THE ANTICHRIST OF CHRISTIANITY
Paul in Christianity
Paul is second only to Jesus as the greatest figure and leader in Christianity. He is also seen as
The 13th apostle
An Ambassador of Christ
A Recipient of Revelation
A Source of (Christian) law
A Chief interpreter of the law
In addition, Paul was also regarded as
A Member of the Tribe of Benjamin (The Tribe of Benjamin had ceased to exist by Paul's time)
A Born Jew
Circumcised as a child
A Citizen of
A Roman Citizen
A Married man
In his early life, he is said to have been
A man named Saul
A Student of Gamaliel in his childhood
A Persecutor of Christians
Paul is said never to have been
A Quisling Roman official
A Police official in the agency of the High Priest
A Student of Hellenism
Paul’s Theology (Miscellaneous)
He was selected by Jesus Christ himself as his representative on the road to
Paul had a dominant and commanding personality. He was direct, blunt, forward and at times very sure of himself at the expense of others.
He was married, but there is no record of offspring, siblings or parents. He speaks of a nephew (his sister’s son).
Paul’s Final Years
He was allegedly executed by the High Priest in 62, but this is unlikely
Paul’s letters were written about 50-60
The New Testament Gospels were written around 70-110
Acts of the Apostles by Luke (where Paul is the hero) were written around 90
Paul outside the Bible
The Gnostics and Pagans of his era claim Paul as one of their own. He is spoken of with great affection and respect and some of Paul’s writings conform to their lingua franca and Greek vernacular.
Paganism in Paul’s Theology
The following ideas were strongly prevalent in Paul’s era
A dying and resurrected god
A god being crucified
Salvation from sin through the blood of a god
The Son of God or God possessing a son who ‘helped’ God create the universe
Birth of a god in a manger
A Virgin birth for a god
Angelic chorus at the time of the god’s birth
The arrival of Magi to the god at the time of birth
The god being called or described as ‘light of the universe’
The devil being called ‘prince of darkness’
The god being baptised
The god being born on December 25th or mid winter
Paul in his own words
‘I was thoroughly trained in every point of our ancestral law. I have always been ardent in God’s service…I began to persecute this movement (the Christians) to the death, arresting its followers, men and women alike, and putting them in chains. For this I have as witnesses the High Priest and the whole Council of Elders.
I was given letters from them (the High Priest and the Council of Elders) to our fellow-Jews at
‘My life from my youth up, the life that I led from the beginning among my people and in
It was I who imprisoned many of God’s people by authority obtained from the chief priests; and when they were condemned to death, my vote was cast against them.
In all the synagogues I tried by repeated punishment to make them renounce their faith; indeed my fury rose to such a pitch that I extended my persecution to foreign cities. On one such occasion I was travelling to
“I want you to know brothers that the gospel that was proclaimed to me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
I did not at once confer any human being, neither did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was, but I went away into Arabia and came back to
Then after three years I went up to
(Letter by Paul to the Galatians 1: 11-16)
James, the brother of Jesus, was not an apostle. He was the Head of the
It should be noted Moses is said to have spent some time in Arabia (whose land area was larger and was closer to
“We know that the law [Torah/Mosaic law] is spiritual; but I am not; I am unspiritual, the purchased slave of sin. I do not even acknowledge my own actions as mine, for what I do is not what I want to do, but what I detest.
But if what I do is against my will, it means that I agree with the law and hold it to be admirable. But as things are, it is no longer I who perform the action, but sin that lodges in me. For I know nothing good lodges in me- in my unspiritual nature, I mean- for though the will to do good is there, the deed is not. The good which I want to do, I fail to do; but what I do is the wrong which is against my will; and if what I do is against my will, clearly it is no longer I who am the agent, but sin that has its lodging in me.
I discover this principle, then: that when I want to do the right, only the wrong is within my reach. In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves and making me a prisoner under the law that is in my members, the law of sin.
Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of this body doomed to death? God alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Thanks be to God! In a word, then I myself, subject to God’s law as a rational being, am yet, in my unspiritual nature, a slave to the law of sin.
The conclusion of the matter is this! There is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus, because in Christ Jesus the life-giving law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the law could never do, because of our lower nature robbed it of all potency, God has done by sending his own son.”
