Archive for August, 2014

What a precious treasure we have in our salvation, in Yeshua, and in the Bible. Sadly, though, there are those who are out to steal all three treasures from us. I personally know of several brethren in my circle of acquaintances who have renounced Yeshua as their Savior. They failed to guard their treasure and their hearts. Those treasures were stolen from them. The theft occurred slowly over time and it all began with doubting the Apostle Paul.

The Ebionite teaching that the Apostle Paul is a false apostle is being revived. If it hasn’t touched you yet, it will. This study is actually a refutation to an article entitled, “Paul, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”, as well as other accusations not found in that article. Hopefully, this refutation will prepare you to discern the truth of the matter.

The foundation of the belief that Paul is a false Apostle lies in the inability to harmonize Paul with the rest of the Bible. Rather than waiting on Yahweh to provide understanding concerning Paul’s writings, the anti-Paulists prefer to simply dismiss his writings as those of a false teacher. Peter warned us that this would happen.

2 Peter 3:15,16 reads, “And account that the longsuffering of our Master is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Conveniently, however, anti-Paulists would say that the second epistle of Peter was not written by the Apostle Peter and therefore should not be part of our current New Testament canon. This reveals the extent that they will go. They would discard the entire epistle in order to get rid of two verses in support of Paul. The fact is that no one knows for sure that Peter did not write this second epistle. At this point in time it is simply a theory. I offer two sources which defend Peter as the author of the second epistle; 1 , 2.

Historical Arguments

Anti-Paulists have no choice but to discard “The Acts of the Apostles” as well because it, too, contains pro-Paul statements. Luke, for example, calls Paul an “apostle” twice in one chapter (Acts 14:4, 14). The anti-Paulist says of those two verses;

“By this time in the record, Luke would have been very familiar with Paul calling himself an apostle and was no doubt in agreement with Paul’s assessment of himself. By these statistics alone, it is evident that Paul is by far his own biggest fan… and his side kick Luke was his number two fan. This leaves no one else anywhere in the Bible going on record as recognizing his apostleship!”

Luke is also the only one in the Bible who goes on record to describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks). Should we doubt that account because only Luke records it? Of course not.

According to Yeshua’s words to Ananaias, Paul was specifically chosen by Yeshua to bear his name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). In other words, he was sent by Yeshua which is what the word “apostle” means. We see Paul’s actual separation as a sent one (apostle) in Acts 13:1-4 where the Holy Spirit spoke to the prophets and teachers in the Antioch congregation.

“Now there were in the assembly that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Master, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”

It was actually the Holy Spirit that separated Barnabas and Paul for the work. Was the Holy Spirit incorrect in doing that?

Anti-Paulists will attempt to discredit Luke and Paul by showing how the three accounts of Paul’s conversion differ from one another. Acts 9:7 says the men traveling with Paul “heard a voice”. Acts 22:9 says of those same men, “they heard not the voice of him that spoke to me”.

I offer three possible reasons for this difference;

1) One voice spoke to Paul while a different voice spoke to the rest saying something like, “Fear not”

2) They heard the same voice, but could not hear the actual words that were spoken

3) They heard all the words, but did not understand. The Greek word for “hear” can have the meaning of “understand” as in Jn. 8:43,47. The NIV uses the word “understand” in Acts 22:9, basing it upon the Greek text which reads differently.

9:7 – akouontes men tes phones

22:9 – ten de phonen ouk ekousan tou lalountos moi

Here are the notes from Dr. James R. White (a Greek scholar) in his book entitled, “Scripture Alone“, pg.160:

“First, in 9:7 akouo, the verb that means “to hear,” is a nominative plural participle; in 22:9 it is a plural aorist verb.

Second, in 9:7 phone, a “sound” or “voice,” is a singular genetive noun; in 22:9 it is a singular accusative noun.

Third, in 9:7 akouo precedes its object; in 22:9 it follows its object. Fourth, in 9:7 the phrase is not modified; in 22:9 it is modified by “of the one speaking to me.”

Finally, in 9:7 Luke is narrating an event in Greek; in 22:9 Paul is speaking to a crowd in Hebrew or Aramaic . . .”

The context of Acts 22:9 suggests that the reason the men did not hear the voice is because the voice was speaking to Paul in Hebrew, which they did not understand. Remember, Paul said they did not hear the voice and then says, “of the one speaking to me.”

That either Paul or Luke was lying is not a valid choice.

Acts 29:9-18 is the third conversion account wherein Paul goes into greater detail as to what Yeshua said to him. These differences in Paul’s conversion account lead anti-Paulists to doubt his apostleship.

I don’t know about you, but when I give my testimony to people, it never comes out the same. I share more info with certain people than with others based on who I’m talking to and how much time I have to give my testimony. To accuse Paul of lying to King Agrippa when giving his testimony for the third time is outrageous to say the least.

Anti-Paulists accuse Paul of lying in Acts 23:6. It reads as follows:

“But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.”

They contend that he was not called in question over the resurrection, but simply lied in order to save himself. Let’s look back and see what the original cause was. In Acts 21:28, Paul was falsely accused of bringing Greeks into the temple. I say “falsely” because his accusers only “supposed” that Paul brought Trophimus into the temple (Acts 21:29).

As Paul was being led away, he asked to speak to the people. He then began to recount his conversion in which he told them the resurrected Savior spoke to him. This speech took place in Jerusalem where everyone was well aware of the events that took place in putting Yeshua to death. By saying Yeshua spoke to him after his death, Paul was confirming his resurrection, through which all believers have hope in a future resurrection. Is that not what Paul said in Acts 23:6: “of the hope andresurrection of the dead I am called in question”? Eventually, the mob cried out, “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live” (Acts 22:22).

Paul is then taken before the Sanhedrin where he makes an honest mistake in rebuking the high priest out of ignorance of his identity (Acts 23:2-5). Anti-Paulists accuse Paul of lying here as well. They say he had to know it was the high priest because he knew he was his judge and he knew the difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees. Paul, however, had been absent from Jersualem for quite a while, during which a change in the high priest may have been made. High priests at that time were set up at the whim of the Roman government for political reasons. Additionally, any number of other circumstances may have led to Paul’s ignorance in this matter.

What saddens me is that the anti-Paulists do not give Paul the benefit of the doubt in anything. They are so quick to condemn Paul in every little point they can dig up.

Paul’s ensuing comments in verse 6 were perfectly true, for that is the real reason why any believer is persecuted. That is why they falsely accused Stephen in Acts 6:11-12 as well as Paul in Acts 21:28.

The Sanhedrin were well aware of that because they were guilty of such persecution for that very reason. Acts 22:4-5 read as follows:

“And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.”

Paul was commissioned by the high priest and the council of elders to imprison as many of Yeshua’s followers as he could find. See also Acts 9:1-2.

Anti-Paulists continue their attack on Paul by showing how he fulfills Mt.10:16-18. It reads,

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.”

The accounts of Saul’s persecution of believers certainly seem to fulfill those verses, but does Paul’s actions prior to his conversion really matter? What about the prediction Yeshua made in Mt.26:34?

“Yeshua said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”

Should we also consider Peter a false apostle based on his actions prior to conversion? What about each of us? Were we not forgiven of much at our conversion? So, too, should Saul of Tarsus be forgiven.

Paul is also accused of lying to the Galatians. To understand this false accusation, we need to first read Acts 15:19-29;

“Wherefore my judgment is, that we trouble not them that from among the Gentiles turn to [Elohim]; but that we write unto them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood. For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath. Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole assembly, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote thus by them, The apostles and the elders, brethren, unto the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greeting: Forasmuch as we have heard that certain who went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls; to whom we gave no commandment; it seemed good unto us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Master Yeshua Messiah.”

Please note that James calls Paul and Barnabas “beloved”. Do the anti-Paulists seek to throw James out of the NT canon as well?

“We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves also shall tell you the same things by word of mouth. 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 things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if you keep yourselves, it shall be well with you. Fare you well.”

