Archives For 2 Peter

In closing out his letter, Peter continues to instruct his readers concerning Jesus Christ’s promised return and His certain judgment upon the wicked. The church had become increasingly fearful about the delay in Christ’s return and the false teachers had taken advantage of the situation by declaring He was not coming back at all. Peter lovingly wrote assuring them of Jesus’ soon return and that His delay was due to His patience with those who were still rebelling against the truth (3:9). For the followers of Christ, His return to earth would be a time of joy while those who reject Him will experience final judgment. Peter was obviously referring to the false teachers. He writes, “But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (3:10). The “Day of the Lord” Peter referenced probably points to two different judgments. The first will take place midway through the seven-year tribulation period when God pours out His wrath on the wicked of the earth. The second judgment is final and points to the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ (which follows the tribulation period). Once and for all God will take vengeance on those who have ignored His provision for salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. Peter details what will happen at that judgment, “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (3:10). Basically, the earth and everything in it will be destroyed in God’s final judgment of sin and unrighteousness. After revealing this to his readers, Peter gives some advice about how they should be living life now. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…” (3:11). He was challenging them to be faithful to God’s way, even in the midst of evil. Although the earth will be destroyed, Peter reminds them that God has promised them a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (3:13). Enduring the onslaughts of false teachers was difficult for the church, but what awaits believers will more than compensate for earthly struggles. Christians must be diligent to protect against the teachings of those who distort and misuse Scripture. We are called to defend the purity of God’s word and practice its teachings in our daily lives. May God help us to be faithful to Him!

Dear God, help me to have a burning desire for the truth and enable me to defend it at any cost. When others twist and misuse Your word, may I be faithful to stand for what is right.

One of the issues that Peter’s readers seemed to be confused about was the second coming of Jesus Christ. We do know that Christ made His first visit to earth 2,000 years ago and took on human form in order to die for the sins of mankind. He promised to return again to establish a 1,000 year reign on the earth after which would follow the new heaven and new earth. The false teachers had apparently discouraged Christians and had falsely claimed that Christ would not return to earth. This saddened believers and probably caused them to doubt whether Jesus would ever return for His followers. Peter wrote this last chapter to give proper instruction about the second coming of Jesus Christ. He writes, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking in their own lusts, and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers [Old Testament patriarchs] fell asleep [died], all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (3:3-4). These teachers must have teaching that God was uninvolved in earthly affairs and therefore would not return for His own nor would He judge the wicked. Peter quickly reminds them about the judgment God sent upon the earth during the time of Noah where He destroyed evildoers with a worldwide flood (3:5-7). Although God promised to never destroy the world by water again, Peter reveals that the earth will one day be burned up by fire (3:7). Peter’s readers should not be concerned about the time of Jesus’ return because God does not view time in the same way we do (3:8). In essence, Peter was telling them that Christ will return, but maybe on a different timescale than ours. Why does Christ delay His return? Peter answers this with what I believe to be one of the greatest statements of His patience. “The Lord is not slack [delayed] concerning His promise [about the second coming], as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (3:9). Christ delays His return so that more people will have more time to repent of evil ways and find forgiveness in His death, burial, and resurrection for our sins. Most of us want Christ to return so we can escape the current pressures of this life but this is a selfish view. The only reason Jesus delays His return for His followers is because He desires to “see all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God could call down judgment upon the wicked at any moment, but he holds out hope for them to turn from their wicked ways. What an amazing God!

Dear God, thank You for being patient with me and with all mankind. May many people turn to faith in You because of Your patient love for them.

Peter continues to warn his readers about the false teachers who had invaded the church and deceived many. Since Peter was near death, his writing of this letter was an effort to preserve doctrinal purity in the church which stretched beyond his lifetime. Although Peter never specifically mentions what erroneous teachings were being taught, he does provide much detail on what their lifestyle looks like. Many of these false teachers probably claimed that their message was from God, but their actions and attitudes demonstrated something much different. Here is how Peter describes them: “having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin…they have a heart trained in covetous practices…they have forsaken the right way and gone astray…” (2:14-15). It seems that many deceptive teachers in early church history (as well as today) claimed to be speaking for God but I am reminded that Jesus told His disciples, “if you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). In my mind, there is no possible way to love God without committing yourself to following His ways. Apparently these false teachers believed otherwise. Peter again warned his readers about the deceptive practices of these teachers, “they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness” (2:18). The reason many are attracted to false doctrine is because they think they can embrace their sinful lifestyle while still accepting some truth; however, they are being deceived. God demands our full obedience to His word. Once a person has experienced the forgiveness of God, why would they again “entangle” themselves with the “pollutions of this world? (2:20). God has extended forgiveness to us through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross and has provided a once for all sacrifice to relieve us from the guilt of sin. All Christians must carefully guard themselves from those things which are contrary to God’s word. Belief in God’s word will result in life-change. The false teachers’ very lives demonstrated that they did not love God. How about you? Has your supposed faith in God led you to a pursuit of holiness? It should.

Dear God, change me through Your word. May the knowledge of You led me to a greater demonstration of holiness…not to impress others, but to please You.

Considering that Peter’s main reason for writing is to combat false teaching, he sternly warns his readers against allowing false teachers to be a part of their church. They have this way of influencing people and drawing them away from the truth. Evil teachers existed in the nation of Israel and they also made their presence known to Peter’s readers. Peter writes, “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord, who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2:1). Not only do these teachers cunningly sneak in their erroneous philosophies, but they are ultimately bringing God’s judgment upon themselves. What will follow their deception? “Many will follow their destructive ways” (2:2). Since many of those who have been deceived were once a part of the church, their compromise with that which is untrue will bring reproach upon genuine followers of Christ (2:2b). Peter desires his readers to vigilant because the false teachers are only out for money (2:3).

