I’ve wondered for quite a long time whether 2 Peter 3:16 means what we think it means. The Greek word (“hard to understand”, δυσνόητος) is unusual; Peter, curiously enough, could have used a simpler to understand expression.
The verse is very often used to support an objection to clear translation. I’ve come to the opinion that this verse can’t be used to support such an objection.
The word only occurs once in the NT. It also occurs in Lucian’s “Alexander the Oracle-Monger” (Para 54).
I laid a good many traps of this kind for him; here is another: I asked only one question, but wrote outside the packet in the usual form, So-and-so’s eight Queries, giving a fictitious name and sending the 120 drachmas [~13.6 troy ounces of silver]. Satisfied with the payment of the money and the inscription on the packet, he gave me eight answers to my one question. This was, “When will Alexander’s imposture be detected?” The answers concerned nothing in heaven or earth, but were all silly and meaningless together.
The phrase of interest is the very last one. “Silly” translates δυσνόητος. The entire tone of this section, indeed, the entire book, will not allow for “unable to understand.” Lucian is making fun of Alexander. It’s not that Alexander’s reply was “hard to understand.” But, the answers were just stupid or infantile. It’s as if Lucian is saying, “Gosh, a person with a brain could have done better.” (if you think I’m overstating, go here (http://www.epicurus.net/en/alexander.html) and read the first paragraph.
Here’s what I’m thinking. The definition of δυσνόητος should be something like: “refusal to cognitively accept. The word does not refer to an inability caused by lack of intelligence or knowledge, or to the difficulty of the content, but has more to do with how one disparages the value of the content that actually is communicated.”
2 Peter 3:16 (NIV) says:
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.
Keep in mind that Peter refers to Paul to bolster the importance of what he himself writes. It seems odd to me that Peter would commend Paul for wisdom and do that in a context where he immediately adds, “Well, you can’t understand him half the time anyway.” And, furthermore, where then is the culpability for the “ignorant and unstable” if Paul is hard to understand to begin with? Such “logic” doesn’t work for me.
“His letters contain content which some find silly, which the ignorant and unstable distort, …”
What are your thoughts?