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Faith Alone and Paul


In this article Plain Talk asks the question, “Does the life and teaching of Paul support the faith alone doctrine?”  Paul is claimed to be the source of the faith alone doctrine.  Is this claim true?


What was Paul’s personal conversion experience in regard to faith alone?

The Lord appeared to Paul as he was traveling to Damascus to persecute the church.  At the encounter Paul was unable to see and told to go into Damascus where he would be told what he must do. He, who thought he was doing God’s will by persecuting the church, learned he was in reality persecuting Jesus. He was undoubtedly filled with anguish; godly sorrow producing repentance.   However, after praying three days and nights, neither eating nor drinking, he was still not saved unless he was saved in his sins.  Ananias told Paul to, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins.”  Clearly baptism worked in conjunction with faith and repentance to bring about the forgiveness of sins.  Paul was saved by faith but not faith alone, he called upon the name of the Lord by believing, repenting and being baptized as the Lord commanded.  (2 Corinthians 7: 10; Acts 9: 1- 19; 22: 6- 16)


Did the Apostle Paul teach and preach the faith alone doctrine?

Although Paul is claimed as the source of the faith alone doctrine, neither he nor Jesus our Lord, nor the prophets nor anyone else in the Scriptures teach or preach a faith alone view.  The faith alone adherents cannot produce one Scripture to support their claims.


Is the concept of faith alone, consistent with those who lived by faith in the Old Testament?

In Hebrews 10: 38 we find “But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back My soul has no pleasure in Him”.  Then follows a list of individuals who lived by faith; this list includes those who lived before and after the Law.  In every case their faith is conjoined with various acts of obedience, becoming an heir of righteousness, which is according to faith.  Faith never stands alone in the Scriptures.   (Hebrews 11)


By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice

By faith Enoch was taken up—he was pleasing to God

By faith Noah prepared an ark

By faith Abraham when called obeyed

By faith he lived as an alien in a foreign land

By faith Sarah received the ability to conceive

By faith Abraham offered up Isaac

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau

By faith Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph

By faith Moses was hidden when he was born

By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah

By faith he left Egypt

By faith he kept the Passover

By faith they passed through the Red Sea

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down

By faith Rahab welcomed the spies in peace



What did Paul teach and preach about salvation and justification?

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 5: 2)

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”  (Galatians 3: 11)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.  (Ephesians 2: 8, 9)


Make no mistake, Paul taught and preached that salvation and justification are by faith, but he never, ever said by faith aloneThe faith alone doctrine is an unbiblical doctrine as it is not based on the Bible.

Since Paul states that salvation and justification are by faith and not by works, does this infer that both salvation and justification are by faith alone?

If “works” represent the totality of human response, faith alone would be inferred.  But if it does not then faith alone is not inferred. There are many good, positive responses, which should not be characterized as works.  If a response proceeds from faith in God and is motivated by love, it is not a “work”.

We realize that some taken the gospel and perverted it to a law of works.  In those cases their faith is not in God but it is in themselves, their religious heritage or their church.  Their motivation is not love but pride, envy or fear.


What are the negative  responses that do not contribute to being saved or justified?

These negative responses are:


What positive responses are found in the epistles of Paul that  do contribute to salvation and justification.?

Positive responses:


What does the relationship “in Christ” say about the faith alone doctrine?

When we considered that we are by faith baptized into Christ, and the nature of the factors that are enjoyed by being in Christ, it is clear that faith alone doctrine is unwarranted.  Plain talk knows of no other way to enter Christ except by faith to be baptized into Christ.  (Romans 3: 3: Galatians 3: 26, 27: Colossians 2: 12).


Does Paul recognize obedience as a necessity to salvation and life?

Yes he does?


What task fell primarily to the Apostle Paul?

The Holy Spirit gave Paul the task  of presenting and explaining the great doctrine of justification and salvation by faith.  He was speaking to people, the Jews, who were trying to serve God through a legal system, the Law of Moses, or to Gentiles who lived under a legal system imposed by Rome.

It is small wonder that his teaching was greatly misunderstood.  Those who believed from the Jewish community tried to mold the gospel into a law system like which they were familiar.  Eventually the Roman Catholic rose to prominence in the west, they tended to establish a hierarchal system, based on law.  This is what they knew, in either case we have Paul preaching the gospel to people that were enamored with law



Paul never directly taught the faith alone doctrine, nor did he infer it.  The very fact that he recognized a number of factors working with faith to bring about salvation, precludes the faith alone doctrine.


 God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  


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Last Update   09/26/12