Beware of the Pauline Extremists!
Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
December 25, 2023

Last Updated :
December 25, 2023

Two Warring Factions, Why Some People Hate The Apostle Paul, Law Versus Grace, The Law Was Our Schoolmaster, Law Or Faith, Impossibility Of Keeping The Whole Law, Legalism Of The Paul Haters, Support For Israel, Cult Of Apostle Paul Man Worship, Paul's Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, My Personal Admiration For Apostle Paul, My Primary Problem With Pauline Extremists, False Claim Regarding Resurrection Of The Dead, Three Points Of Paul's Gospel, Paul Was Taught By The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, Apostle Paul's Time Spent In Arabia, Taught By The Holy Ghost, Paul's Gospel Is In Perfect Harmony With What The Lord Taught, Blood Atonement, Jesus' Death And Resurrection On The Third Day, Apostles Preached Same Gospel Before Paul Began His Ministry, Jesus Apostles And Paul Preached The Same Gospel

If you are a Christian who spends a lot of time online, and who in particular engages a lot on the social networks, you may be aware of the fact that for quite some time now, a war has been waged between two different factions when it comes to the Apostle Paul. As I explain in some of my articles, on one side are the vicious Apostle Paul haters who will go to any length to criticize and condemn the Apostle Paul. These legalists accuse Paul of being a false Apostle, and even a devil. They also claim that Paul started the Christian faith. This latter point is my primary focus in the article called "Did the Apostle Paul Start the Christian Faith?", which you will find listed at the end of this same series.

So exactly why do these misguided people hate the Apostle Paul and attack him with such animosity? Well, quite simply, it is because in a number of his Epistles, Paul very bluntly explains the futility and the vanity of endeavoring to merit one's own Salvation through self-righteous observance of the many mandates of the Mosaic Law. That is to say, the Laws of Moses. As I more amply explain in articles such as "Dead to the Law: God's Laws Written on Our Hearts" and "Free From the Fear of Death: Law and Works vs Grace", Paul repeatedly dwells upon the fact that observing the commandments -- or the mitzvoth -- simply will not save anyone, and that only God's Grace, through faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, will save us. It is simply an issue of Law versus Grace.

So this is the central reason why so many legalists utterly hate the Apostle Paul and attack him incessantly in online forums, social networks, etc. He and his writings are a big thorn in their flesh, and his Epistles shine a brilliant light on their darkened, legalistic minds, which are unable to grasp the real reason behind why God gave the Mosaic Law in the first place. Being as I amply discuss this topic in the aforementioned articles, I don't want to delve deeply into the subject here. However, let me just say that as Paul wrote, the Law was meant to serve as a schoolmaster to bring people to Christ. Let me share just a few verses with you:

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."
Galatians 3:24-25, KJV

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Romans 3:20, KJV

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."
Romans 7:7, KJV

The irony of this situation regarding the legalists -- as I also point out in the aforementioned articles -- is that not one single person on this Earth is able to keep every single mandate of the Mosaic Law. No one. That means that no one is able to save themselves by their own merit, or prove their righteousness to God. Now, just in case you are wondering, according to the Jewish rabbis, there are a total of exactly 613 mitzvoth -- or commandments -- to be found in the pages of the Old Testament. As the Apostle James wrote:

"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
James 2:10, KJV

At any rate, as I said, the Apostle Paul-hating extremists are on one side of this ongoing online tug-of-war regarding the Apostle Paul. Aside from hating the Apostle Paul due to his position concerning the Law, this legalistic group of people -- there are actually different flavors of them -- also believes that only certain Hebrew names should be used with God the Father and Jesus, even though even they cannot agree on exactly which names those should be. Likewise, this group of people believes that Jewish dietary laws -- that is to say, kosher laws -- should also be followed, Jewish feast days should be observed, the Sabbath is to be kept, as well as other legalistic things.

