Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Paul and the Evolution of Christianity

Paul and the Evolution of Christianity

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“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

-         1 Corinthians 9:22-23

            Paul of Tarsus is arguably the most influential and controversial figure in the history of Christianity.  Indeed, his influence far exceeds even that of the actual disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him).  Not only that, but it is not at all an exaggeration to also say that it was Paul, and not Jesus, who was the true founder of Christianity.  Most Christians, however, regard Paul as a disciple of Jesus who was chosen to deliver the “gospel” to the world.  But was Paul simply a messenger?  Was he really only delivering the “good news” to Jew and Gentile alike?  Did his teachings originate from the divine?  These are hotly debated questions, which we will attempt to answer in this article.  We will examine the teachings of Paul by going straight to the source: the Pauline epistles.[1]  Through our examination, it should become clear to the reader that Paul was a much more complex and enigmatic figure than Christians are willing to admit.  In this article, we will show that “Pauline Christianity” did not come about through divine revelation, but was rather the result of a gradual evolution in the face of new challenges and questions.  This fact can be ascertained by examining his teachings on such issues as the relationship between God and Jesus (peace be upon him), the applicability of the Mosaic Law, slavery, and even salvation.[2]        

Paul on the Relationship between God and Jesus –

            The relationship between God and Jesus (peace be upon him) is perhaps the most controversial aspect of Christianity, in part thanks to Paul’s teachings.  While the Gospels (except for the Gospel of John) tend to present Jesus as a human being and a servant of God, it was Paul who was largely responsible for elevating Jesus to the level of God Himself.[3]  However, even in this matter, Paul’s teachings were not without their inconsistencies. 

            In the epistle to the Romans, Paul condemned the idolatry that was rampant in his time:

“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”[4]

Paul’s condemnations of idolatry and the worship of false gods are of course just and correct from the point of view of the Abrahamic religions.  However, one cannot help but notice the irony of this statement given that Pauline Christianity maintains that Jesus (peace be upon him) was God incarnate!  So while on the one hand, Paul rightly condemned the pagan worship of “images made to look like a mortal human being”, yet on the other hand, he and his fellow Christians worshiped Jesus (peace be upon him) as God, even referring to the former as the “image of God”![5]

            This contradiction is made even more glaring given Paul’s statement in the first epistle to Timothy, in which he failed to ascribe any divine status to Jesus (peace be upon him):

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…”[6]

This would have been the perfect opportunity for Paul to expand on the supposed divinity of Jesus, yet he very clearly stated that there is one God, and that Jesus was merely the mediator between God and mankind.  In fact, Paul specifically referred to Jesus as a man!  Yet in a separate epistle to Titus, Paul referred to Jesus as “our great God and Savior”.[7]  If we assume that both letters were actually written by Paul,[8] then the contradiction between them is plainly visible.  They cannot be reconciled.  It is disturbing to see such a glaring inconsistency on what one would think would be the most important doctrine of a monotheistic religion!   

Paul on the Law of Moses -

One of the most debated aspects of Christianity is the relevance of the Law of Moses to faithful Christians.  Most Christian theologians argue that with the alleged death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him),[9] the Law of Moses was abrogated and no longer applies.[10]  In that regard, there is no figure in Christian history that has influenced this view more than Paul, for the strongest arguments in favor of the abrogation of the Law of Moses come from the Pauline epistles.  Yet in spite of this, the epistles are not as clear-cut on the issue as Christians claim. 

            Christians point to a few passages from the Pauline epistles which they argue clearly show Paul’s teaching that the Law no longer applied and that Christians had been “freed” from upholding its precepts.  Indeed, the epistles do contain such statements regarding the abolishment of the Law.  For example, in the letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote:

“…having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”[11]

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”[12]

And in the letter to the Ephesians, he stated:

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.”[13]

Finally, in a rather graphic outburst regarding those Christians who insisted on circumcision as per the Law of Moses, Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians:

“As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!”[14]

So, it is clear from these passages that Paul was adamant in his opposition to the applicability of the Law, whether it was regarding dietary restrictions, circumcision or any other aspect.  Based on the above verses, it seems clear that he believed that those who believed in Jesus (peace be upon him) were freed from obligation to the Law.  Unfortunately, the issue was not that clear-cut, and it seems that Paul contradicted himself on a number of other occasions regarding this very issue, despite the apparent passion with which he criticized the keepers of the Law in his earliest letters.

