# Paul of Tarsus

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I recently came accross a paper which suggests that Paul's "vision" was likely a hallucination caused by an epileptic event.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1032067/pdf/jnnpsyc00553-0001.pdf

This would make sense of the disparity between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Paul.

What do you guys think? Any arguments for or against?

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It's certainly interesting that most of the New Testament was written by someone who was a volunteer Christian hunter. That and how different his teachings are from the others.

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The single biggest problem with your elaboration of this conjecture is that there is no substantive disparity between the teaching of Jesus and Paul. Those who seem to think there is a disparity seem to have difficulty with interpretation or redaction or context.

Edited by cypress
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The single biggest problem with your elaboration of this conjecture is that there is no substantive disparity between the teaching of Jesus and Paul. Those who seem to think there is a disparity seem to have difficulty with interpretation or redaction or context.

No, they are quite different. This is a fact. Paul even describes some difficulty with the disciples and that one actually made it into the Bible. We also have Peter describing Paul as an enemy and a heretic. You know, Peter, the rock on which Jesus said the Church was to be founded? We've had this discussion elsewhere on the site.

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No, they are quite different. This is a fact. Paul even describes some difficulty with the disciples and that one actually made it into the Bible. We also have Peter describing Paul as an enemy and a heretic. You know, Peter, the rock on which Jesus said the Church was to be founded? We've had this discussion elsewhere on the site.

It is an opinion rooted in interpretation and translation.

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It is an opinion rooted in interpretation and translation.

Paul's teachings are completely different than that of Jesus. It is so different that Paul doesn't even seem to know what they are. Nor does he quote Jesus. On the issue of works, Paul even disagrees with Peter(the Rock upon which the Church was to be built) who quotes Jesus in the debate. Paul describes one such confrontation, but does not say who won the argument that day.

For the confrontation Paul described see Galations 2:11-17. However, I'll type out some passages from texts you probably don't have to give you a fuller sense of their relationship.

"For some among the gentiles have rejected my lawful preaching and have preferred a lawless and absurd doctrine of the man who is my enemy. And indeed some have attempted, while I am still alive, to distort my word by interpretations on many sorts, as if I taught the dissolution of the Law...But that may God forbid! For to do such a thing means to act contrary to the Law of God which was made to Moses and was confirmed by our Lord in its everlating continuance. For He said, 'The heavens and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle shall pass away from the Law.'"-Letter of Peter to James 2:3-5

"And if our Jesus appeared to you and became known in a vision and met you as angry and an enemy, yet he has spoken only through visions and dreams or through external revelations. But can anyone be made competent to teach through a vision? And if your opinion is that that is possible, why then did our teacher spend a whole year with us who were awake? How can we believe you even if he has appeared to you?...But if you were visited by him for the space of an hour and were instructed by him and thereby have become an apostle, then proclaim his words, expound what he has taught, be a friend to his apostles, and do not contend with me, whoa m his confidant; for you have in hostility withstood me, who am a firm rock, the foundation stone of the Church."-Peter(Clementine Homilies 17:19)

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Have you established that all of these passages are genuine and written by who you claim wrote them?

In the Letter of Peter to James, have you established who is the man who is Peter's enemy and of what specific doctrine he objects and what distortions and interpretations he takes?

In the Homily I don't see any specific doctrine to which this writer objects. I only see a frail human displaying jealousy to another that claims he holds a special position. Perhaps you can find a passage where Peter describes these differences and can show that Peter's interpretation is consistent with Jesus' actual teaching while Paul's is at odds.

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Have you established that all of these passages are genuine and written by who you claim wrote them?

In the Letter of Peter to James, have you established who is the man who is Peter's enemy and of what specific doctrine he objects and what distortions and interpretations he takes?

Well, we know that Paul, in Romans and the other epistles, advocated that Gentile converts should not be required to keep the Jewish Law. Peter apparently objected, as Galatians 2:11-16 shows:

But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.

Now, some context. Cephas is, of course, Peter (Cephas is Aramaic). The "people... from James" were likely more strict Jews who interpreted the Law to rule that Gentiles and Jews should not eat together, and Paul clearly objects that following Jewish Law is not required of a believer in Christ. (Particularly Gentile believers.) Acts, of course, documents that Paul's view eventually became dominant, but Galatians shows significant internal disagreement in the churches.

