Do you worship false gods?

We are going to take a few weeks to look at the Ten Commandments. A few folks have suggested that this would be a great topic for a series and I agree.

We traditionally focus on the first list found in the book of Exodus chapter 20.

Among the many reasons to focus on the ten commandments is that they are a simplified manual for how to live your life. This manual is written with the inspiration of someone who knows what is best for us because He created us in the first place. If you want to study society and figure out what might be wrong and how we can fix it, a really great place to start is with the ten commandments. Please understand that you cannot know Jesus Christ as anything more than a theory if you do not obey the commandments. That is why He tells us “If you love me, obey my commandments.” This brings us to #1, the first commandment.  

You shall have no other gods before Me.

This is the most important commandment of them all. Because there are so many distractions and diversions in the world that are looking to take our attention and capture our hearts, this commandment is both the most difficult and the most rewarding. When God spoke to Moses He began with this commandment in order to set a standard of conduct with Moses and the Israelites. God is telling Moses and He is telling us that He wants to have a relationship with us as His people. In fact He tells Moses that He is a jealous God. Only His jealousy isn’t self serving like a humans might be. Instead it is the holy jealousy of a God who has bought us and redeemed us with a price. A God who loves us and wants what is best for us.

Above everything else we should be clear that “you shall have no other gods before Me” means that we do not leave Jesus Christ or the Christian faith in order to dabble in other religions such as Zen Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism or atheism. “You shall have no other gods before Me” also means “you shall have no other gods equal to Me.” In our society there is a tendency to say “well we have Jesus but others have this god or that prophet.” You can’t be a Christian unless you believe that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ and that means that whatever else you might think of other religions, you may not consider their gods to be equal or comparable to our God. That is why the pagan Romans did not simply accept Jesus Christ along with the gods they had already worshiped for centuries. Instead we find them destroying the old temples and old beliefs because the truth had been made known to them through the teachings of Jesus Christ who says “I am the way, the truth and the life…no man comes to the Father except through ME.” Write those words on your heart.

One of the most practical ways to judge your commitment to God is to check your schedule and your budget. These two things give great indications on where our heart is inclined. They tell us what we really value in life. God is not interested in simply having us follow Him, but in having a relationship that is based in love. He proves that to us by sending His Son to live a human life and even to die as a common criminal. This isn’t a commandment in the abstract, it is a commandment that is confirmed when we follow Jesus Christ and make His teachings and His life the central focus of our lives.

You shall have no other gods before me”, means that we will not be dictated or led to make any decisions without first asking if this decision is clearly honoring and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. If you don’t have that firm conviction then it is not wise to go forward with that plan of yours. If you make any decision without going through this thought process there is a chance that you are serving false gods, idols that you may have in your heart and your mind. So it is important to test your thoughts and your motivations. This is true for individuals as well as families and parish councils and churches. When our motivations are pure and oriented towards God we find that the decisions we choose will bless us and have a positive impact on everyone around us over the course of time. When we have false gods before us and live according to their expectations for our lives we find that things can quickly unravel.

False gods come in many forms and each of them is as destructive as the next.

They are not simply other religions but even certain ideologies and philosophies that we take to heart. They are demonic because they cannot give life or salvation, they only appear to offer these hopes and dreams. As Professor Paul Meyendorff would say “demonic is anything that claims to offer salvation and cannot deliver.” In the early Christian tradition and throughout the New Testament we see that Christians are encouraged not to love the world. They are encouraged to remember that these things are temporary but our true treasure is spiritual and heavenly. John the Apostle writes “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

The pleasures of the world; the riches, the power, the wealth, the career and the comfort are not meant to be sources of inspiration for us. They are meant to be tools, not goals in our lives. They are not meant to be the motivation for getting up and going to work. They are not meant to give our life meaning and purpose. If they do, we’re in trouble and we’ve lost our way. We are to recognize that each and every one of these worldly treasures can cause us to stumble and to love things that are temporary and offer no life. To put your trust in things that cannot save you is not only foolish, it is a grave sin in the eyes of the Almighty. This includes putting too much stock in yourself.

Plenty of people today worship themselves as gods.

I might think about what’s going to make me happy or what I think I should do without ever saying a prayer or looking to the words of scripture for guidance on a subject. I need to force myself to get into the habit of making decisions by asking “how does this decision honor God and make Him first?” This is at the heart of living a Christian life; making decisions that are sometimes inconvenient but worthy of Christ. If you get into the habit of living in this way you’ll notice that it becomes a way to freedom from attachments and false hopes and expectations. The habit of trusting your life to God frees you to grow and flourish and become the man or woman that God desires. Putting God first means that you can begin cultivating a relationship with Him because you are acknowledging Him with every breath. He will stop being a theory and will instead become a life.

May God help us to turn from the worship of false gods to the worship of the true and living God with His only begotten Son, Now and Forever, AMEN.

Comments or Questions? Leave them below!

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110 thoughts on “Do you worship false gods?

  1. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

    • Thanks for the comments. I agree with most of the above but I wouldn’t be too quick to subscribe to the idea that Paul is sometimes wrong in the New Testament. I simply don’t believe that is the case. I believe that the Scriptures often force us to deal with apparent inconsistency through the struggle of prayer. In fact this idea that we can “piece meal” what we accept in the New Testament is foreign to Orthodox Christianity. What we are really after is the proper reading and that usually doesn’t mean simply ignoring or dismissing certain apostles. I find them to harmonize quite well with one another in general. Blessings to you.

  2. Dear Fr. Guirguis,
    You seem to be starting with the premise that Paul COULDN’T be wrong, (which I don’t think is a good place to start.)

    According to Jesus, which Commandment is the Most Important?

    This is a question of fact about the content of the text in the 66 Books of our Bible. It is comparing the words of Jesus with the words of Paul (and other men) regarding which one is the Most Important Commandment and which one is the Second commandment, which together fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Not The Law the Prophets & the Writings, not “All Scripture,” not “The whole Bible”)

    It isn’t a question of men’s opinions about “what Paul really meant” or “what Paul must have known” or “what Paul was actually referring to here” or “what Paul was clearly implying” or “what we must conclude that Paul was assuming”, etc. etc.

    These lines of reasoning all go back to the false idea that “Paul must have been right and Paul couldn’t possibly be wrong, so whatever Paul was thinking at the time must have been correct, and we just have to figure out what Paul’s intended meaning was and what Paul was really thinking when he wrote these words.” That would mean that your opinion about the unknowable unwritten “mind of Paul” becomes the “Word of God.” No. Wrong.

    Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. The words spoken by Jesus, recorded in our Bible by Matthew Mark Luke & John, should be above all other words. This has literally been the Orthodox position for almost 2000 years. Paul is inferior, Jesus is superior. The words of Jesus are superior to the words of everyone else in the Bible and to everyone else in the world. Jesus is in agreement with the Law and the Prophets and came “to fulfill them.” [Matthew 5:17-20]

    What Jesus clearly and specifically said is also superior and more important than your opinions about what you think Jesus meant or implied, but didn’t say elsewhere. For example, when Jesus was speaking about “a new command I give you,” Jesus didn’t say THE new commandment, or the FIRST commandment, or the MOST IMPORTANT commandment, or the ONE commandment, or the GREATEST commandment, or ONE RULE.

    The false teaching about “one rule” is the false teaching of the Pharisees of Paul’s day, and Paul the Pharisee was pushing this false teaching. This contradicts the clear specific teaching of Jesus about the first and greatest commandment and the second. Jesus warned us about the Pharisees in Matthew chapters 15 & 16, and quoted the Prophet Isaiah regarding them:
    “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
    [Isaiah 29:13]

  3. “What is an Apostle?”
    Here is the answer based on the original sources:
    The words and actions of Jesus and the Original Apostles in the text of the New Testament.

