The Apostle Paul - The 


Today, Paul's life and ministry are being challenged by modern heretics.

The Claim

Whether or not Paul is an Apostle is of great importance to us, actually much more than you might think. The fact that he claimed many times that he was an Apostle, means that if he were not, he was a liar and so we could dismiss all of his teachings and this is what many are doing today. It's very clear that Paul doesn't see himself as just a messenger, but as one of the chosen few, appointed by God to be a founder of the Church. 

All of the other eleven Apostles were chosen by Jesus. Matthias who replaced Judas was chosen by the disciples by casting lots (the modern equivalent of this is flipping a coin) 


Paul claimed that he was chosen to be an Apostle by Jesus and God the Father, and not by man you can read this in Gal 1 v 1. His letters to the Churches almost always started with this claim that he was an Apostle.

Apart from Paul's own claims to be an Apostle what else supports his case

Just after Paul's conversion Ananias was told by God to find Paul and pray for him.

This is what God said to Ananias when he was worried that Saul was a dangerous man:

Acts 9 v 15:

Go your way:for he is my chosen vessel, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.

So God's words to Ananias are a very strong witness for Paul's Apostleship.

What about the Apostle Peter

Peter never actually calls Paul an Apostle, but he does give authority to his writings. 

We find this in 

2 Peter 3 v 15-16.

Consider that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things that are hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures

In this passage we see that Peter calls Paul our beloved brother.

He says Paul's words are wise and come from God, even though he knows that his letters contain the claim that Paul is an Apostle. Peter does NOT refute Paul's claim.

He admits that some people distort his written words as they do other Scriptures. So Peter sees Pauls letters as Scripture.

Later Peter sends his own representatives along with Paul to visit the Church in Antioch. He's clearly comfortable to be associated with Paul.

Paul’s Teacher in the Desert

It's a well established fact that an Apostles qualifications must include having seen the risen Jesus. Paul's claim to have seen Jesus, I believe has more substance to it than just seeing a light on the road to Damascas. I believe he was referring to the time he spent alone with Jesus in the desert before he began his ministry.

This is spoken of in Gal 1 v 17-18

I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him for fifteen days

Satan’s View

Another proof of Paul's authority as an Apostle is that Satan knew who he was! 

Acts 16 v 16

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.

What was the GOSPEL of Paul ?

It appears from history that some of Pauls letters to the churches were the first Christian writings. Most historian's place Thessalonians and Galations as the first NT books written. (bear in mind though that the dating of the books of the Bible is a specialist subject and conclusions change as more solid evidence is discovered.)

So when Paul claims that he did not learn from other men, but from Jesus Christ, it's clear that his Gospel message came only by revelation. 

Gal 1 v 11-12 says: 

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ

Therefore Paul did not have any copies of writings from any of the other Apostles with him during his three years in the Arabian desert. learning from Jesus. He could have had a copy of some of the Old Testament though, but he would have known the OT very well anyway, because he was an expert on it.

So, the question arises, how accurate is Paul's Gospel when compared to the eye-witness accounts of the Apostle's Gospels ?

Well, if you could take away the Apostle's Gospels you would have exactly the same Gospel message from Paul. All that his Gospel does, is help to make the salient points of the Gospel clearer to us. His Gospel is the same as Jesus Gospel.

So it is valid that Paul can make the claim we find in verses 

8 and 9 of Gal 1 which is this:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we've preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed

Paul's writings DO have the Authority of God behind them, they are God's words! Those who try to change the Gospel place themselves under Paul's curse.

Watch out for False Prophets!

Jesus himself gives us the clear way to recognise falsehood in Matthew 7 15-20.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. 

The Fruits of Paul's life are clearly seen throughout his writings. We can see his character, his honesty, his humility, his integrity, his faith and his faithfulness, right up to his death.

In fact the fruit of his life is clearly seen as he approaches death.

2 Tim 4 6-8 says this:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

In weighing Paul's words, the fruit of his life, and the words of those who knew him, we can safely conclude that Paul was an Apostle of Jesus Christ, so we can trust completely in his teachings.

Martyn Cunnington

© Martyn Cunnington revised 2021