In the Homily I don't see any specific doctrine to which this writer objects. I only see a frail human displaying jealousy to another that claims he holds a special position. Perhaps you can find a passage where Peter describes these differences and can show that Peter's interpretation is consistent with Jesus' actual teaching while Paul's is at odds.

Well, I've shown Paul's view of the disagreement above, and you can see more of the conflict in Acts. But as for what Jesus taught, here's a sample in Matthew 5:17-20:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Of course, scribes are interpreters of the law, and the Pharisees were a group known for their particularly strict interpretation of Jewish law.

Another famous parable serves to illustrate this further. Matthew 19:16-22:

Then someone came to him [Jesus] and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "I have kept all these; what do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

We see in Matthew a strong emphasis on the commandments and the Jewish Law. Jesus certainly disagrees on some points of interpretation of the Law, such as in the famous incident when he healed a man on the Sabbath. However, his emphasis on the Law and good works is quite clear.

In the Galatians passage, however, Paul emphasizes faith, and denigrates the Jewish Law and works. As he does in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
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Well, we know that Paul, in Romans and the other epistles, advocated that Gentile converts should not be required to keep the Jewish Law. Peter apparently objected, as Galatians 2:11-16 shows:

Now, some context. Cephas is, of course, Peter (Cephas is Aramaic). The "people... from James" were likely more strict Jews who interpreted the Law to rule that Gentiles and Jews should not eat together, and Paul clearly objects that following Jewish Law is not required of a believer in Christ. (Particularly Gentile believers.) Acts, of course, documents that Paul's view eventually became dominant, but Galatians shows significant internal disagreement in the churches.

Thus far I don't see anything that addresses my questions.

Well, I've shown Paul's view of the disagreement above, and you can see more of the conflict in Acts.

Perhaps you have illustrated a disagreement (it is not uncommon for even wise people to have disagreements) from the authors Paul and Luke's viewpoint, but you have not demonstrated that the Apostle Peter wrote the letter, you have not established who the writer regards as his enemy and you have not established to what the writer objected.

But as for what Jesus taught, here's a sample in Matthew 5:17-20:

Indeed, the author Paul did not advocate that the law was abolished, rather he claimed it was fulfilled just as Jesus claimed was his task. This is one of the common misinterpretations those who claim Paul is at odds with Jesus' teaching stumble all over. If one is under the law, and it is not yet accomplished, then it would stand to reason that it should be difficult to enter the kingdom. However, once the law is fulfilled, the law is no longer a barrier to entering the kingdom. Seems straightforward. All that is left is to understand how Jesus intended to fulfill the requirements of the law.

Of course, scribes are interpreters of the law, and the Pharisees were a group known for their particularly strict interpretation of Jewish law.

Another famous parable serves to illustrate this further. Matthew 19:16-22:

We see in Matthew a strong emphasis on the commandments and the Jewish Law. Jesus certainly disagrees on some points of interpretation of the Law, such as in the famous incident when he healed a man on the Sabbath. However, his emphasis on the Law and good works is quite clear.

And again Jesus spoke in present tense when the law was not fulfilled. In Jesus' demonstration on the Sabbath my understanding is that its purpose was to demonstrate that the Jewish leaders had been misusing the commandment. The fact that he was not arrested on the spot seems to confirm that understanding.

In the Galatians passage, however, Paul emphasizes faith, and denigrates the Jewish Law and works. As he does in Ephesians 2:8-9:

He indicates that the law has been fulfilled. In speaking of the value of attempting to follow the law he even confirms the meaning of the parable you quoted from Jesus where those who scrupulously follow the law even still will not be able to enter the Kingdom. I don't see how you can describe his words as denigrating. They seem to confirm Jesus' thoughts on the matter. In other writings of his he speaks of himself during the times when he was under the law and the importance at that point of following the law.

It appears that this is a problem with interpretation and as of now a problem that the author of quoted writings remain unverified and the meaning of the writing is uncertain.

Edited by cypress
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Perhaps you have illustrated a disagreement (it is not uncommon for even wise people to have disagreements) from the authors Paul and Luke's viewpoint, but you have not demonstrated that the Apostle Peter wrote the letter, you have not established who the writer regards as his enemy and you have not established to what the writer objected.

The conflict is undisputed. Peter was the rock upon which Jesus said the Church was to be built. Paul was a Christian Persecutor. Peter was present for Jesus's teachings. Paul wasn't. Who do you think was right?

By the way, Jesus's teaching support Peter's view that works are required rather than Paul's view that they aren't.

Oh, and you REALLY don't want to play the authorship game.

This is one of the common misinterpretations those who claim Paul is at odds with Jesus' teaching stumble all over. If one is under the law, and it is not yet accomplished, then it would stand to reason that it should be difficult to enter the kingdom. However, once the law is fulfilled, the law is no longer a barrier to entering the kingdom. Seems straightforward. All that is left is to understand how Jesus intended to fulfill the requirements of the law.

It's not really relevant HOW Jesus will fulfill the Law, since He EXPLICITLY told us when He will Fulfill the Law.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until ALL is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 5:17-20

It's abundantly clear that either, according to Jesus, the Law still stands or the Second Coming has already occurred. In fact, Jesus quite explicitly teaches several times that works are absolutely necessary to enter the Kingdom.

"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."-Matthew 7:17-20

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes."-Matthew 7:24-29

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."-Matthew 16:24-28

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."-Matthew 19:16-22

"Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away."-Matthew 21:18-19

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."-Matthew 25:31-46

It's not solely based on Matthew, but even if it were, that shouldn't matter. Is there any reason to doubt the validity of the words ascribed to Jesus in Matthew?

"And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."-Luke 3:9

"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."-Luke 6:46-49

"He spake also this parable; A certain [man] had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [it]: And if it bear fruit, [well]: and if not, [then] after that thou shalt cut it down."-Luke 13:6

"And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."-Revelation 2:23

"Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double."-Revelation 18:6

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."-Revelation 20:12-13

And of course, we have Paul saying:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--not the result of works, so that no one may boast."-Ephesians 2:8-9

We have two incredibly different views. Disagreement on such a vital theological point alone should be enough to cast Paul away as a heretic.

Now, the paper in the OP presents what appears to be a completely plausible explanation of Paul's embarrassing illness AND the disparity between his teaching and those of Jesus. The paper sure gets points for explanatory elegance.

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Indeed, the author Paul did not advocate that the law was abolished, rather he claimed it was fulfilled just as Jesus claimed was his task. This is one of the common misinterpretations those who claim Paul is at odds with Jesus' teaching stumble all over. If one is under the law, and it is not yet accomplished, then it would stand to reason that it should be difficult to enter the kingdom. However, once the law is fulfilled, the law is no longer a barrier to entering the kingdom. Seems straightforward. All that is left is to understand how Jesus intended to fulfill the requirements of the law.

Is there Scriptural support of Jesus teaching that he fulfilled the Law and the Law would no longer be required?

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The conflict is undisputed. Peter was the rock upon which Jesus said the Church was to be built. Paul was a Christian Persecutor. Peter was present for Jesus's teachings. Paul wasn't. Who do you think was right?

Right about what? If you mean the conflict over whether or not the law was fulfilled, and the authorship of the biblical content is correct, then it seems quite obvious that Paul was correct.

By the way, Jesus's teaching support Peter's view that works are required rather than Paul's view that they aren't.

Jesus and Paul both teach that both are required.

Oh, and you REALLY don't want to play the authorship game.

I don't mind this game I have no stake in the outcome.

It's not really relevant HOW Jesus will fulfill the Law, since He EXPLICITLY told us when He will Fulfill the Law.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until ALL is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 5:17-20

It's abundantly clear that either, according to Jesus, the Law still stands or the Second Coming has already occurred. In fact, Jesus quite explicitly teaches several times that works are absolutely necessary to enter the Kingdom.

He teaches that "ALL" is to be accomplished in order for the law to be fulfilled and that nothing will pass from the law until it is accomplished. These words were originally written in Greek not english and Jesus likely said them in Hebrew. Please demonstrate the "All" means what you claim it means because your interpretation that All means what you term as the "second coming" is nowhere to be found in the passage. A simpler meaning for "all" is the tasks that Jesus claims he was sent to accomplish at that time.

"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."-Matthew 7:17-20

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes."-Matthew 7:24-29

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."-Matthew 16:24-28

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."-Matthew 19:16-22

"Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away."-Matthew 21:18-19

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."-Matthew 25:31-46

It's not solely based on Matthew, but even if it were, that shouldn't matter. Is there any reason to doubt the validity of the words ascribed to Jesus in Matthew?

I don't know of any reason to doubt them. What I do have reason to question is how these saying demonstrate your claim that "all" should be taken to mean the supposed "second coming"? Where have you shown that Jesus' original hebrew saying translated to greek and then to english meant the "second coming"?

