Paul and his Coat

Paul and his Coat

Critiquing Paul’s trivialities as Inspired Word of God

 

Question Mark

In this paper we continue to examine Paul’s apostleship along with the authority of Bible to be the “Word of God”.  As usual our approach would be simple. We would only use a few biblical criterions to establish that the verses under consideration cannot be divinely reveled verses. As in my earlier papers, I would avoid using extra biblical resource. Nevertheless, we would only take the biblical criterion to check biblical authority.

Paul’s Coat

While reading many of Paul’s epistles, we stop at 2 Timothy 4:13 to give it a thought. This is what Paul (allegedly[1]) advices to his student Timothy,

“When you come, BRING MY COAT that I left in Troas with Carpus; bring the books too, and especially the ones made of parchment” (HOLY BIBLE, TEV)

BRING THE CLOAK that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come – and the books, especially the parchments.” (THE OPEN BIBLE, NKJV)

“When thou comest, BRING WITH THEE THE CLOAK which I left in Carpus’ hands at Troas; the books, too, and above all the rolls of parchment.”  (THE NEW TESTAMENT OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST)

John Wesley, a noted Christian commentator, comments in the following way:

“The cloak – Either the toga, which belonged to him as a Roman citizen, or an upper garment, which might be needful as winter came on. Which I left at Troas with Carpus – Who was probably his host there. Especially the parchments – The books written on parchment.”

On the face of it, the verse along with its commentary means pretty straight forward and simple. All it says is, Paul needed his coat back, may be, he was shivering in cold. But is it so simple? Does the verse only mean that, well may be NO. As we examine it under biblical microscope.

Biblical Criterion

We read the following in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

            “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (TEV)

Undisputedly, then, we have here mentioned four uses of all scriptures, namely:

  1. Teaching (the truth)
  2. Rebuking (error!)
  3. Correcting (faults)
  4. Instructions (for right living)

We can conclude from the dissertations of above cited verse that, if any verse should to qualify to be “God-breathed” or “reveled” then it must serve the aforementioned four purposes, at least. That is in other words the “God-breathed” or  “Inspired” verse should either teach, rebuke, correct, instruct or all.

As the noted Bible commentator Matthew Henry puts it in his exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16,

“For, if we do not believe their truth and goodness, they will do us no good. [2.] It is profitable to us for all the purposes of the Christian life, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (e-sword version)

Conversely,  we may say that if a verse is “true” and “good” i.e. divinely inspired then it should do us “good” – good at least in the four ways mentioned above.

Furthermore, it is common sense that “scriptures”, on their face value, are ponderous let alone if they are God inspired. As it stands, then, there should not be any levity in them.

Problems with the ‘divine’ verse

 2 Timothy 4:13 analyzed under biblical criterion of 2 Timothy 3:16 engenders a few intriguing questions.  They are as follows:

  1. Apparently the verse under consideration seems too personal to be part of God’s reveled word (?). It is too down to earth – earthly to be part of “God’s Word”. Any unbiased mind would testify this.
  2. However, if a Christian contends that it is indeed reveled verse, which of course would be a far -fetched and bit of stretch, then we might ask them, “Do you want to say that God took pain to inspire Paul to write a personal verse!”  I do not think that God is going to Inspire Paul to write a personal verse! At best the verse under consideration is a personal verse. If you do not testify it now then wait a little when I will prove to you biblically that it is indeed a “Personal Word”
  3. Now, for all those emotional Christians who might carp that the verse under consider consideration is not a “Personal Word” should divert their attention to Bible, for  the “Doctors of Divinity” had to append, a phrase to the start of the paragraph which contains our verse under consideration , they added(entitled the passage), “Personal Words” (HOLY BIBLE, pp.267, TEV). Nevertheless, this addition by the Scholars of the Bible further jeopardizes Christian stand, because:
  1. The Scholars of the Christian Bible seem to concede that the verse (at least) under scrutiny (along with the entire passage) is not and CANNOT  be, at best, reveled or inspired verse, lest, they would have never appended “Personal Words” to the start of the passage. Or I may ask, why do the Scholars of the Bible do so, why did they add “Personal Words”?
  2. If we comport with Scholars that those are “Personal Words” then we encounter yet another problem. If the verse(s) is “PERSONAL WORDS”, which indirectly implies that they are not reveled or inspired, then how in the world are these “PERSONAL WORDS” in the Bible – The so thumped “Word of God”! Who is playing potty here?
  1. As per the precepts set by Bible’s own standards; the verse (Inspired) should have at least four uses, namely, teaching, rebuking, correcting and finally instructing (read Biblical Criterion section of this paper, above). Now can any sincere student of Bible see 2 Timothy 4:13 serving even one of the four biblical criterions fulfilled. Here is the verse again, you might want to try to reconcile it with even one of the four uses of the verse, “When you come, BRING MY COAT that I left in Troas with Carpus; bring the books too, and especially the ones made of parchment” (HOLY BIBLE, TEV). Now be sincere, is it Teaching, Rebuking, Correcting or/and Instructing?. I say it is doing nothing. All that the ‘DIVINE AND INSPIRED’ verse did was it served Paul’s personal ends. He gained his Coat back from Troas. What good did it do to the multitudes reading it day in day out in Churches (yet they cannot see the “personal” words in “God’s Word). This further raises questions to the compilation of the New Testament from the so brandished 4000 early manuscripts.
  2. Subsequently, from argument number 4 we have yet another deduction to be deduced. Upon close observation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it will be discerned that “ALL” scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting or/and instructing. The usage of the article “ALL” creates a precinct or condition that “All scripture (is) inspired by God” will be “useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living”. In other words, if any, is not serving the above mentioned four causes then it cannot fall into the category of All – inspired – scripture. Because “All scripture inspired by God” will be “useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living”. However, we have seen above, in argument number 3 that   2 Timothy 4:13 serves nothing, let alone,  “so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (HOLY BIBLE: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, TEV)

