Paul's Contradictions of Jesus
Here is a list of the major contradictions by Paul of things Jesus taught. Some of this was mentioned by others, so when applicable I quote and reference the source who mentioned this. This list is as of January 2016. Come back for updates as I continue to add to this list. Please send me any that you have discovered.
Introduction: List of Contradictions Expounded Below
• Jesus Says Not To Eat Meat Sacrificed to Idols, But Paul Says It Is
• Jesus Says The Law Continues, But Paul Says No
• Paul Says The Pharisees Followed The Law Rigorously, But Jesus
Says They Were Lax About The Law
• Jesus Says Salvation Initiates And Continues By Repentance From
Sin and Obedience Besides Faith; Paul Says This is Heresy
• Jesus Tells Apostles To Teach His Commands Given Prior to HisAscension While In The Flesh, But Paul Says Not To Do So
• Paul Says Elders Are Entitled To Pay for 'Preaching & Teaching,' But
Jesus Says No
• Jesus Teaches There Are Only 12 Apostles Into Eternity, But Paul
Adds Himself To The List As a Thirteenth
• Paul Exhorts Celibacy, But Jesus Clearly Says It is A Choice Not
Within Everyone's Power
• Jesus Says There Is One Pastor and Teacher (Himself), But Paul
Says There Are Many Pastors and Teachers
• Paul Says God Is The God of the Dead, But Jesus Says God Is Not
The God of the Dead
• Paul Says God Does Not Live in Temples Made of Human Hands,
But Jesus Says He Does
• Jesus says Nations Of The World Are Under Satan, But Paul Says
Their Rulers Are Agents of God
• Jesus Teaches Rapture is Of Evil Ones First, But Paul Teaches The
• Jesus Says A Call Is Revocable, But Paul Says It Is Irrevocable
• Jesus Says Some Are Righteous, But Paul Says It Is Impossible
• Paul Excludes Eating With Sinners But Christ's Example We Are To
Follow, and the Lost Sheep Parable, Is Contrary
• Paul Teaches We Are Eternally Secure, But Jesus Teaches Insecurity
to a Sinning Believer
• Paul Teaches In Original Sin But Jesus Contradicts
• Jesus' Command About Calling Anyone Fool Is Violated by Paul
• Paul Denies Obedience Grants Any Righteousness Unto Life, But
Jesus Says It Does
• Jesus Sends The Apostles to Baptize, But Paul Says Jesus Did Not
Send Him to Baptize
• Jesus Says the Merciful Receive Mercy, But Paul Says Only Those God
Chooses Arbitrarily Will Receive Mercy
• Paul Says Salvation Does Not Depend Upon Exertion, But Jesus
Says It Does
• Paul Says He Could Be Justified of The Sin that Never Could be Justified under the Law given Moses (Blasphemy), but Jesus says to the contrary that it is The Unpardonable Sin.
• Paul Says Flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but Jesus in Flesh ascended to heaven, and promises to resurrect our bodies to heaven, giving us the same physical resurrection that Jesus had.
Below, we one by one discuss in full each point.
Jesus Says Not To Eat Meat Sacrificed to Idols, But Paul Says It Is Ok
Three times Jesus in the Book of Revelation condemns eating meat sacrificed to idols, even saying this is the doctrine of a false prophet. (Rev. 2:6, 14 (Ephesus); Rev. 2:14-15 (Pergamum); Revelation 2:20 (Thyatira).)
This absolute prescription also was set forth in James' ruling at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:20. Then it is repeated when it was put in a letter. (Acts 15:29.) Finally, James reiterates this for a third and final time in Acts chapter 21. James tells Paul that many claim Paul is teaching lawless doctrine. So James reminds Paul what was the ruling at the Jerusalem Council. He tells Paul that previously "we wrote giving judgment that they [i.e., the Gentiles] should keep themselves from things sacrificed to idols...." (Acts 21:25.)
However, Paul clearly teaches three times that there is nothing wrong in itself eating meat sacrificed to idols. (Romans 14:21;1 Corinthians 8:4-13, and 1 Corinthians 10:19-29.) The first time Paul addresses the question of "eating meat sacrificed to idols," Paul answers: "But food will not commend us to God; neither if we eat not...." (1 Cor. 8:8.) Paul then explained it is only necessary to abstain from eating such meat if you are around a "weaker" brother who thinks an idol is something. (1 Cor. 8:7, 8:10, 9:22.) Then, and only then, must you abstain. The reason is that then a brother might be emboldened to do something he thinks is sinful. The brother is supposedly weak for believing eating meat sacrificed to an idol is wrong. This is thus a sin for him to eat, Paul explains, even though you know it is not sinful to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Thus, even though you know better than your weaker brother that it is no sin to eat such meat, it is better to abstain in his presence than cause him to sin against his weak conscience and be "destroyed." (1 Cor. 8:11.)
As Wikipedia says:
A major controversy among Early Christians concerned whether it was permissible to eat meat that had been offered in pagan worship, see also Council of Jerusalem. Paul of Tarsus, who agreed to the Apostolic Decree, also wrote that it was permitted to do so, as long as a blessing was pronounced over it, and provided that scandal was not caused by it. ("Idolatry and Christianity," Wikipedia.)
For more discussion, see Chapter Six of Jesus Words Only, available at this link to an html page.
Jesus Says The Law Continues, But Paul Says No
CAVEAT: The Law given Moses applicable to "foreigners/sojourners" (Gentiles) is a relatively small set of moral commands primarily from Leviticus, incorporating most of the Ten Commandments. So if the Law given Moses applies to Gentiles, it is not a burdensome list. Yet, we are still applying literally the Law, just as James did in Acts 15, by treating the term "foreigner/sojourners" versus "Israel" as literally as possible. This distinction perfectly explains why James said circumcision does not apply to Gentiles, i.e., Leviticus 12:1-3 only requires sons of "Israel" to be circumcised. See this webpage where we discuss this issue in more depth.
Jesus's View on the Law. Jesus emphasized the validity of the Law up through the passing away of Heaven and Earth, thus confirming its inspiration and ongoing validity. In Matthew 5:17-19 we read:
(17) Think not that I came to destroy the Law [of Moses] or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the Law, till all things be accomplished [i.e., all things predicted appear on the stage of history]. (19) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (ASV)
Compare that Luke 16:17 similarly says at a different time than the Sermon on the Mount -- meaning Jesus repeated the same point twice:
" It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. (Luke 16:16-17 NIV.)
Thus, Jesus can never be accused of seducing any Christian from following the Law. Jesus cannot be a false prophet under Deuteronomy 13:5 (false prophet is anyone who has miracles and wonders but seduces you from following the Law). Jesus said the Law remained valid until the Heavens and Earth pass away. This passing of heaven and earth occurs at the end of the Millennium. This is 1000 years after Christ's Second Coming, according to the Book of Revelation.
Paul's View on the Law. Paul says the opposite.
Paul is blunt in Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:14, 2 Cor. 3:11-17, Romans 7:1-3 et seq, and Galatians 3:19 et seq. The Law is "abolished," "done away with," "nailed to a tree," "has faded away,' and was "only ordained by angels...who are no gods." If we were to cite Paul's condemnations of the Law in one string, the point is self-evident that Paul abrogated the Law for everyone. See Eph. 2:15 ("setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations"); Col. 2:14 ("having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross;") 2 Cor. 3:14 ("old covenant"); Gal. 5:1 ("yoke of bondage"); Rom. 10:4 ("Christ is the end of the law"); 2 Cor. 3:7 ("law of death"); Gal. 5:1 ("entangles"); Col. 2:14-17 ("a shadow"); Rom. 3:27 ("law of works"); Rom. 4:15 ("works wrath"); 2 Cor. 3:9 (ministration of condemnation); Gal. 2:16 ("cannot justify"); Gal. 3:21 (cannot give life); Col. 2:14 ("wiped out" exaleipsas); Gal. 3:19, 4:8-9 ("given by angels...who are no gods [and are] weak and beggarly celestial beings/elements").
Finally, in Romans 7:1-6, Paul claims when Jesus died, the husband died and this dissolved the Law's bonds between the husband (God of Sinai) and wife (God's people). This henceforth made the "law dead to us." (Romans 7:4.) This death-of-God-the-husband released the Jews, Paul contends, and when Christ resurrected the bonds of marriage with the old God were not renewed. (The implication, we contend, was Paul meant a new God emerges or otherwise if the same husband-God resurrected, why wasn't the bond to the Law renewed? Paulinists come near to admitting this is the only logical meaning while even confessing they are uncomfortable with the passage's 'seemingly' polytheistic explanation... Uggh. On our thorough analysis of Romans 7:1-6, see our webpage discussion.)
For more discussion on Paul's abrogation of the Law, see chapter five of Jesus Words Only excerpted at this link.
How do those devoted to every word from both Paul and Jesus resolve the contradiction? Here is a perfect example:
If [Jesus] is saying [in Matt 5:17 by saying He fulfilled the Law, and meant] he is the 'end of the Law' [as Paul taught in Romans 10:4], then why does he say in the next verse that the Law will never disappear? ...There is something exasperating about trying to understand a verse like this....What the verse seems to say contradicts what we know from other verses in the New Testament. The truth is we cannot be expected to understand this verse.
Bivin, David. Blizzard, Jr., Roy. Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From A Hebraic Perspective (Destiny Image, 2001) at 113.
Incidentally, Bivin-Blizzard offer a Hebrew approach that Jesus' means by saying he did not come to destroy the Law means his interpretations will not weaken its meaning, and to fulfill means to make it more lasting. Even with that, Bivin-Blizzard realize they haven't removed the contradiction between Paul and Jesus.
Paul Says The Pharisees Followed The Law Rigorously, But Jesus Says They Were Lax About The Law
Paul says in Philippians 3:5-6 that as a result of his time as a Pharisee that "as touching righteousness, found blameless." Cf. Acts 26:5 where Paul says "I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee."
Of course, Jesus taught contrarily that the Pharisees were lax in teaching and obeying the Law. See Matt. 23:23. See also, Matt. 15: 6,9.
This contradiction between Paul and Jesus has probably had the most important impact on doctrine. By perceiving the Pharisees through Paul's eyes, we are led to believe Jesus condemned the Pharisees as legalists -- Paul's view. However, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as ANTI-LEGALISTS. Jesus condemned them as teachers abrogating the Law by their man-made ordinances. (Matt. 15:6). And Jesus condemned them as those who taught the lesser commands of the Law while ignoring the more weightier commands of the Law. (Matt. 23:23.)
Hence, a wrong deduction is achieved by using Paul's contradictory perception of the Pharisees. Paul says the Pharisees are legalists; but Jesus says they are anti-legalists. These are radically opposite perceptions. If Paul's view were correct, then Jesus impliedly condemned obedience any longer to the Law by criticizing the Pharisees. However, if Jesus's view of the Pharisees as lax about the Law is correct (and who can deny our Lord's veracity!), then Jesus condemned any teaching that either marginalized the Law or contradicted the Law.
This fits precisely into Jesus's statement: "he that teaches and keeps the Law of Moses will be great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:19.)
However, because Paul depicts the Pharisees - enemies of Jesus - as law-keepers, Paul is understood to be "condemning all who are zealous of the Law of Moses as an enemy of Messiah." (Cosette, Id., at 21.)
This means Paul indirectly condemned our Lord Jesus Christ when Paul condemned those who were teaching the Law should be followed, both big and little commands.
CAVEAT: Please note that I have explained that the Law does not have but a relatively modest number of provisions that apply to non-Israelites/sojouners. It has provisions that specifically extend rules to sojourners/non-Israelites who join with the community. See this webpage where we discuss this issue.
Jesus Says Salvation Initiates And Continues By Repentance From Sin and Obedience Besides Faith; Paul Says This is Heresy
Paul's main salvation verses at odds with Jesus are well-known:
- Romans 3:28 ("man is justified by faith apart from observing the law").
- Romans 4:5 ("To the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness").
- Gal. 5:4 ("You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace").
- Romans 7:6 ("Now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in a new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code").
- Gal. 2:16 ("A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, because by observing the law no one will be justified").
- Ephesians 2:8-9 ("For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith, this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.")
Here where it matters most, Paul has a different voice than our Lord Jesus. Paul's themes are alien to Jesus's message of salvation. They undercut, if not destroy, the message of Jesus. The true sheep of Jesus recognize His voice, and will not follow another. (John 10:27-29.)
Jesus teaches instead the following -- in each instance contrasted with the teachings of Paul:
[This chart below is available in PDF in an easily shared chart]:
Salvation Checklist -- Jesus versus Paul
The one who repents from sin is "justified." (Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Luke 18:10-14.) The son who was dead but now repents is "alive again" (born again). (Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:1-32, viz. v. 24.)
One is not justified nor born again by repentance from sin, but by faith alone. (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:4. See also Romans 3:28 especially as Luther defends here.) Any such addition to Paul's salvation by faith alone doctrine is the heresy of "works salvation." (Wilkin, Stanley, Hodge.)
The one who relies upon God's election to salvation and does not repent goes home unjustified. (Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Luke 18:10-14.)
The one who relies upon God's election alone for salvation is relying on the right thing. (Rom. 8:33.) God elects you to salvation by means of predestination, and hence without any work on your part. Faith is given to you as part of God's work in you. (Phil 1:6) (Wilkin, Stanley.)
To have eternal life, follow the Ten Commandments, deny yourself (i.e., repent and do works worthy of repentance) and then follow Jesus. If you give up fathers, mothers, and brothers for Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross, and "follow Me," you "shall have eternal life." (Matthew 19:27-29; Matthew 10:37-39; John 12:25-26.)
To have eternal life, say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe He is resurrected. (Rom. 10:9.) Do not add any work. "Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt."(Rom. 4:4.) If salvation depends on keeping the Law, then salvation by faith is made void. "[I]f they that are of the law are heirs, faith is made void..." (Rom.4:14.) In Romans 3:20, Paul says: “For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make man know he sinned.”
A Christian will go to hell if they deny Christ under pressure. (Luke 12:4-9.)
If we deny Jesus, He will deny us, but in the end God will still accept us because He cannot deny Himself. (Stanley.) Paul says: "if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for He cannot deny himself." (2 Tim. 2:12-13.)
As part of an answer on how to have eternal life, Jesus tells a rich man to repent by giving his wealth to the poor. The man is grieved. (Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-26.) Jesus tells another rich man who repents and repays those he stole from that "Today salvation has come to this house...." (Luke 19:9.)
Salvation could not possibly depend on any works of repentance. Salvation is by faith alone. (Eph.2:8-9; Rom. 4:4.)
The thief on the cross, in front of a crowd hostile to Jesus, says: "Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom."(Luke 23:42.) Jesus had said that if you "confess me before men" then he will confess you before the angels in Heaven. (Luke 12:8.) Jesus thus tells the thief "this day you will be with me in Paradise."
Salvation could never depend on a confession of Jesus before men. If it was a means of salvation, this would be works righteousness. Instead, even though Paul said that if you "say Jesus is Lord with your mouth" and believe He was resurrected, then you shall be saved (Rom. 10:9), faith is all you need to be saved. (Rom. 4:4.) Paul must mean that such confession will flow naturally from faith rather than salvation is produced by a public confession. (Wilkin.)
Salvation is based on God forgiving your sin. If you do not forgive others after you receive forgiveness, God will revoke your forgiveness and send you to hell to be tormented. (Matt. 18:28-35; cf. Matt. 6:12.)
Salvation is not contingent on your forgiving others. Salvation only has one condition: a one-time faith. (Romans 4:4.) If you ever once had faith (Romans 10:9), you are no longer able to be condemned. (Romans 8:1.)
Jesus promised those who "kept guard" of His word "should never taste death." (John 8:51.) "He who continues to trust/believe/obey unto the Son should be saved." (John 3:16.) (Obey unto is the actual meaning of pisteuosin eis in the famous 3:16. See our link.) He who continues to "disobey" the Son continues to be under God's wrath. (John 3:36.)
There is no endurance in any action required. Only a one-time faith is necessary for salvation. (Romans 4:4.) One could fail to keep and guard Jesus' word and still be saved because one is eternally secure based on a one-time faith. (Romans 8:1, 10:9.)
Jesus said "a branch in me" that produces no fruit because it failed to keep staying "in me" will be thrown "outside" the vineyard. It is as a branch that died (dried up). It is gathered up into the fire and is burned. (John 15:1-6.)
If fruit or works were necessary to avoid being thrown outside God's vineyard, becoming dead and then being burned in hell, it would be a salvation by works. Instead, salvation is by faith without any works. (Romans 4:4, 14; Eph. 2:8-9.)
A servant of Jesus who produces no fruit is useless, and he will be "thrown...into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 25:14 et seq.) This place of weeping and gnashing is the "fiery furnace." (Matt. 13:42, 50.)
If fruit or works were necessary to avoid being thrown outside and be burned in hell where there is weeping and gnashing, it would be a salvation by works. Instead, salvation is by faith without any works. (Romans 4:4, 14; Eph. 2:8-9.)
If you receive the word with joy and "believe for a while," but in time of temptation, you fall away, you are lost. If you are choked by the pleasures of this world, and bring no fruit to completion, you are lost. If on the other hand, you bring forth fruit to the end, in patient endurance, you will be saved. (Luke 8:13-15.) You "shall be saved" if you "endured to the end." (Matt. 10:22.)
If you receive the word with joy and believe for a while, you are eternally saved. (Romans 8:1; 10:9.) Salvation cannot depend on you or anything you do thereafter. Otherwise, it is salvation by works. (Romans 4:4, 14; Eph. 2:8-9.) Thus, if you fall away or are choked with the pleasures of this life and have no fruit, you are still saved. There is no need to endure in faith as long as you believed once.
Among the sheep and goats who both call Jesus Lord, the group who serves Jesus by feeding the brethren in need, clothing them, and giving them water, goes to heaven. The other group who calls Jesus Lord but who fails to provide such charity are, as a consequence, sent to "eternal fire." (Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Matt. 25:32 et seq.). A faith that ignores the poor brethren is "dead" and "cannot save." (James 2:14-17.) "Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Matt. 7:19.)
Anyone who "shall call" on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13.) This is permanent, and no condition subsequent can be put on this that you must be charitable or have fruit thereafter. Otherwise, it is salvation by works. (Romans 4:4, 14; Eph. 2:8-9.) Hence, it cannot be true that if the goats, in fact, ever once called on the name of the Lord that they should be sent to hell. James' statement that paraphrases the principle of Matthew 25:32 et seq. contradicts Paul, and we are not to believe even an angel from heaven if he should contradict Paul. (Gal. 1:8.)
"I keep telling you the one who keeps on listening to my teaching and keeps on believing in [or "obeying to"] the one who sent me keeps on having eternal life and does not come into condemnation but has departed out of death into life." (John 5:24.).
Once in Christ, there is now no condemnation (Romans 8:1). This entry is by a one-time faith. (Rom. 10:9). As a result, freedom from condemnation is not secured by any continuity in listening to Jesus' teaching or believing in /obeying God-the-Father. [CAVEAT: This relies on out-of-context use of Romans 8:1 which says there is no condemnation for those in Christ who "walk not after the flesh...."]
NOTE: Incidentally, in the Reformation, Melancthon, Bucer and later apparently Luther came to teach double justification. This interpreted Paul as saying our salvation initiates by faith, but is maintained by works, including repentance. See our book, JWOS Preface (PDF). For a very good defense of this notion, using Paul's present v. past tense reference to saved, see this webpage from Christian History.org. However, Jesus says salvation initiates, such as for the Prodigal, by repentance from sin combined with faith in the father, while Paul contrarily says that it initiates by faith alone without a hint of any repentance from sin.
Jesus Tells Apostles To Teach His Commands Given Prior to His Ascension While In The Flesh, But Paul Says Not To Do So (Per Bultmann's Reading)
After the Risen Lord proved He had the same nail holes as He had on the cross, Jesus' final words just before He ascended into heaven were that the then Apostles should teach "everything that I commanded you...." Matt. 28:20.
Jesus must have meant to teach all His commands prior to the Cross, and not simply any given after He rose from the dead and prior to Ascension. How do we know that?
The reason we know this is true is because none of the four gospels contain any post-cross commands. If Jesus meant by His command to teach the world "all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20) to teach only His commands post-resurrection, the four gospels would have contained such commands. However, there are none quoted except the command in Matt. 28:20 to teach Jesus'commands previously given. Hence, Jesus clearly meant by "everything I commanded you" to be His words in His earthly ministry before His resurrection.
Hence, Jesus could only have meant that post-Ascension the apostles were to teach the pre-Cross teachings of Jesus -- while He was clearly "in the flesh."
However, Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5:16 is interpreted to justify rejecting this.
16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. (KJV)
The famous and influential evangelical theologian Rudolf Bultmann said 2 Corinthians 5:16 means we no longer know Christ in the flesh, i.e., we supposedly can dispense with Jesus's teachings when He was in the flesh. Paul tells us that only the messages Paul received from the resurrected Christ -- who supposedly no longer had flesh -- is the means to know Christ any longer. Indeed, Origen and Clement in the early church read "in the flesh" in 2 Cor. 5:16 to mean the period of Christ's earthly preaching. (See our discussion at this link.)
Read this way by Bultmann, Paul tells us we no longer know or need to know Jesus' message delivered pre-Resurrection when He was in the flesh.
This is also how the Christian theologian and physician Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) viewed 2 Cor. 5:16 in his book of 1911 Geschichte Der Paulinischen Forschung (J. C. B. Mohr) [Archive.org] at 191 (and in English translation, Paul and His Interpreters: The conception of authority in the Pauline writings (1918) at 36.) Schweitzer explained: "since the death and resurrection of the Lord [Paul believed] conditions were present that were so wholly new that they made his [Jesus's] teaching inapplicable." (Id.) Thus, Albert Schweitzer says this is what explains Paul's failure to mention any significant teachings of Jesus: "If we had only St Paul to guide us, we should not know that Jesus spoke in parables, that He spoke the Sermon on the Mount and taught His people the Lord's Prayer."
Indeed, with the sole exception of the eucharistic formula at 1 Cor 11:24-25, Paul does not quote any sayings of the historical Jesus as found in the written Gospels. Furthermore, Paul never even once alludes to the panorama of the Savior's life story from the Nativity up to the Passion, as well as Jesus's elaborate teaching, which fill the pages of the first four books of the New Testament.
By contrast, and astonishingly, at Acts 13:24-25 Paul does quote John the Baptist from the written gospels! And the Jesus of Paul quotes Greek works more frequently than Jesus's words from the gospels. See our article Pagan Influences on Paul. Hence, Paul was a well-read man but never thought Christ's teachings in the flesh which we find in the gospels were of any importance to relate to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, etc.
As a result, Bultmann saw things the same way as did Albert Schweitzer. As one commentator on Bultmann summarized his influential view of 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul deliberately ignored Jesus' teachings during His earthly ministry because Paul discovered a new and different preaching than what Christ taught pre-resurrection. This rendered supposedly defunct that prior message of Jesus:
Bultmann...regards the historical Jesus as irrelevant as to the kerygma [i.e., preaching] of the risen Lord whom Paul proclaimed. Bultmann understood 2 Corinthians 5:16 ("even though we once knew Christ kata sarka [through/by means of the flesh], we know him thus no longer") to mean that Paul chose not to employ his knowledge of Jesus kerygmatically [i.e., for preaching], a view with which Bultmann agreed [with Paul.]. Accordingly, the influential scholar of Marburg [i.e., Bultmann] declared Paul the "founder of Christian theology." (Paul Barnett, Paul: Missionary of Jesus (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008) at 13.)
