The Person Of Paul And His Apostleship :
Let us examine the profile of Paul, the author of some 14 out of the 27 books in the New Testament.
Paul was not one of the disciples chosen by Jesus (pbuh), nor did he ever meet Jesus (pbuh). He was a native of Tarsus (a city in modem day Turkey). Though a Jew by race and religion, he enjoyed the privilege of being a citizen of the Roman Empire. He had influential connections with the ruling elite. He was an intelligent, educated person with a knowledge of Greek literature and non-Jewish culture.
Paul strongly opposed Jesus (pbuh) during his life time; he tortured and killed many of his followers (Acts 26:9-11, Galatians 1:13). He was present at the stoning of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58-60). He made havoc of the church (Acts 8:3). According to his own report, he was travelling to Damascus to arrest the followers of Jesus (pbuh), when he experienced a visionary encounter with Jesus (pbuh), who, as Paul claimed, commissioned him to be his apostle.
Paul did not learn his ‘Gospel’ from any of Jesus’ disciples or followers:
“I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” (GALATIANS 1:12)
He always believed in the Jesus (pbuh) of his vision – the mystic Christ, and was not interested in the person of Jesus (pbuh) who lived among his people and preached his Gospel:
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point-of-view, even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” (2 CORINTHIANS 5:16)
Accordingly, Paul preached his own revealed version of Christianity that was fundamentally different from what Jesus (pbuh) himself taught, and different from what Jesus’ chosen disciples believed. He achieved tremendous success among the Gentiles as he used all means to win them:
“To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law.” (1 CORINTHIANS 9:20-21)
Is it not strange that Paul portrays the law of the mystic Christ and differing from God’s law?
He himself admits to using deceit :
“But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), ‘Let us do evil so that good may come’?”(ROMANS 3:7-8)
He explained his position admitting that:
He was not necessarily innocent:
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me”(1 CORINTHIANS 4:4)
His preaching was of his own founding:
” What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”(1 CORINTHIANS 3:5-6)
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.”(1 Corinthians 3:10)
At times he was not even divinely inspired or guided, but spoke on his own authority:
“But to the rest I say- I not the Lord…”(1 CORINTHIANS 7:12)
“What I am saying in regard to this boastful confidence, I am saying not with the Lord’s authority, but as a fool;”(2 Corinthians 11:17)
“Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.” (1 CORINTHIANS 7:25)
He preached the mysterious doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection in this world as his own ‘gospel’:
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my Gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.” (2 TIMOTHY 2:8-9)
For deviating from the original teachings of Jesus (pbuh), Paul was rebuked by James, the Head of the Church in Jerusalem and younger brother of Jesus (pbuh). James considered Paul no better than a renegade and a polluted person, and hence prescribed for Paul to go and cleanse himself according to the Law (Acts 21:22-24).
In the process of making give-and-take adjustments with the pagans, the Roman Sunday was ‘Christianized’ to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath (Friday nightfall to Saturday nightfall), the traditional birthday of the Sun god (25 December) came to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus (pbuh), and the pagan spring festival of renewal (‘Easter’) was taken over as a celebration of the Christianized teaching of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even the Indo- European concept of a triune god was imported; such a ‘trinity’ was, and remains, offensive to the Hebrew/Semitic religious traditions.