David Wilber's Defending Paul: A Response to Justin Best of Christian Truthers
In this week's blog post, we wanted to share an article by David Wilber from DavidWilber.me, that addresses why the teachings of Paul are, in fact, of value today. The article was originally written in response to Justin Best of the YouTube channel Christian Truthers. The original video, 50 Reasons to Never Quote Paul Again Part 1, can be found by clicking here - CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO. The below response also addresses some points brought up in Christian Truther's Part 2 video.
The most up-to-date version of David's article, in its entirety, can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Justin starts his video by reassuring his audience that he has not rejected the entirety of the New Testament, only Paul's epistles. He also reassures us that he still considers himself to be a follower of the Messiah. Justin disagrees with the idea that if you reject Paul that you will eventually end up rejecting the entire New Testament and Yeshua.
While I don't doubt Justin when he says that he hasn’t rejected Messiah and the entirety of the New Testament, that doesn't change the logical implications of his position. The logical implication of rejecting Paul is that the entire New Testament will need to be thrown out. Justin hasn't done this simply because he is not logically consistent. If he were logically consistent in his position, then he would have to throw out the entire New Testament, as this article will demonstrate.
Furthermore, Justin already shows signs of heading down the exact path that he assures us he isn't heading down. At around forty-eight minutes into the video, Justin expresses doubt regarding the trustworthiness of the book of Acts because Luke was Paul's traveling companion. Justin's theological position regarding Paul clearly has dangerous implications.
Now, let's go through each of the reasons Justin gave in support of his belief that Paul was a false apostle. (Please note that I am responding to Justin's points as he has presented them, so his grammatical and spelling mistakes were not corrected.)
Responding to the anti-Paul arguments from Justin Best of Christian Truthers
1. Paul's testimony of his conversion is inconsistent at best, and has a very close resemblance to the conversion of Joseph Smith and Muhammed.
Justin brings up the apparent inconsistencies in each of the accounts of Paul's conversion as a reason to reject Paul. This is not a good argument for a couple of reasons.
First, based on Justin's logic here, we should reject any biblical book that contains apparent inconsistencies. So, say goodbye to the gospels. Time to throw out 1-2 Kings because of the apparent inconsistencies with 1-2 Chronicles. Choose between Exodus and Deuteronomy or throw them both out. There are inconsistencies and even apparent contradictions all over the Bible. It is our duty as students of the Word to study these texts and find possibilities of harmonization between them as best as we can. (We also need to be humble enough to admit when we sometimes aren't able to resolve an apparent inconsistency or contradiction—that isn't a problem with the Scriptures but a problem with us!)
Second, there are countless resources available that have already explained and resolved the apparent inconsistencies in the accounts of Paul's conversion, such as this one and this one [119 Note: We cover this in our teaching Three Accounts of the Road to Damascus]. There is no reason to reject Paul on the basis of Justin's difficulties in resolving apparent biblical inconsistencies. Who made Justin the authority on what should be considered Scripture? Why should we base our beliefs on his limited knowledge and understanding?
Regarding Justin's comparison of Paul's conversion story to Joseph Smith and Muhammad, this is the definition of a false analogy fallacy. Paul converted to the Messianic sect of Judaism founded on the Messiah and His teachings. Joseph Smith and Muhammad created completely different religions. Unless you approach Paul already assuming that he is a false apostle who started a different religion, there is simply no comparison.
2. Paul changed his own name, the Most High did not.
I'm not sure why this is a reason to reject Paul, but in any case, it's false. Paul's name was never changed. Saul is simply his Hebrew name and Paul is his Greek name. Both versions are still used even after his conversion. For instance, in Acts 26:14, Paul recounts his conversion and says that Yeshua called him "Saul" with no indication that the name Saul was ever abandoned. Here's a great article on this.
3. Paul doesn't meet the criteria for apostleship according to the Book of Acts
Justin cites Acts 1:21-22 to say that an apostle must have walked with Messiah during His earthly ministry. Since Paul didn't walk with Messiah during His earthly ministry, he cannot be an apostle.
However, Justin's argument rests on the narrow definition of apostle as specifically one of the Twelve. But the word "apostle" has a broader sense beyond just the Twelve who walked with Messiah during His earthly ministry. The word literally means "one sent forth" and indicates one commissioned by God. Paul wasn't one of the Twelve, but God commissioned him. Therefore, the broader sense of the term "apostle" applies to Paul—just like it applies to Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:9), two unnamed brothers (2 Corinthians 8:23), Yeshua's brother James (Galatians 1:18-19), etc. Even Yeshua Himself is called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1.
4. Paul claims the title of apostle to the gentiles, a role given explicitly to Peter.
Justin claims that Acts 10 says that Peter was to be the apostle to the Gentiles. But he also points out that Galatians 2:7 says that Peter was entrusted with the Gospel to the circumcision (Jews) while Paul was entrusted with the Gospel to Gentiles. According to Justin, this is a contradiction—Paul was falsely claiming apostleship to the Gentiles for himself.
The problem with Justin's argument is that Peter was never exclusively commissioned as an apostle to the Gentiles. God simply wanted Peter to take the Gospel to Cornelius and his family. There is no conflict here between this particular mission given to Peter and Paul's mission to Gentiles generally. Peter was simply chosen to "open the gate," so-to-speak, to the Gospel going forth to the Gentile world—a mission that is later picked up more fully by Paul in accordance with Messiah's will.
5. Paul was rejected and sent away from the 12 apostles on multiple occasions.
Justin cites Acts 9:26 to say that the disciples rejected Paul. But the next two verses clearly state that they eventually accepted him. They "sent him off" in verse 30 to protect him from the Hellenists who were seeking to kill him! Later, in Acts 15:2, Paul was invited by the elders and other apostles to take part in the Jerusalem Council. So it certainly appears that, by Acts 15, Paul was fully accepted by the apostles.
6. Paul teaches against circumcision and then deflects when confronted.
Justin cites 1 Corinthians 7:19 in which Paul says that "Circumcision is nothing" to support his belief that Paul taught against circumcision.
However, Paul did not teach against circumcision; he taught against the misuse of circumcision. Justin clearly doesn't understand the first-century context of circumcision. In the first century, certain sects of Judaism taught that Gentiles could not be "saved" and made part of God's people unless they "became Jewish" through ritual conversion, which was a long process that included getting circumcised. Thus, "circumcision" referred not only to the surgical removal of the foreskin but also to having a "Jewish status" in the minds of many first-century Jews. Likewise, "uncircumcision" refers to having a "Gentile status." With that in mind, we can understand Paul's statement as such:
Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised [Jewish]? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision [become a Gentile]. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised [a Gentile]? Let him not seek circumcision [to become Jewish]. For neither circumcision [being Jewish] counts for anything nor uncircumcision [being a Gentile], but keeping the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:18-19)
Paul was not speaking against the actual act of circumcision but rather against Gentiles being pressured to convert to Judaism. In Paul's mind, having a "Jewish status" (as defined by the first-century rabbis) didn't matter. It was “nothing.” They weren't to focus on that. Whether Jew or Gentile, keeping God's commandments is the important thing.
Furthermore, we know that Paul wasn't against circumcision itself because he circumcised Timothy in Acts 16:3. In Acts 21:20-26, Paul literally takes a Nazarite Vow to prove that he didn't teach against circumcision! That's the opposite of "deflecting" when confronted on the issue.
7. Paul calls the actual disciples hypocrites.
Justin has a problem with Paul rebuking Peter in Galatians 2. If rebuking the apostles for their errant behavior is a problem, then Justin must have a problem with Messiah. Yeshua rebuked Peter and even called him "Satan" in Mark 8:33.
Regarding Justin’s claim that Peter's account in Acts 11 contradicts Galatians 2, why does Justin assume that these accounts are describing the same event? Paul isn't even there in the Acts 11 account. These accounts are obviously describing two separate incidents, and Justin is merely trying to create conflict where there is none.
8. The only source of Paul's confirmation (2 Peter) wasn't written by Peter.
Justin dismisses Peter's explicit affirmation of Paul's ministry in 2 Peter on the basis that he doesn't think Peter wrote 2 Peter. How convenient! The problem is that this assumption is false. Justin claims that the style of 2 Peter is different from 1 Peter. This is easily resolved by the fact that Silvanus helped draft 1 Peter (1 Peter 5:12). Additionally, Peter could have welcomed other writers to help him with his second epistle—why assume that Peter wasn't involved at all?
