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Second Peter Is Not Second Class

Introduction

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

1:12 Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased” -18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction (emphasis mine).

How would like to have a surgeon operate on you who took years to pass his medical exams and graduated at the bottom of his class? Vinny, the fellow being defended by his cousin in the movie, “My Cousin Vinny,” barely made it through law school. He took several tries before passing the bar exam; his grammar was bad and his manners were deplorable. Still worse, he had never even defended anyone. Yet Vinny was the one called upon by his cousin, who had been charged with murder by a small-town southern sheriff.

The Book of Second Peter carries some of these same characteristics. It was the last book of the New Testament to be accepted into the canon of Scripture. Biblical scholars criticize the author for his grammar and style, and even allege the author to be someone other than Peter, a man who lived in the second century rather than the first, and who wrote as though he were the apostle.

Second Peter seems to be the New Testament epistle which receives little respect1 even from evangelical scholars.2 It also appears to be the most neglected book in the New Testament. After reading a statement like the one from noted scholar William Barclay below, who would want to study 2 Peter?

The great interest of Second Peter lies in the very fact that it was the last book in the New Testament to be written and the last to gain entry into the New Testament.3

Barclay finds this epistle “interesting” because it is regarded as second class. Somehow, when viewed in this light, the book becomes less likely to be taken seriously. Simon Kistemaker, a conservative biblical scholar, observes:

From a survey of books and articles written in the twentieth century, we conclude that this epistle has suffered from scholarly neglect. This neglect can be attributed to a view, held by many scholars, that the apostle Peter did not write this letter. They affirm that a late first-century or an early second-century writer who assumed the name of Peter composed this epistle. Scholars who accept apostolic authorship also have taken insufficient notice of II Peter.4

Our purpose in this message will be to demonstrate the clear claim of the writer to be Peter, the apostle of our Lord and the author of 1 Peter. Our further purpose will be to show that this book is indeed no second class epistle, but a book which deserves our respect and serious study. Our final purpose will be to gain an overview of the overall message and structure of 2 Peter in preparation for studying the book.

Who Wrote 2 Peter?

The objections to Peter’s authorship may be summed up as follows,5 with a response to each objection.

(1) The early church was apparently reluctant and certainly slow to accept 2 Peter into the canon of Scripture. Barclay sums up the negative response of the ancient church to this epistle:

For long it [2 Peter] was regarded with doubt and with something very like misgiving. There is no trace of it until after A.D. 200. It is not included in the Muratorian Canon of A.D. 170 which was the first official list of New Testament books. It did not exist in the Old Latin Version of the Scriptures; nor in the New Testament of the early Syrian Church. The great scholars of Alexandria either did not know it or were doubtful about it. Clement of Alexandria, who wrote outlines of the books of Scripture, does not appear to have included Second Peter. Origen says that Peter left behind one epistle which is generally acknowledged: “perhaps also a second, for it is a disputed question.” Didymus commented on it, but concluded his work by saying: “It must not be forgotten that this letter is spurious; it may be read in public; but it is not part of the canon of Scripture.” Eusebius, the great scholar of Caesarea, who made a careful investigation of the Christian literature of his day, comes to the conclusion: “Of Peter, one Epistle, which is called his former Epistle, is acknowledged by all; of this the ancient presbyters have made frequent use in their writings as indisputably genuine; but that which is circulated as his second Epistle we have received to be not canonical although, since it appeared to be useful to many, it has been diligently read with the other Scriptures.” It was not until well into the fourth century that Second Peter came to rest in the canon of the New Testament. It is the well-nigh universal judgment of scholars, both ancient and modern, that Peter is not the author of Second Peter. Even John Calvin regarded it as impossible that Peter could have spoken of Paul as Second Peter speaks of him (3:15, 16), although he was willing to believe that someone else wrote the letter at Peter’s request.6

On a more positive note, A. T. Robertson writes,

It was accepted in the canon by the council at Laodicea (372) and at Carthage (397). Jerome accepted it for the Vulgate, though it was absent from the Peshito Syriac Version. Eusebius placed it among the disputed books, while Origen was inclined to accept it. Clement of Alexandria accepted it and apparently wrote a commentary on it.… There are undoubted allusions also to phrases in II Peter in Aristides, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Clement of Rome … Athanasius and Augustine accepted it as genuine, as did Luther, while Calvin doubted and Erasmus rejected it. It may be said for it that it won its way under criticism and was not accepted blindly.7

Our first response should be: “But they did accept it.” Because there were doubts and even some apparent reluctance makes its acceptance into the canon of Scripture even more impressive. An epistle which receives slow and careful scrutiny and then is received as Scripture surely has received the “seal of approval” by the ancient church.

