Recently I had a discussion in which it was suggested, perhaps indirectly, that Paul and Jesus might have disagreed on something that is part of our Bible. The topic (not relevant to this discussion -- just for clarification) was whether or not it was possible to be pro-life and pro-capital punishment. I cited Paul (among others). He cited Jesus. Ergo, it would appear that Jesus and Paul disagreed on the topic of capital punishment, with Paul falling on the "pro" side and Jesus clearly standing opposed.

What to do when Jesus and Paul (or any other Scripture) disagree? How do we decide which was right? Well, that's easy, isn't it? The Son of God would be right and anyone who disagrees with Him would be wrong. Problem solved. Or is it?

Have you heard of "red letter Christians"? That's a cute way of indicating those people who classify themselves as Christians by taking those red-letter texts -- you know, the ones that Jesus said -- as absolutely true and setting the rest aside as questionable at best. Those who think like that are fine with the decision-making process above. "Jesus said it; that's it. Paul is in question."

So who would not be fine with it? Well, Paul, for starters. He's the one who wrote that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3.16-17" data-version="nasb95" data-purpose="bible-reference" target="_blank" style="text-decoration-line: none; color: rgb(70,149, 156); font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;">2 Timothy 3:16-17). So if Jesus is God Incarnate (John 1.1-3" data-version="nasb95" data-purpose="bible-reference" target="_blank" style="text-decoration-line: none; color: rgb(70,149, 156); font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;">John 1:1-3), then all Scripture is, technically, the words of Jesus. (Remember, John refers to Him as "the Logos", the Word, the actual expression of God.) Even Paul's. Peter held that Paul's writings were Scripture (2 Peter 3.15-16" data-version="nasb95" data-purpose="bible-reference" target="_blank" style="text-decoration-line: none; color: rgb(70,149, 156); font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;">2 Peter 3:15-16). So if all Scripture is God-breathed, then what Paul wrote is just as much Jesus's words as what the red letter versions put up as Jesus's words. And, of course, Jesus held the Old Testament as Scripture, so that would be just as much Jesus's words as anything in the New Testament.

What do I do when Jesus and Paul disagree? Nothing, really. Because, well, they don't. So the problem isn't them. The problem is me. That's when I back up and figure out where I made the wrong turn. And, as it turns out, I usually find it pretty easily. But pitting Scripture against Scripture -- even Jesus against Paul or Peter or anyone else -- is a bad option if you're going to take Scripture seriously. Countering a Scripture with a Scripture is all well and good as long as you plan to make them agree. Proving that Scripture contradicts someone's point of view is just fine. Arguing that Scripture contradicts Scripture -- that Jesus contradicts Paul -- proves something that won't help you at all.