Paul and the church at Judea


I was reading through the resurrection narratives in the four gospels, thinking about writing something about Mary Magdalene because of some comments I wrote on a Wheat & Tares post by Mormon Heretic [Smearing Mary Magdalene].

I was writing down the order of appearences made by Jesus after he resurrects from the grave, as given by each of the four witnesses that we have canonized currently.

The four gospel narratives:

Mark

  • Mary Magdelene, out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils
  • two of them as they walked and went into the country
  • the eleven

Luke

  • Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with him
  • two of them on the road to a village called Emmaus
  • Simon
  • the eleven

Matthew

  • Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
  • the eleven

John

  • Mary Magdalene
  • the disciples
  • Thomas

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

Though we think of Paul as coming later in chronology — in terms of historical dates for the written records — the authenticated letters of Paul are the earliest written Christian documents of the bible.  In other words, what got written down into [e.g.] Corinthian epistles was physically put to paper before the words that got written down as the Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John narratives.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8, then, gives what is the earliest [historically-speaking] written account of post-mortal appearances of Jesus, given as testimony that he did indeed resurrect from the grave.  Paul writes the appearances in this order:

  • Cephas
  • the twelve
  • over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present but some are fallen asleep
  • James
  • all the apostles
  • Paul himself

Of interest in Paul’s list is that the order is unlike anything seen in the four gospel narratives.  The risen Jesus is seen by Peter first — not Mary [she's not there at all].

Then he is seen by “the twelve” — not the “eleven” [implying Judas was not counted out of the number of the quorum].

Then there is a large event where over 500 men see him at one time.  This would have undoubtably been a miraculous account, if only our canon contained it.  Paul was obviously using that appearance to lend the most verifiable credibility to his own testimony — because he makes it a point to mention that many of those men are still alive today — as if to say to the readers, “You can go ask them if you doubt me, they’re still around.”

Then James is mentioned separate from “the twelve” — presumably because this is “James, the Lord’s brother“, rather than the apostle who was John’s brother.  Also it is interesting to note that Peter, the twelve, and James are all mentioned as separate from “all the apostles.”  This suggests that what Paul considered an “apostle” is different from the Quorum of twelve male key-holders that we currently think of when we use that word:

salute Andronicus
and Junia
my kin
and my fellowprisoners
who are noteworthy apostles
who also were in christ before me

[Romans 16:7]

Paul’s bound-less concept of the gospel:

I was thinking of some reasons why this would be.  Paul seems to have thought about the church of Christ in terms that were broader in scope and more “bound-less” in understanding than did the brethren at Jerusalem.  It was his radical idea that if it is indeed true that every one is justified, sanctified, and purified by faith in the blood of Christ alone — then:

there is neither jew nor greek
there is neither bond nor free
there is neither male nor female
for ye are all one
in christ
Jesus

[Galatians 3:28]

… a message of a gospel of uncircumcision — egalitarian tribal anarchy — or complete liberty in Christ.

Paul, in fact, did not seem to quorum with the twelve at Jerusalem and Peter at all.  He makes it a point in his letter to the Galatian church to state that the gospel he delivered to them was given to him straight from the mouth of Jesus — and not from the oral tradition and records of the men at Jerusalem:

Paul
an apostle not of men, neither by man
but by Jesus christ, and god the father, who raised him from the dead
unto the churches of Galatia
I certify you
brethren
that the gospel which was preached of me
is not after man
for I neither received it of man
neither was I taught it
but it came by the revelation of Jesus christ

but when it pleased god
to reveal his son in me
that I might preach him among the gentiles
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood
neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me
after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter
and abode with him fifteen days
but I saw none of the other apostles
save James the Lord’s brother
I was unknown by face unto the churches of Christ in Judea

[Galatians 1]

Paul also describes how Peter acted with “stiffneckedness and unbelief” [3 Nephi 15:18]:

when the brethren at Jerusalem saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me
as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter
[...]
and when James, Cephas, and John
who seemed to be pillars
perceived the grace that was given unto me
they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship
that we should go unto the gentiles
and they unto the circumcision

but when Peter was come to Antioch
I withstood him to the face
because he was to be blamed
for [...] he did eat with the Gentiles
but when they were come [from Judea]
he withdrew and separated himself fearing them which were of the circumcision

but when I saw that they walked not uprightly
according to the truth of the gospel
I said unto Peter before them all
if thou, being a jew, livest after the manner of gentiles [...] why compellest thou the gentiles to live as do the jews?
[...]
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law
but by the faith of Jesus christ
even we have believed in Jesus christ
that we might be justified by the faith of christ
and not by the works of the law
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified

[Galatians 2]

In fact, the undisputedly authentic letters of Paul [Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians] are never addressed to:

  • “Bishop So-and-so, of the church at ______”

or to

  • “The elders of the church at _______”

etc.

But are always addressed to just “the church”, as a leaderless body of equals who gather together for worship.  It’s not until the disputed letters of Paul [1 and 2 Timothy and Titus] that you start to see a leadership hierarchy being given direction that they are to pass on to the lay-members.

The church of Christ in Judea went through all three stages of the church of God:

It started in stage one, built on the miraculous works of the Father:

and when the day of pentecost was fully come
they were all with one accord in one place
and suddenly there came a sound from heaven
as of a rushing mighty wind
and it filled all the house where they were sitting
and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire
and it sat upon each of them
and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost
and began to speak with other tongues
as the Spirit gave them utterance

[Acts 2:1-4]

The church of Christ multiplied greatly, the word of God was preached with authority and power, the community of believers lived as Zion, etc.

By the time we get to the time at which Paul begins writing his letters [~40-50's AD], the church of Christ has entered the stage two, built on the works of men.

The church in Judea governs according to their Judean culture, instead of the purity of the truth of the gospel alone.  The “stiffneckedness and unbelief” that Jesus mentioned to the Nephite church began to exert itself until manifestations of power began leaving the church.

The church of Christ begins to solidify into a hierarchy of religious brokers — who see themselves as having the jurisdiction over who experiences Jesus and how.

In the gospel of Mary Magdelene, it reads:

When Mary had [told the twelve what Jesus taught to her], she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.

But Andrew answered and said to the brethren:  “Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.”

Peter answered and spoke concerning the same things.  He questioned them about the Savior, saying:  “Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us?  Are we to turn about and all listen to her?  Did He prefer her to us?”

Then Mary wept and said to Peter: “My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?”

Levi answered and said to Peter:  “Peter you have always been hot tempered.  Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.  But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her?  Surely the Savior knows her very well.”

Finally the history of the church of Christ passes through stage three [built on the works of the devil] — where at some point, it is wholly rejected by the Lord and ceased to have any power or authority.

Next Article by Justin: Intimacy as the Opposite of Sin

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13 Comments

  1. The rapid development of a hierachical church structure in conjunction with the apostasy is a fascinating parallel, and it’s interesting that one of the markers to determine the provenance and authenticity of a given Pauline epistle is precisely how much structure it presumes. It gives me some sympathy with David Whitmer, who lamented that the introduction of the office of the high priest in 1831 was inappropriate. I am curious to see the later volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers on the revelations like D&C 107 to see what changes were made in publishing them later to bolster up the secondary structure of the church. There were so many who, like Martin Harris, loved the high offices—I think it’s clear that it’s a weakness that even Joseph Smith himself had, heaped upon with titles. At least he always emphasized that we could go to the Lord and receive the authority and revelations ourselves, if we so desired. And most haven’t.

    (Are you obtaining the scripture quotations from a specific site, or are you formatting them yourself? It has the benefit of forcing you to stop and read a quote that you may have skimmed many times before, just to see the rhythm of each phrase in action.)

  2. Yeah — I think the presence of hierarchy is a great indicator of being patterned after the works of men — because they don’t see how there is any “order” without an imposed structure.

    So I do think that’s usually one of the first things that happens as the church of Christ solidifies into a worldly organization.

    Are you obtaining the scripture quotations from a specific site, or are you formatting them yourself?

    The scriptures are formatted entirely by me. For the most part, I take the KJV from scriptures.lds.org — unless I think a different translation expresses the idea better, then I make an occasional edit in the rendering of a phrase.

    I too benefit from formatting the verses this way because it causes me to read the word of God aloud — so I can get a feel for the language’s rhythm.

