Should we accept the writings of the Apostle Paul as inspired (see 1 Corinthians 7:12)?

Second Timothy 3:16-17 claims that all Scripture is inspired by God. However, critics sometimes argue that these verses only refer to the Old Testament and that Paul's writings were not Scripture. A look at 1 Corinthians 7:12 notes that Paul differentiated his words from the Lord's words, saying, "To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her." Does this mean Paul's writings were not inspired?

One passage that directly answers this question can be found in 2 Peter 3:15-16. There we read, "And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures."

In these words, Peter notes three important aspects of Paul's letters. First, he states some parts were hard to understand. Second, Peter notes that some had twisted Paul's words "to their own destruction." Third, Peter equates Paul's writings with the "other Scriptures." These other Scriptures were the Old Testament writings, works referred to as inspired by God by the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:20-21), as well as Jesus (Matthew 5:17-20). Peter here makes the clearest comment in the New Testament that Paul's writings are inspired. This was not only the view of Peter, but was the accepted view of the earliest church fathers who included Paul's letters along with the other New Testament writings as inspired Scripture.

Commentators tend to address 1 Corinthians 7:12 by explaining that Paul is clarifying that Jesus gave no explicit commandment regarding this. Of course, there are many such issues. Paul demonstrates godly wisdom applied to the issues about which the Corinthians wrote as he responds to their questions and addresses various specifics related to marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1, 6, 40). Believers today are to do the same (James 1:5). But, again, these particular comments from Paul are in fact part of inspired Scripture. His words were written to a specific group of people at a specific time, thus they are personal. But they are relevant and instructive to us today in the same way all Scripture is (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Understood in its context, then, Paul's words to the Corinthians in chapter 7 are not addressing the inspiration of Paul's writings. Other passages help to clearly show that Paul's writings were accepted on equal ground with the Old Testament Scriptures, words affirmed by Jesus and His followers as inspired by God.

Related Truth:

The Pauline Epistles - What are they?

The Prison Epistles - What are they?

The Pastoral Epistles - What are they?

How is the Bible inspired? What does it mean for the Bible to be inspired?

Pauline Christianity – What is it?

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