How much did Paul actually write about Jesus?

Paul’s letters are the first written account we have about Jesus. It’s not the gospels, which were written a minimum of 40 years after Jesus’ death. Even Paul’s letters are 20 years after his death.  Nothing in between! So you’d think Paul would have a lot to say regarding the life of the person he believed to be the Messiah. Not exactly.

  • Life details? Paul provides very little detail on the life of Jesus. No birth story, no mention of the names of Jesus’ parents, no miracles, and nothing about Jesus’ teachings or parables. The only familial thing he says is that he knows Jesus’ brother James (that was a strained relationship).
  • Paul’s major premise for his preaching is the crucifixion/resurrection.Yet he never mentions a betrayal story, Pilate, Herod, the soldiers, the two thieves, or any words Jesus may have spoken from the cross. No tomb. No Joseph of Arimathea. No angels. No guards. No women visitors on Sunday morning. 
  • James Tabor had some interesting observations in one of his latest blog posts — Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is the closest we have in the New Testament of an eyewitness account of an encounter with Jesus. How did that shape his view of the resurrection? Hard to say whether Paul thinks of the resurrection as a physical resuscitation or a spiritual return to heaven. Paul says merely that “on the third day” Jesus was raised “in accordance with the scriptures.”  He writes quite a bit about this in I Corinthians 15. Here is an excerpt v 42-44. 

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

We’re sure that clears it up perfectly. That’s what makes this so fun.

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