The False Apostle
Thus far, I have shown that Paul's concept of God's foreknowledge, and his doctrine of predestination not only do not exist in Yeshua's words or the Hebrew Scriptures, but there is much evidence to the contrary to be found in them. We might call this the DNA evidence against him (Doctrine Not Accurate). It is an important part of the case against him. But it is by no means all the evidence there is against his supposed authority. There is more than enough evidence to suggest that he was not even a true apostle of Yeshua... let alone the greatest apostle who ever lived as he is so often eulogized.
There are a number of historical facts, including things that both Yeshua and Paul said as recorded in the Bible, that leave us with some very compelling evidence against his apostleship being recognized in heaven.
There are several interesting facts surrounding this case
that should be noted and kept in mind.
His apostleship was unrecognized by others.
Of the 22 times in the Bible where Paul
is referred to as an "apostle", only twice is he referred to as an apostle by someone other
than himself! These two instances came from the same person. Not from Yeshua, or any of the
original apostles, but from Paul's close traveling companion and personal press secretary
Luke. Both accounts are found in Luke's record of the Acts of the Apostles, (chapter
14:4,14). Here Paul is referred to as an apostle along with Barnabas. By this time in the
story, Luke would have been very accustomed to Paul calling himself an apostle, and
he would no
doubt have been in agreement with Paul's assessment of himself. By these statistics alone, it is
evident that Paul is by far his own biggest fan... and his side kick Luke was his number two
fan. This leaves no one else anywhere in the Bible going on record
"I wanna talk about me!"
No other epistle author in the Bible wrote like Paul. This would be true on a number of levels, but one aspect is of particular interest when we are considering how Paul views himself. He had a way of drawing attention to himself with his usage of personal pronouns. When it comes to how often he uses words like, "I", "me", "my", or "mine", the overall rate in his epistles is almost three times that of his next closest rival. There are a number of reasons why many scholars today believe Paul was not the author of the book of Hebrews. One obvious reason is, in the other epistles credited to him, Paul doesn't hesitate to identify himself along with his supposed credentials. The author of Hebrews is strangely silent on these matters. Many scholars believe Barnabas was the author of Hebrews, but I think Apollos is a far better candidate... but that's a different subject. The point is, no one knows for sure. But Paul certainly couldn't be in the running as the author of Hebrews when one also considers the statistical rate of the personal pronoun usage. The author of Hebrews refers to himself only 9 times, which is approximately 1.3 personal pronouns per thousand words. To help put this in perspective, let's compare the book of Hebrews to the book of Romans. They are both relatively large books of similar length, divided into 13 and 16 chapters respectively. Yet in only the first half of the first chapter of Romans, which is 16 verses worth, Paul uses twice as many personal pronouns as the author of Hebrews uses in his entire book! In the book of Romans, Paul refers to himself 103 times, which is rate of about 18.2 per thousand! That is 13x greater than Hebrews. In 1 Corinthians, Paul refers to himself 175 times, in 2Corinthians 103 times again, and in the relatively short book of Galatians, he refers to himself 69 times which is a rate of 25 personal pronouns per 1000 words!
It should be evident that Paul is at least as
concerned with making a statement about himself as he is in communicating what
he believes to be the truth about God.
His claim of apostleship stands alone.
Other than the twelve apostles who spent three and a half
years with Yeshua, no one other than Paul can be identified as having claimed for
themselves the title of "apostle". Barnabas was referred to as an apostle
along with Paul by Luke in Acts 14:14, but there is no record of Barnabas claiming
the title for
Our view of early church is polarized.
When we take a survey of the New Testament, we notice that Paul is the single greatest contributor to it. When we read the book of Acts, we can't help but get the impression that the great bulk of what God was doing in the early church was happening through Paul. But it is misleading, because the book of Acts was written from only one man's perspective... Luke's. Luke traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys and the bulk of the book of Acts is the account of those travels. What we have in Acts is only one man's point of view, and from Luke's perspective, Paul's story would no doubt have appeared to be front and center stage. There is a likely reason why Luke chose to follow Paul and record his story in the first place. Paul branded himself the apostle to the Gentiles, and Luke, being a Gentile, would have seen Paul as where things were happening for him. When we consider Paul taught that there is no difference in Gods eyes between Jew and Gentile, but all believers in Yeshua now constitute "the true Israel of God", what Gentile who desired to get close to the God of Israel wouldnt be absolutely thrilled with Paul? But even though the view from the book of Acts is polarized and biased, it is still very important in helping us understand what was happening at that time. Without it we wouldn't have much of an idea at all. What was done and said as recorded by Luke is priceless, and we have no good reason to question what he saw and heard. Luke's own personal thoughts that he interjected occasionally may be questioned, but they are few and far between. I see no good reason to accuse Luke of malicious intent. The important thing to remember is that the book of Acts was written from a very singular point of view.
