How clear is the divine approval of Paul's apostleship?

Many Christians in their evangelism carry on as if Paul’s divine authority was as indisputable as is the existence of trees. While that may signal their full confidence, I’m not sure whether this dogmatic attitude contributes toward the alleged strength of the merits of the case for God’s approval of Paul becoming an apostle.

Is the case for the divine approval of Paul’s apostleship sufficiently weak, disputable or ambiguous that a Christian can be reasonable to reject him as an authority?

Or is the case for the divine approval of Paul’s apostleship so strong and clear that only the willfully ignorant Christian would reject Paul?

There is a difference between the authority of Jesus and Paul. The Christian belief is that Jesus is God. With Paul we should be aware that he is not God and he has cultural prejudices. Nevertheless the acceptance of the epistles of Paul as scripture is part of the definition of Christianity. I don’t see how the acceptance of a title for anyone in the Bible other than Jesus is of any great importance. Remember Jesus’ words…

Matthew 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. 11 He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; 12 whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The meaning of the word “apostle” is simply “sent.” We can perceive anyone, even a child, as sent by God to give us what we need. Frankly someone getting into controversies over titles like this is indulging in struggles for power which is a misuse of religion as far as I am concerned and thus taking religion into something which serves no Godly purpose.

It’s not as if Jesus wrote the Gospels though. It’s the canon we accept, no matter who wrote what.


it is extremely difficult to reject writings when those writings are consistent with other similar writings in the Bible. If what the apostle Paul wrote was opposed to many other Biblical writings, i think we would discount them, but the reality is, Pauls writings are in the Bible cannon for good reason…they are supported by many other biblical references and are harmonious with them.

Does this mean Paul should be an apostle? Its hard to ignore the claim Paul made of himself.

For me there is no difference. What Paul said is the same as if Jesus himself said it. Does not matter if the Bible has errors, contradictions, and so on. Does not matter about the debates on if a book belongs or does not belong. I have no contention between what Paul says vs what Jesus says in my theology. I see what Paul says and what Jesus says to be in harmony. For me I think Paul was 100% an apostle by Jesus handpicked by God himself just as much as Moses was. If Paul says something, and it bothers someone, I side with Paul regardless of what society says. For me if someone cannot convince me using the Protestant Bible then I’ll not accept whatever theological position they are pushing.

But everything is faith based in Christianity. There is no more of a historical or evidence based understanding to what Paul said vs what Jesus says.

For me these are the lines that are just in my faith.

  1. There is a God.
  2. Jesus is the son of God.
  3. The eleven disciples chose by Jesus plus the dude picked by lots and Paul are his apostles who had the ability to preform miracles through the laying on of hands including a special connection to god through the Holy Spirit that no one else can or will have since then.
  4. The Protestant Bible is the only collection of scripture that I’ll accept for a theological concept. Now I believe in the deuterocanonical Bible, the book of Enoch and so on are all scripture. But if an argument can only be gathered from those texts and not found in the Protestant Bible then I won’t accept it as a doctrinal view.

For the most part it never runs into issues but there are some.

Such as I won’t ever go to a church where there is a female pastor. I think women can be deaconesses, teachers and so on in a congregation but not pastors. Same as it seems no woman could ever be a priest in the Old Testament. Does it make any sense to me? No. I think it’s stupid but just because I think the Bible says something stupid does not mean I think I can override it and this does not imply that I think we have to apply concordism to false scientific claims. I believe accommodation is part of it. I don’t think accommodation is why there was no female priests or elders.

Same as why I think a deacon, elder or deaconess mist be married once, never divorced, and have 2+ kids. If a man only has one kid, he also won’t be my pastor. If a man has been divorced and remarried, even if it’s not his fault, and even if he was my pastor for 30+ years…. He would no longer be able to be my pastor and I would expect him to step down and take on a different role. So that means as someone with just one son , and even more importantly, as someone who was divorced, I am not ever able to be a pastor even if I wanted to be one, or a deacon.

also in 2 Peter 3 , Peter shows his support for Paul. So Peter also accepted Paul. I believe all of them did.

In the New Testament only a select few of people are shown to have had the gift of laying on of hands. The 11 picked by Jesus who was alive at Pentecost in Acts. Matthias chosen by lots and Paul. Not every one of them are ever mentioned doing it, but no one outside of those men are said to do it either. The laying on of hands is the ability to lay your hands on someone and instantly give them the power of the Holy Spirit and God will decide how that power is manifested. Only those men could do that. Paul is one of those men.

But I went into that here.

Hum. Not sure about that. In Paul’s writings, even he expresses at times that something he writes is his personal opinion. I doubt that Paul himself would accept his own writings as holy scripture, though feel some parts he felt were directly inspired writings from God. I sort of doubt Jesus would have commanded someone to bring Paul his coat, or that they would castrate themselves as Paul stated.

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This is the part that I wonder about too… it’s one thing to say he was inspired by God, but another to put his letters on the same level as the words of Jesus. Some Christians seem to favor an all-or-nothing mindset which probably doesn’t do great things for biblical interpretation.

Guess all I can say is I disagree. I take the words of Paul to be scripture just as I take the words of Peter and Moses and Jesus to all be god breathed. I don’t see a level of 60% inspiration, 88% inspiration and 100% inspiration.


I very much see myself as a Pauline Christian. And yes I see His teaching as coming from the teachings of Jesus. But I don’t think that requires deifying Paul or equating everything He said as something straight out of the mouth of God. After all Paul enters the story as a fervent part of the opposition. So Paul said lots of things which did not come from God. And no I don’t think his cultural prejudices and misogyny come from God either.

