I was reading some of your explanations as to why Paul was a valid apostle. I must disagree with you for a number of reasons.   You made this claim, “Paul is described as an apostle multiple times, both by himself and by others”  Paul describing himself as an apostle invalidates his claim because he becomes his own witness. But who else is describing him as an apostle? Timothy? Luke? Timothy was being groomed and mentored by Paul,, not to mention that we have no text from Timothy in which he ever speaks to anything.. Luke is Paul’s biographer/ secretary.  In other words, Luke is a parrot who repeats Paul.   There simply are no other witnesses to the apostle-ship of Paul other than Paul himself.   The next point is that you say that the actual office of apostle is figurative and the meaning is not really a defined meaning?    You said: “However, you should be aware that the word apostle is used in more than one sense in the New Testament. The world apostle, literally, means messenger. Paul refers to himself as an apostle “abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Barnabas is referred to as an apostle. (Acts 14:14).”   But there is a definition of what an apostle is given by Peter himself and it is clear that Paul does not fit the description,,,   Acts 1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.   Peter makes clear that in order to fill the roll of apostle,, the candidate MUST have been with Christ throughout His ministry on earth, without exception!   And to use Acts 14 to prove the apostle-ship of both Paul and Barnabas, is again empty and pointless because it’s Luke writing the description from the self proclaimed apostle Paul again..   You’re using self sources to verify things which have no actual reliable witnesses.   Paul was a self proclaimed 13th apostle which is outside of the teaching of God, and Paul was rejected by ALL of the churches in Asia, and the church of Ephesus was in Asia which church was also commended by Christ in revelation 2 for rejecting   “False apostles” which came to that church trying to pass themselves off as genuine.    Revelation speaks of 12 foundations named after the 12 apostles,, there is no 13 foundations!    Lastly for now, Paul’s doctrines are in direct opposition to Christ!    Calling himself father to Timothy and others under his tutelage, appointing many to positions of calling themselves teachers when Christ said ” call no one teacher, for you have ONE teacher, which is Christ ”    Telling people to study in order to show themselves approved to God?!  Christ went to the illiterate outcast, those who never read,, how could they study?    Christ only gave the instruction that those who follow Him believe in Him,, love the Lord, love their neighbor,,, which all follow when you follow Christ!!   Christ said that He would send the comforter who would lead us into ALL truth! Why does anyone need Paul?


I actually agree with you that Paul was not an apostle, if we agree to use the definition of apostle in Acts 1:21.   In this sense, Paul is definitely NOT one of the twelve apostles.  And, like you say correctly, when the twelve apostles are referred to in Revelation, Paul  would not be one of those twelve who are symbolically representing God’s people.  I am sure Paul would also agree with you on this point.   Paul never claimed to be one of the twelve, or to be qualified as apostle in the sense of Acts 1:21.

Yet, as I point out in the article you read at my web site, the word apostle has a broader meaning, both in the early church, and in the Bible.  It is a FACT that Barnabas was called an apostle.  It is also a fact that Paul was called an apostle, both by himself and by those who he ministered among, otherwise he would not have used the word of himself in his letters to those he ministered to.  It was not just Paul and Luke who used this term of Paul.  It was also many of the Christians in the first century.  But, as I point out, and as is clear in the New Testament, Paul is not and never claimed to be among the twelve, whose qualifications are mentioned in Acts 1:21.  I assume you are aware that Luke, who calls Paul an apostle, is the one who included the definition in Acts 1:21, so he obviously was well aware that, if Paul or Barnabas were “apostles,” then they were not apostles in the Acts 1:21 sense.  But here is the fact you appear to be neglecting, which is that the Greek word apostle was used of people not among the twelve by the early church, and certainly they were not all considered false apostles.  They were simply messengers (apostles), but for them, the usage of the word was different, as Luke and Paul were obviously aware.

By the way, you are a bit unkind when you call Luke a “parrot.”  Luke risked his life again and again for the sake of the gospel.  If you were speaking to him face-to-face, I like to think you would apply the Golden Rule and not call him a parrot.  You should assume that he was a dedicated Christian who wrote one of the four gospels which were accepted by all of the church.

