Opposition to Paul’s apostleship did not end at his death. The same group of Judaizers Paul warned about in his epistles continued to oppose the freedom Paul had preached to Gentiles.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:1-4
The Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the deaths of the Jewish apostles led to a decline in the numbers of Jewish followers of Christ in Israel who held to circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic Law. However, that did not mean the opposition to Paul’s message to Gentiles disappeared. Even though the decision of the apostles at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) should have ended the opposition to Paul’s apostleship and ministry to the Gentiles, Jewish followers of Christ continued to make trouble for Paul and the Gospel he preached “among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:2).
The Ebionites (possibly from the Hebrew word for “poor” – evyonim) were known as opponents to Paul’s apostleship as early as the 2nd century AD. Irenaeus was a Christian pastor and apologist during that time and wrote about a variety of heresies the Church was facing, including the Ebionites.
“Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practise circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.” Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 26, 180 AD
Irenaeus also wrote against the doctrine of the Ebionites in chapters 3 and 5 of Against Heresies.
Many other Christian writers and apologists of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries AD warned the Church about the Ebionites, including Tertullion, Hippolytus, Eusebius, Origen and Jerome. The Ebionites opposition to Paul was only one aspect of their warning and concern. Chief among their concerns being what the Ebionites preached about the deity of Christ.
“The Ebionaeans, however, acknowledge that the world was made by Him Who is in reality God, but they propound legends concerning the Christ similarly with Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They live conformably to the customs of the Jews, alleging that they are justified. according to the law, and saying that Jesus was justified by fulfilling the law. And therefore it was, (according to the Ebionaeans,) that (the Saviour) was named (the) Christ of God and Jesus, since not one of the rest (of mankind) had observed completely the law. For if even any other had fulfilled the commandments (contained) in the law, he would have been that Christ. And the (Ebionaeans allege) that they themselves also, when in like manner they fulfil (the law), are able to become Christs; for they assert that our Lord Himself was a man in a like sense with all (the rest of the human family).” Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies 7.22
One of the most prolific writers who sent up warnings about the Ebionites was Epiphanius, a 4th century Christian pastor in Salamis, Cyprus.
“They do not say that he was born of God the Father, but that he was created as one of the archangels, that he rules both the angels and all those things created by the Almighty, and he came and gave instructions to abolish sacrifices as the gospel which they recognize contains the provision that “I came to abolish sacrifices, and unless you cease sacrificing, my anger will not cease from you”. These and such like them are their deceitful conceptions.” Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion 30.16.4-5
Epiphanius also viewed the Nazarenes as an heretical sect in the 4th century AD. The Nazarenes were similar to Ebionites in that they considered themselves Jews and followed the Mosaic Law, but differed in that they believed in the Lord’s Virgin Birth. The Nazarenes depended on the Aramaic Gospel of the Hebrews rather than the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Gospel of the Hebrews is counted with the Gospel of the Nazarenes and the Gospel of the Ebionites as part of what’s called the Jewish-Christian Gospels, quoted in writings of many early Christian pastors and apologists (e.g. Epiphanius, Jerome, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Origen).
Both movements (Ebionites and Nazarenes) lost much of their following after the 5th century AD, but the Jewish-Christian theology and philosophy have seen new interest and rapid growth during the past two hundred years. Many of the Jews who converted to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries wanted to worship separately from Catholics and Protestants and started their own meeting services. They continued practicing some of their Jewish beliefs and liturgy while including New Testament teachings to their spiritual experience. That gave rise to the Messianic Jewish movement of the 1960s and 70s and other groups that emphasized Jewish practices in following Jesus Christ. Some of those movements include “Nazarene Judaism,” the “Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim,” the Two-House theology of the “Messianic Israel Alliance,” the “Union of Nazarene Yisrael Congregations,” the “International Assembly of Nazarene Israelites,” “Assemblies of Yahweh,” “Messianic Jewish Alliance of America,” and the modern “Ebionite Movement.”
Some members of these groups believe there is a difference between Jewish Christianity and Pauline Christianity, going so far as to say that the modern Christian congregation of believers embrace the dogma of pagan Rome, while remaining totally ignorant of what Jesus actually taught (Ebionite/Nazirene Spiritual Restoration – ebionite.com). They go on to say that unless a person is an Ebionite they cannot be a disciple of Christ – that they are the True Spiritual Israel. They claim that the lie of Judaism is that Yeshua/Jesus was not the Messiah, that the lie of Christianity is that Yeshua/Jesus was God Incarnate, and the lie of Islam is that Yeshua/Jesus said another was yet to come.
One of the primary casualties of the Jewish Christian belief system is Paul and his writings.
“Because Pauline theology (Paulism or Paulinism) is a Greek and Gnostic aberration of true Hebraic thought; because it seeks to unilaterally overthrow the true and original Law and Commandments of God; and because Paul utterly contradicts the witness (plural) of the Prophets within the Scriptures. This is not just a modern Ebionite view; this understanding goes all the way back to the first-century Jerusalem Church and it is an understanding that predates the Roman Catholic Church’s later canonization of Paul by more than a century.” Ebionite.net FAQ
Another casualty is Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross.
“The reason the first-century followers of Yahushua (Ebionites) rejected the Pauline ‘gospel’ was because they knew all too well the loving and gentle Character of Yahweh God who did not at all request nor require a blood sacrifice—let alone a human sacrifice—as the means of His forgiveness. This ‘blood sacrifice’, especially human sacrifice, was solely the purveyance of evil in the eyes of God. Ebionite Hebrews could clearly see Paul’s divergent teachings and could easily see he was a false prophet (meaning one who wasn’t really sent by God).” Ebionite.net FAQ
I will begin answering specific questions and complaints from those who believe Paul to be an apostate in the next part of our investigation into whether Paul was an apostle or a fraud. In the meantime, you may find this document interesting to read. It’s called “The Ebionite Manifesto” and was published online by the Ebionite Community (ebionite.org).
The Ebionite Manifesto
The Ebionite Community is the living continuation of the Jewish religious movement of Jesus. Christianity is the religion of Paul and others, and not part of the biblical faith and revelation of the God of Israel nor is it of Jesus. (Please note that we have used “Jesus” to clarify for our Christian readers. We call him Yeshua or Yahshua, and will use Yeshua from this point on in the site.)
We declare the man Paul of Tarsus, the false teacher against the mark of Covenant and God’s Torah, to be outside of the Way taught by Yeshua, the anointed, son of Maria and Yoseif. The Ebionite Community is the only real “mission to the gentiles.”
We call upon the gentiles to repent, to abandon paganism and the perverse testament, and enter into true covenant through Torah, circumcision, and immersion in order to submit and prepare for the Reign of God as brothers exhibiting good works. (How can you talk about accepting God or His “kingdom” at some future event or time if you reject His rules clearly given now?)
To follow Yeshua, may he rest in peace, you must not worship him or any man, but instead be what Yeshua was, a Jew. Yeshua was a man who died and was buried, and finding his bones does not effect the value of many of his recorded teachings, the core of these still buried beneath Christian additions, alterations, and falsifications. His value to us has nothing to do with fairy tales and miracles, divinity or resurrection. We already have the God of Israel so Yeshua is no replacement for Him nor can Yeshua’s words nullify God’s commandments.
Yeshua is not a god, not a sacrifice for sin, or savior. Such beliefs go against God. God’s commandments have not been “done away with” or “nailed to the cross” but instead make up the single testament and Instructions for life to mankind. We ask you to honestly consider the fruit of other religions without explaining away their sins and failures to deliver a godly world; the millions of people they have murdered for “God” even other denominations of their own religion; and all the unbiblical ways in which they claim to honor their god. Deep down you know that neither God or the man Yeshua can truly be present in these religions. The God of Israel has more to give than Christianity or Islam (both of which are just altered, weakened versions of Israel’s faith). Biblical faith has more to offer than any other religion.
Is your faith based on a god that hates you and wants to burn you? You need to keep seeking for the real God, the God of Israel, Who created you and loves you.
