How do you know if Paul, or anyone else for that matter, is a false prophet, even if his letters did get included in the Christian Bible? Or, how do you know if he should be trusted and listened to? We went over this a bit in a previous post, but it’s worth spending a little more time on today to make sure we are very clear on the topic.
God is so wonderful to tell us how to immediately spot false prophets:
““If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” Deut 13:1-3
A false prophet will appear to: have dreams & visions, do miraculous signs, say that his words are directly from God Himself. He may even gain a super large following because of all these three things, but is he true? That depends…
The false person WILL be able to do all the things that an actual prophet of the Lord can do; however, the ONE key that will allow you to be able to tell whether he is actually legit or not is…. Is the message he is promoting different than the message of the Tanakh? Is the God being presented a different than the God that spoke and communicated to Moses at Mt Sinai? Is the way of salvation different? Are the moral standards different? Is the method of communication different? Is His character different? Basically, the oneness of Hashem (The God of the Exodus), is compromised. It could be super obvious, or it could be subtle, but either way, one is required to know who The God of Israel is and be able to compare Him to this new way of thinking or this new God. There is NO SUCH THING as a new revelation from God. The books have been closed.
“20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or[f] who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” Deut 18:20-22
What does even the author of Peter say about false prophets?
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
What is the way of truth that Peter is talking about? It is the record of the Tanakh, the “Old Testament” to Christians, which includes the Torah (the “Teachings” or the first 5 books), and the Prophets, and Writings. This was the only authoritative Scriptures these first Christians had and believed to be the 100% truth. It’s hard to get our heads around now, but there were absolutely NO written copies of the New Testament, fragments of the Gospels, or anything as such. So, the only way of truth was the Hebrew Bible handed down and preserved meticulous for 1,000’s of years.
During the times of the Prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible, it is estimated that there were over 1,000 self-proclaimed prophets, yet only a few made the Book. Why? Not everyone who claimed dreams, visions, miracles, and messages were legit, actually, most of them WERE NOT legit. How do you know who is legit or not? Is it by charisma, the number of miracles done, how forceful one can push his agenda, how popular it was? No, it was none of these. God set up a method to test each and every prophet. He established a council of priests and judges and each prophet was to be tested by them. This council was crucial to be able to test the words of the prophet against the words of the Torah, so yes, they had to be extreme experts in the Hebrew Bible and had to have a known relationship with Hashem and were highly respected for their expertise and wisdom, like we hold field-experts in high regard today. Obviously, most ‘prophets’ failed the tests, so this just shows how much deception there was and is out there. Crazy!
Note that God NEVER says that the way to test is to bring it to Hashem in prayer. He will NOT answer in this way.
On to the New Testament… The writers of the NT did not submit any of their self-proclaimed prophecies to anyone for scrutiny to see if it matched up with the Word of God, as was demanded by God, but rather, people trusted their words based off of what God said not to use: self-proclaiming prophecy, charisma, popularity, and miracles.
Paul tells us that even angels can botch up messages to us and be false prophets; however, the key to also note is that who approved him as the one to bear the message of this “new gospel?”
“6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galations 1:6-9
So, how did Paul get his authority to preach the new Word of God? Basically, when it comes down to it, Christianity is the religion started by Paul. Jesus often had a different message then Paul while walking the earth in the Gospels, which should make us think.
To answer that, Paul got ALL of his revelations, by vision only in his own words:
“11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[d] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.” Galations 1:11-24
So, what do we find out about where Paul got everything he supposedly was told to write to the Gentiles?
- Paul got ALL of his messages in visions only, and key to note that he NEVER met Jesus, nor shared any of Jesus’ earthly stories in his letters, nor really knew anything about him or his ministry.
- Paul never told anyone for three years about the visions, but kept silent the whole time.
- Paul never consulted with anyone, especially not the Jewish council to approve prophets in Jerusalem, to see if what he was saying lined up with the Word of God. This seems odd since Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” and should have been pretty good friends with this council and if his visions were actually legitimate, they should have been excited to hear it. Obviously then, Paul knew he’d be a fail, and this obviously happened because even people like Peter and James butted heads with him.
- Paul ran away to Arabia (away from any Jews) for three years after these visions to consult with no one. What was he doing?
- The next person he talked to after three years was Peter, and then James for a bit.
- Because of these visions, and his running away for three years, Paul now feels justified to tell everyone about these visions as if Jesus was talking through him in all his words.
My next question is this. How is Paul’s claim to visions any different from any other false prophet? Do you consider Mohammad’s claims legit? He seemed to have a similar experience where he got personal, secret revelations from heaven for him to share. And, Islam is the second largest religion in the world, and will probably take over number one shortly. Does this mean it is true?
Muhammad’s revelation was an event described in Islam as taking place in 610 AD, during which the Islamic prophet, Muhammad was visited by the archangel Jibrīl, who revealed to him the beginnings of what would later become the Quran. The event took place in a cave called Hira, located on the mountain Jabal an-Nour, near Mecca. According to biographies of Muhammad,[which?] while on retreat in a mountain cave near Mecca (the cave of Hira), Gabriel appears before him and commands him to recite the first lines of chapter 96 of the Quran. Muhammad’s experience is mentioned in Surah 53:4–9:”It is no less than inspiration sent down to him:He was taught by one Mighty in Power,Endued with Wisdom: for he appeared (in stately form);While he was in the highest part of the horizon:Then he approached and came closer,And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer;”[Quran 53:4–9]
What about Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon’s? Apparently Jesus Christ and God the Father appeared to him. This seems even more legit than Paul. Smith said that there were ‘further revelations’ in addition to the NT & OT.
“Years later, Joseph Smith stated he had received a vision that resolved his religious confusion. In 1820, while praying in a wooded area near his home, he said that God and Jesus Christ, in a vision, appeared to him and told him his sins were forgiven and that all contemporary churches had “turned aside from the gospel.” Smith said he told the experience to a preacher, who dismissed the story with contempt. The event would later grow in importance to Smith’s followers, who now regard it as the first event in the gradual restoration of Christ’s church to earth. Until the 1840s, however, the experience was largely unknown, even to most Mormons. Smith may have originally understood the event simply as a personal conversion.Smith said he received golden plates from the angel Moroni at the Hill Cumorah. According to his later accounts, Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni, while praying one night in 1823. Smith said that this angel revealed the location of a buried book made of golden plates, as well as other artifacts, including a breastplate and a set of interpreters composed of two seer stones set in a frame, which had been hidden in a hill near his home. Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning, but was unsuccessful because the angel returned and prevented him. Smith reported that during the next four years, he made annual visits to the hill, but, until the fourth and final visit, each time he returned without the plates.“
If you want to find more people who have had visions of Jesus, or even Mary, there’s a list that will take you a lifetime to review: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visions_of_Jesus_and_Mary
Point being that we could go on and on with all those claim visions from God, miracles, and do get followers. But, the God of Israel gives us specific guidelines for figuring out which visions are legit, and which are not, even if the claim is to see or talk to “Jesus”, “God”, or any other divine-type being.
“22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” Deut 18:22”
Paul has a 2,000 year tract record. So, does his message match with the “gospel” message of the Tanakh? It actually fails drastically as we’ve already shown.
God is asking you, “Are you going to follow some smooth talker who can do magic tricks and tickle your years, or are you going to listen to God?” Galatians 1:11-24