By Femi Aribisala
Paul claims to be one of the apostles of Christ. But the truth of the matter is that he is not.
Jesus says if a man witnesses about himself, his witness should not be believed: “He who speaks of himself seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” (John 7:18).
However, most of what we know about Paul is what he witnesses about himself. For example, Paul says of the disciples of Jesus: “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as beside myself,) I am more! I have been in labors more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in prisons more, in deaths many times.” (2 Corinthians 11:23).
Jesus says: “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31). Paul repeatedly witnesses about himself. Therefore, he should not be believed. For example, he claims to be one of the apostles of Christ. (Galatians 1:1). But the truth of the matter is that he is not.
Jesus has only twelve apostles and Paul is not one of them: “When it was day, (Jesus) called his disciples, and from them he chose twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he also named Peter; Andrew, his brother; James; John; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alphaeus; Simon, who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who also became a traitor.” (Luke 6:13-16).
It was specifically these twelve disciples that Jesus “named” apostles. According to Jesus, there can only be twelve apostles because there were only twelve tribes of Israel. Moreover, there can only be twelve apostles because there will only be twelve thrones of judgment. This is the explanation of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, to his disciples: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28).
There can only be twelve apostles because the holy city, the New Jerusalem, has only twelve foundations. As Jesus revealed to John: “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14). These “twelve apostles of the Lamb” do not include Paul.
Jesus’ apostles were drawn from those who had been with him from the beginning of his ministry and were therefore well-schooled in his doctrine. He said to them: “You also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:27).
Paul does not qualify. He was not with the Lord from the beginning and is unfamiliar with Jesus’ doctrine. There is nothing in any of Paul’s epistles about Jesus’ cardinal principles; nothing about his tenets of the Sermon on the Mount; and nothing about Jesus’ many illuminating parables. As the theologian Ferdinand Christian Baur asks: “What kind of authority can there be for an ‘apostle’ who, unlike the other apostles, had never been prepared for the apostolic office in Jesus’ own school but had only later dared to claim the apostolic office on the basis of his own authority?”
Since the requisite number of apostles is twelve, when Judas committed suicide, the remaining eleven decided to choose a new twelfth apostle. This is how Peter presents the criterion for making that choice: “Of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when he was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22).
Paul simply does not meet these requirements. He was not a witness of Jesus’ resurrection. After Matthias was chosen, Luke says no more apostles were entertained. They remained an exclusive group: “No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.” (Acts 5:13). Significantly, after James was beheaded, another apostle was not chosen to replace him because, unlike Judas, James remains one of the twelve even in death.
Paul is a fake self-appointed apostle. This accounts for his many blunders. For example, Paul says on Jesus’ resurrection: “He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:5). However, Jesus only appeared to eleven disciples for Judas was no longer part of the twelve. (Luke 24:33-34). When Jesus resurrected, the entirety of Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost was 120. (Acts 1:15). Yet Paul says Jesus appeared to 500 people. (1 Corinthians 15:5-6).
Indeed, Jesus commends the Ephesians for rejecting fake apostles like Paul: “You cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.” (Revelation 2:2).
Paul is the only person in the bible who told the Ephesians he was an apostle when he was not. (Ephesians 1:1). According to Luke, the Ephesians rejected his witness: “For three months Paul went to the Jewish meeting place and talked bravely with the people about God’s kingdom. He tried to win them over, but some of them were stubborn and refused to believe.” (Acts 19:8-9).
Ephesus was in Asia and, as Paul admits to Timothy; Paul was rejected by all the Christians in Asia: “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me.” (2 Timothy 1:15). As a matter of fact, they passed a “sentence of death” on him. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
That is why he found it necessary to turn from Asia and appeal to the European Corinthians: “If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 9:2). This appeal for public validation is pathetic especially in light of Paul’s earlier boast of being an apostle: “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:1). Apostles are not elected by members of a church: apostles are chosen exclusively by the Lord.
Jesus called Paul as a minister and not as an apostle: “I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.” (Acts 26:16). When Ananias went to Paul, he did not call him Apostle Saul but “Brother Saul.” (Acts 9:17). When the writer of 2 Peter also refers to Paul, he does not call him Apostle Paul but “brother Paul.” (2 Peter 3:15).
John says we should test the spirits whether they are of God. (1 John 4:1). Let us do so with Paul. He says to the Galatians: “Am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). But Paul contradicts this by admitting subsequently to the Corinthians: “I try to please everybody in every way.” (1 Corinthians 10:33).
He is thereby snared by his own words. (Proverbs 6:2). Since he still tried to please men, then by his own yardstick, Paul is not a servant of Christ.
That is how the Holy Spirit exposes liars.