Are you a Jew who has become indistinguishable from your gentile friends and your Synagogue reminds you of a church? Have you apostatized from God to Christianity? Return to God. We will help you.
Yahwism, the faith of the Written Torah of the Bible given by the One God, Yahweh, is a revolutionary system of life with justice that can supersede all other systems of government and ideologies. The Evyonim (Ebionites) are Yahwists above all else. It allows for One Ruler, the God of Israel alone, with none beside Him. God is not man, and no man is divine. No man can make you right with God except yourself, and only you can atone for your sins through repentance and reparation to Him and your fellow man. You will never find God, Yahweh King of the Universe, world within worlds, worlds without end, in a church or shrine, kneeling before statues, sticks, stones, or men. Tear down your church. Take the wood and stones and build houses for the poor; take the sticks for firewood; sell the treasure and idols to buy food and heal the sick; bring all men in love to bend the knee to the God of Israel.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Good Evening, Mark:
In the very first paragraph you wrote, “Opposition to Paul’s apostleship did not end at his death. The same group of Judaizers Paul warned about in his epistles continued to oppose the freedom Paul had preached to Gentiles.”
Indeed…and it’s a good thing they did, because Paul of Tarsus preached lies and lawlessness and the Jewish “Christians” and Apostles were doing all they could to keep this charlatan in check, while keeping the flock’s eyes on Christ.
Paul of Tarsus was a heretical “hippy” who burst onto the scene preaching the tenets of free love along with axioms of anarchy, thus it appears he was being called to Jerusalem by St. James, in order to be officially ex-communicated from the church (“Damascus Document” – Dead Sea Scrolls).
As a juror, I would have to say Paul’s defense is 0 for 10 thus far. This is no reflection on you, for you have represented him well…it just means Paul has no real defense other than to rely on his own press releases, propaganda, spin machine and one’s willingness to believe him. God the Father, the Son of God, and His Twelve…received him not. Question is: Why do you?
May the Spirit of Truth work within us – C.J.
Hi, cj. Your continued rants against Paul have become circular. You are saying the same thing over and over again with an absence of evidence. Calling someone names does not make what you say about them true. Claiming that he is a “heretical hippy” who “preached lies and lawlessness” does not make that true. Calling Paul a “charlatan” does not make it so. Claiming that James wrote the Damascus Document and that Paul is the “liar, spouter of lying” and that “This description fits one man above all…and that man is Paul of Tarsus” is not proven by evidence. Some experts on the scrolls, like Professor James Vanderkam, believe that the document pre-dates Christianity based on the archaeological levels at Qumran. Other experts, like Professor Godfrey Driver, believed that the document should be dated to the post-Christian era. Others believe James was the Righteous Teacher and Paul was the liar, but where is Jesus in that document if we are to believe that is the true meaning? Why would James, the brother of Jesus, write about Paul but not mention his own brother? Others, like Professor Barbara Thiering, believe John the Baptist was the Righteous Teacher and that Jesus was the Wicked Priest and Spouter of Lies. Do you think that’s a good interpretation? I realize that your anti-Pauline bias will lead you to grab on to the one explanation that fits your scenario, but the fact is that the interpretation of the Damascus Document is not certain nor settled. I have no bias here, so I’m interested in what comes from all the research. However, whatever the correct interpretation of the players mentioned in the Damascus Document (if we can ever know for sure) does not make the information in that document true unless God inspired its writing. Do you believe the Damascus Document should be included as Scripture? I suggest you be cautious in throwing around one of many interpretations of the Damascus Document as settled knowledge just because it fits with what you want to be true.
Your position, as I understand it, is that Jesus Christ is not God and that most of the writings of the New Testament are not inspired by God. I believe you are serious in your beliefs. However, the evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the writings of the New Testament are powerful and convincing. I understand you are not convinced, but that does not sway me from believing what I believe to be true.
