Paul's Misunderstands and Defectively Explains Jesus' Teaching
Paul in his epistles never clearly quotes Jesus except the words of Christ at the last supper. (Paul only one other time expressly quotes the Lord but Paulinists refuse it validity. For the Lord, Paul says in 1 Cor 12:7, refused to release him from an affliction by an angel of Satan after three requests, justifying his refusal by saying "my grace is sufficient for thee." Because this implies our Lord left Paul under demonic influence, Paul-defenders say this passage somehow is garbled and cannot be what Paul meant. See link)
There is actually one more possible exception where Paul is alluding to Jesus' words. It is rarely explained because how poorly Paul botched the quotation of Jesus and, more fundamentally, how Paul misapplied Jesus' point to a conclusion opposite of Jesus.
These passages can be found in Romans 13:8-10 and Gal. 5:14.
Paulinists rely upon these passages to teach Christians that we do not have obey the Law. The Paulinists say these passages refute the idea that Matt. 5:17-19 tells us to follow the Law. See the pro-Paul article "As we go to the epistles [of Paul] we find a completely different story."
In that article, the Paulinist claims the Law per Paul is widdled down to just one basic principle, with no specifics any longer applicable. Forget the specific rules, Paul says in effect, and just keep these generalities in mind, and you are just fine. That is, implicitly, specific rules like Sabbath, are just too much detail, and does not match the generalities that solely we must keep in mind.
In Rom. 13:8-10, we read: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment [e.g., Sabbath?], are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
In Galatians, Paul repeated the Law is summed up in just one command (not two): "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14).
First of all, Paul is obviously paraphrasing Jesus but does a terrible job of it.
In Matthew 22:36-40, we read: “Then a lawyer asked our Lord Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus' answer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Here we find Jesus says the second important command is just like the first, because upon it with the first hangs the Law. But the first is the "great commandment" and comes first and has priority over the second.
This first one is found in Deut.6:5, and the second one is from Lev.19:18 which is within the moral section of the Law.
Notice Jesus said the Law hung on two laws -- both Deut. 6:25 and Lev. 19:18. When Paul states a similar principle, he omits that it hangs also upon the Love of God addressed in Deut. 6:25. A major omission, and not slight at all.
The Paulinist typically reads Paul to mean the Law is now reduced to moral platitudes -- this single principle from the Law -- and all the specifics are abrogated.
Is it true that now the Law's specifics which this single command to love one's neighbor supports are null and void? The Paulinist insists Paul implies we do not have to think about the specifics of the Law (like Sabbath) beyond this single generality. Just focus on the big single principle to love thy neighbor, and obey it, and you supposedly owe nothing else -- a principle itself crippled by not adding that Jesus said the more important command is 'love the Lord God with your whole mind, heart and soul."
Paul is wrong. Yet, Paulinists insist Paul is right, claiming the very gospel which Jesus is obviously defending (i.e., the Law is valid and continues, e.g., Matt. 5:17-19) is "another gospel." The Paulinist article quoted above continues:
The idea of keeping the Law, with its seventh-day observance, alongside Christ, is what prompted the apostle Paul to address this type of practice as another gospel that developed in the early church. “Ye observe days, and months and time and years. I am afraid of you lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Gal. 4: 9-10). Compare this teaching to the Gospel that Paul says we are to stand in 1 Cor.15:1-4 which he also states unless you believed in vain. Id.
This Paulinist is right in one sense: he does not want to see his error, but indeed Jesus' teaching is another gospel than the one this Paulinist defends. Jesus' gospel is this gospel that Paul is unwittingly condemning because Paul misunderstands Jesus' point. By Jesus saying the Law hung on 2 principles from Deuteronomy and Leviticus respectively--as overarching principles and rationales for all the rest, Jesus was not abrogating anything.
Jesus is not expressing any intent to spell the end of the rest of the Law which are logically supported by the first two principles. Rather, Jesus is saying all the Law hangs on two principles. He means these two laws provide the rationale for all the Law's other principles.
Jesus clearly means that if you took these top two commands away, and declared them void, all the Law would fall. The Law thus has one component of loving God and the other loving Man. Take either away, and the Law is crippled. Take both away, and Torah is nullified. One who claims just one of these two principles is all one needs to study and obey, as Paul evidently is saying, misunderstands entirely the point of Jesus. The root principle of every command in the Law derives from one of the top two principles. Far from abrogating anything but the top two or, as Paul does, reducing it to only loving one's neighbor, Jesus is explaining the Law fits together in a seemless whole, integrated by two over-arching principles that BEGIN IN THE HEART.
What is Jesus' point?
Jesus is advocating the Law be written on the heart, and START with one or the two motivating principles stated in either Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Jesus does not want us to obey the Letter without following the Spirit of the Law. This lesson is far from the implication which Paulinists see that Paul teaches in Romans 13 and Galatians 5 -- you supposedly can ignore the letter of the Law entirely.
In other words, the Paulinist, following their leader Paul, sees this truncated explanation in Paul's epistles as an abrogation of the Law. Indeed, that would be a very different gospel than what Jesus taught. And that abrogation began by Paul lopping off the love of God as an important principle -- a poor re-teaching of what Jesus taught.
Is Paul A Qualified Teacher of Jesus' Principles?
Would any pastor today who summarized Jesus' teaching, and left off the Love of God as the first and great commandment be deemed competent? I don't think so.
And would the point of such a pastor that the specifics of the Law other than the single principle to love one's neighbor are safely ignored be deemed a sensible interpretation of Jesus? I think not.
It is obvious Paul had misunderstood Jesus besides misquoting Him in explaining this passage. Instead, our Lord Jesus was teaching the heart-principle is what the Law wants first and foremost -- love of God and love of man -- and if you see that, then all the Law makes sense and requires obedience with that LOVING SPIRIT, and not with a ritualistic focus on the specifics with a heart far from God.
Paul proves again to be a poor disciple of Christ. His explanations are so reckless and loose that his explanations undermine if not contradict our Lord Jesus. To this very day, as the Paulinist article quoted above demonstrates, Paul is used to undermine important principles of Jesus. In fact, Paul fails to continue the command Jesus emphasized -- the first command upon which hangs the Law is the love of God. Paul is a dangerous teacher in the midst of the church--a tare to say the least.