Quotation marks, like Saran Wrap and sliced bread, are modern innovations.
But it is true quotations of the Lord's words which necessitate quotation
marks are infrequent in Paul. Several examples:
"For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.'"
(1 Timothy 5:17);
"And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages."
This provision of the Lord is probably referred to also in 1 Corinthians 9:14, "Even so
the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live
from the gospel." Compare with Matthew 10:9-10, "Provide neither
gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your
journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is
worthy of his food." Paul also directly quotes the Lord's
institution of communion,
"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you:
that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is
My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the
same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the
new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance
of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim
the Lord’s death till He comes." (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Compare with Luke 22:20, “And He took bread, gave thanks and
broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My
body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is
the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke
20:19-20). Not only do Paul's churches practice communion, as commanded by
the Lord, they also baptized: "I thank God that I baptized none of
you, but Crispus and Gaius;. . .And I baptized also the household of
Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other." (1
Corinthians 1:14-16). What an amazing coincidence, the Jesus
movement also practiced baptism, "When therefore the Lord knew how
the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples
than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee." (John 4:1-3).
If direct quotations are rare, the Bible reader is also aware that Paul doesn't care about much
"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ
and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2).
There are many citations of the Lord's teachings which do not require quotation
marks because Paul summarizes the substance rather than repeats the words.
Paul knows, and of course is interested in, Jesus' teaching on divorce:
"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not
the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain
unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put
away his wife." (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
Compare with Luke 16:18, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from
her husband commits adultery." (Luke 16:18). Paul is examining a
case not explicitly considered by the Lord, that of a marriage
solemnized under pagan auspices, one of whose participants is now a
Another instance, pertaining to the end times which Paul, like
Jesus and His disciples, also believed in, in one of those odd and
unaccountable, but surely coincidental, twists of fate:
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Compare with, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in
heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they
will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And
He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they
will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of
heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:30-31). Plainly Paul is
interested that there is a "word of the Lord" on this point. In other cases Paul's turn of phrase reminds the Christian reader of sayings of the
Lord, for instance,
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand
all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am
nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2).
The phrase 'faith to move mountains' might seem like a shop-worn cliche, but it
comes from Jesus:
"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."
When Paul urges the Philippians to become lights in the world, ".
. .children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and
perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. .
." (Philippians 2:16), this calls to mind Matthew 5:14, "You are the
light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."
Paul says, "I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there
is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything
to be unclean, to him it is unclean." (Romans 14:14).
Where might he have heard this teaching of the Lord? Perhaps from
Peter's recollection, as, “When
He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to
them, 'Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man
from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of
him, those are the things that defile a man.'” (Mark 7:14-15). Paul
says, "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20); how remarkable he knew
nothing of Jesus' saying, "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a
man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and
we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:23).
Is it really such a common-place expression, to say that some
other party lives in you? But this was a specific promise of the
If the main points of Paul's teaching do not come from Jesus, then one must marvel at coincidence.
Paul's gospel is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior:
"For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I
am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." (1 Timothy 2:6-7).
Remarkably like what Jesus said about Himself:
"And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just
as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give
His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:27-28).
Paul's ethics revolve around love and forgiveness:
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse...Repay no
one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for
it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord...Do not
be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:14-21).
"See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all."
(1 Thessalonians 5:15).
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves
another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit
adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not
bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment,
are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor
as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment
of the law." (Romans 13:8-10).
As coincidence would have it, Jesus' ethics revolve around the very same themes:
"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who
hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully
use you." (Luke 6:27-28).
"And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew
Jesus said that His disciples would be known by their love for
one another: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if
you have love one for one another." (John 13:35). He did not say,
'All men will know you belong to any random new religious movement,
if you love one another,' because mutual love is not actually
characteristic of any and every new religious movement. Paul strikes
the same note, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a
clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1). Paul did his best to live up to this high calling: "And labor,
working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being
persecuted, we suffer it:. . ." (1 Corinthians 4:12). As it happens,
that is just what Jesus said to do: "But I say unto you, Love your
enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. .
." (Matthew 5:44).
