The Apostle Paul

by COGwriter

The Apostle Paul was born a Roman citizen in the town of Tarsus. His birth name was Saul, but Christ changed it upon his conversion. Paul wrote more books of the New Testament than any one else. He is believed to have died around 68 A.D.

Saul was a zealous Jew from the party of the Pharisees, and he originally encouraged the persecution of Christians. He wrote more books of the New Testament than anyone else--and most of them were written from or to Asia Minor (though he obviously visited Greece, Jerusalem, and Rome).

No article can tell enough about Paul, but after an introduction, this one will attempt to focus on clearing up misconceptions about him and his writings on the ten commandments.

A Biblical Introduction to Paul

The Book of Acts says a lot about Paul:

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" And the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one (Acts 9:1-8, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).

And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight." Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:12-22).

Saul, who also is called Paul (Acts 13:9).

5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).

Though his critics called him a Nazarene, early Christians were called this frequently, see also Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?

Paul wrote 13-14 books of the 27 books of the New Testament (there is controversy surrounding the Book of Hebrews, but some tradition ascribes it to him). Hence, he wrote about half of the books of the New Testament.

Here are some comments from the Apostle Peter that include pointing to Paul:

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:14-18)

Notice that Peter wanted Christians to be without spot or blemish, yet he said that various ones twisted the Apostle Paul's writings like they did other scriptures for their own destruction. Peter warned about being led away by the error of the wicked. In Ephesians 6:16, there is a reference, written by the Apostle Paul, to Satan as being the "wicked one." Satan was wicked because he not only did not keep God's law, he was the father of lies (John 8:42-47). Paul did NOT do away the God's laws, though many want to twist his words to mean that (see also the article Comments on Galatians).

Also notice that Peter called Paul's writings scripture, so Peter understood that they were part of the New Testament (see also the article The New Testament Canon - From the Bible and History).

A Roman Catholic Overview on the Apostle Paul

The Catholic Encyclopedia has the following overview about the Apostle Paul:

We read in the Acts of the Apostles three accounts of the conversion of St. Paul (9:1-19; 22:3-21; 26:9-23) presenting some slight differences, which it is not difficult to harmonize and which do not affect the basis of the narrative, which is perfectly identical in substance. See J. Massie, "The Conversion of St. Paul" in "The Expositor", 3rd series, X, 1889, 241-62. Sabatier agreeing with most independent critics, has well said (L'Apotre Paul, 1896, 42): these differences cannot in any way alter the reality of the fact; their bearing on the narrative is extremely remote; they do not deal even with the circumstances accompanying the miracle but with the subjective impressions which the companions of St. Paul received of the circumstances. . . . To base a denial of the historical character of the account upon the differences would seem therefore a violent and arbitrary proceeding." All efforts hitherto made to explain without a miracle the apparition of Jesus to Paul have failed. Naturalistic explanations are reduced to two: either Paul believed that he really saw Christ, but was the vicTimothy of an hallucination, or he believed that he saw Him only through a spiritual vision, which tradition, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, later erroneously materialized. Renan explained everything by hallucination due to disease brought on by a combination of moral causes such as doubt, remorse, fear, and of physical causes such as ophthalmia, fatigue, fever, the sudden transition from the torrid desert to the fresh gardens of Damascus, perhaps a sudden storm accompanied by lightning and thunder. All this combined, according to Renan's theory, to produce a cerebral commotion, a passing delirium which Paul took in good faith for an apparition of the risen Christ...

After his conversion, his baptism, and his miraculous cure Paul set about preaching to the Jews (Acts 9:19-20). He afterwards withdrew to Arabia -- probably to the region south of Damascus (Galatians 1:17), doubtless less to preach than to meditate on the Scriptures. On his return to Damascus the intrigues of the Jews forced him to flee by night (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; Acts 9:23-25). He went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Galatians 1:18), but remained only fifteen days, for the snares of the Greeks threatened his life. He then left for Tarsus and is lost to sight for five or six years (Acts 9:29-30; Galatians 1:21). Barnabas went in search of him and brought him to Antioch where for a year they worked together and their apostolate was most fruitful (Acts 11:25-26). Together also they were sent to Jerusalem to carry alms to the brethren on the occasion of the famine predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:27-30). They do not seem to have found the Apostles there; they had been scattered by the persecution of Herod.

This period of twelve years (45-57) was the most active and fruitful of his life. It comprises three great Apostolic expeditions of which Antioch was in each instance the starting-point and which invariably ended in a visit to Jerusalem.

