By Femi Aribisala
It is ridiculous to insist, as some Christians do, that Paul’s word is the word of God when Paul himself contradicts this.
No other person in the bible writes like Paul. Far more than everybody else, Paul talks about himself. He is always drawing attention to himself. His epistles are littered with “I,” “me,” “my” and “mine.”
In Romans, Paul refers to himself 103 times. In 1 Corinthians, he refers to himself 175 times. In 2 Corinthians, he refers to himself 103 times. In Galatians, which is one of his shorter books, he refers to himself 69 times! Clearly, Paul is just as concerned about telling us about himself as he is about telling us about God.
Jesus says: “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31). Virtually all of Paul’s credentials are his witness of himself. This is a tell-tale sign that his word is not the word of God. If God wants to talk about Paul, he would get others to do so.
All about Paul
With Paul, the gospel is not just the gospel: it is Paul’s gospel. (Romans 2:16). God is not our God: he is Paul’s God. (Philippians 4:19). We are not just God’s beloved, we are Paul’s beloved. (1 Corinthians 10:14). We are not just God’s children: we are Paul’s children. (Galatians 4:19). It is not just about Christ’s sufferings: it is about Paul’s sufferings. (Colossians 1:24). It is not just about Christ’s doctrine: it is about Paul’s doctrine. (2 Timothy 3:10). Here is a man so totally consumed with himself that he even blatantly appropriates the things of God. The words of such a man must not be confused with the word of God.
Paul says: “Those in Asia have turned away from me.” (2 Timothy 1:15). But the question is: have they turned away from the Lord? Paul also says: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9). This can never be the word of God because Jesus, and not Paul, is God’s standard.
It is ridiculous to insist, as some Christians do, that Paul’s word is the word of God when Paul himself contradicts this. Paul says to the Corinthians: “I speak not by commandment … and herein I give my advice.” (2 Corinthians 8:8-10). Paul’s “advice” may or may not be sound, but it certainly is Paul’s and not God’s. Indeed, Paul sometimes makes a distinction between the Lord’s commands and his own commands. He says: “Unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord .., but the rest is from me, not from the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-12). Therefore, Paul’s commands are not commandments of God.
If Paul’s word is the word of God, it would not be necessary for Paul himself to flag us when he claims to be speaking the word of God. For example, Paul says: “We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching…” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). This is not the Lord speaking but somebody speaking about the Lord. If Paul’s word is the word of God, it would be totally ludicrous for him to say: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” (2 Corinthians 11:31). This is the statement of a man given to speaking his own words, whose words have been questioned.
Who is speaking here: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” (1 Timothy 2:9). Is it Paul or is it God? There really should be no argument about this because Paul himself admits it is his word. This would explain why Christian women ignore it and continue to braid their hair, and wear jewelry and expensive clothes.
Paul is very self-opinionated. For example, he says in his conceit: “Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my own opinion.” (1 Corinthians 7:25). If Paul has no commandments from the Lord on a subject, it is best for him to keep quiet. Are we now to conclude that his opinion is also the word of God? Certainly not! As observed, even Jesus never once offered his own opinion. Neither did he ever speak his own words. (John 12:49-50).
Paul’s pride often gets the better of him, leading him to say things he himself admits he should not say. For example, Paul says: “Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast.” (2 Corinthians 11:18). He then boasts about his pedigree and declares himself the best of all Christians. Can we then still insist that even Paul’s foolish boasting is the word of God? Certainly not! Elsewhere the same Paul admonishes us: “What, then, can we boast about? Nothing!” (Romans 3:27).
Paul cannot be speaking the word of God when his word is littered with plagiarised quotations of pagan writers. The man who hardly ever quotes Jesus is in the habit of quoting pagan writers; including Hippolytus, Aratus and Menander; men who extolled the idol god “Zeus.” When Paul says: “We are his offspring,” (Acts 17:28), he is not speaking the word of God. He is quoting the Greek poet Aratus’ “Phaenomena.” When Paul says: “God is not far from each one of us for in him we live and move and have our being,” (Acts 17:27-28); he is not speaking the word of God. He is plagiarising the Cretan seer, Epimenides. When Paul says: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons,” (Titus 1:12); he is not speaking the word of God. He is here again quoting Epimenides.
When Paul says: “Bad company corrupts good manners,” (1 Corinthians 15:33); he is not speaking the word of God. He is plagiarising the Greek dramatist Menander’s “Thais.” When Paul says: “The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not do, that I do” (Romans 7:19); he is not speaking the word of God. He is plagiarising Hippolytus. When Paul says: “If any widow has children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home” (1 Timothy 5:4); he is not speaking the word of God. He is plagiarising the Roman playwright Terence. When Paul says: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12); he is not speaking the word of God. He is plagiarising the Mahaparinibbana Suta Buddhist scriptures.
Jesus says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). This shows that the words of Jesus are the words of God because they are from everlasting to everlasting. But many of the words of Paul have passed away. Christians don’t subscribe to them anymore.
Paul says: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak.” (1 Corinthians 14:34). If this injunction is the word of God, why is it that virtually no church in the world today obeys it? Women don’t keep silent in the churches. Therefore, this word of Paul has passed away. It was never the word of God. It was, and will always be, the word of Paul.
The word of Paul is not the Word of God (2)
By Femi Aribisala