WAS THE APOSTLE PAUL A FALSE PROPHET?
by Shawn Brasseaux
DEDICATION: Several years ago, a brother and colleague-friend in our ministry emailed me to assist him in answering his friend’s chief objection to dispensational Bible study. That brother in Christ submitted his friend’s question to me via email (reproduced in the opening paragraph below). At that time, I wrote a quick study to him so he could answer his friend’s complaints. That brother was greatly appreciative, and proved to be very helpful in publicizing our ministry in the coming years.
Just a few months ago, his life was tragically taken and he graduated to heaven’s glory. In light of his passing to be with our Lord Jesus Christ, our original study prepared for him and his friend has been expanded nearly 10-fold to become our special-edition Bible Q&A article #275. We will always be grateful to Father God for Him using “D.B.W.” to lead us to where we are today with this study and many others.
“I have a question about Matthew 24, where Jesus warned the Apostles about false prophets and such that will come in His name but do not believe them. I have a buddy who believes Paul is one of the false witnesses claiming to see Jesus and starting another Gospel to disrupt the Gospel of Kingdom all as a plot by the Romans to kill Christianity from the inside out! Any feedback would be great.”
I. OPENING COMMENTS & BRIEF BACKGROUND
Friend, how awful! I am well aware that many today in religion slander and ridicule the Apostle Paul. Yes, they deny he was an apostle. They call him a false prophet. Some have even gone so far as to rip the 13 books of Romans through Philemon entirely from their Bibles! (And these hypocritical people have the audacity to accuse us of “throwing away Scripture” when we emphasize the Pauline epistles?!) Note the following email response I received about one of our Bible studies: “Paul was an apostle of Satan. His books need to be torn out of the Bible.” What pathetic ignorance written by so-called “adults.” Worst of all, I am afraid it is more common than we think! Your “buddy” is yet another case in point. Friend, we would be delighted to give an intelligent, Scriptural answer to those who malign Paul the Apostle as a “false prophet.” To the Scriptures! I will also show you how to defend Paul’s apostleship and epistles without appealing to his epistles (since his critics reject them).
II. PAUL’S EPISTLES WERE ATTACKED IN HIS OWN DAY
We should not be surprised to hear people condemning Paul’s epistles today. After all, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter testified in his final epistle, 2 Peter, and third chapter: “ And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Some 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Peter called the Apostle Paul our “beloved brother.” Peter identified Paul’s writings as “Scripture.” If Paul were a false prophet, then it stands to reason, Peter too would have been a “false prophet” for endorsing him! (Are we so brazen as to castigate and destroy Peter’s apostleship, as well?) Nay, Paul was not the deceptive one. Those who pervert Paul’s epistles and slander him, Peter says they are the deceptive ones! Note how Peter declares people in his day were “wresting” (perverting) the Scriptures—including Paul’s epistles. The Apostle Peter said individuals were corrupting the Pauline epistles, and all the Word of God, in order to suit their own religious biases and church traditions. What better example of corrupting the Word of God could there be than a blatant denial and outright rejection of 13 books—roughly half—of the “New Testament” Scriptures?
III. PAUL WAS FALSELY ACCUSED OF LYING IN HIS OWN DAY
We should not be surprised to hear people denying Paul’s testimony today. There is one reference in the Bible to Paul being “slanderously reported” (Romans 3:8). Individuals were attempting to discredit him by misquoting and misrepresenting him. Furthermore, on four occasions, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I lie not” (Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:7). Just as people call Paul a “fraud” and a “liar” today, so they called him that while he was still ministering on Earth some 20 centuries ago! Satan never quits, friends—he never quits!
It would do us well to quickly survey those four instances where Paul denied lying. We just may encounter him answering charges that people still spew against him today.
- Romans 9:1-2: “ I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,  That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” If you read the subsequent verses and chapters (9-11), you can see how Paul affirms that he loves the nation Israel. He was wrongly accused of hating Israel. Yes, he indicted them for killing their Messiah. Indeed, he preached that Israel had fallen before God. Nevertheless, it was the truth that Jesus Christ had sent him to proclaim, and he did it boldly. Israel had certainly conspired against and murdered the Lord Jesus Christ. And, of course, Paul knew it firsthand. As Saul of Tarsus, he himself had led the Jews in that rebellion against Jesus and His Jewish followers (Acts 7:57-58; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-6,13-14; Acts 22:4,8; Acts 26:9-11; Galatians 1:12,23; 1 Timothy 1:13)! Now, as God’s apostle of the Gentiles, Paul was telling lost Israel to hearken to God’s Word spoken through him, that they believe on that Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork, that they be saved from their sins.