(Paul’s letter to the Romans 7: 14-8)
Paul is speaking not literally, but using many examples to illustrate his various points. The Torah or the Mosaic Law is good and just in itself, but the soul is weak and has difficulty in following it and rebels against it with regularity.
The believer wishes to do good and become good, but is unable to tightly follow all the commands, prohibitions and legal requirements as set by the Torah all the time and it is this fear of failing that horrifies them.
The ability to maintain a strong and firm will and resolute determination in controlling the inner self is difficult in itself and the variety of legal rulings and regulations on top of that could make a believer fall from grace.
In addition, the soul is incapacitated and all human ability to govern itself with the correct endeavours and exertions available to it are beyond its competence and moral aptitude.
Paul’s solution is to look for the mercy sent to dissolve the demanding rigidness enforced upon Jews until now and the new hope to enliven their spirits in realising God’s visualisation of their moral and psychological condition and state of affairs.
The appearance or rather the symbolic death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has provided a means to be absolved of this duty and God Himself has given clemency to all through the crucifixion.
No longer is it necessary to fear the inability to obey, uphold, adhere to and perform every task and objective with perfection ordained by the law and risk God’s Wrath on the Day of Judgment for obvious human weaknesses.
The law could never force a person to be good and permanently free of error or sin all the time throughout his/her life, but God’s Forgiveness and deliverance from inflexibleness is encapsulated in the generosity and benevolence He desires for His subjects.
In addition the concept of Original Sin, the stigma attached to all human beings from birth is an imperishable law of nature that resides in the soul and no singular or full adherence to the Torah can erase its existence from the flesh except Baptism and the unyielding belief in Jesus Christ.
Jewish commentaries on the above issue prior to Paul stressed God was never one to demand more than what was possible for anyone and where human weakness arose, the doors of mercy, repentance and forgiveness were always open.
The strength of sincerity would differ from person to person and some were more committed and able than others throughout the ages. God was not one to punish those less able or less willing than the best to pursue perfection.
THE DIVINE VERDICT
“Be wary of false prophets, who come to you in the guise of sheep while at heart they are voracious wolves. You will know them by the deed they do… so every healthy tree bears good fruit, but a rotten tree bears defective fruit.
Many will say to me on that Day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, cast out demons and in Your name do many wonderful works? ‘Then I will frankly say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me you evil workers.’
(Speech by Jesus, Matthew 7: 15-23)
“And that (false) prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death.”
(Deuteronomy 13: 5)
“Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, says the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them.”
(Speech by God, Jeremiah 23: 32)
“The (false) prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.”
(Speech by God, Deuteronomy 18: 20)
“My hand will be against the (false) prophet who sees delusive visions and who give lying divinations; they shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of
(Speech by God, Ezekiel 13: 8-9)
“Believe not every ‘Spirit’, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the World’.
(John 4: 1)
‘Spirit’ here means one of two kinds of people; the first are the honest and sincere true prophets of God, while the second are dishonest double crossers who say they are from God but in actuality don’t believe in God at all.
“I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment.”
(Matthew 12: 36)
The judgment is more serious where deliberate lies, distortions, manipulation and corrupt creeds are presented as factual and truth is suppressed, hidden and fought against.
Where righteousness is illustrated as wrong and evil is shown to be desirable and good, the accountability and punishment is greater. Where the law is applied to protect and safeguard evil and good is admonished as undesirable and unacceptable, the lie and indictments against the proponents of this is greatest.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.”
(Speech by God, Exodus 32: 33)
“The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his Lord.”
(Speech by Jesus, Matthew 10: 24)
If Paul claims to be the apostle of Christ, his ambassador and representative then the message, teachings and creed should belong to the one who has sent him, namely Jesus and it is more important than the representative’s personal opinions and where there is disparity between the two, it is the master or leader who has supremacy in the correct or official line of thought.
“Verily, I say unto you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, shall he do also.”
(Speech by Jesus, John 14: 12)
A few points of historical interest on Judaism during the era of Paul
The Jews in
The Pharisees believed in expounding and interpreting the Written Torah (also known as Written Law) with emerging circumstances and the use of including human intellect and reasoning (known as the Oral Torah) through trained ‘sages’ (Rabbis after 70) and by a majority vote among them when necessary.
The legal rulings, exegesis, differences of opinion and records of debate of professional Rabbis were and remain the principal foundation for Pharisaic Judaism and its application of Mosaic Law to this day and the Talmud was an early brainchild of this line of thought.
