2 Peter

The Author. As in the first epistle, so in the second, the author makes his identity known in the first verse; “Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ”. Peter, whose given name was Simon the son of Jonas, or “Simon bar Jona”, was probably born around the time of Christ’s birth, perhaps around A.D. 1. He lived in Galilee, and the city of Bethsaida, and was a fisherman by trade. Simon’s name was changed to Peter by Jesus, and he was converted on his own fishing boat after the miracle of the fishes. Peter was a prominent figure among the Lord’s twelve apostles, and his life is characterized by highs and lows, and by forgiveness and restoration. After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, “the gospel of the circumcision” was committed to Peter as that of the uncircumcision was to Paul (Gal. 2:7), and he was numbered with James and John as three pillars of the church in Jerusalem. The Lord’s words to Peter, “establish thy brethren” (Luke 22:32), and finally “Feed my sheep”, were taken seriously by Peter, who ministered to the Jewish believers scattered throughout the Roman empire. Peter penned two epistles under Divine inspiration that unfold wonderful truth for us as Christians, and also show us something of the work God accomplished in Peter’s heart. Read more…
Overview of the Epistle. The second epistle is addressed to the same group as the first epistle; “This second epistle, beloved, I write unto you” (2 Pet. 3:1); i.e. the Jews of the dispersion. In this epistle we have Peter as an old man, knowing that his death was approaching, and writing for the benefit of those who would be left behind. He gives the purpose of the epistle in v.15 of ch.1; “Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance”, and again in v.1 of ch.3, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance”. Peter’s purpose was to stir up the saints as to what they already knew, and the give them the means, after his death, of bringing the same things to remembrance. There is a verse in Psalm 71 that captures the character of Peter’s epistle; “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18). The epistle is very simple in its purpose: to exhort the saints to be firm in their faith, both in doctrine and practice (ch.1), then to warn them of false teachers that would come into the Christian profession (ch.2), and then of infidel mockers and their final judgment at the close (ch.3). In both epistles we have Peter functioning as a shepherd: the 1 Peter he does the work of feeding the flock, and in 2 Peter he does the work of guarding the flock. As is often the case in second epistles, the ruin of the Christian profession is assumed. These are Peter’s last words.
Matthew 16 and 17. The events of Matthew 16 and 17 form the basis for Peter’s first and second epistles, respectively. In his first epistle, Peter brings out that we are living stones built upon Christ the cornerstone into a spiritual house, as we have been “begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). This directly correlates to the Lord’s words in response to Peter’s confession in Matt. 16. In his second epistle, Peter recounts the kingdom glory of Christ on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17) as a proof that the outcome of prophecy is sure.

The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge. The word is used by historians to describe a school of thought. Gnosticism arose from a group of evil workers who claimed to have higher light, special spiritual knowledge, or “secret wisdom”. This movement began in the days of the apostles, and continued into the 5th century. Before John died, the seeds of Gnosticism had been sown; perhaps even before Paul's death (1 Tim. 6:20). John’s epistles are written to defend against the inroads of Gnosticism (2 John 1:7,9). Peter warns of their false teaching, and Jude warns of its moral effect on the Christian testimony. Gnosticism is responsible for not just one heresy, but seven or eight. What is it? In this mystical system, the spiritual world was good, and material world was evil. They rejected the incarnation, because it connects the human with the divine. The Gnostics would try to separate “Jesus” from “Christ”, by making Christ an emanation (a shining out from a source) from God that never truly became flesh, or else was united to a mere man named Jesus at his baptism, but returned to God before Jesus’ death on the cross. In doing so, this evil system annulled the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection. The New Testament anticipates this irreverent and wicked system of doctrine by stating the simple truth of Christ's Person and work.

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Paul, John, and Peter. Before we take up a passage of doctrine it is helpful to understand how the various thrusts of the writers of New Testament doctrine.
  • Paul takes up the assembly, the truth of the mystery, the unsearchable riches of Christ, how God has come out to the Gentiles in blessing. He gives the scope of Christianity, our position before God in Christ, the Son’s place.
  • John takes up the family, the characteristics of the Godhead, how new birth brings us into the family of God, how eternal life is given to the believer as a present possession, and the characteristics of that life.
  • Peter’s ministry takes up the kingdom, the moral government of God now and in the future, over saints and the world. The Lord gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, by baptism to open the door of blessing to the Gentiles. Wrote to believing Jews who were scattered from their homeland. Peter brings out our heavenly portion now, and the kingdom in power which is still future.