Many people in the religious world today are attempting to discredit the apostle Paul and his teachings. The attitudes toward Paul that are expressed by self-proclaimed Christians are mind-boggling, except when you understand their misguided reasoning for them.
Why is Paul held in such contempt by many religious people?
One of the primary reasons that Paul and his teachings are disdained by some religious people is that his writings are the only New Testament books that expressly forbid women to have authority in the church.
- 1 Timothy 2:8-15
- Titus 2:3-5
- 1 Corinthians 14:34
And his writings specifically condemns homosexuality.
- Romans 1:26-27
- 1 Corinthians 6:9
The Apostle Paul has been called a homophobe and a woman hater because of these teachings found in his epistles. For example, I recently heard where a woman had said,
“I just don’t trust Paul. He was a woman hater and a hypocrite. I just can’t bring myself to trust anybody who could do all those awful things he did to the Christians and then all of a sudden he changed his mind and to become a Christian. Nobody could change that much, that soon!”
People like this resent Paul’s teaching and don’t want to abide by them, so their answer is to say that Paul was not really an apostle. Therefore, they say, we can ignore what Paul says.
For instance, a good friend of mine, who is also a faithful Christian minister, took some classes at a denominational theological seminary. He was the only Christian in the class and the only one to have had an extensive background in the Bible.
The professor had lectured, teaching that Paul received his theological training from Peter and the other apostles and that Paul took that training and created his own theology, suggesting that he was not inspired. My friend at this point raised his hand and asked, “What about Galatians 1:11 and 12”? Paul said, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Isn’t that what Paul says?”
The professor didn’t even blink and replied, “Yes, that is what he says.” Then he continued right on lecturing on how Paul had put together his own personal brand of theology.
This begs the question: was Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit, or was he a fraudulent apostle, a woman hater and a homophobe?
People like the professor and the above-mentioned woman refuse to take Paul at his word. He said he was an apostle (Romans. 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8-10). He also said that he was inspired of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1:11-12). Yet they still refuse to believe he was what he claimed to be. How can they say that they believe the Bible is God’s word and yet think they can decide which parts are and which parts are not inspired?
I don’t have that answer. Their attitude makes no sense to me. They ought to heed my favorite saying of brother Eddie Brinkley, “The gospel ain’t Lubey’s. You don’t get to pick and choose!” (Lubey’s is a cafeteria chain in Texas) If these Lubey’s eating religious people will not take Paul’s word for his inspiration and apostleship, perhaps they will take Peter’s word for it.
What Does Scripture Say About Paul as an Apostle?
Let us first begin with what Peter said concerning the inspiration of scripture.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” — 2 Peter 1:20-21
He also said in Acts 1:16,
“Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”
Notice in this last verse how Peter connects scripture with the words of the Holy Spirit spoken through the mouth of an inspired man.
Scripture, simply put, is that which is derived from God, spoken by the Holy Spirit through the mouth (or the pen) of an inspired man.
How Does the Apostle Peter Refer to Paul?
Second, let us note the way in which Peter refers to Paul’s epistles as scripture.
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” — 2 Peter 3:15-16
Peter said that Paul had “wisdom given unto him.” Where did the wisdom come from? It had to have come from the Holy Spirit, because Peter compared Paul’s epistles with “other scriptures” and we know that scripture is the result of holy men of God speaking “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:20.
Hence, Peter believed and taught that all of Paul’s epistles were derived from the inspired work of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know anybody who would claim that Peter was not inspired and that he was not an apostle. If he believed and taught that Paul was an inspired apostle, why should we doubt him?
If we doubt the writings of Peter and Paul, what does that say about the rest of the Bible? If some of the Bible is God’s word and some of it is not God’s word, how can we decide which is which? If the entire Bible (every single word of it) is not God’s word and we have no useful standard beside what we think or what we feel, to determine which is inspired, how can we trust any of it? If the entire Bible (every single word of it) is not really the word of God, then why believe any of it? Without an objective standard, who can say what is right or wrong? Who can really know God’s will for man? Nobody. If the entire Bible is not God’s word then none of it is! Whom are you going to believe? The inspired apostle Peter or some modern day naysayer?