I think apostate is a more appropriate title for Paul than apostle. Paul appointing himself an apostle has always irritated me, as has Paul as a person.
Let me start with some definitions:
- Apostate: “A person who forsakes his religion, cause, party, etc.” Paul abandoned mainstream Judaism when he proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah.
- Apostle: This can mean “any of the earlier followers of Jesus who carried the Christian message into the world” or “any of the original 12 disciples called by Jesus to preach the gospel.” I prefer the second definition, which eliminates Paul and the myriad others who claimed the title of apostle to promote their own self-interests.
- Disciple: “Any follower of Christ.” That fits Paul as well as me. How about you?
Back to Paul the Irritant. Acts 9:1–19 claims that Paul, who was persecuting Followers of the Way, was on his way to Damascus (to do some more persecuting) when he was blinded by a brilliant light and Jesus spoke to him. Acts also tells two variants of this story in 22:1–16 and 26:4–18, but Paul only briefly alludes to it in 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 and Galatians 1:11–16. Interesting! Paul’s conversion took place around 33–36 CE, and Acts was written around the turn of the second century—methinks that conversion tale is fiction.
I believe that deep down, Paul knew he was not a true apostle but, to give himself authority, claimed he and Jesus were buddies. They weren’t. I even suspect that Jesus wouldn’t have liked Paul—he was too much like a Pharisee.
Paul’s personality displayed some characteristics that caused me and several others to label him a braggart, gross exaggerator, and self-promoter.
Remember, Paul never said or heard the word Christian, nor was he one. He was what one might call a progressive Jew, and he developed a Christology in which God planned the murder of his son so we would be saved from our sins. That’s outrageous by today’s standards.
I appreciate that Paul spent his life promoting Jesus, but he wasn’t an apostle and is more of a deterrent than a help to my faith. The foundation stone of Jesus’s message was the parable of the prodigal son, which was all about unconditional love. Paul’s message was about a mean god who had his son killed to save us from our sins. That’s ridiculous. Just watch the six o’clock news—sin still abounds.
This is the twenty-first century. The church is dying. It needs to change drastically and quickly. The church authorities could start by relegating Paul and his letters to the history department. I think demonstrating agape should be the message of today’s church.
What do you think of Paul?
Apostle Saint Paul by El Greco is in the public domain
9 thoughts on “Paul the Apostate”
“Christianity” was a new religion created by the Hellenized Jewish philosopher Saul/Paul of Tarsus, who created the idea of a shapeshifted avatar deity Christos as a world savior for his Gentile religion, to replace the liberator Messiah of Judaism.
SEE: Philippians 2:6-8
“being in very nature God…taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…being found in appearance as a man”. He preached that the divine plan was for Christos to be murdered, to become a sacrifice so we would be saved from our sins.
That is why it could no be accepted by Jewish believers, and he was declared an apostate
Thank you Cosmosgenes for sharing your thoughts. I am not a fan of Paul. He served his purpose and now needs to be put on the ancient history shelves. He is not my Christ nor do I see Jesus as his substitute paschal lamb. Someone dying for my mess-ups makes me infantile and not responsible for my sins of omission and commission.
Thank you for reading my blogs.
Interesting view. I’ve always wondered, myself, but concentrating on Paul’s authenticity, isa distraction from the scrutiny that should be directed at the HRE, Constantine l, & his editing of the original biblical texts.
Sorry James for being so late in responding. I;ve been out of blog circulation since last September but am back blgging. Thank you for reading my blogs. PeaceLoveJoyHope.
I gave up on Paul a long time ago. Check out what Peter said during the Council meeting about his being called to reach out to the Gentiles and then Paul, who was there, later on, lying, saying that the Council ruled that Peter would reach out to the circumsized and that he, Paul, would reach out to the uncircumsized. There are passages in Paul’s writings where I can’t help but believe that he is calling the Gospel his Gospel. In addition he is constantly berating other Jewish persons for conforming to the laws that God gave them. Although I have much to say about Paul I will end by suggesting that Paul was never baptized by the Spirit of Jesus (SOJ) or the Holy Spirit (HS). Paul even says that he was not called to baptize anyone even though he baptized a few. Never is it said that The HS or the SOJ descended upon Paul when he was baptized as it happened when other disciples of Christ were baptized. Paul was probably only baptized with the Jewish baptism. Ananias and others did not actually baptize Paul but called for him to be baptized and receive the HS. Had Peter reached out to the Gentiles as Jesus foretold in calling him his rock upon whom I will build my church, True Christianity would have been born.
Thanks John. I agree but how does one get the church to stop pushing Pauline theology and his antiquated ethics?
Til my dying days, I’ll keep badmouthing Paul. But I did see a Progressive Xn writing a so-called progressive defending Paul’s stance about women in the church. No matter how he spun it, in Paul’s day, that era’s thinking about women, the Jewish men’s attitude the writer’s stance went over like a porkchop in Israel. PeaceLoveJoyHope
I agree with you Paul was not an apostle, in fact, based on my reading of his epistles, and the New Testament, Paul was the first schismatic and heretic…his aggression and hostility toward the appointed apostles is disgusting, and Paul was NOT a Pharisee either. The Pharisees, unfairly, get a bum rap in the Gospels, because of him, and when you know about them, it’s obvious that Jesus was a Pharisee Rabbi! Paul was not a Pharisee, he was a Herodian (Rom 16:11), and an agent of the Sadducees (it’s the Sadducees that Paul was working for when given letters of authority to persecute the Nazarene Sect), something a Pharisee would never have done, especially if they “excelled in their Judaism”. Paul’s character was not in the character of Pharisees. If you read Acts 5:34-39, Gamaliel, NOT just an honored teacher of the law, but THE leader of the Pharisees at that time, his opinion of the “Nazarene Sect”, which would be the official policy of the Pharisee, was made plain…leave the “Christians” alone, because…if they are not from God they will fade away, and if they are from God there is nothing you can do against them.
Thank you for reading my blogs. I found your ideas interesting, some of which I had never heard before. But my Christ is Jesus. Paul was a Jewish man who lived shortly after Jesus was murdered. He invented a fictitious Jesus and he invented a theology that has little or nothing to do with my Christ. For me, Paul is past history is every way. My theology is not Pauline nor are my ethics. But I always apprecaite new ideas. PeaceLoveJoyHope
Sorry, Dagtall. I thot I had answered your interesting response. I’m reading a book, written by Westar scholars, “After Jesus, Before Christianity.” I’m in the section about Paul and they are not nice to him, which is OK with me. They paint him as a “loser” who wasn’t as neat as Acts or paul himself suggested. I have this feeling that within a decade Paul will be history. I see all sorts of suggestions that the Jesus who died for my sins isn’t very popular anymore. And we can never forget that he wasn’t a Christian, there was no such thing during his lifetime so I’m willing to let him go as a misguided Jews.