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DOES SECOND PETER COMMEND PAUL AS AN APOSTLE?

A friend shared with me an email from a Paul-defender named Don who argued Second Peter commends Paul as an apostle as follows:

Peter Defends Paul's Apostleship by Don

Probably the greatest proof of Paul's apostleship and authority is found in 2 Peter 3:15-16. There Peter refers to Paul as "our beloved brother." He states that Paul wrote "according to the wisdom given him." Finally, Peter refers to (apparently) a collection of Paul's letters and calls them "Scripture." It is true that, in the early church, the term "Scripture" was generally used to refer to that of the Old Testament. But notice that Peter categorized the writings of Paul in the same class as "the rest of the Scriptures," thus giving a clear indication that Paul's writings are indeed truthful and authoritative. (A collection of Paul's writings commonly known as the Pauline Corpus is dated from early in the 2nd century.) 

Jesus said, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The apostles would thus be divinely guided by the Holy Spirit in their teaching and writing. The apostle John was inspired when he recorded those words of Jesus. Luke was inspired when he wrote the account of Paul being called to be an apostle. Peter was inspired when he wrote that Paul's writings were Scripture. Thus if Paul is not to be accepted as a true apostle and his writings as genuinely inspired, then several other inspired writers must also be shunned. It would be hoped that few would be willing to go to such an extreme.

Don

My Reply

Don admits the "greatest" proof of Paul's apostleship is in Second Peter, which means Don should realize it is a sad commentary that the best poof only calls Paul a "brother," not an apostle. Don cannot cite Second Peter to prove Paul is an apostle. 

The second reason this 'best proof' must fail, besides only calling Paul a brother, is it would contradict Acts and Jesus' words in Revelation. For Acts ch. 1 proves Paul can never be the 12th apostle. The 11 prayed for Jesus's direction, and the Holy Spirit then chose by means of lots which of 2 candidates would  replace Judas as the 12th. It is clear in context the 11 knew they could not add the second candidate to the list of apostles because a 13th apostle is impermissibly too many.  Thus only Matthias replaced Judas as #12, and the other candidate was not accepted as any kind of apostle.  See Matthias Chosen as The 12th Apostle.

This matches what the Revelation of Jesus said —  that there are only 12 apostles "of the Lamb" (Jesus) to rule in the new Jerusalem. Revelation says: "The city was built on twelve foundation stones. On each of the stones was written the name of one of the Lamb's twelve apostles." (Rev. 21:14 CEV.)

So if Don said Second Peter proved Paul was a "brother," that is truly what it says, but it is no proof Paul is an apostle. Even Paul in 1 Cor. 15:5 says the "12" before himself saw Jesus resurrected, and then "lastly" Paul did, as a child born out of turn. Thus, Paul understood he was not one of the 12 apostles.

So what about Paul’s repeated claim to being an apostle in the opening verse of many epistles? For example, Ephesians 1:1.

First, in all three accounts by Luke of a voice and light outside Damascus who says "I am Jesus," Luke never has the Damascus Jesus say to Paul that Paul is an apostle. See Inconsistency in Appearance Accounts in Acts.

As a result, Paul's claim of apostleship to the Ephesians and to other churches is entirely self-serving. How do we analyze that?

Well, we know that Jesus said if He alone bore witness to Himself, then His witness would be untrue. (John 5:31, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.")

Jesus was extending the Law's principle, so that two witnesses were necessary to establish not only a wrong, but also anything as important as God sending someone for a special role.  In fact, Jesus in Revelation 2:2 clearly agrees a self-serving claim to be His apostle is insufficient:

"I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false."

Hence, Jesus condemned those who "claimed' or "said" they were apostles, who the Ephesus church put on trial ("tested") and found no corroboration that they were one of the apostles.

Thus, Paul's claim to being an apostle suffers from being self-serving, just as those who made a similar claim at Ephesus, and whom Jesus said the Ephesians properly found were not telling the truth. By a Biblical standard from Jesus Himself, Paul's self-witness "is not true."

Second Peter's Criticisms or Slights on Paul.

It should be noted that Second Peter says Paul writes by the "wisdom God gave him" but not by inspiration. Second Peter also said Paul's wisdom was sometimes not present in a material way, and in fact Paul's words were salvation threatening when read by the "ignorant and unstable." For Second Peter says Paul's writings are "sometimes dysnoetas." Noetas means sensible. Dys in Greek means "DESTROYING THE GOOD SENSE OF A WORD" (Liddell & Scott quoted at Dictionary.com]. English uses the prefix the same way. For example, non-functional means something that does not work. But dysfunctional means something that malfunctions. See Dictionary.com.

This word dysnoetas thus means  “contrary to good sense" or "destructive of good sense." You could lessen it to "nonsensical" with a pejorative intention but that may be still too soft.

However,  it is softened in translation in 1611 by the KJV as "difficult to understand." But Calvin in the early 1500s knew the Greek was a harsher term than that, and for this reason, he said Second Peter is not written by Peter, because Peter supposedly would never talk this harshly about Paul.  Calvin wrote:

"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.)

Why Did Reformers Reject Canonicity of Second Peter?

