Who Founded the Church – Jesus or Paul?

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Ecclesiastes 9, Titus 1

Who Founded the Church

Some people think that Paul, not Jesus, founded the Christian church.  After all, thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are attributed to Paul and eleven of those were written before the first gospel was written [1].  In contrast, Jesus did not write a single book of the Bible and the only recorded instance where he transcribed anything occurs in sand and we don’t know its contents [2].

Additionally, some people think of Jesus as a wise, compassionate and submissive softy.  Paul, on the other hand, is often seen as an arrogant, overbearing and demanding leader – far more suited to establish a religion.  Even in the first century, people had problems with Paul [3].  After all, he claimed to have apostolic authority even though he wasn’t a disciple, wrote before the gospels were penned, and murdered Christians prior to conversion.

Paul Defends Himself

Therefore, in introducing himself to Titus and his church, Paul vigorously defended his own role to instruct Titus on how to continue his work on the Mediterranean island of Crete:

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior. vv. 1-3, ESV

To Reject Paul Is to Reject Jesus

Paul puts any dispute concerning the origin of his mission to rest. For those who preferred the Torah, Paul called himself, “a servant of God.” For those who preferred Jesus, he called himself, “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” since Christ called him [4].  He was on orders from his Master in everything that he did.  Paul did not have some grandiose vision to be the founder of a religion; he was a servant of God sent by Jesus.

Therefore, in Paul’s letters, we read the Lord’s counsel.  We cannot reject those parts that are controversial or challenging because Jesus did not say them.  For Paul was sent by God and commissioned by Jesus to be a messenger of the gospel.

What do you do with the parts of Paul’s letters that you don’t like – toss them out or ask the Lord to open your eyes?

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4 Comments to “Who Founded the Church – Jesus or Paul?”

  1. Footnotes:
    [1] The first gospel was Mark. The letters that were written before Mark are (in chronological order) James, Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, and Philippians.
    [2] John 8:1-11 (The Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery in order to test him. They asked Jesus what should be done and, in response, he wrote in the sand. Some people have opined that Jesus did this as a gesture of mercy – namely, to direct the people’s attention toward himself and to get their eyes off the woman, who was likely embarrassed and barely clothed since she had been caught in the act of adultery.)
    [3] See 2 Peter 3:16 (“There are some things in [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction …” ESV). Those who saw circumcision as a special covenantal sign for God’s people opposed Paul because he understood salvation as being by faith alone and through grace alone.
    [4] See Acts 9:1-9 (The risen Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”)

  2. I love this. So true. Imagine leaving with Hebrews or Romans. I mean, people hate Paul like people hate all good lawyers. :) His arguments left no stone unturned. He explained the Gospel — to the Jews and to us.

  3. OH MY GOD!Seriously. I just had the most fun I’ve had at Church in I would hate to say. Part of the fun was watching them give away free GUNS! I’m NOT kididng. They gave away quite a few of them too. WE RULE!You can count on a nice Sunday story. I don’t think this will be a sermon. It might end up that way. Who knows?

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