No doubt, God was doing other things at that same time. We
don't have a detailed record of it, but we do have some clues. God was certainly
working through the original apostles, and some of those things are recorded in the
beginning of Acts. The apostle John was hard at work for his Lord, but we hear very little
from him until we get to his epistles and the book of the Revelation at the end
of the New Testament.
Paul's claims of apostleship
Paul was not at all shy about calling himself an apostle. In fact, in nine out of thirteen of his books, he introduces himself as an apostle of Yeshua, and in each case states in some way that his apostleship is by heavenly decree.
Here is the question. Should we automatically believe the testimony of a person who makes grandiose claims about themselves when all we have for confirmation of their claim is little more than their word and maybe a statement or two from their best friend? If so, then we should likewise confirm those like Jim Jones and David Koresh. Unless there is obvious corroborative evidence to support such claims, all of them should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Unlike Paul, a true prophet or apostle does not have to go to such extraordinary lengths to convince the world they are who they say they are. Even Yeshua said that if he alone bore witness of himself, his witness was invalid. John 5:31 And of all the people who shouldn't need to have others testify on their behalf, Yeshua was that person. Yet he had Moses, the prophets, the Psalms, John the Baptist, the Fathers voice from heaven saying, "You are My beloved Son..." and hundreds of those who witnessed his resurrection. Paul had none of these. Though in his conceit, he considered himself to be God's special gift to the Gentiles, and claimed for himself a prophecy that was given exclusively to Isaiah in Isaiah 49:6.
"For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth." Acts 13:47
Paul, the greatest apostle!
Paul's view of himself as an apostle didn't stop at only claiming to be an apostle. He also did what he could to communicate to his followers that he topped them all. He even had the nerve to belittle the very apostles that Yeshua had called and trained for three and a half years to be his witnesses! Among this braggadocio's self-flattering quotes are the following.
"For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles". ...."As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia." 2 Corinthians 11:5,10
Sometimes, as though he knew he should be ashamed of challenging the stature of Yeshua's 12, he would preface his boast with a statement of unworthiness. No doubt he hoped people would embrace him as the greatest of apostles because he was so humble.
"For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all...". 1Corinthians 15:9,10
Aside from the fact that it was a lie to suggest the ministry had been split up between Jews and Gentiles ...as though he had exclusive rights to the Gentiles and the 12 were to stay with the Jews..., Paul even had the gall to condescend specifically on Peter, James, and John when he belittled them to the Galatians.
"But from those who seemed to be something - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man- for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised." Galatians 2:6,7,9
This is nothing but an arrogant lie. A couple verses later, Paul takes another cheap-shot at Peter. With Peter nowhere around to defend himself, Paul brags to the Galatians how he had determined Peter was a hypocrite, and how he had put him down before the entire church of Antioch.
"But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews played the hypocrite with him so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straight forward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "if you being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" Galatians 2:11-14
Earlier, in Galatians 1:8,9, Paul commanded his followers to consider "accursed" anyone who preaches a different gospel than his. There is little doubt that Paul wanted the Galatians to think this way toward Peter, if not James, and John as well. It is obvious to anyone reading the book of Galatians that Paul was demanding the Galatian church follow no one but him, not even the original apostles back in Jerusalem.
Aside from Paul's incredible arrogance, I also need to point out that Paul himself was the ultimate hypocrite for condemning Peter for accommodating Gentiles when he was around Gentiles and acting like a Jew around Jews. Here is what he claimed to do, and commanded the Corinthians to do as well.
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law as without law... that I might win those who are without 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." 1Corinthians 9:19-22
"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." 1Corinthians 10:31-33
When Paul says, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" we should do as he says... because in no way did he imitate Yeshua! Can anyone imagine Yeshua playing chameleon and saying anything like "I have become all things to all men" or "I please all men in all things"?
