The Purpose of the Martyrdom of Jesus
(Last revised 2-2-2014)
Since the days when the Christ Jesus walked the earth, some of his followers understood him more than others, and some were not able to understand him at all. Those who called him the Mashiach Yeshuah ben Joseph understood that he was a son of man in the Jewish tradition, but few if any of his followers understood that he was not merely a spiritually anointed son of man and Mashiach (Messiah or Christus), but also the world Avatar for the age he ushered in -- the age that is now passing.
Today, few Christians understand that, because by the middle of the first century, not many decades after the death of Jesus, most Christians were led to believe in myths that had been created about him, and one of those myths was about why Jesus willingly sacrificed his life and martyred himself.
Fortunately, good Christians understand the core universal teachings of Jesus around the prophecy that the humble and meek shall inherit the earth by abiding by the Golden Rule. Unfortunately, these days good Christians, being humble and meek, are drowned out by loud, proud and militant hypocrites who aggressively follow the ways and doctrines of patriarchs who have masqueraded as Christians but were not. For as history reveals, during the passing age they have wreaked havoc on earth seeking and fighting for wealth, power, and domain.
Hypocrites have gotten away with it, and still get away with it, because Christianity as we know it is not what Jesus of Nazareth intended and it contains false doctrines and myths. And Jesus knew it would. He predicted it, which is why he said many hypocrites would now be claiming to do "many wonderful works in the name of the Lord," when they actually serve Mammon, not God.
That's why the myths must be exposed and dispelled, because Christians have been led to believe in stories about Jesus ranging from being “born of a virgin” to “dying for our sins for our salvation” to "coming again" in person. Therefore, in order to establish peace and harmony in the world, and in order to resolve the doctrinal conflicts between Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions, it is necessary to dispel myths about Jesus and bring about a real Reformation -- which Jesus himself foresaw and predicted would come at the end of the age he ushered in.
See, Jesus of Nazareth should be honored and glorified for what he was: a spiritually anointed son of man, a master teacher, a "sacrificial lamb" of God, and an Avatar. However, his mission was to reform Judaism, to provide realization of the universality of the core message of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), and to point out that the fulfillment of prophecies would be to the benefit of all peoples and all nations on earth.
The Controversy Over Good Works, Grace and FaithSome very religious Christians insist that it is not good behavior or good works that brings one redemption and salvation. Rather, they say, salvation is granted only to those who believe that Jesus "overcame death" and was physically resurrected, and that only grace by way of faith that “Jesus Christ is the Lord God” brings salvation.
It was Paul, who produced the first Christian texts, who established the idea that good works are of little importance, and that without faith in Jesus there is no salvation. And that is the main reason why these days, since the Interfaith movement has grown significantly, the misguided idea that “unless you accept Jesus Christ as the Lord God and Savior, you cannot be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven” is what fundamentalist Christian Dominionists cling to and try to perpetuate and spread.
However, that idea contradicts what King David wrote in Psalm 146, that we should not put our trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no salvation --- because he is mortal and only human. David was saying that we should understand that salvation comes only from God, the Redeemer, the Holy One which is eternal, which was, is, and shall always be.
That, by the way, is consistent with what Moses wrote, that God is not a man, nor a son of man, and also consistent with what Isaiah wrote, that no man can be compared to God, and that besides God there is no Savior. (Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 40:18, 40:25, 42:8, 43:10-11, and 46:5)
Furthermore, the idea that claims faith that “Jesus is God Himself” trumps good works is contradicted by what Jesus actually said, that “God is greater than I,” and "You have not heard the voice of God nor seen the shape of God at any time." Therefore, while his followers heard the voice of Jesus, they did not hear the voice of God, and Jesus made a clear distinction between himself and God.
As for faith vs good works, the fact is that we know a true Christian by their humble good works.
That is confirmed by what was written by James, who Jesus appointed as his successor and head of the church: “What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, but has not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and hungry, and one of you who are warmed and filled says to them, ‘Depart’ and do not give them those things which the body needs; what does it profit you? Therefore, faith without works is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, you have faith, and I have works, but show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)
“Will you know, vain and foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified and deemed faithful by his actions and works ... Abraham believed in God, and he was deemed a righteousness Friend of God. You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. ... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:20-26)
Likewise, John, in his book of Revelation, wrote that we are judged by the things which are written in The Book of Life, according to our works. (Revelation 20:12)
Therefore, brethren, whether your religion is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or any other religion or moral code, it is by your words, deeds, actions, works and behavior that you are judged, and it is by your good works that you express your faith in that which is Holy.
