Paul – faithful follower of Jesus or inventor of a new religion?

This is an excellent article just published on Many Prophets, One Message – A Call to The Truth

footprints

The Old Testament is filled with numerous commandments (‘mitzvot’ in Hebrew), 613 in total to be precise, and in Judaism one’s standing as a believer is measured by one’s keeping of the commandments. Total obedience to the Law of Moses is God’s covenant with the children of Israel and the core message that all the Israelite Prophets brought. By contrast, Christianity teaches that whether you are Jew or Gentile, one’s standing as a believer is not based on rigorously keeping God’s laws, but rather on belief in Jesus. From this point of view, you can say that Judaism is characterised by the Law, and Christianity by its lack of it. We can see that a major distinguishing factor between these religions is that of their attitude towards the Law of Moses, and it’s all because of one man – Paul. He is seen by Christians as an Apostle of God and he claims that his message was divinely sanctioned and represents a new covenant that replaced the old Mosaic one.

Just what did Jesus himself teach about the Mosaic Law? This is a question that many don’t stop to consider. Is the message of Jesus and that of Paul one and the same? What was the outlook of the earliest followers of Jesus on the Law? These are just some of the questions that we are going to explore in this article, and the answers shake the very foundation of Christianity.

Jesus Practised and Preached the Law of Moses

Christians today view Christianity as representing a complete and total break from Judaism with the arrival of Jesus. Nonetheless, if we analyse the teachings of Jesus, we will find overwhelming evidence that, throughout his ministry, he was a Torah observant, obeying the Law and teaching others to do the same. His attitude towards the Law is exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount where he makes his position unequivocally clear:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:17-20]

We can see that Jesus links righteousness and success in the Hereafter with obedience to the Law. Now, Christians might argue that Jesus is simply saying that the entire Law will be in effect until he dies (“until everything is accomplished”). But Jesus is saying more than that; his followers must obey and teach the Law. None of it will pass away until the world is destroyed (“until heaven and earth disappear”). Jesus does not say, “Keep the Law until I die.” He says he did not come to destroy the Law; it is still in effect and will be, for as long as heaven and earth last. This sermon was perfectly in line with the teachings of the Old Testament:

And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that (for this purpose) He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us. [Deuteronomy 6:24-25]

Just how righteous does one have to be? Jesus set a standard in his sermon. One’s obedience to the Law has to exceed that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (“unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven”). But why is this the case? There was a real problem with the righteousness of the religious leaders of his day. The heart of the matter was that their righteousness was defective, in that it was external only. They appeared to obey the Law to those who observed them, but broke God’s Law inwardly, where it couldn’t be seen by others. Notice Jesus’s scathing denunciation of their hypocrisy in making a show of religion:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. [Matthew 23:27-28]

Where many Christians jump to wrong conclusions about Jesus and the Law is in his confrontations with these religious leaders. Jesus was not pitting himself against the Mosaic Law. These confrontations were never over whether to keep the Law, only over how it should be kept. It must be noted that Jesus fully acknowledged the teaching authority of the Pharisees and advised others to follow what they teach, but not to act hypocritically as they did:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” [Matthew 23:1-3]

In actual fact, Jesus went a step further and extended the parameters of the Law. His move was to give a deeper and fuller understanding, to cover underlying attitudes and not just behaviours. For example, one of the most important commandments was not to murder. Jesus increased the scope of the Law to cover not only the act of murdering someone, but also anger towards others:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. [Matthew 5:21-22]

So far from abolishing the Law, Jesus actually made its practice even more rigorous.

How Jesus’s Earliest Followers Viewed the Law

In addition to the life and teachings of Jesus, there is further corroborating evidence for his pro-Law stance. It’s to be found in the beliefs and practices of his immediate followers. The Book of Acts attests to the apostles’ regular attendance at the Jewish Temple:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. [Acts 2:42-47]

If these early Christians had been breaking the Jewish religious laws, then they would not have been welcome in the temple courts, and they would not have enjoyed the favour of the other Jews who had come to the temple to worship.

Here the description of the disciple Ananias as a “devout observer of the law” chosen by God to heal and baptise Saul (Paul) clearly confirms that the followers of Jesus had not yet abandoned the observance of the Law:

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. [Acts 9:10-11]
A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. [Acts 22:12]

We can see that Ananias was living in Damascus, far away from the Jerusalem Temple which was the centre of Jewish religious life, and yet he was still devout to the Law. Obviously, he considered obedience to the Law to be important enough, despite living outside of the Holy Land.

This attitude also extended to the close family members of Jesus. We are told that James is the flesh and blood brother of Jesus: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” [Matthew 13:55]. James preached a message of total obedience to the Law. He believed that one should not comply with the Law partially, keeping some commandments and breaking others. Rather, one should try and keep all of it as breaking part of it is equivalent to breaking all of it:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. [James 2:8-11]

James’s teachings mirror those of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. James was not just the brother of Jesus, but also a senior leader among Christians. Paul acknowledges his seniority: “James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship…” [Galatians 2:9] Some years after his conversion, Paul pays a visit to the elders in Jerusalem. By this time many thousands of Jews had become believers in Jesus. The elders of Jerusalem describe (in a seemingly proud boast) the state of the believing Jews in their large congregation as being “zealous for the Law”:

When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.” [Acts 21:20]

We’ve seen that the earliest believers in Jesus were, for all intents and purposes, Jewish. At this early stage, Christianity was just another movement within Judaism, not a separate religion. This is another piece of evidence for the Law-centric teachings of Jesus, for if the students of Jesus, his apostles and family members, had this positive attitude towards the Law, then it stands to reason that their teacher, Jesus, also had it.

Two branches of Christianity begin to emerge

Soon after Jesus departed an event took place that would change the face of Christianity, and the world, forever. According to the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus, or Paul as he is more commonly known, was a zealous Pharisee who intensely persecuted the followers of Jesus. Although he never met Jesus in person, he claims to have encountered him in a mystical vision on his travels and received instructions that he should stop persecuting Christians. Paul was to be God’s chosen instrument to proclaim the message of Jesus to the Gentiles.

