How to read Paul’s Letters?

Warning: This blog was written prior to discerning Paul's letters.
Please refer to Quick Reference for Paul’s Contrary Teachings.

Paul’s letters are known to be twisted even two millenniums back based on what Peter wrote about some people who twist Paul’s letters. Even today, many doctrines which Christ did not preach are solely based on Paul’s letters. What’s going on? Why are so many deceived by Paul’s teachings?

2Pet 3:14-16 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 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, 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 fact is, Paul did not preach anything wrong or preached a false doctrines. Paul did preached contrary to Christ. However, twisters, as Peter calls them, derive teachings and doctrines solely from his teachings, completely out of context of the old testament verses which Paul uses. In other words, when Paul wrote his letter referring from the law or the old testament prophets, he expected every reader to go back to old testament and fully understand the context around that verse and then apply them the way Paul intended. However, many never refer the old testament to understand what Paul is writing.

To fully understand how to read Paul’s letters, we need to first understand his approach. This helps to correctly understand what He is saying rather then fall into trap of twisters which Peter warned on Paul’s letters.

Acts 17:2-3, 11 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”  These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

There are three steps in the process.

  1. Paul put forward the idea: “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ”
  2. Paul then reasoned from Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that Christ had to suffer and rise again.
  3. Bereans received the word with eagerness and searched the Scriptures daily to verify Paul’s claims. These are the three steps Paul mostly takes as mentioned in the book of Acts.

Many Christians often miss out what Bereans did in the last step, which leads into total darkness of having no context of scripture or Christ’s teachings which Paul is referring to.

Example: Faith in Paul’s Mind

Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.

 Gal 3:11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.

Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 

The book of Hebrews is generally attributed to Paul by several scholars, even though there is nothing in it to suggest that Paul is the author. Irrespective of it, let us see what does “faith” in the above verses actually mean in Scriptures?

Hab 1:13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he? … Hab 2:3-4 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith … Hab 2:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

If you read Habakkuk in detail, you will soon realize, the faith is not just “believing” but it is a reference to the persecuted righteous people holding on to their righteousness without falling back and waiting for Christ’s coming who will judge the wicked and fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.

Acts 24:24-25 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

This is also echoed in Paul’s response to Felix. Paul clearly mentioned, righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment as faith in Christ.

Do not be deceived by modern day faith preachers who had drifted so much from the Scriptures. Always search the Scriptures to verify claims just as the Bereans did.

Conclusion

When you read Paul’s letters, make sure to check the scripture reference he quotes to fully understand the context to avoid deceptions from many modern preachers.