McKenzie a servant of the lord Jesus Christ called upon by the will of God, to my dear brother in Christ Paul.
Dear brother Paul I hope you are doing fine, I am trying to keep the faith and trusting upon the lord Jesus Christ waiting for his second coming. As you are well aware from the time you served in Rome, you were forsaken, and I have been forsaken too for standing up for the truth. 1900 year after your death we are still facing almost similar challenges you faced in your time while spreading the gospel. In one your letter to the Corinthians you advised us to marry if we felt it was difficult to stay single. Well some of us who are in the ministry got married and bore children. In your days you had no schools in our time we take our children to school and have to pay to have them be educated, in your case you were a tent maker and many people questioned how a man of God would be involved in a part time job while spreading the gospel. We are also being accused of being unable to balance between making a living for ourselves and spreading the gospel.
Dear brethren, several year after your death a controversy has risen concerning the authenticity of letters claimed to have been written by. Bible scholars now say that in the letter you wrote to the Hebrews, you failed to identify yourself as you always did in other letters. They are claiming that in this letter to the Hebrews your diction differs sharply from your previous letters. They have pointed out that in this letter you used much of hapax legomena unlike in previous text. It’s also understood that in this letter there are several words we had used to in your previous letters that are not used here. For instance you frequently used the word ‘Christ Jesus’ in your letter to the Corinthians and Colossians, we are therefore world that you might not have written this letter although the reference to your close associate Timothy and the use of the phrase ‘grace be with you all’ provides a some shred of hope that you wrote this letter.
Brother the controversy does not end with the doubts about Hebrews. Many scholars are also questioning your other letters; Colossians; Ephesians; 2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral letters of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. The language we are coming across in this letters is unlike you. Occasionally Pauline expressions are used however they are not typical of you; in your other letters you developed, extended, or transformed use of your vocabularies. It is our worry that the manner in which sentences have been structure here is unlike you. It is also not easy to isolate the occasion for this letters. In your other letters you addressed concreate circumstances in the life of a Christian but this letters are devoid of this concreate circumstances. Brethren I hope you do understand our predicament in essence actually this books do not sound like letters but mere theological essays. In particular we are unable to connect your chronology of life to the pastoral letters like it in the Acts of the Apostles and the other letters that are not disputed. We find the use of your ideas and metaphors in this letters which we are familiar however; they introduced a twist in a way that is unlike you.
Dear brother in the Lord, we strongly believe that this letters were written by people using your pseudonym. I do not know what your take on this would now that people disguised as you tried to spread the gospel. I would wish to clearly state to you that the reason why we believe this are pseudonym is because in some letters like the second letter to Peter has a lot of copying from Jude and 2 Thessalonians replicates some things Thessalonians. I would however wish to categorically state that we do not have problem with the ideas presented here, although they seem to drift away slightly from what you wrote in other letters, we believe it was not a bad thing keeping your legacy alive spreading the gospel as instructed by Jesus using your name.
There is controversy of what you really stand for in your letters and how we see you in the Acts of the Apostles. For instance you speak of the resurrection of the believers in your letter to the Romans and the Corinthians as a future event while in Ephesians it’s eluded that resurrection of believers has already occurred. Although the resurrection you talked about was symbolic, it is worth noting that it is a subject of controversy. In your letters there is much of self-portraiture you portray yourself as a dedicated Jew who dramatically met Jesus and completely changed your view on the role of Jesus in history of Israel. You however continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ while practicing Judaism and stirring the controversy around the Inclusion of gentiles in the early Christian movement. This is unlike what is seen of you in the Acts of the Apostles; here you seem to have differences Gentiles and Jewish authorities. This book of acts does not refer to you as writer nor does it call an apostle except in only instance (Acts 14:4).
Equally there is a strong departure from message seen through your speeches in acts and the messages in your letters. In your letters to Rome and Galatia you are placing emphasis on ‘salvation by faith’ unlike in Acts where you seem to more incline to the mission of Peter to the Jews. Take for instance the Jerusalem council which was trying to handle the issue of Gentiles joining your movement; it’s is different from what we see in Acts and what we see in Galatians. Some belief that the Luke who wrote about you in Acts may have been accurate and that there is no disjuncture with your letters while others just belief the Luke probably new little about and that is why his accounts and version of you sharply differs from your letters.
Dear brethren I am full aware during your time the difference between Jew and gentile, slave and free and male and female was one of the greatest society divisions of your time. You mentioned about five names you worked in your gospel in your letters. In particular you mention how you have struggled in the gospel with Priscilla and Aquila implying that these women were of importance to the early church. Your consistency with how you dealt with women is however questionable. In your first letter to the Corinthians (14: 33-36) you emphasize on women being silent in the assembly of worship while speaking in your letter to the church in Galatia you make it clear that there is no difference between man and woman. In 1st Corinthians you strongly echo the Jewish practice which according to some rabbis prohibits women from learning or teaching the Torah but you would obviously not mention or address this message to Priscilla, Evodia or Phoebe.
Dear brethren one of the thorniest issues in our current Christina life is the issues of justification by works or by faith. This is one theological issue that has drawn a line between believers. While writing to the Romans (5: 1-2) you stated that we are justified by faith however James states otherwise in his letter to the twelve disciples. Our understanding is that the contradiction between being saved by law and being saved by faith arises from different interpretations of reading of the Mosaic Law and your early writings. Although this matter will still continue to elicit some debate, you seem to have expounded further on the issue when you wrote to the Galatians that Gods people are redeemed when they have kept the covenant of works through the covenant of grace, covenant of grace does not take away works, and it ensures obedience to the works.
Brother I will now turn to one of your metaphors that you used in your letters; glorification. I have interesting concern on this metaphor with lots of questions to ask. Does God glorify human beings? How is a Christian supposed to hold on to the certainty of otherwise of glorification while rejecting the power of grace? Answer some of my concerns in the letter you wrote Romans; (8:17) here you make it clear that God does share his glory with his children when we suffer and die with his son Jesus Christ. This metaphor is closely linked to your other metaphor on justification in that you allude to the fact that those who are justified will be glorified.
Brother Paul, my opinion on salvation may not be exactly what you envisaged when you wrote to the Corinthians. In those the social issues that brought divisions among the early church now seem to have faded except for the role of women in spreading the gospel. I would wish to interpret salvation as a process and not an event as some have made it look like. I would see it as transformation from justification by works transiting into justification by grace or faith. The current society for instance has made premarital sex seem normal from the times you were living and many young Christians have been pulled into this trap. As such I totally agree with that salvation by works alone is not viable it has to be the total appreciation of the death of Jesus Christ and this washed and continue to wash away our sins.
Dear brother let the love of our Lord Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
- Crossan J and Borg M, the First Paul (HarperCollins e-Books 2014)
- Dewey A, the Authentic Letters of Paul
- Hopkins A and Foxworthy R, Peter and Paul (Anthony Hopkins and Robert Foxworth 2013)
- Porter S, Paul and Ancient Rhetoric