Who was Paul and how did he become a big name in Christian doctrine?
Roughly 1 in every 3 people who walk this earth today profess to be Christian. They claim Jesus Christ as their “Lord and Saviour” – But is he really? Do Christians today, truly follow the religion that Jesus taught? Or was his call hijacked somewhere along the way? Remember – Jesus told us to watch out for false teachers, deceivers who appear as wolves in sheep’s clothing; a reminder that the most dangerous enemies are the ones you think you can trust… the ones who infiltrate and devour a flock from within. Christ, the good shepherd, told us exactly who to follow after him. He named his chief disciple, Simon Peter as his successor, the rock upon which his church would be built. But somehow, another man, not Simon Peter, ended up becoming the dominant voice of Christianity. Roughly half of the books which fill the pages of the New Testament were written by one man. A man who never even met Jesus. A man with a deep-seated hatred for Christians. A man called Saul of Tarsus, better known today as Paul. Paul’s teachings are so influential, some have even dubbed him the “Founder of Christianity.”
But his doctrine is often at odds with the message of Jesus, which begs the question: Was Paul an apostle or an imposter? A messenger from Christ or an Antichrist, who has led one third of the world’s population astray?
The year is roughly 36 AD. The place: Jerusalem. This is the Holy City, where the teachings of Christ once rang out in the air. But, now, just a few years after the crucifixion, the winds have changed direction and some people are on a hunt for Christian blood. An angry mob zeroes in on a godly man by the name of Stephen, drags him out of the city and begins to stone him. They lay their coats in front of a young man called Saul of Tarsus who fully consented to Stephen’s death and later admitted,
“And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.”
– Holy Bible: Acts 22:20
This was not the first or the last time that Saul got his hands bloody. Born into a strict Jewish family, Saul spent his youth studying under the famous Rabbi, Gamaliel, who trained him as a Pharisee. The same Pharisees whom Jesus referred to as “vipers” and “sons of the devil.”
Saul’s “zeal for the law” led him to become an inquisitor of the Jerusalem Temple’s priesthood. A bloodhound, Saul admitted to be mercilessly chasing and killing many Christians. According to the Book of Acts, Saul was “…still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1)
When he had a transformative experience on the road to Damascus, a vision of the resurrected Jesus. It was that experience which allegedly changed everything. Saul became Paul and declared himself a freshly converted Apostle of Christ. But there is a problem with this story. Paul can’t quite get the details straight.
Isn’t it a red flag when a person just can’t keep their story straight? When solving a crime, detectives test witnesses on the consistency of their accounts. If the story keeps changing, suspicions arise. You might assume a vision of Jesus, himself, would be memorable enough to stick in someone’s memory. But the so-called ‘Apostle Paul’ tells 3 different versions of his apparition on the Road to Damascus, recorded in the book of Acts.
First, Paul claims that his travel companions didn’t see Jesus but heard his voice (Acts 9:7). But in another version of the story, they,
“…saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me”
– Holy Bible: Acts 22:9
In one version he is blinded for 3 days.
In another, he makes no mention of it. We are left wondering: Which version should we believe? But perhaps a more important question to ask is: Why does all of this matter? The entire validity of Paul as a messenger hinges on this story.
Having never met Jesus, in the flesh, this is all he has to go on. And it just so happens that it can’t be verified by anybody. There is no mention of Paul in the Gospels by Jesus or anyone else. For that matter, nobody gives Paul the title of “Apostle” other than Paul himself. And his claim to apostleship directly contradicts the words of Jesus.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus had many disciples. At one point he amassed followers in the thousands. But there was always an inner circle of 12 men, hand picked by Jesus. That number, 12, was no accident. There was a specific purpose behind it. Talking about his second coming, Jesus said:
“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 19:28
These words illuminate the importance of the sacred number 12. How could 11 or 13 apostles judge 12 tribes? It simply wouldn’t make sense. And that’s why the disciples maintained this number. After Jesus left them, the remaining 11 apostles set out to replace the fallen one from among them, Judas Iscariot. Praying for divine guidance, the men drew Lots and in the end, they reported that God chose Matthias to be the twelfth disciple. But not just anyone could be chosen. It had to be,
“…one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.”
