How Modern Christianity Developed Part 2

by Joshua Tilghman on December 28, 2015

mythical christIn part one of this series, I spoke about the Jesus that Paul preached. I gave five or six reasons and presented more than a few scriptures to justify that Paul’s Jesus was in fact a mythical Christ that served as a model for deeper revelation. Today’s post will continue unveiling some of Paul’s sayings that point to Gnostic principles. This is important ground work and hopefully it will open many doors of understanding for us when we get into how and why the institutionalized church developed (It’s not all about Constantine).

In this post we’ll also unveil the biggest proof text used by traditionalist to state Paul believed in a historical Jesus. Many traditionalist believe that this proof text closes the debate down for good, but I believe they are sorely mistaken (respectfully, of course :)).

Before we break down some of Paul’s statements, we must make a few pertinent points about Gnosticism.

How the Gnostics Classified People

The Gnostics designated people into three groups: the pneumatics, the psychics, and the hylics. Let’s take a brief look at each of these designations:

Pneumatics:

The pneumatics were considered the highest order of spiritual humans who had realized gnosis, a personal, experiential knowledge allowing them to transcend the material world. Pneumatics had received the direct revelation of Jesus Christ, the inner truth, or divine spark of Sophia (wisdom). The emphasis on the pneumatic was an inner truth that couldn’t be received from any man, which birthed the higher nature in man.

(Keep this in mind as you remember Paul’s gospel which was received by the direct revelation of Christ rather than flesh and blood!).

Psychics:

The psychics were the middle order of humans who had potential, but had not yet reached gnosis. These people still believed that the scripture was literal. They emphasized a literal resurrection of a literal Jesus who also allowed for the bodily resurrection of the saints. The Gnostics found these beliefs absurd, and believed in a resurrection not at some future date, but in this earthly life.

The Gnostic pneumatics often worshiped side by side with these individuals, but then often met in secret to discuss the higher mysteries of spirituality outside of the more institutionalized church. (It is important to note that the institutionalization of the church was a process that took a few centuries, which we shall discuss more in this series later).

Hylics:

This class of person was considered by Gnostics to have no interest in developing the higher nature, basically a heathen, never being able to obtain the seed (in that life) that would develop the soul from the lower animal nature to the higher.

A brief note about Valentinus

Valentinus began the biggest Gnostic movement of the 2nd century, and was perhaps the most well-known Gnostic of all time. His teacher, Theudas, claimed to have been a direct disciple of Paul. This is plausible since Valentinus was born 100 A.D., a mere 40-45 years from the date that Paul wrote his epistles. Valentinus was known, even by his most fierce opponents (the literalists), as a “brilliant” and “eloquent” man.

Remember the three spiritual classifications (pneumatic, psychic, and hylic) the Gnostics assigned to man? Valentinus taught his disciples that Paul’s epistles instructed on two levels: the pneumatic and the psychic. In other words, a literal and spiritual level. But do not be confused. Valentinus would have also said that Paul used a literal interpretation of scriptures only to help develop the higher nature of man, hoping that they would one day move from a psychic understanding (literal interpretation) to a pneumatic understanding (gnosis, the direct revelation of Christ). For Paul, at least according to Valentinus, the literal interpretation was of no real value in the end. It only served as a foundation with which to begin spiritual training.

Valentinus would have also claimed that Paul did with his disciples just as Jesus did. Remember that Jesus told the disciples it was given to them to know the mysteries (gnosis?) of the kingdom, but to the multitude (the psychics?) he taught in parables. In like fashion, Paul makes many scriptural claims that seem to point to the same line of reasoning. Could Paul indeed have tried to pull the psychics up by their bootstraps and initiate them into the higher mysteries, possibly being his main mission to the gentiles? To answer this question, let’s look at some important and controversial New Testament scriptures.