Regardless of the authorship of 2 Peter, there are other places in Scripture where the other apostles affirm Paul's ministry. Acts 15 would be a good example.
9. Paul calls himself an apostle 20 of the 22 times it's mentioned. The only other time was 2 Peter (not written by Peter) and by Luke, Paul's travelling companion.
So? This is only a problem if you consider 2 Peter and Acts to be untrustworthy. There is no reason to think that, though. As I've explained earlier, the logical implications of Justin's position require him to doubt their trustworthiness. This confirms the danger of Justin's beliefs.
10. Paul didn't obey the Messiah's Matthew teachings.
Justin bases this claim on Acts 23 in which the high priest orders people to strike Paul in the mouth, and thus Paul curses the high priest. (It should be noted that Paul retracts his curse in verse 5.) Justin complains that this is the opposite of what Messiah taught, which is that we ought to rejoice when we are persecuted and turn the other cheek.
According to Justin's logic, every human ever ought to be rejected as a false believer because nobody is perfect. Paul's imperfection regarding the Messiah's standard of perfection (Matthew 5:48) doesn't entail that he should be considered a false apostle.
Justin cites Galatians 1:13 in which Paul talks about "his former life in Judaism" and how he "was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people." This, according to Justin, is boastful behavior, and thus Paul is a false apostle.
Paul's reason for bringing this up was not to "boast" but simply to explain that he has the credentials and experience to speak to the issues that the Church of Galatia was dealing with. False teachers were infiltrating the Church of Galatia and trying to lead people astray. Because of his background, Paul knew the false teachers' teachings better than they did and could, therefore, thoroughly address their error. This would be similar to a former Muslim cleric explaining his background to speak with authority to the errors of Islam.
12. Paul tried to discredit Peter and shared his grievance with him openly in a letter. (Matthew 18 not followed)
Justin complains about Paul rebuking Peter to his face in Galatians 2. Again, based on this logic, Justin would have to reject Messiah since He publicly rebuked people all the time. Peter's error was public, not a private offense. Thus, Peter's public error required a public rebuke. Matthew 18 didn't apply to Peter in that instance.
13. Paul doesn't turn the other cheek, but curses his oppressors.
14. Paul had his very own Gospel which he called "my gospel."
First, Paul clearly says, "For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel" (Galatians 1:11). Paul believed and taught that his Gospel was not any man's but was received through a revelation of Yeshua the Messiah (Galatians 1:12).
Second, when Paul calls the gospel "my gospel" in places like Romans 2:16, he is not making a distinction between his message and the message preached by Yeshua and the other apostles. That is reading something into the text that isn't there. Paul saying "my gospel" is no different than anyone else saying it. To make a comparison, when I share "my testimony," it's my testimony—but the message of the Gospel proclaimed in my testimony is the same message it's always been. It's not a different message. We are to share our Gospel—the only Gospel there is—with others.
15. Paul claims he didn't benefit at all from the other disciples' wisdom.
Justin doesn't really explain this point; he just asserts it. I assume he is referring to Galatians 1:16-17, where Paul says he didn't immediately consult the other apostles after his conversion? If that's the case, the problem is that Paul later did consult them. He goes on to say that he went to Jerusalem and stayed with Cephas (Peter) for fifteen days. Then he visited James (Galatians 1:18-19).
16. Paul claims that he is the one who laid the foundation that others build on.
Justin cites 1 Corinthians 3:10 in support of this assertion. Apparently, he forgot to read the very next verse:
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Yeshua is the foundation. The entire context of this section is that the Corinthian believers should follow God, not men—and Paul even includes himself as a mere human servant who is nothing (3:5-7). Paul did lay the foundation, which is the message of Messiah, which many of the other ministers—even to today—build upon. He was chosen by Messiah to do so. So what's the problem?
17. Paul calls himself a "father," contrary to Messiah's teachings.
Justin says that Paul's use of "father" in 1 Corinthians 4:15 violates Messiah's teaching in Matthew 23:9.
However, Yeshua's prohibition to not call anyone father was dealing with a specific problem in a community where teachers were having inappropriate authority granted to them, and titles like "Rabbi" and "Father," according to Tim Hegg, were "gaining a technical meaning to designate a teacher whose authority was to be received absolutely" (Hegg, Matthew, p. 1038). This was not how Paul used the term in 1 Corinthians 4:15. According to Hegg:
Paul is arguing for his own acceptance among the followers of Yeshua at Corinth and that they should not "exceed what is written" (v. 6) but should honor his own admonition that the Scriptures formed the ultimate authority for their faith and practice. When he is using the term "father" here, he is referring to himself as the one who brought the Gospel to them and thus the one through whose message they gained "sonship" in the Messiah. (Ibid.)
18. Paul was incapable of casting out HIS demon and was the only apostle with this issue.
Justin cites 2 Corinthians 12:7 where Paul refers to a "messenger of Satan" that was given to him to harass him. Paul pleaded with the Lord about it, but it didn't leave him (12:8-10). Justin says, "The other apostles cast out demons like it was no problem. Like it was nothing" (1:31:50 in his video), implying that Paul is a false apostle because he wasn't able to cast out this demon.
The problem with Justin's logic here is that he is now required to reject the other disciples because they also weren't able to cast out a demon in one instance (Matthew 17:19).
19. Paul lied to the Sanhedrin when confronted with allegations of teaching against the Law and circumcision.
20. Paul repeatedly tries to assure people that he's not lying.
Paul was using rhetoric to reinforce his message. So what? At the beginning of his video, Justin kept trying to reassure us that he wasn't rejecting the Messiah or the entirety of the New Testament based on his views of Paul. Why did Justin feel the need to reassure us of this repeatedly throughout his video? According to his own logic, Justin must be untrustworthy!
21. Paul tells his followers to imitate HIM, not the Messiah.
Justin's assertion is false. Paul says to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), not to imitate him instead of imitating Christ. Justin is splitting hairs, and this "reason" for rejecting Paul isn't a very good one.
22. Paul is not eloquent, but confusing. Yahuah is not the author of confusion.
The fact that Justin is confused by Paul's teachings does not mean that Paul's teachings aren't from God. Yeshua's parables often mystified the Pharisees and even Yeshua's disciples, but that doesn't mean that Yeshua's parables are not from God. Peter was confused about the vision God gave him in Acts 10, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a vision from God.
23. Paul contradicts himself repeatedly.
Justin doesn't explain this point; he just asserts it. Thus, I can simply assert that Justin is wrong.
24. Paul taught to follow your conscience, not the law.
Justin doesn't explain this point. I assume he must be referring to Romans 14? If so, Paul did not teach to follow your conscience regarding actual commandments but only regarding issues that aren't clearly expressed in God's Law (Romans 14:1-2). Paul teaches obedience to God's Law many times throughout his epistles.
25. Paul says the law justifies, then says it doesn't in the next chapter. (Romans 2-3)
Justin claims that Romans 2:13 contradicts Romans 3:20, but this is false. Paul does not say that doing works of the Law justifies you in Romans 2:13; he simply says that the ones who are justified are also those who do the Law. This agrees with Paul's writings elsewhere as well as other apostolic teachings (e.g., James). Paul is not contradicting everything else he says throughout his epistles about justification being by faith alone.
26. Paul added to and took away from the WORD in stereotypical Pharisee fashion.
Justin doesn't explain this point; he just asserts it. Thus, I will simply assert that Justin is wrong.
27. Paul caused confusion, and 50,000 "Christian" denominations.
The fact that people are confused by Paul's teachings doesn't entail that Paul's teachings aren't from God. The disciples were often confused by Yeshua's teachings.
28. Paul caused lawlessness among so many it is added to him until this day.
This is an attribution error. The fact that people have misunderstood Paul's teachings as him teaching lawlessness does not entail that Paul actually taught lawlessness. He didn't.
29. Paul doesn't pass the Prophet test of Deuteronomy 13.
Justin says that Paul did away with the commandments, which means that Paul is a false prophet. But Paul didn't do away with the commandments, as many faithful Messianic ministries have demonstrated. Read J.K. McKee's The New Testament Validates Torah. Read Tim Hegg's Galatians and Romans commentaries. Check out 119 Ministries’ Pauline Paradox series. [119 Note: For more on The Deuteronomy 13 Test, please see our teaching by that name]
30. Paul's doctrines cannot be confirmed by 2-3 witnesses.
Justin doesn't explain what he means by this point.
