Stop The Lies
The biggest lie in Christianity is the Jesus is God. No where in the Scriptures does it dictate that Jesus is God. In fact, many statements from Yeshua actually indicate that Yeshua is really just a man who was chosen to be a prophet.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, John 5:30, John 20:17, Mark 12:29, Hosea 11:9, Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Mark 15:33-34, Matthew 24:34-36, Matthew 26:39, John 11:41-42, Luke 18:18-19, John 17:3, Matthew 16:15-17 and Hebrews 5:4-5
While you have been made to believe something, why don’t you look into the scriptures above and see if the churches claims still hold water.
Remember a paper towel can hold a lot but eventually when you pile up the weight, the towel breaks. ~David Oyer~
No Virgin Birth
There are many who are under the impression that the New Testament teaches the idea that Jesus was conceived of the virgin Mary without the participation of her husband Joseph. However, that is not the case at all. This site is dedicated to demonstrating:
People typically combine Luke 1:26-37 with Matthew 1:18-25 to formulate the Virgin Birth story. The problem though, is that there is one key element missing from the Bible:
Most people don’t realize that the modern Virgin Birth story comes from an extra-Biblical writing called the Infancy Gospel of James or the Protoevangelium of James, thought to have been penned about AD 145, at least 50 years after the last of the canonical writings were written.
According to Wikipedia,
While the Bible clearly identifies Mary to have been a virgin when she was espoused to Joseph, it never makes the claim that Joseph did not have sexual relations with his wife prior to her conceiving Jesus Christ.
upon which the whole idea is based,
is totally absent from the text.
Many also don’t realize that there is a very reasonable alternate explanation to the conception of Jesus provided within the text itself, because the Virgin Birth story has been so heavily indoctrinated into not only the Christian church, but also our whole modern, western culture.
The following article lays out an alternate explanation for you.
The Natural Origin of Jesus Christ
Instead of starting the story surrounding the conception of Jesus in the middle of Luke 1, let’s start in the beginning.
Scene 1: Gabriel Visits Zacharias
The last words spoken to Zacharias were similar to the last words spoken by the prophet Malachi:
This is a very important clue regarding what happens later when the angel goes to visit Mary:
Scene 2: Gabriel Visits the Virgin Mary
Being called Son of the Highest, in conjunction with being made king and having a reign without end, is speaking directly to the covenant made with David.
This is corroborated in 1 Chronicles 17:
So, Mary is hearing from the messenger that the covenant promise that was made by God to King David concerning his physical seed, was set to come to pass through her.
Referencing knowing a man could simply be taken to mean having knowledge of a man or being familiar or acquainted with a man.
Given this, what can we surmise is being said by Mary in this passage?
Let’s start with what she is not saying:
This is made evident by the messenger’s response to her (as well as by the song of praise she sings later when visiting Elisabeth).
First, consider this alternate reading of her question, putting the emphasis on the word “I” as opposed to the word “know”:
Now, consider the messenger’s response…
This is not code for God will make you pregnant. There is no precedent in the Bible for the Holy Spirit to come upon anyone and cause pregnancy apart from natural relations.
Rather, this appears to be simply saying,
Let’s consider the many examples of the Holy Spirit coming upon people…
When the Spirit of God comes upon man, they are usually given words to speak, insight/understanding, and/or special abilities.
In the New Testament we read in the opening chapter of Acts, that Jesus said:
This reiterates the notion that the Spirit of God empowers people when it comes upon them.
Given this, it appears that the messenger was reassuring Mary that she would be equipped and empowered to handle the task ahead of her, and he reaffirmed the child would be that “son” from 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17.
Then, the messenger continued…
The most significant aspect of the message given to Mary did not concern her ability to get pregnant. It pertained to who this child would be.
Scene 3: Mary Visits Elisabeth
The author tells us that Elisabeth was filled with holy spirit and she spoke out in a loud voice, blessing Mary and the fruit of her womb.
There are two scenarios regarding visitations by the messenger announcing a future conception & birth being contrasted in this chapter: one to Zacharias the priest and the other to Mary the virgin.
Both were told good news concerning the fate of their children to come: the former exhibited doubt over having his child due to old age, despite the sign of Abraham and Sarah conceiving & giving birth in their old age, while the latter exhibited faith as to what will come of her child.
Second, notice Mary’s humility, which corresponds with her initial reaction to the message given her — she had expressed doubt in herself, but upon the reassurance of the messenger, she accepted the task at hand.
And then Mary considered herself blessed — that others would call her blessed, not because she was going to conceive a child apart from her husband, but rather, according to this song of praise being sung by her, because her child would be used to carry out the salvation of God, which was promised to Abraham and to his seed.
Scene 4: The Birth of John the Baptist
Now, it’s important to note that it was John’s conception and birth that was miraculous – akin to the conception and birth of Isaac. And this was punctuated by Zacharias’ inability to speak throughout Elisabeth’s pregnancy and the birth of the child. It was only after the child was named that he was given back his ability to speak. This inability and then ability would have been considered miraculous as well.
Notice, Zacharias identifies this happening in the house of God’s servant, David. This is because it was understood that Mary belonged to the house of David due to her espoused relationship with Joseph.
Zacharias continues, speaking of his own son…
The next chapter segueways into another scene after Mary has conceived without revealing how much time has passed.
While it is often assumed Mary was pregnant during her visit with Elisabeth, the author never reveals that to be the case. The next words opening the next chapter are: And it came to pass in those days…. But the question is: which days was the author referring to?
The final words of chapter 1 refer to John the Baptist growing up and being in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. It could have been in those days of John’s infancy or it could have been later than that. We don’t know for certain.
But the main takeaway of Luke 1 is that all of the events that took place leading up to the birth of John took place prior to Mary’s conception. And the prophesying took place without any knowledge at that point that Mary had yet conceived.
Now, let’s switch over to the account given in Matthew 1 for what appears to come next chronologically.
Again, instead of starting in the middle of this chapter to tell this story surrounding the conception and birth of Jesus, let’s go back to the beginning of it.
The fact that the author refers to Jesus as “Christ” in the opening verse indicates the purpose of this genealogy.
The most notable criteria for the Christ to come in the minds of the children of Israel was that he was to be the physical son of David. And here, the author clearly lays out a lineage that connects “Jesus, who is called the Christ” to “David the King” by way of his father, Joseph.
Here is that genealogy:
David the King, and the Christ
The Greek word translated as “Christ” first appears in the Old Testament regarding a priest, but we most often see it used in reference to a king as seen here:
Notice the Christ is identified in this psalm as having been made king and considered to be the Son of YHVH.
