Paul was seen as a Hellenist by some in Replacement Theology. They believe he “converted” from being a Pharisee from Beit Hillel and from being a Torah observant Jew and created something new and better. The truth is, he wasn’t ever a Hellenist. Nothing in his writings gives us the impression that he was a Hellenist. He continued to be a Pharisee after he became a believer (Acts 23.6) and was Torah observant at least 30 years after Yeshua (Acts 21.15-26). Some even believe he took on pagan customs into his “church” based on the Mystery Religions, like Gnosticism and Mithraism. In Mithraism, they have what is called “A Lord’s Supper.” By eating the meal and drinking the wine, you are partaking of the body and blood of Mithras. This isn’t something that was “new.” You will find it in all the pagan religions.
However, the form of the Lord’s Supper in Mithraism and the teaching of “Transubstantiation” (the bread and wine actually turns into the body and blood of Christ) in the Catholic Church is very similar. At the time of Constantine, this concept was passed from Mithraism right into Christianity. To this day it hasn’t changed in Catholicism. There is a concept, even seen in ancient Israel, that something could be made “clean” and “redeemed” even if it was pagan. God had to deal with northern Israel about this. They mixed paganism with the truth of God’s word. This is what happened in Christianity. The concept of the Catholic “Lord’s Supper” then passed into the Protestant world. Protestants don’t believe in transubstantiation or teach it, but many other elements are the same.
This was not done in the congregations of Paul. Those “Lord’s Suppers” would have been exactly what was done in the Pharisee, Essene and all other Jewish congregations that did not believe that Yeshua was the Messiah in the first century. The Lord’s Supper was not “instituted” by Yeshua (one of the teachings of the “church” and neither was “baptism.”). What was done in the unbelieving Jewish congregations was what was done in a believing one. An unbelieving Pharisee could walk into a Lord’s Supper in a believing congregation and know exactly what they were doing. But, Jewish sources talking about Paul say his idea of a Lord’s Supper resembled that which was found in the Mystery Religions.
Paul’s “Lord’s Supper” was a whole meal, with songs and prayers. A Sabbath meal on Friday night was connected to the meals on Sabbath afternoon and evening. These meals were teaching different eschatological pictures connected to the “Day of the Lord.” What we have in Christianity isn’t even a close, watered down version. It’s like having a Thanksgiving meal but you only serve a little piece of bread and a thimble full of wine, with everything else being stripped away. People would look at you with horror if you did that. And if we would feel that way about a secular meal, how much more should we feel about a meal consecrated to God that was watered down to nothing, resembling a pagan practice.
They say that Paul saw the Holy Spirit not as an ethical being, but a magical power that works sanctification and salvation. It is a “mystic” substance permeating the church as a dynamic force (this is a problem because the word “mystic” is not related to the Hebrew concept of “Sowd” but secular mysticism). They say this was how Paul operated, similar to the heathen mystical cults. The Jewish Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Judaica see Paul’s “church” as an extension of these mystery cults/religions. They say Paul “borrowed” from Jewish propaganda literature, similar to the Sibylline Oracles (a pseudo-pigraphic writing of the Jewish people, a Hellenistic work and very eschatological). But you can’t compare Paul’s writings with the Sibylline Oracles at all. There are good pseudo-pigraphic writings and there are bad ones. The Oracles do portray a certain view of Hellenistic Judaism of the day, but they got “crazy” to say the least. What they are saying is that Paul’s writings are just as “crazy” as the Sibylline Oracles. It’s like saying Paul and the Book of Mormon agree but they don’t.
These articles continue to say “his (Paul’s) church” implying that what he was doing was outside of what the other believers were doing. We can disprove this many times over. But, this is what is taught in Replacement Theology Christianity, too. They say Paul borrowed from the heathen idea of a mystical union with a deity through sacrifices, and that was his view of Yeshua’s death on the cross. Sadly, this is still the view of the Catholic Church. This view came to Byzantine Christianity from Mithraism, then passed on to the Catholic Church, but it did not come from Paul.
Now, let’s do a short lesson on Mithraism (We have more information on this in the teaching “Facts about Christmas” on this site). There are seven steps called “mysteries” in Mithraism. Corax was the first step, entered into by baptism. Then there was Nymphus (bride); Miles (soldier); Leo (lion); Perses (Persian); Heliodromus (sun messenger) and Pater (father). The head of a congregation was called “Pater” or “father.” The supreme head of all Mithraism was called Pontiff Maximus (see Reformation.Org “the 7 Mysteries of Mithraism Revealed”). This was not what Paul means when he uses the term “mystery” in his writings. He is referring to one of the four levels of interpretation called “Pardes” (“paradise”) which is an acronym for “Peshat” (the literal/grammatical); “Remez” (allegorical/hint); “Drash” (parabolic/seek); “Sowd” (mystical/hidden). These are not related to Mithraism at all. They say that Paul’s idea of “Christ” was taken from Alexandrian Gnosticism, but again, that is not true. Paul’s idea of Messiah was consistent with the Jewish idea.
Now, what do you think they say Paul’s attitude towards the Torah was? They say he wasn’t just against Jewish law, but against all law because law was something that was intrinsically evil. They will take Paul’s statements on the law out of context, as we have shown in earlier teachings. Now, we are talking about some of the Jewish ideas about Paul, but you will see these things in Christianity, too. They will misinterpret Rom 10.4 to say that “Jesus was the end of the law and the beginning of the Spirit of resurrection.” But that verse does not mean that at all. It means that Messiah is the “goal/target” of what the Torah teaches (“end” is “telos” in Greek meaning the goal or target). Other Jewish ideas about Paul will teach that he taught that the world was doomed and his flesh was beset by sin and totally evil. So, home, family life, worldly wisdom and all earthly enjoyment have no value. This is because they belong to a world that passes away. Now, do you believe Paul was teaching that?
They will go on to teach that Paul’s concern with eating and drinking and things sacrificed to idols which concerned the Jews will be like the Gnostics, and those who cared not for these things are the “strong” ones and they did did not concern themselves with clean and unclean and similar ritualistic distinctions. In other words, Paul taught against the kosher foods and believers should not be concerned with things sacrificed to idols anymore. This is exactly what Christianity teaches. What these teachings imply is that Paul “split” from the congregation in Jerusalem and had nothing to do with the Torah, which is also what Christianity teaches. He then borrowed from all the other “churches” to form “Christianity.”
Only the “weak” in faith will keep the Torah, according to what they say Paul is teaching. Paul is said to teach that worrying about what you are eating has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God anymore. This is also a false interpretation of what Paul said. Rom 14.17 is talking about the Roman congregation, made up of unbelieving Jews in Yeshua, believing Jews in Yeshua and believing non-Jews in Yeshua. The unbelieving Jews would not eat with the non-Jews in the congregations in Rome, nor eat their meat and wine. This was the halakah at the time. The Kingdom of God is not made up of these man-made rituals and practices according to the 18 Edicts of the School of Shammai which they were following.
The Jewish view will say that Paul acted like a Jew with Jews, and acted like a non-Jew with non-Jews, so that he might “win some.” But, he rebuked Cephas for doing this in Galatians. 1 Cor 9.19-21 just means that he identified with all men and understood where they were coming from. They will say that Paul’s attitude toward the Torah was “transcendent” and that he was “above” all that (keeping the Torah) now that he was a Christian. He desired that the “strong ones” do without the schoolmaster (the Torah) and that only the “weak” will observe the Torah. They say that the Torah made men “servants and slaves” but “Jesus” made men “son’s of God” and if you were a “son” and followed the Torah, that was the flesh. This is what is taught in Christianity, too.
In Part 6, we will pick up here with more statements from the Jewish Encyclopedia, attempting to bring to light these Jewish (and later Christian) attitudes. We are doing this so that we are forewarned about some of this and be able to see Paul for who he really is.