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Second Peter & Its Reference to Paul

The Argument for Paul from 2 Peter 3:15-17

Those who seek to claim Paul is as inspired as Moses or Jesus
rely upon 2 Peter 3:15-17 which says some twist Paul like they
"do other Scripture" to their destruction. The same passage is
otherwise very unflattering to Paul -- first denigrating his
writings as "difficult to understand" using the Greek
word "dysnoetas." This is a term used as ridicule meaning
"nonsensical." The Greek dysnoetas was used this very way
by another Christian early 'father' -- Lucian -- referring to a
false prophet who replied to Lucian's inquiries with multiple
responses which Lucian said were "silly and nonsensical"
(dysnoetas) -- every one." (Lucian's work Alexander the False
Prophet, para. 54.) In the same pattern of denigrating Paul,
Second Peter continues, calling Paul a "brother" (not an
apostle) who had "wisdom as God gave him" (rather than
inspiration). These multiple negatives make it very hard for
those who wish to rely upon the "other Scripture" reference as
a positive to accept Second Peter as entirely inspired. Hence,
at least one -- Calvin -- who knew what dysnoetas really
meant -- rejected Second Peter as authentic for using this term
in reference to Paul's writings. Moreover, those who rely upon
the 'other scripture' reference also read far too much into this
as a supposed positive, as we shall see.
Is Second Peter Truly Canonical?
The first question is whether anyone, including those
endorsing Paul or those disputing Paul's validity (as myself)
can truly rely upon 2 Peter 3:15-17 as inspired writ.
Calvin, one of the leaders of the Reformation of the 1500s,
disliked Second Peter's criticism of Paul. For this reason
Calvin concluded it could not have been written by Peter.
Calvin regarded the fault Peter found about Paul as "difficult
to understand" in 2 Peter 3:15-17 outweighed any positives
stated by Second Peter. The words attributed to Peter implies,
as the Bethel Church of God explains:
Based on the above texts, as well as others, there is only one
way to understand Paul’s Epistles. They must be
interpreted by the clear texts in the Bible, texts that
are not difficult to understand. ("Understanding Paul,"
Bethel Church of God (2012).)
Thus, Calvin disliked this implication because it means to
interpret Paul, you must begin by excluding Paul from
consideration. You would then have to start with Jesus and the
apostles whose words are clear, and only then would you see
how and to what extent Paul is compatible. Then if Paul's
words are at odds with Jesus or the apostles, then one must
dismiss those words of Paul as "difficult to understand." Paul
would become essentially irrelevant if we heeded 2d Peter
But Calvin adored the doctrines he found in Paul of
predestination of the lost, sovereignty of God over evil (i.e.,
God makes all evil happen and no man has free will), and once
you experienced regeneration, you could commit no sin that
would cause the loss of salvation ("once in grace, always in
grace"). Most of those doctrines can only be articulated from
very vague and difficult to understand passages in Paul.
Calvin acknowledged therefore that if Peter truly criticized
Paul as "difficult to understand" this undercuts Paul's
inspiration and anyone's right to meaningfully use Paul to
interpret Christianity. Calvin realized Second Peter is a
profound and deep cut on Paul. Thus, Calvin concluded
Second Peter was not written personally by Peter, relying
principally on this issue of the criticism Second Peter contains
of Paul.
Calvin's introductory comment to 2d Peter is
at http://www.biblestudyguide.org/comment/calvin/comm_vol
45/htm/vii.htm. Calvin says "doubts...ought not keep us from
reading it...." "there are probable conjectures by which we
may conclude that it was written by another than Peter." "If it
be received as canonical, we must allow Peter to be the
author." However, in this introduction, Calvin never tell us it
is canonical, and this is because he later disaffirms any true
apostolic support for its supposed inspiration.
When it comes to the key passage that says "Paul is difficult to
understand" which leads into it saying that Paul's words are
misconstrued as "other Scripture," Calvin realizes that to take
the good of this Epistle requires taking a very bad pill which
undermines Paul. So Calvin disaffirms the entire Epistle was
written by Peter. Calvin writes:
And yet, when I examine all things more narrowly, it seems to
me more probable that this Epistle was composed by another
according to what Peter communicated, than that it was
written by himself, for Peter himself would have never
spoken thus. (Bible Study Guide.)
Barclay Also Realized Second Peter Intriguingly Critizes
The importance of this comment is explained by the famous
William Barclay. He records that in the commentary, Calvin
recognized 2d Peter criticizes Paul, and thus Calvin finally
came down with the view that Peter did not write this epistle:
"With its reference to Paul and its tinge of criticizm of him,
this is one of the most intriguing passages in the New
Testament. It was this passage which made reformer John
Calvin certain that Peter did not write himself 2 Peter because,
he says, Peter would not have spoken about Paul like this."
(William Barclay, The Letters of James and
Peter(Westminster, John Knox Press, 2003) at 401.)

