Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 29, 1961

"Our Beloved Brother Paul"

C. D. Plum, Paden City, West Virginia

"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; 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 Pet. 3:15-16)

I am deeply impressed with these words: "Our beloved brother Paul." Frankly, I like this kind of a reference to a brother in the Lord, and I don't think it is a mark of softness on my part, either. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren." And again I note: "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11-12) Today I hear so many speak of the brothers as John, Jim, Henry, and of the sisters as Mary, Martha, and Ann. To me it sounds more scriptural, and more reverent for our spiritual relationship, to precede these names with brother or sister. Brother and sister Mary have a better ring to me. No, I am not a crank about it. I just like it better, that's all. Brother Plum pleases me better than just calling me Plum. And if you must call me Dewey, it makes the name sound better if it is brother Dewey. When referring to members of the church it seems to me that brother and sister is better than Mr., Mrs., or Miss. Please think along this line. But then I imagine I hear someone say that all sounds too churchy. I wonder if this isn't really why we are drifting away from "our beloved brother Paul."

How much better the way the apostle Peter spoke of Paul, than to address him, or refer to him as Rev. Paul, or the Most Rev. Paul, or the Right Rev. Paul or Dr. Paul. The word reverend was never attached to preachers' names in the days of the apostles. God only was reverend. (Ps. 111:9)

"Wisdom Given Unto Him"

The apostle Peter declares there was "wisdom given unto Paul." And indeed there was. Paul declared of himself, "I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." (2 Cor. 11:5) All of which means, the apostle Paul received the direct outpouring of the Holy Spirit as did the rest of the apostles. And the Spirit spoke through him as he did through the other apostles. In writing to Timothy, Paul said, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly." The Spirit was speaking through Paul. He was using Paul's mouth. Because of having the baptismal measure of the Spirit, Paul not only had as much wisdom as the other apostles, but he had as much power. He could, and did, perform miracles.

"Things Hard To Be Understood"

The apostle Peter declared: "Paul hath written unto you." Moreover, he said, "in which are some things hard to be understood." I shall certainly not be dogmatic here, but I wonder if this scripture is not often misunderstood. If we say Paul wrote things that are hard to be understood, this reflection would not be against Paul, but against the Holy Spirit which prompted him to write. Why would the Holy Spirit prompt Paul to write things that are hard to be understood, and would not prompt the other apostles the same way? And this is what the Spirit did do, if the usual understanding of this scripture is correct. Would it not be much more plausible to say that, in what Paul had written, he had written about some things that are hard to understand? What he wrote was not hard to be understood. But that he wrote about things that were hard to be understood. And after Paul wrote about "these hard to be understood things," the things were easy to understand. This seems to me to be exactly what the language of the apostle Peter meant to convey.

Not having the wisdom Paul had, the "unlearned and unstable" were wresting (twisting) these "hard to be understood things" to their own destruction. So the Spirit prompted Paul to write about "these hard to be understood things" that this spiritual slaughter might be arrested. It seemed hard for the Jews to grasp the idea that the law was to give way for the gospel of Christ. In his writings to the Galatians and the Hebrews, as in much other of his writings, Paul explained this to the Jews. Of Paul they said, "This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law." (Acts 18:13) And this is evident that the Jews did understand Paul's teaching. The "hard to be understood thing" was preached about and written about by Paul, and the Jews understood it. But just because they understood the preaching, does not mean that all accepted it.

"His Own Hired House"

"And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." (Acts 28:30-31)

As I write this article, the expression: "his OWN hired house," sinks a little deeper in my understanding. Here is just another example of how those early preachers had it much harder than present day preachers. Today, our good brethren either build, buy, or rent a house for the preacher. And some times they furnish it. True, houses may be more scarce now, than then, which causes the brethren to give diligence to look after the housing proposition. What I have said here is not to reflect against what has been done (unless it is overdone), but I am only pointing out that Paul loved the Lord so much that, he rented him a house for two years, and paid for it, just to be preaching the gospel as long as he lived. Brethren, and especially preaching brethren, do we have the same love and zeal now as did Paul? I wonder if we would continue to preach about "the kingdom of God, and the things concerning Jesus Christ," if we had to rent a house in which to do so, I doubt seriously if our wives would be fussy about mussing up the rugs and house, if our zeal was great enough to do this Preachers' wives as a whole are wonderful creatures, and are as willing to sacrifice for the Lord's work as are their husbands. And for that matter, when we take in all the sisters, they will equal or exceed the men in sacrificing service. Yes, yes, there are some exceptions among women. And there are some exceptions among the men, too. But may the good Lord help us all, for we all need it.