ABOUT  PAUL



2 Paul and the Pre-Resurrection Jesus




Given Paul's concentration on the risen Jesus he had encountered, some people take it for granted that he knew little about—or cared little to find out about—Jesus in the life he led before Paul was even aware of his existence. This view is strengthened by the assumption that Paul, a Jew of the Diaspora, seems not concerned with what occurred in Judaea. He emphasizes his distance from the Jewish center. This attitude apparently disturbed Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, who tried to establish as many Pauline ties to Jerusalem as possible, bringing him there early to be trained by the great scholar Gamaliel. Some defenders of Luke have claimed that only in Jerusalem could Paul have acquired the knowledge he boasted of as a Pharisee, as one who outstripped his contemporaries in devout observance of the Law.


This argument underestimates the importance of the Diaspora in the first century of the Common Era. There were between 5 and 6 million Jews in the Diaspora, more than lived in Judaea. They made up more than 10 percent of most major cities in the Roman Empire—180,000 in Alexandria alone, and 50,000 in Rome. The Greek word diaspora means "a scattering," and the Jews were scattered thick and wide. Though most Pharisees would no doubt have preferred to stay near the Temple and the full rites of their faith, scholarly men of the Law had reasons, like other influential Jews, to move around in the network of commercial, familial, and educational opportunities afforded by the rich Diaspora culture. We are told in the Gospel of Matthew (23.15) that the Pharisees were active missionaries. At a time of brisk travel, when there was intense traffic to and from Judaea, there is no reason Paul could not have had a full Pharisaical training in Tarsus, or later in Damascus, his two homes, neither of them far from Judaea, and both of them centers of trade and communication. If Pharisaism was widespread in the Diaspora, so—almost overnight—was the Jesus movement widespread in Syria and Cilicia. There were already Brothers in Damascus and Antioch soon after Jesus' death—otherwise, how could Paul have persecuted them in the one place, and joined them in the other? And how, precisely, did he try to "extirpate" them (Gal 1.13)? Not, as Luke claimed, by arresting them and putting them to death. What instruments were available to him as a Jew in the Roman province of Syria ? Where, for that matter, did he encounter the early Brothers? The obvious place is the synagogue. The Brothers had not broken with the synagogue in the early days. As a strict observer of the Law, Paul would resent those claiming to have seen the risen Jesus. False Messiahs were a constant threat to the upholders of the established Law and to good relations with the Roman rulers. The Brothers were not merely outside the authorized observances. They would upset the crucial population of "Godfearers," those sympathetic outsiders who attended synagogues in considerable numbers as potential converts. These people, we shall see, proved important for Paul's future ministry, but in his observant days he would have feared the effect of the Brothers on these "fellow travellers," who might be drawn away from their initial attraction to the Jewish faith.


[STUDYING UNDER SOME GREAT “TEACHER”  AND  YET  NOT  KNOWN  IS  EASILY  EXPLAIN—— A  GREAT  TEACHER  MAY  HAVE  MANY  STUDENTS,  YOUNG  COMPARED  TO  AN  OLD  SCHOLAR;  THE  STUDENTS  ARE  JUST  ONE  OF  MANY,  AND  ARE  OFTEN  IN  THE  BACKGROUND  OF  LIFE  AROUND  THEM,  AS  THEY  ARE  STILL  LEARNING;  IT  IS  NOT  YET  THEIR  TIME  TO  MAKE  WAVES  AND  CRASH  ON  THE  ROCKS  OF  THE  SEA  COAST  -  Keith Hunt]


How could Paul prevent this? Obviously, by using the weapons we shall see him employ against opponents in the letters that have come down to us—fierce argument, fine distinctions of scriptural interpretation, sardonic humor, and denunciation. He would refute the intruders, ridicule them, drive them out, deprive them of a base in Damascus. That would indeed be an "extirpation." We can easily imagine him doing this against the Brotherhood after we have seen him doing it within that company. Here is how Wayne Meeks describes Paul at work on those he opposes in the Corinthian gathering:


A wealth of rhetorical devices clothes this appeal: curses and threats on the one hand, reminders of blessings on the other, ironic rebukes, shaming and sarcasm. All are ways of suggesting to the addressees that they are in danger of committing irreparable folly and of recalling them to their earlier sound judgment.2


It is true that Jews had won the right in some cities to discipline their own members—that is how Paul later came to be flogged five times by Jews. But this was a community action, calling for community support, and Paul never says that anyone but himself was involved in his "persecuting" activities. He did not have the authority to flog, any more than to arrest or put to death. It is true that, once he became a Brother, he threatened to visit his fellows in Corinth with a club (1 Cor 4.21), but that was comic bluster—provoked by the people in Corinth who had called him weak. His real weapon was always language, and the community responded with an acknowledgment that he had wounded them with a letter (2 Cor 7.8).


If in Damascus Paul's major form of persecution was exposure of what he felt were false claims, then he had to study those claims well before he came to accept them. What was he objecting to in the Brothers' presence at the synagogue? Not—yet—the observance of kosher laws or the necessity of circumcision. Those points of difference were not at stake—he would raise them once he became a Brother himself. The first witnesses to Jesus were circumcised men, and observant. Their initial difference from other Jews was that they proclaimed the resurrection of a crucified man, the very thing Paul would later call "an affront (skandalon) to Jews" (1 Cor 1.23). In other words, what would become the center of his own faith, the risen Jesus, was the thing he felt at first he had to oppose and "extirpate." Jesus' appearance to him would be the supreme refutation of all his own refutations of the Brothers.


Once Paul joined the Brothers, he had many of his new fellows to tell him about Jesus' life. Those five hundred witnesses to the Resurrection were obviously a mobile bunch. Three members of his missionary teams—Barnabas, Silvanus, and Mark—had probably come from Jerusalem as part of the first spread of the faith from the original followers. Some who had joined the Holy before Paul did would cross and re-cross his path—the married team, for instance, of Prisca and Aquila he encountered and worked with in Corinth and Ephesus and Rome. By the time he wrote to Rome, where he had never been himself, Paul would greet over two dozen of the Holy who had gone there. Followers of Jesus were pullulating everywhere.


How did these active missionaries communicate the knowledge of their Lord? There were no Gospels yet. If any writings existed, they have perished, though they may have left traces in Paul's own letters and in later writings. Some hymns may have been written down. But we are dealing with a predominantly oral culture, one in which transmission viva voce was highly developed, along with the mnemonic skills such a culture entails. Jesus had spoken to many crowds, on many occasions. He had answered many questions, retold many parables. There was a rich store of memories from different people who had seen him in different contexts. 


The variations of what seem the same events or sayings in the Gospels are probably a thin harvesting of a wide variety of accounts originally circulated.


Paul did not have to go to Jerusalem to hear such accounts—though he could have confirmed many things when he met Peter and the others there. For that matter, he did not have to go to Jerusalem to talk with Peter. They would be active together in the gatherings at Antioch, and Peter's associates (if not Peter himself) were influential in Corinth. The Lord's brothers, too, were out traveling with their wives (1 Cor 9.5). Paul had frequent occasion to talk with people who had known Jesus in his lifetime, some whose names we know, many whose names we do not—and he had even more opportunities to talk with followers of those first associates who had committed oral traditions to their minds and hearts. He lived during his first days as a Brother in the gatherings of Damascus and Antioch, where he learned the rituals and traditions of his new faith. He had to learn before he could teach, and close study of his work shows that he did just that.


But if Paul knew a great deal about the life of Jesus, why does he recount so little from it in his letters? 


There are several reasons for this. The letters are not expositions of the meaning of Jesus' life—though Paul could have engaged in that when he was with the gatherings he helped form. The letters are addressed to specific problems, and he uses material from Jesus' life only when that is needed for addressing those problems. When such citation of Jesus' words is called for, he has the right words at his command—on the Lord's Meal (Kyriakon Deipnon), for instance, or on a case of divorce in the gathering, or on observance of kosher, or on the acceptance of financial support by an emissary. It has been argued that in these direct citations Paul's versions are probably closer to what Jesus said than are later records of it in the Gospels.


