-Bishop John S. Spong (Episcopal Bishop of Newark) (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, p. 104, Harper San Francisco, 1991)
“Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.”
– Thomas Jefferson
After ascent of Jesus Christ, the original followers of Jesus Christ continued to live as Jews and practiced what Jesus had taught them. It did not occur to any of them that they could ever be regarded as followers of a new religion. They were devout and practicing Jews and they were distinguished from their neighbors, only by their faith in the message of Jesus. In the beginning they did not organize themselves as a separate sect and did not have a synagogue of their own. There was nothing in the message of Jesus, as understood by them, to necessitate a break with Judaism.
However, they incurred the enmity of the vested interests among the Jewish higher echelon. The conflict between the Jews and the followers of Jesus was started by the Jews because they felt that they [named as Christians much later]would undermine their “authority”. The gulf progressively began to widen. During the siege of Jerusalem in 70 C.E, they left the city; and refused to take part in the Bar Coachaba rebellion in 132 C.E. These two events brought to the surface the difference between the followers of Jesus Christ and the Jews.
Question of Origin of Jesus & Nature:
The question of the origin of Jesus, his nature and relation to God, which later became so important, was not raised among these early disciples. The belief that Jesus was a man super-naturally endowed by God was accepted without question. Nothing in the words of Jesus or the events in his life led them to modify this view. According to Aristides, one of the earliest apologists, the worship of the early Christians was more purely monotheistic even than of the Jews.
Impale’ment of New Disciple Paul:
With the conversion of Paul (4–64 C.E) a new period opened in Christian Theology. Paul a Jew and an inhabitant of Tarsus, had spent a long time in Rome, he was a Roman citizen. He realized the strong hold which the Roman religion had on the masses. The intellectuals were under the influence
of Plato and Aristotle. Paul seems to have felt that it would not be possible to convert the masses in the Roman Empire without making mutual adjustments. But his practical wisdom was not acceptable to those who had seen and heard Jesus. However, in spite of their difference, they decided to work together for the common cause.
The theory of redemption was the brain child of Paul, a belief entirely unknown to the disciples of Jesus. Paul’s theory involved the deification of Jesus. The Pauline period in the history of the Christian Church saw a change of scene and principles. In place of the disciples, who had sat at the feet of Jesus, a new figure, who had not known Jesus, had come to the forefront. In place of Palestine, the Roman Empire became the scene of Christian activity.Instead of being a mere sect of Judaism, Christianity not only became independent of Judaism but also became independent of Jesus himself.
Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) presented a spiritual message and main ideas concerning human conduct. Christian theology, however, was shaped principally by the work of Paul who added new doctrines and the worship of Jesus Christ to the spiritual message of Jesus. Paul became the foremost proselytizer of the new religion of Christianity. His influence on Christian theology proved to be the most permanent and far-reaching of all Christian writers and thinkers. As a young man, he went to Jerusalem to study under Rabbi Gamaliel, an eminent Jewish teacher. Though Paul was in Jerusalem at the same time as Jesus, it is doubtful whether the two men ever met.
After Jesus, the early Christians were regarded as heretics and suffered persecution. For a while, Paul (Saul) himself participated in this persecution (Acts:7:58). However, during a journey to Damascus (37 C.E) he claimed that Jesus spoke to him in a ‘vision’, [as did David Koresh and Jim Jones] so he was converted to the new faith. It was the turning point of his life. The one-time opponent of Christianity became the most vigorous and influential proponent of the new religion.
In 40 A D, he went to Jerusalem, but the disciples were afraid of him. It was Barnabas, one of the earliest disciples of Jesus Christ, who introduced him to them, and convinced them to accept him as a Christian, even though reluctantly. After some time he had again to flee from Jerusalem to Tarsus to save his life. Barnabas was sent by the apostles on a special and important mission to Antioch. Barnabas brought Paul from Tarsus so that he might help him in his mission at Antioch; and both of them worked there for a whole year. All this time Saul (Paul) was subordinate to Barnabas.
During the first missionary journey (45 C.E to 49 C.E) Barnabas was the leader of the mission. It was indeed the missionary journey of Barnabas which is erroneously ascribed to Paul. Paul was planning to bypass all the disciples and even his benefactor, Barnabas, and to gain pre-eminence for himself. He wanted to be second to none.
Paul under Satanic influence:
According to 2 Corinthians 12:6-9, Paul, in the Bible says:
“But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:6-9
”According to ‘Saint’ Paul, God sent a Messenger of Satan to teach him the reality of grace. If it is a Messenger from God,why then, does Paul call it a Messenger of Satan?
Since it is from God, shouldn’t it be a Messenger of God? Since Paul calls Messengers sent by Christ to teach him grace, Satan, and since Paul is tormented and Christ is unwilling to remove the ‘Messenger of Satan’, then we must conclude that Paul was a man possessed by some demon.
Devil tempted Adam, Eve got them out of gardens of bliss , tempted Jesus Christ but was rebuked:
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”[Matthew 4:10]
The disappointed Satan later got Paul in vision [as did David Koresh and Jim Jones] and possessed him. The dubious VISION of Paul and conversion story is exposed due to conflicting account at Act, chapters 9,22 & 26.
Journal of Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry:
Research Article: St Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy. D Landsborough
Abstract: Evidence is offered to suggest a neurological origin for Paul’s ecstatic visions. Paul’s physical state at the time of his conversion is discussed and related to these ecstatic experiences. It is postulated that both were manifestations of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Paul converted by epileptic fit, suggests BBC:
A documentary about St Paul has infuriated Christians by suggesting that the apostle’s conversion on the road to Damascus may have been caused by an epileptic fit or a freak lightning bolt. In one of the Bible’s most dramatic stories, Paul was transformed from a zealous persecutor of Christianity into one of its most powerful advocates after being struck down by a blinding light. The documentary, presented by Jonathan Edwards, the athlete and evangelical. It challenges the belief that Paul’s conversion was caused by divine intervention by quoting scientists who link religious experience with epilepsy. It suggests that the Paul’s reference to an ailment which he described as “a thorn in the flesh, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me, and keep me from being proud” could be the condition.
Professor Vilayanur Ramachandran, the neuro scientist who delivered this year’s Reith lectures, told the programme that patients who suffered seizures often had intense mystical experiences like Paul’s.
An even more bizarre theory, suggested by Dr John Derr, an American earthquake expert, is that Paul could have been struck by a bolt of electro-magnetic energy, similar to ball lightning, released by an earthquake.
The programme quotes scientists saying that such an event could have triggered what Paul would believe to be a mystical experience, as well as leaving him blind for several days. Paul’s conversion is thought to have occurred around AD 35, and his apostolic journeys took place from AD 47 until he was arrested in Jerusalem in AD 58. According to tradition he was beheaded in Rome.
Then the influence of Messenger of Satan, resulted in such doctrines which Jesus Chrsit never preached, he said:
Matthew 7:21-26: \
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Master, Master ‘ [Greek:kurios, master, as a respectful title, Lord, sir] will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Master, master didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.‘ “Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand.”
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” [Matthew 13:15]
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand” [Matthew 7:26]
“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘And in vain they pay reverence [Greeksebomai sebomai, revere, worship, adore] to me as they teach doctrines of commandments of the sons of men.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” [Mark 7:6-10]
“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”[2 Corinthians 11:4]
These arguments should silence the missionary and create awareness in their hearts to follow true teachings of Jesus Christ not of the Paul.
Council of Jerusalem (50C.E):
It was experienced by the preachers that the gentiles were reluctant to convert, because some ignorant people had advocated that to attain salvation it is obligatory that in addition to believing in Jesus Christ they have to also adhere to all the rites and customs of Law of Moses like circumcision in accord with Genesis 17:14, a law from God which, according to Genesis 17:13-19, God said would be everlasting) thus Luke wrote: “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, saying, Except you be circumcised after the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”(Acts;15:1).
However, circumcision was considered repulsive during the period of Hellenization of the Eastern Mediterranean. So if the potential convert is asked to believe in the basic doctrines without precondition of circumcision it does not imply that the custom of circumcision is cancelled for all but a minor evil is accepted to save the gentiles from disbelief. This compromise technique was adopted by the disciples to facilitate the conversion of gentiles. A delegation, comprising Paul and Barnabas, was appointed to confer with the elders of the church in Jerusalem on this issue.
