Can the Bible be God's Word?
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Chapter 30: Acts, Epistles & Revelation

The previous chapter covered the Gospels. This chapter will concern itself with the rest of the New Testament. Paul (formerly "Saul") looms large here; letters commonly attributed to him comprise most of the "books" of the New Testament.

First, we must note that Paul admits that he never knew Jesus in the flesh. Paul persecuted Christians until he had a vision in which Jesus told him to stop persecuting him. In the New Testament there are three versions of this story, all of which appear below:

 

Verson One:

Acts:9:3: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Acts:9:4: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Acts:9:5: And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Acts:9:6: And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Acts:9:7: And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Acts:9:8: And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
Acts:9:9: And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Acts:9:10: And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
Acts:9:11: And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
Acts:9:12: And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

 

Version Two:

Acts:22:6: And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
Acts:22:7: And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Acts:22:8: And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
Acts:22:9: And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
Acts:22:10: And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
Acts:22:11: And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

 

Version Three:

Acts:26:13: At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Acts:26:14: And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Acts:26:15: And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Acts:26:16: But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Acts:26:17: Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Acts:26:18: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Acts:26:19: Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

Question

Answers

 

Ver. 1

Ver. 2

Ver. 3

Where did Saul receive the commission?

In Damascus

In Damascus

At the Vision

From Whom did Saul receive the commission?

From Ananias

From Ananias

From Jesus

What did the men who were with Saul do?

Stood

(Not stated)

Fell to the Earth

Did the men who were with Saul hear the voice?

Yes

No

(Not stated)

As is shown in the above table, the three versions of this story all contradict each other.  In versions 1 and 2 Saul was not given the commission at the vision, but was told to get it in Damascus (from Ananias). In version 3 he was given the commission at the vision (from Jesus).

In version 1 the men with him stood, in version 3 they fell to the earth (version 2 does not specify).

In version 1 the men with him heard the voice. In version 2 they did not (version 3 does not specify).

In versions 1 and 2 he was struck blind. In version 3 no blindness is mentioned.

If someone presented you with a story of a voice speaking to them from heaven, and then presented three contradictory versions of it, what would you conclude as to the truthfulness of the story? I can imagine Paul on the witness stand:

DA: From whom did you receive this commission?

Paul: Directly from Jesus in a vision (Acts 26:15-18).

DA: Did you not testify on a previous occasion that you did not receive this commission from Jesus in a vision, but rather some days later, from one Ananias? (Acts 9:6,9; 22:10)

Paul: Well, yes. I was just giving you the short-version when I said I received it directly from Jesus.

DA: And how often do you represent what other men have told you as if you heard it directly from Jesus?

Paul: All the time, because the Holy Spirit has taught us what to say, so when we speak it is just the same as Jesus speaking.

Jesus never said to start a new religion. Jesus said the old Law would remain in effect until heaven and earth passed away (Mt. 5:18). Notice this in one of the few places where Jesus gave a straight answer:

Mt:19:16: And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Mt:19:17: And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Jesus said that one could gain eternal life by keeping the commandments. Now, notice what Paul said in answer to a similar question:

Acts:16:29: Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
Acts:16:30: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Acts:16:31: And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

So Paul decided, in contradiction to what Jesus taught in Matthew 19, that salvation depended upon belief in Jesus, and such a belief by one member of a household would save all members of the household no matter what they believed or did!

Paul did not go around preaching the sayings of Jesus. The Gospels hadnít been written yet, and Paul didnít know firsthand what Jesus had said (other than "itís hard to kick pricks"). So Paul said what Paul thought (1 Cor. 7:12). He didnít care what Jesus said; all he cared about was that Jesus was crucified:

1Cor:2:2: For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Paul had no time for Jesus the man or Jesus the parable-teller; all he wanted was Jesus crucified (i.e. dead). With a dead Jesus, Paul could spin his yarn about salvation through belief that Jesus died to remove the curse of Adamís sin:

Rom:5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom:5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Rom:5:19: For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

1Cor:15:22: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is there such an idea as this. In only one place in the Gospels is Jesus represented as having said something that hints at such a doctrine:

Mt:20:28: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

But since Jesus cried "My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?" while he hung on the cross, itís doubtful that he really said that he came to give his life as a ransom for many. In any case, he never told anyone that belief in such a strange doctrine was required for "salvation"; all Jesus said in Matthew was "keep the commandments". So there is this very great contradiction between what Jesus said in Matthew and what is written in the rest of the New Testament.

