The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: 1-9

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2Pe, overview

Author: Peter. This epistle claims that the Apostle Peter wrote it (2Pe 1:1). It also claims to follow a former letter by Peter (2Pe 3:1) that certainly appears to be a reference to 1Pe. The author's reference to the fact that Jesus had predicted a certain kind of death for him (2Pe 1:14) ties in with Jesus' statement to Peter recorded in Joh 21:18.

The writings of the church fathers contain fewer references to Peter's authorship of 2Pe than to the authorship of any other NT book. It is easy to see why critics who look for reasons to reject the authority of Scripture have targeted this book for attack. Ironically in this letter Peter warned his readers of heretics who departed from the teaching of the apostles and the OT prophets, which is the very thing these modern critics do.

Regardless of the external evidence, there is strong internal testimony to the fact that Peter wrote the book. The writer claimed to have witnessed Jesus' transfiguration (2Pe 1:16-18) and to have received information about his own death from Jesus (2Pe 1:13-14; cf John 21:18).

Assuming Peter's reference to his former letter (2Pe 3:1) is to 1Pe, he seems to have sent this epistle to the same general audience. That audience was primarily Gentile but also Jewish Christians living in northern Asia Minor (cf 1Pe 1:1).

Time: Peter's reference to his imminent departure from this life (2Pe 1:13-15) suggests that the time of composition may have been just before Peter suffered martyrdom. The writings of church fathers place Peter's death at 67-68 AD in Rome (the persecutions of Nero began about 64 AD). Consequently a date of composition about that time seems most likely. Early church tradition also says Peter spent the last decade of his life in Rome.

"Second Peter is the swan song of Peter, just as 2Ti is the swan song of Paul. There are striking similarities between the two books. Both epistles put up a warning sign along the pilgrim pathway the church is traveling to identify the awful apostasy that was on the way at the time and which in our time has now arrived. What was then like a cloud the size of a man's hand today envelops the sky and produces a storm of hurricane proportions. Peter warns of heresy among teachers; Paul warns of heresy among the laity" (McGee).

Summary: Peter encourages the Christians to be sure of salvation by putting true doctrine into practice and dealing with false teachers. The letter is written to encourage Christian growth, while resisting false doctrine.

Key verse: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2Pe 3:9).


How to make one's salvation sure: 2Pe 1:1–11
Peter's reason for writing: 2Pe 1:12–21
False teachers: their behavior and end: 2Pe 2:1–22
The day of the Lord: 2Pe 3:1–18

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