Overview of 2 Peter for New Testament Reading
“I’m warning you Billy, stay away from them boys. They’re up to no good, they’ll be the ruin of ya. If you know what’s best you’ll listen to your mama.” Statements like this one remind us of the wisdom of good ole mom and our younger days. Messages such as this served as a warning to impending demise if we decided that we would neglect such wise-sage counsel and venture down the road to danger. Wise young men steer clear of doom after taking heed to the words of caution.
In the same way, Peter realized the impending danger of the early church as it grew up in the 1st Century. Earlier the apostle had written a letter of encouragement and comfort during a time of intense suffering and persecution from primarily the outside, but now he writes a letter of warning from an internal attack from within the church, namely complacency and heresy. He speaks in this letter of holding fast to the nonnegotiable facts of the faith, of growing and maturing in the faith, and of rejecting all who would distort the truth. To follow his advice would ensure Christ exalting individuals and God honoring churches. This was his primary purpose for writing as he clearly saw his earthly ministry coming to an end in the near future (1:13-15). In fact it did come to an end through martyrdom shortly after this work somewhere around the year 67 AD, probably in Rome. In Peter’s last days he looked forward to the future of the church as Christ’s apostle and leader. He desperately wanted the faith to advance and not be polluted by those who would try to come in secretly to profane the name of Jesus Christ and His magnificent work of salvation.
This book was one of the last books included in the biblical cannon, but after close scrutiny from the early church fathers it was incorporated into the New Testament. It has many similarities to the book of Jude and no doubt either borrowed from or contributed to that book in the New Testament as far as source goes.
Peter uses blistering and potent language to a high degree grammatically as he makes his case for the purity of the church during these fledging years. This is a hard-hitting book that will exhort one to greater Christian maturity and prepare one for the onslaught of the enemy.
Diligence- If our faith is real, it will be evident in our godly behavior. If people are diligent in Christian growth, they won’t backslide or be deceived by false teachers. Growth is essential in the walk with Jesus. It obviously begins with faith and progresses to the point of agape type love, the highest degree of love, which is seen in our Heavenly Father. Keep on growing and display His fruit!
True Knowledge- True knowledge only comes from God who called us by His own glory and excellence (1:3). It will give us everything we need that pertains to real-spiritual life and joy abounding. This comes through the faithful promises God has made to us through the Scriptures and allows us to partake of the divine nature as we trust in Him (1:4). Peter begins and ends with this concept of knowledge in his writing (3:18). True knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit and it is He who moved men to write God’s Word (1:20-21).
False Teachers- Peter warns the church to beware of these false teachers who are proud of their position, promote sexual sin, and advise that keeping the commandments of God are optional. Peter counters them by pointing to the Spirit-inspired Scriptures as our authority. Christians need discernment to be able to resist false teachers. God can rescue us from their lies if we stay true to His Word, the Bible, and reject those who deceive and distort the truth.
Christ’s Return- One day Christ will return. In that day He will create a new heaven and a new earth, where we as His children will live forever. As Christians, our hope is in this blessed promise. But, with Christ’s return comes His judgment on all who refuse to believe. The cure for complacency, lawlessness, and heresy is found in the confident assurance that Christ will return. God is still giving unbelievers time to repent. He is patient with us and desires all to come to repentance (3:9). To be ready, Christians must keep on trusting and resist the pressure to give up, waiting for Christ’s return.
After a brief greeting (1:1), Peter gives the antidote for stagnancy and shortsightedness in the Christian life (1:2-11). Then he explains that his days are numbered (1:12-15) and that the believers should listen to his messages, reminders, and the words of Scripture (1:16-21).
Next, Peter unleashes a blunt warning about false teachers (2:1-22). They will become prevalent in the last days (2:1-2), they will do or say anything for money (2:3), they will spurn the things of God (2:2, 10-11), they will do whatever they feel like doing (2:12-17), they will be proud and boastful (2:18-19), and they will be judged and punished by God (2:3-10, 20-22).
Peter concludes his brief letter by explaining why he has written it (3:1-18), which is to remind them of the words of the prophets and apostles that adamantly predicted that false teachers would come, to give the reasons for the delay in Christ’s return (3:1-13), and to encourage them to beware of heresies and to grow in their faith (3:14-18).
Listen carefully to Peter’s message as it does apply very much to the days that we live in presently. Our world is filled with false prophets and teachers, who claim to have the truth and who clamor for our attention and allegiance. Determine that you will grow in your knowledge of Christ and reject all those who preach anything inconsistent with God’s Word.
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
*Notes from this overview were aided by:
New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2209-2210.