Explaining Paul (Part 6)

Picking up with 46.

46.  Why does Paul criticize those who “go to law” before unbelievers instead of with one another in 1st Corinthians 6:1-8, but then “appeal to Caesar” when he is accused by fellow believers (Acts 21:20) in Jesus?

As mentioned in the previous answer, Jesus’ words to Paul recorded in Acts 23:11 was the reason he appealed to Caesar.  If my Lord tells me to do something, I would do it too.

47.  Why did Jesus tell the original Apostles to “go unto all nations” in Matthew 28:19 and then take this away from them in Galatians 2 leaving twelve guys to minister to the Jews and only one guy in charge of the Gentiles?

As mentioned before, Jesus did not change their mission.  They were still expected to teach to everyone, and they did.  Paul taught to more than just Gentiles, and we know that Peter taught to more than just Jews (since according to Paul, Peter had lived with and as a Gentile).  The mission was the same for all of them.  Teach the gospel to as many as you can.

48.  Why did Jesus keep his Apostles in the dark about Paul in Matthew 28? Why didn’t he tell them a new guy would be showing up making some changes in the plan?

Is God required to tell all his plans to a man?  Did God tell Moses that Joshua would replace him before Moses messed up?  Did God tell Joseph about all the hardships he would have to go through?  Did God tell Job about all the things that would befall him?  God is not required to tell us all of his plans.  Besides all of this, Paul didn’t “change the plan.”  As stated in the last answer, the plan was still to teach the gospel to all creatures.

49.  Why did Jesus tell his Apostles in John 15:15 that “all things I have heard from my Father I have made known unto you”, then turn around and send Paul to replace them without telling them first?

Just because Jesus told them all that His father had told Him does not mean He was done telling them things.  He even tells them this one chapter later in 16:12-14.  So, Jesus still had more to tell them.  Him sending the helper was recorded in Acts 2.  Furthermore, although God and Christ are one, there are things that only God knows.  For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 that only the Father knew when the Son would return.  He makes it clear that even He didn’t know when that would be.  Perhaps Christ didn’t know about God’s plans for Paul at this time.

Does Christ contradict himself between John 15:15 and John 16:12-14.  Certainly not!

50.  If Gamaliel encouraged everyone to leave the believers in Jesus alone in Acts 5:34, and if Paul was his student as Paul claims in Acts 22:3, then why was Paul trying to do exactly the opposite as his teacher was teaching?

Did anyone do what Gamaliel told them to do?  What made the words of Gamaliel binding?  Just a few verses down in verse 40, it says that they beat them.  Seems no one did what Gamaliel said to do.

Have you always done what your parents and teachers have told you to do?  Have you never disobeyed them?  Paul did what he did because he thought he was right.  He thought he was upholding the law by killing Christians.  Christ showed him how wrong he was.

This question really doesn’t even have anything to do with religion…  I’m not sure what point is trying to be made here.  Are you trying to make the point that Paul was human and sometimes didn’t listen to earthly authority figures?  If so, I’ll agree with you.

51.  Why would Paul grumble about apostles “chosen of men” in Galatians 1:1 if he did not covet the apostleship given to Mathias in Acts 1:23-26?

Paul is not putting down Matthias here.  He is simply stating that his apostleship is from Christ and not from man.

It seems to me that in many of these questions, the words of Paul are read and then purposefully have the worst possible interpretation to them.  This question is a prime example.  It reminds me of saying something to someone that is perfectly innocent and then being attacked for what I said.  An example would be if I told my wife that her new blouse made her look skinny, and then she turned around and yelled, “SO, YOU ARE SAYING ALL MY OTHER CLOTHES MAKE ME LOOK FAT??”  Why do this?  I can come up with no conclusion other than just desiring to make Paul look bad at all costs.  Please tell me that isn’t the truth.

52.  If the writings of Paul are confusing as 2nd Peter 3:15-16 affirms, then why did the Holy Spirit write confusing things through Paul and not through others?

So, you understand completely all of the things that are written in the Law and the Prophets?  You understand completely all the things that are written in the parts of the New Testament that you accept?  The people understood completely all that was written in Isaiah and Ezekiel?  You understand Revelation completely?  The answer to all these are “no”!  The Holy Spirit has lead other men to write things that are hard to understand.  Why does Peter pointing that out about Paul in his letter suddenly mean that Paul is the ONLY one to have written confusing things?  Did Peter say that Paul was the ONLY one to write confusing things?  Where in 2 Peter 3:15-16 is the word “only”?  This is another example of what I mentioned in the previous answer.

53.  Why does Paul quote the Greek philosopher Philo in Titus 1:12? Does the Holy Spirit quote philosophers as resources?

Paul does not quote Philo.  He quotes Epimenides.  Remember the scripture was written for men, not for God.  So, if God saw fit to use quotations that would be familiar, why should I question him on that?

54.  Was Philo’s quote inspired when Philo wrote it, or did it suddenly become inspired when Paul repeated it?

Since the Paul was being guided by God through the Holy Spirit, then when recorded it became inspired.  Please keep in mind, that inspired does not necessarily mean true.  The words of Satan are recorded.  It was by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they are recorded, but not all of the things Satan said that are recorded are true.

55.  Did the Cretan prophet in Titus 1:12 tell the truth or a lie? Please explain.

In this case, the quotation was a true one.  In antiquity, “the noun Cretism was a synonym for “lie”; and the verb to Cretize meant to tell lies.”  Perhaps the most famous of the Cretan lies was that the tomb of Zeus was located on their island!

Think about it, we even still use the word “Cretan” today to describe someone who is below honorable.

56.  After calling himself an apostle 16 times in Rom 1:1, 11:13, 1st Cor 1:1, 9:1, 9:2, 15:9, 2nd Cor 1:1, 12:12, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, 1Tim 1:1, 1Tim 2:7, 2Tim 1:1, 1:11 and Titus 1:1, why does Paul drop all claims of apostleship when on the hotseat in Jerusalem claiming in Acts 26:16 only to be a “minister and a witness”?

Paul is not claiming to be only a “minister and witness” here.  Paul is quoting the words of Christ in verses 15-18.  Because Paul does not point out apostleship here does not mean that he rejects it.  I don’t tell everyone that I am talking to that I am an elder in the church.  Christ even told his disciples at one point not to tell people who he was (Matthew 16:20) and also gave the command that someone he healed should not tell anyone (Luke 5:14).  Why?   I don’t really know.  It’s just the way it was done.  It does not mean that Paul was ashamed or rejecting Christ.  On the contrary, his whole trial had to do with Christ.  Once again, just because Paul said he was a minister and witness does not mean he was ONLY a minister and witness.  When I tell someone who I am, I don’t tell them that I am a man, a husband, a father, a Christian, a programmer, a developer, a software architect, a tester, a scientist, an elder, a teacher, a preacher, a servant, a leader, etc, etc.  That doesn’t mean that I am not those things.

57.  The only one of Paul’s churches that is considered a “candlestick” in Revelation 1:11 is the one that is complimented for rejecting him. Coincidence? Where are the Corinthians? The church at Rome? Galatians? Colossians? Considering Revelation 2:5, could it be they lost their candlestick?

I can not determine from your scripture references here which church rejected Paul.  Please clarify the question and give more references.

58.  Why does Paul say in Galatians 4:8-9 that the law was ordained by angels when Exodus 20 clearly says it is given by God?

Your scripture references here do not contain the word “angel”.  Please clarify the question and give correct references.

59.  If Jesus says in Matthew 22:38 the law and the prophets hang on two great commandments, why does Paul OMIT the most important one saying in Galatians 5:14 the law is fulfilled in the second one only? (Note, James 2:8 calls “love thy neighbor” the “royal law” without saying it’s the ONLY one.)

The “law” Paul is talking about here is law of Christ, not the law of Moses and he mentions the same thing again in Gal. 6:2. Yes, this was a commandment of the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:18), but that is not what Paul is talking about here. Christ himself had made the “first and great commandment” to be the “love of God, and love of one’s neighbor” (Mark 12:29-31), and there has not ever been the slightest relaxation of this. In Rom. 13:8-10, Paul outlined this idea more fully.  He specified specific things of the law of Christ.  Such commandments as “Thou shalt not commit adultery … nor steal … nor kill … nor covet, etc.” Also, in the same place, he indicated that loving one’s brother is what makes it possible for all Christians to honor those commandments.

Notice also, that he uses the word “fulfilled.”  This just means that the law is completed by loving one’s neighbor not that loving your neighbor is the only thing you must do.  But, if you find it impossible to love your neighbor, how can you love Christ.  John repeats this idea in 1 John 2:9 when he says “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”  John says this several more times throughout his letters.

60.  Deuteronomy 13:1-3 says God will test us with false prophets to see if we love him with all our heart. Could this be true?

God said it, it is true, but why must Paul be one?  Do you think that when the Jews read Deuteronomy 13:1-3 they immediately thought, “Well, it must be Paul.”

There have been many, many false prophets.  There continue to be a great many today.  Not a month ago, there was a man who claimed that he knew when judgement day would be.  He was a false prophet.

Well, I have answered all of the questions that I can until you get back to me.  I have answered them as knowledgeably as I am able.

