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A Commentary on The Book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles)
by Robert Hampton Burt
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Many believers, whether of Christianity or some other religion, think that if they feel strongly about something it must be true, especially if the belief is pleasant and seems beneficial. That sort of commitment is emotional, not rational, and it often shuts out information that would disprove what is believed. One of the ways in which the churches of Jesus have responded to this problem is by denying the validity of unsupportive information. For long periods this has been taken to extremes, with church officials killing anyone suspected of disbelief, even murdering them en masse publicly to terrorize everyone else into fear and submission, and by developing ways of thinking that appear reasonable superficially but which do not stand up to careful scrutiny.
I am not an atheist. I have no doubt that a creative aspect dwells in each of us. But the Bible's description of its deity does not seem right to me, and clearly the Christian religion is harmful in many ways.
In writing this book I have tried to be objective and fair. This does not mean that I have given the benefit of the doubt to Christian belief whenever doubt has occurred. It only means I have tried to make sure my observations are correct, that my statements are true, and that my responses are proportional to what is represented in the book of Acts.
Some people will certainly say that I am "The Anti-Christ,” because one way Christian believers fight truth is by attacking anyone who says something about Jesus that they don't like.
Here is a good answer to that accusation.
The word 'messiah' is an ancient Hebrew word that means 'anointed.' The Greek word 'christ' means the same thing. During the time when Jesus lived, an anointment was an official ceremony in which an authorized person poured olive oil onto the person being anointed, as a public designation that his life was thereby being dedicated to some specific purpose.
It might seem that Jesus' baptism was his anointment. But John the Baptist was not an authorized official, he did not anoint with oil but baptized with water, and Jesus' baptism did not thereby dedicate his life to anything. The supernatural events claimed to have accompanied his baptism are also not consistent with an anointment.
In fact, the Bible does not contain any description of a ceremony in which Jesus was anointed. While the absence of such a description does not prove it did not occur, such absence is more consistent with the likelihood that it never happened, than that its omission was merely an oversight, because the idea that Jesus was 'the anointed one' is central to the story of his life, and it is reasonable to expect that if an anointment of Jesus actually took place, everyone would have talked about it. The apostles especially would have made as much of it as they could. Every substantial account of Jesus' life would have included a description of it, because nothing else would have been more convincing or persuasive.
The book of Acts informs us that the Messiah's purpose was to deliver Israel from Roman rule. Jesus did not accomplish this. For this reason alone, Jesus cannot have been a messiah of any sort.
Because 'Messiah' and 'Christ' both mean the same thing, he was also not a christ. Therefore, If you are going to use language correctly, no one can be an anti-Christ, because there has never been a christ for anyone to be against.
The force that freed the ancient Hebrews from Roman rule was time. To call Jesus a messiah because of this would simply be a distortion of language. In effect, Jews have come to rule in numerous nations, and with the help of Christian teachings, but not because of Jesus. This was initiated by Paul, as we shall see.
Why am I qualified to write this book?
I am an ordinary man, nobody special, with a college degree, and very little formal training in scholarship or researching. Most of what I have learned about how to do research I taught myself. I have long been concerned about the fraud of Christian belief and how it has negatively affected our people. If a man such as myself, who is not especially schooled in these matters, can recognize the truth and relevance of what I have written in this book, it needs to be asked why equally intelligent men who are more thoroughly schooled than I am have not spoken out. One reason is that they have been schooled. Formal training not only informs one of long-practiced methods but also includes indoctrination about what to say and how to say it. One of my strengths is that I am not repeating those errors but am simply using the English language as well as I can to tell you what I see without being afraid I will lose my job at a university or church or suffer disapproval from people generally or suffer otherwise. I was severely abused as a child and adolescent, psychologically and emotionally. I have turned these experiences to my benefit by being critical of myself and my work, and this has led to better skill in most things than people normally tend to develop. I have learned to think in ways that are very critical and to use words that do not hide what I'm trying to say. That other men do not do this is not because they are incapable. Often it is because they dare not do so. Anyone who tries to speak out about the evil of Christian belief learns right away that some Christians become avidly hostile whenever someone disagrees with them about Jesus and will do everything they can to ruin their lives or to destroy them. Injury or damage at the hands of avid Christianers is a very real and fearful possibility. But if a Jesus fanatic or a Jew were to harm me or kill me it would tend to prove the truth of what I'm saying, and I'm going to die soon anyway, so now is the time for me to be sending this. I have stated as honestly as I know how, and as directly as I can, what I see in the book of Acts and in Christian belief and what I think it means in real terms.
Why no footnotes?
This book can be read with a Bible of your choice, or just by itself.
Translations of the Bible differ, sometimes profoundly. For most of this work I have preferred to use the New Living Translation because it is in modern English and is easy to understand. Because it contains many inaccuracies, not all of which are insignificant, I have also referred to Young's Literal Translation, which often gives a clearer understanding and does not seek to smooth over all controversies. Other translations have also been useful, in making sure I understood the real meaning of passages.
Many writers, when writing a book like this, would organize their thoughts into a logical sequence, ordering ideas and implications according to importance or other criteria. I tend more to deal with points as they arise in the material I am addressing, although I do make many exceptions to this preference. This makes the work more accessible to the general reader, because it is less formal in its feeling, and I have found this approach to be more in harmony with the way I think and work.
I am not speaking to academics but to ordinary people who love truth and who can think for themselves, critically as adults.
Although the amount of information that could legitimately be referred to in footnotes is vast, footnotes are not used here, because I am only trying to state a few concerns clearly, without involving a lot of information which although interesting is not to the point. If there is something you want to know which I have not covered, the Internet makes sources available to anyone, many of which are of good quality, and they are not hard to use. I have exerted a great deal of energy and time making sure that nothing necessary to my purpose has been left out.
I have tried very hard to make this book perfect, but I am sure it is still not perfect. This is because I am human. The presence of an error or errors however does not invalidate or make false everything that I'm saying.
Was Jesus a real person?
I am writing from the point of view that Jesus was a real person who actually existed. I do this even though the gospels have long ago been shown to be unreliable and every non-Christian source that talks about Jesus is subject to legitimate doubt. Some of the gospels may not even have been written by the men whose names they bear, or even within a hundred years of Jesus' crucifixion. Claims in the Bible and in Christian preachings about Jesus' characteristics and powers are strikingly similar to the abilities claimed in writings about more ancient characters and deities, and many symbolic aspects of his story resemble those in much earlier tales. There is no incontrovertible physical or archeological evidence that proves he existed. Many researchers have interpreted these facts as proving that Jesus was not a real person and that he never existed and that the Bible's story of him was created later as a myth.
I am not arguing that Jesus existed, nor that he did not exist, but merely that the absence of incontrovertible evidence does not prove that he did not exist. And anyway, whether he existed makes little difference to the purpose of this book. I am writing about the apostles, the book of Acts, its author, and events it tells of, some elements of which seem to me not to be consistent with the nature of fiction. I myself am an experienced and published writer of fiction. I know what a fiction author must do to create a story. I know how the ideas of such authors become formed. I know something about the sort of mistakes an author is likely to make in his own fictional stories, and the sort of mistakes he is not likely to make, as well as the sort of details he is not likely to come up with on his own but which sometimes do happen in real life and which writers of nonfiction write about.
What matters about Jesus is the enormously popular belief that he did exist, and the ideas that have become associated with that belief. These are real, whether he was real or not, and they justify investigation and comment. If his story is fake, that would not necessarily make a substantial difference in the results and outcomes Christian belief has brought about, because Christians believe in him nonetheless. In fact, the determination with which they maintain their faith is one of the standards against which they measure their piety. They take pride in being able to ignore or beat down any idea or true fact that might tend to disprove their belief.
My fight is not against faith or enlightenment, but rather it is against ignorance, superstition, and abuse. When a person believes in something, that faith can be helpful in emotional or psychological ways, even if what is believed in is false, and this can be true even when they know it is false. When I was a child, a young male relative of mine liked to pretend that he was strong and powerful like the comic book character 'Mighty Mouse'. He knew that Mighty Mouse wasn't real, but his practice of modeling his actions on that fictional character helped him become brave and effective. Now he is an adult and no one in their right mind dares challenge him. But one of my points is going to be that the Christian religion fraudulently employs faith to purposefully misguide its believers, and that it encourages and rewards both ignorance and superstition, that a very great amount of abusive violence has been committed in its name, instigated by its leaders, and enabled by its most influential thinkers and writers. Most important of all is the fact that the character of Jesus, as presented in the Bible and by leaders of the various christian churches, is not a suitable model for adult humans to emulate.
We humans have been on this planet a long time and have risen to prominence. It is time we grew up and put behind us those religions which for their existence rely on ignorance, superstition, deceit, and careless or irresponsible thinking. By pointing out and clearly stating what should be obvious to every adult capable of mature judgment, I am working to help bring about the end of the Christian religion as a socially acceptable system of belief.
My comments are not the only ones possible and are by no means complete. They may not even be the most important or the most skillfully expressed. But we must begin, and because I realize this effort is important to the survival of the people of my kind, I do not treat harmful religions with admiration or respect. Instead I must speak clearly, unambiguously, with strong meaning, and without apology.
Who Wrote The Book of Acts?
Bible scholars generally agree that the book of Acts was written by the same person who wrote the book of Luke. I refer to him simply as 'Luke' or 'The author of Acts'.
There is more than a reasonable possibility that Acts was not written by Luke but by someone else, possibly much later, who wanted readers to think it was written by Luke. Of course the fact that it says nothing about the persecution waged against Christians by Nero, or the great fire in Rome, or the death of Paul, or the death of James, or the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, does not prove that it was not written by Luke, but this would also be consistent with an attempt to deceive, and we have evidence within the book of Acts which strongly confirms the willingness, the desire, and the intent to deceive, on the part of whoever did write Acts, even if it was Luke himself.
If one accepts the book of Acts as it presents itself, one may reasonably conclude that it could not have been written earlier than 60 AD. Some information has been interpreted as proving that it was not written until 150 AD, but this is not certain at the time I am writing this.
My work treats the topic as though Luke did write the book of Acts, mostly because authorship is not the main issue I am dealing with.
This work required scholarship, but my purpose is not about scholarship. What I am trying to do is communicate something that needs to be said.
My comments are my own thoughts which have derived from what is contained in the Bible and in the book of Acts, together with what I have learned or have come to understand from life itself, as well as from many other sources. Considerable research has been done, but only to make sure that I understand the meanings correctly. I go into diverse and sometimes seemingly unrelated matters which my thinking has brought up, and which I try to show is relevant, but my purpose has very little to do with scholarship or debates or uncertainties related to the story or the original texts. My main thrust is directed at the material whose purpose the book of Acts is, regardless of whether it may be genuine, fictional, forged, or otherwise defective or flawed, which of course it certainly is.
Clarification of Terms and Usage and General Facts
The tradition of placing punctuation marks within quotations, as in, “This quotation,” came about because, when movable lead type was used, if they were outside the quotation marks, some punctuation marks were so thin that in the process of printing they tended to get crushed. By placing them inside the quotation marks, they remained uncrushable and would print. From this point on, I follow the more recent practical development of placing quotation marks immediately following the material being quoted, as in, “This quotation”.
The Bible translation I am using makes no distinction between the terms 'Hebrew' and 'Jew'. I am following the same practice. I do not agree that either of these two terms denigrates anyone.
I capitalize words like 'Holy Spirit', 'God', and 'Messiah', not because I feel they are important or holy, but because I believe in and respect the English language and because common practice has caused such usage to become accepted as correct. Anyone who says that it proves such words are holy is desperately grasping at straws.
Capitalization of third person pronouns --He and His and Him-- when not occurring at the beginning of sentences, is not correct English usage, so much as it is a fetish engaged in by persons who want to elevate the status of the objects of their worship in every possible way. In this book that practice is not engaged in.
The following terms are meant to be read. They are not in alphabetical order.
Incontrovertible – impossible to dispute.
Allusion – an indirect reference to some piece of knowledge not actually mentioned.
Efficacy – ability to produce a desired effect.
wizards and gullible people - the populations of Jerusalem and other towns of Israel, during the time when Jesus lived, had a much higher proportion of uneducated persons than our own populations today, and also than other populations in some other regions of the earth of that same time. The Golden Age of Greece and the Helenistic influences spread across Persia and into the Indus Valley in what is today India, by Alexander's conquests, were far more intellectually advanced, and these took place before Jesus was born. These people were not as gullible, and wizards did not play as important a role in common society in Greek societies throughout the Mediterranean where they were settled, as they played in Israel at the time. In Jerusalem, the best thinkers were limited by social constructs to conduct their mental activities within the confines of the prevailing religion, and members of the public were made by convention to comply and obey, whereas the best Greek thinkers, though they tended to accept the fashionable Greek gods, set about to practice their thinking publicly and they spread their best ideas among the population generally, independant of religious ideology. These men were guided by the substance and nature of their ideas alone, while in Israel men were expected to conform their thinking to what elaborated upon or embelished or supported their already established religious ideas. Moreover, if an idea does not support Hebrew interests, such thinking is strongly discouraged. In contrast to this, the Greeks believed that humans benefit most from learning what is true and adapting to that, so that truth itself is of the utmost importance. Thus, Israel became a source of ideas primarily of religious focus, and in support of Israeli religion, while the men of Athens were able to apply human thought to all areas of life and the world without regard to how religious belief might be affected. One result was that most of the ordinary people of Jerusalem during Jesus' lifetime were pig-ignorant and believed that wizards and magicians and spiritualist deceivers were real and didn't have a clue when they were being lied to by snake oil salesmen, which the apostles certainly were.
God - The proper name of an imagined deity which early Hebrew story-tellers probably adopted from older cultures and elaborated on, trying to explain how everything began and why things have continued as they have.
god – Not a name but just a regular noun not requiring capitalization, as in, "The god of the Sumerians", or, "The god of the ancient Hebrews".
The Gotah – An accronym for "God of the ancient Hebrews", preceded by the word 'the’, as is done with the names 'the Bronx' and 'the Moon'.
In Western civilization, the name 'God' has come to be perceived by many as the name of a supposed deity which created everything that exists. Of course, if such an entity did not create itself, it would have had to have been created by something else and thus would not have created everything; and, if it did create itself, it would have had to do so out of nothing, which, to human understanding, is impossible; and it is within the realm of human understanding that we are functioning; therefore, it is only reasonable that in the opinions of intelligent humans such an entity cannot possibly exist. So the primitively conceived and extremely limited deity described in the Bible cannot be real in an objective sense. If it exists subjectively, that is to say, in your imagination, and if you believe that it's real, that is a delusion, and if you live your life in accordance with that belief, that is a form of psychosis, which is insanity.
By using the term 'The Gotah', it is made clearer that the deity described in the Bible is nothing more than a fictional entity erroneously imagined during ancient times. It is very important to understand exactly who this deity is. It specifically loves the Hebrews --the Jews-- more than it loves anyone else. The name 'God' has become less clear in this way, although it still is strongly charged with feelings and meanings which really have no place in the minds of sane people. The term 'The Gotah' helps us to eliminate the perception that the imagined entity to which it refers is holy or human in some sense. It is neither. It is only the Bible authors' description of an imagined deity which they mistakenly believed explained life and the world they lived in.
There are in the world and mind phenomena and functions which can and do at times make it seem there is a god. The necessity here is that these must not be attributed to the Hebrews, any more than one would attribute them to the Ancient Egyptians, or to the Ancient Sumerians, or to the Ancient Babylonians, etc.
At the time when Hebrew religious beliefs were first written down, many other religious belief systems had already developed, and the notion was common among them that deities were responsible for having created the earth and that the deities had done many things which these primitive populations could not understand or explain. It was in the general midst of this collection of relatively ignorant societies that the concept of the Hebrew deity gained dominance among Hebrews. For this reason, it is only to be expected that along with its acceptance a considerable amount of primitive misunderstanding and outright ignorance came with it.
We need to rid ourselves of such errors. Many of the mysteries that ancient societies attributed to deities we now understand the causes of. To still believe they are caused by gods is worse than childish, but is willful ignorance. We need to call things by their right names and understand the real causes of things. For those things which we still do not understand, instead of saying that a god causes them, we can honestly say that we simply don't know the causes. This frees us to be under our own control, rather than having to imagine that we must obey a power whose character and authority exist only in our imagination.
sociopathic – having the characteristics of a sociopath; acting in antisocial, often criminal ways, and lacking a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
threat – someone's statement that they will harm you.
warning – someone's statement that harm will come to you, unless you do something to avoid it.
Jew – For the sake of simplicity, I use the word 'Jew' as a blanket term in referring to any person of ethnic Hebrew origin, most specifically the descendants of Jacob, and also anyone who identifies themselves as being a Hebrew or a Jew. I use the word in referring to the Hebrews inhabiting Jerusalem when Jesus lived. I also use the term when talking about Hebrews and Judaic believers and Pharisees of modern times. Distinctions which can be made regarding the various meanings of the words Jew, Judaism, Hebrew, and Israeli are not suited to this work and would complicate issues unnecessarily and encourage irrelevant arguments. In ancient times, the Khazars had not yet become Jewish. The word Jew has come to have all of these meanings in non-Jewish usage, and I use it in this sense, not in the exclusively scholarly or historical sense.
narcissism – a personality disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.
bigot – someone whose opinion cannot be influenced or changed.
genocide – The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, ethnic, or genetic group.
misallocate – to set aside wrongly for a specific purpose.
Isaiah – The author of the first 39 chapters of the Book of Isaiah. He said that the Gotah would make Jerusalem the center of his worldwide rule through a royal savior, a messiah, who would destroy Israel's oppressor, which, at that time, was Babylon. If you read his work carefully you will discover that he was not prophesying about Jesus but was talking generally about the times in which he himself lived, more than 700 years before Jesus was born. The time of Isaiah was to the time of Jesus the same as the time of the Sixth Crusade is to our own time. No one in the 13th century AD was talking about us, and Isaiah was not talking about Jesus. He was referring to a specific king then alive who was his own contemporary. You can understand this just by carefully reading the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah had two sons, the younger of which was named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which means, "Spoil quickly, plunder speedily", which should tell you something about the sort of people he and his family were.
Laws of Probability – The branch of mathematics concerned with the analysis of random phenomena. It deals with ways of calculating the likelihoods that particular events will occur.
Levant – The lands bordering on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean sea, among which are numerous populations more closely related to the Jews than to the populations of non-Jewish white Europeans and their descendants.
ostensible – seeming to be true; professed; pretended.
dogma – An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one held to be true and not subject to question.
Mosaic – Having to do with Moses.
Pharisees – part of the ruling class of ancient Israel, consisting mostly of middle-class businessmen who believed in an afterlife, resurrection of the dead, oral tradition, and angels and spirits. They believed in the existence of a spirit world. They possessed considerable political power and were opposed to the Sadducees.
Paul was at one time a member of the Pharisees, and in Acts 26:5 he describes them as "The strictest sect of our religion". In normal usage, this would prove that Paul was a Jew. When he said this, he had ostensibly left the Hebrew religion to help the churches of Jesus, but this shows that in his own opinion he had not really left it but still thought of himself as a member of it. The Pharisees were not Christians; therefore, if someone tells you that Paul meant that the Pharisees were "The strictest sect of Christianity", they are not telling you the truth.
Sadducees – An ancient Hebrew sect consisting primarily of priests and aristocrats who interpreted the Bible literally, were opposed to the Pharisees, did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and rejected oral laws and traditions. They did not believe in angels or spirits. They flourished from the 1st century BCE to the 1st century AD and did not believe in an afterlife or the coming of a messiah. They possessed considerable political power.
shill – A person who publicly helps someone else promote an idea or performance without revealing that there is a relationship between themselves and the other person or persons. Deception is always involved in some degree.
spurious supposition – an untrue assumption, or an assumption lacking authenticity or validity.
tenet – an opinion, doctrine, or principle held as being true.
truth – What is truth? These are truths: Somewhere fish are biting; in Manhattan, many taxicabs are yellow; this phrase consists of six words. Truth is not a mysterious concept. It is just a word. Like other words, its meaning depends on how humans define it. Here is a pretty good definition of truth: The actual state of a matter. I think truth always agrees with what is genuinely real, is not an illusion or a delusion, and though it is not always overt and unambiguous, it is present and real nonetheless.
metaphor – a word or phrase used to compare two unlike objects, ideas, thoughts or feelings to communicate an idea more clearly. Example: Julius Caesar's personality had been forged of iron, and its strength showed in everything he did.
insidious – intended to entrap. An insidious action is one whose harmful purpose is achieved before the victim or victims realizes that it's harmful.
tentative – not fully worked out, inconclusive, uncertain.
nefarious – highly reprehensible in nature; extremely wicked; evil.
ubiquitous – everywhere at the same time.
inculcate – to impress something upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; indoctrinate. Inculcate derives from the Latin verb inculcare, meaning "to tread on."
misconstrue – to misunderstand the meaning of something; to take in a wrong sense; to distort
emulate – to strive to equal or excel, especially though imitation.
the Torah – Judaism's most important text. It contains the Five Books of Moses and is the source of the Ten Commandments.
About judging people's intentions based on the outcomes of their actions
Although the most substantial and consequential ideas on which the Christian religion is based are harmful to anyone who believes in them or practices them, not everything that Jesus taught is harmful or untrue. Some of his ideas were valid. These however tend to be easier to discern and are of relatively minor importance, and they function in ways that tend to create the impression that his teachings are credible overall.
One idea that Jesus taught is that we know a tree by the fruit it bears. In other words, it is not by advertising alone that we know the merits of a product, nor just by slogans that we know the depths of a candidate's heart, but by what we experience and observe after we have bought the product or elected the candidate and have experienced their nature in our lives. Fate and destiny are flowers grown from the seed that we call character. In the same sense, the ultimate effects that any man has in the material world are the full unfoldment of his actions, and these come primarily from intentions, whether deliberated upon or not. It is only when we know the ultimate effects of a man's actions that we can have mature knowledge of his purpose or intentions. Similarly, we don't really know how Jesus' teachings affect our lives until we have actually put them into practice, and very few people actually do so to any significant degree, even Christian believers, one might even say especially not Christian believers. While some of Jesus' teachings may at times cause pleasant feelings and acceptable outcomes, that still does not mean they are the best ideas. These points deserve a book in their own right, so I cannot go into all of them here. This teaching however, that we should judge a tree by the fruit it bears, is especially revealing when applied to Jesus himself and to his followers. The book of Acts reveals to us very clearly that Paul and Luke were both nefarious persons. This gives strength to the idea that perhaps Jesus and his disciples were engaged in one or more insidious purposes.
Have you ever had the feeling that there is more to you than just you? Well of course there is. The conscious entity which we call the 'self,' my 'self,' your 'self,' is a biological invention consisting of a special kind of consciousness, one of whose purposes is to focus our individual personal awareness in ways beneficial to ourselves and onto completing the tasks and fulfilling the goals that we need to complete and fulfill. Of course the awareness of the conscious self does not include everything. Your heart beats without you having to think about it, yet your brain causes it to beat. Your liver purifies your blood without you ever having to adjust it, and parts of your brain possess some knowledge of what it is doing, though you are typically not aware of it. Other aspects of your brain and mind are also working in ways that you are not aware of, to bring about effects and results which humanity needs, or which you or your group need. You might at times think that you control this, but there are some aspects over which you have no control. Your consciously aware mind appears to be capable of choosing your life's purpose, but your subconscious mind is capable of causing you to choose the purpose it wants you to choose, and it can cause you to carry it out whether you want to or not, and whether you are aware of it or not. Some people mistakenly think of this phenomenon as being a deity. It isn't. It is an aspect of themselves which they were once necessarily involved in and which they long ago moved on from the habit of being in touch with. There is a lot to this. So I'll just say the main point here is that it becomes clearer and clearer as time goes on, that Jesus' real purpose was not only not what Christian believers think that it was, it also wasn't what Jesus himself wanted people to think that it was. Once you begin to suspect that the Christian religion benefits the Jewish people more than it benefits Christian believers, you start discovering more and more ways in which it does just that. Preachers fool themselves and their congregations into believing that this is a good thing, because they think the New Testament indicates that the so-called "End Times" is when Jesus will return, and that his arrival will be preceded by the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East, and that it will be good if they assist the Jews in achieving this.
It is important to realize that not all of the results which Jesus' life and story have achieved were consciously intended by him alone but were largely devised by the additional involvement of the psychological phenomenon that I have described above, and that the fruits which his life and story have borne out have tended to fulfill his conscious objective of serving as the Messiah of the Jews, in ways that have caused non-Jewish populations to adopt ideologies harmful and destructive to themselves and each other. Normally, all members of a genetic group tend to share certain particular interests in common, and the minds of individuals in each group tend to cause the individuals themselves to act in ways that support the group's interests overall. Mentally healthy individual members of a group are almost always serving some interests of their own group without knowing they are doing so. Generally speaking, the way this process manifests itself is not encumbered with fashionable morals but makes use of any and all valid means of achieving its purposes. Every true moral concept derives from biological needs and considerations. What we humans typically think of as morals are often something quite different, usually no more than conventionality or dogma or even mere social propaganda. These dynamics could all have been working together to create Jesus' life and purpose, as well as to create the hallucinations of Saul of Tarsus, who was later called Paul, and the psychological mechanism by which his insane-appearing induction into the Christian movement took place.
When someone believes untrue ideas, problems can arise which are not only unnecessary but which interfere with the person’s effectiveness and goals, and with the needs and legitimate objectives of the group of which that individual is a member. Christian belief functions in this way, to the benefit of the Jews. In other words, the Jews, as a group, have surreptitious, and in some ways subconscious, biological interests in the adoption and spread of the Christian religion by and among non-Jews.
The story is told in Genesis, of Adam and Eve acquring knowledge of the difference between good and evil by eating the fruit of a tree of which such information it consisted. There is not and never was such a tree. It is a fictional explanation of how humans came to possess such knowledge. The story is popular and has poetic qualities but is profoundly flawed in numerous ways. For one thing, life and the world are such that good and evil are not absolutes but, for humans, are a function of subjective perception. Some depend on circumstance, others on social necessity, others on survival, and so on. Certainly the concepts of good and evil are themselves primitive, oversimplified, applicable not only to humans but are about the nature of practical knowledge possessed in some degree by every animate living thing. Adam and Eve acquired such knowledge not merely by committing actions, but by learning the results -consuming the fruits- of those actions. What's true is that we decide what is good and bad by experiencing the consequences of what we do. We can also learn by observing the consequences of actions that other people commit. A third way is by figuring out in advance what the consequences are likely to be, but even this ability comes from experience gained some place down the line.
Preachers speak of “Original Sin”, by which they usually mean Adam and Eve’s disobedience of the Gotah when they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of the difference between good and evil. It is generally understood that the “Sin” was the disobedience itself, not the acquisition of the knowledge. About this, a degree of confusion persists because Genesis does not specifically state that anything Adam or Eve did then was a sin. Instead, it simply tells the story.
But if Adam and Eve did sin, and if the idea of Original Sin is legitimate, it cannot have been sex, because the Gotah cannot have been unaware that he created them complete with sexual parts, and there would be no reason to do that if he expected them never to use them.
Nor can their sin have been disobedience, for, having not yet acquired knowledge of good and evil, they would not have known that it would be preferable to obey their creator, and thus the blame for their action would be due to an error on their creator’s part. Moreover, the Bible makes clear that the Gotah himself considered some things to be good and other things to be evil, and this means that he himself also possessed such knowledge. Indeed, this is what made him a god, he believed, and he did not want Adam and Eve to be gods. This is why he did not want them to acquire such knowledge. The serpent, which, by the way, in Genesis is not in any way associated with Satan or any sort of devil, explains this, and after they ate the fruit, the Gotah confirmed by implication the truth of what the serpent had said. He observed, “Now they are like us”. And the Bible does explicitly state that the Gotah was not only the god of vengeance and wrath but was also jealous.
Therefore the “Original Sin” was in fact simply the acquisition of the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, and the reason was that it made Adam and Eve identical to the Gotah. It made them gods. We see this over and over throughout the Bible, and it is consistent with Hebrew tradition, that Hebrews believe they are the children of the Gotah, that their god created them in his image. But in Christian belief Christians are subordinate to the Gotah and to Jesus. This belief informs the Christian subconscious of its expected status in the world.
