The problem with the "Bible" of course, is that it is a (mostly arbitrary) collection of books that have little or no relation to each other. This is especially so when we try to stuff Christianity in on top of Orthodox Judaism. They don't actually fit too well together.
To understand Christianity we need to understand the Apostle Paul---whose thinking and writing is the basis for this religion. Indeed, it would not be too much to say that, after Jesus he is THE most important figure in the New Testament.
“Saul of Tarsus” is the name he is using when we first encounter him (in the book of the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES). He is zealous in his persecution of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. We join him at the beginning of the 8th chapter (Stephen has just been stoned to death):
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”
We lose track of Saul for awhile but rejoin him at the beginning of the ninth chapter:
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
20And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
21But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
22But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
Now, let’s pause for a minute and think about this. Jesus has already been crucified. He comes BACK specifically to get THIS man and make him an Apostle. This is very important. After the Crucifixion the Apostles would VOTE on who to add to the Council of the Apostles “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:26
But JESUS selects Paul.
Why? Why was THIS MAN so important that Jesus had to come down from Heaven to get him?
Because he was going to be Jesus’ Chosen Apostle to the goyim. Those who were NOT Jews.
So who IS this “Saul” or “Paul?”
First of all he is a Roman Citizen. That means more than you might think. Just because you happened to live in a country that was under the occupation of Rome didn’t make you a Roman citizen. (Well, not until 212 AD when the Emperor Caracalla extended citizenship to everyone who was not a child of slaves). But you can read more about Roman Citizenship by clicking here, if it interests you.
Now, what else do we know about Paul?
We know he was well-educated. He was well-versed in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle (one can tell that from his writings) so the probability IS that his parents were both Roman Citizens themselves and that his father was at least of the patrician class.
And this is overwhelmingly important.
Why? Because people who are unaware of this miss the dichotomy inherent in his epistles.
Paul puts a division between the body and the soul and teaches that God will not hold Christians accountable for the deeds of their body.
“14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Romans Chapter 7.
1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. “
And again: “1And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Romans 8: 10
He is saying here that the body sins because it WILL sin. But if the Christian yearns after (loves, has faith in) Christ then not only will his SPIRIT (soul) will LIVE but that he will be given a new and perfect body after the resurrection.
1What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
---Romans Chapter 4.
THIS is the teaching of Paul, the Apostle Christ chose especially to minister to those who were not Jews.
It would probably be a good thing if those “shoot for Jesus hit-men” (and women) who stand at the pulpits today browbeating their flock and condemning “the lusts of the flesh” would hear him.
But they have no ears to hear.
Now you have probably all heard this famous passage quoted at some time or other:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
---First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.
Sixth Chapter. Verses 9-12.
And it seems to say the exact opposite of what he was saying in his Epistle to the Romans (and if he really WERE that would put paid to the conceit that the Bible never contradicts itself),
But he isn’t. Unlike many of our more modern translators, the men who translated the King James Bible were scrupulously honest. When they changed a word they let you know by putting that word in italics.
In verse 11 the word in italics is were. Why? Because Paul wrote “And such ARE some of you: but ye are washed….”
But that didn’t make sense to the King James translators. “The word CAN’T be ‘are’,” they said. “He MUST have meant ‘were’. ‘Even Jove nods, you know,’” and they all had a good academic chuckle.
But they didn’t understand Paul any better than the most fundamental of fundamentalist preachers. If they HAD they would have understood why the word was “are.”
And YOU would have understood why I say there IS spiritual inspiration to be found here.