Chapter XXIV.—St. Peters Further Vindication. St. Paul Not Superior to St. Peter in Teaching. Nothing Imparted to the Former in the Third Heaven Enabled Him to Add to the Faith. Heretics Boast as If Favoured with Some of the Secrets Imparted to Him.
I have not the good fortune, 2102 or, as I must rather say, 2103 I have not the unenviable task, 2104 of setting apostles by the ears. 2105 But, inasmuch as our very perverse cavillers obtrude the rebuke in question for the set purpose of bringing the earlier 2106 doctrine into suspicion, I will put in a defence, as it were, for Peter, to the effect that even Paul said that he was “made all things to all men—to the Jews a Jew,” to those who were not Jews as one who was not a Jew—“that he might gain all.” 2107 Therefore it was according to times and persons and causes that they used to censure certain practices, which they would not hesitate themselves to pursue, in like conformity to times and persons and causes. Just (e.g.) as if Peter too had censured Paul, because, whilst forbidding circumcision, he actually circumcised Timothy himself. Never mind 2108 those who pass sentence on apostles! It is a happy fact that Peter is on the same level with Paul in the very glory 2109 of martyrdom. Now, although Paul was carried away even to the third heaven, and was caught up to paradise, 2110 and heard certain revelations there, yet these cannot possibly seem to have qualified him for (teaching) another doctrine, seeing that their very nature was such as to render them communicable to no human being. 2111 If, however, that unspeakable mystery 2112 did leak out, 2113 and become known to any man, and if any heresy affirms that it does itself follow the same, (then) either Paul must be charged with having betrayed the secret, or some other man must actually 2114 be shown to have been afterwards “caught up into paradise,” who had permission to speak out plainly what Paul was not allowed (even) to mutter.
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