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Should we venerate the Apostle Paul?

Paul the apostle wrote a great deal of the New Testament, 13 out of 27 books. Other than Jesus himself, he is the most influential person upon church doctrine. However, there is a problem with Paul, and I want to share this concern with you for your prayerful consideration.

For most, the Apostle Paul is above critical evaluation. He is, “The Apostle” which is most influential in doctrinal matters concerning New Testament church teaching. Whatever he writes is sound doctrine, and one need only to emulate him to serve God.

However, I believe that this over dependence on Paul’s teachings has three detrimental effects on the church as a whole.

  1. Paul becomes the glass ceiling above which no believer can progress
  2. Elevating Paul’s writings to the status of holy writ locks us into a way of thinking and a period of history that no longer exists.
  3. Paul’s doctrines allow present day clergy to exert an amazing amount of control over God’s people, even to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit Himself.

Paul, like every believer, was just human

However, though the apostle Paul was the instrument chosen by Jesus in the first century to spread the gospel, he was a specific tool for a specific time. The over generalization of Paul’s teachings and their elevation to scripture on a par with the gospels and the Old Testament has been detrimental to the development of Christianity as a whole.

Most people apply Paul’s teaching to varying degrees according to what they believe is relevant. Some, who strive to emulate his teachings exactly, wear head coverings, do not allow women to teach, etc. Others believe that celibacy is a higher and more holy calling, based again, on Paul’s precepts.

A more Spirit-led approach to the apostle Paul

What I suggest is that we adopt a more reasoned and Spirit-led view of Paul and his contributions to theology. Let us understand that he was the way God worked in that time among Jews and Gentiles of the first century. He was extreme, because he needed to be extreme in order to spread the gospel in a Roman world. However, let us also understand that he was a work in progress and never attained the perfection that he wrote about in Ephesians 4. He struggled with sin just like anyone else does. God had to help him resist pride in the amount of revelation he received. He disputed with Barnabas and parted ways. He forgot stuff at Troas. In other words, he was a man just like any other man whom God singled out for a great work.

In our day and age, let us restore the supremacy of the Holy Spirit to the church. Let us come out from under the yoke of the second law, which is church doctrine, into the sunshine of God’s divine voice and leading. If we are to restore anything from the first century, let us emulate their willingness to hear new and exciting truths from His Spirit. Become, once again, explorers of the faith and not merely defenders of old and stale doctrines that served people 2000 years ago.


Oceans by Hillsong United