Schooling Dr Mike Licona on St Paul’s significant error.

 

Innocent Bible quotes like this one by Mike Licona when examined more closely can lead to a crisis of faith and cause some to leave conservative Christianity altogether. That’s precisely what happened to me. Here is Licona’s verse (verse 14) in context.

The first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of Paul’s letters, probably written in AD 52.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Notice that Paul in verse 15 does not say ‘those who are alive’ (which could refer to some far future and as yet unknown group), but ‘we who are alive’, showing his expectation that the Lord will come before Paul’s death. Paul even thinks that this is the Lord’s own word (1 Thessalonians 4:15).

The fact is that the end of the world simply did not come before Paul’s hearers had all died. So Paul was in error. Therefore the The New Testament contains a significant error; therefore it is not inspired by God; therefore Paul’s ‘word of the Lord’ was false, a sham.

What else had Paul thought was from God but in fact was not? These are very disturbing questions for a thoughtful Christian.

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Categories: Bible, Christianity

30 replies

  1. Hmm no Christians willing to defend St Paul?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s kind of hard to defend the indefensible.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ken likes to defend the indefensible.

      Like

    • You’ve been schooled on this multiple times before

      Dr Paul Woodbridge, Academic Dean at Oak Hill Theological College, London, and lecturer in New Testament in his published 2003 Themelios article:

      “it appears quite possible to interpret these verses in a way other than that these passages indicate that Paul expected to be alive at the parousia. When the apostle used the first person plural to refer to believers, this does not necessarily mean he included himself. 1 Corinthians 6:14, 15 and 10:22 are examples of Paul classing himself with those he is describing without necessarily implying he is one of them. It also seems reasonable to say that in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17, where Paul is talking about two classes of believers (those asleep and those alive), as he was in the latter class when he wrote, it was natural for him to use the first person plural of himself and his fellow believers.”

      The context of 1 Thessalonians and the surrounding verses also proves that you are incorrect

      “but it must be borne in mind that Paul consistently refused to commit himself to dates; indeed, in this very context he writes as though he did not know when it would be (5:1–2); further, he holds that both waking and sleeping are possibilities for him and his converts (5:10)… If the words used here be held to prove that Paul expected to be alive at the parousia, then equally other words of his ‘prove’ that he expected to be dead (1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; the possibility of his death appears in 2 Cor. 5:9; Phil. 1:21–22, etc.).”- Leon Morris.

      Anyway you slice the cake Paul, your argument cannot be sustained grammatically or contextually.

      Keep trying…

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    • LOL, nice try Cerbie, but all you did was to show the desperation of your conservative scholars. Look at what Woodbridge says:

      “it appears quite possible…”

      Oh, so it’s “possible”. So then it is also equally possible that he expected to be alive at the Parousia.

      Also, if he didn’t expect the end to come soon, why did he say “the time is short”?

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    • It’s possible because the grammar can go both ways. It is then up to the context to determine the correct interpretation.

      I noticed you ignored 5:2 and 5:10 which contradict the claims of Paul. As Morris states, if he is guilty of expectingto be alive, then he is equally guilty of expecting to be dead. That is the exegetical dilemma you guys face in your isolated cherry picking.

      So, I’ll wait for you to engage with the context of the text rather than just character assassinating qualified scholars (unlike you who has zero training on the topic)

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    • “Also, if he didn’t expect the end to come soon, why did he say “the time is short”?“

      Eschatology- Christians live with the expectation that Christ could return any time. Paul elsewhere says he doesn’t know the time. So Christians believe that even though it will be like a thief in th night, we are still to live as if it expect it any moment.

      “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.“

      “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”

      Like

    • “It’s possible because the grammar can go both ways. It is then up to the context to determine the correct interpretation.

      I noticed you ignored 5:2 and 5:10 which contradict the claims of Paul. As Morris states, if he is guilty of expectingto be alive, then he is equally guilty of expecting to be dead. That is the exegetical dilemma you guys face in your isolated cherry picking.

      So, I’ll wait for you to engage with the context of the text rather than just character assassinating qualified scholars (unlike you who has zero training on the topic)”

      This is truly, truly pathetic, even for you!

      The logic of your conservative scholars is rather childish. Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 4 that “we who are still alive and left” will meet those who have already died in the air. Obviously, since he was still alive, he was expecting that he will be among those who will “meet” their dead brothers in the air. Now, we can be sure that Paul was expecting this by looking at the other letter he allegedly wrote to the Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians is almost universally regarded as a forgery that was written by someone who was pretending to be Paul. This pseudo-Paul wrote:

      “…we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.”

      The pseudo-Paul also explains that the end will only come when certain events take place, which is a far cry from what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians, that the end would come “like a thief in the night”.

