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- 2 Peter
by Henry Alford
THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER
OBJECT, CONTENTS, AND OCCASION OF THE EPISTLE
1. I THINK it best to approach the difficult question of the genuineness of this Epistle, by a consideration of the internal characteristics of the writing itself.
2. Its general object is no where so distinctly declared, as that of 1 Pet. in 1 Peter 5:12 (ch. 1 Peter 3:1-2 being special). But the two concluding verses contain in them the double aim which has been apparent through the whole. In 1 Peter 3:17 we read, προγινώσκοντες φυλάσσεσθε ἵνα μὴ τῶν ἀθέσμων πλάνῃ συναπαχθέντες ἐκπέσητε τοῦ ἰδίου στηριγμοῦ, and in 1 Peter 3:18, αὐξάνετε δὲ ἐν χάριτι καὶ γνώσει τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. These two, the prohibitory and the hortatory, are the objects of the Epistle. The former is the introduction to the latter, which, as might be expected, is the main and ultimate aim.
3. And this ultimate aim is apparent from the very beginning. Ch. 2 Peter 1:1-11 is devoted to fervent enforcing of it. Then 2 Peter 1:12-21, laying down the grounds on which the γνῶσις rests, viz. apostolic testimony and prophetic announcement, forms a transition to the description, ch. 2, of the false prophets and teachers who were even then coming in, and should wax onward in activity and influence. Then in ch. 3, the further error of false teachers in scorning and disbelieving the promise of the coming of the Lord is stigmatized and refuted, and the Epistle concludes with a general reference to the Epistles of St. Paul, as teaching these same truths, and as being perverted like the other Scriptures by the ignorant and unstable.
Throughout all, one purpose and one spirit is manifest. The ἐπίγνωσις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος ἰης. χρ. is ever the condition of salvation (ch. 2 Peter 1:8; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 3:18). Sometimes we have it on the side of knowledge of the Father who nath called us (2 Peter 1:2-3), sometimes on that of knowledge of the gospel as the way of righteousness (2 Peter 2:21; cf. 2 Peter 2:2). This ἐπίγνωσις is the central point of the Christian life, both theoretically and practically considered: it is the vehicle of the divine agency in us, and so of our highest participation of God (2 Peter 1:3-4): it is the means of escape from the pollutions of the world (2 Peter 2:20),—the crowning point of Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:8),—the means of access into Christ’s kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).
And the side of our Lord’s own Person and Office on which attention is fixed is not so much His historical life, as His δύναμις and ἐξουσία in His exalted state of triumph (2 Peter 1:16). The promises which are introduced refer to His second coming and kingdom (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 3:4; 2 Peter 3:13).
4. And in this peculiar setting forth of the Christian life must we look for the necessary bringing out of the dangers of seduction by false teachers, and the placing of this knowledge and these promises over against it. The ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι (2 Peter 2:1; ἄθεσμοι, 2 Peter 3:17) are described partly theoretically, as denying the lordship of our glorified Saviour which He has won by Redemption (2 Peter 2:1, contrasted with δύναμις, 2 Peter 1:16), and His promise of coming again (2 Peter 3:1 ff., contrasted with παρουσία, 2 Peter 1:16),—partly practically,—as slandering God’s way of righteousness (2 Peter 2:2) and His majesty (2 Peter 2:10 ff.),—as disgracing their profession of Christian freedom (2 Peter 2:19),—as degraded by a vicious life (2 Peter 2:13),—full of lust and covetousness (2 Peter 2:14),—speaking swelling words (2 Peter 2:18), deserters of the right way (2 Peter 2:15 f.), traitors (2 Peter 2:17), seducing the unstable (2 Peter 2:14; 2 Peter 2:18),—the objeets of God’s inevitable judgment (2 Peter 2:3-9; 2 Peter 2:17),—preparing destruction for themselves (2 Peter 2:12; 2 Peter 2:19), and the more so, because their guilt is increased by the sin of apostasy (2 Peter 2:20-22).
5. In strong contrast and counterpoise against both sides of this heretical error stands their ἐπίγνωσις: against the former of them, in its theoretical aspect, as the right knowledge of the power and coming of Christ (2 Peter 1:16; see above): against the latter, in its practical, as insight into the ὁδὸς τῆς δικαιοσύνης. This latter contrast is ever brought up in the description of the false teachers in ch. 2. Noah, as δικαιοσύνης κήρυξ, is excepted from the judgment of the Flood (2 Peter 2:5): Lot, as δίκαιος, from that on Sodom (2 Peter 2:7-8): God knows how to punish the ἀδίκους, and rescue the εὐσεβεῖς (2 Peter 2:9): the heretics are described as having left the εὐθεῖαν ὁδόν (2 Peter 2:15), and the example of Balaam applied to them (2 Peter 2:15-16). And accordingly it is the ἐπίγνωσις ἰησοῦ χρ. which is to preserve the readers from φθορά (2 Peter 1:4; cf. 2 Peter 2:12), and from falling away (2 Peter 1:10).
6. This main subject of the Epistle, which not only occasions the minute depiction of the adversaries, but also keeps together the whole, is, notwithstanding the parenthetical allusions and polemical digressions, in close coherence. The later portions are all based on the earlier. Thus ch. 2 Peter 1:16 ff. is the foundation of 2 Peter 2:1 ff., 2 Peter 2:1 ff.: thus the conclusion is in intimate connexion with the opening, the same union of ( ἐπί) γνωσις, χάρις, and εἰρήνη being found in both (2 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 3:14; 2 Peter 3:18): thus the ἵνα μὴ ἐκπέσητε τοῦ ἰδίου στηριγμοῦ, 2 Peter 3:17, refers back to 2 Peter 1:10; 2 Peter 1:12; thus the conditioning clause, ἀποφυγόντες … φθορᾶς, 2 Peter 1:4, is remembered in the warning φυλάσσεσθε.… συναπαχθέντες, 2 Peter 3:17; and the more detailed exhortation of 2 Peter 1:5-8 is compressed together in the shorter αὐξάνετε δὲ κ. τ. λ. of 2 Peter 3:18. Thus also the qualifying ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ of ch. 2 Peter 1:1 is borne in mind in 2 Peter 2:21 and 2 Peter 3:13. So again, 2 Peter 3:1 takes up again 2 Peter 1:13, and the ὑπὸ τῶν ἁγίων προφητῶν of 2 Peter 3:2 refers back to 2 Peter 1:19. In fact, the contents of this short Epistle are bound together by the closest and most intimate connexion and coherence.
7. The above notices will make sufficiently plain the occasion of the Epistle. It was, the prompting of a holy desire to build up and confirm the readers, in especial reference to certain destructive forms of error in doctrine and practice which were then appearing and would continue to wax onward.
8. If we seek to fix historically the heretics here marked out, we find the same difficulty as ever besets similar enquiries in the apostolic Epistles. They are rather the germs of heresies that are described, than the heresies themselves as known to us in their ripeness afterwards. These germs ever found their first expansion in the denial of those distinctive doctrines of the Gospel which most closely involve Christian practice and ensure Christian watchfulness. First came the loosening of the bands which constrained man by the love of Christ and waiting for Him; then, when true liberty was lost, followed the bondage of fanciful theological systems and self-imposed creeds. The living God-man vanished first out of the field of love and hope and obedience, and then His place was taken by the great Tempter and leader captive of souls.
9. So that when we enquire to which known class of subsequent heretics the description in our Epistle applies,—whether to the Carpocratians as Grotius believed, or to the Sadducees, as Bertholdt, or to the Gnostics, or Nicolaitans, as others, the reply in each case must be, that we cannot identify any of these precisely with those here described: that the delineation is both too wide and too narrow for each in succession: but that (and it is an important result for the question of the date of our Epistle) we are here standing at a point higher up than any of these definite names of sects: during the great moral ferment of the first fatal apostasy, which afterwards distributed itself into various divisions and sects.
FOR WHAT READERS IT WAS WRITTEN
1. The readers are no where expressly defined. By ch. 2 Peter 3:1, it would appear that they are identical with at all events a portion of those to whom the first Epistle was addressed. And to this the ἑκάστοτε of ch. 2 Peter 1:15, “on each occasion which offers,” seems also to point: besides appearing to refer to some previous personal connexion of the Writer with his readers. This latter has frequently been assumed from ch. 2 Peter 1:16; but without necessity; see note there. All that is there assumed is that which is also stated in ch. 2 Peter 1:1, the delivery of the truths and faith of the Gospel to them by competent eye-witnesses, of whom the Writer (in office, but not necessarily in connexion with themselves) had been one.
2. The address, ch. 2 Peter 1:1, is more general than that of the first Epistle: the words of warning and exhortation are for all who bore the Christian name. The dangers described were imminent throughout the then Christian world. And the expressions, whether of praise and encouragement, or of caution, must be taken as generally applicable to all believers in Christ, rather than as descriptive of the peculiar situation of any circle of churches at any one time.
3. Of necessity, the same general view must not be taken of the enemies of the faith here depicted. The city of God, with its bulwarks and towers, is ever the same: this was a special attack beginning to be made on it by a body of foes of a special character. The firmness and watchfulness which seem to be predicated of the readers (ch. 2 Peter 1:12, 2 Peter 3:17, 2 Peter 1:19) are rather assumptions, certain to be true of true believers, than statements of objective matter of fact: whereas the depravities and errors of the heretics, as far as spoken of in the present, were things actually occurring under the Apostle’s notice. This must be borne in mind, or we shall be liable to go wrong in our inference respecting those addressed.
4. On the other hand it must be borne in mind, that the Apostle’s field of view, as he looked over the church, would naturally be bounded by the lines which marked out the cycle of his own observation: that those to whom he had before written would be on this second occasion nearest to his thoughts: and by consequence, that when he seems to address these readers as in the main identical with those, this inference must not be carried too far, but allowance made for the margin which may fairly be granted to each Epistle: for expanding the apparent limited character of the former address towards that more general reference which was sure to have been in the Apostle’s mind: and for contracting the very wide address of this one merely by believing that in writing he would fix his thoughts on those whom he knew and especially cared for.
5. If it be said, as it has been, that we find no trace in the former Epistle of the peculiar kind of adversaries of the faith of whom so much is here said, and on the other hand nothing in this Epistle of the persecutions, which bore so considerable a part in the matters treated in the former one: the answer to both these is exceedingly easy. A very short time would suffice for the springing up, or for the becoming formidable, of these deadly forms of error. As the Apostles were one by one removed by death, on the one hand their personal influence in checking evil tendencies was withdrawn, on the other that coming of Christ, of which they had once confidently spoken as to be in their own time, became in danger of being disbelieved. This would be a sufficient reason for the one supposed difficulty: and as regards the other, it is quite answer enough to say, that this second Epistle being written on a special occasion and for a special object, is, as we have seen, coherently and consistently devoted to that object, and does not, in its course, travel out of its way to speak of things with which the first Epistle was concerned. It is obvious that, supposing the two to have been written by the same person, he is not likely to have dwelt again in his second letter on things already brought forward in his first.
6. Besides, it has been not unjustly thought that we can discover traces in our Epistle of the same characteristics as those which marked the readers of the former one, or of others which would be probably subsequent to them. We have there the caution to take care that none of them suffer as an evil doer, φονεύς, κλέπτης, κακοποιός, ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοπος (4:15); which seems to contain in it the seed of that further development of evil among Christians, which we find actual in this Epistle. Again, the neglect of the caution there, ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν, νήφοντες, τελείως ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει ἰ. χ. (2 Peter 1:13), would lead exactly to the dissolute lives here described of those who had ceased to hope for His coming. There is close connexion between 1 Peter 2:16, ὡς ἐλεύθεροι, καὶ μὴ ὡς ἐπικάλυμμα ἔχοντες τῆς κακίας τὴν ἐλευθερίαν … and 2 Peter 2:19, ἐλευθερίαν αὐτοῖς ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, αὐτοὶ δοῦλοι ὑπάρχοντες τῆς φθορᾶς: between the cautions there given against pride (5:5–7), and the ὑπέρογκα ματαιότητος φθεγγόμενοι of our ch. 2 Peter 2:18. And the same analogies might be carried yet further, shewing that from the circumstances of the readers which respectively underlie the one and the other Epistle, this may well have been a sequel to, and consequent on, the former.
ON THE RELATION BETWEEN THIS EPISTLE AND THAT OF JUDE
1. It is well known that, besides various scattered resemblances, a long passage occurs, included in the limits Jude 1:3-19; 2 Peter 2:1-19, describing in both cases the heretical enemies of the Gospel, couched in terms so similar as to preclude all idea of entire independence. If considerations of human probability are here as every where else to be introduced into our estimate of the Sacred Writings, then either one saw and used the text of the other, or both drew from a common document or a common source of oral apostolic teaching.