Immediately afterwards, Paul began to preach to the Gentiles about Jesus. With Gentiles becoming Christian in large numbers for the first time, an important question now arose: what is their status with regard to the Law of Moses, did it apply to Jew and Gentile converts alike? In other words, must non-Jews become Jewish in order to become Christian? In the eyes of Jesus’s original Jewish followers, any Gentile who wanted to become a follower of Jesus was, in fact, becoming a follower of Judaism. But as Paul’s evangelism brought in ever-larger numbers of Gentile converts, the issue of just how far these converts had to go in order to become followers became very contentious. New Gentile believers who were men would, quite understandably, want to put off circumcision, if at all possible. Jewish believers, on the other hand, were concerned that relaxing the circumcision requirement could potentially lead to an abandonment of all the requirements of the Mosaic Law. As Paul’s ministry grew, the issue became increasingly urgent. Was any relaxation of the Law of Moses possible in these new circumstances? These are the questions that the Jerusalem Council was called to resolve. Chapter 15 of the Book of Acts goes into detail about this significant event:

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. [Acts 15:1-2]

We can see that this issue over the Gentiles and the Law was causing friction between Paul and other believers. The Council is convened and Paul attends it, along with the apostles and other elders of the Jerusalem congregation. Paul brings the Jerusalem congregation the news of his evangelising to the Gentiles and their entering into the faith:

The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. [Acts 15:3-4]

The Pharisaic Christians adopted a very strict view:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and elders met to consider this question. [Acts 15:5-6]

Circumcision was closely linked to following the Jewish law. The strict view among the Pharisaic Christians was that it was necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the whole of the Law of Moses. The disciple Peter, however, took a much more lenient view:

After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” [Acts 15:7-11]

Peter’s statement to the Council about “putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear” was in reference to circumcision. It was intended to point out that the Pharisees were trying to lay a burden on the Gentile men that none of the Jews themselves would have been physically strong enough to endure. In fact, the Old Testament alludes to how painful it was for an adult male to undergo the ritual of circumcision. Adult circumcision was never required of the Jewish disciples of Jesus because they had been circumcised on the eighth day after their birth in accordance with the Law of Moses.

It is James who proposes the compromise:

The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up… “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” [Acts 15:12-21]

We can see that James agrees with Peter that Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised, though they should abstain from eating food offered to idols, strangled animals and blood, and from committing fornication. These are all ancient regulations found in the Law of Moses. In the section of the Law given in Leviticus 17-18, known as the Holiness Code, these same requirements are listed:

Acts 15 table

It is quite telling that James looked to the Old Testament for guidance on this issue. Notice that the Old Testament verses above apply to Israelites and “aliens” (foreigners or strangers) living among them. Rather than cancelling or withdrawing these Old Testament regulations, their scope is extended by applying them to the Gentile believers who do not live among the Israelites. Clearly, in the sight of James, the Law was considered to be important. A question then naturally arises: why didn’t James apply the whole of the Law to the Gentile believers, and does this prove that the Law was ultimately meant to be abolished? The answer is absolutely not, because God’s covenant as a whole in the Old Testament was specifically with the Israelites. What James did was take the four ancient commands from the Old Testament which applied to “aliens” living amongst the Israelites and logically equate them to the Gentile believers who were viewed as outsiders.

The apostles and elders agreed with the decision made by Jesus’s brother James which indicates that James held a very senior position in the Jerusalem congregation. They put his decree in a letter that was to be distributed to the Gentile believers via Paul and his companion Barnabas:

Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell. [Acts 15:22-29]

It’s important to spend some time analysing this monumental event as it has many implications on the origins of modern Christianity. First, the outcome of this Council is that there was now a two-tiered church; one of Jewish believers in Jesus obedient to the whole of the Law, and another of Gentile believers who were only under obligation to keep those parts of the Law as decreed by the Council. We’ve seen that this decision was not arrived at easily, for there were many different opinions on the question of whether the Gentiles had to obey the Mosaic Law. Some believers took the strict opinion that the Gentiles should follow the whole of the Law, including circumcision. Disciples such as Peter took the more lenient view that circumcision was too difficult a requirement for the Gentiles. Ultimately, a middle position was adopted, with James making the authoritative decision that Gentiles should follow some aspects of the Law, not all. It is quite telling that James and the other Law-observant believers looked to the Old Testament for guidance on this issue. We’ve seen that rather than cancelling or withdrawing the Old Testament legislation that governed Israelites and aliens (foreigners or strangers) among them, James and the apostles actually extended their scope by applying them to Gentile believers not living among the Israelites. So, the Law was obviously still considered to be important in the eyes of the apostles and elders even after the departure of Jesus. Had Jesus habitually violated the Law, or had Jesus instructed them that it was okay to do so, then no-one would have objected to a complete abandonment of the Law by the Gentiles. But Jesus was Law-observant, as were all of his earliest followers, including Peter and James.

The Parting of the Ways

We’ve seen that on the Jerusalem Council, Paul submitted to the decision taken by the apostles and elders that Gentile believers were to observe some aspects of the Law. Now, when we turn to Paul’s own writings, a troubling picture emerges. What is clear from Paul’s personal writings is that at some point after the Jerusalem Council, he started preaching a radically different message from that of the Jerusalem congregation. Whereas Jesus and his earliest followers taught righteousness through the Law, Paul started to promote a message of righteousness apart from the Law:

Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. [Galatians 2:16]

So, according to Paul, no-one can be justified by obedience to the Law. A question then naturally arises: if no-one can become righteous through the Law, then why did God bother to give it to Moses in the first place? Paul offers the following reason:

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, that (for this purpose) every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin. [Romans 3:19-20]

Apparently, the purpose of the Law was to make man realise that he is guilty before God. In other words, it’s to prove to us that it’s impossible to keep the Law. This not only goes against Jesus, who believed that it was possible to keep, as he preached a message of total obedience to it, but also the Old Testament where God is clear: it is not too difficult to obey the commandments of the Law:

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. [Deuteronomy 30:11-14]

Paul even went so far as to say some very negative things about the Law. Here he calls it a curse:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them. [Galatians 3:10]

While Paul acknowledged his past zealousness in obeying the Law, he regarded all such efforts as garbage:

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. [Philippians 3:4-9]

Again, such negativity is at odds with what Jesus taught about how obedience to the Law makes one greatest in the kingdom of heaven, as well as what the Old Testament teaches about obedience to the Law bringing God’s blessing and prosperity:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. [Deuteronomy 30:15-16]