First I would like to thank you.  Answering these required a great deal of study and also served to sharpen my knowledge and my writing skills.  I appreciate that.

More than that, though, I appreciate the fact that through this discussion I am now more fully convinced than before that the words of God through inspired men by way of the Holy Spirit are all true and without contradiction.  This exchange has deepened my faith in what I already knew to be true.  Sometimes, after being a Christian for a very long time, you think that you have reached the pinnacle of your faith.  Through this study, my pinnacle is now higher.  Thank you so much for that!

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Explaining Paul (Part 5)

Picking up at Question 22.

22.  If the covenant at Sinai was given to the descendants of Rebecca (Genesis 24:60) and Isaac, then why does Paul try to relate it instead to Hagar in Galatians 4:25?

Paul is using an analogy here.  Not that uncommon of a thing to do.  To understand his analogy, we need to break down what he is saying, and understand the difference between Hagar and Sara.  But before we do that we need to do a little study about bondage vs. freedom.  I’ll start with bondage.

There are two type of bondage: physical and spiritual.  No doubt, the Jews were in a lot of physical bondage over the years.  As a matter of fact their release from their physical bondage in Egypt is what brought about the law of Moses.  But, the Jews also recognized that the law was practical bondage in a spiritual sense.  Peter asked in Acts 15:10 why the yoke of the law should be placed around the necks of the Gentiles when the Jews had been unable to keep it.  In Matthew 23:4, Christ talking about the Pharisees and how they had perverted the law said, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders”.  As I mentioned before, not all bondage is bad, and the law was a form of bondage.  The law of Christ is also a form of bondage.  Now, anytime we see where someone is talking about bondage in scripture, we have to determine if they are talking about physical bondage or spiritual bondage.  That’s the only way that we can get the context and meaning from what they are saying.  If they are talking about physical bondage, we can’t apply what they are saying to spiritual bondage.  Please keep this in mind as we continue.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Paul isn’t talking primarily about the law, he is talking about the Judaizers he mentioned in chapter 2 of Galatians who were trying to force the law of Moses on the Gentiles.

Now, to the matter of Hagar and Sara.  I’ll start with Hagar.

Hagar was a bondwoman.  Ishmael was the son of a bondwoman.  It was a natural birth brought about by selfishness.  The children of Hagar (and descendants) where born into bondage.  The descendants were persecutors.  Expulsion resulted.

Sara was a freewoman.  Issac was the son of a freewoman.  The birth was by supernatural means and brought about by promise.  The children of Sara (and descendants) where born into freedom.  The descendants were persecuted.  They were the ones who gained an inheritance.

Paul understood this.  He is not saying that the Jews were born of Hagar, but rather he is using these traits as an allegory.  Let’s look at the law of Moses vs. the law of Christ.  I’ll start with the law of Moses.

Law of Moses (Judaizers): Born into bondage to 613 (give or take) laws, rules, regulations, ceremonies, special days, etc.  All the descendants were born into this same bondage.  Natural birth brings about this bondage.  The Judaizers were persecuting the Gentile Christians.

Law of Christ: Born free.  The acceptance into Christ is a supernatural birth brought about by faithful obedience to Christ.  The Christians were being persecuted by the Judaizers.

I’m going to say something here, and I don’t want it to sound mean, but I’m afraid it might.  Please believe me that I’m not trying to be abrasive.  But, I have noticed in a vast majority of these questions, that certain verses are cherry-picked out specifically to put Paul in a bad light when if you read the five verses before and the five verse after the one in question, the context is completely different than presented.  I beg you not to take one verse out of context like this.  This question is a perfect example.  In the question, you only mention Galatians 4:25, but if you read from 20 – 31, you get the entire context where Paul completely explains the allegory he is using.  He ends the thought in verse 31 by telling the Gentile Christians at Galatia, “So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.”  In other words, he is telling them that Christ is their savior and not to worry about what the Judaizers were telling them.  He was telling them to trust in Christ and Christ alone.

I desire to complete the answers to these questions, but I want to make it clear that you will never be able to understand any reading be it Paul, Peter, Christ, or even the Law and the Prophets if the reading is done fortune cookie style as many of these questions seem to be.  Context is EVERYTHING when studying God’s word.

So, the answer to this question is that Paul was not disputing that the law was given to those born to Sara (Isaac), but just using that as a analogy because it was well known to those he was writing to.  Remember, Paul was a very learned Jew before he was a Christian.

23.  Why did Paul circumcise Timothy in Acts 16:1-3 and then tell him 1) It causes Christ to profit him nothing, 2) He is now a debtor to the whole law and 3) He is fallen from grace in Galatians 5:2-4? Why would Paul do such a terrible thing to Timothy? Did Paul hate Timothy?

Once again, verse 3 answers this question.  Paul circumcised Timothy because “of the Jews that were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”  Keep in mind Paul’s mission.  Paul’s mission was to convert people to Christ.  He did that by fitting in and then teaching (as I mentioned in a previous answer).  And once again, we have a translation problem.  Well, not really a translation problem, but rather a problem understanding what circumcision means.

Circumcision can mean two things in scripture.  Just as bondage has a physical and spiritual meaning, so does circumcision.  The physical meaning is pretty straightforward.  It is the removing of the foreskin from the penis.  That’s all.

Spiritually, the word circumcision related to those who followed the law of Moses.  In Galatians 2:12, Paul said “For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.”  Does that mean they were having a party where everyone was being circumcised?  If that is what it means, then no wonder Peter was afraid of it.  lol.  But, that isn’t what it means.  It simply means those that still clung to the law of Moses.  “those of the circumcision” = “Jew” = “a follower of the law of Moses”

So, when Paul is talking in Galatians 5:2-4 Paul is talking about circumcision in the spiritual sense.  Let’s just do that as an exercise.  Let’s replace circumcision with “the law”.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept the law of Moses, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts the law of Moses that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Also, once again, there is a context problem here.  Please start in v. 1 and read to v. 6.  Notice in verse 1 that Paul uses the same analogy of a “yoke” that Peter used at the Jerusalem council.  And he sums up in verse 6 by saying, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”  Two things to note here.  Paul in this verse is talking about the physical circumcision.  And secondly, this verse does not mean that Paul is subscribing to faith-only doctrine.  He says that it’s “faith working through love” and since Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments”, Paul understands that it is a faith the leads to obedience in Christ.

So, since Christ has freed us from needing to be circumcised, and has accepted all equally whether they are circumcised or not, why shouldn’t Paul use circumcision as a tool to teach others to the glory of God?  Once again, I go back to my hockey analogy.  If me learning about hockey, going to watch a few games, and perhaps even playing might lead me to be able to bring someone to Christ, why would I NOT do that?  It’s a very small price for me to pay to give someone else the biggest gift they will ever receive.

24.  If God brought the children of Israel to Sinai to put them in bondage to the law as Paul claims in Galatians , then why did he tell them at that time he was bringing them “out of bondage” in Exodus 2:2? Was this some cruel trick God was playing on them?

Once again, this one is a misunderstanding between the physical and spiritual meanings of “bondage”.  God removed the children of Israel from physical bondage in Egypt and then placed them in spiritual bondage under the law.  Paul is talking about only the spiritual aspect of bondage, not the physical aspect that was mentioned in Exodus 2:2.

25.  If the law puts is in bondage, why does God say he “redeemed you out of the house of bondage” in Deuteronomy 13:5?

Same answer as previous question.

26.  If Jesus abolished the law as Paul claims in Ephesians 2:15, then why does Jesus say in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to destroy the law? Why does Jesus say it will not pass until AFTER heaven and earth have (v.17) passed away? Has that already happened? What does verse 18 say Paul’s place in the kingdom of heaven will be as a result?

Incomplete quoting of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:18.  You didn’t quote the whole verse.  In full, it says “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law UNTIL ALL IS ACCOMPLISHED.”  Christ told the truth here.  None of the law passed until ALL WAS ACCOMPLISHED.

Another problem I have noticed with many of theses questions is with trying to read the KJV as if it is modern English when sometimes  words mean entirely different things now than they did when the KJV was translated.  This question is a prime example.

Jesus is not saying this verse that the law would stand until heaven and earth pass away.  Nor was he saying that the law would not pass away until everything in the universe is fulfilled.  The “heaven and earth” statement was basically telling them that even if the earth was destroyed, that the law would not pass.  And the “all is accomplished” didn’t mean “all of everything in the universe”, but rather “all of the law”.  So, to put this verse in modern English: “I’m telling you the truth, even if heaven and earth pass away, not a comma or a period, will be removed from the Law until all of the things in the Law are fulfilled”

Now, just a verse previous, Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it.  When you put these two verses together, it becomes clear that Jesus isn’t telling them that the law will always be the authority, he is telling them exactly when it won’t be an authority any longer.  It will cease to be an authority when “all is fulfilled.”  And on top of that, he told them that He was the one who had come to do that.

I find it of much interest that John records Jesus’ last words as “It is finished.”  What is finished?  The work that Jesus came to do.  To fulfill the law and the prophets (Luke 24:44).  To redeem man.  To establish a new covenant.  To give us a better way.  To free us from the bondage of only being able to come unto God via a high priest and only being able to find salvation through the keeping of a law that no man can keep (Acts 15) if I happen to be a Jew and if a Gentile, no hope at all, and delivering us into the freedom of a law where we can come to God directly through our mediator Jesus Christ and lay all our cares and burdens on Him.  WOW!  Praise God for His wisdom and mercy.  Without Jesus fulfilling the law and the prophets, I couldn’t do that.

