Is St. Paul greater than Jesus?


#1

I have noticed that, when discussing Scripture with fundamentalists and Evangelicals that they quote the epistles of St.Paul much more often than Jesus himself from the Gospels. They also seem to take great delight in quoting articles from the Council of Trent.
Trent, I understand. It is the difinitive document of the counter-reformation and so contains all of the articles of faith of the Catholic Church. There’s lots there with which they disagree.
But why Paul? I’ve picked up a hint here and there in my reading, but if there are any former (or current, if you want to jump in) fundamentalists or Evangelicals, can you explain the dependence on St. Paul, almost to the exclusion of Jesus, their “personal Lord and Savior?” This was not meant as a put-down; its an honest question.
And, before we get started, can we please avoid whole segments of two or three posters, usually old buddies, getting off-topic with ad hominem debates? :tsktsk: Thanks in advance.
God bless


#2

Someone much smarter than me is going to have to add to what I’m about to say but I’ll give it a shot… I was always taught the dispensationalist theory of reading the Bible… I understood that different parts of the Bible were written for different time periods. The Old Test. was written for the Jews and the gospel accounts were written for the Jews that would become Christians. Paul, (we NEVER call him St. Paul) wrote for the gentiles which would include almost all Christians today. I was taught that the OT doesn’t apply to me, or the gospels really but mainly the books that Paul wrote. CM


#3

[quote=Strider]I have noticed that, when discussing Scripture with fundamentalists and Evangelicals that they quote the epistles of St.Paul much more often than Jesus himself from the Gospels. They also seem to take great delight in quoting articles from the Council of Trent.
Trent, I understand. It is the difinitive document of the counter-reformation and so contains all of the articles of faith of the Catholic Church. There’s lots there with which they disagree.
But why Paul? I’ve picked up a hint here and there in my reading, but if there are any former (or current, if you want to jump in) fundamentalists or Evangelicals, can you explain the dependence on St. Paul, almost to the exclusion of Jesus, their “personal Lord and Savior?” This was not meant as a put-down; its an honest question.
And, before we get started, can we please avoid whole segments of two or three posters, usually old buddies, getting off-topic with ad hominem debates? :tsktsk: Thanks in advance.
God bless
[/quote]

There is probably no simple answer to this one :slight_smile: - but at a guess, one answer might be, that St. Paul has had a gigantic effect upon Western theology (and thus upon that of Protestants) in two areas particularly: the doctrine of grace; and, the doctrine of salvation.

Which is why letters such as Romans & Galatians - among others - have been so important in Protestant thinking. ##


#4

Paul didn’t know he was going to be more influential or he might have been more careful in his wording. Alot of accusations get launched at him, Which I think are unfounded. To me Paul is a Catholic Hero, whose words have been twisted to fit the theology of Preachers who lived 1950 years after him and have no idea what he’s talking about.


#5

Hello Strider,

You are very observant. Jesus tells us, "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments". The Protestants hate this answer. They think St. Paul teaches works are out and now “Faith alone” is in. How can Jesus be wrong?

The misunderstanding is that St. Paul is debating the law of circumcision and not the Law of God’s commandments. St. Peter warns us to be very careful when reading St. Paul’s writings. Martin Luther and the Protestants stumble right past St. Peter’s warnings to base the foundation of the Protestant faith on their misunderstandings of St. Paul’s writings.

St. Paul says,

Galatians 2:16
…who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Jesus says,

NAB MAT 19:16

“Teacher, what good must I do to possess everlasting life?” He answered, “Why do you question me about what is good? There is One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied “You shall not kill”; ‘You shall not commit adultery’; ‘You shall not steal’; ‘You shall not bear false witness’; ‘Honor your father and mother’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

St. Paul’s writings were debating the law of circumcision and the Pharisee created Church laws and not God’s Law of the commandments.

NAB ACT 15:1
Some men came down to Antioch from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” This created dissension and much controversy between them and Paul and Barnabas.NAB ACT 21:20


"You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have come to believe, all of them staunch defenders of the law. Yet they have been informed that you teach the Jews who live among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, to give up the circumcision of their children, and to renounce their customs."
NAB PHI 3:5

(St. Paul is speaking.)
I was circumcised on the eighth day, being of the stock of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew origins; in legal observance I was a Pharisee, and so zealous that I persecuted the church. I was above reproach when it came to justice based on the law. (GAL 6:13)NAB 1CO 7:19

(St. Paul is speaking.)
Circumcision counts for nothing, and its lack makes no difference either. **What matters is keeping God’s commandments.**NAB ROM 2:13

(St. Paul is speaking.)
For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; it is those who keep it who will be declared just.

