What is the Symbolic Nature of Paul and His Christ: Part 3

by Joshua Tilghman on February 13, 2014

Symbols of Religions 295x300 What is the Symbolic Nature of Paul and His Christ: Part 3Was Paul’s Christ really the Christ of Orthodoxy? Most likely not.

In parts 1 and 2 of this series we concluded that Paul’s own words from Galatians do not agree with the historical timeline of Acts. We also examined Massey’s reasoning for stating that Paul’s gospel had nothing to do with the literal, historical Christ of orthodoxy, but was rather the gospel of the mythical Christ birthed within through direct experience. We analyzed internal evidence from Galatians that seems to support this theory.

In part 2 of this series I also hinted that while I agree that Massey was correct on the above points, I also thought his theory had a major flaw. While Massey believed Paul’s gospel had nothing to do with the literal Christ of orthodoxy, he believed the Gospel of the other Apostles did. Massey argued that this was the real contention between Paul and Peter; Peter brought forth the gospel of the literal Jesus Christ, born in Nazareth, crucified by Pilate and resurrected from the dead, while Paul preached the gospel of the mythical Christ which was known through direct conscious experience. Since Galatians was written decades before most of the Gospels and Acts, Massey believed interpolators falsified certain scriptures to make Paul’s gospel line up with Peter’s gospel as time went on. I believe Massey’s mistake begins here. There were certainly interpolators who falsified and tampered with the scriptures, but I do not believe Paul’s gospel and Peter’s gospel were different gospels. This theory only creates more confusion that takes away the true message of the Scriptures.

I believe Massey’s overall argument fails, as many Biblical scholars and laymen do, because they don’t understand the symbolic nature of the scriptures as a whole. Without this knowledge, I don’t think the scriptures can ever truly be understood.

Who wrote the Scriptures, and how?

Most Christians believe the scriptures were written because they really happened. Even among those who are willing to admit that there are internal and historical inaccuracies from gospel to gospel, epistle to epistle and gospel to epistle, they are quick to say that these inaccuracies really don’t take away from the Bible as a historical account overall. In other words, the historical inconsistencies are minor, and we should still see the Bible as being mostly historically reliable.

I believe in a much more powerful alternative—proposed by others before me—that make the scriptures more alive, life-transforming, and meaningful to the soul. Consider for a moment that the scriptures were never meant to be based on historical information in the first place. Instead, they are divine inherent ideals within the realm of higher consciousness birthed from mystics who accessed this higher state when spoken or written. In other words, all sacred Scriptures were written from a state of trance, just like authors of Ezekiel and Revelations indicate, and even Paul himself when he went to the third heaven and heard things it is not lawful to utter. These states of mystical trance tapped into the inner realms beyond the physical world and accessed not information that really happened, but higher truths that are only reflected in the physical worlds. This is the true meaning of that famous statement, “As above so below.” You can’t explain in words the truths of the upper realms by physical means because there is no exact counterpart. The physical world is actually only the reflection of these upper realms. Paul states, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.”

As such, the scriptures are the LIVING WORD not because they are higher truths expressed through history, but because the words on the page reflect spiritual ideals. These spiritual ideals are the very marrow and blood of the concept of the living WORD, not the literalism in it.

I believe that when these mystics were in altered states of consciousness, they themselves didn’t even understand what they were writing. This possibility makes much more sense when you consider that nearly all scriptures tell the same story through symbolism across many cultural boundries. It also makes more sense when we consider the fact that the scriptures contain supernatural events that are not the reality of today. Biblical times seem, in part, so far removed from today because they include talking snakes and donkeys, global floods, and other incredulous stories which are not part of today’s reality.

Consider the words of Gaskell below. I have emphasized the sentences I consider extremely important.

“In viewing our natural environment, we note the complete absence of beneficent and maleficent superhuman powers interfering with natural laws and human arrangements; but when we turn to the sacred writings we are confronted with such powers described as apparently active in the outer world. Gods, angels and evils move freely in a fantastic world unknown to our experience. Assuming that Scriptures are written truthfully, we can, from this peculiarity concerning them, judge with certainty that the sacred narrations are not historical but imaginative, and were not meant to be taken objectively in any sense. The world of Inspiration is not the physical world, or world of history, but is really the inner world of spirit, mind, emotion, and desire, in which the human ego always lives, moves, and has his being. In the inner world of Ideals of truth and goodness (the Gods) and their opposites (devils) are active, and it is here that the tragedy of each life is enacted. This conception of the nature of the Scriptures brings order out of the confusion of thought in which the modern mind involves them.

“If now it be conceded that the Sacred Books are not of human origin, then it follows that they do not come under the ordinary methods of analysis, criticism and judgment applicable to human productions. Neither the historical nor the verbal criticism of scholars is of the least use in their exegesis.”

Consider that last sentence above again. This is why I believe that Massey’s arguments about Paul are true in one sense, but not in another.