27.  Paul claims in Romans 11:25, 16:25, 1st Corinthians 2:7, 15:51, Ephesians 1:9, 3:3-9, 6:19, Colossians 1:26-27 2:2, 4:3, 1st Timothy 3:9, 3:16 to have knowledge of mysteries of God revealed only through him. Nobody else confirms these same mysteries. Paul bears witness of himself even though Jesus says he himself could not in John 5:31. Is Paul superior to Jesus?

Paul liked the word “mystery” a lot.  lol.  But, once again, we have a KJV – modern English problem.  Today we think of a mystery as something we cannot know, something mystical, puzzling.  But, all it really means is that it was something that was veiled or unknown at the time.  When Paul uses the word “mystery”, he is usually talking about the gospel.  That the gospel was hidden until the proper time, that is until Jesus came, fulfilled the law of Moses and established his kingdom.  At that point, the mystery was revealed (not by Paul at first).  It was revealed by Peter on the day of Pentecost.  It was revealed by the apostles.  And yes, it was revealed by Paul as well.  Let me give you another way to think about this.

When you first saw a computer, it was a mystery.  That didn’t mean that no one knew about computers, only that you didn’t.  You had no idea what you were doing or how to use it.  It was a mystery.  But, someone taught you and revealed that mystery to you until now, it is hardly a mystery at all.

With the possible exception of 1 Corinthians 15:51, all of the scripture references you gave are referring to the gospel of Christ.  And Paul himself refutes that he was the only one given knowledge in Ephesians 3:5.  He says that the mystery was “made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed UNTO HIS HOLY APOSTLES AND PROPHETS BY THE SPIRIT”.  Paul never claimed to be the only one to know.  He says clearly that the apostles knew also.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Paul is simply answering a question, thereby revealing a “mystery” or answer to those who asked (the Corinthians).  His answer is backed up in Matthew 24:31.

28.  Paul in 2nd Corinthians claims to have three witnesses bearing witness of him. Who is the third of these witnesses in verse 1?  Who is the first witness in verse 2?  Who is the third witness in verse 3? Didn’t Jesus warn of one who bears witness of himself and comes in his own name (John 5:43)?

I do not completely understand this question.  Can you rephrase/clarify?

29.  Paul speaks in Ephesians 6:19 and elsewhere of making known a “mystery of the gospel.” Why wasn’t this mystery shared with the 12 apostles Jesus spent 3 ½ years training?

It was.  Please see my answer to 27.

30.  If Paul could be given all knowledge with a single blinding flash, then why did Jesus spend his entire ministry training apostles? Why didn’t he just zap them?

Why does God choose to do anything the way he does it?  Why did Naaman have to wash seven times in the nasty Jordan river?  Are we big enough to question God’s motives?  “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 38:2)” “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? (Romans 9:21)”

The answer is: that is the way God decided to do it.  It’s not up to me to judge God on his motives or actions.

However, I will point out that the apostles were “zapped” in Acts 2 in the upper room on the day of Pentecost and received numerous gifts of the Holy Spirit among which were the ability to speak in tongues, power to heal, miraculous knowledge that didn’t require study to obtain (gift of prophecy), etc.

Furthermore, if the record of Paul’s conversion in Acts is false, then Luke could not have been an inspired writer led by God through the Holy Spirit and therefore all of Luke’s writings are brought into question.  This strengthens my first argument.

31.  Paul says in Philippians 2:7 that Jesus came in the “likeness of men”. Paul claims in Romans 8:3 that Jesus came in the “likeness of sinful flesh.” 1st John says anyone who says that Christ came in something other than flesh is of the spirit of antichrist. This is known in theology as the doctrine of docetism. Why is Paul excused for teaching this doctrine?

Paul did not deny that Christ came in the flesh.  He states this in Romans 1:3, 9:3, Col. 1:22-23, 1 Timothy 3:16, and (if he wrote Hebrews) Heb. 10:19-20.  When Paul says “likeness of flesh”, he is drawing a very true distinction between my flesh and Christ’s flesh.  My flesh is sinful, Christ’s flesh was not.  Paul is not saying that Christ was not a man, but rather he is saying that Christ was more than a man.  He is also saying that Christ’s flesh was unlike anyone else’s in that it was sinless.  So, using any other flesh as a gauge, Christ’s flesh was just a likeness because it never once tasted sin.  This doesn’t mean that Paul is saying it was inferior, on the contrary, he was saying that Christ’s flesh was superior to all other flesh.

32.  If the law is a curse as Paul alleges in Galatians 3:10-13, then why should we “establish the law” in Romans 3:31? Does Paul want us to establish a curse?

Bad translation.  Other translations use the word “uphold”.  Paul is basically saying in this verse and previous ones that faith doesn’t overthrow the law, but actually upholds.  The law pointed to Christ.  It foretold of Him.  Every believer in Christ depends on the law in the sense that their very justification stems from Christ’s perfect fulfillment of and obedience to that law.

Paul is saying that we uphold the law because it was through Christ’s perfect obedience to that law that we are justified.

33.  If the “mysteries of God” were revealed through a single man Paul as he claims in Colossians 1:23-26 and elsewhere, then what grounds do we have for rejecting Joseph Smith, Mohammed, the Pope and many others who claim exactly the same thing?

Once again, Paul did not claim that he was the only one through whom the mysteries of the gospel came to man.  See previous answers.

34.  If the law was “against us” as Paul claims in Colossians 2:14, then why do Deuteronomy 17:19, Proverbs 6:23 and Proverbs 13:14 say it’s the way to life?

As mentioned before, it was because of the law and Christ’s perfect adherence to it that I have hope.  The law is the way to life through Christ.  Paul understands this and places his full faith and obedience in Christ.  I would ask a question back to you on this one.  If the law says it is the way to life in Deuteronomy 17:19, Proverbs 6:23, and Proverbs 13:14, then is Jesus contradicting scripture when he says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” in John 14:6?  Well, that is just ridiculous to think.  Jesus is the only way to God because He was the only one who was able to get to God by perfectly keeping the law.

35.  Why does Paul say we can do what we want with the Sabbath days in Colossians 2:16 when the Ten Commandments say, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”?

As mentioned before, I am not beholden to the ten commandments because I never have been beholden to them.  I have not ever been, am not now, and will never be able to be Jewish.  The law was written to and for the Jews.  Jesus delivered all people from the state they were in (Jews under the law, Gentiles with no hope at all) and gave them a way to God through Him.  Since God made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), I will keep a day in remembrance of Him as did the early church (Acts 20).

Even Jesus told the Pharisees that they had become crazy about the sabbath (Matthew 12).  In Mark 2, He makes it known to them that they were thinking wrong.  In Verse 27 he says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  In other words, He is telling them that the Sabbath was a gift from God to man and that they had made it just another requirement, a chore.  And, that they were wrong for doing so.  He then says “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”  Basically, Christ is saying that His disciples are exempted from the Sabbath laws.  This is also seen in the Matthew 12 account where Jesus in verse 6 says “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.”  Jesus is the one we are beholden to, not the law.

36.  Who has authorized Paul to give new commandments as he does in 1st Thessalonians 4:2?

Who gave the other apostles authority?  The answer is the same: God through Christ.  However, no where in 1 Thes. 4:2 does it say that Paul is giving them “new” commandments.  Only that he had given them commandments.  I have no doubt that he gave them the exact same commandments as Christ and the other apostles.  Where did you see the word “new” in that verse?

37.  Who is the authority Paul is demanding people to obey in 2nd Thessalonians 3:14?

Since Paul was writing the words of God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the witnesses of this being the acceptance by the other apostles, the fact that Paul could perform miracles in the name of Christ, and that his ministry was being blessed, the authority he is working under is Christ’s.  When you pray, do you end the prayer with “in Jesus name”?  This is you calling on the authority of Christ.  In other words, it is through Christ and by His authority that we pray.  Paul is doing that here.  It is by the authority of Christ that he writes.  And it is that authority that he tells them to obey.

38. Paul commands in 3:6-7 that we obey the traditions he commands. Did Jesus ever tell us we should obey Paul?

Bad translation.  The Greek word that was translated “tradition” is “paradosis”.  It means: transmission, precept, ordinance, and, sometimes, tradition.  Paul is saying that if anyone walks in idleness and not in accordance with the precepts of Christ, then they are to keep away from that person.  In other words, Paul is telling everyone to obey Christ not the other way around as stated in the question.

39.  Exactly what did Paul do to Hymeneus and Alexander in 1st Timothy 1:20 to deliver them to Satan? Did he kill them? Is it normal behavior for a minister of God to deliver people to Satan?

