Friday, April 6, 2018

Constructing A Case For Paul's Apostleship

  • Defining The Issues:
          -There is a theory that the Apostle Paul was a false teacher, a false prophet who corrupted the original teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed through the New Testament. It is claimed by some that present-day Christianity has fallen victim to the allegedly apostate theology of Paul, namely regarding his teachings on Christians not being under the Mosaic Law and the deity of Christ. These kinds of arguments are generally circulated by members of the Hebrew Roots Movement and Black Hebrew Israelites. Muslims make the claim that Paul was a false apostle. However, it is not difficult to pit two individuals against each other (i.e. Paul vs. Jesus) by taking their statements out of context. The Apostle Paul did not contradict the teachings of Christ, but delivered and elaborated on His teachings. He did this both in writing and speech. The evidence in favor of Paul being a genuine apostle is so strong, that any attempt to discredit his apostleship as being fraudulent should be rejected out of hand.
  • Luke Records Eye-Witnesses Being Present During The Time Of Saul's Conversion:
          -"Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one." (Acts 9:3-7)
          -If one accepts Acts as being reliable historical material, it should be noted that Jesus Christ commissioned Paul to preach the gospel to the gentiles. The men who had accompanied him were baffled at this encounter.
  • Notice How Both The Apostles Paul And Barnabas Preached The Gospel: 
          -“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses...As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God." (Acts 13:38-39, 42-43)
          -If Paul were a false apostle, it is certain that Barnabas would not have accompanied him in preaching the gospel to the Jews.
  • The Apostles And Elders Embraced Paul As Authentic, Who Also Preached Against Christians Maintaining Mosaic Customs:
          -"But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved...But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses...And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers...that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”...Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth." (Acts 15:1, 7-11, 22-27)
          -The noteworthy feature of this text is that Peter and James recognized Paul to be an authoritative voice on the matter of whether gentiles needed to undergo circumcision. This could not be said of a false apostle.
  • The Apostle Peter Believed Paul To Be A Beloved Brother Who Produced Inspired 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)
          -Even if we rejected Petrine authorship of this epistle, it would still be outside affirmation of the authenticity of Paul's apostleship. Other men in the early church who accepted Paul would be Clement of Rome and Polycarp. 
  • The Apostle Paul Had Supernatural Abilities Like That Of The Other Apostles:
          -"The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works." (2 Corinthians 12:12)
          -Paul has credibility since he made reference to personal faults (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; 1 Timothy 1:12-16). He openly rebuked Peter for not living according to the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14).
  • Examples Of Agreement Between Paul And The Four Gospel Writers:
          -Jesus Christ is a man (Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16)
          -Christ is a descendant of King David (Romans 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:8)
          -The ordinance of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
          -Jesus Christ died to make atonement for our sins (Romans 4:25; 1 Timothy 2:5-6)
          -Jesus Christ died, was buried in a tomb, resurrected from the grave, and appeared to people (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6)
          -Christ testified of Himself as being the promised Jewish Messiah before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13-16)
          -Jesus Christ was crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2; Galatians 3:1)
          -He ascended into heaven to be glorified (Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16)

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