Galatians 2 – Who Were the Judaizers?

By Acts 15, there appear to have been some Jewish Christians that did not like the implications of Gentile salvation that Paul was preaching.  Individuals from this group went into churches established by Paul and taught that circumcision was required for converts to Christianity.  Who were these opponents of Paul?

The traditional answer to the identity of the opponents of Paul is that they are Jewish Christians that desire to impose the law on Gentile converts – Judaizers.  The term appears in the New Testament only in Gal 2:14 (although a form appears in  but is found in a number of secular sources (Plutarch, Cicero 7:6; Josephus JW 2.17.10; Ignatius, Magn 10.3) with the basic meaning of  “to  live as a Jew in accordance with Jewish customs.”

As early as 1831, F. C. Bauer (from the Tübingen school) suggested that there was a split within early Christianity.  Based on 1 Corinthians, he understood that there were two major parties, a Peterine party (which included the “Christ party”) and a Pauline party (which included the Apollos party).  Those that followed Peter claimed to be “of Christ” since their leadership had been followers of Christ in his earthly ministry, while Paul and Apollos did not know Jesus directly.  The Jerusalem Christians were of the Peter division, a party that was unable to counter Paul’s argument for a gentile mission, but were not particularly pleased with it either.  The opponents at Galatia were the radical elements of the Peterine division.  The serious problem with this view is that it makes Peter the Judizing element in Galatians, despite his rather conciliatory speech in Acts 15.

A real problem with the view of Bauer is that it makes Paul an independent apostle who is the only one that fully understood the teaching of Jesus and the mission to the Gentiles.  While this is quite similar to the view of Paul in some more conservative Dispensationalist circles, it does not reflect the variety of thought in the Jewish element of the church.  The situation was not “either Peter or Paul.”  Peter seems more moderate than James, Barnabas and Silas are a step further towards Paul.

Bauer also seems to have thought that Paul was in continual conflict with the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  This does not seem to be the case, although one might describe the situation as “cool” between the Gentile mission and the Jerusalem church based on Acts 21.

In 1865 J. B. Lightfoot argued against Bauer and the Tübingen school.  The Judaizers were not authorized at all by Peter or the Jerusalem church, although the Jerusalem church were slow in stopping them.  The Jerusalem Church wanted to find a way to compromise between the radical teaching of Paul and the traditional teaching of the Judaizers.  J. F. A. Hort suggested that these Jewish opponents of Paul were lead by James, although mistakenly so.  James himself did not authorize the teaching in direct opposition to Paul, but his followers took James’ example of a Law-keeping Jewish Christian to the logical extreme and forced Gentiles to keep the law.

More recently, Robert Jewett argued that the Jewish opponents of Paul in Galatia were from the growing Zealot movement of Palestine [1].  The Zealot movement was a rather radical anti-Rome movement that sought strict obedience to the Law for all Jews.  Any Jews that were “Gentile-sympathizers” were the enemy.  These teachers sought to supplement Paul’s teaching, according to Jewett, by teaching a form of perfectionism to counter the libertine paganism from which they were converted.

It is perhaps the statement made by Paul in Galatians 6:12-13 that gives us an insight into who the false teachers may have been. They are people that think that by compelling Gentiles to be circumcised they might avoid persecution for the cross of Christ.  Likely Jewett’s theory has some merit; some Jewish Christians thought that by making Gentile Christians conform to the basics of the Law they might avoid persecution by the growing radical elements of Judaism.

Galatians 6:12-13 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh.

Who were the Judaizers, then?  Jewish Christians, likely Pharisees according to Acts 15, who, with good intentions, sought to supplement Paul’s gospel by requiring that the basics of the Law be followed: circumcision and food laws. Perhaps the real issue at stake here is the status of the Gentiles within the people of God.  Could an uncircumcised Gentile be part of God’s people along with Israel?  Could a person be faithful to God and not keep the key elements of the covenant?

Paul reversed this argument in Galatians:  can a Gentile be a member of the people of God and allow himself to be circumcised?  Can a Gentile be “free in Christ” and keep the Jewish laws concerning food, festivals, etc.?  The answer in Galatians is a resounding no.

A potential problem here is the value of Galatians for contemporary Christians.  If the Judaizers were solely interested in converting Gentiles fully to Judaism, then what is the contemporary application of the book? How do we get from Judaizers to “Church Legalists,” as most contemporary preachers do with this passage?

[1] Robert Jewett, “The Agitators and the Galatian Congregation.” NTS 17 (1971) 198–212.  See also Howard, G. Paul: Crisis in Galatia, 1–19.

[NB:  This is a re-post of something I wrote in 2009 as part of a survey of the book of Acts.  Since Acts 15 and Galatians 2 both concern the Judaizers, I  have re-posted my earlier essay with little change other than the final paragraph.]

47 thoughts on “Galatians 2 – Who Were the Judaizers?

  1. I think what is very important to remember when reading about the Judaizers (or comparing them with “Church Legalists”), is what Paul speaks about throughout all his writing — that we have been made free through Christ’s death (Gal 4:31, 5:1-13). The Judaizers were tied down to the thought that they were not complete in salvation unless they adhered to the Mosaic Law — Paul taught that once they had confessed that Jesus is Lord, and believed in his death, burial, and resurrection, that they were saved, and no longer needed to adhere to those laws. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).

    Polhill said that Paul was urging the Galatians to be rid of the “Judaizers with their enslaving message” (Polhill 151). Christians today still struggle with the fact that they are free. Church Legalists today may not be enforcing compliance with the Mosaic Law — but rather they are implementing there own version of “law” in their lives. For Church Legalists, Christianity has become something very different from a personal relationship with God, it is rather a ritual thing, finding rules and regulations in every aspect of life — and if these rules and rituals aren’t followed, then in their view, they are not Christians. This type of legalism in the church reaches right back into what Paul was saying about the Judaizers — they base their salvation in ritualism, asceticism, and strict laws. Paul urges the Galatians to remember that they are new men (Gal 6:15), no longer subject to the “law”, but free in Christ (Romans 5:15).

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  2. I think the application that can be taken from this passage is in regards to the concept of adding to salvation. If the Judaizers were simply trying to convert the Gentiles back to Judaism, then they were missing the entire point of Paul’s teaching. In Galatians 5:1 Paul reminds the Galatians that Christ has set them free, for the sake of freedom and to stand firm and not be burdened with slavery. The purpose of Christ’s life was to fulfill the law and bring righteousness to all who believed (Romans 10:4). Yes, following Christ involves obedience, heart change, and Godly living, but not out of obligation, fear, or keeping additional laws and standards.
    I think we have to be careful in how closely we align Judaizers with legalists though. The law that the Judaizers lived under is different than the law that legalists encourage today. It is the motives of the heart that are the binding aspect in my mind. Like many Christians today, the Galatians were looking for guidance in “Christian living” after their new faith. They “may have been turning to the legalism of the Judaizers out of a felt need for a guide in their daily living.” (Polhill 151) The law that Judaizers lived by is quite different than the legalism that some Christians live by, but it’s the intentions of the heart that make them similar. We like having an order or checklist to live our lives by, and that is what both of these offer. “What do I have to do each day to show that I’m a Christian?” seems to be the underlying question. Yes, it’s a good question to be asking, but the obvious problem with it is the intent and place that the Galatians and current Christians are looking. We are given freedom to respond to Christ out of our love, not out of our obligation. That’s where the real issue lies.