Because Peter desires followers of Christ to be faithful to Christ even after he has died, he paints a picture of what has happened to those who chose to disobey God. Using several examples from the Old Testament, Peter reveals the future of those who reject the truth and spread lies. Some of the fallen angels who were deceived by Lucifer (the devil) were immediately cast into hell for their rebellion against God (2:4). All people from the “ancient world” with the exception of Noah and his family were destroyed by a worldwide flood for their wickedness (2:5-6). The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire because of their immorality (2:7-8). These vivid illustrations should have caught the attention of Peter’s readers because they were reminded of God’s hatred for sin and disobedience. But even in the midst of God’s judgment, He spared those who were faithful to Him. Even when everyone else was involving themselves in sin and evil, a certain few stood for truth and were delivered from God’s wrath. What was Peter’s point? God’s judgment will surely fall on those who disobey, but He is gracious to those who faithfully follow His ways (2:9-10a). The false teachers of Peter’s day would also be destroyed, but those who were faithful are guaranteed to experience God’s goodness.

Dear God, help me to remember the future of those who disobey You so that I might be faithful to Your ways.

Peter did not want to be “negligent” of reminding his readers about the truth – Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith and the Holy Spirit enables fruitfulness in the Christian life. Although Peter was nearing the end of his life his passion was to challenge the believers in following the truth without compromise. He had penned the words of this letter in order to leave a permanent record and specific reminders to those whom he loved. His greatest fear seemed to be that Christians would abandon their faith through either persecution or false teaching. Peter had been faithful throughout his life and he expected others to do the same (1:12-15).

Peter quickly turns his attention to the main reason he is writing. It appears that the false teachers who had entered the church were now attempting to undermine Peter’s authority by claiming that his doctrine was devised of his own will; however, the apostle was quick to defend his teaching. He proclaimed, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (1:16). 2 Peter 1:17-18 reveals that Peter was referring to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-7), when he was able to see Jesus Christ in all His glory, which all the world will see at His second coming. This event was a preview of what was to come in the future. In essence, Peter was telling his readers that he was not teaching something which came from him, but that which came directly from God. Apparently the false teachers who had infiltrated the church also denied the future glory of Christ. Since Peter had personally witnessed what the future held, he knew these teachers were evil. One thing is very clear in Peter’s opening words – that which comes from God is truth and that which is devised by man is false. Peter writes “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (1:20-21). Scripture never originated with man, but with God. The Holy Spirit was the author and men only wrote that which was given to them by God, therefore we can trust every word as truth. Peter wanted to reinforce the importance of believing God’s word over the teachings of men. This upfront understanding would help Peter’s readers think through the rest of his letter.

Dear God, may I always evaluate truth based on Scripture. Help me never to accept teachings which may be devised by men and presented as truth. Protect me from accepting that which is false.

Peter welcomes his readers as “those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:1). Immediately he draws their attention to the fact that their faith and resulting righteousness is only given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (1:3-4). Jesus Christ has given us the promise of eternal life in His presence and the privilege of being His child. When a person becomes His child, they are immediately given the Holy Spirit and a new, righteous nature (new creation) which enables the believer to overcome the power of sin. Having established the foundation for faith, Peter now reveals the potential for fruitfulness in the Christian life (1:5-8). We must remember that God has already equipped us with every spiritual blessings, but there must be “diligence” on our part to be effective for Him. Peter lists seven things which we must add to our faith so we can “abound” and not be “barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:8). Here is the progression which should result from our faith:
Add to faith virtue (doing good deeds)
To virtue knowledge (understanding and obeying God’s truth)
To knowledge self-control (controlling our desires)
To self-control perseverance (refusing to quit in the face of danger)
To perseverance godliness (living out the character of Christ)
To godliness brotherly kindness (willingness to sacrifice for someone else)
To brotherly kindness love (genuine care for the well-being of another)
These characteristics should be the aim of those who follow Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit, all believers can reach their potential. The faith given to us by God is meant to grow and we must be diligent in every attitude and action.

Dear God, help me develop my faith.

While Peter’s first letter was mainly addressed to suffering Christians, his second letter was written to combat false teaching. Since the time of his first writing, Peter was obviously alarmed by the increase of false doctrine which had made its way into the churches in Asia Minor. As a faithful minister of the gospel, he felt that he had a great responsibility to warn the church about the dangers of accepting erroneous teachings. Peter knew that his time on earth was coming to an end as he wrote this letter from a Roman prison, so this was his way of challenging the church to stay pure in its beliefs. It appears this writing occurred somewhere around AD 67-68, just before Peter’s martyrdom by crucifixion. Although he never specifically states to whom this letter is written, we can surmise that he was writing to the same persecuted Christians who received 1 Peter (2 Peter 3:1).

The main theme of 2 Peter is exposing and combating false teaching; however, he never mentions the specific heresy which is being taught. At the heart of all wrong doctrine is misinterpreting and even twisting Scripture, which Peter alludes to in 2 Peter 2. Not only does Peter expose the false teachings, but also the evildoing of the teachers. The New Testament writers often equate false doctrine with evil works. Those who have a wrong belief system will reveal the error of their ways through a sinful lifestyle. Overall, Peter’s second letter is doctrinal in nature but is careful to provide practical outlets to defend the authority of Scripture and live a life of faithfulness to God’s ways.

Dear God, give me understanding of Peter’s writing. May it challenge me to live a faithful life to Your word and ways.