Odd as it may seem, knowledge of the difference between good and evil is what Christianity promises to save Christian believers from, because, in actuality, the original sin was not disobedience but was simply the acquisition of such knowledge. On the human subconscious, such subtle distinctions are not lost.
When you hear someone say, “I am praying to find out what God wants me to do,” they are denying themselves the right to lead their own lives and are not interested in knowing whether what they are going to do is good or evil but only care about obeying what they believe are the plans of the Hebrew god. The same is true if they pray to Jesus. They only care that Jesus guide their action, not whether their action is good or evil. They imagine that they are letting Jesus decide for them what is good and what is evil. They do not concern themselves with that question. And they fool themselves into believing that Jesus can only do good. They have not read the Bible with their grown-up mind in the same way that they balance their checkbook or decide whether to keep on fishing or go home. Instead, they believe in Jesus' teachings the same as little children do, without thinking, and without using judgement, which little children cannot use but which mature adults can and should use. Their imagination tells them that Jesus is standing right beside them, or dwells in their heart, or visits them silently, and this relieves them from ethical worries. They believe they are incapable of doing evil because Jesus has saved them and is in charge of their lives.
The Bible says that this god, the Gotah, Jehovah, Yaweh, created light, which has got to mean that at least until then he was of the darkness, and it does not say that he took up residence in the light. What the Bible does say is that Jesus said, “I (Jesus) am the light”. Therefore the implication is that the Gotah is not the light, does not live in the light, but lives in the darkness and is the god of darkness. Nonetheless it says that Jesus is also the Gotah. So Jesus is Jesus, Jesus is the light, Jesus is also the Gotah (who is the god of darkness), and that Jesus is also something else, a spirit which no one can specifically describe. Christians who read the Bible think the meaning is not that. They think differently because they allow preachers to persuade them without using reason by manipulating their emotions, primarily by using beautifully constructed sentences and phrases whose underlying meanings are untrue, though touching and sometimes even inspiring. And the story of Jesus itself, whether true or not, so extremely tragic and filled with pathos, can be profoundly moving, to the point where thinking ceases and emotion easily dominates reason. People think the strength with which they feel their own emotions reveals the merit of their character, that their emotions are who they truly are. But their emotions came to them from their surroundings, from their parents, their environment, until they are grown, mostly, at which time they begin to be free to form their own emotions, if they apprehend this fact. They do this by thinking about how they want to respond to stimulae. They form preferences and then commit actions based on their preferences, and over time these become reduced to reflexes, accompanied by shorthand feelings which we call emotions. Often, indeed too typically, humans commit actions and make decisions on the basis of emotions alone, without first reposing in thought. Most people never cultivate their own ability to think rationally about abstractions such as religion, and this is what usually happens in those who adopt Christian belief as young children, and this is why Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me”, because he knew that if he could get little children to trust him, his ideas would have power over them for the rest of their lives.
If we judge people's actions only by how they describe them, or even by the actions’ immediate results, we tend not to recognize their long term, ultimate, and permanent outcomes, the fruit of the tree that they are. Then we wonder why the world is evil. But the world is not evil. Sometimes ultimate outcomes are. Some of these are accidental, but many are intentional.
To me it seems clear that the Christian religion contains many harmful aspects which are intentional. By writing this I am trying to point some of them out. I expect, but cannot prove, that evil is all that the earliest Christian ideas consisted of. Because the Christian religion now contains almost two thousand years worth of additional ideas, some of its ideas appear to be nothing but good. During that time, the basis on which that religion stands has nonetheless determined who has risen to power within it and the nature of the ideas it has accepted and promoted. To address all of them would take more than one lifetime. I am pointing out only a few that I see.
Life has existed on Earth for billions of years, during which time biological organisms have committed actions throughout a vast range of potentialities, and the associated outcomes have become well understood. Granted, not every element of knowledge can be inherited from one's parents or learned by a single individual, and people don't always learn the same things, or think about them in the same ways. Thus, from one individual to another, knowledge, opinions, and beliefs vary.
Can one man understand how to conquer Persia with an army of only fifty thousand men? I don't. But Alexander the Great did. One result of his action is that he won. One outcome has been that people in the region still sing songs about him, while not even thinking about attacking Greece. Another is that descendents of Alexander’s soldiers are still present in the area. Was this outcome intentional? Biological organisms do act in these ways, and such outcomes, while incidental and unplanned, are not purely accidental, in the sense that they are consistent with the behavioral patterns of our species. Said differently, the nature of our species is such that we as a group of biological organisms make use of such unplanned incidents. In fact we rely on them to a significant degree as beneficial and successful aspects of the overall propagation of our species. When thought of from the point of view of biological realities, the employment of such incidental means of reproduction became part of our behavior long ago. Thus these types of consequences were incorporated into our species' general reproductive scheme and in this sense the exploitation of their statistical occurrence is intended, though the individuals involved do not themselves necessarily plan or intend them specifically. This applies not only to reproduction, but also applies generally to all human action.
Julius Caesar's decisions and actions changed the course of human history. As with all such examples, when his life stopped, its effects did not. He brought about the beginning of many circumstances, the consequences of which are still with us. For instance, because the people born in Gaul on account of his soldiers' fathering many children there, his actions permanently altered the composition of Gaul's population, and now millions of his army's descendants have become nations together with the surviving descendants of the Celts. These and other actions of his also made it easier, after Rome fell, for the Christian popes to conquer and dominate Europe. So even though Julius Caesar has long been dead, his ideas, decisions, and actions are still determining whether some things will happen or not, because if he had not lived, the people dwelling now in those regions would not be the same people that they are today.
Is it possible that some other man, named Jesus, lived during ancient times in a relatively primitive society, and consciously or subconsciously apprehended enough of life's principles to become able to help his own people in similar ways, over a long period of time, and to influence international realities in such a way that they could then live more effectively in many regions of the earth and more easily propagate in more places?
One of the outcomes of Jesus' life and teachings, together with the actions of his believers and followers, was the invasion of the so-called Holy Land by waves of non-Jewish Christian believers from European countries centuries later in what we call The Crusades, one consequence of which was that at least hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Europeans died and large numbers of enemies of the Hebrew people were killed. These crusades would almost certainly not have happened if it had not been for the Christian religion. Another outcome has been that the populations of Europe, once saturated with belief in Jesus, adopted, incorrectly, and applied, in an extremely selective way, the specifically Christian idea that all offenses by certain individuals or groups should automatically be forgiven, and this has greatly facilitated the infiltration of European populations by Jews, and now also by others, though by insidious and ostensibly peaceful means, an invasion nonetheless. Christians are taught to apply the forgiveness principle when they are being victimized, which makes it much easier to exploit them. Speaking in terms of what is good for a group of people genetically and biologically, these outcomes would have been extremely desirable to the ancient Hebrew people as a genetic group, and they could also have been perceived as beneficial from the point of view of whoever created the myth of Jesus, if Jesus' existence is a myth. Even though he or they did not plan or specifically intend these particular events, these outcomes are nonetheless fruits of their actions.
If we judge the meaning of Jesus' life only by considering his apparent or ostensible results --by such things as the establishment of the Christian religion, the presumed salvation of millions of souls, the current widespread admiration of Old Testament stories-- we omit to consider other aspects whose effects are destructive to us. When we think carefully, we can very easily understand that his teachings are of such character and quality as appeal to people who cannot or do not think very well, that deception and coercion were initially employed, and are still employed, in gaining converts and keeping believers.
If we judge Jesus' intentions on the basis of outcomes, we have to conclude that his purpose was beneficial to his people the Hebrews, and harmful to everyone else.
We need to accept the reality that the outcomes of a man's thoughts and actions tend to be in some ways harmonious with what he wants to happen. Jesus' desire was that his people the Jews be saved from oppression. We need to look for ways in which Christian belief serves that purpose. When we examine the Bible carefully, with a mind not inculcated with a desire to please Jesus, we find many confirmations. Today this has profound implications against our chances for survival. Ultimately, it is a life-or-death matter for all non-Hebrew peoples. By understanding what is happening in the world right now, you can see that Christian belief is in some ways serving the short term interests of Christian believers and the long term interests of the Hebrew people. This is entirely consistent with Jesus' purpose and intentions. These are fruits of his actions, outcomes of ideas which he and his apostles taught.
About Jesus' success
Jesus was born at a time when the Hebrew people strongly desired delivery from Roman rule. The idea that some valiant man would miraculously deliver them was common. Jesus was not alone in aspiring to that purpose. Numerous other men also tried to fill the role.
Young men are strongly influenced by ideas current in the societies in which they live. The idea of being a hero appeals to many of them. When they understand what the goal is and what the hero is supposed to be like, some of them will try to fit into that role.
One reason Christian belief succeeded when belief in other messiah pretenders did not, is that Jesus was not primarily promoting himself. He was mainly promoting ideas. Other pretenders promoted themselves, and they preferred to employ violent means, which, when they failed or were killed, proved they were not messiahs. Instead, Jesus became a martyr, and like many great dramas, the story of his life became filled with tragedy and pathos, which is a quality that appeals strongly to the sympathy and compassion of persons whose beliefs are driven by emotion. His story is especially favored by persons who believe that their own emotions cannot be wrong or misused and who believe in whatever makes them feel good or happy or inspired. Christianity offers them what sounds like a good bargain. It promises eternal happiness at a low price: Just believe in Jesus and confess your sins and you'll go to heaven forever. Some other religions offer the same thing for even less, and without having to worship a human. But the Christian religion requires its believers to worship a man who was a member of an ethnic group different from their own, and it insists that no one can have access their own creator except through him. Believers’ thoughts about their own origins are thereby deflected away from their authentic source and are instead directed toward Jesus. Truth is, Jesus did not create them. Nor did the Gotah.
There are many reasons why people believe in Jesus and his teachings. No one person will ever be capable of adequately discussing all of their implications.
Principles at work in our perceptions
It is not the case that we always perceive things as they actually are. We often see things in ways that are consistent with our beliefs. This is a very powerful aspect of human cognitive function and should not be underestimated. Perception is subjective. It consists of aspects we were born with, ideas that we learn, and things that we come up with on our own. Because humans are capable of error, some of our perceptions are in error, though they do not seem to be. The need for religion is one of these. Many phenomena exist for which we have no explanation. Religious belief can arise when someone ascribes anthropomorphic causes to natural but not-understood phenomena and other people thoughtlessly believe them. A better pattern of behavior would be to truthfully admit that we don't understand the real causes. When we accept the fact that we do not understand everything, religion becomes unnecessary, and the way is then open to acquire real understanding. By giving false explanations, religion closes off that possibility, and this creates the additional problem of our later having to overcome the falsity of the religious ideas, and the sometimes attractive but confusing emotions associated with them, in order to find out the real causes of phenomena.
Another factor that interferes with our ability to understand correctly is that we tend to see only what we want to see. This is true of everyone, and it is a very strong tendency. Once we decide to pursue a particular goal, we tend to shut out everything that does not lead to achieving that goal. We tend to ignore everything else, even to the point of not being aware that anything else exists or is happening. We focus our concentration so effectively on what we choose to accomplish, that we cease to be aware of other things, sometimes even to the extent of overlooking what would completely defeat our goal if we were to be aware of it. This is an important characteristic among humans, because it makes possible the achievement of some goals we would not otherwise be able to achieve. It also enables actions which we might need to commit but which we would choose not to commit if we understood their ultimate outcomes better.
Our thoughts form our lives. Even if something is absurd-- if we believe in it, our lives will, to a greater or lesser degree, proceed as though it were true. When our beliefs are based on false understandings, our motives cannot be realistic, and the outcomes of our actions tend to be different from what we expect. This is why it is very important to learn what is true, rather than believe in a religion merely because it is pleasant, because only by basing one's motives on true understandings can the possibility of realistic goals be reliably and deliberately assessed.
Commentary on the fifth book of the New Testament: Acts of the Apostles
(The following comments address the chapters and verse numbers shown. Every chapter and verse number is included, but there are many verses that I have chosen not to comment on. Generally in such cases, I give a brief description to convey the story overall. Frankly, many Bible verses are not very interesting. Nonetheless it is best to read everything here, because then, as you go along, you will gain a stronger understanding of what is wrong with the Book of Acts.)
Verse 1-2 : Luke, the author of Acts, says that Jesus was taken up into heaven.
In these regions during these times, people believed that the blue of the daytime sky was a physical object, perhaps even water like the sea, beyond which was an ideal place. Here the Bible specifically states that Jesus was lifted up into the sky, taken through the blue of it, into what they believed was heaven, not in a metaphoric sense, but physically and literally. Therefore we know that these verses cannot be true.
Luke refers to the Holy Spirit as something Jesus used in communicating instructions to his apostles. The way he refers to it implies it is an aspect of Christian belief. But the idea of a holy spirit is not unique to the Christian religion, and the thing itself is neither holy nor a spirit, but is simply something that dwells within each of us as an aspect of ourselves. Christianity tries to monopolize it for its own purposes.
Many believers would say that Luke's statement about Jesus using the Holy Spirit proves Jesus' authority and power, but it is only a statement and does not prove anything. Luke was exploiting his readers' gullibility, trying to impress them with exaggerated claims.
3-5 : Jesus is said to have appeared to the apostles from time to time after he had been crucified, and that he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
6 : The apostles believed that Jesus' purpose was to free Israel, probably from Roman rule, and to restore the kingdom of Israel, not just any kind of Israeli state, but specifically the original kingdom of Israel, which was ruled by an Israelite king.
7-8 : The followers understood that their purpose was to spread belief in Jesus.
Luke knew that the story of Jesus and his teachings constituted a body of religious belief, was not merely a fascinating story, and specifically that its purpose was meant to be served by spreading such belief to large numbers of people. This fact means that he also knew that the 'End of days' and Jesus' return, which he wrote about in these verses, would not happen during his own lifetime nor during the lifetimes of the people to whom he was writing, because these followers would not have been able to achieve that purpose within that time, and he can only have known this. Therefore he must have known that he was using deceit, because he is presenting these ideas to his readers as implied outcomes even though he knew they could not be achieved in the limited time that he was implying. And by omitting to specify a time by which the goals would be fulfilled, he made possible the continuous spread of Christian belief for an indefinite period of time regardless of how the future might unfold. What is important about this is that Luke presents his ideas to the followers in a way which makes possible their misunderstanding that the end of days is going to occur during the era in which he is writing to them, perhaps even during their own lifetimes. He is not actively lying to them, but he is intentionally making it possible for them to interpret his meaning falsely. This is not an accident or coincidence, because Luke was a good writer, and the craft of writing requires deliberate effort in crafting linguistic constructions, selected for their meanings, of which a great many are possible and of which only one can be chosen, and such enabling could only have come about as a result of Luke's conscious decisions based on his preferences favoring it. We still see Christians knowingly committing this type of misinterpretation in our own time. I am treating Luke's quotation of Jesus' teaching as accurate, though it may not be.
9-11 : Peter says that Jesus was taken up out of sight into a cloud, and that two men in white robes appeared and said that when he returns he will return the same way. Luke and his readers did not know that clouds are just water vapor. We do. We also know what is inside clouds and above them. They did not. We know what is beyond the blue sky. They didn't. If Jesus had gone up into a cloud, we know that he would simply have been inside a large fog-like mass of partially condensed water vapor, and that if he had gone higher he would have experienced colder temperatures and a lack of oxygen. There is nothing up there for Jesus to have gone to. They didn't know this, but we do. They simply did not know better than to believe what is described in these verses. We do.
12-22 : A description is given of how ten of the Apostles gathered in a room, discussed how Judas had died, and why they needed to replace him.
23-26 : They believed that by casting lots the wishes of Jesus would be known.
We understand, or ought to understand, that casting lots (throwing dice) is a matter of mathematical probability, not a source of divine messages. The concept that a divine will is involved in actions of chance is a function of subjective perception. The perception is certainly possible, and it can be felt with strong conviction, but that does not make it real or true. When lots are honestly cast, how they land is strictly a matter of mathematical probability and nothing else. Luke and the people he was writing to did not know this.
1-15 : A meeting of believers is described, during which, "Suddenly, there was a loud sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability".
Actually, everyone is born with the ability to babble, and with a little use of the tongue and lips to make vowel and consonant sounds, it can seem like an unknown language. It is still just babbling, and anyone can do it.
The description of flame-like visual aspects is not impossible. Some types of naturally occurring electrical phenomena have been known to produce visible phenomena that resemble flames, which can be drawn toward people due to static effects. This might particularly be the case during violent electrical weather, which, judging from the description, may have been occurring. Dry storm winds, strongly sweeping across the land, sometimes have electrical effects.
Everyone present was from Galilee. Devout Jews from other regions were also in Jerusalem, and when they heard them babbling, they came running. These were at least 16 persons from other towns and regions, probably more, perhaps many more. They expressed their amazement by exclaiming out loud a long explanation of their feelings of surprise. Luke describes their exclamation as including a list of the 15 places they had come from. Fanciful storytelling rich in detail was characteristic of the time, and Luke's description of this verbal outburst is largely that sort of storytelling, stuffed with imaginative detail to impress the recipient of this letter, which the book of Acts supposedly was.
It also says that these people from other places were amazed to hear their own languages spoken by these Galileans. Several things are wrong with this.
No correlation is described that confirms that each of the Galileans spoke a specific and real foreign language previously unknown to them, and which each of these foreign observers understood as his own language.
Magicians were common, soothsayers were believed in, and a lot of superstitious ideas dominated people's thinking and were even commercially successful. Some members of the population surely knew how to babble and pretend they were speaking a foreign language even before Jesus was born. That 16 or more foreigners all said they understood the languages was certainly a lie added to make the story more impressive to people who were not there, and who would believe anything. The most gullible people were the ones these men were trying to convert, for one reason, they are the easiest people to separate from their money.
16-21 : Luke describes Peter as quoting a prophecy attributed to Joel, in which Peter says that Joel was talking about "the last days" and a "day of the Lord [meaning the day Jesus returns]".
The verses Peter was talking about are Joel 2:28-32, and in them Joel said nothing about "last days" but only about a "day of the Lord [meaning when the prosperity of Judah would be restored by the Gotah and those who had harmed the descendents of Jacob would be judged, and when those who call upon the Gotah would survive --not an end but a beginning]." This is an example of Peter either not knowing scripture very well, or of distorting its meaning to serve his purpose. In other words: He was either ignorant of scripture, or he was lying.
Luke was a relatively well-educated man. About Joel not much is known. He lived 500 to 900 years before Jesus. The verses quoted are not as well written in Joel as they are in Acts, and it is not always possible to be sure when he is speaking his god's exact words or simply describing in his own words what his god meant. In Joel verse 32, which Christians believe is about Jesus, Joel may have been quoting the Gotah as referring to himself (the Gotah) in the third person, or Joel may simply have been speaking his own opinion. The meaning of these verses, as they appear in Acts, are substantially different from the way they appear in Joel. In Joel, the verses Peter quoted are not about Jesus. In these places and during those times, most people were not able to read, books like ours did not exist, scrolls were precious and rare and were kept safely out of the hands of all but a few, and therefore even of those who could read, probably only a few had read Joel, so no one in the general population was likely to have been aware of these differences.
Peter's misrepresentation of Joel's prophecy is sufficiently vague to make possible its application to any era in history, and although Peter did not specifically say that it was about the time in which he was talking, his listeners would have thought that it was. This implication is unmistakable. Vague statements are often subject to being misunderstood, and uncritical listeners are easily deceived. One gets the impression that Peter would not hesitate to lash out strongly at his followers if they did not think what he wanted them to think. For all of these reasons, any implication he made would have been accepted without question. This is an early example of how deception and abuse are used in the Christian religion.
22-24 : Peter is quoted as saying that the betrayal of Jesus was planned by God.
This shows the sort of values these men had. When Peter lived, fathers had life or death power over their children. You and I believe that killing one's own child is a crime, but they believed every father had that right. These religious leaders simply agreed with current ideas and portrayed their deity as having the same rights and values as themselves.
And in an indirect sense, what this means is that the Gotah willed that his own son should be killed. Such an entity is not to be trusted, much less worshiped.
The fact that a god would authorize the killing of his own son cannot be excused by the son's subsequent resurrection, except in the minds of men whose values enable horrific abuse. We see this same idea in the book of Job, where its author justifies the loss of Job's family by saying the Gotah gave him a new family. Clearly, the author of Job did not care about the fate and suffering of Job's earlier family members, who suffered and died as a result of the Gotah's insane values. They were simply forgotten, not even resurrected. So it is not a question of whether the Gotah's actions are just or unjust, but is a matter of the Gotah not caring about the pain he causes to innocent human individuals. He has no empathy. He has no remorse. These are characteristics of a sociopath.
Peter specifically accuses the men of Israel of having killed Jesus by using others who were not bound by the Torah. These others were the Romans, whose laws were made by men, not by gods, nor by the Gotah. Let us remember that the Bible implies that the Gotah was not the only god, but merely the greatest.
25-31 : Peter quotes Psalm 16, which is attributed to King David, and he distorts it to support his preaching, saying the verses were not about King David but were about Jesus.
In fact, David was talking about himself in Psalm 16, and where he refers to a lord he was referring to the Gotah, not to Jesus. You can see this just by reading the psalm. In other poems David refers to himself in the first person the same as he does in the verses Peter quoted. Peter may have used this particular Psalm because it can more easily be misconstrued as supporting Christian belief than most other verses can. And because Luke either did not recognize that Peter was misconstruing the verses, or knew and participated by describing the misinterpretation as legitimate, Luke is also at fault.
The possibility exists that Luke may not have been familiar with older Hebrew writings and did not know that Peter was misinterpreting them. If so, this might indicate that Luke was not a Jew, because educated Jewish men generally may have tended to be more familiar with the original verses, or Luke may have been familiar with them and thought that misinterpreting them was justified in gaining converts.
A problem with faith is that it is characteristically tentative and often mistaken. Faith is belief that is not founded on logical proof derived from material evidence. It consists of suppositions and is different from certainty. Yet an idea held on faith can be sincerely believed with unassailable conviction and be accompanied by powerful emotions.
When a man learns something by his own experience, a stage is reached at which he understands the principles involved but cannot verbally explain his understanding. At this stage, if what he has learned is an action, he knows how to do it but cannot state his understanding in words. If it is abstract, he knows what it means but cannot communicate it to others. This is because the location in his brain where these ideas first form is in his mind's nonverbal areas. Later, he may be able to choose words to describe it. But this is possible only after time has passed and the elements of the knowledge have been thought about and the nature of their characteristics recognized. Sometimes this requires more than one occurrence of the phenomenon.
When first trying to understand something, one's mind tends to produce an explanation that seems most likely. But these explanations are not always correct. And when the phenomenon is unusual or new to the observer it can seem to be unknowable if the mind has insufficient experience on which to base any idea of a possible cause. Then, as various aspects become clear, the acquisition of this knowledge can make possible a better understanding. Even these are not always true. But they can be believed in, whether true or not.
If believed in, when additional evidence becomes available, it may turn out that a different explanation is more correct than the one first supposed, and if one's mind is not closed, a better understanding can still be reached. It is possible though, that such additional evidence will go unnoticed, or be incorrectly assessed, and not be accepted as true, because the individual formed his opinion too quickly and now the further evidence, though true, no longer fits the belief he adopted. Even though the idea he adopted is not knowledge, he believes it is true. This is faith.
Faith and knowledge cannot exist simultaneously in relation to a single idea. Faith is resorted to only when knowledge is not possessed. Knowledge destroys the possibility of faith, because knowledge is certain, whereas faith is uncertain, and certainty causes uncertainty to cease to exist. People exist who prefer to live a life of such uncertainty because it makes possible a perception of the world in mysterious terms, upon which they build imaginative explanations which make them feel the way they want to feel. But mystery is an emotional feeling possible only in the absence of full understanding. If a faith or belief is correct, acquisition of proof causes it to be referred to as knowledge. In the case of Christian belief however, proof of many of its beliefs has never been forthcoming, and because of this its tenets are still based on faith. They are not based on knowledge.
Christian believers think of faith as being the same as knowledge. In this they deceive themselves, and sometimes others too, by trying to make it seem that what they believe in is true, when what they are actually doing is dishonestly misusing language, employing stronger words to convince others, or to appear pious, or both. They say they know that Jesus is alive and walks beside them, when all they know is that the idea appeals to them. Faith is more important to Christian believers than truth is, and deceit is acceptable to them, because without lies, misinterpretations, and distortions, support for their belief is practically non-existent. Careful examination of Christian belief tends to reveal it is mentally unsound. For this reason, people who believe in it are mentally unsound themselves, or they tend to become mentally unsound. Unfortunately, many of these mentally unsound ideas have become accepted as normal, and anyone whose thinking is correct and realistic is said by Christians to be minions of the devil, crazy, unfaithful, the anti-Christ, and are shunned, shamed, excommunicated, or condemned. By rejecting or expelling all who disagree with them, Christian believers can go on thoughtlessly believing.
Faith can be a valid psychological device important in its own right. If you have faith in yourself and your ability to accomplish your goals, your goals are more likely to be achieved. This is why I am not against faith. But what the author of Acts is doing in these verses is diverting his readers' faith away from belief in themselves, where it originated and rightly belongs, and is trying to direct it onto Jesus and Jesus' name, where it did not originate and where it does not belong. This principle of Christian belief is extremely harmful, because when Christian believers adhere to what is taught to them, they become unable to have any faithful expectation for their own future except what they think Jesus would approve of. But Jesus was a servant of the Gotah, and the Gotah always favors the Hebrews. Therefore any purpose Jesus may have had can only be in the interest of the Hebrews. This has to mean that Christian believers serve those same interests, not their own.
32-37 : These verses contain statements supported only by the crowd's confidence in the speaker. If Peter was a professional confidence swindler, he would sound the way these verses describe him.
Did Peter have something to gain by swindling?
Luke describes the apostles as requiring that followers donate everything they owned. Many individuals donated all their possessions, to be divided equally among all the followers. Surely the apostles did not omit to give themselves at least an equal portion, doing this over and over again everywhere they preached: The more believers, the more donations. This same thing happens today. Preachers are still able to make very comfortable livings by offering false promises to congregations of easy believers. Stealing and swindling are not new. They are older than the human species. For someone who is willing to swindle, Christianity is a cash cow. For these men, getting people of many regions to believe in Jesus was like owning a franchise. Jesus is said to have told his disciples not to carry money when traveling and preaching. This does not mean that they had no money. It probably means they did have some. Otherwise why instruct them not to carry any.
It is not reasonable to suppose that Peter was unaware of the subjugating effect which Jesus' teachings have on people who choose to believe in them. His behavior was that of a dominating person. Therefore the possibility must have appealed to him. He wanted to dominate people and did so when he could. He was probably also aware of some of the other negative effects of Christian belief.
One result of Peter's work, and of Paul's, was that the most gullible people, the least-careful thinkers, were caused to become separated out from the Hebrew congregations as some became believers in Jesus and others refused to. This is a valid and productive type of work when considered in terms of politics, and in terms of biological evolution.
The Hebrew congregations were strengthened by the reduction in the number of their more gullible members, and because, today, these types are present among them at least in fewer numbers than before Peter and Paul began to preach, the successful survival and quiet flourishing of the Jews over the past two thousand years bears testament to the effectiveness of this division and separation brought about by their work. In effect, Peter and Paul were both functioning as agents of what Charles Darwin called 'Natural Selection'. They helped to eliminate from Hebrew congregations those men who were most gullible and least rational in their thinking. This significantly unified and greatly strengthened the congregations of Judaic belief, and it has profoundly lessened the potential for independent rational thinking among numerous non-Jewish populations, including the European ones, over which Christian belief later became dominant.
