have any questions to ask, they should ask their husbands at home - it does not seem right for a woman to raise her voice at meetings,” (1 Cor. 14:34).
If we are to follow Paul dogmatically, why not in this instruction also? His reference to it being part of “the Law” is totally incorrect - the Torah has no such directive. Jewish traditional custom, yes! Was “Law” simply a broad term with Paul?
In 1 Cor. 7:25-40, Paul embarks on a further contradictory advisory position regarding virginity and sexual practices of married couples. If it was not written by a once orthodox observant Jew (Paul), it would have been a perfect doctrinal essay for Catholic Celibacy - which makes one think: who really wrote this section of Scripture? Judaism advocates active reproduction of life, according to God's Command in Gen. 1:28 "God blessed them saying: 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it". Paul prescribes non-marriage and even withholding of sexual relations within marriage. God saw that "it is not good that the man be alone, I will make him a help mate ..." Gen. 2:18. So God created a female partner for Adam! Paul says it is better to stay single and not give your daughter away in marriage! He puts marriage as a good second, as a fatal alternative because of reigning immorality. In other words, "O.K. rather than immorality, if you cannot exercise self-control, then get married!" Sex between married partners is sin - is the loud and clear message of this section.
There surely should be no doubt in any one's mind that this man's writings have furnished a lot of male tyrants with what they have been told to be divine authority for keeping women in subjection. Many a bullheaded little self - styled demigod has taken advantage of the authority of these verses. One thing is certain, if the men of the apostolic day, generally, were anything like the men of today, the women had a very poor chance of learning anything of value concerning spiritual things!
Is this the spiritual Restoration which God had in mind for the new Dispensation faithful? Today, every congregational leader is aware of the fact that the most spiritual folks in their congregation are women. Were it not for the devotion of women, a great many congregations would have folded up a long time ago and congregational social and charity drives would not have existed!
Any criticism against Paul’s instruction regarding women’s subjection to their husbands in “everything” whatsoever (Eph. 5:24), would quickly be qualified by the Paulinists as applying to “spiritual” husbands only. It would be impossible for a woman married to an unconverted man to comply with this ruling - in fact, it would be unscriptural. If Paul is so infallible, why did he not qualify it and give some guidance to women in such a relationship?
It is clear, that Paul was not totally correct in his directives regarding women in the congregation. Could he then not have faltered in some other points of spiritual interpretation and guidance also?
PAUL THE SAVIOUR
One of the great mysteries about this apostolic scribe is how the Spirit of the Lord tolerated his apparently unadulterated egotism. Numbers of people today have actually accepted this man from Tarsus as a "Saviour" - a leader on an equal basis, if not a greater leader than Messiah Himself. Many put his word above that of the God of the ‘Old Testament’ by imputing to Paul the ‘authority’ to abolish the Eternal Law of the Creator!
Now the author of this new gospel boldly says, “I beseech you, be ye followers of me" (1 Cor.4:16); and again in Phil. 3:17. and 2 Thess.3:7. “Be ye followers of me even as I am also of Messiah” (1 Cor. 11:1)
Can we really take this man as our perfect example He admitted to "sin that dwelleth in me" and he talked about the evil which he would not do, and “that I do" (Rom. 7:19), He stated that in his flesh “dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). For a man of God, he certainly did some extremely outlandish things.
Over the matter of the doctrine of circumcision. he bragged to the Galatians that he had dressed down the apostle Peter: “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed ... I said unto Peter before them all ...” (Gal 2:11-21). “Behold I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Messiah shall profit you nothing .. . ye are fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:1-4). Nowhere did Messiah ever indicate that circumcision would be done away with. These are the words and the style of an arrogant self-conceited person. One can almost visualise this ardent supporter of the Gospel standing up against the big Galilean fisherman and openly withstanding him “to his face”. A very impressive show of faithfulness to the letter; but certainly reflecting a lack of that most important thing he wrote about in his first letter to the congregation at Corinth: “Though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing” (verse 3).
But the astonishing thing about this whole matter is that a number of years after he publicly withstood Peter to his face over the matter of circumcision, he himself circumcised a man! The father of his friend Timothy, was a Greek - so, before he took this young preacher with him on his missionary journeys, Paul himself, performed the Abramic Covenant rite upon him. “... and Paul, who wanted to have him as a traveling companion, took and circumcised him. This was on account of the Jews in the locality ...” (Acts 16;3).
