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  • Caleb Chamberlain

Part II: Paul on Trial: A Response to “The Paul Paper”

Updated: Apr 30, 2021


Continuing with the topic of The Paul Paper, these next few arguments (#12-#17) deal with Paul's name and his position as Apostle.


If you have not read the first part of my response, you can find it here.


I pray that this is a blessing to you the reader, and that this will be used to correct bad thinking, bad history, and bad conclusions about our brother Paul.


As I did with the first, I will preface their arguments with TPP (The Paul Paper), and my responses with CC.


Let's begin.


 

#12 “From Paul to Saul”?


TPP: This is more a note than an evidence really, but I want to address the change from Paul to Saul. There is this story regarding Paul that he, like Abraham and Jacob, had a major life event that changed him, and resulted in being given a new name to reflect a new life. This is not actually true and is a part of what I am choosing to at this point call the “Pauline mythos”. In actuality Acts 13:9 is the first mention of him being called Paul, and it merely says, “Saul, who was also called Paul”. This in and of itself is not a big deal, but I think it bears mentioning that we seem to have attributed things to Paul that the scriptures themselves bear no witness of. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, but Saul did not become Paul.


CC: I think you mean “From Saul to Paul.” In any case, I agree that there is no evidence suggesting that his name was changed by YHWH, and so I don't know why it needs to be brought up in the first place. Perhaps the need to bring this up stems from a claim (as you call it, a story) that Saul's name was changed to Paul.


So real quick, where does that claim come from? It seems to be a misunderstanding or an assumption without real consideration for the events. The simplest explanation is that he had two names to begin with. “The custom of dual names was common in those days,” and this is all the more evident as we see with the other disciples of Jesus having more than one name, and as was already pointed out in Acts 13:9, “Saul, who was also called Paul…” I think we are in agreement that Saul is Paul, and there was no divinely appointed name change, and so there is no need for such a "Pauline Mythos" in the first place.




 

#13 Apostolic Criteria


TPP: According to Acts 1:21-22, The criteria for being an apostle was that they had to have been with Yahusha from the time of his baptism in the Jordan, until He ascended. Paul was not a follower at this time, as we know, and therefore would not have been with Yahusha for any of that time. Therefore Paul does not fit the criteria laid out by the apostles, to be called an apostle. This also makes sense because the apostles were to be pillars of the church, entrusted with the message and will of Yahusha, that He directly entrusted them with. Someone who was not with Him the whole time, would not have heard and understood all of His teachings, and so could have taught something contrary to Yahusha’s words and will.


Many claim that Paul met with Yahusha on the road, but as stated earlier, none of the text declares this, as he merely (allegedly) heard the voice of Yahusha. Even if this was the voice of Yahusha, it still does not qualify him to be an apostle according to the criteria found in Acts 1. Some have even attributed to Paul that the whole time he was blind, that

he was having visions of, and was being taught by Yahusha. This too is a part of the Pauline mythos that has no basis in scripture and is once again, people trying to attribute things to Paul, outside of scripture, to make sense of him not fitting the criteria.


CC: Using Acts 1 in this way, and according to this line of reasoning, some of the original 12 Disciples themselves would be disqualified. What do I mean by that, you may ask? Well before I get to that, let's review what Acts 1 says.


21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.


Okay, so what is being said here? Is it saying that no one can be an apostle if they do not meet these criteria? First, what is even being discussed? What is the context? They are discussing who is going to replace Judas Iscariot (v12-20). Keep that in mind.


Now let's list what is being said. The man who replaces Judas must be:

  • one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us

  • beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he he was taken up from us

  • one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection

According to the above claim, a few things are set as requirements for one to be called an Apostle, right? So no one who does not fit these criteria can be an Apostle, right? Well, no. And here's why. according to the second point in the supposed criteria for Apostleship. If an Apostle must have been there for the baptism of Christ, then Simon Peter is disqualified according to John 1:41. If you recall, Jesus was baptized in John 1:29-34, and it isn't until the next day in John 1:35-42 that Jesus begins calling his disciples. It is Andrew who sees Jesus, who then tells his brother Peter that they have found the Messiah. Therefore, according to the above line of reasoning, Peter is disqualified from being an Apostle. Unless, of course, this isn't a criteria for who can be considered an Apostle, rather who can be considered to replace Judas Iscariot, which is the context of Acts 1.


Furthermore, it isn't until after his baptism that Jesus begins calling his disciples, and so most of them would be disqualified on that criterion alone, further proving that the above criteria was not set in place for who could be an Apostle, but merely for who would replace Judas Iscariot.


To insist, that "[s]omeone who was not with Him the whole time, would not have heard and understood all of His teachings, and so could have taught something contrary to Yahusha’s words and will" is to insert additional content into the text that was never discussed... anywhere.



Another point, and this is the last thing that I'll touch on with the supposed criteria, is the last point regarding the resurrection isn't even a criterion. It says, "one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection" referring to Joseph or Matthias, meaning that this qualification is simply stating that whichever man is chosen must now become a witness for Christ, and was not necessarily a prerequisite for their apostleship. This was to be the main job of the person chosen to replace Judas. Though I have no doubt that if either man was with them from the beginning that they would have been a witness to the resurrection, the passage more indicates that this will be their role and was not necessarily a qualification. So in summary, the criteria laid out was purely a list to see who would replace Judas - you can even argue these criteria were derived from their common sense, and not at the prompt of the Spirit or through some revelation - and not who could ever be called an Apostle.


Lastly, Timothy, Barnabas, James the Lord's brother (Paul calls him an apostle in Galatians 1:19, and he was a skeptic until after Christ's resurrection, so there you go!) and so many more were titled “Apostles”, and we find no evidence that this is ever a problem. It is only a problem if you already assume that there is a problem. In the end, the argument fails in that just because Paul was called an “Apostle” it does not mean that he was "one of the 12" or some addition to the core 12, somehow breaking scripture, or more critically that he was a false apostle. The logic just does not follow. I find this whole contention ultimately a non-point.


For more information, here is a list of all Apostles listed in scripture. There are at least 25 (2 are unnamed) and possibly more.


By the way, did you know that Jesus was also an Apostle according to Hebrews 3:1, which makes sense because an Apostle is simply "one who is sent".


 

#14 The True Apostle to the Gentiles


TPP: Peter, not Paul, was clearly identified in scripture, through multiple means, as being the apostle to the gentiles. Peter received a vision 3 times, went to Cornelius, and saw his household saved. He clearly declares that the reason for the vision was that the gentiles were no longer unclean. (Acts 13) Later at the Jerusalem council he declares again that he was ordained by the spirit to be the apostle to the gentiles. (Acts 13:7-9) Compare this with Paul’s assertion that allegedly he agreed with Peter, James, and John, that he would be go to the gentiles, and the 3 would go to the circumcision. (Galatians 2:9) This would suggest one of three options. Either Peter got a mandate from the spirit to preach to the gentiles and 1, Peter decided to disobey; 2, God changed His mind about choosing Peter; or 3, Paul lied. Of the 3 options, Paul’s lying seems to be the most plausible answer. God doesn’t make mistakes and change His mind about what He plans and ordains. Peter after having announced it was his job to go the disciples wouldn’t have been able to back out of it so easily. The other disciples and the rest of them at Jerusalem would then be questioning if Peter lied about the vision, or if he was being disobedient to the Spirit. Therefore Paul lying seems the be the only logical conclusion. Thus Peter, is in fact the true apostle to the gentiles, not Paul.


CC: There is no issue with Paul being a “sent one” to the Gentiles. So was Timothy (inferred by 1 Thess 1:1, 2:6). So was John (he lived in Ephesus and so would have been an Apostle to the Gentiles, and tradition has it that John actually started the first community in Ephesus). So was anyone that was sent to talk with Gentiles.


