What if Paul Wrote to Chuches Today?

I found a highly interesting article in which the author asks the question: “What if Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was published today?”  The article takes the shape of readers’ letters to the editor in the next issue of a magazine in which they all write their disgust at such an “unchristian” attitude from the writer (Paul).   Take a look and let the satire and sarcasm remind you of the sad state of the “love and tolerance” idea that has gone too far and removed too many churches from the original intent of scripture and even scripture itself (e.g. Galatians).

What if Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was published today?

Enjoy. Peace to you,

James

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3 thoughts on “What if Paul Wrote to Chuches Today?

  1. This satire or whatever it is supposed to be ignores a very important point, i.e. that Paul’s purpose in writing the Galatian letters was to PROVE to the Galatians that he is an apostle because they, and indeed all Asia Minor, were beginning to doubt his apostleship. Paul begins with the thesis “I am an apostle not of men but of Jesus Christ” and defends the thesis by saying:

    “I am independent of the 12, and better than them. Whereas they walked faithfully with Jesus throughout his earthly ministry and saw his miracles and heard his teachings, I received an internal revelation of Christ which is much better. Not only that, but the top 3–Peter, James, and John–are a collection of nobodies who only seem to be something, but whatever they are doesn’t make a lick of difference to me. In truth, they’re all Judaizers! Yet, even they acknowledge that God has chosen me to preach to the Gentiles, and they can’t add anything to me. I know you’ve read in that ‘book of Acts’ that in the Jerusalem Council they added letters to me to deliver to the churches, but its a lie. In reality all they tried to add to me in the Jerusalem Council was to remember the poor, as if I wasn’t already going to do that. And, look, Peter’s a big fat hypocrite! I’ll relate to you an incident that happened in a far away place which you can’t possibly verify, and which I have no reason to share with you other than that I need to make the real apostles look bad to make myself seem like an apostle. I chewed Peter down, and that makes me the top apostles now!”

    It is no wonder that after this letter, not only Galatia, but all of Asia Minor (many of which Paul established, and which includes Ephesus, Laodicea, Lystra, Derbe, Colosse) rejected Paul as a false apostle, as Paul complains to Timothy right before his death, 2nd Timothy 1:15 “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me.” John also represents Jesus as having him write a letter to Ephesus (which is in Asia) and say to them on Jesus’ behalf “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;”

    You mock those who find problems with Paul, but the fact is that Paul’s claim to apostleship stands on such shaky grounds that when challenged by the Galatians to prove that he is an apostle, the best he could do was attack Peter, James, and John.

    • You give an interesting interpretation of Galatians for sure. The satire of the article I linked to was merely to show that most Christians would be offended today by Paul’s harsh words against them (e.g. “You stupid Galatians!” Gal 3:1). As to your summary of Paul’s letter, I think it’s a little heavy on the cynicism. We know from Peter’s letter than Peter appreciated and endorsed Paul’s teachings (2 Pet 3:15). Furthermore, Paul, having not walked physically with Jesus needed to show his stature among believers who had never met Peter and probably never would. He didn’t show that he could “chew them down”, but merely that he could play in their court. It’s a very Jewish thing to challenge someone so blatantly, it’s all over the Mishnah as rabbis challenged each other’s teachings (e.g. Hillel vs Shammai). Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in the same manner. Paul follows this Jewish tradition of in-house criticism, more akin to a family quarrel than bitter rivals as you would suggest. I recommend reading the Jewish New Testament Commentary by Dr. David Stern where he talks about Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees, and he in turn quotes Joseph Shalum who went over the matter in a high degree of detail. Dr. Stern writes “a glance at any modern Jewish community newspaper will show that Jews are still critical of each other and willing to endure such criticism – reproof and rebuke are normal and acceptable behaviors in many Jewish settings.” So the fact that Paul confronts Peter and then writes about it is nothing special when compared to other Jewish writings, and is in fact closer to the norm than an outlier.

      Your inference in linking 2 Tim. 1:15 to John’s letter to Ephesus is shaky at best. Most commentators throughout the centuries (including Messianic Jews such as Dr. Stern and Joseph Shallum) hold that Paul was accepted by the apostles as a full apostle. This is because the writings of the early church fathers (late first century and early second century guys like Polycarp (who himself was a disciple of John the very writer of Revelation), Ignatius, and Clement) clearly support Paul, his apostleship, and his writings. While certain letters like 3 John were debated heavily as to its authenticity, Paul’s letters were never heavily debated and even today most of them are considered authentic even by the most hard-line scholars.

      When you interpret Paul’s letter to the Galatians as written in the context of Judaism of its day (of which Paul was a “Pharisee of Pharisees”), then it fits right in with other Jewish writings of the times perfectly.

      • Both Jesus and John the Baptist refer to the Pharisees as vipers. John also tells the Pharisees they’re going to hell (the whole axe is laid to the root of the trees speech) as does Jesus. This is not just a friendly “we disagree but we’re all ok” type of disagreement as you represent it.

        With that being said, it is clear that your “Paul was a ‘Pharisee of Pharisees'” defense of Paul actually proves my point. If Paul views the real doctrine of Christ in the same way that Christ viewed the doctrine of the Pharisees, then there is truly an adversarial relationship here and NOT an apostleship.

        As to believing that the apostles accepted Paul as an apostle because some early ecclesiastical writers accept him, that simply doesn’t follow. Even if the earliest ecclesiastics accepted Paul as an apostle, that doesn’t mean that the apostles themselves did. Besides, we have no writings from anyone who even knows that Paul exists prior to 140 AD. Ireneaus is from the 180s, Ignatius is highly interpolated, Polycarp only comes down to us from doctored quotations by Eusebius, and Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians is not an authentic epistle of Clement, nor even a real epistle at, all but rather is nothing more than a spurious production, a Paul-quote-fest being passed off as an epistle of a dead man so as to give Paul a chance to rise to canonical status in the late second century. Prior to the late second century, only Marcionites, who were Docetic Dualists, accepted Paul, and even they only discovered him as late as 140.

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