“I follow Jesus, not Paul”
This is a common response from those who fear that making too much of Paul will diminish the Lord Jesus Christ.
After all, Christ is our Head, not Paul; Christ is our Saviour, not Paul; Christ is our Lord, not Paul; Christ died for our sins, not Paul!
Paul is not the Christ, but Christ sent Paul.
The Lord describes Paul as his “chosen vessel… to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
Paul was a minister of the Lord in preaching the dispensation of the grace of God and to reveal the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph 3:1-2; Col 1:25-27).
Christ sent Paul to speak for him. When they heard Paul, they were hearing God’s words.
“… when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, …” – 1 Thess 2:13
Those who were spiritual and prophetically knew God’s purpose understood that Paul spoke the commandments of the Lord.
“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” – 1 Cor 14:37
These commandments were given to him directly from the Lord Jesus.
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – Gal 1:12
“For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.” – 1 Thess 4:2
It was the Lord that sent Paul, and so the words he gave Paul to preach and to write were the words of the Lord.
To receive the Lord, men were required to receive Paul. As the Lord commands:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” – John 13:20
Even still there were those who despised Paul and rejected his special apostleship from the Lord. When their doctrine was contradicted, they would shout “we follow Moses”, “we follow Peter”, “we follow Jesus”, while at the same time rejecting the message Jesus gave to Paul.
Paul responded to these rejections in almost every epistle he wrote.
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” – 1 Cor 11:1
“For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” – 2 Cor 11:5
“He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” – 1 Thess 4:8
The Father, Son, and Spirit confirmed Paul’s message. He was not behind any of the apostles in authority, having been sent by the Lord himself.
To glorify Christ we must magnify Paul’s office.
If anyone rejects Paul, they reject Christ.