Relaxation of Law to Facilitate Gentiles Conversion-Not Permanent Abrogation:
In the conference of the Christian Apostles held in Jerusalem around 50 C.E, the ensuing apostolic conference(Acts;15:2-35), led by the apostle Peter and James, were persuaded to relax the adherence of Law for the Gentile Christians. After debate, it was decreed that Gentile Christians did not have to observe the Mosaic Law of the Jews. The general intention of disciples is evident from the speech delivered by Peter: “Now therefore why test God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”(Acts;15:10-11). [If Peter’s aim was to totally cancel the Law for the gentiles, then it would also been cancelled for the Jewish Christians, because Peter considers the Law as burden for the gentiles as well as the for themselves (Jews)]
It may be kept in view that the purpose of the Council of Jerusalem was not to determine whether the Law of Torah is obligatory for the gentiles or not? The in-depth analysis indicates that as far as the viability of the Law of Torah is concerned the disciples had no doubt in their mind, they all agreed to the obligation to adhere to these laws: The issue was only to relax them for the gentiles to facilitate their conversion. For this reason while describing those who wanted the gentiles to adhere to the Law, Luke wrote: “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”(Acts;15:5). In response James decreed: “Therefore my judgment is, that we trouble not them, who from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from defilements of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.”(Acts;15:19-21). Hence the general letter written by this Council to the gentiles states: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That you abstain from anything offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Farewell.”(Acts;15:28-29)
It is amply clear from above that the disciples of Jesus Christ did not intend to cancel or abrogate the Law of Torah altogether but compromised on its application for gentiles (Not Jewish Christians) temporarily to facilitate easy conversion of gentiles from paganism to the new faith. However when Barnabas and Paul reached Antioch, Paul took undue advantage of the Decree of the Jerusalem Council and started preaching that the Law of Torah has been abrogated completely: “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”(Galatians;2:19) and later: “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”(Romans;7:6).
Barnabas & Paul-Split on Doctrinal Differences:
Obviously acceptance of self made doctrines by Paul, implied total deviation from the teachings of Jesus Christ, who had said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”(Matthew;5:17). Hence Peter and Barnabas opposed Paul, which has been mentioned by Paul: “But when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed. For before certain men came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision. And the other Jews joined likewise with him; so that Barnabas also was carried away with their hypocrisy.”(Galatians;2:11-13).
After this incidence Barnabas separated himself fro Paul: “Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days later Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought it not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being commended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”(Acts;15:35-41).
There was strong opposition by the disciples (Peter and Barnabas,) to the new doctrines being preached by Paul contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. This resulted in to rebellion by the Galatians against Paul. Then Paul wrote 2nd letter to Galatians, in which he instead of claiming support of Disciples, opposed them and tried to prove that he did not need to learn from Disciples as he was getting direct revelations (Glatinas:1:11-12).
After this rift, there was a parting of the ways. In the Acts, Barnabas disappears after the rift, because the recording of the Acts of the Apostles was done by the followers of Paul. Pauline Christians grew in number and strength because Paul had compromised with Roman beliefs and legends. A stage was later reached when kings were used as pawns to further the ends of the Church. However Barnabas was able to record the original teachings of Jesus Christ which remains available to the truth seekers even now despite all the malicious efforts to obliterate them. Commandment of Jesus about Barnabas is: “If he (Barnabas) comes un to you, receive him”(Clossians;4:10)
In the ‘Opening’ of “The Gospel of Jesus” Barnabas clarifies the doctrinal differences as reason of his split with Paul:
“True Gospel of Jesus, called Christ, a new prophet sent by God to the world: according to the description of Barnabas his apostle: Barnabas, apostle of Jesus the Nazarene, called Christ, to all them that dwell upon the earth desireth peace and consolation. Dearly beloved the great and wonderful God hath during these past days visited us by his prophet Jesus Christ in great mercy of teaching and miracles, by reason whereof many, being deceived of Satan, under presence of piety, are preaching most impious doctrine, calling Jesus son of God, repudiating the circumcision ordained of God for ever, and permitting every unclean meat: among whom also Paul hath been deceived, whereof I speak not without grief; for which cause I am writing that truth which I have seen and heard, in the intercourse that I have had with Jesus, in order that ye may be saved, and not be deceived of Satan and perish in the judgment of God. Therefore beware of every one that preacheth unto you new doctrine contrary to that which I write, that ye may be saved eternally. The great God be with you and guard you from Satan and from every evil. Amen.”
Paul arrived in Jerusalem on his fifth and final visit to Jerusalem [Acts 21:17] in 57 with a collection of money for the community there. Acts reports that he was warmly received. But Acts goes on to recount how Paul was warned by James and the elders that he was gaining a reputation for being against the Law, “teaching all the Jews living among the gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs”.[Acts 21:21] Paul underwent a purification ritual in order to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law. Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by voluntarily being taken into Roman custody. When a plot to kill Paul on his way to an appearance before the Jews was discovered, he was transported by night to Caesarea. He was held as a prisoner there for two years, until a new governor reopened his case in 59. When the governor suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to “appeal unto Caesar”.
When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”
26The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.