This brings up the other hurdle for Don. The leading Protestant Reformers -- both Calvin and Luther -- rejected Second Peter. Also, the church by the 300s rejected Second Peter as a falsely attributed work of Peter,  but it was allowed to be printed in canon as 'profitable' to read when read with 'other' truly valid writings. Eusebius, the major historian of the early Roman Catholic church wrote in about 325 AD: "One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. But we have learned that his extant second epistle, does not belong to the canon. Yet as it has appeared profitable, it has been used with the other scriptures." (Eusebius, History of the Church 3:3:1, in Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol. I at 254.)

Does "Scripture" in  Second Peter Mean Holy Scripture Inspired from God?

As to Don's view the word scripture means a holy inspired writing, this is incorrect. The Greek is simply graphe -- writing, and does not necessarily imply Holy Scripture. However, I understand how Don has the view otherwise due to 2 Tim 3:16 which appears to say "all scripture is inspired of God" in the King James Version (KJV), but even the KJV does not actually say that is true. 

The sentence reads properly in Greek, "all writing inspired of God is useful for edification, etc." The KJV knew this, but added an "is" after "scripture (writing),” yet italicized the "is." It did so because the KJV preface explained that italicized words in the NT are not present in the Greek. The editors would add a word like "is" there to supposedly smooth out the sentence, or provide a clearly implied term, etc. But the "is" in 2 Tim. 3:16 is properly only implied after "graphe inspired of God." For listen to how odd it reads in the Young's Literal when "graphe" is rendered properly as "writing." It reads: "Every writing is God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, etc." (2 Tim. 3:16 YLT.) This would mean, if true, that any "writing" -- such as a book I wrote -- is "God-breathed" because it is a "writing" - a graphe. (Graphe truly in Greek means nothing by itself about an inherently inspired writing unlike the English word "Scripture" which due to 2 Tim. 3:16 in the KJV gained such a meaning in English.) Then Don would have to reject Paul because my book claims Paul is not a valid apostle appointed by Jesus. So if Paul is correctly modified by the KJV to add “is” where it does not appear, then Paul’s authority is unravelled by the mere fact my book is a writing... a graphe. (I am joshing to make a point that 2 Tim. 3:16 in the KJV could not plausibly have been correct inserting IS where it did.)

Thus, the truth is the word "graphe" in Greek means any paper that contains writing, such as bills and letters.

Hence, Young's Literal's use of "writing" instead of the now distorted word "Scripture" in English allows us to see the nonsensical nature of the KJV implying "is" prior to the words "God-breathed."

 

Now many misled generations later, we don't read the preface to the KJV. We don't notice the italics for the word is means you can erase from your mind it as an addition that clearly does not belong where it was inserted. We are thereby misled to believe the word "scripture" in English is unique, and means necessarily a holy inspired writing. The “is” after “writing” impermissibly changed the meaning of the word “writing” in Greek when transmuted into our English word "Scripture," suggesting thereby it was a unique term. But the word "is" was neither implied at that point nor smoothed out the sentence. So this “scripture” argument is no argument at all for Don. See Mistranslation of 2 Tim. 3:16 affecting Meaning of "Scripture."

Conclusion

So all of Don's hope that Second Peter can sustain Paul as an apostle dissipates when Second Peter is observed not to say Paul is an apostle, nor say Paul is inspired, but also actually criticizes Paul's writings as sometimes destructive of good sense.  And the scripture reference actually backfires, as Peter compared Paul to any kind of writing that causes people to stumble from their 'steadfastness' in Christ into "lawlessness." (NIV 2P3:17).

Finally, while I wish Second Peter was truly inspired, I am out voted by the Paulinists. They wish to do so to protect Paul. They have ganged up to reject Second Peter as any kind of true commentary on Paul's writings. Don will realize he needs to keep Second Peter out of canon if he studied the word dysnoetas in the original Greek usages in true Greek dictionaries of unbiased scholarship. (I suspect he relies on Strong’s for Greek meanings. However, Strong's is a concordance of at least always how a word was translated in the KJV; it is not a true dictionary. Thus, it is no help in any argument where the KJV exercised bias of the Calvinists who controlled the final edition, and mistranslated a word to protect Paul or fit doctrine.)

Why is Second Peter in fuller context so inimical to Paul's validity that the Reformers strained to remove it?

Second Peter is clearly saying the "dysnoetas" -- words destructive of good sense - "sometimes" are present in Paul's writings, and they are partly to blame for people falling from their "steadfastness" in Christ and into the "error of the lawless." (NIV).

Does Don truly want to say these are words about a true Apostle? That Second Peter is inspired? These words in full context crush Paul, when objectively analyzed. This is why Paul-defenders who know Greek have gone to what Don calls an "extreme" (removing an item of canon) and effectively removed Second Peter from Holy Scripture in seminary where the truth about the Greek may be discovered. Thus, among those who know the Greek, it is only those who defend Jesus as "sole teacher" and "sole pastor" who want Second Peter in canon. That includes me. Don has been improperly influenced to see Second Peter as a bulwark to defend Paul when it is truly the opposite. Most important, Second Peter does not call Paul an Apostle. It speaks only of Paul as a brother, just like all Christians are brothers and sisters of one another, as Jesus said.

I hope that helps.

Doug