Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy

Out of the 27 books, epistles and letters that make up the New Testament, 13 have been authored by the Apostle Paul (This does not include the book of Hebrews which some believe he wrote). One of the most influential people in the 1st Century Church, a former Pharisee, he took the gospel or Good news of our Messiah to the Greek speaking world of his day. This was no easy task. The peoples of Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Phillipi, Colosse & Thessalonica which he wrote to, were all part of the Greek speaking world educated in Greek literature and philosophy, with their own gods, traditions and opinions.

If you have read Paul’s epistles, inevitably, a thought such as “Why is Paul so hard to understand?” would have crossed your mind at some point. It is true that some of his letters are not that easy to read or understand. And interestingly, this has been the case even in his day, as we see Peter saying “… 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” (2Pet 3:15,16)

Today, I present to you some research into Paul’s words and why we have such a hard time understanding most of it. As you will see listed below, Paul uses the words, ideas and Greek philosophy presented by such philosophers as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Seneca and many more intellectuals of his day, to help the people who he was talking to, better understand his teachings.

1Cor 15:33
Evil communications corrupt good manners.

Quoted from Thais, a work done by “Menander“, a writer from the 3rd Century BC, who in turn is supposed to have quoted from another Scholar named “Euripides”.

Titus 1:12
The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

In writing to Titus Paul quotes a description of the Cretans taken from “Epimenides“. Paul calls Epimenides “one of themselves, a prophet of their own”.

Acts 17:24-29
In Acts 17:18 Paul is encountered by Epicureans and Stoics. Paul’s first sentence struck directly at the “Epicurean” theory (the origin of the world by mere coincidence and of atoms) and arrayed himself with the “Stoics” in their doctrine of the (Divine Wisdom and Providence creating and ruling all things). His speech is made up of words quoted from a Roman Stoic Philosopher called Lucius Annaeus Seneca as mentioned below.

Acts 17:24
Paul went on to say, “God dwelleth not in temples made with hands.”
Seneca, the most prominent contemporary representative of Stoicism, had put their doctrine into these words, “The whole world is the temple of the immortal gods,” and “Temples are not to be built to God of stones piled on high. He must be consecrated in the heart of every man.”

Acts 17:25
Paul said, “Neither is God served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”
Seneca put the same truth in this form: “God wants not ministers. How so? He himself ministereth to the human race.”

Acts 17:26-28a
Paul said, “God made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.
Seneca agrees, “We are members of a vast body. Nature made us kin, when she produced us from the same things and to the same ends.”

Paul said, “God is not far from each one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being.
Seneca wrote, “God is at hand everywhere and to all men.”  and again, “God is near thee ; he is with thee ; he is within.”

Acts 17:28b
Paul says, For we are also his offspring.
In Paul’s speech at Athens, he quotes from “certain of your own poets”. The poet he is talking about is Aratus, and this is a line found in the Phaenomena of Aratus

Acts 17:29
Then Paul proceeded, “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think the godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art or device of men.
Seneca parallels the thought again: “Thou shalt not form him of silver and gold: a true likeness of God cannot be molded of this material.

Gal 5:23b
Paul says, Against such there is no law.
Roman 2:14b
Paul says, Are a law unto themselves.
Paul’s words are eerily familiar to Aristotle‘s saying of men eminent for wisdom and virtue, “Against such there is no law, for they themselves are a law,”

1Cor 9:24a
Paul says, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?
Plato says, “But such as are true racers, arriving at the end, both receive the prizes and are crowned”

Rom 7:22,23
Paul says, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Plato says,”There is a victory and defeat – the first and best of victories, the lowest and worst of defeats – which each man gains or sustains at the hands not of another, but of himself; this shows that there is a war against ourselves – going on in every individual of us.”

Phillip 3:19
Paul says, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things“.
Plato gives a vivid description of those gluttonous and intemperate souls whose belly was their God, in Plato’s work called “the Republic”.

Rom 8:5
Paul says, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh;
Gal 6:8
Paul says, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption
Plato speaks of “to be carnally-minded was death” in Phaedo

2 Cor 4:4
Paul says, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not
Plato speaks of “the God of this world blindeth the eyes of his votaries” in Theaetetus
In the book Paul and His Epistles – D.A. Hayes writes “Plato would have pictured for him the truth that the God of this world blindeth the eyes of his votaries, and Paul never could have forgotten the picture when he had once read it.” – Theaet., 176; Rep., 7, 514
(Please note that the above point has been corrected as rightly pointed out by dear brother, Dan Angelov – my sincere apologies for misquoting it before) I wish to thank Angelov for re-checking the post and communicating this correction.

Php 1:21
Paul says, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Plato says, “Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain.”

2Tim 4:6
Paul says, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand
To be with Christ, which is far better.
Plato says, “The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways, I to die and you to live. which is better God only knows.

1Cor 13:12
Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.”
Plato says, I am very far from admitting that he who contemplates existences through the medium of thought, sees them only “through a glass, darkly,” anymore than he who sees them in their working effects.

1Thess 5:15
Paul says, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man.”
Plato says, Then we ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone, whatever evil we may have suffered from him.

1Cor 9:16
Paul says, “For necessity is laid upon me ; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
Plato says, But necessity was laid upon me – the word of God I thought ought to be considered first.

Acts 14:15
Paul and Barnabas say, “We also are men of like passions with you“.
Plato says, I am a man, and, like other men, a creature of flesh and blood, and not of ” wood or stone,” as Homer says.

2Cor 7:2
Paul says, “I speak because I am convinced that I never intentionally wronged anyone“.
Plato says, We have wronged no man ; we have corrupted no man ; we have defrauded no man.

Rom 12:4
Paul says, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office“.
Socrates says  “To begin with, our several natures are not all alike but different. One man is naturally fitted for one task, and another for another.”

Eph 1:22,23
Paul says, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Plato says “First, then, the gods, imitating the spherical shape of the universe, enclosed the two divine courses in a spherical body, that, namely, which we now term the head, being the most divine part of us and the lord of all that is in us; to this the gods, when they put together the body, gave all the other members to be servants.”

1Cor 12:14-17
Paul explains that “a body is not one single organ, but many. … Suppose the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, it does still belong to the body. If the body were all eye, how could it hear? If the body were all ear, how could it smell? But, in fact, God appointed each limb and organ to its own place in the body, as he chose.
Socrates asks Protagoras, “Is virtue a single whole, and are justice and self-control and holiness parts of it? … as the parts of a face are parts-mouth, nose, eyes and ears.” Socrates then probes into the metaphor further by asking Protagoras if they agree that each part serves a different purpose, just as the features of a face do, and the parts make the whole, but each serves a different purpose–“the eye is not like the ear nor has it the same function.”

1Co 12:25
Paul says “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
Socrates says, that the best-governed city is one “whose state is most like that of an individual man. For example, if the finger of one of us is wounded, the entire community of bodily connections stretching to the soul for ‘integration’ with the dominant part is made aware, and all of it feels the pain as a whole”

Paul’s use of Greek Philosophy of his day and age, cannot be overlooked or dismissed. He used the words of intellectuals of his day to his advantage in taking God’s word and the good news to the Greek speaking Gentile world. The evidence provided above cannot be passed off as mere coincidence. He wrote and spoke these words to a particular people who would have understood and would have been very familiar with the metaphors and ideas which he was using. One of the main reasons that we have such a hard time understanding Paul’s words is that we are so much removed from the world Paul was living in, and talking to. The above verses are only a few I could find in my attempt in researching this subject. But I am sure that there are many more instances where Paul would have used Greek Philosophy to his advantage.

This study would be somewhat of a shock to some who depend on Paul’s words alone as the epitome of Scripture. (This is not in anyway, an attempt to demean his writings or his work) Paul was and still is one of the greatest apostles of God. But as Peter said in 2Pet 3:15,16, “there are some things in his letters that are hard to understand”. It is better for us to take this warning seriously, and not fall into the category of “ignorant and unstable people who distort Paul’s teachings to our own destruction”. We must always remember that God’s Word cannot have confusion or disorder. Paul’s words(The actual meaning of his words, and not what we read into it) cannot disagree with any other author in the Bible. His words have to co-exist with all of Scripture in harmony.

I hope this study has helped you to understand Paul, his letters and his ministry a bit better. If you know of any more parallels or ideas that Paul adapted from Greek Philosophy, please note it down as a comment. Thank you & may you be a blessing to others!

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Works Cited
The life and letters of Paul the Apostle – Lyman Abbott
Paul and His Epistles – D.A. Hayes
Paul the Apostle: At the Edge by Faith – Stuart H. Merriam

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50 thoughts on “Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy

    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Hi Nathan,

      All of my research on this subject was gathered from these 3 books – 1) The life and letters of Paul the Apostle – Lyman Abbott, 2) Paul and His Epistles – D.A. Hayes, 3) Paul the Apostle: At the Edge by Faith – Stuart H. Merriam

      The authors of these books provide the specific references under their footnotes. If you can’t get a hold of a printed book, I believe that some of these books are available on google books to preview as well. Please share your findings with me as well. would love to see it. Thanx and Blessings!!

      Reply
      1. Mark Frew

        Hi Nathan,

        Yeah, I would love to read your findings, too. I wrote a number of things I discovered which show a strong influence on the formation of the New Testament, not only on Paul but also on the Gospel writers. There are still others I haven’t posted onto this blog I could share if you’re interested.

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  2. Jason

    This is a good thing to remember when considering how much “secular” culture to intake. Paul used the culture and philosophy of the day to illustrate the Truth. We should also study the “Great Conversation” in order to understand how best to share salt and light to the world.

    Reply
  3. qinella

    I was just reading the Golden Verses (attributed to Pythagoras) and then read Romans 6, where in verse 9 the closing verse of the Golden Verses is repeated nearly verbatim: “…and death shall have no more dominion over thee.” The first half of the chapter speaks of giving up our earthly desires and when we die, we will be free, as Christ is free. This is similar to the teachings in the Golden Verses about giving up carnal desires in order to focus on wisdom and truth so that when we die, we will become like gods in a celestial aether, free from the yoke of death.

    I’m curious if you have any thoughts on the possible influence of Pythagorean philosophy on Paul, considering Pythagoras’ teachings were widely known throughout Greece and beyond for many centuries.

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear qinella,

      We know that looking at the abundant evidence of quotes of Greek philosophers in both Paul’s speech and writing shows us that Paul was very well educated both in Greek Philosophy, just as he was in the Torah. I would not be surprised if there were lots more instances just like this in the New Testament – Paul had the difficult task of taking the Gospel to people with Greek mentalities – who went after wisdom. So it is not too surprising that he explained difficult ideas of our faith through words/ideas they were familiar with.
      Thank you for sharing this and Please share any other such instances you know of. Be a blessing!

      Reply
      1. qinella

        That’s a really interesting take on it. Thank you for your reply. Great site, by the way! I never realized there were so many direct influences of Greek philosophy on the New Testament.

  4. Clark

    Saul/Paul was indeed a very learned man. But can anyone tell me where else in the scriptures Christ quotes any philosopher?

    What qualifications did the Apostles need to be chosen by the Lamb?

    Does anyone know why Christ has 12 Apostles and what there names are.

    If Saul/Paul were an Apostle how many would that make it?

    Was Saul/Paul name change done by Christ or God?

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear Clark,

      To my knowledge Christ did not quote philosophers, as he had no reason to – as his audience was from Judea and Samaria – and not the Greek world as was with Paul’s audience.

      Apostle (Apostolos in Greek) simply means “one that is sent”. Whoever Christ sent with a message was an Apostle – Hence the reason Paul introduces himself as an Apostle to the Gentiles, as he received instruction directly from Yeshua.

      Mat 10:2-4 provides the names of the 12 apostles. Judas was later replaced by Matthias in Acts 1:26. The reason for 12 Apostles could be because they were supposed to reach out to the 12 tribes of Israel. They are said to sit and judge/rule over the 12 tribes (Mat 19:28). Also james (head of the council) is seen writing his epistle to the 12 tribes of Israel, who they were reaching out to.

      There were 12 main Apostles. Maybe there would have been many others like Paul who were directly sent by Christ.

      No one changed Paul’s name. Not even Paul. What Acts 13:9 says is that “Saul was also called Paul”. Saul is a Hebrew name pronounced “Sha’ul”. Paul was a latin name pronounced “Paulus”. The name Paul would have been an easier name for the audience Paul reached out to (Greek/Latin speaking) than “Sha’ul”. Even Christ spoke to Paul in Hebrew saying “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”(Act 26:14).

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  5. wallflower92

    I’ve always been attracted to philosophy and now that I converted to Christianity I see many concepts of philosophy in scripture. I cant always fully explain the ideas they just make sense in my head. When I come across things like your post it just ties in lose ends for me so thank you. People have gotten offended by me daring to say Jesus was like a philosopher, but its just how I get closer to Christ aside from his divinity to me he was just so philosophical. My question is, What would you say to those who maybe offended by you saying Paul took another philosophers words and passed them as being holy spirit inspired? Not that you are actually saying this, I’ve just met some close minded religious people who would come to that conclusion and I’d also like to know how to answer any skeptical people I may meet. After reading your second paragraph at the end I take it as maybe you’ve dealt with the same circumstances I have.

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear Brother/Sister,
      I think saying all of Paul’s Words are Holy Spirit inspired is not accurate. I know it is not a popular answer… but it is the truth. Let me be clear about this, so no one misquotes me or argues with me. I believe the New Testament we have in our hand was divinely collated and given to us for study. But I do not believe each word that passed through Paul’s mouth or each word that he wrote down on Letters to Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, etc are Holy Spirit inspired. Reason being, there are numeral instances where he just greets a certain person in a certain church or that he asks someone to bring his coat, etc. And there are even instances where he says that he is giving his personal opinion on subjects. We must remember that Scripture in their day, was only the Old Testament Books. Using philosophy to reach an audience who knows philosophy, makes sense. Since most Christians are not familiar with the philosophy that Paul knew, we believe He explicitly wrote each word inspired by the Holy Spirit. His audiences in Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, etc would have understood the references and examples Paul pulled from philosophy. After all, he was writing specific letters to specific assemblies. I want to reiterate that I believe God has put the New Testament in our hands to learn from it, but I also believe that the “Inspired Scriptures” for Paul, Peter or Yeshua was what we call the Old Testament. I do not believe a person in Corinth read Paul’s Letter calling it Holy Scriptures. Was Paul Inspired by God? Definitely! Did he or the first century church regard his writings or writings of Peter, James, John, etc “Holy Scripture”? I doubt it.

      Just my thoughts and understanding
      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  6. John R

    Your last bit said that Paul’s words must be in harmony with the rest of Scripture. I think it should be noted, however, that not every Christian denomination and branch believes as you believe, that the Bible in its entirety is infallible and correct in its current form.

    Revelations and Esther were debated for centuries before being included in the Canon, and the Catholics believe that the Apocrypha are canon. Have your interpretations looked to the Apocrypha to ensure they match up with those books?

    Moreover, some don’t believe in verbal plenary inspiration, or the idea that every single word is exactly as God wants it in the Bible and is inspired. Why? Because there are too many contradictions and mistakes in various manuscripts and in the Bible itself, such as the dual genealogies for Jesus, or the double flood narrative, one for Yahweh and one for Elohim, or dates being wrong, or the fact that the Bible describes the earth as being flat and the sky a literal dome.

    Rather, the truth of it all is what is inspired.

    Just food for thought. Nice article!

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear John,
      Just yesterday, I replied to a comment, and what I explained was that I believe Yeshua, the disciples and even Paul regarded the Old Testament only as Scripture. Do I believe each word written by Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit? No.. because he very clearly says that some things are his own opinion in places. Added to this, there are so many instances where he is just greeting certain individuals through his letters, etc. But I believe his teaching agreed with Scripture, and that it is in harmony with what the Old Testament teaches. Contrary to the belief that Paul did away with much of God’s Word in the Old Testament.

      The dual genealogies seem to be from joseph’s side and the other from mary’s. Did not understand what you meant by “double flood narrative”, “one for Yahweh and one for Elohim”. Which dates were in question (the ones which are wrong)? The bible says that the earth is circular(Isa 40:22). Thank you for your thoughts.

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
      1. Dave

        He is referring to Genesis, where there are two accounts of both creation and the flood. Scholars seem to be in pretty unanimous agreement (I think the 2nd creation account begins about 2:4 or so). The different authors use different words for God (YHVH and Elohim) and reportedly wrote with different styles in Hebrew. From the researchers I’be read, the standard scholarly view at present seems to be that there were 4 identifiably different authors or major revisions within the Torah.

      2. John R

        I must’ve been tired when I read your first comment, because I agree with your logic about Paul not necessarily needing to be inspired for every single word he said. I don’t agree that Paul didn’t do away with much of the Old Testament. His theology made it obsolete, such as the need for circumcision. As far as inspiration goes, though, I would go further though, and say that not every word in the Old Testament need be inspired. Some of it is simply history, like the book of Kings, and while it details the nitty gritty details of all the wicked Kings of Israel and Judah, I don’t think there’s much to be spiritually inspired there. History is history, inspired or not. Plus, there are some extremely morally questionable laws in the Old Testament, and I hesitate to attribute those to God. There is some scholarly evidence that 1) the levitical code that we have today is incomplete, and 2) that what we have today was constantly added to, as King David seems to not know of the laws about incest, and there are almost no references to “the Law” at that time. This would be much like how our constitution keeps getting amendments to fix contemporary problems. So were the 10 commandments inspired? There’s no moral or textual reason to believe not. But the law about stoning children? Not so sure about that one. Or the law that says “if a woman protects her husband from an assailant by hitting him in the genitals, you are to cut off her hand. You shall show her no pity.” And here I thought Yahweh was a merciful God! I think the ancient Israelites, seeing as how they wrote to “fear” the Lord so many times, thought of God as vengeful and vindictive, ultimately a perfect force of justice. Step one toe out of line and you were gonna get smitten. Perhaps this impression was easy to get when infant mortality was so high, sickness was so prevalent, and your society’s existence could be wiped out by a few years of draught. Wouldn’t a merciful God fix all those things? Just speculating here.

