Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Prescription Against Heretics/Chapter XXIV

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Chapter XXIV.—St. Peter’s 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,[1] or, as I must rather say,[2] I have not the unenviable task,[3] of setting apostles by the ears.[4] But, inasmuch as our very perverse cavillers obtrude the rebuke in question for the set purpose of bringing the earlier[5] 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.”[6] 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[7] those who pass sentence on apostles! It is a happy fact that Peter is on the same level with Paul in the very glory[8] of martyrdom. Now, although Paul was carried away even to the third heaven, and was caught up to paradise,[9] 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.[10] If, however, that unspeakable mystery[11] did leak out,[12] 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[13] 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.


  1. Non mihi tam bene est.
  2. Immo.
  3. Non mihi tam male est.
  4. Ut committam.
  5. Superiorem, “that which Peter had preached.”
  6. 1 Cor. ix. 20, 22.
  7. Viderint.
  8. Et in martyrio.
  9. 2 Cor. xii. 4.
  10. Nulli hominum.
  11. Nescio quid illud.
  12. Emanavit.
  13. Et.