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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

2 Peter

- 2 Peter

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE EPISTLE OF 2 PETER

January 2013 Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme The Perseverance of the Saints (from False Doctrines within)

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and

beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Matthew 16:6

Structural Theme The Knowledge of the Father’s Calling

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,

through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:

that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:

for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

2 Peter 1:10

Imperative Theme Growing in the Knowledge of God’s Word (Perseverance of the Mind)

Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes;

and I shall keep it unto the end.

Psalms 119:33

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

Jude 1:2

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF 2 PETER

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Epistle of Galatians - Donald Guthrie tells us that, with the exception of 1 Peter and 1 John, the Catholic Epistles played a minor role in shaping the thought of the early Church during the first few centuries, and were not fully embraced until the fourth century, when the New Testament canon was closed. [1] These Epistles are often overshadowed by the Gospels and Pauline Epistles in their relative importance to the Christian faith. This appears to be the case today as well as in in the ancient Church. Because their underlying message is one of perseverance, we can understand why the other New Testament writings appear more glorious, as they emphasize the revelations of our glorious Saviour and of sacred Church doctrine. However, the necessity to persevere is part and parcel to our eternal glorification, as is clearly brought out within the Catholic Epistles. This means that their message is an equally important part of our spiritual journey into eternal glory with our Heavenly Father.

[1] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 722.

Introductory Material - The introduction to the epistle of 2 Peter will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. [2] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

[2] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”

(J. Hampton Keathley) [3]

[3] J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of 2 Peter will address its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the apostle Peter wrote his second epistle to the Jews of the Diaspora of northern Asia Minor shortly after his first epistle around A.D. 64-68 because these Jewish converts were experiencing trials and hardships as they endeavoured conduct a Christian lifestyle in the midst of a society that was ignorant and even hostile to their faith. In his second epistle he expresses his desire to stir them up prior to his departure..

I. Historical Background

II. Authorship and Canonicity

In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of 2 Peter: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1 st and 2 nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2 nd century thru 3 rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4 th century).

A. Apostolic Authority - Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which “the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice.” He says the “elements of the Catholic faith” were established during this period in Church history. [4] At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke, the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude, the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book’s apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.

[4] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D. 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, “The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time.” ( Fragments of Caius 3.3) ( ANF 5); Corey Keating says, “In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority’ was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing.” See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ ChurchHistory/Criteria for Development of the NT Canon in First Four Centuries.pdf; Internet.

Five of the General Epistles (James, 2 Peter , 2, 3 John, and Jude) were slow in being received into the New Testament canon by the early Church for several reasons. [5] (1) Slow Circulation - One of the reasons for their delayed acceptance was slow circulation. James MacKnight says this slow circulation does not mean that they were viewed as forgeries by the early Church fathers; rather, it shows that slow circulation of these epistles had not allowed them to be as quickly judged and proven authentic. [6] The New Testament church was extremely careful before accepting any book as canonical, and did in fact identify certain writings as forgeries. (2) Brevity - Another reason the epistles of James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude were not quickly recognized by the early Church was the brevity of these letters. This brevity gave them less attention during public readings, since they were not immediately recognized as circulatory letters. This circumstance accounts for both their slow circulation and for them being omitted from some of the earliest translations of the Christian Scriptures and canons. Because of their slower circulation and brevity, they were much less referred to by the earliest church fathers, making it more difficult to establish their genuineness. F.B. Westcott responds to this fact by saying, “As a general rule, quotations have a value positively, but not negatively: they may shew that a writing was received as authoritative, but it cannot fairly be argued from this fact alone that another which is not quoted was unknown or rejected as apocryphal.” [7] Despite their slow circulation and brevity, the Church’s acceptance of apostolic authorship of these five epistles won them favor by the time the canon was officially closed in the fourth century.

[5] Eusebius says, “Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name.” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.25.3)

[6] James MacKnight, A New Literal Translation from the Original Greek, of All the Apostolic Epistles, vol. iv (Edinburgh: John Ritchie, 1809), 5-6.

[7] B. F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillian and Company, Ltd.,1896), 11.

Although the first epistle of Peter received quick recognition as inspired Scripture, his second epistle was not so easily canonized into the sacred Scriptures. The other brief letters of 2 John, 3 John, and Jude were not quickly recognized either, but none have been more disputed than 2 Peter. One fact that caused this uncertainty is the brevity of these letters. This brevity gave them less attention during public readings, since they were not immediately recognized as circulatory letters, which accounts for their slow circulation and omission from some of the earliest translations of the Christian Scriptures and canons. Because of their slower circulation, they were much cited to by the earliest church fathers, making it more difficult to establish their genuineness. However, apostolic authorship won their favor by the time the canon was officially closed by the middle of the fourth century. Nathaniel Williams makes the simple conclusion that either the epistle of 2 Peter was written by the apostle Peter or it was forged. [8] One must then conclude that if it were a forged document, then it would not have been included in the canon of the New Testament books by the early Church, which considered apostolic authority of a book as the guideline for canonicity.

[8] Nathaniel Marshman Williams, Commentary on the Epistles of Peter, in An American Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Alvah Hovey (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society, 1888), 75.

1. Internal Evidence - Internal evidence supports Petrine authorship of 2 Peter.

a) The Author Reveals His Identity - The author’s identity is clearly identified within the epistle of 1 Peter.

i) His Name is Peter - The opening salutation of the Epistle declares Petrine authorship by stating his name at Peter, describing himself as one of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. No other writer of the early Church gave themselves such titles outside of these chosen Twelve.

2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:”

ii) His Indirect Identity The epistle of 2 Peter is full of first person statements that indirectly identify the author as Simon Peter the apostle of Jesus Christ.

(1) The Author Declares that He was With Jesus On the Mount of Transfiguration In 2 Peter 1:16-18 the author states that he was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. This limits us to the possibilities of Peter, James and John. We know that James was an early martyr (Acts 12:2) and John’s writings have a distinct Johannine character much different that 2 Peter.

(2) The Author Makes a Second Declaration that He was One of the Lord’s Apostles In 2 Peter 3:2 the author states for a second time that he was one of the Lord’s Twelve Apostles.

2 Peter 3:2, “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:”

(3) The Author Declares to Have Written a Previous Epistle In 2 Peter 3:1 the author declares to have written a previous epistle, which early Church tradition says to be 1 Peter. This statement reveals that the author was writing to his recipients with apostolic authority.

(4) The Author Calls Paul His “Beloved Brother” In 2 Peter 3:15-16 the author calls Paul his brother and mentions the Pauline epistles that were written to his same recipients. This implies that the author was a contemporary of Paul and of equal authority in his office and ministry to the Church.

(5) The Author May be Referring to Jesus’ Prediction of Peter’s Death Recorded in John 21:18-19 Peter’s reference to his impending death in 2 Peter 1:14 may be a reference to Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s death recorded in John 21:18-19. However, it can be argued that this comment is referring to a more recent revelation.

(6) The Epistle of 2 Peter Carries an Apostolic Tone Many scholars note that the overall tone of 2 Peter reflects apostolic characteristics, being superior in quality to the writings of the Church fathers. The reference to a previous epistle, the earnest appeals to holiness, its warnings against apostasy, and its references to Jesus’ Second Coming all reflect the tone of apostolic authority, which eventually gave it a place in the New Testament canon. These same apostolic characteristics are found in Peter’s first epistle.

b) Its Style and Structure is Petrine The style and structure of the epistle of 2 Peter is Petrine. For example, the phrase “grace to you and peace be multiplied” can be found in the salutations of both 1 and 2 Peter.

2. Patristic Support of Authorship - The early Church fathers were not in universal agreement regarding 2 Peter’s authorship and canonicity. Therefore, external evidence for Petrine authorship carries less weight than the internal evidence, yet it falls in favor of Petrine authorship. A number of the early Church fathers make direct statements regarding Peter’s authorship of his second epistle, acknowledging that its authorship and canonicity was in question.

a) Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150 to 215) Eusebius tells us that Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 180) gave abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures, and did not omit the disputed books, which included all Catholic Epistles. Thus, we can assume that Clement of Alexandria was familiar with 2 Peter.

“To sum up briefly, he has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books, I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the so-called Apocalypse of Peter.” ( Ecclesiastical History 6.14.1)

Nathanial Lardner quotes Cassadorius (A.D. 485 to 580), who tells us that Clement did not comment on the epistle of 2 Peter, although he commented on four of the seven Catholic Epistles.

“Clement, presbyter of Alexandria, author of the Stromata, explained the canonical epistles: that is, the first epistle of St. Peter, the first and second of St. John, and the epistle of James; it is probable it should be Jude: and mentions no other. These likewise, Cassiodorius says, he ordered to be translated into Latin. And that he had no comment of Clement upon the other catholic epistles, is evident from what he there proceeds to say: That St. Augustine had explained the epistle of James; but that he was still solicitous for a comment upon the rest of the canonical epistles.” ( de Institutione Divinarum Litterarum 8) ( PL 70 col. 1120A-B) [9]

[9] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol. 2 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1835), 243-2442.