Three more remarkable facts should be noted in passing. At Troas Paul resuscitated the young Eutychus, who had fallen from a third-story window while Paul was preaching late into the night. At Miletus he pronounced before the ancients of Ephesus the touching farewell discourse which drew many tears (Acts 20:18-38). At Caesarea the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Agabus, predicted his coming arrest, but did not dissuade him from going to Jerusalem.

St. Paul's four great Epistles were written during this third mission: the first to the Corinthians from Ephesus, about the time of the Pasch prior to his departure from that city; the second to the Corinthians from Macedonia, during the summer or autumn of the same year; that to the Romans from Corinth, in the following spring; the date of the Epistle to the Galatians is disputed.

The itinerary now becomes very uncertain, but the following facts seem indicated by the Pastorals: Paul remained in Crete exactly long enough to found there new churches, the care and organization of which he confided to his fellow-worker Titus (Titus 1:5). He then went to Ephesus, and besought Timothy, who was already there, to remain until his return while he proceeded to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). On this occasion he paid his promised visit to the Philippians (Philippians 2:24), and naturally also saw the Thessalonians salonians. The letter to Titus and the First Epistle to Timothy must date from this period; they seem to have been written about the same time and shortly after the departure from Ephesus. The question is whether they were sent from Macedonia or, which seems more probable, from Corinth. The Apostle instructs Titus to join him at Nicopolis of Epirus where he intends to spend the winter (Titus 3:12). In the following spring he must have carried out his plan to return to Asia (1 Timothy 3:14-15). Here occurred the obscure episode of his arrest, which probably took place at Troas; this would explain his having left with Carpus a cloak and books which he needed (2 Timothy 4:13). He was taken from there to Ephesus, capital of the Province of Asia, where he was deserted by all those on whom he thought he could rely (2 Timothy 1:15). Being sent to Rome for trial he left Trophimus sick at Miletus, and Erastus, another of his companions, remained at Corinth, for what reason is not clear (2 Timothy 4:20). When Paul wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy from Rome he felt that all human hope was lost (4:6); he begs his disciple to rejoin him as quickly as possible, for he is alone with Luke. We do not know if Timothy was able to reach Rome before the death of the Apostle (Prat F. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. St. Paul. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments?

Most people familiar with the Bible understand that Jesus taught and observed all of the ten commandments (for the actual scriptures please see the article Jesus and the Ten Commandments). Some, though, try to ignore Jesus' teachings on the ten commandments by saying that Paul said they were "nailed to the cross." Is that what the Bible teaches? This article will quote what Paul actually taught about the ten commandments (his words will be in green).

There is only one only scripture that uses the "nailed it to the cross" expression (AV/NKJ), it is Colossians 2:13-14, in which Paul states, "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross". Were the ten commandments the "requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us"? Let us examine the scriptures to see.

Commandment 1: Paul said, "God, who made the world and everything in it...they should seek the Lord" (Acts 17:24,27). Paul also said, "I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law" (Acts 24:14). "But then indeed, when you did not know God, you served those things which by nature are not God" (Galatians 4:8). "And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?" (II Corinthians 6:16). "you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (I Thessalonians 1:9). "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Commandment 2: "we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols" (Acts 15:20). "Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols...Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said...'God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything'" (Acts 17:16,22,24-25). "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four footed animals and creeping things" (Romans 1:22-23). "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is...an idolater" (I Corinthians 5:11). "Neither... idolators...will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). "And do not become idolaters as were some of them...Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (I Corinthians 10:7,14). "And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?" (II Corinthians 6:16). "Now the works of the flesh are evident...idolatry" (Galatians 5:19,20). "For this you know that no...idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). "Therefore put to death...covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). "you turned to God from idols" (I Thessalonians 1:9).

Commandment 3: "they are all under sin...Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (Romans 3:9,14). "You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written" (Romans 2:23-24). "Let all...evil speaking be put away from you" (Ephesians 4:31). "But now you yourselves are to put off all these:...blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth" (Colossians 3:8). "they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20). But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...blasphemers" (2 Timothy 3:1,2).

Commandment 4: "Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures...And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 17:2;18:4 see also 13:14,27,42,44). "let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28) and "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: 'If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat'" (II Thessalonians 3:10); (recall that the requirement to work is also part of the Sabbath command, thus even that portion of the commandment is repeated in the New Testament.) "And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?" (Hebrews 3:18). "For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'" (Hebrews 4:4). "There remains therefore a rest (literally sabbatismos, 'Sabbath rest') for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Hebrews 4:9-10). (Note: While some theologians do not believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews, Paul most certainly did not write against it.)

Commandment 5: "being filled with all unrighteousness...disobedient to parents" (Romans 1:29,30). "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother', which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:1-3). "the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:6). "Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...disobedient to parents" (II Timothy 3:1,2).