Acts:2:1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Acts:2:2: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Acts:2:3: And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts:2:4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts:2:5: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Acts:2:6: Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
Acts:2:7: And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
Acts:2:8: And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Acts:2:9: Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Acts:2:10: Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Acts:2:11: Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

How did someone speaking Arabic know that a disciple was speaking the language of one of these other nations so that he could make the statement "we all hear in our own tongue"? Who interpreted what each of these foreigners said and concluded that they all made this same statement? How could they say this "to one another" when they couldnít speak each otherís language? Why have all subsequent missionaries had to take courses in foreign languages if the "Holy Spirit" is so capable of causing one to speak in whatever language the hearer requires?

Acts:5:1: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Acts:5:2: And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Acts:5:3: But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Acts:5:4: Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Acts:5:5: And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Acts:5:6: And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Acts:5:7: And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Acts:5:8: And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Acts:5:9: Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Acts:5:10: Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Acts:5:11: And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Evidently Peter had forgotten what Jesus said about not laying up treasure on earth; he wanted it all. Ananias and Sapphira were certainly entitled to donate however much they wanted from the sale of their land, or to keep it all for that matter! Was their action worthy of death? According to Peter, the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit is donating less than 100% to the church! There is no major denomination of Christianity today that agrees with him, so of what benefit is this story in the Bible? Evidently just to instill fear: "and great fear came upon them".

Is this the same Peter who, after witnessing so many miracles, denied Jesus three times? Peterís denial would seem worse than donating to the church less than 100% of the sale of some land. Yet Peter is held in high esteem (the Catholics make him their first Pope!) whereas Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God (and burn forever in hell according to the Catholic church). Where is the justice in this?

Acts:6:2: Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Acts:6:3: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Acts:6:4: But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
Acts:6:5: And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

So the deal was that Stephen was to "wait tables" and the apostles were to pray and preach. But evidently Stephen also grew tired of being a waiter, and started preaching. His preaching reached the ears of the authorities, and he was hauled off to the council:

Acts:6:14: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
Acts:6:15: And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
Acts:7:1: Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
Acts:7:2: And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

Instead of answering the question, Stephen, "filled with Holy Spirit" launched off on a long, irrelevant harangue summarizing early Jewish history. But in the process he contradicted their history as written in the Old Testament:

Acts:7:14: Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
Acts:7:15: So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
Acts:7:16: And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

"Threescore and fifteen souls" is 75 souls. But the accounts in Genesis and Deuteronomy tell us there were a total of only "threescore and ten": 70 souls:

Gen:46:27: And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Deut:10:22: Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

Stephen claimed that Abraham bought the tomb at Sychem from the sons of Emmor, and Jacob was buried in that tomb. But, according to the Old Testament, Abraham did not buy a tomb there from "the sons of Emmor"; he bought a tomb in Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite:

Gen:23:16: And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
Gen:23:17: And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure
Gen:23:18: Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
Gen:23:19: And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
Gen:23:20: And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.

Gen:50:13: For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

It was, in fact, Jacob who purchased land at Sychem (Shechem) from the sons of Emmor (Hamor):

Gen:33:18: And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city.
Gen:33:19: And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.

Josh:24:32: And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

The "Holy Spirit" (speaking through Stephen) evidently got the two accounts confused.

Acts:12:21: And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
Acts:12:22: And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
Acts:12:23: And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

The angel of the Lord killed Herod because of what other people said about him. Is that fair? Youíd better watch out that no one says you have a "divine voice"; the angel of the Lord just might kill you for it!

Earlier (in Acts 12:1-2) we were informed that Herod had killed James with a sword. But that murder went unpunished. The angel of the Lord didnít seem to care about Herod murdering a Christian as long as no one said Herod had the voice of a god!

Acts:13:8: But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
Acts:13:9: Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
Acts:13:10: And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Acts:13:11: And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

Paul struck a man blind for questioning the faith! What a great lesson in tolerance! Of course Paul had never heard Jesus words: "bless those who curse you", so instead he cursed those who didnít immediately accept his religion without question.

