This is my second post on the portrayal of Paul in the book of Acts.  In the one previous I tried to show, briefly, how the account of Paul’s activities in Luke’s narrative do not gel well with what he says in his own letters.  Here I address the question that was originally raised: his teachings.  Do the things Paul says in Acts coincide with what he himself indicates?   I won’t give a detailed discuss, but just look at one key passage.  Again, this is drawn from my book The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.


Paul’s Teaching.

Almost all of Paul’s evangelistic sermons mentioned in Acts are addressed to Jewish audiences. This itself should strike us as odd given Paul’s repeated claim that his mission was to the Gentiles. In any event, the most famous exception is his speech to a group of philosophers on the Areopagus in Athens (chap. 17). In this speech, Paul explains that the Jewish God is in fact the God of all, pagan and Jew alike, even though the pagans have been ignorant of him. Paul’s understanding of pagan polytheism is reasonably clear here: pagans have simply not known that there is only one God, the Creator of all, and thus cannot be held accountable for failing to worship him. Since they have been ignorant of the true God, rather than willfully disobedient to him, he has overlooked their false religions until now. With the coming of Jesus, however, he is calling all people to repent in preparation for the coming judgment (Acts 17:23–31).

This perspective contrasts sharply with the views about pagan idolatry that Paul …

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