Here is what the anti-Paulists then say;

“There are actually several things going on here but first I want to focus on the instructions of the council. They instruct Paul to write to the churches that they avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols and from meat with blood, and from fornication (or idolatry). This is very clear. So what did Paul write to the churches about his instructions from Jerusalem?” Galatians 2:7-10 (NASB95)

7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor the very thing I also was eager to do.

WHOA! What just happened? Paul admits to being in Jerusalem. He admits to having met the apostles. He brags that they accepted him as a brother and then concludes that all they asked us to do was remember the poor which I will gladly do. Where did this come from? Did the council ask Paul to tell the churches to remember the poor? NO! The council told Paul to write to the churches to avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols and from fornication (idolatry). Did Paul flat out lie here? Again, we will note that Paul not only refused to pass along the warning from Jerusalem but he actually taught the OPPOSITE to the churches (that is that it is ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols).”

There are actually several accusations here. I’ll address the last one first. They said, ” Again, we will note that Paul not only refused to pass along the warning from Jerusalem . . .” Is that true? One need only continue reading Acts 15:30-31;

“So they, when they were dismissed, came down to Antioch; and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle. And when they had read it, they rejoiced for the consolation.”

Acts 16:4-5 read as follows:

“And as they went on their way through the cities, they delivered them the decrees to keep which had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem. So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.”

So was Paul actually lying? No. It’s the anti-Paulist’s who have grossly erred in assuming and falsely accusing Paul.

The other false accusation of Paul lying concerns the reference to Gal.2:7-10. Paul said, ” They only asked us to remember the poor the very thing I also was eager to do” (vs.10). The anti-Paulist responds with,

“WHOA! What just happened? Paul admits to being in Jerusalem. He admits to having met the apostles. He brags that they accepted him as a brother and then concludes that all they asked us to do was remember the poor which I will gladly do. Where did this come from? Did the council ask Paul to tell the churches to remember the poor? NO! The council told Paul to write to the churches to avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols and from fornication (idolatry). Did Paul flat out lie here?”

The answer to the last question is no, he did not lie. Paul was writing a letter to the Galatian assembly. The council never said their decrees were for all Gentile congregations, but only for the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:23). Paul had no reason to give those decrees to the Galatians because the council never told him to. I mention more about this later.

Anti-Paulists also use Gal.2:6 to show Paul’s supposed lack of respect of the other twelve apostles and how they have no authority over Paul. Gal.2:6 reads thusly:

“But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it makes no matter to me: [Elohim] accepts not man’s person)–they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me:”

One anti-Paulist then says,

“Here Paul goes full board in his lack of respect for the twelve. Paul says of the twelve that they seem to be important but that it makes no difference to me. In other words the twelve apostles aren’t important to Paul despite their apparent positions of authority. He then brags again that they ADDED NOTHING to his message. Paul wants to really drive the point home that the apostles mean little to him and wants his audience to know that he does not take direction from them nor has he been taught anything by them.”

These remarks are based on divorcing verse 6 from the context which includes verses 3-5.

“But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Messiah Yeshua, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”

Paul was not attacking the other twelve apostles. He was referring to false brethren that snuck in to teach their doctrine of salvation by works.

To further compound their error, the anti-Paulists fail to cross reference properly. They say,

“There is one other point often overlooked in the decision of the Jerusalem council and that is that the apostles apparently didn’t have full trust in Paul and thought it necessary to send someone along with him as a witness to what he was teaching. In the letter which the council drafts they say: Acts 15:24-27 (NASB95)

24 “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, 25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth.

The council’s letter acknowledges that Paul has received no instruction from them but has been preaching on his own. Remember, Paul himself bragged about that. The council also acknowledges that what Paul is teaching has been disturbing those who hear him.”

The anti-Paulist applies verse 24 to Paul when, in reality, it is a reference to Acts 15:1, 2, 5, 6 which read as follows:

“And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and questioning with them, the brethren appointed that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” . . . “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this matter.”