    .1) Gospel of Mark – time lag between being appointed and being sent
    “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him…” [Mark 3:13-14]

    Three chapters later,
    “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” [Mark 6:6-7]

    .2) Gospel of Luke – time lag between being appointed and being sent
    “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon…..” [Luke 6:12-14]

    Again three chapters later,
    “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” [Luke 9:1-2]

    .3) Gospel of Matthew – which is organized by theme, not necessarily in chronological order.
    “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon…” [Matthew 10:1]

    Without any clear time reference, continuing on the theme of the Apostles, Matthew does record “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions…” [Matthew 10:5] Matthew never said that the Apostles were “sent out” immediately after being appointed. If we didn’t also have the clear records in Mark and Luke, it would be a fairly logical assumption that Jesus sent them out right away, but it would still be just an assumption. In this case, that assumption would clearly be wrong. The Twelve Apostles were absolutely NOT sent out right away after being appointed Apostles, according to Mark chapters 3 through 6, and Luke chapters 6 through 9.

    So being an Apostle of Jesus involves being sent by Jesus, yes. But that isn’t the only meaning, or even the first and primary meaning. The first thing was “that they might be with Him” personally, together, for His entire earthly ministry, from the time of John the Baptist until Jesus rose to heaven. Jesus poured his life into the 12 Apostles for 3 ½ years very personally training them to be the leaders of the church, and Jesus chose Peter as first among equals.

    The NIV translation inserts the heading “Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas” for the passage Luke wrote in Acts 1:12-26]. The NIV headings were not part of the original text, and sometimes they can be misleading, but in this case I believe the heading is right on.

    Jesus and the Original Apostles knew what an Apostle is better than anyone else in the world. Why is this a strange idea? Why do so many people frequently attack and tear down and dismiss the Original Apostles, particularly Peter, as if they were all incompetent, stupid, and wrong in so many ways, and they didn’t even know what an “Apostle” was? The answer to that question is, they have been listening to the voice of Paul, rather than the voices of Jesus and the Original Apostles.

    As we consider the question “what is an Apostle”, we should carefully listen to the words of the leader that Jesus personally appointed as first among the Apostles, and trained personally for 3 ½ years, Peter.

    “It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” [Acts 1:21-22]

    Neither Paul, nor James, nor Luke were with Jesus and the Apostles the whole time, so they were not qualified to be a “witness with the Apostles of Jesus’ resurrection”, which is what it means to be an Apostle. Matthias was qualified, appointed, and later recognized as part of The Twelve. No one except Judas ever lost his apostleship.

    Responding to a question from Peter,
    “Jesus said to them:
    …you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Matthew 19:28]

    We cannot prove that Judas was present at that time, and we cannot prove that Matthias was absent at that time when Jesus spoke those words. Even if Judas was physically present, as we all realize now, he was not a true follower of Jesus. And even if Matthias was physically absent at that particular occasion, Jesus is still establishing the basic qualification for having one of the twelve thrones as being “you who have followed me,” not someone who will follow Jesus in the future, like Paul, James, Luke or anyone else in the world.

    At the Last Supper, Jesus said to His Apostles:
    “You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred on one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Luke 22:28-30]

    Was Judas present when Jesus spoke those words? Even if someone wants to be argumentative and say we can’t prove that Judas wasn’t there at the time, we certainly can’t prove that Judas WAS there. Judas obviously didn’t stand by Jesus in his trial, as the whole world knows. But that was the requirement Jesus gave to “sit on thrones:” “You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” “You”, speaking to His 11 Apostles who had been walking with Him faithfully for 3 ½ years. Not others in the future who will follow the risen Jesus Christ. Notice that at the Last Supper, when Judas lost his throne and Matthias was definitely absent, Jesus chose to speak of “thrones” rather than “twelve thrones” as he had previously.

    The Apostle John recorded about the New Jerusalem,
    “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” [Revelation 21:14]

    The Apostles are 12 faithful eyewitnesses who walked with Jesus during His entire earthly ministry, and Matthias is the 12th. That’s the short version of my definition of “what is an Apostle.”

  4. Jesus was asked twice which Commandment is the greatest or most important one, (Matthew 22 and Mark 12)
    Both times Jesus answered quoting the same two commandments, from the Law of Moses.

    Jesus said that one of these two commandments is the first and greatest most important one. Which one is it? The one in Deuteronomy 6, or the one in Leviticus 19 ?

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [Mark 12:29-30, Deuteronomy 6:4-5]

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” [Matthew 22:37-38, Deuteronomy 6:5,]

  5. It’s been a couple of months. This may bring some light on the situation.

    Many self-professed “Bible-believing Evangelicals” won’t listen to the words of Jesus, because they are brainwashed through reciting their “mantra” – “all scripture is God-breathed.”

    This “Evangelical Mantra” has been accepted by the collective subconscious mind of “The Evangelical Church” without thought, question, reflection, or even 2 witnesses from the Scripture itself. It’s based on a misinterpretation, out of context, of one verse in one letter written by one man, Paul the Pharisee, who was unfamiliar with the personal ministry and teaching of Jesus.

    But, “Once an idea has been accepted by your subconscious, it remains there and it governs your behavior until it is replaced or changed.” [ as a pastor named Bishop Dale C. Bronner observed in one of his sermons]

    (Definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.) Mantra (noun) (Hinduism.) A sacred formula believed to embody the divinity invoked and to possess magical power, used in prayer and incantation.

    When cult members repeat their mantra, it makes them deaf to the voice of God, unable to hear God. Instead, it puts their focus on their one “special man” above all others – his personality, words and teachings, character, life example, feelings, experience, intentions, mind, will, emotions, etc. Their cult leader is their hero – he is always right, could never be wrong about anything specific, and he must be obeyed in all things and never questioned. He will give himself a special title, write at least one special book, and claim special authority, with no need for a second witness to back him up.
    Here are 3 examples.

    .1) Fuhrer. The title of Adolf Hitler as the leader of the German Nazis, author of “Mein Kamph”. Mantra: “Heil Hitler.”

    .2) The self-appointed Prophet Muhammad, author of The Koran. Mantra: …..”and Muhammad is his prophet.”

    .3) Paul the Pharisee, the self-appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, whose 13 letters comprise one third of what, today, we call the “New Testament.” (The first, original “New Testament” was composed by the second century heretic Marcion, and he coined the term “New Testament.” His new “book” contained nothing except 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke. There were no other “New Testament” books, and the Hebrew Scriptures were the “Old Testament” which was irrelevant, according to the heretic Marcion.) Mantra: “All Scripture is God-breathed….”

    I got my Masters Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was attracted to the school because they put Paul’s mantra of “All Scripture is God-breathed” above everything else, and I wanted to heed Paul’s command and “Preach the Word” like Paul….

    This mantra is a misinterpretation out of context of 2 Timothy 3:16. It ignores the previous verse, 2 Timothy 3:15, which clearly indicates that Paul was NOT referring to his own letters when he wrote the words “All Scripture.”

    Paul was probably making reference to some of the Hebrew Scriptures, quite likely including the Law and the Prophets. We cannot be completely certain exactly which “Scriptures” Paul meant in “All Scripture”, and what Paul meant by “God-breathed.” Why can’t we be certain?

    Because we must establish a matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses, especially something as important as “What is the Word of God.” No one else in the pages of the Bible besides Paul ever said anything like “All Scripture is God-breathed”. And Paul only said it here, one time, in the middle of a personal letter.

    The Apostle Peter made reference to “Prophecy of Scripture,” not “All Scripture,” and no it’s not the same thing at all. Jesus never said anything like that. And no one, not even Paul, ever said that all Scripture was equal.

    I remember the general approach to the Bible at Dallas being that “every word in the 66 Books is the Word of God”….. and we should interpret it based on “the intended meaning of the author in the historical grammatical context.”

    That is the basic idea of the heavy-duty seminary language we were being trained in. It sounds so right, so intelligent, so professional, so “godly”….. but it is fundamentally flawed.

    When we look at Paul’s teachings and testimony about himself, (in his letters that make up 1/3 of the New Testament,) we should NOT immediately ask ourselves; “what did Paul say, what did Paul mean, and how does this apply to my life?” The fundamental question is NOT “what was in the mind of Paul?”

    Before any of that, the FIRST question to ask is; “does Paul agree with Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets?”

    Paul contradicted himself, and his teachings and testimony about himself don’t harmonize with the teachings of Jesus (or with Luke’s record of his life.) Let’s not waste our time with endless debates about “what Paul really meant” with his wacky teachings about “baptizing the dead” or “there is neither male nor female.” Paul was wrong. Jesus reminds us from The Law “at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female.” [Matthew 19:4, Genesis 1:27]

    As to the question of “whether the Bible is ALL truly Gods WORDS”…

    The underlying unspoken assumption is that “The Bible” (66 Books) was given to us by God as “one book” and it’s all “equal” in level of authority, priority, and importance. This comes from unconsciously believing Paul’s mantra, the “Evangelical Mantra”, that “All Scripture is God-breathed”, and falsely assuming Paul was referring to every word in the 66 Books of the Bible. Yet even here, not even Paul, not even once, ever said that “All Scripture is EQUAL” in authority, priority, and importance.

    No one in the pages of the Bible ever said or wrote that “all Scripture,” or “the Bible,” is “all truly God’s words”. Jesus never said anything like that, and Jesus did not see it that way. Jesus did not see even the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the “Old Testament”, as a whole unit or book that was all equal or “all truly God’s words.” Jesus spoke of The Law, or The Law and the Prophets, holding these 2 sections of the Old Testament above the third, least important sections the “Writings.” And Jesus held the Psalms, the first book of the “Writings” section, above the other books in the “Writings” section in importance, since some parts of some Psalms are prophetic.

    Obviously, the New Testament Scriptures were not written when Jesus was walking the earth. But if we want to get closest to The Source, Jesus himself, it makes sense that we should look first to the eyewitness testimony of two of His appointed Apostles who walked with Him faithfully for over 3 years, Matthew & John. (Also to other eyewitness testimony, recorded by Mark and Luke.) This is more accurate, important, and authoritative than personal letters written by Paul the Pharisee, who never knew Jesus personally, had no part in His ministry, and had no eyewitness testimony.

    We should follow the Jesus of the Gospel writers. We should not follow the “jesus” of Paul the Pharisee or Muhammad or any other man, who had their own ideas of who “jesus” was and what He did.

    • Matthew. You’ve touched on some interesting points. Some of these have been dealt with quite exhaustively in the book “The Way to Nicaea” by John Behr. He is a well regarded scholar in the development of early Christian doctrine. I would highly suggest this book….and will gladly discuss it when you are done reading it. Blessings !

      • James,
        If we can’t agree with Jesus about which one is the Most Important Commandment, there is no point in reading or discussion of some other book.
        So, which one is it – the one in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, or the one in Leviticus 19:18 ?

  6. Matthew,

    Thanks for all your comments. I am sorry that I do not have the time to have a long protracted chess match. I do not think that would benefit you and I’m certain that I would not benefit from it either. We know the most important commandments from the Lord Jesus…..the apostles have all contributed to a greater understanding of this, and what this looks like in a practical setting.

    The Orthodox Church rejects any notion that St. Paul was somehow out of touch or distinct in his understanding of the gospel from that given by the Lord Jesus. That may be the current idea in Islam or in certain branches of Christian heresy or even in German historical critical circles but that is by no means the teaching of the Church as it has been handed down to us from the apostles to the bishops and presbyters throughout the ages. They testify to an unbroken understanding of the faith even with their own lives.

    We would do well to humble our personal opinions in order to be fed by the wisdom of God since the Church contains “the manifold wisdom of God” as it is “the pillar and foundation of truth.” Who is this truth but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself?

    • Of course you know that there is no “Mr. Church”. We have many proofs of the Apostleship of St. Paul, but the most important is the witness of the Apostolic Church itself. Whether one looks East or West the universal Church finds St. Paul to be an Apostle. One of the hymns for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul reads “Verily, the all-solemn Feast of the two Apostles hath arrived, bringing us salvation. Wherefore, let us mystically exult, crying unto them: Rejoice, O ye who have become luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the Sun! Rejoice, O Peter and Paul, adamant pillars of the divine doctrines, ye friends of Christ and two honored vessels! Be ye present among us in an invisible manner, and grant immaterial gifts to those who extol your feast with songs.”

      –Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 6

      In light of this we remind the readers that there is no New Testament at all during the time of St Paul’s ministry. There are only scattered letters that receive their authority and stamp of approval in the same way that all of the New Testament receives it’s authority and acceptance….through the use and reading of such texts within all of the Church. Later these 27 books are codified as “Canonical”.

      That the Church existed and thrived before the compilation of the New Testament is quite clear and yet the witness of the Church is that St. Paul is in fact in Apostle. This is seen through Hymnography, iconography and all of the writings of the early Church fathers who regularly quoted from St. Paul. To deny the apostleship of St. Paul is to skate on truly thin ice….but that is often the result of a seminary education that is steeped in biblical scholarship without the tether of the living witness of the Apostolic community.

  7. From the pages of the Bible,
    Why don’t we finish our “chess game” and answer the question,
    “Who appointed Paul an apostle, when” ?

    It’s a very small board to play on anyway. I think we both agree that we should read the Bible. But for THIS particular question, we can completely eliminate the Old Testament, the Gospels, and Paul’s letters, since Paul’s testimony about himself is not valid without another witness.

    It would be like you had a table that is 2 feet square, and you are trying to cover it with a tablecloth that is only 1 foot square – Paul’s claims about himself.

    If you pull the tablecloth to one corner (like Acts 14) the other corners are exposed. (Acts 1, 6, 9, 13, 15). All you have is Acts, (AKA Acts of the Apostles) and Peter saying that Paul is a “beloved brother”, which applies to any follower of Jesus. So why not stop going around and around the table trying in vain to “cover for Paul”.

    No one appointed Paul an apostle. Never.

    Not Jesus speaking to Paul in Acts 9
    Not Jesus speaking to Ananias in Acts 9
    Not in Paul’s exaggerated testimony in Acts 22
    Not in Paul’s fictional account in Acts 26
    Not the prophets and teachers of Antioch in Acts 13
    Not the Holy Spirit in Acts 13
    Not Luke in Acts 14
    Not Peter in 2 Peter 3

    From the pages of the Bible, you believe Paul was appointed an apostle, and was “The Apostle to the Gentiles,” simply and ONLY because “Paul said so.”

    That is where church tradition comes from – rather like the church tradition saying that the earth is the center of the universe, which Galileo challenged less than 500 years ago….

    Blessings following Jesus of the Gospels.

    • It is difficult to play chess when you insist on playing the whole game from merely one square of a much larger board.

      I am not responsible for the problematic science of the Western Roman Church in regards to Galileo. That is not my business. But I speak clearly and directly when I tell you that the Bible itself cannot be it’s own interpreter (though that will suffice in some aspects). Instead we are forced to see how the early Church understood the texts of the Bible.

      If what you believe about St. Paul is true, I challenge you to find this sentiment in any of the Church fathers of the first 8-10 centuries. This is my challenge and this is where I leave you.

      You may perceive that this is “running around the table” but I assure you that this is an exercise in reality. Reality for a Christian is not based merely on the words of the Holy writings. Reality is based on the experience and the faith as it has been passed down by the living breathing Body of Christ. So if I quote any passage, you will simply say that it doesn’t specifically use the words “I appoint you as an apostle.” I agree that those exact words may not be present….what we disagree on is whether or not that even matters. We also disagree on whether or not St. Paul is trustworthy. It just so happens that most of the Church fathers also have an opinion on this matter.

      I let them speak rather than become my own Pope and authority which is the natural tendency of western Christianity especially once the reformers come on the scene. You are not the first graduate of the Dallas seminary that I have met yet by no coincidence, both of you seem to have glaring deficiencies in your grasp of the early Christian faith. I don’t say that with any joy but with a heartfelt prayer that your eyes will be opened to the rest of the chess board.

