Paul — The False Apostle?

I received the following question from a reader:

Tim, this really has nothing to do with end time but do you consider Paul the first false apostle? Or is it just another fear tactic by the enemy to even consider it?

It’s about time I answered this question with a post since I’ve been answering it for years by email.

The Good Challenge of Wacky New Ideas

I can tell you have been on the internet lately! That’s where ideas like “Paul is a false apostle” or “the earth is flat” spread. It’s certainly challenging. To be clear, I am not down on anyone believing either idea. These ideas challenge our discernment which is a good thing to grow your critical thinking. The Internet is truly the gift that keeps on giving with such benefits.

So, no, it’s not bad to consider it…in the end. But in the beginning and middle, it can indeed give you a good scare and shake your faith or drive you crazy trying to refute it.

Mostly I hear this idea from Torah Keepers because Paul in Galatians and many other passages calls Torah Keeping for believers bondage and heresy.

Paul the False Apostle?

The trouble with the arguments against Paul is that you can indeed find contradictions in the Bible if you look. For example, the Gospels record the healing of the blind man near Jericho differently. In Mark and Matthew, Jesus does this when leaving Jericho; in Luke it’s when he’s approaching Jericho. Matthew also has a second similarly worded account of a blind man healing that seems to take place in Galilee.

The point is, you can find even legitimate contradictions in the Bible, which means it’s not hard to build a case, legitimate, or otherwise, that Paul contradicted Jesus or Moses. It’s the nature of the Bible. Yet, the same verses used to prove “Paul is a false apostle” can also be harmonized to make Paul a true apostle who teaches consistent to the rest of the Bible.

People who want to discredit Paul are using the same approach that atheists use to discredit the Bible, pointing to the inconsistencies, to show things are not really inspired. If you want to discredit Paul with this approach, then you are also giving validity to discrediting the Bible or other Bible books.

Harmonizing Instead

Christian apologists answer the atheists by harmonizing the contradictions and showing that the inconsistencies are small and not consequential to the message of the Bible. Likewise with the arguments against Paul, you can go out and find explanations for why they don’t really matter. Google is your friend. No need to figure all this out yourself. I use Google every day to deal with the assortment of questions readers ask me.

In the end, what evidence and arguments you choose to focus on will determine where you fall on the Paul validity question…and the Bible validity question.

In the meantime, try not to let it bother you before you get to a definitive conclusion. We’re not being judged by God on our ability to answer such questions. Most people in history have never heard of Paul or had his writings to even read, so it’s clearly not a salvation issue what you do with Paul. On the other hand, his writings are full of great wisdom that would be a shame purposely ignore out of a fear of being deceived.

What is a salvation issue is loving your neighbor as yourself, in faith to God (Mt 19:17-19). The rest is details.

34 thoughts on “Paul — The False Apostle?

  1. No where is the Bible a contradiction maybe we have to understand the context and the exact Greek words for the New Testament writers. The examples you gave is the count from where Luke, and John are telling their story just different point of views.

    • Ray, Many would disagree with you on contradictions not existing. But my question is, would it be so terrible if a Scribe miscopied something and created a contradiction in the Bible? It’s human error. Doesn’t change the main messages of the Bible, so why deny contradictions exist when so many can be pointed to easily?

  2. Tim: My issue with Paul is that he really didn’t know the historical Yeshua. He seems unaware that the Gospel of Yeshua was the Kingdom of Yahweh (YHWH)…the Father! Paul focuses mostly on the Yeshua (the person) who was glorified (after his death on the cross). This Yeshua is different from the historical (living) Yeshua.

    The living/historical Yeshua was an Aramaic Jew who was baptised by his cousin, John, and then was given his Gospel via the Holy Spirit (directly from YHWH…the Father). He then went out to proclaim this message called THE KINGDOM OF GOD! D

    • Actually, Paul knew Jesus pretty well, as Jesus appeared to him on more than one occasion. A living relationship carries more weight than a knowledge of the ‘historical’ Jesus. Just some thoughts….

    • Donald, we also know little of the historical Jesus and often need to resort to other methods to fill in the gaps. Your point however is correct. Paul states his mission in 2nd Timothy 1:8-11. In verse 8 he speaks of the testimony of the Lord as in evidence. Had Christ not risen there would be no evidence. In vs 9 we see we’re called with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His purpose and grace.