And this is only the beginning

2 Timothy 4:13 is not just one typical verse of the kind. The Bible is littered with such verses. We would put forth three more verses to further question the inspirational quality of the verses in the “Word of God”.

We read in 1 Corinthians 7:25,

  1. Now, concerning what you wrote about unmarried people: I do not have a command from the Lord, but I give my opinion …” (Holy Bible, Today’s English Version)

OR 

Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment …” (The Open Bible, NKJV)

FURTHERMORE

  1. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.”(The Open Bible: 2 Corinthians 8:8, NKJV)
  2. In an attempt to vindicate Paul championing celibacy and single life, a noted Historian David K. Bernard writes as follows:

“Theologians appealed to Paul’s advocacy of the single life in I Corinthians 7. While Paul noted that a single person such as he could serve God with fewer distractions, he made CLEAR THAT THIS WAS HIS PERSONAL OPINION and NOT A COMMANDMENT FROM THE LORD.” (A History of Christian Doctrine, Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bernard, David K., 1956)

In all above instances it could be observed that verses (adduced above) were not revealed or inspired. They were all Paul’s personal words which he himself concurred. Albeit, they might fit the four bills of 2 Timothy 4:13 yet they were/are, at best, Paul’s personal words. So the question still lingers, how are they in the Bible then? (For a more detailed analysis on this topic investigating prophet hood of Paul please refer to “PAUL: CAN HE BE A TRUE PROPHET OF GOD”)

Escape route and conclusion

To reconcile and to answer the 5 queries we made Christians have a way out. We would not leave out our Christian brethren in the lurch. They can reconcile the above rigmarole by conceding that Bible is the Word of God except 2 Timothy 4:13, 1 Corinthians 7:25, 2 Corinthians 8:8. 

With all said, under the light of the above biblical verses and arguments one can only conclude everything [2](at least) in the Bible is not the literal “Word of God”. Many in it are mere words of mortals which for some unknown reasons are accepted to be inspired “Word of God”. While committing this mistake, people neglect what God – Almighty already informed:

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say: “This is from Allah to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write and for the gain they make thereby.” (The Holy Quran 2:79)

[Side remark: In this case Paul gained his Coat. J]

Note: All emphasis, wherever found, is ours. Quranic citations taken from Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Glorious Quran.

[1] It is my acumen to work on the authorship of different biblical books. This would, inshallah, further elicit the status of biblical authority of being “Word of God”. It would also test Bible’s preservation.

[2] I am only sympathetic for the pathetic condition of Christians here.

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Comments

  • somerville61  On August 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    And the very same arguments used in your textual criticism of one religion’s Holy Text might also be used in examining your Holy Text

    For the non-believer does think that all Holy Texts are the words of man, to believe otherwise is a matter of faith and not of rational thinking.

  • qmarkmark  On August 7, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    As a Muslim we believe that Qur’an can be subjected to criticism. In fact, Qur’an asks doubters to examine it for errors and inconsistencies. We invite cordially to a healthy criticism of Qur’an.

    Q.M.

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