Paul Contradicts Jesus

As an Evangelical and Fundamentalist, I was aware of an apparent tension that existed between Jesus' and Paul's teachings but somehow managed to reconcile the two. The contradiction is strongest in Dispensational and Hyper-Dispensational camps. These people especially emphasize Paul's Gospel, claiming Jesus' Kingdom Gospel was "for the Jews only." So, you see, the pendulum swings both ways. Here, we're simply going to list some of Jesus' words with Paul's and let the contradictions speak for themselves. In fact, you'll notice that Paul doesn't only contradict Jesus, but he also contradicts Matthew and Luke, two fellow writers. You get to decide for yourself who you're going to follow. I, for one, can't reconcile the two any longer.

This list isn't exhaustive. It's merely intended to get you thinking about this issue and further your own study. When necessary, I'll provide commentary so as to anticipate objections.

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Jesus (and other Gospel writers for that matter) says people can follow the law

Mat 13:17  For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Luk 1:5,6  There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Paul says people can't follow the law

Rom 3:10-12  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

You're probably aware that Paul's claim in Romans 3 is that we're all sinners, and this is intended to prove the point that nobody is actually capable of keeping the law. The dominant view amongst Evangelicals and Fundamentalists is that to try and keep the law is "Judaizing" and is impossible. They claim it actually keeps a person from grace. In reality, they're teaching anti-nomianism. While it's true not every law in Torah is intended to be kept by Gentiles, the conclusion that no law is needed, and that it's "technically impossible to keep," is erroneous.

Jesus: don't ask for remuneration

Mat 10:7,8  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Paul: ask for, and expect, remuneration 

1Ti 5:17,18  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 

This should seem self evident and self explanatory. Many pastors enjoy salaries, houses, vehicles, vacations, and retirements simply based on the idea that they're worthy of "double honor" and shouldn't be without some sort of recognition for the work they do. This is the fruit of Paul's teaching, not Jesus'.

Jesus identifies two commandments as a summary of righteousness

Mat 22:37-40  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Paul identifies one commandment as a summary of righteousness

Rom 13:9,10  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Jesus' Gospel is of the Kingdom

Mar 1:15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Paul's Gospel is of the Death, Burial, and "Resurrection"

1Co 15:1,3,4  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;...For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The difference here is that Jesus didn't begin preaching about his death, burial, and resurrection until much later into his ministry; and even when he did, his closest disciples still weren't able to understand the significance of it. Nevertheless, the Canonical Gospels very clearly show Jesus was indeed a Gospel preacher. The message is that the Kingdom was being revealed and that you were to repent, believe, and follow. Jesus, in no uncertain words, means that if we're not diligent in following him, we will not enter the Kingdom. So what's Paul's Gospel? His Gospel deals exclusively with the death, burial, and "resurrection," and that by simply trusting this message, you're "saved." 

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There are more, but it's sufficient enough to stop here. Who will we ultimately follow? Will we follow the one of whom the Father said, "This is my beloved son, listen to him," or will we become restless and desire to follow others who contradict? There's nothing wrong with carefully considering what the Apostles wrote, but here we're faced with the questions, Did Paul truly meet Jesus? Did Paul know Jesus? Did Paul teach what Jesus taught, or did he contradict him all too much?

Note:

This is an on going study and is subject to revisions.