      In vs 10 it’s as you say, that Paul saw the revelation as being the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ. He goes on to say in vs 11 that he was ‘Appointed’ a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of these things. It was also appointed for him to suffer. I do believe that he knew the historical Jesus better than we if simply do to the reasoning that people informed him of things which we don’t know. His mission however was to reveal the risen Christ.

  3. I often wondered about Paul’s message until I read that his gospel was given to him by Jesus. Also, Joseph Prince, and Andrew Womack, if I understand them correctly, point out that no one has ever been able to keep the law except Jesus. Jesus came to earth to save us all, and he did not come to condemn us. Jesus is the sacrifice that saves believers forever as opposed to each years sacrifice that covers sin for a year and has to be repeated. Which brings up a question. Is anyone currently performing annual sin offerings?

  4. I believe that the God we serve who has Created All Things and His Word 110% there are many mystries in the Bible we in our finite wisdom cannot understand. We are called to step out in faith and believe. For me the more I believe the more wisdom is given to me. I have learned to take every word to be true . We cannot take and pick what we want to believe. God in His omni powerful Ways is quite capable of keeping every single word that He wanted in and every word He didnt want in there out. If He is capable of Creation alone He certainly can keep His Book written by the hand of man inspired by His Holy Spirit.

    • “He certainly can keep His Book written by the hand of man inspired by His Holy Spirit.”

      While I certainly believe God “could” keep the bible free from error I don’t believe he has chosen to exercise such control. If he had indeed prevented error in scripture through his divine power then there would be no need for the several warnings contained in scriptures prohibiting man from changing/adding to or taking away from it under pain of punishment.

  5. Hi Tim, Interesting how you have pointed people to come to their own conclusion re Paul, which is commendable.

    Who/what is a false prophet. This term can only come from someone who recognizes a true prophet. It would be crazy if the Pope or any religious leader described himself as being a false prophet. Why not? Because they really believe they are called of God. But are they, or have they had a false calling? I am sure Paul was convinced that he had a true calling, but did he? How many professing Christians today have experienced a born again experience? Are they truly called by the One True God? Are they deceived? These are hard questions even for those who are truly called, begotten and have received the true spirit of God. When Elijah comes will he be believed and recognized as the Elijah to come? He might be quite young, or quite old, he might be bald or have a thick head of hair. He might have blue or brown eyes, freckles or have a tan, but we know that he will warn, live and teach torah and he will preach Christ as well as many other things – possibly some that might seem unbelievable. Paul preached religious rhetoric, and endless religious arguments but did he actually teach what God/Christ/David/Prophets and apostles taught? We can work out whether Paul was a deceived religious person by knowing what Christ taught right from the first line in Genesis till his physical death and resurrection. This is also how we can work out whether a person is a false prophet or not – and even ask ourselves “Am I truly called by the only true God and His son the Messiah, Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph, who was murdered/died for us and is now seated in honor on the right hand of God our Father in Heaven, and coming as King to rule righteously in Jerusalem?” It is a check worth making for all Christians……

  6. its possible He healed a blind man on the way in and on the way out.
    We are commanded to keep the Torah as a way of life but its our faith that saves us

    • Mikhael, If they are not the same account, that would mean he had identical conversations with two different blind men. It was unusual for someone to call him “Son of David,” but both did? And Jesus asks “what do you want me to do for you?” nowhere else, again, not a common phrase of his.

      So, yes, your theory is possible, but is it probable or the best answer? I think it’s more probable Luke and Mark remembered the same incident in different locations. This trips people up who want to defend a perfect Bible, but our faith is not based on a perfectly transmitted Bible. It’s based on faith in God and his will being good, so that we follow it to please him and others.

      But if you want to argue around and solve every contradiction, then go for it. I’m focusing on the message that the contradictions don’t affect, yes? =)

  7. I was an atheist for 20+ years of my life. I set out to disprove the Bible. I was going to find all the contradictions and inconsistencies and prove once and for all that this was all just a bunch of hogwash.

    What I discovered after many years of reading and studying and searching was that the contradictions and inconsistencies were not in what the bible said but what people “try” to make it say. I had to let go of all the stories and things I had heard as a child and allow the Bible to say what it would say. Nothing more and nothing less.

    And I can say without a doubt that Paul was most assuredly a man inspired by God. If Paul is seen as anti-Torah it is because he followed Christ’s lead. The religious leaders of that day had Christ crucified because they saw him as a heretic.

    So Paul was in good company.

    • John, well said. When it comes down to the real message of the Bible, the inconsistencies and contradictions don’t matter. But they do a good job of tripping up atheists as you were.

  8. Hey Tim, I have to comment on this one.

    Paul was highly educated. He never spoke against Torah Law. He taught and kept it his whole life. He did invent some new terminology. The Law of Sin, The Law of Sin and Death, The Law of the Spirit, The Law of Faith, The Law of Righteousness, are terms he invented to explain his understanding of the Gospel.

    As an Ex Pharisee, Paul also spoke against the Oral Law and Traditions (The Mishna) which caused the Jews to stumble. Just as the Messiah had taught, you only have to keep the original law not all the added regulations.

    You have to keep track of which law Paul is talking about. That’s why he is hard to understand. Example; “all things are lawful” = “under Greek law all thing were lawful”.

    Even Peter said he was afraid weak minded people would read Paul and think Paul was teaching against Torah Law. 2 Peter 3:15-17

    Messiah Yeshua paid our entrance fee. Baptism was our induction ceremony. Now, we agree to live by the rules of the club, not for salvation but because we believe it is the best and correct way to live. Or do you think murder is ok?

    Deuteronomy 13:1-5 details a false prophet. One who follows after false gods and teaches against the Torah Law, even if his visions come to pass.

    Messiah Yeshua said in Matthew 5:19 those teaching against Torah Law will be least in the Kingdom. But those who teach and practice them will be called great!

    Acts 15 applies to new gentile converts. Then, verse 21, they were to go to synagogue and learn the law of Moses.

    The New Covenant is the Torah Law written on our hearts so that we can keep them. Jeremiah 31:33 & Heb 8:8-12. The Israelites didn’t want to keep them. We are given the Holy Spirit to write them on our hearts.

    Ezekiel 36:26-27 again describes the New Covenant. The spirit will cause us to desire to walk in His statutes. Being in the New Covenant means we desire to do Torah Law. Psalm 40:8, Isaiah 51:7,

    Torah Law is freedom, a blessing, how we love God, how we love our fellow man. (multiple scriptures!)

    It is not hard to keep or hard to understand. Murder, Adultery, Theft, Covet, Sabbath, Idols. What’s so hard? Not wanting to keep them makes them hard.

    Those who say they know Him and do not keep the Commandments is a liar.
    1 John 2:4

    The best on-line ministry to clearly explain the true doctrines of the Messiah, Paul and the entire Bible is http://www.119ministries.com They have a wonderful series of videos called the Pauline Paradox. You will love them.

    Of course this is all just my opinion.

  9. Tim,

    Many accept Paul’s writings as “inspired,” yet don’t have a clue why God had him write them. The reason they don’t understand is because what he wrote can only be understood by those who have the Spirit of God teaching them.

    1 Corinthians 2:14
    But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Paul was called by God to be a living example of the gospel of the grace of God (the only method and means of salvation). Until the day Paul was “saved”, “born again”, “converted”, “regenerated” (however you want to say it) he was as dead as a hammer and hell bound. And so is every other soul that has been born physically into this world, but has never been brought up from the grave of spiritual death by the Spirit of the Living God. When Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life” he meant just that. When a lost soul comes to Jesus Christ in true repentance, resurrection happens right then! Tragically many souls that are religious and much informed about Jesus have no idea of what I’m talking about. Their problem is simple, they’ve never come to him! Oh yes, they can tell you all about what he did, but they’ve never taken the time to come to him in repentance and faith.

    John 6: 37
    All that the Father gives me SHALL COME TO ME; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.

