HELP, Concerning Paul's Authority.

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Posts 171
Abi Gail | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:09 PM

Recently, a very dear nephew has been drawn in to the new age "theology" that questions Paul's authority. We have had lengthy discussions. In my attempt to find support for Paul, I ran across a quote that is causing me to struggle, just a bit.  

"As is Paul’s custom, then, he specifies at the very beginning of his letter that he writes not as a private individual, nor even as a gifted teacher, but as a “called apostle” whose words bear the authority of God himself. Any reading of this great theological treatise that ignores this claim to authority will fail to come to grips with the ultimate purpose of its writing." 

1 Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (42). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

The old testament prophets often used the term "Thus Saith The Lord". In those cases I can see that they spoke with the Authority of God. I want very much to support Paul and obviously I believe that he was called to spread the Gospel., but his choice of words and phrasing...delivery make me question that it is a "Thus saith The Lord" I understand that even in his highbrowed, flowery language, Paul can convey the message. I just tremble to see it written that any man's words "bear the authority of God Himself"

If I am being too critical, Please help me...Give me evidence to help me grow.

Thanks...God Bless

 

 

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:19 PM

If you can accept that the OT prophets spoke with the authority of God, why would you not accept that a NT apostle could speak with the same authority? Given Dr Moo's expertise I would accept his word unless I had very strong evidence that he was mistaken.

Posts 171
Abi Gail | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:28 PM

Jack Caviness:
why would you not accept that a NT apostle could speak with the same authority?

Please understand. I started this search in an attempt to support Paul's authority. I have high regard for Dr. Moo. He has just taken the discussion to a level that I had not pondered before. I thought I explained why is see a difference. ... The Lack of a "Thus Saith The Lord"

 

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:37 PM

Abi Gail:

Jack Caviness:
why would you not accept that a NT apostle could speak with the same authority?

Please understand. I started this search in an attempt to support Paul's authority. I have high regard for Dr. Moo. He has just taken the discussion to a level that I had not pondered before. I thought I explained why is see a difference. ... The Lack of a "Thus Saith The Lord"

To me, a called apostle of Jesus Christ is the same thing as a thus saith the Lord. If you want more information, do a search for apostle in your Library, especially the dictionaries and encyclopedias.

EIDT: I reread this immediately after posting and noticed that is may sound much more harsh than I intended. Please don't take offense. Do make a wider search than you have read so far. I have done that over the years and reached the conclusion that I agree with Moo.

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spitzerpl | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:38 PM

Take a look at 2 Peter 3:14-16. Especially note the phrases Paul wrote....the other scriptures. Peter seemed to place Paul's writings on par with other scriptures, which I personally take to mean the old Testament. Since my view of inspiration holds that what they wrote had the full endorsement of God as His own words I would contend that His words did bear the weight of the authority of God.

Additionally, along with God's calling Paul as an apostle came the God endorsed authority of the position. God gave Paul the calling to speak on his behalf (Apostle means sent one...he was sent to give a message). Along with that calling came a special ministry of the Holy Spirit to fulfill its obligations. Caution must be made here, though. Taking this to the extreme of saying Paul was perfect in his execution of his calling would indeed be an extreme.

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:42 PM

Philip Spitzer:
Taking this to the extreme of saying Paul was perfect in his execution of his calling would indeed be an extreme.

Good point. I believe Paul's Epistles carry apostolic authority. However, I do not believe that his every action in Acts carries the same authority.

Posts 1674
Paul Golder | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:56 PM

Here is a really good summation:

The Pauline writings demonstrate two characteristic usages of the word “apostle.” On occasion, it refers to persons authorized by local congregations and entrusted with the safe delivery of specific gifts for other members of the Christian community (2 Cor 8:23; Phil 2:25). More important are those passages where “apostle” takes on a more technical sense through the qualifying phrase “of Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; 11:13; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thes 2:6). The “sent one” is the “sent one of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:7; 1 Cor 9:1, 5; 12:28; Gal 1:17–19). In the statements where Paul claims his own right to this title, he argues along lines assuming the same basic apostolic concept that Jesus had. He consistently links this claim to a specific event in the past in which the risen Lord had appeared to him (1 Cor 9:1; Gal 1:12, 16). This appearance he ranked alongside those of the resurrection appearances (1 Cor 15:3–8). Paul understood his experience outside Damascus (cf. Acts 9:1–19a; 22:6–16; 26:12–18; Gal 1:17) as a lifelong commission to preach the now-resurrected One (1 Cor 1:17; 2:1–2) chiefly among the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 22:15; 26:17, 23; Gal 1:15–16). It was through his preaching ministry that Christ continued to work, creating the new people of God (1 Cor 9:1–2; Gal 2:8).

Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 96.

"As any translator will attest, a literal translation is no translation at all."

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Paul Golder | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:59 PM

Jack Caviness:

Philip Spitzer:
Taking this to the extreme of saying Paul was perfect in his execution of his calling would indeed be an extreme.

Good point. I believe Paul's Epistles carry apostolic authority. However, I do not believe that his every action in Acts carries the same authority.

 

Paul made a good point about this line of thinking in his simple statement:

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

 

"As any translator will attest, a literal translation is no translation at all."

Posts 11182
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 12:59 PM

Well, I kind of doubt the 'New Age' theology relative to Paul is that new, if you read Ehrman. Apparently it goes back almost 2000 years. I had the same question and eventually ended up getting a book on Paul, presenting both sides of the issue (of which there are many). That didn't really solve the problem, so I mapped out what Jesus said and then went through Paul's writings in the sequence likely written. That approach was arguable, so I eventually had to backtrack to Deuteronomy and God's three 'tests' for someone claiming to speak for God. This forum isn't the place for theology so I won't give the answer, but it's easy enough to find doing a Logos search.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 611
Graham Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 2:08 PM

Abi Gail:
Recently, a very dear nephew has been drawn in to the new age "theology" that questions Paul's authority.

This has been a challenge for the Church throughout history because whenever someone's beliefs about God do not match the writing in the Canon the natural answer is to attack the Canon. Paul is not alone in being attacked but it's important that we understand that the motive for attacking his authority is to undermine the teaching that his writings contain. This leads to the question what specific teaching or teachings do the specific "new age" theologians in question want to remove from the Canon. This is important because it will help you to identify other books of the Bible that may be at risk.

In my opinion a good starting place for you would be to use the Systematic Theologies in your library to look at the authority of the Canon and and the arguments for the inclusion of the individual books you can use this to help your nephew understand the key principle that the 66 books stand together as one (the big picture) within this you could then focus specifically on Paul. The book of Act supports Paul's role as a leader in the early Church as do the comments made by Peter, I would suggest that you prepare for an attack on Luke's authority because this would be a natural counter attack.

You could also check out any books you have on apologetics like:

Geisler, N. L. (1976). Christian apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

These will help you build a broader and stronger argument and specifically will help you focus on preparing for a range of counter arguments.

God Bless

Graham

Pastor - NTCOG Basingstoke

Posts 171
Abi Gail | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 2:26 PM

Jack Caviness:

Philip Spitzer:
Taking this to the extreme of saying Paul was perfect in his execution of his calling would indeed be an extreme.

Good point. I believe Paul's Epistles carry apostolic authority. However, I do not believe that his every action in Acts carries the same authority.

This is the grey area that I wanted to address.

Another interesting text I feel supports Paul's apostleship is: Revelation 2:1-2 Here Christ is dictating what John should write. He commends the church at Ephesus for their ability to sniff out and reject false apostles. Ephesians begins by Paul claiming to be an apostle. If it were not true, they would have been the first to reject his instruction.

I guess what troubles me is: Satan's fall was caused by his desire to "Be Like God" He tempted Eve with the same promise. Gen 3:5 I am fully aware that Dr.Moo is not implying that Paul ever desired to be like God. But saying that his words have the authority of God enters into that grey area. 

I sincerely appreciate all your input...Your attempts to help me work through this issue.

 

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Posts 171
Abi Gail | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 2:41 PM

Graham Owen:
I would suggest that you prepare for an attack on Luke's authority because this would be a natural counter attack.

Yes. We have already started down that slippery slope. If you can't trust Luke's writings in acts, then the Gospel of Luke is in question. If walking with Christ is the defining factor, Acts 1:21  then Mark doesn't qualify. None of the Old Testament writers walked with Christ, So, Can we trust them?  Peter upholds Paul's writings  2 Peter 3:14-18 so is he now untrustworthy. If we continue down this rabbit hole, what's left of the Bible will fit on one sheet of paper.

And as you say...that is the ultimate goal.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 3:01 PM

"Thus saith the Lord" is an Old Testament prophetic forumula. Its absence does not mean the words should be taken any less as the word of God. There are other reasons why we take Scripture, which was written by men, God's authoritative word.

Something to search for in your Logos library to shed light on this question would be: "Bible, Authority of" OR "Scripture, Authority of"

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 3:22 PM

Abi Gail:

Graham Owen:
I would suggest that you prepare for an attack on Luke's authority because this would be a natural counter attack.

Yes. We have already started down that slippery slope

Do you have Normal Geisler's Apologetics Library The Norman L. Geisler Apologetics Library ? or "When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences" by the same author? That latter resource has a chapter on Questions About the Bible which deals with the same subject as this thread (not just for Paul's writings, but for the Bible as a whole).

"When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences" is part of the Apologetics Library.

Posts 171
Abi Gail | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 4:21 PM

Jack Caviness:
Do you have Normal Geisler's Apologetics Library The Norman L. Geisler Apologetics Library ?

NOT YET ! Stick out tongue...EDIT: Now I Do Big Smile

I suspect it will be in the pipeline soon. I have been intrigued by his ideas for quite some time. I appreciate the fact that he has rejected predestination, as Calvin knew it. I must admit I would like to know how he threads that needle ... Rejecting a foundational doctrine, while still claiming to be a Calvinist. I have spent a small fortune in the last month, but the Apologetics Library seems to be a "necessity" for my current study. Chosen But Free will have to wait for another shopping spree. Maybe my piggy bank will have recovered by the time Logos offers it Smile

Thanks again for your input.

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Posts 57
Jim Carlile | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 4:52 PM

I like to look to the Bible to indicate answers to thing like this.Besides Rom 1:1, Paul refers to himself as an Apostle in the first verse of the first chapter in 1 Cor, 2 Cor, Gal., Eph., Col, 1 Tim., 2 Tim. and Titus. There is also support for Paul's calling and mission in a number of places in Acts:

ACTS 9:27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 9:28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

ACTS 15:12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 "‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’

ACTS 21:17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.

 And Paul's calling is confirmed in Jesus' words in Acts 9:15 & 16:

ACTS 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

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Jeremy | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 4:57 PM

Abi Gail:
Rejecting a foundational doctrine, while still claiming to be a Calvinist.

I don't think Geisler is really a Calvinist in any sense of the word.

 

Posts 171
Abi Gail | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 5:01 PM

Jeremy:
I don't think Geisler is really a Calvinist in any sense of the word.

Note that I said "claiming to be  Calvinist"

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 5:36 PM

Abi Gail:
I appreciate the fact that he has rejected predestination, as Calvin knew it. I must admit I would like to know how he threads that needle ...

You would need to read "Chosen But Free" to understand his thinking there. I could say more, but I don't want to derail this thread into theological controversy.

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spitzerpl | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2010 5:41 PM

Jack Caviness:
but I don't want to derail this thread into theological controversy.

hehehe...have we ever left it? I suppose so far we have stayed with "theological conversation" rather then controversy.

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