Unlike their chief rivals, the Sadducees, they didn’t believe in the literal application of rules and regulations from the Written Torah and otherwise and actually opposed it where it was deemed more harmful than good.
A Pharisee was both a trained lawyer in religion and an active inspirational preacher. This meant he had undertaken a comprehensive education in the Written Torah, Jewish history and the collection of scientific, legal and related-exegesis from the Oral Torah.
A trained Pharisee was as such a graduate of one of the special academies designed for this purpose. At the time, the Pharisees were not a professional class and each member was an artisan of other professions through which they supported themselves and took no financial stipendiary or tithes for their services from the State, the synagogues or the laity.
The Sadducees in comparison focussed on three principal aspects for spiritual guidance; the Bible, the
Unlike the Pharisees who could stem from the lowest ranks of society and from all walks of life, and still dream of occupying the function of a Jewish religious leader, Sadducee Priests were a hereditary and narrow section of Israelite Jewry.
One had to be born into the Tribe of Levi (Lawi) who was himself a son of Jacob the ancestor and great-great grandfather of Aaron and Moses to have any hope of ever becoming a priest and member of the
The chief role of preaching, propagation, conveyance and sermonizing in the Bible was given not to the priests, but to the Prophets. The Prophets were individuals selected by God for their qualities and individual integrity and as such were from different segments of society. Moses himself, the Pharisees say, did not elect to be the first High Priest, but appointed his brother, Aaron instead.
THE HIGH PRIEST
The High Priest, the chief leader of the Sadducees, was a ceremonial functionary of the
Despite the title, ‘High Priest’, his role was as a quisling judge of the highest order and police commissioner to preserve Roman rule. He was not as such trained in Jewish theology, did not hold the authority to decide on spiritual matters and had little personal interest in religion.
The High Priest possessed his own police force, his own armed services, his own tribunal, his own penal system including prisons and arrangements for flogging and other punishments and was an appointee of the occupying
In capital offences, which included serious insurrection against the Empire, the High Priest was required to send the accused to
The Sadducees, who were comprised of wealthy families, landowners and the like favoured occupation to native rule and assisted the High Priest in looking for rebels, zealots and revolutionaries.
Religious affairs didn’t concern the High Priest as such, political hegemony was what mattered. The Pharisees worked with him on religious points of interest, but even that at arms length, the former considered him to be ignorant of their theology and was corrupt. They further looked forward to Jewish independence.
Since the Sadducees championed the cause of
The Sadducees gladly offered their fellow Jews over to him when required and saw no contradiction in allying with unbelieving gentiles against their own people. As such, the Pharisees were popular and known among the masses and the Sadducees were generally despised.
The Pharisees had long since seen themselves as being the heirs to the Prophets and the interpreters of the law. An alliance with the High Priest was the last thing on their minds. At best, to the Pharisees, he was a heretic and a traitor.
The Sadducees meanwhile desired to preserve the status quo and maintain everything the way it was. The High Priest to them was the grand master, chief inspiration and principal source of leadership.
Innovations were not to be tolerated, no lay clergy other than themselves were required to clarify and interpret the Written Law and the Bible was to be followed to the letter.
Occupying forces usually favoured rigid control of religious law, but advocated retaining it where it benefited the consolidation of their position as political rulers. The break between the Pharisees and the Sadducees was clearly imminent.
In such an atmosphere, no right thinking Pharisee would approach the High Priest for apprehending and arresting fellow Israelites, only a Sadducee would. Private individuals did not seek letters for seizing other citizens, the High Priest was not someone who permitted such actions, nor did he have the jurisdiction to do so either.
The High Priest orchestrated such manoeuvres himself and authorised those under him to carry out his orders and detain the accused for rebellion against
If Pharisees appeared before him and wished for the incarceration of the leaders or laity of other religious movements, the High Priest would be uninterested in personal involvement.
If Pharisees informed the High Priest of major internal differences between them or with other Jews, he would be more than pleased since he opposed them and desired their demise, but would still stay aloof from direct involvement.
If Paul is to be believed in his assertion, he was given letters to arrest and persecute Christians and travelled to Damascus with a view of extraditing those who had fled there, one can only surmise, he was not only never a Pharisee at all, but a Sadducee (or gentile) and police official sent on the orders of the High Priest himself.