It's not like this ethical convergence has gone unnoticed, either
in the early church or in later times: ". . .if, then, I am perfect,
I bless him that curses me, as Paul also blessed, for he says:
'Being reviled we bless.' He had heard Him who says: 'Love your
enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute
you.'" (Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, Chapter 48,
Section 244). Compare, "The
virtues mentioned by Paul at least twice are love, compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, unity, peace,
joy, righteousness, forgiveness, and endurance. These match the
virtues that Jesus taught in the Beatitudes so closely that hardly
any need discussion. . ." (Kingdom Ethics, David P. Gushee & Glen H.
Stassen, Kindle location 1232). But there's an atheist sucker born
Both preachers preach God's grace; Jesus came to give His life a
ransom for many, "He taught it, for example, in the parables of the
laborers in the vineyard and of the servant coming in from the
field. In those two parables Jesus expressed His opposition to the
religion of works, a religion which can open an account with God and
seek to obtain salvation by merit. Salvation, according to Jesus, is
a matter of God's free grace; it is something which God gives to
whom He will. . .But it is the same doctrine, exactly, which appears
in Paul. The Paul who combated the legalists in Galatia, like the
Jesus who combated the scribes and Pharisees, was contending for a
god of grace." (J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul's Religion, p.
135). Remarkable coincidence.
Paul teaches an ethical, spiritual and voluntaristic dimension to the Kingdom of
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which
are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath,
strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Many in Israel in that day looked to an immediate political kingdom,
one might almost say a secular kingdom: "But we trusted that it had been
he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the
third day since these things were done." (Luke 24:21). Even Philo
perceived the Messiah as a conquering hero: ". . .for a man will come
forth, says the word of God, leading a host and warring furiously, who
will subdue great and populous nations, God sending that assistance
which is suitable for pious men; and this assistance is an intrepid
hardihood of soul, and an irresistible strength of body, either of which
things is formidable to the enemy, and if both qualities are united they
are completely invincible." (Philo Judaeus, On Rewards and Punishments,
Chapter XVI). But not Jesus, and not Paul; both are nonconformists from the prevailing consensus:
"In the first place, Jesus and Paul present the same
view of the Kingdom of God. The term 'kingdom of God' is not very
frequent in the Epistles; but it is used as though familiar to the
readers, and when it does occur, it has the same meaning as in the
teaching of Jesus. The similarity appears, in the first place, in a
negative feature— both in Jesus and in Paul, the idea of the
Kingdom is divorced from all political and materialistic
associations. That fact may seem to us to be a mater of course.
But in the Judaism of the first century it was far from being a
matter of course. On the contrary, it meant nothing less than a
revolution in thought and in life. . .But the similarity is not
merely negative. In positive aspects also, the Kingdom of God in
Paul is similar to that which appears in the teachings of Jesus.
Both in Jesus and in Paul, the implications of entrance are
ethical. . .Finally both in Jesus and in Paul the Kingdom
appears partly as present and partly as future." (J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul's Religion,
Odd coincidence, no? Anyone who thinks these are inevitable doctrines that all will discover
who delve into the Old Testament law should recall the Rabbis rummaged
in the very same archive and came up with something distinctly different. So
here are the facts: two first century preachers preached the same message,
one a decade or two after the other. The second told whoever would listen
he was a follower of the first. The ethics he taught is substantially the
same as taught by the first. Yet the second preacher, it has lately been
discovered, did not much care about what the first preacher said. Say what?
Aside from the congruence of the 'big' ethical themes, are shared phrases which are
unlikely to be coincidence: “But know this, that if the master of
the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have
watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you
also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not
expect.” (Luke 12:39-40), compared with "For you yourselves know
perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the
night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2), or "Therefore let us not sleep, as
others do, but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thessalonians 5:6),
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
So while it is true that Paul gives no detailed itinerary of
Jesus' travels through Galilee and Judaea, it is certainly not true
that he was unaware or uninterested in Jesus' teaching.
"Moses, the celebrated prophet and legislator of
the Israelites, ingratiated himself into their esteem, by the
stratagem of prayer, and pretended intimacy with God; he
acquaints us, that he was once admitted to a sight of his
back-parts! and that 'no man can see' his 'face and live;' and
at other times we are told that he 'talked with God, face to
face, as a man talketh with his friend'. . . " (Ethan Allen,
Reason, the Only Oracle of Man: Or a Compendious System of
Natural Religion, Chapter VI, Section IV.)
Is there a problem here?