DID PETER SAY PAUL’S LETTERS ARE HARD TO UNDERSTAND?

One Hebrew Roots teachers made the following comment:

I readily stipulate that Paul says many things in his Epistles that in one letter seems to say one thing, and in another letter seems to say nearly the opposite. Since Paul was an excellent speaker, well educated and quite articulate by all accounts, Peter can only be referring to the same issue that many laymen, Pastors, Bible Scholars and Bible Teachers encounter with Paul: he seems to be contradictory on some subjects.

Contrary to the comment above, the apostle Peter never said or implied that Paul was contradictory on some subjects. Peter’s comment regarding Paul’s letters comes on the heels of Peter’s words regarding the Day of the Lord (the coming of the Lord, and the judgment of the ungodly, and the new heavens and new earth).

Peter had begun this section by saying:

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? ~ 2 Peter 3:1-4a

In the verses that follow, Peter addresses the topic of the coming Day of the Lord and how the Lord is patient giving men the opportunity to repent. Peter refers to this as the “long suffering”of the Lord. It is with this topic in mind that Peter says the following concerning Paul’s letters:

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you…

According to Peter, Paul was a beloved brother, who had also written to Peter’s audience concerning the longsuffering of the Lord in view of the Day of the Lord. Peter claims that Paul had written to them “according to the wisdom given unto him.”  That is an endorsement of Paul by Peter, who never says or implies that Paul contradicted himself.

Peter continues:

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. ~ v. 16

Is Peter saying, “some of the things Paul speaks about in his letters are hard to understand?”  Absolutely not. Peter mentions Paul’s letters as “speaking in them of these things.A reference to the very things which Peter had just written regarding the longsuffering of the Lord who gives men time to repent before the coming of the Day of the Lord.

Peter’s statement, “in which are some things hard to be understood”, is not a generalization about Paul’s letters. Instead it is a reference to the longsuffering of the Lord in view of the Day of the Lord, which Paul also addresses in some of his letters.It is this, of which Peter says, “those who are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist and misinterpret) as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter’s comments regarding Paul’s letters is not an indictment against Paul as one who contradicted himself. It is an endorsement from Peter, who thought of Paul as a “beloved brother.” Peter places Paul in the elite company of those who have written other scriptures

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