    Repentance involves rejecting, turning away from, renouncing and repudiating what one has been trusting in. Then and only then is a lost soul a true candidate for eternal salvation. At the point of repentance the gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ will be presented to the lost soul. According to Scripture, the soul (whosoever) that comes to Christ and tells him that he or she wants to be saved by him will be saved

    Acts 2:21
    And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    The entity that Satan stole which prevents true repentance and holds the person of the world in it’s grip is one’s own fleshly self. Trusting in one’s self is so instinctive, so natural and so easy! Conversely, turning loose of the manipulative ego that rules the lost soul of Adam cannot be done easily. A leap of faith is required to escape it’s merciless tyranny. According to Jesus one must renounce intellectualism (especially religious intellectualism) at every level, and become as a little child in order to be born again. Paul with his great intellect had to find that out the hard way. Once he was saved he spent the rest of his life learning how to not revert back to trusting in his own fleshly wisdom.

    Philippians 3:
    3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.

    Adam’s offspring, according to Jesus and Paul, is universally “dead in trespasses and sins” and “cannot” escape it’s terminal condition by will power, by wit, genius, religion or any other fleshly means (Matthew 8:22, Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 1:13 and 2:13). The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is our only recourse. True Christians are those that “have been” raised up into the heavenly realm where they co-exist and co-operate with the Lord…by faith! They have been saved by God’s grace and for the rest of their lives they will live by God’s grace. In God’s everlasting kingdom grace rules! No one has reason to boast about anything but the loving grace of God that raised them up to sit with Him in the heavenly realm. They have no righteousness of their own and never will have. Ephesians 2: 8, 9 and 10.

    In the kingdom of God the mighty workings of His grace continues to show us His transcendent love, wisdom and resurrection power. It is all beyond us! His ways are so much higher than what we think we know.

    Ephesians 2:
    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    The world that we were once a part of has it all wrong! Paul discovered and wrote about what Jesus meant when he said: the one that loses his life finds it. The Lord showed him that God’s strength is found and made perfect in human weakness. And to become a fool is how one becomes wise.

    The thief that was crucified next to Jesus sinned against God right up until he repented. Likewise Paul blasphemed and persecuted the church of God right up until the time that he met and acknowledged Jesus as Lord. In both instances, at the very moment they believed they were translated by the Spirit of God “out of darkness” and into Christ. From that day forward Paul knew that in Christ’s death on the cross his old life had been killed and that from then on he was no longer in bondage to Adam’s race. He knew he had truly passed from death unto life…that he had been translated out of darkness into light. He knew that his deceitful, sinful, fleshly wisdom had been crossed out by Jesus’ crucifixion. He knew that he no longer lived…but Christ lived in him. Galatians 2:20.

    Among other things, the cross of Christ is a statement from God to the human race: I repudiate you in your fallen, fleshly state! Nevertheless I have provided for you the only way of escape. My way crosses you and your fleshly wisdom out. No one can be saved through fleshly means. You are sin and will remain so until you accept my way!

    John 14:
    6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO Man comes unto the Father, but by me.

    Isn’t it wonderful to realize that heaven will not be polluted and poisoned by the likes of us?

    1 Corinthians 1:
    29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
    30 But OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
    31 That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.

    Salvation is OF GOD. Not OF FLESH!

    17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
    18 And all things are OF GOD, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
    19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
    20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    Paul, speaking of those who resisted him and his message, said this:

    Acts 20:24
    But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

    So Tim, in light of what we’ve observed from the word of God, I’d say that Paul’s ministry is absolutely indispensable, wouldn’t you?

    In His amazing grace,
    Larry

    • Larry,

      Thank you for your post. I needed to hear this so much because I have fallen back into trying to clean my own self up! It doesn’t work!! The reminder about what Paul was all about is helping me get back to God’s grace and let Him clean me up! Thank you.

      I there a better way to phrase this? I don’t post things very often.

      Stephen

  10. Paul gave the test of false prophet in Gal1:8-9
    “if any of us or an angel from Heaven preach another gospel not like the one we preach, let him be condemned to hell’s which gospel did Paul preached.The gospel o the Kingdom of God which was introduced by Jesus in John3:5. We need to be born again in water and holy spirits speaking in tongues to enter the KoG.

  11. In Rev. 22:14 there is only space for twelve names, which apostle’s names will be placed on the foundations? Whenever someone questions Paul, I think of this verse. I have looked it up in several commentaries to no avail.

