First off, let me state that I deeply respect Shaul of Tarsus (Paul) and what he did, all he suffered through, and his knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.
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That being said, I also think that none of the Epistles he wrote should be considered scripture or included in the Bible because although he often quotes from and refers to the Tanakh, his letters are written in order to micro-manage his congregations.
They are not missionary- they are managerial.
When he said he would go to the Gentiles from now on (Acts 18:6), he was talking to the people in that town, and only in that town. Shaul always went to the synagogues, bringing the Good News of the Messiah to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles; in other words, only after the Jews in a town rejected him did he then go to the Gentiles in that town.
He never stopped preaching to Jews. Ever.
What happened later was that his letters became a source of confusion because each one was written to a congregation that had specific problems, and Shaul dealt with each congregation differently. And when he wrote to a congregation, he “tweaked” the message about obedience to the Torah to meet their specific situation. This led to his letters being misused and misinterpreted to the point where modern-day Christianity is based almost exclusively on what he wrote instead of what God said, in the Torah.
Let’s not forget that Shaul was a Pharisee trained by Gamaliel, one of the greatest Jewish Torah scholars of all time, so, nu? … how could he have allowed this to happen? Where did he go wrong?
He tells us, himself, where he went wrong, and it’s here in 1 Corinthians 9: 19-22…
For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone’s bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible. That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah — although I myself am not outside the framework of God’s Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah. With the “weak” I became “weak,” in order to win the “weak.” With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them.
What Shaul is telling us is that he adjusted his message in order to meet the needs of his audience, instead of giving the exact same message to all the people. Now we know that God is never changing, and his word is never changing, but what Shaul did was to change Gods’ words in order to make them appealing to whomever he was talking to.
Add to that the fact that he talked using Jewish Logic and it becomes obvious why there is so much misunderstanding of what he wrote.
“Jewish Logic” is how Jews express their thoughts. Being Jewish, I know that a Jew will tell you everything that something isn’t before they tell you what it is. When you read Romans, you see a perfect example of what I am saying: Shaul goes through listing all the reasons that the Torah would be considered invalid, then comes back with “Heaven Forbid!” when he proposes that what he just said is true. That is why Romans has been used as a polemic against the Torah when it is, in fact, an apologetic FOR the Torah!
Shaul did what he considered the right thing to do in order to get the message about the Messiah out to as many people as possible. And, in fact, he did a great job of that. The problems came later when the letters he wrote to these different congregations, to help them manage themselves and stay on track, emphasized what each group needed to hear instead of sending the same exact message to everyone.
And that is where Shaul went wrong. Since then, his letters have been more of a stumbling block to the proper obedience to God, meaning worshiping and living the way God said we should, than almost anything else, other than (maybe) Constantine’s creation of modern-day Christianity.
Since we can’t get rid of these letters, when you read them please remember that Shaul was a Torah-observant Jewish man who was trying to do whatever he could to get both Jews and Gentiles to accept Yeshua as their Messiah. He said he wanted to get the message to as many people as possible in the hopes that some might be saved.
I think he assumed, as James did (in Acts 15:21) that all his new converts to Messiah would become more Torah observant as they grew spiritually.
Unfortunately, after Shaul’s death, the new leadership of these Gentile Believers decided they should break away from Judaism; that, however, is another story.
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!