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- 2 Peter
by Peter Pett
(See also the introduction to 1 Peter)
Peter’s second letter is intended to be a follow up to his first letter (2 Peter 3:1). This explains why he does not deal in detail with themes that he has already dealt with in 1 Peter, but rather assumes them (2 Peter 1:1 - imputed and imparted righteousness; 2 Peter 1:4 - new begetting; 2 Peter 2:1 - redemption by the Lord). He is content to recognise that the churches have preserved his first letter, and therefore his aim is to build on it. But that being said there are a number of interesting parallels between 2 Peter and 1 Peter.
The Parallels With 1 Peter.
· In both we find the theme of the glory of Christ emphasised (1 Peter 1:7-8; 1 Peter 1:11; 1Pe 1:21 ; 1 Peter 4:13-14; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:16-17; 2 Peter 3:18).
· Both emphasise the transformation within as a result of His word and promises (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 1:4).
· Both refer to our escaping from the corruption of the world and its desires (1 Peter 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 4:2; 2 Peter 1:4; compare 2 Peter 2:10; 2 Peter 2:18; 2 Peter 2:20).
· Both refer to our calling and election (1 Peter 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:10-11).
· Both refer to Noah and the flood (1 Peter 3:20-21; 2 Peter 2:5), although with different applications. (This double mention is striking in that in the New Testament only Jesus, in Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-27, and the writer in Hebrews 11:0, similarly refer to Noah)
· Both speak of the angels who sinned (1 Peter 3:19-20; 2 Peter 2:4).
· Both refer to the Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures and the prophetic foretelling of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:16-21).
· Both emphasise the climactic close of the age (1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 3:3-13).
· Both have the habit of verbal repetition, and are similar in the use of the article.
· Neither letter speaks of ‘the church (ekklesia)’, or of His people being ‘the body’ of Christ, in spite of the fact that in 1 Peter there is great emphasis on the people of God as a whole.
· Both letters uniquely ask that grace and peace might be multiplied to the recipients (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2).
· Peter declares that we have been called out of darkness into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9), while 2 Peter 1:19 speaks of ‘a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.’
· Compare also the use of ‘salvation’ in 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:9-10 with 2 Peter 3:15 a; ‘love of the brethren’ in 1 Peter 1:22 with 2 Peter 1:7; the idea of saving righteousness in 1 Peter 3:18 with 2 Peter 1:1 b; ethical ‘knowledge’ in 1 Peter 3:7 with 2 Peter 1:6.
And yet the applications are so dissimilar in each letter that there is no suggestion of one writer deliberate aping the other. It is rather therefore an indication that the parallels arise because they are imbedded in the thinking of the same author.
The Theme Of 2 Peter.
The theme of 2 Peter is that our Lord and Saviour has broken into world history and called us to Himself, and will ‘shortly’ bring all things to their culmination by cataclysmic change. His ‘power’ and ‘coming’ have been manifested to eye-witnesses at the Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18), and that power and coming will finally result in the destruction of all things by fire and the issuing in of a new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13). Meanwhile the opportunity is being given for all men to repent (2 Peter 3:9), and become partakers of the divine nature, escaping the lusts and desires of the world, just as those who are truly His already have (2 Peter 1:4).
He emphasises that there are false teachers claiming that nothing has really changed in history. They say that all continues on now as it has done from the time when the world was created (2 Peter 3:4), and that men also can therefore continue on as they always have done. Thus they deny the Master Who bought them (2 Peter 2:1). But they are totally wrong. For if they would but open their eyes tehy would see that important things have happened since creation, demonstrating God’s continuing activity in history. The first thing to have happened was God’s judgment revealed at the Flood, when God destroyed a wicked world that had rejected the preaching of righteousness (2 Peter 2:4-5; 2 Peter 3:5-6). The second is that the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the world (2 Peter 1:16-18), something which has transformed history, a power and coming that will finally come to its crisis and will result in the destruction of the world in the coming of the Day of God (2 Peter 3:12), issuing in the new heavens and the new earth in which dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).
In the light of this, then, His people, Who have been granted by Him all that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of Christ Who has called us by His own glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3), are to escape from the defilements of the world by responding to God’s great and precious promises and becoming partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), a response which will result in a full-orbed life of godliness and love (2 Peter 1:5-8). And having done so they are to continue to grow in His grace and knowledge recognising that all glory is His (2 Peter 3:18).
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18