Photius (A.D. 810 to 895) also mentions the fact the Clement of Alexandria gave brief accounts of the canonical Scriptures, in which he mentions the Catholic epistles ( Bibliotheca 109) ( PG 103 cols. 381-384).

Although Clement of Alexandria does not mention or quote from the epistle of 2 Peter, Charles Bigg believers he does make a weak allusion to 2 Peter 2:2 when using the phrase “the way of truth,” a phrase which is unique to the New Testament.

“Raise your eyes from earth to the skies, look up to heaven, admire the sight, cease watching with outstretched head the heel of the righteous, and hindering the way of truth.” ( Exhortation to the Heathen [Protrepticus] 10) ( ANF 2)

2 Peter 2:2, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

Charles Bigg lists a number of other possible allusions to 2 Peter in the writings of Clement of Alexandria. [10]

[10] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 202.

b) Origen (A.D. 185 to 254) (Alexandria, Egypt) - As quoted by Eusebius, Origen tells us that Peter wrote the first epistle, but the authorship of the second epistle was doubtful.

“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail left only one epistle of acknowledged genuineness. Suppose we allow that he left a second; for this is doubtful.” ( Commentary on John 5:3) ( ANF 10)

“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, ‘against which the gates of hell shall not prevail,’ has left one acknowledged epistle; perhaps also a second, but this is doubtful.” ( Ecclesiastical History 6.25.8)

Origen writes, “and Peter in his epistle says…,” then quotes 2 Peter 1:2 in his Commentary on the Epistle of Romans 8:7 ( PG 14 col. 1179A).

2 Peter 1:2, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.”

Origen mentions his two epistles in his Commentary on Joshua.

“Peter speaks aloud through the two trumpets of the prophet.” [11] ( Homilies in Joshua 7:1) ( PG 12 col. 858B)

[11] P.J. Gloag, 2 Peter, in The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub. House, 1954), in Ages Digital Library, v. 1.0 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc., 2002), “Introduction.”

Nathaniel Lardner and P. J. Gloag tell us that Origen clearly ascribes this Second Epistle to Peter in several passages found in the Latin translation of his works by Rufinus (c. A.D. 345 to 410). Guthrie says Origen cites this Epistle at least six times in the writings of Rufinus, and “shows little hesitation in regarding it as canonical.” However, all quotes appear in the writings of Rufinus, who was known to have made additions to Origen’s works, thus diminishing their reliability. [12]

[12] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 806.

“And Peter says, ‘Ye are made partakes of the divine nature.’” [13] ( Homilies in Leviticus 4:5) ( PG 12 col. 437B)

[13] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol. 2 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 508-510.

2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

“And as the Scripture says in a certain place, ‘the dumb ass with man’s voice forbids the madness of the prophet’.” [14] ( Homilies in Numbers 13:8) ( PG 12 col. 676A)

[14] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol. 2 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 508-510.

2 Peter 2:16, “But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”

c) Firmillian (d. A.D. 268) (Caesarea in Palestine) Firmillian, bishop of Caesarea refers to Peter’s epistles in his only extant writing, which is called an epistle to Cyprian. He must be referring to 2 Peter because it clearly addresses false teachers. Charles Biggs notes that this letter implies Cyprian of Carthage must have been familiar with the epistles of Peter and Paul. [15]

[15] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 203.

“Abusing also the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, as if they had delivered this doctrine; though they in their epistles, have anathematized heretics, and admonished us to avoid them.” (Cyprian, Epistles 75)

d) Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340) (Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine) - The writings of Eusebius, the ancient church historian, reveal to us that the earliest Church fathers fully agreed without dispute to Peter as the author of this first epistle, but rejected his second epistle into the New Testament canon.

“One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this the ancient elders used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures . The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them.” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.3.1-2)

Eusebius goes on to state that even Peter's authorship was doubted by the early church fathers.

“Such are the writings that bear the name of Peter, only one of which I know to be genuine and acknowledged by the ancient elders.” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.3.4)

Eusebius tells us that the early church fathers listed the book of 2 Peter as one of the disputed writings of the New Testament.

“ Among the disputed writings , which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter , and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name.” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.25.3)

“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, ‘against which the gates of hell shall not prevail,’ has left one acknowledged epistle; perhaps also a second, but this is doubtful.” ( Ecclesiastical History 6.25.8)

In citing The Epistle to the Churches of Lyon and Vienna, Eusebius reflects 2 Peter 1:8 by using the Greek words ἀργός (barren) (G692) and ἄκαρπος (unfruitful) (G175) in the same verse.

“But the intervening time was not wasted nor fruitless to them.” ( Ecclesiastical History 5.1.45)

2 Peter 1:8, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prior to the fourth century a number of the General Epistles were in dispute by the Church. However, during the fourth century the twenty-seven books of the New Testament canon were confirmed and accepted by the universal church, except the Syrians. Adam Clarke says this acceptance is seen in the later writings of Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, the council of Laodicea, Epiphanius, [16] Jerome, Rufinus, Augustine, and others. [17]

[16] Epiphanius writes, “…and in the four holy Gospels, and in the fourteen epistles of the holy apostle Paul, and in the ones before these, and with the ones in the times of the acts of the apostles, in the catholic epistles of James, and Peter, and John, and Jude, and in the revelation of John…” ( The Panarion of Ephiphanius of Salamis, Heresy 76: Against Anomoeans - Aetius 5) See S. Epiphanii Episcopi Constantiensis Panaria Eorumque Anacephalaeosis, tomi posterioris, pars prior, ed. Franciscus Oehler, in Corporis Haereseogolici, tomus secundus (Berolini:Apud A. Asher et Socios, 1861), 240; PG 42 cols 559-562.

[17] Adam Clarke, The Second Epistle of Peter, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), “Introduction.”

e) Athanasius (A.D. 296 to 373) (Alexandria, Egypt) - Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, in listing the canonical books of the new Testament, listed both Petrine epistles, thus supporting Petrine authorship and canonicity of 1 and 2 Peter.

“Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven , viz. of James, one; of Peter, two ; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John” ( Letters 39.5)

f) Gregory of Nazianzen (A.D. 329 to 389) (Cappadocia in Central Turkey) Gregory Nazianzen, the Church theologian, supported Petrine authorship of both of his epistles. After listing the books of the Old Testament canon, He says:

“And already for me, I have received all those of the New Testament. First, to the Hebrews Matthew the saint composed what was according to him the Gospel; second, in Italy Mark the divine; third, in Achaia Luke the all-wise; and John, thundering the heavenlies, indeed preached to all common men; after whom the miracles and deeds of the wise apostles, and Paul the divine herald fourteen epistles; and catholic seven, of which one is of James the brother of God, and two are of Peter the head, and of John again the evangelist, three, and seventh is Jude the Zealot. All are united and accepted; and if one of them is found outside, it is not placed among the genuine ones.” ( PG 38 col. 845) (author’s translation) [18]

[18] Cited by Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D. 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 582.

He makes a similar statement again:

“Indeed Matthew wrote to the Hebrews (the) miracles of Christ, and Mark to Italy, Luke to Achaia, and above all, John, a great preacher who walked in heaven, then the Acts of the wise apostles, and fourteen epistles of Paul, and seven catholic epistles, being of James, one, and two of Peter, and three of John again, and Jude is seven. You have all. And if there is some (other than) these seven, not (are they) among the genuine ones.” ( Carminum 1) ( PG 37 col. 474) (author’s translation)

Referring to this quote, B. F. Westcott says, “After enumerating the four Gospels, the Acts, fourteen Epistles of St Paul, and seven Catholic Epistles, Gregory adds: ‘In these you have all the inspired books; if there be any book besides these, it is not among the genuine [Scriptures];’ and thus he excludes the Apocalypse with the Eastern Church, and admits all the Catholic Epistles with the Western.” [19]

[19] Brook Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge and London: Macmillian and Company, 1881), 445.

g) Amphilochius of Iconium (A.D. 340 to 395) (Iconium in Asia Minor) B. F. Westcott cites from a list of accepted books to the New Testament, which he credits to Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium and a cousin of Gregory Nazianzus. Westcott says “Beginning with the mention of the four Gospels, of the Acts of the Apostles, and of fourteen Epistles of St Paul, it then continues:

“‘but some maintain that the Epistle to the Hebrews, is spurious, not speaking well; for the grace [it shews] is genuine. To proceed: what remains? Of the Catholic Epistles some maintain that we ought to receive seven, and others three only, one of James, and one of Peter, and one of John....The Apocalypse of John again some reckon among [the Scriptures]; but still the majority say that it is spurious. This will be the most truthful Canon of the inspired Scriptures.’” ( PG 37 col. 1597A-1598A) [20]

[20] Brook Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge and London: Macmillian and Company, 1881), 445.

h) Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) (Born in Strido, Italy) - Jerome was born at Strido near Aquileia, studied at Rome, and traveled to Gaul before joining some friends in an ascetic lifestyle. He eventually traveled to Palestine where he learned the Hebrew language. He later returned to Rome and acted as secretary to Pope Damascus. [21] Jerome tells us in his Lives of Illustrious Men ( Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorm) that Peter’s second epistle was still disputed during his time.

