The Apocalypse of Paul
Hail to you gods.On that day of the
Behold me, I have come to you, Without sin, without guilt,
without evil, Without a witness against me,
Without one whom I have wronged.
Rescue me, protect me,
Do not accuse me before the great god!
I am one pure of mouth, pure of hands.
-The Egyptian Book of the Dead
Apocalyptic prophecies come cheap in religion, going at least as far back to the ancient Egyptians. Bible prophecies span from Genesis to Revelation. Post-biblical prophecies continue to this day. They aren't worth a spit, but that doesn't seem to discourage the would-be seers. If you are reading this article, no other evidence is needed to prove a perfect failure rate. If some great catastrophe should happen to this planet, your chances of survival will have nothing to do with faith; it will be determined by geography.
There is a second issue buried under the rubble. The objective of these prophecies is the fantasy that someday there will be a new world composed of only good people like the one making the prophecy. This is the revenge factor.
In Psalms, David foresaw a day when God will destroy nations all over earth.
26 (Psalm 110:2, 6)
Isaiah was expecting God to destroy the Babylonians.
56 (Isa. 13:5-6)
The Book of Revelation was expecting Rome to fall. "Babylon" was an epithet for Rome.
2And he called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird; (Rev. 12:2)
We even find vindictiveness in Jesus' character in this next passage.
you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every
careless word they utter;
37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt. 12:36-37)>
Paul was so convinced he had a monopoly on truth that he expected God to exert his wrath and fury on those who do not obey the truth.
he will render to every man according to his works:
7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
8but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
10but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. (Rom. 2:9-10)
This brings us to the third issue on these apocalyptic visions: It was to be a one-time event. While Christians today believe their spirits will go to heaven on the day they die, in the Bible, no one goes until Judgment Day. This applies to the OT, the Epistles, Revelation and the Synoptic Gospels. The writer of John hedged his bets by avoiding the topic.
So now we turn to Paul's rendition of the great event with a reminder that this was the day he prepared for.
1. On that day of change, the living and the dead will be raised in the twinkling of an eye.
tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be
52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
2. The day of salvation is nearer to us than we first believed. It was time to restrain our fleshly impulses and get on the right track.
this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake
from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first
12the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;
13let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.
14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14)
3. Christ was the first to die and be resurrected. Then he will come for those who belong to him. Then the end will come when he delivers the kingdom to God after destroying every authority and power. He will reign until his enemies are destroyed.
each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his
coming those who belong to Christ.
24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
25For he must reign> until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:23-26)
4. Paul reassures the Thessalonians that its appearance will be obvious. There will be a rebellion first. Then the lawless one (Satan) will be revealed, he who exalts himself and proclaims himself to be God. The mystery of lawlessness is still at work until Lord Jesus comes to slay him. There will be false signs and wonders because of wicked deception. Because they refuse to love the truth and be saved, God sends them a strong delusion to make them believe what is false so that they will be condemned.
no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the
rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the
son of perdition,
4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this?
6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.
8And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.
9The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders,
10and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
12so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thes. 2:1-12)
Verses 10 and 11 contain a circular argument: Because they refused to love the truth, God sent them a strong delusion to make them believe what is false. Or did God send them a strong delusion to make them believe what is false?
5. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, through Jesus, God will bring the dead with him first. Those of who are alive will come afterwards. Salvation was contingent on belief. It is in passages like this where we find the lure of salvation offered to those who might die before the End came.
since we believe that Jesus died and rose
again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have
15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;
17then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:14-17)
6. The day will come when we don't expect it. Then sudden destruction will come upon them.
you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief
in the night.
3When people say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. (1 Thess. 5:2-3)
7. We will travel in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
17then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:17)
When Paul alludes to "clouds," he provides a clue to the Scriptural source from which he claims came by word of God. The term describes the Milky Way. See Pillar of Cloud.
His source was the Book of Daniel. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the term "son of man" can be interpreted to mean either an exalted human being or a heavenly angelic being, perhaps the archangel Michael.
14 (Dan. 7:13-14)
Paul doesn't use the term "son of man," but Jesus uses it extensively. In the Gospels, "son of man" was redefined to mean Jesus' Spirit. (See Jesus' Ghost )
For that reason, Jews cite this passage from Numbers to refute any suggestion that Jesus was free of sin. It was so embarrassing that the New International Version replaced "repent" with "change his mind."
Since the end didn't come, he didn't find his immortality as he expected. But he was immortalized in the Bible.
Paul fell in line with the Jewish apocalyptics of his time in believing that the present age was ruled by evil powers who would be defeated in the age to come. At the time of the exile, 586 BCE, Yahweh had no equal and Satan was one of his angels. (See Satan: God's Angel) Jewish concern was for the time when Yahweh would finally decide to stop punishing the people of Israel for their apostasy and restore the kingdom of Israel.
By the first century BCE, Satan was elevated to God's nemesis. (See Satan's Accusers) He was the arch-devil who lorded over an army of fallen angels, alien gods and demons.
This way of thinking can be traced back to the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism which saw history as a cosmic struggle between the power of light and goodness and that of darkness and evil. (See Light verses Dark) It holds that mankind does not have intrinsic free will; he is a mere pawn in a cosmic struggle.
One of its offshoots was Gnosticism, a belief system in which the world was created by a lower evil deity called a Demiurge, and a higher, more transcendental good deity. The good deity had pity on humanity and sent them an emissary to teach them how to free themselves from the Demiurge. Paul did not credit the Demiurge for creation, but he credits it for taking over the creation. This fits with his belief in sin stemming from the fall of Adam.
The word "gnosis" means secret knowledge. Gnostics believed it was their special place to know the secret. In Paul's Mystery, Paul wrote often about having been chosen to reveal the mystery of salvation-this can't be a coincidence. Besides his belief in having secret knowledge, other passages show how close he was to being a Gnostic. At issue with both Judaism and Modern Christianity is his denial that humans have free will.
1. The gospel is hidden from those who are perishing. The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light. -The phrase "god of this world" implies Satan.
even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are
4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
2. Those evil powers are composed of angels, principalities, things present, things to come and powers.
am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)
3. If the rulers of this age understood this, they would not have crucified the Lord.
8None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:8)
4. The rulers of this age are doomed to pass away.
6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. (1 Cor. 2:6)
5. Satan sent a messenger to be a thorn in Paul's flesh.
7And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. (2 Cor. 12:7)
6. In complete contradiction, Jewish Scripture is firm on this: Yahweh has no equal. Satan was an inferior ruling at Yahweh's pleasure.
7 (Isa. 45:5-7)
The word "Christ" was not Jesus' last name. It was a title signifying his messiah-ship defined as the anointed king. The designation of king had a special significance in primitive religions.
As much as modern Christianity disparages magic, its belief system is based on magic. To explain, I'm going to quote from "The Golden Bough" by James Frazer. Frazer was an anthropologist who explored the myths and religions that range across cultures and centuries. He points to the striking similarities among them.
Kings were revered, in many cases not merely as priests, that it, as intercessors between man and god, but as themselves gods, able to bestow upon their subjects and worshippers those blessings which are commonly supposed to be beyond the reach of man, and are sought, if at all, only by prayer and sacrifice offered to superhuman and invisible beings.
The germ of which I speak is involved in that sympathetic magic, as it may be called, which plays a large part in most systems of superstition. One of the principles of sympathetic magic is that any effect may be produced by imitating it. To take a few instances: If it is wished to kill a person on image of him is made and then destroyed; and it is believed that through a certain physical sympathy between the person and his image, the man feels the injuries done to the image as if they were done to his own body, and that that when it is destroyed he must simultaneously perish.
So there it is. Through what Frazer calls "sympathetic magic," by sympathizing with Christ, believers are supposed to experience the death and resurrection of their king. We find these same magical beliefs in Paul's writings.
1. Christ died for our sins according to scriptures.
3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
In other words, Christ's death was not based on eyewitness accounts. It was based on scripture. An analyses of the fallacious way in which he interprets scripture is covered in Paul's Mythology
Bible footnotes reference Isaiah 53: 5-12. Isaiah was not making predictions; he was writing about a past event which happened over 500 years prior to Christ's time.
12 (Isa. 53:5-12)
This method of interpretation is like saying that the Astronauts' landing on the moon was prophesied in a newspaper article reporting Christopher Columbus's first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
Who was "he"? To get a sense of it, it is necessary to read the preceding chapters. Yahweh's servant was Israel.
9 (Isa. 41:8-9)
2. Christ gave himself for our sins according to the will of God the Father.
to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; (Gal. 1:3-4)
According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus died for because of his own guilt- He was caught up in the politics of his time.
3. Christ was buried and was raised on the third day.
4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Bibles reference Psalm 16:8-9, but I added the next two verses for a better picture. This is a Psalm of David written in David's voice. Paul took David's words and applied them to Christ. There is nothing in the below passage about being buried and raised on the third day.
89 10 11 (Psalm 16:8-11)
4. Christ was the first to be raised from the dead. As Adam made us all die, when Christ comes the dead will be resurrected first and those of us still standing shall be made alive. Then the end will come when he destroys every rule and every authority and power. He will reign until the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those
who have fallen asleep.