Paul’s method and Christ

Let’s begin with Hebrews and Corinthians. I will admit that my overall argument has one weakness as it pertains to Hebrews. Did Paul really write it? Most literalist say he did, and on this point I must concur. In an early codex (late second century) Hebrews was assigned to Paul immediately following the epistle to the Romans. The Church of Rome later disputed Paul’s authorship, which I believe was because many of Paul’s sayings in Hebrews sounded too Gnostic. At any rate, the write had Gnostic beliefs. Consider Hebrews 6:1-2:

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go onto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment…” (Hebrews 6:1; 6:2).

Huh?

I don’t think many traditionalists stop long enough to ponder what this verse is really saying. Notice that the author (if not Paul than certainly a Gnostic) desires to get away from doctrine. Isn’t doctrine what gives the institutionalized church and the hierarchical structure therein their authority? Why would the author, if he was a literalist, motion to leave it behind?  The obvious answer is that this author also believed in a mythical Christ. Pneumatics hated doctrine. Doctrine is the literalist’s main weapon. To the Gnostic pneumatic, it serves no real purpose because it cannot impart gnosis, the direct revelation of the spiritual Christ. Notice how the author wants to leave the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. This is important, because, according to the Gnostic, the resurrection happens while one is physically alive through a direct experiential knowledge of the spiritual Christ.

The Gnostic Gospel of Philip states this about the resurrection:

“People who say they will die first and then arise are mistaken. If they do not first receive the resurrection when they are alive, once they have died they will receive nothing.”

Whether Paul wrote that verse in Hebrews or not makes little difference when we consider his other sayings that are very similar. In comparison, Paul has stated the following in 1st Corinthians 15:50:

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

Think about this statement. If Paul believed in a literal resurrection of the dead, why would he say this? If flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, then a literal resurrection makes no sense. Jesus made it specifically clear to his disciples through the Gospels that he was flesh and bone, even enjoying a meal of fish! Is that the Jesus that Paul knows? It certainly isn’t the resurrection of Jesus that he preaches. On the other hand, if Paul taught a direct experiential revelation of Christ through gnosis, then the above scripture makes sense. It is a completely spiritual experience having to do with the mind and spirit, and nothing to do with the physical body.

Furthermore, in 2nd Corinthians 6:2 Paul claims that “…now is the day of salvation.” In other words, it’s not a future event that Christians should look forward to. Rather, it is an event that can be experienced now.

Returning to Hebrews 6:1-2, where the author wishes to leave doctrine behind, the author seems to be in effect saying, c’mon you psychics, let’s move to the level of a pneumatic. Paul states in Romans:

“For I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and the unwise” (Romans 1:14).

Is it possible that Paul is stating the wise are the pneumatics, and the unwise are the psychics? Paul seemed to have a genuine compassion for all people. I think his mission to the gentiles would make sense in this light. Let’s consider more scripture:

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual (pneumatic?), but unto as carnal (psychic?), even as babes into Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto you were not able to bear it. Neither are you yet now able to bear it. For ye are yet carnal…” (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

We know here that Paul is blasting the Corinthian church for being carnal. In the above scripture Paul seems to be saying that “babes in Christ” are in fact the very ones who refuse to leave behind a literal doctrine and interpretation of Christ. What is the milk? It is literal doctrine. What is the meat? It is the pneumatic revelation. Paul also says,

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him…” (1 Cor. 2:14).

In other words, the natural man, or the psychic, cannot understand the pneumatic or spiritual things of God. They seem “foolish” because they are only experienced through direct revelation, just as Paul is claimed to have on the road to Damascus. If one reads that encounter in Acts closely, it’s hard to see it any other way than Paul’s inner experience with a mystical Christ. Remember again, Paul didn’t receive his gospel from man, nor flesh and blood, nor a historical Jesus. He never met Jesus.

Romans Proof Text for Traditionalists

Now we come to the nail that the traditionalist says proves Paul was preaching a historical Jesus. The scripture reads:

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4).

