2 Peter is a difficult book. Peter is an old man and writes:
“Knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.”
2 Peter 1:14-15
Chapter 1 – Christian Character
Chapter 2 – A confrontation of false teaching
Chapter 3 – A promise of the future
An interesting argument that reveals an older person looking over his life and sharing what he sees.
Themes & Purpose
2 Peter addresses the dangers of false teachers among the believers, that these teachers entice and allure people away from truth.
It’s an encouragement toward prevention: if you know the truth, you will know better than to follow false teaching.
This book also serves as a warning of division and internal frustration.
Peter warns the church: be on guard.
“Second Peter and Jude have been called “the dark corner” of the New Testament. The designation is not wholly unwarranted. Whatever the causes, the ignorance within Christendom concerning these epistles is lamentably widespread.
The Second Epistle of Peter is a ringing challenge to Christian steadfastness in the face of flagrant false teaching within the Christian Church. This epistle, together with the Epistle of Jude, to which it bears close affinities…performs the arduous task of combating heresy among professed believers. It is a task often unwelcomed and seldom fully appreciated… Yet the message that these epistles proclaim is important and strikingly relevant for our own day. We may be grateful that God has preserved 2 Peter for us…” (1.)
The purpose of teaching is not to make the Bible relevant. It is always relevant. The challenge is for you and me to think of the context and understand what it meant then, and how it applies now. In 2 Peter, this is easy.
False teaching is one of the greatest dangers for believers.
You and I are susceptible to false information and we’re naive. This is black and white, and it’s hard information to digest. The trends we see today where popular men and women get to a place in their ministry and begin teaching garbage is egregious.
Scripture is farm firmer ground than anything else in this world. It can seem abstract and intimidating, which is one reason we’ve done this series walking through the whole Bible, it’s not abstract or overwhelming—but it does take time.
God’s Word is a better foundation to stand on than all of the trendy -ism’s that are going around.
Scripture must take first place.
False teachers and false teaching are pervasive in Peter’s time and in ours. We don’t have to “speak truth to power,” we simply speak what God has written.
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3
Discernment & Growth
The first thing Peter says here is that we must go back to the beginning because of the preponderance of false teaching infiltrating local assemblies. We must be discerning. God gave you and me everything we need for a life of godliness.
We talk about the sufficiency of Scripture. Is it? Do you hold that this Book is sufficient for all that you need of a life of faith and grace in living?
If this is the living and active Word of God, it seems to me it should have some prominence in our lives.
Interesting: The term “granted to us” means to cast a lot—also used in Luke 1:9 and John 19:24, citing Psalm 22:19.
The believer’s faith should always be growing.
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in yourself-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”
2 Peter 1:5-7
Notice: he says to apply all diligence. We cannot grow in the Christian life apart from discipline and diligence.
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;” 2 Peter 1:8-10
Peter’s argument is logical: God gave you these tools, everything you need for a life of faith and godliness. The way we stay in the game is diligence, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
It’s a very practical text.
An interesting connection: Peter ties this back to forgetting the forgiveness of our sins.
We become complacent when we forget what Christ has done for us.
- The believer’s faith should always be growing
- The believer must apply diligence
- There’s a need for “ongoing education” (2 Peter 1:12)
- The believer’s foundation of faith is God’s Word
Condemnation of False Teachers
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
- 2:1 deny the Master
- 2:2 follow their sensuality
- 2:10 indulge the flesh, despise authority, self-willed
- 2:12 like unreasoning animals… creatures of instinct
- 2:14 having eyes full of adultery
- 2:15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray
The visceral part of this list is evident: a lot of this applies today.
When we’re driven by our passions, lust of the flesh, we’re like unreasoning animals. You cannot make your flesh better, that’s not why Christ died, buried, and was resurrected. He died so we could be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to Whom we can submit.
“For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” 2 Peter 2:18-19
The church has been flooded with raw sewage. Satan’s half-truths are always full lies. We’re not identifying with Christ, we’re identifying with al-a-carte sin, with speaking words of vanity that fuel our sensual desires, failing to notice we’ve become slaves of corruption.
Just because we have a craving, longing, loss, desire, or feeling that we are entitled to this or that does not make it right in God’s eyes.
The irony of sin: all sin is an illegitimate means to a legitimate end.
We want to be enslaved to Christ, which is freedom because we’re aligning ourselves with truth and not deception.
Trust God at His Word
•2 Peter 3:1 Remember God’s word (again this theme of remind, remember, we might say “reeducate”)
•2 Peter 3:3 Know that mockers will come, mocking, following their own lusts.
•2 Peter 3:7 Do not confuse God’s patience with tolerance. He is not tolerating sin. He is not overlooking sin. He is holy and righteous, and He will judge the ungodly.
•2 Peter 3:9 God wishes all to come to repentance.
•2 Peter 3:11 Live holy; looking for His return
•2 Peter 3:14-17 Be diligent; be on guard
•2 Peter 3:18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
All these injunctions point back to this: do you trust Him at His word?
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” 2 Peter 3:11
False teaching is more common than you and I may want to acknowledge.
When anything in the world transcends or eclipses the Scripture, you and I need to know what is true and what is false. We ought to fear God, not men.
What sort of people ought we to be by God’s measuring standard?
- D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude: An Expositional Commentary (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1989), v, 1.
- Michael’s teaching series on 2 Peter: Be On Guard