– Holy Bible: Acts 1:21-22
Imagine the confusion of the 12 disciples when, years later, Paul came along and inserted himself into the equation as the 13th disciple. Paul — a man who never met Jesus —certainly didn’t qualify to be one of them. Certainly, the early Christians did not consider Paul to be an authority in the same right as the 12. But that didn’t stop Paul from making some dramatic changes to the religion of Jesus.
One of the most notable innovations, which Paul brought to Christianity was the abolishment of the Old Testament law. Claiming to speak on behalf of Christ, Paul said:
“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
– Holy Bible: Romans 6:14
He claimed that:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
– Holy Bible: Galatians 3:13.
Basically, Paul argued that when Jesus died, so too did the law. The old covenant between God and man was overturned in favor of a new one. One, by which all sins are eternally erased for the one who simply says: “I believe.” There is just one problem with Paul’s logic. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus appeared to the 12, after the crucifixion saying this:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 28:19-20
And Jesus clearly commanded them to keep the commandments.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil them…”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 5:17.
Jesus was a reformer. His mission was to bring things back to the old ways of theology. He came to guide people back to the religion of God. Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews, affirmed the message of the Hebrew prophets before him. He adhered to the Jewish law, and never once indicated that the law of the Old Testament prophets would or should be abolished. In fact, he said:
“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”
– Holy Bible: Luke 16:17
So why did Paul come out and teach the opposite? Just as Jesus said:
“…If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 19:17
“…no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law…”
– Holy Bible: Romans 3:20
It simply couldn’t make sense. Unless Paul had another agenda. Paul initially preached to people with his religious background, the Jews. However, when he found that he could not convince many that Jesus was divine, he went outside of Israel to the Gentiles. But once again, he faced difficulty. The Gentiles who were open to accepting Christ were not observers of Jewish law. Their food wasn’t kosher. But the biggest obstacle Paul faced with the Gentiles was the circumcision law. The covenant between God and the believers dating back to prophet Abraham. At first, Paul encouraged gentile converts to follow the law. He even had his companion, Timothy, circumcised, as confirmed in Acts 16. But somewhere along the way, he changed his tune. The law was an obstacle, standing in his way, so he cast it aside.
Jesus said to follow the law down to the letter, but Paul said the exact opposite. Not only did he remove its obligation, he went so far as to say abiding by the law is harmful.
“…I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all…You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”
– Holy Bible: Galatians 5:2-4
Where was he getting this from? It certainly wasn’t from the man who Jesus named as his successor — Simon Peter.
When Jesus knew he wouldn’t be around much longer, he handed the keys of the kingdom to his successor Simon Peter, stating,
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 16:18-19
You might imagine that Paul would have jumped at the chance to learn from Peter and the other men who lived with and learned from Jesus in the flesh. But that’s not what Paul did. A full decade passed after the crucifixion before Paul finally met Simon Peter, in Jerusalem. Then, he went out, preaching and teaching his own “gospel,” in Asia Minor for another 10 years before making a return trip to Jerusalem around A.D. 50. It was only then, 20 years after the crucifixion, that Paul met the rest of the 12 apostles for the first time. Although Jesus clearly designated a shepherd for his flock to follow in Peter, Paul argued that he was given a new gospel to spread. He said:
“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.”
– Holy Bible: 2 Timothy 1:11
His gospel was different from that of the 12, resulting in constant friction between him and the Jerusalem Church about one issue, in particular — the law. Tensions eventually boiled over and caused Peter and Paul to come to blows. When Peter visited Antioch, he clashed with Paul over whether or not gentile Christians needed to uphold the law. We only get to hear Paul’s side of the story, but if we take his Epistle at its word, the two men came to an agreement — Paul would go forth as an “Apostle to the Gentiles”, while Peter would preach to “the circumcised.”
But there is a problem there. The agreement, which Paul speaks of contradicts the book of Acts, which states that Peter, not Paul, was chosen by God to minister to the Gentiles.
“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.”
