Saturday, November 26, 2016


Are Paul’s writings just as infallible and authoritative as the Gospels containing the teachings of Jesus? Should we regard both sets of writings equally as Scripture? Some argue that we should not. They cite this passage to support their claim:

·       To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. (1 Corinthians 7:10-12; ESV)

Some interpret Paul words, “I, not the Lord,” as an admission that he is not writing by divine inspiration but his own. If this is true, perhaps only where Paul has written “not I, but the Lord” should be regarded as fully inspired. This would mean that almost everything that Paul had written could possibly be regarded as simply his own judgments rather than Scripture. However, this clearly was not Paul’s intent. Instead, he regarded the entirety of his writings as Scripture:

·       And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Paul elsewhere claimed that “Christ is speaking in me” (2 Corinthians 13:3). In many other places, he declared his teachings as authoritative:

·       Therefore whoever disregards this [what Paul had just written], disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:8)

He claimed that He was teaching the infallible Gospel, which he had received “through a revelation of Jesus Christ”:

·       But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed…For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:8-12)

Nor should we regard the Gospel that Paul had been given supernaturally as just a minor aspect of everything Paul had taught. Instead, it seems that in Paul’s mind, everything, even judgment, was part of the Gospel:

·       on that day [of judgment] when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16)

Because Paul realized that his Gospel came from God, he did not hesitate to proclaim to dismiss those who were teaching a different gospel:

·       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, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth... (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

Paul never gave any indication that any of his teachings could be set aside. He consistently claimed, even in the letter in question, that his teaching was of the Spirit:

·       My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. (1 Corinthians 2:4)

·       Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:6-7)

Paul claimed that he taught a wisdom that could only come from God. Consequently, since his teachings were of God, he expected others to submit to it, presumably even to the passage in which he acknowledges that his teaching didn’t come directly from Jesus:

·       If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37)

He also claimed that, even in regards to the verses in question, his teaching was of the “Spirit of God”:

·       Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 7:40)

We should not suppose that since Paul used “I think” rather than “I know” that this implied any uncertainty on his part, as we usually associate with “I think”. Instead, his teachings did not seem to leave any wiggle-room for anyone to conclude, “Well Paul, since it is just your opinion, this is not the Lord’s command, and I am free to do what I want.”

Even though Paul claimed that this teaching was a matter of “my judgment,” it was a judgment based upon the “Spirit of God” and therefore inspired:

·       Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. (1 Corinthians 7:25)

His judgment is “trustworthy,” because “by the Lord’s mercy [it] is trustworthy.” Clearly, this doesn’t imply that Paul was making a judgment independent of divine inspiration.

Even though Peter had clashed with Paul, nevertheless, he too regarded Paul’s writings as “Scripture”:

·       And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:15-16)

Peter equated Paul’s writings with Scripture. In the same way that people could twist Scripture to their destruction, they could also twist Paul’s writings to their destruction.

Based upon the above evidence, there is no biblical basis to regard Paul’s writings as less than authoritative. In fact, God even placed His seal-of-approval upon Paul’s ministry, as Paul often acknowledged:

·       The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. (2 Corinthians 12:12)

Did the Other Apostles also Regard their Writings as Scripture?

Evidently! Peter equated the writings of the Apostles with the writings of the Hebrew Prophets:

·       that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. (2 Peter 3:2)

John had equated his writing with those of Moses in another way. He claimed that what he had written was just as inviolable as the writings of Moses:

·       I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

This is the same warning that Moses had issued against tampering with what he had written (Deut. 4:2; 12:32). Clearly, John realized that he was writing the Word of God.

Jesus equated His own teachings with Scripture (Matthew 24:35; 28:19-20). He also reassured His Apostles that the Spirit was able to give them His words as they needed them (Matthew 10:20). It seems that they understood this. We should understand likewise.

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