It is true that some civilizations of the West have excelled in rational, non-superstitious thinking in spite of dominance by churches of Christian belief, but without them we could have done much better. It was partly on account of Paul’s witheringly lunatic anti-sex rants in his correspondence to the Romans, along with the introduction of Hebrew Old Testament belief into Western minds by means of Christian belief, that hundreds of thousands of our most intelligent virile young men were misguided into living their entire lives in collectively celibate monastic groups during the medieval period, when, if it had not been for Christian belief, most, if not all of them might have left the regions in which they were born and spread outward, establishing colonies and thereby establishing our gene pool more strongly in more places. This is another of the ways in which Christian belief has effectively enhanced the spread of Hebrew genetic groups, by effectively limiting the spread of ours. This is not a minor matter but is a matter of survival-or-extinction for ourselves. And it was accomplished by the Hebrew genetic group without military invasions, even without direct violence, but simply by spreading Christian ideas. Ideology is a very effective weapon. It is hard to recognize as a weapon and is hard to defeat when recognized. I am fighting it. You need to also. Christian belief is just one of the ideological weapons which the Jews have brought to bear against us. Karl Marx was a Jew, and he spread among our people the idea of Communism, which is a further development of what Luke says Peter required of early Christian believers. No doubt these ideas originated at least as early as prehistoric stone age times, when people lived in small groups and shared many of their possessions. Archeologists have found that such ideas were abandoned by many people in very early times, when they began burying their dead with their own personal possessions. So these ideas of collectivism are essentially a reversion to cave-man ideology. The Jews do not apply them to themselves; instead they spread them among us, to poison our minds with systems of living long ago abandoned as unworkable in our more advanced civilizations. In this way the Jews work to bring us down. Their actions are in the character of war. Christian belief has been one of their most effective weapons against us.
38-40 : Peter tells his listeners they will receive the Holy Spirit if they repent of their sins, turn to the Gotah, and be baptized in the name of Jesus.
There is no legitimate reason to believe that what Peter refers to as the Holy Spirit is not in fact universally available to everyone regardless of whether they believe in Jesus or not. Christianity is not the only belief system that refers to such a spirit. It is, however, the only one that requires believers to worship a human being in order to receive it. (Some people worship the person Buddha, but Buddha taught that the highest attainment is available to all, not that anyone has to worship him.)
The Holy Spirit is an aspect of ourselves. It is something that we are. Worship of Jesus tends to hijack it away from us and monopolize it for its own purposes against us.
41 : Luke tells us that 3,000 people were baptized and added to the church on this day.
The number in attendance who chose not to be baptized is not given.
To stop the spread of Christian belief, a ruler would have had to use powerful force and a lot of determination, and because the followers were so many, a successful outcome might have been uncertain. A wise ruler would have been reluctant to begin such action. This is probably why some Jews took matters into their own hands and tried to kill the movement's leaders themselves. They knew that no ruler would try to stop Christianity from spreading. Meanwhile the apostles had enormous crowds from which to extract donations. Luke does tell us that they demanded money from people who joined. The example of Ananias is particularly disturbing, as we'll see. It is reasonable to expect that at least some, if not most, of this money ended up in the apostles' pockets.
42-47 : These verses describe one of the stages the movement went through, which today we would call collectivism or communism.
Surely, some people joined only because everyone's wealth was being shared equally among all the members. In my own experience I have seen that if you offer people something for free, the people who come to you tend to be those who have less, and that those who have enough stay away. This would result in the crowds of Christian believers consisting largely of the poorest and least wise people of Jerusalem. Luke does not describe the apostles contributing anything material that they themselves owned, which it seems he would if they had. We do know that the apostles often traveled by ship, and we have no reason to think their fares were free.
Selling is an old art, and salesmen often talk among themselves about which techniques work best. Every salesman knows that if you give away something for free, you will have a lot of takers. Many of these early Christians were probably eager to partake of other people's wealth. Many are, even today. The apostles used this crowd-pleasing idea effectively, as part of their marketing strategy. Paul's later methods make this fact even clearer.
But collectivism never works forever, and the apostles figured this out and abandoned it. They thought of something better. A usual assumption is that while all this money was being passed around, none of the apostles benefited from it, when actually they may have increased their own wealth by receiving these donations, and one reason they abandoned collectivism may have been that they could make even more money and gain more converts if they required members to routinely donate a specific fraction of their income, instead of demanding that they give up everything they own. Only one time can people donate everything they have, but they can contribute a percentage of their income as long as they live, and the result is that they end up giving more. If they donate ten percent of everything they make, in ten years they will give an amount equal to an entire year’s income, and they can keep doing that for as long as they are able to work.
Collectivism always degenerates by dividing itself into two groups: the masses, and an elite whose members benefit by subjugating the masses. In the case of Christianity the first dominator was Jesus himself, then the apostles, who required members to sell everything they owned and who decided how the money was divided.
We know, or should know, that even great integrity is not incorruptible, so that even the apostles were not immune to such temptation. In fact, when examined carefully, the apostles are found to have had very little integrity. One could even say that most of their power lay in their slippery morals.
1-11 : Peter cures a beggar who had been lame from birth.
Beggars who appear to be lame are not always lame. Usually, where begging is common, some families make their living by pretending to be unable to get money except by begging, and this was probably the case then more than now. Any adult who can suddenly stand up and walk was certainly not lame from birth, because they would not have developed the muscles necessary for walking. Also, the ability to walk cannot be acquired suddenly. It has to be learned.
12-15 : Peter speaks outside the temple, in or near Solomon's Colonnade.
Here the Bible unambiguously describes the Gotah as a Hebrew supremacist god, favoring the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob over all the other people on earth. In these verses Peter specifically states that the Gotah is the deity that is working through Jesus, and he asserts that Jesus was the servant of this god. This can only mean that everything Jesus said and did, all of the outcomes of his life and work, were and are consistent with this deity's favoritism toward the Hebrews over all other people. These apostles did not believe that the Hebrews had been rejected by their deity, but that ultimately he would give our planet to them. Therefore it has got to be true that the son of this god must work as a tool for Jewish supremacy, and that Jesus' teachings can only have been intended to contribute to their domination over all other people. If you think that would be good, you are a traitor to your own people.
If Jesus did not exist, the teachings and other ideas on which the subsequent churches of Jesus were founded are nonetheless essentially Hebrew in nature, were originally developed by Hebrew men from Hebrew ideas, or were ancient concepts processed into new stories by Hebrews and must therefore still serve the interests of the Hebrews.
Because of this, it is crucial to realize that the Gotah is not a real creative entity but is only a fictional literary character invented by the ancient Hebrew people, among whom were the Bible's authors. This does not mean there is no creative entity, but only that the Bible falls short in its understandings and explanations, and that its stories use, as a literary device, a deity whose character and values are not to be admired or believed in, certainly not worshiped.
If someone believes in the Gotah and worships him, that person's life is likely to turn out consistent with that god's wishes, not because the Gotah exists and is powerful, but because our thoughts contribute to our fate. The Hebrews believed in and worshiped the Gotah; therefore, their lives were in harmony with their god's supposed purpose. Jesus was one of them, so this was necessarily true of him also.
One might think that the god of today's Christians is so different from the god of the Hebrew Bible that it makes no difference whether they believe in him or not, and that the meaning of their lives will therefore end up being in their own best interest, because over the past two thousand years, the descriptions of that deity have become so altered by the non-Jewish character of Christian believers and their church leaders as to be completely non-Hebrew and therefore safe to believe in. Unfortunately that is not true. As long as Jesus and the ideas of Christian belief are held in high esteem, the believer's subconscious mind will influence the individual to fulfill them. Therefore, the belief that Jesus is one’s own personal savior is very harmful to any believer.
If everyone is guilty of an 'original sin' that consists of learning by experience the difference between good and evil, as described in the Bible's story of Adam and Eve, it would mean that you cannot live in a house, wear clothes, or eat cooked food, because all of those things were at one time choices of good over what was previously thought bad by comparison and are the result of such knowledge. Even wild deer understand that some plants are not good for them to eat, and their choice to avoid them is caused by their understanding of a difference between what's good and what's bad. Therefore if you believe that you and all of your ancestors should never have made any choices on the basis of such knowledge, the only moral choice available to you is to cease living, because everything anyone ever does is done because doing is better than not doing. In this sense, the idea that you need to be saved is a poison that tends to erode the reason you exist or do anything.
The idea that Jesus can save you --even if you were to need to be saved, which you do not-- is also false. Previously-living, but now-mysterious-and-unknowable beings dwelling in some other form in some other world cannot reasonably be expected to function in a material world, or probably even want to be here. Yet many aspects of our civilization have been based on such irrational ideas for many centuries.
It has to be pointed out that if the Christian religion had not been forcefully imposed onto our populations by people belonging to our own genetic and ethnic groups, belief in Jesus might have died out and been replaced by better ideas, and we could have developed healthier and more mature understandings long before now. But the apostles and early believers made themselves our mortal enemies by introducing and spreading Christian ideas in the first place.
In these verses Peter says that Pontius Pilate decided to release Jesus and that the Hebrews demanded that he order Jesus be killed.
Peter says that he and others witnessed Jesus' resurrection, but that would be a lie, or it is a misrepresentation by Luke, because no one was present when Jesus' supposed corpse came to life inside the tomb. Luke may have meant that Peter and others saw Jesus alive and walking three days after he had been presumed dead.
I know this next statement may seem out of place, but it needs to be considered. A possibility exists that Jesus was given a coma-inducing drug while on the cross, which would make it appear that he was dead. When Pontius Pilate was informed that Jesus was dead, he replied, "So soon?" Normally, it took several days for a man to die when crucified. Jesus died in just a few hours. Jesus could have arranged this with someone, and this would explain how he would have been able to predict that he would rise on the third day. Peter would not necessarily have known anything about this, and he or Luke could still have believed that Jesus had been dead and was divinely resurrected. Although this does not prove that Jesus was given a coma-inducing drug, it is not inconsistent with the possibility of his not having been dead while in the tomb. Such a potion was known of, and it could have been used in that way. The description of the spear piercing Jesus' side occurs in only one place place in the Bible, and there is reason to suspect it was added, perhaps centuries later, to put an end to doubt that he actually died. More on this later.
16-26 : Peter is quoted as giving a speech in which he lays out several basic principles of Christian belief.
He says the cripple was healed through faith in Jesus' name. He does not say whose faith it was that healed him, but presumably it was the cripple's. The reason this matters is because the main point of Peter's claim is not that the man was genuinely a cripple and then was healed, though this is implied as an expected assumption, but that the means by which it was achieved was by faith in Jesus' name. Even today, many people accept such statements at face value and do not inquire more deeply into the matter. So Peter communicates the idea to his listeners that faith itself is extremely powerful, which indeed it can be. But this incident is consistent with deceit, in that the question of whether the man was genuinely a cripple is left unanswered, in fact is not even asked. Rather, people are expected to believe without question that faith in Jesus' name is what healed him.
But if faith in Jesus' name is what healed the cripple, there is no reason why he would not have been healed prior to Peter physically lifting him up. It makes a lot more sense to believe the man was not crippled but was merely a beggar, that Peter knew this, that the cripple knew that Peter knew this, and that when Peter lifted him up, this particular man felt he had no practical choice but to go along with what was happening, perhaps because he knew that Peter had a way of proving that he was not crippled and would do so if the man did not cooperate. For all we know, someone else may have told Peter the man was not lame and may also have informed the man of this. If Peter knew such a fact about someone, he could have threatened to make the fact publicly known. That would make a lot of fakely crippled men stand up and walk. In any case, not enough information is given about the event to justify believing in it, certainly not when your immortal soul is in the balance.
It is possible that the man was not lame at all, but a shill, someone Peter used perhaps more than once, to fool onlookers into thinking he had performed a miracle.
Peter is preaching in the temple, and he says, "Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away." This comes from an Old Testament idea, in Deuteronomy, about the Hebrew practice of animal sacrifice, an ultimate instance of which Jesus was. In Christianity the idea is that repentance absolves a believer from having to experience the consequences of his own wrong actions. There is no real reason to believe that a person is punished after death for anything, except that some people say it happens, mostly persons who know that fear is a powerful motivator and have something to gain by it. More rational is the correct understanding that some types of actions simply bring about undesirable consequences. But it's hard to make a living selling that kind of idea. It's too simple, it's too clear, it's too honest. If instead you associate the idea of sin with the will of a vengeful and angry god who is eager to throw people into an eternal fire, then you can set up a whole shelf load of beliefs that people will pay you to tell them, so they can obey you and feel safe and approved of and good. No one can be released from the consequences of their actions. The promise that they can be is a salesman's ploy to get people to put their faith in Jesus instead of trying to understand life and develop confidence in themselves through experience and understanding. The false claim that punishment is the action of a god implies that the god himself is inadequate, not only because claims made about Jesus are so super glorious by comparison, but also due to the fact that such a deity would only be punishing his own creations for being the way that he made them. It should not be hard to understand how this idea leads many individuals into patterns of behavior that are substantially harmful to themselves and others. Christian belief contains many such erroneous concepts. This is one of the most important ones. If a man can be released from the consequences of his own actions merely by being sorry for something he has done and telling the Gotah about it, then there is no action which he is not free to commit, because his faith in Jesus' name will absolve him of being punished for anything. This entirely undoes any benefit acquired by gaining knowledge of the difference between good and evil, for then all actions are enabled because they are all neither good nor bad. In reality though, consequences pursuant to an action always occur and cannot be prevented, not by faith in Jesus' name, nor by other means. The Christian idea that they can be is false and misleading.
Many years after Jesus was crucified, here Peter, in verse 20, refers to him not as being God but merely as being his listeners' appointed Messiah whom the Gotah will send again. In effect then, Peter did not believe that Jesus was God.
Additionally, Jesus' coming again was fulfilled three days after the crucifixion when he came to life after supposedly being dead. This was probably the return which he himself had promised. It explains why he stated that his return would take place during some of his listeners’ lifetimes and is consistent with the fact that he hasn’t returned since. It also tends to confirm that he may have been able to gain influence over persons in charge of his crucifixion, by one means or another, some aspects of which must therefore have been faked. When he said earlier that he would return, that indicates that he knew beforehand that he would not be killed by it.
1-9 : The Sadducees believed that what Peter and John were preaching was a corruption of Hebrew religious belief. So they arrested them and put them in jail. Next day a council of all the rulers, elders, and teachers of religious law met and demanded to know the authority by which Peter and John were preaching Jesus' claim that believers will be resurrected after death.
Here Luke says the number of believers was about 5,000, not counting women and children. These were not necessarily members of the church but merely the total number of adult males who believed what Peter had been preaching.
10-22 : He tells the council that the crippled man was healed because Jesus' name is powerful. He is quoted not as saying that the healing was by faith, but simply by the power of the name itself.
The author of Acts does not say how the supposedly once crippled man made his living after he was healed. This is an important detail necessary to complete the story. It was probably left out because the story is in some way untrue and Peter or Luke knew this and told only whatever details would help to manipulate people into believing in Jesus. Neither Peter nor Luke had any interest in the crippled man's subsequent well-being or future chances of survival. This also suggests the man was a shill. If Jesus' name really was powerful, and if the man really was a cripple, Jesus’ name would have provided him a way of making a decent living, and this would have been a terrific reason to believe in Jesus which no one could have ignored or denied the greatness of. But that did not happen. This fact alone warrants suspicion that not all the details of the story are true. It would also show that Peter did not care about the man but only used him for his own purposes.
The council let Peter and John go because they didn't know how to punish them without causing a riot, evidence that the believers were passionate and demonstrative about their belief, perhaps prone to violence if not placated, and a considerable force. The council members believed the crippled man had been healed and that it was a miracle. But that does not prove that he was healed, nor that it was a miracle. The council members were probably unfamiliar with the deceitful practices Peter and John were most likely using, and no better informed about such matters than most of their contemporaries. The council commanded the apostles never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John refused to obey, saying their actions were ordained by the Gotah. This is an explicit statement to the effect that the desires of the Hebrew deity were behind what they were doing, and those same intentions are still at work in the world today in the form of Christian belief itself. They are in the interests of the Jews, not consistent with the interests of anyone else.
23-27 : Now confident that the Sadducees would not stop them, Peter and John took advantage of the situation. They and their followers prayed loudly, and they publicly misconstrued Psalm 2 as being about Jesus and confirming the Gotah's invincibility and reliability.
In fact however, Psalm 2 was composed much earlier, possibly by King David, and its use in this way is at best a seriously dishonest action, or worse, a delusional misinterpretation due to psychosis, one sign of which is a distorted sense of objective reality. It is also an example of Christians' misrepresenting truth to support their faith.
Of particular interest is the seventh verse of Psalm 2, in which the poet quotes the Gotah as referring to the poet as his son and saying that on this day he, the Gotah, had become his father, making it clear that the Psalm was not about Jesus, because in Jesus' case the Gotah had supposedly been Jesus' father since before the world was created. Not only that, but the Gotah offers the author of Psalm 2 the same kinds of things that Satan offered Jesus when Jesus was in the wilderness, which implies that Satan and the God of the Hebrews are one and the same entity. How could they not be, if they do the same things? The Hebrew author of Psalm 2, and most of the other Hebrews too, obviously believed that such gifts were highly valuable and good; whereas, in the New Testament, such gifts are described as evil, and Jesus rejected them. This is consistent with the idea that the Old Testament is Hebrew and that the New Testament is in some ways its opposite. The Hebrew men believed that the tenets of their own religion were beneficial to anyone who believed in them. The apostles, however, were preaching ideas directly in contradiction to those beliefs. It must have seemed to them that anyone who accepted the new ideas would do so unwisely. This is consistent with the fact that in some ways Christian belief works against anyone who believes in Christian ideas.
Jewish belief has been successful over thousands of years in the sense that it consists of guiding principles by which its adherents have successfully been able to live their lives, and for this reason it may have seemed reasonable to them to expect that principles opposite to their belief would be likely to be unsuccessful. In addition, there is reason to believe that all of Jesus' teachings had been considered previously, among various groups of people, and by the collective subconscious, and had been deemed not beneficial as guidelines for people to live by. In other words, the ideas that Jesus taught were probably subconsciously known to be defective or inadequate and had already been rejected by various careful thinkers, which is always a relatively small number of people compared with a population as a whole. This knowledge would have been available to Jesus' subconscious mind and could have been one of the driving forces behind his thoughts and actions. This would explain why he preached his ideas to the Hebrews first, knowing that many of them would reject them, and why Peter and Paul effectively divided the Hebrew congregation into two separate and conflicting parts, one consisting of those who believed in Jesus, and the other of Jews exclusively committed to Hebrew belief, a separation on the basis of ideology, which strengthened the Hebrew congregations and the Hebrew people generally. If Jesus knew subconsciously that his teachings would weaken any population that tried to live by them, it would make sense for him and his followers to spread those ideas among the Hebrews and also among the enemies of the Hebrews, because the ideas could then be expected to help eliminate careless thinkers from Hebrew congregations and render non-Hebrew followers of Jesus less effective against Hebrews as a group. It might seem that if a body of ideas had been assessed and found undesirable, that they would be unsuccessful in all cases. But the fact that Christian ideas have become widespread and been practicable in some ways is due to the nature of our universe, which is a place of infinite variability, one consequence of which is that there are many different kinds of religious belief, any of which can be applied successfully in some of life's circumstances. The general circumstance of the regions in which the Hebrews lived was significantly harsh and difficult. Also, the number of astute Hebrew thinkers has always been much smaller than the total number of astute thinkers in the human population overall, and these men would not have been equal to them in their ability to address all of the potential concerns contained in Christian ideas. Moreover, they were narcissistically biased, which means that the scope of ideas they were willing to consider was limited. This does not mean, however, that Jesus did not knowingly intend to incapacitate or destroy non-Jews. It only means that he was an ordinary man of his times not capable of infinite wisdom and was bound to make mistakes. It also implies that the Gotah was not competent as a deity, because he set an ordinary man on a mission suitable only for a god. Some would say that Jesus was certainly a god. But that is dogma, not adult rational thinking. And for any man to attempt to deliver his own people from forceful oppressions brought onto them by other people, without injuring or defeating the interests of those other people, is not generally considered to be a realistic or practical sort of goal.
The ancient Hebrews did not have as good an understanding of our world as we do, not that our understanding is complete or totally adequate by any means, or that mine is either. Or that yours is. But the laws of Moses had been based on an even earlier body of ideas having to do in large part with gaining success in life by appealing to the mercy and beneficence of an imagined deity whose attributes some of their men had described as being exactly like their own and who gives favors in response to animals being killed as tokens of obeisance to him, the same way that some Pacific ocean islanders once believed that volcanoes erupt because gods are angry and that a good way to make them stop is by throwing virgins into the hot lava. Of course that resulted in the biologically best young women (the ones most capable of thinking in self-preserving ways) not wanting to be virgins, and this was one of the ultimate consequences which at least some of the priests were probably aware of and desired. So here we have an example of an ostensible purpose (throwing virgins into an erupting volcano to make it stop), and a real purpose (making sexual activity more readily available by making young women not want to be virgins, and by selecting out and killing those who do want to be virgins). This helps to better clarify the ostensible purpose of Christian belief (the saving of souls though confession of sins and faith in Jesus), and its real purpose (interference with the success of non-Hebrew populations by disseminating harmful ideas among them).
28 : The author of Acts encourages his reader to believe that the actions of Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate, the non-Jews, and the people of Israel, acting together against Jesus, were all determined in advance by the Gotah. The men who nailed Jesus to the cross committed the deed. But in this case, if the Gotah determined it, and if men could only do what the Gotah had determined, even these men cannot have been guilty. In fact, the Gotah was guilty. The Gotah killed Jesus.
29 : Peter asks the Gotah for boldness.
Evidently such boldness was not already determined by the Gotah.
Unless the Gotah chose instead to determine that Peter would ask for boldness.
But if he did, did he not then also determine that I would write this? And if he did not, and if the devil did, did not the Gotah create the devil, and my writing be therefore enabled by the Gotah? At first, such arguments appear to be endless and to go nowhere. Actually, this argument leads to me not knowing the difference between good and evil, or to me knowing the difference between good and evil, depending on which arguments you use. It's a monkey chasing its own tail. One set of arguments is better than the other, but when the monkey catches his tail, he finds it is not worth catching, because when people think about the story of Adam and Eve, they can figure out that although it may be poetic and seem beautiful, it is an inadequate way of trying to explain human values and behaviors.
30 : Peter refers to Jesus not as being God, but as being God's holy servant. This can only mean that in Peter's opinion, Jesus was not given all power and authority in heaven and on earth, because if he had, he would have replaced the Gotah, not been his servant. Or perhaps the author of Acts is misquoting Peter.
31 : Boldness was acquired, the meeting place shook, and everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit.
32-37 : Those who owned possessions sold them and gave the money to the apostles to share with those who had nothing.
A man named Barnabas is given as an example. He sold a field he owned and gave the money to the apostles. He gave it to the apostles. HE GAVE ALL OF HIS MONEY TO THE APOSTLES!!! Maybe the apostles divided all of it equally among the believers, and kept none of it for themselves. Or maybe they did keep some of it. These men were Jews remember.
In this world there really are people who are not fully capable of providing for their own needs. But if capable people give away what they have, then they become needy also, and that is not an improvement. It might seem that both would then have equal shares, but that lasts only for a time, and soon the original situation occurs again. Charitable donations tend to be only a fraction of what people own, and for good reason, because needy people do not become capable merely by being given things, most of them come to expect charity, and then their capability becomes weakened or is even destroyed. This is one of the harms that Christianity causes its believers. Some of them believe that Jesus will provide for their needs, and this contributes to their feeling that they are not ultimately responsible for taking care of themselves.
1-11 : The story is told of Ananias, who sold his property and with his wife's consent kept some of the money for themselves. He gave the rest of it to the apostles and told them that was all of it. Peter criticized him, saying that Satan had filled his heart and that he had lied to the Holy Spirit and to God. In response to this, Ananias immediately fell to the floor and died. Then his wife came, and she said the same thing that her husband had said, and Peter criticized her too, and she fell dead also.
Death by severe criticism has been known to occur in humans. Among some types of animals it is also known to occur. When it does, emotion is involved. Psychological abuse sometimes causes death. It is likely that Peter's manner was much more powerful and condemning than Luke describes it. We can be fairly certain that his criticism did not consist of soothing words politely spoken. His disapproval was so strong that it killed them. And he did it twice in a row and showed no remorse.
Anyone knowledgeable of abusive behaviors will recognize that Peter was an abuser. He was accustomed to speaking to large groups of people using only his unaided voice, and he was even able to dominate the other apostles. Such people are typically capable of expressing their feelings very powerfully. Their criticisms are often felt as abuse. Also, Peter was a bigot. He was an authoritarian, powerfully in control of others, and he was also powerful toward outsiders, ignoring the commands of the Sadducees and the laws of his own people the Hebrews and doing whatever he wanted to do. These are characteristics of a sociopath.
These verses then, instead of showing a miracle in the death of Ananias and his wife, actually are evidence of an extremely abusive behavior engaged in by Peter. That the author of Acts did not consider this possibility but instead told the story in a way that would tend to create fear among Christian believers, reveals a lack of objectivity in Luke himself, an absence of compassion for those so abused, and ignorance of what abuse is. Granted, such actions were not thought of as abuse in those times. But we do know that they are abuse, and this requires that we not admire the actions themselves, nor the people who committed them.
To anyone who cares about truth and wants to avoid superstition, the story of Ananias is an example of why the book of Acts should not to be relied on as a basis for religious belief, nor as a source for any motivations to worship Jesus or to admire the apostles' words or actions.
That Christian believers think the story of Ananias is a miracle shows how deeply they have sunk into overlooking their own ignorance and trusting their preachers to tell them what to believe in, instead of thinking for themselves.
The story also shows that the followers' belief was not primarily rational or objective in nature, but emotional.
12-16 : Luke tells us the apostles healed many people, and he explicitly states that all who came were healed, meaning that none of the apostle's healing attempts were unsuccessful.
Conveniently for Christian believers, his claim cannot be disproven, not because he was a good man who should be trusted, but because of the nature of evidence and the requirements of rational proof: His is the only description of the event, and while it is testimony, it is not proof. We already have seen that Luke was a deceiver, and that alone is reason to suspect that he may be lying in this case too.
The famous Lourdes miracle in France, where in 1858 a peasant girl of fourteen claimed the virgin Mary appeared to her, and the town then becoming a destination for Christian pilgrims, totaling in our own time around six million visitors each year, of all the millions who have gone there to be healed, only sixty healings have been established as perhaps authentic, or at least with no other cause known. And yet you never hear about the many millions of visitors who have gone there and who were not healed. No one knows their number, for they are not counted and are never mentioned. Faked healings are not talked about either. Luke's not telling us about any of the unsuccessful healings attempted by the apostles is similar to this. Misrepresentation is a practice that is characteristic of Jesus advocates.
When the book of Acts was written, information was not available on which to base an accurate understanding of how the human body functions or why it malfunctions. No one even suspected that germs exist. These populations consisted largely of persons who believed that diseases were inflicted on people because a god was mad at them.
We know from our own time that some Christian believers who have no conscience and who want their preacher and other people to think they are loyal and have faith pretend to have symptoms so they can pretend to be healed. This does not mean that no single case of spontaneous healing has ever occurred, but that deception typically dominates when such claims are made. Preachers who engage in such healings know that they are not healing anyone but use the deception to persuade gullible people to believe in Jesus, because that is how they make their living, and they justify it by saying that belief in Jesus justifies all methods, once again a denial of the need for rationally discerning the difference between good and evil. The apostles were doing the same thing. Then as now, for preachers of Christianity, Jesus was a cash cow. Preachers who condemn efforts like mine do so because their ability to make a living is hereby threatened, because if they can't extract money from gullible people, many of them have no other way of getting it. Avid Christianers attack rational persons for any of numerous reasons, sometimes because they are comfortable in their belief and imagine they will lose the benefits they imagine, if they cease to believe. They are right about this in some degree. But knowledge of truth is capable of bestowing benefits greater than any imaginary deity of ancient times has ever been able to provide to anyone.
17-42 : The high priest and his officials arrested the apostles and put them in jail, from which an angel later released them. The angel told them to preach to the people. So Luke tells us that at daybreak they entered the temple and began teaching. When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin (a full assembly of the elders of Israel), and they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail. The report came back that the jail was securely locked and guards were standing outside but no one was inside. Then someone came and told them that the apostles were in the temple preaching to the people.
The captain and his temple guards arrested the apostles and brought them before the high council, where Peter again claimed to be obeying the Gotah and accused the council of killing Jesus.
