Hengel on the Apostles’ Message
It is not a matter of chance that in his letters Paul sometimes refers by way of allusion to the narration of stories about Jesus. These allusions presuppose that the readers know more (1 Corinthians 11:23ff; 15:3ff; Romans 1:3; 15:8; Philippians 2:6-11; Galatians 4:4 etc.). We must assume that in his mission preaching — which fades right into the background in his letters — Paul also of course told stories about Jesus, and primarily the passion story, the account of the crucifixion of Jesus ... These isolated references are therefore all the more important ... According to the earliest Christians the saving event was 'history', which comprised not only the death and resurrection of Jesus as the specific event lying at the heart of salvation, but also his activity and the authentication of the apostles by the risen Jesus.
— Martin Hengel, Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity (1979) quoted in John Dickson's book The Best Kept Secret in Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips (2010) pp. 136, 137.
If this is the case (and I think it is) then Paul’s letters need to be interpreted in the light of the Gospel stories — even though the Gospels were actually written down at a later date.
And, (more practically speaking) preaching and teaching and ministry needs to be first and foremost about Jesus — not doctrine.
Our witness needs to be first and foremost about Jesus.
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