All scriptures reflect the five planes of existence: the celestial, spiritual, mental, astral, and physical. Paul falls into the mental category. He is not historical. Massey failed to understand this, although I believe he was correct when he stated Paul’s gospel was not the Christ of orthodoxy.

Let’s consider this in the context of Paul’s and Peter’s falling out in Galatians. Step outside of box of the church for a moment and consider that neither are literal figures.

I have already talked about Peter as representing the ego in former articles. Curiously, no one that I am aware of has ever tackled the symbolic nature of the Apostle Paul. I had a phone conversation with Paul Young (author of decodingscripture.com) in which we were discussing his symbolism. In our conversation he made a profound statement that immediately resonated with me. He said that the Apostle Paul represented the virgin birthing the Christ within, even comparing him to the concept of Mary. This was an astute comparison. Mary represents the purified emotional nature that conceives the Christ. Paul then represents the purified virgin mind in man that allows us to transition from an outward experience of Christ (through the ego) to an experience within of the Christ, as evidenced through Paul’s conversion from Saul to Paul (more on this shortly) and some of his statements such as Galatians 4:19:

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…” (Gal. 4:19).

It is interesting that Paul uses images similar to that of a women giving birth to state what he does for the Galatians. This is definitely representative of an inner process of the soul.

Let’s look at his own conversion process as described in Acts again.

Paul’s Conversion

I am surprised Massey did not emphasize the esoteric nature of this conversion process in Acts instead of pitting Paul and Peter against one another as having different Gospels. When we look at his conversion closely, I don’t think we connect it with any literal Christ.

Acts 9:3 states:

“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?”

Instead of the vision of a literal man, even in the angelic form of the risen Christ, we get the imagery of a bright light, representing the light of higher consciousness and of the mystical experience of an altered state. Besides this, I want to point out something curious about this experience as it’s related in Acts two completely different ways.

Acts 9:7 states:

“And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”

Paul recounts this same conversion story to the Jews and tells it completely different in Acts 22:9:

“And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”

In other words, in the conversion of Acts 9:7 the men that journeyed with Paul heard a voice, but Paul states that they “heard not a voice” in Acts 9:27. Which is it?

Literally, it doesn’t really matter, because both scriptures refer to the inner, mythical Christ revealed through gnosis. The voice of Christ isn’t meant to be literal here, as Massey might have assumed. It is the inner voice and light of the Christ within, and actually complements the unorthodox version of the Christ within that Paul indicates in Galatians.

The men with Paul represent the voice we hear externally through religion, whereas the voice Paul speaks of that he understood is the Gnosis, or inner Christ revealed within us. That’s the bright light that blinds Paul, the bright white that initiates the virgin mind by sweeping it clean for greater, internal revelation. This light is also representative of the Christ within, the true light of the physical vessel.

Paul vs. Peter

If Paul represents the virgin mind, devoid of the ego and ready to be impregnated with the Christ within, then why does he seemed opposed to Peter in the scriptures? Many scholars have assumed that Paul and Peter had a disagreement about the literal Law of Moses. It seems from Galatians that Peter withdrew from living as a Gentile when James sent men of the Law from Jerusalem (Gal 2;11-12). Since the Law of Moses represents the evolving moral nature that develops within us through experience, this entire episode related in Galatians doesn’t make sense unless understood from the viewpoint of symbolic nature of the characters involved. Peter is the ego that is slowly evolving and developing the moral nature through life’s experience. This is why he wavers at the end of the Gospels and it seems, even here as related by Paul. This nature is not yet perfected. If Peter had truly been converted of the truth and became a powerful figure in leading the early church as a literal figure of the literal Christ, why would he have waivered here? This has always been a perplexing problem in the literal-historical account. But when viewed symbolically, the true symbolic nature of Peter and Paul are played out perfectly. The evolving moral nature can only take us so far; it isn’t replete with conditions in the soul for birthing the Christ within. In order to birth the Christ, we must go beyond and above even the moral nature. This is where the grace of Christ comes in. This is where the spiritual meets the physical world, where the upper realm meets the lower, and where the divine mystical marriage is consummated!


When we move beyond the viewpoint of the literal-historical word, we move beyond limitation. Literal words could never explain the true beauty and emotional response of a beautiful sunrise or a scenic stroll through nature, just as they could never explain the aroma of rose. But the sacred Scriptures, which are products beyond human intelligence and thought, have the ability, through their spiritual essence, to evoke something buried deep within the consciousness of man which is beyond anything explicable in the physical realm. It is because the true essence of the scriptures lie within ideals and truths of higher consciousness with which our historical-literal physical world are but dim reflections. The mystics who revealed these higher truths to us were not operating in a normal mode of waking consciousness; they were connected to something much bigger and universal. They then recorded these cosmic truths through symbolism and metaphor, which are able to express a living, breathing, eternal story of the soul that is ever changing and evolving. Let us remember this as we read and seek to understand the Bible.


Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

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