21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:20-26)
Through sympathetic magic: If we believe in Christ and say and do the right things, we can defeat death.
23But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Rom. 14:3)
5. Through faith and by shunning immorality, your bodies become members of Christ. As one who joins himself with a prostitute becomes one body with her, he who is united with the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I
therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a
16Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one flesh."
17But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (Cor. 6:15-17)
When he says our bodies are members of Christ, he means literally fused into one supernatural member. He took a metaphorical term from Genesis and applied it literally.
6. Another example makes the point clearer: He is no longer alive; for it is Christ who lives in him. Said another way, his former body was dead; now it is alive through Christ.
20I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
It seems silly when Paul says he is no longer alive through his own body, but through Christ's body.
7. His address to the Romans brings it together: By uniting with him in his death, we become united in his resurrection. When our old self was crucified with him, our sinful body was destroyed. Death brings freedom from sin so we shall live again. Because Christ can never die again, neither shall we.
if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall
certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
7For he who has died is freed from sin.
8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
9For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
10The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:5-11)
By definition, nobody can die more than once. By sympathizing with Christ, Paul believes one can be united with him in his resurrection.
8. In another departure from the Christian Godhead, Paul sees God's Spirit as a separate entity. Man has a spirit and God has a Spirit.
has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches
everything, even the depths of God.
11For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:10-11)
9. Was Jesus a real human or was he a supernatural human? Paul avers that he was supernatural: God sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh.
3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (Rom. 8:3)
The above passage does not mean that he actually came in the flesh. Symbolically, he had to come in the flesh in order to shed blood (See Sacrifice and Jesus)
God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died
9Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Rom. 5:8-9)
Two other passages stress the importance of blood.
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,
25whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; (Rom. 3:23-25)
therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we
be saved by him from the wrath of God.
10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:9-10)
This idea of sacrificing the blood of a lamb without blemish goes back to the Passover.
56 7 (Exodus 12:5-7)
For as Paul said: Christ is our sacrificial paschal lamb.
7Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb has been sacrificed. (1 Cor. 5:7)
There is such a wealth of abstraction in Paul's writings that we have to consider that Christ was an abstraction too. It is through this primitive belief in sympathetic magic that Christians hope to achieve immortality. But as this report stresses, their wait is dependant on the perfect failure record of apocalyptic forecasts.
Son of God
In Hebrew Scripture, the term "son of God" applied to an angel, demigod or the people of Israel. (See Jesus Son of God) By literalizing the words, Paul elevated the Christ to a divine son. It wasn't until hundreds of years later when the Christian Fathers fused the Son into the Father by legislative fiat, creating the triune God (The Nicene Creed).
3But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)
It is only in the Apocrypha, where we can see a passage from where the idea of a humanly son of God was extrapolated to a divine Son of God fitting Jesus' description.
1819 20 (Wisdom of Solomon 2:18-20)
The giveaway to Paul's inventiveness is his claim that God revealed his Son to him. He did not confer with flesh and blood. Nor did he go to Jerusalem to meet the apostles. Believers might impute this passage to mean Paul had some private pipeline to God. In reality, he had an intuitive revelation. Arguments from authority gave him credibility. There is no doubt he believed himself, but that was the nature of his ego.
when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me
through his grace,
16was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood,
17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. (Gal. 1:15-17)
Arguments from authority also came by debauching Hebrew Scripture. In the passage below, he claims God promised through the prophets in Scripture to send a Son in the flesh. He would be a descendant of David and be designated Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead. Thus, the son was deified at the time of his resurrection.
a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the
gospel of God
2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
4and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Rom. 1:1-4)
Isaiah was one of the prophets who foresaw a descendant of David ruling over a kingdom where there will be justice and righteousness. The problem is, the kingdom he had in mind was on earth, and David's blood line ended over 500 years before Jesus. (See Jesus' Genealogy)
In line with Judaism, Paul saw God as a Unitarian Deity. In conflict with the Christian Trinitarian God is the phrase, "God sent his son to die for our sins." Well, how can God send himself? Paul saw Jesus as an intermediary between God and man.
God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)
If we stretch our imagination we could use the passage below of a begotten son to apply to Jesus' deification. But if we pay attention to context, it was said by David at his coronation. If it looks familiar, it is because God called Jesus his Son at his baptism (Matt. 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22).
The typical Christian is cowed into believing in Christ as a matter of playing it safe. He doesn't believe in magic, yet it is through magic that he hopes to be protected from punishment in hell. I question whether there are very many Christians who believe their thought processes are being invaded by Satan. Paradoxically, without Satan there can be no such thing as sin. From a moral point of view, the Church makes its living through extortion.