Hence, Paul is viewed to instruct us no longer to teach Jesus' teachings while Jesus was in the flesh, i.e., from His earthly ministry (2 Cor. 5:16). But Jesus commanded to the contrary that we do so in Matthew 28:20. Hence, 2 Cor. 5:16 contradicts Matt. 28:20 as Paulinists construe 2 Cor. 5:16.
Paul Says Elders Are Entitled To Pay for 'Preaching & Teaching,' But Jesus Says No
In 1 Tim. 5:17, Paul wrote: "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." Then Paul uses a verse from the Law of Moses about not muzzling an ox in an odd extension to imply churchgoers have a duty to pay the elders for their service. (1 Tim. 5:18.) Elsewhere, Paul says:
14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (1 Cor. 9:14 NIV.)
But I thought Jesus said to His disciples to lay no cost on anyone they served by preaching and healing? "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." (Matt. 10:8, NAB.) Jesus in the prior verse was commanding the apostles to go out and preach the gospel, so the context makes quite clear that no charge or burden was to be made on auditors to hear preaching of the gospel or healing ministries.
Hence, 1 Tim. 5:17-18 and 1 Cor. 9:14 contradicts Jesus in Matthew 10:8.
Incidentally compare: Micah 3:11 WEB which says similarly to what Jesus says:
11 Her leaders judge for bribes,
and her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets of it tell fortunes for money:
yet they lean on Yahweh, and say,
“Isn’t Yahweh in the midst of us?
No disaster will come on us.”
Jesus Teaches There Are Only 12 Apostles Into Eternity, But Paul Adds Himself To The List As a Thirteenth
Matthias was voted to replace Judas in Acts 1, with the Holy Spirit deciding between two candidates. Hence, the 12 were established long before Paul had his Damascus road experience.
However, our Savior made the permanent tally of the Apostles established at exactly twelve --- for obvious reasons of historical symbolism. One can see the historical symmetry at Rev 21:12-14. Twelve apostles to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
Paul was never numbered in that circle; not even Barnabas in his Epistle recognizes Paul’s Apostleship!: "[The Apostles] to whom he gave the power of the Gospel to preach; and there are twelve as a testimony to the tribes, because there are twelve tribes of Israel." (Epistle of Barnabas 8:3).
However, Paul repetitiously claimed he was an apostle. Yet, not once did Jesus ever call Paul an apostle, even by Luke's quotations taken from Paul's claims to his encounter with Jesus. Read for yourself Paul's vision accounts in Acts 9, 22 and 26. In these three accounts, the Jesus whom Paul met said Paul would be a martus. That means "witness," not "apostolos" (messenger).
Paul Exhorts Celibacy, But Jesus Clearly Says It is A Choice Not Within Everyone's Power
Paul taught against being married. He wrote in 1 Cor. 10:27-28:
"Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin."
In line with this Paul also wrote:
"I wish all were as I am," meaning unmarried. (1 Cor. 7:7.)
To help prevent the desire to be married, Paul said: ‘It is good that a man should not touch a woman.’ (1 Cor. 7:1.)
If Paul is a true prophet and wishes something, such as avoiding touching a woman and to not "seek to be married," then Paul clearly endorses celibacy for us too as a superior way of life.
However, Jesus speaks differently of celibacy as something for some but not all disciples. It is not a command or even an exhortation. It is merely a legitimate option. "He who is able to receive this, let him receive it." Matt. 19:12.
The contradiction arises because Jesus never says or implies "do not seek marriage." Significantly, Jesus never applies any moral suasion or pressure to be celibate, while Paul clearly does so.
Jesus Says There Is One Pastor and Teacher (Himself), But Paul Says There Are Many Pastors and Teachers
Jesus said there is One Pastor and One Teacher:
And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd/pastor (Grk poimen) (John 10:16.)
"But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren...." (Matt. 23:8)(ASV)
"Nor are you to be called 'teacher', for you have one Teacher (didaskolos), the Christ." (Matt. 23:10, NIV)
However, Paul says "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors (shepherds, Greek poimenas) and teachers (didaskolos)...." (Eph. 4:11.)
Paul Says God Is The God of the Dead, But Jesus Says God Is Not The God of the Dead
Paul speaks of the "Lord of the dead and the living." (Romans 14:9.) But Jesus says "God is not the God of the dead but the living." (Luke 20:38.)
Paul Says God Does Not Live in Temples Made of Human Hands, But Jesus Says He Does
Paul says "God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." (Acts 17:24).
However, Jesus said, in a correction of Pharisees who thought an oath offered "by" articles offered at the Temple were binding but not an oath by the Temple at Jerusalem itself: "And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it." (Matt. 23:21.)
Hence, Jesus's logic was that because the article of the Temple is less important than the Temple where God dwells at Jerusalem, an oath "by" the Temple is as binding as an oath by an article.
The importance of this is Jesus affirms God does live in a temple made of human hands, but Paul says this is untrue. [Added 9/22/2010]
Jesus says Nations Of The World Are Under Satan, But Paul Says Their Rulers Are Agents of God
Compare Lk 4:5-8, Jn 18:36, 19:18, Ac 4:26 (Ps 2:2) versus Paul in Rom 13:1-5.
The celestial kingdom is described in the Gospels as of another order from the entire realm of the nations, which are ruled by Satan and whereby Christ was crucified. (See our webpage discussion.)
On the other hand, the secular authorities with all their weaponry (including Mk 15:16 ff) are stated by Paul to be God's own agents. (Romans 13:1-5.) (Source: Metalog) [Added 9/25/2010]
Paul also contradicts Hosea 8:4 (700s BC): "They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval." (NIV)
Cf. Thomas Aquinas recognized a Christian had no duty to obey unjust laws, implicitly recognizing the world's rulers are not God's agents. (Summa Theolgia (Copleston) Question 96, Art. 6; see Feldman at 307 fn. 125.)
Jesus Teaches Rapture is Of Evil Ones First, But Paul Teaches The Opposite
For full discussion, see our webpage.
Jesus Says A Call Is Revocable, But Paul Says It Is Irrevocable
"'The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable' (Rom 11:29). The birthright of Esau was revoked, as was the calling of the House of Eli. If 'many are called, but few are chosen' (Matt 22:14), then the calling is revocable." (Femi Aribisala, Nigerian Christian, "A-Paul-ing Epistles.")
Jesus Says Some Are Righteous, But Paul Says It Is Impossible
Paul says in the OT it teaches none are righteous. Romans 3:10-18. [Paul misread the Psalm which contrasted the evil ones as doing no righteousness, in contrast to those doing good who it clearly calls the righteous. See link. Doug's editor's note.] However, Jesus extols those who feed, clothe and give drink to the brethren, and calls them the "righteous," and says they alone go to heaven, but those who do not do these works are 'goats' who are sent to hell. Matt. 25:37.
Paul says that none is righteous under the law, that obedience to the law justifies no one before God, and that the law was a curse:
Ro 3:10 - As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Ro 3:19 - Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Gal 3:10 - For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
But the Lord Jesus says there were many who were righteous under the law:
Mt 13:17 - For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Mt 23:3 - That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Mt 23:29 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
In fact, some of the righteous under the law during the lifetime of both Jesus and Saul were:
Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist: Lu 1:6 - And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Simeon, who waited to see the Messiah: Lu 2:25 - And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Joseph the husband of Mary, and Mary herself who was chosen to be Jesus’ mother: Mt 1:19 - Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example,was minded to put her away privily.
John the Baptist: Mr 6:20 - For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Why did Saul contradict the Lord? The answer is simple: Saul misunderstood the relationship between the Law and Love. [See Messenger's article 2006]
Paul Excludes Eating With Sinners But Christ's Example We Are To Follow, and the Lost Sheep Parable, Is Contrary
In 1 Cor. 5:9, Paul clearly writes:
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
What did Pharisees like Paul say was Jesus' sin or error? Eating with sinners.
In Luke 15:1, the Pharisees accused Jesus of error, saying: "This man receives sinners and eats with them." Then Jesus defends this practice in a Parable of the Lost Sheep -- that if you have a lost sheep, you don't wait for it to come home, but you go out to where you can find it, and then lead it back home. Jesus defends proactively socializing with sinners so as to bring them home as lost sheep.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:1-4.)
In another context, Jesus gives a similar defense when the Pharisees similarly accused Jesus of the alleged error of eating and socializing with sinners:
5 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17 NIV.)
Jesus defended the practice of making an effort to socialize with sinners to bring them back from a lost condition to a saved one. For the "healthy" don't need a doctor to call upon them -- only the sick (sinners in context).
But Paul says the opposite. Don't "eat" with sinners, Paul clearly says. Hence, 1 Cor. 5:9 contradicts Jesus's clear practice of eating with sinners. This is akin to Paul's idea of "turning" people over to Satan, abandoning them and praying Satan takes control of their lives. Jesus says this is an error -- Jesus instead says you seek to turn such people from Satan and back to God.
The only argument that Jesus supposedly agrees with Paul comes from Jesus' direction that within the church, we were to confront brothers / sisters with sins against us, and only after this process is taken in two unsuccessful steps, then you should treat the sinner as a tax collector / sinner. See Matt. 18.
Yet, it is not clear that this means not eating with them, as Jesus made a point to eat with tax collectors and sinners. Treating someone as a tax collector apparently meant treating them differently. This could be to not give them greetings of shalom or visiting them in their home as John speaks in his epistle that we should not take certain heretics into our home. Jesus' instructions to treat someone as a "sinner" does not necessarily mean not eating with them. In light of Jesus' practice of eating with sinners, we should not construe it to prohibit doing so.
Paul Teaches We Are Eternally Secure, But Jesus Teaches Insecurity to a Sinning Believer
Another important example is that most evangelicals believe Paul teaches we are eternally secure if we simply believe one time (Romans 8:1; 10:9; Eph. 2:8-9.) Calvinists similarly say salvation can never be lost due to predestination. (Phil. 1:6; Eph. 1:5,13-14; 2 Tim. 1:12; Rom. 8:29.)
However, Jesus is repeatedly warning Christians to feel insecure about their salvation when sinning. All the ‘weeping and gnashing’ parables fit in this category. All the non-parabolic statements about hell fire for misbehavior by “anyone” fit in the same category. “Every tree that lacks good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire.” (Mat.7:19.) “Anyone who says ‘Fool’ is in danger of hell-fire” (Matt. 5:22), etc. Indeed, Paul’s teachings above directly undermine the Lord’s most extreme hyperbole -- repeated three different times. Jesus addresses the apostles as “you”--and says “you” have a choice: you can go to hell whole or heaven maimed. Jesus then explains that entry into heaven is dependent on you bravely cutting off body-parts ensnaring you in sin. (Mark 9:42-47; Matt.5:29-30; 18:6-9.) Jesus means to cut off the temptation and lust for fleshly sins causing "you" -- the apostles in context -- to sin.
Thus, Paul’s message of eternal security in these passages and your inability to fail to reach heaven negates the purpose behind every warning that Jesus gives. Paul thereby directly undermines Jesus’ effort to implore the most urgent need to engage in salvation-restoring repentance.
Paul's View of Justification versus Jesus' View of Justification
When Jesus uses the term “justified,” Jesus links it to repentance from sin. The publican who repents from sin in deep regret goes home “justified.” The Pharisee who does not do so and thinks he has nothing ever to regret, goes home unjustified. (Luke 18:14.)
What does Paul teach instead? Paul says you are “justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.” (Rom. 4:2.) "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5, KJV.) Once that happens, we have “peace with God.” (Rom. 5:1.) Once ‘justified’ in that manner, “we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through him.” (Rom. 5:9.) Paul teaches a manner never to have regret again -- by the mere step of believing -- and you are justified while yet ungodly, i.e., unrepentant from sin. At least, this is how the young Luther and most construe Paul's meaning in Romans 4:5.
Paul Teaches In Original Sin But Jesus Contradicts
Truth Seekers explains:
Paul has managed to contradict Jesus in almost every single area of faith and practice. Jesus says that there is no original sin (Mark 10:13-14) while Paul says there is (Rom. 5:12-14). ("Can Paul Be Trusted")
Jesus' Command About Callling Anyone Fool Is Violated by Paul
Truth Seekers argues:
If you think you are wise by this world's standards, you will have to become a fool so you can become wise by God's standards.” – I Corinthians 3:18 (NLT).
[T]hese statements... contradict Jesus who said: “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool , shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mathew 5:22). According to Jesus, calling someone a fool may make you worthy of Hell yet becoming a fool is a prerequisite of faith according to Paul! Also see Romans 1:22 where Paul calls the Romans “fools.” ("Can Paul Be Trusted.")
Who Should We Follow/Imitate? Paul? or Jesus?
Peter tells us to imitate Christ. The author of Hebrews (Barnabas) likewise says Jesus is our example. But Paul says we are to imitate and follow himself. I am quoting here from "Church Myths -- Church of Christ or Paul" by an anonymous author:
In church do the sheep learn all about Jesus and what He instructs? Not as a rule. They are taught the gospel of Paul and not the gospel of Jesus. Well you may ask what is the difference. Well the main difference is that Jesus was God proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. Jesus was to be our perfect example on how to live, yet Paul in his letters tells us how to live. Jesus told us to follow Him alone, yet Paul says 1Co 4:16 "Wherefore I beseech (beg) you, be ye followers of me." ... It is the Pope of Rome that instructs "his" church to be followers and imitators of himself. As a follower of Christ, I would NEVER tell some one to follow me. We follow Jesus only! Paul says,"Brothers, be imitators together of me, and mark those who walk this way, for you have us for a pattern." Phi 3:17 (Church Myths - Church of Christ or Paul? June 23, 2005 http://www.justgivemethetruth.com reprinted at this link.)
Feed The Poor But Paul Puts Up Barriers
I am quoting here from "Church Myths -- Church of Christ or Paul" by an anonymous author:
What Jesus taught and what Paul taught was two different things. Here is a few quick example. Jesus instructs us to feed the poor. Paul says, "For even when we were with you we gave you orders, saying, If any man does no work, let him not have food. For it has come to our ears that there are some among you whose behavior is uncontrolled, who do no work at all, but are over-interested in the business of others."2Th 3:10 Jesus said to feed the poor. He did not say feed the poor unless they are over interested in other people's business. This is what Paul does. He pontificates endless rules of conduct, yet from the other side of his mouth he says we are free in Christ? (Church Myths - Church of Christ or Paul? June 23, 2005 http://www.justgivemethetruth.com reprinted at this link.)
Incidentally, Bouck White -a defender of Jesus' words above Paul's - in The Call of the Carpenter (1911) at page 238 criticizes the morality of 2 The 3:10 as follows: "Even his no-work-no-eat doctrine was directed by him only against the poor. All around him were the rich, virginally innocent of toil, and yet who were gorged to the gullet. Paul sharpens no dagger of invective for these."
Faith Alone Or Obedience to Christ?
I am quoting here from "Church Myths -- Church of Christ or Paul" by an anonymous author:
Paul paints a picture of us being free from the law because of Jesus' sacrifice. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus came to fulfill the law and to empower us with His Holy Spirit so that we can keep the law. Yet Paul says, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds (works) of the law." Rom 3:28 Elsewhere he states that God "...imputes righteousness without works." Rom 4:6 Paul is saying here that salvation is through faith alone and that we do not need works such as works repentance and works of righteousness. Jesus says, "And why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?" Luk 6:46 (Church Myths - Church of Christ or Paul? June 23, 2005 http://www.justgivemethetruth.com reprinted at this link.)
Paul Denies Obedience Grants Any Righteousness Unto Life, But Jesus Says It Does
Paul says that "if there HAD been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." (Gal 3:21). This tells me that Paul believed that no such Law ever existed that could give eternal life. This is in direct contradiction with Jesus; "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." (Mat 19:17) [Contributed by David B. 12/3/2011]
Saul preached that the law cannot justify or make man righteous before God:
Ro 3:20 - Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Ro 4:15 - Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Ga 2:16 - Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Ga 3:11 - But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
In contrast, the Lord affirmed the law, came to fulfill his part in it, and exhorted his hearers to obey it. Thus:
Mt 5:17 - Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mt 7:12 - Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
And the Lord added that, beyond or on top of the life that the law gives, he offers perfection to those who would follow him. Thus:
Mt 19:16 - And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
In summary, Paul’s gospel says: Never mind the law; just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are saved. Thus many believers disregard the Ten Commandments without feeling guilty, believing that they have been saved by faith in Christ, and that once saved, always saved. But if they cannot enter life, how can they go to perfection?
But the Lord’s gospel says: Obey the law and enter life, then achieve perfection by following him. Faith in him makes easier entry to life and achievement of perfection, because the Holy Spirit puts and writes the law in our minds and hearts. But the Holy Spirit does not dwell in unclean vessels. The correct sequence therefore is: Repent, forgive, believe in Christ, be baptized, and the Holy Spirit will indwell us and lead us to life (by obeying the Law) and perfection (by following Christ in agape love).
Paul quoted from Psalm 14 and used a tiny truncated phrase to make a huge generalization to set aside the Law. Fully read, Psalm 14 clearly states that while none is righteous among the fools and children of iniquity, God always has a righteous generation who keep the Law. [Messenger 2006.]
Jesus Sends The Apostles to Baptize, But Paul Says Jesus Did Not Send Him to Baptize
1 Corinthians 1:17
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [The last sayings of Jesus to the eleven Apostles after resurrection]
From Why Jesus' and Paul's Teachings Differ (1/27/2013)
Pleasing To All Men: A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
Paul says: "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." 1 Cor. 10:33 (KJV)
Contrast what Jesus says about winning over all men so they speak well of you:
'Woe to you when all men shall speak well of you -- for according to these things were their fathers doing to false prophets." (Luke 6:26 YLT)
Then Paul later contradicts himself, implying that what he says in 1 Cor. 10:33 proves he is not serving Christ. Good luck to the Paulinists to unravel this:
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10 NIV)
Source: "Apostle Paul - Contradictions," YouTube 2010 (Feeding the 144000) at 2 min 20 sec mark
Jesus Says Merciful Receive Mercy, But Paul Says Only Those God Chooses Arbitrarily Will Receive Mercy
(From Edgar Jones' Paul v. Jesus: A List of Incompatible Statements)
On whom God has mercy:
Rom.9 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."  So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy.  So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills.
Matt.5 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Paul Says Salvation Does Not Depend Upon Exertion, But Jesus Says It Does
(From Edgar Jones' Paul v. Jesus: A List of Incompatible Statements)
On unconditional election:
 So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy.
Matt.7 Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'  And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.
Jesus Says The Law Cannot Justify A Blasphemer But Paul Says It Can
Jesus speaks of the unpardonable sin of blaspheming (insulting God) which is the only sin God says the violator "will not be held guiltless." (Exodus 20:7). This was a sin that could thus never be justified under the Law given Moses. However, Paul says by faith in Christ we are "justified of all things one could not be justified under the Law of Moses." Paul's words on this change in principles necessarily only can apply as a change to the consequences of blasphemy in Exodus 20:7. There is no doubt on Paul's view. Paul cites himself as an example of a blasphemer who received "mercy." (1 Tim 1:13 NIV.) So we have a flat contradiction: Paul says the sin one could never be justified / forgiven under the Law given Moses can now be pardoned while Jesus, referring to the same sin, said it was unpardonable. For a full discussion, see Did Paul Contradict Jesus on the Unpardonable Sin of Blasphemy?
Jesus Four Times Teaches Grace (Charis) Is By Exceeding Lukewarm Works That Sinners Find Easy to Do
Jesus in Luke four times uses the word Grace. But you would never know this based upon modern mistranslations of this word as "benefit," "credit," etc. Why? Because otherwise you would see the clear contradiction between Paul and Jesus. Just as Jesus taught that lukewarm works by a Christian will cause Jesus to spew you out of his mouth, Jesus in Luke says that we must exceed what sinners would do as good works, such as doing good to those who love you; lending to those who can repay, etc. Jesus wanted exceptional works that have a higher aim than doing the minimal, but instead to go higher (be "hot" in Rev. 3:16) to please God. Paul teaches the opposite -- that doing such works risks boasting. Thus, Paul set the standard of receiving God's grace (God's favor) so it never can be based upon any degree of works at all. Please see Grace and Favor in the Bible.
Jesus Resurrected & Ascended into Heaven in Flesh, But Paul Says It Cannot Happen
Jesus showed Thomas his nail holes. Jesus had flesh before He ascended. Jesus the Man inherited life eternal, and gave us the right by obeying him to become "sons of God" too, with the same privilege of resurrection. Jesus promised those who keep listening / following that He will resurrect our bodies on the last day -- while our spirits go immediately to heaven upon death.
However, Paul says our souls sleep, and a body that goes to heaven is one that is "changed," and no longer "flesh." Paul says -- contrary to Jesus' own experience where Jesus in the flesh inherited heaven and ascended there -- that "flesh" cannot inherit eternal life. Paul's view of our death and resurrection is totally at odds with the view of Jesus. See Our Bodies on Ascension.
Extra Material: Paul's Contradictions of Yahweh in Original Testament
God Will Not Justify Ungodly But Paul Says He Does
"I will not justify the ungodly." (Exodus 23:7, KJV, ASV.)
"He that justifieth the ungodly ...[is] an abomination to Yahweh." (Proverbs 17:15.)
But Paul says:
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5, KJV.)
(Paul in context is relying upon a mistranslation of Genesis 15:6 from 257 BC in the Septuagint Greek translation. Link.)
In context, all mainstream scholars concur Paul means God justified Abraham before Abraham repented of unrighteousness. Unlike Exodus and Proverbs quoted above, Paul in Romans 4:3-6 intends us to understand that by faith alone, i.e., believing God, as did Abraham which was that he would have a child through Sarah in his old age [Gen. 15:5-6], while we are ungodly, we are supposedly justified. This is why all mainstream scholars say Paul taught justification without repentance from sin, but based upon faith alone.
However, in Ezekiel we learn that only upon repentance including turning from evil did the ungodly become godly again and receive life (i.e., eternal life) and hence were justified.
14Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
15If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
16None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 33:14-16.)
Likewise, Jesus teaches justification is solely by repentance from sin in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The one who went home "justified" is the one who beat his breast and asked God to be "merciful to me, a sinner," but the Pharisee (who believed in Yahweh) was smug that he had not sinned and went home unjustified. See Luke 18:9-14.
Paul Delivers A Slave Back to His Master, Contrary to Scripture
While in prison, Paul met a runaway slave, Onesimus, the property of a Christian -- presumably Philemon. Paul sent the slave back to his owner. This action is forbidden in Deuteronomy 23:15-16:
"Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee."
"He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him."
Rather than give the slave sanctuary, Paul returned him to his owner. Paul seems to hint that he would like Philemon to give Onesimus his freedom, but does not actually request it.