"And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."-Luke 3:9

"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."-Luke 6:46-49

"He spake also this parable; A certain [man] had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [it]: And if it bear fruit, [well]: and if not, [then] after that thou shalt cut it down."-Luke 13:6

"And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."-Revelation 2:23

"Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double."-Revelation 18:6

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."-Revelation 20:12-13

And of course, we have Paul saying:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--not the result of works, so that no one may boast."-Ephesians 2:8-9

We have two incredibly different views. Disagreement on such a vital theological point alone should be enough to cast Paul away as a heretic.

Do you claim that Paul did not make similar statements about those who would not be saved?

Do you claim that Jesus and the old testament writing never indicated that faith is a component, that ones own works alone could not save and that God must intervene to save?

Here we have Jesus speaking of the need for faith.

Matthew 9:2 Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Take heart, son! Your sins are forgiven."

Matthew 9:18 As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt down before him. "My daughter has just died," he said, "but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand upon her."

Matthew 14:31 Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?"

Matthew 17:20 "You didn't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."

Matthew 21:21 Then Jesus told them, "I assure you, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and it will happen.

Matthew 23:23 "How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, [ Greek to tithe the mint, the dill, and the cumin.] but you ignore the important things of the law--justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.

Mark 2:5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "My son, your sins are forgiven."

Mark 10:15 I assure you, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God."

Luke 18:8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?"

And here we have him commenting on the relative value of works and the things Paul emphasized.

Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.

Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes in me will also do the works that I do;and Greater Works than These will he do.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see GOD.

Verily say unto you, none will be saved unless they believe in my cross. But those who have believed in my cross, theirs is the kingdom of God.

Become earnest about the word! For as to the word, its first part is faith; the second, love; the third, works; for from these comes life.

Hearken to the word; understand knowledge; love life, and no one will persecute you, nor will anyone oppress you, other than you yourselves.

Ask, and it will be given you;Seek, and you will find;Knock, and it will be opened to you.

Invoke the Father, implore God often, and he will give to you. Blessed is he who has seen you with Him when He was proclaimed among the angels, and glorified among the saints; yours is life.

I don't se any substantive difference when you take the full writing in context and refrain from quote mining / cherry picking as you have attempted to do.

Now, the paper in the OP presents what appears to be a completely plausible explanation of Paul's embarrassing illness AND the disparity between his teaching and those of Jesus. The paper sure gets points for explanatory elegance.

The paper has the same problem that you have in that you have not demonstrated your point.

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The way I understand it is that there is nothing you can do that will make you deserve heaven... and you can't do everything required by the Law anyways. Thus entry into heaven is a gracious gift, but that does not mean that who gets let in won't still depend on the person's behavior. And anyways the whole Law has some ugly and obsolete bits that we don't want, so might as well get rid of those since we aren't going to follow it anyways. In any case, Jesus did say that all the Law and the Prophets were summed up by the Golden Rule, which is certainly much more reasonable than forbidding shrimp and whatnot.

Also, there was the promise to Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed, and that would have been the last bit of the promise to be fulfilled. Also Jesus talks of making a new covenant. However, there is no indication that the old covenant ends, and from the Old Testament it would seem not:

13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

But it certainly would be convenient!

PS: I think the "infinity words" in the Bible aren't really infinity ones, just "very" ones. But that's probably for a different thread.

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He teaches that "ALL" is to be accomplished in order for the law to be fulfilled and that nothing will pass from the law until it is accomplished. These words were originally written in Greek not english and Jesus likely said them in Hebrew. Please demonstrate the "All" means what you claim it means because your interpretation that All means what you term as the "second coming" is nowhere to be found in the passage. A simpler meaning for "all" is the tasks that Jesus claims he was sent to accomplish at that time.

Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew, but that's not particularly relevant.

A simpler, consistent meaning for "all" would take into account the phrase "until heaven and earth pass away" in the passage, which indicates that perhaps Jesus means "until the end of time;" i.e. everything that will ever be accomplished will be accomplished.

We can get some context on this phrasing with Luke 16:17, when Jesus sates "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped."

In an eschatology that preaches that the world will, in the future, end, and a Kingdom of God will replace the world as we know it, it's hard to construe Jesus as meaning that the Law will pass away any sooner than the end of time. (Which would be the Second Coming, in some interpretations.)

[Now, some early Christian groups believed that the world had already, in a sense, ended with Jesus's death and resurrection, and believed that they had been spiritually resurrected. Paul angrily rebukes them in 1 Corinthians, if I recall correctly.]