Now, one may think that all such writings by Paul were directed to Gentiles only and do not apply to Jewish believers in Jesus. But this is not the case, as Paul clearly stated that in his eyes there is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile. In fact, he thought that the only Israel that God recognises anymore is a spiritual Israel made up of both Jew and Gentile who are no longer bound by the Law and live primarily by faith:

For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek…  [Galatians 3:27-28]
For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. [Romans 7:5-6]

It must be reiterated that Paul’s anti-Law sentiment isn’t just restricted to Gentile Christians; he applied it to Jewish believers in Jesus as well. This is in direct conflict with the apostles and elders who practised the Law and expected other Jewish followers of Jesus to do the same. Now Christians may argue that the Jerusalem Council decree was merely provisional or temporary. They may think that, yes, initially Paul agreed with the apostles and elders that Gentiles had to obey some aspects of the Law, but then at a later stage they all changed their opinions. However, this is not the case, as we see that towards the end of his life, Paul visited Jerusalem again and met with the same apostles and leaders. During this visit, Paul re-confirmed his commitment to the Jerusalem Council decree:

When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul:

“You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them. [Acts 21:17-26]

Notice the charge that the elders brought to Paul’s attention, “They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses”. By submitting to the elders’ command to undergo a purification ritual, Paul made a public declaration that he was loyal to the Law of Moses and innocent of all such allegations. Also, notice that the elders re-iterated their decree from the Jerusalem Council; the Old Testament laws pertaining to “food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality” were still binding on Gentile believers. As readers, we are left with a perplexing situation – how is it that Paul denies the allegations of abandoning the Law and submits to the decree of the church elders in person, but preaches a message of Lawlessness for both Jews and Gentiles in his writings? It seems that either Paul is being deceitful to the elders, or that the history of the early Church, as it is recorded in the New Testament, is unreliable. Both scenarios are highly problematic for Christianity.

In any case, despite Paul’s willingness to undergo the self-purification ritual, he continued to inspire hostility in those ‘zealous for the Law’ – who, a few days later, attacked him in the Temple. “This”, they proclaim, “is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our Law” [Acts 21:28]. The ensuing riot is no minor disturbance:

The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. [Acts 21:30-31]

Paul goes on to be rescued in the nick of time by some Roman troops who arrest him. Paul is subsequently put on trial in a Jewish court. Now the most fascinating thing about this whole episode is what is not said. At no point do we find the apostles of Jesus or elders, such as James, coming to Paul’s rescue during the mob attack, despite the fact they and their supporters numbered in the thousands in Jerusalem, nor do they come to his defence at his trial in the Jewish court. The explanation that they were perhaps scared to show their public support doesn’t work, as not only were they ardent supporters of the Law, a position that would have carried favour with the mob that attacked Paul, but these were men who were not afraid to stand up for the truth, even if it cost them their lives. This is according to Christian tradition which holds that many of these same apostles and elders would go on to be martyred for their beliefs at the hands of the pagan Roman Empire. Could it be that they believed that Paul was guilty of preaching against the Law, a fact we know to be true based on his personal writings? This would be the most rational explanation for their complete absence and seeming abandonment of Paul in the rest of the incidents that the Book of Acts narrates.

To demonstrate just how divergent the beliefs of Paul and the Jerusalem congregation had become, let’s focus for a moment on the issue of eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. We’ve seen that the Jerusalem Council explicitly and unconditionally prohibited such a practice for Gentiles; yet, Paul breaks away and makes it permissible:

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. [1 Corinthians 8:4-8]

Paul’s reasoning is that since an idol is not a real thing, there is no harm in eating such meat. In doing so, Paul not only goes against the decision of the Jerusalem Council, but also other writers of the New Testament such as the author of the Book of Revelation where allusions to the Jerusalem Council decree can be found in multiple places:

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. [Revelation 2:14]
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. [Revelation 2:20]

It’s important to point out that the Book of Revelation comes at the end of the Bible and was the last book to be written, indicating that the prohibition on idol meat was still in place long after Paul authored his works. An outright prohibition on idol meat was even understood by Christian communities that existed after Paul. For example, the work known as The Didache is an anonymous early Christian treatise, dated by most modern scholars to the first century [1]. It’s seen as an early Christian church manual of sorts, and it has this to say on the permissibility of idol meat:

Now concerning food, bear what you are able, but in any case keep strictly away from meat sacrificed to idols, for it involves the worship of dead gods. [The Didache 6:3]

The early Christian apologist Justin Martyr, considered a saint in the Catholic Church, stated that Christians must “abide every torture and vengeance even to the extremity of death, rather than worship idols, or eat meat offered to idols.” [2]

In the clash of ideologies between Paul and the other believers, the emergence and evolution of what we call Christianity stood at a crossroads. Had the understanding and practices of the apostles and elders remained dominant, then there would be no Christianity at all today, only a particular species of Judaism. Yet, what was a heresy within the framework of Judaism was to become the orthodoxy of Christianity. Just how did we go from this situation, where Paul’s strand of Christianity was in a minority, to its position today, where it has absolute dominance and is considered the mainstream? While it’s beyond the scope of this book to delve too much into why Paul’s strand of Christianity ultimately ‘won out’, we will briefly mention some factors that may have served as catalysts. The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE by the Romans would have no doubt been devastating to the Jerusalem Christians. The Temple was at the heart of their daily lives with its courts being used for important rituals such as worship and animal sacrifices. For Gentile converts, the rigour and legalism of Judaic Christianity stood in stark contrast to the freedom that Pauline Christianity offered, an attractive prospect to those coming from a hedonistic pagan background. We can only speculate as to why Pauline Christianity ultimately triumphed, but what we can be certain of is that it by no means represented the views of Jesus or those who were closest to him.

One oddity worth highlighting is the amount of ‘shelf space’ that Paul takes up in the New Testament. We’ve seen that Paul was very much a secondary figure in Acts, with leaders such as James, the brother of Jesus, taking much more senior and even dominant roles over him. Recall that Paul submitted to James’s decree at the Jerusalem Council, and even underwent the purification ritual at the command of the elders when he was confronted with the rumours of abandoning the Law. Yet, we have the strange situation of important figures like James having very little space in the New Testament, just one short letter that is the Epistle of James, whereas Paul by comparison dominates its pages; he is by far the most prolific New Testament writer, with almost half of the 27 New Testament books attributed to him. Such an imbalance reflects just how dominant Pauline Christianity had become by the time that the New Testament came to be canonised.