Paul Says Jesus is An Image of God in Violation of First Commandment
Paul in the same passage that he says Jesus is a created being -- "the first-born of creation" -- says Jesus is an "image of God." (Col. 2:15.) This is a violation of the first commandment which prohibits using a creature (as Paul viewed Jesus) as an image of God. See our webpage article. This also contradicts Paul's own condemnation of those who exchange God for the "image of corruptible man" in Romans 1:23: "And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man...."
How can one reconcile these statements? Even though Jesus was sinless, he did come in human flesh (sarx in Greek). Apostle John even says that anyone denying Jesus came in human flesh is the Anti-Christ. See 2 John 1:17. So Jesus came in corruptible flesh, but Jesus resisted temptation, even as the epistle writer of Hebrews says: Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are but did not sin. The only way Paul can justify Col 2:15 and Romans 1:23 is that Jesus did not come in corruptible flesh, and thus can be "an image of God" but if Jesus came in corruptible flesh, Jesus could not be the image of God. Then it logically follows that Paul believed Jesus did not come in corruptible flesh - Jesus did not have true human flesh. OK, Paul if you say so. But that leaves only one conclusion: you must be teaching Jesus did not come in human flesh. What did Apostle John say in 2 John 1:17? Then who was the Jesus whom Paul met outside Damascus?
Paul Says Rulers of This World Are God's Agents In Violation of Holy Scripture
Not only does Paul contradict Jesus in this doctrine, Paul also violates passages in the Original Testament. See our webpage.
Paul's Contradictions of Himself
1. 'Resurrection At Baptism' - Oops! 'I Meant Resurrection Has Not Yet Happened!'
Paul in 2 Timothy 2:18 condemns heretics who claim "The resurrection has already taken place."
One commentator points out the heretics had reasonable support in the words of Paul for the very same thing which Paul condemns in 2 Tim. 2:18:
Concerning the resurrection, Paul’s baptismal theology might be seen to imply that the believer has risen with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6; Col. 2). Concerning the body, Paul had said that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor.15:50). In other words: could not the heretics attacked in the Pastorals claim Paul’s support for their doctrines? There is, in fact, a distinct possibility that they did so. (Oskar Skarsaune, “Heresy and the Pastoral Epistles,” Themelios 20.1 (October 1994): 9-14, at 10 available in PDF at this link.)
Skarsaune cites in support several scholars who construct the arguments of condemned groups who relied upon Paul's words for this very doctrine that the resurrection of Christians already has happened:
Elaine Pagels, ‘“The mystery of the resurrection”: A Gnostic reading of 1 Corinthians 15’, JBL 93 (1974), pp. 276-288; idem, The Gnostic Paul. Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters (1975); and the wise cautions in A. Lindemann, Paulus im ältesten Christentum. Das Bild des Apostels and die Reception der paulinischen Theologie in der frühchristlichen Literatur bis Marcion (Beiträge zur hist. Theol. 58, Tübingen, 1979), pp. 297-343.
2. 'Circumcision Will Cause Christ No Longer To Benefit You Unless I Arrange For You To Be Circumcised'
Paul was willing to appear he and his closest followers were outwardly righteous but inwardly Paul did not believe in the necessity of any external action performed to appear righteous.
For example, as to Timothy’s circumcision, Luke records:
“Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him.” (Acts16:3)
But elsewhere Paul says: “I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole Law” (Gal5:2).
So was Timothy now obligated to keep the whole Law? Or did Timothy and Paul participate in a hypocritical show of obedience to the Law just like the Pharisees whom Jesus condemned for exactly the same behavior?
3. 'We Are Released From The Law But We Also Uphold The Law'
An identical self-contradiction in Paul arises relating to Paul's view of the Law.
“But now we are released from the Law.. we serve not under the old written code but under the new life of the Spirit” (Romans7:6).
Compare this with
“Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law!” (Romans 3:31).
Which way is it?
4. 'Outer Cup Clean Is Enough Even Though I Do Not Have To Obey The Law'
We see Paul's willingness to mold himself to whomever he wishes to win over rather than have a non-hypocritical integrity.
Listen to this next quote. As you do, keep in mind what Jesus said about Pharisees like Paul who wash the outside of the cup but inwardly do not have the heart that follows their actions -- they are hypocrites. Paul says he is ‘all things to all men’ in this passage:
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might save some.” 1Cor9:20+.
With this hypocritical strategy, Jesus said the Pharisees could not save anyone, i.e., could not lead anyone to God. Instead, Jesus said their followers would become twice the sons of hell (Matt. 23:15) as the hypocritical teachers who taught like Paul explicitly does.
4. Your Faith Alone Saves You Unless You Married A Believer Whose Faith Saves You, Or Your Parent Believed But You Did Not
Paul teaches faith alone in Romans 4:3-5 -- he who "works not," but "believes," then his faith is accounted to him as righteousness. But is there another path? By family relations with one who has faith and is saved? Contradicting faith alone, Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 10:13-14 as follows:
13 And if any woman has an unbelieving husband and this one consents to dwell with her, let her not leave her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified[c] by his wife. And the unbelieving wife has been sanctified by the brother. Otherwise then your children are unclean, but now[d] they are holy. (1 Cor. 10:7-14 DLNT.)
Thus, your unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the belief of the other spouse. The unbelieving child is sanctified by the parent's faith. This contradicts the notion of faith alone.
Paul makes a similar statement in 1 Tim. 2:15 that the belief (and works) of a child saves its parent:
"Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.“ (1 Tm 2:15 KJV)
"But she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." (1 Tim 2:15 NIV)
As one Nigerian pastor puts it: "This is a most bizarre doctrine of salvation."
Literally, Paul says a woman shall be saved by giving birth to children if they continue in faith, love, holiness, etc. Whether she is saved or not from her own faith is not mentioned. Rather, it is the faith and works of her children that saves her. This thus is a second contradiction of the faith alone doctrine by Paul. And it is as equally bizarre as his view in 1 Corinthians 10:7-14.
5. Bearing Burdens of Others or Just You of Yourself
This is a clear self-contradiction by Paul that has no explanation:
2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2 NIV)
5 For every man shall bear his own burden. (Gal 6:5.)
So am I supposed to bear your burden, and you mine, or each of us is to bear our own burden?
By the way, the true God teaches neither is correct. Instead:
“Cast your burden on the Lord–and He will sustain you.”
Peter talks likewise:
“Cast all your cares upon Him–because He cares about you!”
1 Peter 5:7
A Real Life Example of Pauline Use of This Admitted Contradiction - 2015.
A core-leader of a church in Southern California recently came to our small group meeting and used this contradiction as proof that the church is free NOT to help a poor person financially in a health emergency.
We were struggling with whether it was right or wrong to help with a health-related emergency of an AIDS victim. She had been in and out of hospitals all week, collapsing at home, and was rushed to the hospital by people responding to her phone requests to take her to the hospital.
But now after returning home, she realized that due to her many visits to the hospital that she had lost track that her cell minutes needed recharging. Her minutes would expire on a Friday night. Without an emergency replenishment -- and she had no money or way to travel to get the replenishment -- she would be home alone over a weekend with no way to call for help if she collapsed again.
So my wife paid her phone minutes to cover the weekend and more. This led to the head of the HIV-AIDS ministry of the church to come to meet with our small group to review the "rules" of care-giving for AIDS victims. This leader actually cited the contradiction in Paul's words above as proof that sometimes it is right to help and sometimes wrong to help the poor.
She quoted Paul: "We are to bear our own burden" and "We are to bear each other's burdens." Then the HIV-AIDS appointed leader, "that is a contradiction, isn't it?" My wife and I exchanged knowing glances of disbelief. Then the AIDS ministry head concluded that this means we have to sometimes make a hard choice not to bear another's burden, and force them to bear it alone.
But what about a health emergency? To this, we were instructed that there is no exception to the care-giving rules -- no personal money can be spent to help even with a health emergency without first calling the head of the HIV-AIDS ministry (this very nice lady) for permission. Whether this is right or wrong is not the point. Rather, the point is that Pauline thinking allows one to rely upon Paul's recognized self-contradictions so we get to pick and choose which side of a contradiction we will follow.
This example proves that Paul's self-contradictions have real-world impact upon the health and safety of this AIDS victim, as well as likely if many others. What degradation has the church of Christ fallen when Jesus' commands to feed, clothe, and heal the sick are relaxed by such nonsense found in Paul's own writings.
While Paul may say some things worthy of praise, Paul is fraught with contradictions of Jesus, the Original Testament, and with his own self! Paul could not be a true inspired individual in every word he spoke, and thus we have erred treating Paul's words in that manner.
Links to Other Websites:
"Paul Contradicts Jesus" (Voice of Jesus)
"Are Paul's Writings Faultless" (Jesus Families) [good presentation of quotes that Paul wanted believers to submit to himself, not Jesus as Lord, etc.]
Does Paul Materially Misquote the Communion Liturgy Jesus Gave?
No, But This Apparent Contradiction Offers Proof Paulinists Put Paul Beyond Any Proof Against Him
As you know, the Psalmist prophesied not one bone of Jesus' would be broken, which the Gospel of John mentions was fulfilled when the soldiers decided not to break Jesus' legs. See John 19:36 ("These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken,")
But Paul in the King James version of 1 Cor. 11:24 says to the contrary that Jesus claimed His body was to be "broken," and in doing so, Paul would appear to materially misquote Jesus' communion words from Matthew 26:26 and Luke 22:19.
In 1 Cor. 11:24, Paul in the King James quotes Jesus saying "this is my body broken for you." (KJV, Aramaic, King James 2000, American King James, Websters, Weymouth, World English, Young's Literal).
However, many translations do not have "broken." See Biblios 1 Cor. 11:24.
So the following translations only say "my body is for you" -- NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, God's Word, Darby. There are some variants that support this, which I will discuss in a moment. But what is most interesting to see is how Paulinists of the past who are believers in the Textus Receptus upon which the KJV is based, explained away the contradiction. They were apparently unaware that any textual variant offered an escape.
So this led to humorous but also tragic arguments by Paulinists. They claim Jesus supposedly spoke directly to Paul to correct Matthew!!!! So Barnes, without telling us precisely what is the difference, writes:
And when he had given thanks - See the note on Matthew 26:26. Matthew reads it, "and blessed it." The words used here are, however, substantially the same as there; and this fact shows that since this was communicated to Paul "directly" by the Saviour, and in a manner distinct from that by which Matthew learned the mode of the institution, the Saviour designed that the exact form of the words should be used in its observance, and should thus be constantly borne in mind by his people. (See "Barnes' Notes on the Bible at Biblios on 1 Cor. 11:24.)
Other commentators unwilling to engage in such absurd elevation of Paul over Matthew realize Paul directly contradicts Luke whose words are "given" not broken. So they try to reconcile Paul to the Gospel's claim that none of Jesus' bones were broken:
broken for you; for though a bone of him was not broken, but inasmuch as his skin and flesh were torn and broken by blows with rods and fists, by whippings and scourgings, by thorns, nails, and spear; and body and soul were torn asunder, or divided from each other by death; (Gill's Exposition Biblios on 1 Cor. 11:24.)
So to save Paul from contradiction, Paulinists who accept the KJV's manuscript source insist either (a) Matthew got it wrong / incomplete, and Jesus had to talk to Paul to get it right, or (b) that Jesus did say his "body was broken" but this just meant broken skin or the separation of his spirit from his body. When you see how strained and strange are the efforts at reconciliation, one can see how wed Paulinists are to their hero.
But alas, the "broken" text relied upon in the KJV is likely a mistake in transmission. Paul did not likely contradict Christ in this passage. So please scratch this from your list of possible contradictions.
First, what Jesus' truly said in Matthew 26:26-27 was:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Luke fills in a little more detail at direct odds with the KJV text for Paul:
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19.)
Jesus did not say, and could not possibly have said, as John 19:36 confirms, what Paul per the KJV attributes to Jesus: "This is my body broken for you."
So what is the truthful answer? Is this another contradiction? No.
Many translations do not have "broken" unlike the KJV. See Biblios 1 Cor. 11:24. So the following translations only say Paul quotes the liturgy as "my body is for you" -- NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, God's Word, Darby. There are some legitimate variants of 1 Cor. 11:24 that support this: see this list. It explains:
TEXT: "This is my body which is for plyou."
EVIDENCE: p46 S* A B C* 33 1739*
TRANSLATIONS: ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
For example P 46 means Papyrus 46. This papyrus indeed has coverage of 1 Cor. 11. And it dates from 175-225 AD. ("Papyrus 46," Wikipedia.) The S* is the oldest complete NT from 340 AD - the Sinaiticus.
Let's compare this with the sources for "broken" for you:
NOTES: "This is my body which is broken for plyou."
EVIDENCE: Sc C3 Db,c G K P Psi 81 104 614 630 1241 1739 margin 1881 2495 Byz Lect three lat syr(p,h)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASVn RSVn NASVn
The keys to abbreviations such as this are at this site. The Sc is a "corrector" of the Sinaiticus, so it comes later than the earlier Sinaiticus. The C3 is Ephraemi Rescriptus from the 5th Century. Psi and all numbered manuscripts are from 5th Century forward. Thus, Papyrus 46 must be deemed the best and most original, confirmed by the Sinaiticus.
So while Paul is not guilty of a contradiction here, Paulinists are exposed that they would even invent that Paul had Jesus tell him words missing in the gospels to save Paul while ignoring and explaining away "broken" to absurd lengths. In other words, there are no limits to what they won't say to defend Paul, even if it means to deprecate the plenary inspiration of Apostle Matthew.
A Contradiction Created By Excessively Loose Translation
Jesus Says Only God Is Your Spiritual Father, and Call No Man on Earth Your Father, But Does Paul Says He Is The Corinthians' Only Spiritual Father?
and ye may not call [any] your father on the earth, for one is your Father, who is in the heavens, (Matt. 23:9 YLT)
But Paul supposedly says:
For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. (1 Cor. 4:15, NLT) Cf. Weymouth, World English, God's Word, ISV, Holman, NAS, ESV, NIV (all "your father").
But if you look at the Greek, it solely says "I have begotten thee" through the gospel. Paul in no Greek version of this text says "I became your father...." Take a look at the Greek text tab at Bible Hub for this passage.
A correspondent wrote me, saying the NIV "I became your father" was supposedly based upon a corrupt Westcott Hort Greek compiled text. However, my correspondent was assuming Westcott had such Greek, but Bible Hub which shows the Westcott Hort text proves this was not true. Instead the NIV and all the translations listed above improperly added something - "I became your father...." It truly was "I have begotten thee...."
The KJV has this right:
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. KJV.
Now perhaps a role of 'father' was implied, but since it is not expressed, and would contradict Christ if expressed, we should not translate a text by adding words not present.
It seems that modern ethics about translation are so low that one must verify the text against the original Greek when one least suspects that is a concern. Hence, this is not a true contradiction between Jesus and Paul.
I had this as a contradiction before my correspondent challenged the conflict. Even though he was assuming incorrectly that it was due to a competing variant in the Westcott Hort Greek compilation, it still opened up the issue which proves the "father" in 1 Cor. 4:15 was simply an excessively loose translation.
Incidentally, Jesus' likely primary point about "call no man father" was He intended that people stop venerating Abraham, calling him "Father Abraham" in place of "Our Father" in heaven. Jesus makes this subtle point in a parable about one in hell who called out to "Father Abraham" in a prayer rather than to God Himself. (Luke 16:24.)
In that light, then it is significant Paul violates Jesus' words when Paul refers to "Abraham is the father of us all." (Romans 4:16.) Only "Our Father" in heaven is the "father of us all." To exalt Abraham to that level, Jesus intended us to understand, is idolatry - putting Abraham on the same level as God. Jesus wants to call no one father in that venerating sense.