[NOPE  JUST  NOT  TRUE  AT  ALL——  JESUS  SAID  TO  HIS  TWELVE  DISCIPLES,  WHEN  THE  SPIRIT  CAME  IT  WOULD  GUIDE  THEM  INTO  ALL  THAT  HE  SAID  AND  INTO  ALL  TRUTH,  WELL  ALL  THAT  WAS  IMPORTANT  TO  BE  WRITTEN  DOWN  AS  THEY  ARE  IN  THE  GOSPELS.  PEOPLE  WHO  DO  NOT  BELIEVE  IN  DIVINE  INSPIRATION  CAN  FIND  ALL  KINDS  OF  REASONS  TO  DO  AWAY  WITH  THIS  OR  THAT  SECTIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT,  AS  THIS  AUTHOR  DOES.  REMINDS  ME  OF  THE  PREACHER  SEEING  A  MEMBER  OF  HIS  CONGREGATION  AND  ASKING  WHY  HE  ONLY  HAD  THE  FRONT  AND  BACK  COVERS  OF  HIS  BIBLE…. “WELL  PREACHER  EVERY  TIME  YOU  SAID  THIS  SECTION  IS  NOT  INSPIRED  OR  DONE  AWAY  WITH,  I  TORE  IT  OUT.”  Keith Hunt]


On the Lord's Meal, for instance, his report is not only the first—written decades before any of the Gospel versions—but probably the closest to what Jesus actually said. 


[NOPE—— THIS  AUTHOR  THINKS  THE  GOSPELS  CAME  MUCH  LATER  THAN  PAUL’S  WRITINGS (THE  AUTHOR  ONLY  BELIEVES  7  OF  PAUL’S  EPISTLES  ARE  FROM  HIM  AND  INSPIRED),  BUT  THAT  DOES  NOT  MAKE  IT  SO,  DESPITE  HIS  TRAINING  IN  “MODERN  THEOLOGY”  -  Keith Hunt]


We should not fall into the fallacy of thinking that a saying of Jesus in one of the Gospels is "the original," which Paul only approximates in what seems to be a paraphrase of it. The truth could be the other way around. Out of the rich store of oral accounts that would be reflected in the Gospels, that which Paul received may be closer to Jesus' own words than are the variants in the Gospels.


[NOPE—- COULD  BE  THE  OTHER  WAY  AROUND  -  Keith Hunt]


Of the many places where Paul echoes the teaching of Jesus, consider just some:


1. When the Brothers in Rome differed over observance of kosher, Paul used the authority of Jesus to compose their differences: "I know, relying on Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself. Only if a man supposes it unclean does it become unclean for him" (Rom 14.14). Is that Paul's fumbling toward what Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, answering those who accused him of flouting the purity code? "Understand what you hear from me: What a man takes into his mouth does not make him unclean. What comes out of his mouth—that is what makes him unclean" (Mt 15.10-11). Jesus in the Gospels frequently says that purity is a matter of the heart and intention, not of ritual observance: "Make sure your heart is not a darkness. If your whole body is suffused with light, no part of it is left in darkness, it will be light-giving, as when a lamp lights you with its brightness" (Lk 11.35-36). Paul gives us our first version of this teaching. He is not, necessarily, parroting what would not be written for years to come. 2. 


[BOTH  PAUL  AND  JESUS  ARE  HERE  TAKEN  OUT  OF  CONTEXT,  AS  I  SHOW  IN  EXPOUNDING  THESE  SECTIONS  MENTIONED,  IN  MY  STUDIES  AS  I  EXPOUND  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  FOR  YOU  UNDER  MY  “NEW  TESTAMENT  BIBLE  STORY”  -  THEY  HAVE  NOTHING  TO  DO  WITH  MAKING  UN-CLEAN  FOODS  CLEAN  -  Keith Hunt]


When the Brothers in Corinth made the meal of love an occasion for conflict, Paul reminded them of the instruction he had given them earlier on what Jesus said at that meal:


What I received from the Lord I passed on to you— that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread and, after blessing it, broke it and said: "This is my body, which is for you. Do the same to keep the memory of me." Just so with a cup, after finishing dinner: "This cup is the new bond, in my blood. Do the same, as you drink it, to keep my memory." For as many times as you eat this bread or drink this cup, you announce the death of the Lord, before his return. (1 Cor 11.23-26)


How did Paul learn this "from the Lord"? In a vision? He does not say that. He uses the language of tradition—what was handed to me I handed on—the same formula he had used for the basic creed he recites at 1 Corinthians 15.3. Where did he learn the tradition of the Lord's Meal? Obviously in the first gatherings where he took part in the Lord's Meal, in Damascus, in Antioch, where followers from Jerusalem had brought the revelation before Paul joined them. Those gatherings were as close as we can get to the actual night being commemorated. Paul is closer to that night than any of the three Gospels that quote Jesus' words. The Gospels, for that matter, differ from each other in the details of what was said, as well as from Paul's account— but his stands first in the tradition, and nearest to the source.


[NOPE— PAUL  GOT  IT  WHEN  HE  WAS  TAUGHT  BY  CHRIST  AS  HE  EXPLAINED  IN  GALATIANS  1  -  Keith Hunt]


At Corinth, Paul actually got himself into trouble by quoting the words of Jesus. He had refused to let the Brothers there support him, but when the Corinthians learned that he had taken contributions from the gatherings in Macedonia, he had to admit: "The Lord directed that those who reveal the revelation should be supported (zen) by revealing it" (1 Cor 9.14). He is referring to directions Jesus gave when he first sent off any emissaries of the revelation. Jesus told them to take nothing with them, not even a pouch to provide for future supply, but to eat what was offered where they were welcomed, since "he who does a work deserves support (trophe) for it," as Matthew puts it (10.10). Or "deserves payment" (misthos) for it, according to Luke (10.7).


[YA  WELL  OF  COURSE  MANY  DO  GET  UPTIGHT  AND  OFFENDED  WHEN  MINISTERS  LIKE  PAUL,  TEACH  THEY  CAN  LIVE  OFF  THE  GOSPEL;  PEOPLE  IN  GOD’S  WORK  ARE  AT  LIBERTY  TO  TEACH   PEOPLE  IT  IS  RIGHT  AND  PROPER  TO  BE  PAID  FOR  THEIR  SERVICE  -  Keith Hunt]


Paul could not use, because he clearly did not know, Luke's modification of the Lord's instruction. Jesus originally sent the emissaries out on a short errand to nearby villages in Judaea. Missionary efforts of a long-term and long-distance nature in urban areas made Luke present Jesus as saying (22.36) that they could take provisions on later journeys. Paul has to justify himself in another way, and it would be undiplomatic to give his real reason for not taking support in Corinth. That city was split venomously between a wealthier and a poorer faction. The gulf even made their dinner of unity a source of division, as the better-off ate and drank more lavishly than the poorer Brothers (1 Cor 11.21-22). If Paul, who wants to be the neutral reconciler, took support, it would obviously come from the wealthier Brothers, whom he is trying to correct. But to say this would itself cause enmity. Instead, he says that the Lord's directive gave a right (exousia, 9.15) to the emissary that Paul would rather not exercise. He even uses a play on words to make his argument. He says that carrying the revelation is itself a reward (misthos) for him (9.17)—so this laborer has, as directed, received his pay! What is interesting for our purposes here is that Paul knows the Lord's directive and has to acknowledge it, even as he explains his departure from it.


[PAUL  TOOK  NO  PAY  BECAUSE  OF  THE  ATTITUDE  OF  THE  CHURCH  MEMBERS  IN  THE  WHOLE;  SEE  MY  EXPOUNDING  OF  1  AND  2  CORINTHIANS  IN  MY  “NEW  TESTAMENT  BIBLE  STORY”  -  Keith Hunt]


The Corinthians had an endless supply of troubles to lay before Paul. One involved a divorce in the gathering. Once again Paul begins from the words of Jesus: "To the married I pronounce—no, it is not I, but the Lord—that a wife should not be separated from her husband; or if she does separate, she must either stay single or rejoin her husband; and a husband should not divorce his wife" (1 Cor 7.10-11). Paul refers to Jesus' teaching "What God has joined, let man not sunder" (Mk 10.9, Mt 19.6). When he allows for an exception, in the case of a Brother or Sister married to an unbeliever (1 Cor 7.12), he is careful to preface his remark: "It is I saying this, not the Lord" (7.12). In the same way, when he recommends celibacy, he says that this is his position, not one he has from the Lord (1 Cor 7.6-7, 25-26, 35, 40). His care to stay with the sayings of the Lord shows that he clearly knows them, far more of them than he needs to cite for meeting special problems.