At first glance the above scripture does seem to make a strong case that Paul taught a historical Christ. He mentions the seed of David and the term flesh. This is the only verse in all his epistles that strongly links Paul to a literal historical figure. But not so fast, if you are willing to believe that Valentinus was correct in saying Paul was a Gnostic. Remember that Valentinus claimed Paul taught to both the pneumatics and psychics. Elaine Pagels, in her book, The Gnostic Paul, breaks this scripture and concept down for us:

“Paul now demonstrates how he preaches the “gospel of God” in two different forms: first he proclaims the one who “came into existence of the seed of David according to the flesh,” and second, the one “designated Son of God…according to the spirit.” What does Paul mean? Does he refer first to the savior’s human lineage, and second to his relation to Yahweh, the creator? So the psychics understand Paul’s message; but the Valentinians reject such “literal” exegesis. The initiated reader learns from secret tradition that here again Paul is speaking symbolically. “David” signifies the demiurge himself—an appropriate metaphor, first in that he dominates his creatures like any petty king; and second, in that, as demiurge, he has formed and “fathered” mankind “according to the flesh.” Paul characterizes in 1:3, then, the psychic preaching of the savior “according to the flesh,” as son of the demiurge (David); but in 1:4 the pneumatic proclamation of Christ “according to the spirit” as “one designated son of God”—of the Father.” (Pg. 14).

Wow, that was a mouthful! Let’s break it down. Pagel relates to us that Paul was teaching both psychics and pneumatics in this opening to the Romans. By including verse 1:4 immediately following 1:3, Paul knew that the initiate would understand that the Jesus he was referring to was the mythical power that could be birthed within. This is why he emphasizes “according to the spirit” in 1:4.

Why would Paul tie Christ to the lineage of David in the first place? The answer is easy, and is found in Romans 1:2:

“Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (Romans 1:2).

Remember in our first post of this series I mentioned that Paul’s Christ was a mythical, mystical messiah rooted firmly in the Old Testament scriptures, much akin to what mystic Jews would have believed about their messiah. Paul already said the story of Abraham’s two sons was an allegory in Galatians 4:24. He is simply using the same method here to teach a deeper mystery.

I want to back up briefly to Elaine’s Pagels explanation of David being compared to the demiurge. That might have surprised some of you, unless you are already familiar with the concept of the demiurge. Before I understood more about Gnostic thought, I was appalled at such imagery. I was also appalled that Gnostics compared Yahweh of the Old Testament to the demiurge as well. But then the light bulb came on when I learned more.

How the Gnostics used the Old Testament

In his book, The Secret History of the Gnostics, Andrew Smith states:

“The only problem that the Gnostics had with the Bible as that they didn’t agree with it. Yet their disagreement led neither to a search for some other source of myth, nor to a simple rejection of God or religion, but to a creative engagement with the Hebrew myths. The Gnostics turned the Bible on its head: they made biblical heroes into tools of the evil demiurge…” (pg. 12).

I believe that first sentence by Smith is a little harsh. It’s not that the Gnostics didn’t agree with the Old Testament, it’s just that they knew it wasn’t meant to be taken literal, just as Paul confirms in Galatians chapter four. Therefore they used it accordingly to teach to the initiated. Smith has written a great book that should be read by anyone interested in Gnosticism, but I think he has missed one fundamental issue here. The Gnostics didn’t turn to other scriptures because they wholeheartedly accepted the fact that they were great spiritual tools and myths that spoke to the human psyche and soul. AND THAT WAS THEIR AUTHOR’S ORIGINAL INTENTION.

Yes, it is true that the famous Gnostic Marcion rejected the Old Testament, but I believe that’s because Marcion didn’t understand the original intention of its authors like Paul and other Gnostics did.

Who was the demiurge?

Many Christian scholars have demonized the demiurge simply because the Gnostics seemed to do the same, but that is only because Christian scholars have failed to understand who or what the demiurge, according to the Gnostics, really was.

The demiurge was not some literal lesser God of the Old Testament. The demiurge was a part of all humanity. Gaskell tells us that the demiurge is “A symbol of the Archetypal man—the self completely immersed in the matter of the lower planes—who is the World-soul and progenitor of the human race…The Higher Self, or World-soul, descending into matter, becomes perfected as the Archetypal Man from whom matter drops away. He is then the potential pattern of humanity to become actual in the perfected souls of all.”