            As it turns out, in later correspondences, Paul seemed to readjust his views on the Law of Moses, at least partially.  We see this shift when comparing his earlier letters, such as Galatians, to the later correspondence to the Corinthians.  As Burton Mack explains:

“In his letter to the Galatians, Paul had been adamant about the freedom of Christians from any sense of being beholden to the Jewish law, and he had been forceful in his assertion that the experience of the spirit was a sufficient basis for guidance in living the Christian life.  In the Corinthian correspondence that confidence is no longer obvious.  In its place is a studied attempt to interject the language of sobriety, considerateness, constraint, law, loyalty, obedience, and judgment in his discourse about the spirit, the body, and the Christian life.  […] He could now say that ‘obeying the commandments of God is everything’ (1 Cor. 7:19).”[15]

Additionally, New Testament scholars Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner have shown that the phrase “obeying the commandments of God” most definitely refers to the Law of Moses.  They state that:

“…the noun ‘commandments’ or ‘commandment’ is used thirteen times in Paul’s letters.  In the majority, ten times, is refers unambiguously to the Jewish law…”[16]

Hence, there is little doubt that Paul’s views on the applicability of the Mosaic Law was much more complex than most Christians are willing to admit.  The Law still applied in many cases and had not been abolished at all.  Paul had clearly shifted from his earlier, more extremist view with regards to the Law.

Even with regard to the matter of circumcision, Paul’s views were ambiguous and changing.  In some places in his epistles, he was adamant that circumcision was unnecessary for Christians, if they happened to be uncircumcised at the time they became Christians.[17]  Yet, according to Acts 16:3, Paul had Timothy circumcised despite the fact that he was already a Christian.[18]  This is in spite of the fact that in his epistle to the Galatians, Paul had been adamant that anyone who willingly circumcised himself was then obligated to obey the Law in its entirety:

“Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.”[19]

So, by his own standards, Paul had obligated Timothy to observe the whole corpus of the Law.  Was Paul reneging on his original, uncompromising view?  It would seem so. 

In addition, Paul’s views on dietary restrictions evolved as well.  His original view with regard to his Gentile followers was that there was no need to be overly concerned with obeying the Jewish dietary restrictions.  We can see this in his letter to the Romans:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”[20]

A similar teaching is found in the letter to the Corinthians:

“Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”  If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience.”[21]

There is no ambiguity here.  Paul is clear that the only dietary restriction a Christian should have is the prohibition of eating anything that has been “offered in sacrifice” to pagan idols.  Yet this contradicts a different ruling made by James and the other disciples, and which Paul seemingly accepted:

“As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”[22]

The ambiguity is clear.  On the one hand, Paul told his followers that they should only avoid food sacrificed to idols, but on the other hand, he accepted the ruling made by James that Gentile Christians should also abstain from blood and the meat of animals killed by strangulation.  What happened to Paul’s appeal to scripture that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it”?  Clearly, Paul had to compromise on this issue as well.     

But Paul’s actions in his visit to Jerusalem expose even more contradictions in his teachings about the Law of Moses.  When he was confronted with a great opportunity to make a stand for his previous beliefs, he clearly failed to stand up.  We see this in the controversial episode of his journey to Jerusalem to appear before James and the other disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him), as recounted in the Book of Acts:

“Then they said to Paul: ‘You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.  They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.  What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow.  Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.’

The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”[23]

So, in direct contradiction of his earlier condemnation of James’ followers for their loyalty to the Jewish Law,[24] Paul now obeyed the orders of these “false believers”,[25] without any protest!  Not surprisingly, scholars have noticed the contradiction, as well as the attempt by the author of Acts (which tradition states was Luke, the follower of Paul) to cover-up the significance of Paul’s public humiliation.  As Reza Aslan observes:

“As with his account of the Apostolic Council some years earlier, Luke’s rendering of this final meeting between James and Paul in the book of Acts tries to brush aside any hint of conflict or animosity by presenting Paul as silently acquiescing to the Temple rite demanded of him.”[26]

And commenting on the significance of Paul’s subservience, Aslan concludes that:

“There is no other way to read Paul’s participation in the Nazirite vow except as a solemn renunciation of his ministry and a public declaration of James’ authority over him—all the more reason to doubt Luke’s depiction of Paul as simply going along with the ritual without comment or complaint.”[27]

Of course, it could be that Paul simply pretended to go along with James’ instructions, but then what does that really say about his character?  In his letter to the Colossians, Paul had stated that Christians should not lie to each other,[28] yet if he was merely pretending to obey James’ request, then he was guilty of deliberately lying to his fellow disciples.[29] 

Also, according to his disciple Luke, Paul was willing to die for his beliefs, as he stated before he entered Jerusalem:

“I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”[30]

But if he was willing to die for his beliefs, then why did he not refuse to obey James, as a way of practicing what he preached?  Clearly, the account in Acts exposes grave concerns about Paul’s character.   