31. James 3 seems to be directly teaching against Paul personally.
Justin doesn't explain what he means by this point.
32. Paul says that "works" are useless for salvation, James (one of the 12) says the opposite.
So, I guess Justin denies the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith—the very Gospel affirmed by the other apostles in Acts 15?
In any case, James (who was not one of the Twelve, by the way) does not say that salvation comes through works. There is no contradiction between James and Paul. Here is an excerpt from my book on James, When Faith Works, regarding this issue:
The first thing to note is that James does not deny the fact that we're justified by faith. He doesn't teach that faith can't save; he teaches that counterfeit faith can't save. What is this counterfeit faith? It's the kind of "faith" that might intellectually affirm certain biblical truths but doesn't lead to good works. True saving faith is fully surrendering to Yeshua. It's committing your whole life to Him, not only in word but also in deed. It's a commitment to follow Yeshua daily: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). So James agrees with Paul that we are saved by faith, but faith needs to be defined correctly. James simply emphasizes that doing good works is the necessary outgrowth of saving faith. "Faith" that doesn't produce good works is a counterfeit.
The second thing to note is that Paul taught the same thing as James—that is, true saving faith is evidenced by works. That's the type of faith that justifies us. Ephesians 2:8-9 was quoted earlier, saying, "By grace you have been saved through faith [...] not a result of works." But when we look at the very next verse, we see that Paul clearly affirms that this saving faith will result in good works: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis added).
33. 1 John chapter 2 and 3 seem to warn against Paul as a false teacher.
Justin doesn't explain what he means by this point.
34. Paul taught that Messiah didn't come in the flesh, but in the "likeness" of flesh, a doctrine specifically stated to be an "antichrist" doctrine according to 1 John 4. "The likeness of men" and "appearance as a man" are how Paul describes the Messiah.
Justin wants to believe that Paul taught some sort of gnosticism. However, Scripture is clear that Justin’s assertion is false. Paul did teach that Messiah came in the flesh. 1 Timothy 3:16 says that Messiah was “manifest in the flesh.” Paul tied the Messiah to the people of Israel by race, “according to the flesh,” in Romans 9:5. The entire basis of the gospel that Paul proclaimed is that Messiah bled and died for our sins, which would mean that He was fully human, and then rose again from the grave.
35. Paul testifies he was kicked out of the church of Asia (Ephesus,) Ephesus was then rewarded in the Book of Revelation for kicking out a "false apostle."
This is the definition of eisegesis—Justin is merely reading into the text what he wants to be true. If you already believe Paul is a false prophet, then, of course, you are going to assume that Revelation 2:2 must be referring to Paul when Yeshua commends the Church of Ephesus for rejecting false prophets. But that is assuming one's own ideas into the text.
The problem with Justin's assertion is that Paul ministered to believers in Ephesus (ever read Ephesians?). Acts 20:17-30 shows that the elders of the Church of Ephesus received Paul and wept when it was time for him to leave. In fact, Revelation 2:2 confirms Paul’s own warning: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). John in Revelation commends the Church of Ephesus for essentially heeding Paul’s warning to reject false apostles. Regarding 2 Timothy 1:15 in which Paul says that "all who are in Asia turned away from me," Craig Keener notes:
In context, "all" excludes at least the household of 1:16-18; in accordance with the flexibility of common language in antiquity, it means "most." Although many Jewish teachers predicted widespread apostasy for the end time or even felt that it characterized their own generation, they lamented it. This is hardly the sort of detail a later pseudepigrapher writing in Paul's name would have made up about the end of his ministry. (Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary)
Paul obviously didn’t mean that literally “all” in Asia rejected him. For instance, he’s writing to Timothy who was a leader in the Church of Ephesus! So what did Paul mean here? Possibly, he was talking about his traveling companions in Asia who would not visit him in prison in Rome. That’s why, in the very next verse, he blesses Onesiphorus for searching for him and finding him.
