QUESTION: What credibility/authority does the word of the apostle Paul have?
ANSWER: Hello Phil,
People have had trouble with Paul from the beginning. The Apostle Peter wrote, "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction," II Peter 3:15 & 16. While Peter says he finds Paul's writings confusing and easily distorted, he also gave credibility to them by saying God has given Paul wisdom and that his writings are Scripture.
We know Paul's history, what he did as a zealous Pharisee and what he later did as a zealous servant of the Lord Jesus as told in the book of Acts. Paul was one of the primary builders of the church, believing with deep conviction that the Gentiles were meant to be included along with Jewish believers. Peter knew this, having had this explained to him in a dream, Acts 10, and by a very dramatic experience in a Gentile's home. But Peter wasn't the primary Apostle called to bring in the Gentiles, that was Paul's job. He was personally called by Jesus to service, Acts 9, and gave his time, energy and life wholeheartedly to the task.
As a well educated man in the Roman, Greek and Jewish worlds, personally called by God and ratified by Peter, Paul's writings merit inclusion in the canon.
If Paul confuses you, ssk the Lord to explain it to you and over time He will. If I can help, I'd be delighted to.
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QUESTION: In 1cor7:6 Paul said "But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment" about hisqnupy discussion of divorce, marriage, and sexual relations. Why did no one else in the bible discuss this topic in such a frank and honest manner, and who gave him permission?
Thank you, Phil
ANSWER: Hello Phil,
The King James translates the Greek word, "suggnómé," as "permission," which isn't technically wrong, though it tends to skew the emphasis to Paul's having gotten permission from someone. The word also means, "fellow feeling, indulgence, concession." In sympathy for married believers he says they should not deprive one another except by mutual consent and then they should come back together again so they won't be tempted by sexual sin or some other sin that might beset them being deprived of the spouse's companionship. He's not the one who has been given permission, he's the one giving the permission.
I think is so frank and open because, unlike Peter, who primarily preached to other Jews, Paul dealt with pagans who did not have the tradition of studying the Old Testament and the shared culture that came up around that foundation. Paul dealt with people who came out of temple prostitution, either as the prostitute or the person who "worshiped" by having sex with a prostitute in the temple. Others came out of the slave trade, either as owners or slaves. These people lived in a culture in which human life was very, very cheap. Unless a person was a Roman citizen he had virtually no rights. A human being could be cast away like a used paper towel without a second thought. These people had no grounding in the Old Testament at all, but rather in idol worship. They needed more detailed instructions and discussions than the Jews did and Paul supplied it.
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QUESTION: Okay, allow me to tell you about myself a bit. I am no bible scholar, have had no formal training in it, and know only what I have been able to gleam from the few books I have and asking God for enlightenment when it was necessary. I am comfortable with my understanding of what little I do know. I offer this thought on Paul. Daniel 9:27
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease..." He SHALL confirm the covenant for a week....How did Christ do that if He was cut off in the midst of the week(which He was)? We know Christ, except for a couple of instances, preached almost exclusively to the jew. Paul studied under Christ for 3 years in arabia, and Paul was specifically the apostle to the gentile. I submit that Paul finished that prohecy, as no bible prophecy is ever wrong. Paul got his gospel straight from Christ, not man. I also submit Paul had "permission" because he alone had the first hand knowledge to give that advice, and he alone had Gods blessing to do so. Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, and as such had to be married. He never speaks of a wife, so my thought is that when he was struck down on the road to Damascus his wife left him. She, used to being a "big woman about town",so to speak, wanted no part of his transformation. That would easily explain his knowledge and understanding of marriage and lust. Which clearly would qualify him to speak on such matters....Now, if I am correct, and I MAY be, as there is no evidence to say I am not, nor is there a more plausible explanation, then Pauls word IS Christs, which was Gods. That gives his gospel the full weight of Christs endorsement. Now I will give you a chance to mull over my train of thought and respond, if you would like. I am not quite where I would like to go with this, but I want to clearly understand where you and I are on this subject.
Again, thank you very much, Phil.
I agree with you that Paul's writings are Scripture. It's important to remember that the Bible is not automatic writing, but inspired writing--that is human beings were inspired to write what God gave them to write, they did not repeat what He said word for word, except where they clearly quote Him. Whether Paul physically sat at Jesus' feet during the three year gap between his conversion and his return to the public eye, there is no evidence to back that up. However, by the Holy Spirit any of us can sit at Jesus' feet and undoubtedly Paul would have done that. Paul would also have been gleaning the Old Testament Scripture for any information about Jesus he so obviously had overlooked before. He would have been working to correct his views on how the Messianic fulfillment of those Scriptures occurred and how everything fit together. Being a Pharisee, this would be no casual study.
Paul was a student of Gamaliel, Acts 22:3, who is still famous among Jews to this day. Paul was no ordinary Pharisee, but one who actually knew the Old Testament very well. He was also a Roman citizen and spoke Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Hebrew. Throughout his writing we see a truly humble man. My definition of humble is someone who has a correct assessment not only of his shortcomings, but also of his strengths. The same conviction and zeal he once applied to persecuting the Christians, he applied to his new calling as an Apostle of Jesus. He was a bold man, unafraid, assertive and confident.
Everyone, if he desires to have an accurate understanding of the Bible, must read biblical passages in the context in which they appear. (Having a vague idea of the historical context is also wise.) It is not wise to pluck verses from context and inadvertently end up spinning them with one's own interpretation.
First Corinthians 7 is devoted to the topic of sex and marriage. Verse 6 must be taken in that context. Paul is making a concession to the married believers, he is not telling them he has permission from Jesus to speak. Paul was not the kind of man who normally felt he needed to explain himself, especially not in a letter to the Corinthian church.
Below are posted various translations of I Corinthians 7:6:
New International Version
I say this as a concession, not as a command.
New Living Translation
I say this as a concession, not as a command.
English Standard Version
Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.
New American Standard Bible
But this I say by way of concession, not of command.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
I say the following as a concession, not as a command.
International Standard Version
But I say this as a concession, not as a command.
I say this as a concession, not as a command.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I say this as to the weak, not by commandment.
American Standard Version
But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment.
But I am saying this more as a matter of permission and concession, not as a command or regulation.
The original Greek says:
"this moreover I say by way of concession, not by way of command,"
"touto de legō kata syngnōmēn ou kat’ epitagēn,"
Bible translation is an art and must be infused with Holy Spirit guidance in order to do a good job, but it is difficult and even the best translators may have a few things a little off. The King James Bible is a beautiful translation, but is not perfect and neither are any of the other translations. It is a good thing to have several translations available to compare. Greek is not a language that flows into English with great ease, but neither is any other language, for each language has its own quirks and words that do not have an equivalent in any of the other languages. Be a careful interpreter of biblical text, a small error can lead to a greater error until one is entirely off course.
The verse before and after provide the context of verse 6. And it's all about sex and marriage, not about Paul's "permission" to do anything. Paul is making a concession to believers to take time out to give their all to God in prayer, but only by mutual agreement and only if they come back together afterward. The Greek says, "this moreover I say by way of concession, not by way of command." He's making a concession for people, who unlike him, cannot live celibate. Where he says, "I wish that all men were as I am...," verse 7, he's talking about his ability to live a celibate life. Also, think about verse 7. This is not the voice of a man who feels the need to convince his readers that God has given him permission to speak! This is the voice of a confident, assertive person who is proud of his ability to live a celibate life.
Your theory on why Paul doesn't talk about his wife is pretty good, I can see that happening. In I Corinthians 7:15 he wrote, "But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances..." However, though you may be correct, we do not have evidence to support your theory.
Regarding Daniel 9:27, once again, context is everything.
"Know and understand this: from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven,' but in the middle of that 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And one who causes desolation will place abomination on a wing of the temple, until the end that is decreed it poured out on him," Daniel 9:25-27.
S. Michael Houdmann writes: "Daniel 9:24-27 is a key biblical passage. It is the only Old Testament passage which refers to the Messiah as “Messiah.” Elsewhere He is called “Shiloh” (Genesis 49:10), the “Root of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:10), the “Righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5), the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), etc. But the name by which He is known best, “Messiah,” appears in only one passage: Daniel 9:24-27. Here is an excerpt from that passage:
" "Seventy sevens have been decreed for your people. . . . So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two sevens the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
"Exactly what is meant by “seventy sevens”? The phrase by itself is ambiguous, but taken in context the meaning is clear. Daniel’s prayer in verses 3-19 of the chapter refers to the fulfillment of a specific seventy-year period, the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity (as prophesied by Jeremiah). Daniel received the seventy sevens prophecy in response to his prayer. The prophecy foretold a period of seven times seventy yet to come, or seventy seven-year periods. Seventy seven-year periods equals 490 years.
"The prophecy goes on to say that “from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven sevens (49) and sixty-two sevens (434). . . . Then after the sixty-two sevens the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.”
"Nebuchadnezzar had Jerusalem dismantled around 587 BC after having to put down two rebellions there in less than 10 years. At the time this prophecy was given, Jerusalem still lay in ruins. According to the prophecy, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem there would be seven seven-year periods and sixty-two more seven-year periods—or 483 years—until the Messiah would show up. After the culmination of the 62 seven-year periods, or after 483rd year, the Messiah would be cut off.
"Both the ancient Hebrews to whom Daniel was writing and the ancient Babylonians to whom he was subservient (the Book of Daniel having been written in Babylon during the latter half of the 6th century BC) used a 360-day year.
"So, 483 years x 360 days = 173,880 days. This is the equivalent of 476 years and 25 days, using our modern Gregorian calendar’s 365-day year.
"As for our starting point, the Persian emperor Artaxerxes Longimanus (who ruled from 464-424 BC) issued the edict to rebuild Jerusalem sometime during the Hebrew month of Nisan in the 20th year of his reign, or c. 445 BC (Nehemiah 2:1-8). From c. 445 BC, 173,880 days brings us to c. AD 30.
"According to this prophecy, the Messiah would show up, present Himself as Messiah to the nation and then be “cut off” some time near AD 30. This was fulfilled as Jesus Christ presented Himself to the nation of Israel on Palm Sunday, was crucified on Preparation Day (the annual day on which the Passover Lamb was slain), and rose from the dead on Sunday.
"The prophecy then goes on to say that, subsequent to the Messiah’s being killed, “the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Within one generation of Christ’s crucifixion, Titus razed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple," http://www.gotquestions.org/seventy-sevens.html#ixzz2n65Cc22b
Nehemiah and Ezra responded to the decree to rebuild Jerusalem during times of trouble, which they describe in their books as building with one hand and fighting with the other. Daniel predicts the precise year in which Messiah would reveal Himself. This, along with the prediction regarding the rebuilding of Jerusalem give us the context for what is meant by the "sevens"--a measurement of time equating a seven with one year. Jesus was "cut off" which for a Jewish man is death without having married or producing offspring. The next "he" is not Jesus, but someone else--two someone elses. "The people of the ruler who will come destroy the city and the sanctuary," refers to the Roman emperor who destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70 and not to Jesus--Jesus is no longer a topic under discussion--the primary focus of this text is a particular aspect of the future of Jerusalem and the Jews. The passage skips the entire church age to jump to the end. The next "he" is Anti-Christ who is similar in type to the Roman Emperor, Titus, who destroyed Jerusalem.
For the most part, the church age was hidden from the Old Testament Jewish believers. God shrouded His plan to create the church composed primarily of Gentiles and kept it hidden from the Jews. The Old Testament hints of promised salvation for Gentiles, but nothing pointing to the gigantic Gentile harvest that has been the church age. Daniel, like most other books in the Bible, is a very Jewish book that consistently ignores the Gentile place in history except where it crashes into the Jewish point of view. This passage in Daniel 9 is no different. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the entire church age is skipped over and Daniel jumps to the next mega-important event for Jews: the end and the Anti-Christ. The "he" of verse 27 is not Messiah, Messiah has no covenant for 7 years or even a week. The covenants Messiah makes are eternal and bought with His own Blood. Also, Messiah did not end sacrifice in the Jewish temple, it went on until AD 70 and will begin again when Anti-Christ makes his deal, the seven year covenant, which allows the Jews to rebuild the temple and resume sacrifice. Then at the mid-way point of the seven year covenant Anti-Christ will put an end to sacrifice and desolate the temple.
John alludes back to Daniel and writes about this in Revelation. In chapter 11 we see that Anti-Christ's covenant is already made, the temple has been rebuilt (John is instructed to measure it) and the outer courts have been given over to the Gentiles. Some take this to mean that the Dome of the Rock will stand on the temple mount next door to the Jewish temple. The Gentiles will trample the Holy City for 42 months, which is 3 1/2 years by Jewish counting. In chapter 13 Anti-Christ puts an end to temple sacrifice and erects a statue of himself--an idol--and causes the whole world to worship it. This is the desolation Daniel spoke about.
An abomination that causes desolation is one of two things, the sacrificing of a pig on the Jewish altar, which Alexander the Great's general, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, did in Daniel 11: 31 & 12: 11, or erecting an idol in the Jewish temple, as Anti-Christ will do. Neither the Lord Jesus nor Paul can or would cause desolation in the Jewish temple!
Paul's writing has the full endorsement of the Lord Jesus, though from time to time believers struggle with his writing and even occasionally suggest it be ignored. His work has stood the test of time as fit to remain in Scripture and will remain there.