Are Christ’s Words Greater Than Paul’s?
The argument of Christ’s teachings on forgiveness versus the apostle Paul’s teaching on the same subject once came up in a conversation I had with someone. Apparently, it is a common understanding among some Christians that Christ’s words are greater than Paul’s or any other biblical author. I have a few objections to this line of thinking.
First, all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17). From the Old Testament to the New, all of the books of the Bible are uniquely inspired by God. Now, some books or portions of books may be more edifying to Christians than others, but all Scripture is inspired and authoritative over our lives.
Second, we affirm that all 66 books of the Bible are Scripture, and we even have internal evidence to this fact. The apostle Peter refers to Paul’s writings “Scripture” (2 Pet 3:15-16). So then, the great apostle Peter confirms that what Paul writes is from God.
Third, Christians have held for centuries that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 4:6; 1 Pet 1:11). This is the great mystery of the Trinity. This is Christian doctrine. The presence of the Spirit is the presence of Christ (even Christ taught that He would come again to the disciples by means of the Spirit [John 14:15-18]). The work of the Spirit is the work of Christ. Jesus also promised that the Spirit would come to teach (John 16:13-15). We know that the Holy Spirit is the One who moved the prophets of old to write Scripture (2 Pet 1:21), and, based on the passages just seen in John, we believe that the Spirit of Christ inspired the New Testament authors to write Scripture as well.
Therefore, the whole Bible is authoritative because the whole Bible is the Word of God. The whole Bible has been inspired by Christ. Thus, Christ and Paul do not contradict one another. They cannot contradict one another. There is no scenario where one should say, “I’m taking Jesus’ word on this over Paul’s.” The two always agree. Paul, as an apostle, fully represents Christ. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes Christ’s words. The whole Bible fits together into a beautiful revelation of God’s will for this world and our lives.