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    • David – you say the Judaizer / legalist is “adding to salvation.” I agree, but is the modern legalist really saying you have to behave a certain way to be saved, or are they saying that if you were really saved, you would stop a particular behavior or adopt a certain lifestyle? If so, where do you draw the line?

      For example, if someone told me I had to use a certain Bible translation to be a “real Christian” then I will call them a legalist and probably flaunt my TNIV in their general direction. Or maybe someone says that a “good Christian” does not drink any alcohol, or get tattoos, or pierce odd flaps of skin on their body, etc. That all sounds like legalism to me.

      But if an unmarried couple is sleeping together in my church, I might very well recommend they either stop their behavior or move on to another church. Why is one a legalism and the other not? AM I adding to salvation by calling out someone because of sin?

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  3. The main problem here is that it seems like the Judaizers are trying to add the requirement of works onto the free gift of salvation that Eph. 2:8-9 tells us we have. In Gal. 1:6 Paul is surprised that the gentiles are turning from the gospel of grace in Christ in favor of one that requires works to be saved. In Galatians 2 Paul shows his authority in preaching to those who are uncircumcised (gentiles) and says that nobody has the right to add onto his message.

    It is very interesting to me that Galatians is used to preach against legalism. I can see how such a leap can be made, however, it seems a stretch. Even most legalistic churches will admit that works are not necessary to salvation unlike what these Judaizers were claiming. “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21). And Paul is not at all preaching that good works are not something to be sought after. In Romans 6:1-2 he says “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

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  4. I believe that the application of the book of Galatians for the church today lies with the overall theme of true freedom in Christ. In the letter Paul addresses some specific issues that the Judaizers were forcing onto the Galatian church. Most of these issues are found to be moot in today’s society. However, there are those who have trouble with the concept of tre freedom in Christ, i.e. the legalists. Today’s legalists along with the Judaizers both seem to have one thing in common, they live by “an ethic of the flesh doomed to failure,” (Polhil 151). They are performing their Christian duties out of their own strength and out of a desire for step by step process of Christian living. The verses that we today need to bear in mind when reading this epistle are Galatians 2:20-21, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; an the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain,” and Galatian 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not e entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” These are key expressions of Paul’s personal freedom in the redemption of Christ, a freedom which he urges every believer to cling to.

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  5. Judaizers and church legalists today both have one thing in common, they are not willing to change. In different ways they are not willing to change though. The Judaizers staying in line with the law which Paul talks about in Galatians 5:2 and Galatians 6:12. The church legalistic view of today is more along the lines of this is how my generation did it so the people who want to change are automatically wrong, not as much to do with the law like the Judaizers. But what I really want to focus on is one thing that they have in common. They both ran people away from the faith.

    Time and time again there are people that enter a church and are greeted by someone who is rude, harsh and not wanting anything to do with new people entering the church. Or they are asked about their dress and told that it is not good enough to be here in this day and age. Legalism kills the passion of the church and everything that goes along with it. I am sure in Paul’s time it was the same way with them making Gentiles keep the law. Polhill on page 139 talks about this when he says “They were stupid; they were abandoning the Spirit for the flesh (3:1-5). They were alienating themselves from Christ, falling away from the the way of grace into the law (5:2-4)”. The people that Paul had reached were taught about this grace of God, the same as Christians today, and the minute they entered into the synagogue, or the church, they were immediately told about keeping the law, or the way they dress or worship style and so on. They became confused and ultimately left the faith.

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  6. I believe that the Judaizers of the Galatian church were enforcing legalistic acts, such as circumcision, out of a righteous attempt to fulfill the law in which their ancestors had followed for generations. Although they had heard the new salvation message of grace by faith, their tradition had taught them otherwise. Even today many cultures have difficulties giving up cultural traditions when coming to salvation in Christ. The change seems contrary to their way of life, and in some cases, even seems wrong.

    Not to say, however, that the forcing of circumcision on Gentile converts was due solely to a righteous pursuit of their law. Some may have been rebelling to the message brought by Paul and, in turn, acting in a way which would appear to disqualify the Gentiles that they circumcised (Polhill 151). These Judaizers may have also been jealous of the fact that God was opening a new door in his salvation plan and now the only thing that counted was “faith expressing itself through love (Gal 5:6)”.

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  7. I’m going to go into the opposite direction here and call the Judaizers good intentioned conservatives. I honestly cannot see the Judaizers going out into the Gentile churches to destroy their faith. First of all, if these Judaizers were so concerned about adherence to the Jewish Torah, they wouldn’t be in contact with the Gentiles to begin with due to purity laws. Secondly, why limit the adherence to just a small handful of things? As Paul says, “Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.” in Galatians 5:3. It makes more sense to me that the Judaizers were in a state of limbo in regards to the Law. They grew up on Torah and lived according to Torah, It would be a hard thing to allow Grace to supersede Torah at this stage of Christian history. These Judaizers saw “The Way” as a sect of Judaism and were most likely reacting in the way they saw fit, even though Paul was making it clear that Grace and Law do not necessarily go hand in hand from a Torah standpoint. Now, it is unfortunate that there was a rift because of this but as Polhill says, “there was considerable conflict within the Galatian fellowship. One wonders how much the Judaizing controversy contributed to this” (Polhill 152). One could ask if the Judaizers were made a scapegoat for the stress and angst that Paul felt… remember, Paul was a human being like you and I too, not some SuperPaul… defender of Christopolis!

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  8. “These Judaizers saw “The Way” as a sect of Judaism and were most likely reacting in the way they saw fit.” This is *exactly* the point of Galatians and why Paul is bent out of shape – are Gentiles converting to a form of Judaism? that is the point of Acts 15 and any other agreement between Paul and James prior to that. Whatever Paul’s gentile converts are, they are not converting to Judaism – so Paul says that they should not keep the boundary markers like Circumcision.

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  9. Ok…first of all, can I just say I was kind of disappointed in this post? I go to a P Long blog, see the picture above, and of course my immediate thought is that I’m going to get to read a whole Blog post on Subterranean Homesick Blues. Not even close.
    Judaizers, who were they? We see the Judaizers in Galatia arguing over the same issues that Paul had resolved already in his meeting with the Jerusalem Counsel. Specifically they argued about whether or not Gentiles needed to be circumcised to be saved, but at the heart the issue was much deeper than that. (Polhill, 145) What was really being questioned was the necessity of keeping to Law concerning an individual’s salvation. We see Paul over and over again argue against this kind of teaching. Although Paul continues to follow the Law to the best of his ability, he truly understands that it is only by Grace through Christ that we can be saved. This is something that seems to be hard for a lot of new Jewish Christians to grasp.
    I believe that the Judaizers at Galatia, depending on how many there were (we don’t know since Paul never specifies) could have been a group of individuals all motivated out of a multitude of reasons. Some of them may have simply been ignorant to the resolution at the Jerusalem Council. This however seems pretty unlikely. The top two reasons I believe there were Galatian Judaizers was out of fear and tradition. To avoid persecution from other Jews, some may have chosen the path of a Judaizer. While enforcing the Law, other Jews may have seen no harm in Christianity, and left them alone. Also, there were probably many Judaizers who simply couldn’t let their grip on the Law go. They grew up with the Law being above all else. Unfortunately many couldn’t let the necessity of the Law go. (Polhill, 140)
    I can see a correlation between the Judaizers and Christian Legalists today. Throughout many years not only was the Law the Law, but the Pharisees built up their rules that surrounded the Law. The Pharisees were obsessed with living their lives according to the Law and to Rules. Many Christians today get so obsessed with the “rules” of Christianity, sin, and judging that they forget that we are saved by Grace alone.

