Why Paul is the most misunderstood apostle in the Bible.

Paul is one of the most quoted people from the Bible. His teachings are used in all churches all around the world. They are used to correct, teach, and rebuke Christians and non-Christians alike, but there is an interesting set of verses written by Peter that warn people when reading Paul's teachings. Is Peter rebuking Paul's teachings? Let's find out!

The scripture in question is found in 2 Peter 3:15 - 16, where Peter gives this warning:

2Pe 3:15: Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

2Pe 3:16: He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Even 2000 years ago, Peter states that Paul's letters were difficult to understand. Now, after many translations of our Bibles, are we sure that our understanding today is correct? Remember, nothing in the Bible should contradict. No verses should be misaligned when taken in context. There should be no problem reconciling God in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

In the above scripture, Peter states that Paul writes according to the wisdom given to him, and these words have been distorted by the masses. This is a warning to the people reading. Paul's teachings are a crux for modern-day Christianity, so it is worth examining this warning to make sure we are not being fooled ourselves.

The next question we need to ask is - What happens when we take Paul's teachings out of context? Well, a common one people use is Paul's letter to the Corinthian church saying all women should be silent in churches. We know God loves women and men equally, so why would Paul, who followed God with all his heart, say such a thing? We address this in our teaching on Men vs Women and you should give that a read!

Another outcome of not examining Paul's teachings more closely is that Christians have come to believe God's Law has changed. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Paul and all of Jesus' disciples followed God's Law for their whole lives, even after Christ's death and resurrection. Did they really preach Gentiles and fellow Jews to suddenly live a different way? When you examine Paul's teachings properly, you truly begin to understand how we are to follow Christ.

Examples of Paul speaking "Against" the Law

Having read through all of Paul's teachings, one can easily be swayed into thinking that God's Law has been done away with. Verses like the ones below:

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.

Rom 6:14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Rom 7:6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

So why does the Church misunderstand Paul's teachings?

1) Taking scripture out of context

The scriptures above, and many others written in Paul's teachings are letters. It is not possible and not correct to read the letter on its own without establishing the context - Who is he writing to, why is he writing the letter and what is the desired outcome?

2) Lack of Understanding of the Old Testament Law

Using the example from Galatians:

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.

This is referring to Deuteronomy 11:26-28:

Deu 11:26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—

Deu 11:27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today;

Deu 11:28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

From reading the above, we deduce that if one did not follow the Lord's commandments, a curse would be on them. This is a different idea from the Law itself being a curse.

It is also important to note the following verse from Deuteronomy:

Deu 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.

It is a warning to not add or subtract from the Law of God!

3) Incorrect Understanding of Biblical Definitions

There are many kinds of Laws / Covenants / Definitions in the Bible which are far more complex than modern-day Christianity is led to believe. Terms like Gentile, Jew, and Israel are all misunderstood.

4) Incorrect Doctrines amongst Churches

This is probably due to the human factor. Each pastor or teacher who studied theology, most likely studied under another teacher, with their own preconceived ideas. These pre-conceived ideas crop up due to the first two points.

The best example of this is the Pharisees. They created their own laws. This is known as the Talmud or Oral law. This is still followed today. These laws often contradicted God's Law, and Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Pharisaic Law in the New Testament. The Jewish leaders gave the Talmud equal weight to God's Law.

That is why it is so important that the Holy Spirit leads you in your learning journey. It is a dangerous place to be when you are only able to receive teaching from a fellow man instead of spending time being taught by Jesus.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

Did Paul Support the Law?


Paul has written and shown his support for the Law on countless occasions, here are a few:

Rom 7:12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Rom 7:22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;

Paul quotes various scriptures from the Law:

Paul quotes Deut 19:15 – a matter is established by 2 or 3 witnesses

Paul quotes Lev 18:5 – the man who keeps God’s Law, lives because of it


Peter warns against twisting Paul's teachings as they can be difficult to understand. Even in modern-day Christianity, his letters are regularly taken out of context to proclaim that God's Law is done away with. This is false, as Paul repeatedly emphasized how he followed the Law and how important the Law is in our faith. As such, it does not make sense to conclude that Paul went against God's Law as this would make him a false teacher and someone who added/subtracted from the Law of God.

This misunderstanding of Paul's letters comes from a few reasons, like not understanding the Old Testament Laws and definitions, which often lead to people developing their ideas about the Law, which are often against the commands.

In the following weeks, we will be releasing a series of teachings (and podcasts) detailing why God's Law is still valid today. It might just be the most important teaching you will ever read (Apart from God's Word of course!)