– Holy Bible: Acts 15:7
Nevertheless, Paul claimed to have a different gospel than Peter and the other apostles – the gospel of the uncircumcised – a gospel which he,
“…didn’t receive from any man nor was he taught it…”
– Holy Bible: Galatians 1:12
by Christ’s Apostles. Paul’s gospel came purely from revelation, and therefore couldn’t be verified by anyone as truthful. And yet, Paul’s new gospel split the Christian faith into two distinct confessions — one rooted in Judaism and a version tailored for the Gentiles.
Concluding this chapter of Galatians, Paul argues that his way is the correct way. Because, even though Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father…”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 7:21
Paul taught that salvation comes not by works but by faith alone.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
– Holy Bible: Galatians 2:19-21
Today, virtually all Christians accept Jesus as the human embodiment of God – one part of a holy Trinity. But it wasn’t always like that. The early Christians were not in agreement on this point. In fact, up until the 4th century, Christians fell into two camps. Those who believed Jesus to be a divine messenger of God and those who believed that Jesus was both fully human and fully God. How did these radically different understandings of Jesus evolve? Perhaps, the best way to solve this mystery is to take a look at the words of Jesus. Did Jesus ever call himself God? The answer is: No, not even once. Jesus said there is only one God, and it isn’t him. He famously asked:
“Why do you call me good? No one is good – except God alone.”
– Holy Bible: Mark 10:18
And he warned against those who deified him, saying:
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 15:9
Jesus differentiates himself from God numerous times throughout the Bible, saying things like:
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
– Holy Bible: John 5:30
And he also says,
“For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.”
– Holy Bible: John 12:49
If Jesus never called himself God, how did he become known as God? The Pauline Epistles are sprinkled with statements conflating Jesus with God — Paul, refers to “Christ, who is God over all” (Romans 9:5), and “Our God and Saviour Jesus” (Titus 2:13).
It seems like a blatant contradiction, but perhaps it suited Paul’s grand agenda to misguide people. If people are worshiping Jesus as God, they are associating others with him, undercutting the very foundation of monotheism. Not only did he call Christ God, he revamped Christ’s image. If Jesus was God, he couldn’t be seen as an ordinary man.
He had to be seen as celibate.
If you know anything about Jesus today, it’s that Jesus, unlike all of the messengers before and after him, was supposedly celibate. But what, exactly, do the scriptures say? The answer is: Absolutely nothing. The Gospels never specify whether Jesus was married or unmarried. The idea that celibacy was somehow superior to marriage came entirely from Paul. He wrote:
“I wish all were single, just as I am.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 7:7
And Paul said:
“It is good that a man should not touch a woman.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 7:1
Paul’s sexual asceticism came to shape and colour the Christian faith, as we know it today. Celibacy is practiced by Roman Catholic Priests and Nuns, but where did Paul get this stance from? It certainly wasn’t Jesus, because as Paul admitted himself:
“I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 7:25
Had Jesus been celibate, Paul would certainly have invoked him as an example when arguing for celibacy. But he doesn’t. Never once does Paul argue that Christians should be celibate, because Jesus was celibate. We know that the 12 apostles were married. In fact, Jesus famously resurrected Simon Peter’s mother-in-law from the dead, as recorded in the Gospels. And the Gospel of Matthew records Jesus affirming the sanctity of marriage, quoting Old Testament Scripture, saying,
“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 19:4-6
Despite what Jesus said, Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians said that all unmarried people should not seek to get married. Why might Paul want to spread this doctrine of celibacy? What would it mean for the future of Christianity? Well, if marriages stop, so too do children. Dramatically reducing the number of Christians born into the world.
Paul held himself up as an example of the celibate life. He never married a woman. A fact which isn’t so shocking, once we hear what Paul had to say about the status of women.
Jewish culture in the first century was decidedly patriarchal, but when Jesus came along he flipped that tradition on its head. The Gospels all testify that Jesus treated women with respect in opposition to the cultural norms. He spoke to women in public, he healed women, he allowed women to sit at his feet and learn from him. And we know, from the Gospel of Luke, that Jesus journeyed from village to village with a caravan, including female disciples.
“Mary (called Magdalene)…Joanna the wife of Chuza…Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
– Holy Bible: Luke 8:2-3
The Gospel of Mark states that the women who were present at crucifixion had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him (Mark 15:41). Given that Jewish women at this time were not to learn the scriptures or even to leave their households, Jesus’ message was distinctly different and liberating for women. So, it stands to reason that any true Apostle of Jesus would also embrace female leadership. But that’s not what Paul did at all. Unlike Jesus, Paul said that women should remain silent. In his Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul says:
“The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
And he said:
“I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Timothy 2:12.
