This Bible Study is part of the "1st and 2nd Peter" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Some have questioned whether 2 Peter was actually written by Peter. These concerns originated as early as the second century, but by the third century both 1 and 2 Peter were very much accepted as inspired. Among the reasons why 2 Peter was questioned is that it is short; and that it went to an audience that was "out of the mainstream."
I am Doug Winnail, a Pastor with the Living Church of God. We are starting a Bible study on 2 Peter, a book written by the Apostle Peter to the same audience as the book of 1 Peter—the group of churches located in the northern part of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). It was probably written in the mid-60s; it was written during a time of persecution and trial. It is interesting that Peter focuses probably more than 20 times in this book on the importance of knowledge, the importance of Truth, the importance of discernment and the importance of remembering—especially during trials and tribulation.
Some have questioned whether 2 Peter was actually written by Peter. These concerns originated as early as the second century, but by the third century both 1 and 2 Peter were very much accepted as inspired. Among the reasons why 2 Peter was questioned is that it is short; and that it went to an audience that was "out of the mainstream." It did not go to Ephesus. It did not go to Rome. It went to small church areas in the northern part of Asia Minor. Since it was a short book, and went to an audience that was not in the mainstream, it probably did not circulate quite as widely as 1 Peter, but there is no serious reason why it should not be accepted as an inspired book and as actually written by Peter.
2 Peter 1:1-2
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ [the author is actually identified here in verse 1.], To those who have obtained like precious faith with us [Peter’s "us" refers to the Apostles and those that are being called to the same faith. If you have been called as a Christian, you have been called to the very same faith that Peter and Paul and James and John were called to.] by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God…
As we go through 2 Peter, we will hear these words over and over again—"knowledge, truth, discernment, remembering"--probably 20 times. Peter is a very practical person. When you read the book, you see that he emphasizes truth; he emphasizes things that are solid--not fables, not made up stories, but actual eyewitness things.
2 Peter 1:2-3
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us ["A calling" is having your mind opened by the spirit of God to be able to begin to understand the Bible.]…
Growing up as a child, I would read the Bible and conclude, "I don’t understand this; this is difficult." I could memorize John 3:16 and some other verses, but I did not understand Bible prophecy. I did not understand how the books fit together. In fact, when I went to college I found out that some of the teachers of religion did not understand how the books fit together! But, when God begins to call you--begins to open your mind through His Spirit—that is what a calling is all about, being able to begin to understand the Bible, being able to begin to understand the plan and purpose of God. That is what a calling is all about.
2 Peter 1:3-4
…through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…
A person is called to become a Christian--to be given a gift of forgiveness—if he repents. We are going to be given a gift of eternal life. We are going to be able to rule with Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom of God. These are the gifts that Peter is talking about.
2 Peter 1:4
…that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature [Peter is talking about the purpose of human life—not to go to heaven and sit on a cloud and play a harp, but to actually become sons and daughters of God-- members of God’s family. That is the purpose of human life, and Peter addresses that in his introduction.], having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
It is more than just being called. We have been called to grow. We have been called to learn. We have been called to add things to our faith, and this is the next section that Peter focuses on.
2 Peter 1:5
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence…
What I have done in my Bible is look up these words in the Greek, then write out the definition. Diligence comes from the Greek word spoudi, which means speed, haste, carefulness and eagerness and earnestness. "Get with the program diligently and earnestly."
2 Peter 1:5
…add to your faith…
Our faith is what we believe. He says, "We have to add more to that." We have to have more than just a belief that Jesus came and died and was resurrected. We have to add to that. What do we add to that? He says…
2 Peter 1:5
Virtue comes from the Greek word that means valor, strength and conviction. It means courage whenever you are going through trials. Add to your faith conviction and courage and strength. Add to that strength and courage…
2 Peter 1:5
We have to know what we believe. That means proving things. It means studying into things. It means asking questions and finding answers because, as we do that, our faith will increase. As we add knowledge, our faith will increase.
2 Peter 1:6
To knowledge self-control…
This means a balance. It means self-constraint. It means getting your own act together, thinking properly and guiding your thoughts—not being controlled by emotions.
2 Peter 1:6
…to self-control perseverance…
This means steady control under pressure. You persevere. You do not quit. You do not give up.
2 Peter 1:6
…to perseverance godliness.
…Striving to think and act like God would act, like Jesus Christ would act, walking in His footsteps.