If Paul was trusted enough to lead the expedition, we can surmise further, Paul was employed in the service of the High Priest for some years, perhaps held an official function or semi-judicial role, was a senior figure and possible member of the Sanhedrin.
A Gnostic, a pagan or even a foreigner was less likely to have the same level of sympathy or feelings for Jews than a Pharisee and be a more fitting and loyal member of the High Priest’s entourage. Paul may have been such at the time of his appointment.
As an immigrant from a foreign land, there were fewer options available to him for earning a decent salary. The High Priest is likely to have used mercenaries and foreigners where necessary to accomplish what Jews under him might refuse or be reluctant to do.
It is further unlikely he was a youth at the time as Paul’s actions imply a senior rank, qualification and responsibility not usually designated to young inexperienced personnel.
It is likely and clearly plausible however, Paul was not a member of the Sanhedrin by merit or distinction, but as it has been suggested as a biological relative of the Herodian bloodline; an actual family member of the principal Roman leader of the occupied territory. It would be wise to hide such a connection from future followers.
The Jewish people were then living under their third monarch after centuries of enslavement and disgrace in
Solomon’s father and predecessor, King David, had aspired to be the first to build it in
Both King David and Solomon are considered as men of God, but not prophets by Christianity and Judaism.
The Tribe of Levi assumed responsibility for its preservation, maintenance and continuation of sacrifices, worship and special designation as the Lord’s House and symbolic importance.
In 587 BC, five hundred years later, King Nebuchadnezzar of
70 years later, King Cyrus of
King Cyrus authorised the rebuilding of the
Another five centuries later, the Prophets Zachariah, John the Baptist and Jesus would visit and regularly teach at the
Some six decades later, the Jewish people staged a revolt against the Roman occupation.
The rebellion lasted four years and almost succeeded in destroying the Roman stranglehold on
In 70, a decade after the alleged execution of James, the brother of Jesus by the High Priest and some three years after the crucifixion of Simon Peter, the Jews surrendered and
Pauline Christianity triumphed from the destruction and rose as the principal source of Christian dogma suppressing Jewish Christianity and the earliest interpretations, knowledge and understanding of the Messianic mission and his correct teachings and theme of instruction.
As a consequence for the insurrection however,
The Jewish Temple however, has never since been rebuilt, although several places of worship have been designed and erected there. Among them was the Cathedral of Resurrection, a place the Messenger of Allah led the Prophets in Prayer while on his ascent to visit the Divine Presence.
The Dome of the Rock, a mosque built in the Seventh Century, stands today in one segment of the area where the
THE EBIONITE DESCRIPTION OF PAUL
The Ebionites believed Jesus was no more than a man but was granted Prophetic status by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him. They further argued Jesus did not abrogate the Mosaic Law and still accepted its validity. The virgin birth was attested to and given its place in their theology.
Paul meanwhile was seen with suspicion and not as an inspired apostle. His vision of Jesus in
Paul was born and raised in
In the Pseudo-Clementine writings, an alleged Ebionite work, Paul is described as a false prophet, a man who spread lies about Peter and in reality knew nothing about the true teachings of Jesus. He never met Jesus in the flesh and based everything on delusive visions.
Whilst not mentioned by name specifically, the subject of attack is on an imaginary character ‘Simon Magus’, Simon the Magician. It has been accepted by many Paul is being described and the writings were declared heretical.
An Arabic manuscript (of approximately the 5th Century and also of an Ebionite stance) discovered by Shlomo Pines showed Paul as a falsifier of Jesus’ teachings and further says Paul abandoned observance of the Torah mainly for support and patronage of Rome and the achievement of personal power and influence for himself.
His Christianity, the source says, was ‘Romanism’. Instead of converting Romans into Christians, he converted Christians into Romans.
Interestingly, the Pauline influence of the Gospels is also touched upon. The source mentions the Synoptic Gospels were untrustworthy and self contradictory. The only trustworthy one it declares was the one written in Hebrew.
In the works of Epiphanius (4th Century), a non Ebionite writer talking about their beliefs wrote-
“They declare he was a Greek…He went up to Jerusalem, they say, and when he had spent some time there, he was seized with a passion to marry the daughter of the priest. For this reason he became a proselyte and was circumcised. Then when he failed to get the girl, he flew into a rage and wrote against circumcision and against the Sabbath and the Law.”
