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- 2 Peter
by Donald C. Fleming
A year or two after writing his first letter, Peter wrote and sent off the letter that we know as 2 Peter. It appears to have been sent to the same group of churches as 1 Peter, namely, churches of the northern provinces of Asia Minor where he had carried out a widespread evangelistic and pastoral ministry (2 Peter 3:1; cf 1 Peter 1:1).
Reasons for writing
At the time of writing, Peter was in prison in Rome, probably awaiting execution (2 Peter 1:14). (According to tradition he was crucified in Rome during the latter half of the AD 60s.) He had heard of the activity of false teachers, and wanted to reassure the Christians of certain truths he had taught them (2 Peter 1:10-16).
The false teaching seems to have included ideas that became fully developed in the Gnostic heresies of the second century. Gnostics were people who claimed to have higher spiritual knowledge (see background notes to Colossians and 1 John), but this led to a separation between belief and behaviour. They argued that their knowledge placed them in a realm where the deeds of the body no longer affected the purity of the soul. Therefore, for people who possessed this higher knowledge, immoral practices were not wrong.
Peter announced God’s punishment on those who taught such things, and urged true Christians to pursue holiness with greater diligence (2 Peter 1:5-8; 2 Peter 2:1-3). He also opposed those who mocked the Christians’ belief in the return of Jesus Christ. Again he condemned the false teachers but reassured the believers (2 Peter 3:3-4,2 Peter 3:9-10).
Some illustrations and arguments that Peter used in this letter are similar to those found in the letter of Jude. This suggests that both writers used material that was in common use among those who opposed the false teaching.
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