- 2 Corinthians 11:31: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.” In the context of this verse we find Paul’s immense suffering for the sake of the ministry that the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ had given him. Paul endured many unspeakable beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, imprisonments, deprivations, and so on (verses 22-33). He had often been accused of being a “nobody,” someone not worthy of being honored as an apostle (see 2 Corinthians chapter 4). The numerous trials Paul was willing to go through for the sake of the Church the Body of Christ demonstrate to the Corinthians—and us—that he was a very faithful servant of Jesus Christ. In fact, he was more of a servant of Christ than those who were criticizing him! No fraud would have ever endured that much mistreatment. That includes all the anti-Paul people today within and without Christendom!
- Galatians 1:20: “Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” People in Paul’s day accused him of continuing the work of James, Peter, and John. They denied Paul’s special ministry, apostleship, and doctrine. In the context—chapter 1, verse 1 through chapter 2, verse 21—Paul explains how his ministry is special, how he was not ordained or taught by Israel’s 12 apostles, how he preached a different Gospel message than the one they were preaching, and how the Church the Body of Christ was separate and distinct from Israel and her Law program. Even today people call Paul a liar about the same matter! They want to make everything in the Bible the same, and it just will not work. If they want to abandon their Bible confusion, they had better start recognizing the Bible’s distinctions.
- 1 Timothy 2:7: “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” Again, this is delineating Paul’s special ministry (note verses 3-7). Paul was sent to be the “due-time testifier” of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Now, salvation through Calvary was available to all the world, not just to Israel (cf. Isaiah 53:8; Matthew 20:28). This was part of Paul’s special commissioning from the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. The religious system of the day had called Paul a liar, hoping to draw his disciples to them, and away from him and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, post-ascension, had sent Paul to Gentiles, and Paul was exercising his divinely-ordained apostleship. He had not taken the task upon himself and no man had appointed him. It was God’s will (Galatians 1:1) and God’s commandment (1 Timothy 1:1) to make Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ.
But, for sake of argument, let us suppose Paul was a “false prophet” and a “false teacher.” We will ignore everything we just pointed out, for Paul’s epistles are supposedly false. There are a number of issues that we now need to address if Paul’s ministry and epistles do not belong in the Bible. The anti-Paul people need to proceed in answering the following:
IV. WITHOUT PAUL’S EPISTLES, HOW DO WE EXPLAIN THE CURRENT AFFAIRS IN THE WORLD?
If Paul was indeed a false prophet, where do we go in the Bible to explain Israel’s current status before God? In other words, if we remove Paul’s epistles from the Bible, and remove all passages from the book of Acts that describe Paul’s ministry, where do we find ourselves today in the Bible? Outside of Paul, Israel is preeminent in God’s dealings with mankind. Today, we can clearly see that Israel is fallen, set aside by God. There is still no earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ, there is still sin in the world, God’s wrath has not fallen on sinful mankind, there is still sickness and disease, and Satan is still loose. How do we explain these facts unless we have Paul’s epistles? We cannot. If you have tossed out Paul’s epistles, you cannot answer it either.
Take, for example, the promise of Jeremiah 3:17: “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.”
And, Isaiah 2:4, a parallel passage: “And he [Messiah, Jesus Christ] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Finally, Zechariah 8:22-23, another parallel passage: “ Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.  Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”
Now, let me ask you some important questions, friend. When was the LORD’S throne ever in Jerusalem as Jeremiah 3:17 predicted? When did all nations go to Jerusalem to see the LORD sitting on His throne as Jeremiah 3:17 says? When did Messiah ever rule over all nations in a kingdom where there was no war, as Isaiah 2:4 prophesied? Was there ever a time when every Jew knew the LORD and led 10 Gentile men to Jerusalem to personally see the LORD as Zechariah 8:22-23 says? Well, the answer to all of these questions is, “NEVER!” None of these things ever happened—even though they are prophecies written down some 2,500 to 2,700 years ago. We are forced to conclude one of three possibilities:
- Those prophecies will never come to pass because they were flat-out lies. We would have to toss out these Scriptures as we already did to Paul’s epistles! The Bible believer will automatically rule out this explanation, for the Bible contains no lies. All of the Word of God is true (Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:5-6) because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). After all, the Holy Bible is “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
- Those verses were not literal but spiritual and have already come to pass in some invisible way. This explanation is also erroneous, for if the Bible is “spiritual not literal” (that it means something other than what it says), then we would never get anything coherent out of the Bible text. Nothing would be certain in Scripture, not even plain and simple words, because they would have some “cryptic other meaning.” We would have to throw out some more Scripture if this were the case! There would be no literal sinless conception of Christ in a virgin, no literal blood atonement of Christ, no literal resurrection and literal ascension of Christ, and so on.
