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Month 5:2, Week 5:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year:Day 5936:120 AM
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 20 July 2012
The Anti-Paulists
1. Dangerous Messianic Heresy

    One of the unfortunate tasks of a ministers like myself, because it is time-consuming and detracts from the principle ministry of witness, is dealing with heresies in the Body. In the Messianic movement, as in Protestantism and elsewhere, there are, unfortunately, many errors, some of them pernicious. Over the years I have built a compendium of these, which I try to keep up-to-date, entitled Messianic Heresies Exposed which the reader may find useful in getting some background to the material in today's devotional.

    One particularly dangerous error in some quarters of Messianism, which can be zealous in its attempt to mislead other believers, is the claim that the Apostle Paul was a false teacher who corrupted the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Since I have met these people many times over the years and have seriously researched their arguments,I have come to the inescapable conclusion that there is a demonic power behind such teachings and that an attack against Yahweh's Apostle to the Gentiles is ultimately a cleverly concealed attack against the whole B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament), against the divinity of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and against the Besorah (Gospel) of Salvation.

    I am not necessarily, of course, charging those who get sucked up into this heresy as endorsing this last statement for the emet (truth) if they don't know where this trail is leading them. Many of them are sincere seekers after emet (truth) who want, as we do, a pure, undefiled Besorah (Gospel) but there are others who are grinding other false doctrinal axes usually associated with Talmudic Judaism. And of course Talmudic Judaism, like Islam, hates Paul most of all because of his uncompromising witness of the divinity of Messiah.

    My conviction that Paul is authentic is based on two lines of evidence:

    • 1. My own studies of the Scriptures and history over three decades; and
    • 2. Two principle revelations Yahweh gave me in 1988 and 1989 when I first arrived in Scandinavia.

    My Personal Revelations on Paul

    Let's begin with the revelations so that you can see where I am coming from:

      "It is said by some that the Besorah (Gospel) of Paul is not the Gospel of Messiah (Christ) but is some other besorah (gospel). But I say unto you that there is no Besorah (Gospel) of Paul, neither a Baptism of Paul, neither a Community (Church) of Paul (1 Cor.1:12-15), but there is one Besorah (Gospel), one Baptism, and one Messianic Community (Church), even that which was established by the Son of Man. And these three are one. The writings of Paul contain many degrees of Light, from that which is Zadokian to that which is Patriarchal, for My servant was endowed in many of the mysteries, but these were revealed only in part unto the Gentiles. Behold, there was none more valiant in his testimony of Me than Mine apostle Paul, and thus I have preserved his words in the Writings of the Hebrews (Bible) as an eternal witness unto all men. Many have not understood him because he administered Light on many levels, and in some matters he gave only his opinion (2 Cor.8:10); and all these things I shall reveal unto you if ye have desires for them. Therefore thou shalt not despise the writings of Paul for they are the testimony of salvation through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) of one who counted himself the greatest sinner and became a servant to all men for My sake. Even so. Amen" (Olive Branch, #67)

      "My servant Paul received the more sure word of prophecy and made his calling and election sure, and hath entered into the highest reward of the faithful. He laboureth as a minister of flame, going from place to place in the world of spirits preaching the Besorah (Gospel) of Salvation unto many generations of the sons and daughters of Elohim (God). And behold, if ye will likewise fight the good fight, enduring unto the end, then ye also shall receive a crown of righteousness which I, Yahweh, give unto all those who love Me (2 Tim.4:7-8). Amen" (Olive Branch, #176)

    However, since all modern revelation must conform to the original biblical witness it becomes my responsibility to establish the emet (truth) of these statements from the Bible itself, and that I shall aim to do. Such revelation as I, or anybody else, might receive, must take second place to the unambiguous witness of Scripture. Therefore I leave my own experience to one side and move into the nitty-gritty of exegesis.

