How St. Paul Perverted Jesus' Vegan Teachings. By Chapman Chen, HKBNews
Updated: Mar 3
According to US President Thomas Jefferson, St. Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus" (Washington 1854). As pointed out by Albert Schweitzer (1910) in The Quest for the Historical Jesus, Paul perverted the discourse of Jesus and "displace[d]" it. Let us now examine the corruption in seven domains, namely, eating food sacrificed to idols, eating animal flesh, denigration of women, slavery, justification by faith alone, submission to the authorities, and debasement of Moses' Law.
1. Eating Food Sacrificed to Idols
In I Corinthians 8:4-13, Paul argues that eating meat offered to an idol is not immoral, because “an idol is nothing at all” (I Cor. 8:4 NIV). “Food,” he asserts, “does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (I Cor. 8:8 NIV). "To the pure, all things are pure" (Titus 1:15 NIV).
On the other hand, in the letter to the church of Thyatira, Jesus rebukes them for tolerating a prophetess who "seduce[s] my servants to ... eat things sacrificed unto idols" (Revelation 2:20 KJV). And The Jerusalem Council led by James the Just, Jesus' natural brother, wrote to Gentile converts the Council's "decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals" (Acts 21:25 NIV).
2. Eating Animal Flesh
Eating anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience" (1 Corinthians 10:25 NIV), advises Paul. For two thousand years, this has (mis)led numerous Christians to think that it is alright to slaughter innocent animals and eat their flesh.
Paul even defames vegans as weaklings in terms of faith:- "One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables" (Romans 14:2 NIV).
In contrast, Jesus warns against meat-eating:- “Be on guard, so that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh" (Luke 21:34, Evangelion Da-Mepharreshe — Old Syriac-Aramaic Manuscript of the New Testament Gospels). And He admonishes the Pharisees, quoting Hosea 6:6, "Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13 CSB).
In the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus condemns animal sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem:- “I have come to abolish the sacrifices, and if you cease not from sacrificing, my wrath will not cease from you” (Panarion 30.16.5). Jesus also rejected the Passover meal :“I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you” (The Gospel of the Ebionites 22.4).
Throughout His human life, Jesus cared about animals, like sparrows (Matthew 10;29-31 NIV), "fowls of the air" (Matt. 6:26-33 KJV), sheep (Matt. 12:11), chickens (Matt. 23:37 KJV), yoked animals in general (Matt. 11:29-30), a donkey and her colt (Matt. 21:1-3 NIV). He even rescued and healed a badly beaten mule (Linzey and Dorothy 1998: 38-39; Linzey 2010: 60-61; Chen 2021).
Whilst Jesus showed compassion for animals, Paul sneered at exploited and downtrodden oxen:- "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?" (1 Corithians 9:9 KJV)
Finally, Jesus died for animal liberation
In driving out from the Holy Temple those vendors who were buying and selling animals for cruel sacrifice (Matthew 21:12), Jesus offended the chief priests and teachers of the law, for the reason that he was disrupting their revenue stream. Immediately afterwards, "the chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teachings."(Mark 11:18)
The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity by Keith Akers (2000) argues that the central event of the Christian faith, the Crucifixion, was predicated upon Christ's readiness to struggle for animal rights. Jesus Christ's rejection of animal sacrifice brought him into direct confrontation with the Temple Priests, resulting in his arrest, trial under Pontius Pilate, and crucifixion (Akers 2000).
As for the counter-arguments that Jesus distributed fish to 5000 people in the Five Loaves and Two Fish miracle; that He ate lamb at Passover; that He ate fish in front of His disciples after resurrection , etc., they are either mistranslation or falsification (Chen 2020).
3. Denigration of Women
Paul denigrated women, even though Jesus considered them to be equal. "Neither was the man created for woman, but woman for the man" says Paul. “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 11:19 KJV; 14:34-35 KJV), commands Paul.
Jesus Treats Women as Equals
In contrast, Jesus treats women with respect and as equals of men. To Jesus, women are created in the image of God just as men are:- "at the beginning the Creator made them male and female" (Matt. 19:4; cf. Gen. 1:27).
Jesus treated women as fellow human beings, genuine persons, sovereign individuals, not as men's dependents. There were not only men but also women among His disciples, like Mary Magdelene, Joanna, and Susanna (Luke 8:1-3).
