I love the Apostle Paul. He started churches, but other people took over, he loved the Lord Yshua and could not forebear telling people about Him, so much that he was constantly beat up, imprisoned, stoned, rioted against, shipwrecked, bitten by vipers, and run out of town. Over and over. He never could hold a position in the pulpit for very long. One longstanding 'joke' letter in Christian circles is a letter from Paul applying for a job with the following credentials:
Understanding that you need a preacher, I would like to apply for the position. I have many qualifications that I think you would appreciate. I have been blessed to preach with power and have some success as a writer. Some say that I am a good organizer. I have been a leader in most places I have gone.
Some folks, however, have some things against me. I am over fifty years of age. I have never preached in one place for more than three years at a time. In some places I have left town after my work caused riots and disturbances. I have to admit that I have been in jail three or four times, but not because of any wrong-doing. My health is not too good, though I still get a good deal done. I have had to work at my trade to help pay my way.
The churches I have preached in have been small, though located in several large cities. I have not gotten along too well with the religious leaders in different towns where I have preached, and I am sure that they will not recommend me. In fact, some of them have threatened me, taken me to court, and even attacked me physically. I am not too good at keeping records. I have been known even to forget whom I have baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you, even if I have to work to help with my support."
The Apostle Paul
HE kept on preaching though. Unlike preachers today, he had seen the Lord up close and personal and he was anything but the kind of man who went for any sort of fanaticism. Trained at the feet of Gamaliel, (Acts 22:3), he was in his own words, a "Hebrew of the Hebrews",
Phl 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
He was a man among men. So zealous of the faith of his fathers, that when the new sect of 'little christs' came about he got a legal order to persecute and arrest all those radicals who refused to go along with the status quo, you know, the big money ministries that were ruining Israel and giving Judaism a bad name. They saw the little band of believers (then) as dangerous, nutzy , hellenized, and threatening Israel, possibly bringing trouble with Rome like their leader Jesus, Yshua, that rebel slave from Galilee. Zealous Saul Paulus of Tarsus got his order, mounted his horse and took off with a band to do some real damage, that Scholar of Israel, zealous for perfect Judaism. He wasn't opposed to a stoning or two, maybe even a roundabout here and there, if these rabblerousers were put in prison and their light put out. On the road to Damascus though, something so drastic happened, that it turned that Israeli Sanhedrin-bound scholar, into a shivering child, asking Yshua, "Lord, what would you have me to do?". The rest is History.
The Bones in the Tomb of Paul
While legend surrounds the Apostle Paul and other disciples, regarding where he died and how, it is known that his last letters were written from Rome, although some argue he travelled in between to Spain and Portugal, and then back to Rome where he was either burned, beheaded, or otherwise killed. One legend has it that Nero, setting Rome on fire attempted to blame Paul and the Christians for it, a great tradition of world leaders even in this day and hour. They all fiddle around with the truth.
However he died, though, this scholar of the Law turned itinerate preacher in love with the Messiah of Israel and filled with the Holy Spirit of God, however he died, Rome is now claiming that the bones in the tomb of St. Paul outside the Wall, are really Paul's, just in time for tourist season.
To begin with, it is a non-issue: whether they are or not, proves nothing and adds nothing to faith: we all have bones, all have a few left or at least ashes years after our death, and though today we can do DNA traces, then we could not. However, I had to wonder and even marvel at the constant lack of logic that comes up lately at the new hobby of finding Jesus and his apostles' bones, and how odd a hobby that has come to be.
First of all, buried in St. Paul's tomb, by the Roman Catholic Church automatically means that there is at least a 5% chance it might be Paul. The RCC wasn't around back then to collect bones or build tombs. Perhaps there was a note in his pocket that said, "Not John Mark, anybody but John Mark"---addressed to Barnabas. Maybe there were viper bite marks. Just a little first century humor here folks. Maybe it had enclosed a bookbag full of scrolls. Who knows? The article though said one thing, that makes me doubt completely that it was ever Paul's remains: it had a gold brocade wrap of some sort, and all of Paul's teaching is to the contrary.
Paul admonished women not to wear broided hair, and bangles, but to be adorned in the inner spirit.
1Ti 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
and his constant theme was humility and surrender, dying to self. He himself surrendered the fine things of this life for the finer things of the next. Gold brocade wasn't on the list.
What are they going to do? Get DNA samples? Even if they could, the most they could tell is that the bones were possibly Jewish and male. How many Pauls were there in Tarsus? Or Rome? Thousands. The Vatican loves its icons and tombs, but most are idolatry, and our faith does not need to rest on the 'seen' but on the 'unseen', that being the substance of faith. Two thousand year old bones don't often tell very much when there are only fragments. Scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists and Bible scholars of the Curia may be brought in, but for all their observations and tests, they will be guessing, theorizing, and still will not be able to prove whether or not the bones really belonged to the Apostle Paul, who does not need them anymore, save for perhaps one day in the near future when God will decide which bones belong to whom, and what to do with them.