Having said this, we must be perfectly clear that the authority of Scripture is not ultimately determined on the basis of human approval. Unbelievers cannot, will not, and do not receive the things of the Spirit of God (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Peter was slow to accept converted Gentiles into the church on a par with believing Jews, but this does not cast any doubt on the truth of this doctrine. Often, we are reluctant to acknowledge the truth because it condemns us and requires us to change. Peter’s second epistle may have been more cautiously considered because its teachings were hard to swallow.

(2) The contents of this epistle make it difficult to believe it came from the same pen as the First Epistle of Peter.

There is no mention of the Passion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus Christ; no mention of the Church as the true Israel; no mention of that faith which is undefeatable hope and trust combined; no mention of the Holy Spirit, of prayer, of baptism; and no passionate desire to call men to the supreme example of Jesus Christ. If one took away these great verities from First Peter there would be little or nothing left, and yet none of them occurs in Second Peter.8

This charge is almost ridiculous. If Peter were writing for the second time to the same readers (3:1), would he say the same things he had said in his first epistle? Do we expect 2 Timothy to repeat 1 Timothy? Do we challenge Paul’s authorship of 2 Timothy because he does not speak of elders and deacons there as he did in the first epistle to Timothy? Of course the subject matter is different!

Yet, having said this, I do not mean to imply there is nothing in common between 1 and 2 Peter. Peter indicates in 2 Peter that he assumes the things he has written in 1 Peter. For example, in 1 Peter 2:1, he writes that those who teach destructive heresies are guilty of “denying the Master who bought them.” Surely Peter expects his readers to think in terms of the redemptive work of Christ, the teaching they received in the preaching of the gospel and in the reading of 1 Peter (see especially 1 Peter 1:18-21; 2:22-25; 3:18-22; 5:1).

A number of the great themes of 1 Peter are seen in 2 Peter as we shall later demonstrate. Even though they may not be restated, the themes of 1 Peter are assumed in 2 Peter. There is a very strong correspondence between 1 and 2 Peter, as we shall show.

(3) In style9 and character, there are notable differences between 1 and 2 Peter. Of course there are differences, and we should not be surprised by them. Peter told us his first epistle was written through Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12). No such reference to Silvanus is found in 2 Peter. Peter therefore appears to have written his second epistle with his own hand (compare Galatians 6:11). Second Peter is exactly what we should expect from the hand of an untrained writer such as Peter (see Acts 4:13).

(4) Peter speaks too fondly of Paul,10 and his reference to his writings can only suggest a late (second century) date for the writing of this epistle. Liberal scholars cannot fathom the unity of the body of Christ, and thus they look upon Paul and Peter as men whose personalities and theological positions clash throughout their lives. Even John Calvin seems to find this view tolerable.11 The Bible expects more of those who are filled with the Spirit of God,12 and though Paul had to confront Peter, this in no way set them at odds with each other. Indeed, after Peter is rebuked by Paul (Galatians 2:11-21), it seems his respect for Paul was even greater as evidenced by his words in 2 Peter 3.

That Peter seems to look upon the apostles as men of a by-gone era comes as no surprise. After all, Peter views himself in this same way (2 Peter 1:12-15). Some of the apostles (like James, see Acts 12:2) had already died, and others (like Peter) were not far behind. It was time for others to take up the torch. This same perspective can be found in Hebrews 2:1-4.

It is argued that Peter could not have spoken of Paul’s writings as he did, since these would not have been collected and considered a part of the New Testament Scriptures until the second century:

Above all there is the reference to the letters of Paul (3:15, 16). From this it is quite certain that Paul’s letters are known and used throughout all the Church; they are public property, and furthermore they are regarded as Scripture and on a level with ‘the other Scriptures’ (3:16). It was not until at least A. D. 90 that these letters were collected and published, and it would take many years for them to acquire the position of sacred Scripture. It is practically impossible that anyone should write like this until midway through the second century A.D.13

A moment to reflect on Barclay’s words here might prove helpful as they are typical of much that is written and taught in the name of scholarship. William Barclay is a scholar. His commentaries provide a great deal of helpful insight into the Greek culture and the background to biblical texts. He is also a liberal theologian, and as such he does not hold to all of what might be called orthodox theological positions. When we see statements like the one above, we should not be intimidated by his scholarship or the confidence with which he speaks.

Barclay’s comments fly in the face of what is written in this biblical text. Does the author of this epistle claim to be the apostle Peter? Yes, he does (1:1, 12-19). We are forced to conclude then that either Barclay or our author are wrong. I am sticking with the author.

Barclay’s conclusion simply do not stand under scrutiny. Consider these comments. (1) Peter does not list all of Paul’s writings; he simply refers to Paul’s “letters” (3:16). Barclay speaks as though all of his letters must be spoken of by Peter, which, in his mind, is impossible. (2) Barclay seems to have forgotten who helped Peter in the writing of his first epistle—Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12). Assuming that Silvanus is Silas (as Barclay does, p. 274), then we know he was closely associated also with Paul and the writing of at least two of his epistles (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). Peter would have ready access to at least some of Paul’s writings earlier than others. (3) Peter is an apostle, and as such he would greatly influence the church as to Paul’s apostleship and the inspiration and authority of his writings. Rather than seeing Peter’s comments about Paul’s letters as the result of the church’s acceptance of them as Scripture, I suggest that Peter’s words are a significant cause of the church’s acceptance of his epistles.

(5) A very obvious similarity exists between 2 Peter and Jude, causing some to conclude the author of 2 Peter may have borrowed, either from Jude or from a different source. There is a very close relationship between these two epistles:

A quick glance at the second chapter of II Peter and the Epistle of Jude proves to any reader the parallelism of these writings. Jude’s letter totals twenty-five verses; nineteen of these are paralleled in II Peter. This parallelism includes not only words and phrases; also the order of presentation is virtually the same.14

The Christian should not go beyond the Scriptures (see 1 Corinthians 4:6; Revelation 22:18-19). Christians are marked out by their common faith. They should not emphasize their idiosyncracies or strive for novel and unique interpretations (see 2 Peter 1:20-21). We are not to proclaim “new truths” (contrast Acts 17:19-21); we are to continue to proclaim “the old, old, story, of Jesus and His love” (as one song says, see Galatians 1:6-10; 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8). Peter may have employed the same source as Jude, or one may have borrowed from the other. There is no copyright on Scriptural truth. It is certainly not beneath Peter to have employed the material of another or to have written something very much like another.

The Authorship of 2 Peter According To The Author

If you are willing to take the words of this epistle at face value, the authorship of 2 Peter is clear and indisputable. The author is “Simon Peter,15 a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1). He is a man who will soon die (1:14), just as Jesus had indicated to him in John 21:18-19. He is the Peter who, along with James and John, witnessed the transfiguration of our Lord (1:16-18; compare Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). This man assures us he is not writing a cleverly devised tale but the sure Word of God, brought about through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1:19-21). He further tells us this is his second letter (3:1), which squares perfectly with the writing and preservation of 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:1). Finally, in his closing words, Peter testifies to the inspiration and authority of Paul’s epistles as Scripture and warns of those false teachers who would seek to distort or deny them (3:14-16).

Let us compare the internal evidence (in the text of the epistle itself) for the authorship of 1 Peter with that we have considered in 2 Peter. In 1 Peter, there are but two references to the author: 1 Peter 1:1 and 1 Peter 5:1. Only the first is specific. The evidence for Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter is much stronger than it is for 1 Peter! Why do critics not challenge the authorship of 1 Peter? Why do they focus their attack on 2 Peter?

If we take the words of the writer of 2 Peter on face value, Peter is the author. We can therefore fix an approximate date for the time of its writing. Peter tells us his time of departure is near. Since Peter died around A.D. 67 or 68, this epistle must have been penned shortly before this time. The epistle would thus have been written shortly before the fall of Jerusalem and the scattering of the nation Israel.