2. Setting aside the supposition of a common documentary source, as not answering to the curious phænomena of concurrence and divergence, no one can say that the latter alternative may not have been the case: that a portion of oral teaching spoken originally in the power of the Spirit, may not, in its reproduction, have become deflected as we here see. Were the case in strict analogy with that of the three Gospels, we should have no hesitation in adopting this hypothesis. But the cases are not similar. For we have first to add to the phænomena of this passage the remarkable coincidences elsewhere, where no such common portion of teaching could have been concerned: and then to observe, that the coincidences and divergences in the passage itself do not entirely bear out the hypothesis. There is an intent and consistent purpose plainly visible in them, which is altogether absent, unless the wildest fancies be allowed to come into play, from the common text of passages in the three Gospels.
3. We have then to fall back on the supposition, that one of the Sacred Writers saw and used the text of the other. And if this is to be so, there can be but little hesitation in answering the enquiry, on which side the preference lies as to priority and originality. The grounds of that answer have indeed been amplified and exaggerated, beyond what we can fairly concede: but still in the main they are irrefragable. We cannot see, with De Wette and others, that St. Peter is less fresh or individual in his expressions and turns of thought than St. Jude: but, conceding to both Writers originality and individuality of thought, it is then for us to ascertain by inspection, which text bears the air of being the free outflow of the first thought, which the working up of the other for a purpose slightly differing.
4. The portion of the common matter which will best serve us for this purpose is that in which the traditional and historical examples are adduced, 2 Peter 2:1-16, Jude 1:4-11. In this passage, the object of St. Jude is to set forth the ἀσεβεῖς, τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν χάριτα μετατιθέντες εἰς ἀσέλγειαν, καὶ τὸν μόνον δεσπότην καὶ κύριον ἡμῶν ἰ. χ. ἀρνούμενοι. The persons described by St. Peter are not the same, in however many common points the characters coincide. With him they are ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι, answering to the ψευδοπροφῆται ἐν τῷ λαῷ of old: like the others, they are described as τὸν ( ἀγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς) δεσπότην ἀρνούμενοι, with the two words in brackets characteristically inserted. In Peter (2 Peter 2:1) we have merely a reminiscence of the first historical notice in Jude (2 Peter 2:5), consisting in his specifying the false teachers as answering to the false prophets ἐν τῷ λαῷ, as contrasted with the true ones of whom he has been speaking (2 Peter 1:19-21). It was not to his purpose to mention the destruction of the unbelieving (Jude 1:5), and therefore he slightly passes this example with a mere allusion. I submit that this will not bear the converse hypothesis: that the weighty and pregnant sentence in St. Jude could not be the result of the passing hint ἐν τῷ λαῷ of St. Peter, nor can that hint be accounted for except as a reminiscence of St. Jude.
5. Passing to the next example, that of the sinning angels, we find the same even more strikingly exemplified. St. Jude is writing of apostates, and sets forth their fate by that of the angels, τοὺς μὴ τηρήσαντας τὴν ἑαυτῶν ἀρχὴν ἀλλὰ ἀπολιπόντας τὸ ἴδιον οἰκητήριον: in allusion (see note there) to Genesis 6:2, their going after strange flesh, a sin after the manner of which ( τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τούτοις) Sodom and Gomorrha also sinned in after time (Jude 1:6, note). This special notice, so apposite to St. Jude’s subject, is contracted in St. Peter into the mere mention of ἀγγέλων ἁμαρτησάντων. Here it is most natural to suppose, that the special notice preceded the general.
6. The next example in St. Peter is one exactly to the point for which he is adducing the whole series, viz., to shew God’s power both to punish and to deliver, but, on one side at least, inapposite to St. Jude’s purpose. It is found in St. Peter alone. But the reason why I adduce it here is, to remark, that, had St. Peter’s been the original, St. Jude would have hardly failed to insert in his examples that portion of this one which so exactly tallied with his purpose, ἀρχαίου κόσμου οὐκ ἐφείσατο, … κατακλυσμὸν κόσμῳ ἀσεβῶν ἐπάξας.
7. The next example, that of Sodom and Gomorrha, is found in St. Jude in strict connexion and analogy with that which has immediately preceded it, viz. that of the angels. This connexion is broken is St. Peter, no such particular as that on which it depends being found in his mention of the angels’ sin. These cities are adduced only as an example to the μέλλοντες ἀσεβεῖν, and, which is again noteworthy, the mention of the rescue of Lot is appended, conformably with that which we remarked in the preceding paragraph.
8. It is further to be noticed with respect to this same example, that St. Jude describes the cities as δεῖγμα πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι, whereas St. Peter has resolved this, which might seem to imply the eternity of the fire which consumed those cities, into a fuller and historical account, retaining the feature of their being a warning to the impious: τεφρώσας καταστροφῇ κατέκρινεν, ὑπόδειγμα μελλόντων ἀσεβεῖν τεθεικώς. Here again I submit that the converse hypothesis is inconceivable.
9. Again, in the description which follows in St. Peter (Jude 1:9), we have a characteristic continuation of his main subject, the rescue of the righteous united with the punishment of the wicked, and then, with a μάλιστα δέ, he returns to the particular characters here under description, and takes up the two traits which form the main subject in St. Jude, Jude 1:8; so that we have the original ὁμοίως μέντοι καὶ οὗτοι ἐνυπνιαζόμενοι σάρκα μὲν μιαίνουσιν, κυριότητα δὲ ἀθετοῦσιν, δόξας δὲ βλασφημοῦσιν replaced by μάλιστα δὲ τοὺς ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ μιασμοῦ πορευομένους καὶ κυριότητος καταφρονοῦντας. τολμηταί, αὐθαδεῖς, δόξας οὐ τρέμουσιν βλασφημοῦντες: where again I submit that none can doubt for a moment which sacred Writer preceded the other.
10. The next example even more strikingly shews the same. St. Jude cites at length from some apocryphal book, probably that called the ἀνάληψις or ἀνάβασις ΄ωυσέως (see Origen de Principiis iii. 2. 1, vol. i. p. 138), an instance of the different conduct of mighty angels in contending with God’s adversaries. St. Peter (Jude 1:11) merely asserts generally that such is the conduct of mighty angels, but gives no hint of an allusion to the fact on which the general assertion is based; nor does the great Adversary appear in his sentence, but in his stead are substituted these heretics themselves; ὅπου ἄγγελοι ἰσχύϊ καὶ δυνάμει μείζονες ὄντες οὐ φέρουσιν κατʼ αὐτῶν βλάσφημον καίσιν. This, standing as it does thus by itself, would constitute, were it not for the original in St. Jude being extant, the most enigmatical sentence in the N. T.
