In His earthly ministry, Christ said to His disciples, “Follow me.” The only other man in the Bible who exhorts people to follow his example and teaching is the apostle Paul.
One of the most important truths that believers need to learn is that Paul is the divinely appointed pattern and spokesman and for the Body of Christ to follow in this present age of grace (1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1; Phil. 3:17-21; 4:9). Sadly, very few churches today recognize Paul’s authority (2 Tim. 1:15).
When I say that we are to follow Paul, I am simply quoting scripture. I am not exalting a man or making more out of Paul than the scripture does. I am certainly not putting Christ and Paul on the same level. We know that Paul was the “chief of sinners” saved by grace, while Christ is the sinless Son of God and the Savior of sinners. We know that Paul was nothing in himself while Christ is everything for “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” But it was to Paul that the glorified Lord committed the revelation of His message and program for this present dispensation.
It is not the person but the office of Paul that we magnify (Rom. 11:15). We are not to follow Paul as a man (1 Cor. 1:10-17). We are to follow the doctrine that Christ revealed through Paul (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:10-14).
Many resent the idea that we are to follow Paul. They boast that they follow the whole Bible. That is not even possible because God’s word has different things to say to different people living under different dispensations. There are different instructions in the Bible concerning the same issues! All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all written to us.
We should read and study the whole Bible. When we come across something that does not line up with what Christ said to us through the apostle Paul in this present age of grace, we must consider what Paul said first (2 Tim. 2:7). Of course, there are things that never change throughout the Bible.
We are not pitting the words of Moses, Jesus Christ, or Peter against Paul. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is therefore the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). But the word of God must be rightly divided if it is going to be understood (2 Tim. 2:15).