Etikettarkiv | converted

Was the apostle Paul, or Saul, a murderer?

evil eyesDid Paul kill someone before he was converted?

There is no evidence for that Paul actually killed someone in his life, but he was still acting violently in his goal to pursue his religion which he had adapted to a Pharisaic variant where he was actively searching for converted Jews with the aim to get them imprisoned.

Paul first enters the Biblical scene with his original name Saul (later changed to Paul by Jesus himself), and this is when he consented to the stoning (to death) of Stephen in Acts 7-8. Paul did not participate in the stoning itself, but he did not decline to guard the clothes of those who did – which means that they trusted him in the matter, and he was on their side.

Consenting to someone being killed/sentenced to death (or ”capital punishment”) is not the same as being a murderer himself. If that were the case, loads of people would be charged for being murderers even today, and Paul would just be one in a crowd.

Acts 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

So Saul caused mayhem in the church, and he entered into houses and caused people to end up in prison. Below we can also see that he was breathing threats and murder against them, but we still do not have any actual evidence that his violent treatment caused anyone to be killed. He did not hesitate to cause converted Jews to be brought bound to Jerusalem because of their (as he thought) incorrect belief – but this does not necessarily mean that anyone ended up being killed. Maybe there would be an increased risk of this if he had been able to pursue all his plans, but he was stopped by the famous vision of Jesus on his way to Damascus. 

Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

So Saul/Paul was halted in his plans and chose not to pursue them after being converted. It is not certain that his aim even was to get Christians killed, but he definitely wanted to prevent them from maintaining their faith and spreading their faith to others – through all means possible.

Even if there is no evidence for that Saul/Paul actually killed someone, was he not a murderer in heart since he approved of the stoning of Stephen, and probably would not mind if even more converted Jews were stoned to death?

1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

It is true that whoever hates his brother is a murderer and is therefore not saved, but this is a different matter than the subject of whether Paul actually killed someone physically. There are people who store hatred in their hearts towards others but who have not killed anyone physically whether directly or indirectly, and who might even refuse to do so if they had a chance. They would therefore not be considered murderers. (Likewise, not all people would consider someone a murderer just because he/she votes for capital punishment in his country.) God will nevertheless one day judge our hearts on judgment day, and the key question is if we have repented for our sins or not.

We can get some more information about Paul:

Phil. 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

1 Cor. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

Acts 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Blood of JesusPaul repented for his past sins and left the old man behind

Paul was converted, and when Ananias placed his hands on him and prayed for him, he was healed from his blindness and was filled with the holy Ghost:

Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. — 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Just because Paul was ”chosen” vessel does not mean he had no choice in the matter. Jesus might have chosen him because he understood that Paul would respond positively to the task, and because Jesus wanted his help to spread the gospel to the gentiles and to shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake”. (I. e. Paul would get a similar treatment to the one that he himself had chosen to give others.) Remember the parable in Matt. 22 about the wedding feast for the King’s son, and where those who chose to go (and chose to dress properly) were called the chosen ones, rather than those on the guest list (list with invitations) who declined to go:

Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision

When Paul was converted, he changed his way of thinking and left the old man behind. He walked the talk, and the man who wrote most letters in the New Testament was no hypocrite. Paul expected the followers of Jesus to have a pure heart and a good conscience, and he admitted that he was formerly a blasphemer and persecutor of the church.

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,—12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;13 Who was BEFORE a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Paul acted the way he did because he thought it was the right thing to do. He acted ignorantly in unbelief. This can be compared to situations where a sinner is fully aware  that his deeds are evil (perhaps through stealing from someone else, or perhaps through being involved in adultery and lies) and his own conscience confirms it. The sinner might not want to be treated the same way that he himself treats others, and this is evidence of a sinful heart. This is how God will judge our hearts:

Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Many Christians misunderstand Rom. 7 as though Paul is speaking about his life as a converted Christian, even though he is only expressing the thoughts of someone (like himself) left to himself under the law. In Rom. 7 he says for instance:

Romans 7:14 But I am carnal, sold under sin

And in the following chapter he claims that those who are carnal will reap DEATH – which would include himself, unless he changed his life style:

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is DEATH 

It is absolutely clear that Paul did in fact change his life style and expected fellow Christians to avoid sin just like he did:

I Cor. 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and SIN NOT

Romans 6:Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.-—   — 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of SIN UNTO DEATH, or of obedience unto righteousness?  — 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.—:That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.— 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul claimed that he (and his two coworkers) were holy, just and unblameable (which is the same as being ”perfect”), and he also claimed to have lived ”in all good conscience before God until this day”. A person who sins evidently does not live with a good conscience.