When I was still young and inexperienced in allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament, I thought the Gnostics were doing a terrible thing to call Yahweh or King David the demiurge. But this is only because originally I thought the Gnostics were saying that the demiurge was a literal “lower” God when in fact the Gnostics believed the demiurge to be a phase necessary in the spiritual development of humanity. Yes, their language demonized him, but only according to the level that a psychic would understand him. The pneumatic would know that the demiurge was simply part of the bigger plan for spiritual development. Ah, the lightbulb goes off! The Gnostic teaching begins to make a lot of sense!

If we take all this information and combine it with the first post, we can see a more than plausible pattern that shows Paul preached the mythical Christ. As a side note, a few popular websites have claimed that Paul’s teaching can be divided into three views: the literal Christ of history, the mythical Christ, and the mystical Christ. But this is where I believe they are wrong. There is only two views, because the mythical and mystical Christ are ONE. The camp that teaches Paul can be divided into 3 categories muddies the waters too much and has little understanding of the true meaning behind the allegory and myth behind the Old Testament scriptures.

Conclusion

I hope these first two parts in the series helped you understand a little more about Paul’s Christ. Even if you reject that Paul’s Christ was mythical, I hope you now have a better appreciation for why anyone could make such a claim. In the next posts I am going to begin to explain why I believe the institutionalized church developed, clearly against the wishes of the earliest Christians. It was important to discuss Paul and Gnosticism because I believe I can make a very good case that traditional Christianity developed directly because of Gnostic Christianity! At any rate, modern scholarship has proven that the two theories began a fierce battle beginning in the early second century, some 60-70 years after Paul began writing his epistles. Both viewpoints claimed Paul as their hero. But as of yet the church was not institutionalized! This point is crucial as we’ll see. I believe traditional Christianity came about as a reaction to an earlier belief system.

You’re thoughts and comments are appreciated!

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

Joshua Tilghman December 28, 2015 at 3:42 pm

After I posted this, I thought some of you who are interested in learning more about Paul and Gnosticism would want to read Elaine Pagel’s work, The Gnostic Paul. It can be accessed for free here in pdf format:

http://www.serenitystreetnews.com/HERSTORY%20CRAMNOTES/5dterra%20NOTES%20AUDIO%20VIDEO/ebooks/144000/Elaine%20Pagels,%20The%20Gnostic%20Paul.pdf

Although I have only discussed Romans 1:3 in my post, Pagel’s work will go over all other proof text that traditionalist use to prove Paul was talking about a historical Christ. Fascinating read!

Alvin Davis December 28, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Great subject!
As I have followed almost all of your topics. The one piece I’m waiting for information about the Unconscious. I think the unconscious is only known by direct Knowledge like the
Gnostics/Paul state, the subconscious by the Psychics and conscious-Hylics

Happy New Year Everyone!

Joshua Tilghman December 28, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Alvin,

I will try to remember to incorporate the unconscious in the last series to this post, where I will wrap up the benefits of Gnostic theology as an overview to the soul and how it contrast with the traditional view.

Dangerous Christian December 28, 2015 at 10:20 pm

I read Pagels’s works and found them very informative about Gnosticism and the (very) early days of Christianity.

I enjoyed this followup to Part 1, Joshua. Thanks for clarifying the demiurge for me; and his greater role in spiritual development. I too thought he was the “bad guy” as well, however I realize that’s a phase we must pass through to higher spiritual development.

Peace!

Joshua Tilghman December 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for commenting!

Homer December 29, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Joshua, there are some who say Jesus was the one who did the creating as opposed to ‘God’ or ‘Yah’ or ‘Yahavah’ or ‘Yahweh’, or as some insist, ‘Jehovah’. John 1:10 is used as proof of this. If Jesus were a real person, [which I realize you suggest may not have been a literal person as most accept] would that make Jesus a demiurge? Although I have heard this term before I have not understood it. Thanks for your explanation.

Joshua Tilghman December 30, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Homer,

The Gnostics would not have considered Jesus as the Demiurge, although I can see your point about John 1:10. Gnostics taught that the Father of Jesus was the real true God (source for all) while Jesus Christ was a power and process of spiritual awakening.

