Peter starts off by challenging his readers to back up their faith with character and action. If someone does not have the character that genuinely following Christ produces, he is ‘so nearsighted that he is blind’, forgetting what Jesus has already done for him. Peter commits himself to reminding his readers of this as long as he lives, and even afterward. Peter says he does this because he was an eyewitness to God’s glory, being someone who walked with Jesus during His ministry. He has no doubt that God is at work.
But Peter then warns that false prophets have risen up, introducing bad theology, even going so far as to deny Christ. Peter uses several examples from the Old Testament of how God kept the faithful from falling in the midst of trials, and how God punished the unrighteous. Peter categorizes these false teachers with the unrighteous. Even worse, they once knew the truth, but fell away from it, and Peter says it would have been better for them if they never knew the truth in the first place.
In the last chapter, Peter expounds on the last days. Before the Lord fulfills His promise of judgment upon the world, false teachers will indeed be plentiful, tempted to break with Christian tradition. The Lord wishes that none should perish, but that everyone would believe in Him and repent from their sins. That helps explain the Lord’s patience with evil. Until the judgment happens, Peter tells his readers to be diligent and provides an endorsement of Paul’s letters, noting that they are rich with wisdom but that they too are occasionally twisted by others.
Who wrote it?
2 Peter 1:1 names Peter (Simeon Peter) as the author. Peter was one of the disciples under Jesus.
Who was it written to?
2 Peter 1:1 addresses the letter to those who have a right faith in Jesus Christ.
When was it written?
Peter hints that he knows that he may die soon in 2 Peter 1:12-15, leading scholars to believe that the letter was written towards the end of his life, in the mid 60’s A.D. in Rome. During this time, he was jailed.
Why was it written?
2 Peter seems to be written as a farewell message of sorts since Peter tells of his future death. Peter is very much concerned that the teachings of Jesus remain uncorrupted.
How does 2 Peter apply to me?
There are three main points to 2 Peter, corresponding to the three chapters. First off, a robust faith spills over into action. A Christian is virtuous, knowledgeable, self-controlled, steadfast, godly, affectionate, and one who shows love (2 Peter 1:5-7). This is because Christians know that Jesus died for their sins. Secondly, a Christian should be on the lookout for false teachers. There are some who pervert the gospel for their own gain, for wealth, popularity, or to validate their own sins. God indeed knows who these people are, and will see a Christian through in withstanding these false gospels. Finally, judgment will come. God is patient and is waiting for His people to come back to Him. For those who don’t, however, they will be exposed and destroyed.
As for all posts in this series, a book introduction in a good study Bible will provide more information than listed here. The ESV Study Bible is one recommendation.
The Bible Project video on 2 Peter
Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Released under new license, CC-BY-SA 3.0