11. I shall not treat at length every separate verse, but shall only remark, that as we pass on through 2 Peter 2:12 ff., while this view of the priority of St. Jude is at every step confirmed, we derive some interesting notices of the way in which the passage in our Epistle has been composed: viz. by the Apostle having in his thoughts the passage in St. Jude, and adapting such portions of it as the Spirit guided him to see fit, taking sometimes the mere sound of St. Jude’s words to express a different thought, sometimes, as we saw above, contracting and omitting, sometimes expanding and inserting, as suited his purpose. Thus while in St. Jude we have the comparison ὡς τὰ ἄλογα ζῶα simply introduced with reference to certain things which the persons under description know naturally ( φυσικῶς) and use corruptly, in St. Peter it is the heretics themselves who are ὡς ἄλογα ζῶα, the additional point of comparison is introduced, that they are γεγεννημένα φυσικὰ εἰς ἅλωσιν κ. φθοράν, and the φθείρονται of St. Jude is made to serve a very different purpose,— ἐν τῇ φθορᾷ αὐτῶν καὶ φθαρήσονται. So in 2 Peter 2:13, in the reminiscence of the passage, σπιλάδες of Jude 1:12 becomes σπίλοι κ. μῶμοι,— ἐν ταῖς ἀγάπαις ὑμῶν of St. Jude becomes ἐν ταῖς ἀπάταις αὐτῶν. So in 2 Peter 2:17, we have somewhat similar figures to those in Jude 1:13, but whereas originally it was “waves of the sea foaming out their own shame,” and ἀστέρες πλανῆται οἷς ὁ ζόφος τοῦ σκότους εἰς αἰῶνα τετήρηται, in the latter text it becomes, more suitably to St. Peter’s purpose of depicting false teachers, “wells without water,” and ὀμίχλαι ὑπὸ λαίλαπος ἐλαυνόμεναι, οἷς ὁ ζόφος τοῦ σκότους τετήρηται.
12. In Jude 1:11, St. Jude, fervidly borne along in his impassioned invective, collects together three instances of O. T. transgressors, to all of whom he compares those whom he is stigmatizing. They were murderers like Cain, covetous like Balaam, rebellious like Korah. But out of these St. Peter, dealing with false teachers, whom he is comparing with the false prophets of old, selects Balaam only, and goes at length (Jude 1:15-16) into his sin and his rebuke. Can any one persuade us that in the impetuous whirlwind of St. Jude’s invective he adopted and abridged the example furnished by St. Peter, prefixing and adding those of Cain and Korah?
13. I shall carry the comparison no further, but refer the student to some sources where he will find it elaborately treated. Of these the best worth consulting is Brückner’s Excursus on 2 Peter 2. in his Edition of De Wette’s Handbook, vol. i. pt. 3, pp. 163–170. There he impartially, and in a critical and scholarly manner, examines the whole question, and while he successfully maintains the priority of St. Jude, and St. Peter’s acquaintance with his Epistle, he sets in a very striking light the independence of our Apostle, and his coherence of purpose and language. The same is done, but less completely, and, unless the fault is in myself, with some little confusion, by Davidson, vol. iii. pp. 399–408. The same again is done very fairly by Huther, in the Anhang to his Commentary on the Epistle. I am sorry I cannot speak with praise of the work of Dietlein, Der zweite Brief Petri, Berlin, 1851, either as regards this, or other parts of the great question regarding our Epistle. It is a book with which I have been much disappointed both in point of scholarship and of logic, and the reader will find many notices of its mistakes scattered through my notes. On this part of the subject he is an unflinching advocate for the priority of St. Peter to St. Jude. The same side is taken by Schmid, Michaelis, Storr, Hengstenberg, Thiersch, Hofmann, and Stier.
1. As regards the external grounds for or against the authenticity of this Epistle, we have very various opinions. Dietlein finds traces of its use in the earliest apostolic Fathers; in Polycarp, in Ignatius, in the Epistle of Barnabas, in Clement of Rome. Most of these however are very shadowy and fanciful: some of them even absurd(161). The explanation of the coincidence in these cases is generally to be sought in the fact that these writers had the same sources to draw from, in the main, as the Apostle, viz. O. T. prophecy, and the common-places of Christian teaching: and this being so, it would be strange indeed if we did not find such coincidence in insulated words and occasional phrases.
2. A few however of the instances adduced from the Apostolic Fathers are worth notice: not as by any means proving the use by them of this Epistle, but as remarkable in connexion with the question before us. Such are 1) Hermas, iii. simil. vi. 4, p. 968, ἄκουε ἀμφοτέρων τὴν φύναμιν, τῆς τρυφῆς κ. τοῦ βασάνου. τῆς τρυφῆς κ. τῆς ἀπάτης ὁ χρόνος ὥρα ἐστὶ μία· τῆς δὲ βασάνου ὥραι τριάκοντα ἡμερῶν δύναμιν ἔχουσαι. ἐὰν οὖν μίαν ἡμέραν τις τρυφήσῃ καὶ ἀπατηθῇ, μίαν δὲ ἡμέραν βασανισθῇ κ. τ. λ., as compared with a) ἐντρυφῶντες ἐν ταῖς ἀπάταις αὐτῶν and b) τὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ τρυφήν, 2 Peter 2:13, where see note: 2) Clement of Rome, ad Cor. c. 7, p. 225, νῶε ἐκήρυξεν μετάνοιαν, and c. 9, p. 228, νῶε πιστὸς εὑρεθεὶς διὰ τῆς λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ παλιγγενεσίαν κόσμῳ ἐκήρυξεν.…: ib. c. 11, p. 232, in speaking of Lot’s deliverance out of Sodom, πρόδηλον ποιήσας ὁ δεσπότης, ὅτι τοὺς ἐλπίζοντας ἐπʼ αὐτὸν οὐκ ἐγκαταλείπει, τοὺς δὲ ἑτεροκλινεῖς ὑπάρχοντας εἰς κόλασιν καὶ αἰκισμὸν τίθησιν: … εῖς τὸ γνωστὸν εἶναι πᾶσιν ὅτι οἱ δίψυχοι καὶ οἱ διστάζοντες περὶ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως εἰς κρῖμα κ. σημείωσιν πάσαις ταῖς γενεαῖς γίνονται, as compared with 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 2:9.