The Implications of the Authorship of 2 Peter

The authorship of 2 Peter offers one of two choices with profound implications:

But the claim to Petrine authorship, if not genuine, leaves the Epistle pseudonymous. That was a custom among some Jewish writers and even Christian writers, as the spurious Petrine literature testifies (Gospel of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, etc.), works of a heretical or curious nature. Whatever the motive for such a pious fraud, the fact remains that II Peter, if not genuine, has to take its place with this pseudonymous literature and can hardly be deemed worthy of a place in the New Testament.16

On the authorship of II Peter only two views exist, and they color the interpretation of this epistle: either Peter wrote the letter or it comes in pseudonymous form from the hand of a forger or a secretary.17

We have two choices then. (1) We accept the epistle as it stands and its author’s claim that he is Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. If we do so, then we accept the authority of the writer and the epistle, and we dare not contradict it. (2) We reject the claims of the author, and reject this book as fraudulent. The issue here closely parallels our response to the claims of Jesus Christ to be the promised Messiah: either He is the Son of God, as He claims, with absolute power and authority, or He is a fraud, to be rejected and ignored.

Other Evidence of Petrine Authorship

A. T. Robertson concludes that Peter must be the author of this epistle, and that satisfactory explanations can be given for every objection:

“The writer makes use of his own contact with Jesus, especially at the Transfiguration of Christ (Mark 9:2-8 = Matt. 17:1-8 = Luke 9:28-36). This fact has been used against the genuineness of the Epistle on the plea that the writer is too anxious, anyhow, to show that he is Symeon Peter (1:1).… It is possible also that the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration may have been suggested by Peter’s use of exodus for his own death (1:15), the very word used by Luke (9:31) as the topic of discussion between Jesus and Moses and Elijah.” There is also in 1:13 the use of ‘tent’ (skenoma) for the life in the body, like Peter’s use of ‘tents’ (skenas) to Jesus at that very time (Mark 9:5 = Matt. 17:4 = Luke 9:33). In 1:14 Peter also refers to the plain words of Jesus about his coming death (John 21:18f.).”18

Kistemaker contends in his commentary on 2 Peter that many similarities are found between 1 and 2 Peter. He provides us with this comparison of the two epistles:

Similarities Between 1 and 2 Peter

1 Peter

 

2 Peter

1:10-12

inspiration of the Old Testament

1:19-21

1:2

doctrine of election

1:10

1:23

doctrine of the new birth

1:4

2:11-12

need for holiness

1:5-9

3:19

sinful angels in prison

2:4

3:20

Noah and his family protected

2:5

4:2-4

immorality and judgment

2:10-22

4:7-11

exhortation to Christian living

3:14-18

4:11

doxology

3:1819

I would add several other topics which are emphasized in both of Peter’s epistles:

(1) Fleshly lusts (see 1 Peter 2:11; 4:2; 2 Peter 1:4, 6; 2:2, 10-14)

(2) Prophecy, the Christian’s future hope (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:17-21)

(3) The revelation or second coming of Christ (1 Peter 1:13; 2:12; 2 Peter 3)

(4) The important role of the Scriptures (1 Peter 1:22–2:3; 3:1; 2 Peter 1:2-4, 17-21; 3:1-2, 14-16)

(5) The testimony of the O.T. to N. T. truths or doctrines (1 Peter 1:10-12, 14-16, 23-25; 2:5-9; 3:10-12;

(6) Peter 2:4-9, 15-16, 22; 3:5-7)

(7) Opposition to our faith and walk (1 Peter 2:11-12, 18-25; 3:14-22; 4:1-6; 5:8-10; 2 Peter 2:1–3:4, 14-16)

The Continuity of 1 and 2 Peter

Peter does deal with many of the same topics and themes in both of his epistles. The close relationship between these epistles can also be demonstrated by the continuity which exists in their teaching. The teaching of 1 Peter flows into that of 2 Peter. The Book of 2 Peter is not so much a repetition as an extension of Peter’s teaching in 1 Peter.

(1) In 1 Peter, the Christian is the one under attack. In 2 Peter, the gospel, or the Christian hope, is under attack.

(2) In 1 Peter, the attack against the church comes from without, from unbelievers (see 1 Peter 4:1-6); in 2 Peter the attack against the church comes from within, from those who at least profess to believe in the Lord Jesus (see 2 Peter 2:1, 20-22).

(3) In 1 Peter, there is an emphasis on the believer’s certain hope of glory at the return of Christ; in 2 Peter, there is the certainty of the condemnation of those who deny the gospel.

(4) In 1 Peter, the emphasis falls upon our Lord’s first coming and His suffering and death as the payment for our sins (see 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:18); in 2 Peter the emphasis falls upon the glory of our Lord as demonstrated at His transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-19).

(5) In 1 Peter, the believer is to fix his hope on the glory yet to be revealed at the coming of our Lord (1 Peter 1:13; 2:11); in 2 Peter the believer is tempted by false teachers to fix his hope on the present, with its fleshly pleasures, and to ignore the future (2 Peter 2:1–3:4).

Conclusion

Peter is the author of this, his second epistle. In 1 Peter, he challenges us to fix our hope on eternal things and to live in the present in light of eternity. He calls upon us to endure present suffering and to deny fleshly lusts, for the eternal glory our Lord will bring at His second coming. In 2 Peter, the apostle holds forth the Word of God and its teaching as our defense against false teachers, who are dominated by fleshly lusts and who appeal to these lusts in their followers. He turns us to Old Testament examples of God’s divine intervention in history to deliver His holy ones and to bring judgment upon those who are disobedient and unbelieving.

The principle problem underlying 1 Peter is suffering, brought about by the persecution of unbelievers. The Christian is to recognize suffering as a divinely ordained test of our faith, sent to strengthen us in our faith and to set us apart from others. Our faith is to manifest itself in fixing our hope on the glory that is to come at the revelation of Christ, in our present fear of God and commitment to holiness, in our submission to those in authority, and in our resistance to Satan.

The principle problem underlying 2 Peter is the seductive heresies of false teachers who pervert the gospel, distort the Scriptures, downplay eternity, and seek to entice followers who will join with them in their addiction to fleshly lusts. We are to overcome these men and their errors by standing firmly on the promises of God’s sure and certain Word, by personal growth and maturity in our faith, by taking note of God’s dealings with the righteous and the rebels in Old Testament times, by looking for our Lord’s return, and by taking heed to the inspired epistles of other apostles such as Paul.

Initially, I believed the principle theme of 2 Peter was false teachers, and that theme is indeed prominent. But this is a negative truth. If we are to carry out Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:8 and 9, we must set our minds on what is true and wholesome and edifying—not on what is false. When one searches for the positive theme of 2 Peter in this light, the theme becomes very obvious. The sufficiency of the Scriptures is the principle theme of 2 Peter. False teachers are the dominant topic in chapter 2, and the first few verses of chapter 3, but the truths of the Word of God dominate every chapter.

In chapter 1, the Scriptures are the basis for our growth and progress in the faith:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:2-4).

It is the sure and certain Scriptures to which we do well to pay attention:

17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And [so] we have the prophetic word [made] more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:17-19).

In the last verses of chapter 1 and the first verses of chapter 2, we are warned concerning what false teachers will do to pervert the Scriptures in order to justify their sin and to seduce others to follow them:

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in [their] greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 1:20–2:3).

If these false teachers distort and deny the Scriptures, the Scriptures set us straight. The Scriptures instruct us over and over again about God’s intervention in history to deliver His saints and to keep the unrighteous under punishment, until God’s day of judgment comes.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and [if] He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing [them] to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and [if] He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard [that] righteous man, while living among them, felt [his] righteous soul tormented day after day with [their] lawless deeds), 9 [then] the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:4-9).

The false teachers downplay eternity and deny a coming day of judgment:

3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For [ever] since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Peter counters this by writing his inspired second epistle, exhorting them to remember and submit to the teachings of our Lord and His apostles:

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [spoken] by your apostles (2 Peter 3:1-2).

The Scriptures prove the false teachers to be in error, for they not only tell us the world was created by God separating the land from the water, but also that the world of Noah was destroyed as God flooded it with water, bringing judgment because of man’s sin (2 Peter 3:5-6). The Scriptures describe God as eternal, not time-bound, so that 1,000 years of human time is like a day to God. The delays in divine interventions which seem long to us are not long at all to God (2 Peter 3:8). God’s “slowness” in judging the world is due to His mercy and grace and not to His disinterest (3:9).

The Scriptures include the writings of the apostle Paul, to which Peter gives apostolic approval and recommendation (3:14-16). These Scriptures are not always easy to understand, and thus false teachers twist and destroy them. Nevertheless, the inspired epistles of Paul, like the two epistles from Peter, are designed to help believers stand in times of testing and temptation.

We should not at all be surprised that Peter would turn us to the Scriptures in light of his soon departure by death and the emergence of false teachers. This same emphasis can be found in the teachings of our Lord, shortly before His death (see John 14:24-26; 15:7, 10-12; 16:1-15; 17:14-17; 21:15-17). And it was also the emphasis of the apostle Paul:

28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build [you] up and to give [you] the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32; see also 2 Timothy 2:22–4:8).

False teachers abound in our day, and 2 Peter is a book we must study and apply to our lives. However, we should first, without reservation, accept this epistle fully as Scripture, just as it claims. We must also, as the epistle teaches, come to a greater appreciation of the sufficiency of the Scriptures for our every need. Peter does not seek to attract followers of his own. Rather, he challenges us to follow our Lord and come to a deeper and deeper love and appreciation for the Scriptures—the divine provision for knowing God and submitting to Him—and the provision for knowing and resisting fraud.

3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:3,4).


1 Second Peter is one of the neglected books of the New Testament. Very few people will claim to have read it, still less to have studied it in detail. E.F. Scott says, “It is far inferior in every respect to First Peter;” and goes on, “It is the least valuable of the New Testament writings.” It was only with the greatest difficulty that Second Peter gained entry into the New Testament, and for many years the Christian Church seemed to be unaware of its existence. William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, [rev. ed], 1976. The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 283.

2 “Every book in the New Testament is challenged by some one, as indeed the historicity of Jesus Christ himself is and the very existence of God. But it is true that more modern scholars deny the genuineness of II Peter than that of any single book in the canon. This is done by men like F. H. Chase, J. B. Mayor, and R. D. Strachan, who are followers of Christ as Lord and Saviour.” A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933), VI, p. 139.

3 William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, [rev. ed], 1976. The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 288.

4 Simon J. Kistemaker, Peter and Jude (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House), 1987. New Testament Commentary Series, p. 213.

5 Essentially I am following the arguments against Peter’s authorship as outlined by William Barclay on pages 285-288.

6 Barclay, pp. 284-285.

7 A. T. Robertson, pp. 139-140.

8 Barclay, p. 286.

9 “There are some 361 words in I Peter not in II Peter, 231 in II Peter not in I Peter.” A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933), VI, p. 141.

10 “This fact (3:15f.) has been used as conclusive proof by Baur and his school that Peter could not have written the Epistle after the stern rebuke from Paul at Antioch (Gal. 2:11f.). But this argument ignores one element in Peter’s impulsive nature and that is his coming back as he did with Jesus. Paul after that event in Antioch spoke kindly of Peter (I Cor. 9:5). Neither Peter nor Paul cherished a personal grudge where the Master’s work was involved.” A. T. Robertson, VI, p. 142.

11 Even John Calvin regarded it as impossible that Peter could have spoken of Paul as Second Peter speaks of him (3:15, 16), although he was willing to believe that someone else wrote the letter at Peter’s request. William Barclay, p. 285.

12 See 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; Philippians 2:1-8; 4:2-3.

13 Barclay, p. 288.

14 Kistemaker, p. 221.

15 Literally, the text in verse 1 of chapter 1 reads, “Simeon Peter. . . .” This is even a more dramatic indication that it is the Peter of the Gospels. But this does not impress the critics. They scoff at this choice of words, saying the imposter is “trying too hard.” The critics do not make their decisions on the basis of the evidence; rather, they view the evidence in the light of their presuppositions.

16 A. T. Robertson, VI, p. 140.

17 Simon J. Kistemaker, Peter and Jude (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House), 1987. New Testament Commentary Series, p. 215.

18 A. T. Robertson, VI, pp. 140-141.

19 Simon J. Kistemaker, Peter and Jude (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House), 1987. New Testament Commentary Series, p. 220.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines