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- 2 Peter
by Paul E. Kretzmann
The Second General Epistle of Peter
Having warned the Christians of Asia Minor against dangers which were threatening them from without, the Apostle Peter, not very long after, found it necessary to address a second letter to the same people. He not only expressly mentions his name as the author, but he also says that he was a witness of the transfiguration of Christ, 2 Peter 1:1-16, and states that he has already written a letter, 2 Peter 3:1-2.
Since the first epistle had been sent, the situation in the congregations of Asia Minor had changed to some extent. The pressure from without was no longer the chief item causing apprehension, but the spiritual condition of the congregations themselves. The dangers arose partly from false teachers, partly from scoffers or mockers in their own midst. Men were branding the Gospel-truth as insufficient for the needs of the Christians, they were blaspheming some of the Christian truths, they were denying the return of Christ to Judgment, and earnest fears were entertained that the future would see the gravity of the situation increased. The letter, therefore, is a testimony and a testament of the apostle concerning the last days. It was probably written in Rome, its date, since Peter is looking forward to an early death, being about 66 or 67.
The contents of the letter may be briefly summarized as follows. After the opening salutation the apostle, in a cordial admonition, shows that the divine mercies and promises obligate the Christians to a conduct of holiness. He therefore urges them, as a witness of the transfiguration of Christ, to cling to the sure Word of Prophecy, as being a firm foundation for the believer's faith for all times. To the true prophecy there was indeed opposed a false proclamation in the person of false teachers, whose end, however, will be a just punishment. Let the Christians, then, not be seduced by false promises of an unscriptural liberty, for to believe such messages would result in everlasting destruction. The believers should not be led astray by the denial of Christ's coming to Judgment, for this would certainly come to pass, just as the catastrophe of the great Flood finally brought destruction to the world; it was only the patience of God that still delayed the doom. The Christians, in prayerful vigilance, should prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord with godly behavior, with holy conduct, even as also the Apostle Paul had admonished his readers. The letter closes with a short warning and admonition and a doxology.
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