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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

2 Peter

- 2 Peter

by Henry Allen Ironside

The Second Epistle Of Peter - Introduction

How much time elapsed between the writing of the two Petrine Epistles we have no way of determining. But certainly when one says, “This second epistle … I now write unto you” (2 Peter 3:1), it implies that the first one had been sent on just a short time before. This was true in regard to Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians, those to the Thessalonians, and the two pastoral letters to Timothy.

Paul was, in all probability, already with the Lord when Peter wrote, or else he was enduring his last imprisonment just prior to his martyrdom; for Peter mentions “all his epistles” as being in circulation already. This is important, inasmuch as some have sought to minimize the importance of Peter’s written ministry in order to enhance the value of Paul’s letters. But God does not set one apostle against another in this way. All Scripture is divinely inspired, and all is profitable. And as Peter was led of God to write these letters possibly after Paul’s ministry had come to a close we dare not under-estimate their value. They contain precious and important truth which the Church can neglect only at its peril.

It is true that in early days some sought to cast doubt on the authenticity of this Second Epistle, but there can be no question now as to this. It bears every mark of inspiration and, as such, has been accepted by the Church since the second century at least, and by many reliable witnesses from the first; beginning, that is, from the time when it was first circulated, somewhere about A. D. 66 to 70.

Like all Second Epistles it is corrective. In the First Epistles we hear the voice of the teacher. As a rule in Second Epistles it is rather the prophet or the exhorter who speaks.

The theme of this letter is “Faithfulness in a Day of Apostasy.” The three chapters form three distinct divisions.

Chapter 1.-The blessings bestowed upon believers through the righteousness of God.

Section 1: (2 Peter 1:1-11).-Blessings received and growth in grace.

Section 2: (2 Peter 1:12-21).-The hope of the coming kingdom.

Chapter 2.--Increasing apostasy, and the call to faithfulness.

Section 1: (2 Peter 2:1-10).-Lessons from the past for the present age.

Section 2: (2 Peter 2:11-17).-Characteristics of apostate teachers.

Section 3: (2 Peter 2:18-22).-Turning away from the truth to the false philosophies of the world.

Chapter 3.-Looking on to the culmination.

Section 1: (2 Peter 3:1-7).-Forgetting the past and denying the future.

Section 2: (2 Peter 3:8-14).-The day of the Lord and the day of God.

Section 3: (2 Peter 3:15-18).-A final warning.

We should be very grateful to God that He has given such a faithful portrayal of conditions which He foresaw from the first, in order that we might not be disheartened when these things actually developed in the professing Church.