13 of the books of the New Testament are traditionally ascribed to Paul, modern scholars think that he only wrote 8 of them. Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, Philippians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians.
“We must keep in mind that Paul knew nothing of an event called the ascension that was separate or different from Jesus’ resurrection. Paul’s writings contain no hint of the two-stage process that would develop later, where resurrection brought Jesus from the grave back to life and ascension then took Jesus from earth to heaven. Paul’s proclamation was that God had raised Jesus into God’s very life. That was Easter for Paul. For Paul there were no empty tombs, no disappearance from the grave of the physical body, no physical resurrection, no physical appearances of a Christ who would eat fish,offer his wounds for inspection, or rise physically into the sky after an appropriate length of time. None of these ideas can be found in reading Paul. For Paul the body of Jesus who died was perishable, weak, physical. The Jesus who was raised was clothed by the raising God with a body fit for God’s kingdom. It was imperishable, glorified, and spiritual.”-John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality, p. 24
1 Corinthians 15:3-9
‘For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.’
There are several problems with this passage.
There are many specific prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah, but none that state how long he would be in the grave. The third day prophecy is not there.
Paul says Jesus first appeared to James, yet the Gospels say Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.Matt 28:1, John 20:16
Paul implies that Judas did not hang himself, he was still alive when he said, “and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
Minister of The Mysteries (Gnostic)
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.-1 Corinthians 4:1 King James Version (KJV)
Saint Paul/Saul of Tarsus has been considered a Minister of The Mysteries. Valentinus was the best known and for a time most successful early Christian gnostic theologian. Valentinus professed to have derived his ideas from Theodas or Theudas, a disciple of St. Paul. Valentinus drew freely on some books of the New Testament. Unlike a great number of other gnostic systems, which are expressly dualist, Valentinus developed a system that was more monistic, albeit expressed in dualistic terms.
25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
26 Even the mystery which hath bee kon hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect (τέλειον fully initiated) in Christ Jesus:- Colossians 1:25-28 King James Version (KJV)
Jesus the mystical death
The resurrection accounts in the four Gospels contradict the testimony of Paul on a simple event which is supposed to be the foundation of Christian religion. Paul never quotes Jesus and never mentions any details about his life. He never refers to Jesus’ miraculous birth, doesn’t tell any anecdotes about Mary and Joseph. There is no mention of miracles, turning water into wine, walking on water. There is no sermon on the Mount or Lord’s Prayer. No trial, no thieves crucified with Jesus, no weeping women, no Pontius Pilate and no Judas.
Paul does mention Christ’s death and resurrection, which Paul understands as symbolizing the process of initiation. Initiates symbolically die to their ‘old self’ and resurrect ‘in Christ’. Paul reminds his students that the person they once were has been crucified with Christ.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – Romans 6:6 New International Version (NIV)
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.-Galatians 5:24
Paul’s Jesus is the mystical dying and resurrecting godman of the Gnostics, not the historical figure of the Literalist.
He describes the body of Jesus to be spiritual. Yet, the Gospels say Jesus was physical
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:-1Cor 15:42
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.-John 20:27 KJV
τέλειον The Fully Initiated
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect (τέλειον fully initiated) in Christ Jesus:- Colossians 1:25-28 King James Version (KJV)
“τέλειον. Here also allusion to the mysteries is discovered by Lightfoot. The term is said to have been employed to distinguish the fully initiated from novices.” – Expositor’s Greek Testament
“…an inner mystical school or circle of discipleship within the Church, initiated into a wisdom and holiness supposed to be higher than that attainable by ordinary Christian faith…
…”Perfect” (τέλειος) is a word associated with the Greek mysteries, and in common use denoted “full-grown,” “grown men,” as opposed to” children “. The philosophic Judaists affected this term considerably. Philo frequently distinguishes between the “perfect” or “fully initiated” (τέλειοι), who are admitted to the sight of God, and the “advancing” (προκόπτοντες: comp. Galatians 1:14), who are candidates for admission to the Divine mysteries; and he makes Jacob a type of the latter, Israel of the former.” – Pulpit Commentary
“Bishop Lightfoot appropriately says: “The language of the heathen mysteries is transferred by Paul to the christian dispensation, that he may the more effectively contrast the things signified. The true Gospel also has its mysteries, its hierophants, its initiation; but these are open to all alike. In Christ every believer is τέλειος fully initiated, for he has been admitted as ἐπόπτης eye-witness of its most profound, most awful secrets.” – The Word Studies in the New Testament by Marvin R. Vincent perfect
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what isthat good, and acceptable, and perfect (τέλειον the fully initiated), will of God. Romans 12:2 King James Version (KJV)
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect (τέλειον the fully initiated) : yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:- 1 Corinthians 2:6 King James Version (KJV)
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men (τέλειον the fully initiated).
– 1 Corinthians 14:20 King James Version (KJV)
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect (τέλειον the fully initiated) and complete in all the will of God.- Colossians 4:12 King James Version (KJV)
But when that which is perfect (τέλειον the fully initiated) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. – 1 Corinthians 13:10 King James Version (KJV)
Initiated being the body of Christ
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:- Colossians 1:27 KJV
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.-Romans 12:5 KJV (also see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)