What qualities would you most want to be known for after you die?
The second epistle bearing Peter’s name is written in a different style of Greek, with differing vocabulary and some themes. This literary difference has been the focus of scholars who have concluded that different authors wrote the two letters. However, the employment of scribes (Silas/Sylvanus as scribe for 1 Peter) would explain this easily. There are a couple strong literary connections between the letters, such as 2 Peter 3:1 where he alludes to previous correspondence, that letter is a follow-up. There is also the need for such scholars to show why someone would use Peter’s name and “position” to push the contents of 2 Peter; almost nothing would be gained personally as the contents of the letter make little use of any authority beyond moral and ethical standards already in place in the early church. But most importantly, Jesus Christ is the central feature of this letter as He was of 1st Peter.
Promises to the Believer
2 Peter 1:1-4 – The first two verses have the similar Greco-Roman letter format, but Peter’s name “Simon” is added to this letter. His audience is “those who have received ta faith of the same kind as ours,” meaning the recipients area a broad group of Christians. Grace and peace come by way of knowledge—not of doctrines, but of Jesus as our Lord.
Christians have some precious promises indeed: true/actual knowledge of God through the person of Jesus, a personal calling, an opportunity to partake of the Divine Nature, and to escape lustful corruption.
What does it mean to “partake of the divine nature”? How does the life of Jesus show us an example of how this is done?
Peter’s Fruit of the Spirit
2 Peter 1:5-9 – As opposed to the “vice lists” common in the N.T. letters, Peter provides a “virtue list” that grows as it builds on previous moral qualities. These might be seen as a “fruit of the Spirit” list (compare them to Galatians 5). Knowledge of purification of sin (vs. 9) seems to be prerequisite to having these.
Are the earlier items in this list prerequisites to the later ones? Can I only develop love and kindness if I have moral excellence and knowledge? What does the fact that these can “increase” tell us about Christian growth and “sanctification”?
Importance of Calling
2 Peter 1:10-11 – Peter asks his hearers to be certain of their calling. Identify today is often couched in the language of race, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic class, or other distinction. But Peter was most concerned that his hearers—from all backgrounds—realized that their ultimate identity came from their calling and election in Christ. This trumps all other identities. In fact, it makes these others unimportant as they have no eternal weight or value to save.
What might prevent us from recognizing God’s calling and purpose for us?
2 Peter 1:12-15 – Peter seems happy to provide this reminder since he knows his end is near; God has shown him this is the case. After He is gone, he hopes his hearers will continue strong in their faith.
How would the death of Peter, and the other apostles, affect the growing-but-fledgling Christian church? What concerns would the first-century church have had after the disciples were gone? How does Peter’s letter address these concerns?
Peter’s second letter continues the theme from his first letter of the centrality of Jesus and the affects our relationship with Him has on ethical living and hope for the future. The church that forgets this relationship will face hardship as Peter will warn his congregations in upcoming verses.