    New Testament Exegesis

    One argument used against Paul's writing is the claim that the heretical Gnostics were the first to assemble them into a new Bible and use them, and in particular, Marcion. The Gnostics in particular blasphemously rejected the Elohim (God) of the Tanakh (Old Testament), regarded Him as a renegade malak (angel) whom they called the Demiurge, and saw Yah'shua (Jesus) as a kind of 'replacement god' who operated on a much highger 'plane' of divine existence than Yahweh.

    Needless to say, Paul was anything but a Gnostic and the fact that the Gnostics used his letters to support their own claims and were the first to put his writings into a collection of Scriptures proves nothing. I know some Crowleyites who have quoted my revelations and approved them, not because I agree with their vile occult teachings (which I don't) but because they approve of the idea of more revelation. However, that does not make me a Crowleyite (Yah forbid). I utterly repudiate what they stand for. Marcion, in any case, was not the only one to make collections of writings that included Paul's writings. Why, even the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses use his writings but that does not prove that Paul supports their doctrines, or vice versa. Indeed, I once challenged a Mormon missionary to summarise Paul's teachings and he didn't have a clue. I challenged him to sit down read them and then compare them with Mormon doctrine. I suppose he was shocked because I never saw him again. Besides, groups often use authentic Scriptures to bolster their own claims to legitimacy even though those self-same writings contradict their teachings. Even the Freemasons use the Bible as do one group of New Agers who call theirs - subtly mutilated to include hints of reincarnation - the White Lodge Bible.

    Finally, the fact that many Christians (and not a few Messianics) abuse Paul's teachings (often because of bad translations) does not mean that Paul was a 'Protestant' or anything else. It simply means that he is misinterpreted.

    Since none of us were alive when Paul wrote what he did, our opinion of him must take second place to the opinion of those who actually knew him in person, especially when that 'opinion' has the status of Holy Writ. Since these modern 'Ebionites' apparently accept the witness of the other New Testament writers like James (Yakov/Jacob), Peter (Kefa/Cephas) and Jude (Judah), who knew Yah'shua (Jesus) personally while He was in the flesh and heard His every teaching, then we must turn to these for either an endorsement or rejection of the apostle Paul's (Sha'ul's) claims to bona fide apostleship and authentic canonical Scripture.

    Peter's Testimony of Paul

    Now we will let the Presiding Apostle Peter speak for himself:

      "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in shalom (peace), without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Master is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Master and Deliverer (Saviour) Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" (2 Peter 3:14-18, NKJV).

    Those who reject Paul need to pause and soberly reflect on these words. What does Peter say about him and his opponents?

    • 1. That Paul is a beloved brother in fellowship and good standing, which obviously he would not be if he were a heretic;
    • 2. That Paul has received wisdom directly from Yahweh and that therefore his teachings are not out of his own fallen mind;
    • 3. That Paul is sometimes difficult to understand, hardly suprising since he was also an accomplished intellectual with great breadth and depth of thought; and
    • 4. That his opponents were typically ignorant and unstable, lacking steadfastness, who twist Scripture, are led away by the error of the wicked, and are therefore heading for destruction.

    In the view of Peter, whose counsel was circulated amongst all the Messianic assemblies (churches), the anti-Paulists of his day deserved - and received - the harshest condemnation. In a word, they were hell-bound.

    Many of the modern anti-Paulists I have met are hard, bitter, hateful and sometimes psychotic - not all, of course, but many. They are often lacking substantially in the kind of ahavah/love that Paul and John witness of. Those of a softer disposition still tend to be holding on to some Pauline teachings. Concerning the more radical anti-Paulists, I am reminded of another comment about such people made by Peter when he said:

      "For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Master and Deliverer (Saviour) Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the qodesh mitzvah (holy commandment) delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'A dog returns to his own vomit,' and, 'a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire'" (2 Peter 2:18-22, NKJV).

