Paul fails his own evidence(s) for Apostleship
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
After some time wherein he preached to the gentiles, and after 2 visits to the people of Corinth, they began to doubt in Paul’s apostleship. We don’t blame them and for good reason. This is what Paul has to say on the matter:
This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power.Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. – 2 Corinthians 13:1-6.
What’s going on here?
- The people begin to doubt in Paul’s authenticity, despite him having done miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). However they are right for doubting him, as false believers can do miracles (Matthew 7:21-23).
- Paul says two – three witnesses are needed to validate anything. His only witness is Christ in him. Essentially, the only witness at this point is Paul claiming to have God inside him. Thus he’s failed his own criteria, as he is his only witness.
- He then ignores pleas for substantial proof and does a bit of circular reasoning.
- Instead of providing evidences, he tells the people to examine themselves and to stop judging him.
There’s a dilemma here. Paul’s only evidence is the ministry he’s done and established amongst the people. Thus, when they test themselves as verse 5 commands them to, they are either found to be faithful to Christ or not and through this, they will know the truth about their own faith. There’s a problem though, if Paul’s evidence is the ministry he’s established and when the people test themselves and find that they are not faithful, doesn’t that make him a false apostle?
Think of it this way. Let’s say I sell you a car, you purchase it but then begin to doubt my validity as a car sales man. To prove my role to be true, I challenge you to drive the car for a day, test it yourself and you’d see my remarks on the car were true. Yet, the car failed during that day, doesn’t that make me a bad salesman? This is exactly the case with Paul. It’s pure circular reasoning, the people greatly doubted him, thus his ministry was a failure, as the test he gave them was to test their own faith – which they lacked after their second meeting! Nonetheless, let’s see what John Gill’s Commentary had to say on verse 5:
Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith,…. These words are to be considered in connection with 2 Corinthians 13:3 for seeing they sought and demanded a proof the voice and power of Christ in the apostle, he directs them to self examination, to look within themselves, to try, prove, and recognise their own souls; where if things were right, they would find a proof of Christ’s speaking in him, to them: he advises them to examine the state of their own souls, and see whether they were in the faith; either in the doctrine of faith, having a spiritual and experimental knowledge of it, true love and affection for it, an hearty belief of it, having felt the power of it upon their souls, and abode in it; whether, as the Syriac version reads it, , “ye stand in the faith”, firm and stable; or in the grace of faith, either of miracles, or that which is connected with salvation; and which if they were in it, and had it, is attended with good works; operates by love to Christ and to his people; by which souls go out of themselves to Christ, live upon him, receive from him, and give him all the glory of salvation: and if this was their case, he desires to know how they came by their faith; and suggests, that their light in the doctrine of the Gospel, and their faith in Christ Jesus, as well as the miraculous gifts many of them were possessed of, were through his ministry as the means; and this was a full proof of Christ’s speaking in him.
This last sentence is important. Miracles are what Christ’s ministry through Paul depended on. Yet miracles are for a weak people of faith, (Cf. Matthew 12:39: But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah), in fact, as stated before, miracles can be done by even faithless people:
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. – Matthew 24:24.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ – Matthew 7:21-23.
So far, Paul’s own criteria to determine his own apostleship and claim to Christ have all failed. Perhaps there is a Christian out there willing to explain these things to us, however as it stands, from Paul’s own ‘tests‘, he is not and was never a true apostle.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam.