2 Peter 3:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Peter 3:16, NIV: "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."

2 Peter 3:16, ESV: "as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures."

2 Peter 3:16, KJV: "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."

2 Peter 3:16, NASB: "as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which there are some things that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."

2 Peter 3:16, NLT: "speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction."

2 Peter 3:16, CSB: "He speaks about these things in all his letters. There are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable will twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures."

What does 2 Peter 3:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Having praised the apostle Paul as a beloved brother speaking with wisdom given by God, Peter now acknowledges that some of Paul's writings are hard to understand. He also refers to Paul's writing as "Scripture." Both of these are important ideas.

First, this reveals that at least some of Paul's letters were already considered the Word of God, even as early as Peter's day. Peter recognized that Paul spoke with authority and on behalf of the Lord. That helps to confirm that the New Testament writers and apostles were not competing with each other; they understood they were together delivering God's words to God's people.

Secondly, though, some of Paul's writings were hard to understand. We have certainly seen the same with Peter's letters. The best way to understand some Bible passages is not always clear or obvious. Unfortunately, according to Peter, there are those who see difficult passages as an opportunity to distort the overall truth of God's Word. Either due to ignorance or instability, they twist the meaning of a difficult passage to try to make Scripture say what it actually does not.

God's takes His word seriously, and He holds accountable those who distort His meaning. Peter warns that destruction comes to those who do so.

This leaves us in tough spot: how should we handle difficult-to-understand passages? Peter doesn't answer that question directly. However, the implication is that we should not use an obscure or difficult passage to contradict the clear teaching of other Scriptures. Reasonable and honest Christians may disagree quite strongly over the meaning of some things in the Bible. However, we cross a dangerous line when we distort the meaning of any passage to try to support our position on some theological argument.

The bottom line is that all of us must handle God's Word with respect, honesty, and a healthy dose of fear about getting it wrong—even when it's hard to understand.