2 Corinthians 11:5—Was Paul the greatest or the least of apostles?

Problem: Here Paul claimed, “I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5). And elsewhere he would have us believe that he is “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9). But it would seem that both cannot be true.

Solution: Paul is speaking in different contexts. In one passage, he is speaking with respect to his ability, training, and zeal. However, unlike the other apostles, Paul had persecuted the church of Christ before his conversion and, therefore, considered himself unworthy even to be an apostle (cf. Gal. 1:13; Acts 9:1). So with respect to his preconversion antagonism to Christ he rightly considered himself “the least of the apostles.”

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.