The apostle Paul, the writer of fourteen books of the twenty-seven in the New Testament, is called various things and dismissed because his teachings do not align with various social standards. Many claim Jesus yet reject the apostle Paul. Many have degraded Paul’s writings as though his writings have no place in the Bible. They set Paul aside for not being a disciple during Jesus’s ministry despite being converted from hostility as a witness of Jesus’s resurrection.
Conflict with Paul
The apostle started and helped start churches throughout the Mediterranean from Syria to Italy if not Spain. His words reflect the earliest record Christian beliefs and Paul’s conversion dates to 2–3 years after Jesus’s crucifixion. Paul’s words about grace and love are cast aside because he taught people to humble themselves and live lives of sexual purity. However, he is supposedly sexist for revealing God’s made men first and God set men to be spiritual leaders (1 Tim 2:11–14). Some think Paul was bigoted for exposing the depravity of a society that rejects God and is given over to sexual passions even unnatural lusts (Rom 1:24–27). Some do not prefer the church government presented in Paul’s words because each congregation is autonomously led by elders rather than a single ruling pastor, committees, votes, or a hierarchy of bishops with a Pope (1 Tim 3:1–15, Titus 1:5–9).
Paul and All the Others
What are the effects and consequences of not accepting Paul’s writings? Does not accepting Paul’s writings mean not accepting the rest of the writings in the Christian Scriptures? If you do not accept Paul, then you cannot accept 2 Peter because the writer accepted the writings of Paul as Scripture (2 Pet 3:16). No one can reject Paul and accept 1 John as that book recognizes the writing of the apostles including Peter (1 John 1:1–4). Furthermore, Peter also accepted John (2 Pet 1:16–21). Now, those who reject Paul must reject 1 Peter to be consistent. After all, the apostle Peter instructed Christians to subordinate to the governing authorities, servants subordinate to masters, and wives subordinate to husbands (1 Pet 2:13–3:6).
By rejecting Paul’s writings, one would have to dismiss the Gospel of Luke since Luke was with Paul and agreed with Paul (Acts 16:10). Paul quoted Luke’s Gospel as Scripture (1 Tim 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7; 2 Tim 2:8). Setting aside Luke also means setting aside Luke’s book of Acts and the previously written gospel narratives that Luke mentioned in Luke 1:1–3. The gospel narratives that Luke extensively shares material with the Gospel of Matthew and shares chronology with the Gospel of Mark. This leaves only two New Testament authors, James and Jude. However, Jude closely resembles 2 Peter 2 even speaking of fulfillment of Peter’s revelation, so the one rejecting Paul and Peter could not reasonably accept Jude. James was also an apostle with Peter, associated with the Twelve, and accepted Paul (Acts 15; Gal 1:18–2:10), so someone dismissing Paul would dismiss James’s epistle.
The Cross on Christ
If someone rejects Christ’s words given through the apostle Paul, do they reject Christ? Paul taught about the apostles of Christ, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Cor 2:13). This is just as Jesus declared that He would give His words to His apostles (John 17:8). Those who listened to Jesus would listen to His apostles (John 15:20). Jesus also revealed that He would send His Spirit to guide His apostles in all truth (John 14:26; 16:12–13). Because of this, Paul wrote, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37). Paul was converted by Christ, claimed revelation from Christ, preached a gospel revealed separately yet was accepted and approved by the other apostles (Gal 1:11–19, 23; 2:2, 9).
The consequences of rejecting Paul’s writings are devastating so that such a person enters into a cloudy deism at least. Rejecting the writings of Paul means rejecting the New Testament. By rejecting the New Testament, the consistent person would reject all the words of Jesus found throughout the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation. However, as previously noted, Jesus revealed that all of the Truth in Christ’s words were given to His apostles as revealed through His Spirit. By dismissing Paul, there goes the apostolic Scriptures and the early Christian faith (Eph 2:20; 3:5).
You or God?
The rejection of Paul is a character judgment of the sincerity and honesty of Paul and all of the New Testament writers. Can believers dismiss the apostle Paul and by so doing dismiss Christ? Jesus declared, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:16–17). When dismissing Paul’s words for conflict of one’s preferred social ethics and personal righteousness? Are people to listen to their own hearts first or to God’s Word in the Scriptures? Jesus proclaimed, “For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). Jesus taught things that offended people so that crowds stopped following Him (John 6:66). Isaiah presents God’s words, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8–9). Rejecting Paul’s words includes questioning Paul’s inspiration noted by his definition of love, his proclamation of the fruits of the Spirit, and much more. Such rejection devastates holy virtue in the faithful. Can highly esteemed opinions stand against Paul’s most profound statements? Should anyone consider personal thoughts higher than God’s thoughts?
By rejecting Jesus’s words given through His apostles and prophets, then faith is all or nothing for the Scriptures. Should people give up prejudices toward the Bible that are based on their personal morality? Should people reinterpret certain scriptural writers to disregard teachings that offend them and others? The whole point of the Bible is to reveal God because humanity is sinful and will contradict God.
True Christian discipleship starts with Christ. True faith consists of essential virtues of humility and meekness for which the world mocks and scoffs at the thought of such for their declaration of “pride.” However, the apostles taught everyone to subordinate to God in faith, thus to subordinate to their government, their masters, and each other (1 Pet 2:13–3:6). Humble submission to God is the virtue of true faith that trusts in the God of Jesus Christ. By this, Christians trust God to work things out through His grace. Without sincere humility, there is no real faith, and this is what this discussion is all about. Humble yourself before the words of Christ as delivered through His apostles and prophets, and let no one consider one’s thoughts greater than God and His Son, Jesus Christ.