PAUL: MASTERMIND OF CALLING NON-JEWS TO HIS GOSPEL (continued)
Paul: Self-claimed “Master Builder” and “Founder”
NOT ONLY DID Paul usurp a role as “Apostle of Jesus Christ,” but he even compares himself to Jesus or to an angel—with whom not even prophets dared to compare themselves. Paul claimed, “Though my poor health burdened you, you didn’t look down on me or reject me, but you welcomed me as if I were an angel from God, or as if I were Christ Jesus!” (Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 4:14).
Avoiding the Jesus of the Gospel narrations, and stepping beyond Jesus’ own teaching, Paul claimed to be the “master builder” and to be “laying the foundation” [of Christianity] upon which others would build! (Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 3:10). The foundation of Christianity is indeed Paul’s teaching about ‘Christ crucified’:
Jews want miracles for proof, and Greeks look for wisdom. As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles … When I came to you, my brothers, to preach God’s secret truth, I did not use big words and great learning. For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross. (Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 1:22-23; 2:1-2)
Indeed, Paul masterfully crafted his message to the Gentiles as a transition away from the teaching of Jesus to his [Jewish] people! So then, Paul gave orders for his converts to follow him–instead of following Jesus—saying: “I became your father through the gospel.” (Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 4:15-17)
Paul: Author of his own ‘Gospel’
After his self-declaration as Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul invented a new way to invite non-Jews to salvation. In order to establish a framework for this purpose, he used to argue philosophical logic, shoving aside the [Jewish] Law of Moses and the [Jewish] Prophets. For example, Paul argued “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also” (Paul’s Letter to the Romans 3:29).
Paul also contrived a theological system in which Gentiles were exempt from keeping the Law. Because “God gave it [His covenants] to the Jews, not to the Gentiles” (Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 2:11-13), Paul taught that his [Gentile] believers were under ‘grace’ rather than under ‘Law’ (Paul’s Letter to the Romans 6:14-15; Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 5:18).
By contrast, Jesus preached his message as being wholly under the Law of Moses (Gospel of Matthew 5:17-18). Jesus constantly referred to the Mosaic Law as a basis for his [Jewish] teaching and through which to authenticate his ministry (Gospel of Matthew 7:12; 8:4; 12:5; 12:12; 23:1-3; Gospel of Mark 1:44; 10:3-4; Gospel of Luke 10:25-37).
As Paul himself insisted, there had been no place for the Gentiles under the Law. What Paul failed to mention was that Jesus had not included Gentiles as part of his intended audience; in fact, Jesus had deliberately excluded them. But Paul was dead set on including them in his Christian ‘Gospel.’
In this context, Paul rejected the gospel [‘Good News’] message of Jesus and of the twelve apostles, and devised another gospel, referring to it as “my gospel” (Paul’s Letter to the Romans 2:16, 16:25; Paul’s Second Letter to the Timothy 2:8; Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 2:2). He casually admits that his gospel had been a “secret”:
Let us give glory to God! He is able to make you stand firm in your faith, according to the Good News I preach about Jesus Christ and according to the revelation of the secret truth which was hidden for long ages in the past (Paul’s Letter to the Romans 16:25).
He warned that anyone who preached a gospel different from his—as was the case with some people sent from Jerusalem to Antioch, where Paul started his own independent missionary career (Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 6, 22-23, 30-35; Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 1:7 )—any such person was to be accursed:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell! We have said it before, and now I say it again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel that is different from the one you accepted, may he be condemned to hell! (Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 1:8-9)
In the name of the newly invented ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ,’ Paul boldly started to welcome the Gentiles (Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 1:16; Paul’s Letter to the Romans 15:16-18).
So then, it is clear that the conversion of non-Jews into Christianity is something innovated by Paul—and not taught, imagined, or even allowed by Jesus!
Who Will ‘Judge’ the Followers of Jesus in the Kingdom Age?
The ‘gospel’ preached by Paul with its doctrine in favor of the Gentiles was opposed by early followers of Jesus. Paul’s doctrine is branded Pauline Christianity.
As we have seen, there is no place for Gentiles as followers of Jesus in the New Testament Gospel narratives. This comes only in the writings accredited to Paul and in the accounts about Paul (in the Acts of the Apostles).
The Gospel narratives deal with the followers of Jesus, his twelve disciples and those Jews who believed Jesus’ message. Jesus tells us that in the Kingdom age, his twelve apostles will ‘rule’ the twelve tribes of Israel. Non-Jews were not included in Jesus’ mission, and whenever there was contact with Gentiles, he denied having responsibility for them; nor did he even authorize his apostles to deal with them.
