The Apostle Paul was Human, not Divine

Apostle Paul on St.Isaac cathedral (SPb)
Image via Wikipedia

He admitted his weaknesses freely. It is we who tend to put Paul on a level with Jesus.  Paul was the first to say that he wasn’t there yet and that his determined purpose was to press onward.

Concerning the issue of women in the church, I believe Paul was most likely speaking from his humanity.  He of course had his own human biases, as we all do.  What he said about  allowing a woman to teach men or speak  inside the church may not have been a revelation from God.  It is possible that Paul’s every word wasn’t revelation.  It could be that he was simply speaking from the position of his upbringing in a racist, paternalistic  society. 

We Christians have gone over this question of women preaching and teaching again and again.  Some are sincere when they ask and some aren’t.  I believe  we can assess the hearts of those who ask  in this way: does the questioner want to do God’s will, or does he or she simply want to strip power away from women, and use Paul’s words to do so?  In my opinion, if the person looks to what Jesus has said, and specifically,  what He told the women to do on Resurrection Sunday, the question can be answered. If the person instead looks to what the “religious folks” — the Pharisees, Saducees and Chief Priests have said, then we may have a clue to this “christian’s” true heart.  IMHO of course.

So why do some want to take the gift of God from women?  It’s our fallen natures and fearful, selfish hearts. It’s our Pharisee spirits to self exaltation. We aren’t interested in waiting for God to exalt us, and truth be told, some of us don’t even want exaltation from God.  Some want the things of this world–vain boastings of the things of God, and the fame and riches that follow, and don’t want to share any of that “power”  with others, certainly not  “lowly” women! 

If we use our discernment, we can determine that Paul is merely a human being, a vessel of God carrying very precious revelations from God.  He’s not equal with Jesus in any way, and was quite well aware of that.  He called himself the lowest of the apostles for having persecuted the church.  He did all to remain humble and even God gave him a “thorn in his flesh” to keep him humble, telling him that His Grace was sufficient for him.  God had entrusted an abundance of revelations to Paul and he could have easily became vain and proud because of it.  Sort of the way he was before God chose him.  The Apostle Paul also lamented that his fallen human nature tended towards doing evil, even when he didn’t want to!  He dealt with the war between the spirit and the flesh!  This is the lament of all human beings!  So Paul himself had no illusions about himself.  It’s we 21st century Christians who have the illusions, and tend to exalt Paul beyond where Paul wanted to be and where God intended for him.  We don’t want to use discernment concerning some of the things he said which obviously could not be revelation  because they contradict the things Jesus has said and done.  From my perspective.  

Let’s take the time to seek after and follow Jesus!  Let’s study His Words and take on His yoke!  He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life!  We thank God for the gift of Paul and we respect his powerful anointing– the revelations that God entrusted to him!  We give thanks and honor the Apostle Paul and his strong determination to follow God.  Paul overcame many brutal obstacles in his quest to be obedient to God, and in his love for the people,  and God highly exalted him for it.   God has given us some of the most powerful biblical teachings that the world has ever known, the greater part of our Christian New Testatment, and he used the Apostle Paul as the vessel!

  But it’s worth noting that God did not stop annointing men and women with Paul, and Paul is not Jesus. Let us therefore continue to worship the one and only true and living God!

Amen.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. bdrex says:

    Any student of ancient Hebrew can clarify the Gospels in many ways, although many want scripture to fit what they want to believe and reject scholarly review.

    In Jesus time no Hebrew woman was allowed to teach, travel with a man other than husband, father, or close relative. Women were harlots if they touched a man not her husband. Women were not worthy of religious revelation, nor were they allowed in the inner sanctums of the Churches.

    These and many other restrictions are well documented for the time of Jesus. Yet, Jesus travels with women and teaches them, including Mary Magdalene, he is annointed by a woman (she uses her hair on his bare feet), the women are the first to find the empty tomb, they see an angel, they are the first to believe. The men think they are telling fanciful stories. One other verse tells us much if we understand the times, “Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary”. The esoteric or mystery religions, some Christian and Jewish sects, believed all people are infected to some degree by seven demons (Not demon as we use it today though). They named seven human weaknesses, such as: greed, lust, . . . and to become saved one had to overcome these human weaknesses (cast out).

    So this was a common saying, well known at that time. When Jesus announces he cast out (seven demons) of Mary he is saying she is blameless, saved from sin, and perfected. She would have an elevated status, teacher, prophet . . .. In most Jewish texts women wouldn’t even be mentioned, except as corruptors of man. I don’t care what Paul or Peter have to say, Jesus himself provided the example of equality for women in a brazen, daring and controversial way. He was obviously trying to make a point. Besides the male disciples misunderstood Jesus and argued about his teachings.

    Remember, the Bible contains only the teachings for the masses, parables and sayings, the elite were taught in private what the simple could not understand. It is said that these texts were not included in the canon because they were for the spiritually elite and could be misunderstood by the “vulgar masses”. That is a quote from ante nicene fathers. The Church was very Elitist and thought the common person unintelligent, unsophisticated and vulgar. I believe these teachings, hidden or lost, would have challenged the cultural identity that repressed women and would have ended elitist attitudes, especially the type the Church embraced as the decades went by.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks for this lesson in biblical culture and history! It’s so important to understand what we as christiansprofess to believe lest we bring ancient elistist ways into the present and complicate the gospel of Christ.

  2. Carolyn Moon says:

    Anna, I’ve struggled with this for some time now and I must say that your article and the responses have opened my heart and mind to try and understand why some churches are still discriminating against women in the pulpit and other key areas. Cultural practices prior to and post biblical times tend to distort some of the messages we hear while sitting in the various congregations.

    We still witness that men in power want to retain their superior status especially as it pertains to women whether it be politics, religion, education or other areas of the human experience.

    Some organized religious institutions are trying to resolve this, however, it’s a slow and
    disturbing process for many. They are losing their members and many are choosing to follow their own spiritual paths to God.

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