Why Paul's and Jesus' Teachings Differ

1. What did Paul know about Jesus' teachings?

1. Paul claims he was taught by no man, but criticizes other group(s). (Remember: Paul received apostleship from Peter, and James) He is not opposing the Jerusalem church, but another group.

Galatians 1: 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

2. What did Paul know about the Teachings of Jesus?

Practically almost nothing, except the Lord’s supper. Peter probably had communions a few times with Paul and James, the brother of Jesus.

While Paul was writing his epistles ( - AD 67) and preaching, there were no gospels written. No Gospels were yet written before Paul’s death. When “gospel” is mentioned, he means “good news” (of Christ), not the four Gospels.

After Jesus’ ascension, events of his life were transmitted orally among disciples. (except the hypothetical Q)

Jesus spoke Aramaic with his apostles, and were conversant in Hebrew and Greek. Oral traditions were probably transmitted also in Aramaic, especially the “Sayings of Jesus” in Matthew probably written circa 40 AD.

Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ.

Paul knew almost nothing about the life of Jesus (The four Gospels were not written, and Paul does not mention any events in the life of Jesus, except the Lord’s supper and resurrection. He only met Peter and James, a brother of Jesus. He made no attempt to meet any other apostles during his 15-day visit to Jerusalem in AD 39.

Among the 7 epistles that most scholars believe were written by Paul, Paul fails to mention any events:

Birth, Mary and Joseph
The Lord's Prayer
The Transfiguration
The Sermon on the Mount
See of Galilee
Temple visit, Nazareth
Pontius Pilate
Judas Iscariot’s betrayal
Son of Man

Graham Stanton (Professor of New Testament Studies in the University of London), in his book 'Gospel Truth', says that Paul's failure to refer more frequently to the actions and teaching of Jesus is 'baffling.'

Why did Paul not mention these events in the Gospels?

Paul did not hear many stories from Peter or James. He spent only 2 weeks with them. Moreover, James hardly was trained by his brother Jesus. He never followed Jesus, except possibly on one occasion. Jesus neglected his family. Most of the time, James was not a firsthand eyewitness to any major events in Jesus’ life. Thus, any story about Jesus that Paul knows is from Peter (Cephas).

Galatians 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

Why Peter taught Paul little about Jesus? During this period, much of the time was probably spent to determine if Paul’s conversion was genuine or not.

Paul notes that he learned nothing about Jesus from Peter or any other men. He received it by revelation.

Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What did Peter teach on the day of Pentecost when he baptized 3000 souls. (He probably taught the same stuff)

Three things: crucifixion, resurrection, and baptism

(RSV)Acts 2:22 "You that are Israelites,a listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth,b a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—
23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.
24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death,c because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Why Paul felt uneasy with other Christians?
They knew more about Jesus than Paul.

In Galatians 1:6-9 (NIV), Paul also scolds the Galatians for following different gospels. (Here Paul does not refer the 4 gospels because they were not written yet, but good news about Jesus (his resurrection).

People in those days were not familiar with the life of Jesus yet.

Clement, the third Bishop of Rome, shows he was not familiar with the Gospels when he wrote 1 Clement.

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—(Apollos’ or other)
7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

What did Paul learn from Peter about Jesus?

1. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul mentions the Resurrection.

2. The Lord’s supper. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. Paul probably learned this from Peter, not from Jesus directly by revelation. They probably had a communion together. Thus, this is what Peter said during the Lord’s supper.

This was written around Passover in AD 54. His memory of what Peter told him is far more accurate description of the Lord’s supper than other records subsequently written. John did not record the Lord’s supper. Mark wrote in 67-68 AD. Matthew copied it later. Luke also much later (but it is Paul’s version).

(NIV)1 Corinthians 11: 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."


2. Is there a difference between Paul’s and Jesus’ Teachings?

The Lord recommended Paul highly.

Had it not been for Paul, Christianity may have become extinct during the first century AD. However, this does not mean Apostle Paul was a perfect spokesperson for Jesus. If Paul and Jesus differ in their teachings, whose words should we accept?

(Act 8:15) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel

Here are main differences.

Paul Jesus Remark
(NIV) Romans 8:26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words
cannot express.

Luke 11:2
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come…

By the end of the first century, Rome (probably Alexandria also) had Mark’s gospel. Ephesus had John’s gospel. Antioch had Luke’s gospel.

Mark’s Gospel does not record Lord’s prayer.
Paul and the Christian community in Rome had not heard of the Lord's Prayer by 67 AD when he was beheaded in Rome.

1 Corinthians 6:2
Is it not certain that the saints will be the judges of the world? if then the world will be judged by you, are you unable to give a decision about the smallest things?
3 Is it not certain that we are to be the judges of angels? how much more then of the things of this life?

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

When it comes to judging, Paul and Jesus are diametrically opposed.


1 Corinthians 1:17
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

Matthew 28:19
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [The last sayings of Jesus to the eleven Apostles after resurrection]

Paul was baptized by Ananias.

Acts 8:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Ritual Food
1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore, that I cause not my brother to stumble.

Mark 7:17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.
18 "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him `unclean'?

19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

Paul did not have the benefit of the Gospels, because they had yet to be written, nor did he learn at the feet of Jesus.

Paul was a great theologian, but much of his theology comes from his own training as a Stoic. Tarsus was known for Antipater during the 2nd century BC, a Stoic philosopher. Stoic ideas, rather than Jesus' teachings, permeate throughout his epistles.

Galatians 2:11

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.


Paul maintains that there were many false teachings (Apollos and others) and curses those who follow false Gospels.

Paul says his gospel was correct whereas his rivals were false.
His teaching is God’s foolishness, which is wiser than the wisdom of men (Apollos)

Peter and Paul did not get along. Paul accuses other disciples of hypocrisy, but the early Christians were taught by the disciples!

Original Sin and Atonement

Paul claims Jesus died to atone for our sins.
1Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed!

Everyone is responsible for his own sins. Jesus never said one's sins may be forgiven if someone else paid or attoned for them. Rather, "forgive our sins as we have forgive those who sinned agains us."

Jeremiah 31:30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Jesus never said "I am dying to atone for your sins." The only phrase that can possible used for atonement is from the Lord's Supper (in Matthew, Mark and Luke).

Mark: 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Luke 22: 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Paul complains about James’ delegation to check they are following the laws (circumcision, food, etc.)

Galatians 2:4 [This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.


Paul did not get along with other disciples

Paul makes clear that he was a Christian for three years before he felt any need to go to Jerusalem to visit Peter and even when he was there he hardly spoke to any of the other apostles. It would be fascinating to know what on earth Paul preached in those 3 years before he had met any of the disciples. All this is from Galatians 1. Galatians 1:?

Galatians 1 also says that Paul spent just 15 days in Jerusalem where he met only Peter and James, not one of the original disciples. If I was spending a fortnight in
Jerusalem in about 39 AD, I would certainly want to speak to as many eyewitnesses of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as I could find, but it seems that the
greatest evangelist in the history of the Christian Church couldn't be asked. How strange.


Paul insists so many times that what he is preaching comes not from man, but from God (presumably he means his many visions), that it is absurd to suggest that what
he taught about Jesus was what the disciples taught about Jesus. He is clear that they taught him nothing except that Jesus was crucified and (as I shall show in
another article), was seen in visions and dreams after his death.


Paul's letters insist that it was not the eyewitnesses of Jesus who went on missionary strategies, but people like Epaphras ( Colossians 1:7) ,Appollos (1 Cor. 16:12),
Phoebe (Romans 16:1), Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7).

Paul makes clear in 2 Corinthians 12:12 that being an eyewitness of Jesus's life was not what singled out an apostle.


Acts 17:2 states clearly that Paul taught 'from the scriptures' and not from the evidence of eyewitnesses. Acts 18:23-28 states that Appollos , after he had been
taught what was correct and what was not correct about Jesus, 'showed by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus', not 'showed by eyewitness testimony that
the Christ was Jesus'. Romans 1:1-4 states that the gospel came from the scriptures and never states that the gospel came from eyewitnesses. 1 Corinthians 15:3
states that Jesus was raised on the third day 'in accordance with the scriptures' and not in accordance with eyewitness testimony.



This article shows that there is no evidence that the Christianity spread by Paul was the same Christianity of the disciples in Jerusalem or was the same Christianity
that lead to the production of the Gospels. Indeed, Paul had so little interest in what the disciples had to say about Jesus that he never mentions any person, who,
according to Paul, saw Jesus while he was alive.

Indeed, Paul had so little interest in what the disciples had to say about Jesus that he couldn't be bothered to talk to most of them, even when he had made a special
trip to Jerusalem.

Paul did not regard being a companion of Jesus as anything special. As far as he was concerned, the earthly life of Jesus had no interest and being a companion of
Jesus did not mark one out as an apostle. How could this be if Jesus did all the things attributed to him in the Gospels?

Where did Paul learn all of this? Paul claims revelation. More likely, he learned from others, if not from Peter, James and John.


Christianity split into denominations and sects very quickly and the real, historical Jesus is forever lost to us.
Contrast this with 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.