[PAUL  USES  SCRIPTURE  TO  BACK  A  POINT;  WHEN  HE  SAYS  IT  IS  HE  SPEAKING,  THIS  DOES  NOT  MAKE  IT  UN-SCRIPTURAL,  FOR  HE  SAYS  “…AND  I  THINK  I  HAVE  THE  SPIRIT  OF  GOD” (1 COR. 7:40).  PAUL  GAVE  HIS  ADVICE  UNDER  INSPIRATION  FOR  THEIR  SITUATIONS  AND  WHAT  WAS  HAPPENING  IN  AND  AROUND  THEIR  LIVING  CIRCUMSTANCES.  HE  WAS  GIVING  DIRECTIVES  UNDER  GUIDANCE  FROM  THE  HOLY  SPIRIT  -  Keith Hunt]


Another teaching Paul says he has "from the Lord" concerns the end time. Like Jesus, Paul taught that Jesus had fulfilled the Messianic prophecies by his coming, but that the completion of his mission was still to take place. But the Thessalonians feared that their Brothers who had died would not be part of that glorious consummation. To reassure them he writes:


For this we tell you from the Lord's word: we who remain alive shall not go in before the dead when the Lord appears. Rather, at the summons, as the archangel cries out and God's trumpet sounds, the Lord will come down from heaven, and those who died in Messiah will rise up first, then we who remain living will be swept up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord aloft. After, we shall be with him forever. Give each other comfort with these words. (1 Thess 4.15-18)


Paul has a tradition from Jesus like that caught in the Gospel of Matthew:


Then will appear in heaven a presage of the Son of Man, and all the tribes of the earth will lament, and they will see the Son of Man arriving on heaven's clouds in power and great splendor, and he will dispatch his angels with great trumpet flourishes, and they shall gather in his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

(Mt 24.30-31)


Like Jesus, Paul says that the consummation will come unexpectedly—"in an eyeblink" (1 Cor 15.52)—and the Brothers must be alert. It will come "like a thief in the night" (1 Thess 5.2)—a direct parallel with Matthew 24.43 and Luke 12.39-40. Is the report in Matthew any more authoritative than the far earlier one in Paul?


[NO  NOT  QUITE;  1  THES. 5:2  IS  ABOUT  THE  PROPHETIC  DAY  OF  THE  LORD,  MENTIONED  IN  DOZENS  OF  OLD  TESTAMENT  PROPHECIES.  THAT  IS  A  PROPHETIC  TIME  SPAN,  THE  ACTUAL  COMING  OF  CHRIST  WILL  BE  AT  THE  END  OF  THAT  DAY  OF  THE  LORD  SPAN.  ALL  FULLY  EXPLAINED  IN  MY  EXPOUNDING  OF  THE  PROPHETIC  BOOKS  OF  THE  BIBLE  UNDER  “PROPHECY”  -  Keith Hunt]


One saying of Jesus was particularly useful to Paul in his conflict with the "wise" ones of Corinth. In two of the Gospels, Jesus says, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the wise and revealing them to simple people" (Mt 11.25, Lk 10.21). Paul brought the saying to bear on his argument with the learned Corinthian faction: "God's ignorance surpasses human learning, and the trivial things of God surpass human importance. . . . We speak of the learning of God, kept as a secret hidden away, as he arranged ahead of time for our glory, a secret this time's important ones never penetrated" (1 Cor 1.25, 2.7-8).