Second Peter Thus Contains Several Put-Downs of Paul

So if 2d Peter is inspired, it conveys several direct criticisms /
subtle put-downs about Paul. And 2d Peter's anti-Paul slant is
precisely the primary reason why Calvin did not accept 2d
Peter as actually written by Peter. It supposedly got garbled
somehow. Calvin first doubted it in the introduction to his
commentary on Second Peter. Then Calvin in the main
commentary disaffirmed Second Peter as having a truly
reliable source -- Peter himself as author, reviewer or editor.
Thus, Calvin can only be construed as having knocked away
any canonical basis for Second Peter's joinder to the Bible if
you want to keep Paul as an inspired figure.
Alas! Second Peter Is The One Obvious Pseudograph In
the NT
While I truly wish 2d Peter were canonical so I could exploit
fully the important flaw in Paul identified in 2d Peter, there
are good reasons to agree with Calvin that Second Peter is a
fabrication. For example, why did its author mispell the name
of Simon Peter as Simeon Peter? In 2 Peter 1:1, it is "Simeon
Peter," unlike in 1 Peter and everywhere else in the NT except
Acts 15:14. ("Authorship of Petrine Epistles," Wikipedia.)
Hard to dispute that! For why would Peter spell his own name
differently in two different letters that he both supposedly
Many other reasons are discussed below why Second Peter is
a pseudograph, and only emerged in the NT canon at a very
late stage --- 367 A.D.
The five-volume Interpreter’s Dictionary of the
Bible (published by Abingdon Press of the United Methodist
church with 8400 articles by 900 scholars "in service of the
church") contains J.B. Meyer's article which explains his view
that it is falsely attributed to Peter after setting out the facts:
The author has adopted the name of the foremost apostle
Peter, to enhance the authority of his letters - a practice not
unknown in the early church. We have evidence of a rich
Petrine literature. Fragments of a Gospel of Peter, an Acts of
Peter, and an Apocalypse of Peter have survived... Second
Peter belongs to this class of literature. Both internal and
external evidence show with cumulative force
the impossibility of ascribing the letter to Peter, the disciple
and apostle... No theory of secretarial aid can explain the
differences in style and thought between 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
Hence, this conservative treatise agrees that 2d Peter is a
pseudo-graph and not written by Peter.
Yet, you can find arguments for 2 Peter as truly by Apostle
Peter at this link, To repeat, I wish these arguments were
persuasive and accepted because 2 Peter aids the case
against Paul as an authority. For precisely how 2 Peter
perfectly proves the Jesus' Words Only Principle even if Paul
were inspired," see our "The Jesus' Words Principle
However, I am forced to concede with defenders of Paul like
Calvin that I cannot fully exploit 2d Peter as inspired. Calvin
found fault with 2 Peter because it criticized Paul, and thus
Calvin dismissed it as truly canonical. Scholarship confirms
Calvin's conclusion. Therefore I unfortunately cannot use it
to provide an inspired statement that "Paul is difficult to
understand" or that Peter truly only regarded Paul as a
"brother" (not an apostle) or Peter only thought Paul
spoke with the "wisdom God gave him" (rather than
For the same reason, defenders of Paul who are intent to use
the "other Scripture" reference which is part of this very same
passage -- misunderstood anyway as explained next -- cannot
use it to salvage Paul as inspired. For 2d Peter certainly
(sadly) was a pseudograph.
Scripture Back Then Did Not Mean 'Scripture' As We Use
The Word Today
Even if 2d Peter were inspired (and I wish it were), 2d Peter
tells us what people in the 300s were saying about Paul. The
first question to interpret is whether this reference to Paul's
writings as among "other Scripture" truly meant by "Scripture"
what we mean today by the term "Scripture" -- inspired writ.
We have shortened "holy scripture" down to "Scripture," but
in the days of Peter "scripture" did not mean necessarily an
inspired writing.
The term "scripture" in this verse was likely at best a reference
to the third part of the three-fold division of the Jewish Bible
at that time. It was called the "Writings" or "Scripture"
In those days, "Scripture" did not mean 100% inspired-writ,
which is precisely why a writing such as Daniel's prophecy
was put in the third section -- the "Writing/Scripture" section -
- before his Messianic prophecy was validated in the time of
Christ. By the time of Jesus, Jews did not yet place Daniel in
the "Prophets" section because they still thought it an
uninspired work. They kept it in the "Scripture" (Writings)
section because one day it may prove to be prophetic but at
that time it was not yet established to be so.
Hence "Writings" or "Scriptures" to a Jew meant this category
of writings included in the Bible for safe-keeping / edification,
intended to identify it as either entirely not yet recognized as
inspired (e.g., Daniel) or partly inspired and partly not, e.g.,
Psalms. See "Writings Section of Original Jewish Bible."
Hence, to say something belonged to that "Writings" section,
one would say in Greek that it was "Scripture" -- and thus the
term "Scripture" was used 180 degrees opposite of what we
mean today by "Scripture." Thus, we are reading into Second
Peter something it did not intend to apply. We are using our
modern concept of "Scripture" to interpet a 1st century
meaning which was OPPOSITE of our meaning.
Thus, Second Peter did not intend to elevate Paul's words to
inspired status by placing it among the "Scripture." Rather, it
sought at best that we see Paul's words as on par with the
"Writings" aka Scripture / third section of the OT. The
Writings/Scripture was regarded as edifying and only
sometimes inspired. This third section was distinct from Torah
(Law) and Prophets which were regarded as 100% inspired.
Thus, it is important that Second Peter does not categorize
Paul as a prophet, and instead placed him on par with the
"Scripture." It was a slight, not a compliment.
Our modern use of the word "Scripture" has become more
broad than what it meant in the day that Second Peter was
written. Our modern misconception was due to a
mistranslation of 2 Tim. 3:16. This was mistranslated by
adding the italicized word: "All scripture is inspired of God is
useful for edification and teaching." (See Writings Section of
Original Jewish Bible.) Remove the is, and all it says is "All
scripture inspired of God is useful for edification and
teaching." It does not say all scripture is inspired of God -
investing the word "scripture" standing alone as implying
always it is inspired. A major mistake has led to a
misunderstanding of 2 Peter 3:15-18.
Modern scholars have finally corrected this mistranslation of 2
Tim. 3:16. However, this long indulgence in a wrong
translation has led to an exaggerated importance of the term
"Scripture." Thus, when reading 2 Peter 3:15-18 with this
wrong light on the word "Scripture," this improperly gave
Paul a presumed equality with the words of our Divine Lord.
Also, the fact Paul mentions several times he is not speaking
any message from the Lord and other times says he is
speaking such a message from the Lord (link) would imply
Paul had the view of himself as "Scripture" (not Prophetic)
just as Second Peter implies. For sometimes Paul believes he
speaks with inspiration (when he says the Lord gave him a
message). Other times, Paul believes he is not speaking with
inspiration. For these passages in Paul's own words, see "Paul
Admits He Often Speaks without Inspiration."
Thus, the reference to Paul's writings as "Scripture" in 2 Peter
did not have a meaning that it was inspired. This is using the
modern meaning of "Scripture" to apply the same meaning as
true when Second Peter was written. This is untrue as a matter
of history and as to even Paul's usage of the term "scripture" in
2 Tim. 3:16 when translated correctly.
What Was The Dangerous Doctrine Deduced By
Those Twisting Paul?
Another reason I wish 2d Peter were inspired is because it
identifies what was the aim of those "twisting" Paul as they do
"other Scripture." They were trying to find "lawless" positions
from what Paul wrote about against the Law.
Let's read 2 Peter 3:16-17 (NIV) again to see this:
16 There are some things in them hard to understand, which
the ignorant and unstable twist totheir own destruction, as
they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since
you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with
the error of the lawless and lose your own stability.
Indeed, traditional Christian leaders and most Christians do
interpret and twist Paul’s writings to their and their followers’
own destruction. Additionally, they are carried away with the
error of the lawless - those who oppose the Law given Moses
which Jesus specifically endorsed in Matthew 5:17-19. The
result is to cause themselves and others to be found WITH
“spot or blemish” instead of without!
Do not casually miss the enormously important information
Second Peter provides in verse 17 - a warning that applies now
just as much as then. The LAWLESS (anti-torah) people are
the ones Second Peter explicitly warns us about when it says
we are not to be "carried away with the error of the lawless
and lose your own stability." Furthermore, the stability to
which he refers is at least in part the stability provided by
reverence and observance of God's eternal Law!
Next, I will begin excerpting prior letters and portions of my
books that discuss 2 Peter.

"Brother" Paul & "Wisdom" from God in

Second Peter [Email of May 24, 2010 to
[Here is an email where I answer this question about why
Second Peter refers to Paul as a "brother" and what does
"wisdom" from God mean.]

You ask why 2d Peter 3:15 refers to Paul as "beloved brother"

and says Paul spoke according to the "wisdom given him by

After one solidly understands, as Calvin did, that 2 Peter 3:15-

17 is a strong criticism about Paul as one whose "words are
difficult to understand," then one should understand 3:15 is in
the same vein. The words were as kind as possible yet
represent veiled criticism.

First, whoever wrote 2d Peter, and I wish it were Peter, was

being kind about Paul. To call him a "beloved brother" when
Paul claimed to be an apostle was putting Paul in his place --
gently and kindly. If Paul were an apostle, why didn't Second
Peter call Paul an "apostle"? He didn't do so. That, I would
interpret, was purposeful. A criticism in line with what else is
spoken about Paul in this passage.

Next, this quote includes the wisdom reference which you

quote. I would interpret this as another put down on Paul. It
refers to the "wisdom" as God gave Paul, which is
something an uninspired person may receive from God. It did
not say the "words from God as God gave Paul."

Hence, 2 Peter 3:15-17 allows us to infer whoever wrote

Second Peter thought:
a) Paul is difficult to understand and those ambiguities
have led many to fall from their steadfastness
in Christ into "lawless" doctrine;
b) Paul is a brother -- not an apostle; and
c) Paul spoke with the wisdom God gave him, and not by

"Why be so kind?' is your apparent question if Paul was as

much trouble as I contend. 'Why not bluntly call these issues

My view is that Jesus told the apostles through a parable how

to handle those who are tares sown by the enemy. In the
Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the objective is to leave
them in the church and not exclude them. Let the angels make
the separation later. We are not so wise to know how to
differentiate a wheat from the tare.

At the same time, it would be proper for an apostle like Peter

to help us identify the proper level of authority of Paul. Peter
properly would be saying nicely and without offense, in effect,
'don't follow a mere brother who spoke with wisdom, not
inspiration, and whose words are hard to understand. Stay
steadfast in Christ.' That is all an apostolic voice like Peter
had to say. To go beyond testing Paul's words for validity can
end up in unnecessary fault-finding of him as a person, etc.
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares dictates a kinder
approach. I think that is what 2d Peter represents. A kind,
gentle approach to Paul yet still with 3 distinct
criticisms which I just mentioned.

If you observe how I test Paul, I invest him with all good faith,
and I attribute no malevolence to him whatsoever. I don't think
he deliberately lied about being a believer in Christ or with a
malicious purpose. Yet, his statements were often untrue.
There is a difference. Paul was mistaken in his views about his
apostleship (i.e., what a true apostle of Jesus Christ means),
the doctrines he taught, etc. Also, he fulfilled the Benjamite
Wolf prophecy of Genesis 49 by killing Christians initially
and then separating/dividing them between Gentiles and Jews.
Paul had no idea that he was fulfilling prophecy, but it does
not change the fact God tells us that Paul was the Benjamite
Wolf -- whom Jesus also tells us was the wolf in sheep's

Did that help?

Blessings Doug

The Importance of Chapter Two of Second Peter To

Understand 2 Peter 3:14-18
[The following is an excerpt from Jesus Words on
Salvation (2009) at 501 et seq. where I discuss how the 3d
century church used Second Peter to fight off Marcion's
emphasis on faith alone for salvation:]
An early answer within the church to this identical
quandary of Paul’s belief alone verses (at least as ‘twisted by
some’) was to regard such problem verses in Paul as “difficult
to understand.” (Self-contradiction causes uncertainty.)
Hence, the early church taught these belief alone pas-
sages were an impermissible basis to stray from what Jesus —
our Sole Teacher (Matt. 23:8,10) and Divine Lord — taught
us. Second Peter bluntly provides this solution.
Second Peter warned us that Paul says many things that
are “difficult to understand” (2 Peter 3:17) and many people
twist Paul’s words so that they fall from their “steadfastness in
Christ” to their own destruction.
Second Peter continues and makes clear that it is talking
about the doctrines of Paul that are a cheap grace — that lead
Christians to think accepting Christ one time allows you to sin
later and still go to heaven. If you follow the belief alone
implication that lets go of obedience for salvation, Second
Peter says you stop following Jesus. You lose your
“steadfastness” in Christ.
In fact, what is remarkable is how clear this is explained
in Second Peter 2:20-21. For it unequivocally says in Greek
that it would have been better you never had accepted (epi-
ginoska, not merely ginoska) the Lord Jesus Christ than to
have accepted (epi-ginoska) Him, and then be overcome again
later by sinning.
Apostle John likewise used epignosei to refer to a sav-
ing epi-gnosis as long as it continues. Apostle John said any-
one who “epignosei [continuous tense, present participle
active] — keeps on accepting — the Son also has the Father.”
(1 John 2:23.)
This tells us that Second Peter — which uses the
same epignosei — says it would be better to have never had
the Son and Father by epignose-ing the Son than to have had
them but then be tripped up by a doctrine that licenses sin as
salvation-wise safe, and then become lost again.
Unfortunately, rather than heed Second Peter, most
evangelicals are subjected to translators who torture Second
Peter 2:20-21 so it is neutralized from undermining their ‘free
to sin and yet be saved’ doctrine. This teaching is known as
Eternal Security which they deduce from Paul’s writings.
Translation Of Second Peter Chapter Two To Obscure Its
For Second Peter is translated typically so that it no
longer speaks about those who “accepted” Jesus. Second Peter
really says those accepting Him are falling from salvation due
to demoralizing doctrine.
Second Peter also clearly specifies what is the wrong
demoralizing teaching of those who ‘twist’ Paul. They
promise that you have liberty in Christ to sin and remain
“(17) These are springs without water, and mists driven
by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness hath been
reserved. (18) For, uttering great swelling words of vanity,
they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those
who are just escaping from them that live in error;
(19) promising them liberty, while they themselves are
bondservants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome,
of the same is he also brought into bond age. (20) For if, after
they have escaped the defilements of the world through
theepignosei knowledge [acceptance] of the Lord and Sav
iour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and
overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the
first. (21) For it were better for them not to
have epiginosko known [accepted] the way of righteousness,
than, after knowing [sic: accepting] it,to turn back from the
holy commandment delivered unto them. (22) It has hap
pened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog
turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had
washed to wallowing in the mire.” (2Pe 2:17-22 ASV.)
The word epignosei and epignosko used in verses 20 and
21 is often mistranslated as knowledge and know respectively.
Yet, not one dictionary definition
of epignoseiincludes knowledge. The Greek prefix epi is
meant to convey ‘above the norm, over and above.’ The
prefix epi thus intends to intensify ginosko. Thus, Vines says
its primary meaning is “to know thoroughly (epi, ‘intensive’
[of] ginosko, ‘to know.’”) Thus, the definition is some
meaning beyond mere knowledge. Moreover, to suggest these
people “escaped...through [mere] knowledge” of Jesus the
evils of the world is silly. These people escaped the miasmata,
meaning “defilement, stain of guilt” of the kosmos. These
must be Christians. Thus, epignosei obviously is intended to
convey that meaning.
What epignosei means in the LSJ Middle Lexicon is
essentially (1) to look upon, observe; or (2) “recognize, know
again, to acknowledge or approve...[iii] to come to a decision,
to resolve, decide.” The most obvious English synonym that
fits the context is “acceptance” and “accept” in verses 20 and
21. Incidentally, Paul uses epignosei in the same manner in
Titus 1:1 about what saves. There the KJV translates it
correctly as “acknowledging [i.e., accepting] the truth.” The
same is true of 1 John 2:23 which is discussed below.
In 2 Peter 2:20-21, it ordinarily is translated so that
supposedly people who merely knewabout Jesus fell away by
being taught there is a “liberty” to sin as a Christian. Yet, if
Second Peter had meant that persons who merely knew about
Jesus are at issue, the proper word to use would have
been ginoska (know). It certainly would not be epi-ginosko. A
Greek would understand the verb epi-ginosko due to the
prefix epi is intended to intensify the verb to know. Hence, it
could only mean accept or acknowledge in this context.
Moreover, it appears suspiciously inconsistent to render 1
John 2:23 to say the one who is “acknowledging the Son also
has the father,” but rendering the same word in 2 Peter 2:20-
21 as ‘know.’ The effect of the inconsistency is that the reader
is misled. The uninformed Christian is led to think Second
Peter is concerned about those who never have
accepted/acknowledged Christ but merely know about Him.
Yet, Second Peter is truly warning those who have accepted
Christ unto a saving relationship with the Father and Son that
they do not realize that it would be better never to
have accepted Christ than to listen to a ‘twisting of Paul’s
words,’ and be seduced thereby to think that sinning is
salvation-safe. Second Peter means it is not possible for a
Christian to safely accept such a liberty to sin even when Paul
appears to say so.
How Could It Be Better Never To Have Accepted Christ?
Then what does Second Peter mean? Obviously, the only
way it would be better never to have accepted Christ is that
you not only go to hell, but also you receive extra lashes
forknowingly flaunting Jesus’ commands based on being led
astray by "hard-to-understand" passages in Paul’s writings.
Did Jesus ever teach this extra-lashes principle, thus
strengthening this reading? Yes, He did!
Jesus taught this in Luke’s Gospel. He spoke about what
will happen to disobedient servants of His. Jesus says the ones
who actually knew His will but did not do it receive more
lashes than the ones who are disobedient but ignorant of His
will. Both types of disobedient servants are in hell, but the
ones who receive a worse whipping are the ones
who knew their Lord’s will and still disobeyed:
And that servant, who knew his lord’s will, and made
not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be
beaten with many stripes; (48) but he that knew not,
and did thingsworthy of stripes, shall be beaten with
few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of
him shall much be required: and to whom they
commit much, of him will they ask the more. (Luke
What should have been the modern response to Second
Peter? It should have put us on alert to any and everything
Paul says. There is a fatal and destructive message that can be
construed from Paul’s writings due to their "difficult to
understand" nature, Second Peter says. This message is
identified as a message of “liberty.” In context, it is obvious
the misleading message is what we call today faith alone
doctrine. This alone part of the label signifies that no
disobedience can destroy your salvation.
Faith alone supposedly does it all for you. Second Peter yet
warns a double dose of damnation for those so duped. For you
have accepted the Son, but later became seduced by passages
in Paul to break “the holy commandments.” (2 Peter 2:21.)
Yet, you knewthe Lord Jesus’ will was very different. You
knew Jesus said ‘repent or perish,’ and ‘heaven maimed or
hell whole’ (Mark 9:42-47; Matt 18:6-8). Now, for flagrantly
disregarding the Lord’s will, you will suffer a double portion
in hell. That’s what Second Peter is bluntly saying.

Jerome’s Low View Of Paul’s Writings Akin To Second

Another confirmation that we are reading Second Peter
correctly is to examine Jerome’s comments about Paul.
Jerome translated the Greek NT in 411 A.D. into the Latin
Vulgate. Jerome in his Commentary on Galatians and Ephe-
sians wrote: “Paul does not know how to develop a hyperba-
ton [i.e., a change of normal word order for emphasis], nor to
conclude a sentence; and having to do with rude people, he
has employed the conceptions, which, if, at the outset, he had
not taken care to announce as spoken after the manner of
men, would have shocked men of good sense.” (Gaussen: 119
quoting Comm. Galatians Bk 11, titl. Bk 1, i.1; and Comm.
Ephesians Bk. 11: 3.1.) Gaussen interprets the implication of
Jerome's commentary as follows:
Such being then the traces of infirmity which we can
follow in the Scriptures, it remains impossible to recognize in
such a book an inspiration that goes even to the lesser details
of their language. (Louis Gaussen, Theopneusty, or, The
plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (1843) at 100 -- at
this google-books link.)
In other words, unless you read Paul with extreme care,
he is unintelligible and appears contradictory of good sense.
One can untangle it, Jerome seems to imply. Yet, Jerome also
implies it is very difficult treading to do so. Obviously, basing
doctrine on Paul was regarded as precarious in the early
church. As Gaussen says, Jerome's words implied Paul is
useable for edification, but placed Paul's words outside the
realm of truly inspired writ.
[PS Gaussen goes on to defend the full inspiration of
everything in Holy Scripture as we have assembled it, for he
felt there is nowhere one can draw a line to keep any of it as
inspired once you go down this road. I disagree. Regardless,
my point of referencing Gaussen is solely to see Gaussen
recognizes Jerome's remarks from 400 AD are a criticism on
viewing Paul as inspired.]
What Do We Do With Paul’s Cheap Grace Verses?
Then what of the cheap grace verses in Paul such
as Romans 4:5? For the one following Christ, this is no
problem. For we follow Christ, and always remember His
words are above all — as the great prophet John the Baptist
Thus, we can take the wise path laid out by Second Peter.
It warned us that we can never safely reject Jesus’ doctrine. If
we do so, even if it is in reliance on Paul’s “difficult to
understand” cheap grace verses, we will fall from our
steadfastness in Christ.
Second Peter was telling us that twisting the costly-grace
Paul to become the cheap-grace Paul is a waste of a
Christian’s time and energy. Study the Master — your one and
only Teacher (Matt. 23:10) — just as the Master taught. To
spend time trying to make the Master who taught a costly-
grace Gospel to match a disciple (Paul) when the disciple
cheapens the price of salvation is to invert their relationship.
Such an approach makes the disciple the Master, and the
Master his inferior, as Kierkegaard warned. God forbid!