Jesus's Words

The Cult of Paul

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Conflict #04: Paul calling for obedience to human authorities vs Jesus encouraging the transcendence thereof...

In alignment with the analysis of the conflict mentioned on the previous page, it can come as no surprise that Paul -— despite many of his bold proclamations to the contrary(e.g. Do not be conformed to this world,Romans 12:2 and For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and submit never again to a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1) — was from beginning to end nothing more than a de facto agent of the ruling class. Indeed, the first time we see Paul he is passively witnessing(and then openly approving of) the stoning of Stephen(Acts 7:58-8:1.) before going on thereafter to do the dirty work of the Pharisee rulers.(e.g. see him ravaging the churchActs 8:3 and breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.Acts 9:1-2) Consistent to form, even after his supposed conversion on the Road to Damascus in Acts 9, a close examination of the Scriptures shows Paul to regularly receive favor and/or assistance from the local authorities(Often leaders of the Gentile communities in which he preached. Acts 13:12, 13:48, 14:18, 15:3-4, 16:4, 16:38-40, 17:8, 17:15, 17:22-34, 18:7-11, 18:12-17, 18:18-20, 19:9-10, 19:35-41, 20:36-38.) — doing so all the way up until essentially the end of his life, when he openly appeals to the mercy of the Roman Emperor.(Acts 25:10-11. Ironically just before his eventual execution at the hands thereof.) With this all in mind, it can come as no surprise to read Paul's admonition to his Roman followers — a summons to subservience penned at the conclusion of his ministry and very near to the end of his days: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment So do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. And yet if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for authority does not bear the sword in vain. Rather, it is the servant of God that executes wrath on the wrongdoer.Romans 13:1-4

Again in stark contrast, Jesus' entire ministry was predicated upon encouraging his followers to fully transcend all human authorities — both those political as well as those religious. For starters, his ministry from start to finish was designed to intentionally and quite radically amend (and thereby "purify" or "complete") the 613 active Jewish Laws — or mitzvot — of his day.(Matthew 5:17—18, where the Greek word commonly translated as "fulfilled" is plerosai, Strong's #4137, a Greek term which does not mean "to support" or "to uphold" or "to affirm", but rather means "to hone" or "to perfect" or "to make whole".) Indeed, where the Law demanded a priestly mediator for the common Jew to communicate with God, Jesus claimed, for all who knock the door will be opened.Matthew 7:7-11 Indeed, where the prevalent religious authorities(Often Jesus' primary nemesis, the Pharisees.) felt that the Law was to be inflexibly obeyed, Jesus boldly proclaimed that new wine is not to be put into old wineskinsMatthew 9:16-17 and, every scribe prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven brings out of his treasure both what is old and what is new.Matthew 13:52 Indeed, where the average Jew looked to the Pharisees as religious role-models, Jesus loudly announced that true worship has nothing to do with such piousness — that we are instead to do whatever they teach, but not to do as they do,Matthew 23:2-3 and that we like they should clean first the inside of our cup so that the outside might thereafter become clean.Matthew 23:25—28

In truth, in the Gospel of Matthew alone we see Jesus courageously constraining(and sometimes even completely annulling) Old Testament regulations that were obviously outdated. This was essentially making the Law more lenient, and thereby more reasonable. Foe example, Jesus