Assuming that the meeting between the disciples and Paul actually occurred, there are 3 possibilities as to what actually transpired between James and Paul:
1.       Paul actually did resist James, and there was a tense or even violent confrontation between the two (see note #25).
2.      Paul sincerely obeyed James’ commands as a sign of his acceptance of the primacy of the Law and the repudiation of his previous beliefs.
3.      Paul simply pretended to obey James.   
The Catholic scholar Raymond E. Brown argued that Paul had sincerely obeyed James precisely because he was not entirely “anti-Temple”, meaning he was not against the continuing applicability of the Law (#2).  According to Brown:

“…there are ambiguities in Paul’s attitude.  His admonitions and imperatives in the second parts of many of his letters show that clearly he expected all Christians to live by the Ten Commandments and by the high morality of Judaism.  Acts 20:6, 16 suggests that he kept Jewish feasts…mandated in the Law; and Acts 21:26 has Paul worshiping in the Jerusalem Temple even as did the Jewish Christian leaders who lived in Jerusalem.”[31]

On the other hand, David S. Gullion, a former Evangelical Christian and a convert to Islam,[32] is of the view that Paul was simply lying his way out of his dilemma (#3).  He states that:

“…Paul was…publicly engaging in a bald face lie.  James, and probably others of the Jerusalem leaders, probably were well aware of what Paul had been doing.  By insisting that Paul do such a thing, they were distancing themselves from the actions which Paul had been accused of doing.  They quite likely wished to discredit Paul in the eyes of anyone who was aware of Paul’s actions by forcing him to publicly lie about his activities.”[33]

Whatever Paul’s actual motivation was for fulfilling James’ request, it is indisputable that he did not have a simplistic view with regards to the abolishment of the Law, as Christian apologists maintain.  Whether his shifts in attitude were due to his attempts at “compromise”, or his own confusion regarding the teachings of Jesus (since he was not one of his original followers), or deliberate deception, there is no doubt that his message had to constantly evolve as he faced new challenges to his authority.

Paul on the Institution of Slavery –

            Another clear example of Paul’s shift from his previous teachings can be seen in his letter to Philemon.  The letter was written with regard to the status of one of Philemon’s runaway slaves named Onesimus, who had become a Christian.  Albeit with misgivings, Paul decided to send Onesimus back to Philemon.  In an earlier correspondence, Paul had maintained that there was no distinction “in Christ Jesus” between a slave and a free man:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”[34]

Yet, when confronted with the possibility of aiding a runaway slave (in contravention of Roman law), even one who had become a Christian, Paul found himself in an uncomfortable position.  As Mack explains:

“In the Roman world…the institution of slavery was not in question, and the laws that governed the treatment of slaves were clear.  Paul was in danger of abetting a runaway, and that meant full legal and financial responsibility for damages due to the owner for the loss of his slave.”[35]

And of course, the Hebrew Bible also allowed the institution of slavery, and there is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus (peace be upon him) even commented on it, let alone abolished it.  By sending Onesimus back to Philemon, albeit with the request that the latter accept the former as a “brother” rather than as a slave, Paul was clearly willing to compromise his beliefs with the law, although in this case it was the Roman law that he was compromising with. 

In addition, in the epistle to the Corinthians, Paul urged those of his followers who were slaves to not be overly concerned about their servitude:

“Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.  Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so.”[36]

If all Christians were equal “in Christ Jesus”, then why was Paul not critical of those Christians who continued to own slaves, especially Christian slaves?  There was a clear shift in attitude on the institution of slavery.  While in the epistle to the Galatians, Paul rejected slavery both literally and symbolically,[37] in later correspondences, he accepted it as a legitimate institution and a fact of life.

Paul and Salvation –

            The issue of Christian salvation is inevitably linked to the controversy surrounding the applicability of the Law of Moses.  We have already seen evidence of Paul’s evolving attitude towards the Law.  Not surprisingly, this shift in attitude inevitably led to contradictions on the all-important matter of how a Christian ultimately attains salvation as well.

