written by Christopher Macfarlane
A few weeks ago, a subject had arisen unlike any I had ever heard before. It concerns the reliability of the apostle Paul, stating that he was in fact an apostate – or false teacher. The following are various arguments made against Paul:
1. There are 22 references to Paul being an apostle. Only 2 are made by someone other than himself. These two references were never made by Jesus or the apostles, but by Luke – the close companion of Paul.
2. Paul does not write like anyone else. That is, he uses many personal pronouns. It has also been said that this is why he is not believed to have written Hebrews… because Paul is always talking about himself, and his accomplishments. Statistics have even been made concerning how many times he has spoken about himself: Romans – 103 times; 1 Corinthians – 175 times; 2 Corinthians – 103 times; Galatians – 69 times.
He is also accused of being conceited, because of his openness about God choosing him especially to be a light to the Gentiles… misusing a text intended specifically for Isaiah.
“For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.” Acts 13:47
3. Paul was the only one to refer to himself as an apostle. None of the other apostles referred to themselves as apostles.
4. Paul has made references to himself being the “greatest” apostle:
Working harder than the rest:
“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all…”. 1Corinthians 15:9,10
Belittling the other apostles:
“But from those who seemed to be something – whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man- for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” Galatians 2:6,7,9
“But when Peter had come to Antioch, Iwithstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews played the hypocritewith him so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straight forward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter beforethemall, “if you being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” Galatians 2:11-14
This rebuke in Galatians is viewed as hypocritical because of the following:
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law as without law… that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1Corinthians 9:19-22
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1Corinthians 10:31-33
5. There are only twelve apostles
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:14
“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His Glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28
6. Paul was wrong about the purpose of the Law
“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, that (for this purpose) every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19,20
Where is boasting then? It is excluded, By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law. Romans 3:27,28
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
7. Paul and James have differing views of justification
Was not Abraham our father justified byworkswhen he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” James 2:21-23
8. Paul is a liar, and he knows it.
Paul concerning the Jerusalem Council:
“Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles… But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter… and when James, Cephas, 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. They desiredonlythat we should remember the poor, the very thing which I was also eager to do.” Galatians 2:1,2,6-7,9-10
What happened at the Jerusalem Council:
But regarding the Gentiles who have believed, we have written a letter, having decided that they should avoid meat that has been sacrificed to idolsand blood and what has been strangledand sexual immorality.” Acts 21:25
*Paul lied about his conversion to King Agrippa
And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Yahshua, whom you are persecuting, It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” And the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:3-19
Paul’s conversion testimony to the Jews:
“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Yahshua of Nazareth, Whom you are persecuting.’ …So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ Acts 22:6-15
Paul’s lie to Agrippa:
“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You , Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Yahshua, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes and to turn them from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision…” Acts 26:12-19
9. Peter wrongly affirms Paul
“…and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2Peter 3:15,16
Jesus prophesied that Peter would be misled later in life:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you bound yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch forth your hands, and another will bind you and take you where you do not wish.” John 21:18
but, the following verse says:
“This he spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God.” John 21:19
But it is argued that this was only the commentary of John, and not necessarily the intention of Jesus, as it wouldn’t make sense as a picture of crucifixion.
In a nutshell, Jesus told Peter that he would slip in the future. This prophecy concerned Peter’s affirmation of Paul.
10. Jesus confirms the apostasy of Paul
* Jesus tells the Ephesians that Paul was a liar:
“And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.” Revelation 2:2
Paul claimed to be the apostle to Ephesus:
“Paul, an apostle of Yahshua by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus,” Ephesians 1:1
Paul in Ephesus:
“And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the way before the multitude…” Acts 19:8,9
“This you know, that all thoseinAsia have turned away from me.” 2Timothy 1:15
* Paul is Balaam
But I have a few things against you: You have some people there who follow the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel so they would eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. In the same way, there are also some among you who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Revelation 2:14-15
Similarities between Balaam and Paul:
>Both were on a road
>There was a divine vision and blinding
>Both are asked why they are persecuting
>Both are told that it is difficult to kick against the pricks
>Both taught that it was okay to commit fornication and eat meat sacrificed to idols
Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 8 that it is okay to eat food sacrificed to idols as long as you are not a stumbling block to others who may not understand.
It is argued that Jesus did not speak of sexual immorality and adultery as separate, but the same. So, when Paul permits remarriage, it is considered adultery and fornication.
But if the unbeliever wants a divorce, let it take place. In these circumstances the brother or sister is not bound.God has called you in peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15
But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32
I know this was a long list, but it is in no way a complete list. There are many other arguments. Can you add to it? Have you ever confronted this topic? What do you think? Is this dangerous?