How Did the Resurrection and Salvation Story Develop?
Of course, most religions developed myths about their founders to establish their divine status, but, since Christianity is the largest religion in the world, has the most influence and wields the most material and military power, this article addresses one of several Christian myths that became incorporated as official church canon and doctrine that misled Christians as to the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice and martyrdom, so that they would believe he "died for our sins" and was magically resurrected in corporeal form in a way that "overcame death."
Christians have been led to believe that a prophecy in the book of Isaiah meant that he, Jesus, as Messiah, would literally be led as a lamb to slaughter, and that the purpose of his sacrifice would be to "die for our sins" and "take away the sins of the world." Most of the epistles and books that made it into the Christian Bible, as well as the largely ignored Gnostic gospel of Judas, give that impression or even make that claim.
However, none of the prophecies in the book of Isaiah are about Jesus (see the article on Isaiah Chapter 53). An certainly Jesus understood that the book of Isaiah was about the son of man to come after him, who would "first be rejected by his generation and suffer many things," as Jesus predicted. (After all, Jesus was accepted by multitudes in his generation and really suffered only on the last day of his life, not before his mission was accomplished, whereas the modern son of man was stricken and afflicted and has suffered many things first.)
Why is this important? Because while most Christians understand and try to abide by the golden rule, do good works and have faith that the humble, gentle, peaceful and meek shall inherit the earth, there are some misguided Christians who are proud, arrogant, imposing and offensive even though they hypocritically claim to be Christians.
They are the "goats" and hypocrites who claim to do “many wonderful works in the name of the Lord,” even though they are wrong-doers, just as Jesus foresaw and foretold. And part of the reason is because they believe in and focus on erroneous doctrines.
Jesus warned about the erroneous doctrines of men, and knew they would produce conflict and division. Therefore, the erroneous doctrines and myths must be dispelled, and the record must be set straight, as Jesus said it would be.
The Crucifixion and Martyrdom of Jesus
The crucifixion and martyrdom of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Yeshuah and Issa, was not really about what many have been led to believe, because Jesus did not really sacrifice himself solely "for your sins," and obviously he did not "take away the sins of the world," as many Christians claim. In fact, the claim that he did and thus fulfilled prophecy was based on erroneous interpretation and misunderstanding of Judaic Hebrew Scriptures. T
The Torah and Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible and “Old Testament” of the Christian Bible) do not speak of any son of man or Mashiach (Messiah) dying for your salvation.
Granted, the life and soul of Jesus could be considered as "an offering for sin" or guilt offering, which is what the prophet Isaiah actually wrote (Isaiah 53:10). However, while that could certainly apply to Jesus, that prophecy is not actually about Jesus specifically, but about the modern son of man.
Furthermore, the original meaning of Isaiah 53:10 has been misunderstood by Christians since Jesus died, and in the English King James Version (KJV) of the Bible Isaiah 53:10 states: “you shall make his soul an offering for sin ...” However, since the 1600s that translation has been refuted for numerous reasons, and, at the very least, brought into question.
Many of the Founders of America doubted and refuted questionable Christian dogma, as did many other "Enlightenment" thinkers. And since 1945, with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library of Scriptures, the 1946 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and all the succeeding modern scholarship and archaeological research, the Enlightenment thinkers' reasoning has increasingly been recognized as more and more reasonable and wise— despite the increasing efforts of the “conservative fundamentalist religious right” to revive the intolerant theocratic bent of certain Christian sects.
The sacrifice of Jesus was an offering, in a way. However, the sacrifice of Jesus was obviously not a cure, nor was it an intercession. And it did not “take away the sins of the world.” After all, there is as much sin now in the world as there ever has been.
There was a far more rational and logical reason for the sacrifice and martyrdom of Jesus. It was partly to offer himself for the iniquity of his people, but it was mainly to set a perfect example and to culminate his teachings on forgiveness, love, tolerance, and pacifism.
After all, Jesus willingly allowed himself to be arrested, and when Peter picked up a sword to try to save Jesus, he told him to put it down. He wanted to demonstrate that it is far better to allow the "beast" (the warlord ruler) to kill you, than to stoop to his level by living by the sword. That is why during his years of teaching he had repeatedly said that those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword, and that we should love even our enemy, "turn the other cheek," and not retaliate even when attacked.
