Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Paul in the Shadow of Jesus - Part 1

I used to love disregarding what Paul had to say in his letters to different churches.  For some reason,  I felt that what he had to say was at odds with what Jesus said and did.  I still love the idea of being a "Red Letter Christian".  But I now am starting to understand that reading Paul can help me to actually better live that out.  Even though Paul didn't know Jesus in the flesh, the more I read what he wrote, I am seeing more and more just how much Paul is in synch with the message of Jesus.  I understand that Christianity today would look quite differently without Paul's theology, but my appreciation is growing in a healthy direction.  

Here's an example of Paul's writing reflecting the message of Jesus from Galatians 5.13-15 (NRSV):

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Paul is in the midst of explaining to the Galatian church here why they should disregard teachers informing them that they must be circumcised (I have written on this before, which I encourage you to read here for more context).

But I love it when Paul writes, "... through love become slaves to one another" before quoting Jesus saying "You shall love your neighbor as yourself".  Paul understands the centrality of love to Jesus' teaching and he clearly encourages all of the churches embrace it.  I can't read Paul and not see that he holds Jesus' life and teaching (which by the way, he only learned of secondhand) in the highest regard.

Do you agree or disagree with me here?


  1. To me, Paul takes the teachings of Christ and puts them to work. At times Christ can seem almost ethereal (Just love, man, love), throwing down life lessons that I may have trouble applying at times. I often see Paul as the bridge between the great truths Christ shares and applying them in real life.

  2. Paul taught us hard to endure hardship both by his writings and his example. He also taught us how to mentor and encourage. It's easy to be "spiritual." No rules, no laws, la-te-da. When the going gets tough - just change your beliefs. Paul's teachings and example teach us NOT to do that. In terms of teaching: Jesus is the eternal soul. Paul is the backbone. James is the hands. Luke is the brain. Hey - we need it all, brother.

  3. Hey thanks for sharing guys. I'll have more Jesus and Paul posts in future - hope you check them out!

  4. I've got to agree with Mark here. Not to discount Jesus' teachings, but even His disciples struggled with how to interpret and apply what He was saying. Paul had a way of applying the teachings of Christ to a practical situation (such as with the Galatian church).