Conclusion

Who would have best understood the true message of Jesus, individuals such as Paul who never met him during his ministry on earth but claims to have experienced him in a vision, or the companions and family members of Jesus, such as his brother James, who were nearer to the source and knew Jesus personally in a way that Paul never did? Their understanding of his message is based on living and speaking with Jesus, and not unverifiable mystical experiences on the road to Damascus. We can look at their handling of the Jerusalem Council incident to get an insight into the mission of Jesus. Recall that there was initially a lot of disagreement among the apostles and elders as to how to deal with the sudden influx of Gentiles, specifically on the question of whether they must follow the Law. We saw that in coming to a decision, there was no reference to any of the teachings of Jesus. Why didn’t Jesus leave behind some instructions for how to deal with Gentiles? Apparently, the teachings of Jesus had nothing to say on this matter at all. In addition, if Gentiles originally were the target audience of Jesus and part of his mission all along, then, given the critical importance the Law had played in the lives of Jews since the time of Moses, surely the first question the apostles and elders would have asked Jesus is, “when we eventually come to evangelise to the Gentiles, what is their status with respect to the Law?” This is not what we find though; they had to convene a council in order to settle this question. This indicates that the sudden influx of Gentiles into the religion was an unplanned and unexpected turn of events and not something that Jesus had prepared them for, hence the friction that was happening and the disagreement over how to deal with them.

The Qur’an also supports this understanding as it reveals to us that Jesus was primarily sent to the Israelites and not the whole world: “He will teach him [Jesus] the Scripture and wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel, He will send him as a messenger to the Children of Israel…” [3:48-49]. Just as with the Trinity and the crucifixion, this is yet another stumbling block that the Qur’an removes, paving the way for the Jewish people to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The Qur’an presents a picture of Jesus that is in line with Jewish expectations of the Messiah, one whose target audience was the Israelites and one who would uphold the Law of Moses. Now, if Jesus was just another Israelite Prophet intended for the Israelites, then where does this leave Gentiles, the non-Jews? Are non-Jews really permanently outside of the fold of God’s covenant? The Jewish people don’t have a monopoly on God’s revelation, for Jesus brought glad tidings of the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a momentous individual who would be a light for the entire world, Jews and Gentiles alike.

References

1 – The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 482.

2 – Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin With Trypho, Chapter 34.

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Categories: Bible, Christianity, History, Islam, Judaism

57 replies

  1. OMG…the sheer size of this thaanng! Amazing, absolutely amazing! If I was a hot girl, I would marry Abu Zakariya!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The quran establishes absolutely no connection between itself and the previous scriptures. It almost completely ignores the majority of OT prophets, uses alien names for jewish prophets, shows ignorance of specific OT and NT books, has no idea who the apostles of jesus were, makes no mention of YAHWEH personally leading the ancient hebrews out of Egypt, nowhere does it make reference to the Apostle Paul by name, or even in passing, and the list goes on.

    The claims of the quran to be an additional revelation have as much credibility as the book of mormon.

    Like

    • The NT, with it’s misquoted OT texts (dozens upon dozens of examples) ; unavailable autographs (originals); textual corruptions ( such as 1st Epistle of John 5:6-7; Mark 16: 9-20; Gospel of John 7:53-8:11 etc); false prophecies ( my favourite 1st Thessalonians 4: 17, Dr Ehrman; Dr James Tabor, Prof James McGrath, are a few notable scholars who agree it is a false Prophecy, including Prof Licona) and deliberate misquotations as well as tons of geographical errors and internal contradictions ( for instance Mark 2:26 perfectly contradicts 1 Samuel 21:1, attempts at ”harmonization” have been refuted by Dr Ehrman and Mike Licona) is evidence that the Bible is not the word of God. The claims of the NT to be additionally revelation to the OT is demonstrably false and rejected by the chosen people of God.

      The NT has less credibility in the eyes of the Israelites than the Baghwat Gita. The NT is utterly rejected by 1.7 Billion Muslims as an ”abomination unto the Lord”. Add to the mix, honest Christian Scholarship and the NT is left in the dustbin of history.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I used to be a hardcore Trinitarian Christian until I came up the objective facts of scripture and history: Paul is a false prophet. His death in the Toilet whilst he was taking a Shit was even more shocking to handle, than the fact that he was rejected by the disciples of Jesus. I personally know at least a dozen Pastors who left Christianity because of Paul.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Avi

      Where in the quran does it establish beyond any shadow of a doubt that it is part of the revelations of Yahweh?

      You are avoiding the uncomfortable fact that the quran displays an almost complete ignorance of the previous scriptures. At best, you could argue that Christians should revert to Judaism, but nothing in the article, nor in your comments shows that the quran has any connection to the previous scriptures, nor that it has any unique revelation that we should take notice of.

      It sounds like mere human speculation on faiths that it was only familiar with through orally transmitted fables and judeo-christian apocrypha.

      Like

    • The arrogant christians are still comparing a cult in their religion with Islam which has destroyed the spirtual & physical idols in their religion. How dare you?!

      Quran has every thing to do with the orginal Torah & Injeel.
      Quran is a divine revelation, light, and guidance for the human status which includes many sort of thoughts and beliefs. Quran has nothing to do with a systemic belif in one region, for example. Quran deals with the status as it is by confirming it if it’s true or destroying it if it’s false.
      James White wants Quran to deal with the book of hebrew! Find who wrote that book first!
      Your NT which is by large human made books has dealt with the OT by excluding verses from their context to produce new nonsene meanings. Even it got it wrong with references and geographic places.
      Man, Islam has changed the history of humanity with no comparison by any thing in the history. How dare you to compare it with that cult that you cannot discuss with even!

      Like

    • Abdullah

      The quran is man-made. That is obvious to anyone who isn’t brainwashed.

      There is nothing divine about the quran, nothing about its prophet that qualifies him as a prophet, and nothing unique about his “revelation”.

      So again, where has the quran established its connection to the previous scriptures? Nowhere are jews or christians commanded to kiss a black meteor, nor to walk in circles around a tent. And nowhere are we called to repeat mindless prayer incantations. The quran is ignorant about much of the content of the previous scriptures.

      So why shouldn’t we revert to judaism? That is the argument of the article – it just doesn’t realize it!

      Like

    • Kev,
      You’re an ignorant in your own bible, especially the OT, so what makes you be qualified to talk about Quran?

      Like

    • Abdullah

      Even the article can’t establish that the quran has any connection to jesus – it argues for reversion to judaism because it cannot show that the quran has any authority or connection to the true scriptures.

      Like

    • Kev, it seems from your questions like you either haven’t read the Quran or i misunderstood your questions.

      Does this verse answer your question regarding the ‘connection’ between the Quran and previous scriptures?

      He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.
      Before, as guidance for the people. And He revealed the Qur’an. Indeed, those who disbelieve in the verses of Allah will have a severe punishment, and Allah is exalted in Might, the Owner of Retribution.[Surah 3:3-4]

      ”It almost completely ignores the majority of OT prophets”

      The Quran portrays the prophets in a far better way than the OT. It specifically names 20+ OT prophets and gives them an introduction.Moses [The most important OT prophet] is the most mentioned prophet in the Quran. I don’t see your point here. Where are the honorary mentions of the prophets in the NT?

      ”uses alien names for Jewish prophets”

      Says the guy who calls the prophets by their English names.

      ”shows ignorance of specific OT and NT books”

      So you want the Quran to address all the books in the OT and NT specifically?

      ”has no idea who the apostles of Jesus were”

      So you also want the Quran to specifically mention the apostles and paul?

      ”makes no mention of YAHWEH personally leading the ancient Hebrews out of Egypt”

      I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a joke or you really haven’t read the Quran. I think two verses would be enough to respond.

      And [recall] when We saved your forefathers from the people of Pharaoh, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord.
      And [recall] when We parted the sea for you and saved you and drowned the people of Pharaoh while you were looking on. [Surah 2:49-50]

      ”The claims of the quran to be an additional revelation have as much credibility as the book of mormon.”

      It’s funny how the Jews say the same to you. In the end, no one really cares about your opinions.

      Liked by 3 people

    • hashim K

      “The Quran portrays the prophets in a far better way than the OT.”

      LOL!!!

      Please tell me the details of these prophets’ work for god – according to the quran that is. You won’t find much.

      In this regard the quran is like the drunk loudmouth in the pub boasting about all these people he knows but can’t go into any detail about them because he doesn’t actually know them but is regurgitating nonsense he heard from some other drunk loudmouth in the pub last week.

      “Says the guy who calls the prophets by their English names.”

      I’m not claiming to have divine revelation – allah is supposed to be the all-knowing god, so why doesn’t he know the proper hebrew names of these prophets he claims to know about?

      “So you also want the Quran to specifically mention the apostles and paul?”

      Yes. The quran is supposed to correct the Gospels but it is ignorant of Paul whom you guys claim actually corrupted them. Surely the quran should have mentioned Paul in front of allah begging for mercy for his sin? Yet, allah has no idea that this guy whom muslims get so worked up about even existed.

      “I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a joke or you really haven’t read the Quran. I think two verses would be enough to respond.”

      The bible says that god’s presence and multi-personal being led the hebrews out of Egypt. the quran makes vague, sweeping claims that seem like a cliff-notes version of events that sound like second-hand story telling. Allah’s sloppy seconds are not convincing.

      As you should be able to see by now, the quran has no connection to the previous scriptures.

      Like

    • Avi,
      In regard to Paul, you wrote that, “His death in the Toilet whilst he was taking a S**t was even more shocking to handle,….”

      I have never heard or read this story, can you provide more information or a link, as I had always understood he was beheaded in Rome, although it is uncertain. It would be interesting to see another theory on his demise.

      Like

    • Where is your proof that Judeo-Christian Apocrypha is false? Or are you relying upon your theological presuppositions, as a guide upon which you decided which apocrypha is false and what is not? Or are you relying upon blind faith, which you believe is that God guided Constantine and others with him, including fire-worshippers to make the right decision in canonization? Why do you deny this right upon others, while insisting to have it for yourself? You have faith that the Holy Spirit guided those who canonised the Words of God.

      So you use FAITH to PROVE THAT another FAITH-CLAIM IS TRUE!! WOW!! UNBELIEVABLE!

      Like

  3. Kev Answer this First:

    You Affirm the Following:

    1) God is Trinity

    2) Jesus is God

    3) Jesus is not Trinity

    This makes no sense. If Jesus is God; God is a Trinity, therefore Jesus must be a Trinity! If he is not, then he is not God!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Avi

      Great logic!!!!!

      A triangle is made up of three lines, therefore a line is a triangle. LOL!!

      You don’t believe in the trinity because you can’t reason logically. Not Jesus’ fault.

      And I’m still waiting for you to show me where the quran establishes beyond any shadow of a doubt that it has any relation to the previous scriptures.

      Like

    • The Analogy for the Trinity is now a Triangle? Are you certain that this view is not heretical?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Avi

      Still can’t get your mind around logical reasoning?

      Like

    • ”’You don’t believe in the trinity because you can’t reason logically.”’

      I think you mean ‘because we CAN reason logically.’

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hashim wrote…

      “I think you mean ‘because we CAN reason logically.’”

      I say ok lets test that shall we.

      Is logic eternal, have the laws of logic always existed?

      Like

    • Where did Avi go? What about your sorry attempt at a logical argument? Is one of the lines that make up a triangle also itself a triangle?

      LOL!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Is one of the lines that make up a triangle also itself a triangle?”

      That’s what some trinitarians claim. And the opposite both at the same time. It’s not funny. Sad.

      Like

    • Burhanuddin1

      That’s what some trinitarians claim. And the opposite both at the same time. It’s not funny. Sad.

      Trnitariğans claim that jesus is a line? Or a triangle?

      Like

    • whatever suits them

      Like

  4. Kev,

    Which previous scriptures? The Old and New Testaments?

