The letters of Paul were not considered to be revealed Scripture during the time of the Apostles. These letters were not officially added to the Bible until A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea convened by Emperor Constantine. In light of the contradictions between Paul and the sayings of Jesus, we must seriously reconsider our reliance on the results of that conference. The fact is that Paul was a virulent oppressor of Christians and opponent of Christ. In the heat of the desert on the road to Damascus he presumably had his now famous vision. Jesus warned of the appearance of wolves in sheep's clothing, and we only have Paul's word as to the truth of his experience and the depth of his conversion (unless, of course, we have reason to have faith in the pagan emperor Constantine and his conference).
The Ebionite writings record these words of St. Peter:
If, then our Jesus appeared to you in a vision, made
Himself known to you, and spoke to you, it was as one who is enraged with an adversary; and
this is the reason why it was through visions and dreams, or through revelations that were from
without, that He spoke to you. But can anyone be rendered fit for instruction through
apparitions? And if you will say, 'It is possible' then I ask, 'Why did our teacher abide and
discourse a whole year to those who were awake?' And how are we to believe your word, when you
tell us that He appeared to you? And how did He appear to you, when you entertain opinions
contrary to His teaching? But if you were seen and taught by Him, and became His apostle for a
single hour, proclaim His utterances, interpret His sayings, love His apostles, contend not
with me who companied with Him. For in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the
foundation of the Church, you now stand. If you are not opposed to me, you would not accuse me,
and revile the truth proclaimed by me, in order that I may not be believed when I state what I
myself have heard with my own ears from the Lord, as if I were evidently a person that was
condemned (cf. Gal 2:11) and in bad repute. But if you say that I am condemned, you bring an
accusation against God, who revealed the Christ to me, and you inveigh against Him who
pronounced me blessed on account of the revelation. But if, indeed, you really wish to work in
the cause of truth, learn first of all from us what we have learned from Him, and, becoming a
disciple of the truth, become a fellow-worker with us" (H 17:19).
Paul was certainly an effective proselytizer to the pagan Greek culture, but the price to be paid for his irrational distortions of revealed truth are a burden that we can not afford to carry forward into the third millennium. Christianity will benefit through purification from Pauline doctrine.
Author - John Roncalio. © 1983, 2003, John Roncalio.
The views expressed herein are those of the author who is solely responsible for their contents.