Also recall what was pointed out in Luke 1 and 2 Samuel 7 pertaining to the physical seed of David being called the son of God.
In this genealogy, we see the title, king, introduced with the generation of David, and the title, Christ, pertaining to Jesus, identified as such in the opening verse, and again in verse 16, after stating he was begotten of Joseph and Mary.
The author wraps up this list with the following conclusion:
In addition to this, there are several things that stand out in this genealogy:
Mothers in the Lineage
Concerning the five mothers listed, many have noted questionable circumstances either of a sinful nature or pertaining to being a foreignor to Israel (aka a gentile) surrounding these women as possibly being the cause for their inclusion in this lineage. However, it appears the author is giving us a clue as to why he may have specifically mentioned them.
There is one whose name is not mentioned, but rather she is identified as having belonged to another man, Urias. It appears the author sought to point out that all three of the women previously mentioned to her had belonged to other men prior to the one for whom they bore sons in this genealogy.
Brothers in the Lineage
Concerning the three men with their brothers, it is not entirely clear why these sets were mentioned, except to draw the reader’s attention to their circumstances in relation to one another.
Omitted Sons in the Lineage
Concerning the omitted three generations of sons who sat as kings on David’s throne, all three were killed as a result of a conspiracy of men.
The genealogy states in verse 8 and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias. However, the Ozias mentioned there is four generations after Joram, and is the same as “Azariah” from 1 Chronicles 3:12. The succession of generations in the latter part of verse 8 would be as follows:
The account surrounding these kings can be found in 2 Kings 8-14. Joram/Jehoram, king of Judah, was married to the daughter of Ahab from the northern kingdom of Israel.
Apparent Missing Generation in the Lineage
Some have wondered about what appears to be a missing generation in the last 14 generations of the genealogy. This is because Jechonias is mentioned twice: once before the Babylonian removal and once afterward. If he were to only be counted once, then there would be one generation short in the last set of 14.
It seems that the first mention of Jechonias and his brethren should be counted in that second set of 14 because it appears to be referring to the immediate sons of Josiah. And then the second mention of Jechonias should be counted in the third set of 14 because that name is referring to the grandson of Josiah.
The Curse of Jechoniah
In Jeremiah, we read of a curse that was spoken over Jechoniah regarding his descendants not sitting on the throne.
Some have taken this to mean that no descendant of Jechonias ever would sit on David’s throne, using this to discount the genealogy given for Jesus, as proving his illegitimacy as Christ.
However, it appears that this is just speaking of Jechonias’ immediate descendants because it was around this time that the Davidic dynasty of succession came to an end. After only three months, Jechonias was removed as king by the king of Babylon and was replaced by his uncle, who reigned for 11 years, and his uncle proved to be the last king of the house of David to set on the throne leading into the carrying away to Babylon.
There have been many examples in the history of the Davidic kings where it appeared that David’s royal succession would come to an end, but YHVH always saw to it that it would not happen. However, with the multiple warnings of coming judgment, and the carrying away to Babylon impending, YHVH was making it clear, this run of kings was coming to a close.
But it wasn’t over for the covenant made with David concerning his physical seed. Jeremiah also prophecies in the very next chapter:
Notice how it says that Juda shall be saved. This will be touched upon in the next scene.
Concerning the unusual wording in verse 16, some understand this to be hinting at the virgin birth. The author does not say, And Joseph begat Jesus of Mary, as one would expect given the pattern established in the preceding verses, whether it be simply speaking of fathers and sons:
Or it be speaking of fathers and sons of mothers:
Instead, he says, Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus. And this is considered to be suggestive that Joseph did not beget Jesus, only Mary did.
However, it’s important to note a few things.
When considering the opening statement in verse one of this chapter, it is clear that the author’s primary purpose was to give the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Next, considering the summation in verse 17 following this genealogy, it is clear that the author was highlighting four points:
Notice where these words appear in the body of the text:
It appears that the author was strategic in how he worded this genealogy so that the final point he made concerned “Christ”. Given this, it seems logical that he would have had to change up the wording of Joseph and Mary as Jesus’ parents if he wanted to include the mother of Jesus.
Logically, if this is a genealogy of Jesus Christ, and it is presented in a way where all these men begat other men with a few mothers identified along the way, when it got down to “And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus”, it would naturally be understood that Joseph begat Jesus of Mary.
Scene 5: The Messenger Visits Joseph
The Greek word translated above as “when as” is “gar” and simply means for, and it is translated as such hundreds of times in the New Testament. This is the only verse that the KJV translates it as “when as”. So, a more accurate rendering would be:
The clause, before their coming together, is nestled between two ideas: Mary having been espoused to Joseph, and she was found with child. The virgin birth story requires this clause to be directly tied to Mary conceiving, however, both the Greek grammar and natural reasoning dictate this clause to be tied to Mary’s espousal to Joseph.
The author just finished making the case that Jesus was the physical descendant of David by way of his father Joseph. He specifically included four mothers in the genealogy that were known to have been with men prior to those for whom they bore children.
Then he identified Joseph as being the husband of Mary, and now he is explaining that she was espoused to him before their coming together, suggesting Mary had not been with another man prior to Joseph.
This detail of Mary, having been a virgin espoused to Joseph before their coming together, lines up with the account given in Luke.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of anyone in the Bible ever getting pregnant by the Holy Ghost, so this idea would have had to come from somewhere outside of the Bible; it does not come from this author.
Upon closer inspection, there is no definite article in the Greek text before the phrase translated as “holy ghost”, and the Greek word translated as “ghost” is most often translated elsewhere as “spirit”. So, the verse is simply saying, she was found to have conceived from holy spirit, not from the Holy Ghost.
All humankind is formed from the seed of a man within his mother’s womb, and given a spirit by God. There are several examples of men who were set apart from before their birth to serve a particular purpose, even before their conception, such as the prophet Jeremiah, and John the Baptist.
As revealed by the author of Luke, the child Mary would conceive in the future was set apart to be given the throne of his father David. Here, in Matthew, the author identifies Jesus with Christ, so when he says Mary was found to have conceived of holy spirit, it appears this is what he was alluding to.
As previously stated, there is nothing in the text that states Joseph is not the father of this child. On the contrary, it is clearly laid out that Jesus is the physical son of David by way of Joseph.
And there is nothing in the source text to indicate that Joseph had any reason to question who the father might be. That is the part of the Virgin Birth story that has been foisted upon the text.
Now, the author makes mention of Joseph, “being a just man”, coupled with his unwillingness to make her a publick example and his intention of sending her away. Why would a just man do this?
According to the historian Josephus Flavius, in The Wars of the Jews, there were three philosophical sects of Jews at this time in history: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.
In book 2, chapter 8 Josephus expounds on the Essene sect.
Many within this sect do not marry, but there are some who do. He explains:
It appears that the author may be revealing that Joseph could be following the custom of this Essene sect. Joseph may have minded to put his pregnant wife away, not willing to make her a publick example, as a demonstration that he did not marry out of regard to pleasure, but for the sake of posterity.
The messenger continued…
Then, the author makes a connection between what was transpiring at that time with words that were spoken in the past by the prophet Isaiah.
The author is saying that which was transpiring in Joseph’s day was making full the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah in the days of King Ahaz, of the house of David.
This is proven false when one considers the circumstances surrounding that verse and the rest of the passage being quoted.
The words which the author of Matthew quotes are: “Lo, the virgin shall conceive, and she shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.” Then, the author proceeds to interpret the word “Emmanuel” for his readers, saying, which being interpreted is, ‘God with us’.
In doing this, he provides a clue as to why he made the connection to this passage, saying what was happening in Joseph’s day was making full the words of Isaiah:
The author knew his Scriptures, I’m sure. He was fully aware of the circumstances surrounding King Ahaz and the sign that was given to him. The problem is that many modern readers of the New Testament are not aware of those circumstances in Isaiah 7.
And the Virgin Birth debate has muddied the waters so much that people spend all their energy squabbling over the word translated as “virgin”, that they are not paying attention to the bigger picture.
In Isaiah’s day, the sign pertained more to the child than it did to the woman, who conceived and brought him forth. And then, it was not so much about who the child would be, but rather it was about when the child reached a certain age. For it was at that time that God would intervene on behalf of the house of David, bringing upon their enemies the King of Assyria, signaling that God was with them.
Furthermore, the circumstances that called for that sign in the first place consisted of a fear coming from the house of David concerning a conspiracy of men to overthrow the throne of David. Can you now see how the author may have connected the events in Joseph’s day with words being spoken regarding particular events in Isaiah’s day? Read Isaiah 7:1-17:
The coming to pass of this sign is made clear in the next chapter of Isaiah, when Isaiah goes into the prophetess and she conceives and brings forth a son. And before the child reaches a certain age, the riches and spoil of Damascus and Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria. And this was a demonstration of God being with them. Look:
This is speaking of the Assyrian captivity that is soon to come to the northern kingdom of Israel.
Now, let’s get back to the account in Matthew…
Then, we’re told he did not know her until she brought forth her son.
Many think this is saying Joseph never knew her, but clearly this is speaking from this point forward until the birth. But why would the author point this detail out?
Considering the Essene custom previously mentioned, this is addressing his intention for sending Mary away when she was pregnant in the first place.
And when the child was born, Joseph named him “Jesus”, as the messenger instructed.
Now, let’s switch back over to the account given in Luke 2 for what appears to come next chronologically.
Scene 6: The Birth of Jesus Christ
Mary is identified as Joseph’s espoused wife, suggesting he may have had more than one wife. It is traditionally thought that James is the older brother of Jesus. If that is the case, and Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son, then James was the son of Joseph by another mother.
Also, the traditional story is that Joseph and Mary were turned away from staying in an inn, and Jesus was born in a stable, based on this passage. However, given the meanings of the Greek words translated as “room” and “inn” in this verse, it is more likely that they were staying in someone’s guestchamber. Keep in mind they were already staying there when the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And having no place to lay the child when he was born, they wrapped him in swaddling clothes and used a manger as the baby’s crib to lay him down.
While God is referred to in the Old Testament, as well as in the previous chapter by Mary, as Saviour, this does not mean that this child that was born was God in the form of a human being.
Through the course of Israel’s history, men were often raised up by God to act as a saviour for His people. This is demonstrated in the days of the judges as well as in the days of the anointed kings, namely Saul and David.
The natural assumption is that this child is begotten of a man of the house of David.
After the shepherds saw what the angel said they would see, a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, they made known abroad that the Anointed of God was born, the greatly anticipated Messiah, commonly understood to be the physical son of David.
Scene 7: Jesus Presented at the Temple
And then the redemption of the firstborn was called for:
The author refers to Joseph and Mary as Jesus’ parents. Again, there is nothing that indicates something unusual has taken place with the conception and birth of Jesus.
Now, let’s hop back over to the book of Matthew.
Scene 8: The Visit of the Magi
And here we see magi coming to Jerusalem seeking to worship, or bow down to, he that is born King of the Jews. Naturally, this upset the reigning king, as he was presently the King of the Jews.
So Herod sought to know where the birth of this Anointed one was prophesied to take place, and it was revealed to him that it was the city of David, Bethlehem.
Scene 9: The Flight to Egypt
Scene 10: The Return to Nazareth
The Greek word translated here as “filled” is the same word translated in Matthew repeatedly as “that it might be fulfilled”. This Greek word is “pleroo”, and again, it means to fill up or to make full.
Scene 11: The Boy Jesus in the Temple
At this point, Jesus refers to God as his father. Joseph and Mary did not understand what he was saying, but Mary kept all these sayings in her heart. She knew that Joseph was the natural father of Jesus, but she also knew what the messenger said to her concerning Jesus being called the son of God.
Again, the words from the prophet Nathan spoken to David in 2 Samuel 7 (and found in 1 Chronicles 17) stated the physical son of David, whose kingdom would be established, would be considered a Son to God, and God would be considered a Father to him.
So all these instances made an impression on Mary: the shepherds coming to see the infant on his day of birth, having been told by a messenger that he was a Saviour, who was Christ the Lord, Simeon speaking of the infant shortly after his birth as being the salvation of God, the magi coming to bow before the child, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and now the boy Jesus referring to God as his father at the age of twelve.
Scene 12: John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Scene 14: The Baptism of Jesus Christ: The Son of God
While, as already mentioned, there is the covenant made with David concerning his physical seed being a Son to God, there is also a psalm written by David that speaks of himself, as the Anointed/Christ/Messiah, being called the Son to God in conjunction with him being made king by God on Zion, His holy mountain.