[21] “Jerome, St.,” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, revised, eds. F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 731.

“He (Peter) wrote two epistles which are called Catholic, the second of which, on account of its difference from the first in style, is considered by many not to be by him.” ( Lives of Illustrious Men 1)

However, in his Epistle to Paulinus he appears to accept all seven Catholic Epistles as genuine. His comments clearly implies that Peter wrote two epistles, along with James (1), John (3), and Jude (1).

“The apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude, have published seven epistles at once spiritual and to the point, short and long, short that is in words but lengthy in substance so that there are few indeed who do not find themselves in the dark when they read them.” ( Letter 53: Epistle to Paulinus 9) ( NPF2 6)

In his prologue to the Catholic epistles, which was prefixed to editions of the Latin Vulgate, Jerome calls the seven catholic epistles “canonical.”

Jerome says, “…seven epistles which are called canonical…one James, Peter two, John three, and Jude one…” ( Prologue to the Seven Canonical Epistles) ( PL 29 cols. 821-825) (author’s translation)

Charles Bigg tell us Jerome says that the doubts surrounding 2 Peter were founded upon the differences in style, and that he believed that the difference in style can be explained if Peter used two different writers for his epistles ( Letter 120: Epistle to Hedibia, question 11) ( PL 22 col. 1002A). [22]

[22] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 199.

i) Augustine (A.D. 354-430) (Hippo, North Africa) Augustine lists the accepted New Testament canon in its complete form that we recognize today.

“That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following: Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John.” ( On Christian Doctrine 2.13) ( NPF1 2)

It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to apostolic authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2 Peter , 2 and 3 John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing’s apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.

B. Church Orthodoxy - The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, “To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment.” [23] The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church’s Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth. [24] This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2 nd century thru 3 rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.

[23] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co., 1875), 12.

[24] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co., 1875), 331.

1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy In addition to direct statements by the early Church fathers regarding Peter’s authorship of his second epistle, patristic support for the authenticity of 2 Peter can be found in the form of direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. Although the earliest direct reference to 2 Peter is not found until the time of Origen, which is well into the third century of the early Church, Edwin Blum says there may be first century reflections of 2 Peter within the epistle of 1 Clement, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the non-canonical Petrine writings; [25] but others believe these references are too vague to substantiate. It is not quoted or alluded to in the writings of Cyprian or Tertullian. With these few quotes and allusions, it can be noted that 2 Peter has fewer witnesses than the other New Testament books. Thus, the epistle of 2 Peter was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.

[25] Edwin A. Blum, 2 Peter, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 12, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), “Introduction.”

Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of 2 Peter: [26]

[26] There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221 vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161 vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).

a) Clement of Rome (A.D. 100 to 165) (Resided in Rome) Clement of Rome makes a number of allusions to 2 Peter.

“Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved.” ( 1 Clement 7)

2 Peter 2:5, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”

“On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodore when all the country round was punished by means of fire and brimstone, the Lord thus making it manifest that He does not forsake those that hope in Him, but gives up such as depart from Him to punishment and torture.” ( 1 Clement 11)

2 Peter 2:6-9, “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

“Far from us be that which is written, “Wretched are they who are of a double mind, and of a doubting heart; who say, These things we have heard even in the times of our fathers; but, behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened unto us.” ( 1 Clement 23)

2 Peter 3:3-4, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

b) The Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. 70 to 100) - The Epistle of Barnabas makes an allusion to the epistle of 2 Peter.

“And He Himself testifieth, saying, ‘Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.’” ( The Epistle of Barnabas 15)

2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

c) Ignatius (A. D. 35 to 107) - Charles Bigg believes the epistles of Ignatius makes a number of weak allusions that seem to “echo” the epistle of 2 Peter. [27]

[27] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 209.

“…Paul…who in all his Epistles makes mention of you in Christ Jesus.” ( The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, shorter version 12) ( ANF 1)

2 Peter 3:15-16, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

“in whom may we be found without spot.” ( The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, longer version 13) ( ANF 1)

2 Peter 3:14, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

“on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death” ( The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, shorter version 9) ( ANF 1)

2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”

d) Polycarp (A.D. 69 to 155) (Smyrna in Asia Minor) Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, makes a possible allusion to 2 Peter 3:15.

“For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom of the blessed and glorified Paul.” ( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 3:0)

2 Peter 3:15, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;”

The letter to the church of Smyrna concerning the martyrdom of Polycarp makes a possible allusion to 2 Peter 1:11.

“To Him who is able to bring us all by His grace and goodness into his everlasting kingdom , through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, to Him be glory, and honour, and power, and majesty, for ever. Amen.” ( The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrnam Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp 22) ( ANF 1)

2 Peter 1:11, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

e) Justin Martyr (A.D. 100 to 165) (A native of Palestine, but resided in Rome) Justin Martyr makes a possible allusion to 2 Peter 2:18 when discussing false prophets.

“…and foretold that in the interval between His [first and second] advent, as I previously said, priests and false prophets would arise in His name…” ( Dialogue of Justin 51)

“And just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with your holy prophets, so are there now many false teachers amongst us…” ( Dialogue of Justin 82)

2 Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

Justin Martyr appears to be taking a phrase from 2 Peter 3:8, although Peter may have taken it from Psalms 90:4.

“We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ is connected with this subject.” ( Dialogue of Justin 81)

Psalms 90:4, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Justin Martyr makes a possible allusion to 2 Peter 3:9.

“For the reason why God has delayed to do this, is His regard for the human race. For He foreknows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born.”

“2 Peter 2 Peter 3:9, 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.”

f) Irenaeus (A. D. c.130 to c. 200) (Lyons, France) Irenaeus makes two allusions to 2 Peter 3:8, using the phrase “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” Although Psalms 90:4 is the Old Testament reference for this quote, Donald Guthrie notes that Irenaeus follows Peter’s quote more accurately. [28]

[28] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 807.

“And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since ‘a day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin.” ( Against Heresies 5.23.2)

“For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: ‘Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.’ This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.” ( Against Heresies 5.28.3)

2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Psalms 90:4, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

g) The Apocalypse of Peter (A.D. 120-140) - Charles Bigg believes The Apocalypse of Peter makes a number of weak allusions to the epistle of 2 Peter. [29]

[29] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 207.

“…many of them will be false prophets , and will teach divers ways and doctrines of perdition : but these will become sons of perdition. And then God will come unto my faithful ones who hunger and thirst and are afflicted and purify their souls in this life; and he will judge the sons of lawlessness.” ( The Apocalypse of Peter 1-3) ( ANF 10)

2 Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies , even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

2 Peter 2:8, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”

“And over against that place I saw another, squalid, and it was the place of punishment; and those who were punished there and the punishing angels had their raiment dark like the air of the place .” ( The Apocalypse of Peter 21) ( ANF 10)

2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place , until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”

“And there were certain there hanging by the tongue: and these were the blasphemers of the way of righteousness ; and under them lay fire, burning and punishing them.” ( The Apocalypse of Peter 22) ( ANF 10)

“And near those there were again women and men gnawing their own lips, and being punished and receiving a red-hot iron in their eyes: and these were they who blasphemed and slandered the way of righteousness .” ( The Apocalypse of Peter 27) ( ANF 10)

2 Peter 2:2, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

2 Peter 2:21, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness , than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”

“And in a certain other place there were pebbles sharper than swords or any spit, red-hot, and women and men in tattered and filthy raiment rolled about on them in punishment: and these were the rich who trusted in their riches and had no pity for orphans and widows, and despised the commandment of God .” ( The Apocalypse of Peter 29) ( ANF 10)

2 Peter 3:2, “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:”

h) The Second Epistle of Clement (A. D. 130 to 170) - Charles Bigg believes The Second Epistle of Clement makes a weak allusion to the epistle of 2 Peter 3:10. [30]

[30] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 209.

“Know ye that the day of judgment draweth nigh like a burning oven, and certain of the heavens and all the earth will melt, like lead melting in fire; and then will appear the hidden and manifest deeds of men.” ( The Second Epistle of Clement 16)

2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

i) Titian (c. A.D. 160) Charles Bigg believes Titian used the Greek word σκήνωμα (G4638) in the same way Peter used it in 2 Peter 1:13, and he uses the Greek word ναός (G3485) the way Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 3:16. [31]

[31] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 204.

“Such is the nature of man’s constitution; and, if it be like a temple [ ναός ], God is pleased to dwell in it by the spirit, His representative; but, if it be not such a habitation [ σκήνωμα ], man excels the wild beasts in articulate language only…” ( Address of Tatian to the Greeks 15) ( ANF 2)

2 Peter 1:13, “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;”

1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

j) Aristides (2 nd century) Aristides makes an allusion to the epistle of 2 Peter.