    • Tammy, what’s interesting is that just as there were not really 12 but 13 tribes of Israel (because Joseph split into Ephraim and Manasseh) that Paul gives us a 13th apostle. So you can ask the same thing, which twelve names will be on the 12 tribes? There are many lists of the tribes found in the Bible, not one identical in its contents and sequence to another. See more on my Tribe of Dan missing from the 144,000 article

  12. I think Paul was a very tortured Christian. The fact that he had persecuted Christians up to his conversion must have weighed on him even though he knew he was saved and forgiven. His letters to all the churches seem urgent. At times even harsh. Just like you can spoil a child by withholding discipline, Paul never held back on disciplining those in the churches who needed to hear it. I think the Apostle Peter said many had a hard time understanding Paul’s writing and would even twist some of what he wrote to say what they wanted it to say. I agree with you, John and Larry. Some of it just says what it means and means what it says and salvation is so simple it stumbles so many.
    I think all the contradictions are very minor and do not change the message or intent of the Bible. The Bible was written by humans inspired by God, not actually written by Him. Moses broke the only known hand written instructions by God that later disappeared with the along with the Ark of the Covenant. But if God had faith these human writers would convey His Word to us then why shouldn’t we?

  13. Contradictions (if any) are there to filter the most righteous & devoted followers from all others who claim to be believers. 144000 is a very small number compared to the total entire world population (dead + living + yet to come).

    • Joseph, Thank you, for pointing out the “Exclusive Nature” fact that just like the New World Order believers, both Christianity and the New World Order want, believe and hope that only 144,000 humans will be Saved!

      This will be the “Seed” group that a new earth and new heaven will be built from according to both groups!

      So, the Love that those supposedly feel for their fellow man is both false and being a hypocrite! I guess your number is either drawn in the greatest lottery of all time or your just out of luck! 6 billion dead “Past” + 6 billion alive “Currently” + 6 billion future “Possible” = 18 billion + that will get a losing lottery ticket!

      Odds 1 in 18 billion roughly!

      Is it any wonder most people dont even try or care, they feel that just about 99 percent of all humanity NEVER had a chance due to God’s exclusive and very limited predefined membership!

      G Thanks
      Ben – One of the damned

  14. Hello Tim
    You say there are 14 Apostles as recorded by the bible, I believe. What about the millions of Apostles in today’s world? I have all the confidence that you will accurately comment on this, for my benefit and that of other readers.

    • Malomo, Apostle just means “sent one,” same idea as a traveling evangelist. Eph 4:11 says some are gifted in that way and some self-proclaim themselves this and others have churches christen them so. But unlike the 14 apostles I mentioned, these apostles are not sent by Jesus personally, and empowered the way he did with those having full authority over all disease and demons.

  15. Hello to all.
    I have encountered this Idea of Paul being a false Apostle for quite some time. As I visited this idea with brothers in Christ I came to understand that Paul may have not been so much of a false Apostle, as he may have an over- zealous believer. I agree with many of you stating good points regarding the things he did and said. These seemed to be well “in” and at times “out” of harmony with the other disciples teachings including Christ. The reason I say “over-zealous,” is because how many of us today, including professed Christians today who state to follow Paul’s teaching don’t even adhere his words at all.

    I will give one example: I once attended a Pentecostal church which tends to be very charismatic. There were times were I felt that there was so much chaos when it came to ” speaking in tongues.” I mean! it seams like there were so many people feeling lead to utter words of which there was no interpretation and far beyond the instruction of ” one ,two, or three” at a time, as Paul states in Corinthians. This to me; is one prime example of how we believe that we are so much in the Spirit that it leads us to “over zealous paths” of worships that are NOT biblical. I believe that there is nothing that the other 12 apostles spoke about or did that leads us to even bring such accusations upon them. Conversely, this brings me to think that Paul was not per say false; but more so, zealous about his conversion. I see Paul in scripture confronting Peter about his Hypocrisy when it came to the Gentiles. No where do I see Peter or any disciple rebuking Paul.

  16. With all due respect, most people miss two statements by Paul. The first one is Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” The other is 1 Corinthians 15:1 thru 4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved,……”. Only Paul received the many mysteries he revealed in his epistles, including the mystery of being saved by Faith plus nothing else. God Bless.

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