Paul is said here not to be a resident of
PAUL V’S PAUL
“If through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that way), ‘Let us do evil so that good may come.”
(Paul’s letter to the Romans 3: 7-8)
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
(Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians 4:4)
“What I am saying in regard to this boastful confidence, I am saying not with the Lord’s authority, but as a fool.”
(Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians 11:17)
“He said: ‘We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles.”
(Paul’s letter to the Galatians 2: 15)
“A man is not justified by works of the law, but by faith of Jesus Christ. For if righteousness came by law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
(Paul’s letter to the Galatians 2: 16)
“God will render to every man according to his deeds.”
(Paul’s letter to the Romans 2: 6)
PAUL AS A YOUTH
This is one aspect of Paul’s life, few historians or theologians seem interested in. In fact there is a scarcity of scholarship on this issue which is a huge and integral segment of Paul’s career.
This is where Paul started his meteoric rise into the Jewish hierarchy, his education, training and age of maturity and responsibility stemmed directly from childhood. He was born not to Jewish parents in a strictly pious Jewish background, but pagans.
The theology exercised in the World Paul was in was just one branch of several hundred religions, cults and societies. Among the most popular were the Mystery religions, Gnosticism and the like.
Despite this, it was Greek culture (Hellenism) and its sisters; Greek thought, Greek philosophy, Greek poetry and Greek theology among others that represented the elite and most superior forms of idealism in business, commerce, government, literature, the mass media and law. In addition, Greek language still predominated as the principal medium of international communication the way English is today.
The catalyst for this explosion of Greek culture was the dawn of the Hellenistic Age, inaugurated some three centuries earlier by Alexander, the Macedonian monarch of
By the time Paul was born, Hellenisation was complete and normal. There even existed two Bibles; the Hebrew Bible and now a more familiar Greek Bible, the Septuagint (meaning seventy as 72 scribes had written it), for those who didn’t know Hebrew.
It was the Greek Bible, Paul was most fond of and quoted from. The difference was there were aspects in the Hebrew text that the Greek Bible misinterpreted or commented on incorrectly.
As a resident of
Paul is likely to have seen statues, pictorial images or figures of Attis, a hanged god, which was a well known and popular deity in the city of his boyhood and across Phyrigia and Syria and the dripping flayed body may have caught his eye more than once as he travelled with his family.
Attis was a child of miracle, born to a virgin mother, Nana. He was a shepherd and the consort of Cybele, the mother of the gods. He was killed either as a youth by a wild bear or castrated and nailed himself to a pine tree and bled to death.
Attis, however, did not die fully. Although his blood gave new life to humanity, he nevertheless rose from the dead. His tomb was found to be empty the day after he had been laid to rest. In time, the cult of Attis added a sacramental meal and baptism by blood.
The followers of Attis used to castrate themselves to experience the same pain and suffering of their god and become ‘in him’, thus replacing their own individuality with that of their god.
Paul, as a Christian, years later claimed to have had special marks on his body (Galatians 6: 17) illustrating his share of suffering and sense of identification with his Lord, Jesus Christ and became ‘in him’.
The Greek version in Galatians 6: 17 says ‘chose to reveal his son in me’. The English versions say, ‘chose to reveal his son through me.’ The Greek version shows Paul saying he has become manifest or incarnate with Jesus Christ, the English versions show Jesus was to revealed to Paul.
The worship of another Mother-Child family, this time a trinity from
In the same way,
All the above was widespread and popular in Paul’s time as were the images and pictures of Isis the virgin mother and ‘queen of heaven’ suckling or feeding the infant Horus. Those portraits of two millennia earlier differ with slight variations to pictures, paintings and images of Mary and the baby Jesus on her lap.
In time, Mary the mother of Jesus, was also bestowed with the being the ‘queen of heaven’, her most famous predecessor included Semiramis, the mother and wife of Nimrod, a millennium before her.
Paul and the Asian Jews in
Paul had come to
“When his seven days were nearly ended, the Asian Jews caught sight of Paul in the
For they had earlier seen Trophimus of Ephesus with him outside in the city, and they thought that Paul had brought him into the
They seized Paul and dragged him out of the
(Acts 21: 27-31)
The ‘Asian Jews’ here were Jewish Christians and not Jews in general. The Jewish Christians in
The Jewish Christians thus received their teachings directly from a fixed hierarchy; the immediate followers of the Messiah and firmly on the foundations built and designed by him.
