Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the four Gospels, Jesus seems to talk a lot about the Law, about how to behave, about "the Kingdom" and how to restore social order. It doesn't seem like he talks about what Paul talks about: grace, law vs. gospel, gentile-inclusion. Mostly, what most Christians mean by "Gospel" and grace.

What are some examples of passages that demonstrate how (or how not) Paul preached the same gospel Jesus did?

I'm looking for passages of Paul or Jesus that match up with each other, not external verification that they are on the same page.

share|improve this question
Interesting question, will think about this and maybe post later tonight on it. –  Nathan Bunney May 3 '12 at 22:35
You might be interested in reading The Gospel According to Jesus‌​. This question is not the thesis, but it does deal with it a bit. –  Eric May 4 '12 at 0:53
@Eric ooh, MacArthur! I'll have to check that out, thanks! –  Thomas Shields May 4 '12 at 2:55

4 Answers 4

There are a number of passages that suggest that Paul preached the same message as the first eleven apostles.

  1. Paul says so:

    I went up because of a revelation and set before [the Jerusalem church] (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.—Galatians 2:2 (ESV)

  2. Luke implies that the Jerusalem church approved of Paul's message:

    Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. —Acts 15:22a (ESV)

    And later:

    On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God.—Acts 21:18-20a (ESV)

  3. The author of 2nd Peter put Paul's letters under the banner of Scripture:

    And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.—2nd Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)

According to Paul, he got the gospel directly from God by revelation:

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.—Galatians 1:15-17 (ESV)

Acts 9, 22 and 26 detail Paul's conversion and show us that he spoke directly to the resurrected Jesus. We read in various places (e.g., Acts 13:4-12) that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. And, of course, he did spend time with the Jerusalem church, Peter and the other apostles. Perhaps Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, and others traveled with Paul was so that they bare witness to the events of Jesus' earthly ministry and repeat His teachings.

As to why Jesus didn't preach more about the Gospel of Grace, I think that stems from a greater mystery: for some reason God wants us to be part of His grand story. God was surprisingly "hands-off" in the Old Testament period. Sure, He brought down fire on wicked cities and rescued His people miraculously on occasion. But for the most part, God expected His people to be faithful and remember His provision for them without intervention.

In the same way, Jesus did surprisingly little to establish His Kingdom while on earth. And the bulk of the church's work to reach the gentile world fell on their shoulders only after He ascended to heaven. Jesus spoke the language of the Jewish peasant, fisherman, merchant, rabbi, and priest, but He didn't have much to say to gentiles. Paul was the right man at the right time for the job of translating that message into a philosophical framework that a Greek-educated person would understand. His struggle for the church was primarily in helping the gentiles see why a provincial Jew's teaching mattered to them.

share|improve this answer
You definitely establish that Paul was in agreement with the Early Church's interpretation of Jesus's teaching, but I'd still like to see some better resolution between Christ's apparently moralistic teaching and Paul's fundamentally grace-fueled preaching. –  Thomas Shields May 4 '12 at 0:13
@Doubting Thomas: I thought you might, but I stopped before taking on a huge task. Could you ask a more focused question? –  Jon Ericson May 4 '12 at 0:14
Would it help, you think, to add some example passages from both Jesus and Paul that don't seem to reconcile? Additionally, an ideal answer would take the teachings of Jesus (using examples) and show how they are consistent with Paul, or vice-versa. –  Thomas Shields May 4 '12 at 0:24
@Doubting Thomas: You have three explicit questions here and several more implicit ones. Yes, asking another question about possible contradiction between Jesus and Paul would be a good idea. (I probably won't add to this answer, since it's long enough. ;-) –  Jon Ericson May 4 '12 at 0:29
I've tried to pin down exactly what I was really asking. Your answer is still good, but to those coming afterwards: it doesn't exactly answer my question. –  Thomas Shields May 4 '12 at 2:45

There are plenty examples:

Paul: For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Rom 13,9)

Jesus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Mt 22, 37-40)

Paul: Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,(Rom 4,16)

Jesus: If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. (Jonh 8, 39)

Paul: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same (Rom 13 1-3)

Jesus: Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (Mt 22, 21)

Jesus: Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above (Jonh 19,11)

And this is just a quick look through one of Paul's letters.

share|improve this answer

The problem was never Paul preaching a different Gospel that Jesus, It is in the interpretation of Paul’s words. Jesus mostly spoke for the average person to understand his words and to set straight the religious leaders of the day. Paul was writing his letters from a very highly educated point of view to people who mostly were not used to a monotheistic way of life and needed encouragement and clarification on this new idea. Both Jesus and Paul taught that salvation was not something that could be won by keeping minute details of manmade laws, as the Pharisees had begun to do, but fully by faith in the sacrifice of the Messiah. They also both taught that the Commandments given by the creator to his creation for the guidance of a moral life and loving both the Creator and your fellow man had not been changed or done away with. In fact they clearly show our obedience to the Messiah’s message and our love for him by our obedience. Paul proved that he felt that way by the life he lived as he was traveling about teaching by his words and by his example. There is no difference in the messages only differences in how people interpret what they read. A thorough honest study of Paul’s life reveals that he was always faithful to the Torah to the best of his abilities and circumstances, and we know the Messiah never broke a commandment for the breaking of a commandment is sin, and he could not have been our replacement on the cross if he had his own sins to answer for. So the message is the same just some of the interpreters have twisted it a little and we, looking back 2000 years with 20th century culture firmly imbedded in our minds, have a problem understanding what is said.

share|improve this answer
This answer is good, but it would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. Remember that "I believe it means..." isn't an acceptable answer, since this site isn't about personal interpretation. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Feb 13 at 22:03
The answer can be greatly improved if you can list the sources with which you used to derive your answer or conclusion. If you happen to speak for your own denomination, please list your denomination here. Thank you for your consideration. –  Anonymous Feb 14 at 2:04

No. Paul wholly rejected the teachings of the Christ, and was in fact a false prophet and anti-Christianity.

Not only is Paulinism not Christianity, then, it is positively opposed to Christianity; and those who follow Paul are plainly not Christians.

share|improve this answer
Do you have any... support for this claim? –  Thomas Shields Apr 14 at 4:38
Yes: Paul's words. –  Steely Dan Apr 14 at 5:55
Considering how many people would disagree with you on that, I think it'd be worth while to elaborate. ;) –  Thomas Shields Apr 14 at 6:06
For instance, every time Paul declares his belief in a god, he is renouncing the Christ, since the teachings of the Christ are incompatible with belief in a god. –  Steely Dan Apr 14 at 6:29
Okay, fair. Could you give an example of how Jesus's teachings are incompatible with belief in a god? –  Thomas Shields Apr 14 at 16:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.