    These are evidently not the previous scriptures originally revealed to the Prophets. You have to show first how the Old and the New Testaments relate to the previous original scriptures before asking Muslims to show how the Qur’an relates to the fake scriptures you have.

    The Qur’an informs about the original pt virus scriptures that they were revealed by God. Then the Qur’an informs that the scriptures in the hand of the Jews and Christians are not the original ones but contain something for on the original ones.

    So, now answer the all-important question about your trinity posed above.

    Like

    • Correction:

      The Qur’an informs about the original pt virus scriptures that they were revealed by God.

      Should be”

      The Qur’an informs about the original previous scriptures that they were revealed by God.

      Like

    • hussaini

      These are evidently not the previous scriptures originally revealed to the Prophets. You have to show first how the Old and the New Testaments relate to the previous original scriptures before asking Muslims to show how the Qur’an relates to the fake scriptures you have.

      Rubbish.

      Muslims are making the claim of corruption – you have to show from the islamic sources why and how this is the case. The quran provides no evidence.

      Like

  5. Thanks brother Aliyu for the correction. It is the problem of auto-correct.

    Like

  6. Kev,

    Just because you are ignorant of what the Qur’an says about the corruption of the “scriptures” in the hands of the Jews and the Christians doesn’t mean that it is “rubbish” if any draws attention to it.

    Islamic scriptures attest to the fact that you don’t have the original previous scriptures and the science of textual and literary criticism bears witness to this fact.

    You people just assume your scriptures to be authentic by default and go on to judge others according to these false scriptures.

    Liked by 3 people

    • hashim

      No seriıous scholar looks to the quran to establish the historicity of the Old or New testaments. The quran clearly lifts materials from pagan fables, jewish talmudic writings and christian apocrypha – writings we know are man-made and ahistorical.

      This means you have to prove that the quran is divinely revealed but you already have the problemö that it incorporates material that is man made. And even if we discount this huge problem, there is absolutely nothing about the quran that appears divine. It’s prose isn’t especially great, its “wisdom” isn’t unique or even new, some of its commands are archaic and brutal, and it is completely ignorant of many books of the previous scriptures.

      What is divine about? Don’t tell me it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling – dogs give their owners a warm fuzzy feeling, are they divine?

      Like

    • Kev

      was your comment aimed at me,or is there some other hashim here?

      Like

    • hashim

      No that was meant for Hussaini. You can address it if you wish.

      Like

  7. This article misrepresents both the Bible and Qur’an. The Qur’an first. According the Qur’an Jesus did not teach the Torah but the Gospel and the Gospel made lawful things that were previously unlawful.

    And We sent … Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah … (Qur’an 5:46, Saheeh In.)

    And [I (Jesus) have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. (Qur’an 3:50, Saheeh In.)

    In the Qur’an it is Jesus for made these changes not Paul?

    Regarding the Torah, please read this on it own terms rather than trying to force and Islamic interpretation upon it. The prophets do not say Israel will keep the law. On the contrary they say humanity is corrupted by sin and needs God to change us.

    Paul is only 6% of the Bible – only 6%. The Bible is not one book but a collection of many books from different prophets, from different locations, in different languages, over about a 1500 year period. It contains the Law of Moses (Torah), the Psalms of David, the books of Solomon, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Job, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and others. It has the Gospel of Jesus recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the writings of the apostles of Jesus.

    Why do Christians have all these books in the Bible? The answer is simple: Christians accept all the prophets and make no distinction between them, therefore, they have all these books in the Bible so they can read them. What Christians believe about God comes from reading all these books and not from one man. That is, Christians do not just learn from Paul but all of the prophets, and what they believe about God comes from reading the prophets and not just Paul.

    At this point Islam is very different to Christianity because the Qur’an only contains what Muhammad recited and no one else. Islam is based on one man, Muhammad, but Christianity is based on all of the prophets.

    Like

    • “The Qur’an first. According the Qur’an Jesus did not teach the Torah but the Gospel and the Gospel made lawful things that were previously unlawful.”
      Scholars of Islam have disscused this matter. The Gosepl basically was to affirm the torah and to follow the torah. This is the basic of Gospel. However, there are few exceptions that Gospel taught .
      These things that Gospel made lawful were basically lawful for the children of Israel, yet God made them unlawful because of children of Israel’s disobedience. Gospel by that sense didn’t bring new law, especially for the concept of God, salvation, and observation of the mosaic law. Therefore in Quran, Torah is mentioned many times with Quran as books of guidance.
      However, what paul taught is something completely different, and that why some christians in early centuries believed that even the god of NT is a different god form the god of OT. That didn’t come out of blue!

      Like

    • Samuel Greene you stated the following:

      ”This article misrepresents both the Bible and Qur’an. The Qur’an first. According the Qur’an Jesus did not teach the Torah but the Gospel and the Gospel made lawful things that were previously unlawful.”

      The article does not misrepresent the Qur’an, and certainly it does not misrepresent the Bible. Rather the NT misrepresents the OT. Why does it so frequently misquote the OT that Jewish Rabbis, OT Scholars, Secular Scholars and NT scholars affirm that it does? You deny this, because of your agenda, which is to preach your faith, not because you have facts. And you approach the OT with an NT BIAS. So how can you ask Muslims of not doing what you hypocrite are doing yourself??? Do you not interpret the OT LAWS etc with PAULINE BIAS? Of course you do! You also believe Jesus is the Messiah, and from this presupposition you interpret the OT. This is the wrong approach. It is the other way round. Where is the name of Jesus mentioned in the OT or that the Messiah will be the Son of Mary in 1st Century Palestine from Nazreth? Why does it not say that? Do not bring the Qur’an into this. You do not believe the Qur’an. Furthermore you believe it is wrong. Also, the Qur’an is a separate revelation; do not use it to prove anything. In fact someone so hypocritical and unclean as yourself, you are not allowed to quote from it. To prove JESUS is a MESSIAH you must use THE OT, not the Qur’an or any other book but the OT. Since JESUS IS THE JEWISH MESSIAH THEN YOU MUST PROVE IT FROM THE OT.

