The Second Epistle of Peter

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"The Second Letter of Peter applied Jesus's message to the conditions of the Hellenistic spiritual world, and explained that Jesus's appeal was based on his gift to us of everything positive we need for ourselves and for our life".[1 p.5]

This book has an unusual relationship with Jude which is almost entirely composed of material from 2 Peter, presented in the same style. It seems certain that one person was the author of both books, and that we are seeing different versions of one document. It follows that when studying 2 Peter one could usefully look at a commentary on Jude at the same time.

Swete[1 p.203] thinks that 2 Peter was the last epistle to be written, dating from the 2nd Century C.E.

Commentary

1:15

This verse apparently predicts Peter's death; it is not clear whether he mentioned it because of his age, or because he was aware what fate awaited him. Jesus had warned him of an undesirable event in John 21:18.

1:17–18

Like John 1:14, this is an eye-witness account of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2, Luke 9:28). See Mark 9:10 regarding telling others about it.

1:19

St Peter has come to see the Transfiguration as a symbol of God's light shining in the darkness to illuminate our ignorance and disbelief. The fact that it is mentioned in this context shows that the memory of the event was a key source of Christian hope as Peter approached the end of his life.

1:21

Prophecy in the Bible is the words of God not of the prophets.

2:1

These false teachers were saved but will go to destruction; thus though nobody can pluck a saved person from Christ's hand, we can remove ourselves from his care. The Christian, once saved, can fall from salvation — see Appendix 2 Judgement.

2:4–7

These verses indicate how seriously God takes sin.

2:8

If we are at peace with God we will not be at peace with the world, and vice versa.

2:21

See verse 1. Teachers will be judged more strictly than others, as we are told in James 3:1.

3:1

At last Peter states his purpose in writing the letter! Drane[3] suggests that the reference to another letter means the book of Jude, not 1 Peter as has been supposed, because of the strong connections between Jude and 2 Peter and the dissimilarities between 1 Peter and 2 Peter.

3:8

The idea that for the Lord a day is much the same as a thousand years comes from Psalm 90:4 — see commentary there.

3:10

See comment on Matthew 24:43, and cf. Luke 12:39, 1 Thessalonians 5:2.

3:13

cf. Revelation 21:1.

3:16

The early church was troubled by heretics (e.g. Gnostics) taking the writings of Paul out of context. This verse indicates their policy of treating Paul's teaching with respect but great caution, for that reason.

3:17

See 2 Peter 2:1.

References:

  1. Grün, Anselm OSB The Seven Sacraments London: Continuum, 2003
  2. Swete, Dr H B The Parables of the Kingdom Glasgow University Press, 1920
  3. Drane, John Introduction to the New Testament Oxford: Lion, 1986 & 1999

© David Billin 2002–2018