Jesus vs. Paul

The current state of New Testament studies seems to pit Paul’s justification emphasis against the kingdom vision of Jesus. Here’s why it doesn’t have to.

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Evangelical New Testament scholars (and their students) seem to be divided into two main camps: those who emphasize Jesus and the kingdom, and those who focus on Paul and justification by faith. While this seems to be a knotty problem, unprecedented in church history, such theological turf wars are all too common. As Paul disapprovingly told the Corinthians, “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:12–13). For Paul, it’s all about Jesus.

So how do we bring Jesus and Paul together, while doing justice to both? How do we hold to the doctrine of the full inspiration of Scripture, allowing Paul and Jesus to speak for themselves rather than fitting them into our preconceived theological categories? Which gets priority? Which comes first—kingdom or justification? New Testament scholar Scot McKnight says the answer is not either/or, but both/and.

Table of Contents

SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:14–21; Acts 9:1–20; 10:34–43; 1 Corinthians 1:10–17; 15:1–8


    • Identify the Current Issue

    • Discover the Eternal Principles

Teaching point one: It’s all about the gospel.
Teaching point two: The gospel of the kingdom requires words and deeds.
Teaching point three: The gospel is about Jesus, who is the completion of Israel’s story.
Teaching point four: Paul’s gospel is Jesus’ gospel.
Teaching point five: The gospel of the kingdom is for all people.
    • Apply Your Findings

    • Additional Resources


    • "Jesus vs. Paul”, by Scot McKnight (December 2010)

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