Paul: Can He be a Prophet of God?
In this paper we will analyze Paul's candidacy of prophet hood. The analysis will be simple and based on two Biblical criterions. We would not use any extra Biblical material so that those who (mis) take Bible to be the "Word of God" may not fuss. We would quote from both the Testaments. Then, we will put Paul to the test of both the verses and check whether he qualified for prophet hood or was he, at best, a "self - appointed" apostle.
New One First:
1. JOHN 7:16-18, this is where we find our first argument. We read:
"Jesus answered, "What I teach is not my own teaching, but it comes from God, who sent me. Whoever is willing to do what God wants will know whether what I teach comes from God or whether I speak on my own authority. A person who speaks on his own authority is trying to gain glory for himself. But he who wants glory for the one who sent him is honest, and there is nothing false in him." (HOLY BIBLE, TEV)(Emphasis mine)
We read in the commentary of Matthew Henry, one of Christianity's widely read commentaries.
[3.] That hereby it appeared that Christ, as a teacher, did not speak of himself, because he did not seek himself, v. 18. First, See here the character of a deceiver: he seeketh his own glory, which is a sign that he speaks of himself, as the false Christs and false prophets did. Here is the description of the cheat: they speak of themselves, and have no commission nor instructions from God; no warrant but their own will, no inspiration but their own imagination, their own policy and artifice. Ambassadors speak not of themselves; those ministers disclaim that character who glory in this that they speak of themselves. But see the discovery of the cheat; by this their pretensions are disproved, they consult purely their own glory; self-seekers are self-speakers. Those who speak from God will speak for God, and for his glory; those who aim at their own preferment and interest make it to appear that they had no commission form God. (Emphasis mine) (Matthew Henry Commentary)
Furthermore, we read a similar exegesis in the commentary named as "The Fourfold Gospel":
7:18 He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory1: but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory. Those who bear their own message seek their own glory. Those who bear God's message seek God's glory, and such seeking destroys egotism. (Source: http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/TheFourfoldGospel/tfg.cgi?book=joh&chapter=007)
Points which need to be highlighted from the above cited verse and commentaries are:-
i. A humble and trustworthy person, let alone a claimant of prophet hood, should not speak on his own authority without any genuine commission or instruction from God-Almighty. But if he does then he is seeking worldly glory and he ought to be false person, let alone prophet. So, to sum up this point, a true prophet should not speak on his own authority
ii. Anybody purporting his own, personal message seeks his own glory. Therefore, a genuine person should not tout his personal message.
iii. On the same corollary, a true prophet of God will wait to receive revelations (if he does not has it on any particular spiritual/ religious matter) rather than passing his own whimsical judgments. Then, if he does so; he could not be a true prophet of God.
For now just hold up these deductions in your mind as we move on to our next biblical verse. After that I would finally apply both the biblical yardsticks to Paul.
2. Old Is Gold:
Deuteronomy 18:18-20, builds our second test for Paul's candidacy for prophet hood. We read:
"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in his mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. ?But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.'(THE OPEN BIBLE, NKJV)
Although the deduction from the above cited verse is very plain that the a genuine prophet should not speak any thing(spiritual) from the vicissitudes of his mind but should rather wait for a revelation to be revealed, nevertheless, if he does so then he is an imposter. But my deduction may not carry as much weight as would of any Christian Scholar's. So let us check what they say about it.
WHAT DO THE CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS DEDUCE:
Christian apologist David Wood comments on the above cited verse. Here are his words for a fair analysis for truth seeking minds:
""But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die." (Deuteronomy 18:20)
Here we have two criteria for spotting a false prophet: (1) delivering a revelation which God has not "commanded him to speak,"
He again repeated the implications of Deuteronomy 18:20, for a second time, but with a different English constructions.
"That is, it seems clear that if a person speaks in the names of false gods or delivers revelations that don't come from God, the person cannot be a true prophet.
He (David Wood) again repeated the same inference of Deuteronomy 18:20, however, this time to attack the veracity of Prophet Mohammad's, peace be upon him, prophet hood. He wrote:
"B1. If a person delivers a revelation that doesn't come from God, that person is a false prophet. (Emphasis Mine)
B2. Muhammad delivered a revelation that didn't come from God.
B3. Therefore, Muhammad was a false prophet.
[Side remark: Let me point out here that this paper is not meant to defend David's attack on Mohammad's prophet hood, peace be upon him. David Wood has been refuted ad nauseum for his attacks in "Deuteronomy Dissection: The point which needs to be emphasized from the above citation is the basic premise to check any candidates claim of prophet hood. And the premise is again the same; the candidate should not deliver a revelation which does not come from God.]
Paul: Fair Judgment Be Upon Him
I hope that by now you have not forgotten the above 2 criterions for recognizing a true prophet from a scum. If you have, then kindly refresh your memory by re-reading above but if you have not forgotten then let us put Paul into the test of the above criterions.
It is reported of Paul as saying: "I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others."(The Open Bible: 2 Corinthians 8:8, NKJV)
Here, Paul did not have any specific "command" from Almighty, nevertheless, embarrassingly, he was currying people's love and respect to him to transmute his personal opinions as spiritual decrees.
"Now, concerning what you wrote about unmarried people: I do not have a command from the Lord, but I give my opinion ." (Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 7:25, TEV)
"Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment ."(The Open Bible: 1 Corinthians 7:25, NKJV)
It does not require any stodgy exegesis here that Paul was using his own whims; he admittedly, did not have any command from Higher authority, contrary to that, he was presumptuously basing his judgments upon his own personal feelings. Therefore, violating the aforementioned premises that if he (purported candidate) delivers a revelation which does not come from God, such a candidate would be spurious prophet.
The most obvious fuss which a Christian might commit to defend the untenable position of Paul is by saying something like: "Paul was not promulgating any ?personal' revelations OR that Paul was not attributing any of his words to God."OR a Christian may respond with something like, "Paul was sincere to declare that the words are not God's words but his own." Under all these circumstances the Christian is basing his flimsy arguments (to defend Paul) obviating the fact that the full Bible is purported to be the "Word of God". No Christian ever says that the Bible is "Word of God" but 2 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 7:25 which are Pauline, that these verses were not inspired to Paul (as Paul himself accepts it). While basing the response on the aforementioned arguments a Christian accepts the contradiction that 2 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 7:25 is not the "Word of God" but "Word of Paul". The above contradiction can only be reconciled when the Christian accedes that Bible is at the most partially "Word of God". To put simply, 2 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 7:25 were not revealed to Paul neither was it inspired to Paul then how did 2 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 7:25 enter into the so thumped "Word of God".
When we read John 7:16-18 , Deuteronomy 18:18-20 corroborated with biblical commentaries in conjunction with 2 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 7:25 then it turns out that Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 7:25 was violating the ethics set by Jesus and Moses, peace be on them. And therefore, he was only trying to seek his personal glory while bluffing many. And sadly many are still deluded even when proof is right under their nose. It is verifiably established, from biblical sources, that Paul was not a true apostle; however, he used his own mind to cull decrees of spiritual import. Not only that, he shamelessly, used the love and favour of the multitudes to impress on them decrees of spiritual relevance. These facts only elicit the selfish nature of the man to rule over multitudes.
In The End
To close, I should provide you with the final verdict from the man who vicariously possess that authority (kindly, do not misinterpret) Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, where he said:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus)." Narrated Abu Huraira, in Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadith Number 651. (Emphasis mine)