Verse 24 is referring to the legalistic Pharisees which believed in justification by works, and were teaching the same. They were of the “number” of Jews in Judea where the Apostles were from. They went to Antioch to preach their false doctrine without the Apostles instruction to do so. The council sent their “beloved” Barnabas and Paul to correct the problem.

Anti-Paulists teach that all the believers in Asia turned away from Paul and tried to kill him. They write;

“Now to the meat of the matter! First I will prove from the accepted canon and from Paul’s words himself that he was rejected in all the churches of Asia.” Acts 19:8-10 (NASB95)

8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Before we saw that Paul reasoned with the Jews in the synagogues but now we hear a little more of the story. Paul continued to preach in Ephesus but he wasn’t well received for long for Luke records that some there began to speak evil of the Way before the people and that they had to withdraw from them. Putting aside the good and bad for a moment the facts are that Paul preached in Ephesus but eventually had to leave as they turned against him.”

Who turned against Paul in the above passage, believers or hardened and disobedient, unbelieving Jews in the synagogue? Who was Paul reasoning with and persuading about the Kingdom of Elohim? Believers were already persuaded and embraced the Kingdom through Yeshua. It was the unbelieving Jews who needed persuading and who turned against Paul.

The anti-Paulist continues;

“2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NASB95)

8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,

Paul admits that while in Asia that things got so bad they had the sentence of death put on them. In other words, the believers in Asia were going to kill Paul and his companions!”

These verses refer to the wrath of the Ephesians after Paul said their goddess Diana was no mighty one at all. Let’s pick up the account in Acts 19:28-32.

“And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus. And the city was filled with the confusion: and they rushed with one accord into the theatre, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel. And when Paul was minded to enter in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain also of the Asiarchs, being his friends, sent unto him and besought him not to adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was in confusion; and the more part knew not why they were come together.”

This mob wasn’t thinking. They were wild with resentment and wrath. If the town clerk hadn’t calmed them down in verses 35-41, they may have rashly put Paul and his companions to death.

The thing that is so unbelievable to me is that the anti-Paulists read 2 Cor.1:8-10 to mean “believers” wanted to kill Paul and his companions. Would any believer go against our Savior’s command to love our enemies (Mt.5:44-48) by killing them? Can you picture any believer in Acts killing anybody? Believers are sheep to be slaughtered, not slaughterers of the sheep.

The anti-Paulist also appeals to 2 Tim.1:15. They say,

“2 Timothy 1:15 (NASB95)

15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.

Now Paul tells us that ALL of those in Asia turned away from him. Paul had to flee Ephesus for some reason and all the believers in Asia wanted him killed.”

We are not told why they turned from Paul. I suspect it was a result of what took place at Ephesus. The weaker believers feared for their lives and fled from Paul because he was the lightning rod of that entire wrath. Does that sound familiar? Did not all of Messiah’s disciples turn from him out of fear for their lives? Does that make Yeshua a false Messiah? Neither does it make Paul a false apostle.

The last attack on Paul from an historical perspective that I will address comes from the anti-Paulist’s pitiful interpretation of Rev.2:1-3. It reads as follows:

“To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, he that walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou can not bear evil men, and did try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and did find them false; and thou hast patience and did bear for my name’s sake, and hast not grown weary. “

The anti-Paulist then says;

Paul is the only one we know of in the accepted canon that went to Asia and specifically preached in Ephesus. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus saying that he is an apostle. . . This same body of believers in Ephesus are now congratulated for testing someone who claimed to be an apostles and were not. Could this be talking about Paul and Barnabas? Were they tested for three months and ultimately rejected as false apostles and ran out of town at threat of death? Did the church of Ephesus eventually conclude that Paul was a liar and was NOT an apostle?

Did you absorb that? Did the Ephesians run Paul and Barnabas out of town as false apostles? Let’s read Acts 20:17-22.