Just because Peter said he would talk with Gentiles at one point does not mean that no one else could be sent to talk with Gentiles. Think about the scope of the task. The Gentile world was so much greater (in quantity) than that of the Jews. Do you really think that only one man was an apostle to all the nations/Gentiles? This also isn’t any sort of evidence that Peter never spoke to Gentiles again. After all, tradition has it that Peter was crucified in Rome. If he stayed with the Jews, that is a long way to take someone to crucify them when they could have just taken him to the same place as the Messiah. And so, the more likely case is that Peter was still an Apostle to the Gentiles, and even still THE Apostle to the Gentiles as he took the fight to the heart of Rome. The Catholics will love that bit.


Contrary to the opinion that no Apostles (namely the Apostle Paul) could go to the Gentiles, we instead find that Paul, Barnabas, Barsabbas, and Silas were sent to the Gentiles by the other Apostles in Acts 15:22-23, ending in 35, indicating quite clearly that other Apostles (including our beloved brother Paul v25) could go and preach to the Gentiles.


Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.

...

But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.


 

#15 Paul’s Relationship with the Apostles


TPP: Paul did not really get along with the actual apostles. When Paul first approached the apostles after his supposed conversion, they were wary of him, and even sent him away. In fact the verse after they sent him away says the Ecclesia in that general region had peace after he was sent away (Acts 9:26-31). A question this brings up to me, is would the apostles really be afraid of being put to death after Yahusha’s death and resurrection, and after publicly debating with governors and pharisees that would have been able to potentially bring about their deaths anyways? It seems unlikely that the reason they feared Paul was based solely upon his past with persecuting followers of the way. Now, on the opposite point, according to Acts, Paul and Barnabas were given platform to speak during the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:12), however, this is the same chapter, where we see something a bit odd, in that Peter seemingly calls the law an unbearable yoke (Acts 15:10). If it was merely the traditions of the pharisees at that time, there wouldn’t even be any dispute as to whether or not they should follow the traditions of the pharisees as this was something Yahusha frequently taught against.


Now this seems a good time to address something else. We know the writer of the book of Acts was Paul’s traveling companion, and author of one of the 4 canonical gospels, Luke. Luke (contrary to common belief) was not actually an apostle and in fact never met Yahusha at all. Luke, according to all scholars on the subject, was merely a Greek Historian and doctor, who seemingly believed in Messiah and was intrigued by the growth of the early Ecclesia. Now we know that it was the Catholic church that compiled our Bible and decided what should and should not be included. Personally, I see no mention of Luke by the works we know to be written by the apostles, and therefore I have begun to treat Luke’s writings the same way the mainstream Christian church treats Maccabees, or the writings of Josephus in that they are good to reference historically, but are not necessarily inerrant. Further, as Luke was a personal companion of Paul, and had at that point traveled with him for quite a while, likely had a desire to see his spiritual leader and friend painted in a favorable light. This however is merely speculation on my part.


Moving forward on this point we have quite a bit of evidence against Paul’s relationship with the apostles in Galatians 2. Galatians 2:1-2 starts out with Paul claiming he had presented the gospel that he had been teaching to the apostles in private to see if he was teaching the truth, or if it had been in vain. Then he immediately shifts gears in verses 3-5, to boast how Timothy wasn’t circumcised, and claim that there were some who had encroached upon their “liberty” which apparently means liberty to break the commandments of Yah, or so it would seem. In verse 6 Paul clearly states that the apostles who “seemed to be something” (then claims it doesn’t matter who they were, God shows no favoritism, but back to that in a moment) added nothing to him. Yes, Paul boasts that he learned nothing whatsoever from the apostles, the pillars of the Ecclesia.