NAB 2PE 3:14 Preparation for the Coming.

Consider that our Lord’s patience is directed toward salvation. Paul, our beloved brother, wrote you this in the spirit of wisdom that is his, dealing with these matters as he does in all his letters. There are certain passages in them hard to understand. The ignorant and the unstable distort them (just as they do the rest of Scripture) to their own ruin. You are forewarned, beloved brothers. Be on your guard lest you be led astray by the error of the wicked, and forfeit the security you enjoy.

Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com


#6

Aha! Good one, or few Steven!
For Paul there was a difference between the Ceremonial acts of the Law and the moral acts of the law.
Check this out:
Romans 2:5-11
Verse 6: For he will repay according to each one’s deeds:…

So on and so fourth. Its kinda alot to type. This is right before his dissertation on Justification by Faith. Does this sound like Sola Fide? I don’t think so. Maybe.
When I was younger I’d get really confused about verses like this. But there it is. And there is more where that came from.


#7

Unfortunately, when you do not show defference to the teachings of the Church that Christ started, over your own exegesis, you can be easily led astray. For many Protestants, they start out with a thought process of “we know the Catholic Church is wrong, how can we prove it” instead of, “Lord I will go wherever you lead me.” They are mentaly incapable of being fair minded and therefore blaten Catholic verses in Scripture are skipped over and dismissed. It is funny, I have always been told by non- Catholics, that we have added to Scripture and not taken the word literally as it is printed on the page. Yet after doing some reading of Scripture I have found that we take scripture literally more often than Protestants. Take the Eucharist(John 6),Baptism, Salvation(James), for example. We are told by Protestants that Christ was speaking symbolically, and that his word should not be taken literally. How does a protestant know for sure what verses and commands are to be taken literally or symbolically. I guess they think that is too much to ask for from God, a definitive de fide interpretation, that all believers can rely on as the truth as if God said it himself, and he did. Most Protestants, if you can actually say that about protestants, would say thier is no Authority on earth that can infallibly interpret Scripture, or as I’ve seen it said, Scripture interprets itself, which is an ironically comical statement since Protestants can barely agree on what day it is. I mean which Church is teaching the whole truth of Christ, en toto. What is the gospel. What is needed to be saved. Each Church in Protestant land disagrees on what is required to be saved. Since Christ gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom, and in the old testament Kingdom of David, the last person given the keys to the House of David had successors, and the powers of authority were handed down to each successor, the power did not die with the Prime Minister. And Christ gave Him(Peter) the power to bind and loose, and he gave all of the Apostles the Power to forgive sins and told them to Baptise in the name of the trinity, and as we see with Judas, they had “offices” that needed to be filled upon thier vacancy. And since the Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim and prove an unbroken chain of Popes(the word pope simply means papa in Italian, and as we see in Isaiah 22:20-24, the Prime Minister, which Christ reinstituted with Peter, would be a Father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and of the House Judea) down to today. Isn’t it obvious that Christ gave us an Authority to guard the Gospel and to give it to the world, every country, the exact same gospel that was given to the Apostles and handed on to others that could be trusted to hand it down to still others. Wow this is the Church that is the fullfillment of the OT Kingdom of David. Christ the King, Mary is the Queen Mother, and Peter and his Successors are the Prime Ministers, with his authority, in His physical absence.This is the Church that Gave us the Scriptures.


#8

Its simply because Paul had much more to say, and clarified much more than Jesus did…Jesus himself states this thus:

“So much MORE I have to say to you…but you are not yet disposed to hear it”… John 16:12

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to FURTHER his mission… Paul was the one to have more to say thru the Spirit…and it was Jesus WILL that it be so. Jesus is still speaking…its just thru the Holy Spirit working thru Paul.

Short and sweet. :slight_smile:


#9

-edited for clarity

[quote=Strider]I’ve picked up a hint here and there in my reading, but if there are any former (or current, if you want to jump in) fundamentalists or Evangelicals, can you explain the dependence on St. Paul, almost to the exclusion of Jesus, their “personal Lord and Savior?” This was not meant as a put-down; its an honest question.
[/quote]

You have to keep in mind that most Protestants don’t quote from Romans or Galatians (for example) more than other books of the Bible. What books are quoted all depends on what the topic of discussion is. If you were to listen to inter-Protestant debates concerning eschatology, I would venture to guess that Revelation would be quoted more than Galatians. A group discussion on the Sermon on the Mount probably won’t reference Romans. Likewise, discussions between Catholics and Protestants often revolve around justification. Since Paul happens to clearly outline the topic in Roman and Galatians, you can expect Protestants to quote those books in those types of discussions.

