Argument 1: Paul’s immoral views on slavery, women and gays
In Ephesians 6 Paul told slaves to be loyal to their masters, comparing slave-masters to Christ. In 1 Timothy 6, he again advised submission, praising his own teachings by saying that they were a ‘sane doctrine’.
Jesus said by their fruits we shall know them. Paul’s teachings on slavery were used by the Portuguese crown in Brasil when they commissioned Antonio Vieira, a Catholic priest, to produce a slavist theology and to teach slaves to submit to their white Portuguese masters. The theology that Vieira produced was absolutely obscene. He promoted the ‘mark of Cain’ doctrine, whereby blacks were the children of Cain and blackness was a curse. Africa was compared to hell, and servitude to white Christians was the only way to salvation.
Paul also promoted a Taliban-ish attitude toward women: they had to cover themselves up, sit in the back of the church and never speak or teach.
And then of course there’s the long list of false witness that he bore against gays in Romans 1, where he even called gay people assasins, and then he concluded in verse 32 with his stance that gay people deserve to be murdered, as well as those who enable gay people. This is not coming out of the mouth of Reverend Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, but out of the pen of Paul: it was Paul who first wished gays would all just fall dead. There is still consensus among conservative Christians that it is okay to question gay people’s right to exist, although many refuse to admit this problem. But in the dark ages, gays were cooked alive in public and no one experienced guilt, thanks to Paul the Bigot.
Paul’s homophobia was the first thing that made me raise an eyebrow with regards to who he was and what he was doing writing epistles supposedly in the name of Jesus, whom he never met. I would like to share some of the facts that we can glean from scripture on this character, and let each person come to her or his own understanding and conclusion with regards to Paul.
Argument 2: “The lot fell to Matthias“, says the Bible
I believe that the first and most important verse to ponder is Acts 1:22 where Paul’s status as an apostle is flatly denied. When Judas was no longer considered an apostle, the disciples cast lots. Two candidates were considered, none of whom was Paul, and Matthias was chosen as the new twelfth apostle.
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. – Acts 1:26
Argument 3: “But do not ye be called rabbi“, says Jesus in Matthew 23:8
It is clear in the Bible that Paul was no apostle, however he claimed to be one in 2 Timothy 1:11. I wonder how Matthias felt … and the people who chose Matthias.
“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher (rabbi).” – Paul
This verse is also an instance where Paul directly contradicts Jesus, who said: “do not have yourselves called teachers“. By having himself called “teacher”, he was challenging and contradicting Jesus. He clearly did not know that Jesus had said this.
Can someone who contradicts the Christ be considered a Christian prophet or apostle?
Argument 4: “They gave me nothing”
The mutual animosity between the apostles and Paul is evident in numerous verses of scripture: from Acts 9:26 we see that many did not trust or believe in Paul from the beginning. He had this to say about the apostles in Galatians 2:6
“As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn’t concern me. God isn’t impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.”
Let’s brush aside the air of arrogance and jealousy in this verse (which we will see again in 2 Corinthians 11:5) and look at what he is saying. Other translations say ‘they gave me nothing’. The Spanish versions say they ‘taught me nothing’. Now, in those days the only way to learn the good news was hearing it from those who had heard it from Jesus because the Gospels had not been written. We know that Paul never met Jesus. This explains why Paul does not, ever, not even once mention one single teaching, one parable, or one event from the life of Jesus. If the disciples and apostles ‘gave him nothing’, then this can only mean that he basically made up his own gospel.
Argument 5: The vision on the road to Damascus
The claim that he had a vision on his way to Damascus has 3 different versions which all contradict each other in Acts 9:7, 22:9 and 26:14. In one version he falls to the floor, but in 26:14 they all fall to the floor, not just Paul. In one version the others hear a voice and see a light, in another they see nothing. One would think they would remember exactly what they saw and heard. It does not sound like a believable account. Furthermore, this is Christ’s veredict in the Gospels:
“… if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” – Matthew 24:23
Argument 6: Paul’s confession
Paul himself, in his own letters, attests to his own dishonesty. This is as revealing as Jeremiah 8:8!
“Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!” – Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:16
Argument 7: The church in Ephesus
… I know that you … have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. – Revelation 2:2
Here we see that at least one of the authors of the Bible mentions that there were false APOSTLES. Notice that it is not false ‘prophets’ but specifically ‘false apostles’ that are mentioned here. We should then ask ourselves: who claimed to be an apostle without being one?
Revelation 2:2 mentions that at least one church will speak openly about this false apostle: the Church of Ephesus. In 2 Timothy 1:15, Paul himself admits that he had been rejected in Asia … and he concludes this chapter specifically mentioning that it concerned the Church of Ephesus.
The fact that Revelation 2 praises those who rejected Paul (I can’t think of who else they may have been refering to) is even more important and shocking if we consider the fact that this chapter concerns the final judgement. In other words, whoever wrote this was hoping that these verses would be diluscidated in the last days.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. – Matthew 7:15
Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder. – Genesis 49:27
… I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. – Paul, in Romans 11:1
The Toldoth Jeschu Tradition
In addition to the above arguments, NewEpicurean.com recently published a piece calling Paul “the most successful double-agent in history” and asserting “that Judaism has preserved for thousands of years that Paul was deputized and sent out by the rabbis of organized Judaism for the explicit purpose of spreading misinformation among non-orthodox Jews and other converts to Christianity“.
I’m not sure where this tradition derives from, but it certainly is a fascinating account of the origins of Christianity and may help to make sense of some of the contradictions and controversies mentioned above, some of which were also touched and expanded upon in my review of Reza Aslan’s Zealot, where the author also argues the case that there was irreparable animosity between Paul and the apostles, and particularly against Jesus’ brother, who sought to practice a wholly Jewish form of Christianity.
Toledot Yeshu, from Princeton University’s Judaic Studies page