One of the great mysteries of the early Christian Era [C.E.] is where did Paul, “the Apostle”, go. That follows one of the other great mysteries of the time—Why was he called an “Apostle” and by whose authority, independently verified other than by Paul’s own stipulation.
The “Acts of the Apostles”, purportedly authored by Luke, a scribe of Paul, begs the question of the final disposition of Paul. Paul, after a long evangelistic mission abroad, has AGAIN been summoned to Jerusalem by James [The Just] and the irate hierarchy [The Disciples, as named by Christ and are independently verified, by and amongst themselves] for preaching a false message. This summons was the final of many known summons of Paul for taking license with the actual sayings of Christ--Christ was clear in his reinforcing the Law.
Sensing trouble, Paul’s followers admonished him not to answer the summons. Paul however, relents and appears. Meeting with James and other members of the leadership, Paul is again castigated for laxity in his observation of the Law. Acts does not record Paul’s response [Most likely excised] to these charges but it would appear from what follows that he perjures himself, denying the accusations, which his own Letters reveal to have been justified. See 1 Corinthians 9:19-27.
Paul then submits to a compromise – a 7-day “purification” procedure. Despite his “self-purification”, Paul continues to inspire enmity in those “zealous for the Law” and a few days later, Paul is attacked in the Temple. “This, they proclaim, is the man who preaches to everyone everywhere against the Law” [Acts 21:28]. The ensuing riot is no minor disturbance:
“This roused the whole city: people came running from all sides; they seized Paul and dragged him out of the Temple, and the gates were closed behind them. They would have killed him if a report had not reached the tribune of the cohort that there was rioting all over Jerusalem [Acts 21: 30-31].”
The cohort is called out, 600 men [Roman soldiers], and Paul is rescued. Having rescued Paul, he is arrested and marched off to prison, asking permission to make an exculpatory speech. Inexplicably, he is allowed make his case, serving only to further incense those in attendance. Paul is then carried off for torture and/ or interrogation. Paul is then removed, under escort, out of Jerusalem to Caesarea, where he invokes his right, as a Roman citizen, to make a personal appeal to the emperor. It is in his exculpatory speech that he admits to his leading role in the stoning to death of Stephen, a named Disciple of Christ by Jesus himself.
It is in Caesarea that he spends time, in a congenial and intimate fashion, with the Roman procurator, Antonius Felix and his brother-in-law, Herod Agrippa II and the King’s sister, later the mistress of Titus, the Roman commander who will destroy Jerusalem and eventually become Emperor. In addition, Acts 13:1 refers to one of Paul’s companions in Antioch as Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch and in Romans 16:1, Paul speaks of a companion named, Herodian.
What is most striking of all however is that, following his sojourn in luxury at Caesarea, he mysteriously and utterly disappears from the stage of history? The Acts of the Apostles ends abruptly without any further word on Paul. In fact, there is no further record in any writing, canonization writings or non-canonized writings, regarding Paul. Number one, it is simply not plausible that Acts would end in such a manner. Number two, for someone who is singularly responsible for establishing what I call the Pauline Church to disappear without any further trace is just not possible. Did the Acts end like the Gospel of Mark, with part of it excised and a new and different ending spuriously added?
Another great question that might be posited here is why was Paul called on the carpet by James, who was in fact one of the 12 named Disciples? That answer is clearly laid out, in the words of Christ just before his departure, in the Gospel of Thomas, saying # 12: “No matter where you are, you are to go to James the Just.” This was in response to a query by the Disciples while in their audience prior to the Crucifixion. Paul was clearly proselytizing a false and unauthorized message and was called on the carpet by none other than the afore-named successor and brother of Christ, James the Just. James was the recognized head of the new church in Jerusalem until he personally suffered a great attack in AD 62.
In finality, where did Paul go and what did he do after his mysterious disappearance from the face of the earth? A better question might be posited: Who was this Paul? Or, by what/ whose authority was he proselytizing ANY message on behalf of the Christ? He was a Roman citizen, unlike the Disciples. He was a very wealthy man, unlike the Disciples. He was well known to the Herodian line, which brought down the early church, the Temple and finally, the battle and mass suicide at Masada, certainly unlike the Disciples.
Why was it that the letters and other writings, attributed to Paul, were canonized and books attributed to actual Disciples were pronounced “heretical” and were omitted from the canonization? That to me is the central question--and, by what/whose authority? No living person, at the time of the canonization had the authority to decide for anyone, what was the inspired Word of God and what was not. Absolutely, NO ONE!
Pursuant to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the 52 texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, it is clear the canonization was a farce and a fraud. These recently discovered texts are in the actual language of the inhabitants of the Holy Land, not the Greek translations, but in Old Hebrew, Coptic and Aramaic, the language of Christ and the Disciples. Fortunately, these texts, hidden from mankind for two millennia, had not been edited, adulterated, or tampered with by any “heretical” hand. They are the pure inspired Words we were meant to be given in perpetuity.
The 52 texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, although found in 1947, were only recently removed from the clutches of the church and made public. They have been translated and are now available to anyone who wishes to study them, as it should be. It is up to us, as Christians, to discern that, which is the inspired Word of God, not men in a “smoke-filled” room, dedicated to some contrived dogma, having nothing to do with the Word of God. It is especially egregious to declare “heretical” the Gospel of Thomas, which contains 114 quotes from Jesus Christ. I have as much authority to decide for myself, what is the truth of the matter and what may be “heretical”, no one else.
It is clear to me that the real fate of Paul was excised from the written Word, in time for the canonization. It is also clear that he had been castigated, exposed, shunned, discredited and removed by those who were authorized, as the Disciples of Christ, led by James the Just.