Christ And Paul -- By: J. H. McIlvaine

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 035:139 (Jul 1878)
Article: Christ And Paul
Author: J. H. McIlvaine


Christ And Paul

Rev. J. H. McIlvaine

It is evident, even to a cursory reader of the New Testament, that there are differences between our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostle Paul with respect to the verbal and intellectual forms in which they set forth the truths of the gospel. These differences are regarded by all Christians, of course, not as involving anything of the nature of inconsistency, but as pertaining merely to forms of presentation; yet the more they are contemplated the more striking and significant they become. We propose, therefore, to examine them with some attention, in order to elicit their meaning, if they have any which can help us to a better understanding of revealed truth.

The general characteristics of the Lord’s teaching to which we refer are the following: He reveals the truths of the spiritual world on his own absolute authority, as intuitively perceived by himself, with the least possible resort to logical processes, in concrete forms, and highly figurative language: “Never man spake like this man. … For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.” He seldom refers to the preceding Scriptures, and then, as it would seem, quite as much for the purpose of confirming the truth of their declarations as that of his own. He does not hesitate to supersede their deliverances, upon occasion, by new revelations, as in the case of the Mosaic laws of marriage and divorce. He seems carefully to avoid abstractions and definitions. Figures and symbols of various kinds and great boldness abound in his discourses, which he seldom interprets, and then evidently without aiming at exactness or precision. He never explains how far his similitudes are to be carried.

The sublime truths which he throws out with almost every breath he leaves, without precise boundaries and necessary qualifications, to work as vital principles their own effects and consequences in human life. Such are the parables of the unjust steward, the unjust judge, the friend of whom one came to borrow bread at midnight, and the following words: “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Evidently he feels no solicitude or concern for the systematic harmony of the truths which he delivers, although they are often so remote from each other that they have the appearance of being inconsistent or contradictory. The following are examples: “I and my Father are one. My Father is greater than I. There is none good but one, that is God. Which of you convinceth me of sin? Ye will not come to me that ye might have life. No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. To sit on my right hand and on my left is not...

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