“Verily then, this is the way of the truth which leads those who travel therein to the everlasting kingdom promised through Christ in the life to come.” ( The Apology of Aristides: Greek version 16) ( ANF 10)

2 Peter 1:11, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 2:2, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

k) Theophilus of Antioch (late 2 nd century) Theophilus alludes to 2 Peter.

“But men of God carrying in them a holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous.” ( Theophilus to Autolycus 2 Peter 2:9)

2 Peter 1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

“The command, then, of God, that is, His Word, shining as a lamp in an enclosed chamber, lit up all that was under heaven, when He had made light apart from the world.” ( Theophilus to Autolycus 2 Peter 2:13)

2 Peter 1:19, ‘We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”

l) Hippolytus (A.D. 170 to 236) (Rome, Italy) Hippolytus, one of the most important theologians of the third century Roman Catholic church, [32] probably alludes to 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Peter 2:3; 2 Peter 2:22 in his writings.

[32] “Hippolytus, St.,” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, revised, eds. F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 652.

“For they spake not of their own power (let there be no mistake as to that), neither did they declare what pleased themselves. But First of all they were endowed with wisdom by the Word, and then again were rightly instructed in the future by means of visions. And then, when thus themselves fully convinced, they spake those things which were revealed by God to them alone, and concealed from all others.” ( Treatise on Christ and Antichrist 2)

2 Peter 1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

“You shall escape the boiling flood of hell's eternal lake of fire and the eye ever fixed in menacing glare of fallen angels chained in Tartarus as punishment for their sins; and you shall escape the worm that ceaselessly coils for food around the body whose scum has bred it.” ( Against Heresies 10.30) ( ANF 5)

2 Peter 2:4, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”

“They, abashed and constrained by the truth, have confessed their errors for a short period, but after a little time wallow again in the same mire.” ( Against Heresies 9.2) ( ANF 5)

2 Peter 2:22, “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

m) Methodius of Olympus (A.D. d. 311) Methodius alludes to 2 Peter 3:8.

“‘Thou art God from everlasting, and world without end.…For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night.’ For when a thousand years are reckoned as one day in the sight of God, and from the creation of the world to His rest is six days, so also to our time, six days are defined, as those say who are clever arithmeticians.” ( Extracts from the Work on Things Created 9) ( ANF 6)

2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

n) Ephraem Syrus (c. A.D. 306 to 373) (Syria) Nathaniel Lardner cites Mill, who says Ephraem Syrus, the Syrian biblical exegete and ecclesiastical writer, makes quotations from the epistles of James, 2 Peter, Jude, and 2 John on numerous occasions. [33]

[33] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol. 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 311-312.

2. Manuscript Evidence A number of early third and fourth century manuscripts, such as p23, containing the epistle of James, and p72 (the Bodmer papyrus), containing the epistles of 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude, reveal that the Catholic Epistles were being circulated as a collected corpus by the early Church. [34] These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of General Epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.

[34] The Bodmer Papyrus (p72) contains 1 Peter 1:1-5:14; 2 Peter 1:1-3:18; Jude 1:1-25. See Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, eds., The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndall House Publishers, 1999, 2001).

3. Early Versions The earliest translations of books of the New Testament testify to their canonization. Perhaps as early as the second century, the New Testament was translated into Old Syriac and Old Latin. While the disputed epistles of Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, and 3 John were found in the Old Latin text, they are absent in the Old Syriac. [35] The Old Latin versions were later standardized into the Latin Vulgate by Jerome in the fourth century, which represent the canon as we know it today. The Syrian church has an unusual history regarding the development and acceptance of the New Testament Canon. While the Catholic epistles of James, 1 Peter, and 1 John are found in the old Syriac, the lesser Catholic Epistles of 2 Peter , 2 and 3 John, Jude, and the Apocalypse are omitted from its canon. [36] This canon of 22 New Testament books is reflected in the “Doctrine of Addai” (A.D. 250-300) in which the clergy of Edessa are instructed to read from the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels and Acts and the Pauline Epistles, but not from the General Epistles. [37] Perhaps this comment was made because the Syriac versions only accepted three of the seven Catholic Epistles as canonical. The Old Syriac was soon formalized into the translation known as the Peshitta. The New Testament was translated in the Coptic languages of Egypt (Sahidic and Bhoairic) as early as the third century, representing the entire New Testament canon. The New Testament was soon translated into the languages of the Armenian (5 th c), the Georgian (5 th c), and the Ethiopic (6 th c). [38] The Catholic Epistles would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.

[35] A. E. Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 220-223.

[36] Bruce M. Metzger, “Important Early Translations of the Bible,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 150:597 (Jan 1993) (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary): 44, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004.

[37] The Doctrine of Addai, the Apostle, trans. George Phillips (London: Trübner and Co. 1876), 44.

[38] The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts, Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis (Acts, Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome’s Vulgate (beginning A. D. 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.

C. Catholicity - The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, “The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church.” [39] This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.

[39] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 12.

1. Early Church Canons The epistle of 2 Peter is not listed in Marcion’s Instrumentum (A.D. 140) since he only listed the Pauline Epistles. It is not found in the Muratorian Canon (late 2 nd c.); but this is a mutilated document and does not contain many of the last books of the New Testament. 2 Peter is found in the Apostolic canon (c. 300), [40] and the Cheltenham canon (c. 365-390). [41] Some of the early Church fathers provided canonical lists in their writings. Athanasius gives us a canonical list includes it (c. 367). [42] Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 315-386) includes it in his list. [43]

[40] See Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.47.85 ( ANF 7)

[41] Glen Davis, “The Cheltenham Canon,” [on-line]; accessed 9 May 2010; available from http://www.ntcanon.org/ Cheltenham_Canon.shtml; Internet; See Erwin Preuschen, Analecta: Kürzere texte zur Geschichte der Alten Kirche und des Kanons, zusammengestellt von Erwin Preuschen (Leipzig: Mohr, 1893), 138-40; See Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: University Press, 1987), 231-232.

[42] Athansius, Festal Letters 39.5 (Easter, 367) ( NPF2 4)

[43] See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4.36 ( NPF2 7)

2. Early Church Councils - The Church councils of the fourth century eventually named the General Epistles as authentic writings. This would not have been done unless the church at large believed them to be canonical.

During the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures. [44] The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.

[44] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 422-426.

We must keep in mind that one of the criteria by the early Church father in accepting a book into the New Testament canon was apostolic authority and authority. Therefore, its acceptance into the New Testament by the fourth century serves as a testimony of Petrine authorship. The second epistle of Peter enjoyed the security of its canonical position until the time of the Reformation, at which time its authorship was again brought into question. Since the time of the Reformation, Erasmus [45] and many other scholars began to deny Petrine authorship. [46] Calvin was among those who struggled to embrace Petrine authorship while noting its apostolic style. He said that if it were not written by Peter, “it shews everywhere the power and the grace of an apostolic spirit.” [47] Unfortunately, many modern scholars have embraced this tradition of questioning the authorship of 2 Peter despite its secure position in the New Testament canon.

[45] See Erasmus, Annotationes in Novum Testamentum in his 1516 edition of his Greek New Testament.

[46] Joh. Ed. Huther, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the General Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude, trans. Paton J. Gloag , D. B. Groom, and Clarke H. Erwin, in Critical and Exegetical Handbook on the New Testament, ed. Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, 1887), 357.

[47] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Second Epistle of Peter, trans. John Owen, in Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1855), 361.

C. Arguments Against Petrine Authorship Edwin A. Blum gives us a number of reasons proposed by scholars to question Petrine authorship of 2 Peter. [48] Some of the reasons from ancient times are:

[48] Edwin A. Blum, 2 Peter, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 12, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), “Introduction.”

A. The Greek Style of 2 Peter is Hellenistic - Perhaps the leading argument against Petrine authorship is one of style. Some scholars say the style of 2 Peter is very different than that of 1 Peter. Some scholars suggest that the Greek in the epistle of 2 Peter is too Hellenistic for a fisherman like Peter to have written. However, the argument for Peter’s use of an amanuensis, as stated above, easily explains the epistle’s Hellenistic Greek style. In addition, since Peter lived in a Greek world, he was possibly bi-lingual and familiar with the Greek language to a greater extent than he is credited. However, this can be explained by the possibility of Peter using more than one amanuensis. We know that Silvanus served as the amanuensis or secretary for Peter in writing his first Epistle (1 Peter 5:12). The fact that Peter may not have written his epistles weakens any argument against Petrine authorship using the issue of language and style. In fact, we find in Acts 15:22-23 that Judas and Silas were employed to write the letter to the Gentile churches. Silas’ close companionship with Paul further supports his knowledge of Greek language and culture. This would explain the high quality of Greek reflected in 1 Peter.

Acts 15:22-23, “Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas , chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner ; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:”

We have further testimony from the early Church fathers of Peter’s use of interpreters, namely Mark [49] and Glaucias, [50] to support the fact that Peter did not necessarily write his own epistles, but used one of his interpreters.

