By Femi Aribisala
Whenever Paul swears, he tells a lie.
Jesus calls the devil “the father” of lies. He says: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth.” (John 8:44). This profile corresponds to that of Paul in the bible. Paul was a murderer of Christians from the beginning and he is an inveterate liar.
Paul disregards the truth. He says: “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” (Philippians 1:18). Like a chameleon, he declares: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Accordingly, Paul says: “I try to please everybody in every way” (1 Corinthians 10:33). Then he contradicts himself: “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
He even openly boasts of his deceitfulness: “Crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!” (2 Corinthians 12:16). This is not the way of Christ.
Lying and swearing
Jesus says: “Do not swear at all. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:34-37). However, Paul could not obey this injunction. He often had to resort to swearing to make up for his deficit in telling the truth. Indeed, whenever Paul swears, he tells a lie.
Paul says after his conversion, he went to Arabia, seeking no interaction with the disciples of Christ for three years. He backs this by swearing: “Indeed, before God, I do not lie.” (Galatians 1:20). But this is a lie. Paul was instructed by Ananias in Damascus, where he interacted with Christ’s disciples; and then Barnabas brought him to the apostles in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:17-28).
Paul says: “In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.” (2 Corinthians 11:32-33).
Paul backs this by swearing: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” (2 Corinthians 11:31). But this is also a lie. His persecutor was not the Governor but Jewish Christians: “The Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.” (Acts 9:22-25).
Paul swears to Timothy: “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle- I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying- a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1Timothy 2:7). But Paul is lying. Jesus does not appoint teachers. He says specifically: “Do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:10). Moreover, Jesus’ twelve apostles do not include Paul. (Matthew 10:2-4). When Judas committed suicide, Matthias (not Paul) replaced him. (Acts 1:26). Jesus chose his apostles from those who had been with him from the beginning of his ministry. (John 15:27; Acts 1:21-22). This disqualifies Paul.
Christians should avoid swearing since it is so correlated to lying, as the case of Paul conclusively demonstrates.
Paul says the high priest hired him to arrest Jesus’ disciples in Damascus. (Acts 22:4-5). However, the high priest’s authority did not extend to Damascus. Pharisees and Sadducees were implacable opponents. But Paul, ostensibly a Pharisee, claimed to be a hatchet-man for the Sadducee high priest. When Paul finally met his putative employer, he could not recognize him. After cursing him in ungodly fashion, Paul pleaded: “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest.’” (Acts 23:3-5).
Paul said Jesus told him on Damascus road: “Go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that you are to do.” (Acts 22:10). But subsequently, Paul lied to King Agrippa, claiming Jesus gave him the blueprints of his ministry there and then on Damascus road. (Acts 26:14-18). Paul further claimed Jesus promised him: “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you.” (Acts 26:17). This is an outright lie against Christ. Paul was not delivered from the Gentiles.
Paul lied that he saw Jesus on Damascus road. He asks: “Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1). The answer is “No!” Witnesses of the resurrection saw a living Jesus. But Paul only heard a voice: “Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one.” (Acts 9:8). Elsewhere, Paul himself admits he could not see Jesus: “I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me.” (Acts 22:11). Later, Paul would further embellish this testimony; claiming Jesus did not just appear to him, but was revealed in him. (Galatians 1:15-16).
In the bid to group himself with the true apostles of Christ, Paul became a false witness. He says Jesus appeared to the twelve disciples on his resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:5). This is palpably false; Jesus only appeared to eleven disciples. (Luke 24:33-36). Paul then says Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. (1 Corinthians 15:6). This is pure fabrication by someone who was not there. Peter, an eye-witness, said there were only about 120 disciples at the time of Jesus’ resurrection. (Acts 1:14-15). Indeed, by deliberate design, Jesus did not even appear to all of them, but only to a select few. (Acts 10:39-41).
Paul claims his second visit to Jerusalem was occasioned by a revelation. (Galatians 2:2). This is another lie. Paul was commissioned to go to Jerusalem by the church in Antioch. (Acts 15:1-3). The edict of the Jerusalem Council had four requirements for Gentile Christians: “abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:29). However, Paul lied that there was only one requirement: “They ONLY asked us to remember the poor.” (Galatians 2:10). But the poor were not even mentioned. Paul then declared deceitfully it is permissible to eat food sacrificed to idols. (1 Corinthians 8:8).
When he was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, Paul lied in the bid to divide the Pharisee members from the Sadducees: “When Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” (Acts 23:6). This is not true. His accusers said different: “This is the man who preaches against our people and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He even talks against the Temple and defiles it by bringing Gentiles in!” (Acts 21:28).
Jesus is the truth. (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth. (John 14:17). Therefore, Christians must always be truthful. Paul says: “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” (Romans 3:7). This is facetious. Lies never promote the truth.