To challenge the Apostleship of Paul is not new. Paul himself had to deal with doubters in his day, and the Church has had to answer it many times over the past 2,000 years. It has again become fashionable in our day to challenge his Apostleship with the New Perspectives on Paul Movement. Though it claims to be new, the “New Perspectives” are in reality old, and the same answers that the Church has historically given are even now sufficient to deal with this issue. Many answers, in fact, are given by Paul himself. We will examine his writings – specifically his letters to the Corinthians – and discover at least ten proofs that Paul is a true Apostle of Jesus Christ.
These proofs will be based on two assumptions: 1) that Scripture, in its totality, is true, and 2) that Paul is a true Apostle and his writings are Scripture. To assume Paul’s Apostleship using his own words to prove the same may sound like fallacious circular reasoning, but we must examine Paul’s words to see if they stand up under examination. Just like we must sit in a chair in order to find out if it will support our weight, we will test Paul’s claim and see if it can support the weight of scrutiny. We will also see how his claims are corroborated by others, so we will not solely look at Paul’s testimony. So with that, let’s begin.
1. The One Who called him (1 Cor. 1:1)
This point should actually end the debate. Paul was directly and personally commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as told to us by Luke in the ninth chapter of Acts. Whoever tries to say that Paul was a false apostle is also calling Luke, and, more importantly, Jesus Christ, liars.
2. The churches he founded (1 Cor. 9:1-6, 2 Cor. 3:2)
Paul founded many churches, but he writes especially to the Corinthians that they, above all, should not have believed those who challenged his Apostleship because of how he behaved when he was with them and how long he remained with them. (1)
3. The Gospel he preached (1 Cor. 15:1-8)
Paul says he taught only that which he received, both from Jesus and from the rest of the Apostles. He preached the same Gospel they did. Some will claim that Paul taught a different Gospel than James or Peter, but any perceived discrepancies in their messages can be reconciled with deeper study. Incidentally, both of them endorse Paul. (2)
4. The provision and victory he enjoyed (2 Cor. 6:3-10)
Everything he endured in the ministry, from his trials (v. 4-5), to the divine provision he experienced in those trials (v. 6-7), to his victory over them (v. 8-10), prove his genuine Apostleship.
The next two proofs are a bit unorthodox. In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes that we do not wage war according to worldly standards. Then, in chapters 11 and 12, he defends his Apostleship by methods that appear foolish by worldly standards but demonstrate wisdom from God. Continue reading