INTRODUCTION

The Second Epistle of Peter, often referred to as Second Peter and written 2 Peter or in Roman numerals II Peter (especially in older references), is a book of the New Testament of the Bible, traditionally held to have been written by Saint Peter.

Some scholars think Peter used an amanuensis, or secretary, to write the epistle.

According to the Epistle itself, it was composed by the Apostle Peter, an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry.

It criticizes "false teachers" who distort the authentic, apostolic tradition, and predicts judgment for them.

2 Peter explains that God has delayed the Second Coming of Christ so that more people will have the chance to reject evil and find salvation.

It calls on Christians to wait patiently for the parousia and to study scripture.

The date of composition has proven to be very difficult to determine.

Commentaries and reference books have placed 2 Peter in almost every decade from AD 60 to 160.

Taken literally, it would have been written between 65–68 AD because Peter was martyred around 68 AD by Nero and also because Peter references his approaching death in 2 Peter 1:14 ("since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me").

Most biblical scholars have concluded Peter is not the author, considering the epistle pseudepigraphical.

Reasons for this include its linguistic differences from 1 Peter, its apparent use of Jude, possible allusions to 2nd-century gnosticism, encouragement in the wake of a delayed parousia, and weak external support.

The questions of authorship and date are closely related.

For Petrine authorship to be authentic, it must have been written prior to Peter's death in c. AD 65–67.

The letter refers to the Pauline epistles and so must post-date at least some of them, regardless of authorship, thus a date before 60 is improbable.

Further, it goes as far to name the Pauline epistles as "scripture"—the only time a New Testament work refers to another New Testament work in this way—implying that it postdates them by some time.

Chester & Martin say scholars consider the epistle to be written between c. AD 100–150 and so contend that it is pseudepigraphical.

For an argument for a late date see Harris.

For a 'middle date' see Bauckham who opts for a date between AD 80–90 as most probable.

For an early date and (usually) for a defense of the Apostle Peter's authorship see Kruger, Zahn, Spitta, Bigg, and Green.

Jeremy Duff argues that the various strands of evidence "point towards the period 60–130 CE, with some reason to favour 80–90 CE."

In both content and style this letter is very different from 1 Peter.

This epistle presciently declares that it is written shortly before the apostle's death (1:14).

Arguments have been made both for and against this being part of the original text, but this debate largely is centered on the acceptance or rejection of supernatural intervention in the life of the writer.

The epistle contains eleven references to the Old Testament.

In 3:15, 16 a reference is made to one of Paul's epistles, which some have identified as 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11.

The book also shares a number of passages with the Epistle of Jude, 1:5 with Jude 3; 1:12 with Jude 5; 2:1 with Jude 4; 2:4 with Jude 6; 2:5 with Jude 5; 2:6 with Jude 7; 2:10–11 with Jude 8–9; 2:12 with Jude 10; 2:13–17 with Jude 11–13; 2:18 with Jude 16; 3:2f with Jude 17f; 3:3 with Jude 18; 3:14 with Jude 24; and 3:18 with Jude 25.

Because the Epistle of Jude is much shorter than 2 Peter, and due to various stylistic details, the scholarly consensus is that Jude was the source for the similar passages of 2 Peter.

Tartarus is mentioned in 2 Pet 2:4 as devoted to the holding of certain fallen angels.

It is elaborated on in Jude 6.

Jude 6 however, is a clear reference to the Book of Enoch.

Bauckham suggests that 2 Peter 2:4 is partially dependent on Jude 6 but is independently drawing on paraenetic tradition that also lies behind Jude 5–7.

The paraenetic traditions are in Sirach 16:7–10, Damascus Document 2:17–3:12, 3 Maccabees 2:4–7, Testament of Naphtali 3:4–5 and Mishna Sanhedrin 10:3.

 

AUDIENCE

The audience in this book are the various Churches in Asia Minor in general.

 

CANONICAL ACCEPTANCE

Acceptance of the letter into the canon did not occur without some difficulty; however, "nowhere did doubts about the letter's authorship take the form of definitive rejection."

The earliest record of doubts concerning the authorship of the letter were recorded by Origen (c. 185–254), though Origen mentioned no explanation for the doubts, nor did he give any indication concerning the extent or location.

Donald Guthrie suggests that, “It is fair to assume, therefore, that he saw no reason to treat these doubts as serious, and this would mean to imply that in his time the epistle was widely regarded as canonical.”

Origen, in another passage, has been interpreted as considering the letter to be Petrine in authorship.

Before Origen's time, the evidence is inconclusive; there is a lack of definite early quotations from the letter in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, though possible use or influence has been located in the works of Clement of Alexandria (d. c. 211), Theophilius (d. c. 183), Aristides (d. c. 134), Polycarp (d. 155), and Justin (d. 165).

Eusebius (c. 275–339) professed his own doubts, see also Antilegomena, and is the earliest direct testimony of such, though he stated that the majority supported the text, and by the time of Jerome (c. 346–420) it had been mostly accepted as canonical.

The Peshitta, the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition, does not contain the Second Epistle of Peter and thus rejects its canonial status.

 

OUTLINE

The letter is usually outlined as follows:

  • Address (2 Peter 1:1–2)
  • Exhortation to Christian Virtue (2 Peter 1:3–21)
  • Condemnation of the False Teachers (2 Peter 2:1–22)
  • The Delay of the Second Coming (2 Peter 3:1–16)
  • Final Exhortation and Doxology (2 Peter 3:17–18)

CHAPTER 1

TO THOSE IN SERVICE TO THE FATHER AND THE SON

1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

 

GROW IN KNOWLEDGE AND DEEDS TO CONFIRM YOUR ELECTION

1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

 

ETERNAL REWARDS AWAIT

1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know [them,] and be established in the present truth.

1:13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting [you] in remembrance;

 

PETER TOLD HE WILL SOON PASS AWAY

1:14 Knowing that shortly I must put off [this] my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

1:15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

 

PETER IS A FAITFUL WITNESS

1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

1:18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

 

PROPHECY ONLY COMES FROM THE WORD OF GOD

1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.

CHAPTER 2

FALSE TEACHERS PROSPER IN THE CHURCH

2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth [person,] a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making [them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

2:8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;)

 

GOD IS IN CONTROL

2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous [are they,] selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

 

EVEN THE ANGELS LEAVE THE JUDGMENT TO GOD

2:11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

 

FALSE TEACHERS ARE IGNORANT HYPOCRITES

2:12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

2:13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, [as] they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots [they are] and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

2:14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

 

FALSE TEACHERS FRAUDULENTLY ENRICH THEMSELVES

2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam [the son] of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

2:16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

 

FALSE TEACHERS PREACH WHAT IS POPULAR AMONG MEN

2:18 For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

 

TURNING THE PEOPLE AWAY FROM THE COMMANDMENTS

2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it,] to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

CHAPTER 3

THE LAST DAYS

3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

 

SCOFFERS AGAINST THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD

3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.

 

THE WORLD THAT WAS THEN

3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

3:6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

 

THE WORLD THAT IS NOW

3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

3:11 [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness,

3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

 

THE WORLD THAT IS TO COME

3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

 

BE SPOTLESS UNTIL THEN

3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

3:15 And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

 

THE DAMNED CUT & PASTE THEIR OWN THEOLOGIES

3:16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

 

ESCHEW THE THEOLOGIES OF MEN

3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

 

GROW IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST

3:18 But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.