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    • Twenty years of schooling and the put you on the day shift….look out kid.

      “the “rules” of Christianity, sin, and judging that they forget that we are saved by Grace alone.” Can you make a distinction between dealing with real sin and legalists? Paul is going to demand a sinful person in Corinth be kicked out (actually, handed over to Satan) and Paul has nothing good to say about people who “do the deeds of the flesh.” Lots of people have already cited Rom 6, but that has to be a factor here – sinlessness is the goal, but graces means we are in the process of becoming like Christ, allowing for failure in others and ourselves.

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  10. I think that preachers get from ‘Judaizers’ to ‘church legalists’ because those both involve adding an element to the gospel, therefore corrupting the gift of grace. In Galatians, the Judaizers were adding circumcision and submitting to other things of the law in order to be truly saved. However, that is against the very definition of grace in the first place. Galatians 2:16 says, “..So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” Here, we see that man cannot be saved by observing the law, because the law only enslaves us. Here is where preachers make a connection to church legalists. Church legalists add things to the gospel and say that certain things must be done in order to be Godly people. Polhill says, “to fall into the law-way was to fall out of the grace-way” (151). This principle is what preachers use to apply church legalism to Galatians 2. Although Galatians 2 talks about circumcision, food, and observing dates the principle can relate.

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  11. Beecher stated pretty well my thoughts on this topic. I feel like I often hear people, especially in youth-groups, preach on this Galatians passage like it is about legalism. In a way, I suppose it is about legalism, but the legalism in Galatians is an entirely different sort of legalism than the sort I feel like people often pit this passage against these days.

    As PLong said, these Judaizers were piling circumcision and food laws onto the gentile Christians as requirements for salvation. Yes there is an element of “this is the way things have always been, and this is the way they should stay,” but that is not the primary mover here. They are not simply trying to keep things the way they have always been within their same context, they are trying to keep things the same in a new context. That is why it doesn’t work. If they were trying to keep things the same within Judaism, it would be fine. But they were trying to apply Jewish law in a Christian context.

    Any attempted connection between this and the modern legalism I generally hear preached against seems tenuous at best. As I understand it, new Christians are not greeted in their new church with someone laying into them for every little thing that they do wrong or saying/implying that they need to do x, y, and z to be accepted as a Christian. Rather, they are met, in some cases, with people who are not culturally active enough to be less than shocked by the physical appearance of these new people. And that lack of comfort is about as far as it usually goes. As far as I know, we don’t have adults constantly telling students in our youth groups that their clothes are not Christian enough (possible exception for modesty).

    All that to say, I just feel that the Galatians and the Judaizers were asking rather different sorts of things, for reasons that were significantly different from the things and reasons that have become labeled “legalistic” today. Certainly there are factions of the Church today that deserve the term and the comparison to the Judaizers, but the label is applied far more liberally than is really legitimate… in my opinion…

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  12. Interesting… I had always thought the people who were telling the Galatians to be circumcised were people with bad intentions – Judaizers, like you said. To say they had good intentions totally warps my mindset. Now they’re not just evil people trying to disrupt the congregation. Polhill brings up a good point: “One must bear in mind that in Paul’s day people often vilified their opponents, painting them in the starkest hues possible” (pg. 140). If they seem to us to be bad people, it could be due to this painted way of describing them.

    Now, to apply Galatians to a modern-day context and get from Judaizers to church legalists may not directly work, but it somewhat does. After all, it’s about our freedom in Christ. Jumping off of what P. Long said about where do you draw the line in determining legalism, I would say it depends on what you consider to be sin. In my thinking, legalism turns the gray areas of the Bible into strict yeses and nos. If the Bible doesn’t definitively say, “This is a sin; don’t do this,” then it’s a gray area. Now, some people do find Scripture to back up their legalism. An example would be people using 1 Corinthians 11:14 to say that men can’t have long hair: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him.” Depending on who you are, this Scripture may suffice you to think this is a black and white truth (as I thought for a while it was), but when you come to consider this is the only passage in the Bible about the topic and that it can be explained by cultural issues, the issue becomes a gray issue.

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    • “gray areas of the Bible” is a phrase I have never been comfortable with. Something is either good and God-honoring, or it is bad and ought to be avoided. I am not sure God ever says “here is a moral issue you can make your own decision on.” I think that you might have in mind matters of taste, things which are called “matters of indifference” in the Bible.

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  13. Why do so many preachers relate Judaizers and “Church Legalists”? I like how Chris T. states it very simply: both are resistant to change, though in different ways. Yes, both parties dig in their heels when confronted with anything but the established way of doing things regarding their faith, and both parties are criticized for it by the newer generation pushing for the change. However, I think that both the ancient Judaizers and the modern Legalists have the same motivating factor: fear.
    It is a basic human instinct to fear the unfamiliar. For the Judaizers, Christianity was completely new altogether, so it is understandable that they would resist the old ways of Gentile-conversion. Before, a Gentile would need to be circumcised as well as keep the Law of Moses in order to become a proselyte Jew. For today’s Legalists, I think the fear is more that the newer generations of the church are more liberal than they were in their day, with all our loud music and post-modernist ideas. It’s pretty hard to stand up to these kinds of people. They do not like being told their ways are wrong. Peter himself feared the circumcision party. (Gal. 2:12)
    In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul stands up to the Judaizers, and confronts their fear. My favorite is verse 14: “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”” Polhill says much the same thing: “Jews were not to become Gentiles when they became Christians, and Gentiles were not to become Jews. … [Timothy, who was a Jew,] belonged to ‘the circumcision.’ So, Paul had him circumcised (136).” This is a very simple, straightforward solution to their debate over whether or not to make Gentile Christians become circumcised. I like things simple.

