In a recent interaction on Facebook, my wife encountered a gal who noted that she believed there was a distinction in authority between the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels, and the words of Paul as recorded in the epistles. In noting the distinction, this woman said that Paul addressed many subjects, in her opinion, more harshly, than the themes of love she associated with the teachings of Jesus in the gospels. This women went on to note that if a certain subject is found in one of Paul’s letters, but is seemingly absent from the teaching of Jesus recorded in the gospels, then we should certainly dismiss the subject(s) that Paul is addressing.
This perspective on alleged “opposing” viewpoints and emphases between Jesus and Paul is not a new issue. Though scholars have been debating the subject for some time, it does often raise the question in the minds of many people as to whether or not the words of Jesus, recorded in Scripture, perhaps carry more weight than those of the apostle Paul. After all, in many Bibles, the words of Jesus are set apart in red letters. So, are we to consider the words of Christ as weightier than those of Paul? Is all Scripture, in fact, the inspired and authoritative Word of God in equal fashion?
In addressing the issue, I’d like to approach it from several angles. First, I want to consider how Jesus defines the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the gospels—specifically in relation to his own teaching. Next, I want to consider what Scripture has to say about the role of the Spirit in the inspiration of Scripture. Finally, I want to look at Scripture’s witness to itself as Holy Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments. From there, I believe we can draw a conclusion as to how we are to read the words of Christ and the words of Paul in terms of their inspiration and authority.
While volumes could be written on each of the angles I mentioned, my intent is to be faithful to Scripture and brief in explanation. So, as we progress, I’d welcome your interaction and thoughts in areas you feel may be helpful in clarifying or further expounding the subject. In keeping with my desire to be brief in explanation, I will post on each of the angles separately over the course of the next week. I hope that this exercise will be mutually helpful, whether as a review or further instruction in our understanding of the Bible.