Commandment 6: "being filled with all unrighteousness...murder" (Romans 1:29). "You shall not murder" (Romans 13:9). "Now the works of the flesh are evident...murders" (Galatians 5:19,21). "the lawless and insubordinate...murders...manslayers" (I Timothy 1:9).

Commandment 7: "being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality" (Romans 1:29). "So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress" (Romans 7:3). "You shall not commit adultery" (Romans 13:9). "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral" (I Corinthians 5:11). "Neither... adulterers, nor homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:18). "Nor let us commit sexual immorality as some of them did" (I Corinthians 10:8). "Now the works of the flesh are evident...adultery, fornication" (Galatians 5:19). "For this you know that no fornicator...has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). "the lawless and insubordinate...fornicators...sodomites" (I Timothy 1:9,10). "fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).

Commandment 8: "You shall not steal" (Romans 13:9). "nor thieves...will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:10). "I have been...in perils of robbers" (II Corinthians 11:25-26). "Let him who stole, steal no longer" (Ephesians 4:28).

Commandment 9: "You shall not bear false witness" (Romans 13:9). 'I do not lie" (Galatians 1:19). "Therefore, putting away lying, 'Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor" (Ephesians 4:25). "Do not lie to one another" (Colossians 3:9). "the lawless and insubordinate...liars...perjurers" ( Timothy 1:9,10). "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy" (1 Timothy 4:1-2). "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...slanderers" (2 Timothy 3:1,3). "God, who cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). "it is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).

Commandment 10: "being filled with all unrighteousness...covetousness" (Romans 1:29)."You shall not covet" (Romans 7:7). "You shall not covet" (Romans 13:9). "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is...covetous" (I Corinthians 5:11). "nor covetous...will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:10). "we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted" (I Corinthians 10:6). "you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). "For this you know that no fornicator...nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). "Therefore put to death...covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). "For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness" (1 Thessalonians 2:5). "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5).

Notice that Paul clearly warns about not keeping each of the ten commandments. He also believed that they showed love, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."" (Galatians 5:14). The law is about love (see also The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil).

While various ones consider that the purpose of the commandments was to be a burden, they seem not to understand that the Apostle Paul wrote "The purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5). Christians are to be those expressing love from a pure heart with sincere faith. Christians are to keep the ten commandments.

Were they Nailed to the Cross?

John, the last of the original apostles to die wrote, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14). Since "those who do His commandments...have the right to enter...the city" (Revelation 22:14), the ten commandments could not be "contrary to us".

So then, if the ten commandments were not "nailed to the cross", what was?

What does the Bible say?

Paul wrote, "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).

It was the handwriting of requirements.

Which requirements were wiped out?

It appears that two things were wiped out. One would be the requirements of the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 9:1,6-10).

And why? "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins...By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all" (Hebrews 10:4,10). The other (which is related) would be the death penalty, as "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). It is of interest to note that the expression "the handwriting of requirements" is a Greek legal term that signifies the penalty which a lawbreaker had to pay--through Jesus the penalty was wiped out ("the handwriting of requirements"), not the law! "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them" (Hebrews 10:16).

Some will argue that you still cannot keep the ten commandments (for "all have sinned"), even if they are all mentioned as being in effect after the crucifixion. Does this mean one should not try? The ten commandments are to be kept since Paul taught that Christians should still keep every one of them (as did the other New Testament writers, for those scriptures, please see the article Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross?).

The Apostle Paul Kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days

Contrary to the assertions of many, Paul was not one who did away with biblical practices such as the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

Actually, near the end of his life he declared:

17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation (Acts 28:17-19).

Which means he kept the Sabbath, Holy Days, and the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments were alreay discussed, so let's look at the Sabbath.

Notice something else from the New Testament, that many believe that the Apostle Paul personally wrote:

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience...There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NIV).

Acts 13 shows what Paul did:

13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (Acts 13:13-15)

... the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. (Acts 13:42-44)

Also Acts 18:4 states,

And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

Hence the New Testament is clear that Paul kept the Sabbath, regularly preached on the Sabbath, and that he wrote that there remains "a Sabbath-rest for the people of God".

Hopefully, that includes you (for the practice of the early church, please see The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad).

Now some have been misled by what seems to be an intentional mistranslation of one of Paul's writings, Colossians 2:16 to do away with the Sabbath--but when properly translated it endorses, and does not condemn Sabbath observances (this is explained in more detail in the article Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible?).

Paul told Christians to keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread:

7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

He kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Philippi:

Paul...But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:1,6).

He kept Pentecost:

8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8).

16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16).

He also apparently kept the Day of Atonement (known as the Fast):

9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them (Acts 27:9).

He wrote that he needed to keep the feast (possibly meaning the Feast of Tabernacles); though Protestant commentators tend to identify that "feast" as likely to be Passover or Pentecost):

"I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing" (Acts 18:21).

Hence, Paul kept (after his conversion to Christianity), what are now commonly called the Jewish Holy Days. So, of course, did Jesus.

Furthermore, notice something from an old 2nd/3rd document (that was probably altered in the 4th century), titled The Life of Polycarp, specifically mentions the  Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost. Notice that it shows that the Apostle Paul endorsed keeping them:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians...but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

Thus, the "apostle to the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13), taught Gentile Christians in Asia Minor to keep the Holy Days. Days many now consider to be Jewish and not Christian--but apparently Paul considered them important for all Christians to keep (see also 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 where he told the Gentiles in Corinth to keep them as well).

Paul also wrote:

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Jesus kept the Sabbath and the Feasts. Do you follow the practices of Jesus and Paul?

Paul's Other Writings

Paul wrote "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:26). He also warned that those who break various of the ten commandments will not inherit the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:4-5) and then said, "Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:6-7).

Some have been confused about some of Paul's writings, but as Peter warned, "Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures" (II Pet 3:15-16). Perhaps the most confusing to some is, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle the wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-16).

It is clear that Paul could not be talking about the ten commandments as he mentions parts of at least eight of them as still being in existence in the same book (see above, the other two are alluded to as well, Ephesians 5:31--anger, which is like murder according to Jesus; plus the comment about being a prisoner of the Lord also would show the first commandment, Ephesians 4:1). It needs to be remembered is that the wall of separation that was broken down the middle, was the large veil in the temple that split when Jesus died (Matthew 27:50:51). Thus it was the ordinances of the Levitical priesthood which were abolished. This is what Paul also wrote elsewhere (Hebrews 9:1,6-10).

The entire book of Galations is confusing to many. Suffice it to say that at least six of the commandments are mentioned in that book, and for violating some of them Paul wrote, "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21). Paul is telling people that they cannot earn their salvation through works (Galatians 5:4-5) which of course is true. He never tells anyone to violate any commandment (not in Galations nor any other book) and reminds people that they will reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7). Actually, he commended Christians who obey (Phil 2:12).

Paul himself said, after his conversion to the leaders of the Jews, "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans" (Acts 28:17). If Paul had intentionally violated any of the ten commandments (or advocated this of others) he could not have said this. Look also at this, "On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present...And they said to him,"...Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law" "(Acts 21:18,20,24)--if Paul did not keep the law he should have refused this request, instead he followed it (vs. 26). Paul also said, "Therefore I urge you, imitate me" (I Corinthians 4:16) and "Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1); Jesus, as we saw earlier, both kept and taught observance of the ten commandments.

Paul wrote, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin...I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'...Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Romans 3:20;7:7,12). Paul taught each of the ten commandments after the crucifixion (please see the commandments quoted after the crucifixion). Regarding faith and the law, Paul specifically wrote, "Do we make the void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary we establish the law" (Romans 3:31). Even after his conversion Paul stated that he was, "concerning righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:6).

Paul warned, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8); Jesus kept the ten commandments! He also warns that "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work" (II Thessalonians 2:7). Lawlessness is breaking the law. Why would Paul warn about lawlessness if he felt all the law was done away?

In Conclusion

Paul wrote about half of the books of the New Testament. Paul taught that all ten of the commandments. He kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

Jesus taught and kept them all as well. Do you imitate Paul as he imitated Christ?

Paul also showed that they were all in effect after the crucifixion.

He also specifically taught they were not done away (Romans 3:31). He taught Gentiles to keep the Holy Days (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

He warned against lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2:7)! The opinions that state otherwise seem to be "traditions of men" which Jesus warned against (Matthew 15:6).

Is it not interesting that commandment keepers are God's people in the last book of the Bible (i.e. Revelation 12:17; 14:12) and even in its last chapter (Revelation 22:14)? Also, in the last book that Paul wrote before his death, he specifically warns against breaking the first, third, fifth, ninth, and tenth commandments (II Timothy 3:1-7) as well as sin in general (v. 6).

Therefore, it would not appear wise from a biblical standpoint to teach that Paul or the Bible teach that the ten commandments or the biblical Holy Days are not in effect.

Some have had questions about Paul's writings in the Book of Galatians, information on that can be found in the article Comments on Galatians.

Back to Home Page

B. Thiel, Ph.D. The Apostle Paul. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006 /2007 / 2008/2009/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2017 0110