2 Peter 1 (day 1157) 2 March 2013
1-2: Simeon is a known alternate form of Simon, but it is doubtful that this letter was written by the apostle Peter or by the same author as 1 Peter if the apostle was not the writer of that letter. The styles are different, and there are indications within 2 Peter that it was written much later. We’ll try to point those out as we get to them. Primarily, though, the reason scholars almost unanimously agree on separate authors is that 2 Peter is nearly exclusively focused on enemies of the church and has absolutely nothing to say about the great teachings found in 1 Peter about the resurrection, about prayer, and about baptism.
3-11: It is apparent right away that the main emphasis of this letter will be an almost fanatic fidelity to the church of Christ. The lust and corruption of the world are to be avoided at all costs, and the utmost faithfulness is required to “become participants of the divine nature.” A stairway to perfection is prescribed: the believer is to proceed from goodness (which seems to be a general term with no specific attributes) to knowledge to self-control to perseverance (a better word here than “endurance”) to godliness to affection for one another to love. These are the qualities that produce fruit, and indeed are the proof that one is mindful of the forgiveness of one’s sins. The bar is set pretty high for entrance into the “kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
12-15: The author thinks his time on this earth is short, and while he is around he intends to keep reminding them of how they’re supposed to live, even though he says they are “established in the truth.” His purpose is to pound it into them so they won’t forget any of it after he is gone.
16-18: The author’s claim to authenticity is given: he (along with others) was present on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Christ. That would of course narrow the possibilities for his identity to Peter, James or John (Luke 9:28-36), and is one clue in favor of the author being who he says he is.
19-21: The author casts his message as a “lamp shining in a dark place,” and urges them again to be attentive. The prophecy he mentions here likely is meant to refer to the opening instruction given in verses 3-11.
2 Peter 2 (day 1158) 3 March 2013
1-3: Now comes the warning about false teachers infiltrating the church and introducing false doctrines. They are described in fearful terms, leading astray many believers. Many scholars believe he is denouncing a particular heretical branch that entered the church early on. It was called the “antinomian” schism. The word means “against law,” and a primary feature of the heresy was their belief that the grace of God was a license to sin. Paul described them very well when he characterized their attitude as being one of, “Therefore let us sin all the more that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). This, by the way, is one of the clues scholars point to for a date much later than 1 Peter.
4-11: He assures his readers that God knows how to “rescue the godly from trial.” He does this by describing how God punished those who rebelled against him. God cast the rebellious angels into hell, he says, referring to a Jewish legend that has its roots in the story about the “sons of God” (in Genesis 6:1-4) impregnating human women and God responding by limiting the lifespan of human beings. God also destroyed the wicked people of the earth in the flood, saving Noah, Noah’s wife, their three sons and their wives. He continues with God’s destruction of the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah, painting Lot as a righteous man being tormented “in his righteous soul” by their lawlessness. If God could do all that, surely God can rescue the faithful from the enemies of the faith. These latter are characterized as being particularly depraved, even to the point of slandering the angels.
12-16: Obviously his opinion of such people is pretty sour. The reference to Balaam and the talking donkey is a story from Israel’s wilderness wanderings between Egypt and the Promised Land (see Numbers 22:21-30).
17-22: He is thorough in his denunciation of these enemies, reserving for them the most horrible punishment imaginable. Well, I suppose he could have come up with a few more things. Verse 20 indicates that these same people were once faithful members of the church but have fallen from grace and gone into a lifestyle that is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. (So much for “once saved, always saved.”)
2 Peter 3 (day 1159) 4 March 2013
1-7: In spite of all the scholarly opinions to the contrary, the author of 2 Peter is trying to give every impression that he wrote 1 Peter as well. (One early theory for the difference in style was that someone other than Silvanus must have served as the secretary for the production of 2 Peter.) We see that the criticism being leveled against some in the church has centered on those who claim that there will be no second coming of Christ, no judgment, no new creation. Everything is just like it always was, they are saying. The author reminds them of the “fact” that, just as the world was destroyed by water it will soon be destroyed by fire. It exists as it has for so long because it “is being kept” for destruction. The idea of the world being destroyed by fire is suggested by a number of Old Testament texts (see, for example, Malachi 4:1) which the author regards as statements of fact.
8-10: Two points are made. First, God’s time is not our time, and we are mistaken if we think the prophecies are wrong just because the predicted day has not yet come. God is allowing ample time for the wicked to turn from their ways and be saved. Second, the day that is coming will be the end of the world as we know it, with the sky exploding and the earth melting.
11-13: Given this, he says, you’d best consider what kind of person you should be, because there will be new heavens and a new earth which will be populated only by the righteous.
14-18: Rather than think of the delay in Christ’s coming as evidence that the promise is vain, instead consider that the delay is God’s way of allowing all to be saved who will. At this point the author mentions Paul and “all his letters,” and seems to elevate the letters of Paul to the status of scripture. This is one of the indications that 2 Peter was written by a second or third generation Christian who was familiar with Paul’s letters. Regarding those, he says, there are certain people who twist Paul’s words to their own purposes, and the author urges his readers not to be carried away with such persons. Grow in grace, he tells them. Grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Glory belongs to Christ, and always will.