- Those prophecies have been delayed; they are still awaiting fulfillment. Of all the possible explanations, the Bible believer considers this the most plausible. According to the writings of the Apostle Paul, the Bible books of Romans through Philemon, Israel’s prophetic program is delayed and the prophecies in her Scriptures are momentarily paused. But, again, you cannot learn about the delay in prophecy in the books of prophecy. Paul’s epistles are “mystery” (Romans 16:25 cf. Acts 3:21), and they explain why prophecy is delayed. Anything and everything in the Bible—outside of Paul’s ministry—does not explain prophecy’s delay. So, friend, you need something more than the prophetic Bible books. You need the Holy Spirit’s “mystery” writings penned through the Apostle Paul!
Again, for argument’s sake, we will suppose that people are correct in calling the Apostle Paul a false prophet. If they are true, then we can eliminate possibility #3, leaving only explanations #1 and #2. So, if Paul is “false” as his critics claim, then they in fact are just as much false as they claim he is, for they are alleging: (1) Israel’s prophecies were lies all along, and/or (2) the Bible does not mean what it says. In reality, the individuals who claim Paul is a “false prophet” are actually those who are fibbing. They are causing us to question the validity of Israel’s Scriptures, yea, all the Bible, and not just Paul’s epistles. They are on dangerous ground indeed, but let us proceed to outlining their other major erroneous beliefs!
V. THE SCOFFERS IN PETER’S FINAL EPISTLE
Dear reader, if you say that Paul was a false prophet, you have placed yourself on the same level as the Bible scoffers in Peter’s final epistle. You have made a gross error, and, in love and gentleness, I will point out and correct it.
Surveying the books of Matthew through John, as well as the early Acts period, you see how God’s apostles and prophets warned about impending judgment, particularly wrath at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:38-42; Acts 2:34-36; Acts 3:19-23; et cetera). This judgment was spoken of as being very close, as in coming within the lifetimes of the audience members (Hebrews 10:25-31; James 5:9; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:7,12,20; et cetera). Yet, that judgment never came. In fact, it has yet to come, some 20 centuries after the apostles wrote about it! Wickedness still abounds in the world. There has never been that wrath of God. What is going on?
If we look at 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 16, we observe Peter arguing: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” We infer that Peter and his apostolic associates are all being accused of following “cunningly devised fables.” In other words, they have been preaching for many years about God’s judgment against sin, and yet, that judgment has not come. At the time of Peter’s writing, Jesus Christ has been gone from Earth for over three decades, and that wrath has yet to fall. The scoffers are capitalizing on this delay, saying the wrath was never coming at all. They believe the postponement proves the apostles are preaching lies, religious fiction, just trying to “scare them into righteous living.” (Sound familiar?)
Peter mentions those scoffers in verses 2-4 of chapter 3 of his final epistle: “ That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
Verses 5 and 6 hearken back to the days of Noah when God’s judgment came upon sinful mankind. The Great Flood of Noah’s Day was just a preview of the divine wrath to come during the (future) seven-year Tribulation and subsequent Second Coming of Jesus Christ: “ For this they [the scoffers] willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:  Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:”
But exactly where was that end-time wrath? What was God the Holy Spirit’s response to the scoffers/doubters/mockers in the first century A.D.? We quote Peter’s answer: “ But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The Holy Spirit through Peter spoke of that flaming fire judgment we discussed earlier. Verse 9 (quoted above) is the key. Verses 15 and 16 provide additional amplification: “ And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
God is offering salvation to all people of all nations today, through Jesus’ finished crosswork. We find the Gospel message to all nations without distinction, only in Paul’s epistles. Rather than “wrath and war” (as in prophecy), His message to the nations is one of “grace and peace” (as in mystery). We find that delay in prophecy, only in Paul’s epistles. Peter admitted that prophecy’s wrath is delayed so more people could be saved from it. The way they can be rescued is to be saved into our present-day “mystery” program, the Church the Body of Christ, Paul’s ministry. If you remove Paul’s epistles, you also remove God’s explanation for the delay of His wrath. In doing so, you make the Word of God vulnerable to scoffing. You really want to do that, friend? If you do not want people to scoff at the Bible, leave Paul’s epistles where they are and just believe them! However, if you are just another Bible scorner, go ahead and take Paul out!
VI. WITHOUT PAUL’S EPISTLES, HOW DO WE GENTILES BENEFIT FROM CALVARY?
First Timothy 2:3-7: “ For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
As we briefly mentioned earlier, in 1 Timothy 2:3-7, God’s invitation to all the world to come by faith in Calvary’s finished crosswork, was not declared until Paul’s ministry. Peter and the 11 other apostles were to minister to Israel first, convert all of Israel first, and then—and only then—would redeemed Israel minister to the Gentiles (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23; Zechariah 12:7; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8; et al.).
Yet, again, we point out, there is no redeemed national Israel today. There is no Jewish earthly kingdom to evangelize Gentiles today. Yet, we Gentiles are saved today unto eternal life. All Gentiles have opportunity to have access to Father God. How can we fellowship with Israel’s God? Did a Jewish priest come and preach a Gospel message to us? No. And yet, the prophetic Scriptures demanded that would happen concerning Gentile salvation. If there was no such Jewish priest, then how can we be sure we even have eternal life and a home in heaven right now? What spiritual rights do we have as Gentiles, seeing as the God’s chief nation to bless Gentiles (Israel) is fallen and blinded and not even in her homeland? Because there is currently a different method of God reaching Gentiles than what prophecy described. The Pauline epistles are the only part of the Bible that describe how God is temporarily reaching Gentiles apart from Israel, her prophetic program, her Davidic kingdom, and so on.
To remove Paul’s epistles is to destroy Bible clarity. Friend, just avoid the confusion and doubt. Leave Paul’s epistles in the Bible and all will be clear.
VII. FOR US WHO ARE BIBLE BELIEVERS
For those of us who simply believe the Bible, we note the following two verses, written by Paul: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:37-38). There are just some people, even professing “Christians,” who refuse to acknowledge the Lord’s commandments spoken to them through the Apostle Paul. Paul anticipated there were such people in Corinth (read about them in 2 Corinthians chapters 10-13). In fact, the last thing Paul wrote contained this verse: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). The Church the Body of Christ largely abandoned Paul’s ministry and message 2,000 years ago—while he was still alive! We should not be shocked that mostly-confused church members have abounded these last 20 centuries.
If your friend still denies all these verses, here is what you do. Any further discussion on the matter with him would be a waste of time. By outright denying Paul as an apostle, your friend exhibits such deep disrespect and hatred toward a large portion of the Bible. There is nothing else to be said to him at that point. Just pray for him, because if he does not accept Paul as legitimate, then he does not accept Paul’s Gospel for salvation. If he does not accept Paul’s Gospel, then he has not accepted Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins. The man is lost, dead in his trespasses and sins, unable to see the truth, so pray for his salvation. We can do no more.
When someone says Paul “started another Gospel to disrupt the Gospel of the Kingdom,” they do not realize that, without Paul’s Gospel, there is no way to explain the delay in the fulfillment of the Gospel of the Kingdom. There is no earthly kingdom of God as the Gospel of Kingdom predicted. Israel has been waiting 2,000 years for her Davidic kingdom to be restored. She is not the head of the nations as prophecy predicted. She has never been the head of the nations.
Yet, if the prophetic Scriptures are literal, and we believe they are, then the only logical conclusion is prophecy is delayed. We do not need Paul’s epistles to tell us that Satan is ruling today instead of God through Israel. We can see Israel out of her land today, Gentiles dividing and wanting her Promised Land. We can see the Gentiles oppressing Israel today, instead of God having already destroyed Israel’s enemies. The content of Paul’s epistles is confirmed in the current world events. Salvation is coming to Gentiles without Israel, without her earthly kingdom, without her Christ/Messiah/King ruling in Zion, without her enjoying the Promised Land, et cetera. This is exactly what Paul’s epistles say; Paul is thus proven to be a legitimate apostle of the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ. Had Jesus Christ not appeared to Paul and given him his special revelations, we would be without explanation and forced to disbelieve everything in the Old Testament was non-literal and a lie.
To remove Paul’s epistles from the Bible, now there is a plot to destroy not just Christianity but the whole Bible canon! Your friend should take special care to note it.
SUPPLEMENTAL: IF PAUL’S EPISTLES ARE OMITTED, THAT MEANS….
Dear reader, if you want to remove the Apostle Paul from the Bible, you have the free will to do so. However, let me warn you of the following:
- You will lose Paul’s 13 books, Romans through Philemon.
- You must also remove the books of Acts and Luke. (Luke was Paul’s closest companion. If Paul was dishonest, Luke was also dishonest for consistently portraying Paul as a legitimate apostle of Jesus Christ.)
- You will also lose Peter’s second epistle. (After all, Peter endorsed Paul as a legitimate apostle and “beloved brother”—hardly the language if Paul were a false prophet!)
- You must remove the book of Mark from your Bible as well, seeing as to John Mark had contact with Paul throughout Paul’s ministry (Acts 12:25; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Overall, you have gutted the “New Testament” Scriptures of 17 books. You have removed over 60% of it! And you call yourself a “Bible believer?” (Ha!) Such is the attitude of a Bible rejecter and false prophet.
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry from Acts chapters 7 through 15?
» Can we witness too much to family members?