27When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29(They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)
30The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”
One of Paul’s followers (Demetrius) left Paul and sided with the Original Apostles and their followers. Paul admits that Demetrius was one of his followers and that he deserted Paul (2Tim 4:9-16). Paul’s friend Luke tries to put a favorable spin to the story (Acts 19:23-29), but John defends Demetrius against Luke’s attack (3 John 9-12).
Adding weight to this argument, is the story of Barnabas. Barnabas was the one who first introduced Paul to the Original Apostles, and he accompanied Paul on Paul’s first missionary journey. Barnabas was also one of the many of Paul’s followers who (according to Paul’s own words) eventually had a parting of the ways with their former leader:
The situation with Barnabas is very similar to that of Demetrius, and is even more convincing. Once again we have Paul admit that one of his followers has left him. Once again we find Luke attempting a feat of “damage control” and attempting to reframe the story in a more positive light for his friend Paul. In this case, however, we do not have to use a third party to infer that the follower who is deserting Paul is going over to the side of the Original Apostles and their followers (the Ebionites). Here, this fact is attested to by none other than Paul himself!
First, let us look at the highly imaginative presentation of the split between Paul and Barnabas as brought to us by Paul’s constant defender, Luke:
“Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us go back and visit our brothers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along.’ Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, but Paul did not think it was right to take him, because he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission, but had turned back and left them at Pamphylia. There was a sharp argument, and they separated:”(Acts 15:36-39)
A sharp argument and separation over whether or not to take Barnabas’ nephew with them on a journey? This would seem to indicate a rather weak bond between Paul and Barnabas. Their history together, however, seems to argue against this assumption:
The friendship of Paul and Barnabas was formed right from the start, with Barnabas being the first (and perhaps the only) person to support Paul when Paul initially met with the Original Apostles.
“Saul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples. But they would not believe that he was a disciple, and they were all afraid of him. Then Barnabas came to his help and took him to the apostles. He explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had spoken to him. He also told them how boldly Saul had preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. And so Saul stayed in Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 9:26-28)
Even before their first journey, Paul and Barnabas worked together “for a whole year.”
“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he took him to Antioch, and for a whole year the two met with the people of the church and taught a large group.”(Acts 11:25-26)
According to Luke, Paul and Barnabas were placed together not only by their own choice, but by the decree of the Holy Spirit.
“In the church at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (who had been brought up with Governor Herod), and Saul. While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.’” (Acts 13:1-2)
Paul and Barnabas travelled extensively and underwent many hardships together.
“Having been sent by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went to Seleucia and sailed from there to the island of Cyprus…..they arrived at Salamis…..went all the way across the island of Paphos…..came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia…..arrived in Antioch in Pisidia…..went on to Iconium…..fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia and to the surrounding territory…..then they went back to Lystra, to Iconium, and on to Antioch in Pisidia…..They came to Pamphylia. There they preached the message in Perga and then went back to Attalia, and from there they sailed back to Antioch, the place where they had been commanded to the care of God’s grace for the work they had now completed.” (Acts 13 & 14)
After all of the time and travails that are shared by Paul and Barnabas, they have a violent argument and part company forever—if we believe the presentation in Acts—over an event that is given the following coverage by Luke in Acts:
“Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia, where John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem.”(Acts 13:13)
According to the account found in Acts, we are to believe that two men who shared a common bond of faith and friendship; shared travels and travails; and who were placed together for a shared role by the Holy Spirit, argued and separated forever over the fact that Barnabas’ nephew “went back to Jerusalem.” Here we are to believe that Paul is of such a mind as to throw away a friendship such as the one between Barnabas and himself rather than to allow Barnabas the privilege of having his nephew accompany them on a second journey. Not exactly a sterling view of Paul as presented by his friend Luke, but Luke evidently felt that it was better than the alternative of letting Paul’s own version of the split stand as it was presented in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
“But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile brothers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. The other Jewish brothers also started acting like cowards along with Peter: AND EVEN BARNABAS WAS SWEPT ALONG BY THEIR COWARDLY ACTION.” (Gal 2:11-13)
Here we see what was actually the reason for the split between Paul and Barnabas. We may not ever know the true story of the confrontation between Paul and the Original Apostles (Peter and James and their followers [the Ebionites]). We hear Paul’s side here in Galatians, we hear Peter condemning Paul’s version. Regardless of the actual details of the confrontation, we find Barnabas siding with Peter and the Original Apostles against Paul. A much more likely cause for the split between the two former friends than the unconvincing excuse utilized by Luke in Acts.