I offered many days ago (May 5th and again on the 7th) to discuss evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ from the 4 New Testament writings you do accept as inspired: Matthew, James, Jude and Revelation – as long as you also agree to discuss evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ from the 23 New Testament writings you do not accept. Instead of responding to my offer, you continue to rant against Paul. Am I to understand that your bias toward Paul is so strong you cannot or will not face the evidence that Jesus Christ really is God?
I look forward to your reply. Mark
Until the scales have fallen from your eyes – you won’t be able to see the light.
I’ll keep you in my prayers – C.J.
Trying to convince you that Paul is not of God is no different than convincing an indoctrinated Mormon that Joseph Smith, Jr. is not of God, because the parallels between the two are striking:
1) Both men claimed to have been approached by a brilliant light
2) Both men claimed that the brilliant light introduced itself as the risen Christ
3) Both men claimed to have received secret revelations from this entity
4) Both men claimed to have received a special calling and ministry from this entity
5) Both men claimed to be the “father” of a new gospel and new people
6) Both men offered humanity a new mode of salvation
7) Both men claimed apostolic authority and mentored disciples
8) Both men claimed to have their own witnesses
8) Both men set up their own churches
9) Both men claimed to come in the name of the Lord and spoke on His behalf
10) Both men were prolific writers and developed their own doctrines
11) Both men lived an ungodly life, full of sin, before encountering the bright light
12) Both men claimed to be able to perform signs and wonders
13) The followers of both men claim their beloved leader died a martyr
14) Both men changed their miraculous conversion stories at least three times
15) The U.S. turned its back on Joseph Smith, while Asia turned away from Paul
16) Both men were idolaters, who followed a bright light instead of Father YHWH
17) Both men attempted to supplant Scripture with their own dogma and doctrines
18) Both men were threatened by an angry mob who wanted to kill them
19) Both men wanted their converts to follow them…instead of Christ
20) Both men claimed to come in the name of the Lord, but rarely spoke of Him
21) Both men did not keep the Torah and were men of lawlessness
What I would like to know is how you can believe the miraculous conversion story of Paul, his chronologies, his histories, and his apostles, though he was never endorsed by our Heavenly Father, His glorious Son or the Twelve, yet, at the same time, regard the the bright light of Joseph Smith, Jr., his secret revelations, his visions, his witnesses and his apostles as heretical rubbish. Please advise.
Oh…and by the way – using “Paul said this and Paul said that” or using a Pauline disciple to say “Paul did this or that”…is not evidence. In fact, the Mormons can play that game all day long (“Joseph said this and Joseph did that”).
“Well, then”…you might say, “Peter endorsed Paul completely, just look at what 2 Peter says about Paul and look at what Luke wrote about Paul and what he claims the Apostles said and did…in the Book of Acts!” The Mormons then respond, “Look at what Moroni and the risen Christ have said about Joseph in the Book of Boom Shockalocka and see what Brigham Young wrote about him in the Doctrines and Covenants!”
At the end of the day, if you are taken in by Paul’s story…then one would think you should be willing to believe Joseph Smith, Jr. as well, because their stories are virtually identical. Then again, if you find fault with Joseph Smith, Jr., you should then realize the fault with Paul, because they are claiming to serve the same entity, while being two peas from the same pod.
Those of us who are mindful of Father YHWH, follow His victorious Son, honor the Twelve and who have kept our eyes on the straight and narrow path – see Paul of Tarsus and Joseph of Vermont as heretics, stumbling stones and anti-Christs.
May the Spirit of Truth be with you – C.J.
Hi, cj. You still haven’t addressed my previous offers to discuss the Deity of Jesus Christ with you. I have asked multiple times, but you have not responded. Is there a reason you do not want to look at the evidence with me?
Your latest question is loaded with your anti-pauline bias –
“What I would like to know is how you can believe the miraculous conversion story of Paul, his chronologies, his histories, and his apostles, though he was never endorsed by our Heavenly Father, His glorious Son or the Twelve, yet, at the same time, regard the the bright light of Joseph Smith, Jr., his secret revelations, his visions, his witnesses and his apostles as heretical rubbish. Please advise.”