But doesn’t this fly in the face of Jesus’ actions? Three days after the crucifixion, when Jesus makes his comeback, he doesn’t appear to Peter nor to anyone of the other 12 men. He appears first to a woman, Mary Magdalene, and sends her on a mission:
“Go instead to my brothers and tell them…” Mary went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.”
– Holy Bible: John 20:17-18
For this reason, Mary is called the “apostle to the apostles.” But Paul tried to strip her of this honor and erase her role from history. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul said, explicitly, that Jesus appeared first to Peter, then to the Twelve apostles.” Then to 500 people, and finally to himself. He makes no mention of Mary Magdalene. But this is only one example of Paul’s questionable rulings on the rights of women, which modern Christians may take issue with. Paul also demanded that women cover their heads with a veil.
Today the hijab or veil is viewed as an Islamic tradition, but it did not originate with the religion of Islam.
It traces back to the words of the so-called apostle Paul, who explained that women must cover their hair whilst praying — not for the purpose of modesty but because, according to Paul, women are inferior to men. In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote:
“…I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 11:3-9.
Although Jesus never said anything along these lines, the Roman Catholic Church adopted Paul’s decree. The second Catholic Pope, Linus, a disciple of Paul, made head coverings for women a mandatory practice in the year 70 AD. And it remained an official ruling in the Catholic Code of Law up until 1983, that,
“…women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.”
All of this just goes to show how far Christianity deviated from the essence of Jesus’ message. Over time, Paul’s doctrine has eclipsed the words of Jesus to such an extent that Paul is, perhaps, the most influential person in the history of Western Civilization. We are all cultural heirs of Paul.
In contrast, Jesus — the Jewish Messiah, who sought to establish the Kingdom of God on earth — has been largely lost to our culture.
This world has many pitfalls, which Jesus warned about — among them, love of money and power. For Jesus, money and its corrupting allure had no place in religion. He taught his disciples to,
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 10:8
In other words, do not accept payment for preaching and teaching. Paul, on the other hand, said that people should pay for the word of God,
“In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 9:14
Christianity, as we know it today, has followed the footsteps of Paul rather than Jesus. Religion has become a billion-dollar industry, complete with megachurches and celebrity preachers. Whereas Jesus required his disciples to sell their belongings and divide the money amongst the poor, pastors like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland and the like traverse the globe on private jets, live in mansions and hoard hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves. Isn’t this exactly the kind of corruption Jesus warned against when he commanded his followers to “freely give”? So why then, did Paul teach the opposite? It is impossible to mention extravagant wealth in religion without mentioning the Roman Catholic Church. Well known for its opulent costumes and decor, the Vatican sits atop billions of dollars in assets. The Pope exemplifies the words of Paul rather than Jesus. And what’s more – the Pope’s hands are dirty from shaking hands with the tyrants of this world.
Jesus taught that the nations of the world are under the rule of the devil. In the Gospel of Matthew, Satan offers Jesus authority to rule the kingdoms of the world, but Jesus refuses, saying:
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 4:10
Jesus was a revolutionary, who taught that submission should only be given unto God. So why did Paul preach submission unto tyranny? He wrote in his Epistle to the Romans,
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…”
– Holy Bible: Romans 13:1-2
But wait a minute – did Moses bow to Pharoah? Did Abraham submit to Nimrod? Did Jesus pledge allegiance to Caesar? Or did Paul lead his followers down a dangerous road? Teaching them to love the very same tyrants who put Jesus to death. Paul’s sympathy towards the tyrants makes more sense, perhaps, given that the Ahlulbayt (pbut) listed him in the same category as some of the worst tyrants of all time. Imam Musa Al-Kazim (pbuh) said in a long narration about Hellfire:
“…and in the abdomen of that viper there are boxes in which five of the previous nations and two of this nation reside…As for the five, they are Cain who killed Abel, and Nimrod who argued with Abraham about his Lord, and said, “I give life and cause death.” And Pharaoh who said, “I am your most exalted Lord.”, and Yahoud who brought forth a new Judaism for the Jews, and Paul who Christianized the Christians anew…”
– Bihar Al-Anwar, Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi, 3rd ed., v.8, p.310-311, hadith 77
And isn’t it clear that Paul’s doctrine was a brand new version of Christianity? He altered the very core of the religion with his innovative concept of atonement.
It was prophesied in the Torah, that the blood of Jesus, the Messiah, would be poured out as a ransom for many. Isaiah said,
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
– Holy Bible: Isaiah 53:6
And Jesus, himself, confirmed that he was meant to die a sacrificial death. He said:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Holy Bible: Mark 10:45
But how exactly does it work? Jesus never said. Those gaps were filled in by none other than Paul. According to Paul, Jesus’ death signified the end of original sin, the state of sin, in which humanity has existed since the fall of man. When Adam went against God’s decree and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, he was cast out of paradise and his sin brought death upon humankind. But according to Paul, Jesus’ sacrificial death atoned for Adam’s sin. In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul said:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned — ”
– Holy Bible: Romans 5:12
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:22
According to Paul, all we have to do is believe. He said:
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
– Holy Bible: Romans 10:9
There is just one glaring problem with his logic: We still die. If Christ’s sacrifice really meant that believers would no longer be held accountable for original sin, we would never taste death. But the obvious fact is, we do. Clearly, there must be more to this story. The truth is, just as the prophecies proclaimed, Jesus was the long-awaited “…Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Holy Bible: John 1:29)
However, Paul misinterpreted what that meant. Jesus (pbuh) made it clear that he chose to lay down his own life:
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
– Holy Bible: John 10:17-18
So God’s messenger can only be slain if he so chooses. Jesus chose to die, as a mercy for many. Any time God’s vicegerent is martyred, his death signifies the forgiveness of humanity’s sins at that time, not forever, as Paul misunderstood. Because, over time, sins accumulate once again. But the moment a messenger lays down his life for the sake of God, the people’s sins are wiped clean. This applies to nearly everyone. The only people who evade this mercy are the enemies; those who fight and kill God’s messengers. But it doesn’t apply to all people, for all eternity – and the proof of that is the simple fact that we still die. As a result of Paul’s deception, many people have gone to their graves believing that faith alone will save them. But that contradicts Jesus, who clearly said that faith, alone, is not enough. He said:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 7:21
If you take a look at Paul’s overarching message, he made salvation effortless. He abolished the covenant — the agreement between God and mankind — and basically told people to follow their own desires as long as they believe in Jesus. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus warned about when he said:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 7:13-14
So here we have two distinct camps: Jesus Christ and someone who comes along after Jesus, pretending to speak on his behalf whilst leading people astray. The opposite of Christ. What can only be described as history’s very first Anti-Christ. And he is responsible for repeating a pattern, which has plagued God’s religion throughout time.
Oftentimes, after a prophet is gone, someone comes along and corrupts their message to the core. Imam Al-Sadiq (pbuh) said:
“God did not send a Prophet except that there be in his nation two devils who harm him and mislead the people after him…as for the two companions of Jesus, they are Paul and Meriton…”
– Tafsir Al-Qommi, Ali Ibrahim Al-Qommi, v.1, p.214
This may come as a shock, but Jesus himself told us that Paul was a liar. And this warning has been right there in the Bible all along…
Hiding within the pages of Revelation, is a secret encoded message from Jesus. As the story goes, two decades after Paul’s ministry came to an end, Jesus appeared to John on the isle of Patmos, sometime in the final years of the first century, and revealed a wealth of knowledge. Much of the revelation focuses on the events of the end times, the signs of Christ’s second coming.
But the second chapter of this book contains more timely advice. In Revelation 2:2, Jesus addresses 7 churches, among them the church at Ephesus, in Asia Minor. According to Jesus’ words, there was a trial at Ephesus of persons who told the Ephesians they were apostles. But the verdict found they were not true apostles. Jesus said:
“I have known thy works, and thy labour, and thy endurance, and that thou art not able to bear evil ones, and that thou hast tried those saying themselves to be apostles and are not, and hast found them liars…”
– Holy Bible: Revelation 2:2
Now, who could this verse be referring to? Do we know of any individual who visited the Church of Ephesus, claiming to be an Apostle of Christ?
