Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Ignorant claims about Paul's ignorance

I have heard this myth expressed a few times - the apostle Paul never referred to the "historical Jesus", that is the earthly life of the Lord.  This is not only false, but obviously and blatantly false!

Here are just a few instances of Paul referring to the earthly life of the Lord Jesus - he referred to the Lord's birth (Galatians 4 v 4); he referred to the ministry of John the Baptist and the Lord's interaction with him (Acts 13 v 24-25); he referred to the geographical location of His ministry (Acts 13 v 31); he referred to His trial and appearance before Pilate (Acts 13 v 28; 1Timothy 6 v 13); he referred to His betrayal and the institution of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11 v 23-26); he referred to His crucifixion (too many examples to reference here); he referred to the Jews responsibility for His death (1 Thessalonians 2 v 15); he referred to His burial (Acts 13 v 29; 1 Corinthians 15 v 3-4); he referred to His resurrection and appearances (again, too many examples to reference, but one example - 1 Corinthians 15 v 4-8); he referred to the Lord's disciples and brothers (Galatians 1 v 18-19; 2 v 9; 1 Corinthians 9 v 5; 15 v 4-8); he quotes from the Lord's ministry (1 Timothy 5 v 18; Acts 20 v 35); he referenced the Gospel of Luke as Scripture, thus referring to the whole of the Lord's life as recorded there (1 Timothy 5 v 18); he may have referred to the Lord's miracles of raising people from the dead (Romans 1 v 4, admittedly most take this as a reference to Christ's own resurrection, but the phrase possibly refers to Him raising others, as well as His own resurrection); he referred to His real manhood (far too many references, but see for example 1 Timothy 2 v 5).

I think this selection shows the objection must be overruled.  But there is no doubt that Paul places emphasis on the fact that Christ is at God's right hand, but why should anyone think that to be a strange thing? 

That is the demonstration of the completion of His mission, the declaration that He has paid sin's penalty and satisfied God's justice, and the destination of all believers - God sees His people as being "in Christ" - that is, accepted in Him and as safe and secure as He is. 

Of course Paul will focus our attention on where Christ is now, because it provides huge encouragement for all who belong to Christ.  Furthermore, Christ's apostles recorded, referred to, relied on, and expanded on the teachings that the Lord gave while on earth, so His ministry is not forgotten.  But the Lord was not merely an example, the big thing is that the one who was here on earth is now there at God's right hand, having died and risen again.  Paul focused on Him there, because He is the guarantee of our acceptance, and the source of our power.