ON PETER’S ERROR IN DEFENDING PAUL IN 2 PETER 3:15-16
Study Series: Paul Altered Christ, Part 6
(2 Peter 3:15-16)
15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
The last stand among Paul’s adherents in their defense of him is the statement of Apostle Peter himself which not only defended the ‘hard to understand’ epistles of Paul, but more so, openly rebuked those who scrutinize the validity of the latter's teachings. However, we have proven multiple times how Paul has written and taught things that are not only contrasting with the teachings of The Savior, but even worse, are teachings that alter The Lord’s message and have misled believers since the first century to its present form in today’s Christianity.
Should it be that because Peter defended Paul in his closing statement that we should already accept Paul’s writings as free from any evangelical error? Of course not, and for the following facts:
Fact #1: Apostle Peter was not teaching an article of faith that he received from The Savior. He was simply stating his opinion on Paul's teachings and how others relate with them.
Fact #2: There was no way that Peter had read all of Paul’s writings and epistles as they were addressed to different communities of believers. There may even be a big possibility, given the limitations of communication in that era, that Peter had not read even one letter of Paul.
Fact #3: Even the true apostles of The Christ, the Twelve, whom He had personally chosen (Lk. 6:13), have lived with Him and personally witnessed His miracles have erred in their belief as duly documented.
FACT #1 - ONLY PETER’S OPINION
The validation of Peter on Paul’s epistles is in fact very generalized. For lack of specifics, it seems to show that he is more defending Paul’s character than his doctrinal teachings. As he is simply generally expressing his opinion on Paul’s matters, he is very well entitled to it. However, we don’t have to take his opinion as gospel especially that the Scriptures have proven time and again the many erroneous suppositions of Paul and his self-generated stories - like that of his many PERSONAL encounters with The Savior and his presence in the THIRD HEAVEN (and into Paradise while hearing inexpressible words that are not lawful for a man to utter - 2 Cor. 12:1-5).
The Lord had given his apostles His Truth (Jn. 17:6-8, 14, 17-19) so that many people will believe in Him through their preaching (Jn. 17:20). This is especially true with Peter whom The Christ had given the ‘keys’ or understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, it should be made clear that any one’s faith unto The Christ Yeshua should be solely based on His Word and not on anyone's statement of opinion even if they were from any of the apostles.
FACT #2 – PETER HAS NOT READ PAUL’S EPISTLES
When Paul wrote his letters, he addressed them to the different localities where the fruits of his preaching were present. Not one of his letters that end up in today’s Canonical Bible is addressed to Peter. Would it be an ambiguous claim to say that Peter has not read any of Paul’s letters? No, in fact it is highly probable given the limitations in communication at that time? Peter was not given a duplicate copy of Paul’s letters. Another fact is that other than Rome, Peter has not been in the other locals addressed by Paul through his letters, nor had Peter been with the other preachers communicated by Paul like Timothy and Titus. How could Peter have a slight idea of Paul’s Christian perspective? This could possibly be by word of mouth from other believers who have interacted with those whom Paul has written to.
The other source of Peter’s knowledge on Paul’s perspectives are the multiple instances wherein they have personally interacted, starting from the time when Paul first joined their ranks after his apparent Messianic calling in the desert, and culminating when Paul was summoned by James to answer some issues and confusion that arose from his preaching among the Gentiles. If so, given the political skills and statesmanship of Paul, the apostles present in this meeting, namely, John, James and Peter, may have been presented a revised or watered down version of his doctrinal views. Paul's verbal discourses may have been toned down from that of his writings and epistles that have been made available to us today, via the Canonical New Testament. After all, why would he incriminate himself before the apostles whose office and stature he desperately sought out?
FACT #3 – EVEN APOSTLES ERR
To believe that Paul could not err in his writings can put one in danger of being made to believe in an alternate truth, which in essence is a lie. We have proven in many of our articles how Paul has taught erroneous teachings. Unfortunately, some of his doctrinal blunders have ended up as fundamental teachings in Christianity. We have also pointed out how he was mistaken in claiming the prophesies of The Messiah to be referring to him in his attempt to validate his special calling as The Christ’s special envoy to the Gentile world (compare Acts 13:47 with Isa. 49:6; Rom. 10:13-15 with Isa. 52:7, 10). And as mentioned above, we have presented the lack of merits of his supposed calling as well as his other personal experiences with The Lord Yeshua himself; as we also continue to question the truthfulness of his claim to have been ‘caught up’ in the third heaven or Paradise.
In fairness to Paul, even The Lord’s apostles have erred and shown doubt unto Him despite what they have personally witnessed. There were times when The Lord have called His apostles men of ‘little faith’ and have corrected their unbelief. Apostle Peter himself denied The Savior three times, while Thomas doubted His personal appearance to the other apostles after His resurrection. If the apostles who were personally chosen by The Savior - have lived with Him for all His three years of public ministry and have personally witnessed His miracles through all their five senses - have erred in one way or the other, how much more Paul whose knowledge of The Christ Yeshua was based on other people’s account?
WILL DECEIVE EVEN THE ELECT
Would it be irrational to believe that Peter was also misled by Paul? In a quick glance, it is! After all, how can the very people who were given His Word and have known all the things that The Christ learned from God be deceived (Jn. 17:6-9, 14)? And then again, why did He pray for them to be kept from the evil one?
(John 17:9, 15)
9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours… 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
Why was The Savior worried about His chosen apostles when He has already given them His Word and all the knowledge from God that they could use against the deception of the devil? Did He sense that they are still in danger of being misled in some lies?
(Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 23-26)
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many… 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many… 23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
The Christ Yeshua has warned of the possibility that even His elect (this includes His own chosen Twelve) will be deceived by false prophets. How big is this possibility that it actually caused worry unto The Savior? Not only that there are many false prophets who will rise up to deceive many, they all claim to be of Christ. His worry was so intense that He warned them to not believe anyone who claims to have seen, or heard or experience Him in the desert nor in the inner rooms! Why was The Savior adamant in His warning to not believe in anyone’s claim of His presence? It is because once He leaves them to go to The Father (Jn. 17:13 / Jn. 14:2-3, 23 / Jn. 20:17) He is not going back until the time He will take them with Him (Jn. 14:3).
Which preacher has claimed to have experienced The Christ in person in many instances and have interacted with the elect, the chosen apostles? The well documented one is Paul, the self-proclaimed apostle. He claimed to have seen and heard The Savior in person who personally commissioned him to the Gentiles.
The first instance was in the desert on his way to Damascus to round up the believers:
(Acts 9:3-7, 27)
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one…
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
The second time was in the temple after he returned from Damascus:
17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”
The third instance was also in the inner room:
10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
In all these events that supposedly happened in the life of Paul, he claimed to have heard, seen and experienced the presence of The Christ both in the desert and in the inner rooms! Isn’t this exactly what The Savior had warned His apostles? To never believe in anyone with the same claims as Paul’s? How did Paul creep into the movement of the apostles using the claim that was forewarned by Christ? Did he hide his claim from the apostles? No! In fact, when Barnabas brought him to the apostles he told them how he has seen The Lord (Acts 9:27, see also 1 Cor. 15:8)!
PAUL'S DECEITFUL PRESENTATION
How could Paul get a buy-in from the genuine apostles of Christ? One needs to understand the very political character of Paul, and how he has skillfully used this to gain prominence from within the movement of The Lord in the presence of his apostles. By Paul's own admittance, what did he do in order to get the disciples' trust and confidence?
(2 Corinthians 12:16 NASB)
16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit.
All of Christianity may disagree with me in citing this statement of Paul. But before anyone accuses me of taking Paul's own admittance of using deceit, let us put his words to the test. Has Paul used his skill of sweet-talking in order to get people's attention? Let us compare some of his statements and see how he contradicted his own statement and changed tone, not just once but on multiple occasions.
Below are some of Paul's self-contradicting statements.
VIEWS ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
(1 Corinthians 15:56)
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
(2 Corinthians 3:7)
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away...
Paul has taught to the Corinthian believers that the Ten Commandments is the 'strength of sin' and the 'ministry of death'. However, this is not what he expressed before the Jews who tried to kill him and caused his arrest in the temple:
6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.
During his defense before the governor, Paul's inclination toward the Law (or Ten Commandments) is an obvious shift from his earlier stand concerning its relevance. What else can we observed about Paul? Fearing for his safety, he let out the truth that he remained a Pharisee despite the fact that it has been decades since he started preaching about The Christ Yeshua.
UNTRAINED IN SPEECH
(2 Corinthians 11:6)
6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.
He claimed to be untrained in speech. Is that really true with Paul?
12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
How could Paul be untrained in speech when in actuality he was the chief speaker in his tandem with Barnabas at Lystra?
LEAST OF THE APOSTLES
(1 Corinthians 15:9)
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Was Paul really sincere in claiming to be the least of the apostles?
(2 Corinthians 11:5, 23)
5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.
How could he claim to be the least of the apostles and yet consider himself 'not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles' to the same audience?
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.
Concerning the manner of Paul's personal encounter with The Lord in the desert on the way to Damascus, it was first reported to Luke, the writer of Acts, that the men who were with Paul in that journey supposedly heard the voice of The Lord Yeshua. Did this remain to be the case?
9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.
These conflicting testimonies are inadmissible in any worldly court. Did those men who were with Paul hear or not hear the voice of The Savior? This is a question that would forever remain unanswered as the answer to it went to the grave with Paul and those men.
We could not question the possibility that Paul has truly evolved into a true believer of The Christ Yeshua. It is a possibility that his zeal toward him may be the single reason that moved him to also claim as an apostle of Christ (self-proclaimed). His flip-flopping claims only show an internal confusion, unless it was intended to take the believers 'by deceit' as he so claimed.
Going back to the big question at hand: How did Paul convince the apostles, especially Peter, on the soundness of his teachings? In the same manner that Peter denied The Lord three times although against his own will is how he ended up believing in some deceitful process from one who easily qualifies as a false prophet. It happened simply because God’s greatest Prophet (Yeshua) has so foretold (Mat. 24th chapter). And although Peter denied The Christ three times, He did not count it against him. Likewise, while it was Peter also who obviously believed in a false prophet like Paul, it was not meant to show his weakness, but rather to show how God’s Word in His Son has the power to be fulfilled as spoken.
Had The Savior explained how someone like Paul, a zealot and a Pharisee who ended up joining His movement, still remains to be someone who can mislead his true disciples? He had, and he even described the likes of Paul and how they could not let go of their old (judgmental Pharisaic mindset) despite having received His Truth:
52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”