The council members became furious and some of them wanted to kill the apostles. Luke tells us they were envious. But a better understanding is probably that their power was being challenged by the fact that Peter had ignored their commands, and men often defend their power by first becoming angry. Peter was showing them, in effect, that he was more powerful than they were, which, in fact, at this moment, he was.
One member of the high council recognized the dangerous potentials inherent in the situation and spoke to the council about two men, both of whom some time previously had acted self-important but whose followers dispersed when they died. He said that if the council would leave Peter and his followers alone the same thing might happen to the Christians. He added that if the Christians really were sent by God, the council would be fighting God. This persuaded them, and instead of killing the apostles, they ordered them flogged. They commanded them never to speak in the name of Jesus again, and they let them go.
The apostles turned this into a victory by rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer in the name of Jesus, and every day, in the temple and from house to house, they continued to teach that Jesus was the Messiah.
In other words, the apostles completely ignored established law and human authority and applied the well-known military principle that audacity tends to succeed, boldness is itself a form of power, fortune favors the brave. This fact alone, that they were brave, bold, audacious, adequately accounts in large measure for their success. As has been the case in many instances throughout human history, gatherings of supposedly powerful men who make threatening decrees often have no other means of making their wishes come true. There is no need to claim that a god supported the apostles' actions, because boldness, just by itself, often makes a cause successful when otherwise it would fail. Certainly the apostles understood this, because it is a fact older than humanity, and every able man --usually between ages of 16 and 60-- was required to join the fight whenever military battles occurred, and one of the most important military principles has always been that bravery adds power to any effort.
Therefore, in these verses it is established by implication that Christians are not subject to secular law, but that Christian leaders are to be obeyed instead. These principles of civil disobedience and religious dominance set the tone for the future behavior of all subsequent Christian believers, and it resulted in the requirement that in order for secular leaders to gain power over Christians those leaders first had to submit to the power of the church. Centuries passed as this took effect, and many additional centuries passed before secular leaders of Christian nations overcame this problem. We are still working to overcome it. I am working to defeat it. The acquisition of power over secular populations by church men is one of the most damaging consequences Christian belief has had on Western peoples.
1-7 : The numbers of believers grew rapidly.
Discontent arose during the distribution of food. The Greek-speaking believers, who were Jews, complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, who were also Jews, saying their widows were being overlooked when food was handed out. Ostensibly so that the apostles could concentrate on praying and teaching, they put other men in charge of distributing food. The number of believers continued to increase. Even many Hebrew priests were converted.
The fact that the apostles had to assign seven men to distribute food to the believers indicates that the number of believers was large, and this is consistent with the idea that it would have been possible to extract considerable amounts of money and other kinds of wealth from them. People from all classes were believers, not just the poor, so the rich and the well-to-do were also, in some numbers, among them.
8-15 : One of the seven food distributors was Stephen. He was a graceful speaker and it is said that he performed miracles and signs. Some Jewish men, non-believers, from a local synagogue tried to debate Stephen but could not match his abilities, so they persuaded several other men to tell lies about him, saying they heard him blaspheme God and Moses. Soon Stephen was arrested and brought before the high council.
Luke tells us that when the men accused Stephen in front of the council, his face became as bright as an angel's. Technically, for Luke to be qualified to say this, strictly speaking, he must at some time have seen an angel's face, and while Christian believers might assert that this was true, it is not likely, because, for one thing, angels would have to physically exist, which they do not. For one thing, if any entity as big as a man were to have wings of a size sufficient to lift it off of the ground, its breast muscles would have to be so large and heavy that it wouldn’t be able to stand up. But a man's face can appear to be white under certain conditions. If momentarily the heart becomes weak due to fear, and blood leaves the face, it can appear to be white, and if the lighting is favorable, this can make it seem radiant. Additional explanations are possible.
1-36 : The high priest asks Stephen if he is guilty.
Luke describes Stephen's reply as starting out with a history of the Hebrew people from the time of Abraham.
Of course it is not impossible that Stephen may actually have given such a reply.
But it's even less impossible that Luke may simply have taken advantage of this opportunity to explain Hebrew history to whoever was going to read his letter.
In Luke's version of Stephen's speech, the story of Moses is incorrectly told. The differences between the story in Acts, and the same story as told in Exodus, indicates that Luke was not expert in Hebrew religious writings.
Moses killed an Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew, and he discovered that others knew he had done it, so he fled to Midian. Luke says that before he fled, Moses believed his fellow Israelites would know that the Gotah had sent him to rescue them from Egypt. In fact, Exodus relates that although the Gotah did tell Moses that he was going to rescue the Hebrews, he only informed him of that after Moses had been in Midian long enough to marry a woman and father two children.
It is not hard to understand why devout Jews were against the apostles. They knew the apostles were lying, and some of them probably understood that Christian belief is harmful.
Incidentally, in verse 14, Stephen states that when Joseph's relatives moved into Egypt, there were 75 of them.
37 : This is where Luke claims that Moses prophesied the Hebrew god would cause a prophet to rise up from among the people of Israel, and he wants us to believe that Jesus was that prophet. Referring to Moses as a supposed predictor of Jesus' existence makes it seem divinely planned.
But when you read Deuteronomy 18:15, which is the verse that Luke was referring to, it is clear that the prophet Moses was talking about was supposed to rise up during the lifetime of the people to whom Moses was speaking. It is obvious that he was talking to them specifically about what they themselves were to expect and what they themselves were to do when it happened. He was not telling them about something that was going to happen more than a thousand years later. You can understand this very easily just by reading what Moses said. Not only that, but also he said that the prophet would be "like me", in other words, not a god but a man. Joshua was a man like Moses, and after Moses died, Joshua led Israel. So it only makes sense to think that Moses was preparing the way for Joshua to become leader in his absence, not predicting the coming of a messiah at some vague distant time more than a thousand years later.
Luke had no way of knowing that a day would come when billions of people would be able to read and understand the prophecies he was referring to, simply by purchasing a Bible from a local store, or by going to a computer and reading it online, and that it would be obvious that what he was saying was not true. Books had not yet been invented yet, scrolls were expensive and relatively rare, and literacy played no part in ordinary people's lives. Information was preserved on clay tablets, animal skin, papyrus, or sometimes on wood. So when Luke referred to prophecies such as that of Moses, which were already old enough to be thought of as ancient, few people would have been able to contradict him. Most would simply have taken his statements as true.
The question is whether Luke knew they were not true. He was a physician and an educated man. His version of Stephen's speech shows that he knew something about Hebrew history. It is unlikely that the discrepancies in his version were a result of variations among ancient texts, because such variations would tend to be random, and his misinterpretations throughout Acts are not random but are uniformly biased in ways that support belief in Jesus. Given the number of times he misinterprets the meanings of ancient verses, and particularly the way he misinterprets them, there is not much chance he could have believed that each and every one of them was totally in agreement with their original meanings.
38-41 : Luke says that an angel gave Moses the Commandments, and the Hebrew people made a golden calf as an idol because they did not know where Moses had gone.
The book of Exodus tells us that the Gotah gave Moses the commandments, and that his people knew where he was, but that he had been gone so long they didn't know what had happened to him.
42 : Stephen says the Hebrew god turned his back on them because they were not treating him right, and that he abandoned them to worshiping and serving the stars of heaven, by which he meant the stars in the night sky. This should remind us that the Bible’s authors did not understand what stars are, and that the people of ancient times, including the author of Acts, were not competent to instruct us in what to believe.
43-53 : Stephen quotes bitter chastisements the Gotah made against the people who claimed him as their god.
Human parents who care about their children are usually able to give them guidance without having to resort to chastisements. A god should do even better. The Bible shows many instances in which the Gotah is not capable of engaging in caring behaviors, and this is because the Bible's authors did not themselves understand such things.
In Upper Egypt, near the town of Nag Hammadi, in 1945 a clay jar was unearthed, inside of which were some ancient writings on scrolls. They were probably buried to protect them from an enemy invasion, most likely some time after 367 A.D. The writings are now called the Nag Hammadi Library. They give us information about the early Christian sect called Gnostics, and other matters. Not much was known in modern times about Gnosticism until these writings were found.
Some Gnostics taught that there is only one true deity, a loving god, and that from this god many divine entities originated. The last one was a goddess named Sophia, whose name means wisdom. This deity, they said, wanted to have a child, but without sexual intercourse. It doesn't say how she accomplished this, but only that she gave birth to a son named Ja Habaoth. Hebrew writing does not indicate vowels but only shows consonants, and this name is very similar to the name 'Jehovah' or 'Yahweh,' which are different only because different people use different vowels to say the name, and, in fact, this god Ja Habaoth is the Gotah, whom the Gnostics believed was the illegitimate offspring of wisdom. Interesting idea, that the god of the ancient Hebrews, and of today's Jews, would be thought of as the illegitimate offspring of wisdom. That would explain a lot. But these Gnostics believed that this god created the earth and angels and man, and that he stole a small bit of wisdom from his mother to put into humans, so that humans would contain a divine spark. The Gnostics believed that this god was corrupt, and that the true god sent Jesus to earth to save humans from his evil influences. Of course the authors of the New Testament were not Gnostics, so they did not believe this. But it is interesting that some people of these ancient times realized it is wrong to treat people badly, even if you're a god, as the Gotah and the apostles were always doing. That a goddess of wisdom could produce a corrupt offspring doesn't quite make sense, but in those days even some educated men thought that the west wind impregnated horses, that human semen contains the seeds of babies, and that the purpose of the brain is to cool the blood, so it is not surprising they believed such a thing.
Stephen accused the Jewish leaders of resisting the Holy Spirit and of deliberately disobeying the Gotah's law.
54 : The Jewish leaders were furious.
Just at this moment, Stephen looked up toward the sky and told them that he saw the heavens opening and that he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at the right hand of God.
Stephen had probably done this before in front of large crowds and many had believed him, and so he probably thought the Jewish leaders would believe him also. Even today, some Christian preachers raise their arms and look upward while speaking words that inspire many, and everyone knows this is only a gesture. But Stephen meant his words literally, knowing that many people in his time would think that he actually saw something they didn't see.
If you stand on a busy street corner and look up and point and say that you see something, some people will stop and look up too. Some will say that they see what you say you see, even if nothing is there. Thousands of years ago, someone claiming to see angels flying in the air was likely to acquire followers, at least for a time. Imaginations would have been captivated, emotions would have soared, and they would have been persuaded. But these Jewish leaders knew better. They put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death.
His death by stoning incited greater admiration of him among those who gullibly allow their emotions to overpower their ability to think, and now Christians say he was a martyr. How does this compare with the idea that the fruit of people's actions are consistent with their nature and intentions, especially when considered together with the fact that Christians believe that a person's ultimate judgement occurs after death? This, I am sure, you can figure out for yourself. But I'll tell you what I think. I think a Christian is likely to believe that Stephen's death was consistent with his purpose, whether intended by himself or by the Gotah, and I think that is correct in a sense, but I think his martyrdom was consistent with his purpose as he and his own subconscious intended, and that at some point along the way, his own subconscious asked him whether he was willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of his purpose, and his conscious answer was yes.
The Jewish leaders meant to stop him preaching, and that they achieved. But their action had a side effect they had not anticipated and which ultimately became bigger than the original problem. The fact that Stephen became adored as a holy martyr was the fruit of Stephen's own actions, the actions of other Jesus believers, and of the gullible persons who have thought of him as a martyr. One of the fruits of the actions of these particular Jewish leaders was that the non-Christian members of their Hebrew congregations were no longer exposed to Stephen's preaching.
1-3 : A man named Saul witnessed the killing of Stephen and agreed with it. A great persecution began, which Luke says caused all of the believers except the apostles to become scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
If this is literally true, it means there were no followers of Jesus anywhere else at this time, not in Rome, nor in Greece.
Luke says that Saul went from house to house, dragging men and women out, to throw them into prison, trying to destroy Christian belief. This sort of action provides great publicity, and it tends to divide people into two groups, those who like that action, and those who dislike it.
4-8 : As the apostles continued to preach, the number of believers grew.
Philip is mentioned as an example. Luke says that crowds were eager to see the miraculous signs that Philip performed. What these verses really show is evidence justifying the suspicion that Philip had most likely learned, from Jesus or from the apostles and from other people as well, some magic tricks that he could use in deceiving naive people into believing that he and the other apostles had special powers, and which would convince people of the holiness of Jesus and persuade them to become Christian believers. The fact that believers do not themselves acquire such powers just because they believe in Jesus, tends to confirm the likelihood that Philip and the other apostles had acquired knowledge of secret tricks and used them to deceive crowds. The idea that evil spirits screamed as they were cast out is consistent with the practice of using shills. Someone who is pretending to be possessed by an evil spirit could scream like a ventriloquist can do, in a way that would sound like a devil screaming, and many people would be convinced.
Philip went to preach in Samaria, a town about thirty miles north of Jerusalem.
9-25 : "A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years."
The statement proves that men commonly believed to be practitioners of real magic existed at this time and in these places. Jesus could have learned their tricks and deceptions and taught his disciples how to use them in persuading people to believe his teachings.
Even today some people believe that supernatural entities exist and can influence earthly forces and will do so if certain sayings and rituals are used. Fortunately, many of us have come to understand that magic is a performance art consisting of skillfully executed tricks. People who are convinced of their own smartness trust what they see, believe what they are told, and believe whatever seems most pleasant to them, and these persons are especially vulnerable to being fooled into believing that magic tricks are real magic. Luke tells us about converts who so trusted everything the apostles told them, that they sold everything they owned and gave the apostles the money. This shows how naive they were. It also explains why so many people joined the new religion. Those who were poor acquired the donations of others. We always need to ask the question, "Of these massive donations, how much did the apostles end up with?" The apostles had a strong material motive, that of gaining wealth. This is true of preachers today. Every new member brings more money. It is foolish to believe that this has no effect on preachers' incomes or motivations. The same was true in ancient times.
Simon was a famous magician so accomplished that people spoke of him as "The Great one--the Power of God". For a long time he had astounded the people with his magic, but now the crowds preferred Philip. Simon was converted and baptized, and he started following Philip everywhere. The fact that a popular magician was baptized and followed Philip, was amazed by his "Signs and great miracles," and offered to pay Philip money to teach him his tricks, might seem to prove that Philip's miracles were real miracles and not tricks, but it only proves that a famous magician believed that Philip was a magician the same as himself and that offers of money were expected to bring Simon knowledge of how to perform better tricks and make more money for himself.
Philip refused to share his secrets with him.
Although this incident seems to imply that Philip was noble and pure and above using tricks, he simply may have been too smart to risk exposing the fact of his own trickery by accepting an offer of money, which could have caused him to lose the substantial donations his followers consistently gave him. Also, keeping your tricks secret is a proprietary practice among all sorts of professionals, not just magicians and holy men. If this were the only New Testament story whose positive interpretation depended on ambiguity, its negative implications might slide by without notice, but the fact that there are so many similarly questionable details throughout the Gospels tends more to confirm that many such details are probably false, than they prove ideas the apostles wanted us to believe. We already know that the author of Acts valued faith more than truth, and that he misrepresented facts to support his cause.
26-39 : Luke tells us that an angel spoke to Philip and told him what to do next: "Go south to the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza."
Many people believe it must be true simply because Luke wrote it. But let us consider what he was actually saying.
He was saying that a creature similar to a human, but holy and probably with the ability to fly, and who dwells with the creator of the entire universe, physically, on the other side of the blue color of the sky, talked to Philip and gave him instructions.
In modern criminal trials, some jurors really do vote to convict a defendant just because their own determination to condemn a crime is so strong they completely ignore evidence that would prove his innocence, and prosecutors often don't talk about knowledge that they possess which would free an innocent man. A lot of people do not know the difference between evidence and their own emotions. And studies have shown that most humans have no reluctance to make someone else suffer if it means that their own goals can be achieved. The apostles were human and these traits were among them. They would use any means in persuading people to believe, and not primarily from a motive of following Jesus, or from a desire to obey the wishes of the Gotah, or of doing good for anyone but themselves. We will see more of this as we go on.
These men did not care about the psychological and emotional effects, or even the deadly results, their methods might have on their converts but resorted to such means simply to acquire believers. During these same times, other men in other regions of the earth did care about people and did not approve of such methods, and they had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus. Therefore it was not merely the unadvanced condition of the population that made unethical methods seem acceptable to Luke; it was in the nature and character of Luke, the apostles, and all of the people involved.
Philip did what the angel told him to do, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, who was also traveling on that same desert road that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza.
At the time when Philip lived, if a person could have traveled in a straight line from Yeha, which was then the capital city of Ethiopia, to the northern tip of the Gulf of Suez, and then turned right and gone straight to Jerusalem, it would have been a trip of almost 1,500 miles. That is the same distance as from New York City to Wichita, Kansas.
If a reader believes everything he reads without questioning it, the fact that Philip met the treasurer can make it seem that the angel was not only right but also that he was real. But really it doesn't prove anything.
If storytellers were always honest, and if Philip traveled on that road and did not meet the treasurer, this story would not have been told. This fact alone could motivate an imaginative storyteller to invent fictional details. The story is told because he did meet --or claimed to meet-- the treasurer of Ethiopia, and the angel was added (by Philip or Luke or someone else) to make it seem amazing and divine, and thus more credible to gullible people, of which the Christian religion consists in abundance, but to modern minds it proves that Luke's work contains elements of fraud. The presence of one element of fraud is consistent with there being additional elements of fraud, and this throws all of Luke's work into question. Still, this does not prove that Philip did not meet the treasurer. And this is typical of Christian belief, in that many explanations and beliefs are proposed by it, and many claims are made by it, which are marked by the impossibility of their ever being disproven or proven, and this makes it possible for unquestioning persons to believe in them over long periods of time with no realization ever occurring in their minds that something about them may not be true, and when a question is raised, which is an action that Jesus strongly and specifically discouraged, no known proof or disproof of them is available for consideration. In the absence of such knowledge, false explanations and preposterous rationales fall on welcoming ears, and people who think of themselves as innocent and deserving accept them without hesitation. This is why Christian belief demands believers accept its tenets without questioning them. Its strongest purveyors know very well that questions destroy its foundations. I think it is pretty clear that even Luke and Paul and numerous others understood this. That Jesus knew it is obvious.
Philip's action may have been nothing more than the sort of impulse we have all had, to do something one way instead of some other way. Because his decision led to something he did not anticipate, he may have believed a higher intelligence was involved and he may have wanted to give it some credible characteristics, thus the angel. If he said an angel advised him, that would help gain converts.
It is easy to feel emotionally that the angel was real, and that the angel's instruction was rich in meaning, and that Philip was wise to comply with it, and that I am wrong about everything I've written here, and why would Luke lie about it, and therefore it must be true. But just from reading the book of Acts this far, it is clear that Luke would lie if doing so would cause emotionally motivated people to believe in Jesus, and that others would too.
The real truth is that the mathematical laws of probability inform us that unusually desirable and entirely unpredictable outcomes always exist potentially. This is enough to explain why Philip met the treasurer of Ethiopia, if he really did meet him. And because Philip was known to perform tricks and signs, and for making his living by deceiving people, he would have been capable of inventing --and willing to invent-- fictitious details to make himself and his actions seem authorized by the supposed god-like human that he was trying to get people to believe in.
Luke would have done humanity a better service if he had taught his readers how to cook, or how to read, or how to think, or how to solve arithmetic problems, than trying to make it seem that Philip was instructed by an angel.
Anyone can say that the Holy Spirit speaks to them, or that Humpty Dumpty came to dinner last night. The ability to make such statements is a trait of human language. But thinking that such ideas originate from a holy source different from ourselves is a delusion. Delusions can make people feel special, but if a delusion is taken seriously it becomes a form of insanity.
Definitions of insanity often involve mental aspects in which a person is not able to distinguish between what is real and what is not real. Today many members of the Christian religion do not really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water, or came alive after being dead for three days, but only pretend that they believe such things. They lie to each other, pretending that they believe them. These persons are not insane. They are just liars. But other people who do believe such tales base their lives on Christian delusions. There are many of these, and they are beyond ignorant. They are pathologically trusting, abnormally gullible, accepting preached realities without questioning them, and they are technically insane in ways and to the extent that definitions of insanity apply to persons obsessed with delusions. They suffer genuinely, because their actions do not bring what their belief leads them to expect. Populations of this sort of sheep-like people –excessively naive and trusting– is exactly what Christian belief functions to create. This is a very damaging consequence of Christian belief, one which the leaders of the Christian religion deny responsibility for, typically blaming the victims themselves for the effects of the religion's and church leaders' own malicious lies, the outcomes of which the churches deny, neglect, or ignore completely.
Who originated the story of Philip meeting the treasurer of Ethiopia?
Philip may have met the treasurer and lied about the angel. Luke may have heard the story from Philip or from someone else, who in their enthusiasm added fictional details. Luke may have added the angel himself when he wrote the story.
If you consider the book of Acts as a work of human writing, instead of as a god-inspired documentation of unquestionably holy events, an angel giving instructions to Philip is a variation of a well-known literary device used in plays to resolve plot complications. Known by the Latin term, 'Deus ex Machina,' a machine was used to bring onto the stage actors dressed up as gods, to conclude the plot by pretending to use godly powers. The term means 'God from a machine.' Its use was very common in Greek and Roman plays during Luke's lifetime. When used in an ostensibly true story, as in Acts, it can give the impression that an ordinary event was extraordinary. Good writers avoid using Deus ex Machina though, because it is not as effective as devising a legitimate plot, and because, in real life, which even competent playwrights have difficulty portraying well, such things never happen.
Philip first saw the treasurer sitting in a carriage, where he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. How convenient that he was doing this, just when Philip first saw him.
Luke says the Holy Spirit told Philip to walk beside the carriage, and he did so. A true description, one that is not trying to impress gullible people, might be that Philip was gregarious and that it was in his nature to try and talk with everyone. Or maybe his own subconscious mind formed his thoughts in such a way that his actions tended to be in harmony with his desires and intentions, which happens a lot among humans. This ability potentially exists in all of us and helps determine our destiny, fate, or, as people in India say, our Karma, which is pretty much the same thing.
Philip asked the treasurer, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
Why would anyone ask someone that question?
Because it moves the story toward the point the storyteller wants to make next.
The treasurer replied, "How can I, unless someone instructs me?" and he urged Philip to sit beside him. He had been reading Isaiah 53:7-8, and the verses are quoted in Acts. He asked Philip whether the prophet Isaiah was talking about himself in those verses, or someone else.
How very convenient. How, in fact, unbelievably convenient, that these particular verses were being read aloud by the treasurer of Ethiopia at exactly the moment when Philip came up to him, and that this particular question arose in the treasurer's mind at this same moment.
Extremely unlikely. It is the sort of thing that occurs in the cheapest fiction. Even if such a thing happens to a person once in his lifetime it is unusual. That Philip and Luke were storytellers is a better explanation.
While the laws of probability do say that sequences of such unlikely events are possible, the more such events there are in a sequence, the less likely their occurrence. It is far less improbable that Philip and Luke were lying. Combine this with the angel claim, and you have a chain of events which in any verifiable adult experience is impossible.
These details, then, are fiction, so Philip and Luke could promote Christian ideas. Only a careless believer would think this story is a reason to believe in the holiness of Acts.
Luke tells us that Philip did not answer the treasurer's question, the reason probably being that at this point the reader, or readers, for whom Luke was writing, already knew the preferred answer, having encountered Luke's misinterpretations of similar verses earlier in the book of Acts.
Were these misinterpretations innocent? Or were they deliberate?
Luke's employment of verses from ancient texts in support of Christian belief consistently misconstrues their true meanings; Luke was an educated man, possibly though not certainly a Jew ( see http://www.levitt.com/essays/luke ), and so he may have read the texts and known their true meanings. They are all claimed by him to prove the same thing, that Jesus was written of in ancient texts, when in fact he was not; and we know that there is not much that Luke would not do to convert people to Christian belief. These points make it much more likely that Luke's misuse of ancient texts in support of belief in Jesus was knowing and intentional, than that they were innocent mistakes.
The verses can easily be thought to be about Jesus, and some people do believe that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. But the verses can be understood even more easily as being about anyone who goes to his own death silently and without protest. It is not uncommon that men do tend to do so when they are condemned to die.
The idea that Holy Scripture had prophesied Jesus' birth was a powerful tool in persuading people to become believers, and it still is. Too bad it's not true.
Today it is understood that Isaiah may only have been responsible for the first 39 chapters of the book that bears his name, and that subsequent chapters were written by someone else, so that the treasurer of Ethiopia may not have been reading Isaiah's words but someone else’s, though neither Luke nor Philip nor the treasurer would have known this, since this fact was not known until much later. Isaiah lived about 700 years before Jesus. It is clear that whoever wrote this particular prophesy meant that the Hebrew messiah would end the oppression caused by the ruler of Babylon, and, as with many such quotations and implications found in the New Testament, the verses quoted are not about Jesus but were about the times in which Isaiah lived.
Philip's meeting with the Ethiopian treasurer ended with Philip baptizing him, and then, "...The Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away." The treasurer never saw him again, and Philip miraculously found himself somewhere else.
Skillful storytellers avoid ending stories so abruptly, or with explanations requiring absolute faith. But people do exist who accept such explanations without questioning them. To such people the Christian religion typically seems attractive. In this way it cultivates their existence. This is very important to understand. Christianity rewards and increases gullibility and severely discourages careful thinking. In its churches, lies and irresponsible thinking dominate. People who thoughtlessly accept whatever they are told by church leaders find comfort and company there. Anyone who is capable of thinking critically is discouraged or punished in one way or another, in former times even by being publicly tortured and murdered by church leaders. Current church leaders have not apologized for this. They simply ignore it. In these environments, persons who consider themselves unqualified to question authority are among other people of their own kind, and in such context they succeed and proliferate. They impose their beliefs and values on the secular societies in which they live, and often they dominate them. For centuries, they and their leaders --priests, bishops, and popes-- publicly murdered anyone who disagreed with them, eliminating from the gene pool many who preferred reason and truth to manipulation and lies and who knew how to use their minds in better ways.
For its survival the Christian religion depends on its adherents not asking critical questions and on their accepting preached ideas on faith alone, without questioning whether they were good or even true. Now their belief is mostly pretense, and many Christian believers know this. When Luke was alive, their belief was real, and often their delusion was total. This phenomenon continued for many centuries and even gained dominance in Europe.
The kindest understanding that any mature individual can legitimately be expected to develop when reading the book of Acts is that its author was not devoted to teaching what is true but was merely writing whatever he thought would persuade people to believe in Jesus.
A population incapable of critical thinking is a perfect environment in which any parasitic people or class can thrive and flourish by means of exploitation and plunder.
That has been happening in our own Western nations for many centuries, and we are seeing the full development of it right now.
The ruinous theology of Christian belief is a disease of non-thinking which almost single handedly has made this possible.
This has helped the Hebrew genetic group at the expense of other genetic groups, and this is one of the real purposes of Christian belief. It creates and encourages populations of sheeplike people who are then ripe to be exploited by their enemies, many of whom are more closely related to the Jews than to the Christians themselves.
1-31 : Saul was eager to kill Jesus' followers. He asked the high priest for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking them for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers he found there. He meant to bring them to Jerusalem in chains.
Luke does not say whether Saul was given the letters, but evidently he was, for he went to Damascus to achieve that purpose.
On his way there, "A light from heaven suddenly shown down around him," and he fell to the ground. He heard a voice, which his companions said they heard also, but they said they saw no one. The voice was supposedly that of Jesus, asking Saul why he was persecuting him, and then the voice told him to go into the city and do as he would be told. So he picked himself up, and now he was blind, so his companions helped him get to Damascus.
