Book 22 - PETER'S SECOND LETTER, TO AN UNKNOWN CHURCH
With people, places, definitions ......
Writer: The apostle Peter;
Date: c AD65-67, not long before Peter's execution;
Where written: Rome;
Readers: Scattered Christian churches, possibly the same ones referred to in 1 Peter;
Why: A warning about false teachers, especially their denial of Christ's divinity and his second coming.
According to Some Modern Scholarship: This is the most disputed Letter of the New Testament, partly because it appears to include material from the Letter of Jude. It may therefore have been written by an unknown Christian towards the end of the 1st century or early in the 2nd
WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN GOD'S MESSAGE
GREETINGS; THE PRECIOUSNESS OF FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
2 Peter 1:1-2 - Simon Peter, a servant and messenger of Jesus Christ, sends this letter to those who have been given a faith as valuable as yours in the righteousness of our God, and saviour Jesus Christ. May you know more and more of grace and peace as your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord grows deeper.
THROUGH HIM, WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED TO LIVE GODLY LIVES IN AN EVIL WORLD
2 Peter 1:3-4 - He (God) has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness. It is through him that God's greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God's essential nature.
STEPS TOWARDS GODLY LIVING
2 Peter 1:5-11 - For this very reason (... God's gift of Christ) you must do your utmost from your side, and see that ...
... your faith carries with it real goodness of life.
... Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge,
... your knowledge by self-control,
... your self-control by the ability to endure.
... Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion to God;
... that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness,
... and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.
If you have these qualities existing and growing in you then it means that knowing our Lord Jesus Christ has not made your lives either complacent or unproductive. The man whose life fails to exhibit these qualities is short-sighted - he can no longer see the reason why he was cleansed from his former sins.
Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct the fact that God has called and chosen you. If you go along the lines I have indicated above, there is no reason why you should stumble, and if you have lived the sort of life I have recommended God will open wide to you the gates of the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
PETER'S NEED TO REMIND HIS READERS OF THESE THINGS
2 Peter 1:12-15 - I shall not fail to remind you of things like this (... the challenges of the Christian life) although you know them and are already established in the truth. I consider it my duty, as long as I live in the temporary dwelling of this body (with death as a martyr very near), to stimulate you by these reminders. I know that I shall have to leave this body at very short notice, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me (... presumably Jesus' prophecy of Peter's death on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, recorded in John 21:18). Consequently I shall make the most of every opportunity, so that after I am gone you will remember these things.
PETER WAS AN EYE-WITNESS TO THE PROMISED MESSIAH; HE IS NOT A TELLER OF MAN-MADE STORIES
2 Peter 1:16-21 - We were not following a cleverly written-up story when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - we actually saw his majesty with our own eyes (... during the transfigured appearance of Jesus with Moses and Elijah, Matthew 17:1-13). He received honour and glory from God the Father himself when that voice said to him, out of the sublime glory of Heaven,
'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).
We actually heard that voice speaking from Heaven while we were with him on the sacred mountain (of Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor during the transfiguration of Jesus, Matthew 17:1-8). The word of prophecy was fulfilled in our hearing! You should give that word your closest attention, for it shines like a lamp amidst all the dirt and darkness of the world, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts.
False prophets will flourish, but only for a time
But you must understand this at the outset, that no prophecy of scripture arose from an individual's interpretation of the truth. No prophecy came because a man wanted it to: men of God spoke because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
THE FALSE TEACHERS WHO DENY THIS
THE FALSE TEACHERS WHO DENY THE DIVINITY OF JESUS
2 Peter 2:1-3a - But even in those days (of the Old Testament) there were false prophets, just as there will be false teachers among you today. They will be men who will subtly introduce dangerous heresies. They will thereby deny the Lord who redeemed them, and it will not be long before they bring on themselves their own downfall. Many will follow their pernicious teaching and thereby bring discredit on the way of truth. In their lust to make converts these men will try to exploit you too with their bogus arguments.
HOW GOD DEALS WITH THE UNGODLY AND RESCUES THE GODLY
2 Peter 2:3b-9 - But judgment has been for some time hard on their heels and their downfall is inevitable. For if God did not spare angels who sinned against him, but banished them to the dark imprisonment of hell till judgment day: if he did not spare the ancient world but only saved Noah (the solitary voice that cried out for righteousness) and his seven companions when he brought the flood upon the world in its wickedness; and if God reduced the entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes (when he sentenced them to destruction as a fearful example to those who wanted to live in defiance of his laws), and yet saved Lot the righteous man, in acute mental distress at the filthy lives of the godless - Lot, remember, was a good man suffering spiritual agonies day after day at what he saw and heard of their lawlessness - then you may be absolutely certain that the Lord knows how to rescue a good man surrounded by temptation, and how to reserve his punishment for the wicked until his day comes.
THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE UNGODLY
2 Peter 2:10-17 - His judgment is chiefly reserved for those who have indulged all the foulness of their lower natures, and have nothing but contempt for authority. These men are arrogant and presumptuous - they think nothing of scoffing at the glories of the unseen world. Yet even angels, who are their superiors in strength and power, do not bring insulting criticisms of such things before the Lord.
But these men, with no more sense than the unreasoning brute beasts which are born to be caught and killed, scoff at things outside their own experience, and will most certainly be destroyed in their own corruption. Their wickedness has earned them an evil end and they will be paid in full.
These are the men who delight in daylight self-indulgence; they are foul spots and blots, playing their tricks at your very dinner-table. Their eyes cannot look at a woman without lust, they captivate the unstable ones, and their techniques of getting what they want is, through long practice, highly developed. They are born under a curse, for they have abandoned the right road and wandered off to follow the old trail of Balaam, son of Peor, the man who had no objection to wickedness as long as he was paid for it (the Book of Numbers chapters 22-24). But he, you remember, was sharply reprimanded for his wickedness - by a donkey, of all things, speaking with a human voice to check the prophet's wicked infatuation!
These men are like wells without a drop of water in them, like the changing shapes of whirling storm-clouds, and their fate will be the black night of utter darkness.
HOW THEY MISLEAD CHRISTIANS; ESPECIALLY THE NEWLY CONVERTED
2 Peter 2:18-19 - With their high-sounding nonsense they use the sensual pull of the lower passions to attract those who were just on the point of cutting loose from their companions in misconduct. They promise them liberty. Liberty! - when they themselves are bound hand and foot to utter depravity. For a man is the slave of whatever masters him.
BECAUSE SUCH MEN WERE ONCE CHRISTIANS, THEY ARE WORSE OFF THAN THEY WERE BEFORE
2 Peter 2:20-22 - If men have escaped from the world's contaminations through knowing our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, and then become entangled and defeated all over again, their last position is far worse than their first. It would be better for them not to have known the way of goodness at all, rather than after knowing it to turn their backs on the sacred commandments given to them. Alas, for them, the old proverbs have come true about
'a dog returns to his own vomit' (Proverbs 26:11),
and "the sow that had been washed going back to wallow in the muck".
THE END-TIMES WILL COME AND CHRIST WILL RETURN
PETER'S REASON FOR WRITING YET AGAIN
2 Peter 3:1-2 - This is the second letter I have written to you, dear friends of mine, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate you, as men with minds uncontaminated by error, by simply reminding you of what you really know already. For I want you to remember the words spoken of old by the holy prophets as well as the commands of our Lord and saviour given to you through his messengers (the apostles).
THERE ARE THOSE WHO DENY CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN
2 Peter 3:3-4 - First of all you must realise that in the last days mockers will undoubtedly come - men whose only guide in life is what they want for themselves - and they will say, "What has happened to his promised coming? Since the first Christians fell asleep, everything remains exactly as it was since the beginning of creation!"
GOD DESTROYED THE WORLD ONCE, BY WATER; HE WILL DO SO AGAIN, BY FIRE
2 Peter 3:5-7 - They are deliberately shutting their eyes to a fact that they know very well, that there were, by God's command, heavens in the old days and an earth formed out of the water and surrounded by water. It was by water that the world of those days (of Noah) was deluged and destroyed, but the present heavens and earth are, also by God's command, being kept and maintained for the fire of the day of judgment and the destruction of wicked men.
THE DAY WILL COME, BUT IN GOD'S TIME
2 Peter 3:8-10 - But you should never lose sight of this fact, dear friends, that time is not the same with the Lord as it is with us - to him a day may be a thousand years, and a thousand years only a day. It is not that he is dilatory about keeping his own promise as some men seem to think; the fact is that he is very patient towards you. He has no wish that any man should be destroyed. He wishes that all men should come to repent. Yet it remains true that the day of the Lord will come as suddenly and unexpectedly as a thief. In that day the heavens will disappear in a terrific tearing blast, the very elements will disintegrate in heat and the earth and all that is in it will be burnt up to nothing.
UNTIL THEN, LIVE PATIENT AND GODLY LIVES
2 Peter 3:11-15a - In view of the fact that all these things are to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be? Surely men of good and holy character, who live expecting and earnestly longing for the coming of the day of God. True, this day will mean that the heavens will disappear in fire and the elements disintegrate in fearful heat, but our hopes are set not on these but on the new Heaven and the new earth which he has promised us, and in which nothing but good shall live.
Because, my dear friends, you have a hope like this before you, I urge you to make certain that such a day would find you at peace with God and man, clean and blameless in his sight. Meanwhile, consider that God's patience is meant to be man's salvation ....
PAUL'S LETTERS RANK AS SCRIPTURE, AND CONFIRM THESE THINGS
2 Peter 3:15b-16 - .... as our dear brother Paul pointed out in his letter to you, written out of the wisdom God gave him. In that letter, as indeed in all his letters, he referred to these matters. There are, of course, some things which are difficult to understand (... it may help modern readers to know that even early Christian leaders had problems following some of Paul's teaching!), and which, unhappily, ill-informed and unbalanced people distort (as they do the other scriptures), and bring disaster on their own heads.
REJECT FALSE TEACHING; CONTINUE TO GROW IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE
2 Peter 3:17-18 - But you, my friends whom I love, are forewarned, and should therefore be very careful not to be carried away by the errors of wicked men and so lose your proper foothold. On the contrary, you should grow in grace and in your knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ - to him be glory now and until the dawning of the day of eternity!
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