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Jesus or Paul? Part 1

Jesus or Paul?
Making People’s Lives Right or Making People’s Beliefs Right?
Part 1

What difference does it make in the real world if Christians, non-Christians or anyone else follow the teachings of Jesus or Paul? This may be a confusing question for some, because for readers of English translations of Bibles, it appears that Jesus and Paul spend a lot of time teaching about the very same thing -- righteousness.” For both Jesus and Paul “righteousness” is the essential requirement for inheriting the Kingdom of God and along with that – an afterlife. However they actually had two completely different meanings for the word “righteousness,” but readers of English translations do not seem to know it!

Jesus taught in the Hebrew language to Hebrew speaking Jewish audiences. The Hebrew word Jesus spoke was צדקה -- tzedaqah. It was later translated into Greek and then into English as “righteousness.” Members of his Jewish audiences all belonged to the same culture – the Jewish culture Judea and Galilee in the early first century CE.

Paul wrote in Greek and the word he wrote that was translated “righteousness” was δικαιοσύνηdikaiosune. His audiences were scattered across the Roman Empire and the were from different nations and cultures – but they were all Greek speakers. However, even though they spoke Greek, their cultures could strongly influence their meanings.

What was the relationship between Jesus and Paul? They never met. Jesus had led his Kingdom of Heaven movement for about three years when the Romans crucified him in 27 CE. Paul’s movement began in the late 30s or early 40s CE. At least a decade separated them. Paul was clearly aware of the teachings of Jesus, but he claimed that he had received a new exclusive gospel that no one had ever seen before him. So, Jesus and his apostles never heard it.  Everything Paul taught about Jesus came from visions and dreams, including his exclusive gospel.

When it comes to their movements, without Jesus Paul’s movement would not have existed. Almost everything he taught was linked to “the Christ” -- and “Jesus was the Christ.” But nothing Jesus taught was linked to Paul or his gospel. Again, when we compare their cultures, Jesus’s culture was the Jewish culture of Galilee and Judah in the first half of the first century CE. Paul was born in Tarsus, which was the capital over the Roman province of Cilicia.  It was a city of great importance as a learning center of the ancient world, alongside Alexandria and Athens. Jews in Tarsus had also been able to receive Roman citizenships. Paul was a Roman citizen, Jesus wasn’t. Follow this blog or follow us on Facebook so you won’t miss Part 2 of this series.

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