( for or for )
"Bad News Paul"
feature the good news of Jesus
for all kinds of needy people,
Paul's epistles contain
a lot of bad news for the weak,
i.e. Jews, slaves, women, the poor and
gays; but good news for some in power.
See Part One : for|
St. Paul's defense of slavery
and his put-downs of women,
and Part Three:
[Scholars don't all agree that all of the following passages really have to do with homosexuality as we understand it today. But I am quoting them all here because most conservatives use these passages for the purpose of condemning homosexuals.]
"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God."
"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me."
Although Romans 1:26–27 is often quoted as a condemnation of homosexuality, the homosexual behavior is viewed by Paul as punishment for sin, rather than sin deserving punishment. the actual context, i.e. Romans 1:18 thru 2:3 is an amazing diatribe against all kinds of people which concludes with a warning against doing what he himself has just done, i.e. judging other people harshly!
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those (non–believers) who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four–footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason (and as punishment earned) God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error." And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God–haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God's decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die–yet they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them."
Notice how, after railroading all kinds of people to hell, this supposedly "inspired saint" turns on a dime and tells everybody else in effect, "Don't do as I do; do what I say"?
"Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, "We know that God's judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth." Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?"
Paul had a habit of giving often very good advice that he didn't follow himself, as when he said, for example:[ Romans 14: 10 – 13 ]
"You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before Godís judgment seat. . . So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another."
"So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, 'God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.' And David says, 'Let . . . their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs forever bent.' So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous."
13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers."
"if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise. My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted. Friends, I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are."
"For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God's wrath has overtaken them at last."See the use that the Nazi Christians made of this very passage :
In the view of many Jewish scholars, Paul of Tarsus is much more responsible than Jesus of Nazareth for the antagonism Jews have experienced from "Christians" over the centuries.
I found the little book, "The Mythmaker" by the Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby to be thoroughly enlightening on this matter. He led me to the conclusion that because the "New Testament" was written by Jews, for Jews, it takes a Jew to really understand it.
Maccoby calls Paul "The Mythmaker" because, much of what Paul wrote doesn't stand up to close and careful scrutiny. He made it clear, for example, that Jesus could hardly have had a hard time with the "Pharisees" of his time, because he himself was a typical Pharisee, i.e. a "free–thinking", liberal, biblical scholar. The type of religious people Jesus who would have naturally opposed what he represented would have been the rivals of such scholars i.e. the Jewish priesthood, who were charged – not with study or teaching – but with ceremonial tasks at the temple on the one hand and on the other with civic responsibilities within the Jewish community, including law– enforcement and judicial matters.
Maccoby also shows how Paul and his friends used their connections to make the Jews and the Pharisees look bad not just in his own "Epistles", but in the Acts of the Apostles and even in the Gospels, but that in fact it was the priesthood that employed Paul to persecute Jesus' followers not the Pharisees. Far from Paul being the Pharisee that he claimed to be, this Rabbi Maccoby shows that Paul had more likely been a rival of the Pharisees.
If Jesus wanted to teach what Paul claims to be teaching "by his authority", he could have done so. But time and time again, his teaching was very different, as this page shows. Take this instance recorded by Luke, Ch. 10: 39–42
"Now as they went on their way, he (Jesus) entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.' "To see the truth on this matter, according to the Gospels, read WhatWouldJesusThink.info/WhoKilledChrist.html.
According to Luke 9: 49–50, Jesus also wasn't big on imposing religious discipline on others (another example of his liberalism) :
When John told Jesus, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us." Jesus replied, "Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you."
" Now here is a command, dear brothers, given in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ by his authority: Stay away from any Christian who spends his days in laziness and does not follow the ideal of hard work we set up for you. For you well know that you ought to follow our example: you never saw us loafing; we never accepted food from anyone without buying it; we worked hard day and night for the money we needed to live on, in order that we would not be a burden to any of you. It wasn't that we didn't have the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to show you firsthand how you should work for your living. Even while we were still there with you, we gave you this rule: "He who does not work shall not eat." Yet we hear that some of you are living in laziness, refusing to work, and wasting your time in gossiping. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we appeal to such people – we command them – to quiet down, get to work, and earn their own living."
( to be fair to Paul, he was clearly writing only about people who are too lazy to work for their living, not about people who cannot find gainful employment for whatever reason, or who find it unjust to be required to "work for peanuts", which is simply one small step above slavery.) But Conservatives often use Paul's words as though unemployed people should not be given food to eat, regardless of the reasons they are not profitably employed. And if God inspired those words of Paul. I would think that he would have anticipated that these words would be often misused in this way!
The passage below was cited above as evidence of Paul's contempt for women, but it also provides help for Conservatives who can't stand the idea of sharing their own prosperity with those less prosperous than themselves:
"Honor widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they (these children) should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God's sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints' feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge."
In his 1st letter to the Corinthians, 1: 17 – 2:15, Paul claimed that God was anti–intellectual by putting his own words in God's mouth ( ) :
"For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.' ( Isaiah 29:14 "The wisdom of their wise shall perish,
and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden.") Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
2:1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual, discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny."