“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the assembly. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, after what manner I was with you all the time, serving the Master with all lowliness of mind, and with tears, and with trials which befell me by the plots of the Jews; how I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward [Elohim], and faith toward our Master Yeshua Messiah. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:”

Paul is about to depart for Jerusalem, but he desires one last meeting with the Elders of the Ephesian congregation. Let’s resume in Acts 20:29-38.

“I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears. And now I commend you to [Elohim], and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified. I coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Master Yeshua, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the word which he had spoken, that they should behold his face no more. And they brought him on his way unto the ship.”

Does that sound like they found him to be a false apostle or does it sound like they loved him dearly and couldn’t bear not seeing him anymore? He left them on very good terms. However, in that meeting he prophesied that grievous wolves would come to Ephesus and not spare the flock. Others would draw away disciples to themselves. The “apostles” Yeshua referred to were most likely these men who were grievous wolves.

Doctrinal Arguments

The anti-Paulists not only attack Paul historically, but doctrinally as well. Let’s explore some of the “heresies” that the Apostle Paul supposedly taught.

 

No One Righteous

 

In Romans 3:10-12, Paul refers to Psa.14 to prove all have sinned and no one is righteous. Anti-Paulists say Paul misquoted Psa.14. Paul wrote, “There is none righteous, no not one.” Psa.14:3 reads, “there is none that doeth good, no not one.” There are a few other differences as well. The truth is, Paul was not quoting, but paraphrasing. Even if he was quoting, there are other examples of people not quoting exactly. For example:

Psalm 53 is almost identical to Psalm 14 with the exception of Psa.53:5 and “Elohim” in Psa.53 where Psa.14 has “YHWH”. Is David misquoting his own Psalm because it is not an exact quote? Does that make David a false prophet?

In Mt.4:4, Yeshua said:

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” KJV

Yeshua was quoting Deut.8:3 which reads:

And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Yahweh does man live.”

As you can see, Yeshua did not quote this verse perfectly. He left out some words in the beginning and some at the end. Does that make him a false Messiah? Or should we blame Matthew for misquoting Yeshua and throw his book out along with Paul’s writings? I’m being sarcastic, of course. The truth is that the meaning and understanding of the Psalm is being carried over by Paul.

Keep in mind that believers in ancient times did not get to carry around the Scriptures wherever they went as we do. They did not have computers to instantly write out a verse stored in its memory. They had to rely on their own memories.

I can guarantee that every anti-Paulist, at one time or another, has misquoted a verse. I wonder if they would consider themselves false brethren because of such a mistake.

Because anti-Paulist’s believe Paul falsely used the word “righteous”, they will also accuse Paul of teaching falsely because Scripture says Noah, Abraham, David and others were “righteous”. Not only does Psa.14:3 read, “they are ALL gone aside, they are ALL together become filthy, but Eccl.7:20 reads,

“Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that does good, and sins not.”

There were no righteous men on earth based on sinlessness. Was Solomon wrong? Solomon said again, in 1 Kgs 8:46:

“…(for there is no man that sins not,) …”

The fact is, all the patriarchs sinned as well and therefore were not perfectly righteous in the sense that Yahweh is. They were righteous, not because they never sinned (never transgressed any of Yahweh’s commandments), but because they lived by faith, and that faith was imputed to them for righteousness (Gen.15:6).

So why did Paul use “righteous” in Rom.3:10? Because Paul understood as did David and Solomon, that it only takes one sin (one unrighteous act) to become unjust and unrighteous. Since Paul was paraphrasing and not quoting verbatim, he understands “none that does good” to mean “every man has committed an act or acts of unrighteousness.” If none do good, none are perfectly righteous. The two words are synonymous in Pr.14:19:

“The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.”

Yeshua was sinless. Therefore, he is the only absolutely righteous man that ever lived. His righteousness is imparted to us through faith paving the way for our justification apart from the law.

 

Justifying the Wicked

 

In Ex.23:7, Yahweh says, “for I will not justify the wicked.” Anti-Paulists accuse Paul of teaching the exact opposite in Rom.4:5 which reads as follows:

“But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the wicked, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.”

