Do Paul and Jesus disagree? Dr. Guy Waters explains how Jesus and Paul preach and teach the same message for life and faith, despite claims that they contradict each other.
Sometimes you will hear people say, “Well, you may believe Paul, but I’ll believe Jesus.” And behind that, is a “setting-against” Jesus and Paul in the New Testament. What’s behind that? Well, for one thing, people sometimes say that Jesus came preaching a message of love and of ethics. But here comes Paul, and he is presenting Jesus as someone to be worshiped. And Paul is saying, “There are certain things you have to believe if you’re going to be saved.” And Paul says some pretty unpopular things about sexuality. So people will say, “You can take Paul, but I’ll take Jesus.”
There is nothing that Paul teaches about Jesus that you cannot find in the teaching of Jesus himself.In reality, you have to take Jesus and Paul, or neither. And here’s why. For one thing, there is nothing that Paul teaches about Jesus that you cannot find in the teaching of Jesus himself. The testimony of the four Gospels is that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. Jesus himself testified to this. Many of his miracles point explicitly to this, and he received worship in the course of his life on earth.
Furthermore, what Jesus came to do was to redeem sinners. That’s why the Son of Man came: to “seek and save that which is lost.” And he came purposefully to go to the cross, having lived a perfect life, and to rise from the dead, all for the salvation of sinners. And what Paul does, is to explain that in great detail: here’s what it means that Jesus has died. Here’s what it means that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Jesus was very clear about how disciples are to live, just as Paul is very clear about how followers of Christ are to live. And while Paul may be more explicit or detailed in some areas, there is no point at which the two counter each other. In fact, they’re teaching about how followers of Christ ought to live lines up perfectly well. So there is no tension or contradiction between Jesus and Paul. To embrace the one is to embrace the other.