So here we have Paul, claiming to be greater than any other apostle, belittling Peter, James, and John by saying they only "seemed" to be pillars of the church, and that they "added nothing" to him. Then he brags about how he told off Peter... calling him a hypocrite, and he subtly curses the apostles by telling the Galatians to consider accursed anyone who differs with him. All this, while in fact, he was being the greatest hypocrite of all! The superstitious belief that Paul's words are infallible is so thick that people can't see the forest for all the trees that are in the way! If anyone else had even begun to do and say the things that Paul did, we would have recognized their incredible conceit and rejected them a long time ago. Here is something relevant that Solomon said.
"Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips." Proverbs 27:2
The book of Revelation
Back when I still believed Paul was a legitimate apostle, I was puzzled by one thing. If he was the greatest apostle who ever lived, as Christianity made him out to be, why didn't God give him the greatest prophecy since Yeshua... the book of Revelation? There are some interesting facts surrounding the book of Revelation, and things Yeshua said recorded in it that answer the question why Paul was not given the "Revelation". In other words, there is good reason why Yeshua did not give such an obviously high endorsement of Paul to the world. John was not given the Revelation because Paul was just a lesser apostle compared to him. The implications are far worse for Paul. Paul wasn't given the Revelation because part of the message of Revelation was given for the very purpose of exposing him as a false apostle! There is good reason why Yeshua used John the beloved apostle. He was one of the 12 Yeshua had been with for three and a half years training to be his witness, and he said that John's testimony would remain till he returned. (More on this in the chapter 10, Yeshuas prophecy concerning Peter)
When was it written?
The first thing we notice about the book of the Revelation is that it has been given to the beloved apostle John. The second thing we need to understand is that the Revelation was most likely given to John during the Neronian persecution around 65 A.D. This was about the same time we hear the last from Paul who was in prison in Rome when he wrote his second epistle to Timothy. We'll come back to 2 Timothy in a moment.
Many Scholars (but by no means all of them) believe that Revelation was written later during the Domitian persecution of A.D.81-96. This theory has its origin in the testimony of the historian Irenaeus who wrote around the year 180 A.D. some 100 years or more later. Irenaeus held Paul in the highest esteem and lived to emulate him. He was also instrumental in pulling together the many splintering factions of Christianity at that time. There is no other reason to assume a later date than A.D. 65 for the writing of Revelation than his say so. But there is significant evidence to contradict him. It is my belief that he saw the devastating impact on Pauls credibility that an earlier date for Revelation would bring. Fighting division, and wanting union (especially in favor of Paul), he settled on the later date in an attempt to give Paul a little breathing room. This only helps Paul a little. Even in the unlikely case that the Revelation was written later, it continues to reflect badly on Paul as you will see. The other early historians who also render the later date, Victorinus (c. 270), Eusebius (c.328), and Jerome (c. 370) were simply following Irenaeus lead.
There is evidence that can be deduced from the book of Revelation itself that calls for an earlier date for it's writing. In chapter 11, John is told to measure the temple. That temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. It is nonsensical to imagine that John was told to measure the temple after it was gone. Also, when one adds up the numerical value of the consonantal letters in the name "Nron Kahsar" (which is the way all Greek speaking people pronounced the name "Caesar Nero"), the sum totals 666. The churches of Asia would have believed Nero was the beast of which Revelation prophesied... even though he was only a type, a sort of preview of things to come in the distant future, much the way Solomon, David's son, was a preview of Yeshua's coming kingdom.
There is also the consideration of the age of John. Being a contemporary of Yeshua, it is safe to assume that he would have been close to the same age as Yeshua. If John had been as much as 10 years younger than Yeshua, he would have been only 20 when Yeshua called him to follow him. It would seem doubtful that Yeshua would have called someone so young, but for the sake of a conservative estimate, if John was only 20 when he was called by Yeshua, he would have been in his late fifties at the youngest in the year 65. If he had been the same age as Yeshua, he would have been in his late sixties. By first century standards, a person in age from late 50s to late 60s was considered a significantly old person. If the book of Revelation was written in the year 95 as some suggest, at the youngest, John would have been in his late 80s. This was virtually unheard of in the first century. If he had been the same age as Yeshua or older, (not at all out of the question), he would have been in his late 90s to over 100 years old. This is highly improbable. As long as one isnt trying to salvage Pauls reputation, the earlier date of 65 A.D. for the writing of Revelation, during the Neronian persecution, fits the data best.
To whom was it written?