      Tiny Problem: NT Jesus did not fulfil the OT Prophecies but failed them. Which is why you believe in the 2nd coming. Also, he failed his own prophecies Mathew 24: 34 etc and therefore a false prophet. Yes the NT Jesus is a false prophet and a false Messiah. The NT Jesus claims to be God in John therefore he is a false Messiah and False Prophet. YHWH gives his glory to no one. But in John Jesus claimed Glory, therefore he was lying. YHWH in the OT does not say ” I will kill myself for your sins–there is no life without the 2nd Person of the TRINITY committing suicide for your sins, since my Law is a Curse” This is not what he said and neither is this compatible with the OT. Rather YHWH SAID: ”Follow my Laws for Redemption and Salvation. Who Ever Lies About Me Will Surely Die a Humiliated Death” How did Jesus die again? LOL

      Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Matthew 27:46 UTTER HUMILIATION, EXACTLY AS GOD SAID THE FALSE PROPHET WILL.

      PAUL ALSO WAS BUTCHERED–PROVING HE WAS A FALSE PROPHET. Paul also failed his own prophecies and his visions are more inconsistent than Nabeel’s. Look at Nabeel who was compared with Paul. Nabeel claimed to be an Apostle to Muslims and now he is screaming

      “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”

      False Prophets do not live long and certainly not in Peace.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Green You Lied here again

      ”Paul is only 6% of the Bible – only 6%.”

      The Jewish Bible is not yours to include in yours—you reject it in favor of Constantine. No point in having it in your canon. Paul is 40% of the NT and the NT is your scripture.

      You use Pauline Logic and Presuppositions to Interpret not just the OT but even the NT! The Letter of James and Jude are misinterpreted because you approach it with Pauline Presuppositions!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?”

      Let’s understand why – not to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position.

      Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:

      1) Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.

      2) Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.

      3) Biblical verses “referring” to Jesus are mistranslations.

      4) Jewish belief is based on national revelation.

      But first, some background: What exactly is the Messiah?

      The word “Messiah” is an English rendering of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which means “anointed.” It usually refers to a person initiated into God’s service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, 1-Kings 1:39, 2-Kings 9:3)

      (1) Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies

      What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? One of the central themes of biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4, 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)

      Specifically, the Bible says he will:

      Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

      Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).

      Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

      Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).

      If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.

      Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible’s description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.

      Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming. Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.

      (2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah

      A. Messiah as Prophet

      The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum – Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides – Teshuva 9:2)

      Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets – Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

      Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet.

      B. Descendant of David

      Many prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)

      The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father – and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David. (1)

      According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (2) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.

      C. Torah Observance

      The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)

      Throughout the Christian “New Testament,” Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), “He does not observe Shabbat!”

      (3) Mistranslated Verses “Referring” to Jesus

      Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text – which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.

      A. Virgin Birth

      The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an “alma” as giving birth. The word “alma” has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as “virgin.” This accords Jesus’ birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

      B. Suffering Servant

      Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the “suffering servant.”
      In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (“Israel”) are regarded as one unit. Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the “Servant of God” (see Isaiah 43:8). In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel.
      When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being “bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter” at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44).

      Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.

      (4) Jewish Belief is Based Solely on National Revelation

      Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God’s true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, they do not prove he is a genuine prophet. All the miracles show – assuming they are genuine – is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.
      Judaism, unique among all of the world’s major religions, does not rely on “claims of miracles” as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of “miracles” to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).
      Of the thousands of religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation – i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He’ll tell everyone, not just one person.
      Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):

      The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone’s belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.

      What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others… as it says, “Face to face, God spoke with you…” The Torah also states: “God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us – who are all here alive today.” (Deut. 5:3)

      Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.

      Further reading: “Did God Speak at Mount Sinai?”

      Waiting for the Messiah

      The world is in desperate need of Messianic redemption. To the extent that we are aware of the problems of society, is the extent we will yearn for redemption. As the Talmud says, one of the first questions asked of a Jew on Judgment Day is: “Did you yearn for the arrival of the Messiah?”

      How can we hasten the coming of the Messiah? The best way is to love all humanity generously, to keep the mitzvot of the Torah (as best we can), and to encourage others to do so as well.

      Despite the gloom, the world does seem headed toward redemption. One apparent sign is that the Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel and made it bloom again. Additionally, a major movement is afoot of young Jews returning to Torah tradition.
      The Messiah can come any day, and it all depends on our actions. God is ready when we are. For as King David says: “Redemption will come today – if you hearken to His voice.”

      For further study:

      Jews for Judaism

      “The Real Messiah” by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
      “Let’s Get Biblical! Why Doesn’t Judaism Accept the Christian Messiah?” by Rabbi Tovia Singer

      “Path of the Righteous Gentile” by Chaim Clorfene and Yakov Rogalsky

      FOOTNOTES

      (1) In response, it is claimed that Joseph adopted Jesus, and passed on his genealogy via adoption. There are two problems with this claim:
      a) There is no biblical basis for the idea of a father passing on his tribal line by adoption. A priest who adopts a son from another tribe cannot make him a priest by adoption.

      b) Joseph could never pass on by adoption that which he doesn’t have. Because Joseph descended from Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11) he fell under the curse of that king that none of his descendants could ever sit as king upon the throne of David. (Jeremiah 22:30; 36:30)
      To answer this difficult problem, apologists claim that Jesus traces himself back to King David through his mother Mary, who allegedly descends from David, as shown in the third chapter of Luke. There are four basic problems with this claim:
      a) There is no evidence that Mary descends from David. The third chapter of Luke traces Joseph’s genealogy, not Mary’s.

      b) Even if Mary can trace herself back to David, that doesn’t help Jesus, since tribal affiliation goes only through the father, not mother. cf. Numbers 1:18; Ezra 2:59.

      c) Even if family line could go through the mother, Mary was not from a legitimate messianic family. According to the Bible, the Messiah must be a descendent of David through his son Solomon (2-Samuel 7:14; 1-Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:4-6). The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David’s son Nathan, not Solomon. (Luke 3:31)

      d) Luke 3:27 lists Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in his genealogy. These two also appear in Matthew 1:12 as descendants of the cursed Jeconiah. If Mary descends from them, it would also disqualify her from being a messianic progenitor.
      (2) Maimonides devotes much of his “Guide for the Perplexed” to the fundamental idea that God is incorporeal, meaning that He assumes no physical form. God is eternal, above time. He is infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His unity and His divinity. As the Torah says: “God is not mortal” (Numbers 23:19).

