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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.

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Interesting question, will think about this and maybe post later tonight on it. –  Nathan Bunney May 3 '12 at 22:35
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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

5 Answers 5

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.

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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
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@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.

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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.

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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

A quick answer is no. Jesus teachings were based on the Torah, hence Paul cannot be teaching about Jesus but teaching about the Teachings of Moses aka Torah. Torah by the way does not mean Law but Teachings. But first you need to look at Paul.

Paul is a very complex person, we do not really know his real intentions but we could only infer, I am in the process of writing an essay on Paul, so here are some of my thoughts on him.

Paul was a liar.

If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner? Romans 3:7

Maybe he was being rhetorical but we can also say that he is lying, liars are consistent with their inconsistency of events, we can either say he was having Alzheimer's or he was just a liar with a hidden agenda.Paul's journey for me is still questionable, after his conversion did he go to Jerusalem first or did he go there last. We have his letter to the Galatians.

I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:17-18

While in Acts 9:26 it said something else:

When he came to Jerusalem...

Did he go to Jerusalem after his conversion in Damascus or did he first go to Arabia? I think he never did go to Jerusalem, he in fact presented himself as a Christian throughout his journeys. Because we have this hint with his conversation with James which seems to be the same message as in Acts 15 and Acts 21:20-24. So the writer of Acts must have confused two issues on Paul. According to Robert Eisenman Acts 1 -16 is problematic.

Acts 15

24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Remember in his letter to the Galatians he did not go to Jerusalem first. With that said even if Paul did go to Jerusalem first, his message in Romans 13 and those found in 1Cor 5 -8, are consistent with the Torah, and even the message of James. These are in fact parts of the Universal Law or as the modern Rabbinical tradition would have it -- the Noahide Law.

This is the same message of the letter but in Acts 21

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law

James here is the one talking to Paul, clearly Paul was accused of preaching those message that James said. In fact this was true, that is why Paul was thrown out of the Synagogues in the first place. In fact he wrote to the Galatians about the Torah as a guardian.

Gal 3: 23-25

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian

Here is what James said in contrast to what Paul said;

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25

So why did James wrote this letter here? Because Paul was going around telling people to throw the Torah away, do not circumcise your children... James was doing damage control

Remember what Jesus also said about the Torah and the Prophets.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them Matt 5:17

Today religious Jews continue to fulfill the Torah.

You cannot throw out the Torah because it would completely violate the warnings in Deuteronomy 13, and Paul cannot stand based on the criteria of a prophet or messenger here. Here is Deuteronomy 13: 1-8

  1. Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.
  2. If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
  3. and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them,"
  4. you shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul
  5. You shall follow the Lord, your God, fear Him, keep His commandments, heed His voice, worship Him, and cleave to Him.
  6. And that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream shall be put to death; because he spoke falsehood about the Lord, your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and Who redeemed you from the house of bondage, to lead you astray from the way in which the Lord, your God, commanded you to go; so shall you clear away the evil from your midst.
  7. If your brother, the son of your mother, tempts you in secret or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your embrace, or your friend, who is as your own soul saying, "Let us go and worship other gods, which neither you, nor your forefathers have known."
  8. Of the gods of the peoples around you, [whether] near to you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth;

If we look at this chapter, the YHWH in the flesh concept, it would not stand, because the Jews never experienced a God that came down to earth, clothed in humanity by being born from a virgin, sacrificed, died and resurrected.

The Jesus that I know would uphold the Torah not throw it away. From Mark the oldest known gospel Jesus says in Mark 12:

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Verse 29 being what Judaism calls the Shema (Deut 6:4), is still practiced today by Jews. So why are Christians not reciting it daily? Jesus simplifies the 10 commandments into two categories the commandments for God and the commandments for ones fellow man. Furthermore the 'Love your neighbor' is found in Leviticus 19:9-18

When Jesus said this "Do to others what you want them to do to you" he was being a good Jew and simply paraphrasing Rabbi Hillel who said "That of which is despicable to you do not do unto thy neighbor"

Jesus(alive or before he was crucified) was consistent with his fealty to the Torah of Moses, while Paul sounds very confused.

More lies

Liars are always on the defensive, in some of Paul's letters he always mentions that he is not lying this is the truth; here are some lie verses.

“The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying” 2Cor 11:31.

“I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie” Gal 1:20

“And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles” 1Tim 2:7.

What does Jesus say about swearing and using the name of God? Matthew 5:34-37

34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one

In conclusion, I cannot say Paul is consistent with the teachings of Jesus which is the Torah, but perhaps his version of Jesus. His conversion is also sketchy, no one really heard the actual words of Jesus when he called Paul, therefore no actual witness apart from him alone.

My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. Acts 22:9

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Hi! This is more like a personal essay (as you state) than the official position of any specific denomination, which is what this site is intending to focus on. Do you have any sources which state that this is a formal teaching of any group identifying itself as Christian? –  Matt Gutting Nov 28 at 14:28
    
"Paul was a liar?" Paul was traveling form Jerusalem to Damascus when he was visited by Christ. The road passed through geographical Arabia, therefore, he did go though Arabia to get to Damascus, where he met Ananais and stayed there quite some time before finally going back to Jerusalem and meeting the other Apostles. You're poor interpretation of the scriptures is not enough to justify your claim. Go back and read Acts again, Look at a map of ancient geographic Arabia while you're at it. Also read Romans 6 where Paul returned to his the false Idea that the gospel condoned sin. –  ShemSeger Nov 28 at 19:56

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.

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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

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