A True Martyr
Jesus martyred himself to culminate his teachings around universal love, tolerance, forgiveness, and pacifism. That was the main reason. And really, that's what true martyrdom is all about, in the spiritual sense of the word.
Martyrdom is about willingly and passively giving up your life without resisting or fighting your killer, especially if and when your killer is a corrupt and tyrannical ruling government, or any other organized group that uses deadly force in order to rule. It's about telling the truth and exposing evil, but not resisting or fighting it physically, as Jesus had advised many times in his teaching. That’s why Jesus was a non-violent revolutionary and a true martyr, and it’s why many other martyrs, like Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., have done the same thing.
The truth is that Jesus was a martyr for very specific reasons, and they had little to do with salvation. To put it in a religious context, in the book of Psalms, David wrote that the Lord God Jehovah was his "fortress, and the horn of my salvation" and "will beautify the meek with salvation."
The prophet Isaiah wrote that "God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid. For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song."
That is exactly why Jesus said that only God is worthy of worship, because Jesus was a son of man and a servant of God, not "God Himself."
The truth is that our Lord God is the eternal Holy One, the Great Spirit, our spiritual Parent, and we are all children of God, from whom comes our salvation.
Salvation In Modern Terms
It must be said that the "surrender" of the human ego to a "higher power" or "higher being" can and does bring a feeling and sense of salvation. Therefore, Christian idea of "saving grace" is a valid, legitimate idea and concept, when recognized for what it is. Actual revelation of the fallibility of the human ego and the "infallibility" of that which is called God does indeed bring a kind of liberation.
It can bring liberation especially from egocentric delusion, which can manifest in bipolar extremes from delusions of grandeur and superiority, to delusions of utter worthlessness and despair. But both are delusional, while God is reality.
However, that "surrender" idea is not exclusively Christian. Within Judaism, Islam and other religions the same general idea is widely accepted, because its goal is selflessness and love for the other, as opposed to egoism, selfishness and self-interest.
However, such surrender of the ego is not necessarily salvation. It is more a part of a process as discussed in the article on True Spiritual Rebirth (which has little or nothing to do with the idea of being "born again" as claimed by fundamentalist evangelical Christians).
True spiritual rebirth is a process that begins through divine revelation and culminates in surrender to God, which brings salvation. Our individual salvation can be found only in God, or come as a gift from God, the omnipresent Great Spirit-Parent of all.
Salvation can also come bit by bit, moment by moment, when our conscience overcomes our separate-self ego, when our love overcomes malice or hate, when our empathy overcomes self-righteousness, when our good will overcomes ill-will, when selflessness overcomes self-importance and self-centeredness – when we are motivated and inspired by love above all. And, ultimately, it comes when we become awakened to the divine reality that is here at hand, when our "eye" becomes single and we are actually spiritually "reborn"and see the world in a new Light of divine, universal love.
However, our individual salvation is not something that we can "get" and keep from then on. You cannot be "saved" for eternity just because you profess belief that "Jesus saves" and is your "Lord and Savior." That should be obvious looking at the behavior of certain people claiming to be "born again" and "saved" Christians. No. Our individual salvation is an ongoing process.
Now, our collective salvation is another thing. As the prophet Jesus himself said, that will come with the judgment from the Spirit of truth, which shall guide you unto truth, show you things to come, and honor and glorify the Ancient One who is in heaven with God.
That judgment is delivered by the messenger for the Spirit of truth, the modern son of man and servant of God. And this son of man is not a martyr as Jesus was. He is "hidden in the shadow of God’s hand." He doesn’t make his voice heard as an orator from behind a podium or pulpit. He sends his work before him, in the written word, and in songs.
To Clear Up Misunderstanding
The modern son of man needs to help everyone understand why Jesus was a martyr, because many religious people have not understood that, and many still do not understand it. In fact, some Muslim have gone so far astray that they think they are martyrs by committing suicide and mass murder of innocent civilians. But they have been deceived and misguided.
Many religious zealots who claim to be Jews and Christians are not all that much better. Right-wing Israeli Jews ignore certain parts of the Torah and Tanakh and cling only to parts that they think justify their pride and militancy, and right-wing American Christians have been grossly misled and simply ignore much scriptural evidence that refutes their beliefs. (See the article About Christianity.)