The man, David, whose name means “beloved”, understood here to be a Messiah, was called the Son of Jehovah (which is God) having been brought forth by Jehovah and anointed King upon Zion. Young’s Literal Translation uses “the Chosen One” to identify him, where the Hebrew meaning is “son, heir”. And here, we have Jesus, being called the beloved Son of God as the Holy Spirit comes down in a bodily shape as if a dove upon him. This appears to be an anointing of Spirit by God.
The author of Luke then tells us Jesus began to be about thirty years of age at this point. What is the significance of this, if any?
In the Old Testament, Genesis 41 speaks of Joseph, the son of Jacob and his rise to power over the land of Egypt, and he was thirty years old at that point.
Then in the days of David the king, we read:
Tying the two together: being called the Son of God and beginning a reign of power at the age of thirty years, let’s look back to the prophecy given David concerning his physical seed.
Notice it says God’s kindness would not turn aside from David’s son, as it did with Saul, who reigned before David. Yet, we read the succession of kings on David’s throne eventually came to an end, and this succession began with David’s son, Solomon.
Solomon was beloved of God.
Solomon was granted wisdom and wealth, and he ruled well over the whole house of Israel, until he turned from God.
While the physical kingdom of Israel was not taken from David in Solomon’s day, it was taken away in the next generation, with a remnant remaining (Judah) under the reign of David’s throne — that is, until the carrying away to Babylon.
In Matthew 1 we read that Jesus was the physical son of David by way of Solomon, however the author of Luke points out a different lineage in his account here.
The author affirms Jesus as being the son of Joseph but there is a paranthetical phrase present in the midst of that phrase: “(as was supposed)”.
The Greek words are “hos” [G5613] “nomizo” [G3543], which mean “as, like, even as, etc.” and “to hold by custom or usage, own as a custom or usage, to follow a custom or usage”, respectively. In other words “as law”.
Proponents of the Virgin Birth Doctrine insist the lineage given here is that of Mary’s. They claim Mary is the daughter of Heli, making Joseph the “son-in-law”. This is how they reason out this passage. However, Mary is not mentioned anywhere in this whole chapter.
Please note in this passage all the bracketed words: “[the son]”. This is because these are inserted by the translator. Their equivalent does not appear in the source text. The only mention of “son” (“uihos” [G5207]) appears in this excerpt pertaining to Jesus being…the son of Joseph.
Furthermore, the KJV translates this passage to include “which was” before each reference, “of [name]”. However Young’s Literal Translation simply states a list of “of [name]”s following “the son of Joseph”.
This list of names is not the lineage of Mary. Rather, it appears to be a list of names demonstrating how Jesus was supposed the son of Joseph of Heli. <– This is where the focus of this statement needs to be.
People understood Jesus to be the physical son of Joseph, and that he was of the house of David, the author of Luke makes it abundantly clear in his opening chapters. But the question as to Joseph’s connection to David is being addressed here, on the heels of a declaration being made concerning Jesus being identified as the Son of God.
According to Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, this appears to be a legal lineage for Joseph’s father, according to the Levirite law of marriage as given in the Old Testament.
The purpose of this law is to carry forth the name of the sonless dead man.
Church historian, Eusebius (c. AD 260-340) indicates that while Joseph was physically fathered by Jacob (as testified in Matthew 1:16), Jacob was the brother of Heli because they shared the same mother (Estha, according to tradition) but two different fathers, Matthan (Matthew 1:15) and Melchi (Luke 3:24). Heli was previously married to Jacob’s wife but apparently died before begetting any sons by her. It’s a bit confusing, but the following is what Eusebius wrote, relying on information from an epistle penned by Africanus.
The author of Luke doesn’t explain why he is revealing the legal lineage of Joseph, carrying forth the name of David, by way of Nathan through Heli, but perhaps it is to demonstrate how legally Jesus could be called the Son of God (by way of Nathan) — carrying forth the name of God, in addition to physically being the son of David (by way of Solomon).
Regardless, this lineage is not identified as a physical genealogy by its author, as was the lineage given in Matthew 1, it was “as custom or law”. And, it regarded Joseph’s history, not Mary’s.
Scene 15: Testing the Son of God
Scene 16: Jesus Begins His Ministry
So there it is: a very reasonable alternate explanation to the conception of Jesus Christ.
Tree of Life Version
29 “When Adonai your God cuts off before you the nations that you are going in to dispossess, when you have dispossessed them and settled in their land, 30 be careful not to be trapped into imitating them after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? I will do the same.’ 31 You are not to act like this toward Adonai your God! For every abomination of Adonai, which He hates, they have done to their gods—they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial—which probably occurred around A.D. 270—others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”—at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance. The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules,” writing, ““For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
Who Is Cupid?
Cupid is often portrayed on Valentine’s Day cards as a naked cherub launching arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers. But the Roman God Cupid has his roots in Greek mythology as the Greek god of love, Eros. Accounts of his birth vary; some say he is the son of Nyx and Erebus; others, of Aphrodite and Ares; still others suggest he is the son of Iris and Zephyrus or even Aphrodite and Zeus (who would have been both his father and grandfather).
According to the Greek Archaic poets, Eros was a handsome immortal played with the emotions of Gods and men, using golden arrows to incite love and leaden ones to sow aversion. It wasn’t until the Hellenistic period that he began to be portrayed as the mischievous, chubby child he’d become on Valentine’s Day cards.
Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings
In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century.
By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (more cards are sent at Christmas).
Citation Information/Article Title- History of Valentine’s Day/Author- History.com Editors /Website Name- HISTORY/URL- https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2 /Access Date-January 31, 2022/Publisher- A&E Television Networks/ Last Updated- January 24, 2022/Original Published Date-December 22, 2009
Easter first started out as a celebration of the Spring Equinox: a time when all of nature is awakened from the slumber of winter and the cycle of renewal begins.
Anglo-Saxon pagans celebrated this time of rebirth by invoking Ēostre or Ostara, the goddess of spring, the dawn, and fertility. Particularly in ancient times, fertility was of singular importance to ensure the survival of a species or group of people (after all, if you didn’t get it on, there would be no future generations). To celebrate nature’s “rebirth,” the ancients would hold festivals in April to honor the Goddess, which most likely included lavish sex rituals, and even full-on orgies.
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays in the world. The spooky day associated with trick-or-treating and costumes originates from Samhain, a three-day ancient Celtic pagan festival.