        To answer some of your questions, like Dave said, there are two different accounts of the creation and of the flood narrative. While the two creation accounts are separated in Gen 1 and 2, the two flood stories are deceptively woven in together. One uses the word Yahweh for God, the other Elohim. In most translations, Yahweh is translated as God and Elohim as Lord, so if you were to extrapolate every occurrence of both words and reassemble them as two separate stories, they would make MUCH more sense and be a lot less redundant. One example is the number of animals that went on the ark. Was it 2 of each kind, as in one story, or 7 pairs of the clean animals and 3 pairs of the dirty ones?

        Also, while we’re on the subject, I’d like to point out that the global flood theory is based on one word: ERETZ. This word is translated as earth, dirt, land, world, and nation several times in the Bible, but the overall connotation is that ERETZ is land, or opposite of sky. The flood story says that God sent a flood upon the whole earth, and that is deceptive wording, because when we, as a modern audience, think of earth, we think of EARTH, the planet, while people in the King James times would have associated the word with dirt, or land. People in Noah’s day most certainly didn’t have a concept of a planet, so they were most likely referring simply to a flood covering all visible land, from horizon to horizon. I’ve been to Lake Michigan, and I can’t see to the other side, but that lake is still pretty small compared to the entire planet. So Noah’s flood was probably a local one, not a global one. At least, that’s what the science supports.

        As for the genealogies, the problem with the idea that one is Joseph’s genealogy and one is Mary’s is that women did not have genealogies back then. It would be incredibly radical to write down Mary’s genealogy, though I suppose they might have venerated her in the early church and done just that. So it’s a possibility. However, each genealogy on its own disagrees with the genealogies listed elsewhere in the Bible. Some names get added, cut out, or misspelled.

        As far as dates, I can’t remember any off of the top of my head, but you can probably Google “errors in Bible dates”

        As for Isaiah stating that the world was circular, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Isaiah knew of a SPHERICAL earth. If you stand on a high mountain and look around, you can see the curvature of the earth and from that perspective, turning around 360°, the Earth appears as a circle. But the language of the rest of the Bible suggests that the Hebrews’ worldview of how the earth was shaped was like a Christmas Globe. The firmament, literally dome, was the sky, and they thought it was a metal covering that God literally sat on (The heavens are your throne). They thought that the Sun and moon appeared through holes in the sky and went behind the sky to return to their original locations. And they thought that literal pillars held up the firmament. If you read the book of Enoch (not canon), this is all abundantly clear.

        I’m sorry I can’t give you more specific verses to back up my arguments, but I’m in a hurry and I’m bad at looking up this stuff :P.

      3. rameshdesilva Post author

        Dear Brother John R,

        I think many disagree with me on the point that Paul did not do away with the Old Testament. I have tackled these points in many posts separately – and prefer not to get into an argument as there are so many verses which are misunderstood (in my humble opinion). Paul was never against circumcision as it is abundantly clear through the dialogue between james and paul in Acts 21:20-24. What he was against was circumcision for salvation as discussed in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. This was the justification through the law, he regularly referred to, in his letters.

        My view is that the most of the Old Testament, if not all was the only thing considered Scripture by Christ and His disciples(Luk 24:27,44).

        There were times when the book of the Law was lost and found (2Kin 22)

        Whether anything was added to the law is questionable. As what we have in our hands is more or less the same Book of Moses (first 5 books containing Law) as seen among the dead sea scrolls.

        God does not change. and some do question His actions (such as the laws you pointed to)… but can a King make His Law the way He wants it… surely He can. Will everyone see it as perfect? not sure. According to the Old Testament God did kill people who disobeyed Him. If He was like that before, He is still like that today… the only thing is that today’s Christianity sees only His loving side (which was there in the Old Testament as well)

        Yahweh or Yehovah is God’s name(Exo 3:14,15 – H3068). God in Hebrew is Eloheem and Lord is Adonia. While God and Lord are titles, YHVH is His name as per the Scriptures.

        Can these two different accounts be the same event? that is how I see it. for instance – the animals – 6:19 says take two of everything (male & female) as in pairs. 7:2 explains 7 couples of clean animals & 2 couples of unclean. So aren’t both right? they are the same event in my eyes. 🙂

        If Eretz stands for the land and not the earth. Maybe there weren’t anyone beyond the land? As God was dissapointed that He had created man on the Eretz.

        There has to be an explanation for the difference in the Genealogies. In Christ’s case it wouldn’t have been too odd to put a mother’s Genealogy as He didn’t have a physical Father.

        About the Sperical Earth, I do not know whether Isaiah saw it as round or flat. But isn’t both thoughts true? Did he think that there are 4 literal corners of the earth or was it a metophorical way of saying North/East/South/West?

        I tend to put my faith in Scripture. After all Christ did!

        Be a blessing to everyone around you!

  7. Dave

    As the words of Paul are often closely correlated with the teachings of Greek philosophers, the sayings of Jesus also bear incredibly close correlation to dozens of Eastern teachings from 1st millenium, BCE (Hindu, Buddhist and Tao teachings). It is tough to compile a comprehensive list because the Hindu and Buddhist canons are so extensive, but I have encountered dozens of incredibly close correlations in my reading.