Now on the note of God not being a respecter of persons, this is true, that Yah does not judge a person based upon the respect they have from men, but judges each one equally and fairly, we also know that He is the one who establishes authorities (Daniel 2:21, John 19:11). On this note, Yahusha personally chose these men, and walked with them, taught them, ate with them, instructed them, and entrusted to them the Gospel that was to be preached throughout the world. These men were given their office of authority and the responsibility to build the church, by Yahusha Himself as the last order he gave before He ascended to heaven. So if we wanted to make the argument that Yah is not a respecter of persons, while this is true, he does respect positions of authority that He Himself institutes and establishes. This would be like some random new convert to the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament going to King David, whom Yah personally chose to be king, and claiming he had just as much authority as King David, because God

isn’t a respecter of persons. This is absurd in the extreme and appears to be nothing but self promotion and shameless self ambition.


But getting back to Galatians, in verse 7 Paul claims that Peter had been given the gospel for the circumcision, which again, was after the vision, and salvation of Cornelius’ house hold. So this appears to be a blatant lie. Verses 8 and 9 echo this idea again, that Peter, James, and John would go to the circumcision, and he to the gentiles. In verses 11-13 he boasts that he withstood Peter in Antioch, (If Peter agreed to stay with the circumcision, what was he doing in Antioch?) and then claims that Peter transgressed because of men from James. In this he efficiently did 3 things; First, he boasted of his ability to withstand one of the apostles who were no doubt looked up to as leaders. Second, threw both Peter and James under the bus, because apparently the issue arose from men that came from James. Third, he gives himself the appearance of being above the other apostles as he blatantly calls them all hypocrites. Now, we will return to this passage later, because there is much more to be said here, but for now, it serves to show that the relationship Paul had with the actual apostles was questionable at best.


One final note is that Paul claims that he was sent away by the disciples because of their mutual agreement that he would go to the gentiles and they would stay with the circumcision, however if they did not agree that he should go to the gentiles (as it was clearly Peter’s office), it looks a great deal more like they merely sent him away, for a second time, and he was trying to make it look as if he hadn’t been thrown out of Jerusalem.


CC: Addressing the first paragraph, the context refutes this point. First, here is the whole passage of Acts 9, and then we'll get into why there is no evidence of any animosity or strife between the other brothers and Paul.

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.


31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.


Let me quote to you what was said in The Paul Paper to bring things into focus.


Paul did not really get along with the actual apostles. When Paul first approached the apostles after his supposed conversion, they were wary of him, and even sent him away. In fact the verse after they sent him away says the Ecclesia in that general region had peace after he was sent away (Acts 9:26-31).


Now, let’s list the order of events from Acts 9.


  • Paul comes to Jerusalem. The believers are afraid because of who he is and what he had done to other believers in the past.

  • Barnabus takes Paul to the disciples to see him and hear of his conversion.

  • Paul preaches among them in Jerusalem.

  • He speaks against the Hellensists. They try to kill him.

  • The brothers learn about it, and bring him to Caesarea and send him to Tarsus.

  • There is peace.


There isn’t much to say about the above argument other than that it is just so blatantly false, and filled with fluff to make it seem plausible, when in reality there is no evidence to substantiate any of these arguments. As was stated, "In fact the verse after they sent him away says the Ecclesia in that general region had peace after he was sent away." Whether intentionally or unintentionally - and honestly, at this point it is hard to see how this isn't intentional - the passage has become so twisted to suit the narrative. The context shows that the statement is just plain false. “The church throughout [these areas] had peace and was being built up” (v31) in no way suggests that they were relieved that Paul was gone. In fact! Paul was preaching among the brothers in Jerusalem (indeed it was being built up!) up until the point that he was sought by the Hellensists. The context in no way shape or form indicates that the brothers, the disciples and apostles among other believers, had issues with him after hearing his story. The opposite is even suggested by the passage. They were worried about him! And because they were worried about him, they sent him away from the Hellensists who were seeking his life.


This carries forward into the rest of the arguments. In regard to the second paragraph, yes, it is pure speculation. And in regard to the rest, I'll cover this topic in more depth in #22, and hopefully by #29 we can put most of these speculations to rest. But for now, and until those articles are completed, let's keep to the current topic of Paul's apostleship.