The Celts were a group of people from multiple tribes with origins in central Europe who shared a similar language, religion, tradition, and culture. In the Celtic culture, which dates back as early as 1200 B.C.E., Samhain was a celebration that marked the end of the summer and kicked off the Celtic new year. The new year signaled a time of death and rebirth, which was symbolic of the end of a bountiful harvest season and the beginning of a dark winter. During the three-day celebration, it was believed that the barrier between humans and otherworldly spirits was broken. In the presence of otherworldly spirits, the Celts believed that priests could make accurate predictions about the future. During the festival, the Celts played tricks and pranks on one another and blamed them on mischievous fairies and spirits. Sacrifices of animals and crops were performed to appease Celtic deities. At the sacrificial bonfires, the Celts wore costumes, typically made from animal skins and heads, and attempted to read each other’s fortunes.
The Samhain festival remained unchanged until the Roman Empire invaded the Celtic territories in 43 A.D. Then, Samhain was reframed as a Christian celebration in an attempt to capitalize on the festival’s popularity, helping to spread Christianity. On May 13, 609 C.E., Pope Boniface IV announced a new celebration called All-Saint’s Day, or All-Hallow’s/Hallowmas. All-Saint’s Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain; bonfires were held and people dressed up in costumes reflecting the otherworldly. It was common for Celtic people to dress up as ghosts, angels, devils, and saints. Later, Pope Boniface IV moved All-Saints day to November 1st, and the day before the celebration (October 31st) was called Hallows-eve, eventually becoming Halloween.
Halloween grew in popularity in Maryland and some southern colonies of the United States in the 1700s, except the celebration took on distinct American adaptations. American celebrations on Halloween commonly included ghost stories, fortune-telling, dancing, and singing. Trick-or-treating is a festivity that was derived from an ancient Irish and Scottish practice called “guising” that took place on the days leading up to Samhain. Guising was a tradition where young people visited different households and performed a trick of some sort. Most often, the children would either sing, recite a poem, or tell a joke. In exchange, the children received a treat, which was typically fruit, nuts, or coins.
The celebration of Halloween eventually spread all over the U.S., becoming what is now the country’s second-largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, one of my personal favorite holidays. We’re all familiar with the classic story of Native Americans dining with Pilgrims. But, our modern day Thanksgiving has deeper Pagan roots than many may be aware of. So let’s dig into the history of this holiday and reveal some surprising Pagan elements.
Part 1 – The History
In America, it’s believed that the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621, but this was not the first time people gathered to give thanks for the Autumn harvest. In fact, people have been celebrating the harvest for millenia and our Thanksgiving meal is just a modern incarnation reflecting these ancient celebrations of autumn abundance.
Most of our modern holidays, like Christmas and Easter, are a combination of Pagan and Christian traditions. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, doesn’t have as much of a Christian influence. While Thanksgiving is not tied to any one specific religion, it’s traditions are quite similar to a number of ancient Pagan harvest celebrations. For example, in ancient Rome they celebrated the holiday of Cerelia, which honored the harvest goddess of grain called Ceres. There are around a 100 different harvest Gods and Goddesses from Greek & Roman culture so it’s clear that celebrating the harvest season was a key feature of their spiritual beliefs.
Harvest celebrations were also vitally important during Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Pagan times. In Britain these traditions evolved into a holiday called Harvest Home. Historically, the date of Harvest Home differed each year as it was celebrated when all of the autumn crops were finally harvested. The final cartload of food was paraded through the town and a big Harvest Supper was celebrated among the villagers. Apparently these harvest suppers started to get a bit out of hand, and in 1867, were described as “unrestrained riot and excess.”
In addition to Harvest Home, a separate religious holiday called the “days of thanksgivings” was practiced in the Church of England, in which people set aside one religious day of their choosing to “give thanks to God.” We get the name “Thanksgiving” from this Christian tradition, while the feasting commonly associated with Thanksgiving largely derives from the Harvest Home celebrations.
Luckily for us Americans, our harvest Thanksgiving celebrations were never commandeered by the church and as such they remain pretty Pagan to this day. Here in America, a lot of our imagery around Thanksgiving shows a shared meal between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. It could be said that this rosy view of our first Thanksgiving meal together is largely misleading and helps to obscure the many atrocities the colonists committed upon the Native Americans. The Native Americans, like the ancient Pagan peoples of Europe, understood the importance of honoring and respecting the harvest. And during the first American Thanksgiving that took place in 1621, the Native Americans paused to give thanks to many spirits and deities that aided in the bountiful harvest.
Part 2 – The Symbols
There are three key symbols that are common to Thanksgiving celebrations: the cornucopia (aka the horn of plenty), the turkey, and corn. All these symbols were viewed as very important among Pagan societies. Let’s begin with the Cornucopia, which was an important symbol in ancient Greece and Rome. A cornucopia is a horned shaped basket that is usually filled with harvest fruits and vegetables. This symbol goes back to a story from Ancient Greece where a goat pulled off his horn and offered it to the God Zeus. This was a magic horn that would refill indefinitely with food and drink ensuring that Zeus would never go hungry. To give thanks to the goat, Zeus made the goat’s image in the night sky, which became the constellation we now call Capricorn.
The Cornucopia was also incorporated in statues and money across ancient Rome and was often used in representations of the goddesses of grain Ceres and the goddess of luck Fortuna. The cornucopia has even made an appearance in American currency. After all, the cultural identity of early America is largely inspired by ancient Greek & Roman culture and their systems of government.
The next symbol I want to mention is the Turkey, which is the centerpiece of the American Thanksgiving dinner. Many Native American tribes view Turkey as a symbol of fertility and abundance. As a totem animal, Turkey reminds us of the importance of our relationship with the land as the land is the source of our nourishment and sustenance. Turkey feathers are also viewed as especially important and are used in ritual wear and in smudging ceremonies. So when we eat Turkey at Thanksgiving we are celebrating & honoring the connection we have with our sacred land and the animal spirits.
Lastly, corn is often used as a symbol to represent Thanksgiving. Corn, also called maize, was a key staple crop among the Native Americans and it played an important role in their spiritual beliefs. In some tribes Corn itself was seen as a spirit and often it played a role in ceremonies. Historically, it is also believed that the Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to grow and harvest corn and without that knowledge they would have never survived the harsh winters.
Part 3 – Sports???
One last thing comes to mind when I consider our modern Thanksgiving day celebrations and that is football. So why would something like football be connected to a harvest meal? Well, Celtic pagan harvest festivals usually included some type of sport or competition. For example, during the harvest festival called Lughnasadh people would participate in the Tailteann Games which included sports like archery, wrestling, and chariot racing. Another famous Irish Pagan harvest festival is Samhain, which historically was the time to gather the whole tribe together for feasting and athletic competitions. So today in America, like the ancient Celts, we enjoy watching sports along with our harvest feast.