            One of Paul’s most salient teachings was that salvation was achieved through the acceptance of Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection.  It was “by grace” that Christians were saved:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”[38]

But this teaching is directly contradicted by statements in other epistles.  It was noted previously how Paul wrote to the Corinthians that keeping God’s commands was paramount,[39] but there are other examples as well.  Perhaps the clearest example of a direct contradiction between the concept of salvation by “grace” and salvation by “works” can be seen in the instructions given concerning women in the epistle to Timothy:

“But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”[40]

There is a clear departure here from the Pauline concept of salvation by “grace”, for if women were to attain salvation through childbearing, then it was not Jesus’ redemptive death that was their ultimate hope.  Rather, it was marriage,[41] and ultimately the bearing of children that would be their path to salvation.[42]                           


            In this article, we have examined the evolution of Pauline Christianity.  As new challenges arose, Christians like Paul were faced with difficulties that often required an awkward shift in previous attitudes.  Even when concerned with such important issues as the Law of Moses, which Paul initially argued against with much passion, the new challenges required a more “compromising” approach.  As a result, Paul was forced to undergo the Nazirite vow in Jerusalem without any protest (as far as we can tell from the one “canonical” version of the story), or to clarify his views on circumcision and slavery.  Even on the matter of salvation by “grace”, Paul found the concept difficult to maintain and so was forced to clarify that “works” were still important, and that indeed, a Christian could not hope for salvation without having some good works under his or her belt.  This and other evidence discussed above shows the historical context behind the development of Pauline Christianity.  It was not the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) who was responsible for the rise of the new religion.  Rather, it was Paul of Tarsus and his changing views that ultimately shaped what would become “Christianity”.[43] 

And Allah knows best!

[1] As we will see, however, some of the “Pauline” epistles were not actually written by Paul!

[2] We will discuss each of these issues separately, although in some cases, they are inextricably related.

[3] Paul never actually mentioned the trinity, nor is this concept found anywhere else in the New Testament.  Some alleged references to it in the Gospels are actually due to insertions by scribes of later generations.

[4] Romans 1:23 (New International Version).  See also 1 Corinthians 10:14.

[5] 2 Corinthians 4:4.

[6] 1 Timothy 2:5.

[7] Titus 2:13.

[8] This assumption is being made purely for the sake of argument, for scholars are nearly unanimous that neither the letters to Timothy nor the one to Titus were actually written by Paul.  Instead, it is a near scholarly consensus that the letters were written in the 2nd century.  According to Burton Mack:

“The three letters were written at different times, undoubtedly during the first half of the second century.  They were not included in Marcion’s list of Paul’s letters (ca. 140 C.E.), nor do they appear in the earliest manuscript collection of Paul’s letters (P46, ca. 200 C.E.). […] Their attribution to Paul is clearly fictional, for their language, style, and thought are thoroughly un-Pauline…” (Who Wrote the New Testament?  The Making of the Christian Myth (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1995), p. 206).

[9] Readers are encouraged to read our article on the resurrection story:

The author of this article claims that:

“The New Testament explicitly teaches that the old law has been abolished. Whether one is talking about the Ten Commandments or the ceremonial laws, the Law of Moses or the Law of God, all are considered the old law that no longer is in effect. Jesus Christ fulfilled that law and nailed it to the cross forever (Matthew 5:17-18; Colossians 2:13-17).

As we will see, this simply is not true.  The New Testament's view on the issue is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies.

[11] Colossians 2:14.

[12] Colossians 2:16.

[13] Ephesians 2:14-15.

[14] Galatians 5:12.

As Mack succinctly put it regarding Paul’s outburst in the epistle to the Galatians:

“It is clear that a central Pauline nerve had been pinched” (Mack, op. cit., p. 113).

[15] Ibid., pp. 134-135.

However, it should be pointed out that Paul still maintained that anyone who was not uncircumcised did not need to be circumcised.  But here also a contradiction arises, as we will see.  

Also, in the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul still referred to the Law of Moses as “the ministry that brought death” (2 Corinthians 3:7).  Nevertheless, he now maintained that a complete abandonment of the Law was not practical.    

[16] Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), p. 312.

[17] See 1 Corinthians 7:19, Galatians 5:12 and Colossians 3:11.

On a side note, Paul also made the strange comment that anyone who was already circumcised did not need to “become uncircumcised” (1 Corinthians, 7:18), as if it was possible to reverse a circumcision!

[18] The reason given for this by the author of Acts is that the Jews knew that Timothy’s father was Greek, but his mother was a Jew and a “believer”.  

