Article of Faith: Paul: The Hypocritical Pharisee, By Femi Aribisala

Femi Aribisala, Ph.D
Femi Aribisala

No Christian genuinely seeking the righteousness of God should imitate a man like Paul. 

Jesus warns his disciples: “Beware of these Pharisees and the way they pretend to be good when they aren’t. But such hypocrisy cannot be hidden forever.” (Luke 12:1).  This warning certainly applies to Paul.  Paul declares: “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.” (Acts 23:6).  Moreover, his hypocrisy, hidden in his days, is now evident to all in the bible.

Paul is double-tongued in his epistles.  He says one thing here and another thing there.  He does the exact opposite of the righteousness he proclaims.  The discrepancies between his words and his actions belie his highfalutin pretensions to lofty Christian morality and values.

Double-standards

Paul warns the Galatians: “If you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” (Galatians 5:2).  And yet, Paul himself personally circumcised Timothy.  Luke reports that: “Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:3).

Paul counsels the Romans: “Do not be wise in your own opinion.” (Romans 12:16).  Then he says opinionatedly to the Galatians: “I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine.” (Galatians 5:10).  He declares in Galatia: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). Then he contradicts himself in Corinth by proclaiming discrimination between men and women: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak.” (1 Corinthians 14:34).

Paul asked: “When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?” (1 Corinthians 6:1).  But then, confronted by Christian antagonists, Paul chose to go to law before “the unrighteous:” “If there is nothing in their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” (Acts 25:11).  He says: “no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed.” (1 Corinthians 12:3).  Then he himself declares that Jesus was accursed: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13).

Paul writes to the Romans: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14).  But he then goes on to curse his opponents, even including angels from heaven: “If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8).  When the high priest ordered someone to slap him, Paul replied angrily with a curse: “God shall slap you, you whitewashed pigpen.” (Acts 23:2-3).

Paul insists Christians should not boast: “What, then, can we boast about? Nothing!” (Romans 3:27). “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).  But he then boasts repeatedly; claiming he prays more, labours more, and suffers more than everybody else. (2 Corinthians 11:22-27).  He says it is unwise to compare oneself with others (2 Corinthians 10:12).  Then he declares that he is superior to the twelve apostles: “They say they serve Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder.” (2 Corinthians 11:23).  He says: “Christ is the end of the law.” (Romans 10:4).  Nevertheless, he performed Nazarite sacrifices according to the law even after Jesus’ resurrection. (Acts 21:26).

Congenital liar

Paul says to the Colossians: “Do not lie to one another.” (Colossians 3:9).  And yet, Paul himself is not committed to truth.  Instead, he justifies telling lies to the Philippians: “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” (Philippians 1:18).  Paul claims his lies promote the gospel: “My dishonesty brought (God) glory by pointing up his honesty in contrast to my lies.” (Romans 3:7).  He even openly boasts of being a deceiver to the Corinthians: “Crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!” (2 Corinthians 12:16).

Paul is so unabashedly duplicitous, he admits to being guided by the shady principle of telling people whatever they want to hear: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  Accusations that he was a liar trailed him everywhere, ensuring that he often resorted to swearing in self-defence: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” (2 Corinthians 11:31).  But Jesus expressly cautions against this: “Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:34/37).

Mean-spirited 

Paul is so malicious; he wishes those who persecute him would castrate themselves. (Galatians 5:12).  Responding to his critics, he insists their “mouths must be stopped.” (Titus 1:11).  Jesus delivers sinners from Satan (Luke 4:18); but Paul delivers them to Satan.  He says: “Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:20).  And yet, this same Paul moralises to the Galatians: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1).

He counsels the Romans: “Repay no one evil for evil.” (Romans 12:17).  But instead of forgiving those who offended him, he asked God to punish them: “Alexander the coppersmith has done me much harm. The Lord will punish him.” (2 Timothy 4:14).  While Jesus advocates non-retaliation in Christian conduct: “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:45); Paul preaches it for malevolent reasons: “for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” (Romans 12:20).

Paul says: “Each man’s work will become manifest; for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13).  The “fire” Paul lit led to the burning of innocents at the stake. (1 Corinthians 5:5).  He was the father of the Inquisition, whereby hundreds of thousands were hanged, beheaded and stoned to death.  His tenets were used to validate slavery (Ephesians 6:5-6); discriminate against women (1 Corinthians 14:34-36); as well as provide biblical authority for anti-Semitism and the Nazi massacre of six million Jews. (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

Jesus expressly warns us not to be hypocritically pharisaic like Paul: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:2-3).  But Paul contradicts Jesus by asking Christians to be hypocrites just like him: “I urge you to imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16).

However, no Christian genuinely seeking the righteousness of God should imitate a man like Paul.  Paul’s spirit is a monstrous imposition on the Spirit of Jesus, and his word should never be mistaken for the word of God.

Femi Aribisala is the fellowship coordinator of Healing Wings. Healing Wings is a pentecostal Christian fellowship which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He blogs at Femi Aribisala . E-mail: faribisala@yahoo.com


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  • Sol Badguy

    This is a poorly written, logically fallible & unconvincing piece. I came here with optimism to view discrepancies. This is just grasping at straws. Poor.

    • simonibekwe

      It would have made a world of difference if you had enlighten us how logically fallible the article had been. It is evidently clear you had non and that is quite unfortunate.

  • Antonia Anni

    Is this guy for real?? Lol! I’m a skeptic and I was hoping to read this and leave with questions on my mind. The only thing I question is if this man even read the book.
    When I encounter things like this, I always remember Don Colacho’s words. When things are in their proper order (and context, if I may add) contradictions are dispelled and truth still stands.
    My advice to people reading this article, is to go and read the bible themselves and try to understand the order and context of these verses.

    Cheers.

  • abbashehu

    No Paul no Christianity. Because 90% of christianity was propagated by him. Man if u denied Paul u better then become a muslim

  • Lanre

    Dr. Aribisala, my understanding of theology is limited o, lol. But this is profound. So one should read Paul with a discerning mind. Considering this was Saul of Tarsus, I can understand the need for a healthy dose of skepticism. But this is the foundation of Christianity. He and Peter. Interesting read though.

  • David Okoror sr

    MR ARIBISALA IS CLEARLY OUT TO CREATE CONFUSION IN THE HEART OF INNOCENT READERS BY FISHING FOR TROUBLE WHERE THERE IS NONE ANYONE WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH THE BIBLE AND THE SELFLESS AND ENLIGHTENED WORK OF APOSTLE PUAL WILL AGREE THAT THE WRITE UP OF MR ARIBISALA IS PURE MISCHIEF. I PRAY THAT GOD WILL NOT HOLD THIS AGIANST HIM

  • Fabiyi Femi Emmanuel

    “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;” (2 Peter 3:15-17).

    • iMitch

      Fabiyi,

      God bless you.

      I am sure Femi’s bible ended with the book of James.

      Thanks

  • David Igboanugo

    This shows just how religion and religious people can be so absurd. On another day you would argue that the bible was inspired by God and the Holy Spirit. But here you are denigrating the guy who supposedly wrote more than 65 percent of the New Testament. I actually agree with most of the points you raised, but these same points are what I would use to prove that the bible was written by mere primitive ancient men and was not inspired by any god. What I find puzzling though, is how you would actually accept these contradictions and atrocities and still maintain that the bible is the word of God.

  • uchenna

    this may not prove paul to be a hypocrite,but it does definitely reveal that like every other man used by GOD,he too was limited and had weaknessess

  • Malomo Alomo

    One should be careful of theologians, they rest on the
    “logos” and miss the “Rhema” that is the problem of many so
    called preachers, recently i have seen the boisterous publicity of Aribisala
    and i am amazed even now how he can so dispute the authenticity and infallibility
    of the scripture, Paul Corinthians 11 V 1 says “Be you
    followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” For Theologians that is something
    to dwell on and I guess that is the spot for Aribisala, a reason for which he
    spotted on what he consider as contradictions of scripture, For men who are so,
    I can assure you that you will find many seeming contradiction even in the
    words and life of Jesus, when he said in Mathew 5 v 25 “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him;” and Theologians will worry why
    Jesus did not soft-pedaled when he was led from Judgment to judgment to the
    hands of Sanhedrin, priests, rulers, elders, and
    the mob, Jesus for YOU must have contradicted himself or when he took whip into
    the temple, You would have thought Jesus betray the gentility of a Christian.
    Aribisala in this assertion dwelt mainly on the logos and has thus missed the
    rhema which is the right spiritual application of scripture

  • Eugene Makai

    It is ironic isn’t it that Christianity which in the most
    part is influenced by Pauline Doctrine should now have its number question how
    Christian Paul was! The answer is simple – Paul was NOT a Christian just as
    Jesus himself wasn’t. This may shock the faithful but the truth be told.

    The early “Christians” were Jews and didn’t view
    themselves any different from traditional or orthodox Jews (Acts 11:19) than on
    some doctrinal differences!! That’s the reason why you read about a quarrel
    between Paul and Simon Peter was over Peter’s overt discrimination of the
    so-called “uncircumcised” – YOU – the Gentile is because Paul felt called to evangelise
    to the rest of the world than just to the Jewish Diaspora (Galatians 2:7). If
    James the brother of Jesus in his capacity as the sect’s Bishop of Jerusalem didn’t
    step in favour of Paul’s stance of inclusion, we wouldn’t be having this
    discussion today (Galatians 2:11-14).

    Paul’s epistles were never meant to be canonical – this is
    antithetical to the practice of a devout Jew that he was and of Traditional
    Judaism. Judaism holds that the Torah (Old Testament) is the authoritative and
    final revelation of the God of Israel and as NO prophets after the death of
    Malachi is recognised. NO authority other than the Torah is accepted. This
    should answer a lot of your questions as to why Jesus himself didn’t leave any
    scripture or writings and also about why Jesus is seen by many at his time and
    most Jews till the present as a mere priest and interpreter of the Law than as
    a Prophet or Messiah.

    A lot of Modern day Christians do not understand Jewish life
    in the 1st Century A.D. and have a rose-coloured view of reality due
    to their faith and the cut-and- dried form it has been presented. So Paul’s
    epistles should be taken in the context of a Bishop responding to the queries
    of his pastors on doctrinal issues.

    Paul qualifies a lot of what he says and shields himself by
    reminding us of what the Torah says in light of his arguments. Paul was human!
    Yes, in case you didn’t know and claimed no perfection except that of
    performing as he felt God directed him.

    Hypocrite is a little too strong – perhaps “seemingly
    inconsistent” would do him justice. Our Lord Jesus Christ experienced FEAR in Gethsemane
    (Luke 22:42, Mark 14:36, Matt 26:39) and asked for the cup of suffering to be
    taken away. If we are going to explore human frailties in the light of our
    Christian convictions, then this is a better place to start. The fact is unless
    and until you are human and error prone, “salvation” is not for you (Luke 5:32,
    Mark 2:17). The reality of our humanness should never escape us – this is what
    creates charlatans and false messiahs and prophets! The humility associated
    with the human weakness requiring God’s strength is what is fundamental to
    Jesus taught Spiritual practice.

    I do not see a mala fide
    intent on the part of the author of this article. What I see is perhaps someone
    who has realise that many of the personalities in so called biblical times,
    were just as human as we are and has enthusiastically shared it with us. King David
    committed adultery, King Solomon worshipped other gods, Lot slept with his
    daughter’s in law, Abraham was married to his half sister. Our spiritual worth
    is not measured by our human mistakes alone, bit by the grace of our creator.

    So back to his assertion that NO ONE should emulate Paul –
    this is laughable because without Paul, there would be NO Christians!!!