“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1a).
When hiswordtoday.org began in September 2017 at a friend’s suggestion, we began studying the Epistle of I Peter. Many of you were graciously kind in your comments and encouragements. You also specifically encouraged me to do a companion study in the Epistle of 2 Peter.
Therefore, as this New Year and new decade dawns, we begin our examination of the Apostle Peter’s second letter to believers in Christ. I trust that this study of 2 Peter will prove to be as great a blessing as our study in I Peter.
The Apostle Peter makes a clear claim for his authorship in 1:1. To differentiate it from Peter’s first epistle, it was given the Greek title “Petrou B,” or 2 Peter. Additionally, in 3:1 Peter refers to his first letter. In 1:14, Peter refers to the Lord’s prediction of his, the apostle’s, death (John 21:18–19). Additionally, in 1:16-18 he claims to have been at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–4).
The question about differences in Greek grammatical style between the two letters has been satisfactorily answered. Peter explained that he used a secretary (an amanuensis, Silvanus), in 1 Peter (cf. 1 Peter 5:12). In 2 Peter, Peter either used a different amanuensis or wrote the letter by himself.
Additionally, the differences in vocabulary between the two letters can also be explained by the differences in themes. 1 Peter was written to help suffering Christians. 2 Peter was written to expose false teachers.
There are also many similarities in the vocabulary of the two books. The salutation, “grace and peace be multiplied to you,” is essentially the same in each epistle. The Greek words rendered “precious,” “virtue,” “putting off,” and “eyewitness” in 2 Peter are used in both letters. Certain rather unusual words found in 2 Peter are also found in Peter’s speeches in the Acts of the Apostles. These include “obtained” or “was allotted” (1:1; Acts 1:17); “godliness” or “piety” (2 Pet. 1:3, 6–7; 3:11; Acts 3:12); and “wage” or “gain” or “reward” of wickedness or unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:13, 15; Acts 1:18). Both letters also refer to the same OT event (2 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 3:18–20).
The differences in themes also explains why one letter teaches that the second coming is near, and one deals with its delay. 1 Peter, ministering especially to suffering Christians, focuses on the soon return of Christ as a means of encouraging the Christians. 2 Peter, dealing with scoffers, emphasizes the reasons why that imminent return of Christ has not yet occurred.
Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “No unusual, new, or false doctrines appear in 2 Peter. So, if 2 Peter were a forgery, it would be a forgery written by a fool for no reason at all. This is too much to believe. The conclusion to the question of authorship is that, when the writer introduced the letter and referred to himself as Peter, he was writing the truth.”
Nero died in A.D. 68, and tradition says Peter died in Nero’s persecution. 2 Peter may have been written just before his death (1:14; c. A.D. 67–68).
The background and setting for 2 Peter will be examined in our next blog. Until then, may you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Happy New Year!
Soli deo Gloria!