That seems like the logical fallacy of complex/loaded question. You’ve also restricted what evidence I can present in answering your question based on your presuppositional bias. That’s the logical fallacy of suppressed evidence and a strong hint toward the fallacy of ignoring counterevidence.
Would you like to restate your question logically?
Also, would you like to address evidence for the Deity of Jesus Christ from the New Testament?
Good Afternoon, Mark:
Of course, I would like to see the evidence that allegedly proves, once and for all, that Yeshua is God. As a matter of fact, a week ago I asked you where you stood on this matter, but, true to form, you chose to side-step my question and dissemble…ultimately asking me to read a 17 part series in which you tried to prove Paul’s authenticity as an apostle, by using his disciples, his own works, and some corrupted texts as evidence.
You ignored most of my thoughtful and time-consuming commentary (between Parts 2-10), except to accuse me of “ranting”, being “biased”, using “circular reasoning”, and insinuating that I “want” to believe in Paul’s guilt (in Part 10). Instead of engaging with me, point by point and part by part, you resisted involvement until lumping all my commentary together into one big ball and then conveniently damning it all as a “rant” against Paul. Seems kinda chicken shlitz and disingenuous if you ask me.
So, is this what they teach at Biola University? To never answer the opposition directly, dissemble whenever possible, to rush onto another subject when the chips are down and to insult the opposition when needed?
On May 3rd, I asked you to show me the evidence that would prove the reliability of the New Testament, which you said you had, but as of today’s date, I have seen nothing.
On May 5th, or thereabouts, I asked you if you believed Jesus was God, but you would not answer me directly. Instead of being forthright and engaging in honest dialog, you invited me to join you in discovering the answer using highly questionable or corrupt correspondences, instead of relying upon documents that are mutually endorsed.
On May 8th, I asked you to tell me why you accept Saul’s miraculous conversion story as truth, but I still have received no reply.
On May 12th, I asked you why you openly receive Paul of Tarsus, when our Heavenly Father, His glorious Son and the Twelve did not. Again…nothing but silence.
I don’t know, Mark: You claim to seek the truth, claim to be unbiased, claim to be open-minded and claim to like honest discourse, but from what I have seen thus far – that doesn’t seem bloody likely. I think you are only fooling yourself. A man who had his own radio talk show, wrote a couple of books, maintains his own website and who is regarded by some as the man who knows God’s plan – is not as likely to seek the truth as he is to prove himself right.
I don’t mean to overstate the case, but you seem committed to your viewpoint and locked-in to your personal theology. I certainly hope pride has not blinded you.
Be well – C.J.
Hi, cj. It’s interesting to see how two people can read the same communications so differently.
I am glad you are interested in discussing the Deity of Christ. You have not agreed to discuss this with me from all 27 Books of the New Testament, but I will proceed on that basis. I’ll emphasize the evidences from the 4 Books you do believe are inspired, along with the other 23 Books of the NT. We can also discuss textual evidence for New Testament writings as well as evidence for Paul’s apostleship. It will take some time, so I appreciate your patience.
I’ll begin with the Old Testament and Gospel of Matthew. We can look at James, Jude, Revelation and the rest of the New Testament writings at a later time. The evidence in Matthew alone is enough to demonstrate the Deity of Jesus Christ.
We first read about the coming of Christ from Heaven to earth to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin in Genesis 3 – “So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
This statement by God would seem to promise someone of extraordinary character to both come from a woman and also have the power to bruise (crush) the head of the serpent.
Even though the first born son (Cain) killed the second born son (Abel), God raised up another son for Eve who would continue the lineage of the “seed” – “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” (Genesis 4:25)
God repeated His promise to Abraham – “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.” (Genesis 21:12) and “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 26:4)
God told Abraham to take Isaac, the promised seed, “to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham obeyed God and took Isaac to the mountain, but the angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son – “And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:12-18)
God promised that He would bless “all the nations of the earth” through Abraham’s seed “because you have obeyed My voice.” An extraordinary statement by God.
