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Paul: Apostle or Fraud?

There are five ministering gifts that Jesus gave to the church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. The question is, are these gifts still in the church today?

There isn't any place in scripture where any of these gifts were made void, so there is no reason to believe they have been removed from the church.

The question at hand is. Do we have Apostles in the church today and was Paul an Apostle?

An Apostle is;
A delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders
a) Specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ
b) In a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers
  •  Of Barnabas, Timothy and Silvanus



Today we don't call anyone an Apostle, but if we look closer, we find the ministry of an Apostle is alive and well.
 
Our Bible was translated into the Latin language in the 300 AD's. The word for “sent forth” in Latin is missionem which when translated into English is missionary. So Missionary is Latin and Apostle is Greek for the same word, the same job.

I believe by definition, Paul cannot be excluded as an Apostle as he was “sent forth” by God to carry the message of the gospel.

(“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” Acts 13:2-4)

 

Did the original twelve accept Paul as an Apostle?

At the counsel in Jerusalem, the other Apostles did recognize Paul as an Apostle.


And when they were come to Jerusalem, they (Paul and Barnabas) were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” Acts 15:4 

There is no doubt that Paul was one sent forth by the Lord. The works that followed his ministry were that of an Apostle. The original twelve Apostles recognized this in his ministry.

 

Did the teachings of Paul Differ from the other Apostles or the teachings of Jesus?

Not at all.

There are those who say that Jesus never intended to start a new religion but to only add to the Jewish traditions. They claim that Paul introduced pagan ideas and formed the new religion of Christianity causing a rift between Jews and followers of Christ. The claim is that Jesus embraced His Jewish-ness while Paul disdained and rejected his.

The fact is that Paul retained his ethnic/cultural identification with the Jewish nation. Both Paul in his personal correspondence, and Luke in the book of Acts tell us Paul’s opinion of his Jewish-ness: 

"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city (Jerusalem). Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers…" (Acts 22:3).

Commenting upon his early commitment to the practices in which he had been trained, he described himself as:
 
"A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee…as for legalistic righteousness, faultless" (Philippians 3:5, 6)
 
Paul was possibly one of the Pharisees Jesus dealt with in His ministry. The Bible doesn’t really say.

The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders had Christ crucified by the Romans because He claimed to be the Messiah. This is what divided Jesus and His followers from the Jews, not any ideas introduced by Paul (years later.) By the time of Paul’s conversion, the Christians were already a separate group, quite divided from the Jews and suffering persecution for their belief in the Divinity of Christ.
 
"How intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it" (Galatians 1:13).
 
Paul was one of the Jews actively persecuting the new Christian church, even holding the coats for those who were stoning Stephen. He had permission from the leaders of Judaism to go to Damascus searching for these Christians to stamp them out.

“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me? "'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. "'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied" (Acts 22:6-8.) 

Paul knew Christ had been crucified. He knew He was dead. He “knew” His followers were wrong. Yet here is that very Jesus standing by him talking to him. He had a conversion experience; from Judaism to Christianity (Follower of Christ).

In Damascus, a Jewish/ Christian named Ananias informed Saul of the work God had in store for him:
 
"You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard" (Acts 22:15).

 Did this experience cause Paul to reject his countrymen?

"I am an Israelite myself," he wrote to the congregation in Rome, "a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin" (Romans 11:1).

No. He continued to claim the ethnic/cultural identification of being a Jew. In fact, whenever he entered a town, the first thing he did was go into the local Jewish synagogue and preach Christ to them. Sometimes they listened and accepted Him too. Sometimes they stoned Paul.
Yet that was always his first action. This in fact was simply following Christ’s example and command. Jesus ministered entirely in Judea and almost entirely to Jews. He commanded;

"You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Or, as Paul later put it, "first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Romans 1:16). 

The new Christians were commanded to begin their ministry with the Jews and branch out from there to the entire planet and all people. But Paul would have preached to the Jews first anyway.

"My heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1).

"I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Messiah for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel" (Romans 9:2-4).

So why would God call a man so thoroughly educated and committed to the Jewish nation to minister so much to the Gentiles?

Simple, No one else could have so faithfully translated God’s scriptures and their meaning to the Greek-speaking converts.

Paul was a scholar in these Scriptures and understood them better than most. He was capable of taking what we call the Old Testament and showing how Christ was the fulfillment of the many scriptures referring to Him. He was capable of taking those same scriptures and applying them to the Gentile world correctly since he had grown up in Tarsus, a gentile city.
A man less educated in the Word and Judaism or more isolated in Judea would not have been able to do this.

There was also a danger that the new Gentile converts would kick the Jewish converts out of the Church. Only Paul could admonish them so effectively:
 
"Do not be arrogant," he warned, "but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches (the Jewish people), he will not spare you either…And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again" (Romans 11:20-21, 23). 

He correctly explained that God only has one “tree” (church). That the “natural branches” the unbelieving Jews, had been cut off and the believing Gentiles grafted in; That God could just as easily cut the Gentiles off if they sin in arrogancey. Only Paul could have properly understood the threat and acted on it with authority.


So what about their teachings?

Did Paul contradict Christ?

Jesus Taught:
"These are the Scriptures that testify about me…" (John 5:39).


"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached…" (Luke 16:16).
Paul said;
"So the law was put in charge to lead us to Messiah (Jesus) that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
 
"Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law" (Galatians 3:25).

Both men said there would be an end to the Law. It had a limited time of usefulness to God.
If you carefully read Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s you will see a harmony. They do not in any way contradict.

Jesus taught that the Law’s usefulness was fulfilled in Him. So did Paul.

Jesus taught to stop sinning. So did Paul.

There are no contradictions.

 

Should Paul be the replacement of Judas as the twelfth Apostle?

There isn't any evidence in scripture to indicate that Paul replaced Judas as a foundation Apostle. Paul was called out of due season.

 

Are the foundation Apostles the only ones qualified to write inspired scripture?

If this is the case, we must reject the books of Mark, Luke and Acts as well as the writings of Paul. Luke was a doctor who learned from other converts well after the time of Christ. Mark was believed to be a student of Peter.

 

Are there other Apostles mentioned in the Bible besides the original twelve and Paul?

“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out.” Acts 14:14

Here in the book of Acts (which was written by Luke) Luke refers to Paul and Barnabas as Apostles. Timothy and Silvanus were also called Apostles.

 

Peter recognizes Paul as being genuine.

Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

 

Should we accept Paul's writings as inspired scripture?

The question is; What are the proper criteria for determining what is inspired scripture?

Some say the writings of Josephus should be accepted. Others say Ellen G. White etc...

Some people accept the Lost Books of the Bible or the Apocrypha.

Most Christians accept the sixty-six books known as the "Holy Bible." There are many translations. Paul's writings are accepted as inspired scripture by almost every theologian in the Christian community and throughout history. Peter endorsed this opinion in the above quoted 2 Peter 3:15-16. Paul’s writings harmonize not just with Christ’s teachings but with the entire Bible.


There is no reason to not accept Paul’s writing as inspired scripture.