Summary: At times the church faces challenges from without, but often the greatest danger may come from within. If we are to combat the struggles associated with false doctrine, we must be settled in the Word.
A Greeting to the Saints
2 Peter 1: 1-2
This second epistle of Peter is very similar in tone and intent to the second epistles of Paul. In large part, the second epistles were written to follow up on the first, and particularly to combat apostasy and false doctrine. Having written the first epistle, being moved by their suffering and difficulty, Peter now felt compelled to write to them in order to challenge their departure from truth, and address those who taught doctrine contrary to Scripture. The first epistle dealt with challenges from without, and the second one addressed dangers from within.
While we do face adversity from without, one of the greatest dangers the church faces today is the prevalence of false doctrine and universalism. In order to be all the Lord desires of us, we must build our lives and our faith on a solid foundation. The best approach to ensure such a foundation is to immerse ourselves in the truths of the Gospel. Sound, biblical knowledge is the best defense against apostasy and false teaching. When we know what the Scriptures teach, we can readily spot a counterfeit. Regardless of where we are in the journey of faith, we all need reminded of the fundamentals of the faith while being challenged to expand our knowledge of biblical truth.
Over the next few weeks, I want to examine the first chapter of Peter’s second epistle as we seek to learn and apply the fundamental truth it teaches. As we discuss the opening aspirations within this chapter, I want to consider: A Greeting to the Saints.
I. The Introduction Presented (1a) – Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Here we find the opening remarks of Peter as he addressed the saints within the church, likely the same recipients of the first letter, scattered throughout Asia. He spoke of:
A. His Person – He began the letter by identifying himself as Simon Peter. No doubt those within the early church were familiar with Peter. He was had quite a resumé, being one of the original apostles, walking with the Lord and being part of the “inner circle.” Most had likely heard of the struggles he faced during that time as well. While Peter held a strong personality, he also battled insecurity and doubt. He had taken his eyes off Jesus and sank beneath the waves while miraculously walking on the water. Having shared such an intimate relationship with Jesus, he had denied any association with Him during His arrest and trial. Peter had faced great spiritual battles, but he had overcome each of them through the Lord. Being able to relate to similar struggles, those who read these words would surely have been challenged and encouraged by them.
As we read the inspired words, penned by these giants of the faith, we often fail to realize that they were human, just as we are. Peter and Paul struggled with doubts and fears. While I do not insinuate that we possess the faith or commitment they had, it is encouraging to know that we are not alone when dealing with adversities and hindrances to our faith.
B. His Position – Surely most were aware that Peter was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, he reminded them of his position in this opening statement. This speaks of “one who was sent out or sent forth.” It carries the idea of “being a representative or an ambassador of the Lord.” Along with the other ten (excluding Judas) and Paul, these men shared a common position – being apostles of Christ. Most generally agree one had to see the living Lord to be an apostle.
As we will discuss in a moment, Peter was not guilty of throwing his weight around or having an attitude of arrogance regarding his apostleship, but he did expect the church to heed his words as one who had walked with the Lord and sought to deliver a word from Him. Those who received this letter would do well to honor Peter’s position and heed his instruction. We too must submit to the inspired Word, allowing it to guide and transform our lives.
C. His Posture – It is interesting to note than Peter identified as a servant of the Lord before he acknowledged his apostleship. It seems apparent to me that Peter felt his service to Christ took priority over being an apostle. Before he mentioned that he was an apostle, he admitted that he was nothing more than a servant of Christ – literally a bond-slave to his Master and Lord.
We will lack influence with others and the power of God upon our lives apart from humility. None of us have anything to boast in other than the grace of God. We are what we are and enjoy our current position within the church due to His marvelous grace. Regardless of the position we hold, from the pulpit to the back pew, we are all servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are unwilling to submit to His leadership, willing to serve at His leisure, then we will not accomplish anything of lasting value within the church!