The facts and the truth about Jesus need to be told, not to denigrate Jesus, but to set the record straight and glorify him for what he was: a spiritually anointed son of man, a unique and extraordinary servant of God. And the truth must be known in order to reform Christianity, and correct hypocrites who merely masquerade as Christians.
You see, the mission of the current messenger for the Spirit of truth is to deliver the message in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus, and the truth is that the NT as we know it is not entirely correct in certain instances, especially concerning why Jesus allowed himself to be arrested and crucified.
For example, the claim that Jesus "died for our sins" is made in certain verses in the NT that lean heavily on Isaiah 53:5-8 in the OT, which contains the phrases, "he is wounded for our transgressions," ... "by his stripes we are healed," ... "he shall be brought as a lamb to slaughter" and "you shall make his soul an offering for sin."
Because Isaiah probably did foresee and foretell the son of man named Jesus receiving "stripes" or being whipped and crucified, the assumption and claim by most Christians was that the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah spoke of Jesus.
That is, at the very least, questionable. After all, the verses just prior to Isaiah 53:5-8 state: "he has no form nor comeliness" and "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" and "Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." And, the verse following the "offering for sin" passage states: "he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
None of that speaks of Jesus. After all, his days were not prolonged but cut short at age 33. He was "comely," handsome and well groomed even according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. He was not despised or rejected of men, not a man of sorrows, and not stricken or afflicted. Therefore, it is highly questionable and even doubtful that Isaiah Chapter 53 speaks totally of Jesus.
As is stated in the articles titled About Christianity, The Plant of Renown and Isaiah Chapter 53 (on the menu to the left), the book of Isaiah 53 speaks of the modern son of man, not Jesus. And Jesus knew that. While Jesus played a very crucial role as the Avatar for the passing age, he was also a prophet who elaborated on Jewish prophecies, set the precedent of a mashiach rejecting the throne, served only as a teacher, and made many crucial prophecies about the next son of man, the messenger for the Spirit of truth.
Like Isaiah, Jesus foresaw the predicament of the modern son of man, who is not considered comely because of his disabling affliction. He is despised by right-wing militant zealots who claim to be Christians or Jews or Muslims. He is also a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief. And, as both Isaiah and Jesus foresaw, the modern son of man suffers many things, after having been stricken and afflicted, and he is indeed rejected by his generation. (See the page on Prophecies Re: He Who Fulfills Them, and The Story of the Modern Son of Man, (which explains the suffering).
The trouble is, some of the Christian apostles or later revisionists tended to use anything in the OT that could possibly prove Jesus fulfilled all the Judaic prophecies (or will when he "comes again"). They concocted the idea that "Jesus suffered and died on the cross to take away our sins." The ignored the fact that Isaiah merely wrote that "you shall make his soul an offering for sin." They embellished and exaggerated that, and they probably did that so they could establish Jesus as the culmination and the solution to "Adam and Eve's disobedience."
In fact, what we read in the gospels was put there because it was supposed to complete the story, even though Jesus said the story would not be completed and prophecy would not be fulfilled until the end of the age he ushered in.
In spite of that, in the NT it is written: "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world" ... "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin," and "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." None of that is true. The sins of the world are worse now than they have ever been, and Jesus was the son of Joseph, as I explained on the page titled The Virgin Birth Story.
The "giving the only begotten son" supposedly refers to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross, and it refers to the idea that by willingly being crucified on the cross Jesus turned aside the wrath of God, absorbing the punishment due to sinners, securing forgiveness from God for all who trust in him and believe in Jesus as God (or "God incarnate" or "God Himself" or the "immaculately conceived, only begotten son of God"). The idea was that his crucifixion settled accounts in heaven, accomplished a triumphant victory over all the powers of darkness, and paved the way to heaven (as if no one before Jesus ever went to heaven).
To top it off, those who created and perpetuated that doctrine wanted everyone to believe that the meaning and power of the cross were thus released by Jesus' "resurrection from the dead." Many Christians have been led to believe that Jesus was actually physically "resurrected" and came back to life as an immortal being three days after he died, and then, having been brought back to life, he visited his loved ones who touched his physical body one last time.
However, if that were true, what then happened to Jesus? If he was then an immortal being in a physical body, why would he go away and not stay and get the job done?