      Blessings,

      FJ

      • My response to your specific comments:

        ….”the Bible itself cannot be it’s own interpreter”

        I agree. I believe we should interpret it through the message of Jesus of the Gospels, which He gave through the 11 Apostles that He appointed.
        (not Paul’s message or Paul’s “gospel” which Paul himself claimed that he received directly by revelation, rather than from the (True) Apostles.)

        “I challenge you to find this sentiment in any of the Church fathers of the first 8-10 centuries.”

        Tertullian, who said Paul was the “Apostle of the heretics.”
        http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/recommendedreading/56-marcionism.html

        “Reality is based on the experience and the faith as it has been passed down by the living breathing Body of Christ.”

        Your sentiment is correct and I agree with you. But Paul disagreed. Galatians 1:11-23

        One other point though. We are the BRIDE of Christ, the Bride of God consistently in the Prophets, the words of Jesus, through to Revelation. We are NOT the “Body of Christ.” Only Paul said that, and no one before or after Paul agreed with him on that point.

        Your criticism is completely valid regarding Dallas Seminary Graduates having “glaring deficiencies in your grasp of the early Christian faith.”

        True. So true. I had to learn on my own. But likewise, you seem to be unaware of the Second Century heretic Marcion, as I was until fairly recently.
        Blessings following Jesus

  8. My dear friend Matthew,

    Now we are making progress! You see that there is still a glaring problem as you have quoted from Tertullian. Tertullian was not considered a saint or one of the Church Fathers. It is as if the Church has wisdom beyond what we might expect. It is this same Church that supports and defends both Sts. Peter and Paul as the foremost and chief apostles.

    Let us continue to search for even one example of a Church Father who taught that St. Paul was not an Apostle. Even if one such example were to be found it would not invalidate the strong witness of the whole Church Fathers who have clearly spoken of St. Paul and do not regard his teaching as in any way shape or form contrary to Our Lord Jesus.

    Regarding Marcion. It would be wise to check the reading list and depth of study undertaken in most Orthodox Theological Seminaries as regards Church History and patristics before assuming too much. But since you have already assumed more than you should have it should be noted that most baptist seminaries cover centuries 1-16 in the first semester of Church history and centuries 16-present in the second semester. I know this to be true from many discussions with Baptist pastors and friends. On the other hand many of us in the Orthodox seminaries have had the blessing of covering centuries 1-3 (or 4) in the first semester and if going quickly have covered another 5 or 6 centuries in the next semester. This has been done not only in Church History but also in Patristics and dogmatic theology.

    I invited you earlier to read “Way to Nicaea” by Behr. I highly recommend this as it tackles Church history, dogmatics and patristics simultaneously as they intersect on the question of the identity of Jesus Christ.

    I do not judge you my brother. I have only love for you and a hope that you will see the rest of the chess board. The game is beautiful when we see the whole playing field.

    Blessings,

    FJ

  9. Dear Brother James,
    You wrote QUOTE:
    “Tertullian was not considered a saint or one of the Church Fathers.”

    My “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology” has half a page on Tertullian, beginning with:
    “Tertullian (ca. 155-220). An early Latin father of the church.”

    Some titles are perfectly clear, set in stone – like how many Apostles there are, set in the foundation stone of heaven. Twelve. (Revelation 21:14)

    Other titles, like “church fathers”, are not so clearly set in stone. (I believe you identify yourself as a “father” as well, no?)

    Tertullian WAS widely recognized as a “Church Father” by many, I’ve cited a source, and there are plenty more. You provided no sources to show Tertullian was NOT a “Church Father.” (There have been many people through the centuries who see the truth about Paul, although it has been a “minority view”. You can see some of them through JesusWordsOnly if you have interest.

    So is not true that ALL the “Church Fathers” had no problem with Paul.

    You wrote above QUOTE:
    “….So if I quote any passage, you will simply say that it doesn’t specifically use the words “I appoint you as an apostle.” I agree that those exact words may not be present….what we disagree on is whether or not that even matters. We also disagree on whether or not St. Paul is trustworthy…..”

    It DOES matter to Jesus.
    Revelation 2:2

    The application for us is that we should test those who claim to be apostles. This applies first and foremost to the Church in Ephesus, which Paul wrote to claiming to be an apostle, and where Paul spent 2 years and 3 months teaching. (Not 3 years night and day with tears, as Paul boastfully exaggerated.)

  10. Tertullian was not a Church Father…..as defined by the Church itself. St. Paul is accepted by the Church as an apostle and one of the chief apostles. The only question that remains is whether we place our faith in a text or in the proper interpretation of the text which comes through the Church?

    It seems that we’ve gone in circles. I won’t be able to continue as I’ve clearly shared what I can with you but you’ve refused to hear any of it. To say any more would be to waste both of our times I think. I highly encourage you to check out the book, it will help I think.

    May your search be fruitful!

  11. Tertullian was one of the “Top Twelve Church Fathers” according to my “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.”

    This source has about half a page on the topic
    “Fathers, Church” where they list the name “Tertullian” two times, plus at the end are twelve names to “See Also”, where Tertullian is also included.

    You keep saying
    “Tertullian was not a Church Father.”
    Other than your own opinion, please provide one source denying Tertullian was a “Church Father.”

    We are going in circles because you are only listening to your own voice.

    May you be blessed and hear the voice of
    Jesus of the Gospels

  12. Your third source says that Tertullian wrote:
    “a magisterial refutation of the views of the leading Gnostic heretic Marcion in a very long work called Against Marcion. And since he was the first major Christian writer to write in Latin, he is considered to be “the Father of Latin theology.”

    So how about going back to the text of our New Testament.
    Who appointed Paul an apostle, when? Like the heretic Marcion, do you believe this simply and only because Paul said so?

    • Lord have mercy. As I have said, in the Orthodox Church he is not a saint and only saints can be Fathers of the Church. We have nowhere else to go since this simple fact has caught you in a tangle. The Orthodox Church existed before the New Testament and they fully accept St. Paul as being one of the chief apostles. One must harmonize his teaching as complementary to Christ’s through the Holy spirit. This happens within the bride and body of Christ. T

  13. You are not quoting anyone here- neither in the Bible, nor anywhere else.

    One source your provided me said that Tertullian “is considered to be “the Father of Latin theology.”

    And you say he is not a “Church Father” because …… you said so….. and you yourself ARE a “father” in the church…..

    Have I misunderstood something?

  14. You said QUOTE:
    “One must harmonize his [Paul’s] teaching as complementary to Christ’s through the Holy spirit. This happens within the bride and body of Christ.”

    WHY?
    Can you quote someone in the New Testament about that other than Paul?

    We are the Bride, according to the voice of God in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew Mark Luke John & Revelation.

    We are NOT the Body of Christ – that was Paul’s false teaching, one time in one letter, and no one before or after agreed with Paul.

    • Matthew, can you provide any proof that we should ignore the letters of St. Paul? Where in the Gospels does the Lord say “only my words matter”?

      According to the Orthodox Church a church father is a recognized saint who speaks with the gift and authority of the Holy spirit in a way that is representative of the living tradition of the Church through time.

      Since Tertullian is not canonized and in fact died outside of communion with the Church we can clearly say that we don’t consider him a church father.

      Of course this is simply a rabbit hole that keeps us from the main point…which is: no one of any consequence within the Orthodox Church through history believed that St. Paul wasn’t an Apostle. This is why the New Testament ( a creation of the Church) is full of his blessed and spirit filled words.

      • Revelation 2:1-3
        Matthew 24:35 Jesus’ words matter MOST, above all other words.

        You are not quoting the Bible or anyone else. The New Testament was a creation of the Second Century Heretic Marcion – he coined that term “New Testament”. His “new book” contained nothing but 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke. Were you aware of that? I was not, until fairly recently – they didn’t teach us that at Dallas Theological Seminary.

        Who appointed Paul an apostle, when, and where? This is a specific verifiable point from the Bible text. If you want to believe this simply because “Paul said so” then can you just say so directly, and we can agree to disagree?

      • Matthew, it is not Marcion who decided what was canonical within the New Testament although he may have used that terminology. St. Athanasius of Alexandria in his 39th festal letter in 367 ad puts forward the books that he believes ought to be universally accepted by the Church. Of course many other Fathers also put forward lists of books but they differed in small ways from one another. It is the list of Athanasius that was universally accepted by the Catholic and Apostolic Church. This fact reminds us that the letters and writings of the new testament were always in the minds of the Church Fathers. There is never a time where the Fathers of the Church treat St. Paul with disrespect or imagine him to be anything but an Apostle. Just the opposite…the wide acceptance of the letter of Athanasius ( himself a saint and Church Father) is quite heavy evidence since in fact it is his list that formed the new testament you hold, including the 4 Gospels which were also chosen by the Church while other Gospels were excluded.

        I’m afraid we have nowhere else to go from here. You’ve believed something that has no basis within the life of the Church and yet you’ve stubbornly held to it despite every historical and ecclesiological fact being against such an interpretation. Please remember that the Church itself bears witness to the Apostleship of Paul in all her hymns and the writings of the Fathers as well.

  15. You are not quoting any specific sources, and you skip to 367 AD……

    Lets go back to about 142 AD.
    Do you admit that Marcion coined the term “New Testament”, and that his new creation contained only 10 of Pau’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke?

    • I would highly recommend you read “way to Nicaea” by behr. There seems to be a disconnect due to lack of basic historical knowledge here. Marcion did use the term New Testament but he may not have used it first as it was also used by Jerome and Iranaeus both of whom are actually church fathers. Also many writers had their own ideas of which books and Gospels should be considered canonical or approved. It doesn’t change the fact that only 1 list was officially approved by the Church. May the Lord bless your search. I wish I could help more but it doesn’t seem that you are willing to concede the simplest of points. So let’s leave it alone and you can continue to reinvent the faith as most of the reformers have done for the last 400 years.

  16. Of course the alternative is to accept the teachings of the unbroken and universal Church that has existed from the Apostles until now. It is a beautiful and easy path that doesn’t involve struggling to understand our own opinion all the while hoping that we are correct. I am not the source of correct doctrine and my understanding of the truth doesn’t change the reality of the Truth. The Church however is the source of true doctrine and always has been.

  17. Saint Jerome (also known as Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius; Girolamo; Hieronymus; Man of the Bible) is a Latin Father of the Church and a Doctor of the Church. Saint Jerome was born to a rich pagan family in 347 A.D. at Strido, Dalmatia
    (forgot online reference)

    Saint Irenaeus, (born c. 120, /140, Asia Minor—died c. 200, /203, probably Lyon; Western feast day June 28; Eastern feast day August 23) bishop of Lugdunum (Lyon) and leading Christian theologian of the 2nd century. His work Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), written in about 180, was a refutation of Gnosticism. In the course of his writings Irenaeus advanced the development of an authoritative canon of Scriptures, the creed, and the authority of the episcopal office.
    Irenaeus adopted a totally negative and unresponsive attitude, however, toward Marcion, a schismatic leader in Rome, and toward Gnosticism, a fashionable intellectual movement in the rapidly expanding church that espoused dualism. Because Gnosticism was overcome through the efforts of the early Church Fathers, among them Clement of Alexandria and Irenaeus, Gnostic writings were largely obliterated.
    https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Irenaeus

    Marcion came out with his “New Testament” around 142 or 144 AD.

    You referenced 2 other men, from 40 years, and 200 years later.

    So can you concede the point that the term “New Testament” WAS coined by Marion FIRST ???? And can you concede what the books were in MARCION’S “New Testament” ???

    • Interestingly enough the Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church states that Tertullian is the first to use the term New Testament in the way we use it. Again, I’m not sure that is very important since the universal usage by the Church is the real crux of the matter.

    • I’ve asked you to find one recognized Church Father of the Orthodox Church who believes that St. Paul was not an Apostle but even finding one has proved quite difficult…it is hard to kick against the goads! Of course even this does not change the fact that the life and witness of the Church is not dependent on merely one or two ideas from one or two fathers. Rather, the life of the Church is taken as a whole. The Church chose the books of the New Testament and had an understanding of the gospel that just so happens to be the exact understanding of St. Paul and the other Apostles. He is officially recognized as a saint and one of two chief Apostles. These are the facts…but you have yet to concede a single word…which says more about your disposition than anything else. Be honest and admit that you are not interested in learning about the early church but about imposing your altered belief system on others as if it is some type of saving message. Since it is not the message of the Church and contradicts the Church it is suspect and needs to be questioned and exposed for what it ultimately is, a lie and another source of division.

  18. That Marcion used the term and had his own idea of what was canonical is really no different than what you have done is it? He only chose part of one gospel and a trimmed version of St. Paul’s letters. You’ve got your own narrow interpretation that is not based in anything more substantive than your own understanding.

  19. I’m glad we agree on the historical fact that Marcion, the Second Century heretic,
    “only chose part of one gospel and a trimmed version of St. Paul’s letters.”

    He chose part of LUKE’s Gospel – the least authoritative one, according to Luke’s own words in his introduction to his Gospel (the first few verses.)

    Matthew and John were true Apostles, and personal eyewitnesses of the entire ministry of Jesus. It seems clear that Mark’s gospel was taken from eyewitness testimony of Peter and other Apostles who could not write well.

    Marcion was a heretic because he was listening primarily to the voice of Paul – Paul’s teachings, Paul’s autobiography, Paul’s theology, Paul’s version of “Christ” and Paul’s “gospel” – not the voice of Jesus of the Gospels.

    • Your point regarding Marcion doesn’t change the fact that St. Paul is authoritative according to the Church. Marcion didn’t use all of Paul only what suited his argument. The Church also does not believe that one gospel is higher than the others. It sees all the Gospel accounts as important and this is why it did not reject any of the 4 or attempt to harmonize them.

  20. Of course all 4 Gospels are important. I understand Eastern Orthodoxy enough to know that you have a special “Book of the 4 Gospels” which is the ONLY book placed on the altar – (not “the Bible”).

    This emphasis was reinforced by the architecture of an Orthodox Church I visited recently. They had a round shape for the church, with 4 men as pillars. The two at the front were – (NOT Peter and Paul, as we would expect in a Roman Catholic Church). but rather the Apostles Matthew and John.

    I also know that churches in the West tend to look to Paul for their theology, while Eastern Orthodox, such as Armenian, tend to look to JOHN.

  21. I looked through the sayingsoftheorthodoxfathers page here on your site…. I note that maybe 5 or 6 of these men take the title “The Great”…. I know of John Crysostom, 4th or 5th century I believe.

    How many of them were active and writing in the SECOND Century? Especially the first half of the Second Century? Not 3rd or 4th or later.

    • Great question. I don’t have a firm answer but certainly among the earliest writers among the Church Fathers are: St. Clement, St. Ignatius of Antioch….a disciple of John, St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Justin Martyr, St. Iranaeus of Lyons, St. Hippolytus….I’m not sure I’ve remembered all the early fathers of the top of my head but that is many of them.

  22. Thank you.
    I noticed a post to you from someone connected with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    I have a friend who was doing Bible translation there, and he told me that they choose to order the New Testament letters differently than we do in the West. We put Paul first, right after Acts. Put THEY put the letters of the Apostle John first, giving them priority nearer to the Gospels and they push Paul toward the back. Are you able to confirm this is true?

    • It is true! After the book of Acts the Russian Orthodox usually have all of the general epistles beginning with James, Jude and 1-2 Peter then the letters of John. I would not infer too much from this order though. The point remains that all of St. Paul’s surviving letters are there.

      • This is more proof that Paul did not have Apostolic authority. The General Epistles were considered to be for everyone. But Paul only wrote personal letters to individuals and to particular churches (without naming anyone in charge of the church, since Paul reserved all authority and power for himself, without acknowledging any other church leader’s authority.)

        When faced with people in Corinth who knew better, Paul back-peddled and settled for “relative truth” as defined by him.
        1 Corinthians 9:2

      • That is a false conclusion. The Church fully accepts the teachings of St Paul and in fact one of the readings that happens every day within the Church especially Sundays is generally from a Pauline epistle.