Now it so happened that the circumcising of Timothy was the second step of error that the apostle Paul made towards the termination of his ministry. This disgraceful circumstance probably never would have occurred, had he not already made the most fatal error in his ministry: he had hot-headedly broken his union with Barnabas. The Holy Spirit had called Paul and Barnabas to work together as a team. The Scripture says, "Barnabas . . , was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (Acts 11:22-24). Such a man could have been a big help to Paul: also, Barnabas was God's gift to him as a team mate of stability and deep character. Paul though, seems to have been a lopsided fanatic in almost everything that he did. He needed a co-worker who was full of the Holy Spirit. But, "after a violent quarrel, they parted company ...” (where was the 'charity' that 'thinketh no evil'?) (Acts 15:39).
This was very wicked - why did not these men who were called to work together, seek God for the answer to their problems?
The Bible does not tell us just which of these two apostles was to blame for the willful separation of the team that God had joined together; but of one thing we can be certain: it was a tragic mistake for both of them.
"Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus" (Acts 15:39), and that is the last we hear of Barnabas. "Paul chose Silas" (verse 40): What a difference in the teaming up! When the Holy Spirit did the teaming up, the declaration was: "I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them". (Acts13:2). No longer were these great apostles now separated unto God, neither did they follow the work unto which He had called them. If these two men of God had stayed together as a team, they might have wrought changes among men and nations that would have affected for good many millions of people for generations.
Man's stubbornness and self-will have marred many an excellent plan of the Spirit of God. In tears, many of the inspired prophets of God have pleaded with foolish man to turn from his inexplicable self-willed stupidity and walk in humble obedience to the good instruction of God. One can visualize the outstretched hands and arms of the prophet Ezekiel as he pleaded with his people: "Why will you die, O house of Israel"; and again, in the words of Messiah, we can almost hear the pathos of His voice as He looked sadly upon the "City of the great King" and cried: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ... how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not" (Matthew 23:37).
But man's ways are not God's ways, and so "Paul, after staying on for some time, took leave of the brothers, and sailed for Syria, ...At Cenchrea, he had his hair cut off because of a vow he had made" (Acts18:18).
What is this? It certainly sounds a lot like more Judaism - and we thought he was so bitterly against all of these "carnal ordinances"? Take note also, that toward the close of his ministry he no longer had a team mate; he acted more or less like a lone ranger. From that time on, he operated alone; he consulted with no man; be even refused to accept the counsel of the Spirit of God through other brethren. But let us not get ahead of our story - his third step toward disaster was occasioned by an overzealous self-determination to accomplish for God what the Spirit of God had said could not be done: He still believed that he could convert the Jerusalem Jews to Messianism.
Shortly after Paul's conversion, the Almighty plainly told him: "Hurry, leave Jerusalem at once; for they will not accept the Testimony concerning Me ... Go! I am sending you to the gentiles far away.” (Acts 22:18-21).
However, after many years of preaching about the Messiah, he must have felt that he had acquired persuasive powers sufficient to open the eyes of the most stubborn Jew. At any rate, "Paul purposed in the spirit ... to go to Jerusalem" (Acts 19:21). (The word "purposed" in Greek is a derivative of "tethayme", meaning to determine; resolve; to purpose). The apostle determined in his own spirit - the account of the many warnings which he received from the Holy Spirit on his way to the City are sufficient to show that his determination was not inspired of the Spirit of God: "Behold I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem" (Acts 20:22). Anyone who has a walk with God, should take heed when he "goes bound” into any work.
Only a thoroughly self-willed, headstrong person would brush aside so many warnings, such as Paul was given on his way south: "The Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough, that imprisonment and persecution await me”. (verse 23). But blind self-will is a deceitful thing. Poor man! He thought that he was doing God service: “But none of these things move me" (verse 24). He had received sufficient warning from the Spirit of God to cause him to believe that his trip to Jerusalem was to be his last, for alter calling together the elders of the congregation at Ephesus, he said, "I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more" (verse 25). However, this knowledge did not shake his dogged determination the least bit. Sink or swim, live or die, he had purposed in his spirit to go, and that was that!
When a saddle horse takes the bit in his teeth, it is impossible to get him to respond to normal guidance. When the spirit of man is determined to have its own way, heaven will not interfere with the man's free moral agency unless some other reason justifies such an interference. And so, not "Thy will be done", but "My will be done", the apostle determined.
At the city of Tyre, he found certain disciples, and "stayed there a week. Speaking in the Spirit, the disciples kept on telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:4).. Notice that this instruction came through more than one disciple. It is no small matter to be commanded “through the Spirit". The Living God was speaking through His servants to this headstrong, misguided servant of His. When God commands a thing to be done, it should not be shrugged off, for no man rebels against the Divine Order without suffering great loss. "Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward" (Heb, 2:2).