    Reply
  8. Dave

    That is perhaps not surprising in that I find the Upanishads of Hinduism to paint a picture of God that is strikingly similar to the Stoic conception of God, and that of various pre-Socratics who were clearly monotheistic/pantheistic. The Logos of Hericlitus strikes me as analogous to the Tao. The language is exceedingly similar. The Stoic philosophy, which I think resonates very strongly in the teachings of both Jesus and Paul, is very similar to the principles of Buddhism. Plato diverges, but the pre-Socratics and later Neoplanonists were, I think, speaking of God the same way as is found in the East and in the nondual language that Jesus so often used. Unfortunately, I think this view is largely obscured by dualistic interpretations of the gospel, thanks to the powerful influences of Plato and later Descartes on Christian theology.

    Reply
  9. Dave

    I just noticed that you also have a reference YHVH… the use of “I am” in Brahmanic texts to identify God is routine, and “I am” can be found in all different traditions. Especially given the existential meaning most scholars associate with Exodus 3:14, the ties between that verse and Eastern views (specifically Hinduism) run deep. That is another fascinating rabbit hole.

    Reply
  10. Mark Frew

    I stumbled across this blogsite while searching for anything online about the possible influences of Socrates/Plato on the New Testament. All the references you wrote that Paul had written in his letters which can be traced back to earlier Greek writers is impressive! I was actually quite blown away by it!

    You said that if we know of any more parallels or ideas that Paul adapted from Greek Philosophy, please note it down as a comment. I have quite a few which I can add to the list. Not only can I see influences in Paul’s writings, I can also see influences in other New Testament writers as well.

    In my book, Michael and the Multicoloured Gospel 2nd Edition, which I wrote years ago, I wrote about some of the influences of Greek thought, in particular from Socrates and Plato, on Paul’s writings and I remember at the time I couldn’t find anyone else who had made the same discoveries although I’m sure someone must have some time in the past. I just can’t find other people who have. Until now. But I can also add to what you have already written.

    What I discovered was the following. In Plato’s Republic, in the first part of Republic VII, Socrates through Plato relates an allegory about humanity. He says that we are like people chained up in a cave in such a way that we cannot move our heads but can only see the wall opposite us. Behind us is a fire burning and between the fire and us is a wall, and along the wall move all sorts of objects. We can’t see the real objects but can only see the shadows on the wall opposite. This becomes our concept of reality. However, one of the humans is freed and allowed to turn around and walk over to see the real objects. However, although this released prisoner can now see the real objects as they are and not as mere shadows, this released prisoner thinks ”that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer then the [images] which are now shown to him” (From the Encyclopaedia Britannica the Great Works of Western World Series, p. 388).

    Compare this with what Paul writes in Colossians 2:16, 17, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” and what it is written in Hebrews 10:1 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things”. These two New Testament verses I am sure are based on what is written in Plato’s Republic. What this philosophical statement from Plato’s Republic provided for Paul I feel is a way for Paul to find a way to explain how to keep the integrity of the Torah and yet no longer follow its precepts literally. If we take something like circumcision, for example, the physical act of circumcision becomes a shadow of the true circumcision, the circumcision of the heart, so that although Christians no longer have to be physically circumcised, the toranic ordinance that circumcision is a covenant between Abraham and his descendants forever is maintained.

    Another dialogue of Plato which inspired Paul was Plato’s Symposium. Socrates through Plato explains that “the god…Love…interprets…between gods and men, conveying and taking across to the gods the prayers and sacrifices of men, and to men the commands and replies of the gods; he is the mediator who spans the chasm which divides them” (From the Encyclopaedia Britannica the Great Works of Western World Series, p. 163). This is echoed in what Paul writes in I Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. To see the parallel, we need to understand that other New Testament writers associate Jesus as being the god Love.

    But I find that Paul was not the only New Testament writer inspired by Plato’s dialogues. Again, as I discuss in my book Michael and the Multicoloured Gospel 2nd Edition, there is something similar between Plato’s Symposium and John’s first epistle. Both texts dedicate their subject to praising the god Love. In the Symposium, the Greek word for Love is Eros but in John’s epistle the word is Agape. However, although the words used are different, the nature of the two are uncannily similar, among which is the idea that the god Love is “the offspring… of the male only” and “whose birth the female has no part” (From the Encyclopaedia Britannica the Great Works of Western World Series, p. 153) the implication being that the god Love is a descendant of a male deity only. This finds a cognate in Jesus as “the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14), Jesus also being the descendant of a male deity only as there is no female deity in the Trinity.

    As for Jesus and his message, there are some parallels with what Jesus says and what is written in some of Plato’s dialogues. For example, in Republic X, there is the Story of Er, a soldier who dies but then comes back to life and then relates what he saw of the afterlife. In other words, he had a Near Death Experience. I showed this comparison obliquely in my book, A Right To Love, but I will give it in detail here. (This all can be found in The Great Books of Western World Series, p. 437 – 438 and from Matthew 25:31 – 46).

    When Er died, he came to place where “there were judges seated” which is similar to how “the Son of man…shall sit upon the throne of glory” to judge the dead. It doesn’t actually say in this particular story in the gospel that Jesus will judge them but from other passages in the New Testament, we know this is Judgement Day, hence the connection.

    In the Er story, “the just, after they had given judgement on them and had bound their sentences in front of them, to ascend to the heavenly way on the right hand; and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them to descend to the lower way on the left hand” which is similar to how the gospel writer writes, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire”.

    The writer of the Gospel of Luke also shows familiarity with Plato’s dialogues when he writes, “When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brothers, neither you kinsmen, nor your rich neighbours; lest they also bid you again, and a recompence be made to you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:12, 13). Compare this with what Plato writes in Phaedrus: “and when you make a feast you should invite not your friend, but the beggar and the empty soul: for they will love you, and attend you, and come about your doors, and will be the best pleased, and the most grateful” (from The Encyclopaedia Britannica Great Books of Western World Series, p. 118).

    There are definitely more I could provide you with but I will leave it here for the moment.

    Reply
  11. Mark Frew

    I have a few more additional insights that I have gained from my reading of Plato’s works and what I see as the influence on the writings of the New Testament.

