There is a movement today (mainly coming from the sacred name camp and law keepers) telling us that God did not choose Paul, and that his gospel is false. The reason they have arrived at this conclusion is because they are mostly law keepers who do not understand the covenants, nor understand the differences in the Mosaic and the new covenant based on the grace of God and the work of Yeshua (Jesus) on the cross.
There have always been attacks on the Bible and its acceptance. In the early church about A.D. 140, a man named Marcion instituted the first real controversy. He rejected the majority of the New Testament He believed God rejected Paul and accepted Peter. He threw out Matthew, Mark, and John and made a canon of his own consisting of Luke which he rewrote. There are others today who want to rewrite the Bible, add other books (Gnostic books) or reject some that we already have. There are at least 86,000 quotations from the early church records that believed Paul’s writings were part of Scripture. These are found in several thousand Lectionaries that are church-service books. After nearly 1900 years of the canon being established these rebels are causing a lot of confusion.
Does the Bible support the position that we are to keep the Old Testament law (which often includes the Feast days of Lev.23) and not concentrate on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the gospel of grace to both Jew and Gentile. Is Paul not called of God and what He preached not the same as the others apostles? What does the Bible say on this? We must first go to Paul’s own epistles to see what He says and then coincide this with the book of Acts and the apostolic writers.
Galatians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)”
Romans 1:1 “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God
2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” This is repeated over and over in his epistles (1 Cor.1:1; 2 Cor.2:1; Eph. 1:1; Col.1:1; 2 Tim1:1.) If this is not true then the Scripture is not inspired by God and cannot be trusted anywhere as accurate.
Paul writes about after his conversion, Gal. 1:18-23 “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.) Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
There is no way to explain Paul’s conversion for if he feigned it, to take advantage of the church he put himself through the worst position that any of the apostles experienced; being jail, beaten several times, stoned and mocked. Saul was fine as Pharisee, why would anyone undergo this kind of persecution unless they had a true conversion? “ in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness– besides the other things…” (2 Cor. 11:23-280.
We find that the claims of this new anti-Paul cult are completely bogus. What Paul preached was not only the same as the other apostles, but was sanctioned by them because he was with them.
Gal. 2:1-2: “Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.” V.9: “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”
At the church in Antioch, they fasted and prayed “ the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2-3).
On Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey Acts 13:14: “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: He then gives them their own history (similar to what Stephen said in Acts 7, which makes this significant since he was there at stoning when this transpired).
Acts 13:22-40: “And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ “From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior– Jesus–”after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. “And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’ “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. “For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. “And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. “But God raised Him from the dead. “He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. “And we declare to you glad tidings– that promise which was made to the fathers. “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’ “And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ “Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; “but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;” and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you”:
Before we conclude this I want to point out the similarity of What Peter said to Israel on Pentecost.
Acts 2:22-3:16 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know– “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. “For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ‘ “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Both refer to David and both refer to Jesus crucifixion for heir sins will be forgiven.
The reaction to Paul and Barnabas- Acts 13:42-43 “So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”
Notice that Barnabas was with Paul when he spoke this gospel invitation. Barnabas as one of the apos accompanied Paul with his calling to the Gentiles. Acts 13:43-47: “Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’
Paul concentrated on the cross and the person of Christ in salvation. Maybe the people today are angry at Paul’s epistle to the Galatians when he spoke of the law keepers who came into the church to bring them into bondage. Gal. 2:4-5 “… false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Gal. 3:10-11 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” These men were adding the Messiah to their law not understanding the new covenant made by Him. We read in Acts 15:1-6 “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
Sound familiar, it is basically the same argument we are hearing today in various forms. Paul’s conclusion to the Galatian church- Gal. 2:21: “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” There is no good news without Christ dying and being the “ the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4).
Paul contended for the truth as he rebuked those persuaded by the law keepers- “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3) They began with the gospel and received the Holy Spirit by believing in it, not by what the Judaizers were offering through the law. Paul spoke the t same truth by the other apostles.
This infiltration had to be dealt with in the church as it caused a great controversy and was hindering their evangelism. Acts 15:7-38 “And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Peter is referring to Acts 10:38-11:18 when he first preached the gospel to the Gentiles (Cornelius and his house) “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, “not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.“And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord..”
How did the original apostles and Jews receive the Holy Spirit? In Acts 10:43-48, vs. 43 “… through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins. In vs. 44, we see the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles. In vs. 46, they manifested a gift of the Spirit after they heard the Gospel.
Acts 15:8 “God seeing their hearts acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. And making no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Vs. 11 “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved in the SAME MANNER as they.” The consistent teaching in the book of Acts and the rest of scripture is by God’s grace through faith. God gave then the Holy Spirit because He saw their faith that was in their heart. Peter makes the explicit point that they got saved the SAME WAY.
Peter repeats this again in Acts 11:15-18 “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.“Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
They concluded with this, Acts 15:22 “Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’– to whom we gave no such commandment– it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
For one to deny Paul they must deny the record contained in the Book of Acts (which is accurately called the Acts of the apostles) and all of early church history. Justin Martyr quotes Paul (100-16 ad). Polycarp quotes Paul. Iranaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp quotes Paul over 200 times.
We must remember that it is Luke who put the book of Acts together with all the information available, though it starts with Peter and John he does show the succession to Paul and Barnabas sent out to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (non Jews) throughout the known world.
Acts 23:9-14 “Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.” Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.
Notice the hatred of Paul; we can see the same from those today that refuse to accept his gospel as the same as the other apostles. They remind me of Paul’s conversation with Agrippa. “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:27-28). A Christian- most do not want to be called that name but something else, to be unique.
Peter had great respect for Paul; even after he was rebuked by his in front of others for being hypocritical with eating with the Gentiles.
2 Peter 3:15-16: “and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation– as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” Notice that Peter equates Paul’s letters as Scripture.
John bears witness to Paul being an apostle as he writes the words of Jesus- Revelation 2:2: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.” The Ephesus church was watched over by Paul, he was not found to be a liar, but a true apostle.
Acts 20:29, 32, 34 it was Paul who warned the Ephesians before he left “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”… “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
This is not an in depth look into Paul’s participation with the apostles and church but should be sufficient to dismantle any of the arguments. Paul taught “For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that it is by grace through faith that we are saved, not because Paul wrote it but because this is indeed the gospel. This is the means that is used to become a child of God. There is no other way. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Paul understood the difference and was happy to live in and by the new covenant instead of his old life by the law. Philippians 3:9: “And being found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law but that through faith in Christ the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
“It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21) What was that message? A few verses before He tells us, v. 18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” SAVED (past tense). How? Through faith! The cross is sufficient because it is Christ’s work for us- the gospel is grace through faith
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
If you reject what Paul wrote then you are ashamed of the gospel that Jesus Christ the Messiah gave.
Books one can read on how the canon was assembled in the history of the early church:
F.F. Bruce- The Books and the Parchments
L. Berkhof- The History of Christian Doctrines
Harry Bettenson- Documents of the Christian Church
L. Gaussen- Theopnesustia
N. Geisler and W. E. Nix-General Introduction to the Bible
J. Harrell- The Bible its origin and growth
Howard Clark Kee- Understanding the New Testament
Herbert Lockyer- All the Apostles of the Bible
J.N. D. Kelly- Early Christian Doctrines
Josh McDowell- Evidence that demands a Verdict pt.1 and 2
J.P. Lange- Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
C. Leupold- Exposition of Ecclesiastes
B. B. Warfield- The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible