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Did the Apostle Paul believe Jesus was the Prophet-like-Moses? And does it matter? Post 7 - A look at Paul in the Acts accounts

A look at Paul in the Book of Acts.

It has been a long time since a post to this blog, so first a brief summary of the goals and prior posts.

The intent of the series of blogs is to follow a thread that George Fox and other early Friends lifted from Scripture to describe Jesus as Messiah.  The thread starts in Deuteronomy 18:15 and goes through Peter’s sermon in Acts 3 and Stephen’s defense in chapter 7.  In prior posts I pointed to the theme in other parts of the New Testament, particularly in John and the synoptic Gospels.

This has been to lay groundwork to look at Paul.  Did Paul believe Jesus was the prophet Moses foretold?  If he did, it may be possible to read his epistles in a different light than has been taught in Protestant and Catholic circles.

The goal of this post is to examine the account of Paul in the book of Acts. 

There is no direct evidence in the text that Paul quoted the passage in Deuteronomy like Peter and Stephen did earlier.  But I believe there is indirect evidence.  First, there is Paul’s declaration to Felix in Acts 24:14, “I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and written in the Prophets!”   Other passages tell of Paul expounding or debating from the Scriptures:

  • 9:20-22 – in Damascus
  • 9:28, 29 – in Jerusalem
  • 13:27-33 – the sermon in Antioch
  • 17:2, 3 – In the Synagogue at Thessalonica
  • 17:11 – In the Synagogue at Berea
  • 26:23, 24 – The address to Agrippa
  • 28:17-28 – the meeting  with the Roman Jewish leaders

These seem to be in line other accounts where folks are connecting Jesus as Messiah with the prophetic passages.  The language and descriptions are similar:

  • Luke 24:25-50 – Jesus teaching on the road to Emmaus and to the Apostles.
  • Acts 2 and 3 – Peter’s sermons
  • Acts 7 – Stephen’s defense
  • Acts 8:33 – Philip teaching the Ethiopian
  • Acts 10 – Peter’s sermon at Cornelius’ house
  • Acts 18:18 – Apollos debating with the Corinthian Jews

In Acts 26:23, Paul declares that Moses and the Prophets said the Messiah must suffer.  This troubled me for a long time; Duet. 18:15 does not mention the Prophet suffering.  But finally I was given to see it parallels Jesus teaching in Luke 24.  And it connects directly into the context in which Peter and Stephen quote the Deuteronomy passage.  We are to listen to this Prophet, and Moses himself suffered when the people did not listen.  Moses was a Type of Jesus, to use the language of the writer of Hebrews (and Fox and the early Quaker preachers).

In Acts 8, Philip also draws the connection between Jesus and the Suffering Servant in Isaiah.  The early church closely identified Jesus (and themselves – the body of Christ) with the Servant passages.  One of the descriptions of the Servant (Isaiah 50:4-10) exhorts the readers/listeners to heed the voice of the Servant who suffers.

So, Paul was not drawing a new conclusion in his address to Agrippa in chapter 26.  Jesus and the church had already reached it.  The One who suffered is the One to be heeded.

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