Did Paul appoint himself as apostle? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I am returning to this one again to continue looking at the question of Paul. Campbell considers it dubious since Paul is the only one privy to his vision and we have no one else outside of Luke referring to Paul as an apostle. However, if Paul really believed he had this encounter with Jesus, rightly or wrongly, then it’s hard to see how he is self-appointed. In his mind, he is, rightly or wrongly, following the orders of a higher authority.
However, Campbell goes on to list this as self-serving. How, he never explains. What benefits did Paul gain from the Jesus movement? If he was wrong, he had forfeited an incredible position and career in Judaism, taken a position that would be blasphemous to YHWH if Jesus did not rise from the dead, and took on a position that resulted in the many trials that he underwent as described in 2 Cor. 11. The benefits certainly do not weigh out the costs, unless, of course, Christianity is true.
He also tells us Jesus only chose as apostles those who had been with him from the beginning, heard his teachings, witnessed his miracles, and been with him through his trials. He stresses that it was very important to Jesus that His disciples meet this criteria since they would be passing along His teachings.
Never mind that the first apostles Jesus chose hadn’t had any of these experiences at all. Never mind also that we only see these criteria being used in Acts 1 and we never see a divine word choosing another apostle. I am not saying they were wrong to do so, but this is never something that is said to be spelled out by Jesus. The requirements for being an apostle are simply being sent by Jesus and if Paul’s encounter is true, then Paul is an apostle. Also, there were others called apostles, such as Junia and her husband in Romans 16.
Campbell also says that when the eleven chose a replacement for Jesus, they pointedly did not choose Paul. Geez. Why could that be? Could it be because Paul was not a part of the Jesus movement then and it would be ridiculous to choose an outsider who had not embraced the message? Of course, if Jesus wants to do this, He can do so. Campbell acts like this was a deliberate rejection on the part of the apostles when it was that Paul wasn’t in the running at the time. Somehow, this translates to later times as if to show that the apostles were always suspicious of Paul.
Much of the material from here on is the same kind of material that you can find in a lot of anti-Paul materials that assumes an intense warfare going on between Paul and the apostles, something never mentioned by them or their own students, the early church fathers. (If 2 Peter is authentic, Peter did accept Paul, but of course, Campbell never bothers to look at this question.)
We will continue next time.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)