  23. You wrote QUOTE:
    “Marcion didn’t use all of Paul only what suited his argument”

    To come to the truth, I suggest that we not be vague, but rather agree on the specific facts first..

    .1) Marcion coined the term “New Testament”, referring to his “new book” around 144 AD. It contained ALL 10 of Paul’s letters to individual churches in our Bibles today, plus an edited Gospel of Luke, with some parts missing. (He excluded the personal letters to Paul’s travelling helpers Timothy and Titus.)

    Marcion denied any relevancy for the Hebrew Scriptures, calling them the “Old Testament” which was outdated and irrelevant.

    This “new book” was the basis for Marcion’s new religion. There was nothing from the Law of Moses, the Prophets, or the Apostles who Jesus appointed.

    One of the “Church Fathers” we were discussing also wrote against Marcion (Jerome I think) in addition to the most famous work of Tertullian.

    So can we agree on these facts, first, to understand the larger picture?

  24. I accept the teachings of the Church as better than my own opinion and representative of the truth of the gospel…. understood correctly. As Fr. George Florovsky said “Tradition is Scripture…..rightly understood”

      • Absolutely these words are powerful and true. The application of the teaching is quite important. You see everything that you have attempted to sell me is the tradition of the Protestant fathers. They teach the commandments of men such as Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, Faith Alone etc. And you have added to them The 4 Gospels alone! My faith resides in the Church, the living body of Christ. Its teachings are known and seen throughout all the ages. I’m not bound by your novel concepts.

  25. You said QUOTE:
    “My faith resides in the Church, the living body of Christ….”

    That was Paul’s false teaching. We are NOT the “body of Christ.” No one else ever taught that in the pages of the Bible – not the Prophets, not Jesus, not the True Apostles. Paul was wrong about that.

    We are the BRIDE of Christ. You have made the church into “god.” You need to stop worshipping the false god of PAAL and listen to Jesus of the Gospels.

    • I’m sorry that this is difficult for you to understand. The Church has chosen which books of the New Testament are authoritative and among those books are the letters of St. Paul whom the Church considers one of the chief Apostles. The Church existed before the Gospels as well. You don’t believe in Jesus. You believe in the Jesus that the Church of the Apostles decided to present to the world. You can keep talking about your personal and heretical belief regarding St. Paul but that won’t change anything. I am more than convinced of the truth of the Gospels as presented by and upheld by the Church that existed before the creation of those Gospels.

  26. I “believe in the Jesus that the Church of the Apostles decided to present to the world”

    Yes. 12 Apostles. Matthias was #12.
    Paul was NOT an apostle, that was Paul’s own novel idea, like the church being the body of Christ.

    YOU believe in the “christ” of Paul, not the Jesus of the True Apostles.

    • The Church of the apostles presents not only 12 but in fact 70 Apostles as the Lord appointed them in Luke 10:1. Your insistence on Paul not being an Apostle is just a matter of your own fancy and is not recognized truth within the Church. It is a clear sign post that you have gone in the wrong direction and should turn back quickly because once a man has chosen to go without the living Church, one has in effect chosen his own opinion as being more enlightened than that of the Holy Spirit and such an opinion leads us to shipwreck both theologically and ecclesiologically but also personally. Please feel free to study any of the Church fathers of the first few centuries to see what they believed about St. Paul and the rest of the Apostles. Such a study requires time and patience but yields tremendous results as we are either confirmed in our understanding or deeply corrected and shown to be outside the mind of the Church on certain issues. I wish you well but I apologize that this cannot continue. May the Lord bless you. Please don’t forget my book recommendation “The Way to Nicaea” by Behr. It is clear that this will help you better understand the formation of the Church and it’s accepted writings.

  27. No,
    The Church of the apostles presents ONLY 12 Apostles.
    Acts 1 was the entire church at the time, appointing Matthias.

    In Revelation 21:14 the Apostle John confirms again 12 Apostles.

    Luke 10 has nothing to do with apostles, and anyway Luke was not an Apostle himself.

    Neither Jesus nor any of the true Apostles ever said anything about Paul being an apostle. Nothing at all – it’s a fact about the text of the Bible.

    Since Jesus and the church of the Apostles never accepted Paul as an apostle, why should you, other than lots of human tradition over the centuries?

    You need to turn back and stop following Paul, and start listening to Jesus of the True Apostles.

  28. Mathew, I’m sorry to say but I don’t believe your words are guided by the Holy Ghost, at least, not without your emotions tearing apart the words when they get to what you are typing. Paul is very clearly an apostle of Jesus Christ and was very clearly stopped by the Lord Himself on his way to Damascus. I’m not sure how you’ve gotten so off base from what the Holy Bible says and I am referencing from KJV, but listen to reason man. James is trying to help exhort and edify you and reprove your words and your refusing to listen. Do ye not know that if word is from the Lord that at least two will confirm it?

    I understand I am probably not half as educated as either of you, but I do care deeply for the truth of the word of the Lord Jesus, and I do care for the flock because the Lord tells me to. You have to understand that although the 11 themselves named Matthias an apostle by casting lots, it should be understood that this is shown right before the Holy Ghost began coming into the church directly. I have no doubt this was shown because we were not supposed to take things like this on ourselves. There is no mention of Matthias after this point, nor was there mention that the Lord was guiding these lots (which in the Old Testament many times did He have the Israelites cast lots but it was guided by Him).

    My point being, the entire Bible is the word of God, that means it is infallible, from Genesis to Revelation, there is zero mistakes. The only thing that is false is apocrypha, and ye nor any should dabble in those false books for they contradict themselves and are from the bowels of hell. The Holy Bible is 66 books and that is all (granted I would also argue to stick with KJV and transcripts which adhere to Antiochian scripture lineage as opposed to Alexandrian, but let’s not even start that conversation). Now, with that being said, it should then be understood that you cannot read the Bible from a worldly outlook, God’s word can only be understood by having faith in Jesus and being led by the Holy Ghost (Spirit) by the grace/mercy of God the Father. All these statements you are clinging to seem to be focused on information and texts outside of scripture, and that is what is throwing you off my brother.

    Look, you are a smart individual and that is fantastic. Just don’t let that take you away from what the Lord is trying to tell you here. I think you should thank your brother James for trying to help build you up. But your free to do what you will and act how you want, just know there are other brothers of the faith out there, like myself, who do care about the flock deeply. We are in the worst of the worst right now, there are fewer and fewer godly men on our side day by day. The fact is we need every godly man on the front more than ever, please listen to the truth on this one, Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ. Now let us all, as brothers in Jesus Christ, put on the full armour of God and the sword of the Spirit that is the word of God and meet our enemies in battle! Let us walk in the grace and mercy of the Lord, rebuke that which is evil and untrue, cling to that which is righteous and holy, and cast down the idols of our nation! Thanks for the words guys, it is so edifying to see the passion of other brothers in Christ, take care.

  29. Mathew, I’m sorry to say but I don’t believe your words are guided by the Holy Ghost, at least, not without your emotions tearing apart the words when they get to what you are typing. Paul is very clearly an apostle of Jesus Christ and was very clearly stopped by the Lord Himself on his way to Damascus (direct intervention). I’m not sure how you’ve gotten so off base from what the Holy Bible says and I am referencing from KJV, but listen to reason man. James is trying to help exhort and edify you and reprove your words and your refusing to listen. Do ye not know that if word is from the Lord that at least two will confirm it?

    I understand I am probably not half as educated as either of you, but I do care deeply for the truth of the word of the Lord Jesus, and I do care for the flock because the Lord tells me to. You have to understand that although the 11 themselves named Matthias an apostle by casting lots, it should be understood that this is shown right before the Holy Ghost began coming into the church directly. I have no doubt this was shown because we were not supposed to take things like this on ourselves. There is no mention of Matthias after this point, nor was there mention that the Lord was guiding these lots (which in the Old Testament many times did He have the Israelites cast lots but it was guided by Him as were visions back then for the prophets and patriarchs, etc). Now I’m not saying Matthias was not an apostle of Christ, because the fact is what we will see in heaven I do not know, he very well probably is also an apostle. Obviously Luke also mentions the 70 disciples (but I am referencing from KJV), I’m not claiming to be a true scholar here either.