Christian Conservatives claim to believe that all of scripture is equally inspired by God. That would apply especially to their favorite Bible author, Paul, who gave the following perfectly clear instructions, regarding unconditional obedience to one's political leaders, in his
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience.
For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them–taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. "
All of those who really believe that this passage is inspired and inerrant have no choice but to support "the divine right" of tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Min, Castro, Milosovich, Saddam Hussein and all the other monsters to stay in power for as long as God allows. And that includes King George III of England, to whose current successor, Queen Elizabeth, we American Christians should insist we be subject to. Far from allowing anyone to try to remove such rulers, this "Word of God" according to Paul compels "Christians" to respect and obey such rulers : "there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. . . Therefore, whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed." Paul doesn't allow for the slightest bit of "interpretation". He drives home his point over and over again, that we should treat any and all rulers as God's very own appointees to whatever office they hold, be it governor, king, emperor, president, prime minister, secretary general, or Führer. No "if's", "and's" or "but's" !
"The doctrine of the divine right of kings, came to dominate mediśval concepts of kingship, claiming biblical authority [ Epistle to the Romans, chapter 13 ]". [ from http://www.answers.com/topic/ roman-catholicism-s-links-with-political-authorities ] .
Rather than supporting their oppressed subjects, Christian churches have a long record of supporting the arbitrary and dictatorial rulers of those subjects, so long as they in turn were supported by those rulers. The rare exception, as in the case of the Soviet Union, is when those dictators opposed the power of the church itself.
In World War II, the Christian churches of Germany had no problem applying this teaching of Paul's to the Nazi dictators – who were clearly evil, but pretended at least to be on the side of Christianity –. Yet, because the Soviet Union made no pretenses about being Christian, the Church didn't entertain for a minute the idea that Romans 13 might apply to Communist dictators, even though Paul addressed his teaching to Christians living under the boot of a pagan emperor at the time.
In June of 2018 I came across article [http://www.ccu.edu/centennial/2016/09/biblical-justice-civil-disobedience] where an Australian conservative scholar named Brad Hughes went to great lengths to promote "civil disobedience" against modern (liberal) government efforts to promote "Social justice" (because it) "is typically an instrument of the state and is a distortion of what the Bible teaches". He writes, " Biblical justice is based upon the deontological (objective or absolute) authority of God while social justice is based upon the utilitarian (subjective or relative) authority of man. . . . It is important to understand that the laws of a nation may oppose biblical precepts and the responsibility is incumbent upon the Christian to pursue civil disobedience in an effort to mediate wrong behavior. . . . Sadly, some biblical teachers assert that Romans 13:1 commands the Christian to obey the government leaders in all circumstances and that rebellion against authority is wrong." proves to what lengths conservative pseudo-Christians will go to mis-lead their followers into shunning the teaching and example of Jesus in favor of that of Paul of Tarsus,
Paul instructed his disciples not to allow anyone's message to compete with his: "Even if an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be cursed."[Gal 1: 8)
What if it was the Son of God who preached a different message?
There are many wonderful, perhaps even "inspired", passages in Paul. On balance, it may even be possible to defend Paul, by quoting other passages which he wrote. But the fact remains that his writings contain many passages that have provided and continue to provide biblical justification for some of the worst of Conservative bigotries. And bigots don't look for the total picture. They take what suits their evil purposes wherever they can find it, even when the context shows that they are misinterpreting a quotation. Knowing that, how can anyone imagine that God would allow his name to be attached to the treasure trove of bigotry found in the writings of Paul of Tarsus?
Conservatives aspire to control as much as possible of the behavior of others, while pursuing as much freedom as possible for themselves. Even when Conservatives don't have power over others themselves, they like others being controlled. They like "law and order", which rarely means control of the powerful few for the benefit of the many, but rather control of the masses, for the benefit of the powerful few. Paul provides Conservatives with ways to think of themselves as morally superior to everybody else, thereby giving them at least "spiritual" superiority (and some sort of authority) over others. For many Conservatives, it doesn't seem enough for them to feel morally superior to others. Such people can really relate to Paul, because he enables them to feel proud rather than ashamed about being just like the Pharisee whom Jesus contrasted to the "Publican" or "tax–collector":
"Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt :
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.'
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'
I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."
While Jesus warned his followers not to be like the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not a sinner like the miserable "publican", Paul has provided his followers over the centuries with plenty of examples and teaching to be expert Pharisees, such as:
" Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God."
Far from encouraging the male chauvinism of the times and of middle eastern culture, Jesus demonstrated a remarkable respect for women. He seemed to go out of his way to interact with women, and especially with women of ill repute or of other cultures. Click here to see ALL of the instances of the word "woman" in the Gospels. Here are the two most noteworthy of those passages:
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him–that she is a sinner." Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "Speak."
"A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
When pious Religious Leaders demanded that Jesus follow the Bible's teaching and impose the death sentence on the woman "caught in the very act of adultery," instead of condemning the adulteress, Jesus condemned her conservative prosecutors!
"Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him."
What an amazing chapter this is.
It's packed full of worthwhile lessons:
First, if there's one behavior that Jesus couldn't abide, it was sinners playing down their own sins while playing up someone else's. In this instance, the sin of one party (the adulteress) was being used by a second party (the even more sinful religious right hypocrites), to bring harm on a guilt–free third party (Jesus himself).
Then, there's a point so obvious that Jesus may not have felt it even necessary to emphasize. But, as the father of seven daughters, I wish Jesus had asked these sanctimonious male accusers explicitly, "Was this woman alone at the time of this adultery?"
And finally, there's the magnificent way in which Jesus turns the table on the hypocrites doing the accusing, and puts the judges themselves on trial :
"Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."
Now "Liberals Like Christ " invite you to study in their own words the tremendous contrast that exists between the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth (and James) versus that of Paul of Tarsus regarding the crucial matter of Salvation "by Faith alone" or "Grace" vs. "by Faith shown in Works"
Paul is the typical Conservative. While striving for as much freedom as they can get for themselves, they strive for as much control over others as he can get. And even when they aren't the ones exercising that control themselves, they like others being controlled by traditions, rules, regulations and laws anyway, especially when those rules don't affect them. e.g. the treatment of African Americans, women, children, gays, immigrants, those convicted of crimes whether justly or not, and those even suspected of criminal behavior. They like "law and order"– which inevitably means control over the many who are weak, not over the few who are strong.
" In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God. Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my own opinion, as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife."
If your parents were Christians, aren't you glad they didn't follow Paul's teaching on this score? you wouldn't be here, if they had. Doesn't it make you wonder how much else of Paul's teaching didn't come from the Lord?
One of the reasons that Paul is so difficult to understand is that some of his teaching can't be reconciled with his own teaching, let alone that of James and Jesus. It's hard to imagine that the angry, judgmental author of all of the passages which we quoted above is the very same man who penned the famous passages below:
"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus"and
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. . . faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
And here is Paul's rather Liberal approach to the observance of holy days, such as the weekly sabbath, and dietary laws as spelled out in the "Word of God" :
"Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own Lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
. . .10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."
15:1 We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God."
As I was creating a web page addressing the contrast between Jesus' directions (to the original 12 apostles) to avoid all titles of honor, and the practice of the Catholic, Episcopal and Orthodox hierarchies of our day (www.JesusWouldBeFurious.Org/callnomanfather.html), it struck me how "St. Paul" was used to justify the setting aside of Jesus' clear teaching.
For a very extensive and insightful study of the comparison of the teaching of Paul of Tarsus versus that of Jesus of Nazareth, in their own words, on the very important matter of faith and works relative to salvation, see
Most people assume that, because the Gospels about Jesus appear before the Epistles of Paul, they must have been published in that order. But fact is that – Paul's Epistles were published decades earlier. For many years after I learned that, it didn't make much difference to me. But now I wonder how Paul of Tarsus could have become "the leading man" of "Christianity" in those early years, and yet never be mentioned a single time in any of the four Gospels!
And I wonder how did Paul's instructions to his disciples not to allow anyone's message to compete with his( "Even if an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be cursed." Gal 1: 8) effect their view of the subsequent emergence, one by one, of the four Gospels?
So which of these versions of the story do you believe ?
Should we believe the Gospels, which say that Jesus hand-picked and then carefully trained 12 Apostles to lead his movement after his passing, and although Saul of Tarsus was alive and available for the job, Jesus didn't pick him.
Or should we believe Paul's Epistles and the Acts published by Paul and his allies which say that, no sooner had Jesus left the scene Jesus than appeared to him in a vision and hand-picked him to take over everything but the church in Jerusalem.
And after the year 66, when the original church was dispersed, along with what was left of the Jewish people and religion, virtually nothing was left of Jesus' work, but Paul's churches.
When the Gospels were written and published (after Paul's Epistles had been published, how could they not once mention the name of the one whom, according to Paul, Jesus had chosen to be his "Apostle to the Gentiles" (i.e. the whole world outside of Israel)?
And if Jesus chose Paul to be his top salesman, as laid out in Paul's Epistles and the Acts of the Apostles, how could Paul publish all of his letters before a single one of the four Gospels was published, without quoting any of Jesus' public teaching?
So which of these versions of the story do you believe ?
|Acts 9:7 Those present at Paul's conversion heard the voice but saw no one. ? or||Acts 22:9 They saw a light but did not hear a voice.|
|Acts 9:7 the one that claims that "Those present at Paul's conversion stood".||Acts 26:14 or the one that says "They fell to the ground.|
|Acts 9:19-28 . the one that says that "Shortly after his conversion, Paul went to Damascus, then Jerusalem where he was introduced to the Apostles by Barnabas, and there spent some time with them (going in and out among them)" or the one that says that ".||Gal. 1:15-20 He made the trip three years later, then saw only Peter and James."|
See Part One : for|
St. Paul's defense of slavery
and his put-downs of women,
and Part Three:
There is much more where this came from at