Peter’s Second Letter

Discovery for Students

Peter’s Second Letter

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
2 Peter 1:1 through 3:18

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

BACKGROUND

Whereas the epistle of 1 Peter defined the true grace of God as the ability for Christians to stand in the face of intense suffering and persecution, 2 Peter addressed the distinction between true and false teachers. The words of 1 Peter were designed to encourage and strengthen the brethren. The words of 2 Peter were designed to help them stand in the face of the false teachers who had emerged. In 2 Peter 3:1-2, we find the purpose of the epistle: “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”

These early believers had been converted as the result of true teaching, and they understood the words of the Lord Jesus and the prophets. With this letter, Peter encouraged them to hold to those truths. At the same time, he reminded them to be alert to false teachers, including “false prophets . . . who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).

The style of the letter is that of a “testament” or farewell discourse. Peter’s impending death, which he alluded to in verse 14 of chapter 1, set the backdrop for such a testament to be written. This form of address was well known in Old Testament and early Christian writing traditions. It gave opportunity for a great leader to summarize his teachings, instruct his followers, and make warnings concerning the future. These words often carried special weight because of their nearness to the final passing of the leader.

It appears that with the passing of the first generation of disciples, questions began to arise concerning the Lord’s promised return. Peter’s letter responded to these questions, mounting a defense of the apostolic expectation of coming judgment and final salvation. The letter also used the imminent return of the Lord as motivation for righteous living until that day.

In this epistle, Peter confronted false teachers and heresies with the Gospel message in terms which were applicable to the Hellenistic (Greek) culture. He refuted skepticism over end-time issues and condemned the lowering of moral standards, including purity and holiness. Examples of judgment from Old Testament writers were used to remind Christians of the faithfulness of God both to deliver the godly and to judge the wicked. Peter outlined the requirements of godly living, grounding those requirements in the abundant salvation offered by Christ, and the inspiration of the Scriptures.

QUESTIONS

  1. Peter opened his letter with a greeting to those who had obtained “like precious faith with us.” Why is faith precious? Why do you think Peter used the word “like” (or “alike”) to describe the faith they had?
  2. In 2 Peter 1:3-4, it is clear that God has given us all that we need for life and godliness by His power through Christ. He mentioned “exceeding great and precious promises,” which are given so that we can be partakers of the divine nature, escaping the world’s corruption. It is out of this sufficiency that we are called to diligently supplement or nourish our lives in Christ by adding certain godly qualities. List and describe the attributes Peter mentioned that Christians should diligently seek in their spiritual lives. 2 Peter 1:5-7
  3. Peter did not indicate that the attributes listed in question two were optional. If we do not seek to possess them, how will this affect our walk with God? (2 Peter 1:8-10) What will be the result if we do?
  4. Peter, James, and John heard the voice of God at the transfiguration of Christ. Peter alluded to this experience in 2 Peter 1:16-18 and, in the concluding verses of the chapter, indicated that God’s written Word is as reliable and verifiable as the spoken words heard on the mountain. Why is this true? 2 Peter 1:20-21
  5. In chapter 2, Peter predicted that false teachers would imperil the church by coming in “privily,” or under pretense, disguising their motives. What types of false doctrinal teachings can we observe in religious society today? How can we guard ourselves from being influenced by them?
  6. Make a list of some of the word pictures Peter painted in chapter 2 of those who teach falsely or embrace false teachings. Why do you think he chose to use some unpleasant illustrations?
  7. Why was Peter so concerned that believers stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance? 2 Peter 3:1-2
  8. In 2 Peter 3:10-14, what actions did Peter call for from believers?
  9. We are instructed to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Note several ways this spiritual growth can be encouraged in our lives.

CONCLUSION

If there were ever a time when individual believers and the Church as a whole needed to rehearse and heed the warnings of 2 Peter, it is today! Peter asked, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God?” (2 Peter 3:11-12). This is certainly an appropriate question for today’s generation!