[WHAT  JESUS  SAID  GIVES  THE  BOTTOM  OF  THE  LINE  BASIC  TRUTH.  FORGET  ABOUT  YOUR  “EDUCATED”  THEOLOGY  WHATEVERS (AS  THIS  AUTHOR  SHOULD)  AND  READ  THE  BIBLE  AS  A   CHILD  WOULD  READ  IT;  I  KNOW  VERY  WELL  WHAT  THAT  IS  LIKE  FOR  I  WAS  READING  THE  BIBLE  FROM  AGE  7,  AS  I  ATTENDED  A  CHURCH  OF  ENGLAND  SCHOOL (ANGLICAN - THE  QUEEN  ELIZABETH  OF  ENGLAND  CHURCH),  AND  ALSO  IN  MY  LOCAL  SUNDAY  SCHOOL  CHURCH.  AS  YOU  READ  LOOK  FOR  WHERE  GOD’S  WORD  CORRECTS  YOUR  FALSE  IDEAS  YOU  MAY  HAVE  GROWN  UP  WITH.  REMEMBERING  AS  JESUS  SAID,  “…THE  SCRIPTURE  CANNOT  BE  BROKEN” (JOHN 10:35).  THERE  IS  NO  REAL  CONTRADICTIONS  IN  GOD’S  WORD,  ONLY  PERCEIVED  ONES.  I  HAVE  GIVEN  YOU  A  FEW  COMPLETE  BOOKS  ON  “CONTRADICTIONS  OF  THE  BIBLE”  -  THERE  IS  NONE!  THOSE  BOOKS  ARE  UNDER  “HOW  WE  GOT  THE  BIBLE”  SECTION  -  Keith Hunt]


Paul also echoes the claim of Jesus that the Temple is to be replaced by his body, and by the Brothers incorporated into that body, since the Spirit has his abode (oikei) in them. The Spirit is no longer confined to one physical space. "Surely you must know that you are the Temple of God, and the Spirit of the Lord has his abode (oikei) in you. If anyone destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him, for the Temple is holy, and you are it" (1 Cor 3.16-17; cf. 6.19, 2 Cor 6.16). "In Christ we became one body by baptism through the action of a single Spirit" (1 Cor 12.13). These passages are crucial, since it is often said that Jesus' claim in the Gospels that he is the Temple, replacing the old meeting place between God and man, is an invention that grew up only after the actual destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. But here is Paul saying the same thing almost two decades before the destruction of the physical Temple in Jerusalem. He is in perfect accord with the sayings of Jesus, and proves that this tradition was in circulation among the Brothers well before the Temple was destroyed—and even more clearly before the Gospels were written.


[YES  INDEED  THE  TEMPLE  OF  GOD  IS  NOW  THE  CHILDREN  OF  GOD  -  Keith Hunt]


In the Gospels, when Jesus is rebuked for letting his followers violate the Sabbath, he responds: "In truth I tell that here you have something greater than the Temple" (Mt 12.6). When some scoff at his saying, "Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it again," the Gospel of John explains: "The Temple he referred to was his body" (Jn 2.19, 21). Jesus tells the Samaritan woman: "Believe me, the moment is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mount [at the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim] nor in Jerusalem. . . . The moment is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth" (Jn 4.21, 23). She says that this can occur only with the arrival of the Messiah—Paul's title for Jesus. Jesus responds to her, "I am he, I who tell you this" (4.26). Some might say John takes this from Paul, reversing what used to be said, that Paul draws on (and distorts) the Gospel. In any event, Paul is not saying things alien to what Jesus says in the later Gospels.


[TRUE  INDEED,  THERE  IS  NO  CONTRADICTION  BETWEEN  JESUS  AND  PAUL  ON  ANYTHING.  IT  IS  ONLY  THE  “BABES  IN  CHRIST”  AND  SOME  UNLEARNED  MINDS  OF  YET  OTHERS,  THAT  THINK  JESUS  AND  PAUL  CONTRADICTED  EACH  OTHER  - Keith Hunt]


The belief that all the Brothers are members of Christ leads to the corollary that they are members of each other. "As we have in our body many members, and all the members do not perform the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Messiah, and serve as members of each other" (Rom 12.4-5). Jesus, after saying that "I am the vine, you the branches" (Jn 15.5), draws the corollary, "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15.12). "I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I in you" (Jn 14.20). One Spirit pervades the vine and the body. This is the deeper meaning of the "Golden Rule" (Mt 7.12, Lk 6.31)—not simply that you should treat others as you would be treated, but treat them as if they were you (because they are).