      As Bart Ehrman explains:

      “Compare the scenario of Jesus’s appearance in 2 Thessalonians, according to which it will be a while yet and preceded by recognizable events, with that of 1 Thessalonians, when the end will come like a ‘thief in the night,’ who appears when people least expect it. There seems to be a fundamental disparity between the teachings of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which is why so many scholars think that 2 Thessalonians is not by Paul” (Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, p. 107).

      He certainly makes a good point. How can the end be sudden and unexpected yet only happen when certain events take place? Wouldn’t it be expected as soon as the Anti-Christ (the “man of lawlessness”) occupies the temple? So how can it be like “a thief in the night”?

      Like

    • “Eschatology- Christians live with the expectation that Christ could return any time. Paul elsewhere says he doesn’t know the time. So Christians believe that even though it will be like a thief in th night, we are still to live as if it expect it any moment.

      “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.“

      “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.””

      Paul didn’t need to know the exact time, only that it would be sometime during his life. It it was to come “like a thief in the night”, then it would have be sudden and unexpected.

      But by telling his followers that the “time is short” cannot mean anything other than what it says. Eschatology and the belief that the end can come “any time” does not explain this. Moreover, it is simply not true that the end could come at “any time”. It cannot come tomorrow because the events that have to proceed it have not happened yet. But “time is short” cannot mean that it will come 2,000 years later.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 4 that “we who are still alive and left” will meet those who have already died in the air. Obviously, since he was still alive, he was expecting that he will be among those who will “meet” their dead brothers in the air.“

      You’ve just repeated the same point. I’ve already demonstrated that the first person plural pronoun isn’t always inclusive of the writer or speaker so your reassertion of the previous error indicates you can’t actailly engage with the text.

      Furthermore, you didn’t interact with the context of the passage in 5:2 and 5:10 which contradicts the very claim you make in a previous verse.

      Now you try to bring in red herrings of authorship of 2 Thessalonians or marriage discussion on 1 Cor 7?

      Clearly you have no idea how to engage this topic so will just continue to repeat and deflect, repeat and deflect

      Like

    • //I’ve already demonstrated that the first person plural pronoun isn’t always inclusive of the writer or speaker//

      The problem is Paul went on to tell the Thessalonians that the end of the age brought by Jesus’ return was going to come suddenly and without advanced warning, meaning: it could happen any time now. Paul clearly did not want them to miss the event, and they didnt want to be caught unawares (or doing something they shouldn’t be doing) like everyone else would be in such a way that even Paul urges his readers to “KEEP AWAKE (grēgorōmen) and STAY SOBER (nēphōmen).”  –> 1 Thess 5:1-11. Alas……2000+ years later, none of Paul readers of his epistle actually makes it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “The problem is Paul went on to tell the Thessalonians that the end of the age brought by Jesus’ return was going to come suddenly and without advanced warning,“

      Correct. And you’ll find the same being taught in churches today. We are to expect his return at any moment.

      What hasn’t been established is that Paul knew it would occur in his generation. And that’s because you won’t find a contextual engagement with any text to demonstrate such a point.

      Like

    • Except that it has been demonstrated. You just don’t like that it has been demonstrated. Saying “the time is short” means just…the time is short. To say that what he meant was that the end can come at anytime does not explain this because in 2 Thess, he (or the pseudo-Paul) states that it will come only after certain events take place. You have no explanation for this. Saying the “time is short” does not mean “the end can come at anytime, so be ready”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • So you’ve demonstrated that Paul was wrong in 1 thess by appeal to a text on marriage in 1 Cor meanwhile ignoring the context of the verse which clearly proves your assertions wrong.

      I’ve not a seen a clearer case of hyper stupidity in quite a while. Thank you. Clearly you can’t handle the exegetical points I’ve made and nor can you refute the grammatical arguments that prove you wrong. Epic fail from faiz

      Like

    • ROTFL, getting angry again Cerbie? Don’t blame me for your inability to save your false apostle. Epic fail from Cerbie, the dog of hell!

      I see you still haven’t answered the contradiction between saying the end will “come like a thief” and saying that it will only come once certain events have taken place (e.g. the coming of the AntiChrist). Another epic fail from Cerbie!

      Why wouldn’t we look at all of Paul’s alleged letters? Wouldn’t it give us a better picture of his overall beliefs, stupid? His advice on marriage is the final nail in the coffin. That is what settles the matter because he clearly said that the time was running out. It would not make sense to tell people to avoid getting married because the “time is short” if he did not believe the end was imminent. You have provided absolutely nothing substantive in response to this conundrum. Yet another epic fail from Cerbie!

      The fact is that the issue of the end of days is the ONE topic that all of the NT books agree on. The gospels say it. Paul’s letters say it. The other epistles say it. The end is near. Look at 1 John 2:18, which was even more crystal-clear that the end-times were here:

      “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”

      The author did not say that the “last hour” was coming. He said it was already here. In other words, as Paul said it, time was short indeed.

