Paul: A Man of the Scriptures

How exactly is Paul a man of the Scriptures?

For Paul, the Scriptures were the foundation of his ministry (2 Tim 4:2). They were also the foundation of the church since they contained the teachings of the prophets and apostles (Eph. 2:20; 3:5). Paul views the Scriptures in this way because he sees them as being the very word of God. For example, Paul equates the sayings of God with the Scriptures themselves when he quotes the Lord in Romans 9:17 and the attributes his quote to the Scriptures. He used the Scriptures as the foundation of this theology and quotes them often to support his theological arguments. Several times in polemic writings he asks questions like, “What does the Scripture say?” and, perhaps his most oft-used expression, “As it is written.”

The Scriptures provide the basis for Paul’s teaching about Christ (Rom. 1:2), and to understand the interpretation of significant historical events such as the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4), and he also uses them to contradict false teaching (Gal. 4:30). Paul encourages his protégé Timothy to use the Scriptures to be complete in his ministry (2 Tim. 3:15-16) and indicates that the Scriptures are vital to the world-wide proclamation of the gospel (Rom 16:26).

Paul also uses the Scriptures for pastoral purposes beyond teaching and doctrine. He refers to the Scriptures as revealing the true nature of Salvation in Romans 1:17 (cf. Gal. 3:11), the source of the believer’s comfort and hope in Romans 15:4, and to guide the believer in living the Christian life in holiness (1 Cor. 10:11) and in generosity (2 Cor. 8:15).

Paul also appeals to the Scriptures to resolve dilemmas regarding church life. For example, twice he quotes the Old Testament expression, “you shall not muzzle the ox which treads out the corn” from Deuteronomy 25:4, in 1 Cor. 9:9 when defending his own apostleship and 1 Tim. 5:18 when making a case for the church’s responsibility to honor the elders.

I wish that all God’s servants (men and women) were so and I pray that we all (inculding myself) might demonstrate the same love and concern for the teachings of the Scriptures.

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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