The second epistle of Peter was written to warn Christians about false teachers and to exhort them to grow in their faith in and knowledge of Christ.
Author and date
The second epistle of Peter is generally attributed to the apostle Peter as the letter opens with salutation "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ," however there are some questions concerning
the authenticity of this claim. Second Peter is thought to have been written about the year 67 A.D. possibly from Rome.
Arguments for Petrine authorship
- The letter claims to be written by Peter.
Arguments for pseudonymnity
- There are major differences with 1 Peter.
- This letter was acknowledged as pseudepigrapha.
- There is literary dependence on Jude (indicates late date).
- The reference to Paul's letters as Scripture (indicative of the second century).
- There was difficulty in acceptance of 2 Peter to the canon.
Rejoinders to arguments for Petrine authorship
- The letter is not long enough to consider style issues.
The second epistle of Peter is generally divided into three sections:
- Guidance for growing Christians (1:1-21)
- Danger to growing Christians (2:1-22)
- Hope for growing Christians (3:1-18)
While Peter wrote his first letter to teach about handling persecution (trials from without), he wrote this letter to teach about handling heresy (trials from within). False teachers are often subtly deceitful. Believers today must still be vigilant against
falling into false doctrine, heresy, and cult activity. This letter gives us clues to help detect false teaching.
Major themes contained within second Peter include:
Diligence - If our faith is real, it will be evident in our faithful behaviour. If people are diligent in Christian growth, they won't backslide or be deceived by false teachers. Growth is essential. It begins with faith and
culminates in love for others. To keep growing we need to know God, keep on following him, and remember what he taught us. We must remain diligent in faithful obedience and Christian growth.
False Teachers - Peter warns the church to beware of false teachers. These teachers were proud of their position, promoted sexual sin, and advised against keeping the Ten Commandments. Peter countered
them by pointing to the Spirit-inspired Scriptures as our authority. Christians need discernment to be able to resist false teachers. God can rescue us from their lies if we stay true to his Word, the Bible, and reject those who distort the truth.
Christ's Return - One day Christ will create a new heaven and earth where we will live forever. As Christians, our hope is in this promise. But with Christ's return comes his judgement on all who refuse to believe. The cure
for complacency, lawlessness, and heresy is found in the confident assurance that Christ will return. God is still giving unbelievers time to repent. To be ready, Christians must keep on trusting and resist the pressure to give up waiting for Christ's
Life Application Bible - New International Version. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, 1989.