I don't se any substantive difference when you take the full writing in context and refrain from quote mining / cherry picking as you have attempted to do.

Well, the difference is that Paul denies the importance of works entirely, whereas Jesus believes they are essential.

We must also remember to consider the Gospels in isolation from Paul. If we're trying to determine a difference between Jesus' message and Paul's message, we can't reinterpret the Gospels in light of Paul's epistles, because then we're reinterpreting them to avoid contradiction. Given that Paul never cites a single story of Jesus' life besides that he died and was resurrected, it's quite possible Paul never read the Gospels; our understanding of Paul's meaning should not be influenced by the Gospels, and vice versa.

(In fact, the Gospels were written after most of Paul's letters, not before. Paul could not have had access to the same Gospels we read today.)

The way I understand it is that there is nothing you can do that will make you deserve heaven... and you can't do everything required by the Law anyways.

Paul says something like this, but he never addresses the parts of the Law that explicitly state what to do when you accidentally break the Law. A few ritual sacrifices and some appropriate prayers later, and you're absolved.

The Gospel of John does use this, and turns Jesus into a symbolic Passover lamb so that his death represents a sacrifice (under the Law) for everyone's sins. This, however, contradicts with Mark, which states that Jesus was crucified before Passover... but that's a discussion for another thread.

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It is so different that Paul doesn't even seem to know what they are. Nor does he quote Jesus.

Paul Quotes Jesus in the Bible.

Have you established that all of these passages are genuine and written by who you claim wrote them?

In the Letter of Peter to James, have you established who is the man who is Peter's enemy and of what specific doctrine he objects and what distortions and interpretations he takes?

In the Homily I don't see any specific doctrine to which this writer objects. I only see a frail human displaying jealousy to another that claims he holds a special position. Perhaps you can find a passage where Peter describes these differences and can show that Peter's interpretation is consistent with Jesus' actual teaching while Paul's is at odds.

Welcome to the exciting world of Pseudepigrapha. You can quote a lot of things from a lot of places, but you'd be hard pressed to find writings more difficult to attribute actual historical authorship in Western culture than Biblical writings (or more correctly non-Biblical writings, Pseudepigrapha, that are associated with the Bible and claim to have authentic Apostle/Prophet Authorship). The vast majority were written in the wrong time period or have obvious philosophical leanings and are obviously not written by the actual author. It's funny how some skeptics have a problem believing if the actual authors of the Bible wrote the books in the Bible, but will read a a manuscript claiming to be penned by Peter, Paul, etc but with obvious gnostic sound to it or has been dated to the 4th century and still believe it's true.

The conflict is undisputed. Peter was the rock upon which Jesus said the Church was to be built.

That point is rather contested.

It's not really relevant HOW Jesus will fulfill the Law, since He EXPLICITLY told us when He will Fulfill the Law.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until ALL is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 5:17-20

It's abundantly clear that either, according to Jesus, the Law still stands or the Second Coming has already occurred. In fact, Jesus quite explicitly teaches several times that works are absolutely necessary to enter the Kingdom.

While a perfectly valid interpretation (the Bible is VERY unclear about A LOT of things), this is however not Mainstream Christianity's interpretation.

Is there Scriptural support of Jesus teaching that he fulfilled the Law and the Law would no longer be required?

There's Biblical passages that can "prove" anything. However, this is close to the interpretation that most of Christianity believes.

Well, the difference is that Paul denies the importance of works entirely, whereas Jesus believes they are essential.

This is a rather simplistic view of Paul's writings. Paul often goes back and forth when he writes.

There's a billion ways to interpret the what Paul says in the Bible. The interpretation of Main Stream Christianity, that the Bible teaches (including Paul) that Jesus fulfilled the Law and Christians did not need to follow the Law of Moses but still needed to do works, is just as valid as anything else.

As far as the OP, it's interesting to to speculate what might have happened to Paul. But as far as Science goes there's no real testable Scientific Hypothesis. Scientifically, it's rather more likely that the story was made up.

Edited by -Demosthenes-
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Paul Quotes Jesus in the Bible.

Where?

While a perfectly valid interpretation (the Bible is VERY unclear about A LOT of things), this is however not Mainstream Christianity's interpretation.

Is mainstream Christianity's interpretation to hold that Jesus meant for the law not to be followed after his death?

