Paul is a key figure in Christianity. Professional Christians do their utmost to burnish his reputation, censoring and suppressing many inconvenient facts. Some of these facts are only found in arcane professional journals, and are unknown to nearly all priests, pastors, and laymen. But many are part of Holy Scripture, and are willfully ignored. Some zealots even create new and improved “facts” on Paul’s behalf.
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Paul repeatedly complained of his dire poverty. But the fact is, he spent a great deal of money. His travels costs were far beyond the means of the vast majority of the population. When Paul reached Rome, he paid for housing that only the elite could afford. And all those letters were very expensive. Only wealthy aristocrats like Cicero, Seneca, and Pliny could afford to write letters on a regular basis. Faced with these high costs, some scholars flagrantly misrepresent the facts, while their colleagues remain silent.
Paul claimed that he slaved night and day in his workshop to support himself. But tentmakers and other artisans only earned a subsistence wage, and could not possibly have met Paul’s expenses. In fact, about 90 percent of the Roman Empire just eked out a living. Once again, these facts are either suppressed or misrepresented.
If you follow the money, you find a new Paul, far different than the revered figure you’ve heard about. This Paul was accused of lying by almost all his churches. In his very first letter, he was forced to deny he was after his flock’s money: “nor, as God is our witness, have our words ever been a cloak for greed;” and “the appeal we make does not spring from delusion or sordid motive or from any attempt to deceive.” It helps explain why Luke suppressed Paul’s “collection for the poor in Jerusalem,” a central focus of his mission.
Paul’s revelations from Christ often contradicted the teachings of Jesus. For example, while Jesus forbid his disciples from taking money for preaching, Paul’s resurrected Christ said this was his right. Paul even told the Galatians his preaching earned him a share of all their “good things.” Jesus damned the rich (“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven”). He told the rich man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. But Paul invented the Gospel of Prosperity. He told his flock that if they contributed to his collection, Christ would give them a generous financial return. Jesus said a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Paul’s Corinthian church committed every type of immorality, including incest – and boasted about it.
Paul lied about his background. The odds are millions to one against his having been a Pharisee. The tribe of Benjamin disappeared hundreds of years before he was born. He was not the high priest’s hit man in charge of persecuting Christians. His miraculous conversion was a fiction that kept changing. Paul was not the founder of Gentile Christianity, nor was he responsible for its spread. Paul’s churches and teachings disappeared before Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles.
The facts reveal a far different picture of Paul than the photoshopped versions you’ve seen.