Often they say history doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme and that’s how I view our modern American Thanksgiving celebrations. Thanksgiving touches something deep in our subconscious, a desire to celebrate the abundance of nature with our community before the long winter begins. I think our modern American Thanksgiving is a way to subtly tap back into how the harvest was once celebrated during Pagan times – a time when we honored the spirits of the land by being with family, feasting gratuitously, and watching large men pummel each other for our entertainment.
Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25—Christmas Day—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.
How Did Christmas Start?
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.
The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.
In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.
Saturnalia and Christmas
In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, enslaved people were given temporary freedom and treated as equals. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could participate in the holiday’s festivities.
Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.
Is Christmas Really the Day Jesus Was Born?
In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). *(Fellowship of Yah does not agree with the following statement. We believe that Messiah was born in the fall.)*Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.
By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.
When Christmas Was Cancelled
In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.
After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
Washington Irving Reinvents Christmas in America
It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s piqued American interest in the holiday?
The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.
In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended—in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
Article Title-History of Christmas/Author-History.com Editors/Website Name-HISTORY/URL-https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas/Access Date-January 31, 2022/Publisher-A&E Television Networks/Last Updated-December 22, 2021/Original Published Date-October 27, 2009
Paul the deceiver is one of the most notorious of thieves and liars in world history and for the most part, has gotten away with it thanks to doctrine and thanks to Catholic and Protestant leadership.
Was Paul A Liar?
When all is said and done, there is actually no real reason to prove whether Paul was a liar or not – the man not only declared himself to be a liar, but boasted about his deceptive ways and wore them like a badge of honour! But for the benefit of the skeptics – here are Paul’s biggest whoppers.
In the letter to the church at Epesus in the Book of Revelation, Jesus said, “And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.” Revelation 2:2 NKJV. Some say this is a reference to the Apostle Paul, who they say appointed himself to apostleship, hence the reference to “those who say they are apostles and are not”. Whether or not Paul was an apostle is discussed elsewhere on this website. Obviously, the claim of apostleship itself might be considered a lie. But in my thinking, the label of “liar” implies a person who uses conscious intent to deceive. When Paul called himself an apostle, he genuinely have believed he was one, therefore it would be quite unfair to label him as a liar on those grounds alone – perhaps conceited and self deceived, but not a liar. Interestingly enough, just by the way Jesus states it, he appears to make the same distinction.
Notice that the idea of apostle is completely negated first and then the idea of liar appears to be in addition to the fact. So if Paul was the one Jesus was referring to, I would expect him to be guilty of using conscious intent to deceive. Here again I would draw a distinction and not include what I see as the many errors he had in his doctrines because I’m sure he thought he was right. If indeed it were Paul to whom Jesus is referring here, we would need to find evidence of outright bold-faced lies, otherwise we cannot say without a shadow of doubt that Revelation 2:2 is a reference to Paul. A close examination of the New Testament reveals three instances where Paul appears to have told lies in order to support his argument or position at that time. The first relates to a meeting Paul had with the Jerusalem Council.
Paul and the Jerusalem Council
In the book of Acts, Luke records two separate trips Paul made to Jerusalem to discuss doctrinal matters with the head Messianic leaders Peter and James. The first incident is recorded in Acts 15. Here, as the story goes, there had been a disagreement as to whether the Gentiles believers needed to be circumcised. So Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to find an answer to the question. When they came to Jerusalem the elders received them, and Paul told them of his doings among the Gentiles. At this point a group of believing Pharisees stated that it was necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised along with a requirement for them to keep the Law. This must have been the hot topic of the day because it was just what Paul and Barnabas had been sent there to discuss. And it says there was “much dispute” among those who were at the conference. Then Peter speaks and makes reference to an event where he had been sent to the Gentile Cornelius, and he goes on to say these words: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers or we were able to bear?” Acts 15:8-10 NKJV.
Here Peter is referring to the Gentiles and appears to be calling the Law an unbearable burden. Before going on to the subject of Paul, a couple of things need to be addressed in this quote because there are some who can’t believe Peter or James would ever call the Law a burden. They would rather charge Luke with dishonest reporting. As mentioned before, I see no reason to accuse Luke of malice. The book of Acts was not written to the world at large, but to Theophilus, a personal friend of Luke’s. It is hard to imagine why Luke would lie to him. I believe Luke accurately recorded what he saw and heard. The people he quotes may have been in doctrinal error, and his own commentaries may have been made in Paul-induced ignorance, but I personally have a hard time with the notion that Luke was part of a grand conspiracy to destroy the Law. I see Luke as a very typical everyday person, a Gentile with honorable intentions. He also records events which end up convicting Paul as well as support him! Where he discredited as a reporter, nothing he says would be reliable anymore.
The key to understanding Peter’s quote which appeared to call the Law an unbearable burden is to remember who started the argument and who he is addressing … the Pharisees. (see previous three verses. Acts 15:5-7) Even Jesus called (not the law itself but) their idea of the Law a burden: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matt 23:2-4 NKJV. I believe these words were echoing in Peter’s ears when he heard the Pharisees demand that the Gentiles keep the Law. He knew what their idea of keeping the Law was with all its oral traditions … a burden! But Jesus had said: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt.11:30 NKJV
What has this to do with Paul? Bear with me, all will soon be revealed. The apostle John also said: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” 1John 5:3 NKJV. The true unadulterated Law of Moses is not unbearable. But Peter and James did not want the Pharisees dictating to the Gentiles their idea of the Law with all its oral traditions of additions and amendments. This is what Peter was referring to when he called the Law an unbearable yoke. As the story continues, Paul and Barnabas tell of “the many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles”. Then James begins to speak, and after a short speech says: “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” Acts 15:19-21 NKJV. Here James is obviously endorsing dietary and sexual purity laws along with Moses in general. It is reasonable to assume that James intended for the four laws he outlined to be stop gap measures, to keep the new believers from doing damage to themselves before they could receive the rest of the Law through the reading of Moses in the synagogues every Sabbath. The continued hallowing of the Sabbath is evident in that James uses the present tense word “being”, and the attendance of the new Gentile believers to the synagogues on the Sabbath is quite obviously implied. The idea of troubling the Gentiles is his way of saying the Pharisaic laws were too much of a burden. The issue of circumcision is left up in the air. Again, it appears that James intended the new believers to be convicted when they heard the Laws of Moses read in the synagogues and as a result, follow through with the rest of the Law including circumcision. This was his way of trying to keep as many of the factions together without unduly insulting the believing Pharisees, and allowing for the Gentiles to receive a more unadulterated version of the Law.