There is no reason to assume that the voice heard in this incident could not have been the voice of Saul himself, perhaps insanely crying out as the person he was persecuting, during a seizure or hallucination. (Hallucinations can be caused by exhaustion, sleep deprivation, stress, brain damage, mental illness, or disease. Saul may have been subject to any of these, or to all of them.) He may have hallucinated and writhed in a struggling way over his imagined tormenting of Jesus, and he may have spoken aloud in anguish what he imagined Jesus would say to him if he were present. Anyone nearby would have heard this voice. In any case, there is reason to suspect that the event and its cause are not correctly described. And remember, the Bible says that Saul was eager to kill Christian believers. His motive was that of a murderer. In modern times he would be a criminal. In those days police did not exist. No one prosecuted people for committing the kind of murders he intended. Evidently even the high priest approved of his plan to kill people who thought Jesus was the Messiah. Other information in the New Testament makes clear that Saul (later known as Paul) was at times little different from a raving lunatic, as in his letter to the Romans. He had visions, which we would call hallucinations. He employed dishonest tactics. He was ruthless. And at times he obviously was without conscience. He dominated the other apostles and everyone generally. These behaviors are characteristic of sociopaths. He preached unrealities, which can be a symptom of schizophrenia. Although one should think that if someone today were to do what Saul did, everyone would know that he was insane, a lot of intelligent men speaking from pulpits and wearing decent clothes do similar things now, and no one dares to say it's not good. Some mentally ill persons function successfully in human society, and many speak well and usually appear to conduct themselves normally. Some symptoms of mental illness are not consistent but happen intermittently, or even once in the person's lifetime and never again. And of course persons who are intensely inspired, or who can effectively pretend to be, sometimes are perceived by outsiders as displaying behaviors characteristic of insanity. This story about Saul shows how complex such issues can be, and how difficult to adequately address. In his time almost nothing was understood about mental illness, even by physicians.
Christians generally believe there was something supernatural about how Saul's blindness was healed, though in fact it could have been caused temporarily by a seizure during which he also hallucinated. Severe repression can cause some mental patients to react violently in ways consistent with what they are repressing. In Saul's case, this may have caused him to experience a vision of Jesus chastising him. He may have cried out. His companions may have thought it unwise to contradict him and so said that they also heard the voice, which, if it was Saul's voice, would be true. One thing we can be sure of, especially after acquainting ourselves with Saul's and Luke's consistent practice of misrepresenting facts, is that neither of these men could be relied on to always tell the truth. Nor could a lot of other people in the region. One reason, of several possible reasons, is that concerning many things, they did not know what was true.
Madness is believed to have occurred since the earliest times. Physicians in some ancient societies thought it could be caused by strong emotions, and they thought of it as a form of ill health. Murderous intentions, hallucinations (visions), religious experiences, religious conversions, temporary blindness, personality changes, have all been known to occur among cases of mental illness. Saul's followers may not have thought of him as a madman, and Luke says nothing about his mental state. Because Saul's conversion was beneficial to the hopes and plans of Luke and other Christians, and because Saul was a persuasive speaker, they may have chosen to overlook these horrible qualities of his. After all, in these lands where priests gave men letters approving their intention to commit murder, and where ordinary men killed other men whom they believed were teaching blasphemy, and where at least one man of very substantial religious influence lived in the wilderness and ate nothing but locusts and honey, horrible qualities were not unusual among men. One of the most important facts the New Testament documents is that what we consider insanity was present in its tales.
Not all insane people are by any means incapable of intelligent words and acts. So Saul's ability to speak and reason powerfully do not prove that he was not mentally ill.
Another follower named Ananias also claimed to have a vision. In Ananias’ vision Jesus instructed him to go and heal Saul's blindness, and he said that Jesus told him that Saul was Jesus' instrument by which his message would be taken to non-Hebrews.
What proof do we have that so many people all had visions? And what is a vision?
The only proof we have is Luke's word, and we know that Luke was a deceiver. His main purpose was to persuade people to believe in Jesus. The method he used was basically an emotional appeal, which can easily be misunderstood as being spiritual in nature. It is reasonable to think that he embellished what he was told, dressed it up to present it in a favorable way, to increase the emotional appeal these types of stories have on naive people. Persons who claimed to experience visions had a reason to exaggerate, or just plain lie, because visions were widely believed to be divine in origin, and people who claimed to experience them could thereby gain a semblance of importance.
Because dreams sometimes are referred to in the Bible as dreams and not as visions, there is additional ambiguity. But what if you daydream or imagine that Jesus said something to you? Is that a vision? Some people would say that it is, especially if it happened to themselves. Hallucinations in broad daylight have been known to occur in people who are obsessed about something. Obsessive belief is a mental habit which many Jesus enthusiasts engaged in, and which apparently often occurred when these stories took place. Luke does nothing to clarify the matter but leaves the assessment of them to his reader's imagination, which in the case of Christian believers is faith based, not knowledge based, and emotional, not rational.
Ananias visited Saul and said that Jesus told him to come heal him of his blindness. He laid his hands onto Saul, and Luke writes, "Something like scales fell from Saul's eyes," and his sight returned.
The absence, in this instance, in Acts, of sufficient information on which to base a non-superstitious understanding, might seem to be an omission of a simple explanation. If Saul had mental problems and had suffered hallucinations before, he may have learned to put warm clay on his closed eyelids. In a land where John the Baptist lived in a cave, using clay in this way does not seem out of place, and clay is known to have been used for medicinal purposes in this region since prehistoric times. When clay dries, it can resemble scales, and if touched, some of it can fall off.
Luke was a good writer. His work is possibly reliable with regard to some things that did not interfere with his goal of persuading people to believe in Jesus. From what we have found in the book of Acts already, we can expect that if Luke wanted the curing of Saul's blindness to be thought of as a miracle, he would have left out information that contradicted that idea. The fact that he did not provide enough information to answer the following questions shows that he was not being thorough or objective, which possibly means that he was leaving something out on purpose.
Were Saul's eyes closed when Ananias placed his hands onto them? Did Ananias not have anything in his hands, which might then seem to fall off Saul's eyes like scales? When he first put his hands onto Saul's eyes, was there nothing already on Saul's eyelids that might fall off like scales? Was there no dried clay on Saul's eyelids?
Maybe Luke knew that if he gave us all of the available information we would know that Saul's cure was not a miracle, and maybe he understood that if he left out some information a superstitious reader would provide his own explanation, which would then necessarily be superstitious, and the most obvious superstitious explanation would be that a miracle had occurred.
Luke's primary motive was not to identify and communicate objective truth but merely to persuade his reader. If he was knowingly and intentionally preying on his reader's gullibility, the book of Acts would not need to be any different from the way that it is. But it would need to be different if his purpose was to tell the truth. To prove that what I'm saying about Luke is true, evidence is needed, and Luke's omission of such information is that evidence. It is not proof, but it is evidence. Because this sort of evidence is plentiful in Acts, its preponderance tends to indicate willful manipulation of facts, by Luke, in order to deceive. He did not want to give his reader enough information to reach an informed understanding, and he knew that without such information his reader would conclude superstitiously.
Is it possible that Luke did not know the real explanation of why something like scales fell from Saul's eyes?
The use of clay for medicinal purposes had been practiced in this particular region since prehistoric times. Luke was a physician. It is reasonable to think that he knew this.
In terms of what we know today, Luke may simply have made the mistake of believing that his personal goal of persuading people to believe in Jesus was more important than discerning and communicating what is true. Of course some Christian believers would say that Jesus is the only truth, but anyone who is not mentally a sheep or a child recognizes that as a blatant lie.
How to explain that although Luke was a skillful writer some of his work contains inconsistencies or other errors?
Luke was human. Every human makes errors.
He tried to persuade people emotionally.
What is wrong with that?
One problem is that although emotions can seem mysterious and full of wonder, often they are completely mistaken. Another problem is that faith is often based on emotion only, instead of on reason, rationality, evidence, logic, or objective facts. Luke meticulously provides enough realistic details in his descriptions to create the impression that he is diligent and therefore reliably believable. But he expects his reader not to question what he says. This is characteristic of many forms of deception, and also of many types of abuse, and it is not characteristic of someone who is consistently telling the truth. Truth does not fear examination but in fact frequently invites it. When someone is telling you something they know is untrue, they don't want to be questioned, because they know that you might discover they are lying. This is characteristic of the Christian religion. Christians are allowed to think for themselves only if their thinking supports Christian belief. To any statement or question that does not support belief in Jesus they are expected to respond or reply with dogma. Often they add anger. Such actions are devoid of thought, are not based on logic, evidence, proof, rationality, or reason.
Of course it was not merely gullibility and naïveté that made possible the historic expansion of the churches of Jesus. Early on, criminal types in Rome and elsewhere recognized the opportunity for self-enrichment and self-empowerment which the Christian religion made possible, and they helped themselves by ruthless means to attain the highest positions within the church. The popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests went on to murder laymen who disagreed with them about Christian and Biblical theology, and in many cases murdered anyone who disagreed with them about anything, and it has been said, perhaps more than with merely an element of truth, that in most cases the church never killed anyone for heresy or disbelief unless they owned property, which upon their death the church typically acquired. Church leaders today would still be murdering people en masse if stronger secular forces had not considered it more in their own interest to take control of wars and killings, and had not reduced the church's power. It is not fashionable now for church leaders to murder people for being able to think, or for saying what is unpleasant but true about the Christian religion or about them. But unfashion is not the real reason. They don't still kill people for not believing in Jesus, because the craving of some humans to commit torture and murder has been transferred to outsiders, and the explanation that murder is immoral is merely resorted to because the truth is too revealing: They have been deprived of the freedom to do so.
When Saul's sight returned, he got up and was baptized.
Then he ate.
When he had regained his strength, without delay he began preaching in the synagogues, saying that Jesus was the Son of God.
Now, the difference between these two concepts, 'A son of God' and 'The Son of God' is interesting.
The idea that every human is a child of a powerful creator is not unique to Judaism or Christian belief. Everyone is a 'son of God,' if you think that 'God' is a good name for whatever entity may have created our universe. I don't. I think the name 'God' doesn't come near being an adequate designation. I prefer to let the idea of a universal creator remain non-verbal without putting a label on it, since the concept is really beyond the capacity of human words to describe, no matter how many pages the description takes up.
The idea that Jesus was the one-and-only 'Son of [the Hebrew] God [as described in the Bible]' is like telling your orchard worker to go into the orchard, to 'The Cherry Tree,' and to pick 'The Cherry' and bring it back to you. In the case of Jesus, the term is an incorrect use of language. There are many cherry trees, and on them are many cherries. On our planet there are many different kinds of human beings, and you need more than a handful of ancient books filled with primitive stories, misrepresentations, and lies to have enough reason to believe that any one of them is more holy than any of the others. Besides, the Old Testament itself tells us that the Gotah said that all of the descendents of Jacob were his children, and that makes every Hebrew man a son of the Hebrew god. The Gotah did not have just one son but many: Every Hebrew man. So, if they are all sons of the Gotah, it cannot be linguistically correct to say that Jesus is the one and only son of that god. Christians believe in him as such nonetheless regardless of whether it is true or not, only because their preacher tells them that he was. They never think about the real meanings of words.
Saul's preaching became more powerful, and after a while some Hebrews plotted to kill him. He was told about their plot and escaped.
He traveled to Jerusalem and preached all around the city in the name of Jesus. Some Greek-speaking Jews tried to kill him, but the believers took him to Caesarea and then sent him to his home in Tarsus. Then the church had peace and grew stronger.
32-42 : Peter healed a man who had been paralyzed for eight years and brought a deceased woman back to life.
During the centuries following Jesus' crucifixion, throughout the Middle Ages, and leading up to modern times, men who have had something to gain by imposing the Christian religion onto defenseless populations have fabricated countless illogical rationales and untrue explanations to convince gullible people that everything in the Bible is true and that Jesus was divine and good.
It is not hard to gain believers if you are allowed to kill everyone who refuses to believe.
The problem with manipulation is that it preys on ignorance and deprives its victims of their own personal volition. When manipulation is chronic among adults, it is abusive, and it is damaging to the society in which they live.
Superstition can produce beneficial results, but real knowledge of how the world works is better and tends to be free of misguidance, which is common in false belief.
1-48 : In Caesarea an army officer named Cornelius saw an angel who instructed him to send for Peter, so he sent men to ask Peter to come to him. Just before they arrived in Joppa where Peter was staying, Peter fell into a trance and a voice told him not to reject as unpure that which the Gotah had purified. Then the men arrived and asked Peter to return to Caesarea with them. Next day they all visited Cornelius. He and his people were not Jews, and Peter told them it was against Jewish law for a Jew to enter the house of a gentile or to associate with gentiles, but that God had told him not to reject as unpure what God had made pure, and he said this was why he could preach to them.
Although the Bible's description of Cornelius' dream and Peter's trance may be mystical fiction, Peter preaching to Cornelius' household could be true. If so, then these were the first gentiles ever preached to, because if Jesus had ever intentionally preached to any non-Jews, Peter would not have hesitated to so, whether Hebrew law approved or not, and without the Gotah or a spirit having to appear to him in a dream. He would simply have followed his master's example.
This supports the view that Matthew's account (in Matthew 28:19) of the supposedly resurrected Jesus instructing his disciples to preach to all nations, is not true but was added later, for the specific purpose of making it seem that Jesus approved that his teachings should be given to non-Jews. If this had been true, this fact by itself would have justified Peter's preaching to non-Jews. And indeed, some scholars believe that Matthew 28:19 is probably fake and was added later, to justify Peter and Paul preaching to gentiles, even though Jesus never meant or said that his teachings should be shared with non-Jews.
Had Jesus, therefore, never intentionally preached to any non-Jews? How could that be possible?
Throughout the eastern Roman empire, the universal language was Greek, not Latin. Jesus' primary language was probably Aramaic, and he almost certainly knew Hebrew and Greek as well. He was probably not conversant in Latin. When he and Pontius Pilate were talking, they were probably both speaking Greek.
It is thought that the primary language spoken in Jerusalem was Aramaic, but whether Jesus preached in Aramaic or Hebrew, the Romans who were in Jerusalem would probably not have understood what he was saying. Jesus would not have been preaching in Latin or Greek, because he probably did not speak Latin, and because the citizens of Jerusalem would have spoken Hebrew or Aramaic as their primary language, Greek would have been unnecessary and inappropriate. Because of this, Jesus would, in effect, only have been preaching to Jews. Surely, some few non-Jews would have known enough Hebrew and Aramaic to understand him, but that would not mean that he was offering his teachings to them. In fact, Jesus did not minister to gentiles. In Matthew 15:21-28, he refused to help a certain woman because she was not a Jew. Then she said that she herself was nothing but a dog compared to Jews, and then he helped her. This shows Jesus' real feeling and belief, that he agreed with this woman that non-Jews are no better than dogs when compared to Jews. This has a lot to say about how Jesus would feel about non-Jewish Christian believers if he were alive today. His approval of gentiles is entirely in the imaginations of Christian believers.
Just from the Bible’s description of Jesus and his actions, you cannot justify the belief of Christians that he approved of them. The delusion that he did has got to have come from someone else.
In Acts, the idea that Christianity is for everyone is rationally justified by Paul, as we shall see. He possibly did this as a way of increasing the number of people he could preach to, thereby increasing his own power, income, and wealth. It was easier and less dangerous for him to preach to gentiles because Peter had already done so when he preached to Cornelius' household. The fact that Peter got away with it meant that Paul could too. He simply took advantage of the situation.
When Paul preached freely to gentiles, the idea of Jesus' purpose came to have additional meaning, and this helped Christian belief expand to foreign regions. This turning point was a very important redirection crucial to the spread of Christianity.
People who become Christian believers tend to adopt Jewish values. They typically adore the Old Testament and the New Testament. They take aspects of the Bible's stories about the ancient Hebrews and make them into models for their own belief and behavior, and over time their actions and intentions become in some ways more similar to those of the ancient Hebrews.
The people who wrote the Bible, both the new part and the old part, preyed on ignorance and superstition. The power of the texts derive not from inner thoughts and realizations in the minds of the reader as derive from true understanding, but from emotional appeal and deceitful manipulation in the texts themselves. What is wrong with this? Manipulation deprives, or seeks to deprive, the believer of his own individual volition, and this makes him less capable of functioning effectively. The use of deceit, as occurs in Acts, is a result of alienation from, and hostility toward, persons other than the deceiver.
Non-Jewish white Europeans are capable of developing much better understandings than the Hebrew Bible or the Hebrew mind makes possible. Because of this, their adoption of Hebrew ideas points them in a backward direction and forces then down a path which causes them to become denigrated as a people. They become less than they otherwise would be. The Jews benefit from this, because it renders the Christians less able to recognize the threat posed to them by the Jews, and less capable of doing anything to prevent it; whereas, the Jews are Jews already, and they know better than the Christians how to play their game. Also there is the fact that some of the tenets of Christian belief, although harmful to non-Jews for one or more reasons, would actually be improvements to Hebrew belief.
Peter told Cornelius that he and the other apostles witnessed everything Jesus did throughout Judea and Jerusalem, and he told them stories about Jesus healing people and being crucified and coming to life after being dead for three days, and these people believed everything he said. Luke tells us they were "filled with the Holy Spirit."
Peter stayed with Cornelius and his people for several days.
1-18 : "Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the gentiles had received the word of God."
So, again, this means that before Peter preached to Cornelius, no gentiles had been preached to about Jesus. It means that Jesus never preached to non-Jews, and that all of the Christian believers during Jesus' lifetime were Jews. It also means that Jesus did not offer his teachings to non-Jews because Jews rejected him, or for any other reason, and that that rationale is a lie.
When Peter arrived in Jerusalem, the Christians there --all of whom were Jews-- criticized him for preaching to non-Jews, but when he told them that he had had a vision in which the Gotah had instructed him to do so, they accepted his explanation.
In effect then, Peter demonstrated by his own action that if the Gotah commands someone to do something, man-made laws do not apply. Partly because of his example, Christians believe that they can do whatever the Gotah tells them to do. Because they believe that Jesus is with them all the time, and that Jesus and the Gotah are one and the same, if they imagine that Jesus wants them to do a particular thing, that seems to them more powerful and more righteous than any law devised by man. This is a very sociopathic basis on which to put any action into practice. It makes impossible any independently derived man-made social structure that Christian believers might think Jesus would disapprove of, and because Jesus was Hebrew, this would mean that Christian believers tend to support social ideas consistent with Hebrew belief and values, instead of those which naturally derive from their own genetic make up and historical background if they are not Jews. This causes Christian believers to conduct themselves, in this sense and in this degree, as Jews in effect, and in becoming similar to Jews in these ways, the innate character and values of non-Jews are changed and destroyed. The spread of Christian belief is in these ways an effective biological strategy comparable with those used by other biological organisms that seek to maintain their own existence at the expense of others. This helps the Jews because then they tend to become surrounded by populations that are in the process of becoming more like Jews. We can see this in the gradually increased tolerance, due in some degree to imagined forgiveness on the part of Christians, which has taken place toward Jews among Christian populations over the past two thousand years. Attitudes and ideas more conducive to their success, as a group, at the expense of other groups, in the form of allowances made on the basis of guilt, and national and international actions supposedly of atonement based on previous hostilities directed against them have also taken a stronger hold of Western political ideologies and actions over time.
What would be so valuable about gentiles keeping their own non-Jewish and non-Christian ideas, that it makes the adoption of Jewish values harmful to them?
The patterns of mental activity engaged in and written about by the ancient Hebrews, and by Jews ever since, and by non-Jewish Christian believers also, are not thoroughly true and valid in their origin, compared with what many gentiles are capable of and had already developed in some places before Jesus was born, even when compared with the works of the most intelligent Jews. Recent studies have shown that the average intelligence quotient (IQ) of Jews is one standard deviation higher than that of non-Jewish white Europeans, but it is very important to understand that this superiority in intelligence of theirs is confined to the verbal component, and that their non-verbal intellectual component is not as high as ours. Generally speaking, ideas originally take form not as words but as non-verbal perceptions and understandings. Such abstract thoughts the mind can and often does convert into words. While the Jews are very skillful in stating their ideas verbally, the ideas themselves are actually less intelligent than ours. If you try, you can usually discern this easily enough. Most people don't go to the trouble and merely accept the appearance of superior skill in word use as proof of superior intelligence overall. But that is a mistake. A person's non-verbal ability has profound significance in terms of how they perceive and interpret life and the world, in terms of the ways in which they explain to themselves the causes and meanings of events and how they derive social and other values, and this goes a long way in explaining why Hebrew ways of life have always been so very different from, say, that of the ancient Greeks, some of whose men developed more skillfully reasoned ways of thinking about the world, which better explain its nature, without having to resort to mysterious and sometimes presumably spiritual causes.
Very few, if any, Christian groups would be able to survive without believing that their religious leaders are telling them the truth about Jesus and the Hebrew god, and that what they feel strongly about must therefore be true and is not to be questioned, and that non-Christians are wrong because their brains have been twisted by the devil.
The way verse 18 was written makes it seem that the only way eternal life can be obtained is by repenting one's sins while believing in Jesus. But the idea that every human possesses an eternal soul originated long before Jesus was born. Some religions teach that everyone's soul is eternal regardless of death, even for people who have never heard of Jesus. At least one non-Christian religion teaches that our souls existed before the creation of the world. The idea that only by believing in Jesus can one obtain eternal life is the sort of thing someone would want to encourage other people to believe, if they wanted to manipulate gullible people and influence their thoughts and actions. It is clear that Christian leaders do this. The book of Acts makes clear that even the Apostles did it. There is plenty of evidence throughout the New Testament that Jesus and his apostles were all working to achieve control over other people in order to manipulate them. Because these men were devoted servants of the Gotah --a deity specifically described as favoring the Jews above all other people-- their teachings and actions must necessarily have been consistent with the will and desires of the Gotah. The Hebrew religion is, therefore, a supremacist religion, and every Christian is subordinate to it, because they worship Jesus, who was a member of it. For this reason, any Hebrew who preached to gentiles about Jesus must necessarily, whether consciously or not, have had the intention of directing the thoughts and actions of Christian believers in ways consistent with the interests of Hebrews, and this would include Hebrew interests in their nation Israel. This is occurring on an international scale even today. Christians often fight the enemies of Israel and support Jewish interests, usually at the expense of their own interests. Also, naturally, some non-Jews understand what is happening and these dislike the Jews and fight against them when they can. Overall though, the efforts of non-Jews against the enemies of the Jews have far outweighed their similar efforts against the Jews. One reason for this is that the Jews understand that by controlling heads of states they are able to control the resources and actions of the non-Jewish nations. They work to achieve this, and they do achieve it. Christian belief, in converting non-Jewish human beings into obedient and unquestioning sheep, makes this much easier to achieve than would otherwise be the case.
19-30 : Following Stephen's death, some believers who were scattered during the persecution traveled to Phoenicia and Cyprus and preached to Jews there. Some who went to Antioch preached to non-Jews, and many of those became believers.
Barnabas was sent to Antioch, and he converted many. Then he went to Tarsus and brought Saul to Antioch. They stayed a year, preaching to large crowds. It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.
1-5 : King Herod Agrippa ordered James killed. When he saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he arrested Peter, imprisoned him, and placed him under the guard of sixteen soldiers.
6-18 : Peter escaped from jail and walked to the home of Mary the mother of John Mark, where he knocked on the door. They admitted him, and he told them that an angel had appeared and that the chains had fallen from his wrists. He instructed them: "Tell James and the other brothers what happened." Then he went to another place.
Prisons were probably not sophisticated, tricksters and so-called wizards were plentiful, and ways of escaping may not have been a big secret. A man like Peter, who had learned many tricks, possibly could have removed the chains himself and made his escape and lied about the angel because doing so would make him seem holy and his escape seem innocent. He would not have wanted anyone to know that he could escape from jails.
18-19 : At dawn a great commotion about Peter being gone from the prison.
Herod ordered a thorough search. When Peter could not be found, Herod sentenced the guards to death and left for Caesarea. Peter does not appear to have regretted this happening to the guards. This proves that really caring about people was not one of his characteristics. If he really cared about saving people's souls, he would have cared about saving the souls of the men who had guarded him. The fact that he did not proves that his motive was not genuine. We see again and again that neither Saul nor Peter cared about anyone but themselves. This is another trait of Christian belief, that while much pretense is made about loving one another and Jesus saving everyone, church leaders and members themselves typically do not care about anyone's real interests but only pretend that they care. If someone wanted to say that Christian believers learned such behavior from the examples of Peter and Paul, there is plenty of justification for doing so.
20-25 : The people of Tyre and Sidon sent a delegation to make peace with Herod, and he spoke to them publicly. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting that his voice was that of a god, not of a man. Luke says that Herod immediately became visibly ill and died, and he interprets this as a divine punishment caused by the fact that Herod accepted the people's worship instead of giving glory to the Gotah. This is really just an example of Christian advocates using every possible opportunity to make something seem holy which is simply a natural occurrence. Surely this was not the first time Herod had been given that kind of ovation, and on none of the previous occasions had anything happened. In these regions during ancient times rulers were often said to be gods, not only in Israel but in many places. Roman emperors who were declared gods were not struck dead on account of it. Indeed, a long string of them even believed that their own mothers were virgins when they were born, so even immaculate conception was not considered unusual among rulers. But this is a good example of the ways primitive people sometimes think: They don't know the real reason something happened, so they imagine that a mysterious entity caused it. Maybe Herod had a heart attack. Or maybe he was poisoned. Perhaps a blood vessel in his brain ruptured. Diets were bad, stress was high, life expectancies were low, and it was a dangerous world to live in. Kings making speeches was not new, and many instances of kings being praised as gods happened without any of them dying because of it. This is an example of Luke fear-mongering, obvious to us, pregnant with mystery, and glorious only to persons ignorant of reality and steeped in superstition.
1-3 : Five followers are named, including Barnabas and Saul, who were worshiping together when the Holy Spirit said to them, "Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them." So the men laid hands on them and sent them on their way.
How did the Holy Spirit say that? Did the Holy Spirit speak aloud? How is that possible if he has no body? Luke does not provide enough information for us to know the answers to these questions. But we do know that pretenders are able to convince a lot of people that invisible spirits are real and that they visit humans.
Luke consistently describes certain types of events in ways which tend to create the impression that they are holy and supernatural, when in fact they are not, and nothing he writes ever contradicts such impressions. Instead, he worked deliberately to create the delusional perception of holiness in natural occurrences. He included these descriptions because they made it easier for him to convert people who believe without thinking. Later these methods were taken to extremes when the churches of Jesus murdered anyone who questioned whether such events might not be unholy. Avid Christianers still tell these same tall tales, and gullible believers still drop their hard earned money into the lying priests' and preachers' collection plates.
4-12 : Saul (now called Paul), Barnabas, and John Mark went to the town of Salamis on Cyprus, where they preached in the Jewish synagogues. They traveled throughout the island and came to Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus (also known as Elymas), who was associated with Sergius Paulus, Proconsul of Cyprus under the Roman Emperor Claudius.
Elymas tried to persuade the governor not to convert to Christianity, and for this, Paul looked him in the eye, spoke harshly, and smote him with a curse, and suddenly Elymas became temporarily blind. This convinced Sergius Paulus that Paul had divine powers, and he was converted.
Paul probably knew a trick that could cause temporary blindness, and that would mean he was capable of having caused his own temporary blindness, described earlier in Acts. The Bible says a mist instantly came over Elymas' eyes. Some men skilled in slight of hand know how to cause a mist instantly to occur, and this mist is possibly what temporarily blinded Elymas.
Not only was that a deceitful act by Paul, it was also a malicious act that ruined the reputation of Elymas, who, as a magician, was apparently not as skillful as Paul. Regardless of whether this was a trick or a divine event, which cannot technically be proved either way, because no conclusive evidence exists, but only Luke's word, it does once again show that Paul was capable of carrying out his goals in ruthless and deceitful ways, without regard for anyone's interests but his own, and not caring if others were harmed. This is important to realize, for the Christian religion is claimed to be of benefit to those who believe in it, but if its spread depends on evil means, its substance cannot be good. An enthusiastic believer might say that it was worthwhile to discredit Elymas and harm him in that way, in order to bring the soul of Sergius Paulus to Jesus. But if the name of Jesus is wonderful and powerful, why not also convert Elymas? The answer is that Jesus' name is not wonderful or powerful and that people cannot be converted to Christian belief without trickery, lies, ignorance, and defective reasoning. Christians would say that Elymas' own evil character made him unreachable. But that's just a way of saying that Jesus' name is not powerful enough to convert him. And if converting Sergius Paulus to Christianity justifies destroying Elymas, Paul would be willing to destroy you or me or anyone else for the same reason, even in the name of Jesus. So this shows that Paul did not care about Elymas' soul, and that he does not care about yours or mine either. He was only interested in spreading the disease of Christian belief, and because converting Sergius Paulus would be an impressive testimony in the minds of the public, this was an important event in terms of public relations, a stroke of ruthless salesmanship, not a holy occurrence. Luke says the Holy Spirit came over Paul just before he cursed Elymas. But do you think that if it didn't, Luke would he have said that it didn't? Or do you think he would have omitted to say that it did, since that would enhance the holiness of Paul's action in the opinions of naive people and persuade ignorant people that Jesus' name was working, and that it was not just Paul's playing a dirty trick but the power of Jesus' holy name? Many people think that dirty tricks are all right if the results they desire are thereby brought about. But just what sort of god is it that cannot achieve his ends without using the worst means? Not a good one.