3. Neither the Epistle of Barnabas, nor Justin Martyr, nor Theophilus of Antioch, nor Irenæus, can be fairly adduced as citing or alluding to our Epistle. This assertion may surprise the reader who is acquainted with the strong assertions and easy assumptions of Dietlein. But let him take them one by one and examine them strictly and impartially, and he will find them all in succession prove worthless, except as shewing that primitive Christianity had a Greek vocabulary of its own to express its doctrines and convey its exhortations, which the Apostles and their immediate successors used in common. Neither does the ancient fragment known as the canon of Muratori make any mention of our Epistle(162). Neither does Tertullian, nor Cyprian, nor Clement of Alexandria in any of his extant works.
4. There is a passage in Hippolytus de Antichristo, c. 2, p. 729, which seems to be an amplification of 2 Peter 1:21;—speaking of οἱ προφῆται, he says, οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ἰδίας δυνάμεως ἐφθέγγοντο, οὐδὲ ἅπερ αὐτοὶ ἑβούλοντο ταῦτα ἐκήρυττον, ἀλλὰ πρῶτον μὲν διὰ τοῦ λόγου ἐσοφίζοντο ὀρθῶς, ἔπειτα διʼ ὁραμάτων προεδιδάσκοντο τὰ μέλλοντα καλῶς, εἴθʼ οὕτω πεπεισμένοι ἔλεγον ταῦτα, ἅπερ αὐτοῖς ἦν μόνοις ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ( ἀποκεκαλυμμένα, τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς) ἀποκεκρυμμένα. Still, striking as the similarity is, we cannot venture to affirm that the inference is really a sound one, any more than in the case of that place in Theophilus ad Autolycum, 1. ii. p. 87, οἱ δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι πνευματοφόροι πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ προφῆται γενόμενοι ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐμπνευσθέντες κ. σοφισθέντες ἐγένοντο θεοδίδακτοι.
5. Eusebius, H. E. vi. 14, reports of Clement of Alexandria, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ὑποτυπώσεσι, ξυνελόντα εἰπεῖν, πάσης τῆς ἐνδιαθήκου γραφῆς, ἐπιτετμημένας πεποίηται διηγήσεις. μηδὲ τὰς ἀντιλεγομένας παρελθών, τὴν ἰούδα λέγω καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς καθολικὰς ἐπιστολάς, τήν τε βαρνάβα καὶ τὴν πέτρου λεγομένην ἀποκάλυψιν. And Cassiodorus, in his de Instit. divin. præf., vol. ii. p. 538, says, “Ferunt itaque scripturas divinas veteris novique Testamenti ab ipso principio usque ad finem Græco sermone declarasse Clementem Alexandrinum.” But this testimony seems to be contradicted by another from Cassiodorus, ib. c. 8, p. 543;—“In epistolis autem canonicis, Clemens Alexandrinus presbyter, qui et Stromateus dicitur, id est in epistola S. Petri prima, S. Joannis prima et secunda, et Jacobi, quædam Attico sermone declaravit. Ubi multa quidem subtiliter, sed aliqua incaute locutus est, quæ nos ita transferri fecimus in Latinum, ut exclusis quibusdam offendiculis purificata doctrina ejus securior potuisset hauriri.… Sed cum de reliquis canonicis epistolis magna nos cogitatio fatigaret, subito nobis codex Didymi Græco stilo conscriptus in expositionem septem canonicarum epistolarum.… concessus est.”
6. The judgment between these conflicting testimonies must apparently be given on the side of Eusebius, and Cassiodorus’s first assertion taken literally. For Eusebius mentions expressly the Epistle of Jude, as one of those on which Clement commented, whereas by the last-cited statement of Cassiodorus it is excluded. Still even thus we have no express mention of our Epistle, but can only include it by inference among the ἀντιλεγόμεναι of which Eusebius speaks.
7. The testimony of Origen appears somewhat ambiguous.
Eusebius, H. E. vi. 25, reports it thus: πέτρος δέ, ἐφʼ ᾧ οἰκοδομεῖται ἡ χριστοῦ ἐκκλησία, ἧς πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσι, μίαν ἐπιστολὴν ὁμολογουμένην καταλέλοιπεν· ἔστω δὲ καὶ δευτέραν, ἀμφιβάλλεται γάρ(163).
On the other hand, in those works which are extant only in the Latin version of Rufinus, Origen again and again quotes our Epistle as Scripture: e. g. Hom. vii., on Joshua (cited above, ch. 3. § i. 7), “Petrus enim duabus epistolarum suarum personat tubis:” Hom. iv. on Leviticus (vol. ii. p. 200), “Et iterum Petrus dicit, Consortes, inquit, facti estis divinæ naturæ” [2 Peter 1:4]: Hom. xiii. on Numbers (vol. ii. p. 321), “Ut ait quodam in loco Scriptura: mutum animal humana voce respondens arguit prophetæ dementiam” [2 Peter 2:16].
8. Perhaps the solution of this is to be found, not by supposing that Rufinus interpolated the passages(164), but by remembering the loose way in which both Origen himself and others were found to cite the Epistle to the Hebrews(165): ordinarily, and currente calamo, speaking of it as St. Paul’s, but whenever they wrote deliberately, giving expression to their doubts respecting its authorship. We have only to believe that Origen acted similarly with regard to 2 Peter, and the mystery is at once solved.
In Origen’s extant Greek works, it is true, we no where find the Epistle quoted. Nay, it is more than once by implication excluded from the number of the Catholic Epistles. Thus in his Comm. on John (tom. vi. 18, vol. iv. p. 135) cited above, ch. 3 § i. 7, he cites 1 Peter 3:18-21, as being ἐν τῇ καθολικῇ ἐπιστολῇ: and in his passage on the Canon, Eus. H. E. vi. 25, δεύτερον δὲ τὸ κατὰ ΄άρκον ὡς πέτρος ὑφηγήσατο αὐτῷ· ὃ καὶ υἱὸν ἐν τῇ καθολικῇ ἐπιστολῇ.… ὡμολόγησε(166).
“… Der nächstliegende Sinn der Worte des Origines ist also: der unter den sogenannten catholischen Breifen besindliche Brief des Petrus. Sin eigentlicher Gegensaß gegen den Zweiten als nicht catholischen, liegt gar nicht darin:höchstens kann man fagen, er bliche daraus das hervor, das es nicht ganz ebenso gelausig und unangesochten war, den zweiten Bries unter den fog. katholischen auszusühren. wie dies beim ersten Statt hatte.”—p. 62.
