Something new for me


Lately I’ve been coming across Christians who are telling me the church began with the Apostle Paul. Is this something new? Anyway I sure could use some help in proving that St Paul did not start the church.



Acts 8:3 - But Saul made havock of the church, entering in from house to house, and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison.


Paul was persecuting an existing church when he was blinded and confronted by Christ.

Acts 8:3
Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.



It’s hard to believe that anyone would make such a claim about Paul.

The Church was persecuted by Paul prior to his conversion. Once he was converted, Paul almost immediately went to Arabia to prepare for his ministry. Galatians 1:17-24 tells us about all of this when Paul himself says:

“I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they only heard it said, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.”

Clearly, the church was going strong before Paul began his ministry. To his credit Paul did establish Churches in various places and together with Peter established the Church at Rome.
Perhaps, it is this idea that your friends were actually trying to make.


This is often claimed by some secular and Moslem historians.

For example, in Michael Hart’s book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History, he ranked Jesus 3rd (After Mohamed and Sir Issac Newton) and St. Paul 6th. In his explanation of Jesus, he justified this ranking, despite the fact that there are many more Christians than Moslems, because Christians do not follow Christ’s teachings. Additionally, he claims that there would be no Church without St. Paul. Thus he demoted Christ’s influence because of St. Paul’s contribution. In his introduction, he states that he ranks individuals based on the number of lives they have touched. When I first read this book I was an atheist. Even then, I pondered his logic as it seems to have made little sense to me at the time. The logic still escapes me.


I know some Protestants who take Paul’s word very seriously, as if we don’t. :rolleyes:

They seem to put a stronger emphasis on Paul’s epistles than on the Gospels. The protestants that I know say that Paul has more writings than Peter does in Scripture so they assume that because of that it is Paul who started and lead the Church.

To me, the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels are more powerful than any epistle that Paul or anyone else wrote. That does not mean that I don’t think their writings are not important. I take the WHOLE bible into consideration when I read it. I just don’t take one or two passages and separate them from the rest of the bible. That is what many protestants, at least the ones that I know, seem to do when they read scripture.


if they don’t believe Christ started the Church they are not Christians


Hmmm! Does’nt sound like he started it then, does it?


Read through the Pauline epistles and then ask yourself how much of the content of the writings of Paul are specifically about ecclesiology. In the sense that much of modern ecclesiology is based on ideas from the writings of Paul it is true that Paul created the church. This does not mean that he invented Christianity. The two are not synonymous.



Paul’s writings about ecclesiology did not establish the Church and they in no way point to him creating the Church. If I write about the Forum that we are participating in, and even if I presented an idea or two that this Forum adopted, it would be totally illogical to suggest that I started this Forum. The Church existed before Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. The Church came before Paul, just as this Forum existed before I joined it.


How can something that’s defined as “the study of Church doctrine” be starting anything. Doesn’t there have to be a doctrine in order to study it?


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