As a reminder, the Apostle Paul addresses some of these same issues in the fourteenth chapter of his Epistle to the Roman brethren. I encourage you to read it if you haven't already done so. It is quite enlightening. A lot of these same folks are also Zionists, and thus very pro-Israel. No matter what the Israelis do, right or wrong, these people will blindly stand behind them and support them.

On the other end of the spectrum are those people who have totally gone to the opposite extreme. In other words, they in fact hold Paul in such a very high place of honor, that in my view, it borders on man worship and cult personality worship. These particular people are very easy to recognize online because they incessantly quote a set of verses which are found in Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians where he writes the following:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
1 Corinthians 15:1-4, KJV

Now, obviously, I wholeheartedly agree with what Paul writes in the previous verses. In fact, as I point out in one of my older articles called "A Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course?" -- and have stated a number of times since then -- I personally have great admiration for the Apostle Paul. I am convinced that he was a hard-working, dedicated, sacrificial worker and Apostle for the Lord. He accomplished so much for the Lord during his lifetime; certainly much more than you or I have ever accomplished for the Kingdom. Furthermore, I truly enjoy reading all of his Epistles, and I have learned so much from them. They have really expanded my understanding over the years. Romans and Hebrews are two of my favorites.

The problem that I have with this second group, of whom I am going to refer to as Pauline extremists, is that they seem to focus on the Apostle Paul to the exclusion of everything else that is found in the New Testament. While surfing the various social networks, I have repeatedly found these people saying such things as "Our gospel is from Romans to Philemon", and "Paul is our apostle". Likewise, some of these people -- I do not know if they all believe this -- have erroneously claimed that until the Apostle Paul came along, Jesus' Death, Burial and Resurrection was a total mystery to everyone; and that by extension, the resurrection of the dead in general was also a mystery as well.

In other words, if I understand these people correctly, they are claiming that Paul was the very first person to proclaim this message regarding the resurrection of the dead. Well, I am sorry to disagree, my friends, but this claim is patently false, as I will prove momentarily. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 above, the Apostle Paul makes three key points, which are as follows:

1. Christ died for our sins
2. He was buried
3. He rose again the third day

Please notice that he also says "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received." Exactly what is Paul referring to here? The answer is easily found in the following verse where Paul is writing to the brethren at Galatia, who, sadly, had fallen back under the bondage of the Mosaic Law:

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Galatians 1:11-12, KJV

So, Paul is saying that everything that he is now preaching was taught to him directly by Jesus Christ. Personally, I'm not exactly sure what that means. Following his miraculous encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, is he saying that he continued to have encounters with the Lord, during which time the Lord opened the Scriptures to him and showed him everything that he was supposed to preach? Let us not forget that following that fateful encounter, Paul informs the Galatian brethren that he "conferred not with flesh and blood", but that he went into Arabia, before he eventually returned to Damascus, as we can determine by the following group of verses:

"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mothers womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."
Galatians 1:15-17, KJV

So perhaps the Apostle Paul is stating that while he was in Arabia, the Lord taught him directly. After all, if Jesus was able to appear out of thin air to the Apostles following His resurrection, and then later also appear to more than five hundred witnesses during the forty days that He stayed on the Earth, then why could He not do the same thing with the Apostle Paul? Even though He had ascended to Heaven by this time -- which occurred approximately ten days before the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two -- Jesus could have still appeared to Paul in Spirit form, just as He did on the road to Damascus. On the other hand, perhaps Paul is simply referring to the fact that he was instructed regarding what to preach by the Holy Spirit, as in the following group of verses:

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
John 14:26, KJV

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
John 16:13, KJV

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5, KJV

"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Psalm 119:18, KJV

"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
1 John 2:27, KJV

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV

Regardless of how we choose to interpret Paul's words, one of the main points I want to get across to you is the fact that the message which Paul preached consisted of the very same things which Jesus likewise said during His time on the Earth. As I have pointed out on previous occasions, in all my fifty plus years of seriously studying the Scriptures -- including delving deeply into the writings of the Apostle Paul -- I have never once found any occasion where Paul has contradicted anything that Jesus said or taught. They are in perfect harmony with each other. And why wouldn't they be if Jesus revealed these things directly to Paul following his conversion?

