“You only have Paul’s word for being a ‘light to the gentiles’ and let’s face it Paul was known as a liar, he said so.”
“Jesus never tells us to follow Paul. Paul tells us to follow Paul.”
“Paul did not meet the criteria for being an apostle, therefore he wasn’t one except through his own mouth.”
“Why did none of the other apostles or disciples of Jesus ever actually call Paul an apostle??”
“No, the early Church did not accept Paul. He was utterly rejected by the Ephesians, even Paul testifies to that. Ephesus found him to be a false apostle and a liar.”
These comments probably appear strange on a Christian apologetics blog, but they are quotes from recent online discussions I’ve had with people who believe the Apostle Paul was a fraud. Was he? Are none of his epistles to churches of any worth to followers of Christ? What about the the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles? Are they also fraudulent?
I first came across people who didn’t believe Paul was a legitimate apostle of Christ about 40 years ago. However, the anti-Paul sentiment has been around for a lot longer than that. It goes all the way back to the 1st century AD.
“Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 9:1-2
People who believe Paul was a fraud seem to be in agreement that some of the writings of the New Testament should not be there. They are in general agreement that all of Paul’s letters are fraudulent. Most also agree that 2 Peter is a fraud. That’s convenient for them since 2 Peter 3:15-16 supports Paul’s apostleship. There is some divergence of opinion from there. Some of the anti-Paul group believe that all of the Gospels are Scripture, including Luke’s Gospel, some don’t. I find that interesting since Paul mentored Luke. Some who accept Luke don’t accept John’s Gospel. Many of those people also don’t accept John’s letters and Revelation. They are anti-Paul and anti-John. It’s a bit hard to keep up with all of the different nuances of what they do and don’t accept as being God’s Word.
Some of the anti-Paul group don’t accept Luke’s Acts of the Apostles even though they do accept Luke’s Gospel account. Others accept the first several chapters of Acts, but not after chapter 6 because Paul is introduced in chapter 7. Do they believe that Acts 7 – 28 is not part of God’s Word because of some textual reason? Not that I’ve seen. The main reason seems to be that the rest of Acts is pretty much about Paul and they believe Paul is a fraud, so what Luke wrote must be fraudulent. I do wonder why they would trust Luke at all in Acts or in his Gospel account if they think he’s a liar and party to a fraud about Paul. That’s not logical. Luke wrote a long narrative to his friend Theophilus that began in Luke 1 and ended in Acts 28. Why trust any of it if you believe Luke is a liar and manipulator? There is no reason to believe that Luke was a liar and fraud, but if you believe that at least be consistent. If you believe Luke was a liar and fraud, then you can’t and won’t accept either one of his narratives to Theophilus.
For the person who does not accept Luke, Acts, 2 Peter, Hebrews and all of Paul’s letters, I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do to help you. You’ve chosen to throw out every possible piece of evidence that would tell you anything about Paul. That’s like a trial judge who disallows every piece of evidence that would prove the defendant not guilty just because the judge does not want the defendant found not guilty. The court is stacked against the person in that case. The same is true in the way many people handle the evidence for Paul’s apostleship. If the evidence could possibly support Paul’s legitimacy as an apostle of Jesus Christ, they throw it out. That’s not reasonable, logical, ethical or legal, so there’s nothing I can do to convince you because your mind is made up and closed to the possibility of being wrong. You have come to the table of discussion with presuppositions, preconceptions and thick ear plugs. You do not want to know, so you won’t know.
However, if you have questions about whether Paul was an apostle or a fraud and you’re open to looking at all of the evidence, then we can look at the evidence together and see what’s there. Once you have seen all of the evidence you can make your own informed decision about Paul. From talking with many anti-Paul people and reading their literature for years I’m convinced they have not seen all the evidence, have incorrectly interpreted the evidence they have seen and are closed to looking at it with fresh eyes and open minds.
We’ll begin opening the evidence in the next part of our investigation: Paul – Apostle or Fraud.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”