Did the Apostle Paul claim to write with divine authority?
by Billy Dyer
Were the authors of the New Testament (NT) aware that they were writing with divine authority? Any conservative Christian will automatically answer, YES!!! While the liberal or skeptic will say, NO!!!
The liberal/skeptic hold to this view for the following reasons
- The apostles and their companions would not have had a clear picture of a completed canon.
- The letters were “occasional documents” which were never intended for universal application
- We rarely ever find the term “Scripture” used in the NT in reference to the letters
- The NT letters do not have intrinsic authority; rather the later church placed authority on them. They did this in order to deal with internal and external problems happening to the church.
Are these propositions warranted? What we must do is look into the NT letters themselves to see what the apostles and their companions claimed about their writings. In this post we will look at two of Paul’s claims to see how he viewed his own authority.
In Galatians 1:1 Paul makes a direct statement about how and from whom he received the Gospel revelation. He begins the letter by saying his apostleship is, “not from man nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father”. He uses three prepositions to make his point
- Not from (απο) man; Man is not the source of his Gospel
- Not through (διά) man; Man is not the agency/means by which he received the Gospel
- But through (διά) Jesus Christ and God the Father; The agent who gave him the Gospel is Jesus and The Father.
In fact later in Galatians (compare 1:15-20; 2:6) he further elaborates this point. His understanding of the content of the Gospel was not taken from the apostles. The phrase “they added nothing to me” (Gal 2:6) is not a jab at the apostles for not helping him. Rather, it is a declaration that he did not steal their sermons. That is, what he preaches is knowledge directly given to him by God…
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