But back to Paul. That he did not claim to be one of the twelve is proved when Paul tells his hearers that he is an abnormally born apostle.  He was considered by himself and by the early church to be a messenger (apostle) appointed to the Gentiles.  Although Peter does not call Paul an apostle in 2 Peter 3:14, he does call him a “dear brother.”  If Paul was considered a false apostle (as you imply in your statements above), then he certainly would not be described as a “dear brother” and as a writer of “Scripture” in 2 Peter 3:16.    I believe that if you do a search of scholars of the early church, none of them will agree with you that Paul was not called and considered as an apostle in the early church (although all understood that he was not one of the twelve).  You personally may not agree that the early church should have called him an apostle because he does not meet the specifications in Acts 1:14, and that is your right, but you would then be out of step with Peter and the other apostles.  You say that “there are no other witnesses to the apostleship of Paul, other than Paul himself.”  Then you admit that this is actually not a true statement with regard to Luke.  Luke was an inspired writer of the New Testament.  If his writings are inspired and if he considered Paul an apostle, then that pretty much settles it for me.  Besides, there are many others who called Paul an apostle, such as the many church fathers in the second and third century.  Should we ignore their testimony?

You say that Paul was rejected by the churches in Asia, and you are specific that the church in Ephesus rejected Paul.  What is your evidence that they rejected Paul?  The fact is that Paul founded the church in Ephesus.  On his way back to Rome near the end of his third missionary journey he got with the elders of his favorite church, which is Ephesus.  He stayed in Ephesus for three years, which is longer than any other church.  I have never seen any evidence whatsoever presented that the Ephesian church rejected Paul, but perhaps you can provide to me such evidence for your claim.  False apostles (plural) are mentioned in Revelation, in the 90s AD, but by that time Paul had been dead for about 30 years.  Whoever John is referring to, it certainly was not Paul.  I do agree that Revelation mentions only 12 apostles and, like I said, I am very confident that Paul himself would not have considered himself among the twelve, as he presented himself as an apostle to the Gentiles, and Peter and the twelve as apostles to the “circumcised” in Galatians 2:8.

If we can simply agree that Paul did not claim to be one of the twelve, and that the word apostle was used in the New Testament in more than one sense, then we are in agreement on this topic.

Next, you claim that Paul taught false doctrine.  Well, Peter, the inspired apostle, writing the inspired letter of 2 Peter (in 3:16-18) does not agree with you.  Personally, I will go with the authority of Peter rather than a person living nearly two thousand years later that Peter, who knew Paul.   Nevertheless, your claims of false doctrine deserve a response.  About calling himself “father” of Timothy, we must look in the context.  By the way my father’s name is Harold.  Am I breaking Jesus’ command, and am I believing in false doctrine when I call Harold my father?  We must look at the context of Matthew 23 to get the sense of the word “father” that Jesus tells us not to use.  We should call ourselves “father” of others and we should not call anyone else “father” in the way that the Pharisees were doing so.  Otherwise, Jesus would be telling me that I cannot call my father my father, which no one would agree, including you, I assume.   Paul was calling himself “father” of Timothy in the sense that he was the one who led him to Christ.  The Pharisees were using the name Father in the sense that Catholics call the pope father (which means father, by the way, in Latin).  I do not believe that Paul used the term father with respect to Timothy in the sense of a religiously authoritative person over another person and as the one through whom to get to God.  If Paul had done that, then he would have violated what Jesus said.  When Paul tells Timothy to study to show himself approved he is speaking to the evangelist who is overseeing the church in Ephesus.  That Paul would tell the leader of the church in Ephesus that he should study to be approved of God as leader over the Ephesian church is not to say that a literate person cannot be approved by God.  James tells us that teachers will be held specially accountable before God.  I am sure this is true of leaders of churches as well.  That Paul advised Timothy to study the scriptures so that he could be approved in his role at Ephesus is not false doctrine.

Why does anyone need Paul?  You will have to ask God who, I believe, oversaw the writing of the New Testament and who oversaw the collecting of the New Testament canon.  Peter believed Paul’s writings were necessary.  If you do not agree, that is your business, but I believe that the entire Bible is inspired by God.  I will leave the decision in your hands whether or not you consider the New Testament to be inspired by God, but in any case, Paul did not falsely use the label apostle, because he did not claim to be one of the twelve.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.