God made a covenant with David concerning Solomon and other kings who would come from his lineage that included the idea of a “forever” throne through his seed – “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:11-12)
That Seed is Christ – “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.” (John 7:40-44) The people knew from the OT writings that Messiah would come from the “seed of David,” but they were not aware that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). Jesus is the Seed of the woman who sows the “good seed.” (Matthew 13:37) Jesus is also the “seed” of a woman, Mary (Matthew 1:24-25).
What an angel of the Lord told Joseph about what Jesus would accomplish was certainly extraordinary and unlike anything anyone else had ever done – “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21) Mary would give birth as a virgin of a child that was “conceived” in her “of the Holy Spirit,” and He would “save His people from their sins.” Extraordinary!
Matthew went on to declare that what was going to happen was in fulfillment of what God had prophesied through “the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” God with us! Extraordinary!!
The promise of the Seed was part of the Apostle Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost – “You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Acts 2:25-26) Again, another extraordinary claim about Jesus.
Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Seed of the woman God spoke of in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is unique.
Let’s look at what the New Testament writings tell us about the Deity of Jesus Christ, beginning with the only Gospel you accept as inspired:
1) Matthew 1:23 – “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
2) Matthew 22: 41-46 – “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” Jesus claims to be the “Lord” of Psalm 110:1.
3) Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Jesus placed Himself in a place of equality with God.
4) Matthew 18:19-20 – “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus said He had divine abilities of omnipresence.
5) Matthew 16:21 – “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Jesus knew future events, as did God. Omniscience?
6) Matthew 20:17-19 – “Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Jesus repeated the prophecy. Omniscience?
7) Matthew 17:27 – “Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Jesus knew that Peter would catch a fish that would contain a piece of money that would pay the temple tax for Peter and Him. Omniscience?
8) Matthew 14:25-27 – “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus walked on water demonstrating His supernatural power over nature. Omnipotence?
9) Matthew 3:1-3 – “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” John the Baptist preached to prepare people for the coming of Jesus – “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” Jesus is Lord is Deity!
10) Matthew 3:11-12 – “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” John the Baptist said the One coming after him would be mightier than him and would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This One John the Baptist preached about would come with “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Who in the Old Testament writings would do those things? Yahweh!
“You have forsaken Me,” says the Lord, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting! And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children; I will destroy My people, Since they do not return from their ways. Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas; I will bring against them, Against the mother of the young men, A plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly.” Jeremiah 15:6-8
Hosea 13:1-4 – “When Ephraim spoke, trembling, He exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended through Baal worship, he died. Now they sin more and more, And have made for themselves molded images, Idols of their silver, according to their skill; All of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!” Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud And like the early dew that passes away, Like chaff blown off from a threshing floor And like smoke from a chimney. “Yet I am the Lord your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no savior besides Me.”
11) Hosea 13:4 – “Yet I am the Lord your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no savior besides Me.” God said there is “no savior besides Me.” Matthew wrote:
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11
God said “there is no savior besides me” and Jesus came to be the Savior. Jesus is God.
11) Matthew 3:13-17 – “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” John the Baptist was the prophetic fulfillment of Malachi 3 as the “messenger” of God, but he viewed himself in need to be baptized by Jesus.
12) Matthew 11:7-10 – “As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5) Centuries before Malachi wrote, Isaiah wrote about the “voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.” The “glory of the Lord” would be revealed.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”” Matthew 10:26-28
13) Scripture is clear that God alone is to be worshipped – “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “And God spoke all these words, saying: You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:1-6
Jesus believed that to be true – “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Matthew 4:8-10
Jesus was worshipped and received it – “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him … And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1-2, 11) … “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him,“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:31-33) … “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me … Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:9-11, 16-17)
14) Jesus used the phrase “Son of Man” more than 30 times in Matthew’s Gospel – a phrase directly from Daniel’s prophecy:
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
Here’s how Jesus used the phrase to identify Himself with the Daniel vision of “One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of Heaven!” This “Son of Man” came to the Ancient of Days and “to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Jesus used the phrase “Son of Man’ to demonstrate that He had power on earth to forgive sins. Who in the Old Testament writings had the “power” to forgive sin? God. Jesus had the power on earth to forgive sins. Jesus is God.
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” Matthew 10:22-24
“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:7-8 Who in the Old Testament writings was Lord of the Sabbath? God (e.g. Exodus 16; 20; 31; 35; Leviticus 19; 23; 24; 25; Deuteronomy 5; I Chronicles 16; Isaiah 56; 58; 66; Jeremiah 17; Ezekiel 20; 46). Jesus claimed to be “the Son of Man” who is “Lord even of the Sabbath.”
“Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one … Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:36-38; 40-42 Jesus claimed to be the final Judge at the end of time. Who does the Old Testament say will be the Judge at the end of time? God (e.g. Psalm 58; 82; Ecclesiastes 3; Joel 3)
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-16
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:26-27 Who in the Old Testament writings gives each person rewards according to their works? God (e.g. 1 Samuel 24; 2 Samuel 22; Ruth 2; Psalm 18; 58; Proverbs 25; Isaiah 40; 49; 62; Jeremiah 31). Jesus is God.
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:10-11 Who in the Old Testament writings saves? God (e.g. Exodus 14; Numbers 10; Deuteronomy 20; Judges 6; 1 Samuel 7; 10; 2 Samuel 22; 2 Kings 19; 1 Chronicles 16; Psalm 3; 54; 55; 57; 69; 80; 86; 106; 109; Isaiah 25; 30; 35; 37; 45; Jeremiah 46; Hosea 1; Zephaniah 3; 9) Jesus is God.
“Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:27-29 Who in the Old Testament writings sits on the “throne” of God’s glory? God (e.g. 1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Psalm 11; 103; Isaiah 66) Jesus is God.
I’ll bring this portion of my response to a close so you can respond. We can move into other evidence for Jesus’ Deity after you look at Matthew.
I will not be able to respond to your lengthy commentary for a few days…I’m presently out of town and do not have the luxury of my personal computer, personal library or lumbar-friendly office chair. I believe our Heavenly Father and His victorious Son deserve us at our very best, so I want to give this subject due diligence, while ensuring you receive no less. So, please be patient until I return to the comfort of my home.
Please understand that my mind is still open to many things, though it’s quickly closing on Paul. A couple of months ago, I informed my family that Paul of Tarsus was on trial for treason, but it was important that he receives a fair trial. I don’t care about being right, when it’s the truth that I seek, and even more than that – I want to please our Heavenly Father in my every thought, word and deed. So, if Paul is a pretender – he’s got to go, but if he’s a saint, we have nothing to fear. Let the truth be known and the chips fall where they may.
Unbeknownst to you – I recruited you to play the roll of Paul’s defense attorney. I figured you could make a better case for him than I could…and you have done an admirable job at that, but Paul’s ship is taking on water and sinking fast. Sometimes, even the best of men, cannot save a sinking ship.
Please know that I have shared everything you have written with my family, including what Bible verses you have provided, and even though my mother is rooting for Paul (and you), she was the first to say, “He (you) can’t use Paul to prove Paul”! She went on to tell a story about her sister, back in the early 70’s (that had just graduated from college), who was an avowed atheist. When my mother tried to share the Word of God with her sister (just after being “saved”), Kathy said, “You can’t use a book that describes itself as the ‘Word of God’ as evidence against someone who denies the existence of God.” My mother thought about that for awhile and came to the conclusion that her sister had a valid point.
Upon completion of your 17 part series, the defense and prosecution will have rested and the fate of Paul will be in the hands of the jury. So, I plead with you: If you have anything other than corrupted texts and writings from Paul’s camp…now is the time to use it. I sincerely doubt anyone else will provide Paul a better defense than what you have done, so our determination will depend upon what evidence you provide. If the evidence is too weak to consider or it’s simply too prejudiced to ponder – Paul of Tarsus will be removed from our Bibles.
Now, in all fairness, you have an uphill battle, because Paul of Tarsus was never chosen by Christ to be an Apostle during His earthly ministry and He never mentioned him or a “new testament”, while God the Father never mentioned Paul or the desire to dispatch a new messiah to the Gentiles, while the Twelve were never instructed by Christ to accept a new “master builder”, nor did the Holy Spirit move them to accept this man or his new gospel. Paul was simply unannounced and that should be a major concern to everyone.
