First, let us consider the idea that Christianity was invented by Jesus’ followers (particularly by the Apostle Paul).
Paul has been accused of intentionally distorting the teachings of Jesus in order to make Christianity more appealing to the gentiles. What information exists to prove or disprove this theory?
It seems fair to presume that one cannot claim Jesus’ teachings were distorted without first knowing what Jesus taught. Do those who claim distortion demonstrate knowledge of Jesus’ teachings? People who accuse Paul of creating a new religion usually say that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, nor did he claim to be the son of God. Many repeat that allegation without ever having read Jesus’ teachings. One need only read the first four books of the New Testament (not written by Paul) to see the invalidity of this objection. For example, consider the following account from the perspective of Matthew:
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying Who do men say the Son of Man is?”1
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
But he said to them, “who do you say that I am?”
And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, by man, but my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 16:13-17; NIV
This is one of many references that show who Jesus claimed to be. The assertion that Paul invented a role that Jesus never took for himself is not only insupportable, but anyone can easily obtain information to the contrary.
- “Son of Man” is a title that Jesus used of himself. It is found in the Hebrew Scriptures in Daniel 7, where it refers to a heavenly messianic figure.
This article originally appeared in The Yeshua Challenge booklet.