Antagonism and arrogance, two things that seem to define Paul’s character and, therefore, ministry. This may not be very evident to you now, (it wasn’t for me at the beginning, either) but if we just take what Paul says at its face value, we begin to see a man at odds with the other apostles because of his own egotism (“other” assumes he was one, too).

Looking back, it’s hard to ignore the rift that Christianity has created between Paul, Peter, and James, and even Jesus the Messiah himself! Evangelicals in general, and Hyper-Dispensationalists especially, lessen—as much as they can get away with—the other “Apostles to the Circumcision.” You see, for the Dispensationalist, Jesus, Peter, James, and the other original Apostles in Jerusalem had one Gospel and Paul had another—one for Jews, another for Gentiles. Naturally, this is going to create division as we attempt to "rightly divide." But I argue that it was Paul who began this strife, not the others. The evidence will speak for itself. 

Galatians is an interesting read in light of the issues I’m addressing as far as Paul’s supposed Apostleship is concerned. In it, Paul elaborates on his Apostleship and how “exactly” he came into the ministry to the Gentiles (with another Gospel, his Gospel, of course).

Paul is Special

Gal 2:6-10 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 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 heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

There’s more here that we could unpack, but our focus is on Paul’s attitude toward his peers. You have to keep in mind that Paul supposedly had received divine revelation directly from Jesus.[1]  Regardless of whether or not it was a vision or real encounter, the point is that Paul had received this vision but never once thought the message should be tested and confirmed by those who personally knew Jesus, at least right away. Instead, Paul took the message he received and just began to preach. Eventually, he met some apostles (John and Peter) and other elders (James). Notice that to Paul it made no difference who they were. He couldn’t tell, or care to tell, if these men were the ones specifically ordained by Jesus to the office they held, or if James was actually an elder in the church among the other believers. Paul is flippant and egotistical. 

Despite coming later in the events recorded in Acts, Paul is often regarded as the greatest apostle ever because of how prolific he was in his works, including the writing of a majority of what we call the New Testament. Paul boasts as much:[2]

1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

2Co 11:5  For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

For Paul, the others just weren’t quite as zealous, and you get the impression none of us would’ve heard the Gospel (i.e., Gentiles) unless Paul hadn’t preached it. Some go so far as to say that the other apostles were still so entangled with the law (“legalism”) that it was destined for them to fail in carrying the Gospel as far as Paul did. The reality is that the early churches were already preaching the Gospel to Gentiles long before Paul...despite his persecutions, in fact.[3]

Hints to the contrary

It’s come to my attention that there may be realizations by the other apostles that the man they deputized to care for the poor and distribute the instructions to new Gentile converts while on his circuit to collect an offering wasn’t exactly who he said he was. This may explain Paul’s attempts at justifying his office and teachings. As news was evidently reaching its way back to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem and other churches round about. Who were these people in Jerusalem warning Paul’s followers in places like Ephesus and Galatia? An interesting verse is the nineteenth in chapter two of John’s first epistle. We read the following:

1Jn 2:19  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

John’s reflection centers around the controversies taught by many “Gnostic” teachers, one of which was that Jesus Christ was only appearing to be a human, but that he was in reality an angelic being, or a spirit taking on the appearance of a man, or perhaps God himself somehow donning flesh/ humanity. This heresy came to be known as “Docetism” in later years. But what does this have to do with Paul? I’ve already made the claim that Paul’s double-minded profile of Christ (he’s a man one moment, and then another he’s God, and then another he’s a spirit) was actually the groundwork for the formal heresy of Docetism. Therefore, though it appears the apostles had accepted Paul in some way early on, eventually, their differences in doctrine became so apparent that the apostles, and many others, eventually forsook Paul over his antichrist and antinomian (law-less) teaching (more on this later). 


[1] Galatians 1:11,12,15,16

[2] Proverbs 25:14

[3] Acts 2 - Gentile converts to Judaism heard the Gospel on Pentecost; Acts 8 - The Ethiopian hears the Gospel; Acts 10 - Romans hear the Gospel. You see, the Gospel was well on its way throughout the Gentile world in one way or another. The early churches knew, very well, that Jesus intended for them to go beyond Jewry and preach the Gospel (Acts 1:8; Matthew 12:18-21// Isaiah 42:1)


This is an on going study and is subject to revisions.