Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “Apostles”

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.12

We are currently looking at the writings of some of the leading Christian apologists of the 2nd Century.  If you are reading this from your living room, office, porch, breezeway or other comfortable location, let’s remember that many early apologists wrote from prison or on their way to martyrdom. Defending the faith has never been about being comfortable. It’s about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.11

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” 

Before we continue looking at the writings of early Christian apologists, I’d like to share something important for us to remember as we read post-Scriptural Christian writings.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.3

Apostolic Fathers

Some of the best known of the ancient apologists are the “Apostolic fathers.” They were disciples of the apostles. They lived during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD and their apologetic ministries had a powerful influence on the early Christian Church. They included Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Symrna (some scholars include Papias of Hierapolis in the group). We’ve learned about Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch in previous studies. We move now to Polycarp of Symrna.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.2

As a quick review, the first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. That includes an understanding of the overarching truths of the Bible. The second part is to have at least a basic working knowledge of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek). The third part is to learn from the great apologetic voices of the early Church Fathers. Those Christians from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries fought many of the same battles we are fighting today. There is much we can learn from how they identified and addressed challenges to Christianity from both inside and outside the Church.

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A Reading Plan For Christian Apologists – Part 3.1

The first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. That includes an understanding of the overarching truths of the Bible. The second part is to have at least a basic working knowledge of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek). Being able to study the Bible in that atmosphere of the ancient texts will help you address many of the issues of concern to non-Christians.

As we wrote in the last part of our series, Christian apologists today have a great advantage because of the excellent apologists who have gone before us and fought many of the same battles we are fighting today. There is much we can learn from them, especially Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

We move next to the Church Fathers, beginning with the Apostolic Fathers.

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A Reading Plan For Christian Apologists – Part 3

The first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. That includes an understanding of the overarching truths of the Bible. The second part is to have at least a basic working knowledge of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek). Being able to study the Bible in that atmosphere of the ancient texts will help you address many of the issues of concern to non-Christians.

We move now to the next part of a reading plan for Christian apologists.

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Preach Like Jesus

Jesus and DisciplesNo one has ever preached the Gospel like Jesus Christ. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4:23) 

Jesus also taught His disciples to preach the Gospel in the same way He did. “So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” (Luke 9:6) “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

If preaching the Gospel effectively is something that interests you, here are four brief insights into our Lord’s method —  

Truthful … Powerful … Personal … Sacrificial

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 14)

Saint PaulWe continue with questions from people who believe Paul was a fraud and not a true apostle of Jesus Christ. What’s at stake is almost half of the New Testament.

Question

  • If eating meat sacrificed to idols is okay as long as your “weaker brother” is not around as described in 1st Corinthians 8, then why is this practice later described as being hated by Jesus as the “doctrine of Balaam” in Revelation 2:14? Why does Rev 2:20 condemn it when Paul says it’s okay if nobody knows about it?

Answer

Let’s look at each reference you mentioned.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 13)

Saint PaulThe question is not frivolous or trivial: was Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ or a fraud? We’ve seen from the history of the early Church in Luke’s second letter to Theophilus (known to us as the Book of Acts) that Jesus Christ personally called Paul to be an apostle (Acts 9) and that the Holy Spirit called Paul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 13).

About half of the Book of Acts references Paul’s ministry to Jews and Gentiles, and Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. However, even with that overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe that Paul was an apostle and go as far as to call him a fraud. In calling Paul a fraud they also call his writings fraudulent, which is a major issue for Christians. Most of the Paul-challengers I’ve heard from also believe 2 Peter is fraudulent, partially because the letter supports Paul’s apostleship and his authorship of Scripture.

If Paul is fraudulent, then what do we make of the writings of one of Paul’s most famous students, Luke? Can Luke be trusted if his mentor is a fraud?

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 8)

Saint Paul“Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.” Acts 14:27-28

Saul (Paul) and Barnabas returned to Antioch of Syria after many months on a journey that began with the Holy Spirt saying, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) That “work” included preaching the Gospel in several countries and opening “the door of faith to the Gentiles.” This was something that “both” Barnabas and Saul did, so again we see a powerful connection back to the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem who sent Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch as their representative.

It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who saw what God was doing in Antioch and traveled to Tarsus to find Saul. It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who brought Saul back to the Antioch Church to minister to the congregation of Gentiles and Jews. It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who the Holy Spirit sent with Saul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who returned to Antioch with Saul to tell the church congregation all that God had “done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem,  who traveled with Saul to Jerusalem to face those same apostles about what they had done in opening the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Was Paul an apostle or a fraud? Let’s see what happened when he and Barnabas met with the apostles in Jerusalem. If they thought Paul was a fraud, this would be their opportunity to call him out and set the record straight forever.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 7)

Saint Paul“Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, ‘You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Acts 11:1-3

Uh-oh, Peter’s in trouble. The other apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard what had happened in Caesarea. Those of the circumcision (Jews) “contended” with Peter about his going into the home of uncircumcised men (Gentiles) and eating with them.

