Was Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah promised to Israel in the Old Testament? Did Jesus fulfill the Messianic prophecies? The New Testament texts confirm that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. But, so what? Who cares what the New Testament “confirms” since the New … Continue reading Convince Me There’s A God: The New Testament Part 6
In the last part of our report we looked at the part Old Testament prophecies and New Testament fulfillment played in supporting the Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah God promised to Israel. As I looked at the evidence through the worldview … Continue reading Convince Me There’s A God: The New Testament Part 5
My early investigation into the New Testament introduced me to two people who connected back to the Old Testament: John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. They are both mentioned in the first verses of Mark’s Gospel account – “The beginning of the gospel of … Continue reading Convince Me There’s A God: The New Testament Part 3
Courtesy BAS Library
In the first part of our series about the Gospel of Thomas we saw that Robert Funk, The Jesus Seminar and Westar Institute proposed a fifth gospel to the original Four Gospels in the New Testament. They also believe that the Gospel of Thomas may be more accurate than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Are they right? Should we accept the Gospel of Thomas into the Canon of the New Testament?
I don’t think so.
Evidence. That’s what I was most interested in finding. It’s what journalists do. We ask questions of many witnesses and search through documents and other information that will help us find answers to our questions about a story. The biggest story of my career happened … Continue reading Convince Me There’s A God: The New Testament Part 2
Courtesy BAS Library
Robert Funk, The Jesus Seminar and Westar Institute would have us believe that the Gospel of Thomas is the 5th Gospel account of the life of Jesus – and may be more accurate than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Are they right?
In the last part of our report, we looked at the founder of The Jesus Seminar and Westar Institute, Robert Funk. He was a leader in the new “quest” for the historical Jesus until his death in 2005.
Westar Institute’s “mission” statement claims that the organization “is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.”
Question: how “cutting-edge” is Westar’s scholarship?
J.B. Lightfoot was one of the first names I heard as a young Christian studying about the Greek text of the New Testament. His name came up again and again as an expert in both the Greek language and commentary on the New Testament from the original Koine Greek. Some of Lightfoot’s best-known writings were about the Apostle Paul’s Epistles and the Apostolic Fathers.
InterVarsity Press (IVP Academic) has published an exciting set of three books based on hundreds of pages of unpublished commentaries by Lightfoot. The title of the three volume set is The Lightfoot Legacy (IVP Academic, 2016), edited by Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still.
The Apostle Paul is a spiritual lightning rod. His calling and ministry were so different from the men who Jesus Christ called to be apostles before His death and resurrection that many people think Paul was a fraud.
I hear from those people on a regular basis. Some write just to tell me Paul was a fraud. Others ask questions to try to convince me Paul was a fraud. As I bring this special series to a close, we’re looking at the questions we’ve received during the past year to see if we can get to the truth of this important question.
I’m often asked why I “defend” Paul and not Christ. I wonder if they’ve read other posts on this blog and the GraceLife Blog. It should be obvious that my primary defense is for the existence of the God of the Bible and for the Life and Ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ. I defend anything Jesus did and what He did was call Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles. I also defend what God said and what He inspired men to write as communication of His Word. Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. Defending God’s call of Paul as apostle to the Gentiles is also defending God’s Word. That’s why I “defend” Paul.
- 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?
Let’s look at each reference you mentioned.
The 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?
We’ve spent the past 10 posts in the Book of Acts building a case for the connection Paul had directly to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the 12 Apostles, and the disciples of Christ in Judea, Samaria and Syria. We’ve also demonstrated confirmation by the 12 Apostles of Paul’s call to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Not once in the Book of Acts do any of the 12 Apostles call Paul a fraud or apostate.
We come now to the direct challenge to Paul’s Apostleship. Many who believe Paul is a fraud use the “steamroller approach,” asking scores of questions accompanied by Scripture to give the questions an appearance of truth. Don’t be fooled by that technique. The proof is in the quality, not the quantity.
I’ve been contacted by multiple people about my quoting from Paul’s epistles, so I’ll take their questions in order.
“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).