[49] Eusebius writes, “‘This also the presbyter said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ.’” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.39.15)

[50] Clement of Alexandria writes, “…though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter.” ( The Stromata 7.17)

In addition arguments using style are difficult to support because of change of subject matter and the possible complications of the writer’s personality. Therefore, the argument is often exaggerated, when, in fact, a single author is perfectly capable of different writing styles.

B. The Geography Contained in 2 Peter - The knowledge of 2 Peter among the early Church fathers appears to be limited geographically. This has added to the difficulty of tracing a long line of acceptance among the early Church fathers. If Peter wrote this Epistle, which did such questions exist among the early Church. But this can be explained by the Epistle’s brevity, its references to government persecutions, and the trend of slower communication and circulation in ancient times.

C. Peter’s Name Used in Gnostic Literature - Peter’s name was used in several Gnostic writings, such as t he Apocalypse of Peter (c.135), the Gospel of Peter (c. 150-75), the Acts of Peter (c. 180-200), the Teaching of Peter (c.200), the Letter of Peter to James (c.200), and the Preaching of Peter (c.80-140). However, the fact that the early Church fathers selected 2 Peter above these apocryphal writings testifies to its distinction when compared to these other writings. This is testified by the fact that these other Petrine writings have the feel of false doctrine, while 2 Peter maintains the quality of apostolic teaching and zeal.

D. Pauline Epistles - Peter’s reference to the Pauline Epistles suggests a later writing. The reference to Paul’s collection of epistles in 2 Peter 3:15 is argued to be a second-century statement, and not something said in the first century. However, Peter was not necessarily referring to Paul’s complete collective body of epistles, but rather, Peter was making a comment within the context of the presence and popularity of his epistles among the churches, even before they were officially collected into a body and circulated.

E. Comparison of 2 Peter and Jude - The similarities of 2 Peter and Jude suggest a dependence upon one over the other. Some scholars suggest 2 Peter has a literal dependence upon Jude, which would not have taken place with Petrine authorship. However, such a dependence is not conclusive, but rather an assumption. Such an assumption cannot lead to a conclusion of non-Petrine authorship. If Peter used Jude’s remarks it does not have to detract from Petrine authorship.

Modern criticism has added other reasons to this list:

F. Emphasis Upon the Parousia - The emphasis upon the Parousia in 2 Peter is argued to be a second-century theme. However, there is proof enough within the other New Testament writings to prove that this topic was also a part of the first century Church theology (see Matthew 25:1-13, John 21:20-23, Acts 1:6-11, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, Hebrews 9:28).

G. Tone of Catholicism - The epistle of 2 Peter carries an undertone of “early Catholicism,” with a stress on good works and orthodoxy, rather than a message of the first century. However, this theory is questionable since the first century Church could have easily seen the need to stress these aspects of their lives, as is testified in the epistle of James. It can also be argued that 2 Peter contains no hint of second century hierarchal bishoprics or Gnosticism.

H. Other Authors Proposed - Some scholars, such as Grotius, [51] suggest the author to be Simeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem (See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.11.1-2; 4.5). [52] However, Daniel Whitby argues that this bishop was neither an apostle nor did he carry the surname Peter, so it is unlikely to be this individual. [53]

[51] Hugonis Grotii, Annotationes in Epistolam Quae Petri Altera Dicitur, in Annotationes in Novum Testamentum, vol. 8 (Groningae: W. Zuidema, 1830), 113-114.

[52] Eusebius writes, “After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Saviour. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.11.1-2; 4.5)

[53] Daniel Whitby, The Second Epistle General of St. Peter with Annotations, in A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament and the Apocrypha, new edition, vol. 6, ed. R. J. Pitman (London: J. F. Dove, 1822), 438.

Based upon internal and external evidence, 2 Peter was probably authored by the apostle Peter, but written by one of his disciples.

III. Date and Place of Writing

It is most likely that the General Epistles were written during the time when the early Church experienced its first large-scale persecutions at the hands of the Roman Emperors Nero (A.D. 54-68) and Domitian (A.D. 81-96). It was this season of persecutions that occasioned the need to write and encourage these early believers to hold fast to their faith in Christ, even at the cost of their lives.

Conservative scholars who adhere to the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter date this Second Epistle around A.D. 64-68, with Rome being the most favorable place of writing, since early Church tradition says he was there during the last years of his life. There are several internal witnesses that can be used to date this Epistle last in Peter’s life.

A. Date of Writing There are a number of strong arguments that place the date of writing near the close of Peter’s life.

1. Epistle Written at End of Peter’s Life - We can conclude from 2 Peter 1:14 that this second Epistle was written towards the end of Peter’s life (traditionally around A.D. 64), perhaps within a year of his martyrdom.

2 Peter 1:14-15, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.”

We can reasonably assume from 2 Peter 3:1 that Peter wrote both of his epistles to the same audience, so that they were written within a relatively short period of time, which was towards the end of Peter’s live. It is generally believed to have been written within a year or so after the first epistle.

2 Peter 3:1, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:”

2. Written After Paul Had Written His Epistles - We can assume from 2 Peter 3:15-16 that Peter wrote 2 Peter after Paul had written most of his epistles, which gives us a date after 60 A.D.

2 Peter 3:15-16, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

3-4. The Parousia and Second-Generation Christians - F. H. Chase adds two other arguments for a date late in Peter’s life. He says “there is a feeling of disappointment abroad that the promise of the Return is unfulfilled,” and “the first generation of Christians is now dying off.” [54]

[54] F. H. Chase, “Peter, Second Epistle of,” in A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing With Its Language, Literature and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, vol. 3, eds. James Hastings and John A. Selbie (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901), 798.

5. No Reference to the Fall of Jerusalem One common key to dating the books of the New Testament is to note that the epistle of 2 Peter makes no reference to the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. This suggests a date prior to this event.

6. No References to the Persecution of the Church by Rome The epistle of 2 Peter makes no reference to widespread persecution of Christians by Rome. This suggests a date prior to this event.

Since the Apocalypse of Peter (c. A.D. 135) mentions 2 Peter, we know that this epistle must have been a first-century writing. Edwin Blum tells us that a date of A.D. 80-90 is assigned to the Apocalypse of Peter by those scholars who view this work as a testament of Peter, and a date of A.D. 135-175 by those who entirely reject Petrine contribution. [55]

[55] Edwin A. Blum, 2 Peter. in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 12, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), Introduction.”

B. Place of Writing - We know that Peter was not in the general vicinity of these recipients when he wrote to them. Since early Church tradition places Peter in Rome at the close of his life, as he alludes to in 2 Peter 1:14-15, then it is generally agreed as the most likely place of writing. Another conjecture is to say that Peter wrote from the church of Antioch shortly before his departure for Rome, where he was martyred. [56]

[56] F. H. Chase, “Peter, Second Epistle of,” in A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing With Its Language, Literature and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, vol. 3, eds. James Hastings and John A. Selbie (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901), 798; Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 246.

IV. Recipients

Scholars widely agree from 2 Peter 3:1 that the author of Second Peter was writing to the same audience as First Peter (1 Peter 1:1), which would be the churches of northern Asia Minor.

2 Peter 3:1, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:”

1 Peter 1:1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,”

It is generally believed that the recipients of 1 and 2 Peter were Jews and Gentiles for a number of reasons. Charles Brigg believes Peter makes no distinction between the two as his recipients. [57] Regarding the epistle of 2 Peter, it can be noted first that the believers are addressed as “them that have obtained like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1), the “like precious” possibly being compared to the Jewish hope and promise of their coming Messiah. Second, they are also addressed as those “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4), understanding that the Jews of the Diaspora would not have been entangled in corruptible worldly pursuits. Third, since it is generally believed that 1 Peter was written to both Jews and Gentiles of these regions of Asia Minor, then we can conclude the same for 2 Peter, since these two epistles were probably written to the same recipients (2 Peter 3:1). However, F. H. Chase concludes that the language within this Epistle is “too general” to make a conclusive decision. For example, he notes Spitta’s conclusion that the recipients are Jewish Christians, who received epistles from both Peter and Paul, while Zahn believes they were largely Jewish with some Christian recipients. [58]

[57] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 225-227, 238.

[58] F. H. Chase, “Second Epistle of Peter,” in A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing With Its Language, Literature and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, vol. 3, eds. James Hastings and John A. Selbie (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901), 799.

2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust .”

2 Peter 3:1, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:”

We also know that they are believers that have been established in Gospel (2 Peter 1:12), and had probably been visited by other apostles of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:2).

2 Peter 1:12, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth .”

2 Peter 3:2, “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:”

V. Occasion

We find the occasion of writing 2 Peter within the context of the Epistle. In 2 Peter 1:12-15 the Apostle reveals that he will be departing from this life shortly. This statement gives us the occasion, or the circumstances, that prompted him to write to the Church. In these verses he expresses his desire to stir them up prior to his departure by reminding them of their entrance into “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). In light of this hope he felt compelled to remind them to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure,” (2 Peter 1:10). He exhorts them in the Epistle to make their calling and election sure by “growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” in the midst of dangerous false teachers creeping into the churches (2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Peter 2:10-22; 2 Peter 3:17-18).