Acts:15:18: Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

This would seem to favor the doctrine of predestination. What does it mean to say that at the beginning of the world God knew all his works? Since predestination is such a fatalistic view, and so fraught with problems, we might argue that this verse simply means that God knew all about his creation at that time.

But, if we take the context in which this verse appears, we find that Peter is speaking about the surprising turn of events in which Gentiles were becoming Christians. It is this event that caused Peter to explain that, although surprising to them, God knew it all along. So Peter evidently believed that "from the beginning of the world" God knew that the Gentiles would turn to Christ. But if God knew this, then he mustíve known that his "chosen people" would largely reject Christ. So why did he choose them to begin with?

Also, he mustíve known that Adam would sin, necessitating the sacrifice of his Son. He also mustíve known that Satan would turn on him and untold misery would result to all of his creation. So why didnít he plan things out better with all this foreknowledge? Free will is not an acceptable answer. God couldíve avoided all this mess and still given us free will if only he had been a better designer.

As Iíve said before, if God knows the future, then there is no free will. And if there is no free will, whatís the point to anything?

Acts:15:24: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

Acts:15:28: For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Acts:15:29: That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

This was the conclusion of the apostles and Paul at their conference in Jerusalem. They decided that Gentile believers did not have to be circumcised or adopt the heavy burden of the Mosaic Law. There were only four things they would have to abstain from: meat sacrificed to idols, blood, meat from animals that had been strangled, and fornication.

It is the order to "abstain from blood" that causes Jehovahís Witnesses to loose their lives when they abstain from needed blood transfusions. Fortunately, they are the only ones who follow this verse literally. Most Christians interpret this verse as a temporary measure to keep from offending the Jewish Christians.

Paul later countermanded this order (at least in part) by giving his approval to eating meat sacrificed to idols:

1Cor:8:4: As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

1Cor:8:7: Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
1Cor:8:8: But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

So, if the first item on the list of four things to be abstained from is really okay to partake of, then one would assume that this might also apply to some of the other items on the list (such as blood).

Acts:16:1: Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
Acts:16:2: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
Acts:16:3: Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

It was over the matter of circumcision that the apostles had met at Jerusalem and decided that circumcision was not incumbent upon the gentiles. Paul, in fact had been very upset at those who taught that the gentiles needed to be circumcised. At one point he chastised Peter for behaving as if the Law were still in force:

Gal:2:11: But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal:2:12: For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Paul was being hypocritical in this matter in light of his circumcising Timotheus. Not only that, but according to Paulís words in Galatians, by circumcizing Timotheus, he condemned the man:

Gal:5:2: Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
Gal:5:3: For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Gal:5:4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Acts:16:16: And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
Acts:16:17: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
Acts:16:18: And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

If the spirit of divination in this woman were evil (i.e. from the Devil) how could it know the future and make accurate predictions? From this it appears that not only does God know the future, but the Devil does as well, and therefore we are merely pawns being moved about as they foresaw. We have no free will!

If this spirit were evil, why did it say that the apostles were servants of God showing the way to salvation? Wouldnít Satan (the "opposer") oppose these men instead of providing free advertising for them?

Acts:16:26: And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Acts:16:27: And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
Acts:16:28: But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Why did the other prisoners stick around when their bands were loosed and their doors opened? Did they wait around for the keeper to rebind them and lock them up? Not very likely.

Acts:17:22: Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

This is the funniest verse in the entire Bible when you realize that itís a Jew speaking to Greek philosophers!

Acts:19:13: Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
Acts:19:14: And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
Acts:19:15: And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
Acts:19:16: And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Jesus claimed that anyone who asked for anything in his name would have their request granted.

Jn:14:13: And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

But as we see, that did not happen for these unfortunate men. They attempted to cast out "evil spirits" in Jesusí name, and it backfired!

Acts:19:19: Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

This was the first of many book burnings by Christians. When one has reason and logic on oneís side, one neednít fear superstitious books; one can prove them false by reason. That is why atheists have no need to burn the Bible. Too bad Christians feel the need to resort to destroying the works of others instead of using reason.

