Did Paul have a cordial relationship with the Twelve Apostles or did he despise them? Depends which book of the Bible you read.

Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier, St Paul Writing His Epistles (1620)
(Probably) Valentin de Boulogne (ca 1594-1632)
  Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20), oil on canvas, 39-1/8 x 52-3/8″
 Blaffer Foundation Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

Copied fromRejection of Pascal’s Wager

In Acts we find mentioned in many places that Paul submitted himself willingly to the authority of the apostles in Jerusalem. For instance, we are told that almost immediately after his conversion, he went to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles:

Acts 9:26-28

 And when he came to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the Apostles, and declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them going in and out of Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

Later on Paul was shown preaching this sermon to the people in Pisidian Antioch:

Acts 13:29-32

 For the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their rulers, knowing neither him nor the voices of the prophets read out every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found no ground of death, they asked Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead. He appeared during many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. And we bring you good tidings of the promise made to the fathers.

By setting up the “those who came up with [Jesus] from Galilee to Jerusalem” as the primary witnesses, Acts’ Paul was implicitly excluding himself from this exalted group. Furthermore in Acts 15:1-2, the community in Antioch decided to send Paul, Barnabas and some other to resolve the issue regarding circumcision. The episode is presented very clearly as showing the submission of the Antiochene community (including Paul) to the authority of the Jerusalem apostles. All these stand in contradiction to the historical Paul’s own statements in his letters. In Galatians 1:16-19 (see above), Paul did not go to Jerusalem immediately after his conversion but went to Arabia and only after three years did he first set foot in Jerusalem as a Christian. When he was there he met only Peter and James. This cannot be reconciled with the picture given in Acts 9:26-28 which shows Paul eagerly going to Jerusalem to meet the apostles and actually starting to preach with them.Furthermore I Corinthians 9:3 and Galatians 2:8 (see the text of these two passages above) shows that Paul considered himself equal to the apostles in Jerusalem and that his witness to the resurrection was equal to theirs. (Compare Acts 13:29-32!) Indeed he made this remark about the leaders in Jerusalem in his letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 2:6

And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)-those leaders contributed nothing to me.

The sarcastic tone above hints at a certain disdain at the Apostles! The mention at the end about them not adding anything to his message shows the independence of Paul’s gospel from the Jerusalem leaders.[14]


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