2 Peter 1:7
To godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
"Brotherly kindness" comes from the word Philadelphia, which means that you have a brotherly love--that you enjoy people. I remember talking to a person who said, "I really enjoy being in the Church. It is just the people I can’t stand." That misses the point. It is one thing to know the Truth and believe the Truth, but we also have to learn to love people in a Philadelphian manner. Then, to that Philadelphia love--brotherly love--he says "add love." This love is agape, which is unselfish, outgoing concern--being concerned for others, sometimes even when we don’t want to be.
These are seven qualities that Peter lists that we have to add to our faith. Then, in verse 8, he goes into some of the reasons why.
2 Peter 1:8-10
For if these things [these seven qualities that we must add to our faith] are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things [is not adding to his faith the strength, the courage, the perseverance and the love, then he] is shortsighted [He does not see the big picture.], even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent [more earnest, more desirous] to make your call and election sure…
Many people today think, "Well, I have been called. I have been converted. I have got it made. I am going to be in the Kingdom of God." Well, what Peter is saying is that you do not have it made. He says, "Make your calling and election sure." You have to endure to the end. You have to get through the trails. We have to overcome the challenges we face in order to make our calling and election sure. Keep in mind that Peter is writing to people who are being persecuted. They have to get through the trials. They have to finish the race. They have to overcome the problems. They have to endure to the end.
2 Peter 1:10-14
…make your call and election sure, for if you do these things [if you add these things to your faith] you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this reason I will not be negligent [Peter says] to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent [or my body]…
Apparently, Peter was writing the book of 2 Peter shortly before he was martyred. Historical sources suggest Peter died in Rome—very possibly as a result of the persecution of Nero. The point is, Peter is writing to an audience to encourage them just before he was killed. You might think about what your mind would be focusing on if you knew that you were going to die shortly. Peter was focusing on encouraging others to be strong, to endure and to overcome, even though he was looking at his own death very shortly.
2 Peter 1:15
Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things [even] after my decease.
Beginning, then, in verse 16 of Chapter 1, he comes back to encouraging people to think on things that are solid—to hold on to the Truth.
2 Peter 1:16
For we [the Apostles] did not follow cunningly devised fables [They did not make up these stories. They did not pick up stories from others. Peter died for his beliefs. Paul died for his beliefs. James died for his beliefs. They died because they believed. They understood the Truth. They were eyewitnesses. They knew what they believed in.] when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
He says, "We were eyewitnesses. We watched Jesus Christ being transformed on the Mount. We were there when He was crucified. We were there when He was resurrected." When you understand the Truth—when you have "been there and done that"--you can speak very powerfully about what you believe if you studied it and proved various things. You can be very convicted in what you say. This is what Peter was encouraging them to do.
2 Peter 1:17-19
For He [Jesus Christ] received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. [He is referring to the time when Jesus Christ was transfigured, when His physical body was changed to a spirit being right in front of Peter and John.] We have also a more sure word of prophecy; [Peter is talking about the Church that he was part of. We understand prophecy more clearly. He is not saying we understand everything.]
It is very interesting to see that Mr. Herbert Armstrong was talking in the 1940s about Germany coming back and leading Europe, when Germany was in ashes. He was alone—a voice in the wilderness, so to speak—preaching about those things. How did he know these things? He knew because of an understanding of prophecy that God makes available to His Church.
Peter is saying…
2 Peter 1:19
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; which you do well to heed…
As we get close to the end, it will become more and more obvious. Many people are going to be talking about prophecy, but they don’t have a 50-year track record of preaching these things that have come to pass.
2 Peter 1:19-20
…as a light that shines in a dark place, [When the sun comes up in the morning, the light begins to spread all around the world and you begin to see things that you could not see in the dark.]… knowing this first [Peter warns], that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…
Many people would like to come up with their own ideas and say, "Well, this is what I think about prophecy," or "This is how I interpret that scripture." What Peter is saying to the Churches is that "prophecies and scriptures are not for private interpretation."
2 Peter 1:21
For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
What Peter is saying to these people, is: "Be very careful. Don’t get carried away by your own ideas.
As we will see in Chapter 2, as we continue in our next segment, Peter is actually leading up to a discussion of false prophets and false teachers. His lead-in to that discussion is this warning to be very careful that you don’t wind up trying to interpret prophecies and scriptures for yourself. Otherwise, you might wind up being one of those false teachers.
I am Doug Winnail, with the Living Church of God.