      This is one of the few issues on which the various New Testament books are in total agreement. They all agreed that the end would occur in the “apostolic age”, not thousands of years later.

      Like

    • No contradiction. There are multiple eschatological views so you need to be clearer as to what you think the problem is. Of course, one could say that they expect the end to come after certain events take place if one was told to expect both at any moment. Woops, looks like your false equivalence just got demolished.

      I have no problem looking at other letters from the same author. But that is always preceeded by the context of the verse. If the context of the verse demonstrates that you are wrong, then there is a very good chance that your appeals to his other letters are wrong. And bingo, that’s exactly what we have.

      I know you are used to the incoherent koran as your basis, but just to inform you, normally books have a flow of thought inbedded into them. So stop acting like your reading the mishmash of incoherent ramblings that is the koran.

      We can talk about 1 Cor after you take an attempt to look at the context of the current text. Are you scared little failing pig?

      Like

    • Oh man, the little dog is getting desperate!

      You can’t have it both ways, stupid. I know trinitarians like to have it both ways, but alas, it’s not possible. For the end to come suddenly, other events cannot happen. Otherwise, people can approximate the time when it could happen, like the author of 1 John. Thus, it could not happen suddenly.

      Are you still stuck on the “context” of the epistle to the Corinthians? I already dealt with that. Paul was alive at the time. So when he said “we who are alive”, he was including himself. Later, he simply said that regardless of who is alive and who is dead, they would all meet each other in the air. That is why he wrote “the time is short” elsewhere. Even if he wasn’t necessarily expecting to be alive, it still shows that he was expecting the end very soon. Get over it, loser. Paul was a false apostle and you are a brainwashed zombie.

      Like

  2. Amazing…Amazing…Amazing!
    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. According to dr. Ehrman the genre of apocalyptic writings in the NT are talking about the authos’ time.
    The authors were expecting those events to happen in their time.

    Like

  4. I don’t always click on all of your blog posts; not enough time.
    But I happened to click on this one and I see you mentioned me.

    The “we” does not mean that Paul thought that Jesus was returning before he died; etc. but that Jesus could return either soon in his lifetime, or any time in the future. This doctrine is called the imminent return of Christ – that Christ could return at any time. The “we” is Paul identifying with all believers, whether those in his lifetime, or with believers in the future. Many passages do this. All the epistles were written to specific churches and individuals of the first century; that does not mean that that are not applicable to us for our faith and lives.

    Like

    • “we” obviously refers to Paul and his listeners/readers at the time of the first letter. So you are wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “we” = what you said, and whoever is a believer at the time of Christ’s second coming; so you are wrong.

      Like

    • no. Read Paul’s letter as an historical document from Paul to the church. They understood that ‘we’ meant he and them. So you are wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ken,
      It’s obvious that the language of Paul is like the language of those crazy christians zionists who think Jesus will return in their time. Paul when he was giving his own thoughts about marriage, which have ended up to be a part of your “scripture”, believed that the time is so short. It seems that why he refused to get married. Allah knows the best.

      Liked by 3 people

    • That marriage verse really settles the matter. It is so obvious what Paul was waiting for. But the apologists will try to twist the verse to say something else entirely.

      Like

    • The apostle several other times uses the first person plural without incorporating himself into the discussion. Grammatically speaking, Bilal’s argument is seriously flawed. He has been told this years ago. Scholarship has demonstrated this. Instead of engaging the exegesis bilal only ever repeats his error.

      The real issue isn’t with the apostle, but the pressuposition of the muslim.

      Like

  5. ” 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”

    More likely Paul was just keeping his options open as he simply did not know when Jesus would return.

    “Alive and remain” means that Paul was aware of the possibility that he may not remain upon the earth to be present at the Lord’s return.

    Did he have some means of knowing that Jesus could NOT have come before he died?

    “Those who are alive” is probably too indefinite a term for Paul and could refer to all men whereas Paul wants to use a term which more definitely refers to Christians only: we ( who belong to Christ ) which are alive.

    Like

    • LOL, notice how often Ignoramus uses phrases like “most likely” or “probably”. You don’t sound too sure, Ignoramus. Are you simply looking for a way out of this mess by any means necessary?

      Paul said to people who asked if they should get married that the “time was short”. What else could that mean?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Paul said to people who asked if they should get married that the “time was short”. What else could that mean?”

    It probably just means that there is a lot of work to do spreading the gospel and building churches etc so that those who want to devote their lives to marriage and such like will not have much time for this activity.

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    • Again with the “probably”? Why can’t you give a definitive answer for once?

      If the end was still thousands of years away, then how do you expect the Christians will pass on their religion to the next generation without marriage? Devotion to marriage would be necessary. Thus, it cannot mean what you suggest. Paul was convinced there was not enough time left to devote oneself to marriage. It was better to devote oneself to the church instead. Be honest with yourself. By lying to yourself, you are only hurting yourself.

      Like

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