To prove my point, let us examine the three things that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. First of all, Paul wrote that "Christ died for our sins". Did Jesus ever say anything like this? As I amply explain in the three-part series entitled "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words", the Lord most certainly did. Consider the following set of sample verses:

"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:28, KJV

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Matthew 26:28, KJV

"For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Mark 10:45, KJV

"And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."
Mark 14:24, KJV

"Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:20, KJV

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13, KJV

The Apostle Paul also wrote concerning Jesus that "he was buried, and that he rose again the third day." Did Jesus ever speak about this? Again, as we all know, or at least should know, the Lord most certainly did, as is clearly evidenced by the following group of verses:

"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Matthew 12:40, KJV

"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."
Matthew 16:21, KJV

"And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."
Matthew 17:22-23, KJV

"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again."
Matthew 20:18-19, KJV

"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."
Matthew 27:62-66, KJV

"And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him."
Mark 9:30-32, KJV

"And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again."
Mark 10:32-34, KJV

"And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."
Luke 9:21-22, KJV

"The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected."
Luke 13:31-32, KJV

"Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again."
Luke 18:31-33, KJV

"He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."
Luke 24:6-7, KJV

"Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Luke 24:45-47, KJV

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."
John 2:19-22, KJV

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
John 12:32, KJV

What we clearly see then from all of the previous verses is that the Apostle Paul preached the very same message that Jesus shared with the Twelve Apostles during His time on the Earth. There was no difference between their messages. They were identical in content and in harmony with each other. In short, what the Apostle Paul preached was NOT a new message or even a mystery, and it was NOT the first time that it was being heard, as some of these Pauline extremists erroneously like to claim. Maybe the Apostles didn't fully understand it at first, but Jesus did plainly tell them multiple times what was going to happen before it happened, and why it was going to happen. Let there be no doubt about that.

So the next question we need to ask ourselves is if any of the Apostles preached this same message before the Apostle Paul began his public ministry. If you are familiar with the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, then you will already know that the answer is again a very resounding "Yes!", as we can easily determine by the following group of verses:

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: WHOM GOD HATH RAISED UP, HAVING LOOSED THE PAINS OF DEATH: BECAUSE IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE SHOULD BE HOLDEN OF IT. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because THOU WILT NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HELL, NEITHER WILT THOU SUFFER THINE HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, HE WOULD RAISE UP CHRIST to sit on his throne; He seeing this before SPAKE OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, THAT HIS SOUL WAS NOT LEFT IN HELL, NEITHER HIS FLESH DID SEE CORRUPTION. THIS JESUS HATH GOD RAISED UP, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Acts 2:22-38, KJV

"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, WHOM GOD HATH RAISED FROM THE DEAD; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"
Acts 3:12-19, KJV

"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give REPENTANCE to Israel, and FORGIVENESS OF SINS. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."
Acts 5:29-32, KJV

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him GOD RAISED UP THE THIRD DAY, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him AFTER HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive REMISSION OF SINS."
Acts 10:34-43, KJV

So here again we see the same three points being preached by Peter and the other Apostles. Let me enumerate them again for you one more time so that you can clearly see that the very same message was being preached by Jesus in the Gospels, by the Apostles in the Book of Acts, and by the Apostle Paul in his Epistles. It is the very same consistent message in which the remission of sins is discussed, and the death, burial and resurrection of Christ on the third day is discussed:

1. Christ died for our sins
2. He was buried
3. He rose again the third day

With all of the previous Scriptural evidence, I believe that I have laid to rest the erroneous claim being made by these Pauline extremists that the Apostle Paul preached something new and different, which they assert was a mystery before the Apostle Paul began preaching it. Again, it just isn't so. How was what Paul preached any different? It simply wasn't.

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.

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