[INDEED  WE  ARE  ALL  ONE  IN  CHRIST,  NO  DIVISION  AT  ALL  THOUGH  WE  MAY  PHYSICALLY  DIFFER,  IN  COLOR  OF  SKIN,  EDUCATION,  LANGUAGE,  TALENTS,  ABILITIES,  SKILLS,  JOBS,  HEIGHT,  MALE  AND  FEMALE,  AND  ETC.  Keith Hunt]


Paul says that the essence of the Law is love, and Jesus said the same. Here is Paul: "The entire Law is fulfilled in this one saying, Love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal 5.14). "The one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law, since Commit no adultery, Steal not, Covet not— any commandment whatever—all are comprehended in this language: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor and you can do no wrong. For love is what fulfills the Law" (Rom 13.8-10). And here is Jesus: "What you would have others do to you, do to them. That is the Law and the prophets" (Mt 7.12). "You shall love the Lord your God with your entire heart, your entire soul, your entire mind—that is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is its like: You will love your neighbor as yourself. From those two commands is the entirety of the Law derived" (Mt. 22.37-40).


This is the real point. Those who say that Paul's was an alien spirit superimposed on that of a loving Jesus do not see that they both taught the same message of love. 


Jesus told his followers to love their enemies (Mt 5.44, Lk 6.28). So did Paul: "If your enemy is hungry, give him to eat; if thirsty, give him to drink" (Rom 12.20). Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged" (Lk 6.37), since only the sinless can judge others (Jn 8.7), and Paul said: "In convicting others you condemn yourself, since you are guilty of what you condemn" (Rom 2.1). And: "Who are you to be your brother's judge?" (Rom 14.10). Paul, like Jesus (Mt 7.1-2), said, "Take no revenge" (Rom 12.19). Jesus said not to resist one who wrongs you (Lk 6.28-30), and Paul directed others to submit to wrong rather than take people to court (1 Cor 6.7). In the Gospels, Jesus says, "Rescue comes from the Jews" (Jn 4.22), and Paul: "From Zion is the Rescuer" (Rom 11.26), and, "The revelation is God's miracle of rescue for one who believes—the Jew first, then the Greek" (Rom 1.16).


I am not saying that Paul had specific words of Jesus in mind for all these similarities. But he surely had grasped the key to what Jesus taught during his life on earth. Most would agree that the point of the Sermon on the Mount, of the Golden Rule, of the frequent commands to love unstintingly was deeply understood by a man who could write this:


Were I to speak the languages of all men and all angels, without having love, I were as a resonating gong or jangling cymbal. Were I to prophesy and know all secrets and every truth, were I to have faith strong enough to move mountains, without having love, I were as nothing. Were I to give away all my possessions, or give my body to be burned, without having love, it would avail me nothing.


Love is patient, is kind. It does not envy others or brag of itself. It is not swollen with self. It is not wayward or grasping. It does not flare with anger, nor harbor a grudge. It takes no joy in evil, but delights in truth. It keeps all confidences, all trust, all hope, all endurance. Love will never go out of existence. Prophecy will fail in time, languages too, and knowledge as well. For we know things only partially, or prophesy partially, and when the totality is known, the parts will vanish. It is like what I spoke as a child, knew as a child, thought as a child, argued as a child—which, now I am grown up, I put aside. In the same way we see things in a murky reflection now, but shall see them full face when what I have known in part I know fully, just as I am known. For the present, then, three things matter—believing, hoping, and loving. But supreme is loving. (1 Cor 13.1-13)


Does that sound like a man with what Nietzsche called "a genius for hatred" ?

………………………….


JESUS  AND  THE  APOSTLE  PAUL  SAID  THE  SAME  THING,  MAYBE  IN  SLIGHTLY  DIFFERENT  WORDS;  THEY  TAUGHT  THE  SAME  TEACHING  OF  SALVATION  AND  THE  KINGDOM  OF  GOD  -  Keith Hunt