How different was this from Peter’s refusal to eat with Gentiles when the other disciples were present (Galatians 2:11-21)?  Paul accused Peter of being a hypocrite in this regard, yet he did not see the irony of his own actions in having Timothy circumcised “because of the Jews”!

[19] Galatians 5:3.

[20] Romans 14:17-18.

[21] 1 Corinthians 10:25-28.

[22] Acts 21:25.

[23] Acts 21:20-26.

[24] Galatians 2:11-13.

[25] Galatians 2:4.  The war of words between Paul and his detractors was certainly not a one-way engagement.  In the apocryphal, though late, document known as the Pseudo-Clementines, there is a set of traditions known as the “Recognitions”, which scholars date to the mid-2nd century.  As Reza Aslan explains (emphasis in the original):

“The Recognitions contains an incredible story about a violent altercation that James the brother of Jesus has with someone simply called ‘the enemy’.  In the text, James and the enemy are engaged in a shouting match inside the Temple when, all of a sudden, the enemy attacks James in a fit of rage and throws him down the Temple stairs. […] Remarkably, the enemy who attacked James is later identified as none other than Saul of Tarsus (Recognitions 1:70-71)” (Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Random House, 2013), pp. 209-210).

[26] Ibid., p. 208.

[27] Ibid., p. 209.

[28] Colossians 3:9.

[29] It appears, however, that Paul was not completely against false pretenses in order to gain converts.  Perhaps this was his motivation for obeying James:

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

[30] Acts 21:13.

[31] Raymond E. Brown and John P. Meier, Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1983), p. 5.

[33] David S. Gullion, The Last Christian: The Story of the Christ (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2009), p. 143.

[34] Galatians 3:28.  See also Colossians 3:11.

[35] Mack, op. cit., p. 143.

[36] 1 Corinthians 7:20-21.  Other commands to slaves and slave-owners can be found in Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1 and Titus 2:9-10.

[37] Besides the passage previously mentioned, Galatians also contains symbolic references to slavery and how it relates to Christians, though it is obviously more of a reference to the “slavery” of following the Law of Moses, rather than slavery itself.  In Galatians 4:31, Paul compared Christians to Isaac, since Isaac was allegedly the son of a “free woman”, whereas Ishmael was the son of a “slave woman”:

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”

And in Galatians 5:1, Paul urged his fellow Christians to actually resist the “yoke of slavery”, though again he was referring to the burden of following the Law of Moses rather than the institution of slavery:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

One has to wonder whether those Christians who happened to be slaves would have truly appreciated this symbolism.  Paul’s symbolic boast that Christians were “free” certainly would not have resonated as much with Christian slaves than with free Christians.

On an unrelated note, we have previously discussed the Biblical story of Ishmael and Isaac in a separate article:

[38] Ephesians 2:8-9.

[39] 1 Corinthians 7:19.  See also 2 Corinthians 5:10, where Paul speaks of the “judgment seat of Christ” where each person will receive either reward or punishment for the things he/she did, whether “good or bad”.

[40] 1 Timothy 2:15.  Of course, as stated earlier (note #8), the epistle to Timothy was not actually written by Paul.  It was a forgery, but it is still possible that it was influenced by Pauline teachings.  As Reza Aslan explains:

“…naming a book after someone significant was a common way of honoring that person and reflecting his views” (Aslan, op. cit., p. 204).

[41] Childbearing through legal marriage is obviously implied since the opposite would be a sexual immorality that is resoundingly condemned in the New Testament (as well as in the Tanakh and the Quran).

[42] Of course, this also directly contradicts Paul’s previous advice to his followers to not worry much about marriage since the end was very near.  As we noted in the second article of the “Prophecies in the Holy Scriptures” series:

“Paul was clear that “the time is short”, when answering questions regarding the issue of marriage:

“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

It is clear from this passage that Paul was convinced that the end was near.  His answer to the question of marriage was that Christians could get married, but that since “the time [was] short”, it was probably better not to.  Why would he have said that if he was not convinced that the end was near?  Surely, he was not speaking to Christians 2,000 years later, who are still waiting for the end to come!” (

How could women achieve salvation through childbearing if Paul was advising them that it was better to remain unmarried and look forward to the end of the world?

[43] Perhaps author Michael H. Hart put it best:

“…it was St. Paul who was the main developer of Christian theology, its principal proselytizer, and the author of a large portion of the New Testament” (The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History (Secaucus: Carol Publishing Group, 1992, p. 9).

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