Skip to comments.The Apostles Speak for Jesus. A Refutation of those who Dismiss the Teaching of the Epistles...
Posted on 05/19/2014 1:33:41 AM PDT by markomalley
It is common for those of us who try to defend the biblical teaching on many matters to hear the retort: But Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, or Jesus never said anything about going to church on Sunday, etc. Of course my next instinct is to quote any number of passages in the New Testament wherein the practices in question are rather clearly condemned or commanded. But this does not seem to impress the dissenters, who wave their hand and say that Paul (or Peter, or James, or John) were not Jesus, and if it did not come form the very mouth of Jesus it is not valid.
Thus the dissenters subdivide the Word of God and conclude, in effect, that revelation ended with the Ascension of Jesus rather than with the death of the last Apostle, as the Tradition has always held. Also, they essentially deny that the same Holy Spirit who inspired Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, also inspired Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. St. Paul especially is excoriated by many moderns as homophobic, misogynistic, intolerant, etc. Yes, St Paul and the other epistle writers have become for them a kind of deuterocanonical source at best, and a discredited source at worse.
And thus they partition the Scriptures.
The next stage of their erosion of biblical authority is already well underway, and consists of questioning even the very words of Jesus based on certain preconceived notions of what Jesus should be like. Thus when Jesus says pleasant things about being the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, or when He speaks of mercy, or when He welcomes the poor and the outcasts, etc.this is the real Jesus. But when He warns of judgment and Hell, speaks firmly against divorce and remarriage, and insists that we will answer to Him for every idle word and secret deed, many scoff and say that this is not the real Jesus, or this is not the Jesus I know. And to every moral demand, even from the mouth of Jesus, comes the retort: But Jesus is love, or That is not the Jesus I have come to know.
Hence what we are really dealing with is a designer Jesusa Jesus who meets preconceived notions of what the minimalists say love should be. The real Jesus linked love to the keeping of the commandments (e.g., Jn 14:15). But increasingly, many modern notions are simply dismissive of any demands and seem to prefer a love that is abstract. The only thing many seem to want forbidden are mean people, who think the commandments and traditional biblical morality are to be observed as the result of true love and grace.
But lets return to the first erosion of biblical authority wherein many today are dismissive of the moral teachings found in the Epistles (letters) of Sts. Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. Again they seem to assert that if it didnt come straight from the lips of Jesus, it isnt valid to quote even another New Testament source (let alone an Old Testament one). This bifurcating (dividing into two parts) of Scripture is to be dismissed on several levels.
First, it violates any Catholic Sense of Scripture, which sees the Holy Spirit as the true author and inspiration of every biblical text. Here are some teachings from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
We ought not therefore quibble as to whether a teaching or moral precept is found in Paul, or James, or is said by Jesus. The Holy Spirit of Jesus and the Father speak through Jesus and His appointed apostles and evangelists. Holy Scripture is ultimately one voice, one Word, one message; inspired by one author, the Holy Spirit (albeit working though various men); conveying one message.
Second, it ought to be remembered that Jesus preached in a particular time to a people with particular issues. We ought not be surprised that Jesus said nothing about either abortion or homosexuality, and only a little about fornication. The Jewish people of Jesus time did not widely, if ever, abort their babies; they desperately wanted children. Homosexual acts were not celebrated. Rather they were regarded for the disorder (the biblical word is abomination) that they are. This was not disputed among the Jews, to whom Jesus preached. Fornication was more rare, but certainly it was agreed among all that it was a serious wrong. These were just not issues that Jesus needed to address in that culture at that time.
However, as the Gospel began to spread to the Greco-Roman world, fornication, adultery, and homosexual acts were more common and less understood by the pagans for the moral evil they are. So were things like idolatry and superstition. Hence it makes sense that St. Paul and the other Epistle writers would address these more specifically than did Jesus. As we shall see, they were doing exactly what Jesus had commissioned them to do: applying what He had taught them and speaking in His name.
Third, on many occasions Jesus made it clear that he was commissioning and equipping the Apostles to speak and teach IN HIS NAME. On many occasions the Scriptures speak to this reality. Thus, when the Apostles wrote their Epistles, we are hearing Jesus, who empowered them to speak and write in His name. Lets look at some of these texts. I supply a little commentary in plain red text.
Therefore those who would like to discount the writings in Paul or the other Epistles as not being said by Jesus, are not heeding the clear words of Jesus Himself, who authorized these men to speak in His name and promised them the gift of Holy Spirit to be able to recall all He had said without error in their proclamation. To hear them IS to hear Jesus. There is no other reasonable conclusion. Those who would put the words of St. Paul on a lower tier than those of Jesus ignore the very words of Jesus Himself, who said of his apostles that in hearing them, we hear Him, and in rejecting them, we reject Him.
St. Paul affirms the authority of his words and those of the other Apostles as coming form the Lord:
St. Peter also says something similar:
God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:40-42).
So there they arethe Apostles, anointed, appointed, and assigned to preach and speak for Jesus. To hear them is to hear Jesus.
Enough of this attempt to divide up Scripture and water down its comprehensive authority by asserting that some authors are more authoritative than others. It is true that some early legislation (e.g., kosher laws) were abrogated by later legislation in Scripture. But this is done by the same authority (God) who once required it and later, its purpose being fulfilled, abrogated it. But WE are not free to set aside what Jesus clearly taught by dismissing it on the basis that it was said by an Apostle. They speak for Jesus by His own declaration and we have no business refusing to listen to them or calling them names (e.g., homophobe, or misogynist). For in refusing to listen to them we refuse to listen to Jesus. In disrespecting them we disrespect the Lord Jesus.
Msgr Pope ping
Once again another great post. Lt’s face it we all probably have read things in the Bible that make us uncomfortable or that we would rather weren’t there - the problem is that people do not want to surrender their own wills to God’s Will. What they fail to appreciate is true submission is freedom!
“Msgr Pope ping”
I’ll second that.
Excellent read, and true, this early on a Monday.
God Bless Msgr Pope!
“What they fail to appreciate is true submission is freedom!”
Or rather people think that submission to God is OPPRESSION and that is so sad.
Yes - I think that is two sides of the same coin but you are correct that is the impression many people give!
The epistles were Holy Spirit inspired and can be relied on. Most of the misunderstanding is about the transition from the Old to the New Covenant - it didn’t happen until He died and rose again. His words are always compliant with the Old Covenant and many mistake them as New Covenant provisions.
Not Catholic teaching, but that of the dispensationalist sect of Protestantism. The Council of Trent condemned the idea that Jesus is not a lawgiver whom Christians must hear and obey.
Great post! I hear so many say that they take pains to do what Jesus said, meaning that they read the red-letter text that were Jesus quoted words and feel they can disregard the black text if it doesn’t suit them. But Scripture is clear that the Bible in the whole, is the Word of God, and every part has its role in teaching, warning and building up the saints, not to mention convicting the lost of their lostness and depravity.
**Third, on many occasions Jesus made it clear that he was commissioning and equipping the Apostles to speak and teach IN HIS NAME.**
We keep saying this. Christ founded his Church on the Apostles.
But Jesus never mentioned homosexuality
The Apostles were conditioned for three or more years to spread the gospel to the world, and I would guess that is what they all did.
We only have two letters from peter and three short ones from John, plus revelation.
I doubt very much if the letters from John and Peter is even a drop in the bucket of what they actually said and did.
They were not out for fanfare, that is not the type of men Jesus chose, if every thing they said had of been recorded the new testament would no doubt have been twice the size of the old.
My thinking is that they did not want every thing they said recorded because the Gospel of Jesus being recorded is all we need, they worked to get the gospel of Jesus out, not their own.
So with that said I imagine we have a lot to disagree on.
The Apostles and the Priesthood ~ Part 3 [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Apostles and the Priesthood ~ Part 2 [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Apostles and the Priesthood ~ Part I [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Thomas [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Simon [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Matthew [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. James [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. John [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Andrew [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Peter [Catholic Caucus]
That’s funny. Catholics say the exact same thing about the veracity of Genesis.
Solid article. Thanks!
The Church actually gives wide latitude in the interpretation of Scripture. This is especially true with Genesis, which defies simple exegesis. The Bible ("Books") is a collection of books, reflecting various forms of literature, idiom, and style. Daniel and Revelation are examples of apocalyptic literature, for example.
While the content of the Bible is inspired by God, we must take into account these various forms of literature and expression when engaging in exegesis.