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  14. Ryan, why would you think that people telling the Galatians to follow the law is bad? I am interested on how you came to that conclusion; I mean I have never heard that before so I am a little surprised to hear you say that (maybe I have heard it before but I have never thought that myself).
    I think Grace is a gift that many people take advantage of, including Paul. I know this is not the topic of the post but it is something I am passionate about. “…it is through grace you have been saved…(Eph.2:8)” to me, yes that is a very important verse for us Christians, and I am sure Paul used it and said it while reaching others. But Grace I think is such a more powerful word than people think, many times during the day I hear many Christians say “oh I was showing that person grace by not telling them what I thought” or “I show grace by forgiving them of the wrong they have done to me” and yes, that is important and that is a part of Grace that God wants us Christians to have for each other… but I believe that when you have Grace, you also have obedience, faith, and compassion as well almost as “side dishes”. I am peeved often by people who abuse the word “grace” regularly… because grace is not just a little thing we throw out at people when they wrong us, GOD had Grace, and he sent his son to forgive us and die for us. God’s grace and our grace are two completely different things, and I think people misunderstand it. (sorry about my rant)
    Back to the subject, I think David had some great points above, by using Romans 10:4, you can also use Galatians 3:24, stating that the law was put over us to lead us to Christ. And David’s points about Judaizer/Legalist are very much how I think, and he stated them very well.

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  15. The Judaizers were like a bunch of old timers at a youth group meeting. They didn’t like what was happening and they don’t like “new” ways of doing things. Just like how the old people at my church from my high school days would be upset about how we would use the church building, the Judaizers didn’t like these newbies (Gentile Christians). I can kind of see why the Judaizers didn’t care for the “new way” of doing religion. It was something they didn’t fully understand and it was a change. And lets be honest, who really likes change? Especially when it comes to what we believe in. I can bet that if a bunch of new radicals started to tell me that what I believe in needed to change I would probably have problems with that. I’m not trying to justify the Judaizers, but I can understand where they are coming from.

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    • I guess that is a way of contextualizing the problem, but the Judaizers are saying that Paul is not authorized to make theological changes, and his changes are going to keep people from accepting Jesus as savior. That is a bit more than old people upset you played “Zombies” at youth group last week.

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  16. The unwillingness to change and adapt, that is what the Judaizers were. I believe the understood what Paul was trying to convey but they had been doing what they were doing and believing the things they believed for so long that the idea of change scared them.Like Joe says, no one really likes change so it makes a lot of sense to me.
    Paul says, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24).” The legalists believed this to be the truth and I don’t think they realized that Christ had came and offered them faith. And if they did, they probably just wanted to keep some of their laws intact because it made them comfortable.

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  17. As far as a contemporary application of the book, I believe that Paul, because of his unique mission, shows clear application. In Galatians 2:16, Paul says, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Contemporary application shows through when he uses phrases like, “no one will be justified,” phrases that do not refer to a particular group of people.

    Paul may have been defending himself from the criticism from the Jews, but that does not take away from what he has to say in the rest of the letter. It is full of useful information for believer and unbelievers.

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  18. Uncircumcised Gentiles could become part of God’s people along with Israel. With the “freedom of Christ” there was no longer any difference between the Jew and the Gentile. It was faith in Christ that defined the people of God. Gentiles could become just as much God’s people as the Jews without having to conform to their laws. To the question of whether Gentiles could be faithful to God without following key parts of the Torah I would say yes. Being faithful to God only required faith. Keeping key feasts, laws and other things was not completely necessary to being faithful to God. Judaizers wanted to make the Gentile Christians conform to the Torah. This would be subjecting them to a law they have already been freed from, Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”. The Judaizers were trying to enslave the Gentiles to the law by convincing them they could not be part of God’s people without it and they could not be faithful to God without it.

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  19. Recently a muslim group argues on the basis of this alleaged issue between Paul and Peter (Jerusalem -Antioch conflict as they may call it), that these two apostles preached different gospels and what preached by Peter was exactly the way of Jesus and Paul was creating a new religion. Also they argue that today’s Christianity is Paul’s religion and not Christ’s way. One of the main point they bring forward is Paul had osbserved the Law in Acts 18 and 21, when he shaved his head because of a vow and paying the expences for levite sacrifices for those who had some vow. Also Paul had circumcised Timoty (Acts 16:3).
    So can u make it clear for me, What Paul meant when he said, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” (Gal 3:10).
    And why he obseved Law, that seems to be contradictory to his writtings?

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    • Very good question, and I was unaware of any use of this text within Islam. Do you happen to have a bibliographic reference (journal article, book) or perhaps a website that mentions this?

      As for Paul’s use of the Law, a few quick responses, and then I will say “stay tuned to this blog” since that is what I am planning to work on this week a bit more. I think first that this Muslim suggestion is “old news” in that they are saying much the same thing as 19th century protestant liberalism, or 21st century emergent church-type thinkers, although with a different agenda. Many people have suggested that what Paul did was to “get Jesus wrong” and create something different than what Jesus intended. There are certainly differences, but you have to understand that Jesus’ stated intention was to die on the cross as a ransom for sin (Mark 10:45, etc), his goal was to be the Passover Lamb that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was not founding a church or a religion, and I am of the opinion that the activity of the apostles in Acts 2-4 was not aimed at establishing a church which would survive two millennia, but to prepare Israel to meet their God and Messiah when Jesus returned to judge, very soon from their perspective.

      Paul’s mission was to the Gentiles, and I think that he had that same eschatological belief Jesus was returning very soon, so he was motivated to extend the Gospel to the Gentile world.

      Second, as for Paul and the Law, I think that it is important to realize that Paul never says the Law was null and void for Jews, only that Gentiles are not “under the Law” because they are not converting to Judaism!. Timothy is circumcised, for example, because he was a Jew, Galatians says Titus was not circumcised because he was a Gentile. His own observance of elements of Judaism (Passover, vows, worship in the temple, etc). was due to the fact that he was still a Jew and these were the normal ways a Jew might worship God. He did not impose these on Gentiles, nor did he recommend to Jews the drop the Law,.

      Third, the curse of the Law is drawn form the Law itself, Deut 27-30, the “blessings and cursings” of the Law. If one does not keep the Law, one is under the curse of the Law. Paul is developing a larger theology of Law here, and I defer you to future blogs for more details. Essentially, Jesus becomes the curse of the Law in order to fulfill it, opening the door to salvation part from the Law.

      I hope this helps, please continue the dialog if you like.

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  20. i hear people saying paul was wrong and that was his opinion. he says if anyone preaches anything different let him be eternaly condemned. where i live there are real judiazers in the churches all they talk about is the old testement dietary laws and feast. if someone gets born again they say dont read the new testement read the old. after a while the person is a convert of judaism. it is so deceptive it is scary they told me i had to keep the sabbath on saturday and keep every law in the old testement. god rescued me from them but i have lost the feeling that i am accepted by god by faith . i always think im not perfect enough. in all honesty these judaizers need to be fiercely resistdd there teaching will eat like gangrene. the way these people twist scripture and minimize jesus christ is an abomination.

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    • Wow, I am so glad you were able to see the deception and break free. I am currently reading Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening, and highly recommend it to you. Chapters 5 and 6 are out of this world!

