Thus, we looked at some internal Biblical evidence to see what the authors of the NT letters actually claimed. We examined Galatians 1:1 & 1st Thessalonians 2:13. Today we will view two more passages by Paul, namely, 1st Corinthians 14:37-38 & 2nd Thessalonians 3:6, 14.
1st Corinthians 14:37-38 says, "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”
The last part, even in the translation, is very clear. He says what he is writing is the Lord’s commandment. The original Greek is τοu Κυρίου εστιν εντολη. If you don’t know Greek let me break it down from you.
- εστιν is the verb “to be”. It is in the 3rd person singular, hence the translation “it is”. The subject of the verb is “the things I (Paul) write”.
- Εντολη is the noun “commandment”. Notice that earlier in the Corinthians letter Paul uses the same phrase to refer, unequivocally, to the authoritative instructions from God (1st Cor 7:19).
- τοu Κυρίου is the noun phrase “the Lord”. It is in the genitive case. In a basic sense the genitive case is your possessive case. We could translate it “The commandment of the Lord”. Most likely in this context it is source, that is, “This is the commandment from the Lord”. Regardless of whether you view it as source or possessive the point is the same. What Paul is writing he is claiming is not his words but the Lord’s.
Also compare Leviticus 27:34, Deuteronomy 4:2, 11:26-28 to see how Paul is using the language of the Old Testament to refer to divine commands. Therefore, there is no question what Paul is claiming here. His letter to the Corinthians is on par with the same authority as if God were speaking to them Himself. It takes professional help to miss this point.
Next we want to investigate 2nd Thessalonians 3:6, 14. There are three points of consideration.
- He uses technical terms that refer to apostolic tradition. These terms are “traditions” (παράδοσις) & “received” (παραλαμβάνω). For references to the former see 1st Cor 11:2; 2nd Thess 2:15, 3:6. For references to the latter see Rom 6:17; 1st Cor 11:23, 15:3-5; Gal 1:9; Phil 4:9; Col 2:6-8; 1st Thess 2:13; 2nd Peter 2:21; Jude 3. Thus, Paul is claiming that what he original taught them is apostolic tradition.
- 2nd Thessalonians becomes a prophetic judgment with a call to church discipline. He states that if someone doesn’t accept what he is writing then the Christians are “not to associate with him”. The word used is συναναμίγνυμι. The only other time this word is used in the NT is in 1st Corinthians 5:9-11 (twice). In that context Paul instructs the church to excommunicate (not associate with) the so called brother who is practicing sin. Therefore, the point is that Paul believes what he is writing to the Thessalonians is of such authority that if someone disregards it they are to be disciplined by the church. Nobody is going to balk if I don’t like a certain commentary but Christians would hold me at a distance if I didn’t accept apostolic testimony.
- The very language he uses directly implies an authoritative status. Note the phrases “we command you”, “if anyone does not obey what is written in this letter”.
In the last two posts we have looked at four Pauline passages (Galatians 1:1; 1st Thessalonians 2:13; 1st Corinthians 14:37-38; & 2nd Thessalonians 3:6, 14). In each passage Paul very directly claims to be writing with a certain type of authority. That type is none other than divine inspiration. In other words he believed that his words were actually the very words of God. Thus, they carried universal application and universal authority.
Maybe we should start practicing church discipline on those who do not accept the letters of the Apostles!!! What do you think?