If we read Ex.23:7 in context, including verses 1-6, we will notice that Yahweh precedes His statement in verse 7 with a list of at least ten commands. His meaning in verse 7, therefore, is that He will not justify the wicked in their wickedness. Paul teaches the same thing and intended the same meaning in Rom.4:5.

In Acts 17:30, Paul says the following:

“The times of ignorance therefore [Elohim] overlooked; but now he commands men that they should all everywhere repent:”

Paul calls for the wicked to repent (turn away from their sin). In Rom.4:5, Paul is teaching that Yahweh will justify the wicked afterthey repent, believe and have faith. This is why Paul quotes from Psalm 32 in Romans 4:7 and says, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered.” This is exactly what Yahweh taught in Hab.2:4, “the just shall live by faith.”

 

Call No Man Your Father

 

Paul wrote, in 1 Cor.4:15;

“For though you have ten thousand tutors in Messiah, yet have you not many fathers; for in Messiah Yeshua I begat you through the gospel.”

Anti-Paulists accuse Paul of not obeying Yeshua’s command in Mt.23:9 to call no man “father”.

However, Yeshua himself and every New Testament writer except Jude used the word “father” in reference to men. James calls Abraham “our father” in Ja.2:21 as did Stephen in Acts 7:2.Therefore, we are not to understand Yeshua’s words as anti-Paulists interpret them.

Yahweh says to “honor thy father and thy mother”. If I then say, “I would like to honor my father in a special way,” am I breaking Yeshua’s command? Obviously not, for Yeshua probably had practices similar to the Roman Catholic practice of calling their priests, “Father so and so” in mind.

 

Justification by Faith or Works?

 

Anti-Paulists are quick to bring up the supposed contradictions in Paul’s teaching of justification by faith alone and what James taught in James 2.

Paul wrote:

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

James wrote:

“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24)

Interestingly, both apostles use the same verse (Gen.15:6) to support their position.

Paul wrote:

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed Elohim, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom.4:3)

James wrote:

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed Elohim, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of Elohim.” (James 2:23)

To understand this seeming contradiction, we need to understand that each apostle is looking at justification from a different viewpoint. For example, two people can look at a triangle. One may only see a triangle while the other sees a square! How can that be? They were both viewing a pyramid; one from the side and the other from the top.

Paul is looking at justification in it’s initial stage (when a person first believes). James is looking at justification after one first believes. Paul sees Abraham’s faith (belief in Yahweh) prior to Abraham’s work of offering up Isaac. James sees Abraham’s works of offering up Isaac as a fruit of his faith (after he was justified by faith).

James did not say, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith” (James 2:24). He added the word “only” after “faith”. In other words, faith comes first, but it cannot stand alone. It must be accompanied by good works.

In writing about justification, Paul was not addressing the believers behavior after having been justified. Had he addressed justification from James’ viewpoint, he undoubtedly would have agreed with him. Both apostles believed the words of Habakkuk 2:4b:

“but the just shall live by his faith.”

The Greek word “dikaioo”, translated “justified” in James 2:24, means “to render (i.e. to show or regard as) just or innocent.” Therefore, Abraham was “regarded” by Yahweh as being justified through faith, but he also “showed” he was justified by his works.

 

Paul the Hypocrite?

 

Gal.2:11-14 states, “But when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, live as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compel thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

1 Cor.9:19-22 read, “For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, not being without law to [Elohim], but under law to Messiah, that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.”

1 Cor 10:31-33 read, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of [Elohim]. Give no occasions of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the called out of Elohim: even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.”

The anti-Paulist then says:

“Why does Paul rebuke Peter for not giving offense to the circumcised and yet he himself says we should give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks and that Paul himself had become as a Jew to reach Jews and like a Greek to reach Greeks? Does Paul have a double standard?”

Is Paul being a hypocrite with a double standard? The answer is found in the motive of each man’s actions. Paul’s motive is found in 1 Cor.9:22:

“To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.”

Peter’s motive is found in Gal.2:12.

“For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.”

Paul acted out of love and Peter acted out of fear. What does the Apostle John teach about fear?