Some think that finding St. Paul's remains will 'prove' the Gospel, but belief in God and His Messiah is an issue of faith for Jews and Christians: all the authenticated bones in the world will neither cause faith nor destroy it. The Shroud of Turin, if anything, has been 'unauthenticated' but it does not prove Jesus and His Resurrection was not real, only that someone produced by whatever method, an icon to entice faith not in Jesus but in the Catholic Church. The recent controversy over someone thinking they had found Jesus' bones, rested solely on the name Joshua (yshua) scratched on the side of a stone ossuary, in a time when the name was very common and He is reported no where to have left bones.
Large religious organizations often feel the need to manufacture faith, objects, icons, statues, etc to entice or confirm belief. The ones that do it, feel they have real proof, and atheists argue that those inauthentic objects make faith inauthentic but neither is correct. Our faith does not hinge on objects or even on historical or anthropological 'proof'. We teach constantly that John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence and nobody doubts it, and we have his signature, but we were not there. Our belief that it is his signature rests on our FAITH, the belief in the unseen, that there was a John Hancock, and that the signature was his. Why then, do we think we apply a different set of rules to faith in Yshua, or Jesus, or God in General?
Chariots drowning in Reeds
A few years back, theologians, who may be known by skeptism more than wisdom, argued widely that when Moses crossed the Red Sea and the Waves allowed God's children to go through, that they were actually referring to the "Reed Sea" a shallow swamp, assuming that they , the million or so sloshed through mud and yuck to get to Canaan, and then the mighty Egyptian army, the greatest army of the day, experience in all forms of warfare and mad as heck, got to the 'Reed' sea, and what, got stuck in the mud? What a God.
A story was told of a little boy returning from Sunday School who was asked by his grandfather what he learned. He replied, Well we learned there was this general named Moses, and he was being chased by an army, so he got helicopters and hand grenades and bombs, and threw them in the water and it blasted the waves apart so all the people could go through and be safe'. His grandfather said, now is that really what they taught you? The little boy replied, Well, no, but if you heard it they way they taught it you would never believe it.
That's what our theologians are like. They can't believe the God who created the waves could roll them back for the purpose of the Salvation of the Jews, the Messiah and mankind. They have however been stuck in the mud before, so they use a whole different location than the one mentioned because they HAVE NO FAITH. Only the paltry thing called human reason---NOT DIVINE REASON. They argue that Mary, the virgin of Galilee could not have borne the Messiah of Israel in a virgin birth, because they cannot conceive (ahem) of it, so they say that a Roman soldier probably raped her, not knowing that this particular slander came from a Nazi theologian arguing for an Aryan Christ. They argue that the Word of God cannot possibly have been preserved over the years, but they have no problem with the writings of Josephus, or anyway lesser problems. They see miracles and they make archetypes. They want dead things for proof like bones, tombs, ruins, and artifacts, but when they find them, they still do not believe. Imagine their surprise at the finding of chariot wheels embedded in the sand under the RED Sea, or the body of Pharaoh, at least one of them! That is because faith has a different economy, comprehension and conversation than human reason and logic which fails us often, and especially about every 5 to 10 years.
The Catholic Church did not rest on the shoulders of Peter, the man with the keys to the Kingdom, nor Paul, the servant of God who gave up all for the high calling of Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus Christ. It had its underpinnings in Paganism, including the worship of Ashtoreth, and Diana, and it was no surprise that Paul's preaching caused such a stir among the Diana worshipers who made their living off the sales of statues and idols. The solidifying of the emulation came in 313 a.d. not in a steady succession of Popes, but in a steady succession of Emperors from Rome who persecuted Christians, but because of the nagging of his mother, Constantine gave clemency to Christian worshipers ending severe persecution, but doing it even worse damage by making it a State religion and integrating pagan practices such as the worship of the sun god in what would become not the breaking of bread Messiah commanded, but the Eucharist and perpetual altar, instead of the one and for always sacrificial atonement. The nature of the beast was a "Holy Roman Empire" partly political, partly religious, ruled by the same persons, which has contrary to popular opinion never really died, but waxed and waned through the centuries. The Roman Church is the only religious body with declared and recognized ambassadors, the Apostolic Delegates and Pro Nuncios, which regularly influence world politics and defend the interests of the Catholic Church with embassy status. The Holy See and Vatican City is a Nation-State, though undeclared as a nation among nations, and has fought Israel at every turn for their right to Statehood. It is far more political than religious and has always been.
So the bones of poor Apostle Paul are no doubt not resting easy, as it is probably for political purposes that they rise up this one last time to speak to the Goyim.
Perhaps they are not his real bones, but the bones of some poor priest who decided to really preach the Gospel and got shown the Apostle Paul up close, say in the 15th century. How about enough of trying to find forged Copies of the New Testament at Mt. Athos like the Sinaiticus, or the bones of Jesus (since not one of his bones were broken, that would be hard) or the bones of Paul, or the miraculous radiated impression of Christ's face on a napkin which couldn't have been either since it was rolled up separately in the tomb, or Jesus' image on toast, or buildings, or in the photo on eBay, or the weeping Mary who only weeps blood when a little woman puts red dye in the faucet around Easter, etc, etc, etc, etc. Give it a royal rest.