The Second Epistle of Peter

Peter’s second and last letter was written towards the end of his life, probably between A.D. 65 and 68, and presumably to the same audience as his first letter. On this occasion he did not have Silas to help him, and the written Greek (the commentators say) is more basic. The purpose was to encourage spiritual growth, warn against false teachers, and to urge his readers to remain strong in their faith in readiness for the Lord’s return.

Spiritual growth through the knowledge of God

[1] Peter’s opening greeting reminds us all that our Christian walk is possible only through our knowledge of God. Faith leads to virtue, and through knowledge is added temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly affection and love. Christians that lack these attributes are not able to grow spiritually. Peter considers it to be his duty to remind his brethren of these things, particularly now as he sees his time on earth coming to an end. He recalls his presence at Christ’s transfiguration as a witness to the divine source of the gospel he has preached to them.

False teachers

[2] Peter warns that there will be false teachers whose intent is financial gain from their religious teaching. In the days of Noah, when fallen angels and an ungodly world were destroyed by the flood, only Noah and his family were saved. Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with only Lot and his daughters saved. These events demonstrate that God will deliver the godly out of temptation, and reserve the unjust for the day of judgement when they will be punished. Balaam is an example of one who chose the wages of unrighteousness when using his gifts, and was rebuked by means of a dumb ass. If false teachers, who once knew Christ and were delivered from sin, return to their old ways, then it would have been better for them never to have known righteousness, for appropriate judgement will befall them.

The certainty of Christ’s return

[3] Peter reminds us of the words of the prophets and the teaching of the apostles. They had spoken of false teachers and those who would scoff concerning the second coming of Christ. The day is not known, but the Lord’s time is not as our time: one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, and He is long-suffering, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Peter finishes his letter urging all Christians to remain steadfast and to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
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