    Paul writes in II Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”, the actual word in Greek being “theopneustos”, that is, “god-breathed” or “god-spirited”. The English word itself carries this connotation as “inspiration” uses the Latin word “spirare” meaning “breathe”. This Greek concept that people are inspired by God is brought out where Plato has Socrates saying in his dialogue entitled Ion that “the gift which you possess…is not an art, but…an inspiration; there is a divinity moving you” and then later compares inspiration with how a magnet attracts metals and how these metals themselves can become magnetised where Socrates says “a magnet…not only attracts iron rings, but also imparts to them a similar power of attracting other rings” (from The Encyclopaedia Britannica Books of the Western World Series, Volume 6, p. 144). This idea that information from God comes by way of inspiration is shared by both Paul and Plato but differs from how the Torah and the Prophets say how information from God comes. In particular, in the Torah, God spoke directly with people such as to Adam, Abraham and Moses, in dreams such as when God spoke to Abimelech, King of Gerar (Genesis 20:3), and the prophets simply write that “the word of the LORD came unto me saying” (e.g. Micah 1:1) or they received communication from God through visions (e.g. Isaiah 1:1).

    When Paul wrote “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”, believers in the New Testament generally assume that he is speaking of the Bible. Of course, as someone mentioned earlier, Paul cannot be referring to the New Testament because there was no New Testament when he wrote this so it is inferred that he means the Torah and the Prophets. But the English word “Scripture” is in Greek, “graphe”, literally, “writings” – and indeed the word “Scripture” really means simply “writings”, hence not limited to Christian writings, as the word “Scripture” comes from the Latin, scribere, meaning “write”. So when Paul said that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” did he only have the Torah and the Prophets in mind or did he mean to include the writings from the Greek philosophers and poets – and can this also infer other deep philosophical writings from other areas? From what I have read on this blogsite, the overwhelming evidence of ideas and quotes from the Greek writers stands as testimony to this latter understanding.

    I also feel that Paul had this in mind. In this dialogue entitled Ion where the idea of inspiration is discussed, I see a strong similarity between the way Socrates questions Ion’s familiarity only with Homer and those in Paul’s time who were only familiar with the Torah and the Prophets. When I substitute the word “Homer” with “the Torah and the Prophets” in the discussion between Socrates and Ion, I see that Paul was thinking the same thing as Socrates. The dialogue starts off with Socrates asking Ion “Does your art extend to Hesiod and Archilochus, or to Homer only?” to which Ion answers “To Homer only; he is in himself quite enough”. Socrates then asks Ion, “But how did you come to have this skill only, and not about Hesiod or the other poets? Does not Homer speak of the same themes which all the poets handle?” to which Ion confesses that this is “very true, Socrates”. Socrates then later questions Ion’s ability to be sure that Homer is the best of all writers when Ion is not familiar with any of the others, especially as Socrates had said earlier that Homer speaks “of the same themes” of other writers.

    I think those today who don’t see this are really missing out on the wonderful depths and insights we can get from non-Biblical writers who also spoke “of the same themes” that the Biblical writers wrote about.

    I have yet other information which shows the influence of Plato on the New Testament writers but I will include my information piecemeal in order not to overwhelm other readers.

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Quite interesting Mark. It goes to show why God would choose Paul for His ministry to the Gentile World in the 1st Century.

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear Andre,
      You may have missed it… the sources are mentioned at the bottom of the article. 🙂
      The life and letters of Paul the Apostle – Lyman Abbott
      Paul and His Epistles – D.A. Hayes
      Paul the Apostle: At the Edge by Faith – Stuart H. Merriam

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
    2. L Israel

      Paul got away with lying to the detriment of all those who would listen to Christ’s word and keep them. Paul if he had been an Apostle would have made 13 as Mathias was given Judas’s position in the beginning of the book of Acts. Paul is a test. While he may have quoted Godless peoples words he never quoted Christ’s. He felt himself above the Apostles of the lamb and equal with The Son of The Most High. This is how he has been taken by the whole of Christianity.

      Reply
      1. rameshdesilva Post author

        Dear Brother/Sister L Israel,
        I believe you have misunderstood Paul, his words and his calling. I believe Paul believed, practiced and taught everything according to the “Scriptures”. He was falsely accused of being a Law breaker as per James’ words in Acts 21:24 – but James makes it abundantly clear that Paul “walked orderly and kept the Law”. I do not believe he lied and it’s far from true to say he never quoted Christ. He quoted His words of the Last Supper twice or thrice in his letters. If a case is being made that Paul never quoted Christ… I could say the same about James, Peter & John as well – just because one does not quote Yeshua does not mean he does not teach the same teachings.

        On being an Apostle, Paul called himself an Apostle as Apostolos in Greek simply means “Sent”. Paul had the right to say this as he was sent directly by Christ, as no one opened his eyes other than Yeshua. Apostle is not a Title, but a service – and he was doing the service of one who was “sent” by Christ.

        I agree with you that Paul is a Test. because his words are hard to understand, and I believe his teachings have been twisted. This was the case in his day, as it is now. Which is why Peter warned the believers “2Pe 3:15,16 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (Peter warned everyone that Paul’s words are hard to understand and have been twisted by some. If he was a lyer, wouldn’t Peter have told the believers not to listen to Paul?)

        Whether Paul equaled himself to Christ and above the other apostles is also doubtful, as he says the opposite many a time in his letters. (1Cor 15:9, Eph 3:8)

        According to Peter’s warning to the believers, I believe mainline Christianity has misunderstood Paul’s writings and have made him into a person who preached against God’s Law, which was the foundation of Christ’s teachings.

        Dear brother/sister. I know you mean well. and at your present understanding Paul sounds like a liar. I hope you would study Paul a bit more thoroughly and look at the many instances where he preaches God’s Law and adheres to it. Paul never went against the Scriptures, and whoever sees his writings that way loses many good teachings along with the many misunderstandings and twisted words he has written.

        Be a blessing to everyone around you!

  12. Pingback: Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy | Apostolic11's Blog

  13. Heather G

    Reblogged this on All Things are Yours and commented:
    Many people are not aware of how much the apostle Paul quotes from Greek philosophers in his speaking and writing. This post from “Bible Things in Bible Ways” is a great handy little reference and contains enough to surprise many people. The author doesn’t mention that Paul quoted also from Cleanthes’ “Hymn to Zeus” so add that to the extensive list on this site.

    Reply
    1. Miss L Clark

      Paul was a misleading imposter who lied attempted to lead everyone away from the true Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ taught.

      Reply
      1. Miss L Clark

        He taught that it was ok to eat food sacrificed to idols, provided you had enough faith! Something The Most High forbids.
        He consented to the death of the first known true saint.
        He was full of pride like Satan and spoke evil of dignities. He put himself equal with the Apostles of the lamb even though he was not one himself.
        He had no named witness to his apparent vision on the road to Damascus, to allow him to assume such an high office. And he changed his own name!

        He is a trap and snare for all that would take another man’s word over and above Christ’s.
        Christ himself said “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”. And as you probably know Saul was a Pharisee.

        Read the beginning of the book of Acts again.

      2. rameshdesilva Post author

        Dear Miss L Clark,
        I understand that you have reservations about Paul… as many did even at that time. But please do reasearch a bit more before you make up your mind that he was an impostor. If he was an impostor, he fooled many people including James and Peter – 2 of the heads in the 1st century church.

        As I explain in my study titled “Can we eat all meats? Food sacrificed to idols and misunderstandings regarding 1Cor 10:25”, Paul was not saying that it is alright to eat food sacrificed to idols. The issue was that the meats which were sacrificed at temples also ended up in the market. And the question had to be “is it ok to eat meat from the markets when some meats sacrificed to idols also ended up in the market?” The Corinthians had no way of checking what was sacrificed or not… if so, should they abstain from eating all meats? Paul judged that since no one knew the origins of the meat and whether it was from temple sacrifices or not, the Corinthians could eat the meat. So I do not believe he was going against James’ ruling at the Jerusalem council which made it clear such practices were forbidden.

        Yes Paul did agree that Stephen’s stoning was justice… but did he not repent for it afterwards? We see how he explains his old self in Gal 1:13, Phi 3:6, 1Tim 1:13. His words were “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

        I am not sure of what you meant by Paul spoke evil of dignities.

        Calling himself an Apostle… does not mean he was prideful as he himself said he is the least of the apostles. But why was he called an Apostle? Apostle (G652-Apostolos in Greek) means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders”… so it is not a big issue to be called an apostle. It was not a title as seen in modern Christianity, but a simple word to state what he was doing.

        Regarding witnesses to his vision, you forget Ananias, to whom Yeshua spoke saying go to Saul, he has been chosen to share the gospel. Acts 9 introduces us to Ananias and also that Paul spent time with all of the other disciples at Damascus. So we have many witnesses, but the key witness being Ananias who knew what had happened to him (Act 9:17 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.)

        On changing his name… sadly this idea is a Christian invention. He never changed his name as we see some people do when they convert to Christianity. Paul had not converted to Christianity, He had simply believed that Yeshua was the true Messiah. then why the name change?? This is simply mentioned by Luke in his writing… and what does he say? Act 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. Saul was ALSO CALLED Paul. Why? because Saul (Shaul in Hebrew) cannot be pronounced in the Gentile world… there was no “sh” sound in greek. So He used a Latin name (probably given by his Roman Father). Paul meant small. There is no mention that he changed his name.

        Yes he was a Pharisee, and yes there were bad Pharisaic doctrines… but that doesn’t mean all pharisees were bad. There were many Pharisees who believed in Christ, and some were even part of the Jerusalem Council(Acts 15:5)

        Dear Sister, I ask you to also consider the witness of James and Peter. James witnessed that Paul lived in observance of God’s Law. And Peter witnessed that Paul’s Letters are hard to understand, and some unlearned people twist them to their own destruction.

        Act 21:18-24 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT YOU that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. THUS ALL WILL KNOW THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT YOU, but that YOU YOURSELF ALSO LIVE IN OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW.

        2Pe 3:15,16 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.

        Please don’t misunderstand my words. I am not trying to prove you wrong, so that I become right… I am simply explaining my understanding to you. If we take Paul to be a trap, we also lose out on some of the great teachings God brought to us through him. He was misunderstood then, as he is still misunderstood now. Hope you look at all of the witnesses before you make up your mind.

        Be a blessing to everyone around you!

  14. olivia

    Thank you so much for this article and for citing your sources. I will have to check them out as well. Have you by chance read, “Let this Mind be in You” by Brad Scott? Paul is so difficult to understand without proper Greek context, so I’m always grateful to learn more about this context whenever I can.

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear Olivia,
      I have not read the book you refer to, but I do enjoy Brad Scott’s enlightening teachings and I owe him and many others a debt of gratitude for helping me figure out questions when I first came to the understanding of God’s Word as one and His Law to have not changed.

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  15. Pingback: Today and Tomorrow: Principles in the Training of Future Iconographers pt.2 – Orthodox Arts Journal

  16. Shane Day

    This is very helpful. I presume that if Paul studied Seneca, Plato, and Aristotle, he also read Homer? I see some phrases in the Iliad that also show up in the NT. Was it common for the Pharisees to study Greek philosophy?

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear Shane,
      Please share those particular sayings with me please. What I have read is that Gamaliel’s School (which Paul was a student of), encouraged the careful study of Greek Philosophy. Paul was the perfect person to take God’s Word to the Greek speaking world of his day.

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  17. Jonathan Rowe

    Great article. Thanks for sharing this!
    To your view that the words of the NT are not all inspired and inerrant and that we should not take them as scripture in the same way that Christ and the apostles took the OT as scripture. Here is an argument by which I am convinced to the contrary:

    Peter Recognizes Paul As Writing Scripture
    Peter recognized the writings of the Apostle Paul as Scripture. He cited Paul’s letters.
    Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16).
    This statement of Peter tells us several things. They include the following.
    First there were a number of Paul’s letters that were circulating since Peter speaks of his “letters.” While he does not give the exact number of these letters they were circulating as a group.
    Second, these writings of Paul were well known by Peter and the other believers. The fact that he could speak of these letters to his audience in this way assumes that they were familiar with them.
    Third, Peter placed these writings of Paul on the same level as the Old Testament Scripture. He used the Greek word graphe to refer to Paul’s writings. This Greek word is used fifty-one times in the New Testament and it refers to the Old Testament writings in every other occurrence. Consequently Scripture was a technical term that the New Testament used to refer to God’s divinely authoritative writings.

    Paul Quotes Luke As Scripture
    When Paul wrote to Timothy he quoted a passage from Luke as Scripture.
    For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads the grain,’ and, ‘the laborer is worthy of his wages’ (1 Timothy 5:18).
    The first verse quoted is from Deuteronomy 25:4. However the second is a quotation of one of our Lord’s statements recorded by Luke: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7). This saying is not found in the Old Testament. Paul uses the exact same Greek words that Luke used. Consequently it seems that Paul knew of Luke’s gospel at this time and considered it Scripture. Paul quotes Luke on the same level as Moses. This implied equivalence.

    He Uses A Technical Term For Scripture
    In addition, this is a second instance of a New Testament writer using the technical term graphe when referring to another New Testament work. This is significant because neither Paul nor Luke were among the Twelve Apostles. Thus, from these two passages, we have the letters of Paul and the writings of Luke (Luke/Acts) considered Scripture.

    I had this in my notes and I believe it’s from Dr. James Boice, but I’m not entirely sure, as I’ve lost the direct link. There’s also the fact (strong likelihood) that as Christ performed a decisive act and inaugurated a New Covenant, there would’ve been the expectation that official writings/documents would’ve followed. Just as in the OT there was God’s act (Creation, Flood, Exodus, etc) and then His own interpretation of His act in the writings – Speech-Act. God inspired the NT as He did the OT to interpret His decisive act in history – the Incarnation. Here is a helpful article on this: http://files1.wts.edu/uploads/images/files/70.2.Poythress.Canon%20and%20Speech%20Act.pdf

    A couple of books I’ve found especially helpful on this subject are Michael Kruger’s “Canon Revisited” and Meridith Kline’s “The Structure of Biblical Authority”.

    I know you believe the whole of the NT as passed down to us to be inspired and helpful for learning, but I believe your view isn’t the view that the NT (and scripture as a whole) has of itself. The very real danger there is that it leaves you to pick and choose what to take more or less seriously. If we don’t like a particular part of the NT, we could say, “Well, that part wasn’t necessarily inspired by God, it’s just there for us to learn and do as we see fit.” Man again becomes the ultimate authority.

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear Brother Jonathan,
      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Yes, I have seen both occurrences you have mentioned (1Tim 5:18 & 2Pet 3:16). At first sight these may look like Peter & Paul are referring to writings other than the Old Testament to be called Scripture… Let us examine the verses:
      2Pe 3:16 As also in all 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 also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
      Peter says that Paul’s writings are twisted as they do also the other Scriptures/Writings. Does this mean that Paul’s epistles are also regarded Holy Scripture? Both were definitely twisted in their day, as they do it even today. But it may not be enough evidence to prove that Peter meant Paul’s writings were also Scripture. The similarity is that both are twisted. The point Peter is making (in my eyes) is that “God’s Word is also being twisted, so what is it that Paul’s letters are twisted? If they can do it to the other Writings, they can do it to Paul’s letters as well.”

      1Ti 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
      Here again, Paul Quotes from Deutronomy and then quotes the words of the Lord (not necessarily Luke or Matthew) as these words were in use as an Oral tradition. We see words of Yeshua which are never mentioned in the Gospels are sometimes mentioned by Paul(Acts 20:35). So is Paul equating Messiah’s words to Scripture? His words are that the Scripture says “Deut 25:4”. And then he quotes Messiah. in a sense of affirming what the Scriptures say with Yeshua’s Words – which they rightly should. In a sense that both the Scriptures and even Messiah’s Words hold true to the point he is making.

      Out of the 5o odd times that the word “Graphe” is used, all occurences speak of the OT Scriptures. Even 1Tim 5:18 & 2Pet 3:16. Just because Paul used a quote from Messiah Yeshua in confirming the OT Scripture or that Peter using Paul’s writings in tandem with the Scriptures do not specifically mean that either was regarded as the Scripture of their day by either Peter or Paul. The reality I see, is that no NT Author has said any of the words of the NT writers are specifically and directly, the “Scripture” as in part of the Holy Scriptures/Writings of God. While there is abundant evidence that they referred to the OT as Scripture. The sad thing is that today’s Christians refer to the NT as Scripture and regard the OT as “done away” or “not valid for today”. I do not wish to demean the NT writings as I would not know my Messiah or His works, and the works of His followers if not for these writings… but I do regard the OT to have the same or even greater authority on our lives than the NT.

      I believe true authority lies with God and the writings that Messiah, Peter, Paul & all other disciples referred to as Scripture was none other than what we call the Old Testament.

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  18. Pingback: The Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue & Church – What is the House of God? | Bible things in Bible ways

  19. John Pieper

    Perhaps some evidence that Hebrews was, in fact, written by Paul…

    Hebrews 10:1

    For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.Now o question, he replied.

    Plato, Republic, Book VII

    To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

    And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

    Reply
    1. michaelajfarrilm

      Hi John,

      I agree with you and have considered the same thing for a long time, especially as this concept is also found in Colossians 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, of the new moon or of the Sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come but the body is Christ”, a verse from a letter which claims in the introduction to have been written by Paul. This verse to me clearly shows a striking familiarity with the verse in Hebrews 10:1 and your quote from Plato’s Republic. In Colossians, Paul is saying that the Mosaic Law is not the actual reality but simply the shadow of the true “object” or “body” which is Christ.

      At least, if Hebrews wasn’t written by Paul, it was written by someone who had exactly the same thoughts as Paul.

      Reply

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