The answer to that question reveals the flaw in the story, because if Jesus had actually become a physically immortal Superman-God, he would not have sat by while most of humanity suffered through the age of conflict and division that Jesus ushered it. Obviously, Jesus knew that Man would not learn all the lessons he needed to learn until the end of that age, which is coming to an end. In fact, that’s what the prophecies of Jesus, like the prophecies of all genuine prophets, is all about.
The resurrection and ascension story as presented in the gospels as we know them is a myth (see the article about The Resurrection Story). Only a person’s spirit-soul ascends to heaven when one’s physical body dies, and the only resurrection is of the ethereal spirit-soul and ghost, which becomes "real" in heaven – as real as in a dream. But the myth was concocted to elevate Jesus as an idol, as God "Himself," rather than the very mortal son of man and servant of God that he was.
Besides that, nowhere in Judaic scriptures (OT) does it say anything about any dead people or any dead son of man actually rising up physically resurrected.
See, the idea of "resurrection" and "heaven and hell" came from Daniel 12:1-4, which states that "multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." However, before it makes that statement, it foretells how when prophecy is fulfilled a "great prince" comes (actually just this modern son of man, who as Isaiah and Jesus said would be rejected), and there would be a time of great distress and tribulation until the people are finally delivered and liberated.
Jesus knew that, which is why he foretold that the modern son of man would first be rejected by his generation, during which time he and most people of earth would suffer from tribulation and terrible things. And this son of man tells you the truth, that you shall have everlasting life, in that your spirit-soul has life and consciousness that is not dependent on your present physical body.
Physical death is merely a door to another stage of your existence. In this life and this world we are students, and it is possible for us to graduate with honors. For the "resurrection" is not what most Christians have been led to believe it is. It takes place in the spiritual realm, not in this world.
Some early Christians, like Paul, did not understand that. That's why in a letter of Paul it is written: "... if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain ... And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins." And "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
That's why it is written that if we do not believe that Jesus is God and died for our sins, then we are in danger of hell fire and damnation. Obviously, the writers or later revisionists of the gospels wanted to issue strong warnings about the horrible consequences of sin, but they carried it to erroneous extremes.
Jesus knew it would happen, which is why he said, "I came not to bring peace, but division," knowing he ushered in an age of conflict and division. He knew his teachings would be distorted and even corrupted by the doctrines of men, and even though it seems as if he said he purposely brought division, he meant that it would be an age of division caused by Man.
That is evident when you see arrogant and self-righteous Christians approaching people they do not know, as asking: "Have you been saved?" and/or "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" They are like the zealot Paul, who erroneously thought the end of the world was at hand.
They do not realize how rude and presumptuous that is, and of course they do not realize the main reason why Jesus sacrificed his life and martyred himself. They also do not realize that while Jesus certainly can be called a Lord, he was not the Lord of Lords, not the Lord of Hosts, not the Holy One, and not the Savior, because only God is the Holy One, Savior, Lord of Hosts, and Lord God. Jesus was a servant of God, and a host.
The most arrogant and self-righteous fundamentalist and evangelical Christians go even further, and if you reject their claim that you "must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior," they then threaten you and claim that you cannot receive salvation and are doomed to suffer in hell for eternity. They perpetuate the theocratic doctrine that plunged Europe into the Dark Ages sixteen centuries ago.
Granted, there is some precedent for that concept of God in the OT. Some of the Jewish prophets were very judgmental, threatening and terribly punitive. They wanted to establish that God was "Almighty," and that the enemies of the God of Israel had better beware.
Some OT authors even gave the impression that God is an omnipotent, all-powerful Superman, contradicting others who understood and wrote that God is not mortal, not a man, nor a son of man, but rather lives in Light and is the Divine Light and the omnipresent, eternal Holy One, the Great Spirit.
However, the authors of the words we find in the Christian gospels in the Bible did far more than merely follow the tradition set by the most strict and harsh words of some Jewish prophets. The doctrine in the gospels, whether it was written by the original authors by later editors and revisionists, was based on a misunderstanding of what the birth, life and death of Jesus was really about, and on a misunderstanding of what the resurrection of the spirit-soul really is. So, they went much further, claiming that unless we believe and confess that Jesus is God Himself and that he died for our sins to secure our salvation, we cannot be saved from the "wages of sin," which they claimed are "death and eternal damnation in hell."
That is why some Christians believe that the "salvation" idea and the resurrection idea are the most important parts of Christianity. They believe those ideas are consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures in the OT. That's why they focus on the passage that Paul wrote that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with scriptures" and that after Jesus was crucified "he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
However, Paul (or whoever wrote that), was wrong on both counts, because it was not in accordance with scriptures.