Jesus regularly addressed women directly and respectfully while in public (cf. Borland 2017), like the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar (John 4:7-26), the woman taken in adultery (John 8:10-11), the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-13), the woman with the bleeding disorder (Luke 8:48; cf. Matt. 9:22; Mark 5:34), the woman bent over for 18 years (Luke 13:12), and a group of women on the route to the cross (Luke 23:27-31).
Jesus spoke in a thoughtful, caring manner to women, according to Borland (2017). For instance, he addressed the woman with the bleeding disorder tenderly as "daughter"; and called the bent woman a "daughter of Abraham".
Paul condones slavery whilst Jesus believes that everybody is equal. Paul asks slaves to "wholeheartedly" serve their earthly masters and remain in their condition of slavery. "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ... Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people" (Ephesians 6:5-9 NIV). No wonder, Karl Marx (1884) calls religion "the people's opium".
"Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you... For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person...each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them" (1 Corinthians 7:21-24 NIV).
Paul even persuades a runaway Christian slave to return to his master and be reconciled with him.
In his book The Letter to Philemon, Scot McKnight (2017) believes that Onesimus, whose master was Philemon, as in The Epistle to Philemon, was a runaway slave. McKnight argues that Paul's letter "lacks any overt appeal from Paul to manumit Onesimus" (McKnight 2017:1), that Paul is not bothered at all by the fact that Christians like Philemon owned slaves despite his statement in Galatians that in Christ "there is no longer... slave or free" (Galatians 3:28 NLT). According to McKnight, Paul was not writing his letter to a Christian brother to request the freeing of a slave who was also a Christian brother. Instead, to borrow the words of Claude Mariottini (2017), "Paul wrote his letter to Philemon as an attempt at reconciliation, reconciliation between a runaway slave who became a believer in Christ and a slave owner who was also a believer in Christ".
On the contrary, Jesus said he came to free the oppressed and to serve!
Jesus to Free the Imprisoned and the Oppressed
He [Jesus} went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:16-19 NIV)
Jesus is "among you as one who Serves"
Contrastively, Jesus asks, "who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:27 NIV).
And He says, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matt. 25:40 NIV).
In fact, Jesus healed the ill slave of a centurion (Luke 7:2) and restored the cut off ear of the high priest's slave (Luke 22:5).
5. Justification by Faith Alone?
Paul preaches that salvation comes by faith only, e.g., "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness" (Romans 4:5 ESV); "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (Romans 3:28 ESV); "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV).
Jesus teaches the exact opposite:- salvation is attained through compassionate and righteous deeds or works based on love for God and love for our neighbors (Luke 10:27 NIV; Matt. 22:37-40 KJV), even for our enemies (Matt. 5:44 KJV), and through prayer cum fasting (Mark 9:29 KJV; Matt. 17:21 KJV), not just having faith.
In His earliest public teaching -- The Sermon on the Mount -- when asked by a lawyer what the most significant commandment was, Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and , 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:27 NIV). "DO THIS and you will live'" (Luke 10:28 NIV), stressed Jesus — indicating unequivocally that salvation is linked up with works/actions/deeds, no matter how imperative faith might be to driving such conduct.
In the Luke version, this instruction was followed up by an illustration -- the Parable of the Good Samaritan, who rescued and meticulously took care of a stranger robbed and wounded by bandits. Note that the Samaritan, to borrow David D. Danizier's (2012) words, "not even a believer, not one having 'faith' and not one who has accepted Jesus as savior, yet this is who Jesus chooses as the example of one who gains eternal life, which is what the lawyer specifically asked." "Go, and do thou like wise," then said Jesus unto the lawyer. Apparently, contrary to Paul, doing, besides proclaiming faith in God, is crucial to Jesus.
5.1 Jesus Disapproves of All Talk, No Action
In the same sermon, Jesus condemns all talk, no action:- "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them (Matt. 23:2-3 NASB 1995).
Another time during His ministry, Jesus again upheld action motivated by love:-“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3 17-18 NIV) .