Another point worth mentioning is that John wrote Revelation. Polycarp, who was one of John’s disciples, wrote about Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians. In his Epistle, Polycarp has nothing but glowing praise for Paul. Don’t you think a disciple of John’s would warn us and offer concerns about Paul if John indeed considered Paul to be a false apostle?
36. Paul taught the eating of food sacrificed to idols, as act CONDEMNED in the Book of Revelation chapter 2.
Justin has an overly simplistic view of the complicated issues Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 8-10. Paul does not encourage eating food sacrificed to idols; instead, he opposes those who think it's no big deal to eat meat sacrificed to idols on the basis that God is one and idols have no real existence! As David Garland remarks, "We should not take this statement [in 1 Corinthians 8:8] to hint that Paul sides with those who think that eating idol food is unobjectionable" (Garland, 1 Corinthians, p. 385).
Paul does not endorse believers going out and eating food offered to idols; he opposes such behavior and appeals to the potential negative fallout that could happen as a reason why (8:10). J.K. McKee explains it well:
Seeing that some of the Believers in Corinth were removed from the worldview that the gods and goddesses of Greco-Roman mythology really did have influence over their lives—unlike the one God and one Lord (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)—was not an instantaneous process. Perhaps being superstitious or overly concerned about their former masters, even down to the point of thinking that their normal meals were some kind of idol's sacrifice, the last thing such individuals needed was to see fellow Believers actually socializing in an idol's temple. (McKee, The New Testament Validates Torah, p. 290)
Tim Hegg also provides a great summary of the controversy in the Church of Corinth surrounding this issue of meat offered to idols and how Paul addressed it:
The controversy was over whether such meat was fit for consumption by believers in Yeshua. Some had “knowledge” that idols were actually nothing, and the gods they represented were only the figment of pagan imagination. For these, the profane influence of idolatry did not attach to the meat, so that eating it could not bring idol defilement. Others were not so convinced. They most likely felt that the power of the idol adhered to the offered meat, and that one who ate it would therefore be defiled. Paul’s clear instructions are that participation in pagan temples was contrary to one’s faith in Messiah (10:18–22) and was therefore prohibited. However, meat that was eaten at a common meal, even with unbelieving Jews, should not be scrutinized. The possibility existed that meat purchased from the market could have originated in the pagan temples. But unless one was specifically made aware of this, he was not to ask, since from Paul’s point of view, the profane status of idolatry did not adhere to the meat. If, however, one was specifically notified that the meat had come from the pagan temple, one should not eat it in order to guard the conscience of the one who served it (10:27ff). In short, believers should always present the life message that they have nothing to do with the idolatry. (Tim Hegg, All Things to All Men, p. 4)
As Hegg points out, Paul did not encourage eating meat offered to idols. In fact, Paul directly discouraged it on the basis that believers must not have anything to do with idolatry. Also, a believer knowingly eating meat offered to idols could cause their brothers to stumble. The only “exception” would be if it weren’t clear that the meat purchased from the marketplace had been offered to an idol—but if one was made aware that the meat had come from the pagan temple, he must not eat it. This is in alignment with the other apostles’ teachings.
37. Paul says it's better to not get married like him. The Torah says otherwise. "It is not good for man to be alone."
Based on Justin's logic here, Messiah is also to be rejected because He likewise taught that some people are better off not being married (Matthew 19:10-12). Obviously, this is the exception to the rule, as both Messiah and Paul taught. Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 7 was "in view of the present distress" (7:26), not the general rule. This is clear since Paul elsewhere says that prohibiting marriage is a “doctrine of demons” (1 Timothy 4:3). Later in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul directly says that it’s better for some people to get married (7:36).
38. Paul's teaching of abstinence above all led to sexual immorality among church leaders for centuries, and it still continues.
This is an attribution error. Paul didn't teach celibacy as a general rule but only good advice "in view of the present distress" of his day (1 Corinthians 7:26). The fact that later church leaders might have misunderstood Paul's teaching and committed sexual immorality is not Paul's fault.
39. Paul says he "being crafty, caught you with guile."
Justin doesn't explain this point. If he is referring to 2 Corinthians 12:16, Paul is quoting the accusations of his enemies, not proclaiming himself to be crafty and deceitful.
40. Paul claims that it's ok to lie as long as it leads people to "Christ." (Romans 3:7)
No, Paul is again bringing up the rhetorical objection he raised in 3:5 about God's wrath being unrighteous because "our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God." In verse 7, he uses the specific example of lying basically to articulate the objection that one might raise that God shouldn't condemn someone for their lie because their sin brought God glory. In the verses and chapters that follow, Paul directly refutes the idea that God's grace is a license to sin (e.g., Romans 6:1).
41. Paul says to be all things to all people, a subtle doctrine of deceit.
Again, Justin has an overly simplistic view of the issues addressed in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Paul was not a deceitful salesman. Elsewhere, Paul clearly reminds his readers of how they received Paul's message, not because of "error or impurity or any attempt to deceive," but because they've seen his boldness in declaring the Gospel in the midst of much conflict (1 Thessalonians 2:1-5). He was not interested in pleasing men with "flattering speech." Moreover, Paul even rebuked Peter for trying to please men by his hypocritical behavior (Galatians 2). Paul clearly had no problem standing up for what was true. For an excellent commentary on how Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 was not him describing himself as a deceitful salesman, see this article.
42. There are only 12 foundations on New Jerusalem, with the 12 disciples' names written on them. Paul makes 13.
Justin doesn't explain this point. Paul wasn't one of the Twelve, as explained earlier. So what? That doesn't make him a false apostle. See #3.
43. There are only 12 gates leading into New Jerusalem, where's Paul's?
44. Paul quotes writings of Euripedes (406 B.C.) and claims it to be the words of the Messiah ("kick against the pricks").
So what? That was a common Greek proverb of the day. Is it wrong to quote popular cultural material? There are things like this all over the Bible. Should we throw out the Psalms because they quote the Baal cycle? Should we throw out the Prophets because they sometimes paraphrase material from ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Syrian writings? Should preachers not be allowed to quote popular movies in their sermons? Not sure what the objection is here.
45. Paul taught popular doctrines of stoicism instead of the law (deny the flesh).
Justin doesn't explain this point.
46. Paul has no witnesses to his conversion.
47. The early Ebionite and Nazarene Churches utterly rejected Paul as a false apostle.
First, who cares what the Ebionites believed about Paul? They also rejected the virgin birth of Yeshua, so should we now throw out the Gospel of Matthew? Of course not. As for the Nazarenes, contrary to popular belief, it's actually untrue that they rejected the apostleship of Paul. They recognized his commission from God to preach to the gentiles. For some great work on this, read Ray Pritz' book, Nazarene Jewish Christianity.
48. The other disciples did not believe Paul was a disciple in Acts 9.
Not at first, but they eventually received him and affirmed his ministry as the entire rest of the New Testament clearly demonstrates.
49. The true Apostles did not defend Paul when he was imprisoned and questioned.
They didn't defend Yeshua during His sentencing and crucifixion, either. So, according to Justin's logic, that must mean that Yeshua is a false Messiah.
50. Paul's conversion story is almost identical to that of Pentheus, King of Thebes from the play titled Bacche, written 400 years earlier. Dionysus (instead of "Jesus") is confronting his persecutor and states "you disregard my words of warning…and kick against the pricks, a man defying god."
Again, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" was a common Greek proverb. The fact that it appears in other writings shouldn't be surprising. That doesn't mean that Paul's conversion story is false just because Yeshua used this common phrase. The other alleged "parallels" to this play are a stretch, to say the least.
As we've seen, none of the reasons Justin gave for rejecting Paul are any good. Moreover, despite his personal logical inconsistency in some areas, his position is dangerous. If you throw out Paul, you might as well throw out Luke-Acts and 2 Peter, which Justin has already expressed a willingness to do. This eventually leads to throwing out Matthew, Mark, John, and the entire rest of the New Testament. Then what's to keep one from rejecting Yeshua altogether?
There is another danger to disparaging Paul’s writings. It’s not just a matter of throwing out letters written by a man. Yeshua said the Holy Spirit would guide His people into all truth. Paul, like the other apostles and their close companions (Mark, Luke, James, etc.), was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the words he wrote to guide us into God’s truth. When you declare Paul to be a false apostle, and you disparage his writings, you are disparaging the Holy Spirit who inspired those writings.
I pray that Justin repents and comes to his senses. Flee from this false teaching, friends.