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”

(Thomas Schreiner) [59]

[59] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called “epistle genre,” In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the New Testament epistles, as well as a brief look at the grammar and syntax of the epistle of 2 Peter.

VI. Comparison of the New Testament Epistles

A. Comparison of Content: The Epistle is More Practical than Doctrinal As is characteristic of all of the General Epistles, 2 Peter is more practical than doctrinal. For example, Charles Brigg notes that Pauline terminologies are absent. [60]

[60] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 233.

B. Comparison of Content: The Epistle of 1 Peter In evaluating the authorship of the epistles of 1 and 2 Peter, scholars discuss a number of differences as well as similarities between these two epistles.

1. Differences There are a number of differences between 1 and 2 Peter in their vocabulary and style. a) Differences in Vocabulary - A. T. Robertson gives a detailed comparison of the grammar of 1 and 2 Peter. He says the most outstanding differences are in vocabulary; 1 Peter has three hundred sixteen (316) words not found in 2 Peter, while 2 peter has two hundred thirty-one (231) words not found in 1 Peter 1:0 Peter contains sixty-three (63) words unique to its epistle, while 2 Peter has fifty-seven (57) words. Of these one hundred twenty (120) words only one is found in both Petrine epistles. Charles Brigg believes the vocabulary of 1 Peter is “dignified,” while that of 2 Peter is “grandiose.” [61] b) Differences in Style - Scholars note that the style of Greek is different between these two epistles. Some scholars note that 1 Peter is written with a high degree of knowledge in the Greek language, reflecting fluent, idiomatic Greek and more influence from the LXX, while 2 Peter reflects a much lower quality of Greek language skill. These differences can be easily explained by Peter’s use of Silvanus as his amanuensis for the first epistle, offering a greater skill in the Greek language, and the possibility that Peter wrote the second himself, or used someone else, offering a lower quality of Greek composition.

[61] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 225.

2. Similarities - There are a number of similarities between 1 and 2 Peter in their vocabulary, content, and purpose. Robertson discusses the similarities between these two epistles, saying that both use the plural of abstract nouns; both repeat words, both make idiomatic use of the article; both make use of particles; both use very few Hebraisms; both use words only known from the vernacular κοινή ; both use some classical words; both use picture-words; both show an acquaintance with the Apocrypha; both show an acquaintance with the Pauline Epistles; both make references to the events in the life of Christ; both use many technical terms. [62]

[62] A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1914), 125-126.

P. J. Gloag lists a number of similarities in 1 and 2 Peter. (1) He says both Petrine epistles frequently employ the word αναστροφη ; (2) the word αρετή is used in reference to God, as in 1 Peter 2:9 and 2 Peter 1:3, while being limited to man in the rest of the New Testament; (3) the word απόθεσις is found only in these two Epistles; (4) the phrase “spots and blemishes” is found in both Epistles (1 Peter 1:19 and 2 Peter 2:13); (5) both epistles refer to the Old Testament prophets; (6) both refer to the Flood; (7) both refer to the Second Coming of Christ; (8) there are similar words or phrases between Peter’s speeches in Acts and 2 Peter (compare references to “rioting” and “drunkenness” in the day time in Acts 2:15 and 2 Peter 2:13; (9) compare the rare use of ευσέβεία in Acts 3:12 and 2 Peter 1:7; (10) compare the use of δεσπότης rather than κύριος in Acts 4:24 and 2 Peter 2:1. [63]

[63] P. J. Gloag, 2 Peter, in The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub. House, 1954), in Ages Digital Library, v. 1.0 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc., 2002), “Introduction.”

Charles Bigg says the epistles of 1 and 2 Peter are both characterized by the repetition of a number of Greek words throughout the entire letter, which words he lists; both make references to Apocryphal literature; both are practical, doctrinal letters, and both refer to the three persons of the Trinity. However, 1 Peter makes more references to the Old Testament and the Gospels than does 2 Peter. He concludes that the closest ancient document in similarity to 2 Peter is the epistle of 1 Peter. [64]

[64] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 225-227, 230, 232, 235, 242.

C. Comparison of Content: The Epistle of Jude There are many similarities in content between 2 Peter and Jude, primarily in chapter two, with its warnings against false teachers. This has caused many scholars to conclude that some type of literary dependence exists between the two. Whether 2 Peter is dependent upon Jude, or vice versa, or if they were both dependent upon a third source cannot be positively determined. Nevertheless, these views do not contradict conservative scholarship, so they are often left open by commentators.

VII. Grammar and Syntax

D. Grammar and Syntax: Unique Words and Phrases - Charles Brigg lists fifty-four Greek words that are unique to the epistle of 2 Peter, noting this is a large number of unique words considering the brevity of this epistle. [65]

[65] Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 224.

The Greek word σωτη ́ ρ (Saviour) appears five times within the epistle of 2 Peter, with the epistle of Titus being the only book of the New Testament exceeding this with six uses of the word.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”

(Andreas Kösenberger) [66]

[66] Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of 2 Peter, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of 2 Peter for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VIII. Purpose

Hortatory The primary purpose of the General Epistles is hortatory. Scholars generally agree that the design and purpose of Peter’s second epistle is the same as his first letter, and written to the same people, some noting 2 Peter 3:1 to support this view.

2 Peter 3:1, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.”

The purpose of Peter writing his second epistle to the Church is to bring us to remember our need to be diligent in adhering to God’s Word, thus making election and calling sure. [67] Peter is writing to stir up, or arouse, our sincere minds by way of remembrance, especially by using Old Testament stories. He exhorts us in the first part of his epistle, and warns us in the last part.

[67] Charles Bigg makes a similar observation, saying, “(T)he object of 2 Peter is to fortify his readers against the seductions of false freedom and speculative error. For him, therefore, leading thoughts are the knowledge of the Lord and the terrors of the Day of Judgment.” See Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 235.

2 Peter 1:10, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

2 Peter 1:12, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”

2 Peter 3:1, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:”

The hortatory purpose reflects the primary and second theme of the epistle of 2 Peter, which is the perseverance in the faith against false doctrine from within the Church.

IX. Thematic Scheme

Introduction - Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central “claim” made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. [68] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader’s response.

[68] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of 2 Peter: The Perseverance of the Saints: Against False Doctrines from Within the Church - Introduction - The central theme of the Holy Bible is God’s plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God’s divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD,” to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer - There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.

Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2 Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon; [69] and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles. [70] Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within (2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John, Jude).

[69] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.

[70] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.

2. The Central Theme of the Catholic, or General, Epistles: Perseverance in the Christian Faith We know that the nine Pauline “Church” epistles, Romans to 2 Thessalonians, serve to lay the doctrinal foundation of the Church. In addition, the Pastoral Epistles establishes the order of the Church, and how the Body of Christ functions in this world. This leaves us to consider the eight remaining epistles, seven of which are called the “Catholic Epistles” because they are addressed to a much broader group of believers than the Pauline Epistles. Although the seven Catholic, or General, Epistles include James , 1, 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3, John, and Jude, for the sake of this evaluation of thematic schemes, the book of Hebrews is included. As Paul’s Church Epistles establish the doctrines of the Church, the Catholic Epistles deal with the practical struggles that each believer has in fulfilling the Christian life. Thus, these Epistles tend to be more practical and ethical than doctrinal or theological.

The early church faced two great challenges that attacked their sacred doctrines. They experienced persecutions from without, as addressed in Hebrews, James and 1 Peter; and, they endured heresies from within, as dealt with in 2 Peter , 1, 2, and 3 John and Jude. [71] The underlying theme of Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles is the perseverance in the Christian faith, [72] exhorting the saints to persevere amidst persecutions from without the Church as well as false doctrines from within the Church. [73] The books of Hebrews, James and 1 Peter address the particular issue of perseverance under persecutions from without the church, a theme popularly referred to as the “pilgrim motif.” [74] 2 Peter, the three epistles of John and Jude deal with the particular issue of false ministers and doctrines that attack the church from within (2 Peter 3:1-4, 1 John 2:26, Jude 1:3-4). Thus, there are three witnesses of perseverance under persecutions (Hebrews, James and 1 Peter) and three witnesses of perseverance under false doctrines (2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John, and Jude). As with two epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, the three epistles of John serve as one witness because they share similar themes among themselves.

[71] J. B. Lightfoot recognized this two-fold aspect of Christian perseverance, saying, “The armoury of this epistle [Galatians] has furnished their keenest weapons to the combatants in the two greatest controversies which in modern times have agitated the Christian Church; the one a struggle for liberty within the camp, the other a war of defence against assailants from without; the one vitally affecting the doctrine, the other the evidences of the Gospel.” See J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London: Macmillian and Co., Limited, 1910), 67.

[72] I do not adhere to the doctrine popularly referred to as “Once saved, always saved,” or “the perseverance of the saints,” a belief that has emerged in the modern church among several denominations, which has its apparent roots in Calvinist theology.