Granted, it can seem like there is at least a little bit of justification in the book of Isaiah for the idea of Jesus "dying for our sins," but that too is at the very least questionable. And there is simply no justification whatsoever for the idea of being "resurrected and raised on the third day according the scriptures." The only thing in the OT even remotely about that is found in Hosea 6:1-2, which states: "After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him."
It may be true, however, that the ghost of Jesus did actually appear to his loved ones after he died. Many people believe that can actually happen, and many know it. Ghosts of the recently departed can and do appear to try to comfort those who grieve for them, even though most people who witness it just can't really believe it and usually don't talk about it.
Many of us also believe that if Jesus did appear as a ghost before his disciples and loved ones, and if it is true that all of them actually saw him and were filled with the Holy Spirit, it was because Jesus was very special and unique. He was, after all, a self-realized, fully enlightened human being, and such gifted human beings do have mystical capabilities and can maintain them if they are able to keep their ego aside, be perfectly selfless, and let the Holy Spirit be actuated in the world through them. But I’m not one of them, even though I have witnessed the actual God. The mission of the son of man is unique, as has been the case with most of those called son of man.
Anyway, it is time to understand that even though the Christian gospels and the letters of Paul or Saul of Tarsus contain much truth, they also contained gross errors. We should understand that Paul was a Roman citizen and a Hellenistic Jew, and he felt his mission was to convert gentiles and to define the Torah as if it were superseded by the Christ Jesus, even though he had never met Jesus in person, had never heard him speak, did not actually understand the real and full meaning of the message of Jesus, or the full meaning of the Torah.
Paul apparently dictated all his epistles (letters) through a secretary, who paraphrased what Paul said. These epistles were circulated within the Christian community, where they were read aloud in church along with other works. Paul's epistles were accepted early as scripture and later established as biblical Canon by the Roman church because they supported and further authorized the purported "Christian" doctrine of preeminence and superiority over all other religions, including Judaism.
Paul's influence on Christian thinking has probably been more significant than any other New Testament author, and Christianity as we know it is based as much on Paul’s letters as on any other earlier Christian writings. In fact, Paul set the tone for Christianity, including emphasis on celibacy and theory of divine grace and salvation, and Paul coined the term "The Gospel." He declared that faith in the Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior made the Torah unnecessary, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment. Paul had a lot of influence on later followers, including Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Karl Barth, and many others.
Another example of an inappropriate attribution is where the Christian gospels quote or allude to Psalm 22 as being fulfilled with the suffering and death of Jesus. But nothing in the original context indicates Psalm 22 is a predictive prophecy. It is King David’s poetic portrayal of the pain and anguish he himself experienced, and in Hebrew texts David’s words in Psalm 22:16 are "like a lion my hands and my feet," speaking of himself. But those words were misinterpreted and mistranslated in the Christian gospels to read "they have pierced my hands and my feet," and that wording was changed from the original to fit what happened on the day Jesus was crucified (being nailed to the cross and then stabbed in the abdomen).
It shows you how the Christian gospel writers (or later revisionists) went to great lengths to try to prove that Jesus fulfilled certain Jewish prophecies, even when he did not, and this is evident in other many other instances. The Old Testament book of Amos in 8:9-10 states that: "I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight" ... "to make it like the mourning for an only son." Even though that does not refer to Jesus, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Peter all mention that during the crucifixion of Jesus there was "darkness at noon" (and they of course claimed he was "the only begotten son of God").
They had read the book of Amos and asserted that the death of Jesus was in fulfillment of that prophecy. But, Amos 8:9-10 is probably a symbolic reference to the spiritual darkness caused by the eventual future consequences of the disobedience, error and iniquity of modern Israelites in the Mid-East between 1917 and 2006, and even today. But of course, it’s very possible that dark clouds may have blocked the sun when Jesus was crucified, but the sun certainly did not literally go down at noon. If something remotely like that had happened, at least one of the 40 historians and writers living there at that time would have recorded such an event. But they did not.
Now, the point of refuting myths is to serve the Spirit of truth, because it is now important that all Christians understand that Jesus was a mortal son of man, the son of Joseph (see the article on The Virgin Birth Story), and his death was just like other men. After he died his spirit-soul was resurrected as all spirit-souls are, leaving the mortal carnal body behind. Unfortunately, his carnal body was apparently taken and buried where it was never found, even though many claim that his burial shroud was found. (That, however, has been called into question by radio carbon dating and by other archeological research.)