Acts:20:26: Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

How nice that Paul/Saul was able to absolve himself from Stephenís death and the probable deaths of those he threw into prison:

Acts:7:58: And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
Acts:8:1: And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts:8:2: And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Acts:8:3: As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Paul himself admitted:

Acts:26:10: Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Acts:26:11: And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

We now come to an extremely rare instance of Paul quoting Jesus:

Acts:20:35: I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

There is one small problem though: search the Gospels as you may you will never find Jesus saying these words.

Acts:21:4: And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

Acts:21:13: Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

You will recall how Jesus said that all sins were forgivable except the "sin against the Holy Spirit". Christians normally take this to mean that if the spirit is guiding someone and they purposely act contrary to the spiritís lead, then they are "sinning against the spirit". Here, the disciples, "through the Spirit", told Paul that he should not go to Jerusalem. He went anyway. Therefore, Paul sinned against the Holy Spirit: he committed the unforgivable sin.

Acts:21:17: And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
Acts:21:18: And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
Acts:21:19: And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
Acts:21:20: And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Acts:21:21: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Acts:21:22: What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Acts:21:23: Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Acts:21:24: Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Acts:21:25: As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Acts:21:26: Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

Once again Paulís actions demonstrated support for the continued observance of the Mosaic Law (this time for Jewish Christians). Paul agreed to undertake a demonstration to show that he fully believed that Jews who accepted Christianity still were required to follow the old Law! Yet in his writings he took a very different stance:

Gal:3:24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal:3:25: But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Gal:3:26: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Gal:3:27: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal:3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal:3:29: And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

If there is neither Jew nor Greek, then why are there different rules for Jews? If no one was under the Law any longer, why did Paul take deliberate actions to make it appear otherwise? Was he purposely deceiving people in order to get them to join his religion? Apparently:

1Cor:9:20: And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Cor:9:21: To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Cor:9:22: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Cor:9:23: And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

In other words, Paul deliberately resorted to deception. In so doing, he deliberately misrepresented what his religion was all about and what it required. He boasted about having done so! Does this sound like the founder of a religion that you would choose to adopt?

In his defense before King Aggripa, Paul stated:

Acts:26:22: Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Acts:26:23: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

But Moses and the prophets never said any such things!

Rom:1:18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

I have seen many acts of unrighteousness go unpunished.

Rom:1:22: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Rom:1:29: Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom:1:30: Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom:1:31: Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom:2:1: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Rom:2:2: But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
Rom:2:3: And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

After handing out this harsh judgment of others, Paul says not to judge others (especially if youíre guilty of the same things). How many of these things was Paul guilty of? Based on the Bible Iíd say he was guilty of being:

  • "Without understanding". He taught that Jesus came to rid humankind of the Law. Jesus said he had not come to do so. Paul was without understanding of this. In fact, Paul said that everyone was without understanding, and of course "everyone" would include Paul:
  • Rom:3:11: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

  • "Without natural affection". Paul could not comprehend the love between a man and a woman. To him, the only purpose of marriage was to relieve sexual tension.
  • "Unrighteous". Elsewhere, Paul stated that everyone was unrighteous, and "everyone" would include Paul:
  • Rom:3:10: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

  • "Implacable". He "withstood Peter to his face" when Peter declined to eat with Gentiles so as not to offend the Jews. Paul had made similar concessions (going so far as to circumcise Timotheus, the son of a Gentile) but was adamant that Peter was in the wrong.
  • "Unmerciful". Of course this applies to Saul prior to his conversion:
  • Acts:22:19: And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
    Acts:22:20: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

    But it also applied to him after his conversion; he struck a man blind for not accepting Paulís new religion! Hardly an act full of mercy!

  • "Murder" (see above under "unmerciful").
  • "Debate". Paul engaged in many debates:
  • Acts:17:17: Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

    Acts:19:8: And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
    Acts:19:9: But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

    "Deceit". As weíve already seen, Paul pretended to be what he was not, and misrepresented the requirements and practices of Christianity by acting sometimes as a Jew and sometimes as a Gentile. He also repeatedly claimed that he was being tried for his belief in the resurrection (when in fact he was being tried for preaching that people didnít need to follow the Mosaic Law.) Paul admitted to lying in the following verse :

    Rom:3:7: For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

     

Itís interesting to note that Paul did not include "hypocritical" in his list of judgments against others. Perhaps that one hit a little too close to home.