The Jewish Christians had come across Paul’s mixture of ideas, separate philosophy and message of redemption different from their immediate teachers; the disciples and had begun to dislike his presence and theological perspective.
As there was ‘talk’ of Paul preaching a new theology, the
Shortly before leaving
Paul had been aware of the possibility of violent repercussions in coming to
The word used by James, ‘myriads’, to describe the number of Jewish followers to the Jerusalem Church, actually means ‘tens of thousands’, all staunch upholders to the Law had heard of Paul’s alternative gospel and theology and were unhappy with it.
I wish the reader to reflect on one statement and will comment on the same verse, ‘the whole city was roused, and a crowd gathered’.
The message is clear, a major incident occurred in
Paul before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest
The Sanhedrin was a Jewish judgment court in
It had replaced ‘The Assembly of the Great Synagogue’ in 310 BC after the death of Simeon the Just. The Sanhedrin was described as an orderly, civilised and respectable legal body.
Its function was to try cases brought before them not on religious grounds, but for political offences against
The trial of Paul occurred shortly after he was arrested by the Roman police for starting a riot. Paul according to Acts (in the New Testament) had been rescued by the Roman police from the ‘Jews’.
However, some historians argue it is more likely Paul had informed the local Roman sentries about his Roman citizenship before the riot, just in case he needed them and they appeared at the scene specifically to protect him and not as by-passers.
Whilst the Roman police force kept the Jews away from him, his citizenship and presence in the city sparked interest in him and as such he was made to appear before the Sanhedrin to explain his position. The High Priest was in attendance as usual and Paul did not recognise him.
The High Priest at the trial was different from the one that had known Paul some time earlier when the latter was a senior figure under them, but Paul’s record and term of office as a police/security official had not been forgotten and neither had the memory he had absconded whilst on a foreign mission to apprehend Christian exiles in Syria.
Paul spoke in his own defence and the speech is retained in the New Testament (Acts 23:1-10).
“My brothers, I have lived all my life as a Pharisee and still live today, with a perfectly clear conscience before God.’ At this the High Priest Ananias ordered his attendants to strike him on the mouth.
Paul retorted, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me in accordance with the Law; and then in defiance of the Law you order me to be struck!’
The attendants said, ‘Would you insult God’s High Priest?’ My brothers,’ said Paul, ‘I had no idea that he was High Priest; Scripture, I know, says: ‘You must not abuse the ruler of your people.’
Now Paul was well aware that one section of them were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, so he called out in the Council, ‘My brothers, I am a Pharisee born and bred; and the true issue in this trial is our hope of the resurrection of the dead.’…..
Some of the doctors of the law belonging to the Pharisaic party openly took sides and declared, ‘We can no find no fault with this man; perhaps an angel or spirit has spoken to him.’
A few points worth mentioning here. Paul is indirectly saying he is not a believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ, he rejects the death of Jesus as a salvation for mankind, he accepts the Mosaic Law and strictly adheres to the commands and prohibitions as issued and prescribed to the Jews. By saying,-
‘I am a Pharisee born and bred’
This is like saying, ‘I am one of you. Help me.’ It further implies he strongly advocates and promotes Pharisee Judaism as someone well versed and trained in the field.
However, Paul had become a Christian twenty years earlier and his teachings were at a great variance with Pharisaic ideology. In short, Paul was lying. This act of deceit seems to have gone unnoticed as a means of freeing himself from being kept captive further or worse.
He desired Pharisee support and sympathy and appealed to their sense of spiritual brotherhood to save him. He must have had in mind the occasion when Gamaliel, a reputable Pharisee, had defended Peter some years earlier when the latter was himself on trial.
Knowing the Pharisees believed in resurrection, whilst the Sadducees didn’t, was also exploited as a way of diverging his own personal appearance at the trial to a question of religious persuasion.
In response, some Pharisees seem to speak positively of him which is what he was looking for and thinking he may be a recipient of divine wisdom. ‘Spirit’ or ‘Spirits’ in both the Old and New Testament often meant a Prophet of God and not a ghost or supernatural being. The Pharisees may have suspected he received revelation himself or was being instructed by an actual prophet.
It is unlikely events happened exactly as is described and a few more things materialised that day that have since been erased or not mentioned at all. Nonetheless it appears the case against him seemed to collapse and the Pharisees voted for his release and succeeded in his acquittal.
The High Priest, it seems quite likely, hated him even before the trial and had struck him, not necessarily because of the words Paul spoke, but for personal animosity and repugnance at his presence or his earlier defection to Judaism.
The entire episode shows Paul was showing one image of himself to some and a second, third or more to others where and when it suited him. It appears he knew what people wanted to hear, how to manipulate and exploit a situation and when to lie low and act with complete or partial subservience.
Had he divested his belief in Jesus as the risen saviour, the Pharisees would not have supported him and Paul would have remained a prisoner at the mercy of the High Priest and his henchmen. That could have been the end of his career and possibly his life as well.
The trial incident however, also shows some other aspects of the story of Paul and his missionary travels different to the richly presented picture of a persecuted preacher throughout Acts and in his own epistles.
The fact that he is supported by the Pharisees illustrated he was not actually known to all Jews, even to the point senior Pharisees in
He was furthermore not seen as any kind of threat to Judaism in general, it was only the Nazarenes or the so-called Asian Jews who had severe doctrinal differences with him.
Lastly, there seems to be no ‘holy spirit’ to guide him. The High Priest orders him to be hit and yet the Holy Spirit fails to inform Paul who he is and not to speak ill of him. It is the High Priest’s personal attendants that tell Paul he is speaking profanely against the High Priest.
Sometime after Paul was acquitted and discharged from the court, Acts records an assassination attempt on him. Whilst the New Testament reveals ‘Jews’ as the plotters, it follows those involved were neither Nazarene Jews or even ordinary Jews at all, but most likely a select assembly of men sent by the High Priest or chief priests under him who desired to kill Paul.
The incident is written as follows-
“When day broke, ‘the Jews’ banded together and took an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty in this conspiracy. They came to the chief priests and elders and said, ‘We have bound ourselves by a solemn oath not to taste food until we have killed Paul. It is now for you, acting with the Council, to apply to the Commandant to bring him down to you, on the pretext of a closer investigation of his case; and we have arranged to do away with him before he arrives.”
(Acts 23: 12-15)
Paul is known to have escaped. His nephew (his sister’s son) was the informant and persuaded the commandant to give him sentries for protection. Under armed guard, Paul left
The High Priest however, pursued Paul there as well. A few days later, Paul was apprehended and brought before the governor of the city. Acts records the incident as follows-
“We have found this man to be a perfect pest, a fomenter of discord among the Jews all over the world, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even made an attempt to profane the temple; and then we arrested him.”
(Acts 24: 1-9)
The charges against Paul were political and not religious. He was a danger to Roman occupation. The statement also adds colour to one other issue; he wasn’t aware and seemed not to care about Paul’s actual religious base.
The Nazarenes were not led by him and the High Priest seemed unaware the
The governor did not try Paul, or hand him over to the High Priest, but kept a close eye on him. This is likely to have been due to Paul’s Roman citizenship and it is thought, he was aware Paul possessed finance and some wealth which the governor hoped to have a slice of.
It is possible Paul did in fact give Governor Felix part of his wealth as a bribe and so was allowed to live unmolested in
The appeal is granted and Paul travels to
Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I and had executed James, son of Zebedee. Herod Agrippa II therefore knew or must have known of some of the political aspects the Nazarenes.
After the trial in
Why did Paul come to
In Islam, Arabia is the centre of the World, the seat of Allah’s Throne on Earth, the site of the Ka’aba, Masjid-e-Haram, the sacred city of
It is conceivable and understandable if a Muslim wished to travel to
For Muslims, the Ka’aba was the first place of prayer, temple or Masjid the world had ever seen and the greatest house of worship in history as well as among the oldest to Non Muslim chroniclers. It has a significant spiritual standpoint when looked at from history and stood out as such to those who were aware of its existence.
Although now largely a desert environment from all sides, the land has not always been dry. Several centuries before human settlement; forests, vegetation and water were abundant as were many species of animals.
In history the Peninsula has been accorded several names, the most popular being Arabia, Arabia Felix, Arabia Petra and since 1932
Now we come to the puzzling account of Paul and his mysterious journey to the
At the time,
There are few surviving accounts of Paul in
Most of what we now know as
Alexander, the Macedonian monarch of
His generals, after his death, expanded on his dreams by pushing forward with some of his ambitious schemes. One among them was Antigonus, his successor in
In 24 BC, the Nabatean Empire, then still a thriving independent empire, allied with Rome and assisted General Gallus to subdue south Arabia in a common dispute and retained cordial relations thereafter.
Five years before Paul’s birth in 9 BC, the best and greatest of Nabatean rulers, King Aretas IV (Harithath) started his long and momentous reign. He would be recorded in history, not so much for his governance and conquests, but for his kindness to foreigners.
With his capital at Petra (now in Jordan), his empire extended from Damascus in the north to Al Hijr (also known as Mada’in Saleh) in northern Hejaz which includes the holy city of Makkah, the ablest and strongest of Nabatean monarchs, ruled until his death in 40 CE.
It was also during the reign of King Aretas IV; Paul grew to manhood, emigrated from his native city of
Paul was in
Paul is highly likely to have heard of the teachings and religious proclamations of Jesus as the latter travelled and preached across Galilee and
As the congregants and followers increased so must have the rumours and criticisms of the Messiah within the ranks of the Roman administrators as well, among them the High Priest, Paul’s immediate boss.
It is plausible to suggest Paul may have been present or was aware of the so-called trial of Jesus. What Paul thought or knew of Jesus then may never be known. Nevertheless, Paul’s first official appearance in history is recorded only after the crucifixion.
Paul is spoken of in the New Testament as requesting letters from the High Priest to bring men and women from the Nazarene Jewry to face God’s justice from Damascus to Jerusalem (Acts 9: 2).
As stated earlier, Paul as a Pharisee (if he actually was one) would never approach the High Priest, a political figure, to intervene in a religious dispute where he had no official or spiritual jurisdiction.
He was not a welcome figure in their assemblies nor was he ever invited to the synagogues as a special guest or speaker and accorded no respect or grand ovations as a pious Jew.
Secondly, Pharisees regarded the High Priest with scorn, ignorance, pity, distaste and revulsion. In short, the High Priest was seen as nothing short as corrupt, narrow minded, selfish and evil and worshipped only money, prestige and
He was the last person Pharisees approached for religious guidance, spiritual growth and even for political advice or assistance. If anything, they would seek to place him on trial for heresy and collaboration with
He was a deeply hated, resented and highly despised figure to most Jews in
It follows then Paul did not go before him as a Pharisee priest and Jewish observer of the law as he claims in his epistles. Paul went as someone who knew little to nothing about Judaism and was on friendly terms with the High Priest as a direct employee and agent of his private assembly.
Private individuals or men of wealth did not approach the High Priest, the government of the day or anyone else to seek permission to receive warrants for arresting people they didn’t like in the same way priests or the like weren’t entitled to that privilege either.
This was police work and under governmental authority of a foreign empire of occupation, not a liberty available to people both in general or otherwise. Paul as a Pharisee, if he was one, would be excluded from receiving letters on the grounds of suspicion as a Jewish (Pharisee) priest and on being an unknown and complete stranger to the High Priest.
What reasons did the High Priest have to trust Paul and enrobe him, not just with a letter, but letters to arrest a few people, as his personal representative on an illegal mission (without informing Rome as well, thus placing himself in greater personal danger for not conferring with his overlords) after one or more meetings?
The High Priest similarly held no license or priestly rank to legislate or implement religious codes of law as a layman to the synagogues and was above no Pharisee preacher or member due to his office.
The High Priest furthermore was not someone who could authorise others to function in roles relating to issues of religious importance. He could however achieve many and maybe all of these objectives as chief magistrate of
If Paul was authorised to travel to
The objective was extradition but through kidnapping and illegal entry into a foreign nation. A dangerous task with grave individual and collective consequences, for both Paul and the High Priest, if caught.
This was Paul’s first expedition to
The different types of Jews lived in harmony with each other and both hated the High Priest. Some of them may even have heard of Paul, the aggressive and belligerent commander-in-chief of the High Priest.
It has been suggested the ‘Nazarenes’ or Christians Paul intended to arrest in
The Nabetian Empire, which Paul entered, remained in existence after King Aretas IV. The last Nabatean monarch, King Rabbil II, ruled from 70-106 CE when it finally came under