~Matt


#10

[quote=Faithful 2 Rome]Its simply because Paul had much more to say, and clarified much more than Jesus did…Jesus himself states this thus:

“So much MORE I have to say to you…but you are not yet disposed to hear it”… John 16:12

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to FURTHER his mission… Paul was the one to have more to say thru the Spirit…and it was Jesus WILL that it be so. Jesus is still speaking…its just thru the Holy Spirit working thru Paul.

Short and sweet. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

For once I agree with everything you said here.


#11

[quote=p90]-edited for clarity

You have to keep in mind that most Protestants don’t quote from Romans or Galatians (for example) more than other books of the Bible. What books are quoted all depends on what the topic of discussion is. If you were to listen to inter-Protestant debates concerning eschatology, I would venture to guess that Revelation would be quoted more than Galatians. A group discussion on the Sermon on the Mount probably won’t reference Romans. Likewise, discussions between Catholics and Protestants often revolve around justification. Since Paul happens to clearly outline the topic in Roman and Galatians, you can expect Protestants to quote those books in those types of discussions.
[/quote]

I believe you have hit the nail on the head on this one. Much of it depends on what type of discussion you are having. If it’s on divisive issues such as salvation, grace, law, etc. etc. Paul’s writings are obviously going to come up more than otherwise.

I started a thread on this, “Paul and the other apostles” in Miscellaneous in which I discussed some of the aspects of Paul’s role in the early church.


#12

[quote=Strider]I have noticed that, when discussing Scripture with fundamentalists and Evangelicals that they quote the epistles of St.Paul much more often than Jesus himself from the Gospels. They also seem to take great delight in quoting articles from the Council of Trent.
Trent, I understand. It is the difinitive document of the counter-reformation and so contains all of the articles of faith of the Catholic Church. There’s lots there with which they disagree.
But why Paul? I’ve picked up a hint here and there in my reading, but if there are any former (or current, if you want to jump in) fundamentalists or Evangelicals, can you explain the dependence on St. Paul, almost to the exclusion of Jesus, their “personal Lord and Savior?” This was not meant as a put-down; its an honest question.
And, before we get started, can we please avoid whole segments of two or three posters, usually old buddies, getting off-topic with ad hominem debates? :tsktsk: Thanks in advance.
God bless
[/quote]

I started a thread on this labeled, “Paul and the other apostles” in Miscellaneous. In there I basically said that Paul wrote so much of the New Testament that you really couldn’t help but refer to his writings when discussing doctrine. He formulated so much early Chrstian theology that it’s hard to deny that.

Some posters spoke of percentages and pages of Paul’s writings as being almost insignificant compared to the rest of Scripture. This is a fallacy. He wrote (arguably) 14 books of the NT. More than any other writer.

Hope this helps clear things up instead of muddy the waters.:wink:


#13

[quote=Strider] can you explain the dependence on St. Paul, almost to the exclusion of Jesus, their “personal Lord and Savior?” This was not meant as a put-down; its an honest question.

[/quote]

Strider, can you be more specific, please? I honestly want to see what I am dealing with. :slight_smile:


#14

The Joint Lutheran Catholic Declaration on Justification quotes or refferences St. Paul at least ten times more often that Jesus.

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

All the scripture where Jesus tells us to obey the commandments if we wish to go to heaven are intentionally left out of the document. Pope John Paul II was at the signing of the document but could not sign it. My priest tells us that we should not use the document to understand what we must do to go to heaven and that it is only an ecumenical tool. Is not the whole point of “infailibility” to throw documents in the garbage if the Pope cannot sign them?

Though the Protestants believe that Jesus had nothing good enough to say about salvation to use His words, He does.

NAB MAT 19:16

“Teacher, what good must I do to possess everlasting life?” He answered, "Why do you question me about what is good? There is One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."

NAB REV 22:12
"Remember, I am coming soon! I bring with me the reward that will be given to each man as his conduct deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End! Happy are they who wash their robes so as to have free access to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates Outside are the dogs and sorcerers, the fornicators and murderers, the idol-worshipers and all who love falsehood."

NAB MAT 25:31

"Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com


#15

[quote=p90]-edited for clarity

Since Paul happens to clearly outline the topic in Roman and Galatians, you can expect Protestants to quote those books in those types of discussions.

~Matt
[/quote]

What Paul is outlining, as Steve Merton points out, is that you’re not justified by the Law. These books are where Protestants get the idea of faith alone from. They overlook the fact that Paul is talking about the legal obligation of the Law, as opposed to works performed under grace. Paul assumes that his readers understand the difference.