9. Firmilian, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, a disciple of Origen (+ 270), certainly alludes to our Epistle, if his words are rightly given in the Latin version in which only we now have them:
Nothing is proved here by “epistolis suis” as to two Epistles of St. Peter being meant: but by the fact mentioned, this second Epistle must be intended, seeing that it is in this only that heretics are inveighed against by St. Peter.
10. The testimony of Didymus, whose commentary on the Epistle is extant in a Latin version only, is given at the end of his remarks on this Epistle (Migne, Patr. Gr. vol. xxxix. p. 1774):
“Non igitur est ignorandum, hanc Epistolam esse falsatam, quæ, licet publicetur, non tamen in canone est.”
Here the Latin expressions cause some little uncertainty, and can only be interpreted by conjecturing what they represent in the original Greek. Undue stress has been laid on the “igitur,” as if it were a ratiocinative conclusion from something preceding. But in all probability the sentence was a mere concluding notice, and ran thus, τοῦτο μὲν οὖν οὐκ ἀγνωστέον, ὅτι αὕτη ἡ ἐπιστολὴ νενόθευται …: the latter word meaning, “is accounted spurious.”
11. Euseb. H. E. iii. 3, says, πέτρου μὲν οὖν ἐπιστολὴ μία ἡ λεγομένη προτέρα ἀνωμολόγηται· ταύτῃ δὲ καὶ οἱ πάλαι πρεσβύτεροι ὡς ἀναμφιλέκτῳ ἐν τοῖς σφῶν αὐτῶν κέχρηνται συγγράμμασιν· τὴν δὲ φερομένην αὐτοῦ δευτέραν οὐκ ἐνδιάθηκον μὲν εἶναι παρειλήφαμεν, ὅμως δὲ πολλοῖς χρήσιμος φανεῖσα μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων ἐσπουδάσθη γραφῶν: and afterwards, ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν ὀνομαζόμενα πέτρου, ὧν μίαν μόνην γνησίαν ἔγνων ἐπιστολήν, καὶ παρὰ τοῖς πάλαι πρεσβυτέροις ὁμολογουμένην, τοσαῦτα.
And in iii. 25, τῶν δʼ ἀντιλεγομένων, γνωρίμων δʼ οὖν ὅμως τοῖς πολλοῖς, ἡ λεγομένη ἰακώβου φέρεται καὶ ἡ ἰούδα, ἥ τε πέτρου δευτέρα ἐπιστολή(168).
12. Jerome, Script. eccl. i., vol. ii. p. 827, says of St. Peter, “scripsit duas epistolas quæ catholicæ nominantur, quarum secunda a plerisque ejus esse negatur, propter styli cum priore dissonantiam.”
But this dissonance he elsewhere accounts for: “Habebat ergo (Paulus) Titum interpretem, sicut et beatus Petrus Marcum, cujus evangelium Petro narrante et eo scribente compositum est. Denique et duæ epistolæ quæ feruntur Petri stilo inter se et charactere discrepant, structuraque verborum. Ex quo intelligimus, pro necessitate rerum diversis eum usum interpretibus.”
13. After the time of Eusebius the Epistle appears to have been very generally received as canonical. We have however the statement of Gregory of Nazianzum, Carm. ii. 8, ep. 75:310, καθολικῶν ἐπιστολῶν | τινὲς μὲν ἑπτά φασιν, οἱ δὲ τρεῖς μόνας | χρῆναι δέχεσθαι:—and of Cosmas Indicopleustes, Topogr. christ. lib. vii. (Migne, vol. lxxxviii. p. 292), παρὰ σύροις δὲ εἰ μὴ αἱ τρεῖς μόναι αἱ προγεγραμμέναι οὐχ εὑρίσκονται, λέγω δή, ἰακώβου καὶ πέτρου καὶ ἰωάννου. It confirms this notice to find, that this Epistle is not contained in the Peschito version. Ephrem Syrus notwithstanding received the whole seven catholic Epistles, and so the Philoxenian, or later Syriac version. Leontius of Byzantium(169) says that Theodore of Mopsuestia rejected our Epistle.
14. In the middle ages the Epistle was generally recognized and accounted canonical. At the time of the Reformation, the ancient doubts revived. Both Erasmus and Calvin express them. Cajetan, Grotius, Scaliger, Salmasius, question its genuineness. And in modern times, Semler, Neander, Credner, De Wette, Reuss, Mayerhoff, have ranged themselves on the same side.
15. On the other hand, there have not been wanting in our own days many defenders of the genuineness of the Epistle. The principal of these have been Michaelis, Pott, Augusti, Storr, Flatt, Dahl, Hug, Schmid, Lardner, Guericke, Windischmann, Thiersch. The same result is evidently to be supplied at the end of Brückner’s notices, though he himself hesitates to affirm it. From what has already been said of Dietlein’s book, it will be readily believed, that it is hardly worth quoting on this side. “Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis.”
16. If we now come to review the course of ancient testimony, we shall find its tendency to be very much the same as we found it respecting the Epistle of St. James, with which indeed our Epistle is often classed among the ἀντιλεγόμενα. And as far as this portion of the subject of our present section is concerned, we might append to it the same conclusion as that with which we terminated the corresponding section on that Epistle, ch. 2. § ep. 75:15.
17. But another department of evidence in this case requires consideration. Weighty objections have, and that from early times(170), been brought against the Epistle on internal grounds. Some of these I have already dealt with by anticipation, in speaking on its occasion and object,—on the probability as to the same readers being partly in view as those in the former Epistle,—on the kind of use made of the Epistle of St. Jude. If our preceding remarks, which I have endeavoured to make fairly, and not in the spirit of a partisan, have been warranted by fact, then on all these points we have been gathering reasons by which those objections to its genuineness from supposed internal disqualification may be so far met.
18. But they extend to several other points besides those above mentioned. For instance, it is said, that the kind of mention of the coming of our Lord in the two Epistles could not have proceeded from the same person. In the former Epistle it is simply introduced as one of the great comforting assurances for God’s persecuted people: in the latter, it is defended against cavil and unbelief. Now would it not have been more just in this case to say, that the circumstances and persons in view cannot be the same, rather than that the Writers cannot? For surely there is nothing in this Epistle shewing a belief, on the part of the Writer himself, inconsistent with that professed in the other. Nay, it is evidently shewn by such passages as ch. 2 Peter 3:8; 2 Peter 3:10, that the firm persuasion expressed in 1 Peter 4:5 was that of our Writer also.
19. It is said, that the peculiarities with regard to certain uncommon points which we find in the first Epistle (e. g. 1 Peter 3:19, 1 Peter 4:6, 1 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 3:21) are not found reproduced in the second. But, as Brückner has well observed, the very fact, that it was characteristic of St. Peter to adduce these mysterious and outlying points, would also account in some measure for their appearing, not always, but in a scattered and irregular manner, as illustrations by the way: just as they do appear in this second Epistle also (e. g. 2 Peter 3:5; 2 Peter 3:10). So that this is rather an argument for, than against the identity of the Writers. Besides which, it halts in two essential points. For 1) it is not altogether correct in its statement. We do find the Writer’s view of ancient prophecy continued from one Epistle (1 Peter 1:10-12) to the other (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Peter 3:2):—the new birth by the divine word, which in the first Epistle is alleged as a motive for putting off worldly lusts and passions (1 Peter 1:22 to 1 Peter 2:2), reappears in the second in 2 Peter 1:4, ἵνα διὰ τούτων (God’s ἐπαγγέλματα) γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως, ἀποφυγόντες τῆς ἐν κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς: the ἀρεταί of Him who hath called them, 1 Peter 2:9, reappear in the same peculiar form, 2 Peter 1:3; if we read, 1 Peter 4:17, that judgment ( τὸ κρῖμα) is beginning at the house of God, and will proceed on to the disobedient, we read of the deceivers in the second Epistle, 2 Peter 2:3, that their judgment ( τὸ κρῖμα) is not idle. Other instances might be and have been produced(171), shewing that the allegation will not hold. And 2) it is forgotten by the objectors, that it would be only in a spurious Epistle imitating the first, that we should find such reproductions carefully carried out: the occasion and object of a second genuine Epistle being totally different, forms a very sufficient reason why they should not be found to any considerable extent.
20. It is again objected, that whereas in the former Epistle the sufferings and death and resurrection of Christ were brought forward frequently and insisted on,—in this, these facts of Redemption are altogether put into the background, and only the exalted Christ is in the view of the Writer. But it is to be remembered that 1) in that first Epistle we found the exalted Person of our Lord mainly before the Apostle’s eyes(172): that 2) the differing occasion and object would tend to produce just the diversity found here, where there is no longer any purpose of comforting under persecution, but only of warning against error and building up in knowledge: that 3) in the first Epistle, where σωτηρία was so conspicuous with its facts and consequences, our Lord is commonly found as χριστός simply (1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:15 ( κυρ. τὸν χρ.), 1 Peter 3:16; 1Pe_3:18; 1 Peter 4:1; 1 Peter 4:13 ( τοῦ χρ.), 14; 1 Peter 5:1 ( τοῦ χρ.)), or ἰησοῦς χρ. (1 Peter 1:1-3; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Peter 4:11), or χρ. ἰησοῦς (1 Peter 5:10); whereas in the second, where σωτηρία hardly appears (2 Peter 3:15), He is ordinarily ὁ κύριος (or θεὸς?) ἡμῶν καὶ σωτὴρ ἰ. χρ. (2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 3:18), or ὁ κύριος ἡμ. ἰ. χρ. (2 Peter 1:2 ( ἰης. τ. κ. ἡ.), 2 Peter 1:8; 2Pe_1:14; 2Pe_1:16): but never simply χριστός, ὁ χρ., ἰης. χρ., or χρ. ἰης. This, which has been also alleged as against the identity of writers, is, I submit, strikingly characteristic of the different realms of thought of the two Epistles. In the first, it is community of suffering and glorification with Him, which is to give encouragement: His lordly and glorious titles are dropped, and His office ( χριστός) or combined Person and office ( ἰης. χρ. or χρ. ἰης.) is ever brought forward. But in this second, where warning, and caution against rebellion are mainly in view, we are ever reminded of His lordship by κύριος, and of what He did for us by σωτήρ: and without the former, or both titles, He never appears.
21. Another objection has been found in the apparent anxiety of the Writer to shew that he is the Apostle Peter, thereby betraying that he was not that Apostle. But here again, we may surely say just as fairly, that this is in manifest consistency with the character and design of the Epistle, which cautions against, and stigmatizes, false teachers. Thus we find St. Paul, in those Epistles where his object is the same, most strongly asserting his Apostleship, and his personal qualification as a teacher and ruler of the church. Were the Epistle genuine, this is just what we might expect(173).
22. The supposed objection, that in the reference to an apostolic command, ch. 2 Peter 3:2, the Writer seems to sever himself from the Apostles, loses all weight by the reflection, that the words most naturally mean, as explained in the note on the passage, the Apostles who preached to you, much as in 1 Peter 1:12; the Writer himself forming one only of that class, and thus preferring to specify it as a class(174). Besides, I submit that such an objection is suicidal, when connected with that last mentioned. If the object of the (apocryphal) Writer was, elaborately to represent himself as St. Peter, how can the same view of the Epistle be consistent in finding in it a proof, by his own deliberate shewing, that he is not an Apostle? Forgers surely do not thus designedly overthrow their own fabrics.
23. The last objection which I shall notice is, the reference to St. Paul’s Epistles in ch. 2 Peter 3:15-16, as indicating a later date than is consistent with the genuineness of our Epistle. They are there evidently adduced as existing in some number: and as forming part of the recognized Scriptures ( τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς). No doubt, these undeniable phænomena of our Epistle are worthy of serious consideration; and they present to us, I am free to confess, a difficulty almost insuperable, if the common traditions respecting the end of St. Peter’s life are to be received as matters of fact. But we are not bound by those traditions, though inclined to retain them in deference to ancient testimonies: we are at all events free to assume as great a latitude in their dates as the phænomena of the sacred writings seem to require. All therefore that we can say of this reference to the writings of St. Paul, is that, believing on other grounds this Epistle to be written by St. Peter, this seems to require for it a later date than is consistent with the usually received traditions of his death, and that our reception of such traditions must be modified accordingly.
24. At the same time it must be borne in mind, that it is an entirely unwarranted assumption, to understand by πᾶσαι ἐπιστολαί here, an entire collection of St. Paul’s Epistles as we now have them, seeing that the words can only represent as many of them as the Writer had seen(175): and that it is equally unjustifiable to gather from what follows, that the sacred canon of the N. T. was at that time settled. Those words cannot imply more than that there were certain writings by Christian teachers, which were reckoned as on a level with the O. T. Scriptures, and called by the same name (see note there). And that that was the case, even in the traditional lifetime of St. Peter, it would be surely unreasonable to deny(176).
25. The diversity of style in the two Epistles has been frequently alleged(177). But on going through all that has been said, I own I cannot regard it, considerable as it undoubtedly is, as any more than can well be accounted for by the total diversity of subject and mood in the two Epistles, and by the interweaving into this second one of copious reminiscences from another Epistle. Some of the differences we have already spoken of, when treating of the titles and names of our Lord appearing in the two Epistles; and have found them amply accounted for by the above reasons. The same might be said of the terms used for the coming of our Lord,— ἀποκάλυψις and ἀποκαλύπτειν in the first Epistle, παρουσία, ἡμέρα κυρίου, ἡμέρα κρίσεως in this(178): the same again of the prevalence of ἐλπίς in the former Epistle, and of ἐπίγνωσις in this. Some of the objections adduced on this head are without foundation in fact, e. g. that which Davidson admits, that whereas “in the first Epistle the Writer makes considerable use of the O. T., incorporating its sentiments and diction into his own composition; in the second there is hardly a reference to the Jewish Scriptures.” What then are we to say of ch. 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:5-7 f., 15 f., 22; 2 Peter 3:2; 2 Peter 3:4-5 f., 8, 13? May not it be said that although the second Epistle, from the nature of the case, does not require so many references to the new-begetting word, yet the mind of the Writer was equally full of its facts and sentiments?
26. Some of the points of resemblance between the two Epistles have been very fairly stated by Davidson (p. 434), and by Brückner (p. 130): and the latter writer has corrected the over-statements of Dietlein. Of these coincidences, ἀρετή, as applied to God, has been already noticed. Others are, ἀμώμου κ. ἀσπίλου, 1 Peter 1:19, compared with ἄσπιλοι κ. ἀμώμητοι, 2 Peter 3:14; which is the more striking from its independence in the connexion, being used in an entirely different reference. The sound of these two words again occurs in the midst of the adaptation from St. Jude, 2:13, σπίλοι κ. μῶμοι. Again the use of the word ἴδιος, 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:5, cf. 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 3:17; the omission of the article, as before βασιλεῖ in 1 Peter 2:13, compared with that before θελήματι in 2 Peter 1:21, before ἀγγέλων, 2 Peter 2:4, ὄγδοον and κόσμου, 2 Peter 2:5, δίκαιον λώτ, 2 Peter 2:7, are points of similarity, which may be put in the balance against others of discrepancy.
27. It may be allowed us to remark some notes of genuineness which are found in our Epistle, which, though at first sight of small import, and lying beneath the surface, yet possess considerable interest. In ch. 2 Peter 1:17-18, we have a reference to the presence of the Writer at the transfiguration of our Lord. It is a remarkable coincidence, that close to that reference, and in the verses leading on to it, two words should occur, both of which are connected with the narrative of the Transfiguration in the Gospels. In 2 Peter 1:13 we have ἐφʼ ὅσον εἰμὶ ἐν τούτῳ τῷ σκηνώματι: let us remember that it was Peter who at the Transfiguration said ποιήσωμεν σκηνὰς τρεῖς. In 2 Peter 1:15 μετὰ τὴν ἐμὴν ἔξοδον. At the Transfiguration Moses and Elias ἔλεγον τὴν ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ ἣν ἔμελλεν πληροῦν ἐν ἱερουσαλήμ.
28. We have also very noticeable coincidences of another kind. Compare the use of λαχοῦσιν, ch. 2 Peter 1:1, with ἔλαχε in Peter’s speech, Acts 1:17; εὐσέβειαν, ch. 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:6-7, with Acts 3:12, where, in Peter’s speech, it is only found, except in the Pastoral Epistles: θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη, ch. 2 Peter 1:21, with βουλῇ … τοῦ θεοῦ … ἀνείλατε, Acts 2:23; ἐγκατοικῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς, ch. 2 Peter 2:8, with τὸ μνῆμα αὐτοῦ ἐστιν ἐν ἡμῖν, Acts 2:29; ἀνόμοις ἔργοις, ibid., with διὰ χειτῶν ἀνόμων, Acts 2:23; εὐσεβεῖς, ch. 2 Peter 2:9, with Acts 10:2; Acts 10:7, an account doubtless derived from St. Peter,—the only places where the word occurs in the N. T.: κολαζομένους, ibid., with Acts 4:21, another Petrine account, and also the only places where the word occurs: the double genitive ch. 2 Peter 3:2, τῆς τῶν ἀποστόλων ὑμῶν ἐντολῆς τοῦ κυρίου, with a very similar one, Acts 5:32, καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐσμὲν αὐτοῦ μάρτυρες τῶν ῥημάτων τούτων: ἡμέρα κυρίου, ch. 2 Peter 3:10, with the citation Acts 2:20, where only it occurs, except 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Such things are not to be despised, in estimating the probability of our Epistle being a supposititious document.
29. Our general conclusion from all that has preceded must be in favour of the genuineness and canonicity of this second Epistle: acknowledging at the same time, that the subject is not without considerable difficulty. That difficulty however is lightened for us by observing that on the one hand, it is common to this Epistle with some others of those called Catholic, and several of the later writings of the New Testament: and on the other, that no difference can be imagined more markedly distinctive, than that which separates all these writings from even the earliest and best of the post-apostolic period. Our Epistle is one of those latter fruits of the great outpouring of the Spirit on the Apostles, which, not being entrusted to the custody of any one church or individual, required some considerable time to become generally known: which when known, were suspected, bearing as they necessarily did traces of their late origin, and notes of polemical argument: but of which, as apostolic and inspired writings, there never was, when once they became known, any general doubt; and which, as the sacred Canon became fixed, acquired, and have since maintained, their due and providential place among the books of the New Testament.
TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING
1. These can only be set down conjecturally, in accordance with views and considerations previously advanced. Assuming the genuineness of the Epistle, St. Peter wrote it in his old age, when he was expecting his death(179). This, agreeably to what was said on the first Epistle, would be somewhere about the year 68 A.D., and the place of writing would be Rome, or somewhere on the journey thither from the East.
2. But all this is far too uncertain, and too much beset with chronological difficulties, to be regarded as any thing more than a hypothetical corollary, contingent on our accepting the tradition of St. Peter’s Roman martyrdom.
3. Several matters, which have formed the subject of sections in our other chapters, such as the character and style of the Epistle, have been already incidentally discussed.
Eve of Ascension