As a matter of fact, we do. Remember how Paul went off for 10 years preaching his gospel in Asia Minor? He definitely visited the Christian community at Ephesus. And in his Epistle to the Ephesians he declared himself an apostle, addressing his letter,
“From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. To God’s people who live in Ephesus and are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.”
– Holy Bible: Ephesians 1:1
There is no evidence for Paul being an apostle, except from Paul’s own mouth. Even in the book of Acts, none of the 12 apostles lend that title to Paul. Thus, the only person in the entire New Testament to say Paul is an Apostle of Jesus, is Paul himself. Is that enough to prove someone is truthful? If we listen to the words of Jesus – no, it is not. Jesus said:
“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.”
– Holy Bible: John 5:31
Jesus was verified by a witness — John the Baptist, who passed on the torch of God’s leadership to him. Paul had no witness and no one to verify his claim. Now, the question becomes: Is there any evidence in the Bible that the Ephesians determined Paul was not an apostle? The answer is yes. Both Paul and Luke mention that Paul was subject to a heresy trial at Ephesus. In one of his Epistles, Paul says:
“This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me.”
– Holy Bible: 2 Timothy 1:15
And the Book of Acts records:
“…Paul…came to Ephesus….And he entered into the synagogue [at Ephesus], and spake boldly for the space of three months, reasoning and persuading as to the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them [the Ephesians].”
– Holy Bible: Acts 19:1, 8-9
All of this parallels what Jesus spoke about twenty years later in Revelation. Clearly, Paul went to the Ephesians and preached before they decided that his message was deviated from Christ and so, they turned against him. But what was their complaint against Paul? Fortunately for us, their complaint was recorded in the Book of Acts. In Acts chapter 21, Luke tells us that Jews from Asia, at Jerusalem, were disturbed by what Paul was preaching — that Jesus’ death brought a New Covenant, one which abolished the Law of Moses and the Jewish people’s position as covenant partners with God. In Acts 21:28, “Jews from Asia” appeal to the Apostle James for help, complaining:
“This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the Law….”
– Holy Bible: Acts 21:28
These Jewish followers of Jesus appealed to James for help against Paul, who was pressuring them to break the promise of God — the law which Jesus said to uphold. The Ephesians, back in the 1st century, chose to stick to the words of Christ. And Jesus commended them for it. But what about us today? Fast forward nearly 2000 years and most of the world has forgotten or perhaps chosen, to ignore all that Jesus had to say.
Long ago, Saul of Tarsus set out to destroy the religion of Christ and if you really look at it, isn’t that exactly what he did? Over the years, Paul dedicated his life to spreading his religion far and wide. But what religion, exactly, did he spread? Did he succeed in converting many to Christianity or an entirely different religion — Paulinity? Isn’t he exactly the type of person Jesus warned about when he said:
“…many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 7:22-23
Jesus came with a certain message, to call the people back to God. But if you look at Christianity today it is defined, not by his message but by the teachings of Paul. Just take a look at the Apostles’ Creed, which states that Jesus was:
“Conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary,” and that he “Was crucified, dead and buried, and on the third day He rose again from the dead.”
It jumps straight from Jesus’ birth to his death, completely erasing what he taught in the middle. Now, consider how Christianity, as we know it today, erases the life of Christ, and is defined by Jesus’ birth and death — Christmas and Easter — a direct result of Paul’s doctrine. If we erase Paul’s contribution from the Bible, Christianity would look like something else, entirely. And how can we honestly call the faith “Christianity,” when it goes against all that Jesus taught? Paul caused the religion of Jesus to diverge into two paths.
And now you stand at the crossroads. Will you walk the straight path of Jesus Christ? Or the one paved by Paul, the road which leads to destruction? As Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) said:
“The arrogant ones shall be gathered on the Day of Resurrection like atoms in the image of men, humiliation will surround them from everywhere, they shall be taken to a prison in Hellfire called Paul.”
– Sunan Al-Tirmithi, Abi Issa Muhammad Al-Tirmithi, v.4, p.66-67, Hadith 2610