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  21. The Apostle Peter opposed the
    Judaizers by reporting on how God
    poured out His Holy Spirit on the
    gentiles: “So God, who knows the
    heart, acknowledged them by
    giving them the Holy Spirit, just
    as He did to us, and made no
    distinction between us and
    them, purifying their hearts by
    faith. Now, therefore, why do
    you test God by putting a yolk
    on the neck of the disciples
    which neither our fathers nor
    we were able to bear?” Acts
    15:8-10
    The Apostle Paul and Barnabas
    testified to the miraculous works of
    God among the Gentiles. James
    pointed out how this was the
    fulfillment of many prophecies and
    he declared: “Therefore I judge
    that we should not trouble those
    from among the Gentiles who
    are turning to God, but that we
    write to them to abstain from
    things polluted by idols, from
    sexual immorality and from
    things strangled and from
    blood.” Acts 15:19-20
    The conclusion of the Jerusalem
    Conference is recorded in Acts
    15:22-29. In it the Apostles, elders
    and brethren of the Church in
    Jerusalem dissociated themselves
    from the Judaizers who were
    “unsettling your souls” by
    requiring observance to Jewish
    ceremonial law “to whom we
    gave no such commandment.”
    The council decreed: “For it
    seemed good to the Holy Spirit,
    and to us, to lay upon you no
    greater burden than these
    necessary things:” to abstain
    from idolatry, immorality and
    blood. There is no mention here of
    the Jewish Sabbath or any of the
    many distinctives being insisted by
    modern Judaizers.

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    • As I have said before and will say again later, Paul does not makes Timothy a Jew by circumcising him, Timothy was always a Jew ethnically because his mother was a Jew. The point in Acts is as an uncircumcised Jew, Timothy would have been an unnecessary distraction when doing ministry in the Synagogue.

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  22. I definitely do not disagree with you on this point.
    I think I probably agree, although I have not completely thought it through.

    However,
    I note that Paul’s action in circumcising Timothy was completely inconsistent with Paul’s teaching specifically on the subject of circumcision. In other words, Paul was a hypocrite.

    Do you then believe that Paul’s teaching on circumcision to the Galatians and Corinthians was wrong? Or that somehow it is “the new law” for everyone in the world except Paul himself, because Paul is a special “exception” and “not under the law?”

    Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.” [1 Corinthians 7:17-20]

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    • It’s been almost 3 months – the silence is deafening.
      Paul clearly, consistently taught others one thing, but clearly did the opposite himself and never admitted it. We have the same Bible. Facts are facts. Either Paul’s action was wrong but his teaching was right, or his action was right but his teaching was wrong. Paul didn’t write the Book of Acts anyway, Luke did, and it’s a biography of imperfect people like you, me, and Boss Paul the Pharisee.

      No one except Paul himself ever said or implied that Paul’s letters are “The Word of God.” Jesus is The Word of God, and so the words of Jesus recorded by 4 witnesses (The Gospel writers) are The Word of God, above all others.

      If we are honest, we must break the taboo and admit, without reservation, that one way or another, Paul was wrong. Do you have enough courage to do that? Or will you continue to “Follow the Paals?”

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    • This statement: “The point in Acts is as an uncircumcised Jew, Timothy would have been an unnecessary distraction when doing ministry in the Synagogue.” has all the meaning I need to trust Paul’s instinct when it comes to cultural necessities to further the gospel. He said he becomes all things to win men. If Timothy was to have a ministry among Gentiles then it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Working in another culture helps explain the situation. I’ve actually worked around some Paul-like missionary characters in my day. It definitely keeps one’s faith alive and interesting, and disagreements abound, but the Spirit brings unity, of divides for multiplication purposes (just like with Paul and Barnabas going separate ways).

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  23. I have not been silent for three months! I thought this conversation ground to a halt because of your inability to see beyond your prejudices.

    You are not going to convince me there is good reason to consider Paul a wrong or a liar or a psycho. Christian theology is not going to reject the massive contribution he made to understanding Jesus and the meaning of the cross. To excise the Pauline influence from the NT is impossible. In fact, it seems like a kind of reverse-Marcionism!

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    • The term “New Testament” was coined by the second century heretic Marcion, and his “New Testament” contained nothing except 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke. (He excluded Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, but the other 10 are the same as what we have now.)

      We Evangelicals have been trained to completely ignore this piece of history.

      In Reading Acts, we see that Luke recorded 3 references to Paul’s “Damascus Road experience.” – Acts 9, 22 & 26.
      Acts 9 in Luke’s narrative of the events.
      Acts 22 & 26 are Luke’s record of Paul’s conflicting, exaggerated. self-serving, boastful false testimony about the events in Acts 9.

      Paul’s claims and versions of his own experience don’t agree with Luke’s record in Acts 9, and they are not even consistent with each other. Luke accurately recorded Paul making things up, promoting himself, elevating himself, and making himself appear to be more important and more authoritative than he really was in God’s eyes.

      I don’t believe Luke lied in Acts 9 about the events on the road to Damascus. Do you?

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    • If you cannot be persuaded to view Paul as a liar, maybe you can explain 1st Corinthians 9:20-21, namely, how could Paul present himself to Jews as if he were under the law, while knowing himself to be free from the Law, and do this without giving a false impression of his true theological position on the matter. When Paul did the ritual in Acts 21:20 ff, was he saying “I don’t believe this is valid, I’m only doing it to make you happy”? When Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews there (Acts 16:3), was he saying “circumcision and any exclusively Jewish attribute you have, qualifies as nothing but human feces (Philippians 3:8, Greek: skubalon; waste, dung).

      Think before you post…Jerome found these types of actions by Paul difficult to resolve to Augustine’s satisfaction.

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  24. The conservative Christians of today who insist on harmony between Paul and Jesus, never answer select questions and issues, and for that matter, these are difficult to find answers to even in works where answers to them might be expected, such as Wenham’s books. If F.C. Baur really was so soundly refuted by Lightfoot and Hodges, why are there no remotely convincing answers to the following matters?

    1 – In Acts, the circumcised apostles are angry to the point of shouting that Peter ate with a Gentile believer (11:1-3). Peter tells them his bizarre vision of the sheet (4-17), and the Jewish apostles then “calm down”, and admit Gentile salvation, in a way indicating that they viewed it as if it was some brand new shocking unexpected theological development they never anticipated. First, the written gospels make clear that Jesus, since the beginning of his ministry, offered salvation to Gentiles just as much as he did to Jews (Matthew 4:15; Luke 2:32; John 3:16). In the early phase of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there are descriptions of extremely large crowds that follow him, so much that he could not even enter a city without causing a stampede, and no attempt is made to say whether they were mostly Jews or mostly Gentiles (Mark 1:45; 2:4). When you say this is all true but that the apostles “just didn’t get” Gentile salvation, you attribute to them an amount of unbelievable ignorance sufficient to impeach their credibility as witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. How can you learn from God himself on earth, FGR THREE STRAIGHT YEARS, that salvation goes equally to Jews and Gentiles, but abandon that later and insist that only Jews can be saved? Rank stupidity of the sort that impeaches your credibility? That might be the case, given that the apostolic presupposition against Gentile salvation, seen in Acts 11, comes a few years after an allegedly resurrected Jesus told them to take the gospel to the Gentiles (great commission; Matthew 28:19), and several years after the allegedly great infilling of the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2). Apparently, the apostles were so incapable of getting the point, not even the allegedly life-transforming and eye-opening experiences of seeing a resurrected Jesus and being filled with the Spirit to preach the gospel, were sufficient to overcome their credibility-impeaching thickheadedness. And if you’ll pardon me, I don’t believe in biblical inerrancy, I see no reason whatsoever to suggest stupidity in the apostles. They went around denying Gentile salvation precisely because Jesus never taught Gentile-salvation, and Acts is nothing but a white-wash to make Paul’s Gentile ministry appear more acceptable to the original apostles, than it really was.

