I have chosen the faithful way. I have placed your ordinances before me. Psalm 119:30 (NASB)

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Paul Never Acts Out A Messenger Role For Jesus

Introduction

Astoundingly, Paul never quotes Jesus’ words as delivered to him which are supernaturally delivered that involve any kind of substantive message to us, i.e., a command, a moral or religious truth, etc., that we should adopt, etc. As we will prove below, the following are all the words that Paul attributes to the Jesus of Paul’s revelation from “Jesus”:


Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8..., I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. ...Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (Acts 22:7, 8, 10).


Haste and go forth in haste out of Jerusalem, because they will not receive thy testimony concerning me;...go because to nations far off I will send thee. (Acts 22:17-18, 21, Paul’s “Jesus” telling Paul not to go see the 12 apostles / disciples at Jerusalem).

Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace. For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee for I have much people in this city. (Acts 18:9-10, ascribed to be "the Lord [speaking] to Paul in the night by a vision"). 


My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9 ESV, “Jesus” explaining why he will not release Paul from a torment by an “Angel of Satan” who uses a “thorn in the flesh” to keep Paul humble).

That's it. No other unique quote by means of revelation from Paul's Jesus to Paul is ever attributed by Paul to "Jesus." This includes the entire revelation outside Damascus or in a later trance or vision. This is true whether we look at Acts or Paul's Epistles.

By contrast, the role of the true 12 was to be messengers of what Jesus taught them as commandments while He was among them, so as to make disciples of Jesus:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them... 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

But Paul never served that messenger role to teach anything new that Jesus was supposedly only communicating through Paul. Paul never quotes Jesus in a post-Ascension revelation that involves a general message to us rather than an individual message only for Paul. This is true for both Acts and Paul’s Epistles. Paul is simply writing and speaking on his own about abrogation of the law, grace, faith-alone, predestination, etc., never ascribing his principles directly to a quote from Jesus by revelation.

Compounding that problem, Paul in his epistles never quotes Jesus except one or two times from Luke’s Gospel. The only other quote of the “Lord” (apparently the Damascus Jesus) in Paul’s epistles is a very odd refusal by Jesus to release Paul from an affliction by an “Angel of Satan.” (2 Cor. 12:7, "angelos Satana") The latter involves no valuable message to Christians. In fact, the consensus is that it is very problematic. This response of “Jesus” to Paul should not be a guide regarding what Jesus would do for us if we made a similar prayer to the true Jesus.

Thus, Paul did not serve as a messenger of Jesus that was at all analogous to what the 12 apostles were commissioned to do. Then realize the word apostle is from the Greek word apostolos. In Greek, it simply means messenger. Hence, while Paul claimed to be an “apostle” of Jesus Christ, Paul never actually served that role. Paul was his own messenger of what Paul referred to multiple times as “my gospel.” (Romans 2:16; 16:25; II Timothy 2:8; Gal.1:8-9.)

Paul’s Three Insignificant Quotes of Jesus in Acts

In Acts, Paul has a brief encounter outside Damascus with a light and voice that said “I am Jesus.” Then again in a trance shortly thereafter when Paul was in the temple at Jerusalem. Nothing substantive is spoken to Paul in either exchange. Paul recounts both speaking-events in one speech in Court — hence under oath. The bolded portion below is all that Paul attributes to the voice of “Jesus” out of the “light” in Event #1 outside Damascus:

6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. (Acts 22:6-11 KJV.)

Then Paul attributes words to the “Lord” — apparently the same Jesus Paul met outside Damascus—after Paul arrived in Jerusalem and he was in the Temple, and fell into a trance. This “Lord” told Paul not to try to convince the 12 apostles that Paul had met Jesus in the wilderness outside Damascus. Hence, we read Paul testified to the Court in Acts 22 as follows about Event #2 — where the bolded words are from the “Lord” —apparently the Damascus Jesus:

and I saw him [i.e., the Lord, apparently the Damascus Jesus] saying to me, Haste and go forth in haste out of Jerusalem, because they will not receive thy testimony concerning me;...go because to nations far off I will send thee. (Acts 22:17-18, 21 YLT.)

We know “they” is a reference that includes the Apostles due to what Paul and / or Luke writes elsewhere. First, Paul alludes to this Departing-Jerusalem-Without-Seeing-the Apostles-event again in his Epistle to the Galatians at 1:16-18 where we read:

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. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [i.e., Apostle Peter] and remained with him fifteen days. (Gal. 1:16-18 ESV.)