Rom:2:6: Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Rom:2:7: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Rom:2:8: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Rom:2:9: Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
Rom:2:10: But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
Rom:2:11: For there is no respect of persons with God.

Paul contradicted himself here by saying that God judges by a personís deeds. He said the reward of "well doing" is eternal life. This is quite a contrast to the idea of gaining eternal life simply by believing in Jesus!

If the rewards go "to the Jew first", then it simply cannot be true that "there is no respect of persons with God". Along the same line, Paul elsewhere tells us that there is neither Jew nor Greek. If this is true, how can God determine who is a Jew and reward them first?

Rom:3:10: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Paul contradicted James here. James referred to the prayer of a "righteous man":

Jms:5:16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Why would the Holy Spirit inspire James to give such an order if there were no righteous men to carry it out?

Rom:3:22: Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom:3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom:3:24: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom:3:25: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom:3:26: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom:3:27: Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Paul contradicted James again here:

Jms:2:24: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

There has been no end of debates amongst the various Christian sects regarding this contradiction. Are we "saved" by faith, or by works, or by works plus faith? Since different writers had different opinions and their writings have all been collected together in one book and the claim is made for the book that God inspired all of its writing, the dilemma is unsolvable.

As Paul rambled on and on about how Jew and Gentile are justified alike by faith, he made the following odd statement:

Rom:4:16: Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
Rom:4:17: (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

The statement: "Abraham is the father of us all" is simply wrong. Are we to believe that the descendants of every other male contemporary of Abraham died out? Are we to believe that all of the Greeks descended from Abraham? Paul seems to be suffering from a sort of racist megalomania. Then again, maybe heís just imitating his God by Ďcalling the things which are not as though they wereí (i.e. "lying").

Rom:7:7: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

This contradicts what Paul wrote a few chapters ago about the Gentiles knowing sin (without having the law) via their conscience:

Rom:2:14: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Rom:2:15: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

By this admission, the Law was an unnecessary burden upon the Jews.

Rom:7:18: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom:7:19: For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom:7:20: Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

This is what we used to call a "cop out". Paul excused his bad behavior by assigning its source to something other than himself: sin. He gave this "sin" power over him to act and claimed it was not Paul acting sinful; it was "sin" acting sinful! We also used to have a saying like this: "the Devil made me do it!" but that was said in jest: Paul was serious!

Rom:7:22: For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom:7:23: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Here Paul restated a fallacy that was evidently widely held in his time. You will recall that Jesus said something similar about amputating oneís arm or gouging out oneís eye if it led one to sin. Today we know that the members of oneís body do not act of their own accord to cause one to sin. Today we know that it is our minds which send signals to our body members causing them to act. Either we must be smarter today than the Holy Spirit was in Paulís time, or the Holy Spirit never inspired his writing.

Rom:8:13: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

"Mortify" is a word not commonly used today, and with good reason. The dictionary defines it thus:

To discipline (one's body and physical appetites) by self-denial or self-inflicted privation. To practice ascetic discipline or self-denial of the body and its appetites.

I wonder how many Christians today "mortify the deeds of the body"? The so-called "heroes of the Bible" certainly didnít follow this dictum. Abraham had concubines (Gen. 25:6), David had wives and concubines (2Sam. 5:13), and of Solomon we read:

1Kgs:11:3: And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubinesÖ

It is very unfortunate that Paul made up this rule about "mortifying the flesh". Untold millions of Christians have been plagued with feelings of guilt over the simple pleasures of life.

Rom:8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Paul claimed that "All things work together for good to them that love God"! History has proven otherwise. To take one example: millions of Jews who loved God suffered and died horribly during the Holocaust.

Rom:8:29: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom:8:30: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Most people find the idea of predestination abhorrent. Many attempts have been made to make Paul appear to have said something other than what he plainly said here: God predestined those he called to be Christians! That means that no matter how much you may want to be "saved", if God didnít predestine you to be "called" you are out of luck.

Rom:8:32: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Once again the New Testament holds out the promise that God will grant Christians "all things". This, of course, is a false promise.

Rom:8:34: Who is he that condemneth?