You have stayed with me all through my trials; and just as my Father has given me the right to rule, so I will give you the same right. You will eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel. 1(Gospel of Luke 22:28-30)
Jesus said to them, “You can be sure that when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne in the New Age, then you twelve followers of mine will also sit on thrones, to rule the twelve tribes of Israel. (Gospel of Matthew 19:28)
According to respected New Testament scholar, John Lightfoot, in A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, the above verse alludes to a passage in Daniel 7:9-10 in which the ‘throne of glory’ is situated not on the final Day of Judgment, but rather on the day of Jesus’ entrance into his Kingdom age government—when Jesus will sit in judgment (condemnation) upon “the treacherous, rebellious, wicked people.”
Thus we understand that the Twelve will be on thrones with Jesus in witness to the message which he brought—and which they delivered to the Twelve Tribes [wherever they were scattered throughout the world] in obedience to his instructions.
In view of the heavy emphasis on Paul in the New Testament, it is strange that we hear so much less of Peter to whom Jesus had already given authority as chief of his apostles:
And so I tell you, Peter…I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven (Gospel of Matthew 16:18-19).
It was Peter who was to be in charge of carrying on Jesus’ teaching, and not Paul!
To be continued, inshâ’Allah, in Part 6…
Originally posted 2015-12-24 13:49:59.
Matthew SmithDecember 24, 2015 - - 1:50 pm
why does that even matter to Muslims?
Linda Thayer, Assistant EditorDecember 25, 2015 - - 9:42 am
Have you been following this whole series from the beginning? If not, I recommend that you start with Part 1 and continue through the series.
To answer your question as to why this matters to Muslims: Muslims believe in Jesus. For us, Jesus is one of the foremost persons over the course of human history and pre-history sent by God to guide us in what pleases Him and is for our highest happiness and success, both as individuals and as societies.
Muslim scholars who have studied Biblical scholarship and Church doctrine and history believe that something happened in the early centuries of “Christianity” that led to a high-jacking of the movement intended by Jesus and his teaching to be spread (at his instructions) by his Disciples/ Apostles. Biblical scholars dig into every minute detail at their disposal and speculate about how each small piece fits into the whole picture of the historical person of Jesus, including his message, and the New Testament documents that record those events.
To the extent that we address on this website the subject of understanding Jesus from Christian sources (notably from the New Testament), we do so with the appreciation that our viewpoint agrees with the accounts of Jesus recorded in the Gospel books of the New Testament. The book of Acts has given us enough of what happened after Jesus to enable everyone to understand how the Christianity of Paul –that was adopted by the Church– was in conflict with Peter (head of the Apostles, so designated by Jesus) and James (the brother of Jesus, who became head of the Jerusalem followers of Jesus, when the Apostles set out in all directions on their mission to spread Jesus’ message).
This article and the others we offer are not to say that Christians are not good people or that they do not follow the teaching of Jesus in their faith commitment and lifestyle to follow the teaching of Jesus. Rather, the point is that to the extent that one follows Paul, s/he is in conflict with the teaching of Jesus as found in the Gospel books of the New Testament. The difference between the message of Paul and that of Jesus has been recognized and written about by countless Biblical scholars, especially in the last couple of centuries in Europe and North America.
We welcome further, more specific comments on the content of our articles. Thanks for asking this insightful question.
ReedFebruary 3, 2016 - - 3:57 pm
You wrote that Jesus spoke disparagingly of non-Jews, but could also praise them:
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Note that Jesus speaks of non-Jews sitting with the forefathers of the Jews while many Jews won’t.
ReedFebruary 3, 2016 - - 4:05 pm
You wrote: “Paul also contrived a theological system in which Gentiles were exempt from keeping the Law.”
The Peter (and 12 apostles) agreed with Paul that Gentiles did not need to keep the Mosaic Law. Peter said,
Acts 15:19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
ReedFebruary 3, 2016 - - 7:35 pm
You wrote, “In order to establish a framework for this purpose, he used to argue philosophical logic, shoving aside the [Jewish] Law of Moses and the [Jewish] Prophets. For example, Paul argued “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also” (Paul’s Letter to the Romans 3:29).”
So, are you saying that God is not the God of Gentiles? If you aren’t saying that, then what’s the problem with this logic?
Keep in mind that Paul never argued that Jews shouldn’t keep the Law. He only argued that Gentiles didn’t need, too. And the 12 authorized apostles and early Jewish church accepted this argument (Acts 15).
ReedFebruary 3, 2016 - - 7:37 pm
“The ‘gospel’ preached by Paul with its doctrine in favor of the Gentiles was opposed by early followers of Jesus.”
And many early followers of Jesus left him. But the 12 apostles supported Paul.
ReedFebruary 3, 2016 - - 7:39 pm
“It was Peter who was to be in charge of carrying on Jesus’ teaching, and not Paul!”
If Peter supported Paul’s message (Acts 15), then how can you say that Paul’s message was wrong?