    2 – In Galatians 2:1, Paul says he goes to Jerusalem to publicly present his gospel to the apostles there, but that in the case of the apostles who held the highest reputation, he did this presenting privately, lest he find he was “running or had run in vain”. Inerrantists have twisted themselves inside out trying to “explain” how this verse “doesn’t teach” that Paul at that time entertained serious worry of a significant chance that the highest Jerusalem apostles might disagree with his gospel. But the question remains, what exactly did Paul fear, that he felt could be mitigated by making private his gospel presentation to the highest of the Jerusalem apostles? And since telepathy was available (Acts 16:9), couldn’t Paul have done his presentation telepathically?

    3 – Don’t you ever find it problematic that none of the apostles in Acts 15 quote the words or teaching of Jesus in the Council of Jerusalem to falsify the Judaizer belief that salvation depends on circumcision? If you agree with most Christians and scholars that the followers of Jesus during his three-year earthly ministry were a mix of circumcised Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles, it is furiously unlikely that no questions of whether Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved ever came up. It would have came up, Jesus would naturally have answered it, and therefore the answer missing from the apostles in Acts 15 cannot be explained away by apologists and their death-grip on inerrancy.

    And even if you presume no such question came up during Jesus’ earthly ministry, the resurrected Jesus allegedly commissioned the apostles to preach the gospel to Gentiles (Matthew 28:19), and he taught them in his resurrected state for a period of about 40 days (Acts 1:3). When you try to refute my arguments by saying Jesus focused mostly on Jews during his earthly career, then this makes it even more likely that when Jesus officially commissioned a Gentile mission, he likely would have answered the obvious question anybody could have guessed would spring up as soon as Gentiles started getting added to the fold: “The orthodox Jewish disciples will insist Gentiles cannot be in covenant with God unless they get circumcised (Exodus 12:48), so how do we avert that potentially explosive source of division in the church?” Although there is plenty of good reason to believe Jesus would thus have preempted this completely obviously looming problem, the apostles in Acts 11:18 speak about Peter’s discovery of gentile salvation as if it was some surprising unexpected theological development. Lightfoot said although Jesus commissioned the gentile ministry of the apostles, he left the details of how it would be worked out, for a later time. Yeah right. How about an employer who gathers new employees for orientation, but never orients them on the acts that are central to their work? I’m not buying. The resistance of the apostles to Gentile salvation in Acts 11 is totally unexpected, and therefore, they are either so incredibly stupid that their general credibility is impeached sufficiently to justify dismissing their witness to the resurrection of Jesus, or, Paul is the heretic, Jesus was no more Gentile friendly during his earthly ministry than the Acts 11 apostles, and the gospel texts showing otherwise are perversion of the exclusively Jewish-centered original. Take your pick.

    4 – There was a severe famine in Jerusalem in the middle of Paul’s ministry. You need to keep that in mind when you read stuff in the bible like the apostles giving Paul the right hand of fellowship and asking that he remember the poor (Galatians 2:9-10). It could very well be that Jesus never intended to save Gentiles, the apostles determined to uphold this, but they started compromising when they got hungry, and found out that Paul’s new spin on the gospel came with some extra cash for them as long as they wouldn’t condemn this unexpected expansion of the original gospel. If you were starving and the only person on earth who could give you food was a Mormon, how loudly would you insist that the book of Mormon is an obvious fraud? Now you know what situation was faced by the original apostles who were viewing Paul as a meal-ticket during this mid-first-century famine. Even if they truly believe Paul a heretic, they likely would not have honestly admitted it as long as Paul was paying the bills.

    5 – Even when the apostles allegedly give Paul the right hands of fellowship, Paul still makes clear that they still concluded they would continue restricting themselves to the circumcised, or the ministry to Jews only. Galatians 2:9. Paul’s qualification is very curious, since allegedly the apostles were told to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Matthew 28:19). Here again we have a contradiction between what the apostles did, and what the NT says they were allegedly told to do. If the Gentile ministry was commissioned to them by Jesus, then why did they favor evangelism of Jews, in any way that would justify the statement in Galatians 2:9?

    6 – The Judaizers Paul battles and who motivated Peter to cease table fellowship with Gentiles in Antioch, were “men from James”. Galatians 2:12. You will say Acts 15:24 makes clear these extremists in James’s congregation went beyond what James allowed. First, there are independent grounds for believing that Acts papers over and otherwise embellishes in the effort to make Paul appear more in harmony with the apostles than he really was. Luke’s reporting nearly nothing said by the Judaizers in Acts 15, while spilling much ink to recording the arguments of Peter and James, is a case in point. Not exactly fair and balanced reporting, thus showing bias in the author sufficient to justify distrusting him where he cannot be independently corroborated. Second, inerrancy is not valid as a hermeneutic. Nobody says they cannot properly understand an editorial, unless they have the other articles written elsewhere by the same author to make sure they get everything he had to say about a single subject, in which case, Galatians 2:12’s unqualified phrase “men from James” can be allowed to mean what it means, without worrying about how to harmonize it with Acts 15:24. Third, Peter’s acquiescence to the strict view of these “men from James” does not make sense if you think the “men from James” were misrepresenting James in any way. Peter and James were obviously close friends. If James really was as lenient toward the Gentiles as Acts 15 makes him out to be, Peter would have known this, and therefore would have detected that the strict denial of table fellowship the “men from James” expected, was a false extreme of James’s actual view. You would have to make Peter out to be excessively gullible to argue that yes, he knew all this, but chose to acquiesce to views which he positively knew to be false. And when you rely on Peter’s fickle nature (such as when he denied Christ three times) to avoid my argument, you impeach his general credibility, which hurts the historical case for the resurrection of Jesus, just like impeaching the credibility of a witness weakens an opponent’s case in court.

    7 – Epiphanius testified, and so did Jerome (quoting an alleged Hegesippus), that James entered the Holy of Holies, which we all know only a Jewish High Priest can do. If this tradition is reliable, James was once a Jewish High Priest, and the idea that he could have attained to that position while telling the Jews things in accord with Paul’s gospel (Jesus is god, and the law is done away in Christ), is perfect nonsense. If these traditions of James-as-high-priest are not reliable, you open the door to the unreliability of ancient Christian history. We wonder how many other “facts” about the apostles were set forth in post-apostolic histories, that were actually false.

    8 – The portrait Josephus gives for James the brother of Christ is one of an uncompromising orthodox Jew held in high esteem by the Jews in general. James would hardly have enjoyed that status among the Jews had his ministry included Paul’s theological belief that circumcision does nothing to put one right with God, and James would have been the scourge of the earth in Jewish eyes had he insisted that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. Worse, had James taught that Jesus was raised from the dead, the Jews would have taken that to be what it logically is, a proof that the Jesus who had scandalized them really was divine, and this would have caused the Jews to hate James with the same degree of fervor that they had toward Paul in Acts 21 ff.

