Table of Contents

Table of Contents II

Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Are Paul's Writings as Authoritative as Jesus' Words?

Many years ago as a young man, I heard it said by a young lady of my own age that the apostle Paul just had a thing against women with the idea being that what he wrote on the subject of women had no authority but was merely the expression of personal prejudice on his part.  That young lady many years later became a preacher within her denominational body contrary to Paul's teaching on the subject in 1 Tim. 2:12.

Over the course of the many years that have transpired since that time, I have heard the same or similar comments regarding things Paul wrote.  It seems many believe he lacked the authority of Christ in the words he spoke or wrote.  That is the subject I wish to pursue in this article.  I add that the reality is that if what Paul wrote is not authoritative then we cannot stop there but have to go right down the line and ask about what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, and Jude wrote. 

The truth of the matter is every single word of the New Testament excepting only those words added by translators for clarification (usually marked by being printed in italics) came directly from God the Father including the words of Jesus himself.  In John 1:1 Jesus is called "the Word" (NKJV) and he is recorded as saying, "He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that his command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told me, so I speak." (John 12:48-50 NKJV)  He says again, "The word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." (John 14:24 NKJV)  One could add to these references but the point has been made. 

Before Jesus ascended back to heaven he promised to send the Holy Spirit to his apostles.  "But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." (John 14:26 NKJV)  "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another helper (the Holy Spirit--DS) … even the Spirit of truth." (John 14:16-17 NKJV)  "But when the helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, … he will testify of me." (John 15:26 NKJV)  Now here is where one needs to pay special attention.  Did the Holy Spirit speak free-lance style?  Listen carefully. 

"However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are mine.  Therefore I said that he will take of mine and declare it to you." (John 16:13-15 NKJV)  The apostles were commanded by Jesus to stay in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5 NKJV).  That day came on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. 

The important thing to see thus far is the chain of command.  Even though God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one, all being equally God, they have an order in which they of their own accord have chosen to work.  Jesus, "being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant." (Philippians 2:6-7 NKJV)  Jesus thus submitted himself to God the Father and spoke only the Father's words.  When the Holy Spirit came after Jesus returned to heaven it is clear from the passage just quoted in the prior paragraph (John 16:13-15) that he did not originate truth for he did not speak on his own authority but spoke what he heard.  He glorified Jesus by taking what was of or from Jesus and declared it to them. 

Thus when an apostle spoke by means of the Holy Spirit he spoke not out of himself but rather spoke the very words of God.  Peter speaks of "those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven." (1 Peter 1:12 NKJV)  On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 Peter himself spoke just such a gospel sermon after the Holy Spirit fell on him and the other apostles.  Paul says, "No one knows the things 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 know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor. 2:11-13 NKJV) 

If Paul was not an inspired writer (as well as a gospel preacher) then Peter was in error for he said of Paul's writings that some twisted them "to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures." (2 Peter 3:15 NKJV)  Not only does Peter compare Paul's writings with the rest of the scriptures but also says his writings can be twisted to one's destruction.  That would be a little hard to do if they were uninspired writings would it not?  If one recalls correctly Ananias was sent to Paul at his conversion with one reason being that Paul might be "filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 9:17 NKJV)  

Sometimes people latch on to a few statements made by Paul in 1 Cor. 7 and read into them more than they should in that they feel Paul is there giving uninspired advice or giving only his own judgment or opinion apart from any direction of the Spirit.  For example, Paul says in verse 12, "I, not the Lord, say," (NKJV) and then in verse 25 he says, "I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in his mercy has made trustworthy." (1 Cor. 7:25 NKJV)  Well, is Paul trustworthy or not?  He closes this very chapter with these words, "According to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. 7:40 NKJV)  Do you think Paul had the Spirit of God?  Do you think he was questioning himself by making that statement?  You know better. 

Here is the bind that those get themselves into when they begin questioning scripture and taking some of it as inspired and other parts of it as not inspired—how do you decide which is which?  Are you that all wise and knowing so that you can declare beyond doubt that this scripture is inspired while that one is not?  How do the rest of us know you are that smart, even God-like, in your declarations?  How did you come to possess these mighty powers of discernment?  Maybe showing us a miracle would help the rest of us build confidence in you.  In New Testament times miracles were performed to confirm the word as being from God (Heb. 2:1-4).  We need confirmation of like nature if you are going to start cutting out scripture from the Bible for proof is needed that your word is from God when you do such cutting.   After all, you will be giving us a new Bible when your cutting is done. 

Needless to say, all such approaches to scripture end up being faith-destroying.  How do you have faith if you do not know what to have faith in and what not to have faith in?  Yes, I know these types proclaim their faith but genuine faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17) and not by one's own “I think so.”  It does not come by one declaring himself to be God and thus able to give man the true scriptures versus the false ones. 

The bottom line ends up being that one either has to hold to the scriptures as being authoritative, and verbally inspired by God, or else he holds to the words of some man that declares otherwise but can work no miracle in proof of his declaration. 

In closing yes the words of Jesus in red are authoritative but no more so than the words in black in your New Testament for the truth is the source of all inspired writings is God the Father.  When Paul or Peter or whomever the New Testament writer was spoke with pen and ink or otherwise on matters of the faith his words came from the same source that Jesus' did while Jesus was on the earth.  The idea that Paul was writing for Paul's sake promoting his own doctrine contrary to what Jesus would have said is as unscriptural as it gets. 

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NKJV) 

Postscript:  This article is not meant to imply that Bible translations, man-made, are infallible.  However, to the extent a translation accurately represents the original manuscripts of the New Testament, it is reliable.


[To download this article or print it out click here.]





No comments: