Ep.1111: Does the Apostle Paul Contradict Himself? (Part I): Contradictions Series
Examining several supposed self-contradicting statements by Paul
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Theme Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:33
The Apostle Paul is a Christian icon. He essentially wrote half of the New Testament as he carried the gospel far and wide. He suffered dramatically for his faith, was challenged regularly by those in authority and even stood up to the Apostle Peter when it was needed. When you read his words, you cannot help but see his love for God and undying devotion to Jesus. With all of the good he did, there are many who 2,000 years later claim he was a self-absorbed, self-contradictory man. They make lists of the things he said and wrote and seem to relish in his apparent instability. Did the Apostle Paul contradict himself? Did he say different things to different people just to gain their favor? The only way to find out is to examine the accusations one at a time!
Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there. Suddenly his journey was interrupted by a blindingly bright visit from the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The exchange Saul had with the mighty risen Lord completely changed his life. Saul would soon be known as Paul. He would become the Apostle to the Gentiles. This simple story is surrounded by controversy. Aside from the challenges to prove what happened, the hardest skepticism comes from the telling of the story itself. This is just the beginning of the many inconsistencies people say overshadow the authenticity of Paul’s Christian life.
Inconsistencies or details with an easy explanation?
The account of Paul’s conversion appears three times in the book of Acts. The first telling is more or less an historical recounting. The other two were a record of Paul’s own telling. The problem is in the details. The three accounts seem to blatantly contradict each other with important details. Did everyone journeying with him fall to the ground when this light appeared, or was it just Paul? The skeptics say that depends on which version you read. Did everyone hear the voice of Jesus or just Paul? Again, they say it depends on which story you read. The critics' points are well taken. Because the story of Paul’s conversion can be so easily called into question, the truthfulness of his Christian life is questionable as well.
Did Paul make it up as he went along?
This is only the beginning. Was Paul a people pleaser or a true servant of Christ? Was he a deceitful or an honest minister? Those who have written him off boldly claim that these and other accusations can be proven by Paul’s own words! Can they? Are these inconsistencies proof of a great deception?
Check out our February 03, 2020 podcast, “Does the Apostle Paul Contradict Himself? (Part 1) for more. We carefully and methodically take each of these accusations apart to see what they are made of. We look into context, definitions and the several other factors for various Apostle Paul contradictions. There are answers. They are logical, and they are harmonious. Take this journey with us and then head over to Part II for more.