What this means precisely has been lost to the ages, but I do not think that it meant Paul killed them.  In 1 Corinthians 5:5, Paul tells the Corinthian church to “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”  Paul knew as well as anyone that if the man was in sin when he died, he would be lost.  How could he say to kill a sinner to “save his spirit in the day of the Lord.”  That makes no sense at all.  I tend to believe that this meant they were to withdraw fellowship from those people and let them suffer the consequences of their actions even if that meant their eventual death in hopes that the person would come back to Christ.  I have had to withdraw fellowship from some who were not following Christ.  I will tell you, it is a very emotional and difficult thing to do.  It’s never done as a punishment, but rather out of love in hopes that they will miss that fellowship and return.

40.  Is Paul’s practice of rebuking before all in 1st Timothy 5:20 consistent with Jesus admonitions in Matthew 18:15-17?

This is in regards to elders in the church.  You must read one verse up to get the entire context.  An elder is a very public figure and his sin must be corrected so that all know he was corrected.

However, you missed one important thing about the verse you referenced in the question.  The thing you missed was the first part of the verse: “As for those who persist in sin”.  This verse does not preclude doing it the way that Christ said in Matthew.

Furthermore, keep in mind that Christ’s words in Matthew are talking about if a brother sins against you.  What if that brother sins publicly in the presence of the entire church?  I’ll give you an example.

If I’m sitting in worship and the preacher says something wrong.  I’m not talking about him making a mistake (calling out the wrong scripture reference for instance), but teaches something that is truly false doctrine.  Am I to wait until after service, take him behind a closed door, and tell him his sin privately?  If so, then what about all those people who heard what he said?  What about all those people whom he led astray by his teaching?  What about those visitors I will never see again?  What about the people those visitors tell that we are teaching false doctrine?  No.  In a case like that, the sin was committed in front of the entire church and needs to be corrected in front of the entire church immediately.  Christ was talking about a brother sinning a private sin against in individual.  Paul is talking about a public sin.

41.  Why was Paul seeking a prophet in 1st Corinthians 14:37 to endorse his commands? Is there a prophet on record ever having done so?

There were many who had gifts of the Spirit in the early church.  One of those gifts was the gift of prophecy.  Now, once again, prophecy had a different meaning in the KJV than we think of today.  Today we think of a prophet as a fortune teller or someone who can see the future.  And, some prophets could tell the future.  But, all prophecy is is supernatural miraculous knowledge for which you did not study to obtain.  This was a required gift in the early church because the full word of God had not yet been compiled.  There were also those with the gift of discernment as is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10.  These people were able to corroborate that what a person was saying matched God’s will.

In 1 Corinthians 14:37, Paul was telling the Corinthian church that if they had someone there with the gift of prophecy or the gift of discernment, that they could corroborate that what he was writing to them was true.  In other words he was submitting himself to examination by the Holy Spirit.

42.  If the men that were on the Damascus road heard the voice that spoke to Paul in Acts 9:7, then why does Paul change his story in Acts 22:9 saying they didn’t hear it? Is it possible these men refuted his earlier story?

Mistranslation in Acts 22:9 in the KJV.  It should have read “Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.”  Newer, more accurate translations say “understand”.

43.  Why does Paul claim in Acts 9:10-16 that his mission to the Gentiles was delivered through Ananias but then refute it later saying it was told to him directly by Jesus without going to Damascus later in Acts 26:16-18? Could it be that Ananias refused to support his earlier story and he had to change it?

Neither account keeps the other from being true.  It could be that Paul was recognizing the words of Ananias as the word of Jesus, which they were since Jesus directed Ananias.  Or, it could be that Jesus also gave Paul the same message.  Neither makes the other untrue.  Look at how many times the gospel accounts are given in a slightly different order with slightly different wording.  Some gospel accounts leave things out that other put in.  This doesn’t make them untrue at all.

Also, Paul was before Agrippa the second time.  You don’t waste a king’s time.  Paul cut to the chase and told the story quickly, so I tend to believe that Paul recognized the words of Ananias as the words of Christ in this instance.

44.  Why does Paul say he is ready to die at Jerusalem in Acts 21:13 and then instead “appeal to Caesar” in Acts 25:11?

In the very verse you quote in the question (Acts 25:11) Paul affirms that he will not seek to escape death.  This completely meshes with Acts 21:13.  What Paul wasn’t willing to do was to be wrongly accused.  Because he was being wrongly accused, he appealed to Caesar which was his right as a Roman citizen.  Paul was never afraid of death, but he still had more work to do.

45.  According to Acts 21:20-21, Paul stood accused by believers in Jesus. That means they believed in his resurrection. Paul was accused by them of teaching believers to forsake the Law of Moses. Why did Paul lie in Acts 23:6 he was being accused instead of believing in the resurrection? Did Jesus ever lie to save his hide like Paul did? Could it be Jesus is the good shepherd (John 10:11) and Paul is the hireling?

Paul did not lie.  He was on trial because of his teaching on the resurrection of the dead (Jesus is the one resurrected).  Paul stated this fundamental belief in Christ in such a way as to divide his foes.  This was a stroke of genius.  Notice that just a few verse past this in verse 11, Jesus stood by him and said “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”  Jesus didn’t condemn Paul here.  Jesus didn’t censure Paul here.  If Paul had lied, would Jesus have said he “testified the facts”?  No.

By the way, Jesus’ words here are another reason that Paul appealed to Caesar in the previous question.

Explaining Paul (Part 4)

I’m continuing on, starting with Question 11.

11.  If Paul’s claim in Galatians 2:16 is true, that we are saved by faith only, then why does James refute this in James 2:14-26 calling the author of this doctrine “o vain man” in v.20?

This is probably the most misunderstood thing about Paul.

Entire religions and doctrines have sprung up around something that Paul did not ever believe.  I’m talking about “Faith Only” doctrine.  Paul did not believe that at all.  You mention Galatians 2:16.  Nowhere in the that verse did Paul say we are justified by faith only.  He only says that we are NOT justified by the works of the law, but rather by our faith in Christ.  Now, I know that people will say “But, when he says we are justified by our faith in Christ, he means faith only.”  I say “Hogwash”.  These people don’t understand faith.

Faith is not just believing in Christ and calling it good, rather it is a faith that leads to obedience.  Look one more verse down at 17.  He says we must “seek to be justified by Christ.”  This is obedience.

The message here is clear.  Salvation comes by trusting in and obeying Jesus.  Let’s keep reading over in chapter 3:26-27 – “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  Paul shows here that he completely understand that obedience is required.  Paul is saying that we must have faith because we can’t do enough good works to justify ourselves.

God requires a perfect record of obedience.  We simply can’t do that no matter how hard we try.  So, we must have faith that the blood of Christ will cover us.  James’ lesson is that if we are not doing our best to do good works, then we are not being obedient.  And, since God requires obedience, we are failing.  There is no contradiction here.

Paul is teaching that you cannot be saved by works alone.  James is teaching that you cannot be saved by faith alone.  Together, they are teaching that it takes faith and works (obedience) to be saved.

12.  If eating meat sacrificed to idols is okay as long as your “weaker brother” is not around as described in 1st Corinthians 8, then why is this practice later described as being hated by Jesus as the “doctrine of Balaam” in Revelation 2:14? Why does Rev 2:20 condemn it when Paul says it’s okay if nobody knows about it?

Here Paul was not saying that eating of meat offered to idols was acceptable.  Quite the opposite.

He was answering the thought by some in the Corinthian church that since there is only one God and idols are really non-existent, that it was fine to eat meat offered to them.  In vv. 4-6 he lets that argument stand for the moment.

However, starting in v. 7 he begins to explain in another way though.  In v. 8, he explains that it is not the food that matters.  Christ also taught this Matthew 15.  Paul then goes on to say that if we do something that we think is acceptable, but it causes our brother to stumble, we have been wrong.  He then completes the argument by saying “Therefore, if food makes by brother stumble, I will NEVER eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

In others words, Paul didn’t meet their faulty argument head-on and argue with them, he told them why they shouldn’t do as they were thinking.  The lines up exactly with Rev. 2:14 which says that some of the folks are Pergamum had gone ahead and thrown out the stumbling block that Paul told them they should not throw out.

13.  Why did Paul tell the Corinthians idol meat was okay when the New Testament Church council at Jerusalem had specifically listed this as a forbidden practice to New Testament believers in Acts 15:29?

See previous answer.

14.  When Paul recounted the council at Jerusalem to the Galatians (Gal 2:10), why did Paul ignore the four commands of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15:20 them instead they were only commanded to “remember the poor”?

Why do the gospels not contain exactly the same stories and order of events?  Paul does not give his biography to the Galatians for the purpose of comparing it with Acts.  Luke did not write Acts to compare with Paul’s autobiography.

Paul wrote his biography to establish his apostolic authority and to establish that we are saved by grace through faithful obedience.

Furthermore, the mandate to “remember the poor” was a mandate given to Paul.  The other four mandates were mandates given to the Gentiles who turn to God.  A letter was written and taken to those people (Acts 15:22-31).  In Galatians Paul was recounting the things that had happened to him and he mentions the mandate that was given to him.  He is mentioning this to the Galatians because they are some of the poor that he is to remember and to help raise money for.

15.  If Paul appeared in Jerusalem in Acts 9:26 after his conversion, then why does he tell the Galatians in 1:18 that he waited three years to go? Why does he assure us in v.20 he is not lying?

