All the Bible, Every Book: 2 Peter

Grow in Grace and Knowledge!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). 

The nine General Epistles point to the person and work of the resurrected Christ. They encourage Christians to cling to Him and exhort them to serve Him faithfully because He is the only source of life. Written primarily to persecuted Jewish Christians, the truths apply to every believer from every culture and in every age of church history.

Though Peter’s letters are grouped with the General Epistles, they are primarily to the mostly Gentile churches of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1). His first letter encourages these fledgling churches to stand firm in grace in the face of suffering (1 Peter 5:12). The second letter admonishes them to grow in grace in the face of false teaching (2 Peter 3:18). Here is a rough comparison of the two:

 

1st Peter

“suffering” 16X

2nd Peter

“knowledge” 16X

External Opposition

Internal Opposition

Suffering from Persecution

Heresy from Apostasy

Need for Submission to Christ

Need for Knowledge of Christ

Comfort to the Hurting

Caution to the Vulnerable

Hope in the Lord’s Return

Confidence in the Lord’s Return

Second Peter was written shortly before his martyrdom (1:13-15) and it reads in many ways like a last will and testament. Early church tradition says that Peter spent his last decade in Rome and the church fathers write that he died there in A.D. 67-68. Like Paul’s 2 Timothy, 2 Peter is Peters’ last message to the church. He focuses on the internal turmoil caused by false teachers whose destructive heresies (2:1) can neutralize a believer’s impact for Christ. Since what we believe determines how we behave, false teaching always leads to a life of self-centered immorality. The only antidote to the impact of false teachers is a strong emphasis on the truth of Scripture and training in the skills of applying those truths to real life by grace. “The purpose of 2 Peter is to call Christians to spiritual growth so that they can combat apostasy as they look forward to the Lord’s return.” (Kenneth Gangel, “2 Peter,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 862):

2 Peter: Live responsibly as a recipient of grace—know Christ and live for Him!

Second Peter deals with the proper response to erroneous teaching within the church: Know the truth and use your power to apply the truth to your life.

I. Peter exhorts Christians to fulfill their responsibilities as recipients of grace by accessing the power of God and claiming the promises of God so that they will realize their potential and maintain purity.

A. Diligently appropriate your resources in Christ—true knowledge of Jesus Christ (1). Because of your great and precious promises in Christ, move forward in your faith to be more like Him. Hold fast to the truth of the inspired Scriptures.

B. Resist false teachers who undermine the confidence of believers and entice them into error and sin (2). Peter exposes the motives and dangers of these self-absorbed and arrogant false teachers.

C. Diligently appropriate your resource in Christ—the promises of God in prophecy (3). In spite of mockers who say that Jesus will not return, the day of he Lord will surely come and God will make all things right.

II. 2 PETER AND YOU: If you’re a Christian you have received all the grace you will ever need to live for Christ. With this grace comes the responsibility to use that grace to glorify Him. We are responsible to use God’s power and to claim His promises. Here are four steps toward living out the full potential of our new life in Christ Jesus:

A. Know Your Grace Resources. The more you know Christ, the more you will realize how rich you are in His grace. I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire” (2 Peter 1:3).

B. Know Your Grace Responsibilities. Since we have the power of God and the Word of God, we should diligently pursue disciplines that equip us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence [moral excellence], to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. But concerning the one who lacks such things—he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin. For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you.” (2 Peter 1:5-11)

C. Know How to Identify a False Teacher. Second Peter 2 gives us five identifying characteristics of a false teacher:

1. They deny the sufficiency of Christ. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).

2. Their sinful lifestyle. “And many will follow their debauched lifestyles” (2 Peter 2:2).

3. Their greed and self-absorbed lifestyle. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:3).

4. They brazenly speak of demons as if a fallen angel is subject to their personal power. “Brazen and insolent, they are not afraid to insult the glorious ones, yet even angels, who are much more powerful, do not bring a slanderous judgment against them before the Lord. But these men, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed—do not understand whom they are insulting, and consequently in their destruction they will be destroyed” (2 Peter 2:11-12).

5. They entice immature believers by offering them a freedom that isn’t freedom at all, but a return to the slavery of sin. Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:11).

D. Know your Bible, especially prophecy. “Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Above all, understand this: In the last days blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges and saying, ‘Where is his promised return? For ever since our ancestors died, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For they deliberately suppress this fact. (2 Peter 3:3-5)

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