Watch what happens next because it sets the stage for what God is going to do through Paul (Saul).

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 6)

Saint PaulIn the last part of our study, we saw disciples of Christ sending Saul (Paul) from Jerusalem to Tarsus for his safety. That led to a time of peace for the believers throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria. “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

Luke, the human author of Acts, then turned his attention to the ministry of the Apostle Peter. Most of the people I’ve spoken with who believe Paul was a fraud look to Peter as one of the true apostles of Christ. That’s helpful to know because God used Peter in a special way to prepare the apostles and Jewish disciples to acknowledge and accept the special call Jesus had for the ministry of Paul.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 5)

Saint PaulWe’re continuing an investigation into whether Paul was a true apostle of Jesus Christ or a fraud. A surprising number of people who call themselves Christians believe Paul was a fraud. They say that doesn’t affect their faith in Christ at all and even makes it stronger because they are following Christ and not “Paul.”

Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament, so people who believe he was a fraud do not obey the writings of Paul. Many of them also believe that 2 Peter is fraudulent, which just happens to support Paul’s apostleship. Others have doubts about some of John’s writings. However, most accept Luke’s Gospel and at least the first part of Acts, also written by Luke who was mentored by Paul.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 4)

Saint PaulWe are laying an historical foundation for answering questions about the involvement of Saul of Tarsus in the growing movement of Jews who followed the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. There are many people today who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ who believe Paul was a fraud and not a true apostle of Jesus Christ. Because of that they do not subscribe to Paul’s epistles as Scripture, thus cutting out almost half of the Books of New Testament. Many of them believe 2 Peter is also fraudulent, which contains Peter’s support of Paul as an apostle and author of Scripture.

Paul made it clear in his epistles that he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (Ephesians 1:1) and that he was speaking and writing what Jesus had revealed directly to him (1 Corinthians 9). So, for a group of Christians to deny that Paul was an apostle and to declare his writings as fraudulent is a major problem.

This is not the first time in the history of the Church that groups have opposed Paul’s apostleship and questioned his writings. As we continue laying the historical foundation for answering serious questions by these groups, we will also look at the history of anti-Pauline theology.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 3)

Saint PaulThis is the third part in a special series looking at the question of whether Paul was a true apostle of Jesus Christ or a fraud. We’re investigating Paul because many people believe that Paul was a false teacher and opposed to Christ and His teachings. That has led those people to deny almost one half of the New Testament (Paul’s letters). They say that what Paul wrote does not represent the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a serious objection and one that must be dealt with thoroughly.

Jesus told His disciples to do everything He commanded them to do and if what Paul wrote to the churches includes the commands of Jesus Christ, we must obey them. However, if Paul was not an apostle of Christ and was in fact a fraud, then we must not do what he wrote in his epistles because they are a lie and do not contain the commands of Christ. Whether we include Paul’s writings into our churches and our lives is all based on certain historical facts which can be verified. In other words Paul is who he said he is or he isn’t. We need to figure out which one is the truth.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 2)

Saint PaulMany people do not believe that Paul was a true apostle of Jesus Christ. Some of them are Jews and Muslims, but some say they are followers of Jesus Christ. Because they believe Paul was a fraud, they deny that any of his epistles are to be followed as part of Scripture. That’s almost half of the New Testament, so it’s a serious issue. That’s why we are investigating questions about Paul in this special series.

The evidence for Paul’s legitimacy as an apostle of Jesus Christ begins in the Gospel of Luke. Luke wrote an extraordinary narrative to a Greek friend for the purpose of explaining what happened in Israel 2,000 years ago.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud

Saint Paul“Paul is not essential. He’s not a requirement to be a Christian.”

“You only have Paul’s word for being a ‘light to the gentiles’ and let’s face it Paul was known as a liar, he said so.”

“Jesus never tells us to follow Paul. Paul tells us to follow Paul.”

“Paul did not meet the criteria for being an apostle, therefore he wasn’t one except through his own mouth.”

“Why did none of the other apostles or disciples of Jesus ever actually call Paul an apostle??”

“No, the early Church did not accept Paul.  He was utterly rejected by the Ephesians, even Paul testifies to that.  Ephesus found him to be a false apostle and a liar.”

These comments probably appear strange on a Christian apologetics blog, but they are quotes from recent online discussions I’ve had with people who believe the Apostle Paul was a fraud. Was he? Are none of his epistles to churches of any worth to followers of Christ? What about the the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles? Are they also fraudulent?

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Is Jesus God? (Part 5)

Witnesses To The Deity of Jesus Christ

In our last study, we saw that the Apostles of Jesus Christ believed He is God. That was while Jesus was with them on earth, but what happened after Jesus ascended to Heaven? Did their belief change? Did their experiences in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God show them that they had been wrong about the Deity of Jesus Christ? We know both from what Luke wrote about them in the Book of Acts and what the Apostles wrote to other believers.

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