Megan December 31, 2015 at 2:07 am

Despite being taught that most of the Bible is literal, I can definitely understand why someone could have a mythical interpretation. I still have SO much to learn, but a mythical Christ clears up some “muddy” parts of Paul’s writings. Growing up I noticed that many scriptures throughout the entire Bible (not just Paul’s writings) did not completely align. Applying a “mythical” interpretation instead of a literal one allows all scripture to align in some form or fashion. I dig it! Haha. Looking forward to the next post!

Claudine December 31, 2015 at 1:57 pm

None of this means we should nullify the significance of Jesus’ message. What tends to happen is once we realise the story of Jesus is allegory, and the miracles are myth, we tend to become deaf to his actual message of compassion (which is the most important achievement of our species). Those who take a literal view of the Bible have a tendency to worship the man, and forget about his teachings. The danger is in Jesus becoming an idol, where the question of his divinity is more important than his message.
We need to see the beauty in other people’s faiths, and to realize that there is no such thing as one right way.

Joshua Tilghman January 2, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Claudine, absolutely. In fact, The Gnostic would argue that is only the significance of the message we should ponder. Thanks for commenting.

Frank January 1, 2016 at 11:49 pm

Josh,

Your discussion of the demiurge makes a lot of sense when you consider the “bigger picture.” Is it possible that the metaphysical and new age teachers of our generation are using words like ego, carnal mind, false self, etc. as a more acceptable name for the gnostic demiurge?

Frank

Joshua Tilghman January 2, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Frank, yes, I believe the terms are essentially interchangeable.

Vernon McVety Jr. January 5, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Thanks Joshua, for a very stimulating and illuminating view about (G)nosticism, the capital G type of the common era. I’m especially impressed with your section “Who was the Demiurge?” Blake summed it up well, “All deities reside within the human breast.” It’s really just a matter of how well it can be explained. Your explanation is excellent. Another one is David Fideler’s viewpoint in the 1985 premiere issue of GNOSIS magazine, “….the human ego on a cosmic scale.” (The Passion of Sophia). Another great article. Back issues are still available.

Joshua Tilghman January 9, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Vernon!

Vernon McVety Jr. January 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Another interesting point comes to mind concerning those who referred to Jesus as the historical Christ. I believe some authors were also considering the mystical and cultural historicity of the Christ Consciousness of mankind, not just the biblical aspect of the naturally born Jesus.

Robert January 5, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Josh,

I really enjoyed this article. Been too busy until now to keep up with the blog posts.

My comment here may be a little off topic but somehow it is related, and it is also bringing into view a more traditional perspective on the connection between Jesus and Paul, and what they taught. Many popular books written on an intellectual level have tried to prove that Paul’s gospel was different than Jesus teachings, and that Paul corrupted Christianity, pr that the implied a gospel that is more gnostic or lss gnostc.

But a solid argument can be made that refutes this and establishes that both Pual and Jesus presented the traditional truths of Christianity that churches have embraced all along into modern times. The argument goes like this:

Luke (or whoever claims to be Luke and the author of the Book of Acts) gives a detailed account of Paul’s conversion and transformation into an apostle who is accepted and respected by the Jerusalem church (James, Peter, etc), and trusted to bring the same gospel preached to Jews, now to the Gentiles. This is not a claim fabricated by Paul, but a testimony given by a third party and whioch is consistent to everything else we know about Pual.

The very foundational truths of Christanity that are presented by Jesus in the four gospels are echoed likewise in the epsitles by Paul (or whoever wrote the epistles). I am presenting these below – Jesus teachngs versus Paul’s. You can judge for yourself if you find anything particualry gnostic about these truths. If they do contain gnostic elements, you can also decide whether they seem mainstream enough to be embraced by the traditionalists. The following infomation is from https://carm.org/questions/other-questions/did-jesus-and-paul-teach-same-thing

“Some critics of Christianity try to set Paul against Jesus. They will often claim that what Paul taught is not what Jesus said and that present-day Christianity is derived not from Jesus but from Paul’s teaching. This is an erroneous claim that does not fit the facts. It is easy to take various Scriptures out of context and try to set one person against another–as many critics of Christianity have done. Nevertheless, we can confidently expect that Jesus and Paul taught the same thing. Granted, Paul focused more on theological issues than Jesus did, but nothing Paul said is contrary to Christ.

Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. In Acts 9, Luke records the events surrounding Paul’s conversion. We see that Jesus Himself called Paul and sent him to be an apostle. If Paul and Jesus are not in agreement, then why would Jesus call Paul to be His apostle? Jesus is God in flesh and would, therefore, know all things. Jesus would certainly have known what Paul would teach which, it seems, is one of the reasons Jesus called him.

In addition, we can quickly see by examining what Jesus said that we find parallels in what Paul said. Following is a brief alphabetical list comparing the words of Christ with the words of Paul. We can clearly see that they were indeed in agreement and that the critics who would set Paul against Christ don’t know what they’re talking about.

1.Alive in Christ
Jesus
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes,” (John 5:21).
Paul
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive,” (1 Cor. 15:22).

2.Anxiety
Jesus
“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25).
Paul
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” (Phil. 4:6).

3.Atonement
Jesus
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,” (John 10:11).
Paul
“and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,” (Eph. 5:2).

Deity of Jesus
Jesus
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,” (John 8:58). Compare with Exodus 3:14, “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”
Paul
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” (Col. 2:9). See also, Phil. 2:5-8.

5.Forgiveness
Jesus
“For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” (Matt. 6:14).
Paul
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” (Eph. 4:32).

6.Jesus is the only way
Jesus
“Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me,” (John 14:6).
Paul
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. 2:5).

7.Justification by faith
Jesus
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life,” (John 5:24). See also John 3:16-18, Luke 18:9-13.
Paul.
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1).

8.The Law
Jesus
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill,” (Matt. 5:17).
Paul
“Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law,” (Rom. 3:31).
“What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise,” (Gal. 3:17).

9.The Living Law
Jesus
“You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matt. 19:18-19).
Paul
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law,” (Rom. 13:8-10)

10.Predestination
Jesus
“Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given,” (Matt. 19:11).
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” (John 6:37).
“No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day,” (John 6:44).
“For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father,” (John 6:65).
Paul
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . . 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,” (Eph. 1:5, 11).

Resurrection
Jesus
“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; 23 and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day,” (Matt. 17:22-23).
Paul
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

Rewards and Punishment
Jesus
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds,” (Matt. 16:27).
Paul
“who will render to every man according to his deeds,” (Rom. 2:6).

13.Sinfulness of man
Jesus
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man,” (Matt. 15:19-20).
Paul
“There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one,” (Rom. 3:11-12).

Tradition
Jesus
“And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matt. 15:3).
Paul
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ,” (Col. 2:8).

15.Works’ Righteousness denied
Jesus
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness,” (Matt. 7:22-23).
Paul
“Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith,” (Gal. 3:11).

As you can see, this brief list demonstrates that Jesus and Paul both taught the same thing.”

Further along these lines, is a discussion about whether Paul was truly “called by Jesus” to be an apostle. This, together with the above discussion, seems to me to corroborate the tradionalist view of a historical Jesus who influenced and directed Paul through the Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus’ teachings through Paul’s individual personality and disposition, as the same historical Jesus desires to do through his followers today.

“Did Paul receive the Gospel from man or not?
by Ryan Turner

1.Yes
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (1 Cor. 15:3-5).”

2.No.
“For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).”

Many have argued that there is a necessary contradiction between 1 Corinthians 15 and Galatians 1. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul received a creed (formulaic statement of belief) and passed it on to the Corinthians. This creed was probably composed–shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion–by various Christians. Many scholars argue that Paul likely received this creed from the Jerusalem apostles (cf. Gal. 1-2). However, Paul says in Galatians 1:11-12 that he did not receive the Gospel from man.

In response, it is important to note a couple of observations. First, while Paul is passing on a particular formulaic statement of belief in 1 Corinthians 15, the source of that statement of belief is Jesus Christ. Jesus was the ultimate giver and authenticator of the creed. Likewise, Jesus is the ultimate source of Paul’s knowledge of the Gospel as in Galatians 1. Therefore, there is no contradiction between the two passages.

Second, in the context of Galatians 1 and 2, Paul visits Jerusalem at least twice (cf. Gal. 1:18-19, 2:1-2ff). In one of these trips, he discusses the content of his Gospel with the Jerusalem apostles such as Peter and James (Gal. 2:1ff). Paul indicates that he questioned and wanted to verify the certainty of his message. Therefore, according to Paul, there was no necessary contradiction between Jesus being the ultimate source of the Gospel whether through a creed or direct revelation.”

Joshua Tilghman January 9, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Robert,

Great to see you back! It’s been too long.

Thanks a million for this detailed and heartfelt comment. You make some good points for the Orthodox view when comparing the scriptures for Paul and Jesus.

I will say that I, too, have looked at the theory that Paul and Jesus didn’t agree. You mentioned that it was off topic because this was not my argument, but it still might have been of some interest to other readers who visit the site. By the way, I am in 100% agreement with you that Paul was somehow opposed to Jesus teachings, especially from the Gnostic view. As you can see now from my post on part three, I believe the gospel accounts came after Paul and simply added to Paul’s view, since I believe original Christianity began as what we refer to now as a Gnostic movement.

As always, I respect your opinions.

Blessings!

Frank January 10, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Josh,

You commented…. “I am in 100% agreement with you that Paul was somehow opposed to Jesus teaching, especially from the gnostic view”? Can you help me see this from your perspective and point us to a specific teaching from Jesus that is opposed to Paul’s Mystical Christ. Thanks

Frank

Alvin Davis January 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Pneumatics: Jesus is: – The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit/Son of God
Psychics: Jesus is: Flesh and Blood/son of man

Joshua Tilghman January 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Thanks, Alvin. That’s a great additional piece of info.

Tommy January 17, 2016 at 1:36 pm

Thanks for taking this important subject on, Josh!

In the fourth century debate over which early Christian writings would be included in the New Testament cannon, many rejected the letters ascribed to Paul. The conflict between Paul’s mystical Christ and Rome’s historical Jesus was eventually won by the literalists, but what to do about the Letters?

The ruling party concluded that because the Letters were in such widespread use and could not be ignored, it was in their political and practical best interest to appropriate them and give them a literal exegisis while glossing over their mystical content. In common parlance, the victors put their ‘spin’ on the Letters and in all likelihood edited them.

The literalists also were responsible for the pseudonymous Pastoral letters falsely attributed to Paul (there is even mainstream doubt concerning Paul’s authorship), which were written to refute Gnostic Christianity and inaccurately paint Paul as someone who fought against Gnosticism. What a comical deception.

When Paul’s letters are read through the Gnostic, and one also can say Jewish-mystical lens, they become so much more clear and meaningful. There are no more difficult passages to decipher. We have the ‘Code.’ NO conflict between mystical Jew and mystical Christian exists. We are the same.

It’s one of humankind’s greatest spiritual tragedies that the teachings of Tzaddiks like Jesus and Paul have been so distorted by the spirit of anti-Christ embodied in the religious institutions!

Peace Profound

Robert January 20, 2016 at 10:08 am

Joshua,

Your presentation here is compelling, provided the supporting statements of Valentinus and other sources are accepted as absoute truth, and other indications from scripture are ignored. There is a reason Valentenus’s popularity diminished on its own among the mainstream body of Christ in his day. I suggest that his assumptions, once they were investigated thoroughly, were rejected. Also we could go on an on for pages and pages about the development of the Messiah through the line of David as a historical figure. The deeper levels of Christain engagement and commitment can indeed come into play when the external forms of religious observance are put into perspective. That is what makes Christanity so alive, and to be guided by the Holy Spirit so, so exciting and fulfilling. There is no requirement that the deeper levels be Gnostic, or that it be based on an asumption that the elementary fundamentals that are first learned be discarded to reach those fulfilling levels. Why in the world would Paul advocate discarding them?

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