  • dampened the "eye for an eye" rule of Exodus 21:23—24 via Matthew 5:3 8-41,
  • supplanted Leviticus 4:27's requirement to give sin offerings and Leviticus 19:17's requirement related to reproving sinners via Matthew 6:14-15,
  • openly violating — and thereby annulling — Leviticus 13:44-45's law against associating with lepers via Matthew 8:3,
  • devalued the importance of Deuteronomy 21:23's burial regulations via Matthew 8:22,
  • negated all Old Testament laws — among them those found in Numbers 12:6-10, 13:2, 28:3, 30:7—9 — related to Temple sacrifices via Matthew 9:12—13,
  • strongly alluded to overtly violating — and thereby rejecting — Deuteronomy 10:20's regulation against associating with sinners via Matthew 11:19,
  • seemingly dishonored current teachers of the Torah — an act prohibited by Leviticus 19:32 — via Matthew 11:25,
  • effectively neutered Leviticus 11's laws related to appropriately honoring the Sabbath via Matthew 12:1,
  • dramatically diminished the potency of all Old Testament regulations related to blasphemy — including those found in Deuteronomy 18:20, 21:22, Leviticus 22:32, Exodus 20:6, 22:27 — via Matthew 12:31,
  • seemingly negated Exodus 30:13's regulations related to taxation via Matthew 17:24-27,
  • trivialized all Old Testament laws related to marriage — including those found in Genesis 1:28, Deuteronomy 7:3, 22:13 — via Matthew 19:10,
  • and seemingly nullified Leviticus 19:30's call to ever revere the Temple via Matthew 21:12-13.

But that's not all. Again, only looking at the Gospel of Matthew, we can also witness dozens of verses that show Jesus actually expanding the Law to reflect its truer intent -— effectively making it more absolute, and thus far more challenging to fulfill than traditionally demanded by the religious leaders of his day. Examples thereof include

  • his expansion of the Old Testament laws against murder(Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17.) via Matthew 5:21-22,
  • his broadening of the law against slander(Leviticus 25:17.) via Matthew 5:22,
  • his intensifying the Old Testament laws against adultery(Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18, Leviticus 18:20.) via Matthew 5:27—28,
  • his deepening of Deuteronomy 24:1-4's laws related to divorce via Matthew 5:31-32,(NOTE that the phrase except on the grounds of unchastity in this passage is fully absent in the parallel verses of Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 — noting as well that almost all scholars agree that Mark was the first Gospel written, and that the authors of Matthew and Luke copied and/or amended large portions of that primary tome thereafter.)(See also Matthew 19:3-9.)
  • his expanding the Old Testament laws related to swearing oaths(Leviticus 19:12, Numbers 30:2—3, Deuteronomy 10:20.) via Matthew 5:33-37,
  • his dramatic purification of Leviticus 19:18's "love your neighbor" via Matthew 5:43-44,
  • his inflation of the Old Testament regulations related to tithing(Exodus 23:19, Deuteronomy 18:4, 18:26.) via Matthew 6:1-4,
  • his intensification of Exodus 23:25's rules related to prayer via Matthew 6:5-8,
  • his crystallization of Exodus 20:13's law against giving false testimony via Matthew 12:35-37,
  • his expansion of the Old Testament edicts related to honoring one's mother and father(Exodus 20:12, 21:17, Deuteronomy 5:16, Leviticus 19:3.) via Matthew 12:48-50,(See also Matthew 15:1-6.)
  • his radical broadening of the Old Testament's rules and regulations related to sexual intercourse(Leviticus 18, Deuteronomy 22.) via Matthew 19:11-12,
  • his dramatic heightening of the absoluteness of the Ten Commandments(Exodus 20:12-16, Deuteronomy 5:16-20.) via Matthew 19:16—20,(See also Matthew 22:37-40. Here we see Jesus executing said intensification by using the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and the "Love your neighbor" edict of Leviticus 19:18 to simultaneously summarize and expand the Ten Commandments.)
  • his expansion of the law in Deuteronomy 15:7-8 requiring giving to those in need via Matthew 19:21, his enhancement of the Old Testament regulations related to not coveting(Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18.) via Matthew 20:24—28,
  • and his elevation of Exodus 30:32's law related to holy anointings via Matthew 26:6-13.

