In order to be convinced that the gentile church is truly
transmitting the original message of Jesus, one must determine
that Paul’s teachings conformed with the teachings of Jesus.
The gentile church only learned of Jesus through the teachings
of Paul. If Paul’s teachings were not synonymous with the
teachings of Jesus, then the gentile church does not possess the
original message of Jesus.
To determine Paul’s connection to Jesus, we will turn to the
books of Christian scripture. It is clear that the editors of these
books were strongly motivated to present Paul as one who is
faithfully transmitting the original message of Jesus. Yet even
these biased writers, were not able to do so.
The Christian scriptures describe the basis of Paul’s mission
in the following manner. Paul never saw Jesus in real life.
Neither did Paul learn of Jesus’s teachings through the
disciples of Jesus. Paul emphatically states (in the 1st and 2nd
chapters of Galatians) that no living person was involved in
transmitting Jesus’s message to him. Paul only learned of the
teachings of Jesus through a series of visions. In these visions,
Jesus appeared to him and imparted his teachings. Paul’s
entire message was the product of these visions.
The only way we can verify the truth of Paul’s claim, is by
determining the reaction of Jesus’s disciples to Paul’s
message. These men who lived with Jesus and heard him
teach, could compare the teachings that they heard, to the
prophecy of Paul. How did the Jewish following of James
react to Paul’s claim to prophecy?
Paul makes the claim (Galatians 2:9) that the leaders of the
Jerusalem Church acknowledged the fact that he was
appointed (by the dead Jesus) as a messenger to the gentiles.
But Paul was lying. James and the Jerusalem Church never
acknowledged the validity of Paul’s visions. It is the Christian
scriptures themselves who contradict Paul’s claim.
The 15th chapter of the book of Acts, describes how the
leadership of the Jerusalem Church disregarded Paul’s claim
to prophecy. Paul had come to Jerusalem. He had been
preaching to the gentiles that they are not required to practice
the law of Moses. Some members of the Jerusalem Church
disagreed with Paul. They felt that in order for a gentile to join
their following, he should be required to observe the law of
Moses. This question was brought before the leadership of the
Jerusalem Church. The elders of the church discussed the
question, and James handed down his decision. His judgment
was that the gentiles were not obligated to observe the entirety
of the law of Moses as a prerequisite to joining the Christian
community. But he stipulated that the gentiles were obligated
to observe certain dietary laws, and to avoid immorality.
If Paul was telling us the truth when he claimed that the
leadership of the Jerusalem Church acknowledged him as a
true prophet, then this story makes no sense. Here we have
Paul, who was personally appointed by the dead Jesus as his
emissary to the gentile world. Whatever Paul taught was
personally revealed to him in these prophetic visions. One of
the central teachings of Paul was that the gentile world is not
bound by the law of Moses. Yet when the leaders of the
Jerusalem Church are in doubt as to what Jesus would have
said concerning the gentiles, they discuss the question, and
look to James for guidance. If there was any truth to Paul’s
claim, that these leaders acknowledged the truth of his
prophecy, then they should have simply asked him “what did
Jesus tell you?” The fact that they considered the question, and
the method that they used to resolve the question, clearly tells
us that these men did not believe that Jesus had ever spoken to
Paul. The author of the book of Acts, his bias
notwithstanding, could not hide this simple fact.
Source: Yisroel C. Blumenthal