Galatians 1:18 is talking about 3 years from his departure from Jerusalem to Damascus, not after his return to Arabia.  This lines up with “when many days had passed” in Acts 9:23.  A further note about Paul telling us he is not lying. Jesus did that all the time. Jesus used “I tell you the truth” and “verily, verily” which means “truly, truly.” Why is the author of these questions not condemning Jesus as a liar based on this same criteria?

16.  If the “other gospel” Paul speaks of in Galatians 1:6 was not the very one taught by Peter, James and John, then why does Paul attack the character of these three men in Galatians 2 calling them “those who seemed to be pillars.”?

Bad translation into English.

Paul is not attacking those men here.  The Greek word here is “doko” which has several meanings.  It can mean “show”, “to think”, “seem”, “be accounted”, “be of reputation”…  Other translations say things like “were reputed to be pillars”, “esteemed to be pillars”, etc.  In other words, Paul was saying that he sought out those men who had a reputation as the pillars of the church.  He goes on to say that they gave him “the right hand of fellowship”.  If Paul thought these men were wrong, wouldn’t he reject their fellowship?  Furthermore, would he accept their mandate in the next verse to “remember the poor” and would he work at it diligently as he said he did?  No.  He regarded these men very highly.

The other gospel mentioned in 1:6 is not the gospel of the men mentioned in chapter 2.  Paul and the men mentioned in chapter 2 all taught the same gospel.

17.  Why did Paul accuse Peter “before them all” when Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-17 to first confront a brother privately, then with two witnesses before going public?

This is the best question so far, and I’m fairly certain that you won’t accept my answer, but here goes.  I could answer this by saying that when Jesus gave that command he was talking about a private sin between you and your brother, but this kind of answer would be a trick of wording and would only be designed to “win” the argument.

Another argument I could use is that Peter is an elder in the church as he states in 1 Peter 5:1.  As an elder, his mistake would fall into the category mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:19-20 that says “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest of may stand in fear.”  However, Paul didn’t go to Peter with just two or three others and tell him his fault.

Yet another argument is that since Peter had sinned in the presence of the entire church, the sin was already in the open.  He hadn’t sinned just against Paul, but against everyone there.  And since the sin was already in the open, Paul corrected it in the open.  This is plausible, but I don’t think this is the case either.

My answer will be much harder for you to accept.  This entire exchange that you and I are having is about whether Paul is an apostle or not.  You believe he is not.  However, I believe that he is, and as an apostle he was guided directly by God through the Holy Spirit.  It was the Holy Spirit who guided him to act this way in this instance.

Furthermore, Paul wasn’t the only one who had done something like this.  Jesus didn’t take the moneychangers to the side and tell them their sin in private.  Peter didn’t take Simon to the side and tell him his sin in private (Acts 8), but rebuked him immediately in front of all who where there saying “May your silver perish with you”.  This is a very strong rebuke.  So, sometimes the Spirit worked through apostles to immediately rebuke people.  If Paul is to be named a false teacher because of this, then Peter is as well.

18.  Why did Paul criticize Peter for being Jewish around the Jews and Gentile around the Gentiles in Galatians 2:14 when this is precisely what Paul says he himself practices in 1st Corinthians 9:20-22?

This is another misunderstanding of what Paul was talking about here.  Paul was not criticizing Peter for fitting in (as Paul himself practices in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22), but rather for being a hypocrite.  Paul’s question in verse 14 could be stated better this way: “Peter, you are a Jew, but you have been shown that Gentiles are acceptable.  You have lived among them and have taught them that Christ accepts them the way they are.  But now, by the actions you have taken since the Jews came in, you have confused the Gentiles present and have led some of those present, including Barnabas, astray by making them think that they must keep the Jewish law.”

In other words, Peter did a very two-faced thing here.  This is not the same thing that Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22.  There Paul is talking about relating or empathizing with those he is trying to teach in so much as it did not violate the law of Christ.  We should do the same.  Let me give you an example.

If I had a group of friends that I was trying to teach and they really loved hockey, I would learn a few things about hockey.  I would probably watch some games, learn the rules, learn the culture that surrounds being a hockey fan.  I would probably go with my friends to some hockey games.  This is the kind of thing that Paul says to do in 1 Corinthians.

If, however, while at a hockey game with my friends, I saw some other friends who were already Christians and I shunned them, I would be a hypocrite.  Would I not?

This is exactly what Peter did because he was afraid.  And that is what Paul called him down for.

19.  If the gospel of the circumcision was committed to Paul and the gospel of the Jews to Peter as Paul claims in Galatians 2:7, then why does Peter claim just the opposite in Acts 15:7?

Paul is simply denoting a separation of responsibilities here.  When Jesus spoke to Ananias he told Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”  Jesus chose Paul to be the messenger to the Gentiles.  However, that does not mean that others could not teach the Gentiles nor that Paul could not teach the Jews.  Peter was indeed the first to teach a Gentile and it was by his mouth that Gentiles (Cornelius) would hear the Word, but what had the twelve done up to that point?  They had primarily been teaching to Jews.

As a matter of fact, the Jewish Christians were pretty much poised to take over the church (Acts 15:1).  Here we see there are Jewish Christians telling people that you must be circumcised according to the custom of Moses or you cannot be saved.  Paul debated with them and was eventually sent to Jerusalem to ask the apostles and elders the question.  Even when they got there, there were some there that believed you must be circumcised according to the custom of Moses (v. 5).  Only by Peter stepping up and corroborating Paul’s argument by reminding everyone of his vision and experience was the matter resolved and Gentiles accepted as they should have been.  Thank God for this!  Without this happening, I may have no hope, because I wasn’t circumcised according to the custom of Moses (8th day).

So, Paul’s area of work was primarily Gentiles, but he still went to synagogues and taught to Jews.  Peter was primarily entrusted to teach to the Jews (as was the entire 12), but in some cases still taught to Gentiles.  All in all, they were all doing the overall work that Jesus entrusted to them.  “Go into the world and teach the gospel to every creature.”

20.  Why does Paul, now 17 years into his ministry fear in Galatians 2:3 that he “had run in vain”?

Here Paul was not questioning his own salvation, but simply recognizing that if The Twelve had repudiated the gospel that Paul was teaching, then, in a sense, his whole life’s work would have been nullified.  However, The Twelve DID NOT repudiate Paul’s work but accepted him.  He was backed up by Peter, and the final agreement was that Paul was teaching the same gospel as The Twelve.

21.  If obeying the law is bondage as Paul claims in Galatians 4:9, then why did Jesus tell the man in Mark 10:17 that he must “obey the commandments” to “have eternal life”? Was Jesus trying to bring that man into bondage?

No, Jesus was not trying to bring that man into bondage.  The man was already under bondage to the law, and Jesus had not yet delivered him from that bondage.  Jesus had not completed his work and fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17).  So, the man he was talking to was still bound by the law of Moses.  Another way to say this is that the man was in bondage to the law of Moses.  It is interesting to note that Jesus was also bound by the law of Moses or was in bondage to the law of Moses.  The word “bondage” in English has a bad connotation.  But, bondage isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I am in bondage to the law of Christ.  And I love that bondage.  I am a slave to Christ, and I love that slavery, because my Master is so good.

What Paul is asking is “Once you have become a slave to Christ, why would you want to go back and be a slave to the law of Moses again?”  I ask the same question…why would a person, once he has been freed from the law of Moses and had “his ear pierced” by Christ want to go any other way?  Peter even asked the same question in a different way in Acts 15:10.

Another thing to note, is that even though Jesus had not yet freed the man from the bondage of the law of Moses, He still told the man to follow Him (Mark 10:21).  He knew that His work would be complete at some point and that the man would need to follow Him.

Explaining Paul (Part 3)

In this writing, I will address question #5.

The question as written is: “Why does Paul quote the “old testament” at all if it is not authoritative?”

I stated that I think the full intent of this question is more along the lines of “Christians think that you don’t have to obey the precepts of the Old Testament anymore.  What do you think about this?”

I have had this question posed to me many times but have never written about it.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

From my past experiences, usually when this type of question is asked, it is asked as a method to get a Christian to say that the “Old Testament” is still valid.  This is usually because the person asking the question wants to continue doing something that the “Old Testament” authorized that is no longer effectual in the “New Testament”.

To understand fully, the concepts in place in my answer, we must look at the various laws, sets of laws, and covenants.  These are also called the dispensations.  If we simply look to the dictionary for the meaning of this word, we find that it means “an act or instance of dispensing” or “a certain order, system, or arrangement”.

In other words, to use it applied toward God, a dispensation is the method by which God deals with man and dispenses the knowledge of His will.

Malachi 3:6 says “I am the Lord, I do not change”.  This is true.  The character of God never changes.  However, the way he deals with man has changed.  Furthermore, the way He deals with certain groups or individuals also changed.

There are three dispensations described in scripture:

1.  The Patriarchal Dispensation
2.  The Mosaic Dispensation
3.  The Christian Dispensation

Let’s look at each.

