Rembrandt’s “Apostle Paul” courtesy of the National Gallery of Art
Yahushua knew that when He returned to Heaven, Satan would seek to destroy the fledgling Christian Ekklesia. By ridicule, by force, by deceitfulness, Satan indeed tried to destroy what Yahushua had raised up.
To meet the emergency, Yahuwah “gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of . . . Yahushua. (See Ephesians 4:11, 12.)
The goal of this great gift was so “we [could] all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of . . . [Yah], unto a perfect man. . . that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:13, 14)
One wind of doctrine that has been growing in strength is the belief that Paul was a false apostle, brought in by the devil to destroy the new Christian faith. Paul’s warning in Acts is applied to him, as an imposter and apostate:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29, NKJV)
Various phrases, once in a while a full text, from Paul’s writings are taken out of context and used to support the contention that he was a false apostle, brought in by the devil to wreak havoc on the “flock” of believers.
These phrases, taken primarily from First and Second Corinthians accuse Paul of:
Speaking NOT on behalf of YHVH;
Using trickery and deceit;
Passing judgment upon others;
Belittling Peter, James and John;
Consulting with Satan;
Holding an exalted opinion of himself;
Injecting his own ideas into Scripture;
Preaching “another” gospel;
Giving faulty marriage counsel;
Telling husbands to start living the single life again;
Dictating “proper” hairstyles for men;
Judging hungry, growling stomachs.
These scattered texts and partial phrases are taken out of context and used as “proof” that Paul himself was one of the ravening wolves he warned against. Taking verses out of context should always raise warning flags in every mind.
Such claims do not regard the context of the surrounding verses; they do not consider the environment in which Paul was raised nor the culture for which he was writing.
The style of Paul’s writing is consistent with the literary style of the first century A.D. He used a “point-and-counter-point” style of reasoning that was commonly used by the Israelite scholars of his day.
Rejecting the writings of Paul typically does not end with cutting his epistles from the Bible, which account for 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. Consistency demands that if Paul is a false apostle whose books should be removed from the Bible, then the two books written by his co-laborer, Luke, must also be rejected because Luke clearly supports Paul as an apostle commissioned for Gospel work by Yahushua.
But it does not stop there. If Paul were a deceiver whose writings must be rejected, then the authority of the other apostles is also called into question because the leading apostles, Peter, James and John, accepted Paul’s apostleship:
“. . . when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” (Galatians 2:9)
The James who extended the “right hand of fellowship” to Paul, was not James, the brother of John, for he had already been martyred by that point. This James was the highly respected step-brother of Yahushua and author of the New Testament book of James.
If Paul were a false teacher, then the trustworthiness of those who extended to him the right hand of fellowship, must also be questioned. The result is that eight more books of the remaining 11 books of the New Testament must be laid aside. These are:
The Gospel of John
The only books remaining in the New Testament then would be Matthew, Mark and Jude. Nor are these unassailable.
The gospels of Matthew and Mark support Peter and John as men commissioned by Yahuwah. But if Peter and John are untrustworthy for accepting Paul as one of them, then the judgment of Matthew and Mark is questionable for accepting Peter and John. The only book left in the New Testament is the single-chapter book of Jude.
The real danger in setting aside the writings of Paul, however, is found in the motivation prompting such charges against this most prolific of the New Testament writers.
The whole Hebrew economy revealed the plan of salvation in type and symbol. This was why, when Yahushua wanted to explain His mission the evening after His resurrection, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27)
Paul was raised and educated as a Pharisee. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. Israelite tradition demanded that any prospective member of the Sanhedrin have the Torah, the five books of Moses, entirely memorized by age 12.
Paul’s education as a Pharisee made him very well-acquainted with the Law as well as what part was merely the traditions of men. This made him an extremely capable teacher of the gospel, rightly dividing between Truth and Tradition.
Paul’s denouncement of the rite of circumcision has led some to reject his writings as a Law-breaker. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul upheld the divine Law as “holy and the commandment holy and just and good.” (Romans 7:12)
Circumcision is one of the statutes. Paul did not argue against circumcision as a statute. He simply clarified that it would not somehow earn one salvation.
The entire thrust of Paul’s ministry was righteousness by faith. Clearly understanding that salvation is by grace alone, through faith, Paul’s writings must be understood in the context of his struggle against the heresy of salvation by works.
All false religions are based on salvation by works, in one form or another. Even the Israelite religion had degenerated into a system of salvation by works under the traditions of the elders which Yahushua repeatedly rebuked.
Righteousness by Faith (Galatians 5:5)Gentile believers, coming out of paganism, were easily lured back into the salvation by works taught by “Judaizers.” The Judaizers claimed to believe in Yahushua as the Messiah, but their influence was to return to the traditions of men as the means to salvation.
They rejected salvation as a free gift received when one chooses to believe in the Saviour.
Paul’s clarion call to the Gentile believers echoes down to truth-seekers today:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of . . . [Yahuwah]: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9, KJV)
Adopting the traditions of the Jews does not bring one salvation. Wearing tassels and head coverings does not recommend one to Yahuwah. Using Hebrew words that no one else can understand does not make one a better Law-keeper.
Salvation by works is very alluring to fallen human nature. Adopting Jewish traditions, clothing or words can easily make one feel superior to those who do not adopt the same traditions.
Whether the life-style choices are founded on Scripture or are merely Jewish tradition, the point is that salvation by works may feed the ego but will never earn anyone salvation.
Law-keepers will be careful in diet and dress. But to use it as a standard by which to judge one’s merits, destroys the very essence of the Law which is Love.
The Pharisees rigorously kept the do’s and don’ts of the Law, but neglected love, kindness, justice and mercy. Yahushua told them:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
Salvation by works will never save anyone.
“But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of . . . [Yahweh] is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ ” (Galatians 3:11)
Satan knows no one will ever be saved by works. He has led people to misunderstand Paul’s writings and reject the clearest teachings in Scripture of the vital doctrine: righteousness by faith.
Here is the real secret behind the rejection of Paul. Paul’s clear understanding of the Law versus Tradition led him to reject the law as the means of earning one’s salvation.
Paul taught that the Law should be kept. However, he understood it can only be kept by faith in Yahuwah.
The only hope anyone has is to cease trying to work one’s way to Heaven. Accept that all the “works of the law” you have performed cannot save you.
“All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Righteousness by faith means Yahushua lives out His life in you. Your will is brought into perfect harmony to Him. Then and only then is the divine Law perfectly kept.
Paul, an apostle divinely commissioned by Heaven to take the gospel to the Gentiles, has a message for all today who would be saved:
I am crucified with . . . Yahushua: nevertheless I live; yet not “I,” but Yahushua lives in me: and the life which “I” now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of Yah who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (See Galatians 2:20)
Do not be swayed by the varying winds of doctrine. Be rooted and grounded in Scripture.
Accept the righteousness of Yahushua by faith. You, too, can experience the joys of salvation through faith in the merits of the Saviour.