Protestants seem to forget that with Romans and Galatians, Paul was writing to churches that had relatively large Jewish poplulation. Since these writings seem to say no works are necessary, they’ve become favorites of Protestants when talking about how to get “saved”. You say “the sinners prayer” and that’s it. You never have to do anything else. When they read Paul, they’re trying to find that teaching. If that’s what they’re reading into it, it can easily be found.

Since Jesus and James both say that you have to have works, the normal response is that if you are really “saved” then you will do works. It’s not that they believe Paul is greater that Jesus, it’s just that they think his teachings best explain how to get “saved”. I say this with a background of being Southern Baptist until I became Catholic in May. My dad’s a deacon, both of my parents are Sunday School teachers, and I’ve taught Sunday School myself, so I know a bit about what Evangelicals teach. I hope that explaination makes sense.


#16

[quote=Steven Merten]The Joint Lutheran Catholic Declaration on Justification quotes or refferences St. Paul at least ten times more often that Jesus.
[/quote]

And from this you deduce that Christians think more of Paul than of Jesus? Lame.
I

All the scripture where Jesus tells us to obey the commandments if we wish to go to heaven are intentionally left out of the document.

your perception of their intention is based on your opinion, not fact (unless you are like the Lord and can see inside their souls)

Though the Protestants believe that Jesus had nothing good enough to say about salvation to use His words, He does.

stereotypical, generalizing, totally false verbal garbage - need I say more?


#17

[quote=fulloftruth]Unfortunately, when you do not show defference to the teachings of the Church that Christ started, over your own exegesis, you can be easily led astray. For many Protestants, they start out with a thought process of “we know the Catholic Church is wrong, how can we prove it” instead of, “Lord I will go wherever you lead me.”
[/quote]

I agree with this - I’m in a conversation right now with a Protestant that claims it is impossible to be led astray by reading the Bible. I pointed to the fact that we have tons of persons (from Luther to Joseph Smith amongst others) who have also claimed this. I don’t know if it’ll sink in or not the failings in his logic, but I think (God-willing) it’ll sink in some day…I’m just a tool for Christ after all.

[quote=fulloftruth]They are mentaly incapable of being fair minded …
[/quote]

I wouldn’t go that far. Of course I’ve been accused of being an optomist in the past. :wink:

[quote=fulloftruth]How does a protestant know for sure what verses and commands are to be taken literally or symbolically? …as I’ve seen it said, Scripture interprets itself…
[/quote]

They claim it is clear in scripture when Jesus speaks literally and when He speaks symbolically. Of course we need to keep in mind for instance that some Protestants believe in the real presense while others say the bread is merely symbolism.

My response: I thought Christ came here to let us know what it takes to enter the Kingdom of God…why are Protestants still guessing what Christ meant? I hope they all come home. I firmly believe they’ll come to this conclusion at some point on their journey. :slight_smile:


#18

[quote=Steve M]What Paul is outlining, as Steve Merton points out, is that you’re not justified by the Law. These books are where Protestants get the idea of faith alone from. They overlook the fact that Paul is talking about the legal obligation of the Law, as opposed to works performed under grace. Paul assumes that his readers understand the difference.
[/quote]

I don’t understand how your response is applicable to what I’ve written.

~Matt


#19

Protestants do not put Paul above Jesus. What Paul said and what power he had was from the Holy Spirit and Jesus.

Lutheran’s like myself do not put our faith in the scriptures. We put our faith in Jesus and the Gospel and out of that arises our faith of the Scripture. We do believe that Jesus bestowed a special gift upon Paul and that Paul is more than quotable.

Do you not believe that Paul is quotable? Of course you do. As people have pointed out the topic of conversation has much to do with that which is quoted. On the Lutheran message board that I frequent, Jesus is spoken of far more that any of the Apostles

Saying that Protestants hold St. Paul at a higher level than Jesus is like saying that Catholics hold Mary at a higher level than Jesus. It simply is not true.

Lutheran’s also believe that one must follow the commandments of God. We just do not believe that we are justified by following them.


#20

This perhaps explains the Lutheran stance a bit better: It also dispels the myth that we do not recognize Saints.

Our confession approves giving honor to the saints. This honor is threefold. The first is thanksgiving: we should thank God for showing examples of his mercy revealing his will to save men, and giving teachers and other gifts to the church. Since these are his greatest gifts, we should extol them very highly; we should also praise the saints themselves for using these gifts, just as Christ praises faithful businessmen (Matt. 25:21, 23). The second honor is the strengthening of our faith: when we see Peter forgiven after his denial, we are encouraged to believe that grace does indeed abound more than sin (Rom. 5:20). The third honor is the imitation, first of their faith and then of their other virtues, which each should imitate in accordance with his calling.
(Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 21, para. 4-6)


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.