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Bible Lives  

14.  Paul

14-1 The Conversion Of Paul / Saul || 14-2-1 Paul And His Brethren || 14-2-2 The Weakness Of Paul || 14-2-3 Paul: A Character Study || 14-3 The Preaching Of Paul || 14-4 Saul Changed To Paul || 14-5 Paul's Relationship With Jesus || 14-6 Paul And Christ  (1) || 14-6-1 Paul's Use Of The Gospels  || 14-6-2 Paul's Quotations From The Gospels: Statistics || 14-6-3-1 Paul's Quotations From The Gospels: Analysis And Implications || 14-6-3-2 Inspiration: The Human Factor || 14-6-3-3 The Enigma Of John's Gospel || 14-6-3-4 The Nature Of The Gospel Records || 14-6-3-5 Memorizing Scripture || 14-6-4 The Supremacy Of Christ || 14-7 Paul And Christ (2) || 14-7-1 Paul's Use Of The Gospels: Further Observations || 14-7-2 Paul And The Parables || 14-7-3 Paul's Use Of The Sermon On The Mount (Mt. 5 - 7) || 14-7-4 Paul's Exposition Of Gethsemane || 14-7-5 Paul And The Characters In The Gospels || 14-7-6 Paul In The Gospels || 14-7-7 Paul And John The Baptist || 14-7-8 Saul, Paul And Stephen || 14-7-9 Following Elders || 14-7-10 Connections Between The Gospels And Epistles: Observations || 14-8 Paul's Heroes || 14-8-1 Paul And Moses || 14-8-2 Paul And King Saul || 14-9   Paul and Corinth || 14-10 Paul And His Weak Brethren || 14-11 Paul's Thorn In The Flesh || 14-12 Paul's Shipwreck  || 14-13 Paulís Self-Perception || 14-14 Paul, Philemon and Onesimus || 14-15 Chronology of Paulís Life

14-6-3-3 The Enigma Of John's Gospel

Proof of this is suggested by the fact that Paul seems to make no verbal or unconscious allusions to John's Gospel. I would suggest that this was because the Synoptics were produced quite early, and were committed to memory by Paul. John's Gospel came later, perhaps in the AD60s. Therefore Paul makes no conscious reference to it in terms of verbal allusion. Significantly, Peter does allude to it- because he was writing later. There are, of course, links between Paul's letters (especially Romans and Ephesians) and John; but these are links based around similarities of ideas; they are links which result from the Spirit being the writer of both the letters and John's Gospel  (1). John's Gospel is, however, heavily alluded to verbally in John's letters; which we would expect. John's mind was so full of the life of his Lord, as recorded in his Gospel, that when he wrote his letters, he wrote in the language of his Gospel. Doubtless he had committed his Gospel to heart, and his familiarity with it came out as he wrote. 

Any serious student of John's Gospel will have come across the problem of deciding what are John's inserted comments, and what are the actual words of Jesus (e.g. 3:13-17). The problem arises because the written style of John is so similar, indeed identical, to the style of language Christ used. The conclusion from this feature is that the mind of John was so swamped with the words and style of the Lord that his own speaking and writing became after the pattern of his Master. And he is our pattern in this. Not only are his comments within his Gospel exactly in harmony with the Lord's style, but also the style and phrasing of his own epistle reflects that of the Lord (e.g. compare Jn. 15:11; 16:24; 17:13 with 1 Jn. 1:4; 2 Jn. 12). Perhaps he so absorbed the mind of the Master that he was used to write the most spiritual account of the Lord's life. In a different way, Peter also absorbed the Lord's words to the point that they influenced his way of speaking and writing (his letters are full of conscious and unconscious allusions back to the Lord's words). He seems to have noted some of the Lord's catch phrases, and made them his own (as an Englishman may say " I guess..." after prolonged contact with an American). Thus " of a surety / truth" was one of the Lord's catch phrases (Lk. 9:27; 12:44; 21:3; Jn. 1:47; 6:55; 8:31; 17:8), repeated by Peter in Acts 12:11. 

It is significant that the epistle of James is likewise full of verbal allusions to the synoptic Gospels (but not to John's Gospel, significantly); especially to Matthew 5-7(2). James too seems to have had his familiarity with the Gospels bubbling out of him as he wrote. Peter's letters likewise have many verbal links with the Gospels, especially to the Gospel of Mark. There are two possible reasons for this:

1. There is some reason to think that Mark's Gospel is actually Peter's (3). Because Peter was almost certainly illiterate, Mark maybe transcribed what he said (cp. 1 Pet. 5:13).

2. There is a tradition that Mark's Gospel was intended to be learnt by heart by the early Christians. Luke says that his record of the Gospel was to confirm the truth of " those things wherein thou hast been instructed" (Lk. 1:4) or 'catechized'- perhaps suggesting that Mark's Gospel was memorized by rote, and Luke's Gospel was to add more detail. If illiterate Peter had memorized Mark's Gospel as intended, it would make sense if his dictated letters were full of verbal allusion to it.


Notes

(1) These links are explored in Geoff & Ray Walker, Romans In The Light Of John's Gospel (Alsager: Bible Student Press, 1995). This book, in my  opinion, runs into the problem of over-interpreting 'links' and 'connections', as mentioned at the beginning of this study. What links there are between Romans and John's Gospel are links of ideas rather than the more explicit verbal links between Paul's letters and the Synoptic Gospels. It is possible that the Spirit inspired John's Gospel as a kind of commentary and extension of the themes of Romans and Ephesians. This is made more attractive by the tradition that John spent time at Ephesus, and therefore would have been familiar with the Ephesian letter.

(2) Most commentaries on James make this point and provide lists of parallels between James and the synoptic Gospels.

(3) Commentators as varied as Tertullian, F.F. Bruce (in The Books And The Parchments) and Harry Whittaker (in Studies In The Gospels) have arrived at this conclusion. See too Michael Edgecombe, 'Mark: The Man And His Gospel', New Life No. 16 p. 20. Peter saw the Lord's life as beginning with " the baptism of John" and ending when he was " taken up" (Acts 1:22); which is exactly the start and finish of 'Mark's' Gospel (Mk. 1:4; 16:19). Eusebius speaks of how Papias described Mark as “Peter’s interpreter”; and additionally Justin describes parts of Mark’s Gospel as the “recollections of Peter”. This evidence is extensively documented and discussed in Martin Hengel, Studies In The Gospel Of Mark (London: SCM, 1985). But there is some Biblical evidence within the text as well. Mark mentions Peter more than the other Gospels; he is the first and last disciple to be mentioned in Mark. Mark mentions his name once every 443 words; compared to 1:648 in Luke and 1:722 in Matthew. The disciples are described as ‘Peter and the others’ (Mk. 1:36). He comes at the head of the lists of disciples, and appears as the spokesman of the twelve. However- it is Mark which also brings out the extent of his denial of the Lord to the maximum extent; Mark who shows Peter as the embodiment of the disciples’ misunderstanding and failure, and concludes with the Angels speaking of “his [Christ’s] disciples and Peter” (Mk. 16:7), as if to emphasize his temporary downfall. Although Luke is a longer Gospel record, he omits the rebukes to Peter which we find in Mark’s record. The conclusion I draw from all this is that it was Peter’s very humanity and the way he rose above his failures which were the basis for his position of eldership in the early church. In this he sets today’s church leadership and electorates a challenging example.

 


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