      Liked by 2 people

    • “Scholars of Islam have disscused this matter. The Gosepl basically was to affirm the torah and to follow the torah.”

      Yes Abdullah, exactly what Jesus tried to do. Tell people to follow the Torah given to Moses (AS) and the prophets before and after nim.

      Like

  8. Here is an eye opening investigation about the bribe that Paul may have tried to give when he went to Jerusalem….and when he was attacked as trying to change the religion and his life was saved by Roman soldiers…hmmm…I wonder if his letters to change the religion accelerated after that experience.

    And interesting how the Romans protected him.

    Check this out…it is scholarly and taken from the current New Testament itself.

    http://apolitebribe.com/

    Liked by 3 people

    • I hear Muhammad was also caught shoplifting at Walmart. I can’t believe these religious figures!!

      Like

    • Heard from HS?

      Like

    • Paulus

      Nabeel claimed to be an Apostle to Muslims and now he is screaming:

      “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”

      Was there not another false prophet who uttered the same words? A false prophet who you now worship as God even though he failed his own prophecies Matthew 16: 27, 28 Mark 13:26-30 Matthew 24: 25-34 . Your attempts of reinterpretations have been refuted and all scholars agree that Jesus failed his prophecies. Yet you expect Muslims to Reject Muhammad because he is not in the OT nor predicted etc or in the NT. Start by rejecting your false prophet who was born out of wedlock, son of Jospeh.

      Where did YHWH say ”THE MESSIAH WILL BE THE 2ND MEMBER OF THE TRINITY WHO DIE FOR YOU-WHO IS ME”?

      Like

  9. Great Article !!!
    Straight from the Bible and it shows why we should stay away from Paul’s teachings.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Good article

    Like

  11. The “foreigner”, if he was not an Israelite, would have to be a proselyte and be circumcised to be a member of the religious community of Israel and take part in public worship. The proselyte had to live under the same rules as the Jews and the same dietary laws. The alien had to live under the same moral laws,. e.g. not allowed to commit fornication, to keep the land pure.

    James relaxing of the rules for Gentile believers, in particular circumcision, was revolutionary seen from this aspect. He wasn’t endorsing a two-track Christianity based on the OT laws at all.

    Exodus 12 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

    If Gentile christians were seen as aliens who could take part in the religious life of Israel without being circumcised why did the Judaizers put pressure on them to be circumcised? The writer’s argument doesn’t make sense.

    Avi said : “The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David’s son Nathan, not Solomon. (Luke 3:31)”

    No. Solomon failed. The promise was dependant on his obedience. Nathan was obviously chosen in his place to be the progenitor of Jesus the Messiah.

    1 Chr 28 v And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. 6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.

    Like

    • Madmanna,
      I highly recommend the book, “The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity” by Jeffery J. Butz I learned a lot from that book. It is clear from reading the Bible that James and Paul were in diametric opposition with each other, and that there really was a Judaic Christinity vs. a Paulinian Christianity. The battle between these two understandings of Jesus teachings unfolds on the pages of the Bible, and as we know the heresy of Paul’s teachings won out in the long run and became the orthodoxy, while the true orthodoxy of James teachings became labeled as heresy.

      Here is a quote from the description on Amazon:

      Using the canonical Gospels, writings of the Church Fathers, and apocryphal texts, Bütz argues that James is the most overlooked figure in the history of the Church. He shows how the core teachings of Jesus are firmly rooted in Hebraic tradition; reveals the bitter battles between James and Paul for ideological supremacy in the early Church; and explains how Paul’s interpretations, which became the foundation of the Church, are in many ways its betrayal. Bütz reveals a picture of Christianity and the true meaning of Christ’s message that are sometimes at odds with established Christian doctrine and concludes that James can serve as a desperately needed missing link between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to heal the wounds of centuries of enmity.

      In regard to lineage how can Jesus be descended from David when Joseph was only his adoptive he has no biological father, being born of a virgin? So if the genealogy cannot proceed from Solomon the same goes for Nathan. The desperate attempt at proving the genealogy is really a moot point given that the lineages in the Bible clearly do not support the Christian claims.

      Like

  12. ” Also, notice that the elders re-iterated their decree from the Jerusalem Council; the Old Testament laws pertaining to “food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality”

    Still leaves a lot of freedom for the Gentile Christians. And James did not impose any taxes either for the privilege 🙂

    Except for the moral law these ceremonial laws are no longer binding.

    The few restrictions that James placed on the Gentile christians were only binding then because of the law of not offending and causing a stumbling block to the weaker brother, in this case the Jewish believers.

    Paul was in complete agreement with this.

    Like

  13. James and the whole church in Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit in Acts who gave Cornelius the vision.

    Like

  14. Sorry, who gave Peter the vision.

    Like

  15. Peter was the one who was reproved by Paul in Antioch.

    Perhaps according to you he should not have been reproved by Paul for disassociating himself from the Gentile christians? Who was right, Paul or Peter on that occassion?

    Like

  16. Perhaps you might be so good as to answer my question first.

    Like

  17. I would say the non-Jews became the new baseline of what is abrogated law and not abrogated law in Christianity.

    The Spirit poured himself out on the non-Jews who were not circumcised and didn’t have to keep the ceremonial laws of Judaism.

    After the temple was destroyed the temple laws abgrogated themselves anyway as they were only given for that purpose. God confirmed that the types symbolized in temple worship were defunct because they were fulfilled by Jesus.

    After the first temple was destroyed God gave instructions to re-build because it still had a purpose. Not so after the Herodian temple was destroyed.

    The teaching of Jesus about the new form of the kingdom of God confirms the passing away of these laws.

    Temple law was compulsory for all. The gospel is voluntary for all.

    Like

    • “The teaching of Jesus about the new form of the kingdom of God confirms the passing away of these laws.”

      However, according to Jesus in the Kingdom of God disciples will continue to obey all the Jewish Law:

      ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

      Matthew 5

      When Paul teaches that Jesus “abolished” the Jewish Law he proves himself to be a false teacher.

      Like

  18. Kev is a freaking idiot.. why does he still post here and continue to make himself look like a fool.. please Kev, spare us the stupidity you are expounding and find a hobby and go away..get laid ..something!

    Liked by 1 person

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