 

#16 Paul’s Lack of Apostolic Approval


TPP: There doesn’t seem to be any confirmation from any other source that Paul was approved as an apostle, or even had the blessing of the apostles to spread the gospel (more on that in a moment). Now there is a passage in 2nd Peter that claims that Paul’s writings were considered on par with scripture, (2 Peter 3:15-16). Now this is a study unto itself, but nearly all scholars and historians agree that the book of 2nd Peter was not actually written by Peter. There are 2 primary reasons for this. First, the vocabularies we find in 1st and 2nd Peter are completely different and the vocabulary and subject matter in 2nd Peter mirrors that of Jude. I don’t remember the exact numbers off the top of my head, and the article I found took a bit of digging, but of some 900 words used in each of the letters, they only share 200 in common, and the other 700 are exclusively used in each letter. This means the author of 1st Peter, (verified to be Peter) and the author of 2nd Peter (unknown) have vocabularies that are completely different. They offer the possible explanation that Peter used different scribes to write his first and second letter, but this possibility is overshadowed by the second issue with 2nd Peter, the time frame for the circulation of the letter.


Now it is claimed that Peter wrote his second epistle at the end of his life, and 1st Peter near the beginning of the growth of the Ecclesia. The issue with this is that 2nd Peter went into circulation long after the death of Peter. Now one could make the argument that the letter was written but simply didn’t get released or distributed until later, but within the letter are contained warnings that would have been important for those he was

writing to to receive at the time. Basically, nobody writes an important warning, and then just sticks it somewhere in their belongings until later. A warning is meant to be given and read as soon as possible as it would be an attempt to minimize potential damage to the church. Now if Peter had it written, and then he died, it still would have been the responsibility of the scribe of that letter to see that it was sent out as soon as possible, and the death of the apostle who dictated it would’ve, in my opinion, only strengthened the sense of duty to see that letter delivered, in a sort of last wishes kind of way. People who argue in favor of the Petrine authorship of 2nd Peter use the argument that there doesn’t appear to be any motive for including a pseudepigraphal letter, but I disagree. It is the only book that claims that Paul’s letters were scripture, and so Paul, or one of Paul’s followers, or even the Catholic church themselves, would have had tremendous motive for mentioning that Paul’s letters were scripture as Paul’s letters were the only ones who even give off the hint that the law is not important, but we will look into this more later.


One last thought on this subject of 2nd Peter’s verification of Paul’s letters as scripture, is that nowhere are Peter’s, or James’ or John’s letters cited as being scripture. They were written as, and cited as, letters. Now I believe we can base doctrines off of these letters as I have yet to come across any doctrines in 1,2,3 John, 1 Peter, James, and Revelation, that are not found elsewhere whether in the Gospels, in the Tanakh, or both, also the Gospel and teachings of Yahusha were entrusted to each of these men by Yahusha Himself, but even then, we have no writings that point to their letters being scripture. I find it suspicious, that the author of 2nd Peter singles out Paul’s writings as scripture. If it was written by Peter, and Paul was considered a disciple, wouldn’t it have been easier to just say, be careful of twisting the letters from the apostles? Or just in general, be careful of twisting scriptures? Paul isn’t the only one who’s writings are able to be twisted and manipulated, so I find it highly suspect that Paul’s writings in particular are mentioned specifically as scripture.


CC: See #14 and #15; I will also address this later in #29.


I’ll also address the issue with 2 Peter’s authorship with a quote from Bible.org.


How does one account for this difference in style if they have the same author? In comparing the letters we find that Peter used a secretary, or an amanuensis, to compose 1 Peter, while no such mention of one is made in 2 Peter. This would explain why 1 Peter’s Greek is so polished, and why 2 Peter, written by the rugged fisherman himself, is more rough. It should be noted that Paul also used an amanuenses.


It is universally accepted that 1 Timothy and Titus have the same author. Same figures and similarities (referred to in the above link) between 1 Timothy and Titus as there are for 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Your point holds little water when analyzed critically, and is only an issue if you want to remain unjustly critical of the text.