This participation in the blinding of Elymas shows that Christianity's use of the Holy Spirit is as evil as Paul.
As Luke describes it, the Holy Spirit always shows up when magic is needed. Try asking the Holy Spirit to do that for you some time and see what you get. The result is always nothing, or an unreal fantasy justified by an unreasoned rationale, in other words a delusion, usually having nothing to do with a legitimate cause, or even with reality. Delusional thinking is a principle symptom of insanity.
Does this mean that Christian believers are insane?
13-43 : Paul and his companions sailed to Perga, where John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. Barnabas and Paul went to Antioch and attended services in the synagogue.
Luke describes Paul giving a speech in which he says that from the time when the Hebrew god first chose the people of Israel as his people, to the time when he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave that land to them, was about 450 years.
At one point in this speech, Paul says that the people of Jerusalem wanted to kill Jesus, and that they used Pontius Pilate as their tool in accomplishing this, and he says the Jews found no legal reason for killing him. He claims the Gotah raised Jesus from the dead. Again he distorts the meaning of Psalm 2, saying it was about Jesus, which we know it was not. He also refers to Psalm 16, claiming that it also is about Jesus, although in fact it was written by King David about himself. It turned out that David was wrong in Psalm 16, because the psalm said the Gotah promised him he would never rot, but he did rot, and Paul uses this to confuse the meaning, saying it therefore could not have been about David but could only have been about Jesus. Actually, it only proves that the Gotah could not be relied on to do what the author of Psalm 2 said he had promised him, but Paul ignores this. Certainly a fictional character, even if he is a god, cannot make good on promises ascribed to him. According to the Gotah's own criterion -–that a real prophet is one whose prophecies come true–- David was not a real prophet and the Gotah is not a real god.
The appealing and extremely easy come-on of the Christian religion is that everyone who believes in Jesus is declared righteous in the eyes of the Gotah, something that Paul says the law of Moses could never do.
In verse 41, To conclude his speech, Paul quotes the book of Habakkuk (chapter 1, verse 5). Habakkuk lived more than 600 years before Paul. It begins with Habakkuk asking God to deliver the Jews specifically by means of violence, which has to mean that Jesus was not the messiah that Habakkuk predicted, because Jesus was not violent. Paul nonetheless uses the prophecy as a warning to his listeners to be careful so the prophecy doesn't apply to them, implying that if they choose not to believe in Jesus they will die. These viscious men took their primitive methods to extremes, threatening harm to all who might dare to disbelieve.
Motivation to believe in Jesus tends to be based on a mixture of sweetness and fear. If you offer people something that is easy and pleasant, and threaten to hurt them if they reject it, most will choose the sweetness and reject what they fear, if your threat is strong enough and especially if they believe you. In humans, the feelings associated with loss are experienced more strongly than those of gain. Paul was essentially saying, "Believe what I'm telling you, or you will go to hell." This is one of the most commonly used techniques in the Christian religion. Church leaders wave the image of damnation and hell in front of believers and then promise them eternity in paradise if they will do what church leaders say that Jesus wanted them to do. In this way the Christian religion discourages thought and uses fear to drive people to wrong belief. When the religion's advocates use this method, they are intentionally instilling terror into the minds of believers to motivate them into believing, and if someone wants to employ the right words in describing such a method, it is linguistically correct to say that this is a sense in which every church of Christian belief functions as a terrorist organization. Given the people among whom the Christian religion originated, this should not be a surprise.
Habakkuk was talking about the time in which he himself lived, not the time in which Jesus lived. This can easily be understood just by reading the book of Habakkuk. Nonetheless, as is true of many Jesus-related prophecies, verse 5 can be misconstrued and be said to apply to any circumstance or time.
Christianity misinterprets Habakkuk, implying, "Put your trust in Jesus. Put Jesus --not yourself-- in charge of your life. Give Jesus your eternal soul to do with as he sees fit."
But Jesus worshiped the god of the ancient Hebrews, a deity that favors the Hebrews above all other humans, and this can only mean that if you are not a Hebrew, he will consider your merit and your needs as being less than those of any Hebrew. Are you sure that this is the man you want to trust with your immortal soul?
You would not treat your wallet or purse with such careless disregard.
44-49 : The following week almost the entire town came to hear Paul and Barnabas preach about Jesus.
Some Jews slandered Paul and argued against what he was saying.
Luke makes their motive seem petty by saying they were jealous of the large crowds he attracted. This is a form of denial, making it easier for Luke's readers to ignore the real reason, which was that to the Hebrews, Paul's teachings were blasphemous. Notice that Luke does not tell us what their arguments were. It would be interesting to know, because they might be right. Maybe that's why he didn't quote them.
Paul's response was to say that by rejecting Jesus as their messiah they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, and he blamed them for leaving him no choice but to preach to the gentiles. Then he said that the Hebrew god commanded him to do so. He quotes Isaiah 49:6 in support of this.
In fact he did have a choice: If he had persisted among the Jews, more Jews might have been converted. Isaiah 49:6 is not about Jesus or the Jews; it is about the increase in personal status which the Gotah promised Isaiah. And that verse was probably not written by Isaiah. Paul blamed his own action --preaching to gentiles-- on those who accused him of blasphemy. He condemns their immortal souls and blames them for that also. His response was a complicated series of denials, lies, and fear mongering, all of which are very common in the Bible, and no less reprehensible for that. To these ignorant men, Paul’s attack probably seemed like a powerful threat of genuine supernatural substance.
This idea --that the Jews rejected Jesus and his teachings and that therefore it only made sense to preach to the gentiles-- was the rationale Paul came up with which in his own mind justified his decision to preach to gentiles, an action which, honest study of the Bible tends to suggest, Jesus strongly opposed.
Acts shows us that many Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah; therefore, Paul's claim must be false. His response was mean spirited, disrespectful of the Hebrew religion, an affront to human law, and not based on anything real or even true. But he does appear to have silenced his critics, at least for the moment.
The New Testament contains no unquestionable statement made by Jesus that he would ever, under any circumstance, preach to anyone who was not a Jew. Matthew 28:19 is most likely fake. Matthew 15 quotes Jesus earlier as saying, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and by this he meant Jews, not gentiles. This is an explicit statement of Jesus' mission, as Jesus himself understood it. Therefore Paul's preaching to gentiles was not approved of by Jesus but was Paul's decision in violation of Jesus' own statements and actions.
Church men took the idea that Jesus did not die, and they used it as much as they could, even saying that the church's action of preaching to gentiles is Jesus himself carrying out the commands of the Gotah by means of the church he established. It is a metaphoric manner of thinking, which although colorful, is incorrect. If it were true, you could also say that the abolition of slavery in the USA was the action of George Washington by means of the government which he had helped to establish. But just like George Washington owned slaves and was not in favor of abolition, Jesus preached only to Jews and did not want to be a messiah for gentiles. When Christian believers assert that he was, they are imagining something that is not real, and they are lying to you and me and to themselves. Unfortunately, some of them really believe it. It is not a healthy state of mind for a human to be in, believing that a delusion is both true and precious.
Paul slipped through a boundary that has always been present between the Hebrew people and the gentiles, and now the gentiles were going to be saved by Jesus. This is probably one of the reasons many Jews decided that Jesus could not possibly be the Jewish messiah.
It is a tactic many salesmen are familiar with, that some people feel a stronger impulse to buy a thing if it appears good to them and they know that the person for whom it was made arrogantly rejected it, and this is the sort of circumstance the author of Acts is describing, in which Paul may be eliciting such feelings in the minds of some of the people he was preaching to, while blaming the Jews for his decision to preach to them. Thus, in the minds of careless believers, Paul appears to have a legitimate motive and to be without blame, though in fact his motive is not legitimate, and because he is responsible for his decision he is to blame for it, not the Jews. Once again, the author of Isaiah 49 was not Isaiah, and whoever wrote it was not talking about Jesus. In claiming that Isaiah 49:6 was about Jesus, Paul is showing us that he either did not understand the verse, or that he was intentionally distorting its meaning to support the idea that he was selling. Given what we now know about Paul, it is more likely that he was deliberately distorting the meaning of the verses and was knowingly lying. Indeed, we have seen already that Paul was an unscrupulous liar, an unconscionable manipulator, and that he was an immoral sociopath who exploited the ignorance and obedience of his sheeplike congregations. When trying to persuade people to believe in Jesus and in Jesus' name, Paul was willing to employ any tactic, even those which violate basic social and ethical practices.
Isaiah lived more than 700 years before Jesus was born. He was a creator of hope and faith for his people the Jews. Isaiah understood that by prophesying a particular event, its occurrence would thereby become more likely. He may also have possessed knowledge on which to base such prophecy. Some say that Isaiah 49 tells how the Gotah was going to make Jerusalem the center of his worldwide rule through a specific royal savior, a messiah alive at that time, King Cyrus the Great, who was going to destroy Israel's oppressor Babylon. Whether or not that is correct, Isaiah clearly was not talking about Jesus. Even where the author of Isaiah 49 quotes the Gotah as saying, "I will make you a light to the Gentiles," he was talking to the author of that chapter of Isaiah about the author of that chapter of Isaiah, not about Jesus. This is very clear just by reading Isaiah. Moreover, the author of Isaiah 49 describes the Hebrew messiah as achieving his victory specifically by violence. Jesus was famously not violent.
Many young Hebrew men, even when Jesus lived, were messiah pretenders. They are forgotten now because they used violence and were defeated, thus proving that they were not messiahs.
Instead of allowing himself to be defeated while showing a display of force, Jesus consciously may have arranged to make it appear that his own life was forfeited for the sake of his teachings, which consisted primarily of ideas and of his own example, and because of this, his objectives became instilled into the thoughts, emotions, and motivations of those who were impressed by his story. As often happens with martyrs, the tragedy and pathos of his story gave people strong feelings and motivated many to remember him and his teachings. This may have been his real intention, and he could have been consciously aware of it and had thought about it and planned it. Evidence which tends to confirm this is present in the New Testament. The brief duration of Jesus' crucifixion is one clue, and there are others. In more than one place in the New Testament Jesus says to his disciples something which he did not want the public to hear. Luke 12: 49-51 is a good example, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! ... Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." When he said this, he was speaking to his disciples, not to the crowds. We should take this to mean that he meant to bring destruction, not inspiration. His intentions were not in our interests, and these verses have turned out to be true, for from the lands in which Christianity has prevailed, wars have fomented and spread. Many if not all of them were instigated, encouraged, and exploited by Jews. The fact that Paul was unscrupulous in converting people to Christian belief is consistent with these views. Additional examples are not hard to find. Actually, when you understand these ideas, they are obvious. Look for them and you will find them. Yes, just like Jesus said, “Seek and you shall find”, but he was not the first person who understood this principle, and the book of Thomas says it differently, talking about Jesus saying, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All”, in a way that is much more specific than merely, “Seek and you shall find”.
In Madras, India, there is a tomb known as "The Tomb of the Christian Messiah." Some day it might be proved a fraud, but that would not prove that Jesus died in the crucifixion. Until then, the existence of that tomb might give support for what may have been the real purpose of Jesus’ life, that he was given a coma-inducing drink while on the cross, was taken down after only a few hours, still alive but in a deathlike coma, entombed, woke three days later, got out, perhaps by prearranged means, said that he had been resurrected and that he had seen two angels, talked with his disciples for a number of days, then secretly and permanently left the region.
People who were crucified usually took two or three days to die, sometimes longer. Also, we don't know why the Romans did not break his legs, which in crucifixions was usually done, not to hasten death, but to make it more tortuous, because, that way, the victim could not support his weight and all his weight was supported by the spikes that had been driven through his wrists (The spikes were not driven through the palms of the hands because the tones and tissues there are not strong enough to support a person's weight.), and also to make breathing more difficult as this causes the lungs to become stretched and thus their movements less efficient. The description of a spear piercing Jesus' side is only present in one of the accounts, and it may have been added to justify the brevity of his crucifixion. The story of Jesus is not lacking in lies, and the spear in his side is probably one of them. If it really happened, it is likely that it would have been told of also in other places. Finally, he was allowed to drink from a wetted sponge. This final drink could have contained a concoction that put him into a coma. Immediately after drinking it, he said, "It is finished," and he appeared to die. He may simply have entered into a coma.
It is known that people traveled long distances on foot. The treasurer of Ethiopia made a three thousand mile round trip, supposedly just to worship in Jerusalem. Entire armies traveled by foot over long distances. The Roman Empire was administered by men whose families traveled with them for many hundreds of miles to their posts and back home again. Many trips of long distance are well documented. Jesus was extremely unpopular with many people in the region, and he would have known that a lot of people would still want to kill him even if he survived the crucifixion or was thought to have been resurrected. Perhaps he did not go to India, but if he wanted to, he could. Or he could have traveled to some other place.
It is possible that Jesus intended to be crucified; that he had figured out how to influence some or all of its aspects and knew that he would survive it; that he knew it would be a terrible ordeal but was determined and willing to endure it; that at the last supper he instructed Judas to betray him; that Judas obeyed but afterward killed himself on account of remorse; that Jesus was extremely anxious and wept as its occurrence approached, because he knew it would be terrible; that he had planned what he would do after it; that he understood the story of his life would make him a martyr and motivate people to admire him and to accept his teachings, and that his teachings and other ideas would be rejected by many but be accepted by others. That the story of his life and teachings would be accepted by many gentiles may have been the way his motivating force intended to make it easier for the Jews to become free from foreign rule, to spread into many lands, and to proliferate not merely in Israel but also in many other places. Just the idea --which Jesus taught-- of unlimited forgiveness, has made it possible for Jews to invade many lands without encountering resistance. The Christian religion is a powerful weapon, and those it harms are the Christian believers themselves.
In Jesus' conscious awareness his intention may have appeared less significant, but even so, his subconscious mind would have apprehended all of these elements to some degree, plus additional ones, and could have presented to him whatever thoughts may have been needed to motivate him to effectively deliver the Jews from their oppressors and fulfill the role of Jesus being their messiah, even though it was the gentiles, more than the Jews, who accepted him and his teachings. The human subconscious, the collective subconscious, and the subconscious of various human intellects are all capable of these things. More than that, they would have maximized the potential, and among populations whose religions were susceptible to stronger beliefs, as in European lands, belief in salvation by Jesus and his infinitely powerful father easily came to dominate, even to the extent of practically wiping out all other beliefs. The salvation of the Jews by means of Jesus' teachings is what we see has actually occurred, and we can see that it continues. In this sense he was indeed their Messiah. Outcomes make people's intentions clear, quite aside from their words or ostensible purposes. Consistent with Jesus' own words --that we know the nature of a tree by the fruit it bears-- we best understand Jesus' real intentions by the results his ideas have brought about.
These results are extremely important to be aware of. They constitutes a life-or-death matter for every non-Jew. If I am wrong about this, what I say here will be disproven, not perhaps by argument but by pragmatic biological realities. However, if it is true, then, if the peoples of the earth are to live their lives without being dominated by the Jews, or driven to extinction by them, Christian belief, worship of Jesus, and adoration of his story and teachings need to be discouraged. One good way to do this is by helping our own people acquire and understand principles of knowledge and truth, rational thinking, the skillful use of valid logic and sound reasoning, and by encouraging people to think for themselves rather than gullibly believe anything just because it seems pleasant or makes them feel good.
50-52 : The Jews ran Paul and Barnabas out of town and they went to Iconium.
1-7 : The same thing happened in Iconium.
They preached in the synagogue and performed what many believed were miracles --many believed, but not everyone. The people became divided in their opinion, and a mob of Jews and non-Jews decided to attack Paul and Barnabas and tried to stone them to death, so they fled to Lycaonia.
8-11 : In Lycaonia, they came upon a man who had been born with crippled feet and had never walked. So Paul commanded him to stand up, and the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
The description does not contain enough information to form a rational conclusion, except to say that there is something wrong with the story because the leg muscles of men who are born crippled have not developed sufficiently to support their weight, and that walking has to be learned. It does not occur in the way this miracle is described. The man was probably a shill.
Luke says that many local people were convinced and that some who saw this miracle said Paul was Zeus and Barnabas was Hermes (Greek gods), and they even made sacrifices to them. This tends more to indicate the degree of ignorance common in the region, than it represents a realistic foundation on which to base a belief in Jesus. Another possibility is that because these populations had long been dominated by kings determined to control them, most people were in the habit of behaving submissively rather than be flogged.
Some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town and thought he was dead. But later he got up and went back into town, and the next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
21 : After preaching in Derbe, they turned around and went back to support their believers. It says that Paul and Barnabas reminded them that they must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. This is the opposite of what had been said earlier, that believers only have to believe in Jesus and repent their sins. So here the easy requirement has become difficult and unpleasant. This shows that these men would change what they were preaching to make it fit different situations. And now Christian believers use Jesus and his teachings for the basis of many mutually exclusive rationales.
The Bible's idea of salvation may have begun with the idea of the Jews being liberated from slavery in ancient Egypt.
There is evidence which suggests that the Jews were never slaves in Egypt, regardless of what the Bible says, and that in fact they came to power there, without striking a blow, and ruled Egypt for two hundred years, until the Egyptian people rose up and forced them out. The Jewish historian Josephus made statements consistent with this. Worthwhile articles on this topic are at http://www.reformjudaism.org/were-jews-slaves-egypt and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Egypt .
Whatever the case, Moses is said to have come later and given the Jews their laws about animal sacrifice, which he believed was necessary for the atonement of sins. This is now said to justify Jesus' death, as his blood is believed by Christians to absolve themselves and everyone else of all wrongdoing, even while the churches nonetheless admonish their members strongly and condemn them for doing what church leaders personally do not approve of. The New Testament states, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22) It is not practiced however. And modern psychology clearly understands that is not how forgiveness works. But it was this primitive and extremely ignorant Hebrew tradition which led to Christian believers thinking that Jesus' death by crucifixion, and the spilling of his blood (which he knew was going to happen and made a ritual of at the so-called Last Supper) achieved their salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
After Egypt, the idea of salvation was about the Jews being saved from Babylonian oppressors. With Jesus it was about their being saved from the Romans. With Paul, everyone except the Jews were going to be saved, but from what was not clear. Some say original sin. But to believe this, you have to think the Gotah did not make humans correctly to begin with. No. It is from their own creator, as described in the Bible, that humans are to be saved by Jesus.
The story of Jesus is the Jewish-victim story writ large, it is the tale of animal sacrifice carried to an irresponsible extreme, and it is an exaggeration of Jewish egotism extended to blatant absurdity. It is the absolute peak of all that is wrong with gullibility, superstition and misguided belief.
The purveyors of Christianity spread ideas. Therefore, the purpose of their effort must be contained within those ideas. We need to understand the substance and consequences of the ideas themselves in order to understand the real nature and purpose of Christian belief. To do this, we must question whether the ideas are valid and true. Jesus strongly discouraged his followers from asking such questions, because he knew that his example and his teachings would not stand up to careful scrutiny.
Even in ancient times it was the more gullible and unquestioning individuals that fell for the miracles and teachings which Jesus and his followers were spreading. These careless believers flocked to Jesus and the apostles, leaving their abandoned Hebrew congregations to flourish with only those members who rejected Jesus and his teachings. These constituted a body of more careful thinkers on the basis of which Hebrew ideology has continued into our own time. So the strength of non-Christian Jewish populations and congregations was improved by Jesus' actions and by the actions of his followers. Therefore this must be part of Christianity’s intended purpose. These are fruits of his actions.
The effects of Christian belief on non-Jewish populations is not lacking in injury and damage, so this has also got to be one of the purposes which Jesus served, and this is consistent with the favors that the Hebrew god was believed to have promised the Hebrew people.
One mechanism by which the ideological defeat of non-Jews is being carried out is by the use of the non-Jewish human collective subconscious in helping to misguide them. People who worship Jesus convince themselves that the Gotah is their creator, and they form their thoughts on the basis of that idea, and everything they do tends to harmonize with what they believe and feel about Jesus and the Gotah: Because the Gotah is known to favor the Jews above all other peoples of the earth and has promised to give the earth to the Jews (a promise which every Hebrew knows –and which Jeremiah confirmed– has never been rescinded), every Christian believer, in order to serve that god and his son, also necessarily serves that same intended purpose; therefore, the Christian believer favors Jewish interests above his own, and if he feels proud of this, he thinks that proves his piety. Variations and exceptions exist, but largely that is how it works.
By the time Luke wrote the book of Acts, groups of Christian believers had already become established in some of the towns Paul was visiting. The events described in the book of Acts took place over a period of years. Although it appears lengthy and full of complete stories, it is a relatively bare summary of events.
Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and stayed there a long time.
1-21 : Men from Judea arrived and told the gentile Christian men that if they were not circumcised they could not be saved. Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them and argued against them vehemently. This tends to confirm that Paul's motives were probably money-based, because, if his motives were religious, he would have favored circumcision. But because circumcision would have been extremely unpopular among adult male non-Jews of the time, the possibility that his followers would be reduced in number by this requirement would have been something Paul would be likely to argue against very strongly.
The church, which Luke tells us had by this time been established, sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to discuss the issue of circumcision with the apostles and elders. Some Pharisees insisted that the non-Jewish believers had to be circumcised and be required to follow the law of Moses. Paul explained that the Gotah made no distinction between Jews and non-Jews, because he had cleansed the Gentiles' hearts through faith, and that therefore what the Pharisee believers were contending against was the Hebrew god. He added that neither they themselves nor their ancestors had been able to bear the laws of Moses and that he believed everyone is saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of their Lord Jesus.
James stood up and quoted Amos (Amos 9:11-12) in support of the idea that Gentiles are to be converted.
Amos, said to be a prophet, was a shepherd who lived at least seven hundred years before Jesus was born. The verses quoted are from the Greek version used by Christians in those days. But it is clear by reading the book of Amos that his prophecy was a warning to the people during the time in which Amos himself was living, about what the people he was speaking to should expect during their own lifetimes, not about later generations, and that he was not prophesying about a distant future time or about Jesus. If Luke was quoting James accurately, James was distorting the real meaning of Amos to strengthen his own argument. But because so many distortions of old scriptural verses are displayed in the book of Acts, we need to be aware that Luke may have been guilty of misquoting these men himself. Either way, this again shows that the book of Acts is not to be relied on for truth or accuracy, and that James and Luke either misunderstood ancient Hebrew scriptures or intentionally distorted their meanings.
The fact that preachers never acknowledge that the book of Acts contains distortions of ancient texts is an example of the kind of dishonesty by omission and misguidance by implication which practitioners of the Christian religion characteristically engage in, and this is a symptom of the disease of not being able to live their lives on the basis of ideas which have reality and truth as essential components. An inability to accept truth and reality is a symptom of insanity.
James concludes by saying that a few very specific laws of Moses should be required of the non-Jewish Christians. These include abstaining from sexual immorality, not eating blood, or meat of animals that have been offered to idols in sacrifice, or animals that have been strangled.
The Mosaic law against sexual immorality is potentially harmful in several ways.
The authority to determine what is moral does not belong exclusively to the Jews, nor to Jesus, and certainly not to the Gotah, who is a deity guilty of first degree murder, as when he killed with malice aforethought every living thing on our planet except Noah and his family and a few animals, so the Bible says, and who is also guilty of many other horrific crimes. Any determination of what constitutes moral behavior is solely a function of subjective perception, an ability possessed by each human individually to a degree more or less beneficial to each.
Sex is a very large topic. It cannot adequately be dealt with by one man, or in a big book, or even within the context of a religion. The details of its efficacy are still being worked out by every sexually reproducing species of biological organism on our planet. A comprehensive understanding of all of its potentials still has not yet been achieved. For the authors of the New Testament to believe that they and their primitively conceived Hebrew ideas about universal creation rightly empower them with the authority to impose their own moral values onto other people is extremely conceited, arrogant, and pretentious. These particular men who wrote the Bible knew almost nothing about sexual reproduction. They were even ignorant of such basic facts as that women produce eggs and men produce sperm. They knew about semen, but they believed it was a kind of seed from which babies develop. They knew that women menstruated, but they did not know why, or even what the discharge contained.
The Bible's ideas about sexual morality then, although in some aspects beneficial, are based largely on ignorance.
All true morals derive from biological realities. Many of these are related to propagation and survival. The success or failure of any system of morals is ultimately experienced by individuals; thus, responsibility for determining what their own morals should be rightfully belongs to individuals. The forceful imposition of any system of moral values onto a population seeks to deprive individuals of the right to determine the nature and course of their own lives and in this sense can realistically be thought of as a crime against humanity. This being a form of abuse, and being also sexual in nature, it means that any forceful imposition of a system of sexual moral values onto a population of adults is a form of sexual abuse. From this understanding it reasonably follows that the Hebrew authors of the Bible, in pretending to be authorities on sexual morality, and in trying to force other people to comply with their moral laws, were actually committing a form of sexual abuse. This seems like a stretch of terms, and many professional psychologists apologize for Jesus and say this is wildly absurd, but I believe you will find that in terms of actual function, this description is correct.
The origins of Hebrew ideologies occurred in circumstances less characterized by abundance and riches than by deprivation and difficulty of survival. It is no wonder then, that the men of that primitive society still believed it necessary to avoid expending energy in ways not related to assuring the fulfillment of objectives required for survival and propagation. Their ideologies, including their morals, are not appropriate for peoples who inhabit lands populated with rich forests, full of wild animals, rich lands, and abundance, such as Europe and many other places. When the ancient Greeks had advanced to a point at which they had become free to involve themselves in abstractly exploring the causes and effects of outcomes they desired, the Hebrews were still fundamentally concerned with the basics of survival and success and had codified their impressions into a rigid system of religious ideology which they still cling to today. The Greek systems proliferated, and their ideologies and genetic characteristics have become widespread among us not because we were forced to adopt them, but because they are based on reality and we like them better. The phenomenon of Christian belief is a deformed, unreal, preposterous, and sick anomaly of human mental incapability that has taken root in, and strongly affected in negative ways every society over which it has gained a significant hold.
Sex is the means by which genetic information is passed to subsequent generations, and selection based on attractiveness, in one form or another, is thought to be the primary mechanism that determines which genetic traits will characterize newborns. The Jews' particular beliefs with regard to sexual morality have resulted in the Hebrew populations being inflicted with a larger than usual number of genetic flaws and errors, perhaps most notably in their immune systems' reduced ability to defend against certain diseases. This is a non-abstract proof that their ideas about sex are not the best ones.
We need for sexuality to include a broad range of behaviors for several reasons, an important one of which is that constrictions on mating choices tend to reduce the survivability of our species as a whole. Morals that confine the sexual activity of entire populations exclusively to people who are married to each other can increase the survival rate of some offspring into adulthood, but this practice also prevents a broader mix of genetic material and thereby constricts potentials inherent in our genes, and this eliminates from what is possible many chances for advancement as a species or genetic group. The existence of variety can potentiate immunity to disease, increase the availability of innovative thinking, and result in many other highly beneficial possible outcomes. And although family procreation can effectively produce and bring to adulthood viably healthy offspring, non-family life can do this also. The genetic materials of any one family's offspring is limited to those which are provided by one female and one male, whereas, in a population where individuals are not monogamous, genetic variation can be greater, and then, due to laws of probability, the occurrence of many more different types of successful individuals being brought about is much more significantly favored. This is because variety can increase the probability that progeny more likely to succeed will be born. The potentials for human survival and success do not exist only in one type or one form but are as potentially variable in their possible types as any other phenomenon. Negative possibilities are present in this choice, but the possible benefits outweigh those imposed by Christian belief.
