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Don Stewart :: Why Are the Writings of the Apostle Paul Considered to Be Divinely Authoritative?

Don Stewart

The apostles not only accepted the Old Testament and Jesus' Word's as authoritative, they also began to see that their writings were on the same authoritative level. Being led by the Holy Spirit, they believed they were speaking for Christ. The Apostle Paul, for example, wrote thirteen letters that have been recognized as Holy Scripture by the Christian church. Who was this man? What evidence do we have to call Paul's writings Scripture?

Who Was Paul?

We have no physical description of Saul of Tarsus given to us in Scripture. Early tradition says that he was a small man with a bald head. No matter what he looked liked, his writings have become part of the Word of God as found in the New Testament.

He was born Saul of Tarsus - a city which is in modern-day Turkey. Tarsus had been part of the Greek world for some time. Although the family of Saul were Jews, Saul himself was a Roman citizen.

While still a young man Saul traveled to Jerusalem to train as a Rabbi. In Jerusalem, he became acquainted with a group of people who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. Saul relentlessly persecuted these people while all the time thinking that he was serving God.

The Conversion Of Saul Of Tarsus

While heading for Damascus to further jail believers in Jesus, Saul had a blinding vision that knocked him to the ground. The voice that spoke to Saul identified Himself as Jesus of Nazareth - the one whom he had been persecuting. Thus began one of the great turnarounds in history. The greatest antagonist of the Christian faith - Saul of Tarsus - became its greatest missionary - the Apostle Paul. During his lifetime he penned thirteen different works that have become part of the New Testament. It is impossible to overestimate the influence that Paul played in the spread of the Christian faith.

He Believed His Message To Be Divine

The first thing that must be noticed is that Paul believed his message to be divine. He 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 Corinthians 14:37).

He wrote to the church at Thessalonica.

And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Paul Spoke Of My Gospel

Paul spoke of "my gospel." He said the preaching of Jesus Christ had been kept secret but now had been revealed.

Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith (Romans 16:25,26).

However, believing to have a divine message does not make it so. What evidence do we have of this message having been sent from God?

Paul Received Direct Revelation From The Lord

The Bible teaches that Paul received direct revelation from God. Paul wrote.

Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? (1 Corinthians 9:1).

After an encounter with the ascended Jesus on the Damascus road, Paul had it explained by Ananias:

The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know his will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of his mouth. For you will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard (Acts 22:14,15).

Disobeying His Writings Brings Discipline

Paul said that anyone who disobeyed his writings was to be disciplined by the local church. He wrote.

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

To the Corinthians he wrote.

I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you (2 Corinthians 13:2-3).

Paul also wrote.

If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored (1 Corinthians 14:37,38).

His Writings Were Considered Scripture During His Lifetime

The final point is that the New Testament recognized Paul's writing as Scripture. Peter wrote:

Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which some things are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15,16).

The writings of Paul complete the New Testament. He was the chosen instrument to explain the meaning of the two comings of Jesus Christ.

Summary

Saul of Tarsus was a great enemy of the church. However he was converted on the road to Damascus while in the midst of persecuting Christians. He became the Apostle Paul - the greatest missionary the church has ever seen.

Paul was given the task of explaining the ministry of Christ to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world.

We find that he received direct revelation from the Lord. Paul also believed his message to be divine. The Apostle Peter confirmed Paul's words as Scripture. He was God's chosen instrument to reveal much about the central truths of the Christian faith. Paul also explained the necessity of the two comings of Christ.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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