In His last public teaching (Matt. 25:31-45), Jesus, in Danizier's (2012) words, "describes the final judgment as being based solely on behavioral responses to internalized compassion". He asserts that in the final judgment, only those who have taken action to feed the hungry and thirsty, clothe the naked, accommodate the homeless, and look after the sick and imprisoned, will be entitled to eternal life, for "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me [Christ]" (Matt. 25:40 KJV).
Similarly, James the Just, Jesus' natural brother and the leader of the Jerusalem Council, places a premium on works combined with faith:-
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works...You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:14-16, 2:24 ESV).
6. Submission to the Authorities
Paul was a lifelong supporter of the Roman Empire. He had worked for the establishment as a Roman citizen and as a Pharisee. He declared that Christians must obey the authorities of the world, on the ground that the latter were ministers appointed and instituted by God to reward the good and punish the bad (Romans 13:1-4), a command with corrupting political repercussions throughout the two thousand years that ensued.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended (Romans 13:1-3 NIV).
"For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Romans 13:4 KJV). Similarly, Chris Tang Ping Keung, the Secretary for Security in Hong Kong, after the draconian National Security Law came into effect in Hong Kong, and when giving an interview to the pro-CCP media HK01 on 25 September 2021, said, "If you are not thinking of breaking the law when you come out, you will have no reason to fear; but if you have a criminal intent, we will find evidence to get you no matter how hard you try to hide it."
Jesus is pro-Second Amendment
Jesus of Nazareth did not teach such things. Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34 KJV); “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God, the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21 ESV). Similarly, Peter and the other apostles said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29 KJV).
In fact, according to US Former Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) (2015), Jesus would support the Second Amendment (the right of the people to keep and bear arms), for, as recorded in Luke 22:36, while delivering his farewell speech to the apostles before going to the cross, Jesus instructed them to purchase weapons to carry for self-defense. To borrow the words of Mary Fairchild (2018), "He was preparing them for the extreme opposition and persecution they would face in future missions."
Now, the US Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government." And the right to carry arms is understandably an effective gurantee of the right to overthrow a facist government.
Admittedly, when Judas took a band of armed officers to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword, but Jesus ordered him to put up his sword into the sheath, "for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matthew 26: 52). Nonetheless, there Jesus was accepting arrest and death so that biblical prophecies can be fulfilled (Matthew 26:35; Kopel 2017), and he was concerned with Peter's safety as he was outnumbered by the whole band of armed officers coming to apprehend Jesus (Barnes' Bible Commentary).
7. Moses' Law
Paul debases, devalues and degrades Moses' Law in at least 37 places in the New Testament, whereas Jesus explicitly says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17 NIV).
Paul regularly alleges that the Law is weak, useless, and obsolete "dung", that it is a curse conducive to sinfulness, spiritual imprisonment and death, e.g.,
But there was the introduction to The Written Law that sin would increase, (Romans 5:20 American Bible in Plain English)
"sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." (Romans 7:13 KJV)
So the former commandment is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect) (Hebrews 7:18-19 Berean Study Bible)
In that He says, "A new covenant, he hath made the first obsolete. Now that what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away (Hebrews 8:13 NKJV)
The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. (2 Corinthians 3:7 NLV)
Before this faith came, we Jews were perpetual prisoners under the Law, (Galatians 3:23 Weymouth New Testament)
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, (Galatians 3:13 KJV)
Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man... (Ephesians 2:15 NKJV)
touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ...I...do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Philippians 3:4-8 KJV).
For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements— (Galatians 2:19 NLT)
"There is not one word of Pauline Christianity in the characteristic utterances of Jesus.... There has really never been a more monstrous imposition perpetrated than the imposition of Paul's soul upon the Soul of Jesus", opines George Bernard Shaw (1915).
Borland, James A. (2017). "How Jesus Viewed and Valued Women". Crossway Org., March 08. (https://www.crossway.org/articles/how-jesus-viewed-and-valued-women/)
Chen, Chapman (2021). "Jesus Heals a Mule: A Coptic Bible Story." HKBNews, Dec. 3. (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/jesus-heals-a-mule-a-coptic-bible-story-go-vegan-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews)
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McKnight, Scot (2017). The Letter to Philemon. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Schweitzer, Albert (1910). The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Trans. William Montgomery.
Shaw, George Bernard (1915). "Androcles and the Lion, Introduction".
Washington, H. A. (1854) (ed). The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being his Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private. Vol. VII. Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury.