I am going to start yet a new category on this blog called “Jesus and Paul”. I will try to pull out words from Jesus and then corresponding words from Paul to see how the words and their corresponding meanings might differ. From my initial look at this topic I was somewhat surprised to find what I have. This will be an interesting place to go in my study of the Bible.
Many Christians today, especially those who call themselves Evangelicals and Lutherans in particular, like to say that “all the words in the Bible are the words of Jesus”. Anyone who has read much from this blog know that I just don’t see it that way. In my mind Jesus’ words must take front and center in my Christian life. He was God incarnate; all the other writers were simply human beings whose words were inspired by God. All the words in the Bible must be filtered through the red letters. Where there appears to be a conflict Jesus’ words will reign supreme, at least to me.
I want to say in advance that when there is an apparent conflict between the words of Jesus and Paul I am not trying to insinuate that Paul was lying or trying to lead us astray. I know there are many around who love it but I am just not a conspiracy type guy. Instead I tend to believe that some of the words of Paul were just Paul giving his human and personal opinion about something. There are a few places in his many letters where he openly states that fact. I wish he had done that more often so as not to confuse some of us now twenty centuries later.
In studying Paul I have come to the conclusion that he, among other things, was just a ornery old bachelor and that human condition bled through to some of his words in his many letters. Of course the same is true for all of us. Our experiences determine how we view life. That is what makes us human. How could it have been otherwise for even the Apostles. I am just not one to believe that when Paul was struck down on the road to Damascus he quit being the person he was and was totally taken over by Jesus in all his thoughts and words. He did not give up his personality or human thoughts in the process. Neither did any of the other epistle writers. The human aspect of the Epistles is what gives them value. I believe their humanity shows through in many of their words. In my mind that is one thing that continues to make the Bible interesting. We can view being disciples of Jesus Christ through many different human foibles. This will be an interesting study indeed.
5 thoughts on “Jesus and Paul…”
I think the issue is not that Paul might have differed from Jesus, but that we are reading Paul wrong. Paul’s message always had the gospel (gospels or luke’s gospel) as his foundation. All the letters that Paul writes are after he has preached the gospel to the churches. So most of what Paul is saying is building on top of the gospel. Paul himself considered his teaching as doctrine, not like how we today we consider some kind of systematic theology as doctrine.
A good example of how we read Paul wrong is when we share share the gospel. A lot of people use the books of Romans a lot. Well that book was written to a church that has already heard the gospel. If you want to know the gospel … well read the gospels!
Here is a book that somewhat deals with the problem.
Thanks for the insight. I will keep your words in mind during this study. Can you point me to where in his letters he said all he wrote should be considered doctrine? I am just trying to lay a foundation for this study.
What Paul clearly says is that the words he and the other New Testament writers penned were directed by the Spirit of God not the spirit of men:
For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:11-13 ESV)
Here is the red-letter confirmation of Paul’s statement:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-14 ESV)
From this we know that there was truth yet to be revealed to the Apostles. It would be revealed after His ascension into Heaven by the Spirit who would, “take what is mine and declare it to you.” This revelation by the Spirit was on the same authority as what is written in red letters.
Sorry RJ for the late reply, i did not get the email. but i got M Green’s email. I am thinking of 1 Tim 6:2-3
Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,
The previous few verses is what Paul is referring to as doctrine. I am not sure how far back to go, but it should be obvious, that Paul himself felt he was teaching doctrine.