Second Letter of Peter|
Growing in Christ
Practical and Pastoral Observations on 2 Peter (please read each chapter slowly and meditatively before reading observations below):
Introduction: written by Peter from Rome ("Babylon" 1 Peter 5:13) shortly before his martyrdom about 67 AD, to predominantly Gentile followers of Christ broadly scattered about the Roman Empire. The first empire wide persecution of Christians, which Peter either anticipates or is witnessing, begin under Emperor Nero, who viewed himself as a god and was threatened by Christian allegiance to Jesus as Lord, in 64 AD. Peter writes that his readers might "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18) as they await "the Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10)".
2 Peter 1
Eyewitnesses of His Majesty (v.16): Peter draws on his profound experience of Christ's transfiguration (v.16-18) to encourage confidence in God's promise to grow us into partakers of His divine character (v.4). This character is expressed in the qualities of vs.5-8. Our zeal to grow in Godly character confirms we have been chosen by God (v.10) for His eternal Kingdom (v.11).
Peter's Race: Peter now writes his testament (vs. 12-15) in anticipation of that Kingdom. His race is nearly run.
The Day of the Lord (v.19) - when God intervenes in history to save His people and judge His enemies - is to believers the "bright and rising morning star" on which our hearts are set. All scripture (v.20-21) ultimately points to this glorious reality. As such, prophecy is the very Word of God himself, more than the word of any human prophet or mouthpiece.
Our Race: Encouraged in these ways, we run our race also with diligence (v.5,10,15), confidence and joy. True, we run through a worldly landscape exhibiting in untold ways corruption produced by lust (v.4). But Christ will hold us safe. We look to Him. We are confident in His grace and peace multiplied to us (v.2). Whatever betides, He gives everything (v.3) we need to grow in Godliness.
Personal Application: I will not turn aside. I will commune with Him as a partaker in His divine nature (v.4). I will not lust for the things that corrupt but be content to run in a world largely bereft of Godly supports, knowing His grace and presence to be entirely sufficient. I will listen for, and listen to, and be open to being a channel of, the prophetic word which is like a lamp shining in a dark place (v.19).
My Prayer: Father, strengthen me to hold fast to you. Thank you that you keep us safe and give everything we need for life and godliness as we run our race through the corruption in this world.
2 Peter 2
Danger of False Teachers: False teachers were prophesized by Jesus (Mark 13:22) and sadly have existed in every age. They reflect their Master so badly (distort) as to deny him who had bought them at the price of his own blood (v.1). In the process false teachers do three kinds of harm: they live immorally (greed, sexually, vs.13-15) and entice others to do the same, they teach falsehoods (i.e. deny what is true, teach what false; reject God's authority, promise freedom while personally remaining enslaved to sin and Satan v.19), and in doing so they bring dishonor to Christ and God's people (v.2).
False Teachers are held to greater responsibility (James 3:1): Most sadly of all for false teachers, they do these things after having known Christ and after initially having escaped the defilements of the world (v.20) through him, returning to a state worst then before they knew Christ (v.21-22). They - like fallen angels, the people of Noah's day and Sodom and Gomorrah (vs.4-6) - will be held when they die in dark pits (v.4, 17) until final judgments at the return of Christ (ch.3).
Our Response: False teachers stand against the mission Christ we share. For that reason we must 1.) guard ourselves against the enticements of Satan which have led false teachers to destruction, 2.) confront those who dishonor Christ and harm his body, the church, 3.) repair damage where we can and renew our own ministries, building up the Body of Christ and bringing those yet outside of Christ into the Kingdom of his grace.
Personal Application: I will examine my own heart against the defilements of this world (v.20) and repent of every tinge. I will love the church enough to challenge those who pretend to be part of it but in fact lead it astray.
My Prayer: Father, hallowed by Thy name. Keep me pure of heart and mind and body. Strengthen and give me wisdom to discern rightly and confront those who are wolves in sheep's clothing.
2 Peter 3
God's word is truth communicated with equal force, value and truth by prophets in the OT as by apostles in the NT (v.2, 16). God's word is powerful to create (v.5) and to destroy (v.6-7,10). In the tumult of history God's Word keeps us in peace (v.14), steadfast (v.17) and growing in grace and knowledge (v.18).
God desires of us holiness and godliness (v.11). To that end God not only calls us in Jesus but is patient, working both in us and giving opportunity for all to repent and be saved (v.9). Let us not miss the opportunity it gives to grow in godliness and stir up others (v.1) to do the same.
Judgement, with it's ultimate and final separation, will come. What appears from our limited temporal standpoint (v.8) as delay, is actually expansive grace. Therefore (v.14) our call is to diligence, holiness, steadfastness and growth in grace and knowledge in Christ (vs.14-18).
Rather than using evidence and logic to argue, scoffers belittle and make fun of the truth. But they are wrong: God has acted in creation (v.5), the flood and other judgements in history. God will save those in Christ from the world to be destroyed in the final day just as he saved Noah's family from the world destroyed by flood (v.5).
Personal Application: I will respond to sceptics with evidence and logic but not respond to those who limit themselves to mocking and personal attacks (v3). I will use the patience of the Lord (v.9) as opportunity to love, grow in grace (v.18) and urge the 'sleeping virgins' (Matt 25) to awaken and run to Him.
My Prayer: Thank you Lord that you desire that none should perish but all come to repentance. Thank you that this gracious love produces patience giving yet more time to turn to you with diligence and love.