- Feb 28, 2009
Early Extra-Biblical Sources Affirming Paul's Apostleship
If Paul was not a true Apostle then we would not expect to find numerous instances of the earliest extra-biblical writers (who were often students of the original Apostles) affirming Paul’s apostleship and viewing his writings as Scripture. If Paul was not a true Apostle, but was instead a false usurper, we would expect at least some evidence from the 1st century followers of Jesus and the Apostles to state their case in opposing Paul relegating him to the status of imposter. However, the earliest evidence is conclusive in affirming Paul’s reliability.
Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35-110)
Ignatius of Antioch was a 1st century pupil of the original Apostles.(23) This is important because if Paul was a false teacher and usurper, Ignatius, being a follower of the Apostles and their Gospel (he often quoted the Gospels of Matthew and John as well), would have pointed out Paul’s supposed theological errors or commented on Paul being a supposed false Apostle. However, this 1st century martyr Bishop offers early data in support of Paul's
association with the other Apostles as well as Paul’s rightful authority in the church. ....
Polycarp of Smyrna (A.D. 69-155)
Polycarp was a 1st century Bishop like Ignatius. He was also a student or pupil of John and the other Apostles. We know this from his writings as well as his contemporary who knew him, Irenaeus (A.D. ?-202). We also know this from Tertullian (A.D. 160-220). Polycarp’s contemporary Irenaeus makes mention of the fact that Polycarp was a Pupil of John and a Pupil of the Apostles being appointed Bishop of the church in Smyrna by the Apostles themselves. Irenaeus also mentions that Polycarp was a martyr for the Christian faith:
Clement of Rome (A.D. ?-101)
Clement of Rome was a 1st century Christian secretary of the church at Rome responsible for correspondence with other churches.(27) There is also evidence to suggest that he was a prominent presbyter of the Roman church. Some believe he was the “fellow worker” Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:3. In his work Against Heresieschapter 3, book 3, section 3 Irenaeus, the 2nd century early writer, notes that Clement of Rome knew the original Apostles:
"...after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostlesstill echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles."
In his letter The First Epistle of Clementalso known as First Epistle to the Corinthians written in A.D. 96 Clement states the following about Paul:
“Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee,and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.”(28)
“Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you.”(29)