1 Thess. 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how HOLILY and JUSTLY and UNBLAMEABLY WE BEHAVED OURSELVES among you that believe:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I HAVE LIVED IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE BEFORE GOD UNTIL THIS DAY.  

Acts. 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. 

2 Cor. 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

2 Tim. 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with PURE CONSCIENCE, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day

Regeneration does not precede faith, and about DEPRAVITY

Regeneration in the Bible

“Regenerate” and regenerated” are not found in the KJV Bible. Not in the NIV either for that matter. Neither is “regeneration” found in the NIV but it’s found twice in the KJV.

Regeneration” is a translation from the Greek noun παλινγενεσίᾳ  (palingenesia Strong’s 3824) and can also mean new birth, renewal, restoration, etc. When we are forgiven and cleansed from our sins we are washed, born again and a child of God. Regenerated! God wants us all to repent from our sins and come to him so that we can be regenerated and born again. Here is the first verse:

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The second instance is this one below (in the genitive form), and some reformed believers build a whole new doctrine on this verse alone:

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

This verse does not say that a person must be “regenerated” in order to seek and find God, but it’s clear that we cannot cleanse our own sins by suddenly doing good things. Our PAST sins must be dealt with first. We can only be cleansed and declared righteous thanks to the blood of Jesus , and this happens when we ask for forgiveness for our sins, repent and start living in the light. If we break the Law even once, we are in need of a Savior and we are saved thanks to God’s MERCY.

When we are born again we have been moved from death to life and we are washed, regenerated and renewed of the Holy Ghost. We are all asked to come to God in order to be born again, and we learn that regeneration comes AFTER that a person has repented for his sins and been cleansed from them. Only THEN is he a new regenerated person and the old things have passed away. Let’s also remember that the prodigal son was spiritually DEAD and yet he took a personal decision to return to his Father and ask for forgiveness. No one else persuaded him or forced him.

If conversion occurs at some point after regeneration, then we have a person who is regenerated but not yet converted, and therefore a person who is regenerated but not yet saved. A person is not saved when he receives the ability to repent and believe, but when he is actually cleansed/regenerated. The very moment that a sinner is regenerated he is saved because regeneration is not distinct or difference from conversion.

Verses that show that faith comes before regeneration/rebirth

Heb. 11 he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently SEEK him.

John 1:12 But as many as RECEIVED him, to THEM gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;—26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee

2 Cr 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death

1 John 1:9 IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Rev. 2:21 And I gave her SPACE TO REPENT of her fornication and she repented not. 22 Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation except they repent of their DEEDS

2 Tim 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.21 IF a man thereforepurges himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

2 Chron. 15:2 The LORD is with you when you are with him. IF you seek him, he will be found by you, but IF you forsake him, he will FORSAKE you.

Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded

Jeremiah 4:14 Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved

Ezekiel 18:31 Make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die… 

Mat 6:14,15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The whole point of seeking God is to find him and become regenerated/cleansed

Until we find God we are not forgiven nor regenerated. Reformed type of thinking reverses the sequence by which God works and shuts up the Kingdom of Heaven against men, claiming specialness for themselves and barring for the vast bulk of humanity. God instructs men to seek God, and in fact, we are told that nobody can come to God UNLESS they seek him. Acts 17 states clearly that God created all men in the hope that they would SEEK HIM AND FIND HIM,and that he is not far from any one as in him we all live and move and have our being. Then he determines the way to find him – he commands all men everywhere to repent. Being born of God comes as a result of, or at the same time as, finding God.

Man cannot find God before God reveals himself to man, and he has! This is the good news! He has enlightened all men born into this world – Jn 1:9 and Romans 1 – and he has shown all men within themselves his eternal power and godhood – this is quite comprehensive revelation. So that they know the truth about God and they have no excuse…(Romans 1:19-21).

Regeneration means redemption in the blood of Jesus, which is forgiveness of sins at the new birth. Regeneration is a result of repentance and consequently does not occur before repentance. 