[73] P. P. Saydon offers this theme for the epistle of Hebrews. See P. P. Saydon, “The Master Idea of the Epistle to the Hebrews,” Melita Theologica XIII, no. 1-2 (1961) 19-26. See also George Salmon, “The Keynote to the Epistle of the Hebrews,” in The Expositor, second series, vol. 3, ed. Samuel Cox (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882), 83.

[74] Philip Mauro, God’s Pilgrims: Their Dangers, Their Resources, Their Rewards (London: Samuel E. Roberts, 1921); Ernst Käsemann, The Wandering People of God: An Investigation of the Letter to the Hebrews, trans. Ray A. Harrisville and Irving L. Sandberg (Minneapolis, MN: Ausburg Publishing House, 1984); David J. MacLeod, “The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146:583 (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 297.

B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of 2 Peter Introduction - The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central “claim” of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind’s depravity and God’s plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2 Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2 Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1 Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2 Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God’s Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3 John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John, though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

1. The Secondary Themes of 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John, and Jude - While the five epistles of 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John and Jude share a common, foundational theme of perseverance from false doctrines from within the Church, they also carry secondary themes that give each of them a distinct emphasis upon one aspect of the believer’s perseverance in the Christian faith. When we compare the themes of 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John and Jude, we can also find a relationship between them, just as with Hebrews, James and 1 Peter. These five General Epistles deal with false doctrines that attack the believer from within the church. We find one reference to this underlying theme in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

This second division of the General Epistles reflects a three-fold aspect of this theme of perseverance against false doctrines. Jesus told the disciples in John 14:6 that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life.

John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

In other words, with our minds we are to learn the way of the Christian life, and with our bodies we are to walk in this truth, and with our hearts we can experience fellowship with the Father. This is the walk that will keep us from falling away into doctrinal error.

Here is a summary of the secondary themes of 2 Peter, Jude 1:1-2, Jude 1:3 John.

a) Understanding the Way (Our Minds) - The theme of 2 Peter is the message for the saints to persevere amidst false teachings. In order to do this, Peter stirs up their minds (2 Peter 3:1) so that they understand how to grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s Word, which develops their character into Christ-likeness. For this reason, this epistle opens and closes with this very exhortation (2 Peter 1:2-11 and 2 Peter 3:14-18). Even though Peter did not have the revelation into the doctrine that Paul received and wrote about, he did acknowledge Paul’s deep insight and the divine inspiration of his writings by equating them with “other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). It is these Scriptures that we are to read and try to understand in order to grown in the knowledge of God’s Word.

2 Peter 3:16, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

b) Walking in the Truth (Our Bodies) - The theme of Jude is also the exhortation to persevere against false doctrines from within the Church. This epistle places emphasis upon our diligence to walk in the truth by living a godly lifestyle, and building up ourselves in our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Ghost.

c) Life Thru Fellowship with the Saints (Our Spirits) - The theme of 1 John is also the exhortation to persevere against false doctrines from within the Church; but 1 John places emphasis upon the believer’s fellowship with the Father as the way to persevere. As the Gospel of John centers on Jesus’ fellowship with the Heavenly Father, so does this epistle center on our fellowship with our Heavenly Father. We maintain this fellowship by confessing our sins and abiding in the Word. The epistle of 1 John serves as a basis, or foundation, for the themes of 2 and 3 John, since it deals with the issues of walking in fellowship with God and fellow believers as well as how to identify false brethren. His second epistle places emphasis on identifying those who are false, while the third epistle of John places more emphasis on receiving those who are genuine and how to walk in love with them. Another way to say this is that 2 and 3 John give us real life illustrations of false and genuine brethren, of those who walk in fellowship with the Heavenly Father, and those who do not.

C. Third Theme (Supportive) - The Crucified Life of the Believer Introduction - The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one’s Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God’s children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

Click image for full-size version

Figure 1 The Themes of the General Epistles

D. Summary - Finally, it is important to note that the General Epistles do not establish Church doctrine, for this was laid down in the Pauline Church Epistles. They may refer to doctrine, but they do not establish or add to it.

X. Literary Structure

The literary structure of the epistle of 1 Peter must follow the thematic scheme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

The epistle of 2 Peter opens (2 Peter 1:5-11) and closes (2 Peter 3:14-18) with the exhortation for the readers to cultivate God’s Word in their lives as a way of becoming steadfast against false doctrines as a means of persevering until the end.

I. Salutation (2 Peter 1:1-2 ) In 2 Peter 1:1-2 the author gives a customary salutation to his readers. Within these two verses we find the theme of this Epistle, which is the believer’s perseverance against false doctrines by the office and ministry of God the Father. We have emphasis placed upon the Father’s role in our election in 2 Peter 1:1, and our response by growing in the knowledge of Jesus seen in 2 Peter 1:2. Significantly, God the Father has provided His Word of promise, and we are to understand His Word in our minds so that we can choose to persevere.

II. Foreknowledge: The Role of the God the Father’s Foreknowledge in Our Divine Calling and Election (2 Peter 1:3-15 ) The epistle of 2 Peter will focus upon the role of God the Father in our divine election, and more particularly, in our perseverance through the knowledge of His Word. 2 Peter 1:3-15 reveals the role of God the Father in providing His Word to us in order to secure our election. The central message of 2 Peter 1:3-15 is the apostle’ call for every believer “to make his calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10), which is accomplished by “partaking of His divine nature” through His “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4). God has given us His Word so that we secure our election. As we partake of His Word, our lives will follow the course of developing the virtues outlined in 2 Peter 1:5-7. This passage reflects the underlying themes of 2 Peter by expounding upon the believer’s calling and election through the foreknowledge of God the Father. Peter will first emphasize the Father’s role in our election (2 Peter 1:3-4) by explaining how His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), by which He has given unto us great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). This emphasis is reflected in the opening salutation, “it is by His righteousness that we have been obtained “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1). He will then emphasize our role in responding to this calling and election by growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-11), which is initially reflected in the salutation, “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2). Peter then discusses his soon departure from this earth foreordained by God the Father and his effort to write this epistle to leave the Church with divine instructions on becoming established in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:12-15). Peter tells us that through His divine election the Father makes provision for our perseverance through His “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4), to which we must believe and follow.

We find the foundational theme of the perseverance of the saints emphasized within this introductory passage of 2 Peter when it says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” (2 Peter 1:3). In other words, Peter is going to write about God’s plan for the believer to persevere unto life and godliness. The epistle’s secondary theme of persevering against false doctrine through the knowledge of God is also emphasized in the phrases, “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” (2 Peter 1:2) and “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue,” (2 Peter 1:3). Thus, we immediately see the message of this Epistle telling us how to persevere and overcome false doctrine through the knowledge of God.

In addition, we note that this passage of Scripture places emphasis upon man’s mental realm of understanding, since our role is to grow in the knowledge of God by partaking of His divine character. This emphasis of our mind is contrasted to 1 John, which emphasizes our way of overcoming false doctrine through a pure heart; and Jude’s epistle emphasizes overcoming through a godly lifestyle, or our physical actions.

A. We Partake of His Divine Nature through the Promises of His Word (2 Peter 1:3-4 ) Peter will first emphasize the Father’s role in our election (2 Peter 1:3-4) by explaining how His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), by which He has given unto us great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4).

B. How to Become Partakers of His Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:5-11 ) 2 Peter 1:5-11 gives us a list of virtues that characterizes our Christian grown as we strive to become “partakers of His divine nature”(2 Peter 1:4) by making our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). The eight virtues listed here are faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Note that our faith is the basic ingredient, or the foundation, that supports our growth upon which all other virtues are laid. If we are going to have anything in the Kingdom of God, we must start with our faith in God’s Word for that area of our lives. The last virtue listed is love, which means that our objective is to walk in the god-kind of love towards others. Peter will confront false teachers shortly in this epistle; but first he lays down these virtues as a foundation for his argument against them, showing that the love walk is the ultimate goal of every believer.

These divine virtues listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7 reflect the Father’s redemptive plan for every believer.

faith necessary for justification

virtue necessary for beginning the process of sanctification

knowledge necessary for indoctrination

temperance necessary for divine service

patience necessary for perseverance

godliness glorification

brotherly kindness glorification

love glorification

However, they are described from the perspective of our mental development in God’s Word as a “shield” to endure false doctrine and as necessary virtues to development a Christ-like character. Therefore, 2 Peter 1:8 says we will not be unfruitful if we pursue this spiritual journey.

C. Peter’s Impending Departure: The Occasion of His Writing (2 Peter 1:12-15 ) In 2 Peter 1:12-15 the Apostle reveals that he will be departing from this life shortly. This verse gives us the occasion, or the circumstances, that prompted him to write to the churches.