  3. As in, outside of history from the RCC, James was influential, as seen by Josephus writing about him. And we know that Paul did a marvelous job in the Gentile area of the Roman empire. But after James died, Christianity was going no where in the Jewish regions of Judea, which Peter was supposed to be preaching in.

    But Paul’s gentile Rome just couldn’t get enough of it, and so, along with his buddies Apollos, Timothy, and Barnabas, they re ignited Christianity in Rome, which eventually led to Constantine choosing Christianity.

    So why would Jesus build it on Peter, if according to history outside of the RCC, Christianity would have been without James and Paul?

  4. Good post. Very instructive. As I am taught from the Lord I find my belief run counter to many people. I have been searching for how these precepts which I believe so strongly in are so divergent from the rest of the so called Bible believing Christians. If it were not for the continuing guidance of the Spirit confirming that I have not departed from the path God wants me in I would surely believe it is I who am in error.
    But the fact is clearly demonstrated that God will allow men to believe and follow false traditions when they refuse to listen to Him. And He will continue to work with them. Moses might have been capable of giving the gospel in its fulness to people in his day. But they never would have believed it. they would have rejected the truth even if God Himself stood in front of them and spoke it. So we have the Son of God saying 1500 years later, Moses for the hardness of your hearts gave you this.
    Any dispensation of truth is subject to the prejudices of the people into whose hands it is given. Joseph and Brigham and company had plenty of false traditions and prejudices which they never got over.
    And yet the Lord will give to each of us as much truth as we are willing to seek and believe. What Jesus preached was known by at least one group before He began his ministry. What Jesus gave was not the full truth. that has never been given to people en mass. Moroni and Mormon may have had it in the sealed portion. but I dare say that even they plagued with less than perfect vision of all of God’s ways. And at any rate they certainly were not allowed to reveal what is written there.

  5. Even though the commenter above was spam — I thought the comment [which is copied from Yahoo] was interesting…

  6. That is too funny and too in sync Justin. Look at the times of your comment and mine. Exact same time. And right after I posted mine I checked the spam folder and let that comment by “event planning new york” through also.
    So I guess we were both approving it simultaneously?

  7. Yeah — that’s interesting that we double-posted like that.

    But you allowed the comment before I logged onto the site because it was already there when I got on.

    I read it b/c the commenter’s name was obviously spam to me — and I was planning on deleting the comment. But it struck me as strange that it was on-topic because the spam comments are usually gibberish.

    So I searched some text from the comment and found where the spam-bot copied-and-pasted it from. So I just took off the URL link on the comment’s name and left it and let it stay.

  8. I think it is a right & wrong observation to make of a Hierarchy.

    Right in the sense that when anyone besides the Lord Himself or His Right Hand Man being at the top of that Hierarchy, it leaves a person in charge who is less than perfect and subject to becoming less than the perfect Benevolent Example of God to us.

    Men seeking these high positions tend toward wanting to be the”Boss”. A True Father like Our Father in Heaven would want to exhault His Children as opposed to Himself, who He realizes He is Already exhaulted and in no need of exhaulting Himself before others.

    Only two other people besides our Father in Heaven are capapable of standing in the PROPER positon of that Heavenly Hierarchy as a True Benevolent Already Exhaulted Being…That would be Jesus Christ & the Holy Spirit. Eiter of them can stand upon their Own Merits. No other man can YET do that, but is the goal.

    So every obeservation you made concerning High Offices being the invention of man is only correct in that a MAN ASSUMED that position WITHOUT realizing he doesn’t yet QUALIFY to fill that position as does Jesus & the Spirit.

    They are the ONLY two exemplars that the Father will send to us. They are the ONLY two who can now claim to truly hold the Positons of High Priest as BEING that office, without merely attempting to immate it.

    The very accurate observations that you made concerning men & the church continually going through the phases of initially having the Power & Truth, to repeating the cycle of man’s intervention to destroy that truth, is a cycle that is about to be broken.

    To enter that realm of every man standing on equal ground in terms of not needing a leader to be the exemplar to that process, will only come about by the works of one final Leader who IS a True High Preist to our Father in Heaven.

    The first of those came in the person of Jesus Christ who came to wrought out the Atonement for our sins.

    The second of those to soon come, will be the Holy Spirit in the flesh to teach us to REMOVE INIQUITY from our souls in order to REVERSE the process of repeating sin through generational curses brought on through dysfunctional family behavior passed down through generations of dysfunctional behavior.

    That has ALWAYS been the funtion of the Holy Spirit. To SANCTIFY our souls through the REMOVAL of sin from our flesh. Jesus BROKE the curse of sin with regard to BEARING our sins, but the Spirit, like the second Goat of the Atonement Offering, was charged with the carrying AWAY ( sanctifying us ) of our sins.

    Salvation is known by ONE name…Jesus Christ. But Salvation is wrought by TWO men…Jesus & the Holy Spirit, who HAS no name.

    These two High Priesthood Representives represent the SPOKEN & UNSPOKEN aspects of God Hood…One representing the other but NOT EXCLUDING it…..Heavenly Father the “Spoken” name of God ( Represented by Christ ) & Our Motherin Heaven ( Represented by the Holy Spirit ) to whom the Fathe & Christ represent by THEIR NAMES…Like Jesus representing the Name of Salvation on BEHALF of the Holy Spirit who plays an EQUAL YET DIFFERENT ROLE in the Plan of Salvation.

    Yes. The UNSPOKEN aspect of heaven & the Gospel are about to come to life on this earth in the form of the Lord’s Final Servant and Prophet sent to PREPARE THE WAY for the Lord’s Return…The Holy Spirit in the Flesh, as beng the One Mighty & Strong Angel of God who represents the OTHER Example for us to follow to BECOME like Heavenly PARENTS. We become like BOTH. They, like Our Father & Mother in Heaven, are BOTH SAVIORS playing EQUAL yet SEPAERATE parts that contribute to the WHOLE.

    We’re about to recieve the WHOLE Gospel in the coming of our final True Example and High Preist to follow, who will LEAD us to the Coming of Christ on behalf of those who are toinherit the TERRESTRIAL ORDER. But for those of us asending BEYOND that order and returning to Our MOTHER & FATHER, we NEED this man.

    So you are Right & Wrong. Right in the sense that your observations are CORRECT as the ultimate desired outcome to not HAVE to be lead any longer.

    But wrong in the sense that it IS going to happen ONE LAST TIME.

    There is a REASON God is sending this man. We NEED him.

  9. This was an awesomely insightful article by Justin. It really shows Foward Thinking. But there has always been the tendency for everyone to get a bit ahead of the game when it comes to leaving out the Un Named Man & his mission & it’s necessary component to REACHING that ultimate end goal you see.

    Everyone tends to forget Mom because she is always the quiet one seeing to it that we reach our gols in life through Her Anonymous daily actions & sacrifices on our behalf.

    But it is Always Mom we cry for most when she is gone…What would we have become WITHOUT Her ? But one rarely realizes what a Mother Means until she dies.

    But now in a figurative sense, we are about to celebrate the influence our Mother in Heaven has played in our lives here on earth through our Earthly Moms. The Spirit, like Jacob, is more like His Mom. But still every bit a Man, as was Jacob, who single handedly lifted a stone that required a group of shepards to lift. He was a Moma’s Boy but NO WHIMP !

  10. In terms of the “New Thing” Isaiah tells us is about to happen, consider this…

    God Our Father provided the SEED to our lives and He provides for it’s survival in a challenging world. But who GREW that seed into WHO you BECAME ?

    We have tendancy to focus upon first impressions. It is a Human Characteristic to not see as DEEPLY as God sees them. But the question I would ask, is WHO IS God ?

    It is NOT our Father OR Mother in Heaven. It’s the BLENDING of the TWO.

    We have already been given the perspective of ONE of those aspects ( Our Father & Christ ). Now is the time to learn the OTHER aspect to COMPLETING our picture & understanding of God ( Our Mother & Holy Spirit ).

    So Hierarchy IS a fundemantal need to LEADING us to God Hood.

    Jacob as a Type for the Holy Spirit’s Earthly Mission, will lead the Family of Israel HOME to Zion. Just as the Spirit’s initial anti mortal role was to lead us through the Wilderness of this Life, as typified by the Children of Israel being LEAD by the Angel of the Lord’s Presence ( The Holy Spirit ) to the Promised Land….Like Mom’s & Dad’s do.

    Jesus, our Father Figure, gave His LIFE for us asany Father should do for His Children. The Holy Spirit in the flesh, as a representative of Our Mother in Heaven, is to show us how to live RIGHTEOUSLY, in order to enter the Presnce of Our Father & Brother.

    And what is about to occur with the Gathering of Israel & the more righteous of the world, UNDER the LEADERSHIP of the Angel on Earth that God is about to send, is to TYPIFY the ENTIRE PLAN of Salvation from BEGINNING TO END . So don’t put the Anarchist Apple before the Horse, before IT’S TIME. We’re not quite there yet.

    You see TOO FAR into the future. You can see the water you are about to dive in, but you need to Properly JUDGE it’s DISTANCE so as to not hurt yourself.

  11. I absolutely LOVE the people who write on this forum. I have learned SO MUCH from the things I have read. And Justin’s picture looking like a cross between Peter Brady & Bruce Springsteen is a REALLY COOL combination. There is REAL WISDOM & un nieve INNOCENCE in that expression.

    My wife tells me I look like a cross between a Buzzard & a Donkey. I didn’t even make the People comparison list. Jesus rode a Donkey, so that’s kind of cool. But what’s up with a Buzzard ?

  12. You began this article by mentioning Mary Mag. being smeared. I have often heard members cringe at the idea that she became the wife of Jesus. Their cringing nausiates me. It is denying her the opportunity of complete forgiveness as was appreantly given to her by the Lord.

    What better way & example to us of forgiveness could Jesus present to us than to fall in love with one who had been disgraced & lost & then found & forgiven ?

    It really makes me want to vomit to hear anyone say anything bad about Mary Mag.

    As a perfect type for the love & forgiveness Christ has for His people & church, what better way could that be expressed than for Him to truly fall in love with the woman He saved ?

    As a matter where Jewish Law is concerned and a Law given to Eve, there is PROOF they WERE married.

    God said in Genesis for a Woman to leave He parents and become one & first with her Husband.

    If Christ had not been married to Mary Mag., then Mary His Mother would have been the FIRST person he appeared to. By Law she would take presidence over any other person excepting His Wife.

    And WHO was Jesus FIRST to appear to ?

    These appearances are NO coincidences according to the order in which they occured.

    This is why a particular Apostle was a little put off by Mary annointing the feet of Her Savior. Because Her “SAVIOR” was like unto the savior of our own wives. Who escorts your wife across the veil ? It is not Jesus…You become her savior escort as a proxy for Christ.

    So that is another proof of Mary Mag.as being the wife of Jesus, by being given presidence over the Apostles. Only a wife can fill that position. She ranked ABOVE the Priesthood for which was intened to SERVE HER. Is that not the way it is ?

    And the Apocryphal writings are full of instances of the Apostles taking exception to the Favor that Jesus extented to Mary Mag. over themselves. And was surely the reason these things were not canonized because the Priesthood felt it occupied a position higher than that of those to whom they were to PRIMARILY & FIRSTLY SERVE….Their WIVES.

    To me, anyone who besmirches Mary in any way, is making light of the wife of the Man you DON’T want to be messing with when it comes to defending the one He Loves.

    Did the scriptures ever mention that the People of God that Prostituted themselves to the World would be cast off forever, or thought less of if they completely repented ?

    People who view Mary as someone not worthy to be called the wife of the Savior, is proclaiming their OWN UNWORTHINESS as hypocrates, who deny others of their repentance and are in great need of their own.

  13. There is a simple explanation to Pauls insight being more accute than his brethren in Jerusalem. He was a prodical son of Christianity.

    To gain access to the Highest levels of understanding God in His fullness, one must experience the greatest of opposites that life has to offer.

    This was accomplished by a proxy method as far as the Lord was concerned. But there is only one other way to gain the full knowledge of opposites. And that is to BECOME the opposite.

    Going through that in life opens the door to being able to LOVE MORE than those who require little forgiveness of smaller sins. And there fore enables a person to REACH OUT in compassion & understanding to a Broader Spectrum of people who have traveled varied & wide roads in their lives.


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