    My point being, the entire Bible is the word of God, that means it is infallible, from Genesis to Revelation, there is zero mistakes. The only thing that is false is apocrypha, and ye nor any should dabble in those false books for they contradict themselves and are from the bowels of hell. The Holy Bible is 66 books and that is all (granted I would also argue to stick with KJV and transcripts which adhere to Antiochian scripture lineage as opposed to Alexandrian, but let’s not even start that conversation).

    16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
    2 Timothy 3:16-17

    Now, with that being said, it should then be understood that you cannot read the Bible from a worldly outlook, God’s word can only be understood by having faith in Jesus and being led by the Holy Ghost (Spirit) by the grace/mercy of God the Father. All these statements you are clinging to seem to be focused on information and texts outside of scripture, and that is what is throwing you off my brother. You are elevating certain pieces of scriptures above the others, but every word in the Bible is important as a whole. James is right, “We are the church” (The Body of Believers) as are you, “We are the bride of Christ” who is currently being prepared while we are here on earth (Sanctification Process). It’s no different than when Jesus explained that that “He was the Temple” and the Pharisees could not understand that, for their hearts were veiled.

    It’s as simple as this, if you just throw away the truth of Paul’s words (which were guided by the Holy Ghost as all those who wrote the books of the Bible, even Moses with the Pentateuch), then your denying that you believe what God’s word says. Every single word in the Bible is God breathed and true, even Jonah and the whale (Leviathan), it is not allegorical but true, have faith in Jesus and believe. I may not think exactly the same as either of you two, but I know that I believe in Jesus and what he did on the cross for us, I believe that God didn’t have to do that but he did, that’s mercy (keeping from us what we deserved). Then past that He blesses us with his grace (giving us what we don’t deserve) which is clearly shown by the Holy Ghost wrapping His loving arms around us as we are sanctified through our walk. Sanctified simplified to mean we are bearing spiritual fruit in Jesus and we are becoming more like Him and sinning less and less (granted we will struggle with sin till we are dead for we are bound in the flesh but you get the point). Paul to is our brother in Jesus Christ, and I have no doubt we’ll see him as untold amounts of brothers and sisters in Christ in heaven, for eternity.

    Look, you are a smart individual and that is fantastic. Just don’t let that take you away from what the Lord is trying to tell you here. I think you should thank your brother James for trying to help build you up. But your free to do what you will and act how you want, just know there are other brothers of the faith out there, like myself, who do care about the flock deeply and ultimately, glorifying God Almighty according to His will. We are in the worst of the worst right now, there are fewer and fewer godly men on our side day by day. The fact is we need every godly man on the front more than ever, please listen to the truth on this one, Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ. Now let us all, as brothers in Jesus Christ, put on the full armour of God and the sword of the Spirit that is the word of God and meet our enemies in battle, those vile principalities of the other realms! Let us walk in the grace and mercy of the Lord, rebuke that which is evil and untrue, cling to that which is righteous and holy, and cast down the idols of our nation!

    Thanks for the words guys, it is so edifying to see the passion of other brothers in Christ. Also, a special note of thanks to James, really appreciate reading your words on here and how you carried yourself, very meek and very true. Take care.

    • Zachary
      Rather than your opinions about what YOU “don’t believe”, how about opening your Bible and telling me,

      Who appointed Paul an apostle,
      When
      Where,
      and who said that ??

      FACTS. Chapter and verse. What is in the Bible text.

      Repeating a lie over and over, like “Paul is an apostle” doesn’t make it true – simply because “Paul said so.”

  30. The entire church of the Apostles appointed and recognized Matthias as the 12th Apostle (Acts 1)

    In Acts 6:2 “The Twelve gathered all the disciples together.”
    That DOES include Matthias, thought not by name. Boastfully talking about yourself a lot like Paul did was not a requirement to be an Apostle.

    Looking to the future, the foundations of the New Jerusalem , are
    “the twelve apostles of the lamb.” Revelation 21:14

    The Church of the Apostles never stripped any of the 12 Apostles of Acts 1 of his office, and never said any more were appointed.

    So the church of the Apostles says there are only 12, and Matthias is the twelfth. The Church says so.

    • The Church does not say so. You are only quoting from your misunderstanding of the New Testament. I quoted the Church hymn near the beginning of our discussion on St. Paul. That is a fact that the Orthodox Church calls St. Paul one of the Chief Apostles.

    • Hymns

      Troparion (Tone 4)

      First-enthroned of the apostles,teachers of the universe:Entreat the Master of allto grant peace to the world,and to our souls great mercy!

      Kontakion (Tone 2)

      O Lord, You have taken up to eternal restand to the enjoyment of Your blessingsthe two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

      Kontakion (Tone 2)

      Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honorThe rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

      • These hymns are not the word of God. They are representative of the mind of the Church. Not sure what year they were written or by whom. They are in all of our official liturgical books. We could also quote any Church father but you already know that.

  31. So you ignore the unanimous Church of the Apostles, in Acts 1, when literally ALL believers were together in one place for the only time in history ? They didn’t know what an Apostle really was, they were all wrong – and only Paul really knew – because Paul said so?

    You need to stop worshipping false gods – stop worshipping PAAL.

  32. Right – you think “Tradition is Scripture”- meaning the word of God…..
    And
    Someone, sometime, wrote a hymn – and this is more authoritative than the words of the Apostle Peter, confirmed by the entire Apostolic Church, recorded by the Gospel Writer Luke in Acts 1.

    Because Paul is your god, and if “Paul said so” then it MUST be true – and Jesus and the Apostles appointed by Jesus must all be wrong….. no game at all. Just PAAL worship. You need to come out of idolatry and stop worshipping the false god PAAL.

      • The Apostle Peter and the Apostles Jesus appointed are the original, most important “Church Fathers.” They, with the ENTIRE Church, appointed and recognized Matthias as the 12th and final Apostle.

        You believe Paul simply and only because “Paul said so” and you ignore the voice of Jesus and the Entire Original Apostolic Church. You follow Paul, not Jesus of the True Apostles and the Apostolic Church- so why not be honest and admit it?

  33. I don’t believe in “Sola Scriptura” either. So rather than dodging the question, can you tell me, specifically,
    why you think the entire Apostolic Church, in Acts 1 was wrong?

    • Acts 1 is one piece of a puzzle. If it was the only important piece the writer would not have thought it necessary to go on further….and yet he does in order to tell us more about the Church and it’s development. Insulting the memory of St. Paul won’t change that.

      • Are you insulting the Apostle John and saying he lied in his Book of Prophecy, Revelation, about the New Jerusalem, which “had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of he twelve apostles of the lamb.” [Revelation 21:14]
        ??

      • I didn’t insult anyone. You denied the apostleship of Paul. I did not deny John nor would I. Let’s agree to disagree. You have faith in your reading of Scripture. I have faith in the Church’s reading of Scripture.

      • Also, are you insulting the memory of the Apostle Matthias, in Acts 1 and Acts 6:2
        “…the Twelve gathered all the disciples together…..”

        Do you want to write this Apostle, appointed and recognized by the entire Apostolic Church, out of history? Simply because he was not a braggart and liar like Paul the Pharisee was?

      • 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  Acts 9.

  34. Who in the Apostolic Church affirmed “the apostleship” of Paul?
    Who? Where? When? Who said that?

    No one. Never. You believe Paul simply and only because “Paul said so.” That is a cult. You worship Paul, and ignore the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. Be honest.

    • Here we go. It’s just as i said… you’re reading of Scripture is the only one that matters. You might as well be your own Pope! You have no interest in learning, only in trying to teach a falsehood. May God forgive this.

      • Let’s not be concerned with MY reading or YOUR reading of Scripture – let’s talk about the actual text of Scripture – what it actually says – BEFORE we jump to our own “readings.” BEFORE we quote men’s opinions and traditions about how to interpret the text.