The magnitude of the sin of rebellion is told in these words of the prophet Samuel: "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry". This fearful statement was delivered to king Saul, the absolute monarch of ancient Israel. He answered Samuel: "I have sinned: for I have transgressed the Commandment of YHVH, and Thy words" (1 Sam,15:23, 24). But listen to the awful penalty for disobedience to the Divine Command, given through the lips of a Prophet of God: "Because you have rejected the Word of YHVH, He has also rejected you from being King in Israel”!
And Moses was not permitted to lead Israel into the land of Promise, because he allowed his temper to get the best of him and cause him to smite the rock to bring forth water for the murmuring people. .God had told him to speak to the rook; he struck it, instead. The water gushed forth and the people had plenty of water. But this account is immediately followed by these Words: "YHVH spoke unto Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them" (Numbers 20:12).
Surely Gamaliel's student of the Scriptures must have been aware of the "Severity of God", as it is recorded by the "holy men of old". What perversion of nature must have compelled him to ignore the Commands given "through the Spirit” by the brethren at the city of Tyre?
Remember that, in his younger days, it had been necessary for the fanatical, headstrong Saul of Tarsus - on his way to Damascus with murder in his heart - to be knocked to the ground by the Spirit of YHVH, in order to bring him to his senses.
It is true that on his way to Jerusalem, at this later date, he was impelled by a burning zeal to save men, rather than to destroy them; but his driving mechanism was still very much the same as it had always been. It was apparently impossible for this man to take an unbiased, middle-of-the-road attitude concerning any matter. He seems to have been overzealous to the point of fanaticism in whatever cause or activity he espoused. He needed someone to work with him who would be a steadying influence to check or offset some of his excessive enthusiasm.
When God calls a man to a special work, He supplies every means essential to the accomplishment of that work. God had provided Barnabas, "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit", to labour with Paul, and to act as the needed counterbalance in his ministry. Barnabas was no yes-man - he had the character to stand up and speak his piece.
It was a tragic thing for these two men to become so estranged in the heat of argument and disagreement over such a trifle as that of determining who should accompany them on a journey, that they actually reached the point of disregarding their divine call and severing their God-ordained relationship.
But there was yet another Gift with which God had presented Paul, to aid him in his ministry: something which, upon first thought, may not actually appear to be a Gift. This was "a messenger of Satan", which was designed to serve as an instrument of restraint. The apostle himself did not recognize it as a gift, for he said: "I besought God three times that it might depart from me" (2 Cor. 12:8). This man was insistent: he had to be convinced that his "thorn in the flesh" was necessary before he would submit to it. But God, in His great mercy, knew the weakness of Paul to be his excessive egotism.
Paul's ego shows up in every one of his epistles. He brags quite openly, time after time. Speaking of certain "false apostles", he said: "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they ministers of Messiah? (I speak as a fool) I am more".
Then he enumerates the many things which befell him while he was doing missionary work (2 Cor, 11: 22-28). No one can deny that he was an example of extraordinary suffering for the sake of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. But also, there is no denying that the man had an overactive ego. He himself confirmed such a conclusion: "Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh " (2 Cor, 12: 7).
After the apostle's third try in prayer to have this "thorn removed, the Spirit had told him: "My Grace is sufficient for thee (God's Grace is the ability to endure suffering for the sake of Messiah); for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9). Paul managed to separate himself from God's Will in the matter of Barnabas; but he was not able to change God’s Will in the matter of the "thorn".
On his way to Jerusalem, Paul simply ignored all warnings and all Commands "through the Spirit”. He had only one thing in mind: he must convert the Jews to Messianism.
The question may arise, “Why was Paul not stopped in his tracks because of his willful disobedience to the Divine Command?”
Paul was in fact severely punished for his rebellion. From the very day that he turned from the Divine Commandment, given through the servants of God, the apostle was fast sliding downward. Any follower of God who refuses to listen to the pleas of anxious saints "in every city", and also refuses to obey the Word of God given through His prophets, must surely be in bad standing, spiritually.