    9 – Paul says when he was in company of Jews, he became as a person under the Law, while himself realizing he is not under the law. 1st Corinthians 9:20-21. I’ve asked Christians before how they figure Paul could have presented himself to Jews as if he were under the law, while knowing he himself was not under the law, and do this without giving the Jews a false impression of his true theological beliefs. I get little more than cricket chirps, probably because it is clear that Paul could not have done this without giving a false impression of his beliefs. If you say Paul was merely going through the motions while making it clear he didn’t really believe the law still had force, this doesn’t make sense. Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews he wished to minister to (Acts 16:3). Can you imagine how those Jews would have reacted if Paul, before during and after circumcising Timothy, made clear that circumcision and other exclusively Jewish attributes qualify as human feces after one becomes a Christian? (Philippians 3:8, Greek: skubalon; refuse, waste).

    10 – How do you explain the alleged fact that the 10’s of thousands of Jewish Christians in James’s Jerusalem congregation continued to maintain their zeal for the law, so much that after hearing rumors that Paul teaches forsaking of Moses elsewhere, James thinks they cannot be dissuaded except by the most extreme act of Paul in paying for and participating in a cleansing ritual? Acts 21:17-24. By the way, James or the elders in that church conclude that Paul’s actions in accord with the law will refute the rumor that he preached against circumcision. James was wrong, the rumor appears to be true: Paul classifies his circumcision on the 8th day, and other distinctly Jewish traits that had formerly given him advantage, as human feces (Philippians 3:8, Greek: skubalon). In Galatians 5, he makes no attempt to say that circumcision is ok as long as it isn’t viewed as a way of salvation, he bluntly forbids it, insisting that if anybody does get circumcised, they are fallen from grace, cut off Christ, will receive no benefits of Christ, and will be indebted to obey the entire law. That’s an awfully contorted way to say “it is ok to get circumcised as long as you don’t view it as causing salvation.”

    11 – Exodus 12:48 is part of “the law”, it requires circumcision of Gentiles before they can fellowship with Jews, and Jesus condemned as least in his Kingdom any who would annul even the least part of the law. Matthew 5:19. That legalism did not change at the cross, the resurrected Jesus said ALL of his pre-Cross teachings were to be obeyed by future Gentile disciples, Matthew 28:20.

    12 – Paul laments that most of the Galatian church has abandoned his gospel for the Judaizer gospel. Galatians 1:6. His absurd warning that they shouldn’t believe a gospel contrary to his even if such came from an “angel from heaven” appears to be extreme exaggeration evincing a belief by Paul that some of the Judaizers causing that apostasy held very high positions of authority. James certainly comes to mind. If Paul’s gospel was so clearly the “true” one, how is it that his sidekick in the Gentile ministry, Barnabas (personally selected by the Holy Spirit to assist Paul’s ministry, Acts 13:2) was persuaded to take the Judaizer position against Jew-Gentile table-fellowship? If even the one man on earth with the most direct intimate access to Paul and his arguments could find Paul’s rebuttal to lack merit, then maybe Paul wasn’t quite as genuine of an apostle, as you had hoped?

    Why is it that you don’t care about any opposition to Paul, such as the large crowds enraged at Paul throughout Acts, his Galatian churches leaving him, his admission that the Corinthians were split on whether to follow him, or Peter or Apollos, all you care about is Paul’s defense and believing every single word of it? The fact that attributing truth to Paul’s enemies might take away some of the feeling of security you get when you read your New Testament, doesn’t justify blindly dismissing any and all opponents of Paul. Mormons probably feel very uncomfortable reading the Book of Mormon with the belief that it might possibly be a fraud, but we agree they are being dishonest with themselves to just put that thought of their mind and convince themselves that all is well, correct? Well today isn’t about refuting “cults”, its about refuting YOU, the person whom you think surely couldn’t have missed something in so many years of faithful careful bible study.

    For all of these reasons, it would appear that the Judaizer gospel was closer to what Jesus actually taught, than Paul’s law-free gospel was. Paul’s getting the gospel wrong impeaches his credibility as a witness of the resurrected Jesus. How could Paul have sufficient visions of Jesus to start his Gentile ministry, but no visions of Jesus sufficient to make him conform to the exclusively Jewish gospel (Acts 11:1-3).

    It is lamentable that Paul, whose testimony to the resurrection of Jesus is the only one that comes down to use today in first-hand form, also confesses to things that impeach his general credibility. Not only does he believe in out-of-body experiences, but he confesses that sometimes during these experiences, he cannot tell whether they happened to him while he was in or out of his body. 2nd Corinthians 12:1-6.

    barryjoneswhat@yahoo.com

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      • Yes, Eisenmann and more. I’m particularly troubled by the conservative commentaries which say Lightfoot and Hodges soundly refuted F.C. Baur. They did no such thing. They merely offered possible but implausible explanations for some of the problems. I’m going through Wenham’s “Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?” and I’m appalled at his failure to take on the serious passages like Galatians 2 and Acts 11, despite a commentator at amazon.com telling me that Wenham has resolved all the questions I raise against Paul’s integrity. If one would defend the thesis that Paul didn’t create Christianity but merely followed Christ, one must wrestle with the evidence impeaching Paul’s general credibility. Wenham never does this, at least as far as I can tell. He is more concerned to show that teachings by Paul were likely the result of him having heard and approved of the Jesus-traditions spread by the apostle, which by his own admission is a speculative venture since, as he admits, there is often an equal likelihood that the similarities arose from the Jesus-tradition being influenced by Paul. Wenham is soundly refuted in full by one bible verse: Acts 20:35. Paul was not only aware of the Jesus-sayings, but realized that directly quoting them was the proper way to support his argument in his attempts to compel somebody to action. Yet as we all know, Paul prefers to justify his teachings from the OT, when he allegedly knew that the Jesus-traditions constituted the “later light” that is always of greater importance than the older light.

        Paul first persecuted the church, then did a quick 180 and boldly defended the church. Personalities like Paul that manifest traits of taking everything to extremes and being attention whores, naturally would rather make bold claims for themselves than to simply learn the gospel in submission to the original apostles, the way Jesus intended the spread of the gospel to take place, Matthew 28:19-20. It does no good to say God was free to make Paul special, since investigation into what happened in history must deal with probabilities, not mere possibilities. God’s “right” to deal with Paul in a special way is no defense to the credibility-impeaching evidence I argue from. Without a solid defense to the Baur hypothesis, the explanation most likely to be true is the one that faults Paul for not employing the means most likely to successfully resolve controversies before they get out of control. If Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, Paul would naturally have found what Jesus said to be “later light” than the Old Testament, and would have relied on the ultimate authority Jesus.

