Monday, June 11, 2012

Paul Makes Literary Allusions to Books that Don't Exist Yet??

Many critics of Christianity say that Paul founded Christianity, and knew very little about the life and teachings of Jesus.

This is evidently false.

Paul Makes Literary Allusions to Jesus Teachings

According to critics, here are the dates of writing of New Testament books:

1 & 2 Thessalonians - 50-54 A.D.

Mark - 70 A.D.

Matthew - 85 A.D.

John - 95 A.D.

Paul shows a remarkable solidarity with Jesus on the subject of the end times and Second Coming. In fact, there are about 20 areas of conceptual agreement, on just the Second Coming alone. 1 & 2 Thessalonians contain four and a half chapters that have a very striking conceptual agreement to Matthew 24 and 25 on issues of end times.
  1. Gathering of believers together in the sky at second coming
  2. trumpet call at second coming 
  3. reference to angels at second coming
  4. Jesus comes from heaven at second coming
  5. coming of end time events compared to a woman in labor
  6. sudden, unexpected doom for happy and carefree people at the second coming 
  7. both passages very specifically say that the time of the second coming is unknown, and compare it to a burglar who comes at night
  8. both passages discourage "sleep" but instead encourage alertness
  9. both passages make passing reference to drunkenness as a bad behavior in light of the second coming
  10. those who care for other believers will be granted entry into the kingdom of God 
  11. those who persecute or fail to take care of Christ's people will be punished by God
  12. Jesus comes with angels at his judgment
  13. Condemnation constitutes an eternal punishment of a destructive nature
  14. Those who are condemned are excluded from Christ's presence
  15. Passage in Paul and with Jesus have a general motif of avoiding deception
  16. Christ and Paul agree that a falling away from faith precedes an act of idolatry in the temple as the order of end time events
  17. "Abomination of desolation" is a Jewish term historically associated with an act of idolatry in the temple. Jesus uses the masculine pronoun (in Mark 13) to refer to this. Paul shows striking agreement with Jesus by saying that it is a "he", not necessarily an "it", that is idolized in the temple.
  18. Christ and Paul both insinuate that "lawlessness" will be increased
  19. there will be false miracles and signs to deceive people in the end times
  20. Both Christ and Paul have a strong motif of avoiding laziness in context of the second coming
If anyone wants specific verse references I am happy to provide.

However, that's not all. 

Paul Alludes to Teachings Largely Found in The Gospel of John

1 & 2 Thessalonians show awareness of concepts which liberal New Testament scholarship claims are unique to John's gospel. 1 & 2 Thessalonians doesn't just show awareness of them, but actively weaves them in with the teachings from Matthew 24 & 25. 
  1. Jesus is Yahweh. John portrays Jesus making claims to divinity. Paul says Jesus is "the Lord" who descends from heaven. "The Lord" in Greek is the exact same phrase for "Yahweh" in the Greek Old Testament of Paul's day. (1 Thess. 5) 
  2. Jesus himself raises the dead at the end times (1 Thess. 5) 
  3. Believers, not necessarily workers, are vindicated at the Second Coming (2 Thess. 1) The idea of people being saved because they believe is hardly prominent at all in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
  4. Those who do not believe do so because they love evil more than the truth. (John 3; 2 Thess. 2) 
This is especially significant because critics generally hold the gospel of John to be very unreliable because it was written so late (95 A.D.)

Throwing Out Bad Alternatives

This only leaves us 6 options:
  1. Jesus told Paul in a vision what he said while on earth. 
  2. The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John plagiarized ideas from 1 & 2 Thessalonians. 
  3. Paul made up all those Second Coming ideas all by himself.
  4. Paul read Matthew and plagiarized it directly.
  5. Paul got those Second Coming ideas from some random Christian he met who was passing on word of mouth traditions about Jesus.
  6. Paul knew people who heard what Jesus really said. 
#1 is out from the critics perspective. It concedes that Christianity is true, so critics will quickly reject it. 

#2 is certainly not on the table, because the only way people can accuse Paul of changing Christianity is by reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John! If Paul is supposedly inventing a new Christianity, the only way that scholars have any basis at all for this claim is by comparing what he says to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

#3 is certainly not on the table either because its impossible to make 20 literary and thematic allusions to books that don't exist yet. 

#4 Most Christians and all non-Christians reject this one because 1 & 2 Thessalonians were written way too early ( early 50's) for Matthew to have been written yet. 

#5 is more plausible than others, but not likely given Paul's behavior with this sort of thing. Paul checked 2-3 times with Peter, James the brother of Jesus, and John to insure that his gospel message was correct and that he was not running "in vain." He even made a special trip to Jerusalem each time he did this. (Galatians 1-2) If he obviously knows eyewitnesses and is obsessed with getting his message correct, it would not make sense that Paul would rely on hearsay for teachings of Jesus on the Second Coming, especially when he knows eyewitnesses. Furthermore, even if it was hearsay, it would prove that the material from Matthew originated before 50's A.D. and not in the mid 80's like some critics suggest.

#6 This is the best explanation for many reasons. (See #5) First, Paul knows eyewitnesses to Jesus life. Second, Paul is very concerned with checking the accuracy of his teachings on the gospel with the other apostles. It only makes sense he do this with other major teachings.

This would make perfect sense, considering in 1 Thessalonians, he mentions that a certain teaching is "according to the Lord's word." 

Paul Knows the Teachings of Jesus

If Paul got his info from people who really knew the words of Jesus, then that means that those parts of the Gospels must have been what Jesus really said. 

If those parts are really what Jesus said, then the gospels are massively more reliable (at least for the words of Jesus) than critics make them out to be. That would mean that both Matthew 24 and 25 are accurate representations of Jesus teaching, as well as portions of John-like material originating very early as well.


Some may say that liberal scholars dispute that 2 Thessalonians was actually a letter of Paul. This is true, but does not matter. If it wasn't Paul, all it means is those teachings are even earlier, because Jesus teachings on Second Coming must have been widely circulated enough by then for a forger to use them and attribute them to Paul. This means that the material is ESPECIALLY early, and thus even more reliable than Paul on the subject of Jesus. 

No comments:

Post a Comment