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Ep.1114: Did the Apostle Paul Contradict Jesus? Contradiction Series

Decoding Jesus' treatment of the Law through the words of Paul

Did the Apostle Paul Contradict Jesus? Contradiction Series

Theme Scripture: Matthew 5:17

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There is no denying the New Testament - and actually the entire Bible - is all about Jesus. His sacrifice for humanity is proclaimed from Genesis to Revelation. He IS the key to the gospel. Having said this, the life and writings of the Apostle Paul dominate much of the New Testament. His experiences and teachings are pronounced, and in the eyes of many, go too far. Critics see the Apostle Paul as a combatant against the gospel of the kingdom Jesus taught. The basis for their criticism is the way Jesus reflected the role of the Jewish Law and the way that Paul essentially wrote it off. How do we manage this? Was Paul at odds with the core values and teaching of Jesus?

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Jesus vs. Paul?

One of the big debates in the early church raging on even today is whether or not Paul threw out the Jewish Law that Jesus not only followed but confirmed in Luke 16:17: "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail." Critics argue that Jesus never said Christians DON'T have to fall in line under the Law's many requirements. On the other hand, Paul was clear that the new Gentile converts would NOT be subject to all the Law's requirements like circumcision and food restrictions. Who was right? Aren't we all taught that at least the 10 Commandments are valid in their admonitions to love God, love our neighbor and so forth?

Moral - Ceremonial - Judicial

The key to cracking this case is understanding that the Jewish Law was divided into three parts:  moral, ceremonial and judicial. The moral law of love, as expressed in the 10 Commandments, will never be replaced. It remained in play for both Jew and Gentile. In God’s future kingdom, it will stand as a beautiful requirement for all of mankind.

Shadow vs. Reality

Not only did the ceremonial parts had to do with cleanliness of people and food, but also how the Israelites atoned for their sins with sacrifices. Special sacrifices were required year after year in order to temporarily “cleanse” them of sins. This allowed a relationship with the heavenly Father to continue as long as the people remained in that clean state. These are recorded in great detail in the Old Testament. In hindsight, we see these foreshadowed the monumental sacrifice of Jesus that allowed the early Christians to have a relationship with God. This applies to Christians throughout the age - right down to you and me. The comparison between the “shadow” of the literal ceremonial events with how Jesus fulfilled them as the reality of the shadow is striking and faith-inspiring. Paul explains in many texts how Jesus replaced this part of the Law.

After Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, the ceremonial parts of the Law were no longer necessary to have a relationship with God. (And they were completely obsolete after the Temple burned down in 70 A.D.!) What about the judicial parts of the Law? These had to do with pronouncing and administering the consequences to breaking the Law. But with the ceremonial parts obsolete, the judicial part would necessarily shift to personal responsibility of how we are judged and how we judge others. On this point, it is easy to show how Jesus and Paul agreed.

Christianity was not to be a sect of Judaism. Jesus’ death and resurrection changed everything – except the fundamental law of LOVE. Listen to our podcast from February 24, 2020 called, “Did the Apostle Paul Contradict Jesus?” It is the last of our four-part series on the Apostle Paul and really brings the details of the controversy front and center. Paul lived, breathed and taught Jesus and the gospel 24/7. He devoted his life to being a faithful steward. What an example for all of us!

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Comment(1)

  1. The message of the cross is that the born again person is
    justified by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ crucified,
    what He accomplished for us on the cross. And that the only
    way to truly be righteous is by faith in Jesus Christ
    crucified. Sin can only truly be overcome, not by self will,
    but by daily putting faith in Jesus Christ crucified.

    But that no man is Justified by the Law in the sight of God,
    it is evident (because it is impossible for man to perfectly
    keep the Law): for, the just shall live by Faith (Faith in
    Jesus Christ and what He accomplished at the Cross). And the
    Law is not of Faith, but, the man who does them shall live
    in them. (Galatians 3:11-12) The Believer has a choice to
    live by Law or Faith. He cannot live by both. The just shall
    live by Faith deals with Faith in Christ and His Finished
    Work. We are saved by Faith. We walk by Faith. We live by
    Faith. Everything hinges on Faith. Amen.

    Paul says, ” Through the law I died to the law that I might
    live for God” (Galatians 2:19). While Paul was trying to
    please God by keeping the law, he was not really living for
    God. The more he tried to keep the law,the more he saw how
    much he failed. It was only when he gave up trying to achieve
    righteousness on his own and accepted the righteousness of
    God by faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross that he
    truly began living for God.

    No one can keep law, any law, after being saved, any more
    than before being saved. Just as we can only be saved by
    faith in Jesus Christ crucified for justification, bondage to
    the sinful desires of the flesh can only truly be broken by
    faith in Jesus Christ crucified. Only by faith that; Rom 6:6
    Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that
    the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should
    not serve sin.
    can we; Rom 6:11
    Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,
    but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Only by faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the
    cross can we; Phl 3:9
    And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which
    is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ,
    the righteousness which is of God by faith:

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