A Question I Was Asked:

Would You Give an Answer to a Set of Claims About the Apostle Paul?

The Questions:

Thank you for your work; it is very helpful. I have a question or two for you about Paul. There are several sources online that consider him an impostor which of course is quite disruptive since he is so prominent. The usual concern is that he taught a different gospel of faith only and not works. The most interesting account says that his writer Luke was secretly the famous Lucius Plutarchus (of 'Plutarch's Lives') who was secretly a believer who knew Paul to be a Roman Agent. He wrote Acts using the well known names of characters and story themes from his plays as a way to undermine Paul 's wrong teachings under the radar. Paul was an accessory to Steven's murder. His conversion was suspect; he being the only witness. Paul's inspired sermons were likely then borrowed from others. Other points considered him to really have been Simon Magus, and that he was excommunicated on his return to Jerusalem. He taught only gentiles because most Jews saw through him. The one gentile church that rejected him was the same (and only) one praised for rejecting false teachers..... I can provide references if required.

A claim, or set of claims, are occasionally just too ludicrous to be distinguished with a detailed answer.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Wow, with respect, you are giving far too much credence to what is just plain nonsense! You cannot accept some of this nonsense, especially when it does not stand up to close intellectual/historical/theological scrutiny. There is much plain rubbish on the 'net' because a lot of these people never have to defend themselves when their work is exposed to really close examination.

I too am an internet writer, but also the holder of a good level theology degree and I am often called upon to defend what I have written because I make this ministry open to receive challenges (such as this one). But sometimes one just has to say that certain allegations and claims are so utterly nonsensical that one will not even distinguish them by giving a detailed answer - and that, I'm afraid, will be my response right here.

I will just pick up certain of your points:

1. Paul was no impostor but is the most highly respected Christian writer of all time. He taught the Gospel of Justification by Faith because that is the biblical Gospel (true, certain Jews struggled to understand it and some became the enemies of Paul and Barnabas).

2. Luke was not "his writer," but was the author of the Book of Acts (as well, of course, as the Lukan gospel itself). Paul, in contrast, wrote many epistles, confronting many of the problems/errors in the early church. Even many of those who have not claimed to be Christian have usually held Paul in high regard as a commited and tireless worker for the cause which he believed in.

3. Any suggestion that Paul was some sort of Roman secret agent, is, with respect, completely ludicrous and could only be put forward by somebody who does not know the Scriptures, even to a most basic level. The onus is upon whoever made such a daft claim to defend his opinion against the huge weight of theological writers who would disagree.

4. Paul was no "accessory to Stephen's murder" but he did agree to his execution before being called to become an apostle. Following his conversion, he himself faced numerous dangers and was prepared to go through them all as an Apostle for Christ. On several occasions Paul himself would have been stoned to death (by the very people he once associated with), but managed to escape. His whole outlook on life changed once he came to Christ.

5. There is absolutely no serious evidence that "Paul's inspired sermons were likely then borrowed from others." Why would such a plainly genuinely converted man who was also an intellectual - having studied under Gamaliel - feel the need to do such a thing?

6. Again, any silly and fanciful idea that Paul was really Simon Magus is too ludicrous to delay anybody even for one moment. Only a person who is a complete stranger to any assiduous study and research of the first century AD could make such a barmy comment!

7. It is well-established that Paul was never excommunicated in Jerusalem as you seem to believe. He remained a stalwart Apostle of the early church until he was executed in Rome, circa AD64-67. Although he had problems with certain Jewish believers for several years, the official line of the Jerusalem church was to support him (Acts 15).

8. He (Paul) did not teach "only Gentiles because most Jews saw through him" (as you assert), but - as was decided and settled at the AD49 Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15) - he and Barnabas were granted the mission to the Gentiles by the other Apostles.

You don't need to provide "references" for any of these arguments since any such would plainly come from deluded and idiotic men! I'm sorry, I may come across as a little impatient here but there is a limit to certain things. I would refuse, for example, to defend my belief that the sun gives warmth, or to defend the belief that grass is almost always green.

I strongly urge you to pull away from these false teachers and focus on your Bible!

Robin A. Brace. September 27th, 2012.