Whatever the case, and whatever the circumstances were involving his mortal body, the spirit-soul of the prophet Jesus was indeed "risen" out of his mortal body. His soul and spirit rose to heaven, just as our soul and spirit can if and when we go into the Light of God (through the "Pearly Gate" that shimmers with a Light far brighter than the sun). Therefore, the story about a material bodily resurrection of Jesus is part of the whole overall myth that includes the "virgin birth" and "second coming" myths.
Of course, there is usually a strong element of truth in myths, and they usually serve well as a teaching tool. And in that respect, the story of the sacrifice of Jesus, being a son of man, is probably related to the story of Abraham and his son Isaac as depicted in Genesis 22.
According to that book, God tested Abraham’s faith and tempted him, telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. When Abraham took Isaac to gather wood for the fire, Isaac asked where the lamb was for the burnt offering, as was custom. Abraham told Isaac not to worry, that God would provide a lamb. But Abraham then tied his son up, and laid him on the altar upon the wood, and took his knife to slay his son quickly to spare him the agony of the fire. Just then "an angel of the Lord God" called out to him and stopped him, saying that because Abraham had "proven his fear of the Lord," his son was spared. In Isaac's stead, a ram who was caught in a thicket nearby was sacrificed. Then the angel of the Lord told Abraham that because he was willing to sacrifice his only son, God would bless him and multiply his seed as the stars of the heaven.
That is from the story of the religious patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, according to the Jewish Torah and Tanakh, the Christian gospels, and the Qur’an. But, even though it established the Abrahamic Covenant and is held sacrosanct by Jews, Christians and Muslims, it should be understood that the story was told to make a point – a very dramatic point -- but it was not necessarily a literally true story. Just as we should not tempt the Lord our God, God surely does not tempt us or test our faith. Granted, we are tested in many ways and we must overcome much in order to develop a healthy and proper sense of self-esteem (and therefore please God), but God would not in any way inform anyone that they should kill another human being. In fact, God commands us to not kill (even though even civilized societies deem killing justifiable if it is as a last resort and necessary to protect people who's lives are in immenent danger).
The problem with the idea that God would require anyone to kill is that it could be and is used to justify committing murder. That idea, like many others in the Bible, has led many deluded people to simply ignore and violate the commandments summed up in the Golden Rule of Hillel the Elder and Jesus of Nazareth, and to commit horrible offenses and atrocities in the name of religion and God.
Furthermore, some of the ideas in the Christian Testament have led many Christians to establish and enforce the man-made, theocratic, imperial doctrine of preeminence and superiority that led to all the "Christian" imperialism, genocide and colonialism during the last sixteen centuries, and even today causes much conflict and division. And it's finally time that the myths be recognized for what they are.
Again, Jesus willingly allowed himself to be arrested and he sacrificed and martyred himself to culminate his teachings around universal love, tolerance, forgiveness, and pacifism. That's it, and it's certainly enough. The truth does not lessen the importance of the prophet Jesus, or his teachings.
The crucifixion story is about Jesus setting the perfect example of how to deal with the beast-king who lives by the sword and rules by force so he can sit on the throne. Jesus told the people to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Forgive even your enemy, and live not by the sword but by the truth that will ultimately set us free.
We need to understand the difference between truly and divinely inspired teachings in scripture, as opposed to the doctrines of men who were (and are) more interested in patriarchal control and rulership. Granted, they may have been trying to ensure good behavior by promising eternal reward for it, and by threatening eternal damnation for bad behavior. But we must see that for what it is. Most of us reap what we sow in this world, mainly, just as Jesus said.
We also need to understand that even though we do not know exactly what words in the modern Bible were actually spoken by Jesus, we can recognize the truthful things because they are resonant and consistent with the universal truths that are at the central core of all religious and spiritual teachings and writings, and they are around and about the golden rule and the universal divine imperative: Treat all others as you would want to be treated if you were them. That includes those in prison, and it especially includes the elderly, the afflicted, the disabled, the disadvantaged, and the poor.
Some will deny this truth and call it a lie. But you should examine their motives, and then compare them to the motives of this son of man who serves God and all humanity. The real, literal evidence in scripture makes it quite clear. And thank God, the Spirit of truth has shown us how to see the real truth.