There is one verse that describes regeneration in Titus:. ”according to his mercy he saved us, by the WASHING OF REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5).

Here we see that regeneration = the washing.

Revelation 1:5 tells us what this washing is: ”from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our SINS in his own blood

Colossians 1:14 ”In whom we have REDEMPTION through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

This happens consequent upon REPENTANCE: ”Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31)

So first; we receive, repent, seek, return to, etc and THEREAFTER God cleanses, pardons and makes us the sons of God.

DEPRAVED and DEPRAVITY words not found in the BIBLE!

Depraved” and “depravity” are words not to be found in the KJV Bible, but 6 times in the NIV where the meaning is never that a person is 100% dead and unable to make good moral decisions without the awakening of God. It’s also interesting to see that the words

Reformed believers usually base their whole philosophy on the idea that man is ”depraved” and they repeatedly use this word, which they have their own interpretation of.  I checked the words DEPRAVE, DEPRAVED and DEPRAVITY in the entire NIV and none of the six places indicate a person is depraved out of his/her own control. It’s always a BAD CHOICE to be depraved:

Ezekiel 16:47 You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they.

Comment: Here we can read about people choosing to FOLLOW bad ways, and these ways are DETESTABLE according to God. We can read that they became MORE depraved than others due to this unfortunate selecting of ways to follow.

Ezekiel 23:11 Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister.

Comment: Here we can read the reason why Oholibah was MORE depraved than her sister. It was due to her lust and prostitution. There is no obligation to live like that.

Romans 1:28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

Comment: Here we can read the REASON why God gave people over to depraved minds. It was due to their choice to not seek it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. We can read that they do what OUGHT NOT to be done which is a good indication of that they had an option to live in another way. This is a good example of something happening against God’s will. It was God who gave them over to a depraved mind, but 1) it was due to their own rejection of him and 2) apparently they did not have a depraved mind to start with. The rest of Romans 1 makes is clear that people have no excuse for not coming to God and for acting wickedly.

2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.

Comment: Here again we can read about people who OPPOSE the truth. God naturally did not want them to oppose the truth. IF God wanted them to reject the truth and thus force them to reject the truth, then they shouldn’t be held accountable for it. They wouldn’t have any choice but to act just like God made them act, so they would actually be ”obeying God” by rejecting the truth. God wants us all to accept the truth and we can all do this if we so choose.

2 Peter 2:2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

Comment: Here again we read about people who choose to FOLLOW their depraved conducts, and by doing so they will bring the way of truth into disrepute. Bad choice on their part!

2 Peter 2:7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless

Comment: Lot was a righteous man among loads of depraved people. Naturally God didn’t want those people to be depraved but they ended up in that way against God’s will and according to their own free will. Again, if God wanted them to be depraved then they would be innocent victims for God’s ruling, which they had no choice but to obey. Just the fact that Lot was called righteous and the others depraved shows the distinction between obeying God and not obeying God.

Romans 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.

Comment: These are examples of wicked behavior and since God is not the author of sin, naturally we can’t blame God for filling these people with all kinds of wickedness. Since they have ”become” filled with evil, it makes us understand that this was not always the case in their lives. The better option would have been to live in the light.

2 Peter 2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.

Comment: We can read in KJV Rom. 6:16:”Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves tosomeone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey whether you are slaves to sin, which leads todeath, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

WE are the ones doing the choosing to whom we should obey. God is the one to whom we owe our worship and obedience, so if we obey someone else it’s always against his will. Both Peter and Paul are warning us to not obey the wrong master. We are told to be obedient and continue to be righteous.

Sovereignty

”Sovereignty” and ”sovereign” are words not found in the KJV Bible. ”Sovereignty” is found in the NIV in a couple of cases where it does not refer to God (Dan 5:18, Dan 7:27) and ”sovereign” is used several times in the NIV. The lack of this word in the KJV is also quite interesting since many calvinists claim that Free willers have changed the meaning of ”sovereign” – when we suggest that a sovereign God can create man with Free will – eventhough this word is not even present in the Bible. Naturally God IS sovereign but there is no obligation to understand the nature of God the way calvinists prefer to view him. God is so sovereign that he is able to create us with free will. That is how powerful he is!

Total inability

Not found in the KJV or NIV.