Best wishes – C.J.
P.S. I am grateful for your conscientiousness and I applaud you for such a fine letter. I look forward to dissecting it, piece by piece, as soon as I return to my den.
Sounds good! I look forward to hearing from you. Mark
Stop worrying about what groups say, and focus on what the Lord says. Are you saved by Jesus or Paul? Were you created by our Heavenly Father, or by Paul? Religion can’t save you, so all this ebonitie roots messianic hickory dickory dock is nonsense. It is not that difficult. What did God say? What did Jesus say? End of story, no man-made doctrines or interpretations needed.
Turn back to the one who created you.
You’re not making much sense, JD. Do you not believe what is written in the Book of Acts? Do you not believe that Jesus chose Paul to preach His Gospel to the Gentiles? Do you not believe the Holy Spirit called Paul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles? If you believe what is written in the Book of Acts, then you will agree with what I’ve written. If you don’t believe what is written in the Book of Acts, then you probably will not agree with me. If you do not believe the Book of Acts is God’s Word, then what Writings of the New Testament do you believe are His Word?
You seem to imply that Messianic Judaism is a heretical sect — is that really what you’re saying? Many of us in the Messianic/Jewish/Hebrew-Roots (MJHR) movement are working hard right not to fight the rise of neo-ebionism today:
It’s an unfortunate trend, since many of us in the MJHR movement do uphold salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, the inspiredness of Paul’s writings, the deity of Christ, etc.:
Hi, Rob. I do not believe that Messianic Judaism is a heretical sect. Some members of some groups that call themselves part of Messianic Judaism have challenged my use of Paul’s letters in Bible studies because they say Paul was a fraud and liar and false prophet and that none of his writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Their beliefs about the Deity of Jesus Christ are also different than orthodox Christianity. Some of them have published websites that support those same heresies. I am very glad to hear from a member of the MJHR movement who believes that Jesus Christ is God and that Paul’s letters are inspired. Because God did inspire Paul’s letters, I believe it is important that we learn what God said to 1st century believers (Jews and Gentiles) as well as implications for the centuries that followed.
Thanks for commenting!
Thanks for clarifying Mark. Indeed there are a *lot* of us in MJHR who hold to these truths, and combat Ebionism on a regular basis (the website http://MessianicPublications.com has a number of authors who hold to this, as well as their respective ministries — and there are other solid organizations out there as well). Are there any notable groups that have challenged Paul as a heretic, or are they mostly fringe-groups?
Most of the people and groups I’ve heard from seem to fall within the “fringe group” status. Thank you for sharing the Messianic Publications website. I will read through it in the coming days. One thing I noticed in an article written by J.K. McKee (Paul, Opposed or Not Opposed to the Torah (Law)) is insightful.
“A wide number of today’s Messianic Believers tend to have a love-hate relationship with the Apostle Paul. On the one hand, the many passages in Paul’s letters that laud the love of God demonstrated via the Messiah Yeshua, and the service that Believers should have one for another, are greatly appreciated. On the other hand, passages in Paul’s letters that appear to be negative toward the Torah or Law of Moses are either ignored, or they tend to be interpreted along some traditional Christian (typically dispensationalist) lines.”
That is the tension I’ve seen through the years in speaking with members of notable Messianic groups, so I agree with Mr. McKee’s observation. However, in my experience, there has not been a question about whether Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1-14) or whether Paul’s epistles were inspired by the Holy Spirit and part of the Canon of Scripture. I first met members of the Messianic Jewish community almost 40 years ago and appreciate their (your) love for Jesus Christ and God’s Word.
The conversations that concern me are with those people who identify themselves as Messianic Jews and/or Ebionites and do not believe Jesus is God and do not believe Paul’s letters are Scripture. I pray that this series about Paul and answering the questions asked of me will be helpful to those who question whether Paul is an apostle or a fraud.
Thanks for writing, Rob. So nice to hear from you.