Chapter 16: Paul's Doctrines Anti-Apostolic.—Was He Not Antichrist?
Section 3: Paul, Was He Not Antichrist?
A child, of Paul's ready and fruitful brain—a bugbear, which the officious hands of the English official translators of his Epistles, have in their way christened, so to speak, by the name of Antichrist,—has been already brought to view. See Chap. 12 §. 4. If there be any persons, to whose religion,—in addition to a devil, with or without horns and tail,—with or without other spirits, in no less carnal howsoever unrepulsive forms,—an Antichrist is necessary for the completion of the polytheistical official establishment; and if, in place of an ideal, they can put up with a real Antichrist,—an Antichrist of flesh and blood,—they need not go far to look for one. Of Saul, alias Paul, the existence is not fabulous. If, in his time, a being there was, in whom, with the exception of some two or three attendants of his own, every person, that bore the name of Christian, beheld, and felt an opponent, and that opponent an indefatigable adversary, it was this same Paul: Yes, such he was, if, in this particular, one may venture to give credence, to what has been seen so continually testified,—testified, not by any enemy of his, but by his own dependent,—his own historiographer,—his own panegyrist,—his own steady friend. Here then, for anybody that wants an Antichrist, here is an Antichrist, and he an undeniable one.
Antichrist, as everybody sees, Antichrist means neither more nor less than that which is opposed to Christ. To Christ himself, the bugbear, christened by the English bishops Antichrist, was not, by its creator, spoken of as opposing itself. To Christ himself, Paul himself could not, at that time, be an opponent: the Jesus, whom he called Christ, was no longer in the flesh. But of all that, in the customary figurative sense—of all that, in any intelligible sense, could on this occasion be called Christ—namely, the real Apostles of Jesus, and their disciples and followers,—Paul, if he himself is to be believed, was an opponent, if ever there was one.
Paul preached the resurrection of the dead. Agreed. But did not all Pharisees do so, too? And was not Paul a Pharisee? And Jesus—had he not in all Pharisees so many opponents? And the real Christians, had they anywhere in his lifetime, any other opponent so acrid or so persevering as this same Paul?
Paul preached the resurrection of the dead. Agreed. But that resurrection of the dead which he preached, was it not a resurrection, that was to take place in the lifetime of himself and other persons then living? And—any such resurrection, did it accordingly take place?83
83 Paul must have thought that he had the Church at Corinth under complete control of his hypnotic suggestion or otherwise so much under his control as to assume the exalted office of Clairvoyant Oracle without question. He says,
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
"Thorn in the flesh."(See 2nd Corinthians 12:7.) This phrase has baffled the Ecclesiastics. The earlier Commentators interpreted it to mean Paul's great disappointment in all his schemes to subordinate the Apostles of Christ to his personal dominion of which so much has been disparaged by the author.