Putting the two passages together, we know Paul did go up to Jerusalem immediately after his encounter in the wilderness outside Damascus. (Acts 22:17.) However, Paul did not go up “to the apostles” in Jerusalem because, as we learn in Acts 22:17-18, the “Lord” (the Damascus "Jesus" apparently) told Paul that “they” — inclusive of the apostles— “will not receive your testimony concerning me.” (Acts 22:18.)

Apparently, the “Jesus” whom Paul met did not feel He could convince the 12 apostles that Paul met the true Jesus. We will return to that odd fact later. Regardless, for this reason, Paul stayed away from the 12 apostles. As we shall see below, this persisted for three years.

The final quote of the "Lord" -- presumably Jesus -- in Acts that speaks to Paul is also a problematical quote. It reflects a God of no power to protect Paul other than through human agents: 

Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace. For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee for I have much people in this city. (Acts 18:9-10, ascribed to be "the Lord [speaking] to Paul in the night by a vision"). 

Paul Quotes Jesus’ Once or Twice from Luke’s Gospel, and That’s It

Paul twice uses words of Jesus that appear in Luke’s gospel. Other than this, there are no other quotes of Jesus in Paul’s 13 epistles other than a strange decision by Jesus not to release Paul from a Satanic “angel” afflicting Paul.

First, Paul in 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes scripture as teaching “the worker deserves his wages.” These are words of Jesus in Luke 10:7. However, Paul does not ascribe this to Jesus. It could be that Paul is simply paraphrasing the Law in Deuteronomy which Jesus was likewise paraphrasing.

Finally, Paul quotes from the Lord’s Last Supper in Luke 22:19 et seq.

Paul is clearly again not claiming to have received these words by special revelation from Jesus.

 

Paul Claims Unspeakable Revelations from the Lord Who Then Refuses To Give Release From Satan’s Angel

Paul speaks about a ‘man’ who had revelations that were ‘unspeakable.’ Then Paul clarifies he is speaking about himself. He said that his pride could get the better of himself due to the exceeding unspeakable revelations. For this reason, Satan torments him with a stinger to keep Paul humble. Paul then explains he asked the “Lord” for release multiple times from this “angel of Satan” but the Lord refused, finally saying “my grace is sufficient for you.” Hence, this becomes the only example in Paul’s epistles where Paul is likely quoting the Damascus Jesus. Here is the entire passage to consider — 2 Corinthians 12:1-9:

12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger [i.e., in Greek “Angelos”] of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:1-9 ESV).

The bolded portion again represents the only words from this “Lord,” presumably the Damascus Jesus. This “man” caught up in the heavens is evidently Paul. Paul does not come out and say this directly, apparently to be ‘humble’ about the superior revelation he had received. It is obviously Paul because Paul speaks about his own revelations after speaking of this man’s “revelations.” Paul then speaks about the purpose of an Angel of Satan to “torment” Paul to keep Paul humble. It is a physical “thorn in the flesh” that Satan’s Angel uses to torment Paul. Regardless, whatever were these revelations from the ‘Lord,’ Paul says they are “unspeakable.” This helps explain why Paul never quotes the Lord Jesus in Paul’s epistles to support any of Paul’s doctrines.

One thing for sure: the message and action of this “Jesus” cannot be a guide to the church at large. For Jesus never leaves demons in control of a believer if Jesus is asked to cast out a demon. If Paul needed to control humility, Jesus would not use an Angel of Satan on that errand of virtue. And why would an Angel of Satan join in such an effort to keep Paul humble? This is a most strange passage.

As Dickason says, rather than this verse being inspiration for any of us, instead it can be read so Paul’s “apostolic mission [is cast] under suspicion.” (C. Fred Dickason, Demon Possession and the Christian (Crossway, 1989) at 120.)

It is such a notorious verse that could never apply to true Christians, other Christian scholars lament that “12:7 is notoriously difficult, prompting Barrett to write ‘it can hardly be in the form Paul intended it....’” (David L. Barr, The Reality of the Apocalypse (Society of Biblical Lit, 2006) at 105.)

Thus, the only time Paul quotes Jesus in his epistles that is not from a gospel record, it is a verse that certainly is not a message for the church at large. It is for Paul alone. Christians have a right to expect Jesus would give them freedom from demonic influences. Paul’s situation appears to defy any explanation if Paul met the true Jesus outside Damascus.1

 

Why Paul Only Once or Twice Quotes Jesus From the Gospels in His Epistles

Paul boasts that he learned “nothing” from the apostles when he first visited them three years after his experience outside Damascus with “Jesus.” (Gal. 1:16-21; 2:6-9.) We will demonstrate this below. This will prove why Paul did not quote from the gospels about Jesus more than twice: Paul did not spend time with the apostles so as to learn Jesus’ Gospel.

As mentioned before, Paul in his Epistles has only one certain, and one possible quote of Jesus in his Epistles taken from the Gospels. Luke’s Gospel to be precise. Other than that, Paul quotes the “Lord” in an apparent reference to Jesus when Paul is refused to be released from a Satanic influence causing Paul physical stress.

To understand why Paul does not know much about the Gospel of Jesus, we need to next read from Galatians and later from Acts 9:26-30. This will help explain why Paul never quotes Jesus’ Gospel except once for sure, and maybe twice.

We just quoted above that in Galatians 1:17-19, Paul said after his Damascus Wilderness experience he did not go to Jerusalem to see the apostles for three years. Let’s read it again with a few more verses at the end:

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. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [i.e., Apostle Peter] and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.(Gal. 1:16-21 ESV.)

Then let’s read Paul’s further explanation of whether he needed the 12 apostles’ approval. Referring to this same visit in year three after Damascus, Paul explains in Galatians 2 as follows:

But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth not man’s person) — they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me:...and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas [i.e., Peter] and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship....(Galatians 2:6,9 ASV.)

So on this third-year journey, Paul only visited with Peter over the course of 15 days. The only other “apostle” Paul met was James, the Lord’s brother. However, James was not one of the 12 apostles. He was simply Jesus’ brother. The 12 made James bishop of Jerusalem. Thus, Paul did not stay long enough to familiarize himself with the true 12 apostles to know who was who. Paul also did not know John was an apostle, as Paul says he met John in Galatians 2:6, but in Galatians 1:17-19 Paul believes the only apostles he met were Peter and James, not realizing John too was an apostle.

Next, let’s go to Acts 9 which likewise is apparently about this visit at the three year mark spoken about in Galatians chapter one. In Acts 9, Barnabas takes Paul to Jerusalem to meet the apostles. If one reads carefully, Luke does not say the apostles received Paul in a truly fully engaged manner when Barnabas made the effort to present Paul to them. This is the only way Acts 9:26-30 reconciles with Paul saying the apostles “imparted nothing to me” in his first encounter with them. Indeed, as Luke records it, the interaction was one-sided, and fits Galatians chapter one. Luke records a presentation by Barnabas alone, and silence by Paul. Then the response by the Apostles is never stated by Luke. So we read in Acts 9:26-30 as follows:

26 And when he [i.e., Paul] had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him.30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. (Acts 9:26-30 ESV.)

 

Miscellaneous Passages in Paul Also Do Not Quote Jesus

None of Paul’s epistles expressly claim Jesus spoke to Paul a message contained therein other than the highly problematic refusal by the “Lord” (Jesus?) to release Paul from a demonic influence in 2 Corinthians 12:7.

A few other times Paul in his epistles says the “Lord” or “God” commands or influences something. However, these appear to be Paul saying these were message from the Lord Yahweh—the Father or His Holy Spirit. These references may even be Paul simply alluding to the Law of the Elders, not the Law given Moses. None of these conceivably imply Jesus prophetically spoke to Paul the content of the statement.

These passages are: 1 Cor. 7:25, 40; 1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thess. 4:1-2,8; and 1 Thess. 2:13. Let’s review them one by one.

1 Corinthians 7:25, 40

Paul in this passage says:

25 Now concerning virgins, I do not have a command from the Lord, but I am giving an opinion as one having been shown-mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy....40 But she is happier if she remains thus [i.e., an unmarried virgin and not seek marriage], according to my opinion; and I also think that I have the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 7:25, 40, Disciples Literal New Testament.)

Paul admits he is not speaking under inspiration. He mentions twice he is giving his “opinion.” However, the second time, Paul says “I also think that I have the Spirit of God,” presumably meaning that God is aiding the opinion by His Spirit.

Regardless, Paul here is not quoting Jesus. Paul is also uncertain God endorses his opinions, but Paul thinks he has the “Spirit of God” as he mulls over his opinion.

A small digression is in order. If Paul is a constantly inspired person in all his writings, why doesn't Paul know he has the Spirit of God in this instruction? Could it be that we have made a faulty assumption that all Paul's writings were even understood by Paul to be inspired by God? I think Paul's own words make that unmistakeably clear that Paul did not think everything he wrote was inspired.

Incidentally, Paul’s opinion which he only 'thought' was while he "has the Spirit of God" was that virgins (male or female) should remain as Paul, i.e., unmarried virgins, and if a man is released from his wife, “do not be seeking a wife.” (1 Cor. 7:25-27, 40.) Certainly, these are not commands that God would have given Paul as they are fundamentally against the Genesis account where God makes a helpmate to Adam as a good thing, and not to be necessarily avoided.

1 Corinthians 14:37

In 1 Corinthians 14:37, we read:

37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.

The sentence, by itself, provides no clue whether the “Lord” here is intended to mean Yahweh or Jesus. In context, it appears to clearly be a reference to the preceding three sentences which mention a command supposedly from the Law given Moses by Yahweh:

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (1 Cor. 14:33-35 ESV.)

Paul here is claiming that the “Law...says” women are “not permitted to speak, but should be in submission”— which Paul interprets to mean “should keep silent in the churches....”

Thus, when Paul says in verse 37 that “the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord,” it is obvious Paul means this command from the Law he just quoted.

Hence, this is not a special revelation Paul received from Jesus. It is simply a quote from what Paul understood or thought was the Law. As a result, the word “Lord” in verse 37 can only mean the Father, Yahweh.

Incidentally, there was no such law in the Law given Moses that required women to be submissive to men in a synagogue,2 or to be quiet in synagogue. Such submission to the men, and separation in the synagogues, had become a Pharisaic tradition. Paul evidently equated Pharisaic traditions with the Law.

1 Thessalonians 4

Paul here mentions commands he previously taught that were given by Jesus. Paul does not claim he learned them by revelation from Jesus. The commands Paul then summarizes are two: against sexual immorality and exploiting a brother. These commands appear to be loose paraphrases of Jesus from the Gospels. We read:

Finally then, brothers, we ask you, and exhort in the Lord Jesus that just as you received from us how you ought to be walking and pleasing God (just as you also are walking), that you be abounding more. 2 For you know what commands we gave to you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God: your holiness— that you be abstaining from sexual-immorality; 4 that each of you know-how to acquire control of his own vessel in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of desire as indeed the Gentiles not knowing God; 6 that no one overstep and exploit his brother in the matter. Because the Lord is the avenger concerning all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned. 7 For God did not call us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 So therefore the one rejecting is not rejecting a human, but God, the One also giving His Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thess. 4: 1-8 Disciples Literal NT.)

The Greek term translated as “through” in verse 2 means “by.” These were commands by the Lord Jesus, not commands spoken by Paul through Jesus. Hence, Paul was claiming he was a messenger of commands originally given by Jesus. More important, Paul does not proclaim he prophetically learned these commands from Jesus or God. What were these commands? Paul summarizes two commands: not committing sexual immorality and not exploiting a brother. We can only conclude these two commands are loose paraphrases of commands from Jesus we find in the gospels. Paul did not speak them by revelation from Jesus to Paul.

1 Thessalonians 2:13

13 And for this reason we are indeed giving-thanks to God unceasingly: because having received the word of God heard from us, you accepted not the word of humans, but, as it truly is, the word of God, which also is at-work in you, the ones believing. (1 Thess. 2:13 Disciples Literal New Testament.)

Paul is speaking for a team of evangelists who preached the word of God. Paul is not claiming the entire team had any inspiration in doing so. Paul was only claiming they were simply preaching God’s word. More important, Paul is again not claiming to quote Jesus.

 

Conclusion


In sum, Paul never acts out the role as a messenger of some unique message to God’s people from Jesus Christ or even God. Paul never quotes Jesus speaking to Paul in Acts or the Epistles to teach us any substantive religious truth, spiritual command or moral teaching. Remember these are all the words that Paul attributes to "Jesus" based upon revelation:


Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8..., I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. ...Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (Acts 22:7, 8, 10).


Haste and go forth in haste out of Jerusalem, because they will not receive thy testimony concerning me; go because to far off nations I will send thee (Acts 22:17-18, 21 Paul’s “Jesus” telling Paul not to go see the 12 apostles / disciples at Jerusalem).

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9 ESV, “Jesus” explaining why he will not release Paul from a torment by an “Angel of Satan” who uses a “thorn in the flesh” to keep Paul humble). 

Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace. For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee for I have much people in this city. (Acts 18:9-10, ascribed to be "the Lord [speaking] to Paul in the night by a vision").


Hence, Paul never quotes Jesus or God uniquely giving Paul a revelation about any truth to guide God's people. Paul never thus cites any revelation from Jesus or the Father to support any of Paul’s doctrines, e.g., abrogation of the Law, faith-alone, eternal security, predestination, justification without works, etc.

END


1

2. The Law in Genesis 3:16 said to the woman that one consequence of her sin would be that her “husband” would “rule over her,” but not that men in general would rule over her. Hence, a synagogue is simply a meeting of men, and implies no silence or submission to the group. If her husband let her speak in synagogue or sit next to her, then none of the men could impose a rule of silence or a different seating position. Thus, Paul and other Pharisees misapplied Genesis 3:16, and forced silence on women in a group who came to worship God.