“There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out fear, because fear hath torment; and he that fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 Jn.4:18

Peter’s fear of the Jews led to the fruit of hypocrisy and was a manifestation of a lack of love on his part. Motive is the key.

 

Circumcision

 

Now we come to the two most difficult teachings of Paul, circumcision and eating meat sacrificed to idols. First we shall consider circumcision.

Acts 21:27-28 states the following:

“And when the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man that teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place; and moreover he brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath defiled this holy place.”

The anti-Paulist then says,

“To me it seems clear that the Jews from Asia are upset with Paul in particular for bringing uncircumcised men into the temple in violation of the words of Ezekiel. “

That is stated as fact by this anti_paulist author. However, in verse 29, Luke says:

“For they had before seen with him in the city Trophimus the Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.”

In other words, Paul was being falsely accused of polluting the temple. They assumed he brought Trophimus into the temple, but they never actually saw him do that. A similar instance can be found where Naboth the Jezreelite was falsely accused of cursing Elohim and the king, and even stoned, yet he had committed no crime (1 Kings 21:5-16).The remaining seven chapters of Acts are all related to Paul’s defense against those same false accusations. It is ironic that those same false accusations are being leveled against Paul even today, and by professing brethren in Messiah, nonetheless!.

1 Cor.7:17-20 read as follows:

“Only, as the Master hath distributed to each man, as [Elohim] hath called each, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all the assemblies. Was any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Hath any been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of [Elohim]. Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called.”

The anti-Paulist would then say,

This last statement by Paul in 1 Corinthians is particularly troubling since he clearly seems to indicate that if you are called when you were not circumcised then you should REMAIN uncircumcised. Why then, we must ask, does Paul have Timothy circumcised if, by his own instruction, a man should remain uncircumcised if he was “called” while uncircumcised?

We need to note that 1 Corinthians was written after Paul’s first visit to Corinth in Acts 18:1-17. Therefore, Timothy’s circumcision in Acts 16 and Titus’ avoidance of circumcision referred to in Gal.2:3-5 and which took place in Acts 15, where both before Paul’s statements in 1 Cor.17.

Note in Galatians 2:3-5, Paul refused to submit to the false brethren who demanded Titus’ circumcision. It reads,

“But not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Messiah Yeshua, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”

This shows Paul’s consistency in his teaching that Gentile converts need not be circumcised. After the Jerusalem council’s decision, which agrees with Paul’s teaching in that circumcision was not one of the four requirements imposed on Gentiles, Paul has Timothy circumcised. Does this contradict his belief? No.

Timothy was being chosen to accompany Paul in his ministry. Had Timothy remained uncircumcised, it would have been a great hindrance to Paul’s ministry to the Jews in that area. Timothy evidently agreed to “become as a Jew to win the Jews.”

Paul was not giving a steadfast command to which there could be no exceptions. Since Timothy was not fully a Gentile, his extenuating circumstance warranted a different approach. He was not being circumcised in order to be saved, but so that others would be saved. Had Timothy not been chosen for the ministry, there would have been no need to circumcise him.

Paul was not teaching against circumcision itself, but against circumcision for the wrong reason. To be circumcised in order to be saved or justified is wrong and is a denial of salvation by grace through faith.

 

Meats Sacrificed To Idols

 

I would like to conclude this study by examining Paul’s stand on eating meats sacrificed to idols. Paul’s position is this: seeing that an idol is nothing, there is nothing wrong with eating the sacrificial meat unless it causes someone to stumble. Anti-Paulists would say that contradicts the Jerusalem council’s decree in Acts 15 and Yeshua’s words in Rev.2:14 & 20.

The Jerusalem council’s decree was that the Gentiles were to abstain from things offered to idols (Acts 15:20). The Greek reads, “to hold back from pollutions of the idols.” Acts 15:29 in the KJV reads, “that you abstain from meats offered to idols.” The Greek reads, “to abstain from idol sacrifices.” Acts 21:25 reads, “keep themselves from things offered to idols.” The Greek reads, “to keep from themselves the both idol sacrifices and the blood . . .”