"I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who would kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. They will do this because they have known neither the Father nor me." - Jesus Christ, John 16:1-3

Essentially, Jesus made his ministry about showing his listeners and followers that the Law was not to be blindly followed, nor was it to be abjectly replaced. Rather it was to be transcended by "maxing it out" — by making life a mission not of obedience or revolution, but of perfectly selfless Love; a Love that was always within his hearers' power to actualize, and thus a Salvation(That ever comes therewith. See Matthew 7:21, 18:3-4, 24:12-14, Luke 6:46-49, John 13:15-17, 13:34.) that was always within their grasp, (e.g. his claim, The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact will do even greater works than these.John 14:12 his statement, On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and that you are in me, and that I am in you.,John 14:20 and his promise, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, He will give it to you.John 16:2326 See also Matthew 7:7, 17:19-21, 18:19, 21:22, Mark 11:24, Luke 11:9, John 14:13, 15:7.) This is why Jesus always stoutly stood up to his Pharisee critics and scribal challengers,(Matthew 9:11-13, 10:16-18, 12:1-8, 12:24-32, 12:38-42, 15:1-9, 16:1-4, 19:3-9, 21:15-16, 21:23-27, 21:43-45, 22:15-22, 22:23-33, 22:34-40, Mark 2:16-17, 2:23-28, 3:22-27, 6:3-4, 7:1-8, 8:11-12, 10:2-9, 11:27-33, 12:9-12, 12:13-17, 12:18-27, Luke 5:17-23, 5:30-31, 6:1-5, 7:39-50, 10:25-28, 11:37—54, 13:14—17, 13:31-35, 14:1-6, 15:1-7, 16:14-17, 17:20-21, 19:37-40, 20:1-8, 20:17-19, 20:27-40, John 3:1-10, 5:19-47, 6:41-51, 7:14-24, 8:1—11, 8:33-58, 9:40—41, 10:23—30, 10:31-38.) this is why Jesus arranged to symbolically amd brazenly reflect the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 by "triumphantly" entering Jerusalem during the Festival of Booths riding on the back of a donkey,(Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29—44, John 12:12—19.) this is Why Jesus intentionally and melodramatically overturned the money-changing tables in the Temple and freed all the animals imprisoned therein,(Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46. See also John 2:13-16, in all likelihood describing a separate table-tossing event entirely.) this is why Jesus was boldly silent whenever challenged by Jewish and Roman authorities alike,(Matthew 26:62—63, 27:12-14, Mark 14:60-61, 15:3-5, Luke 23:8-9, John 19:89.) this is why Jesus courageously simplified the Ten Commandments — making them simultaneously more potent and easier for the common folk to enliven,(Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31. Note especially do this and you shall Live.Luke 10:27-28), this is why Jesus told his challengers with an obvious sense of sarcasm, give to the Emperor the things that are the Emperor's, and to God the things that are God'sMatthew 22:20-21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25 as well as why he, with just as much intentional insincerity, told a similar tester to collect his Temple tax from the mouth of a first-caught fish.(And this, immediately after having proclaimed that the children are free from the same obligation. Matthew 17:24-27.) Finally, and most importantly of all, this is why Jesus went out of his way to repeatedly remind his listeners that the "Spirit of Truth" — their source of true power and the foundation for their potential Salvation — was always their own and ever resided within them.(John 14:12-26, 15:26, John 16:7-14.)

"And then Peter and the apostles answered — saying: 'We must obey God instead of any mere human authority.'" Acts 5:29

"And I tell you you are Peter; and on this rock will build my church, and the gates of Hades will never prevail against it." Jesus, Matthew 16:18

26: It is important to realize here that the verses that have Jesus uttering the phrase "in my name" would have been spoken by Jesus as "b'sheme", which is Aramaic for "with my sound" or "in harmony with my way of being." As such, in harmony with his other self-deprecating statements(Mark 10:18, John 5:41, 7:16, 8:50-54, 12:44.) here Jesus is not calling to be honored or worshiped, but is rather summoning his listeners to actively emulate his teachings. And this interpretation happens to be in full alignment with the actual meaning of his actual name — with the Hebrew Yehoshua meaning "God is a saving guide", the Aramaic Yeshua meaning "he offers salvation",(Matthew 1:21.) and Matthew 1:22-23's Emmanuel meaning "God is with(in) us." Note as well that Yeshua might also be a reflection of the past tense of the Hebrew word t'shuva, a word that means "to change completely" — a meaning fully in alignment with the Greek word translated as "repent" in the biblical texts;(Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:16, Luke 5:32.) a word that meant not "to admit wrongdoing" but rather "to fully and actively alter one's way of being."

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