One haunting fact from Revelation Christianity has to deal with, is that in spite of Paul's supposed notoriety, Yeshua didn't call him by name, nor did he give any recognition of his work among the Gentiles. Of the seven churches in Asia to whom the book is originally addressed, one of them we definitely know had significant dealings with Paul. It is Ephesus, the first on the list of the seven. Also, keep in the back of your mind that these seven churches are located in what is called "Asia". We will be coming back to this as well. Here is John's record of Yeshua's command.
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." Revelation 1:10,11
Yeshua goes on to tell John what to say to each church. The general flow of what he said to each church went like this. First, he would tell them what they were doing right and commend them for it. Next he would point out to them where they going wrong and reprimand them for it. Then he would exhort them to repent and change what they were doing wrong, or they would suffer the consequences. Then he would give them a promise of reward if they did repent and overcome their problems. Then, and this is important, at the end of each and every message to a church, he would speak to the whole world and say that what was true and good for this and all seven churches was good for anybody who cared to listen.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches". Revelation 2:7,11,17,29 and 3:6,13,22
Paul and the Ephesians
Now, look at what was said to the church that we know Paul had been involved in... Ephesus. Among the things that Yeshua commended the Ephesian church for doing right, is this quote:
"I know your works, your labor, and your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars." Rev. 2:2
Yes. I have no doubts Yeshua was referring to Paul and his companions, and that his claim of apostleship, as well as his doctrine, were false! Hang in there and consider all the facts with me for a minute. Here are four of them... with the silver bullet coming shortly after.
1. Paul's doctrine on the foreknowledge of God is not only groundless (because he had to abuse Scripture to support it), it is blasphemous,
because it outright accuses God of unrighteousness. (See previous chapters)
2. We have record of Paul claiming to be an apostle to the Ephesians.
"Paul, an apostle of Yeshua by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus," Ephesians 1:1
3. We have no record of anyone else claiming to be an apostle to anyone anywhere, not even to the Ephesians.
4. Paul and his doctrine had troubles being accepted in Ephesus.
"And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the way before the multitude..." Acts 19:8,9
Remember, this is recorded from Lukes point of view and he believed Paul's doctrine was "the Way". Notice that those who rejected Paul are men of the synagogue and not atheists or pagans. If these men had stood up in front of the synagogue and said, "Paul's doctrine is flawed. He is a false apostle, and a liar", Luke would no doubt have seen this as "speaking evil of the Way".
If these four reasons are not enough to seriously call into question Paul's status as an apostle there is one more. It is a most interesting quote from Paul's own pen that finally seals the fate of his supposed apostleship. It comes from his second letter to Timothy, written during the same Neronian persecution in which John was given the Revelation. This letter is believed by many scholars to contain the last recorded words of Paul. Here he makes a short statement of lament that seems to have gone unnoticed... the implications of which are devastating to Paul if one is able to hear everything that is being said. Paul makes this statement to Timothy.
"This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me." 2Timothy 1:15
Asia! All of them! Rejecting Paul! And when he says, "This you know", it sounds like this must have been relatively common knowledge at that time. Asia! The very place that Yeshua told John to write, where his seven churches were! And they were alive, and obviously had been established for some time. Paul did not say that Asia had rejected Yeshua. Obviously they hadn't rejected Yeshua if there were thriving churches there that Yeshua wanted to address through John. Instead Paul said that all Asia had rejected him personally! This is also corroborated in the book of Acts where men from Asia accuse Paul of teaching against the Law, and bringing an Ephesian friend into the temple.
And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him. crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the Law, and this place: and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) Acts 21:27-29
Try to grasp the profound significance of all this. Here we have in the book of Revelation the words of Yeshua commending the Ephesian church for rejecting someone who claimed to be his apostle, while Paul is the only person other than the twelve original apostles to have claimed to be an apostle... and we know he has made this very claim to this same Ephesian church. At the same time, Paul laments himself of the fact that he has been rejected by them! How could it NOT be Paul and his associates that Yeshua had commended the Ephesian church for rejecting? Could it be much more obvious? Here are the facts, paraphrased, one more time.
Paul to the Ephesians: "I am an apostle of Yeshua"
The Ephesians to Paul: "No you're not."
Yeshua to the Ephesians: "Well done!"
This should at the very least raise serious question about Paul. When we add to this the remaining evidence against his doctrine, as well as the documented fact that he outright lied a number of times (as I will show in the next chapter), we have more than enough reason to do as the Ephesian church and convict Paul of the crime of false impersonation of an apostle!
Yeshuas description of Paul in Revelation was that he was a false
apostle, and a liar. Consider his following words.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
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