Beware Those Who Question Paul’s Ministry


For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 
(Galatians 1:11-12)

Read: Galatians 1:11-2:10

Devotion: As Solomon wisely said centuries ago, there is nothing new under the sun,” (Eccl 1:9). As you read through the New Testament you begin to understand that the heresies that encroached on the church at its inception are the same problems that trouble it today. Some heresies might be packaged differently, maybe with a slight variation here or there, but at the root it’s the same old hellish teaching that Satan uses to lead believers astray, divide the church, and hamper the successful completion of her mission in any way possible. (Whether the person propagating those teachings has the same conscious intention or not is a different question for another article.)

One such teaching that circulated in the early church (and one you’ll encounter today) is that you can’t trust Paul, his ministry, and his words. At the very least, you can’t trust him as much as you can Peter, John, the other writers of the New Testament, or Jesus. There are many today who, when faced with a teaching from Paul’s epistles, retort back with, “Well, that’s what Paul said, but Jesus said this…” The clear implication is that Jesus and Paul were opposed or said different things on a given issue and so you should take Jesus’ words over Paul’s.

This pitting Jesus against Paul is seen frequently with hot button issues such as the debates over homosexuality or women pastors. Paul clearly writes about those things, teaching that homosexual activity is sin and that homosexual desires are unnatural (Rom 1:24-27). He also taught that qualified men are the only ones whom God has called to shepherd his local churches (1 Tim 2:12-3:7). Going into all the arguments against the clear teaching of Scripture on these issues are beyond the scope of this devotion, but one such argument from proponents of so-called gay-Christianity and/or women pastors is to call Paul’s ministry and words into question: “That’s just Paul saying those things.” The implication being that he has no authority behind his words; his comments on these issues reflect his own opinion, and nothing more.

As I noted earlier, the church has been dealing with this sort of thing since the beginning. The body of Christ has even had to deal with this problem while Paul was still alive! His opponents didn’t even wait for Paul to be in the grave before they started going around churches and telling the saints that they shouldn’t listen to Paul. Several times in his epistles Paul has to defend his ministry to his readers because some group of teachers or some in the church had started leading saints away from the truth that Paul received from the Lord and delivered to that local body (2 Cor 10-11; Gal 1:11-2:10). “He was a persecutor of the church.” “He’s not a true apostle.” “He didn’t take a salary, so how could he be official?” “He didn’t speak well.”

These accusations were all false statements leveled against Paul which he addresses in 2 Corinthians and Galatians, and the danger they pose if they are left without a response should be obvious. If there are doubts in one’s mind about Paul’s ministry and authority and its legitimacy and power, then one doesn’t have to hold fast to his words in the same way they are required to hold fast to Jesus’ words. But, if Paul is a true apostle of Jesus Christ, and thus his words are the words of Christ (Gal 1:11-12), then the person denying and living contrary to the commands and doctrine given through Paul has a problem. Suddenly, they find themselves opposing not just Paul, but God himself. The truth is that Paul was Christ’s apostle (Acts 26:12-18), he did speak the words of Christ, and those words were written down, preserved, and are completely authoritative and binding on all believers for all time (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21).

Therefore, if you find yourself in a debate or a friendly conversation with someone (especially pastors or supposed teachers of the Bible) on hot button topics or biblical doctrine, and they call into question Paul’s authority and ministry, beware. Warning bells should go off in your mind that the person you are talking to could either be deceived or a deceiver. First, correct them gently (2 Tim 2:25), showing them from the Scriptures that Christ himself had given Paul divine authority. (Our article 6 Reasons Why You Can Trust Paul’s Gospel would be a great place to start.) If afterward they continue on propagating this erroneous, dangerous, and Satanic view, then rebuke them and mark them as an unstable false teacher and have nothing to do with them (2 Thess 3:14; 1 Tim 1:3-7, 6:2-5; 2 Pet 3:14-18). Hold fast to the word received. Do not let the tactics of the enemy have any sway in your mind to cause you to doubt or question the words of your Lord that he delivered to you through the writings of Paul (1 Cor 15:1-2).

Ponder and Pray: Consider why false teachers seem to gravitate toward calling Paul’s ministry into question. Why don’t they seem to go after Peter or John’s writings with the same fervor? Finish your time by thanking God for the ministry of Paul and the Scriptures which he gave through Paul.    

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