There's Biblical passages that can "prove" anything. However, this is close to the interpretation that most of Christianity believes.

Right, but I'm asking why most of Christianity would believe this. There's lots of things they believe that have little Scriptural support whatsoever.

This is a rather simplistic view of Paul's writings. Paul often goes back and forth when he writes.

Do you have specific examples of when Paul states that works are necessary to gain entrance to Heaven (or to eternal life, or salvation, or whichever eschatology you believe)?

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[Me: Paul Quoted Jesus] Where?

I don't know all the places but I read 1Cor 11 this morning where Paul says what Jesus Said about the Sacrament (the bread and water). Of course Paul doesn't quote anything from the Gospels word for word (I don't think, that would be quite a coincidence), he probably wrote most of his epistles before the gospels. The books in the Bible aren't organized chronologically. In fact that quotation from Jesus about the sacrament looks to me the earliest quotation of Jesus at that event (the synoptic gospels being almost definitely written after 1 Corinthians). At least chronologically. In the NIV it actually has Quotations marks around it as well.

Is mainstream Christianity's interpretation to hold that Jesus meant for the law not to be followed after his death?

If you're talking about the Law of Moses then, pretty much. That's why most Christian Churches don't practice the law of Moses.

Right, but I'm asking why most of Christianity would believe this. There's lots of things they believe that have little Scriptural support whatsoever.

Do you have specific examples of when Paul states that works are necessary to gain entrance to Heaven (or to eternal life, or salvation, or whichever eschatology you believe)?

It actually makes more sense to me this way. Sometimes when Paul is talking about "the Law" he's referring to the Law of Moses, as he is addressing Christian Jews a lot of the time. So you are not saved by "the Law"(Law of Moses) but by "grace". This is the biggest difference between Judaism and Christianity, as the Early Christian Church was predominantly Jewish in culture this makes complete sense. It's easy to see how it would be hard to understand from our western cultural point of view.

A good counterexample is when he's talking about the "law" in a more general sense, say, in Romans where he might be addressing a more general audience (he compares Jewish and Greek/Roman ideas a lot in early Romans). When he talks about this "law" he actually says we need to follow it to be saved, like in vs. 13 of chapter two (KJV):

"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified."

Actually Romans 2 gives a very good idea how God used the word "law". He says in vs 25 (KJV):

"For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. "

Being circumcised would be following the "law"(law of Moses) but not necessarily the "law"(general law of God).

vs 28 (KJV):

"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:"

When Paul de-emphasizes works he's talking about doing outward things just to look pious. That's the culture he came from, he was a pharisee! That's his whole point that it's not about the works, it's about the "inwardly" intent.

vs 29 (KJV) (Please feel free to read the whole chapter and some surrounding chapters for some context so you can see it better):

"But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."

Works will not saved you, only the grace of Jesus. This is ONE of the messages of Paul. Another being: the doers of the law (general) are justified. It's complicated, but comprehensible.

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Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew, but that's not particularly relevant.

A simpler, consistent meaning for "all" would take into account the phrase "until heaven and earth pass away" in the passage, which indicates that perhaps Jesus means "until the end of time;" i.e. everything that will ever be accomplished will be accomplished.

We can get some context on this phrasing with Luke 16:17, when Jesus sates "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped."

The primary difficulty of this interpretation is that it necessarily ignores that Jesus clearly states he came to fulfill the covenant or promise that was made when Jewish law was established and then he relates his task to the all that is to be accomplished. Once a covenant or promise is fulfilled the obligation is removed. The relationship to his task and what is to be accomplished is more clear prior to the translation into english.

Well, the difference is that Paul denies the importance of works entirely, whereas Jesus believes they are essential.

The majority of Christian tradition disagrees. There are several passages from Paul that illustrate a correspondence between Jesus' teachings and those repeated by James and Peter.

Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law....

Corinthians 9

For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but nunder the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that qby all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives sthe prize? So trun that you may obtain it. Every uathlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we van imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

and in Galatians 5:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love rserve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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Why can't Paul's experience on the road to Damascus be both epilepsy and a divine vision?

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Paul was the person who took the teachings of Christ to the Roman Senate, although in handcuffs. The Romans were rational and cynical so to reach them, one needed a different approach beyond the religious appeal of faith. Christ was addressing a different audience, spreading a message of faith, love and hope. But when you address Romans; when in Rome.

Paul talks about the pitfalls of the law of commandments contained in ordinances. He goes on to talk about the psychological effects that law creates. One would not know about a particular sin, if the law did not point it out and tell us it is a sin. Once you know it, some will be experiment. Sin taking opportunity through the command, then produces sin of every kind.

As a modern example, the alcohol prohibition made drinking a social sin. Once that commandment was created, violence and corruption then appear centered on alcohol. Then he says, sin is not imputed when there is no law. It was not a sin before we made it so. Once prohibition was repealed, and the social sin was removed, the violence and corruption centered on the commandment disappear. Now it was not a sin to have a drink, so the level of sin goes down.

After his reasoning, he says Christ removed the burden of law by nailing it to the cross. The righteous shall live by faith apart from the works of law. That part made the Romans nervous since what about Roman law? After that the Christian were not tolerated by Rome the same way as the time of Christ, less they teach others to ignore even Roman law. Ironically, once Rome created their new prohibition against Christianity, sin increased; persecution, murder,etc. It only proved the point that Paul had been making. Even in modern times, this wisdom is beyond most people, since many seem to repeat the same mistake over and over again.

Edited by pioneer
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Why can't Paul's experience on the road to Damascus be both epilepsy and a divine vision?

I don't see any reason why not. Although according to observable evidence it is more likely that it was an neurological episode, further it is even more likely that the story is made up/exaggerated and Paul is based on a real person with a exaggerated/fabricated story.

This kind faith based scientific argument is purely speculative. It assumes that the Bible (or something else) is true, and builds a scientific argument on top of it. I'm an extremely religious person, but I know what what science is, and if one of your premises is that something is true that is not observably and experiential true is not really science. Don't get me wrong I do it all the time, my first post here was about how God could have created the earth out of other worlds (which I got slammed for by the way by Sayo). But my point is that there is no difference between my theory and Paul's epileptic theory except mine would not be published the "Journal of Neurology" or whatever. Neither are science, and both are completely speculative.

What am I getting at? The difference is that this epileptic theory is merely a shot a Christianity. That's why it perpetuates in intellectual circles. There's no other difference to any intelligent design theory, etc.

Paul was the person who took the teachings of Christ to the Roman Senate, although in handcuffs. The Romans were rational and cynical so to reach them, one needed a different approach beyond the religious appeal of faith. Christ was addressing a different audience, spreading a message of faith, love and hope. But when you address Romans; when in Rome.

Paul talks about the pitfalls of the law of commandments contained in ordinances. He goes on to talk about the psychological effects that law creates. One would not know about a particular sin, if the law did not point it out and tell us it is a sin. Once you know it, some will be experiment. Sin taking opportunity through the command, then produces sin of every kind.

As a modern example, the alcohol prohibition made drinking a social sin. Once that commandment was created, violence and corruption then appear centered on alcohol. Then he says, sin is not imputed when there is no law. It was not a sin before we made it so. Once prohibition was repealed, and the social sin was removed, the violence and corruption centered on the commandment disappear. Now it was not a sin to have a drink, so the level of sin goes down.

After his reasoning, he says Christ removed the burden of law by nailing it to the cross. The righteous shall live by faith apart from the works of law. That part made the Romans nervous since what about Roman law? After that the Christian were not tolerated by Rome the same way as the time of Christ, less they teach others to ignore even Roman law. Ironically, once Rome created their new prohibition against Christianity, sin increased; persecution, murder,etc. It only proved the point that Paul had been making. Even in modern times, this wisdom is beyond most people, since many seem to repeat the same mistake over and over again.

According to tradition Paul went to Rome, but that is not recorded in the Bible. Paul wrote to MANY different places -- look at the epistles. Early his audience were Jewish Christians (were Jews then Christians) and then later more Gentile Christians mixed in. It's an interesting trend in the Bible (looking at the epistles chronologically rather than the order they are in most Bibles). Anyways, I guess most of these people are under Roman control, and he even wrote at least one epistle to Rome (See Romans, although he probably had other contact with them other than what we have left in the Bible), but he did not address the Senate. Paul did have a different audience, however it's much more expansive than the Roman Senate, or even "Rome".

The "rational and cynical" ideas you speak are addressed by Paul, but this is mostly Greek Philosophy (which the Romans ascribed, which is almost the basis of western culture if you think about it). But this is merely one of the major topics he addresses, which probably appears less than say, Paul's reaction to Judaizer ideas (which would be a big part of the Paul-Peter interaction everyone is talking about).

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