        Who appointed a 13th Apostle, when, where, and who said that? It wasn’t the Apostolic Church !

  35. The Apostolic Church affirms that there are only 12 Apostles, and Matthias is the 12th.

    I agree with The Apostolic Church.
    You disagree with The Apostolic Church.

    I hope you will come out of Egypt and stop worshipping the false “god” of PAAL, and start listening to the voice of Jesus of the Gospels, and the Apostolic Church.

      • So you are not disagreeing that
        “The Apostolic Church affirms that there are only 12 Apostles, and Matthias is the 12th.”

        But your “another church” has other ideas, according to your opinion…. which are baseless five times over.
        Luke 10 has nothing to do with
        Paul,
        or “apostles”,
        or “The Church”,
        Jesus sent them two by two, not individually,
        and it was written by Luke, who was not an Apostle.

        But, you continue to follow PAAL, because PAAL said so. Time to turn from this idol, and trust the word of The Apostolic Church which is faithful to Jesus of the Gospels.

  36. Parable of the 12 heavenly chalkboards

    What is a common analogy for a permanent decision?
    “Written in stone.”
    What could be more permanent than that?
    How about written in stone in heaven (in other words, for eternity.)
    And what kind of a stone is the most solid, permanent, and unchangeable?
    Perhaps a foundation stone?

    The Book of Revelation written by the Apostle John, chapter 21 verse 14 says… “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostle of the Lamb.”
    Nothing about a “13th Apostle” or an “Apostle of the Gentiles”…. Hmmmm…..

    Parable of the 12 heavenly chalkboards

    Imagine “Wackyjesus” in “Wackyheaven”, built on the foundations of 12 chalkboards:

    “Matthias, you should have developed your skills in writing and public speaking. Your name never appears in the Bible after your appointment as the 12th Apostle in Acts 1. [erase erase erase]

    Actually, the same is true for you Thaddaeus, after you were appointed. You should have hired a PR firm to promote your name and make if famous. [erase erase erase]

    Of course, you both are specifically mentioned in Acts 6:2. “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together.” And this is before Saul/Paul is even mentioned. But let us not confuse the issue with facts. Paul did a much better job of marketing himself, and he wrote about himself hundreds of times. Share of voice equals share of mind. And most Evangelical pastors who read the Bible spend most of their time listening to the voice of Paul, so they become “like Paul.” But I digress…

    James, we had a good run. I didn’t think King Herod would knock you off so quickly. [erase erase erase]

    Oh well. Wow, they’re dropping like flies. Now I’ve got 3 slots open. I’d better buy a case of chalk and some more erasers. I’ll have to change the names on these 12 chalkboards hundreds of times in the next couple of millennia.

    I guess I had better plan ahead, and save a slot for the last Pope, Francis. And the head Mormon Apostle. And I need to save a throne for my mom, or she’ll be mad. And one for Muhammad too. Who needs truth in relationship, when I can quickly get market share, and totally dominate the market, through mergers and acquisitions?

    WAKE UP.
    It’s time to stop following the Wackyjesus of PAAL. You need to start listening to Jesus of the Gospels, and The Church of the True Apostles Jesus chose.

      • Your definition of “the word of God” is based on a misinterpretation and creative expanded misapplication of
        one verse, out of context, in one personal letter, written by one man, Paul, who never knew Jesus personally during his ministry.

        Please look at 2 Timothy 3:15, yes FIFTEEN, and tell me what Paul is referring to in this verse……

      • It is only a misinterpretation because you have decided that it must be so! Study Church history and theology and then come and have a reasonable conversation based on facts not emotions! This is not profitable for you (or me).

  37. So the text of the Bible is not “facts” but someone’s opinion about “Church history and theology” (as they define that to be) ARE “facts” ?

    You won’t discuss 2 Timothy 3:15 because it shows that Paul COULD NOT HAVE BEEN referring to his own letters in the following verse, 2 Timothy 3:16, as “Scripture” which is “God-breathed.” The letter Paul was in process of writing was not even finished yet – and you think Timothy had been reading that letter in his infancy?

    Besides Paul, no other New Testament author said that Paul’s words, or his own words, were “the word of God.” Paul claimed this about some of his words in a couple of other letters, and then said that other of his words were NOT “the word of God.”

    Rather than letting Paul define what ‘god’s word” is, why not listen to Jesus of the Gospels?

    • Most of your interpretations and conclusions of the Bible are wrong and so I have told you that we will not be playing a game of “Battle Verses”. The Church has spoken through her councils and through her Church Fathers and saints. She has a living witness that has existed for 2000 unbroken years and is apparent in her writings, hymnography, dogmas, lives of the saints and rich liturgical life. I am not bound by your limited reading or understanding but by the Church which the Apostle Paul calls the Pillar and Foundation of Truth. I would appreciate an end to this discussion and I would highly suggest that you become acquainted with the Orthodox Church, it’s history, it’s theology and it’s vision for the life of the Church. It will open up many new horizons and hopes for healing and sanctity that are often obscured by other Christian traditions.

      • “The Church has spoken through her councils and through her Church Fathers and saints…”

        Amen.
        And the first council, the ONLY council that included ALL believers at the time, and ALL 11 Apostles appointed by Jesus, spoke and confirmed Matthias as the 12th and final Apostle. The Apostolic Church was in compete unity on this, as I have proven.

        What “The Church” or YOUR church decided in the 4th century, or the 16th century, or today, does not change the decision of the first Church Council, with ALL the original Church Fathers and ALL the saints present in agreement.

        I don’t believe in “Sola Scriptura” – but we can start with that, since we both have Bibles, and what the text says and doesn’t say is a verifiable fact we both can check.

        So from the text of the Bible,
        Who appointed Paul an apostle, when, where, and who said that?

        We can’t agree on what a “Church Father” is, or on what “The Orthodox Church teaches”, so no point in going in circles – we rely on different sources. And there are thousands, probably millions of sources, and we will not be talking about the same ones.

        Based on the Bible text as our one source of discussion, you believe God appointed Paul an apostle simply and only because “Paul said so.” So why not be honest, admit this, and we can agree to disagree.

    • Haha. No it doesn’t. Your one verse from Revelation does not prove that there weren’t other Apostles. The Church of the Apostles which has maintained apostolic succession since the beginning, disagrees with your faulty logic. Anyone can use Scripture to say anything. The Church either substantiates our reading or disproves it. The case against your reading is clear through the witness of the Church. The same Church that accepts Mathias also accepts Paul.

    • Since the conversation started nearly 2 years ago and since it has not progressed to your liking, perhaps we can agree to disagree. I have welcomed you to comment but as we progress further I find it hard to listen to your blatant disrespect of the Church and it’s beloved Apostle the Martyr St Paul. Since you are a guest in my place I suggest that you find a new line of attack instead of insulting our beloved saints who gave their lives for our faith. I would hate to block you but it seems that I may have no choice since this is a place for those who want to learn the truth as delivered once and for all by the Church….and not a sounding board for you to spit heresy or speak negatively of our brothers saints.

      • It’s unfortunate that you show blatant disrespect for The Apostle Peter
        The Apostle John
        The Apostle Matthias,
        and the rest of the Apostles in Acts 1, as well as the entire Church at the point of it’s birth almost 2000 years ago.

        But, you have your tradition, that you consider to be “the word of God”, which says that Paul is an apostle because Paul said so, and Jesus and the Apostles Jesus appointed were all wrong.

        It seems you don’t want to listen to the voice of Jesus through the Apostles He appointed, you would rather listen to Paul.

        So, I wish you well. I have already given you enough information above, if you have hears to listen – there is no point repeating.

      • Jesus reminded us from the Law of Moses that a matter should be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Here is another source who makes many of the same points I did about Paul – and some more I had not noticed. I agree with him about 95% of the time.

        http://www.problemswithpaul.com/Apostle_Paul.html

        Farewell, and may you find the truth-
        Jesus of the Gospels is The Way and The Truth and The Life.

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