The answer to Paulís question is: "Paul"! (Rom. 1:22 Ė 2:1)

If there was any doubt about whether Paul believed in predestination, that doubt is wiped out by the following:

Rom:9:10: And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
Rom:9:11: (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
Rom:9:12: It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Rom:9:13: As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Rom:9:14: What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Rom:9:15: For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom:9:16: So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Rom:9:17: For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Rom:9:18: Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Rom:9:19: Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Rom:9:20: Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom:9:21: Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

One would be hard pressed to come up with a more fatalistic doctrine than this. God chooses to love or hate people before they are even born! God decides to be merciful or "show his power" based, not on the good deeds of a person, but on Godís whim! Paul more or less admitted that this is unjust, but he stopped short of criticizing God, by affirming that the Creator can do whatever he likes. Even if he made us for a dishonorable purpose, weíd better not judge his actions harshly! Letís keep our mouths shut, or else!

Rom:10:9: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom:10:10: For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Paul contradicted himself again here. If someone was not predestined to be called by God (as he previously pointed out) then all the confessing and believing in the world would avail nothing.

Paul contended that "belief" is tantamount to righteousness! He was at great pains to repeatedly point out that good works count for nothing and faith is everything. Such a doctrine hardly makes his religion a force for good in the world. Paulís religious teachings are extremely selfish. He was only concerned with salvation. There are no incentives in Paulís religion for helping others. This is in direct contradiction to Jesusí teachings:

Mt:6:3: But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Mt:6:4: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

If Paul believed that the death and resurrection of Jesus was an historical fact, then why would God count it as "righteousness" if someone believed this historical fact? Wouldnít those who were alive at the time have an unfair advantage over those who came later and who could only rely on hearsay (and very contradictory reports)? Why would it be "righteous" of Thomas and the other apostles and disciples who supposedly beheld the resurrected Jesus for forty days to believe what they saw with their own eyes?

Legend tells us that Alexander the Great parted the Red Sea for his army to cross. If this event ever happened, then those who witnessed it would believe it, and those who didnít would be fools to believe it (since it contradicts known laws of physics). But where would "righteousness" come into play? How could we ever come up with the wild idea that those who believed that Alexander parted the Red Sea were "righteous" due to this belief? Applying this analogy to Jesusí resurrection, we can see that Paulís imputing righteousness to believers is completely unjustified.

Rom:10:13: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rom:10:14: How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Rom:10:15: And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Rom:10:16: But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Rom:10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Rom:10:18: But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Paul contended that the Gospel has been preached "unto the ends of the world". This was as false in his day as it is in ours. Billions have lived and died without ever hearing the "good news" of the Christian Gospel. In Paulís day the world he knew did not even include the American or Australian continents. But it is highly doubtful that Christianity had been preached to everyone even in the limited world Paul knew. If belief in Jesusí sacrifice is the sole means of salvation, then all of these people who never got a chance to hear the name Jesus donít stand a chance. Does this sound like the "Divine Plan" of an "all loving" merciful God?

Rom:11:7: What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Rom:11:8: (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

Now we learn that of those few in the world who actually have heard the Gospel, God blinded and deafened many of them so they "should not see" and "should not hear"! If I were to blindfold you and place earplugs in your ears and then deliver a message to you, would it be right of me to judge you as "unrighteous" for not comprehending my message? This is what Paul told us God has done, and yet we are to believe that this god is all good, all just, and all loving!

Rom:11:25: For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Rom:11:26: And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
Rom:11:27: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Rom:11:28: As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

How can any of this be true if "there is neither Jew nor Greek" as Paul stated in Galatians 3:28? If the Jews will all be saved without believing in Jesus, but just for the sake of their fathers, then God is playing favorites again.

Rom:13:1: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Rom:13:2: Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

This is where the idea of the "Divine Right of Kings" comes from. Paul tells us that the rulers of the world are ordained of God and that we must not rebel against them. Following this advice, the United States should never have become an independent nation; it should not have "resisted" the rule of the English Kingís rulership. According to Paulís words, the Nazi soldiers who pleaded, "I was just following orders" were totally justified and correct in what they did; they were following Godís ordained power and keeping themselves from damnation!

Rom:16:25: Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Once again Paul revealed that he believed God knew, since the world began, that Jesus would have to be sacrificed for manís sin. We have already discussed the fatalistic consequences of this doctrine of predestination.

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