Have I feared the crowd or the contempt of the masses, so that I kept quiet and stayed indoors? (Job 31:34 NLT)

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Adam's Questions - from critic (Dec. 2010)

Adam relayed questions a critic had, and wants my take.

1.Two Witnesses: Question.

(1) Are two witnesses really necessary?  Basically he cites certain events in scripture, such as Yahshua sweating blood in Luke's gospel, that have no witnesses beyond Luke (as far as we know).  He says, "If we believe his testimony on that, why wouldn't we accept Paul's testimony that he was called as an apostle by Yahshua? (even if only by Luke's witness as well)"

My Response.

1. Two witnesses. I am not changing my life over to following Christ because of blood sweating from Jesus. Jesus in Rev. 2:2 says there are those who "say" they are apostles and are liars. Hence, their say-so does not suffice. Jesus tells us that important claims (rather than incidents like blood dripping), such as being an apostle must have independent witnesses. ("If I am my sole witness, my witness is not true," Jesus said.) Jesus was confirmed by two witnesses by having the voice of Yahweh annointing him at baptism where John the Baptist and many others were present. This happened again at the transfiguration where Peter and John were the two witnesses. Moses had the identical type of confirmation with many witnesses. Paul has NONE for his witnesses "did not hear the voice," Paul says, about his vision accounts in the one account Luke is quoting Paul. In Acts 22:9, we read: "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." (KJV)

2. Paul Has Been A Blessing: Question

(2) Millions of people worldwide, past and present, have been blessed by Paul's writings...and come to Messiah through them...would that happen with a false apostle?

My response.

C.S. Lewis has been a blessing to me. I don't think that proves he is inspired as a prophet, and every word is taken as from God. Many things Lewis says are wrong. I am able to disagree because I have not erroneously equated the blessing Lewis gives with the false idea Lewis is inspired. Same with Paul.

And the question whether many come to Christ through Paul is an open question. It appears in fact that indeed many are initially attracted to Christ by the preaching of Paul in praise and worship of Jesus, but over time, the Paulinist preacher draws the new Christian to listen only to Paul. I kept a chart for over 10 years of how many times Jesus is quoted versus Paul in standard evangelical churches. The percentage never varied significantly from 13 verses for Paul to 1 from Jesus. (Try this yourself, or look at webpages from evangelicals online, and you will see this Paul-effect.) This 13 to 1 ratio maintained itself amazingly when the topic was a passage / parable of Jesus. Hence, I would say this kind of experience is inconsistent with a true apostle, but exactly fits what I would expect if Paul were not a true apostle of Jesus Christ. Remember -- Paul never once quotes Jesus except the liturgy of communion. This is why attention upon Paul has the effect of drawing us from Christ's teachings.

3. Jesus Never Calls Others Apostles: Question

(3) He says that there are no witnesses that tell us that Yahshua himself calls the actual 12 by the term "apostles", so, why do we have to find this "calling" for Paul?  He says this because in Matthew 10:1-2 TECHNICALLY it is Matthew that labels them all Apostles, not Yahshua.  So, in his opinion, this is the same thing as Luke being the witness to Paul's apostleship...either Yahshua wasn't the one declaring it.

My response.

If we look at the 4 canonical gospels, in Luke 6:13 your critic friend is wrong:

When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Luke 6:13.

Also,  in the Gospel According to the Hebrews by Matthew (in Hebrew) -- originally recognized as a fifth gospel by Jerome, Origen, Justin, etc. -- it read in part:

You therefore, I want to be the Twelve Apostles for a testimony to Israel (to symbolize Israel).”

[This is the translation taken primarily from E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel According to the Hebrews (1879) at 29-30 (quoting Epiphanius from 300s).]

Of the 49 quotes of this Gospel according to the Hebrews in the patristic writings, none is heretical. They all provide simply some verses the Greek translator omitted. Jerome believed in the 400s that it should be used to find omitted verses and mistranslations. See  knol on The Original Gospel of Matthew.

Thus, there is abundant proof Jesus said to the 12 they were the 12 apostles.

And even if Paul were a 13th apostle, it does not give him the same authority as the 12. Jesus gave the 12 authority to bind and loose, and would be judges in the age to come (and Judas was replaced by Matthias) -- Jesus saying they would sit on 12 thrones:

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28.)

It is this authority if any that allows the Apostles to bind us in any way -- a judicial authority -- which Paul could not possibly share because Jesus made it clear there are only 12 apostles for all time sitting on the 12 thrones over the 12 tribes. This is re-emphasized in Revelation. In Acts 1, the 11 chose Matthias. Hence, a 13th apostle, even if Paul were one, would not share the investiture of authority that Jesus exclusively gave the 12 apostles.

4. Revelation 2:2 - Can There Be No Limit In Number of Possible Apostles?

No Limit on Number of Apostles? (6) Does the trial mentioned in Rev. 2:2 imply that there were more than 12 apostles?  (Meaning: were the 12 apostles so well known that no one would dare claim to be one of them?  And therefore they would have by default known that anyone else claiming that, if not one of the 12, would be a liar - no trial necessary?)  Basically, there wouldn't be a trial at all if everyone knew the 12 and that wasn't one of them, and only 12 were allowed.

My Response.

Revelation 2:2 clearly has in Greek that some "say" to the Ephesians they are apostles but are liars.

This implies that some claimed to be apostles who were not. It could not possibly imply that it was understood among the original 12, or more importantly, in Jesus' thought that there could be more than 12. It only shows at minimum a confusion set in because some claimed to be an apostle who were not. The confusion could be because (a) some did not know, as Jesus makes clear in Matt. 19:28 and Rev. 22 there were only 12 apostles; or (b) some did not know the true names of the 12, if they knew the number of apostles was capped at 12. Hence, a trial would involve resolving the importance of Matthew 19:28 and Rev. 22 (or John's testimony at Ephesus on that point) as well as whether the other apostles voted to make someone one of the 12 for some reason, as they did in Acts 1.

The source of confusion, by the way, was likely Paul himself. Paul named Junia as an Apostle. And referred to James, the bishop at Jerusalem, as an apostle. (Gal. 1:19.) And of course, Paul called himself an apostle. This would lead people to assume that Jesus allowed more than 12 when it is clear Jesus limited the number to 12 for symbolic and spiritual purposes - the 12 were to be 12 judges on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes. It was critical no one mistake the symbolism by adding more apostles.

It is my contention that Jesus referred to Paul in Rev. 2:2, and did so in a way no more mysterious than the Bible prophesied of Messiah. One has to have ears to hear -- but once you see it, you cannot miss it. The main proof is the Ephesians found these persons lied about being apostles while the Ephesians were complimented by Jesus for not following the false message of a NT Balaam who teaches eating meat sacrificed to idols was OK, as did Paul clearly and certainly. Then in Acts 19, the Ephesus synagogue that for 3 months significantly embraced Paul's doctrine on Messiah then has some "disobedient" to Paul's message, and Paul departs. But Paul's message was that it was permissible to eat meat sacrificed to idols, which meant in Jewish practice to decline to eat at Gentile homes for fear of violating this rule. Paul excoriated Peter for such action in Gal. 2. Thus, this disobedience Luke records from the Ephesus synagogue overlaps Rev. 2:2, 14 that someone at Ephesus said he was an apostle and was found not to be, and in the same context the Ephesians declined to follow a false prophet teaching it was OK to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

Thus, Acts 19 shows a conflict that Paul had at Ephesus with a congregation previously brought apparently over in significant part to Christianity but that ends up rejecting/disobeying certain teachings of Paul, but this has a strikingly overlapping character with Ch. 2 of Revelation!