PAUL - THE 13TH APOSTLE
OPPOSING THE 12 CHOSEN APOSTLES
The following section has been extracted and slightly adapted in places (as also the Sacred Names) from the Web Page:
http://beyondthechurch.spaces.live.com/ (Ben Yahuah's Truth Page)
The Ebionite Records on the Trial of Paul by Douglas J Del Tondo Esq
The Apostle John in 1 John told us, reminiscent of Revelations 2:2, to test every spirit to see whether it comes from God. There were several criteria he gave to tell the liars from the true. He said:
‘We belong to YHVH, and everyone who knows YHVH will listen to us" [i.e., the twelve apostles]. But the people who don’t know YHVH won’t listen to us. That is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies.” (1 John 4:6 CEV)
Now where did John get that idea? YAHU’SHUAH in Matthew 10:14-15 said: “And whosoever shall not receive you (His appointed 12 Apostles), nor hear your words, as you go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (ASV)
Those who reject the twelve apostles were condemned by YAHU’SHUAH Himself. The words of the twelve apostles, if rejected, cause us to be at risk of the fire suffered by Sodom and Gomorrah. This is not because their words are prophetic, but because of the Message the twelve personally carried from YAHU’SHUAH. If rejected, it puts us at risk of judgment by fire.
Paul admits that he rejected the teachings of the Apostle Peter
In Paul, we see hostility toward the twelve apostles in many ways: The twelve “imparted nothing to me,” says Paul. (Gal. 2:6.)
When we consider from the text of the New Testament, whether Paul behaved in an insulting way toward Peter, we find that Paul actually admits it - in fact, he boasts about it.
In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul boasts of being able to condemn a true apostle of YAHU’SHUAH. “I resisted him to the face ….” Then Paul says he gave Peter a dressing down “before them all.” Paul did this publicly, not in private, thereby transgressing YAHU’SHUAH’s reprimand to correct a person in private. Let us read the event in context: ‘When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"
Paul seems to be unaware of YAHU'SHUAH's explicit guidance of Peter, shown him by way of the vision of a sheet filled with all types of crawling unkosher insects and animals, that he should take the Gospel to the Gentiles - that it was not to be retained amongst Jews only. Acts 10 records this Divine confirmation to Peter, "because what God has made clean, you have no right to call profane." To do this, Peter had to mix with Gentiles. Not only does Paul confuse and overrule this issue, but also his entire mandate. At some stages he claims to have been sent to the non-Jews (the uncircumcised) while he persistently preaches "to the Jews first", invoking persecutions and problems on himself.
In Galatians 2:7 Paul recognizes his mandate: "I had been commissioned to preach the Good News to the uncircumcised..." and then he makes an astonishing statement in total contradiction of what the NT states about the mission of the apostle Peter, shown to Peter in the Vision of the unkosher animals. Paul erroneously concludes in this text "... just as Peter had been commissioned to preach to the circumcised." Clearly, by insisting to go "to the Jew first" with the Gospel, Paul was either confused - or else he challenged his mandate! (For a full review of this resistance and the Biblical prohibition of proselytizing of Jews, refer to http://www.revelations.org.za/Prozelytize.htm
In rebuking Peter in public for what Paul mistakenly and uninformedly regards to be Peter's error, he also violates his own command to us: “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but appeal to him as a father.” (1 Tim. 5:1.) Paul also violated YAHU’SHUAH’ command: “if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Matthew 18:15.)
Paul also sneers at the three “so-called” leaders at Jerusalem: James, Cephas (i.e., Simon Peter) and John, adding pejoratively that they “seemed to be pillars” (Galatians 2:9). Paul boasts that he believes he is at their level: “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5. And in 2 Corinthians 12:11, Paul claims “in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.” There is some textual and historical reasons to think Paul calls the twelve false apostles in 2 Cor. 11:12-23, viz. verse 13 “fashioning themselves into apostles of YAHU’SHUAH.” (Is this not exactly what Paul claims and pursues himself, though he was never appointed as an apostle by YAHU’SHUAH – but only, at best, as a servant and a witness? Acts 26:16; 9:15)
Paul was teaching Gentiles that it was permissible to eat food sacrificed to idols. 1 Cor. 8:1-13, note v. 7 & 8). The twelve apostles tacitly approved James condemning this in Acts chapter 15. YAHU’SHUAH condemns it three times in the Book of Revelation.
Peter’s Question Why YAHU’SHUAH Would Use Paul Aside from apostles
From early Messianic writings outside of the New Testament, it is clear that Paul became opposed by Messianic believers already in the first centuries of the new Hebrew Messianic movement. So, for instance, Peter, in the Clementine Homilies speech, asks his antagonist (Paul) a blunt question that remains valid even if Homily 17 were fictional:
“And how did He (Messiah) appear to you, when you entertain opinions contrary to His teaching?