    In other words, the more extreme of these people having come out of Talmudic Judaism with their 'extra' torah find themselves, because of their anti-Pauline stance, returning back to it and are even more in bondage than they were before they were saved. Though professing to be adherents of the Torah they demonstrate their lawlessness, like modern-day Protestants who reject the Torah and twist the words of Paul to make him apparently the teacher and advocate of lawlessness! What an irony since Paul consistently preaches against lawlessness (e.g. Rom.4:7; 2 Thes.2:8-9; 1 Tim.1:9; Titus 2:4; Heb.8:12; 10:17)! Indeed, the chief complaint of the Messianic anti-Paulists was that he was at worst anti-Torah and at best schizophrenic, supporting Torah one minute and then attacking it the next when in actual fact his beef with the Judaisers was their legalistic observance of Torah in making its observance a test of the New Birth!

    So it would seem that both those who reject the Torah as well as those who claim he was anti-Torah twist Paul to suit their own agenda. If only they had heeded Peter who warned believers not to twist Paul's words which are hard sometimes to understand.

    The Testimony of Scholars

    Rabbi Dr. Burton Visotzky, Appleman Chair of Midrash and Interreligious Studies, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, commenting on Brad H. Young's, Paul the Jewish Theologian: A Pharisee among Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, a non-Christian/Messianic scholar with neither a Protestant nor Messianic axe to grind, said:

      "Paul the Jewish Theologian reveals Saul of Tarsus as a man who, though rejected in the synagogue, never truly left Judaism. Author Young disagrees with long held notions that Hellenism was the context which most influenced Paul's communication of the Gospel. This skewed notion has led to widely divergent interpretations of Paul's writings. Only in rightly aligning Paul as rooted in his Jewishness and training as a Pharisee can he be correctly interpreted. Young asserts that Paul's view of the Torah was always positive, and he separates Jesus' (Yah'shua's) mission among the Jews from Paul's call to the Gentiles.

      "The Pharisee Saul of Tarsus is arguably one of the most influential religious figures in the history of Western culture. . . . Brad Young is one of the important theologians who is leading the way for Christians to explore the Jewish roots of Jesus (Yah'shua), Paul, and Christianity. . . . Brad Young has endeavored to excavate Paul's Pharisaic roots for all to examine, while at the same time leaving the family tree firmly planted and continuing to grow" [1].

    Whilst not agreeing with Visotzky's every point, it is a fact that a growing consensus [2] identifies Paul as very much Torah-obedient and Torah-promoting within the New Covenant established by Yah'shua (Jesus) as a good many Messianics rightly maintain. At the same time, it has to be recognised that Paul's emphasis in his writings was, understandably, the miracle of being regenerated in Messiah and living IN Him [3]. Paul is neither a legalistic Pharisaic Talmudic Jew nor an antinomian Evangelical Protestant! He is, for lack of a better term, a 'Messianic Evangelical'! For him union with Messiah was the primary thing, by emunah (faith) alone, the fruit of which was a Ruach- (Spirit)-empowered life to live the Torah lifestyle within a New Covenant context. He was against the artificial fences separating races ('Jews' and 'Gentiles'), and against religious Úlitism and legalism [4], which were the "traditions of men" and particularly the oral "tradition of the elders", adhering to the simplicity which is union with Messiah living the Kingdom lifestyle mandated by Torah.

    Next time we will give some examples of anti-Paulist objections and how to refute them.

    Continued in Part 2

    Endnotes

    [1] Review in Amazon on Brad H. Young, Paul the Jewish Theologian: A Pharisee among Christians, Jews, and Gentiles

    [2] See, for example, Avi ben Mordechai, Galatians: A Torah-Based Commentary in First-Century Hebraic Context (Millennium 7000 Communications, Haifa, Israel: 2005) - again, I do not agree with many of the positions of this author

    [3] See, for example, the superb work by James S. Stewart, A Man in Christ (Hodder & Stoughton, London: 1935)

    [4] The still common belief that we are saved by our works (legalism) and/or by knowledge (Gnosticism) or that we are to be guided by 'Sages' instead of by Yahweh through Messiah operating through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) confirming the Torah taught by authentic apostles

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