It is not certain that the popular belief that Jesus died on a cross in the first century is historical.  The early Church was perfectly capable of thinking it was getting history taught to it in visions.  After all how do you explain the crucifixions of Peter and Andrew and so on?  These apostles according to some legends were crucified and other legends say they were not.  Saying you are getting data from Heaven is a good way of making things up and glorifying imaginative lying.


Paul was the first writer for the Church and an apostle and never mentions any historical background or evidence. 


In Romans Paul compares the sin of Adam to the big reversal, the good work of dying for sinners, that Jesus did.  One man brings sin and punishment and the other brings mercy and grace.  Paul declares the death of Jesus to be his consummate act of righteousness. This makes no sense unless Jesus really was taking the penalty to save others – literally and not just in some theological sense. It does not fit the scenario of a man simply being arrested and executed.  To speak that way of Jesus dying seems far-fetched.


Paul talks as if the faith, and the death of Jesus was a core element, was given to him in visions.


What if Paul thought that there was no reason to believe that there was a Jesus who died on a cross until he was told in visions?

If Jesus’ death was not a death as we know it but a mystical metaphysical event that only a mystic can understand the mechanics of then it was revealed to Paul and was not a historical event on earth.
In Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, we find incontestable proof that Paul was not only into twisting facts to trick people into agreeing with him but had no evidence at all apart from ghost stories and perverted thinking that Jesus existed. His problem with the Christians of Corinth was that many of them were saying that Jesus never rose from the dead and that there is no resurrection. We know that Paul could not say that Jesus’ death and burial were real and use secular sources and testimonies to prove that. There is no point in trying to convince people who think the resurrection never happened that a resurrection is possible without showing that the resurrected man was dead in the first place. What he had to do was say that Jesus must have risen for it is unbearable if he did not. So he thinks that Jesus rose therefore he died! The reason he thinks Jesus rose is because he appeared in visions! So visions then are the basis for belief in the death of Christ.
When Paul sought to convince the Corinthians that Jesus rose from the dead instead of trying to persuade them that Jesus had really died as we would expect he used a dreadfully weak argument: If Jesus is not raised then our faith is in vain and we are all lost which is too awful to be true so Jesus was raised. Extraordinary. He was between a huge rolling rock and a hard place. He could think of nothing else for there was nothing else and he thought that as awful as this argument was it would have to do. There was no evidence for Jesus’ life and death and resurrection except for what he and the apostles were told in visions and even he knew it was skating on thin ice to try and convince sceptics with them even if he had mentioned them. He did nothing to suggest that that testimony was valid except give this amateur argument.
Paul did not say that Jesus said he would rise from the dead and said he rose from the dead after he rose like the gospels say. He could not resort to the empty tomb for help. This refutes the gospels’ evidence. When heretics could deny the resurrection which was the paramount thing in the Church and not be adequately answered then why could Christ not have been an invention?
Paul never mentioned the empty tomb. Jesus could have been buried and being stolen and still have risen.  He said that we are buried in baptism and rise like Christ. But that could still be said if the new body in the resurrection, takes only a few cells from the old leaving the dead one lying there. He stated in Romans that we are buried by baptism into Jesus’ death not his tomb. He said that flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven and that Jesus had a spiritual body since the resurrection which makes a liar of Luke’s story that Jesus ate fish after his resurrection. The only time Paul says that Jesus was buried is in 1 Corinthians 15. There buried is just an incidental detail for Paul’s real concern is saying that Jesus died and rose and was seen. So Paul may have just assumed that Jesus was buried for to him it is nothing important. The burial would not be necessary to our salvation and the salvific events are the ones Paul is concentrating on. It is also interesting that since Paul says Jesus was buried and rose on the third day he may mean that Jesus rose the third day after burial and could have just been a pile of bones by the time he was buried.

Paul said that he received the information that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).  This is “kata tas graphas” which is “according to the scriptures,” which can be translated more clearly as “as we learn from the scriptures.”  That makes it complimentary to Galatians 1:11-12 where Paul is clear that nobody taught him the gospel but Heaven.


Does Paul mean that he received that Christ DIED for our sins or Christ died FOR OUR SINS?  The former makes the most sense. Otherwise we would have, "Christ died according to the scriptures and it was for our sins according to the scriptures."

It would seem then that if Jesus died recently Paul would not have to receive that news from God. But some say that what Paul received was not that Jesus died but that he died for sinners in accordance with the scriptures. But the problem is, how do you know? Paul would have written that Christ died and then that he received that this was for sinners. That would be clearer. Paul was probably saying he learned about the Messiah’s death in a revelation for the death is the main point in the sentence for the scriptures saying a death was needed would not be enough for that would not prove a death happened. Paul had to be told in a vision that Jesus died. Paul worked in Judea and Jerusalem and would not have needed to learn in a vision that Jesus died if Jesus died in 30 to 33AD in Jerusalem. He persecuted Christians so he would have known from them that Jesus died. Paul is indicating that when he needed a vision he hadn’t believed that Jesus died or lived until he got a vision to confirm that these things had happened.
In Galatians 5:11, Paul declares that if he preaches circumcision the stumbling block of the cross is removed. This is plainly saying that to accept circumcision is denying the cross happened. Theologically this is nonsense. And Paul would have known it for there were a lot of different views in early Christianity. Millions have believed in the cross as a vehicle of salvation and atonement without believing that it abolished good works and religious rites as specified in the Law of Moses. Catholics follow a replacement for the Law of Moses and still believe that Jesus died in their place for their sins. You could have circumcision without denying the cross. Notice that he doesn’t say denying the atonement or the propitiation but the cross, the historical event. Clearly, then if you accept circumcision you contradict Jesus who told the Church about the cross and if you contradict Jesus you also deny that he was reliable in relation to the cross having happened. To deny one then is to deny the other.
Perhaps when Jesus revealed in visions to the apostles that he was nailed to a cross he stated it had to happen to free Christians from circumcision for the gospels never portray a Jesus who was that emphatic about doing this. There is nothing else that could make the cross and the abolition of the law so inseparable. But this would be saying Paul should have written that the block of the propitiation is removed by accepting circumcision. If he didn’t mean that then why didn’t he say so?


Paul could not have meant the Romans when he wrote that the cross of Jesus made a public spectacle of the “authorities” that killed him and disarmed them in Colossians 2. He was too interested in buttering up the Romans for that and the early Church was desperate to blame the Jews even if it were not true. These entities are really sky demons. The Ascension of Isaiah does the same thing as Paul here and speaks of demons killing somebody and it backfires so bad on them that they end up being nothing.  Rome did not suffer when Jesus supposedly died so Paul is speaking of a crucifixion in another world or time.

Paul does not write as if the crucifixion was certain on historical grounds. No - quite to the contrary!