I contend that Shaul was simply a consummate Torah scholar, who — following his revelation on the “road to Damascus” — realized that there was a BIG difference between what was “Written”, in the Torah, Writings, and Prophets (in other words, all that was then known as “Scripture”) and what HE HIMSELF had been taught from the “traditions of the elders”. He realized that man’s traditions, even when they are CALLED “law”, are not the same as the Torah of YHVH.
Not long ago, I had an email exchange with a friend whose concerns may sound familiar to others who have wrestled with the question of whether Paul was a “tare”, who rewrote Scripture, or has just been “twisted”:
You recent articles suggest to me that most “Christians” have been brought up in a “Church” which teaches an insidious lie:
“the Law has been done away with.”
I wholeheartedly agree: Pew warmers are following Paul instead of Jesus, because “cheap grace” is being taught.
Unfortunately, most Xtians will not believe it, because Paul admonished his followers not to believe “another gospel” if it differs from what Paul was preaching.
Paul and his words remain as tares, so intertwined with the real gospels by chosen disciples and what Christians have been taught for so long, that pulling out the ‘tares’ would remove most of the NT, and shatter lukewarm, misguided mainstream Xtianity and faith in God.
Paul was NOT a chosen disciple and his message of FREE GRACE is in direct opposition to what Jesus actually said!
Paul’s biggest deception was his teaching that because Jesus ‘finished’ everything on the cross, we (as believers) can safely disregard not only the Law that governs Jews, but also, that we can disregard the celebration of festivals, Jewish traditions and customs, as practiced and taught by the Pharisees, FOR Jews.
On the other hand, maybe that would be the BEST thing that has happened in the last 2,000 years or so — exposing the false gospel of Paul in the NT… separating the ‘wheat from the chaff’.
A number of articles from a ministry purporting to teach “Jesus’ words only” were attached. Since space does not permit a complete response to all of those, I’ll just try to summarize a few points that those confronted with similar questions might find valuable. And since I usually start with the warning of II Kefa (Peter) 3:15-16 about how Paul could be “twisted”, I won’t repeat that again here (yet, anyway!)
Remember that when we deal with individuals, as individuals, we have an advantage over those of us who write articles, or teach on the radio, or speak in local fellowships. We can be ready, “in season and out“, to respond to the specific, individual concerns of those who ask about our faith.
Hi… (I responded)
I actually DID believe that myself for quite some time…that Paul was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, to use another metaphor. And I really don’t have a huge problem with that thesis; it’s easier for most ‘evangelicals’ to understand than the alternative…which is to study Torah to the extent that Shaul did, “for themselves,” and realize that he in fact IS teaching consistently what YHVH (and the Word Made Flesh) instructed. BUT, he is TOTALLY at odds with the so-called “Law” taught by the Pharisees. (This is what really distinguishes the “Law for Jews” from the INSTRUCTION of YHVH for ALL of us!)
Remember that Yahushua roundly condemned them as the “Hypocrites!” they were in places like Matityahu/Matt 23.
Later Popes did the same thing, but with their own, different, substitutions..on everything from YHVH’s “appointed times”, and Sabbaths, to food, to marriage.
And it’s not really about defending Paul; he was a teacher, perhaps even a particularly good one, but arguably a bit too “deep” for most people…particularly those who, centuries later, didn’t have a CLUE about the DIFFERENCES he was pointing out.
(Think about this, I added later: Within only about four centuries after the Most Important Sacrifice in all Human History, the Pesach (Passover) had been not only perverted but actually RENAMED after a Greco-Roman “goddess”. If Satan had convinced people that the “old Law” was legalistic, done away with, and burdensome; that, INSTEAD, they should celebrate pagan “holidays” named after false ‘gods’ like Ishtar/Easter by eating things God said were ‘not food’, like pig…are we getting pretty close to “calling good, evil, and vice-versa? And if they can twist the Words of Yahushua Himself, what chance does a poor sap like “Paul” have? 😉
This is my criticism for those who understand part of the problem, but miss the bigger point — and blame “Paul” for the mistranslation and distortion of his teachings, rather than the “blind guides” and “sons of vipers” who twist him (“as they do the rest of Scripture”) to their own destruction. (There! Finally, II Kefa [Peter] 3:15-16.)
There is MUCH more than can be said. But, a series of examples may be the easiest summary of the issues.
Shaul NEVER said that TORAH (the word he really used – not ‘nomos’) is done away with; just that we can’t earn something that YHVH the Father gave us. Because he was the ‘consummate Torah scholar’, he probably focused too much on subtle details for some; after all, those who don’t understand the “old” Writings as well as he did will miss many of his continual references. How can one follow his logic, built on the FOUNDATION of YHVH’s Torah, and then claim that the foundation itself doesn’t apply?
But Yahushua put it far more simply:
“IF you love Me, keep My commandments.” Which? ALL of ’em, of course! He didn’t change “one yod or tittle“.
Ultimately, that’s why I sometimes distinguish between Shaul and Paul, and between Yahushua and “Jesus”: to make that distinction as clear as possible. If “Jesus” had really “done away with the Law” (or “nailed it to his cross”; check the actual wording!) He would have been a liar, and a “false messiah” – just as He pointed out, and warned us about.
In both cases, fallen teachers and false prophets have set up “straw men” who teach something very different from what BOTH Shaul and his Master actually point out “is Written“!
Example #2: “Did Paul abolish the Sabbath?”
Paul said anyone in Christ’s movement did not have to follow the Sabbath any longer. He wrote in Colossians 2:16-17:“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
This, I contend, is one of the most often-twisted, and important, distinctions that Shaul makes!
Even the Roman Catholic Church admits that there is NO place in Scripture where YHVH’s Sabbath is changed to “Sunday”. They are PROUD to have done it on their own claimed authority! (See John Cardinal Gibbons, Archdiocese of Baltimore; prominent, among many.) So, I will submit up front that this verse has not only been taken out of context, but literally turned upside-down. Good is being called ‘evil’.
But before I return to the verse, let me ask a question. TO WHOM WAS SHAUL WRITING the letter? Of course, it was the new believers at Colossae. But the key is the history and context. They were former PAGANS (perhaps from the ‘lost ten tribes,’ perhaps not — but ultimately they were being “grafted in”) who are still living in a very pagan world, and subject to pressure from their families, friends, and business associates. They wanted to TURN (‘tshuvah’ in the Hebrew, translated as “repent”, but it literally means “TURN around”; you’re goin’ the wrong way!) away from pagan ‘gods’, from pagan “holy days”, and from pagan ‘meat’ and ‘food’! They were being persecuted for keeping the Sabbaths of YHVH, and rejecting the “holy days” of the pagan world they lived in!
ANY “torah-observant” follower of Yahushua would know immediately what Shaul was talking about. But the ‘church’ which DENIES the very Foundation of Scripture, the Written ‘instruction’ of YHVH Himself, and His “Torah Made Flesh” has a problem! For 1700 years, they have obfuscated the difference between His Word and THEIR “law”…because they have “added to” and “subtracted from” it, just as the Pharisees and “hypocrites” throughout history have done. And they have for centuries done EXACTLY what Shaul warned about — persecuted, even killed, those who reject their PAGAN “holy days” and false “sabbaths” and instead keep the Appointed Times of YHVH! (A reading of the sordid truth of this aspect of ‘church’ history may well shock and horrify you.) Now, take a look again:
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths…”
In proper context, this one is almost funny today! Those of us who have “come out of” a paganized church can relate to exactly what Shaul was saying! “WHY won’t you eat pork? Or shellfish?”
“What is WRONG with you? You don’t celebrate EASTER!”
(You mean, why do we do as YHVH commanded – and object to a pagan spring fertility goddess sunrise ritual, incorporating elements of child sacrifice and fertility symbols? Why do we keep His Pesach [Passover] — which He repeatedly said to keep “forever” — instead of a different day and date? And why would anyone who worships Him, and “Him alone” object to the re-naming of the most important event in human history after a pagan goddess?) …”have some Easter ham…”
And think about the example of the seven day week! Almost every culture in the world uses it – almost like it was “from the Beginning”! Many other languages, like Spanish (“Sabado”), still retain the meaning of the Sabbath (seventh) day in their names.
And there is more support for this point, from the same letter.
“Be careful that you do not let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and after the elements of the world, and not after our Beloved King.” (Col. 2:8; Original Scriptures Edition 1. Verses 20-22 bring home the same point.)
Paul was NOT ‘abolishing the Sabbath’! He was offering comfort to those who faced persecution from their pagan communities when THEY wanted to return to following YHVH and His Torah!
Yahushua even said “the world will hate you for My sake.” Sometimes, the world hates Paul, too. He had a tough job: trying to teach those who did not yet KNOW Torah what the “Word Made Flesh” Himself had said, and done.
And as more people come to an understanding of that Truth, and the fact that YermeYahu (Jeremiah) was right…we HAVE inherited lies!…some may well even be angry about it. Like Shaul, if we are to be “good and faithful servants” of the Most High, we need to be able to lead His “lost sheep” back to Him.