The Messianic leaders then decided to write a letter to the Gentile believers. This was to be the official position on the issue, and it was given to Paul, Barnabas, and other leading men of the congregation who went with them to confirm its authenticity and see that it was delivered properly. The part that needs to be born out is the list of four immediate requirements concerning dietary and sexual purity laws. They are listed a second time in the official letter itself: “…For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28,29 NKJV. Twice, these four requirements are listed in Acts 15.
Later in the book, Paul returns again to Jerusalem, only this time he was in trouble for what he had been teaching. More will be mentioned about this episode later. At the end of a lecture to Paul, James makes this statement: “But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Acts 21:25 NKJV. There they are again. The same four requirements listed a third time.
Lie No. 1 – The Jerusalem Council
First, it is imperative that we understand the subject matter of the book of Galatians. Christianity fondly refers to Galatians as “the Magna Carta of spiritual emancipation”. One reference says, “…it remains as the abiding monument of the liberation of Christianity from the trammels of legalism.” It is evident to the reader of Galatians that Paul’s position against the Law is quite hostile. His intention is to convince the Galatian believers not to give the time of day to the “Judaizers” like Peter who were teaching the Law of Moses including circumcision. In fact, he twice commands the Galatians to curse anyone who teaches anything other than his doctrine. Gal. 1:8,9. Among his many anti-Torah/Law arguments are these quotes: “…for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Gal. 2:16 … “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident…” Gal. 3:11. Yet Deuteronomy 6:25 rebuffs these statements when Moses says: “Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.”
Paul declares: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…” Gal. 3:13. But Deuteronomy, along with Jusus about everything Jesus taught about the Law, does not portray it a curse, nor does it of itself bring one. Breaking the law brings a curse. Therefore it is man and not the Law that is the problem. Yet Paul declares, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace. 5:2-4. Here he even drops his own name before telling the Galatians a severe doctrinal lie. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’”. 5:14. This is in fact only the second greatest commandment. Matt. 22:36-40 says; “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” 1 John 5:3 describes how we are to fulfill the first and greatest commandment to love God with all our heart: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” Note, John is not referring to the teachings of Jesus, he is referring to the commandments of God, which is the Law, which Jesus declared would not pass away until Heaven and Earth passes away, yet Paul says the Law no longer has relevance, as it was only given as a “shadow of things to come.”
Paul even goes so far as to wish that those who preach circumcision would take the knife and cut their own penises off! (Galatians 5:11,12) He refers to circumcision as “the mutilation” in Philippians 3:2. His attitude toward the Law and those who teach it is obviously quite hostile. In Galatians 2, Paul makes mention of the same trip to Jerusalem as mentioned above. It is obvious from the subject matter alone – and most scholars agree – that it is a reference to the same Jerusalem council meeting. Keeping Paul’s anti-Law rhetoric in mind, let’s take a look at Paul’s recollection of that meeting. “Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles … But from those who seemed to be something – whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favouritism to no man – for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter … and when James, Cephas (Peter), and John who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I was also eager to do.” Galatians 2:1,2,6-7,9-10 NKJV.
When Paul said that the church in Jerusalem desired “only” that he remember the poor, he was telling them an outright lie. Remember that Paul is attempting to persuade the Galatians not to be circumcised or follow the Law of Moses. This is the foundational theme of the entire book. Paul was trying to convince the Galatians that he had Jerusalem’s full support in spite of the fact that he didn’t think he needed it. But he could not afford to tell the truth that the official edict from Jerusalem included four requirements from the Law of Moses, three of which were dietary. So he told them a lie when he said, “They desired only that we remember the poor”. The official letter read that the Gentiles were to “keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” and nowhere in the letter is there any mention of the poor! The Greek word that Paul used and is translated “only” literally means “with nothing else”.
It should also be pointed out that in the book of Galatians, Paul begins telling of his contacts with the Jerusalem Messianic leaders in Galatians 1:18. He had just finished telling the Galatians that his doctrine was given to him by divine revelation alone. It didn’t even come from the original apostles who had spent three and a half years with Jesus. When Paul tells of his meeting with the Jerusalem leaders, his attitude was that the original apostles were of no significance to him, but if it mattered to the Galatians, he indicated that he still had Peter, James, and John’s full support. Paul’s description of them – “they seemed to be pillars (of the church)” … “those who seemed to be something – whatever they were” showed little respect for them as appointees to the role of Apostle by none other than Jesus. It was Jesus who had appointed them as pillars of the church, it was to thjem he had given the commission to go and preach the gospel to all nations, yet who they were and what they had to say was of no significance to him.
After beginning to mention his contacts with Peter, James and John in Galatians 1:18 he says these words: “Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.” Galatians 1:20 NKJV. Paul actually had the gall to preface a lie with an oath of honesty! One has to ask the question why he felt compelled in the first place to assure the Galatians he was not lying. Jesus had a few words to say concerning this type of oath: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne’ nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’ be ‘No’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:33-37 NKJV. Read that in the context in which Paul’s oath was given, and Jesus is effectively saying Paul’s word must be from the evil one.
Paul’s own words convict him again. He was a liar because he lied to the Galatians regardless of whether or not the Ephesian church, who put him on trial and also found him to be a liar, was aware of this particular lie. But it is not at all unlikely that the Ephesian church was very familiar with both Paul’s letter to the Galatians and the official letter from the Jerusalem council. They are geographically quite close to each other. Also, the Jerusalem council letter would have been circulated to all the Gentile churches, and there is strong evidence to suggest that Paul’s letters were being copied and circulated among the churches as well . Peter makes this apparent in 2 Peter 3:15,16 when he speaks of Paul and the content of “all his epistles”. Peter could not say this without being familiar with most if not all of them! One can also see from the passage that he assumes his readers are aware of them as well. The fact that Paul lied to the Galatians is by itself enough to establish him as a liar, but once a person crosses that bridge he will likely continue the practice. His lie to the Galatians is by no means his only one.
Lie No 2: to the Sanhedrin
When Paul was arrested in the temple during his last visit to Jerusalem he had to be rescued by the Romans. On the following day the Roman commander allowed Paul to be taken before Ananias the high priest and the Sanhedrin to defend himself against the charges he was up on. During this trial of sorts, Paul makes an interesting claim: But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. Acts 23:6,7 NKJV
A close examination of the facts here show it was but a divide-and-conquer ploy in which there was not one shred of truth. For Paul to say he was being judged on the issue of the resurrection of the dead was an outright lie. The truth concerning why he was arrested is recorded a little earlier in Acts “… the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place…” Acts 21:27,28 NKJV. The truth is that Paul was being judged on the matter of bringing to nothing the importance of Israel, the Law of Moses, and the temple. Paul claimed he was being judged on his view of the resurrection not because it was the truth, but for the purpose of dividing his accusers against each other.
Lie No. 3: to King Agrippa
A little later, Paul also lied to King Agrippa in the recounting of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus! The story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is recorded three separate times in the book of Acts. The first is in chapter 9:3-19 as documented by the author of the book, Luke. The highlights are: And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Yeshua, whom you are persecuting, It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” And the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The second account is in chapter 22:6-15 and here, Luke records Paul’s personal account of his experience as given before the angry Jews in Jerusalem. The points of interest here are: “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Yeshua of Nazareth, Whom you are persecuting.’ …So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ There is no real problem or conflict in these first two accounts. Even with the slight variations, the main points remain basically the same. The fact is, they are quite consistent and corroborate each other.
The third record of Paul’s conversion experience is again given by Paul himself in his own defense before King Agrippa in chapter 26:12-19. Here is what he had to say: “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You , Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Yeshua, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes and to turn them from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision…”
According to what Luke and Paul himself had previously testified, when asked by Jesus what he was to do, he was told to do absolutely nothing other than to “go to Damascus, and there you would be told ‘all things’ you were to do”. But going to Damascas and waiting on a visit from Ananias who would tell him what he should do didn’t fit the story Paul wanted Agrippa to hear – that he received nothing from people, but everything from the Lord himself in a vision. So Paul changes his story and tell Agrippa that he got his instructions on what to do, and received his charge to be the apostle to the Gentiles right there on the road to Damascus!
This is not just a simple case of information having been left out of the first two accounts. The story has been changed totally to support the argument he was pitting to Agrippa – that he was God appointed and that no man had any involvement in delivering that appointment. That he had to grope around in a state of blindness put on him by God, and be at the mercy of some unknown Christian who had to be sent to him, and who eventually had to “led him to the Lord” just didn’t make the cut here, so the truth was substituted with a lie. Paul could have just not mentioned about Ananius and the role he played in his “conversion”, but Paul wanted to paint a picture for King Agrippa of what he believed to be his unavoidable destiny, so he embellished his account of his vision with a lie.
The main purpose for Jesus confronting Paul is obvious and found in his first words: “Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus’ purpose was to stop the persecution! The fact that Paul didn’t reject Jesus but submitted to him with the words, “What would You have me do?” is a secondary outgrowth of the event. Had Paul stubbornly tried to continue on his way to Damascus to arrest the Messianic believers, I thoroughly believe it would have been the end of him on the spot. The scene is very reminiscent of Balaam being stopped by the Angel of Lord because he intended to curse Israel. (See Numbers 22:22-34)
But then Paul seems to have made a habit of changing his story to fit the occasion in order to get his own way. Here it appears that he did it to subtly impress upon King Agrippa’s mind the picture that it was his destiny to be delivered from the Jews, as was already the case, and the Gentiles. By saying God had told him He was going to deliver him from both the Jews and Gentiles, Paul was warning Agrippa in no uncertain terms that he would have God to answer to if he released Paul on this occasion. It was all a lie, and the lie worked – from that time on, Paul never was delivered from the Gentiles, even though under Roman law he could have and should have been.
A little later in the story, Festus and Agrippa mock Paul (Acts 26:24,28) and come to the conclusion that Paul was little more than a harmless crackpot. This is when Paul opts for making an appeal to Caesar for justice in the matter. Christianity has generally thought of Paul’s appeal to Caesar as a brilliant tactical move. But one quote is conveniently overlooked. It is recorded that King Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32. Paul might have been a liar, but he certainly wasn’t stupid!
Paul’s self confessions to lying
When all is said and done, there is actually no real reason to prove whether Paul was a liar or not – the man not only declared himself to be a liar, but boasted about his deceptive ways and wore them like a badge of honour!
1. In Romans 3, Paul declares that he is free to lie on the basis that the end justifies the means: “But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? (Rom. 3:7).
In other words, Paul is saying, Provided God’s truthfulness shines through, then it doesn’t matter if I lie to ensure this happens. Since I am lying for the purpose of bringing glory to God, it was all done in the name of the Lord. That justifies my actions, therefore I have not committed a sin.
2. In 1 Cor. 9, Paul again illustrates his belief that the end justifies the means, even if that means is devious: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law-though not being myself under the law-that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law-not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ-that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor. 9:19-23)”
Paul is saying here that there is nothing wrong with him making people believe he is one thing when in fact he is another, or that he believes one thing when in fact he believes another, or that he declares that he preaches one thing but in fact he preaches the opposite. Paul is believes he is justified in saying whatever he wants, whether or not it is the truth, so as to get people to trust him and do what he wants them to do. He declares he will use whatever means – be they right or wrong – in order to get his message through (that I might by all means save some). He clearly knows it is wrong to do this, otherwise he would not need to justify why he does it – “I do it all for the sake of the gospel”. But the reason he gives for doing it just gets him in deeper water – “that I may share in its blessings”. In other words, Paul is saying, “if I have to lie to get someone to believe what I am saying, and by doing so, something good comes out of it, then I’ve done nothing wrong. My motive was right so the end justifies the means”. I don’t ever recall hearing that deceived, twisted logic in anything Jesus taught.
3. In 2 Cor. 11, Paul says, “Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel without cost to you? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. (2 Cor. 11:7-9). Paul is saying here that, because he didn’t want to be a financial burden on the Corinthians while he was with them, he made out to the brethren of Macedonia that he was destitute so that they would give him money/support. He even admits that his deception was an act of robbery, but again, in Paul’s mind, the end – “to serve you” – justifies the means – “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them”. To me, that’s a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and this is actually where that phrase originated!
4. After Paul brags to the Corinthians how he conned the Macedonians with a lie, he then has the shameless audacity in his next letter to the Corinthians to boast that he has pulled the same stunt on them: “But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.” (2 Cor. 12:16) By now Paul is in so deep with his lying and deception, he has no conscience on it whatsoever, having conned himself into believing that he can get away with anything.If you were God, would you entrust your Kingdom and the task of bringing its message to the Gentiles of the world to such a person?