But if you were seen and taught by Him, and became His apostle for a single hour, proclaim His utterances, interpret His sayings, love His apostles.”
Doesn’t anyone else find it incongruous that not a single utterance from YAHU’SHUAH' teachings in the Gospel accounts are found in Paul’s many letters? For Paul, YAHU’SHUAH is just the Divine Messiah who dies, resurrects and we must trust in this fact alone, “to be saved.”. Apart from that, YAHU’SHUAH’s teachings are completely absent in Paul’s NT writings.
What Peter brings out in the Clementine Homilies again can be corroborated by looking at Paul’s writings. Paul admits in Galatians that after he was called and converted on the road to Damascus, he then began his work for fourteen years before he ever went back to Jerusalem to learn from the apostles who were appointed by and who personally knew YAHU’SHUAH. (Gal. 2:1.)
Paul admits that until that time, he only had a brief two week visit to Jerusalem three years after his vision. Paul emphasizes his lack of contact with the twelve apostles by pointing out that in those two weeks he only met Peter and then briefly James, YAHU’SHUAH’s brother. Paul adamantly insists this is his sole prior encounter with the apostles within “fourteen years”
Gal. 2:1 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb... 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 apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three [more] years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles I saw none, save James YAHU’SHUAH' brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia”. (Galatians 1:8-21)
If the apostles were hand picked and trained by YAHU’SHUAH, He obviously did so in order that their witness would be full and superior to others. Then it should be incumbent on Paul to learn from them. Yet, by Paul’s own admission, he fails to do so for years. How then can Paul form the greater body of New Testament Scripture when his ideas are not based on YAHU’SHUAH's teachings? When his teachings so often oppose and overthrow the Torah and Tanach (OT) teachings? Christianity is being expounded by someone who never spent any extended time with YAHU’SHUAH, never trained under him, and whose writings are devoid of utterances of YAHU’SHUAH except a small unique aphorism and only one inaccurate quote from YAHU’SHUAH’s Last Supper (Pesach Seder) account.
Other respected thinkers have been astonished by Paul’s lack of mentioning any lessons of YAHU’SHUAH. Albert Schweitzer once said: “Where possible, he (Paul) avoids quoting the teaching of YAHU’SHUAH, in fact even mentioning it. If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that YAHU’SHUAH taught in parables, had delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and had taught His disciples the ‘Our Father.’ Even where they are specially relevant, Paul passes over the words of YAHU’SHUAH.”
A modern Christian scholar, Hans van Campenhausen, agrees this deficiency in Paul’s writings is a striking and glaring problem:
“The most striking feature is that the words of YAHU’SHUAH, which must have been collected and handed on in the primitive community and elsewhere from the earliest days, played no, or at least no vital, part in Paul’s basic instruction of his churches.”
Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 quotes from the Last Supper at odds with Luke’s account. See Luke 22:19-20. Luke says Jesus’ body is ‘given’ but Paul says it is ‘broken.’ This variance is significant. As John 19:36 mentions, Psalm 34:20 says not a bone of His shall be broken. Paul’s quote is thus contradictory of Luke as well as theologically troublesome.
Refs.: Albert Schweitzer Library: The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (John Hopkins University Press: 1998). 28.Hans van Campenhausen, The Formation of the Christian Bible (J. A. Baker, trans.) (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972).
Peter to James, Preface to Clementine Homilies a. Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene (Oxford: 2006).
SACRIFICES - AND PAUL'S FINAL EPISODE
Samson did not realize that God had departed from him; and neither did Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, discern, during those dark days in Jerusalem, that he was very much on his own. His six days in the big city, are a disgrace upon his ministry. He compromised his whole message against priest craft in an abortive attempt to reach the Jews. He did the very thing for which he had openly rebuked his brethren.
He almost committed a great sin against Messiah by offering an animal sacrifice! Hear these words from the records of the book of Acts, (with our comments in brackets to emphasize the essence of this amazing section of Scripture):
We read from Acts chapter 21:19 onwards, about Paul’s arrival and meeting with his messianic brothers in Jerusalem. “After greeting them, he gave a detailed account of all that God had done among the pagans through his ministry. They gave glory to God when they heard this. ‘But you see, brother’ they said, ‘how thousands of Jews have now become believers (in Messiah), all of them staunch upholders of the Law (of Moses), and they have heard that you instruct all Jews living amongst the gentiles, to break away from Moses (admitting therefore that Paul did teach the “doing away with the Law”. The New Testament writings of Paul abounds with such instructions), authorising them not to circumcise their children or to follow the customary practices). What is to be done?”