        I forgot to mention that another valid attack on Paul’s integrity is both his faulty OT quotations and his drawing meanings out of OT texts that the original context or grammar did not support. Such as Paul in Romans 10:8 drawing his law-free gospel out of the clearly legalistic context of Deuteronomy 30:14. Doesn’t matter if this was typical second temple exegesis. The true meaning of an OT text is not determined by what method of interpretation was in vogue in Paul’s heyday, and what was popular was not always the truth, if we presume a Christian view (such as the Jewish belief that Isaiah 7:14 contains no prediction of miraculous virgin birth). We all agree that the grammar and immediate context are the most vital elements of hermeneutics, so if most rabbis of Paul’s day ignored these constraints, Paul’s following their error is no defense, but a proof that he had no more divine guidance than these rabbis.

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      • You and Matthew Perri need to form a club. Or team up to write your own blog to promote your ideas.

        First, you are going to have a hard time finding people to defend F.C. Baur, or to defend Eisenmann. (Just for grins, in this post Richard Fellows says I am not far from the shadow of F.C. Baur…you do not think I have progressed far enough into that darkness!)

        https://readingacts.com/2013/04/13/acts-28-paul-arrives-in-rome-2/

        Much of what you say is skewed or just plain wrong. A quick example, is “another valid attack on Paul’s integrity is both his faulty OT quotations and his drawing meanings out of OT texts that the original context or grammar did not support.” You need to study the nature of Second Temple exegesis, since Paul is using the Scripture the same as everyone else in the first century. You are mistake to demand Paul use Scripture in a way that conforms to modern exegetical standards.

        One more example, I have not the time or interest to rebut your massive response….”James entered the Holy of Holies, which we all know only a Jewish High Priest can do. If this tradition is reliable…” This is classic Eisenmann, relying on thin traditions reported here and there but rejecting both Acts and the Pauline lit. Eisenmann only makes sense if you buy into his wholesale rejection of traditional canon.

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      • You argue as if the fact that second temple exegesis is second temple exegesis, there is no logical possibility of demonstrating it to be faulty. You shall worship no other gods. I don’t care who they are or when they live, if they interpret a biblical text in a way contrary to its grammar and/or context, then they have taken the text out of context or otherwise misinterpreted it.

        Do you refrain from faulting an ancient Jewish interpretation of scripture, such as denial that Isaiah 7:14 predicts any miraculous virgin birth of Jesus, on the grounds that such denial was based on methods of exegesis common since the days of Isaiah? I’m guessing no.

        When you call the story of James as high-priest a “thin tradition”, you seem to be implying that it is not reliable. But notice: neither Hegesippus, nor Jerome, nor Eusebius nor Epiphanius express or imply that said tradition was legendary or otherwise unreliable. If they got it right, James more than likely would have disagreed with Paul’s law-free gospel. If they got it wrong, you open to the door to a possibly fatal argument that not even the points on which all ancient Christian historians were in agreement on (i.e., Epiphanius says James being high priest is testified to by Clement, Eusebius and others, which is otherwise the safest historiographical bet you can make), demonstrates any significant probability that the tradition is accurate. Suddenly, the uncorroborated assertions of biblical and ancient Christian historians lose some of their prima facie force.

        If the later historians could be so deceived that they quoted earlier historians who were deceived the same way, I refuse to presume the church fathers innocent until proven guilty. I withdraw the benefit of the doubt and require that any assertions made for obvious apologetic reasons be justified on independent grounds before taking them seriously. Indeed, when a church father says x, unless he provides the sources for such belief, we actually have no clue what level of justification he has for saying it.

        You may say this doesn’t apply to biblical authors, but it surely does. James advises Paul in Acts 21:20-24 in a way that necessarily implies his entire church of thousands of Jewish converts all buy into the (allegedly false) rumor about Paul encouraging other Jews to forsake the law. John admits the apostles carried on a tradition for a while that was a misunderstanding of Jesus saying Peter would “remain” until Jesus comes back: John 21:23.

        Those are some of my objective reasons for refusing to grant the benefit of the doubt to the bible and the church fathers and believe them true until skeptics prove them wrong. As the story of the boy who cried wolf demonstrates, people can be rationally justified to cease taking you at your word without independent corroboration, if you have gotten things wrong too often in the past, even if one of your latest assertions is actually true.

        If you disagree with any of my arguments, I’ll be happy to reply to any criticisms you wish to make. I suggest however that we go one argument at a time. If you think I interpreted Galatians 2:1 incorrectly, lets hear why.

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  25. Barry Jones,
    you wrote:
    “Paul first persecuted the church, then did a quick 180 and boldly defended the church. Personalities like Paul that manifest traits of taking everything to extremes and being attention whores, naturally would rather make bold claims for themselves than to simply learn the gospel in submission to the original apostles, the way Jesus intended the spread of the gospel to take place, Matthew 28:19-20.”

    AMEN.
    Paul’s bold claim that he was appointed an “Apostle”, and not just “an” apostle, but “THE Apostle to the Gentiles” (above everyone else, accountable to no one, with authority to harshly rebuke the Apostle Peter publicly with no witnesses to back him up, and then brag about it) is a good example.

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    • To both of you, but didn’t Paul spend 14 years in humble submission after his road to Damascus conversion? And I’m wondering if either of you have been involved in cross-cultural ministry before?

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  26. Barry Jones,
    You responded to Phillip:
    “You argue as if the fact that second temple exegesis is second temple exegesis, there is no logical possibility of demonstrating it to be faulty…….
    Doesn’t matter if this was typical second temple exegesis. The true meaning of an OT text is not determined by what method of interpretation was in vogue in Paul’s heyday, and what was popular was not always the truth, …….We all agree that the grammar and immediate context are the most vital elements of hermeneutics, so if most rabbis of Paul’s day ignored these constraints, Paul’s following their error is no defense, but a proof that he had no more divine guidance than these rabbis.”

    AMEN.
    Jesus was constantly blasting the Pharisees for their faulty interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. One example is that one of the leading Rabbis of that day, Hillel I think, said something like “love your neighbor is the one commandment- everything else in commentary.” Paul was pushing that false teaching in Romans 13 and Galatians 5, contradicting Jesus in Matthew 22 and Mark 12.

    Jesus taught us that loving God is the most important commandment. Loving God includes worshiping and praying to God alone, (not to people alive or dead,) and always trying to obey God (but not always trying to obey people in every situation.)

    Jesus taught us that loving people is the SECOND commandment, under the first – there is relation, and overlap in application. And loving people is essential. Loving people is AN application of loving God, or PART of the application, but loving people is NOT THE application of loving God – there is more. The two commands are not equal, and not the same, not “two sides of the same coin”, no. Loving God is 3 or 4 times bigger and more important than loving people, based on Jesus’ use of language in giving these 2 commandments. (NOT “one great commandment with 2 parts.”)

    One follower of Paul sought to justify Paul’s (“Rabbi Shaul’s”) false teaching by saying that it was common practice among Rabbi’s in Paul’s day to combine and summarize commands this way…..
    That seems to be true. And they were wrong. And Paul was wrong to follow their false teaching rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah..

    Like

  27. Will every believer be raptured and go to heaven? Will there be Christians that will go through the tribulation or only unbelievers?

    Like

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