As you can see, there is no reference to eating the meat of those sacrifices. We can infer that, but it doesn’t make it clear. The council may be decreeing that they simply abstain from sacrificing to idols.

Keep in mind two important points as you ponder this issue; 1) There is no direct command in Torah from Yahweh to not eat meat sacrificed to idols and 2) The Jerusalem council’s decree was never sent to the Corinthians. Acts 15:23 says,

“And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:”

Those three locations are just north of Israel. Corinth is at least 1,000 miles away in Greece across the Aegean Sea. Paul was not told to deliver the decree to any other Gentile areas. Verse 30 shows that Paul obeyed the council and delivered the decree.

Concerning point #1: Some appeal to Ex.34:12-16 for such a command. It reads as follows:

“Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goes, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other mighty one: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous El: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their mighty ones, and do sacrifice unto their mighty ones, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their mighty ones, and make thy sons go a whoring after their mighty ones.”

Notice there is no direct command from Yahweh saying not to eat meat sacrificed to an idol. What He forbids is the making of a covenant with non-Israelites which may then lead to idolatry and idolatrous eating. When a covenant is made between two parties they become bound together in a special relationship.

Paul was in total agreement with Ex.34:12-16. He admonished the Corinthians to avoid such bonds in 2 Cor.6:14-18. It reads as follows:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Messiah with Belial? or what part hath he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of Elohim with idols? for ye are the temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith [Yahweh], and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith [Yahweh] Almighty.”

However, when Paul tells the Corinthians that it is permissible to eat meat sacrificed to idols as long as they do not cause another to stumble, he is saying that in the context of NOT being in a covenant relationship (unequally yoked) at the time. To simply sit down and eat a meal because you are hungry is totally different than sitting down with an idolater with whom you have covenanted and partaking in his idolatry by eating his sacrifice.

Paul said:

“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to Elohim: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Master, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Master’s table, and of the table of devils.” (1 Cor.10:20-21)

The “fellowship” comes when one places themselves in that special bonded relationship. There is no such fellowship when one simply buys a piece of meat at a meat market, even if it was sacrificed to an idol. Believers can have fellowship with each other through Messiah. We can have no fellowship with unbelievers unless we join with them through some sort of mutual bond such as a covenant, contract, sexual relations, etc.

What about Numbers 25:1-3?

“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their mighty ones: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their mighty ones. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel.”

Notice what was done as a prelude to eating meat sacrificed to idols; they committed whoredom. In other words, they joined themselves to Moab through sexual relations. They created an intimate bond of fellowship which made their eating idolatrous.

Paul wrote the following in 1 Corinthians 6:16:

“What? know you not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.”

A sexual relationship creates a bond of oneness between the two. This is why Yahweh warned Israel in Ex.34:12-16 about making a covenant, especially through marriage, with non-Israelites.

Paul was not condoning eating meat sacrificed to an idol while in such a covenant relationship whether through marriage, fornication, contract, or otherwise.

With those things in mind, how do we harmonize Paul with Rev.2:14 & 20? Theses verses read as follows:

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” (14)

“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” (20)

The key word in understanding this issue is “stumblingblock” in verse 14. Balak caused Israel to stumble by having them do something they believed was wrong. Israel believed such meat to be “common” or defiled. Jezebel did the same thing by seducing believers to do the same. The issue in Rev.2 is exactly what Paul taught in Romans 14:13-15.

“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Master Yeshua, that there is nothing common of itself: but to him that esteems any thing to be common, to him it is common. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walk thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Messiah died.”

Israel esteemed meat sacrificed to idols to be defiled. Yahweh never said it was, but Israel believed it was. They did not have the deeper understanding that Paul and the Corinthians had that an idol was nothing. So for Israel to eat such meat was to them a sin, but to Paul it was nothing.

Conclusion

In conclusion brethren, the Apostle Paul was truly that, an Apostle appointed and sent by Yeshua himself. His writings, when properly exegeted and rightly understood, were and are a blessing to millions of believers. May they continue to be so.