The leaders of the Messianic congregation at Jerusalem, then arrives at the following solution: “We have four men here who are under a vow. Take these men along and be purified with them (a ritual process according to Jewish Law) and pay all the expenses connected with the shaving of their heads. This will let everyone know that that there is no truth in the reports and that you still regularly observe the Law. (As for those gentiles who have accepted the Jewish Messianic Faith) we wrote them and told them our decisions (regarding the keeping of the Law or not) that they must abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication (This according to a prior ruling which they had made - Acts 15:19).”
“So, the next day Paul took the men along and was purified with them, and he visited the Temple to give notice of the time when the period of purification would be over and the offering would have to be presented on behalf of each of them. The seven days were nearly over, when some Jews caught sight of him in the Temple and stirred up the crowd and seized him, shouting, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who preaches to everyone everywhere against our people, against the Law and against this place!’”
In a hearing against him, shortly after, Paul admitted: Acts 24:17 “After several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to make offerings. It was in connection with these that they found me in the Temple.”
From this time to the end of his life, Paul remained a
prisoner. Was it the ’Rod of God’ that had fallen on his back as punishment
for his stubborn rebellion against the leading and advise of the Spirit
of God? Yet, God continued to stand by him and bless his remaining
confined ministry until his death.
Paul was a “man of like passions” unto us. He was “God’s man”, not “man’s God”. His preaching and his letters are profitable as spiritual records, but none of his statements should be used as a foundation for replacing the ‘System’ and Law of YHVH, Creator God.
The “saved by Grace” believers have the foundation for their heresy based upon their own interpretations of the writings of Paul. Take these epistles away from them, and in the rest of the Bible they have no foundation for their teaching of “Grace which has done away with the Law”. This heresy of Paulinism has influenced the teachings of most of the denominations of Christianity. To these people, Paul has virtually superseded the Messiah and his words and interpretations are taken above the Word of YHVH.
Messiah has come and had to endure rejection and unwarranted suffering, for the sake of “Restoring the fallen Tabernacle of David”. This includes restoring the proper observance of the Law and Customs of God, which had been handed down to mankind at Sinai. With the first seeds having been planted by Messiah, the human incarnation of Almighty God, it would now be an ongoing process, until the “Original True Faith” would be fully restored.
This process have received fiery momentum by the knowledge explosion of the last few decades. true to the prophecy contained in Daniel 12:9, “These words are to remain secret and sealed till The Time of the End ... the learned will understand”. The advent of the technology revolution has made knowledge available on a scale never imagined before. Out of this has grown a gradual movement amongst serious and sincere Christians, back to the True System of God. Seventh Day Sabbath churches popped up as early as the nineteenth century and restored the true ‘Sabbath of the Jews’. Further restoration included reinstatement of the Sacred Feasts of God (‘Jewish Feasts’). Then followed the Sacred Name Movement, restoring the original Hebrew versions of God’s Name. And of late, there arose “The Restoration of Hebrew Roots Movement” amongst dedicated Christian sectarians. This movement promotes the original Biblical (‘Jewish’) customs, and Hebrew language terms are used freely and intermittently. This movement, for many restoration believers, has lead to full conversion to Judaism - which completes the full circle back to the original Messianic Judaism of Messiah's time in Israel.
These restorers had to cope with the writings of Paul and, notwithstanding the positive denunciation by Paul of many true tenets of Judaism, they have returned to the Law and Customs of the Original True Faith. Many of their conclusions were founded in defense of Paul’s writings; interpreting it, sometimes ignoring it, but always in the confidence of adhering to God’s Command above all - sometimes even twisting Paul’s statements into conformity!
The contents of the study above and its headlong confrontation with “Paul’s written statements” in relation to the revealed Word of YHVH, should shed much light on the true facts, namely, that only God is infallible and mankind, including the powerful apostle Paul, are merely beings “of like passion”. May this realization give a further and final boost to the Restoration of the Original True Faith which Jude commended us to strive for (Jude 3).
Additional reference studies on this Web Site
Links to Other Sources for additional Reading material on the same subject :
YESHUA & JUDAISM versus PAUL & CHRISTIANITY
IS IT HERESY TO CALL THE APOSTLE PAUL A HERETIC?
An outspoken treaties, raising questions which many believers
fear to ask while they have no answers for it either. Strong statements
backed by Scripture, claiming that:
ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM - by Manfred Davidmann
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