Now, if scholarship can be provided suggesting that 2 Peter is not authentic, then we can have an informed discussion. I do know that some scholars attribute this work as pseudepigraphal, however that is not a unanimous consensus.


Let me allow Evidence for Christianity to speak here,


The question is, did Peter write this book? The letter itself purports to be written by Peter. It uses the first person throughout. It is not unheard of for people in the first century to write pseudepigraphical books, but one does not get this impression for 2 Peter. However, this is a matter of opinion. The late second century church ascribed the letter to Peter. There is a likely allusion to the book in 1 Clement, which was written about AD 95. If this is correct, then this certainly moves the date of writing into the first century and, given the use of the first person and the early date, almost certainly makes Peter the author.


As a general statement, the books of the New Testament were accepted by the 2nd century church because of a consensus that they had apostolic authority. Clearly the second century church assigned apostolic authority to this book, but not with absolute unanimity.


Bottom line, you will have to accept at least some ambiguity on the evidence for 2 Peter. What we can say is that it is reasonable to conclude it was written AD 68 or earlier by the apostle Peter, but the honest view on this is that this is not proved. You can respond to your friend that the preponderance of the evidence puts 2 Peter in the first century and that it is likely liberal bias rather than the evidence which attempts to move it into the second century. However, the honest truth is that we do not know with absolute certainty.


A note about the above in regard to TPP's insistence that "The issue with this is that 2nd Peter went into circulation long after the death of Peter." If Evidence for Christianity's statement is true, and there is allusion to 2 Peter in 1 Clement, then the idea of a late circulation is without merit. However, I was not able to find anything on this topic, so I would need to see the evidence for this claim to have a clearer opinion on it.


There is one other theory about the authorship that you can read about here:


In the end our confidence in the truth of the letter does not rest on the uncertain hypotheses about authorship, but on the power of its message to change us and its coherence with other apostolic teaching. What we mean when we say that New Testament books like 2 Peter are inspired by God is that God guided the minds of the apostles and their agents so that what they wrote as teachers in the church was true.


 

#17 Paul’s apostolic title


TPP: “Paul, an apostle” seems to be the opening of the majority of Paul’s letters. Only some differ from this opening, and even if they differ, they inevitably identify Paul as an apostle later on in the letter. Now, interestingly, there are 22 times throughout the canon that Paul is called an apostle. Only 2 times of the 22 was he called an apostle by someone other than himself. This means 30 times he proclaimed himself to be an apostle. It’s like he woke up one day and decided to call himself an apostle and never stopped. Now regarding the only other 2 times he was referred to as an apostle, both other times were by his personal traveling companion, Luke. This was a while after he had been introducing himself as, and signing his letters as, the apostle Paul. Luke, being both his personal friend and historian, likely used the title as a way to differentiate which Paul he was referring to, and give his friend a bit of added validity. Even if not, and he genuinely believed Paul to be an apostle, Luke did not have the authority to make such a judgement, and as brought up prior, Paul did not fit the criteria to be called an apostle anyways. If I call myself the president, it does not make it so as I was not elected in, and don’t fit the criteria to be so. Likewise Paul cannot call himself an apostle, when those who could have elected him in did not, and he does not fit the criteria to be so.


CC: Speculative reasoning, which is to say that the inference is inherently unfounded given the reasoning I have provided in #13 and #14. I will also address this later in #29 where I will dive into the external support for Paul in the the post-Apostolic, pre-Nicene church writings.


 

This wraps up Paul's Apostolic credentials and approval, though more will come near the end of these articles, as I've mentioned about #29. In the next article(s), we will address more sensitive topics regarding Paul's (mis)use of Jesus' teachings, the Gospel, and signs and miracles. I'm not sure if these will all be a part of the same article, or split up, but I aim to provide a thorough response to each point.


Sincerely,

Caleb Chamberlain, a follower of our Lord, The Ultimate Dragon Slayer, Jesus the Christ

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