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New Testament Survey

2 Peter



LOOKING AHEAD TO . . .

Second Peter

Key Verse(s):

Key Chapter(s):

Key Word(s) or Concept(s)

Consider:

            Who is the audience?

            How do 1st and 2nd Peter “fit” together?

            Is there a key theme to the book?

            How is Jesus presented?

Second Peter

While 1 Peter is universally accepted as the work of the Apostle, this second epistle has caused great controversy through the centuries. Although the very early church fathers accepted and quoted from this epistle, later church fathers questioned it belonging to Scripture. Second Peter was disputed by the early compilers of Canon and the early church councils.

Internal evidence is used to argue that the style of writing is so much different from 1 Peter that the two letters could not possibly have shared the same author. Further, many feel 2 Peter is borrowed from Jude. However, there is little practical evidence that Jude was written before 2 Peter, so this point is of no value. Many of the second century church fathers rejected the epistle as genuine because of the heavy emphasis on the Second Coming, an event which obviously had not taken part.

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Critics also argue about the literary style difference between the two letters. Notice, however, that Silvanus apparently acted as secretary for 1 Peter (1 Peter 5:12), but the Apostle seems to have written this second letter himself. This could certainly account for the difference.

Still, the letter states it is from Peter, the church fathers in general have accepted it, and the Councils of the church brought the letter into the Canon. One must remember that many of the letters received less circulation than others. Although a true split would not occur for several centuries, there were many differences of opinion between the church in the West (Rome) and the church in the East (Turkey) over the status of many letters. This helps to create the confusion which seems to exist in the history of the Canon.

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The church in the East is what is now know as the Greek Orthodox Church.

Date

It would appear that 2 Peter 3:1 refers to 1 Peter. If Peter is martyred by Nero in A.D. 67/68, this letter must be dated close to that time (2 Peter 1:12-15).

Theme and Purpose

Second Peter is really a continuation of 1 Peter. The Apostle desires to exhort the believers to remain true to their faith and to endure persecution and hardship. There is a further warning against false teachers. Peter realizes that his death is near (1:12-15). The Christian community still faces grave danger, both from without and within (1:13-14; 2:1-22). Peter uses the basis of one’s faith as the cornerstone on which to build this endurance (1:12-13,16-21). The apostolic tradition is important in this context for it sets forth the basis of this faith (1:15).

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Much has been made by the cults of the concept of the apostolic tradition. The cults argue that Paul has created Christianity, a religion very different from that preached by Jesus. The Apostles are credited with being the founders of today’s church. What must be understood is that the teachings of the Apostles are all directly tied into the teachings of Christ. Jesus set forth the rules. The Apostles wrote the handbook for life based upon these principles. There may be expansion in many places, but the Apostles understood that theirs was the appointed task of spreading the Gospel message. Indeed, Peter calls Paul’s writings Scripture (2 Pet 3:15, 16). Peter’s statements in this letter (1:19-21) explain the process of inspiration in the preparation of the Bible. The Apostles understood their position in the Kingdom.

We all know that parts of Scripture are hard to understand. Peter acknowledged this in speaking of Paul’s writings when the Apostle writes in 3:16:

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As also in all his [Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Many passages require spiritual growth and maturity before they may be clearly understood (2 Cor 12ff).

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Notice Peter’s description of false teachers:

   Posing as Christian leaders - 2:1

   Teaching falsehoods - 2:2

   Living immoral lives - 2:10

   Greedy - 2:3

   Attracting a crowd - 2:2

 

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These descriptions resemble many of the false teachers of today, don’t it?!

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Also notice that another of the descriptions of a false teacher is that he is one who despises government. If a Christian is not to live like the world, then he must support government. This helps to explain the emphasis both Peter and Paul place on upholding and honoring government (1 Peter 2:13-17; Rom 13:1-7).

Jude and 2 Peter

Critical scholars have made much over the apparent similarities of Jude and 2 Peter. They have strived hard to find a literary relationship which would allow them to discard part, or all, of, at least, one of the two books. Of course, it must be remembered that the goal of critical scholars is usually to disagree with God.

Are they similar? 2 Peter 2 and Jude closely parallel each other. Fifteen of Jude’s 25 verses appear in 2 Peter. The ideas, words, and phrases seem to be the very similar. At the same time, there are definite distinctions between the two letters. Second Peter is much longer. The false teachers are not identical (although similar, as is the case with all false teachers). In fact, the common material is virtually all focused on the issue of false teachers. Here, too, there is a difference. Jude, as we will see, is a letter of denunciation.

As indicated at the beginning of this chapter, those who questioned 2 Peter place Jude as the earlier letter. There is insufficient evidence to reach such a determination. This involves assumptions such as the fact that the shorter letter or passage is usually first in time. The critics also use Jude’s spontaneity and tone as evidence that he wrote first. The arguments in favor of 2 Peter usually follow along the lines that it is more likely that a non-Apostle would borrow from an Apostle than vice versa. And, although the concept of a similar source is possible, this seems not to an option that has any support.

Obviously, there is no solution to this issue, but one must wonder why it is important. Peter, himself, resolves the issue in his first letter.

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19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Peter 1:19-21

Outline

I.         Christian Graces - 1:1-14

II.        Authority of Scripture - 1:15-21

III.       False Teachers - Chp 2

IV.      Return of Christ - Chp 3

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Do you believe the Bible is the word of God?

If Christ would return tomorrow, are you ready?

          What else do you need to do?

Consider Peter’s list of Christian Graces:

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5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8
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Doesn’t this sound a lot like the fruit of the Spirit?

 

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December 14, 2017

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