III. Our Justification: Jesus’ Role in our Perseverance Against False Doctrines (2 Peter 1:16-19 ) 2 Peter 1:16-19 reveals the role of God the Father in providing His Word to us through Jesus Christ His Son in order to secure our salvation. In this passage of Scripture, Peter gives us a brief description of the events that took place on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-8, where he was an eye-witness of Jesus' majesty. God the Father testified of Jesus’s role in our salvation when He said, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (2 Peter 1:16-18). We place our faith in this word of testimony by believing in Jesus Christ as God’s Son. Therefore we should take heed (verse 19).

IV. Our Indoctrination: The Holy Spirit’s Role in our Perseverance against False Doctrines (2 Peter 1:20 to 2 Peter 2:22 ) Just because God made a way of redemption for mankind does not mean that our redemption comes without an effort on our part. 2 Peter 2:1-3 states that false teachers will enter the congregations of believers and deceive many; however, their judgment is certain. Peter will confirm this statement by giving three testimonies of God’s divine judgment from the Old Testament Scriptures, which are sufficient to confirm his statement. He will refer to the fallen angels bound in Hell (2 Peter 2:4), to the destruction of wicked men by the Flood in the days of Noah (2 Peter 2:5), and to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:6-8). Peter promises us that God will deliver us from such deception (2 Peter 2:9), having used Lot as an example (2 Peter 2:7-8). Therefore, he describes the characteristics of false teachers in the church (2 Peter 2:10-22). Peter tells his readers in the next chapter that they can be delivered from this danger by paying attention to the Holy Scriptures and Holy Apostles (2 Peter 3:1-2).

A. The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 1:20-21 ) - 2 Peter 1:20 to 2 Peter 2:22 reveals the role of God the Father in providing His Word to us through the Holy Spirit to secure our salvation. He did this by the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:20-21).

B. Warnings against False Teachers (2 Peter 2:1-3 ) - In 2 Peter 2:1-3 the apostle Peter tells his recipients that false teachers will enter the congregations of believers and deceive many; however, their judgment is certain. Peter will confirm this statement by giving three testimonies of God’s divine judgment from the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Peter 2:4-9), which are sufficient to confirm his statement.

C. Three Testimonies of God’s Judgment against the Ungodly (2 Peter 2:4-9 ) 2 Peter 2:4-9 gives three testimonies from the Old Testament of God’s divine judgment upon the ungodly. Peter will refer to the fallen angels now bound in Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4), to Noah and the Flood (2 Peter 2:5), and to Lot and the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:6-8). Three testimonies were considered sufficient in order to establish the truth. Thus, these three Old Testament stories establish the fact that God will judge the ungodly. He will give a closing, summary statement in 2 Peter 2:9 of how God is able to deliver the godly from the Day of Judgment, while punishing the ungodly. Peter will later say in this Epistle that if the righteous are scarcely saved, how much worse for the unrighteous (1 Peter 4:18).

1 Peter 4:18, “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Here is a propose outline:

1. The Fallen Angels (2 Peter 2:4 ) - In 2 Peter 2:4 Peter gives the well-known story of the fallen angels as the first example of God’s divine judgment against the ungodly. God judged the ungodly angels and spared those who were faithful.

2. Noah and the Flood (2 Peter 2:5 ) - In 2 Peter 2:5 Peter gives the well-known story of Noah and the flood as the first example of God’s divine judgment against the ungodly. God judged the world of sinners and spared Noah and his family.

3. The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s Deliverance (2 Peter 2:6-8 ) In 2 Peter 2:6-8 we read the story of how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and delivered righteous Lot, which is taken from Genesis 19:1-38.

4. Conclusion (2 Peter 2:9 ) In 2 Peter 2:9 the apostle concludes that the Lord always delivers the godly and punishes the ungodly.

D. Characteristics of False Teachers (2 Peter 2:10-16 ) 2 Peter 2:10-22 reveals particular characteristics of the false teachers that will attempt to invade the churches. Their vice of financial covetousness accompanies fleshly indulgence.

E. Judgment of False Teachers (2 Peter 2:17-22 ) - After discussing the characteristics of false teachers in 2 Peter 2:10-16, 2 Peter 2:17-22 reveals the divine judgment of false teachers.

V. Our Perseverance: The Certainty of Christ’s Return (2 Peter 3:1-13 ) - 2 Peter 3:1-13 places emphasis upon the believer’s perseverance in the midst of those who deny the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

A. Warning of the Coming of Scoffers (2 Peter 3:1-4 ) In 2 Peter 3:1-4 the apostle Peter warns the believers that scoffers will come and mock those who believe in the Second Coming of Christ Jesus.

B. The Story of Creation (2 Peter 3:5-7 ) - As we study the Scriptures we find that there are a number of passages that reveal the events in the Story of Creation. We have the testimony of the Father’s role in Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 as the One who has planned and foreknown all things. We have the testimony of the Son’s role in John 1:1-14 as the Word of God through whom all things were created. In Proverbs 8:22-31, we have the testimony of the role of the Holy Spirit in creation as the Wisdom and Power of God. Job 38:1 to Job 39:30 reveals the majesty and glory of God Almighty by describing the details of how His creation came into existence. 2 Peter 3:5-7 refers to the story of creation with emphasis upon God’s pending destruction of all things in order to judge the sins of mankind. Hebrews 11:3 tells us how it is by faith that we understand how the world was created by the Word of God. We can many other brief references to the creation of the earth throughout the Scriptures.

2 Peter 3:5-7 tells us that the heavens and the earth were created by God’s Word (2 Peter 3:5), that they were destroyed by His Word with a flood (2 Peter 3:6), and are now kept by His Word (2 Peter 3:7), and will be soon be destroyed with fire by His word (2 Peter 3:7).

C. The Certainty of the Second Coming (2 Peter 3:8-10 ) In 2 Peter 3:8-10 the apostle Peter reaffirms the Second Coming of Christ Jesus.

D. Our Call to Perseverance (2 Peter 3:11-13 ) - 2 Peter 3:11-13 calls us to persevere in the faith in light of the Coming of the Lord.

VI. Our Glorification: The Implications of Christ’s Return (2 Peter 3:14-16 ) - 2 Peter 3:14-16 places emphasis upon our future glorification and the implications of Christ’s Return. The apostle Peter tells us to be diligent to live a godly lifestyle so that we may obtain salvation. Peter is not using the word “salvation” in this passage in its narrow sense by referring to our initial salvation experience. Rather, Peter is referring to our entrance into Heaven through the process of sanctification. He then refers to the Pauline epistles for an explanation of this salvation.

Paul the apostle, in his epistles, laid the foundation for the doctrine of the early Church. The Catholic Epistles emphasize perseverance in the Christian faith, but the Pauline epistles establish doctrine. Thus, Peter refers to the doctrine of salvation which Paul laid down in his epistles, which doctrine is sometimes hard to understand, and is often twisted. This salvation includes the process of foreknowledge, justification, sanctification and glorification, which we may summarize in the phrase “divine election.”

VII. Conclusion: Closing Summary Statement (2 Peter 3:17-18 ) - Conclusion: Closing Summary Statement In 2 Peter 3:17-18 the apostle Peters makes a closing remark with a warning not to fall away, then he offers the remedy, which is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, which emphasizes the secondary theme of this epistle. Peter opened this epistle with a similar warning in 2 Peter 1:10, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

XI. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the epistle of 2 Peter: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of 2 Peter. This journey through 2 Peter will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to persevere amidst false teachings by understanding how to grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s Word, which develops their character into Christ-likeness.

I. Salutation 2 Peter 1:1-2

II. Foreknowledge: Our Divine Calling & Election 2 Peter 1:3-15

A. Predestined to Life & Godliness thru Knowledge of Jesus 2 Peter 1:3-4

B. Calling to Grow in the Knowledge of God’s Word 2 Peter 1:5-11

C. Peter’s Departure 2 Peter 1:12-15

III. Our Justification: Jesus’ Role in Perseverance 2 Peter 1:16-19

IV. Our Indoctrination: The Holy Spirit’s Role 2 Peter 1:20 to 2 Peter 2:22

A. The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures 2 Peter 1:20-21

B. Warnings against False Teachers 2 Peter 2:1-3

C. Three Examples of Divine Judgment 2 Peter 2:4-9

1. The Fallen Angels 2 Peter 2:4

2. Noah and the Flood 2 Peter 2:5

3. Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah & Lot’s Deliverance 2 Peter 2:6-8

4. Conclusion 2 Peter 2:9

D. Characteristics of False Teachers 2 Peter 2:10-16

E. Judgment of False Teachers 2 Peter 2:17-22

V. Our Perseverance: The Certainty of Christ’s Return 2 Peter 3:1-13

A. Warning of the Coming of Scoffers 2 Peter 3:1-4

B. The Story of Creation 2 Peter 3:5-7

C. The Certainty of the Second Coming 2 Peter 3:8-10

D. Our Call to Perseverance 2 Peter 3:11-13

VI. Our Glorification: The Implications of Christ’s Return 2 Peter 3:14-16

VII. Conclusion: Closing Summary Statement 2 Peter 3:17-18

BIBLIOGRAPHY

COMMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

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