Paul Writes Himself into the Tradition
15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,
of the good news that I proclaimed to you,
which you in turn received, in which also you stand,
15:2 through which also you are being saved,
if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you--
unless you have come to believe in vain.
15:3 For I handed on to you as of first importance
what I in turn had received: * see notes
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
15:4 and that he was buried,
and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,
15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred
brothers and sisters at one time,
most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born,
he appeared also to me.* see notes
15:9 For I am the least of the apostles,
unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace toward me has not been in vain.
On the contrary,
I worked harder than any of them--though it was not I,
but the grace of God that is with me. * see notes
15:11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
Paul has added 2 verses (15:8-9) to an oral
that he "received" (probably from Jesus' apostles),
which contains a list of persons to whom the resurrected Jesus appeared.
Note the discrepancies between Paul's story
and the accounts preserved in the resurrection stories of the Gospels.
In 15:8 Paul appears to have added his own
name to this list.
It would have been nonsensical for Paul's name to be included
on a list that he received from someone else.
In 15:9 Paul seems to be insinuating
that since he worked harder than the apostles,
and it was the grace of God that was doing the work,
that he was more effective at channeling the divine grace than they were.
Paul seems to be struggling to legitimize his disputed apostleship:
First, by "riding the coattails" of Jesus' real apostles.
Second, by claiming to be a greater source of grace than they are.