On the other hand, His theological explanations are a definitive part of Christianity and I cannot support those who cook up excuses to disregard these.

hmmm an interesting spread of opinions above and i can see from where some of these opinions are driven…its easy to see how individuals protect their current views without actually ensuring it has biblical support.

See for me the thing is this, all of the above statements that see to take issue with some of Pauls writings (such as misogony and or his own background as Saul), to use those kinds of things in an attempt to discredit parts of Pauls writings ignore the facts about other bible writings that support Pauls statements and this goes to the heart of the complaint i always make on these forums about unsound theology. One simply cannot take single passages out of their context and pretend that these are uninspired because they seem to be at odds with how society functions today.

All Christianity must be of the belief that all biblical writings are inspired of God and may be used for teaching and reproach.

We cannot simply pick and choose that which suits us and our biases…the Bible does not make allowances for that.

If something Paul has written seems at odds with what is considered appropriate in society now, one has to determine if maybe it is being misread…and almost always, that is the case (including the statement about misogony). When it comes to women, God designed men and women to compliment each other…they have unique characteristics that the opposite sex can never have. It is only modern human secularism that attempts to deny this fact about us and as a result, the family structure as we know it today is getting demolished…people spend less time engaging in family now than they ever have. Many individuals choose not to have kids, and i believe that is because they cannot be bothered with the responsibility of raising a child. [moderated]

Any biblical support for your statements? :wink:
Actually, Paul wrote how it was better not to marry and have kids, if you could control your passions. Perhaps influenced by his belief that the 2nd coming of Jesus was soon. Perhaps wrongly, so not particularly inspired. It gets difficult to determine, and we all tend to overlay our personal beliefs and presuppositions onto the text rather than listen to what the text says itself, and what the author’s intended message was.

I think it was about the terrors that was described by Jesus concerning the destruction of the second temple and the persecution of the beast against Christians through the abomination of desolation.

Jesus himself said some standing there would not taste death before they saw him coming in glory and that the generation would not pass before these things happened and so on.

Paul was careful to distinguish his commands from the Lord’s on divorce. If scripture itself carefully distinguishes between Jesus and Paul’s words, it’s inexcusable for any Christian not to do the same.

And I prefer James to Paul because grace is used as an excuse to sin a lot in Pauline circles. James will have none of that.

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Except it was not just merely Paul’s thoughts versus Jesus. What Paul is distinguishing is that earlier in the chapter he quotes Jesus. The question Paul was answering was a question Jesus already answered.

Then he answers a question that Jesus never answered. But it was not him saying this is just my opinion, it was him stating the fact that Jesus never answered it.

But that does not mean it was without the Holy Spirit. Peter states Paul was given wisdom from God.

There is no reason to read it as just Paul giving his thoughts on it without guidance of the Holy Spirit just like Jesus did.

Whether or true or not this is a red herring. Paul says what he says. Nothing more, nothing less. I can be given wisdom from God. That doesn’t mean what I say is on par with what Jesus says.

It’s well known Jesus taught in divorce and remarriage. Paul carefully distinguishes his commands from those of Jesus. One part of of our sacred scripture clearly distinguishing itself and does not see itself as on the same authority as that of Jesus. No matter what other verses you quote, none of them can change this fact.

And the Peter you are referring to is a 2nd century pseudonymous work.


I have no reason to think it’s a fake work or that Peter disagreed and it’s not a fact that you or me is correct and it’s not a red herring to point out that Paul was not distinguishing what he said said as not being from God, but distinguish that he was answering a question, through the guidance of the spirit, that Jesus never answered since Jesus death is what set to Christianity and so Jesus never had to comment on what happens if a non Christian becomes a Christian and their non Christian spouse leaves them over it. So no I don’t think our scripture was distinguishing something as less scripture. Lots of scripture is a recording of something someone said…….

Fake work is your term not mine. I said pseudonymous. But the vast majority of all critical scholars have plenty of reasons for believing 2 Peter was not written by Peter the apostle. You are free to disagree with scholarly consensus.


Paul distinguished his commands from Jesus. Period. You can spin it however you like but if Paul thought everything he uttered was divine, immutable and on par with what Jesus said he would not have made the distinction. It would be completely unnecessary. Paul understand he is not Jesus, does not have the authority of Jesus and only has whatever authority God gives him. I don’t worship Paul or a book. I follow Christ.

10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say—I and 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. 13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce the husband.

Paul, aka, one part of scripture, did not think this distinction was superfluous or unnecessary.

Take that however you will. I take it as Paul would and that does not include him elevating his commands to those of his Lord and Savior.

Maybe Corinthians 1 is relevant:

11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”;another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I think some modern Christians could benefit from reading those parts in bold on a daily basis.

I’m sure some could benefit if they choose to read it. I’m sure you are smart enough to be aware that it’s actually debated about when and who wrote the book. There is not a single consensus on it. It’s pretty divided. Ofer sad several books by different people who had different opinions on it. The most convincing was Peter have his ideas to one of those serving him who pinned it and edited it to make it flow better and that it was before the temple was destroyed.

I could say the same thing about evolution. Doesn’t make it true. A bunch of literalists think evolution is false because it conflicts with the Bible as they understand it. A number of conservative scholars fight tooth and nail to maintain traditional authorship because, you guessed it, pseudonymous composition conflicts with the Bible as they understand it. Two different peas in the same pod—both disconnected from reality.