Hebrew ideology deems it advantageous to Hebrews that non-Jews be less successful than Jews are. Indeed, one famous Jewish approach to business and to life in general is that their own success is not enough, but that also others must fail. This is very different from the understandings of some other genetic groups, who realize that in order to create and maintain a human society that thrives and flourishes overall, everyone must be free to succeed. In this way however, the Jews make themselves the enemies of all other groups. And while they may believe it is more beneficial to themselves to spread their own ideology among other groups, what they are actually doing, on a biological level, is selecting out genetic types which are likely to become extinct for the same reason that they themselves are.
The discussion described Acts 14: 1-21 resulted in a general agreement that non-Jews should be converted.
In verse 11, one of the least unpleasant and most humane appearing tenets of Christian belief is stated, "...We are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus."
And yet, if humans are not worthy of being saved, that implies that we are all worthy of being condemned, and that is not an attitude that anyone needs. Also, the idea that humans can be saved by Jesus' grace does not make them worthy, and it omits a great majority of humans from salvation just because Jesus never knew them. But even this tenet is not actually known by persons. Nor was it known by Jesus, nor by his disciples. It can be presumed and believed, it can be written beautifully about, it can be felt, it can even be perceived, but when English is used correctly, it cannot truthfully be said to be known by any human person. Such knowledge is simply not within the capacity of what it means to be human. The church gets around this by saying that Jesus was God. When I was a boy, we often played Cops and Robbers, and we pretended to kill hundreds or robbers. But that did not make it true. In fact we didn't kill any. And saying that Jesus is the Gotah, or that Santa Claus flies through the air in a sled pulled by reindeer, even though the first statement sounds holier than the second, neither statement proves anything.
A healthier tenet for religious belief, and a true one, is that no one can ever be eternally condemned, and that we humans developed over a long period of time, are well adapted to life and worldly circumstance, that in future we will improve even more, and that one thing humans really do need to be saved from is the angry, jealous, vengeful god of the ancient Hebrews, who blames his creations for the errors which he put into them, and that if any humans were to need to be saved, which they don't, they could do it themselves.
The author of Acts and the men who are central to his stories are here described as wanting everyone to believe that salvation is necessary and can only happen through belief in the god-like attributes of a particular man of non-gentile descent, which is perhaps one of the lowest and most harmful religious ideas that anyone has ever tried to palm off onto humanity. The Christian religion is not merely harmful. It is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated against mankind.
The idea that humans need to be saved is like thinking that figs need to be more like grapes, or that cats’ eyes should have round irises. In fact, cats’ eyes are the way they need to be, figs are good the way they are, and we humans are born right the first time.
22-35 : The group then sent Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to report on the decision that non-Jews were to be preached to. They took a letter with them, which conveyed the group's decision, and they stayed there and taught for some time.
36-41 : After a while, Paul suggested that he and Barnabas should go to the cities where they had previously taught, to assess the progress of the believers in those places. Barnabas agreed and wanted to take John Mark with them, but Paul rejected this idea because John Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. This disagreement was so strong that Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas went to Cyprus and took John Mark with him.
One should ask what sort of relationship Barnabas had with John Mark, whether they were totally committed to belief in the holiness of Jesus, but Luke says nothing about this. Clearly however, Barnabas was more committed to being with John Mark, than he was committed to helping Paul preach about Jesus.
In First Corinthians 9:6, Barnabas is described as saying that he has the right not to have to work for a living. Some Christians say this proves he was working odd jobs, but it more likely means that he was not working for a living but was partaking in the benefits of preaching. The context supports this conclusion.
Paul and Silas traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the Christian assemblies there.
1-5 : In Lystra, Paul met Timothy.
It is believed that Timothy died in AD 97, around the age of 80. If Acts was written in AD 60, this would mean that Timothy could not have been older than 43 when Paul met him. Probably he was younger. In fact, Paul refers to him as a child. This makes possible the understanding that the beginning of the story told in the book of Acts could be as early as two or three years after Jesus' crucifixion.
Acts says that Timothy was not a Jew, but his mother and grandmother were both Jews, and, because in Hebrew law the characteristic of Jewishness descends through the female line, not through the male line, that makes Timothy a Jew according to Hebrew law.
Paul circumcised him, which previously may have been left undone because his father was Greek.
6-8 : Paul obeys visions and dreams.
The Holy Spirit, which is an aspect which every human being possesses as a component of himself, is credited with guiding Paul in his decisions on where to preach. Thus Paul mistakenly attributes his own perceptions and understandings as being the will of Jesus, when the truth is more likely that these feelings of his were a result of what he himself imagined was true about Jesus. This sort of mistake is symptomatic of one of the principle characteristics of the Christian religion. It is delusional and a form of insanity. Believers base their own personal understandings --and therefore also their own personal decisions-- on what is known to them at the level of conscious awareness and subconscious awareness, and whatever else they cannot explain, or seems to them unknowable or beyond their comprehension, they say is Jesus or the Gotah, whose character and motives they merely imagine. It is just themselves being sensitive to what is going on in their own mind, but they fool themselves, and they try to fool others, into believing it is Jesus. It is a harmful practice, because it distorts the way Christian believers perceive reality. For sanity a true perception of reality is necessary. In this sense then, Christian believers are prone to think and behave in ways which are correctly called insane. The inability to perceive reality correctly is a sign of psychosis and is also a symptom of schizophrenia. When someone does something and says that Jesus told them to do it, they are not only wrong and lying, they are engaged in a process of thought which will lead to additional delusions. While delusions can be pleasant, we need to perceive reality correctly and know it for what it is. This is more effective than believing we can function effectively in worlds that exist only in our imagination.
9-10 : At night, Paul had a vision in which a man pleaded with him to go and help the people in Macedonia. The group believed this was an instruction from the Gotah.
In verse 10, the author of Acts (Luke) uses the first person plural ("we") in talking about Paul's and Silas' travels. Therefore it is generally assumed that Luke was with them now.
11-15 : They sailed to Samothrace and Neapolis, then to Philippi, where they stayed several days.
They met a merchant woman who worshiped the Gotah. She accepted what Paul told her about Jesus. Luke attributes this openness on her part not to the woman herself, which would be correct, but to a divine act. They baptized her and all the members of her household, and Paul and the other followers agreed to stay at her house.
One night's free meal and shelter would not make them wealthy, but this passage proves that these men benefited materially from their preaching. Luke does not say that she fed them, but she probably did, and this is a type of gain, which is a sort of profit. Preaching in circumstances in which the likelyhood existed of much larger donations is well documented in Acts. It is very likely that a desire to improve their own financial well being was a strong motive behind their activities.
16-34 : They met a slave girl who was said to have a spirit by which she predicted the future. She made a lot of money for her owner by this means. She followed them around, proclaiming they were servants of the most high God, and Paul became so exasperated by her that he turned and commanded in Jesus' name that the spirit come out of her, and Luke says that it did. At this point it was described as a demon.
If Paul had cast the demon out to start with, this would at least have provided evidence that Paul cared about someone other than himself, and it may even have shown that what he was preaching had merit in its own right. But he only did this to make the woman stop irritating him, which is not an altruistic motive, and she having asserted loudly beforehand that Paul was a servant of the most high god, if Paul could not by this means have stopped her irritating him, her own credibility would have been forfeit, and therefore she had no other choice but to go along with it. This brings up the question why, if she could predict the future, did she not know that Paul was going to do this and she simply not stop irritating him in the first place? Of course it is because she possessed no such spirit but was simply skilled at fooling gullible people into parting with their money.
Acts relates that her owner's hopes of wealth were thereby shattered, and that he dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities, who ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. Luke says they were beaten severely. Then they were thrown into a prison, and their feet were clamped in stocks.
Let us be sure that we understand this correctly. In effect, Paul and Silas were beaten for having deprived a slave owner of hopes that he would receive income produced by one of his slave's fortune telling activities, and her ability was said to be caused by a devil that had possessed her. This tells us something about the primitive values and poor quality of beliefs prevalent in the Middle East during the time when these men were preaching. Many of the ordinary people were not careful thinkers, were extremely gullible and highly superstitious. The region was populated with ignorant people whose unquestioning trust was easily exploited. And we have no evidence of any organized attempts to educate the public in such matters, as did exist in some Greek places.
Luke tells us that when Paul and Silas were in this prison, they prayed and sang hymns.
Men who are severely beaten are not very likely to pray aloud and sing. Serious bodily pain was the whole purpose of severe beatings. A severe beating with rods takes the skin off a man's back and leaves major scars. Singing requires deep breathing, which is extremely painful for someone whose back has been whipped, because they would be flexing open wounds. So it makes sense to think that Acts is not accurate here, that if Paul and the others were beaten and then sang, that at least they were not beaten severely.
An earthquake occurred, and every prisoner's chains fell off. To be credible, this needs more explanation. An earthquake might make every prisoner's chains fall off if there were only three prisoners all bound by the same chain, which Luke does not state, and if the chains were improperly made or carelessly fitted. But the story tells us the jailer had been told to make sure the men didn't escape, and the fact that he was going to kill himself when he woke up and found all the doors open suggests that he had taken his instructions seriously, which would mean he probably fastened the chains correctly and securely. Still, it's not impossible. So having made note of this, we'll go on. But we should not be amazed by Luke's description, or gullibly believe it is true just because the story is told by a follower of Jesus. That's the main point. Actually, the fact that it was told by a follower of Jesus is a good reason to doubt it.
As the jailer was about to kill himself, Paul shouted at him to stop, saying all the prisoners were present. This draws into question whether they really could have escaped if they had wanted to. Peter once chose to escape from jail, so we know the apostles were not consistently submissive in such ways, though Paul may have been in this case. Luke expects us to believe this story with all the power of our immortal souls, but as the story goes on it creates even more room for doubt.
Christianity systematically discourages the acquisition of knowledge. Among believers, acceptance based on faith alone is more important than truth. Ignorance is lied to by saying that Christianity is truth, and to discourage anyone from disagreeing with that lie, people are threatened with eternity in hell if they don't accept it as fact. It's like telling a child that if he steals a cookie, the boogeyman will come out from under his bed and gobble him up. It never happens. No boogeyman ever gobbled up anyone. And you won't go to hell if you leave the church. In former times the priests might have murdered you publicly in the town square by burning you alive, but you won't go to hell.
Threats and fears are often effective even with adults, and this is one reason people have difficulty leaving Christianity. Their fears are strongly felt, and it is not easy to come up with, or to find, satisfactory rationales to overcome them. Christianity does not help people become adults, when doing so requires that its tenets be questioned. Fear of going to hell is a psychological device that Christian belief deliberately makes use of, and when someone believes it is real, leaving the church is extremely difficult. Psychologically and emotionally these terrors are felt as real, though in substance the threats themselves are false.
Islam, which originated later among a genetically similar group of people less than a thousand miles away, has an even stronger mechanism of this type: The believers themselves are instructed to kill anyone who leaves Islam.
Where did the idea of Hell come from?
If you say one thing is better than another, that of course can be thought of as involving good and evil, and Jesus was born into a society in which people thought of things in those terms; therefore, many of his own thoughts derived from such ideas and developed around them. Given such perception, which in fact is extremely limited, for life and the world are much more than merely good and evil, once you proclaim a good, you automatically imply the existence of its opposite, and that opposite must necessarily be in some degree bad, or evil. If you talk about a place that is perfect, you automatically imply that some other place exists that is not perfect. If you refer to a place where God rules, you automatically imply some other place where God does not rule. If the kingdom of your god is a perfect and ideal place, then all other places can be assumed to be flawed and not ideal. If someone talks about helping bring about the Kingdom of God, what they are telling you is that they believe the Kingdom of God does not exist where they are talking. How weak the god is, that cannot be king of the whole earth which he himself created --it's nonsense. And when you want to make heaven sound as desirable as possible, you are then automatically implying an opposite place exists where everything is totally horrible. Actually, reality is not like that. Many things are entirely acceptable even though they are not perfect in an absolute sense, and these can be thought of as being ideal in a practical sense. Some things are better when not precise, more usable when inexact, and these are also types of perfection. Sometimes perfection requires a lack of refinement, as when some mechanical transmission systems won't work if all their interior surfaces are beautifully polished, or as when a surgery was wonderful but the patient died. The various shades of these meanings all depend on the definitions of words and how they are used. So, in this sense, the concept of hell is, at best, a cruelly devised psychologically manipulative invention that resulted from careless thinking and an irresponsible misuse of words.
While the forceful imposition of Christian belief onto entire populations is an unconscionable abuse which dominators of that religion have used in manipulating believers to come under their power and remain there, human nature and the laws of probability have always tended to ensure that some people will see through the deception and not believe. Promises of eternal happiness after death, together with happy imaginings in the meantime, tend to cover up the falsity of the believer's imagined fears and feed the delusion that only one realistic choice exists. The problem this causes is that while a person's psychological state can really be much better when Jesus is not believed in (because then one's understandings can be based on truth and be genuine), the ability to develop realistic understandings is delayed or even stopped by the forceful imposition of untrue religious ideology. For this reason it is psychologically unhealthy to believe in any religion that requires unquestioning belief in spurious suppositions, and what religion does not? This does not mean that all religions are wrong. Every religion contains some aspect beneficial to a believer (even Christian belief), but each also teaches concepts which either cannot be proven or which have not yet been completely understood, and some that are false. If there is anything that humans need to think about carefully, it is the claims which religions make about life and death, the world, the human spirit, and eternity as it relates to believers.
All of this fits with the idea that Christian belief functions in some ways as an instrument of conquest by one group (Jews) over a different group (everyone else). Wherever Christianity flourishes, people develop the mentality of sheep: Jesus will take care of you; give no thought to the needs of tomorrow; worldly possessions are not good; the poor widow's donation of a penny is more virtuous than a rich man's larger donation; obedience and compliance and humility are everything; initiative, innovation, independent thinking, and courageous individualism are nothing, in fact are evil. This results in gentile mothers obediently sending their sons to die or get maimed in wars that do not serve their own interests or the interests of their people, in men voting to elect representatives who represent only themselves and each other and Israel, and in putting money aside to help oneself in later years only so that Jews and others can steal it under the guise of officially justified government laws or actions.
Christianity's leaders, from the very first, must bear the blame for encouraging people to accept religious ideas on the basis of emotion and imagination, and to adopt beliefs and behaviors that are not in their interest, rather than encouraging them to develop their potential for thinking objectively in logical and rational ways. The inability or unwillingness to reason carefully leaves a person vulnerable to having their thoughts and beliefs diverted into believing in Jesus and the fantastically unreal delusions which Christian belief ruthlessly works to instill in them. The result is many-faceted, not simple as this short description seems. Another aspect of this process is the fact that people who are not in the habit of thinking well tend to be more easily controlled by others, and right now we are seeing that the moral beliefs and ethical standards of non-Jewish white Europeans and their descendents are being overrun in their own lands by people whose traditional homelands are in the Levant, because Christianity's ethical standards encourage them to allow it. It is not a coincidence that the overrunning masses are more closely related to the Jews than to these victim populations. Whether Jews openly prefer their relatives to others is not the question, because it is genetic or ethnic similarities that matter, not overt statements of personal preference. In the Bible, and in our world today, there is no lack of example to anyone whose eyes are open and whose mind is capable of genuine reason.
Because of these realities, we can see that the presence of Christian delusions in non-Hebrew peoples significantly serve Hebrew interests, and also because Jesus is described in the Bible as being a servant of the Hebrew god, a deity described as favoring the Hebrew people above all others, therefore it can only be true that Jesus and all of the apostles were working to bring about outcomes which will ultimately benefit Hebrews. Were they consciously aware that they were doing this? It makes no difference. These are outcomes which their actions have produced and are still producing, and they themselves believed that that men's intentions are to be judged by the outcomes which their actions bring about. From the Gospel of Thomas: "A bad man brings forth evil from the bad treasure that is in his heart, and in fact he speaks evil. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil." There is also the parable about trees bearing fruit consistent with their nature, that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit, and that by this understanding the true characters of men are to be recognized. Since the time when as a young adult I began examining Christian belief with my adult mind, I have been unable to find any conclusive or decisive basis on which to doubt that Jesus and his followers, including Luke (the author of Acts), Peter, and Paul, spoke evil, worked to accomplish evil, were evil in character and nature, and have caused evil results to come about among us, and that when Christian believers say that Jesus was good they are deluded or lying.
Luke would have us believe that the jailer was persuaded to believe in Jesus by the fact that Paul and Silas did not try to escape. Paul and Silas promised that if he would believe in Jesus he and his entire household would be saved. The way the story is told, Paul said this without having met the jailer's household members. Such a jailer may have had a wife and children and one or more slaves, all of whose circumstances would have required of them an absolute obedience to the jailer, even though any or all of them could actually have had other opinions. This would have to mean that Paul promised to save them regardless of whether they truly believed in Jesus or not, and regardless of whether they confessed their sins, and this shows the inconsistent, arbitrary, and self serving way in which these men applied their beliefs. Luke and Paul both had the same goal: Gain converts! They did not care how they did it, just as long as it happened. If their goal had been to believe only what is true, Luke and Paul and Silas would never have become Christian believers, and the book of Acts would never have been written.
35-40 : The jailer took Paul and Silas home with him and brought them back to the jail the next morning, for it says that in the morning the jailer received instructions at the jail, from the city officials, to release Paul and Silas. This jailer was a man so devoted to his duty, and so fearful of the men over him, that he was going to kill himself rather than have the city officials punish him for letting Paul and Silas escape, and yet he took them home with him during the night. From what I know about writing fiction, I'd say that this detail, though not impossible, is similar to a type of error fiction writers sometimes make, in which two elements of a story appear to be mutually exclusive, and, although more information might resolve this issue of the Jailer being so unpredictably pliable, to my mind it tends to suggest the story probably contains significant elements of fiction.
And here is another example of a similar thing. When Paul heard the magistrates had ordered the jailer to release them, Paul said, “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Roman citizens could not be imprisoned without trial, and Paul was a Roman citizen. From everything we know about him, just by reading the book of Acts, he was certainly not the sort of person who would let harm be done to himself without speaking out loudly, and he could have done so easily to prevent himself being beaten. But the fact he was singing while in jail indicates he was not beaten, so here is something else false about this story. Either he was not beaten, or he was not put in jail, or he was not singing, or the jailer was not converted, or there was no earthquake, or all or part of the story was made up for the purpose of getting gullible people to believe in Jesus.
It could be supposed that he let them beat him so they would be guilty of the crime of punishing a Roman citizen without first giving him a trial, and Paul could then blackmail them into doing something he wanted them to do. If this was the case, then the idea that Jesus planned to use his own crucifixion as a way of fomenting widespread support for his own ideas does not seem totally unwarranted, for the methods would be similar in that surreptitious motives were involved. This would also support the idea that Paul's beating was not severe, and that perhaps he knew by some means that it would not be, maybe had even managed to arrange that it would not be, or perhaps that he was not beaten at all but was simply imprisoned, which would still be against Roman law. The practice of using an enemy's beliefs and methods against one's enemy, or even using one's own victimhood to bring disapproval upon one's enemy, have been Hebrew practices for many centuries. This could be the true explanation, because the author of Acts goes to the trouble of explaining some details which really are not necessary to explain, such as the fact that the jailer called for lights (which supposes that other, non-prisoners were also present) and that he set a meal before them, yet the essential detail, about why Paul did not cry out that he was Roman citizen and entitled to a trial, Luke omits to explain. These officials would have known about the rights of Roman citizens and would have complied with them. Such details may have been left out because they would have prevented the effect the author wanted to create, specifically that the jailer was converted to belief in Jesus by the supposed miracle of an earthquake, the freeing thereby of the prisoners, and their choosing not to escape.
After these events, they returned to Lydia, where they encouraged the other believers.
Then they left Lydia.
1-9 : They traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, to Thessalonica. Paul spoke in the synagogue there for three Sabbaths in a row, trying to gain believers. So again, nearly all the early Christian believers were Jews, and it isn't true that Jesus offered his teachings to gentiles because the Jews rejected him. Luke refers to Greeks, and these were Jews who spoke Greek as their primary language. Some of the Jews and many of the Greeks and the wives of some of the male Hebrew leaders were persuaded. Others arranged for a mob to start a riot. They attacked the home of a man named Jason, did not find Paul or Silas there, but dragged Jason and some believers out and took them before the city rulers. They said they were guilty of treason against Caesar, because they professed allegiance to another king, whose name was Jesus.
Everyone was thrown into turmoil by these reports, and the city council forced Jason and the other believers to post bond. Then they released them.
10-15 : That night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. Once there, they went to the Jewish synagogue and spoke. The people listened eagerly. After several days many were persuaded. Then some Jews came from Thessalonica to Berea and caused trouble. The believers sent Paul to the coast. Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. Those escorting Paul went with him to Athens, and then they returned to Berea and told Silas and Timothy to join him.
16-21 : Luke tells us that in Athens Paul was was greatly distressed that the city was full of statues of Greek gods, and that he spoke in the synagogue there and every day in the public square to everyone who was there.
No archeological evidence exists of a synagogue in Athens before the third century AD. Of course this does not prove there was not one. (Some scholars say that the book of Acts may not have been written until the second century AD.)
If there was a synagogue in Athens when the author of Acts says there was, it would show that the Jews had long been establishing non-assimilating colonies outside their own homeland. They call them 'communities', and they are communities, but they are also colonies. Two significant differences between how the Jews establish colonies, and how some other genetic groups (for example the Greeks) established colonies, are that the Jews make their settlements within the centers of other populations and do not assimilate with them. The Greeks established a beach head and then tended to assimilate with the local poeple. The Jews had spread to Rome before this time, and were causing riots there.
In Athens, Paul debated with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. They believed he was preaching about foreign gods, which implies that none of the statues of gods in Athens had ever been intended as having anything to do with the Gotah.
The philosophers took Paul to the Areopagus, the highest judicial and legislative council in Athens, and they asked him to explain what he was talking about, because new ideas interested them. This is very different from what had happened in Jerusalem, where they were interested in controlling what was said, and it points to the contrast between the Israeli community, in which superstition ruthlessly dominated, and the Greek community, where although superstitious belief was present, rational thinking was allowed and flourished. The Athenians had not been inflicted with the disease of ignorant self-righteousness, combined with iron-clad certainty, to nearly the same degree as the people of Jerusalem and the Middle East generally.
22-31 : If you have never read anything in the book of Acts before now, you should read the speech contained in these verses. Of course the Bible's description of it was written by Luke some time after the fact, assuming that it did occur. But Paul's speech is smartly conceived and well constructed. In these ways it is different from many other descriptions contained in the New Testament. One reason may be that Luke took greater care in writing these verses.
He begins with Paul flattering his listeners, saying he can see they are religious, and he refers to an alter in their city, which he says bears the inscription, "To the Unknown God".
All of the references to this inscription that I have been able to find --online and in books-- come specifically and solely from these very verses which Luke wrote in the book of Acts, specifically describing Paul and his talk about this inscription before this particular council at this particular time. There is no independent evidence I could find that refers to such an alter or inscription. This does not prove that it did not exist, but it strongly invites the question of whether this aspect of the story is true. Clearly, we know that neither Paul nor Luke can be relied upon to tell the truth. Therefore reference by Paul or Luke to such an inscription certainly does not prove that it existed. It is perhaps an element of fiction, invented by the author of Acts or by someone else.
For discussion though, let's assume that it did exist.
It need not have been in any way constructed in reference to the Gotah but more likely resulted from an attitude the people of Athens had toward ideas generally. They were interested in ideas of all sorts. Plato, in writing about Socrates, had clarified for them, and for us, that humans do not know everything. Athenians believed that gods might exist of which they were unaware. They could have said this in an inscription and it have nothing to do with the Gotah. Just because someone imagines there is a god unknown to themselves does not mean that it has to be the particular one that is described in a book written by some other group of people. Athenians devising such an inscription would have been trying to avoid insulting by omission any deity unknown to them, which nonetheless they themselves --not the Jews-- imagined. Paul's attribution of such inscription to the Gotah was not based on that attitude. His claim that it was about the Gotah would have been clever but deceitful, for it would never have been meant to refer to a specific god at all, but to a god that is particularly not known, not merely not known by Athenians, but specifically not know not by anyone.
32-33 : When Paul talked about the resurrection of the dead, some of his listeners laughed, Luke says, "in contempt", but others wanted to hear more about this later. That ended his discussion with them. Some people became believers.
1 : Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
2 : There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome, which was accomplished some time between 49 AD and 53 AD. Paul lived with them in Corinth and worked with them, because Paul was a tentmaker and so were they. This does not prove that he had never acquired any wealth of his own, as this would have been an intelligent way of fitting in by making himself useful, and it would have been politically astute, or there may be some other reason.
9 : Paul claimed to have a vision, at night, in which Jesus spoke to him, saying that he should speak out more. So he stayed a year and a half. This shows the amount of time he may have stayed in other places too, when he was welcome.
12-17 : When Gallio became governor of this region, some Jews rose up against Paul and brought him before Gallio for judgment. They accused him of persuading people to worship in ways contrary to Hebrew law.
Gallio did with Paul what Pontius Pilate should have done with Jesus. He told Paul's accusers, "Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves," and he threw them out of the courtroom. Right there in front of Gallio, the crowd beat up Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, because he believed in Jesus. Gallio ignored the beating. It really wasn't his business to interfere. Luke doesn't tell us whether Paul was beaten up, or, if not, why not.
18 : Paul later went to Cenchrea, where he shaved his head in keeping with a Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Luke does not say what the vow was. Perhaps Luke wasn't Jewish and didn't know. Modern writers give several explanations, each of which is speculation. One says it was on the occasion of his decision to separate from Hebrew law so he could Preach to the Gentiles. If this is true, it would mean that in leaving Hebrew law he complied with Hebrew tradition. The implication would be that he was therefore still Hebrew in purpose and intent. But whether he did it for this reason is uncertain.
Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.
19-23 : These verses give details of Paul's travels. He left Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus and traveled some more.
24-28 : A Jew named Apollos arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria and preached eloquently about Jesus, but he only knew about Jesus' baptism, so Priscilla and Aquila told him the rest of the story. Then he went to Achaia and with powerful arguments publicly refuted the Jews and explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah. He used scriptures to support his claim. Luke does not say which scriptures he used, but because Priscilla and Aquila had associated with Paul, he may have quoted the same verses that Paul had misinterpreted.
1-7 : In Ephesus Paul met twelve believers. The original texts from which English translations are made can legitimately be translated as meaning the men were 'believers' or 'disciples'. A believer is just someone who believes in something, but a disciple is someone who has left home in order to follow someone, usually a teacher. It is interesting that these men can be described as disciples, and that there were twelve of them.
The New Testament is not definitive about how many disciples there were altogether, often referring to them as 'followers', 'brothers', or 'believers'. Yet custom and tradition have established the idea that Jesus' disciples were twelve very specific male individuals. In reading the New Testament one realizes that this was not always the case but that the men and their number varied.
These particular men had been baptized by John the Baptist and had not been told there was a Holy Spirit. Paul baptized them again, this time in Jesus' name, and Luke says he laid his hands on them and they felt the Holy Spirit and spoke in foreign tongues and prophesied. He does not say what their prophesies were.
The distance from Ephesus to the Jordan river, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, is about 800 miles. A minimum of four hundred miles would have been traveled for this particular baptism to take place, and maybe even as much as 1600 miles by John or the men. A lot of evidence exists that people of these times did travel such distances. During the period of time in which the city of Ephesus was inhabited, travel was not significantly different from that of much earlier times. In a single lifetime, therefore, it was possible for people to move over great distances, sometimes to unsettled places where there was less competition and where freedom of thought and action were unconstricted. At this time in history there were many places where human populations were sparse, and intelligent men not content with social standards they disliked could walk to one of those places and live peacefully with their wives and children. Humans could have spread throughout the world more quickly than is sometimes supposed.
People who perform the so-called miracle of 'speaking in tongues' do not actually speak a foreign language that any particular foreigner can recognize as his own language. For instance, no English-speaking babbler babbles fluent German that a German can understand, unless the babbler already knows how to speak German and babbles specifically in German. Usually what these people do is explain away the question of what language it is they are babbling. They say it is a language even they do not understand, or they do understand it but don't know what country it belongs to. Or they say it is a language used by space aliens, or that it's used by a mysterious entity that only they know of. Or that it's German, but unfortunately no Germans are present to confirm it. In other words, though it can seem impressive to gullible persons, speaking in tongues is a fraud. There is no valid reason to believe it was different in ancient times.
8-10 : Luke says that in the synagogue in Ephesus, Paul preached about Jesus for three months.
This resulted in the listeners having to decide whether to believe in Jesus or not. In other words, Paul polarized the congregation. His preaching caused them to divide into two separate groups. This was climactic and decisive. By eliminating Christian believers from the Hebrew congregation, the remaining Hebrew group would have become more unified in its identity and ideologically would become stronger, while, by leaving, the Christian believers became more clearly self-identified as believers in Jesus. Also, the Hebrew congregation would become less comprised of superstitious believers, which means it became a body of more rational thinkers. These were very important outcomes of Paul's work. Did he know this would happen? It is likely that he did, because he knew what to do next: He left all of the Jews who did not want to believe in Jesus, and he took with him those who did, and he took them to a different place and preached to them for two years. Paul's action of converting the more gullible individuals and taking them away purified and strengthened the remaining Hebrew congregation. By preaching Christian belief to those who followed him, he encouraged and exploited their inability to think for themselves, thereby making them weaker. Thus Paul, as servant of the Gotah, was acting very much in the interests of the Jews.
The story of Jesus became known throughout Asia. ('Asia' was the name of a Roman province in what we now think of as part of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital city. When Jewish writers of that time referred to Asia, they were referring to Ephesus.)
By identifying gullible believers and separating them from the main body of the Jewish congregation, Paul was doing something very similar to what David Koresh did in Waco, Texas when Koresh established the Branch Davidian sect, and similar to what Marshal Applewhite did when Applewhite founded the Heaven's Gate in California, and to what Jim Jones did when Jones led his followers to Jonestown, Guyana, in that all of these men --Paul included-- succeeded in identifying other people who would do anything they were told to do, and instructed them to abandon their previous lives, donate money to the leader, follow their leader, and obey their leader's commands. These similarities are more than merely superficial. They are similar in substance, for all four men used religious ideologies in achieving their deceptions, and three of them --including Paul-- used Christianity as their driving force. This is no coincidence, because Christian ideology is highly charged with superstitious belief, requiring gullibility. Fortunately for Paul's followers, unlike the other monsters, Paul did not kill his followers outright, but he misled them nonetheless, and the harmful results have been far worse than any of the others would have imagined possible. This process is not unusual among churches of Jesus. In fact it is characteristic of them: The use of superstitious ideologies to attract gullible believers, the extraction of money from them, and the manipulation through fear and by other means to motivate them to conform to particular types of behaviors common to the group. These dynamics are harmful in themselves, regardless of what objectives may be intended.
11-22 : Luke says the Gotah gave Paul power to perform unusual miracles. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had only touched his skin were placed on sick people, and they were healed and evil spirits were expelled. Tricks can be performed which give such impressions.
The following shows how effective word-of-mouth could be in these regions during these times.
Seven sons of a Jewish chief priest were traveling from town to town using Jesus' name to drive out demons. They would say, "I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!" Luke says that one time when they did this, the evil spirit said to them harshly, "I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?" and the man who was supposedly possessed by the spirit attacked them and beat them up. Luke tells the story as though the evil spirit was real, and he makes it seem that the man's action was because of the evil spirit.
These seven men were probably competing with the apostles in some way. By showing themselves to be equals of him in casting out demons, their own importance would be increased, and Paul's reputation would be diminished. We have seen that large crowds could be drawn by religious presentations, and that people made donations of money when attending them. These men very likely did not believe in Jesus but merely set themselves up with large audiences where one or more shills pretending to be possessed by demons would act like they were possessed and that demons would appear to be cast out, and they could make money doing this. The public would perceive the pretense as reality, and no one would think it unusual that offerings were taken. To defeat their activity, Paul and his cohorts may have contrived to use a strong man pretending to be possessed, and for him to cry out imitating possession by a demon at the right moment. If so, his plan enjoyed great success. When the man beat them up, the large congregation believed the evil spirit was real, and that the Jewish magicians were powerless to use Jesus' name. Luke tells us that the story of their failure spread rapidly throughout Ephesus, that it quickly became known to everyone, and that a solemn fear descended upon the city on account of it. He says that many people immediately converted to Christianity, and that some actual sorcerers brought their books of incantations and burned them at a public bonfire, as this story convinced even them of Jesus' power. The value of the books was 50,000 pieces of silver, this at a time when one piece of silver was a day's wage. They did this because their magic tricks were not as successful as Paul's. It is perhaps one of the earliest documented book burning events in history. Even men who made their living by pretending to be sorcerers believed Paul's magic tricks were miracles. Clearly, these people were strongly affected emotionally by these events. If only they had been able to spend twenty years watching TV game shows, sensational Nightly News programs, and browsing the Internet, then, in their eyes, someone's being possessed by demons would have amounted to nothing, which is the way it should have been.
Today we know very well that people cannot be possessed by demons because demons do not exist, and that if Jesus' name were really powerful anyone would be able to use it to cure anyone else of any sort of malady whatever, whether they have faith in it or not. Therefore, once again, what this probably shows is that Paul and his men used fraud to deceive gullible people into believing in Jesus. Once we understand this, we can recognize more easily that similar tactics have been used for many centuries in convincing ignorant people to believe in Jesus, and that proponents of the Christian religion still lie to sheep-like people to get them to adopt Christianity's harmful ideas.
Where superstition proliferates, deception thrives. "Ephesus was full of wizards, sorcerers, witches, astrologers, diviners of the entrails of animals, and people who could read one's fortune by the palm of the hand". This quote is from an article by David Padfield, preacher for the Church of Christ in Zion, Illinois. His article, "The City Of Ephesus In Bible Times" [sic], is available online at http://www.biblelandhistory.com/turkey/ephesus.html.
Paul knew that incantations do not really work, and that if he was going to convert people to Christian belief he would have to resort to deception. He simply outdid the local magicians at their own game, and even they were fooled.
He decided to go to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. "After that," he said, "I must go to Rome!"
23-41 : Before Paul left Ephesus, an important silversmith named Demetrius gathered his colleagues together and warned them that if Paul and his helpers succeeded, the goddess Artemis might no longer be worshiped in their city. Because many of their products consisted of images of Artemis, this would mean they would lose a lot of business,. So they ran through the streets shouting, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" And soon the whole city was stirred up and large numbers of people went to the amphitheater, dragging Gaius and Aristarchus with them, who were Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go too, but the believers wouldn't let him, because the crowds were so angry that his life appeared to be in danger.
As the people were all shouting various things, the silversmiths, who were Jews, pushed their man Alexander forward to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak, but when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they began chanting, as one, "Great is the goddess Artemis!" and Luke tells us this continued for two hours.
At last the city clerk (or perhaps the mayor) calmed the crowd and assured them that no crime had been committed against the Greek temples, and he said the people of Ephesus were in danger of being charged with the crime of rioting, which they had no good way of justifying, and so when he dismissed them they dispersed. Evidently Paul had not spoken to them, and no harm came to anyone.
1-6 : Paul left for Macedonia, where he encouraged the believers in the towns he passed through. He stayed in Greece for three months and was preparing to sail to Syria, when he learned that some Jews were plotting against his life, so he decided to return by land, which required going back through Macedonia.
7-12 : In Troas, Paul preached to the believers until midnight, when a young man, who had become drowsy, fell three stories all the way to the ground from his position on the windowsill. Paul went down and found he was alive. The young man went home and everyone was greatly relieved. One gets the impression from this event, and others, that Paul's audiences were compliant, very much at the mercy of his oratorical self-indulgences, which, apparently, were prodigious.
One half of all falls of twenty feet are fatal. In such falls the body's internal organs may rupture and death result, and broken bones are highly probable. Falls of slightly lesser heights are also very dangerous and can result in severe injury or death. One expects the ground outside the typical house in this region would not have been soft. In Troas, the roof of a typical house of two stories may have been as low as fourteen feet, plus two or three feet to the windowsill of a third story, so the question legitimately arises, "Is Luke's account of this event accurate in every detail??"
13-38 : Paul went to Miletus, hurrying to return to Jerusalem for Pentecost, which is the Greek word for the Hebrew Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the receiving of the Law by Moses on Mount Sinai. (Adherents of Judaism celebrate this feast even in our own time.) If Luke was right about this, it shows that Paul still considered himself a Jew.
Paul said the Holy Spirit informed him that suffering and jail were in his future. He may simply have understood the possibility of this. Or, maybe, being an unscrupulous manipulator, and desiring to portray himself as courageous, and wanting to create an example for others to follow, he claimed so, and then he said that his life meant nothing to him unless he could use it for finishing the work assigned to him by Jesus, of telling others about the wonderful grace of the Gotah. He informed those around him in Miletus, that they would never see him again.
You might say this proves the divinity of Paul's understandings, but I'd say it proves he was worshiping the wrong god, if such god had nothing in store for him but suffering and jail, for a truly skillful deity (the creator of our universe) would be capable of accomplishing anything whatsoever without causing any difficulty or suffering. In fact, a real god would be able to convince any --indeed every-- person on earth of his grace just by creating within them that very understanding. And it's odd that this Hebrew god could not convince people of his own grace without causing exactly the things which grace does not cause: suffering and jail. In any case, this supposedly holy fear of his turned out to be untrue so far as we know, since Paul appears to have lived freely in Rome for two years. His death is deduced (this is still debated), but it was not documented. There is hardly anything legitimate that cannot be done without arousing the disapproval of some sort of self-important entity or would-be official, even if it is not even slightly offensive. The idea of the Gotah causing people to suffer, however, is entirely consistent with the Bible's description of the Hebrew deity.
Paul gave a speech and then they escorted him down to the ship.
1-6 : He and his followers traveled to Tyre, which in those days was part of Syria. Today Lebanon encompasses it. They stayed there for a week. The believers in Tyre warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
7-14 : They traveled to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist. A man named Agabus predicted that in Jerusalem the Hebrew leaders would hand them over to the non-Jewish rulers. Paul replied that he was ready to die for Jesus, and when he could not be convinced not to go there, the others said, "Let the Lord's will be done," and Paul left for Jerusalem.
15-25 : Thousands of Jews in Jerusalem believed in Jesus and continued to value the laws of Moses. These Jews thought Paul had told non-Jewish Christians they did not have to follow the laws of Moses or even be circumcised. He tried to prove he had not said this. To convince them, he sent four of his men to the temple, to be ritually purified, and he went also, to prove that they were all still following the laws of Moses.
26-36 : Before the ritual was finished (it took seven days), some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They publicly accused him of preaching against the Jews, and Luke says the whole city was stirred up by their accusations. They tried to kill him. The commander of the Roman regiment received word that Jerusalem was in an uproar. He went with his officers and men toward the crowd, and when the mob saw them they stopped trying to kill Paul.
The commander arrested him, and his troops men bound him in chains. The commander asked the mob who Paul was and what he had done. Because their answers were indefinite, he ordered Paul taken to the fortress. As they reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. The crowd followed, shouting, "Kill him, kill him!” Thus, when the Jews wanted to kill Paul, the Romans protected him.
The Romans conducted themselves admirably many times throughout the events told in Acts.
37-40 : Paul asked to speak to the crowd, and he was allowed to. He spoke to them in their own language, Aramaic.
1-23 : When they realized he was speaking their language they listened. He told them about his attempts to kill Christians, and about the vision he experienced on his journey to Damascus, his temporary blindness, and his conversion. To all of this they listened. But as he told them that he had seen Jesus in a vision also, and that Jesus had instructed him to go and preach to gentiles, when he spoke the word 'gentiles' the crowd all began to shout, demanding that he be killed.
Now these men who lived in Jerusalem were Jews, and many of them believed in Jesus. So the Jews had not rejected Jesus. Their hostility toward the idea of Jesus instructing Paul to preach to non-Jews tends to confirm that Jesus would not have approved such an idea either, for, if he had, he would have lost all these followers.
24-30 : The Roman commander ordered Paul whipped so he would confess his crime. Not admirable, but trials were not necessarily given to citizens of Jerusalem. Paul, however, at this time informed them that he was a Roman citizen, and then they knew he had to be given a trial. Therefore they did not whip him. This proves that Paul knew he could avoid being beaten and imprisoned, and that he was not hesitant to inform his captors of his rights as a Roman citizen, and this brings into question once again various elements, as discussed, regarding the story told in Chapter 16, verses 16-34.
Next day the commander ordered the leading priests into session with the Jewish high council, to find out what the trouble was.
1-11 : Paul defended himself before the high council.
These verses are worth reading because they show that Paul was very skillful in defending himself in this kind of circumstance, or that Luke was proficient at imagining how best he may have done so.
The result was that Paul brought about a more pronounced division among the council, which consisted of Sadducees (who did not believe in resurrection or angels or spirits) and Pharisees (who did believe in all of those things). The Pharisees argued forcefully that they saw nothing wrong with Paul, and the conflict became more violent. The Roman commander ordered his men to rescue Paul by force, and they took him back to the fortress.
Luke says Paul had a vision that night, in which Jesus told him that he, Paul, would preach in Rome.
Today, when someone claims to have visions of the sort frequently claimed by Paul, a lot of people think those claims are lies, and whoever makes such claims is likely to be declared mentally ill, or insane. There is no reason to conclude that a diagnosis of insanity would be inappropriate in Paul's case, except that proper medical practice prohibits diagnosis without personal examination, and that I do not have a degree in psychiatry. But if you look up the symptoms of psychosis, they are not hard to understand, and they describe Paul's words and actions very well. Or he may have been lying, saying that he had a vision, knowing his decision would seem more convincing to gullible people if he claimed Jesus had instructed him.
12-35 : A group of more than 40 Jews conspired to kill him, and they sought, and apparently gained the consent of the leading Hebrew priests and elders to carry out this murder. Their plan was to have the council ask the Roman Commander to bring Paul back to the council again, pretending they wanted to examine his case more fully, and these forty Jewish men were then going to ambush the Roman escort and kill Paul as they were on their way back to the council.
This gives insight into a number of things. Murder was not outside the capabilities and allowances of Hebrew religious leaders. Some say this is still the case today. It explains why, if these men were created in their deity's image, their deity would be described by them as having the same capabilities and allowances which they themselves possessed. In other words, the Gotah's mass murder of all life on earth except Noah and Noah's family during the flood described in Genesis would have been acceptable to them. Christians find no problem with this abject immorality even now. Men in the region were accustomed to dealing with such moral questions on the basis of ethical standards more primitive than those we have come to prefer in the past few thousand years. Things were probably a good deal rougher in Jerusalem in those days than they are in less harsh places today, but it's clear that these 40 Jewish men and these priests and elders were ignoring, or excusing themselves and each other from having to obey Mosaic law, which commanded them not to kill.
Paul's nephew heard of the plan and informed him of it. Paul told one of the Roman officers to take his nephew to the commander and tell him of the plot. The commander arranged for Paul to be conveyed to Caesarea. The degree of effort in achieving this tells a lot about the rights of Roman citizens, and of the way Romans did things, and it shows that the Romans were a good deal more civilized than the Hebrews. The Roman commander assigned 200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, and 70 mounted troops to escort Paul safely to Governor Felix in Caesarea. These numbers show that the crowds Paul was stirring up were not small, but that many people were involved. The commander wrote a letter to the governor, explaining his decision.
The soldiers took Paul only as far as Antipatris (about 25 miles), but the mounted troops went with him all the way to Caesarea (about 55 miles from Jerusalem). There, the governor said he would hear Paul's case when his accusors got there, and he kept him in prison at king Herod's headquarters.
1-27 : The Jewish high priest arrived with an orator (a lawyer) and some other Jews. They put their case before the governor, and Paul defended himself. As Luke describes it, his defense was very smart and well constructed. No doubt he used some of the tactics Luke describes. His defense is very well worth reading.
The governor, Felix, chose to decide the case after the garrison commander, Lysias, came. Meanwhile, he relaxed the security on Paul, gave him some freedom, and let him have visitors.
A few days later Felix came back with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jew. He sent for Paul, and they listened as Paul talked to them about having faith in Jesus, and as he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control, Felix became frightened. Luke says that Felix hoped that Paul would bribe him, and so he sent for him and talked with him often. This probably indicates that Felix by some means perceived that Paul was financially capable of paying a bribe, which tends to confirm that he had profited from his preaching. It would also have provided a motive sufficient to explain the strength of his commitment to his preaching activities. These talks also confirm that Paul was a powerful speaker unafraid of the rank or social position of those with whom he spoke, and this is entirely consistent with him being a very strong personality, self-righteous, and capable of inflicting harm, at least emotionally and psychologically.
Two years passed in this way. Felix was eventually succeeded by Porcius Festus, and because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.
His willingness to stay in prison need not be explained by strong faith in Jesus. Rather, in prison he was safe. Outside he would be subject to attack and would likely be killed. There was probably no place he could go without being recognized. He knew that under Roman law he had committed no offense, and once this fact could be determined by a Roman court, it would be a great advantage to his preaching in Rome.
1-27 : Festus wanted Paul to agree to be tried by him in Jerusalem so the Jews could see the trial. Paul refused, saying he was not guilty of any crime against Jewish laws, the Temple, or Rome, and as a Roman citizen he appealed his case to the Roman emperor. Festus agreed that Paul would go to Caesar.
Paul knew that he would not be executed or even punished by the emperor, and that the matter therefore would be closed. Roman law was fairer than the local Hebrew process, and Acts indicates that the emperor’s persecution of Christians had not begun. This means that this was before the Great fire of Rome, after which the emperor Nero began persecuting Christians. (Indeed, he may have ordered Paul beheaded in AD 67.)
A few days after Paul had demanded an appeal before the Roman emperor, the king Agrippa arrived to pay his respects to Festus. This Agrippa was a Judaic monarch, grandson of Herod the Great, and he ruled Judea as the Roman emperor allowed.
Festus talked with Agrippa about Paul, and Agrippa said that he wanted to hear Paul.
Next day Agrippa and his sister, Bernice, arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, and Paul was brought in. He was introduced as "The man whose death is demanded by all the Jews, both here and in Jerusalem". Felix said that Paul had done nothing that deserved death, and that there were no clear charges against him, but that if Agrippa heard him maybe someone could figure out what to charge him with, and that it didn't make sense to send him to Caesar without specifying the charges against him.
1-23 : Paul spoke. He had at one time been a Pharisee, and here in verse 5 he describes the Pharisees as "The strictest sect of our religion". The Pharisees were never Christians, so this proves that Paul thought of himself as still being Hebrew.
No Christian believer would deny for a moment that the Christian religion is Jesus’ legacy to mankind, provided that his legacy is good. But what if that legacy is harmful to Christians and to the societies in which it functions? Surely it is Jesus’ legacy nonetheless.
Paul’s speech includes a description that Paul claimed Jesus made in the vision of Paul's conversion, in which Jesus stated he was going to send Paul to preach to non-Jews so they will be given a place among the Gotah's people the Jews, who he says are distinguished by their faith in their god. One thing that is very important to recognize about this detail is that at this time, even after Jesus was no longer present, Paul characterizes the Jews as being "God's people". It is also noteworthy that for non-Jews to become "God's people", they have to become subject to the Hebrew deity and adopt many Hebrew ideas, one of the most important of which is that the Gotah favors Jews above all other people. It is a way of bringing non-Jews into the Jewish belief system and thus under the influence of Jewish power; therefore, in its inception, Christianity is not a religion independent of Judaism but is in fact Judaic in its essential nature. This is further confirmed in that the New Testament is published together with the Old Testament, and many Christians believe that the people talked about in the Old Testament were their direct ancestors, when, actually, most Christian believers in Western Europe and many elsewhere descended from groups not Hebrew in the least. But by convincing non-Jews that they and the Jews are favored by the Gotah, the Jews benefit, whereas, in the perception of Jews, the Christians still remain outside Judaism and do not benefit. The description of Paul's speech specifically clarifies that Paul, and the Jews themselves, did not believe that their god had rejected them, but that they were still in compliance with the Gotah's wishes and still had a covenant with the Gotah, and this necessarily implies that the claim of others, that the Jewish god had rejected them, is not correct, because the Jews are ultimately the authority in this matter, since they wrote the book. Remember, the Gotah is a fictional deity whom the Hebrews define. And here, the Jews are still the Gotah's chosen people. This necessarily means that the Gotah still favors the Jews in all things, and above all other people, and that even the Christian believers, although they comply with some of the Hebrew laws, occupy a position only second to the Jews in this deity's perception. Even though the deity is fictional, this still matters, because Christian believers themselves believe such things, and this has much the same effect as if it were true. These men were at this time still Jews and they were still servants of this deity. These facts confirm that the Christian religion necessarily serves Hebrew interests, and, indeed, this is what has been going on in the West for the past two thousand years, and it still is going on. Christian believers often support Jewish interests substantially and openly, even when doing so is not in their own interest. Many do so even when they know it is against their own interest, and this is one of the consequences of Christian belief. The largest government in North America, which is predominantly Christian, officially supports Israel politically and financially, even when doing so is harmful to itself and to every non-Jewish person everywhere. The destruction of the national governments and social structures of our Western civilization is strongly enabled by the tenets and practices of the Christian religion, which replaces the most essential understandings about the origins of its non-Jewish believers with unwarranted worship of the man Jesus, who was mortal like everyone else, and Christianity encourages adoration of the ignorantly imagined deity the Gotah, the character and personality of which is alien to us and monstrous in its conception and ideation. It teaches that we should all love one another, which sounds pleasant, but which is one of the foundations of excessive toleration, making inroads possible for our enemies to invade our non-Jewish lands and systems, which otherwise would be difficult or impossible for them to achieve. To this point in history, this has benefited the Jews more than anyone else. And it strips our people of their legitimate and well deserved pride in our own unique and genuine abilities and teaches obedience to a genetic group that is different from our own. Christian teachings preach to believers that they should forgive their enemy 70 times 7 (in other words 490 times) for each offense, which in practical terms means that Christian believers are supposed to roll over and play dead and let everyone in the world walk all over them. Jews have used this to gain control of our governments and to instill into our own institutions laws that have as their basis Hebrew values and beliefs, which are primitive and very different from our own. This cannot be done without destroying our own laws, which are based on our own values and which work better for us.
Over the past two thoustand years, the fruit of the efforts of Jesus and his followers have done a lot more than merely free the Hebrews from Roman rule; in effect, they have empowered the Jews and given them domination over many non-Jewish white European populations many times throughout our history. In this sense, Jesus, although never a genuine messiah or christ, but considered with his followers and all their teachings, really has been functioning as a true deliverer and enabler of the Hebrew people. This is what Christianity works to accomplish. Unfortunately it cannot do this without destroying people who are not Jews, in other words, you and me.
In these verses Paul continues to give a history of his experience and explains his motives.
24-32 : Suddenly, Festus shouted, "Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!"
Paul denied it. But this diagnosis of insanity, I believe, in modern terms, was correct, though its cause was probably not excessive study but inherently mental, or genetic, or due to his obsessive commitment to instituting churches of Christian belief and the malicious intent of which that motive often consists. In this sense, Paul ultimately managed, perhaps not exactly by the means claimed, to bring off the objective toward which he had focused his thoughts and energies, that of achieving a type of success which men who are insanely obsessed sometimes achieve.
Paul told Agrippa that if it weren't for the chains which at that time bound him, Agrippa and all the others would be converted to Christianity, and Agrippa agreed that might be true.
But then Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, and all the others stood up and walked out, leaving Paul behind. As they went out they agreed that Paul hadn't done anything that deserved death. And Agrippa said to Festus, "He could have been set free if he hadn't appealed to Caesar."
But then he would have been vulnerable to the murderous hostility of the Jewish crowds. And for this reason it makes sense that if he believed the emperor would not punish him his appeal to the emperor was perhaps wise.
The earliest known writing or preaching about Jesus in Rome was a letter which Paul himself at this time had not yet written, so the Christian religion had probably not had time to foment there. Additionally, the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire were carried out by local authorities on a sporadic and ad hoc basis, often more according to the whims of the local community than in compliance with imperial authority.
1-44 : Paul and his followers set sail for Italy. 276 people were on board.
Luke says that Paul predicted a storm, and a storm occurred, and that he had a vision the boat might sink, but that they would all survive and be shipwrecked on an island, and that is what happened.
On the fourteenth night of the storm, the sailors sensed land was near. Afraid they would crash against rocks, they tried to abandon ship, lowered the lifeboat and tried to get into it. Paul told the commanding officer that if the sailors left the ship, everyone else would die, so the soldiers cut the lifeboat's ropes and let it drift away.
The ship came to shore, lodged against rocks, and began to break apart. The guards wanted to kill the prisoners to prevent them escaping, but the commander wanted to spare Paul, so he didn't let them do that, and soon everyone got to shore.
1-6 : They learned they were on the island of Malta.
Paul got bitten by a poisonous snake, which held onto him with its fangs and dangled from his hand, so Luke says. The people said it meant he was a murderer and that justice would not let him live. But he shook the snake loose and did not die, so then the people believed he was a god. (This could have been a trick to impress the others and gain authority among them. This shows how fickle the people were in their beliefs.) They believed that justice was an entity, and that it was capable of judging people and executing them. It is not hard to understand that they would believe Jesus walked on water and rose from the dead. In our time we should know better than to believe that.
7-10 : Paul healed the father of the island's chief official, and some others. This impressed everyone, and they were honored and given provisions for their journey. This is an interesting plot device, unlikely to have happened exactly as described, but Luke's readers would have believed it, and some of its details may be true. The man's disease was fever and dysentery. Some such instances are cured by the body's immune system, a change in diet, rest, and merely by the passing of time. There were ways for Paul to make it seem that he caused the man's health to return. Maybe all he had to do was wait for the body to heal itself. Details about time intervals are not given.
11-14 : They spent the winter on Malta, three months, then set sail again.
They stayed a week in Puteoli, Luke says with Christian believers.
15-16 : Near Rome, on the Appian Way, Paul was greeted by some believers who had heard that he was coming. This was probably only a few people.
17-31 : Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders and explained why he had been arrested, and he told them about his appeal to the Emperor. They said they had received no letters from Judea or any reports against him from anyone who had come there, and that all they knew about the Christian movement was that it was denounced everywhere.
This is consistent with no one having preached about Jesus in Rome before Paul arrived there, and too with the idea that the riots under the Roman Emperor Claudius had been between non-Christian Jews and non-Christian non-Jews, not between Christian Jews and non-Christian Jews.
The Jewish leaders told Paul they wanted to hear what he believed in. So a time was set, and a large number of Jews came to Paul's lodging. This is unlikely to have been anywhere near as many as three thousand, which was how many he preached to in Jerusalem. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and about Jesus. He spoke from morning until evening. Some people were persuaded by what he said, and others were not. He cited Isaiah 6:9-10 and said these verses were about them, that their hearts had been hardened by the Gotah and that they could not see, and he told them the salvation he spoke of had been offered by the Gotah to the gentiles, and that the gentiles were accepting it. His ready quote from Isaiah suggests that he knew the scriptures well, and this suggests that he understood them and misrepresented them intentionally.
Luke says that Paul lived in Rome for the next two years, welcoming all who visited him, that he preached about the Kingdom of God and about Jesus, and that no one tried to stop him.
The book of Acts ends here.
His appeal may have been concluded right away, and he may have been acquitted. Perhaps he lived for two more years as Luke says. Maybe he ended up with ample money. No one knows for sure when or how he died. Tradition says that Nero had him beheaded, but some scholars say that is unlikely. We know that Roman citizens were never crucified. All this is consistent with his having known that the emperor would not punish him, for he had committed no crime, and this would explain why he would feel comfortable saying that he was willing to die for Jesus, because he knew it would not happen. From what little we know about Nero, it does seem that it would not have been unlike him, if Paul had told him he was ready to die for Jesus, to insist that he do so, and have him killed. My personal belief is that Paul's prophecy about jail and suffering being all that remained for himself he almost certainly believed was false when he said it, as, indeed, the final chapter of Acts proves that it was.
Please notice that I am not advocating anything. I am only telling you what I see.
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