The Patriarchal Dispensation

This started with Adam and continued until Christ died on the cross.  In this method, God spoke directly to the heads of families to instruct them in matters of righteousness.  We see that God spoke to Adam, to Cain (Genesis 4:6-15), to Noah (Genesis 7:1), to Job (Job 38:1), and even though Abraham was the father of the Jews, he still lived and died under the Patriarchal system.  We also see that He used this method through the prophets to call nations back to Him even though they were not Jewish nations (Jonah 1:2, Nahum 1:1, Daniel 4:28)

Everyone on earth lived under this method of guidance until Mt. Sinai.  At Mt. Sinai, God finished separating out the Hebrews to be His chosen people and gave them their own covenant (dispensation).

The Mosaic Dispensation

God started talking about a special group of people in Genesis 12 when he was speaking to Abraham.  Even though he started then, it took almost 500 years for that nation to grow.  After God rescued His people from Egypt, He gave them a different law.  That law was unique to that group of people.  We usually call it the Law of Moses, but Moses was only the messenger.

In Exodus 20:2 we see that this law was given specifically to those whom God brought “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  Since this law was given to the Children of Israel, no other nation was subject to it.  That isn’t to say that they were not subject to any law, just not that one.

The Mosaic Dispensation runs from Sinai until Christ died on the cross.  The method of delivery was first through Moses, then through the law given, then through the Levitical priest and the judges and kings.

The Christian Dispensation

Everything changed with Jesus.  He came, died, was buried, raised and established His church.  All men were now placed under his law.  There was no more need for sacrifices in the Temple.  The Levitical priesthood was no longer needed because the universal High Priest was now Christ (Hebrews 4:14).  Christ is the lone mediator between man and God.  It is Him that I should look toward, and His law I should follow.

The law of Moses could never fully take away sin.  It only set those sins aside until Jesus came.  And when he came, he became the ultimate and perfect sacrifice that cleanses sin from the beginning of time and into the future.

The coming of this new dispensation also covered all men, not just Jews.  Thank God for this!  Without this, I have no hope because I am not Jewish.

Now, I have some questions.

  1. There were people who were under the Patriarchal Dispensation who were placed under the law of Moses at Sinai.  Do you think they felt that the Patriarchal law they were used to still applied?
  2. Do you think they rejected the Mosaic law to keep the Patriarchal system?
  3. How can a law that never applied to me (since I’m not Jewish) be authoritative to me?
  4. If I stick to a law that was given only to a certain group of people that were ordained by God, am I not usurping God’s authority by basically telling Him that I expect Him to accept me regardless of my station?
  5. By keeping ANY law outside of the one that Christ ordained, am I not belittling His coming and His sacrifice by telling Him that the law He brought was so insufficient that I must also keep another?
  6. By keeping ANY law outside of the one that Christ ordained, am I not rejecting Christ as my ONLY Lord and Master?

So, is the Mosaic Law still authoritative?  In the sense that it never applied to me, I was never under it, and I am not meant to follow all of it’s laws, ceremonies, sacrifices, mandates, and conditions, the answer is “no”, it is not authoritative.  But, it is still vastly important.  It teaches me right from wrong.  It explains how God works in people’s lives.  It shows me a glimpse into the nature of God.  It shows me how we got here and why Christ had to die.  It helps me understand the nature of sin and why God dislikes it.  It helps give background on why Christ and the Pharisees were at odds and it helps me understand Christ’s answers to the Pharisees .  Most importantly, it helps me understand what is a sin and what is not a sin.  In these respects, yes, it is authoritative.   These are the reasons that Paul quotes the Old Testament.

Now, I’ll move back to answering the other questions.

Explaining Paul (Part 2)

Questions:

1.  Relating to Revelation 2:1-2

a.  Does Paul indeed address those at Ephesus as an “apostle” in Ephesians 1:1?  Yes, Paul does call himself an apostle in Ephesians 1:1 as well as other places.

b.  Rev 2:2 speaks in past tense of this occurrence. Was Paul’s ministry before or after 90AD when the vision of Revelation was given?  Paul’s ministry was before 90 AD and the writings of Revelation.

c.  How can Paul be a 13th apostle when Revelation 21:14 says there are only twelve?

d.  If Paul is a 13th apostle, then why does Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:28 there are only twelve?

1c and d.  This is a great question, but Paul answers it himself.  Paul didn’t count himself with the 12.  When Judas hung himself, we see that the 11 remaining apostles replaced Judas with Matthias (Acts 1).  Some say that the 11 were wrong to select Matthias and should have waited on Paul’s appointment, but there is no evidence of this.  Paul was selected by Christ to be an apostle to the Gentiles.  Even Paul considered himself unworthy.  In 1 Cor. 15:9 Paul says “I am the least of the apostles, unworthy 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.”  Notice that he didn’t count himself among them just a few verses earlier in verses 3-5: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:  that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raided on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, THEN TO THE TWELVE.”  The “twelve” used here is in reference to the office of the twelve.  Remember, at this point, Judas was dead and Matthias hadn’t been selected yet.  But, the office of the twelve was still existent.  Paul never considers himself as one of the twelve.  It occurs to me know that the entire question is faulty because if you count each apostle, Paul is the 14th, Matthias is the 13th.

e.  If Paul’s apostleship was not in dispute by believers, then why does he defend it in 1st Corinthians 9:1-3?  I’ll answer this question with a question.  Have you ever seen a preacher speak on some evil act and then see a person who is committing that act condemn the preacher instead of repenting of the evil they are doing?  Of course, we all have.  This is what Paul was addressing here.  Paul knew that there would be those who condemned him because of his past and so he brings two bits of evidence that he was an apostle.  The first is that he had seen Jesus and the second is the God has blessed his work.  He wasn’t defending himself against believers.  The other apostles accepted him as an apostle.  Rather he was defending himself against those people who would refute his apostleship to those in the Corinthian church.  He was also giving those in Corinth evidence as to his apostleship so they would remain strong.  As an added note, Jesus also explained to people who he was. John 14:6 says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Why is it wrong for Paul to explain what position he holds, but OK for Jesus to?

f.  Why does he speak in 1st Corinthians 9:3 of those who “try” him unless he was “tried” as Rev 2:2 alleges?  There is no evidence that Revelation 2:2 has anything to do with this or that he was one of the ones who was tried.  But, he did understand that there would be those who examined him closely.  And that is a very wise thing.  The other day, I was driving down the road, and I saw a sign for a church with a picture of the preacher on the sign.  Below the picture was his name.  It said “Apostle Randy Smith”.  Shouldn’t I examine this man to see if he is an actual apostle?  What evidence can he give me that he is an apostle?  None.  Paul gave evidence.  And that evidence is corroborated by other inspired writers.  Aren’t the others examined as well?  That’s one reason there are four gospels so that all the apostolic appointments are corroborated.

g.  If Paul was not one whom the Ephesians found to be a liar in Rev 2:2, then why does Paul say in 2nd Timothy 1:15 that “all they which are in Asia have turned away from me.”?   I don’t think this refers to a turning away from the faith by those Christians in Asia but rather a turning away from Paul personally in helping him in his trial before Nero.  He brings this up as a memory of one who did stand by him in the next 2 verses: “The Lord grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus: for he oft refreshed me, and was NOT ASHAMED OF MY CHAIN; but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me”

h.  If Paul was not called a liar about his apostleship as Rev 2:2 says, then why does he specifically say in 1st Timothy 2:7 he is not lying about his apostleship? This is a form of oath and is another way of saying “I am telling you this by the authority of Christ”.  He did the same thing in Gal. 1:20.  Even Jesus did this in Luke 4:25 and John 16:7.  If Jesus told people that he was telling the truth, why shouldn’t Paul?

2. If Paul’s words are “holy scriptures”, then why does 2nd Timothy 3:15 say Timothy had been reading them since he was a child? Were Paul’s letters even written when Timothy was a child? At the time that Paul wrote this, much of the New Testament had already been written and had been in circulation for up to three decades.  Yes, some of the New Testament was yet to be written, but the central message of the gospel had already been published for decades.  “From a babe” is also used sometimes as a hyperbolic.  In other words, it doesn’t have to literally mean “from a babe”.  It can mean “for a long time”.  All these were ways that Paul was telling Timothy that “You have been taught and have been studying this for a long, long time…”  Some people think that Paul didn’t consider his writing as part of the scripture, but many times he used the same formula as the prophets of God by saying things like “thus saith the Lord” or “He saith” such as in 1 Thess. 4:15.  Paul is talking about all inspired scripture both Old Testament, New Testament, and writings to come (Revelation, the Johns, Jude).

3.  If “none are righteous” as Paul universally declares in Romans 3:9-20, then why are the parents of John the Baptist declared “righteous before God” in Luke 1:6? This question is a mincing of words and is taking a lot completely out of context.  Paul is quoting Psalms 14:1-3 and Psalms 53 in Romans 3:10-12.  Does that mean that Psalms was telling an untruth since the parents of John the Baptist were declared righteous?  If Paul was wrong and Paul was quoting Psalms then Psalms is wrong.  There are other places in scripture where it says that someone was found to be righteous.  So, even if I throw out all of Paul, I still have the problem between Psalms and other places such as Genesis 6:9 where it says that Noah was righteous.  What does it mean to be righteous?  Doesn’t it mean to do good by following God’s precepts?  Psalms 53:3 says “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  Righteousness is simply the act of doing what is right in the sight of God.  Scripture (and Paul) are both correct.  No one has their own righteousness.  No one does only that which is good in the sight of God.  We have all fallen short.  But, we can still be clothed in righteousness by following God and His Son.

4.  Why does Paul say, “as it is written” in Romans 3:10 and then string together single sentences from no less than six places in the Bible, stringing them together as if they are one statement? Does he truly represent it “as it is written?” Are his conclusions the same as the original? Just because you take many parts of scripture and “string” it together doesn’t make it implicitly wrong.  If you take all of those pieces out of context you can be wrong.  For instance, scripture says that Judas hung himself, scripture also says “go and do ye likewise”, and it also says “whatever you do, do quickly”.  But by taking all of those things out of context, I’ve constructed a false thought.  If, however, I say “God is the great I AM”, “He is the author and sustainer of life”, “He created the world and all that is in it”, have I created a false statement?  No.  Paul has not done this in Romans 10.  His writing is completely on par with what was written in Psalms and other places throughout scripture.  Man CANNOT be righteous all by himself.  The whole point of the Roman letter was to explain to those Jews who had become Christians that they were no better than the Gentiles who had become Christians.  That God has put us all on equal footing under Jesus and that it is only through Christ that we can be justified.

5.  Why does Paul quote the “old testament” at all if it is not authoritative? Whoever said the Old Testament is non-authoritative?  I think this question is misleading.  I think the underlying question goes something like this:  “Christians think that you don’t have to obey the precepts of the Old Testament anymore.  What do you think about this?”  I’ll answer that question in a separate writing.

6.  Part of Paul’s Romans 3:10 quote comes from Psalms 14. If there are “none righteous” including believers as Paul alleges, then why does Psalm 14:5 say, “for God is in the generation of the righteous”? Why would God speak of those who Paul says never existed? Please see the answer to questions 3 and 4.

7.  If Paul acknowledges being Herodian in Romans 16:11 and Jesus tells me in Mark 8:15 to beware the leaven of Herod, then shouldn’t I obey Jesus and beware the leaven (doctrine) of Paul? Another contextual problem.  Paul is not saying he is Herodian.  He is using a proper name.  He is saying “Salute Herodion (some translations use Herodias), who is my kinsman.”  He is talking about a person, not a group of people.  The group is spelled “Herodian”.  The spelling of Paul’s kinsman is “Herodion”.

8.  If Paul even late in his ministry claims to be a Pharisee in Acts 23:6 and Jesus tells me in Luke 12:1 to beware the leaven of the Pharisees, then shouldn’t I obey Jesus and beware Paul? Another contextual problem.  To understand what Jesus was talking about when he said “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”, we must first understand leaven.  Leaven is used in scripture to denote some impurity of ideals.  Jesus is basically saying they should watch out for those who used hypocrisy and deceit as a means to refute Jesus’ claim of Messiah.  He was not saying to avoid and condemn all Pharisees.  Jesus didn’t do that.  He even ate with a Pharisee in Luke 7.

9.  Paul claimed to have encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus told me in Matthew 14:15 when someone claims to see him in the desert don’t believe him. Should I take the advice of Jesus and doubt Paul’s story? Incorrect scripture reference.  The scripture you are referring to is Matthew 24:26.  And once again, this is a contextual problem.  In context, Christ was telling them to watch out for people who were saying Christ had returned.  The fact that they watched him ascend and expected him to return made them vulnerable to the claims of false Christs who were pretending to be the Messiah.  Paul did not claim to be the Messiah but fully supported the one he knew to be true.  Also, in the passage Christ was telling them that his second coming would be worldwide, glorious, and sudden which was a contrast to those false Messiahs who came in secret or in the remote wilderness.  Once again, Paul wasn’t claiming to be Messiah, he was placing that honor exactly where it belonged.

10.  Paul in Galatians 1 emphasizes his knowledge comes directly from Jesus and not from man. Jesus says in Matthew 14:5 if someone claims to see him in the secret chambers, I should not believe him. Who was telling me the truth? Please see the answer to question 9.  Furthermore, Paul didn’t claim to see Jesus in “secret chambers.” He saw Him on a public road…with witnesses.

I’ll fully answer question 5 in the next part.

Explaining Paul (Part 1)

Wow…it’s been a long time since I have written anything.  Sorry about that.  It’s incredible how busy you can become.

In the time since I last wrote, many things have happened in my life.  Firstly, I have been appointed as an elder of the congregation where I attend.  It is a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding.  I am very honored and very happy to serve in that capacity and I pray that my work will be pleasing to both God and to those that I have been charged to watch over.

I have also resigned my position as Committee Chairman of the Cub Scout Pack I was working with.  I knew that the work for God would cut into the time I would have to spend on that, and decided it was important that someone who could devote more attention to it pick up the mantle.  I’ll miss it and all the people, but they will be better off not having to deal with my divided time…

My wife also underwent heart valve replacement surgery to repair a congenital birth defect in January.  The outpouring of prayer was incredible.  God’s family wrapped us in their arms and were there for our every need.  She went through the surgery great, stayed in the hospital a very short period of time (4 days) and is ticking along just fine.

I have also started a conversation with a friend and former co-worker that has also been consuming a lot of my time.  It is that conversation that I am going to write about today and probably for several more articles.

My friend is Messianic.  I will save the topic of the Messianic beliefs until I have become more familiar with their doctrine.  However, my friend sent me a list of questions that he asked me to answer.  The purpose of the questions is to point out supposed contradictions between Paul and Jesus and, thereby, discount Paul as a true apostle of Jesus.

I answered the questions and have been having a lively debate with him for a while.  The other day, he asked me to post my answers for public consumption, and that is why I am writing this article.

Just some notes first:

  1. I will post my answers in chunks to keep these from getting too long.
  2. I will color code the question in red, my original answer in blue, and any further comments that I am just now thinking about in purple.
  3. Some opening comments on my overall thoughts about this topic come before I start answering the questions.

Ok.  Let’s get started.

First, I would like to give my overall thought on Paul.  This may become a “catch-all” answer, but I will try not to use it frequently.  But, before I even do this, I would like to address the use of YHWH, Yeshua, and also a couple of points about translations.

I don’t object to the use of YHWH and Yeshua as the Hebrew words for Jehovah and Jesus.  I realize that Jehovah, God, and Jesus are all westernized translations of the actual Hebrew names.  My question is do you use Hebrew names for all things in the scripture?  Do you call it Yeriho instead of Jericho?  What about Yona instead of Jonah?  I’m not saying it is wrong to use the original names, but I’m also not saying it is wrong to use God and Jesus as names for the same people.  Since, God was the one who confused the languages at the Tower of Babel, if he had wanted all languages to use the same pronunciation for His name, He could have made that happen.  Regardless, I’m pretty sure they know who I’m talking about, so I’m not gonna get hung up on using the Hebrew pronunciation (even though in many cases the actual true pronunciation is unknown).  I hope you aren’t hung up on that as well.  The important part is that we know who we are talking about.

Secondly, the KJV is at the same time one of the best and worse things to ever happen to followers of God.  It’s good because it gave the common man the ability to own a complete copy of the scripture and be able to read it themselves.  However, it’s one of the worst things to happen because of the translation messes it has made.  If we go strictly with the KJV, then Easter is authorized as are deaconesses.  So, when I study, I don’t use just the KJV.  I use many translations and I even go back and read a literal word for word from the Greek or Hebrew.  Through my studies, I have found the ESV to be a very accurate translation.  Even the word “baptism” and “baptize” where words that were completely made up during translation.  The literal translation is “immerse”.  How many problems have been caused because the translators of the KJV made up a word instead of using an existing word?  Today baptize has multiple meanings to multiple people when if it had just been translated “immerse” as it should have been, there would be fewer problems surrounding it.  And Satan laughs.

English translations are also sometimes hard to understand because of tensing problems with a translation into English.  Many times, Greek writers used the present tense to try to “put you in the scene”.  For instance, in Matthew 26:38 the Greek there actually says something like “He now says to them”.  This was a common Greek way to tense things.  But, in English, we prefer a past tense so our translations say “Then he said to them”.  This tensing problem isn’t just with the KJV but with all English translations.  So, this is something to keep in mind.

Having said all of that though, I am not a Greek or Hebrew scholar.  I try to study out of multiple translations so that I can understand better.  And I use literal translations so that I can see how the sentence was formed in the original language.  If I need to, I dive into a study of a particular word in Greek or Hebrew, but most of the time I don’t have to do that.

Ok, now that I have rambled about that for a while, I will give you my overall thoughts on Paul.

It seems many of the questions you ask and many of the things that I see posted on Facebook in response to your comments by friends have a common theme.

Now, you know me.  I like to boil everything down to a “root cause” question.  It’s how I think.  For me, most any problem, argument, discussion, or debate can be simplified into what I call a logic tree.  I’ve been doing this since I was a child.  At it’s most basic level, I ask a series of “Yes/No” questions to help me organize my information.  Sort of like a flowchart of thought.  So, when I’m presented with a problem, I start with simple questions and then build on them.  Answers will be accepted or rejected based on logic.  To guide that logic, I’ve developed a series of “rules” that I work from.  Here are those “rules”:

  1. I Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion but of peace.  We know then that whatever we learn from studying the Bible must make sense.  If it doesn’t make sense, then it is because of our limited understanding or because of our inability to think like God.  Isaiah 55:9 says “my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  I may never understand some things because I can’t think like God.  In those cases, I must keep studying, praying for wisdom, and not become discouraged because I can’t understand it.  Even though there are things about scripture we may never understand, we can understand those things that we need to understand for salvation.  Colossians 1 talks about the mystery that has been revealed to the saints.  This revealed “mystery” is that Christ died for us to save our souls.  This is the most important thing I must understand.  However, on things that I don’t seem to be able to understand, I mustn’t give up.
  2. The scripture contains no contradictions – There is a saying that I have adopted from another book that says “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”  So, if I come across something in scripture that seems to be a contradiction, I must have a thinking problem.  I need to figure out which one of my premises is wrong.
  3. Malachi 3:6 says “I am the Lord, I do not change”, Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” – I must recognize that whatever God says about something, it is what he always thought about it, is what he thinks about it now, and is what he will always think about it.  If I find something in scripture that looks like God changed his mind on something, then that is a contradiction and I must refer to rule 2.  We do find places in scripture where it looks like God changed his mind, but if we check our premises, we will find that isn’t the case.

So, on the topic of Paul, my overall question after reading your list of questions, your comments on Facebook, and the responses to your comments by others is this: Was Paul an inspired writer?  I mean, that seems to be the base question in this argument.  After all, if Paul was not an inspired writer, then I need not listen to him.  If, however, he was inspired, I should listen closely to what he had to say.

The great thing about a simple “yes/no” question like this is that I can apply other logical principles to it.  For instance, I can apply deductive reasoning.  In other words, I don’t have to prove that one answer is true if I can prove that the other answer is wrong.  As Spock once said, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however impropable, must be the truth.”

So, my “catchall” answer is this: I find it impossible that Paul is not an inspired writer.  Here is part, but probably not all, of the logic that leads me to think this.  Keep in mind that I believe that all scripture is the inspired word of God.  That every word is true and there can be no contradictions.  I also believe that God is not fooled by man.  God would not lead man astray by allowing his Holy Scripture to contain teaching from false teachers.  So, once a man is proven false, none of his writing can be trusted as inspired.  Furthermore, if a man is guided by God through the Holy Spirit (has the gift of prophecy), he could not be fooled by a false teacher to write something untrue.  So, here is my logic tree:

Let’s just start with the presumption that Paul is NOT inspired.  That means that he was a false teacher and I must remove all of Paul’s writings from scripture.  That leaves me with the following:

Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts
Hebrews (possibly)
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude
Revelation

Now, since Paul was a false teacher, I must remove all positive mention of him from scripture.  But not just that.  If a writer wrote about Paul, and Paul is a false teacher, then the writer who wrote about him must not be inspired either since a truly inspired writer would have been guided by God through the Holy Spirit who is not fooled by false teachers.  So, if a writer wrote in a positive light about Paul and Paul is a false teacher, then that writer can not be an inspired writer.  In this case, I’m mostly talking about Luke.  If Luke was inspired, he would not have written positively about Paul if Paul was a false teacher.  This also means that Peter who called Paul “a beloved brother” must not be an inspired writer.  So, we have to remove any writings of these two men.  That leaves:

Matthew
Mark
John
Hebrews (possibly)
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude
Revelation

Now, since Luke and Peter are proven to be uninspired false teachers (since they taught that the false teacher Paul was correct), I iterate this cycle again and remove any mention of Peter and Luke and also remove any writings by any authors that mentioned either of those two in a positive light.  This means these writings remain:

Hebrews (possibly)
Jude

It is commonly held that Paul also wrote Hebrews since it contains many of the Pauline trademarks.  So, just to be safe, we better throw that one out.

That’s leaves us with Jude.

By reading Jude alone, I can know that there was a Christ and his name was Jesus.  I can also know that Jude was writing to people who were sanctified by God the Father and were preserved in this Jesus.  I can learn that there is a salvation and that the people he was writing to need to stick to their faith.  I can learn that I should follow this Jesus and that I should try to get others to follow him as well.  I can learn that there are false teachers going around that should be avoided.  I can also learn that people who do wrong will be destroyed.

However, there are a couple of precious things that I can’t learn from Jude alone.  I can’t learn who this man, Jesus, was or all that he did.  I can’t learn what I am supposed to DO to follow this man.  I can’t learn HOW to get other people to follow him.  I can’t learn HOW to identify those false teachers.  I can’t learn WHY this man, Jesus, is an authority I should be following.  I can’t learn what the EVIDENCE is that he was the saviour.  I can’t learn HOW this knowledge came to man.

So, what am I to do?  How can I follow a man I don’t know anything about?  How can I do what’s expected when I don’t know what’s expected.  I’m in a lot of trouble.

By pulling on and unravelling that one thread, I’ve put myself into a position that is impossible for me to do anything about.  Worse, God has put me in an impossible position since he inspired Jude to write that I should follow Jesus or be destroyed but didn’t tell me how to follow Jesus.  God would not do that.  So, my initial assumption must be false.  Since my initial assumption is proven untrue, whatever remains must be the truth.  Of our two possibilities (Paul was either inspired or not), the only one that remains is that he was an inspired writer.

But things are rarely that simple.  People can come up with all kinds of arguments, so let look at a few more.

One argument is that Paul (and the others) wrote some inspired things and other non-inspired things.  Once again, this causes logical problems…how am I to know what was inspired and what was not inspired?  I don’t have the knowledge to figure that out.  Would God really help me become confused by doing this to me?  That would make God an unjust God by not giving everyone an equal chance, but by only accepting those who can figure out some magical Good Paul vs. Bad Paul formula.  This is outside the nature of God, isn’t it?

Basically, this causes too many logical contradictions.  It puts me in a position where I have no hope and nowhere to turn.

Another argument is that Jude is also uninspired but I just can’t prove it.  If he is uninspired, then I know absolutely nothing about Jesus and must then fall back on just the law and prophets for my salvation.  Again, this puts me into trouble since I am a Gentile.  Since I have nothing telling me that God brought this message to the Gentiles and since I don’t know what tribe (if any) I am from, I don’t even know if I’m one of God’s chosen people.  If I’m not a descendent of a tribe, then God’s word is not for me anyway.  Even if I am a descendent of a tribe, I have no idea where to find a Levite for a high priest.  Again, I have no hope and no where to turn.

Another argument I can think of is that all of the scripture is uninspired and just completely made up.  This makes me an atheist.  I reject this completely.

Another argument is that there are other inspired writings that we don’t know about.  This one leaves us twisting in the wind until we can find those writings.  Until then, what do we do?  I suppose this one has merit, but I really don’t think that a just God would do this since He desires all men to come to Him.  It wouldn’t make much sense for Him not to tell us how to do that.

By discounting Paul as an inspired writer and following the logical threads, I have doomed myself in every case.  Why would I do this?  Why would I want to be hopeless and helpless?

It’s just simply wrong.

Now, I could use this argument to answer all of the questions you presented to me, but I won’t.  I will try to answer each of them to show how everything actually meshes between the writings of Paul and the teachings of Christ as well as the rest of the apostles.  Before that, I have one more thing to address.

I have seen some of the comments on Facebook that questions why people put Paul above Christ.  I want to get that out in the open right now.  You will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER find me putting Paul above Christ in anything.  I completely understand the order of things.  My order is as follows:

1.  God (Father)
2.  Christ (Son)
3.  The rest of us

Included in that “rest of us” are the apostles, disciples, elders, deacons, teachers, preachers, and everyone else.  Paul is not above me, nor is anyone else.  And I am not above them, nor anyone else.  We are all to be servents.  The apostles had a part to play in that servitude and I have a different part to play.  They had talents that I don’t have (namely miraculous gifts of the Spirit) and I have gifts they didn’t have.  All those who follow Christ are brothers and sisters and are all part of his body.  Furthermore, all who follow Christ are fellow heirs with Him.

The idea that I would put Paul above Christ is disgusting.  But, the idea that I would put Paul below any of the rest of us is equally disgusting.  Paul was a fellow brother (as Peter pointed out) and was given a very unique task.  That task was to deliever God’s message to the early church as it was being established.  Peter was a fellow brother and was also given a unique task.  That task was to deliver the first sermon thereby starting the church.  John was a fellow brother and was given a unique task.  His task was to warn people of things that were coming.  I am just another brother who has a task.  My task is to spread the word of God to as many as I can.  We are all just vessels.  It’s the contents of the vessel that matters.

Now, that isn’t to say that there isn’t authoritative concepts.  Paul was an apostle.  Peter was an elder and an apostle.  I have also been placed as an elder in the congregation I attend.  There is some authority that comes with certain positions.  But, that authority is only by the authority that Christ gives.  Paul couldn’t do anything outside his authority and still be right.  Neither could Peter.  Nor can I.

So, since I believe that Paul was an inspired writer, and I believe that the words that Paul wrote are from God, I guess it could be said that I do follow Paul.  But, by that definition, I also follow Peter and Moses and Isaiah and David and Daniel and Luke and John and…  If God dictated the words, it doesn’t matter who took the dictation.

In the next part, I’ll start the actual answers…